MacWorld 2011 might as well have been named “iStuff 2011.” The vast majority of booths seemed to be dedicated to iPhone and iPad accessories and software. Still, the show was interesting. The Mac has a great shareware culture, and some of the more successful shareware companies were on site in micro-booths — a great opportunity to meet some of the folks who write the software I use every day.
If you’re reading this and are not already browsing Facebook using HTTPS (secure HTTP), you need to go to Facebook RIGHT NOW and enable the option (lest you fall victim to Firesheep). In in your Account Settings under Account Security -> Secure Browsing (https). If you need more help, Gizmodo has a great tutorial about how to do it.
:: Tags: Computers
Little Snitch, a Mac utility that monitors and control network access from a computer, is on sale for 50% off for 47 (more) hours. I find Little Snitch to be absolutely indispensable, and feel naked using a computer without it. I rely on Little Snitch to tell me which apps are requesting connections to the internet, and approve/deny access appropriately (you can set permissions for the session, or for all time).
It’s useful as a monitoring app, but I’ve actually found it to be the most useful when I’m traveling and using low-bandwidth internet connections. In these cases, I tell Little Snitch to block ALL internet access and open specific pipes for whatever I am using at the moment (usually, email, twitter, and web). This prevents your computer from going online and, for example, downloading OS and application updates.
Little Snitch is
Last week, I sold my MacBook Pro, which means that I am finally back to running on a single machine (plus a MacBook Air for work)[^1]. I used to run the MBP on a 30″ monitor, using teleport to share a mouse and keyboard across machines, but when I sold the notebook, I decided that I’d like to connect all 3 of my monitors to my Mac Pro. This has proven to be more difficult than I thought it would be. (read more »)
A post I wrote in April 2010 called How to properly set up Gmail on your iPad has gotten nearly 50,000 page views since it went live. Users of Gmail are used to its archive-instead-of-delete model, but by default, Apple devices prior to iOS 4 were deleting trashed messages when integrated with Gmail. iPads running the original OS and iPhones running iPhone OS 1.1.2 -> 3.x needed special instructions to set up Gmail accounts properly, which is detailed in the post I linked to above. (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers, Mobile, Technology
As I was running out of the house on Thursday for CES in Las Vegas, I opened up my small messenger bag, removed my MacBook Air, and replaced it with my iPad. My reasoning was simple — I’d be running around the show floor at CES, and using a notebook computer would be impractical compared to whipping out a tablet and showing pictures or looking something up on the web (I use my iPad with a Verizon MiFi, so I still had network access — AT&T users were out of luck). I was also originally scheduled only to be away for the day.
When I arrived at the airport, a series of events led to a decision to stay in Las Vegas for 3 days. Suddenly, I was worried. I didn’t have a charger with me and had never tried to be productive on the iPad for such a long period of time. (read more »)
I’m trying to update CS5 using Adobe Application Manager, and I’m getting the following errors… (read more »)
Firesheep is a Firefox extension that allows users to steal login cookies on popular websites, which allows the user to login as you if you are browsing on the same network. It was release last week and has already forced sites like Facebook to issue statements addressing security. I downloaded it just now to test it out, and ran it while I logged into Facebook, Gmail, Amazon, Twitter, and other sites I frequent often. Here’s what Firesheep sniffed out:
Firesheep can login to a lot of the sites I use
Double clicking on an avatar or account in the sidebar immediately opened a browser session as me, logged into the website shown. Anyone running Firesheep on an open network can sniff out and login as anyone on the network who is actively using the websites Firesheep knows about. (read more »)
I hooked my MacBook Pro to a Panasonic 58″ 3D plasma display today and fed it a 3D video in the form of side-by-side video content. The good news is that the display showed a perfectly good 3D image when told to expect side-by-side content (yay!). However, there was a problem with my stereo 3D video: for some reason, all of the 3D content was pushed way back past the stereo window. The only way this would happen is if the left and right video content were diverged; upon closer inspection, it was obvious that this was the case. (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers
There are 4 Macs in my house. I use two of them for work and one as a server and media center for the occasional video or TV show (the last Mac is Pam’s). All of my media is stored on a NAS box that supports just about every protocol out there, and since every computer in the house is a Mac, I use AFP to connect to it. A few weeks ago, the Mac Mini that acts as the media center and server started slowing down. All Finder actions were sluggish, and opening folders started to take a few seconds (even on local disk). Opening folders and files on the NAS box (connected via AFP) suffered the most, and the Finder would sometimes take 30 seconds or more to return. Sometimes, files in networked folders would never show up, leaving folder windows empty (and spinning). Obviously, streaming video files from the network became impossible to do.
Meanwhile, access to the networked files from all of the other Macs in my house was as snappy as ever. In fact, I started copying files from the NAS to the Mac Mini by mounting both volumes from a third machine and copying between them (using AFP) — terrible, I know.
On a whim, I unmounted all networked volumes on the Mac Mini and re-connected using SMB. Problem solved — everything is now as fast as it used to be. Why is it that 3 machines (Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, iMac; all running Mac OS X 10.6.4) connect just fine to my NAS box using AFP, but one (Mac Mini Server running Mac OS X 10.6.4 Server) must be connected via Samba for suitable performance?
I’ll suspect that I’ll never know.
