Jan 05

I try to answer most Mac problems, but here are three things that have me stumped! Continue reading »

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Jan 02

Does anyone know of a photo app for mac that will show you a preview of what your file will look like after it is saved?

I want to write an article on how to save an image to use on a webpage…

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Sep 18

 

Good external microphones for the iPhone/iPad are expensive – not the kind of thing you want to buy and find out they are no good! Here’s a comparison of three external iPhone microphones: The Apogee MiC,  Fostex AR-4i and Tascam iM2.

They were all tested on my iPhone 4s by recording into the FiRE iPhone recording app at full quality. On the microphones that had a volume adjustment, I adjusted it to be at the top of the green range in FiRE, quite conservative, no chance of clipping. I had the mic placed approx 20cm in front of my guitar sound-hole at the same height in all the tests. The Tascam doesn’t give any indication of levels, the Fostex has 4 LEDs on top to show the levels and the Apogee has a single LED on the front. The single LED on the Apogee seemed to give a better indication of input level than the three LED’s on the FOSTEX because the difference in brightness was easier to discern on the Apogee LED.

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Aug 11

If you have a Lion installer on a USB thumbdrive, you can use it to upgrade your Mac from Snow Leopard to Lion, but if you have an older version of OS X you can’t upgrade. You need to first upgrade to Snow Leopard OR you can erase everything and do a completely fresh install of Lion.  After installing Lion on my iMac, I wanted to delete everything on my laptop and do a fresh install of Lion. But the installer will not install over an older version of OSX. I had to delete the old version of OSX, then install Lion from the USB thumbdrive. Here’s how to do a fresh install of Lion.

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Mar 14

A photo object is a photo of an object without any background that you can can insert into a webpage or word processing document. Online clipart services such as photo.com and istockphoto have photo objects you can purchase, but here’s how to make a photo object yourself from any photograph using Pages, the standard OSX word processor.

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Feb 26

Here’s how to change the default font, size, colour etc of a new Pages document, so that every new document will have the style you want. Continue reading »

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Feb 16

Quicksilver is the first app I install on any Macintosh and I’m lost without it.

With Quicksilver you press the Apple key once and a window appears on top of everything else. From this window you can pretty much do anything:  launch an app, find a file, find a contact, email someone, you name it.  Here’s how to get it going…

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Jan 06

When you plug in a second monitor to Macintosh computer, it may display an exact copy or ‘mirror image’ of what is on your first display.  This is called mirroring.  This is fine if you are doing a presentation and you want to see on your laptop screen exactly what is on the projector,  but it’s not very useful at home to have the same thing on both screens. If you’d like to see different things on each screen, so the second screen gives you more desktop space, you need to turn mirroring off. Here’s how.

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Dec 14

One of my favourite Apps is Dragon Dictate - it takes what I say and dictates it to the computer. The problem is that it costs $200. Last week Nuance released a new app called Dragon Express in the App store. A cut-down version of Dragon Dictate. I’ve never seen an app with worse reviews! Check this out:

I’m hesitant to fork out the $49.99 to try it out but I was wondering if anyone else had tried it?

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Nov 27

I’ve been using 1Password for about 3 years now,  it’s great. A password manager remembers all your web login usernames and passwords on every blog and website you visit. It can generate a random password for you, giving you a different password for every site you need to login to. Continue reading »

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Aug 17

If you’ve ever been given a pdf file that you want to edit, or a pdf form that you need to complete and return electronically, you’ll realise it’s not obvious how to edit a pdf file.  NOw for proper editing you need to get a powerful program like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Professional, but the good news is that the OSX built in pdf reader app – ‘preview’ – can edit pdf files to a limited extent. You can’t move around or change what’s already in the pdf document, but you can add text and graphics. Here’s how.  Continue reading »

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Jul 26

Yesterday Nuance released to Dragon dictate 2.5.

So what’s it like?

STOP PRESS: Even though initially I wrote this great review, after using version 2.5 for a week I find that  it often crashes when I try to use the correction window. There are a lot of complaints about this in the Dragon Dictate forums. I’d hold off  till the next update comes along . Dragon Dictate 2.5 is quite unstable.

 24th August 2011: Dragon Dictate 2.5.1 was released this week and  all the stability problems seem to be fixed. 

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Jul 01

If you buy Dragon Dictate it comes with a built-in Microphone that will do the job, but if you buy the download version you’ll need to buy your own microphone.

Here are some of the options you have. Continue reading »

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May 11

This is the inspector window. It is is Pages and Keynote and you use it to adjust things. To access different inspector panes you click the appropriate icon – document, text, shapes, rulers etc. Here’s a great tip: If you hold down option while clicking it will open a new inspector window alongside the existing one!

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Apr 28

This little app will compare two folders on your macintosh and tell you any differences between the two – not something you’ll use a lot but very handy for when you need it. I just used it to compare an old list of songs to a current list in a different folder and it told me I had added 6 songs – useful!

