Is there a worm in our Apple?

Since around 1986, Apple’s Mac Operating System has won-over users due to its ease of use, simplicity and the fact that not much changed in the way it worked — a fact that many PC users claimed was a fault. In fact, until OSX was release in March of 2001, about the biggest thing that changed with the way the Mac OS looked and worked was a few Control Panels making connecting to the Internet easier and a handful of doo-dads that were easily missed unless you were looking for them. All the Finder windows, keyboard commands and icons remained relatively unchanged for years. With OSX, everything changed. Users cried foul, threatened to leave the platform if Apple didn’t immediately remove the candy icons and buttons and go back to the dull grayscale and relatively flat appearance of OS9. Of course, eventually those users came-around and quickly learned to love OSX. From OSX 10.1 PUMA to 10.4 Tiger, not much changed with the overall appearance of the Mac OS. A few cool new apps like iChat, a brushed metal appearance, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, Mail and Safari came along, but none of those really fundamentally changed the way we work with the OS. But then came along a big, bad cat named Leopard. (more…)

Gizmodo pulls prank – gets banned from CES

You may have heard about Gizmodogate, a practical joke a blogger at Gizmodo played on unsuspecting exhibitors at the recent CES show in Las Vegas. Basically, one of the bloggers at Gizmodo was given TV-B-Gone clickers and he chose to use it at the world’s largest gathering of tech-geekery by shutting off not only individual LCD TVs on display, but also a presentation being made by one of the exhibitors. While this may come across initially as good-spirited fun and Tom-Foolery, I look at it another way. To me it was a childish prank that not only affected the hard-working people working the targeted booths, not just the companies that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to show-off their latest wares, but may have completely ruined the reputation of all bloggers who take what they do seriously. And what’s worse is that Gizmodo appears to be proud of the act, publicizing it on their own site. As a blogger myself, I’ve worked hard to establish myself as a serious writer. Granted, this site is a hobby for me, something I do because I love to do it. But I also would like to think that you, my readers, and other Mac-related sites take me seriously. Maybe it’s just a fantasy and I’m just dreaming. But serious bloggers have been fighting the notion that they’re two-bit hacks not worthy of being called a “real” journalist for years. CES just this past year finally gave-in to bloggers everywhere, offering them media credentials for the event. What Gizmodo has done has validated their past thinking, that bloggers are nothing but a bunch of children playing games and are not to be taken seriously. While CES has banned the Gizmodo staffer from future CES events, and are considering further sanctions against Gizmodo and their parent company (Gawker Media), one can only guess that they will also restrict all bloggers further media access and acknowledgement in the future. Thanks Gizmodo. I hope the 15-minutes of fame was worth it to you. Again, this in no way truly affects my ability to write for my own site now, but who’s to say that it won’t in the future affect my ability to do so should I choose to attend and cover such an event? And while it doesn’t affect me now, it may affect other bloggers I respect that DO depend on these media credentials to do their job. And that would be a shame. I’m not going to sit here and beg you not to visit Gizmodo’s site. You should take advantage of any source of information you can on the internet. But I will say that I personally will not click the ads on Gizmodo anymore, and if this childish act bothers you in any way, I ask you to do the same. Punishing them financially is about all we as readers can do about it. Let’s just hope we don’t have a repeat at Macworld this week.

Get quick access to your media with iMedia Browser

Do you like the media browser that Apple includes in some of its applications, but wish you could use it from any application? Now you can. Karelia has released iMedia Browser 1.0, a free media browser much like the one you find in Apple’s iWork suite and several other applications that tie-in with iLife apps. iMedia Browser allows quick access to your iPhoto collections, iTunes library, movies and Web links via a small window which you can add to by dragging other folders of media into. While this is nothing really earth-shaking, I like the fact that I have full access to my iPhoto library without actually having to launch iPhoto – which can take some time with thousands of photos in it. iMedia gave me access to all my photos and albums from iPhoto instantly. I simply drag a photo from iMedia Browser to my Photoshop icon to open it, or to an InDesign document to place it. Simple stuff!

Getting things done with a little Anxiety

Getting things done (GTD) is all the rage these days. It’s all over the Web, with entire sites dedicated to helping you achieve a “honey-do”-free life. There are plenty of applications out there to help you as well.

Omni recently released OmniPlan at a cost of $149, and iGTD is another popular offering, especially since it’s free. The problem I have with the whole GTD movement is that I feel like you spend more time organizing and categorizing and less time doing. Most of the applications I’ve looked at require a lot of time to enter tasks, place them in proper categories, customize the interface to your needs and simply living in the app to actually get any use out of them. You spend more time trying to help yourself be productive than actually accomplishing your goal of getting things done. (more…)

Package Function not working in InDesign?