:: Tags: Computers
Tonight, I tried copying a Parallels 6 virtual machine from one machine to another. I was greeted with the message, “The virtual machine cannot be used because its files are corrupted.” OK, maybe there was a problem with copying over the network. I copied again, and received the same error. There is no option to actually try to recover the VM; the only options are to “remove” or cancel.
There is an easy fix: you simply have to remove the virtual machine from your list of VMs and re-add it. The easiest way to do this is to click “Remove” when the error message presents itself and double-click on the VM again. Parallels then asks you (correctly) whether the VM was moved or copied, and starts up without errors.
Nice error handling, guys.
On August 13, 2010, Professor Eric Roberts and Mehran Sahami, Associate Chair of the Department of Computer Science, sent the Stanford CS198 alumn list an email inviting them to a reunion of undergratuate section leaders, TAs and program coordinators — the first such reunion in 40 years of teaching introductory CS106 classes. (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers
I just returned from a trip to the Bahamas, where I shot and posted a bunch of 3D underwater video encoded for viewing with red/cyan anaglyph 3D glasses. When I arrived at home, I opened one of the 3D videos on my calibrated 30″ Dell 3008WFP LCD (connected to a Mac Pro)… and discovered that I could not see any 3D effect. It was quite strange because I could see the 3D effect perfectly when I streamed the same videos from my Vimeo page (on the same machine/display), and everything looks good when played from my MacBook Pro (even when it is attached to an external monitor). I even tried playing the videos back on my 50″ plasma display, and the 3D was fine.
What I discovered is that if you have a properly calibrated video card / monitor, you may not be able see anaglyph 3D-encoded images and video correctly. When trying to render colors “correctly,” ColorSync can change the colors enough to destroy the effect. (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers
I’m a big fan of CrashPlan, which is sort of like a platform-agnostic Time Machine with full internet support (minus the pretty star field graphics). I use it to continuously monitor and back up two machines (Mac Pro and MacBook Pro), and when I’m travelling, but MacBook Pro continues to back new files up — to a machine in my closet — through the internet.
I have CrashPlan+ licenses for the two machines I back up. CrashPlan+ doesn’t exist anymore, but it seems to give me some of the features of CrashPlan Pro like compression, encryption, and real-time monitoring of file changes.
Now, for the bad news: CrashPlan works really well when I have one machine backing up to another, but fails miserably when I have two machines backing up one machine. My MacBook Pro always backs up perfectly to the destination, but my Mac Pro stops after some time (usually works until I stop the initial backup, at which point it never starts up again).
Each time, CrashPlan support says that it “must be a network issue,” but can’t figure out why it’s not working. I think it might be because I’m backing up multiple terabytes.
A few days ago, I realized that I was being stupid because I’m backing up my Mac Pro to a NAS volume that is mounted on the server. The server isn’t even necessary for my Mac Pro backup, since the 55-lb machine never leaves the house! So I’m now pointing my CrashPlan backup directly at the volume on the NAS box. The MacBook Pro is still happily backing up via the server.
I hope it works.
I recently acquired a Fuji FinePix REAL 3D W3 point & shoot camera, which is the only (proper) 3D point & shoot camera on the market (Mark Blum showed me the W1, its predecessor, some time ago). The camera stores still images in MPO format, which is essentially two JPGs, thumbnails and metadata crammed into a single file. It stores video files in a stacked AVI format called 3D-AVI.
New file formats are always challenging to deal with, especially if you’re on a Mac. Fuji ships the camera with its FinePix software, and after installing it, I realized that it has no 3D support because the Mac version is two major revisions behind the Windows version!
I went online looking around for MPO and 3D-AVI support for the Mac. Things aren’t looking so good. (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers
I’ve been using ReadyNAS products since they were still being sold by Infrant, but it wasn’t until the latest iteration that they became incredible performers. The Netgear ReadyNAS Pro has 6 SATA drive bays and funcations as just about every kind of server one could want (for a home office, that is).
My first ReadyNAS Pro has 7.89 TB accessible (1 disk redundancy), and is being used as a backup volume for 4 separate machines. SuperDuper! clones volumes to disk images hosted on the NAS, and it also serves as a Crashplan repository (through a Mac Mini running Mac OS X Server). The NAS also hosts all of my media (e.g. videos, music, installer disk images), serving media through shared volumes and various media servers (like UPnP to a Playstation 3). (read more »)
:: Tags: Computers
12 hyperthreaded cores!
My new 12-core Mac Pro is almost ready (it’s been copying files from my other machine for nearly 24 hours now). I re-ran a MPEG Streamclip vs. Compressor test and was pleased to discover Compressor is now insanely fast because it can be configured to use all of the cores. MPEG Streamclip doesn’t seem to multithread properly to use all 24 virtual cores when only batching up a few clips. I set it to 4 instances, and combined processor usage was around 270% (out of 2400%). Running the Compressor job against a local QuickCluster resulted in CPU usage illustrated in the screenshot above.
:: Tags: Computers
SSD installed on 6th internal SATA port, Mac Pro (July 2010) 12-core
In 2007, I stuffed 6 drives into my Mac Pro. Over the years, I replaced 2 of the 1TB drives with SSDs (an Intel 160GB X25-M and a SuperTalent 64GB for swap) and 4 of them with 2TB drives, but I’ve now been using some sort of 6-drive setup for 3 years with great results. I’ve finally replaced my aging Mac Pro with a new one; as usual, subtle changes inside the Mac Pro case have made things more complicated. (read more »)
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i hate computers.