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Mar 09

Depending on what program you used to create a PDF, the file size of your PDF file can be quite large. If you combine two or three PDF files together using preview, you can also end up with a bloated PDF file.  The best way to reduce PDF file size is with Acrobat professional, which can do all sorts of magic on PDF files. But here is a free  way to make a PDF file smaller. Continue reading »

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Feb 20

This article describes how to backup your computer using Time Machine. Apple’s Time Machine is simply the best backup system available for the Macintosh – it’s simple to use and it does everything automatically so you don’t have to remember to back things up. You can use it to go back in time a day, a week, or month to find a file that you’ve deleted or changed, and you can use it to restore your entire system should your Hard Disk go down.

And did I mention how simple it is!  Time Machine is built into OS X  so all you need to do is Plug in an external hard drive, open Time Machine and select your hard drive, and turn Time Machine on! It will automatically backup for you. Here are those steps is a little bit more detail with some pictures to make it real easy, along with some tips on choosing the size of Hard Drive to buy.

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Feb 14

In this previous article I describe   how to backup your computer using Apple’s Time Machine  and an external hard drive.  Here’s how to do it using a network hard drive:

Step 1. Throw out your My Book Live.

Step 2. Go and buy an Apple Time Capsule

Step 3. Turn on Time-Machine.

I kid you not!  I am sorry if anyone followed these instructions below. The My Book Live has been more trouble than it’s worth.

1. The drive stopped working in under 1 year.

2. After many calls to Western Digital they still havn’t provided a warranty replacement.

3. They use some weird custom drive format that can’t be read by OSX or Ubuntu or Windows, so you cna’t get the data off your backup if it crashes.

I’ll leave this article below for your information, but DON’T TO IT!!!

It’s worth paying more and using Apple’s time capsule for peace of mind and better support should something go wrong, plus it’s easier to set up.  

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Jan 10

videobox

Two websites that do this for you:

http://www.clipconverter.cc

http://keepvid.com

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Nov 01

You probably know about Apple-C ‘copy’ and Apple-V ‘paste’ where you can select text , ‘copy’ it and then ‘paste’ it somewhere else,  but have you ever wanted to copy two things then paste them both? For example, a username and a password, or a VISA card number and an expiry date.

Or what about wanting to go back to that thing you copied 5 copies ago and paste it again… Enter Jumpcut. It allows you to this and more. Continue reading »

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Aug 31

iWeb from 2009 onwards has the ability to publish your website directly to an ftp server. This means that you don’t need a .mac account to publish your iWeb site.

If you have iWeb 08 or earlier it’s not built-in, but you can still do it, read this previous article on how to publish via ftp from iWeb 08.

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Jul 28

I’ve been waiting for almost 10 years for Dragon Naturally Speaking to arrive on the Macintosh!  And finally it’s here –  Dragon Dictate.

Despite being a long time Apple user user, in 1999 I purchased a PC (yes that’s right!) just to run Dragon Naturally Speaking. I would dictate to the PC and then copy files to my Mac on a thumb drive!
Dragon Naturally Speaking was by far the best voice recognition software – but sadly it was not available for the Apple platform.

Not long after that, IBM releasedViavoice for the Mac. Viavoice wasn’t as good as Dragon Naturally Speaking but it did the job (and meant I could get rid of the PC!)  I used ViaVoice for the next 6 years.

So personally it’s been a 10 year wait  for Dragon Naturally Speaking to arrive on the Macintosh – but finally it’s here! After using Macspeech Dictate since it’s release 2 years ago,  I can say Macspeech Dictate is far and away the best dictation software for the Mac. It is now up to version 2.0 which has been renamed ‘Dragon Dictate’.

‘At the core of MacSpeech Dictate is the world-renowned speech recognition engine, Dragon NaturallySpeaking.’

For those who have been limping along with iListen or Via Voice – you won’t believe the difference! The latest version – Dragon Dictate 2.0 – achieves almost full accuracy with just 5-6 minutes of training.

There are a few (small) weaknesses, the main one being that the correction and editing is not quite as good as with the PC version.  With Dragon Naturally Speaking  if I retrained a word it would never mistake it again.  Not so with Dragon Dictate.  There must be some difference between the way Dragon Naturally Speaking and Macspeech Dictate handle the retraining of words. Dragon Dictate is in my opinion still slightly behind the PC version.

That said,  it’s a fantastic product. I use it every day,  and I’d totally recommend that you try it out if you do a lot of typing or transcription work.  At the very least find a friend who has a copy and give it a trial! That’s what I did and I was hooked.

If you live in the USA it is available directly from Nuance (Macspeech):

Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.0

Click here to go to the Official Dragon site.

There is a ‘download only’ option which is great for international customers but you’ll need to find your own microphone.

Note to Australian Customers: you don’t need to select the ‘international language version’,  just the normal US version comes with Australian and UK speech files.

STOP PRESS:  I’ve made some videos here.

Other posts on Speech recognition:

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Mar 18

Like any other area of interest on the iPhone, when it comes to the Bible there are thousands of applications out there but the new kid on the block the ‘ESV Bible‘ is easily the best and here’s why… Continue reading »

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Mar 03

The safest way to save a movie from a Macintosh computer that you want to transfer to a PC is to save it as an AVI file. The problem is (as pointed out in the comments below!) is that the latest version of Quicktime cannot save AVI’s. To save an AVI file you’ll need to use Quicktime 7, AND you’ll need to upgrade it to quicktime pro which you can do here for US$30.
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