About a year or so ago I was experiencing a strange occurrence in regards to InDesign’s built-in Preflight/Package feature – normally I’d select the item from the menu and the dialog box would appear with all the pertaining options: But sometimes I’d be all set to get a file out the door, select ‘Preflight’ and nothing would happen. Well, ‘nothing’ unless you’re not counting the endless spinning of OSX’s ‘beachball’. No preflight box, no error message, nada – the whole program would simply lock up and I would have to Force-Quit & start over. This is not nearly as aggravating as it was under any OS prior to 10 or in most early versions of Quark. Adobe’s wonderful little autosave/crash recovery function has saved my bacon more than a few times these past few years. Anyway, when you’re dealing with a 20, 40 or 64-page document, pinpointing the cause of such a problem can resemble the old cliché about the needle and the haystack. When I first encountered the bug, I reverted back to my early production days and I began to eliminate pages from the document in hopes of narrowing things down. First I’d delete the first half of the document’s pages and try preflighting again. If I got the error once more, I’d know where my problem lied. If I *didn’t* get the error, I went back and deleted the 2nd half of the document’s pages and try again. And so on and so on until I was down to the one or two pages that were giving me the headache. I also employed this method when I’d receive the dreaded ‘postscript error’ on our office printer.

At the risk of sounding like one’s dad or grandfather, designers and production artists starting out today don’t know how rough us early Mac Quark users had it. I shake my fist at you damned CS3-right-out-of-college PUNKS!

So here I am in the process of deleting pages from my file and I happen to notice more than a few blank text boxes hanging out in the pasteboard area. Huh? Oh that’s right – I put these here for text overflow and forgot to delete them. *delete* *delete* *delete*…there, all done. Annoying, but those couldn’t have been the cause of the problem, could they? …could they?! The answer is *yes*, loyal readers – empty text boxes CAN cause a problem when left in the margins (or in some cases the actual document) and you need to preflight the file. I’m pretty sure this error only relates to text boxes that previously had copy in them – that is, if you used the box tool and created an empty frame on the pasteboard or on the live page, it wouldn’t repeat the problem. I haven’t had time to test my theory, but feel free to conduct your own experiments. Sure enough, about 99% of the time, the root of any preflight errors I’d encounter had everything to do with these rogue text boxes. Preflight would lock up the program, I’d restart & re-open the file, and sure enough there’d be one or two of these gremlins hanging out on the pasteboard. At the very least, they’re easy to spot – the real challenge is when those boxes are deep within your layout, buried under layers of text & graphics & placeholders. Ugh. Countless Google searches, forum posts and conversations with my colleagues failed to turn up a solution – it was only by trial & error (and a bit of luck) that I finally figured things out. Yay me, back to work now. *delete* *delete* *delete*

13 cool OSX Leopard tweeks via Terminal

There are already many applications available which allow you to tweek the settings in OSX Leopard to adjust the dock, the menu bar, and other areas you wish to alter. But one thing that bothers me is having all those little apps hanging around my hard drive, or worse yet, running at all times. UsingMac has listed 13 very handy Terminal commands that do the same thing as many of these apps, without the space and memory overhead. It’s as simple as copy & paste. Check them out.

Use Textorizor to combine text & graphics for a stunning image effects

Sometimes the image you’re using in your latest design layout just isn’t interesting enough and using Photoshop filters just isn’t cutting it. Enter Textorizor, a creative way to combine text and your image to create a unique look for your next design piece. While Textorizor is actually just code that needs to be compiled, there is a simple Web interface available for the non-code-geeks among us. There are actually two versions of Textorizor available, the sample above uses Textorizor 2. As you can see, the original image (inset) is used along with user input text to create the appearance of a text image. You could re-create the effect of Textorizor 2 in Photoshop using blend modes, but this just seems so much easier! And Textorizor 1 would just require a lot more mork.

Master your DSLR camera – program mode

You ponied up for a digital SLR camera because you hated the shutter lag on your little point-and-shoot. The good news: Your photos have improved! The bad news? You know they could be even better—if only you dared to let go of the camera’s “auto” mode. It’s as if you’ve been creeping around the neighborhood in a new Mustang using only first gear. No more! It’s time to take control, hit the highway, and learn what you can do in program mode. Lifehacker has a great feature titled Master Your DSLR Camera: Program Mode — worth taking a look at if you have a digital camera and you’re not yet used to the settings.