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If you’re like me, then you are overwhelmed by the vast selection of computer books and which one to choose. When I’m about to spend weeks learning a web programming language, I prefer to do some quick background info online. Mostly basics such as: why use it?, what can it do for me?, and samples. Once I look through some online tutorials to the point of confusion, then do I get a book. Not just your regular “all-in-one” book, but the Visual QuickStart Guide book. I’ll admit, I’ve bought the “all-in-one” book, and honestly, they suck (for beginners). Assuming you (the reader) are about to begin learning web programming or something else from scratch, it’s best to have a well-written, easy to follow book.

Being a “visual” learner myself, I am able to use my photographic memory to remember certain things from images or books. With the Visual QuickStart Guides, you are always greeted with the background of what it is you’re trying to learn, why you should use it, and lastly how you should use it. Let’s say you’re reading a book about PHP. Each chapter of the book will show several lines of code along with a screenshot (showing the output from the code). Having a screenshot helps me the most because it allows me to focus on the reading and not have to use my computer to see what the output would be. Therefore, saving me time, and frustration.

The first chapters give you the basic tools you need to grasp what it is you want to learn (syntax, rules, etc). By the time you reach the last chapters of the book, there are more realistic examples that will get you going on a project. Once you’ve finished the book, it’s great to keep around for referencing or you can always use the corresponding website for extras. This is why I love using VQS Guide — it allows me to conquer something without all the frustration and anger. That’s one thing I dislike about online tutorials is you learn only bits and pieces, not the whole. To learn something completely, you must start from the beginning and learn the basics to get going. That’s what Visual QuickStart Guides will do and will do it very well.

When it comes to photo editing, iPhoto’s capabilities are not up to par with Bridge or Aperture. Thanks to Apple making Aperture it’s quite easy to import your existing iPhoto library. After this tutorial, you will have easy access to all of your pictures from iPhoto within Adobe Bridge. Notethis will NOT work with iPhoto ’09 or later.

  1. Open up Finder and select “Go to Folder…” under the Go menu.
  2. Type in “/Users/yourusername/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals.”
  3. Next, Type in “/Users/yourusername/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified.”
  4. Select both folders and drag them into the Bridge sidebar.
  5. That’s all!

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A Nice feature that is conveniently built in with Mac OS X is the Archive feature. It allows you to compress files to reasonable sizes that are more manageable. If you deal with lots of archives and prefer to keep your Mac as organized as possible, you may be glad to hear that you can change the Archive preferences.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Go to Macintosh HD > System > Library > CoreServices
  3. In CoreServices, right-click on Archive Utility and select Show Package Contents.
  4. In Contents > Resources, locate Archives.prefPane
  5. Double-click on the file and you will be prompted to install it in System Preferences.
  6. In System Preferences, click on Archives.
  7. The “Save expanded files” field affects the files in the archive you open up.
  8. The “After expanding” field allows you to choose a location to put the archive after it expands.
  9. The other options should be left with their default settings, unless you want to change them.
  10. If you don’t want to keep it System Preferences, just follow steps 1-3 (excluding Show Package Contents) and open up the Archive Utility. From there, go the Archive Utility menu > Preferences.

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With the new version of iTunes 8, you now have the capability to use Grid View as a more organized music selection. One feature in particular that bothered me was the genre section in Grid View because it’s not very customizable for the user. Mostly for me, it’s just that you can’t edit the genre album covers with one of your own. There is a way to use existing album covers from your iTunes library, but still not a way to place your own cover as the default genre cover. With a little creativity and Photoshop, this can be done.

  1. Open up iTunes.
  2. Go to Grid View and select Genres.
  3. Now, look for any genres you want to replace with your own cover.
  4. Open up Photoshop, and make a 256px x 256px image for the album cover.
  5. Save it as “genre-(genre title goes here).jpg” (e.g. genre-80’s.jpg or genre-classical.jpg).
  6. Right-click on iTunes in Finder and choose Show Package Contents.
  7. Put the album cover image in the iTunes > Resources folder.
  8. Browse through Contents > Resources > “genres.plist” and open it up with a text editor (e.g. Coda or TextEdit).
  9. Type in the following code for the genres you want to add album covers for:
  10.      
            matchString80's
            resourceFilegenre-80's.jpg
         
    
  11. Choose “Save As” in the text editor program you’re using and save the new “genres.plist” file to your Desktop temporarily.
  12. Now, drag “genres.plist” into the iTunes > Contents > Resources folder and replace the old one.
  13. Now quit iTunes and then open it back up.
  14. You should see the new album cover images you made.
  15. Note: Make sure you backup the album images and the “genre.plist” file prior to each iTunes update.

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