On August 28th, Apple released the long-awaited upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5 — Snow Leopard. Honestly, I was expecting to notice major visual changes, but I was still glad with the subtle changes that Apple added. The first change I noticed beside a different desktop background was the free space I got back on my hard drive, an entire 13GB of space. When using memory-hogging apps like Adobe Creative Suite apps I have noticed they are speedier with Snow Leopard. One of the more noticeable changes made to the user interface was the layout of several panes in System Preferences. I will be touching on that as well as many other features in Snow Leopard that are worth checking out.
For a long time, TextExpander used to be (and still is) one of the best apps for expanding user-created “snippets”. Now, Snow Leopard can do that within all your apps.
Go to Language & Text in System Preferences.
Go to the “Text” section to view current text substitutions already created.
To create one, just click on the “+” button on the bottom.
For example, I would type “thx” under the Replace column and then type “Thanks” under the With column.
In previous version of Mac OS X, QuickTime Player was very limited in (editing) capabilities unless you owned QuickTime Pro. In Snow Leopard, Apple combined the powers of QuickTime Pro into QuickTime X, so now there’s no need to buy a “pro” version.
Open up a movie in QuickTime X that you would like to edit (trim).
Under the Edit menu, choose Trim.
A yellow slider will appear on the QuickTime window. Adjust the slider to the parts of the movie that you want.
Once you’ve made your selection, click the “Trim” button and save your new movie.
If you would like to just have the video part (no audio), go to Edit > Select All Excluding Silence.
Then you would open up that movie (it becomes a separate file) and trim it to the parts you want.
Aside from audio recording, two of the best screen-recording tools for podcasters are iShowU HD Pro and SnapZ Pro X. Both are very affordable apps which record user-actions on Mac OS X, which is especially handy for teaching Photoshop tutorials. Another great feature that came with QuickTime X in Snow Leopard is the ability to do screen recording.
Open up QuickTime X in your Applications folder.
Under File, go to New Screen Recording.
Once the Screen Recording window appears, click the small white triangle on the right.
Switch the Microphone to Built-in Microphone: Internal microphone to allow your voice to be recorded with the screen recording.
You can also adjust the video quality and the folder to save the screen recording.
One of the great features in Adobe Acrobat Pro is the ability to annotate (comment, markup, circle, highlight) PDF documents. Although, there are many other features (like creating forms) in Acrobat that are useful for PDFs, it’s not really fair to compare it to Preview. Nonetheless, for those who don’t have Acrobat Pro or don’t want to buy it, Preview has become quite powerful especially with the new Annotate toolbar added in Snow Leopard.
Open up a PDF on your Mac with Preview.
Click on the Annotate button in Preview, located next to the Select button on the top.
Now, you should notice a toolbar appear on the bottom on Preview.
Use this Annotation toolbar to highlight text, add circles or squares around important text, add hyperlinks, add text, or add colorful arrows.
Once you’re done making any changes to the PDF, make sure to save it.
Being a photographer, I often find myself having to readjust image sizes for web content (72 DPI) or for printing purposes (300 DPI). Typically, I use Photoshop for any type of image resizing because it resizes images correctly. Thankfully, I have one less need for using Photoshop now,because Preview now has the ability to adjust image sizes in Snow Leopard (I just noticed this feature, it’s been in Preview before Snow Leopard—woops).
Go to Finder and open up an image with Preview.
Once the image has opened in Preview, go to Tools > Adjust Size.
An Image Dimensions window will appear now. Make sure “Scale proportionally” is checked off so when you resize it the width and height stay in proportion with one another.
To adjust the resolution (DPI), type it in the Resolution field based on where you are using the image (print, magazine, web).
One of the smallest features by far in this list would have to be this, the “Open and Close Window” feature in Finder. For those users who are constantly faced with using multiple applications at one time, you know how annoying another window on your screen can be. Well now, Apple finally gave us the option to open a file in Finder then close that Finder window after the file has been opened.
In Finder, select an item that you would like to open.
Go to the File menu, hold down the Option key and choose “Open and Close Window”.
Another easier alternative is to just hold down ⌘ (Command), Option, and “O” or hold down ⌘ (Command), Option, and ↓ (down arrow).
One of the least noticeable features in any version of Mac OS X, was the Services menu. I wrote a tutorial a while back on it for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, when you could use the Speech service and Summarize service. Now, most of those same Services are there, but the trick is enabling them all so you can actually use them.
Go to Keyboard in System Preferences.
Click on the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab.
On the left, choose Services in the sidebar. Check the services that you would like to use in the list on the right.
To access these services, go to an application like Safari and choose Services under the Safari menu.
For some of the services to work correctly, you may need to select text and then go to the Services menu.
With the new version of TextEdit in Snow Leopard, a lot of useful features have been added to make it a better word processor app. In earlier versions of TextEdit, there was no automatic spell checking, text substitutions, grammar checking, or even text transforming. Now all those are included.
Open up a document with TextEdit.
To use Text Transformation, select some text and go to Edit > Transformations and pick one of the three: Make Upper Case, Make Lower Case, or Capitalize. This can be useful for example for making text that is important in all upper case.
To enable spell check and grammar go to Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar. A green dotted underline represents that the sentence(s) need to be checked.
If you would like to use Text Substitution features, go to Edit > Substitutions and choose which ones you would like to use. Some useful ones for me are: the Data Detectors, which picks up dates and times if you hover over a date or time it will ask if you want to add it to iCal; Text Replacement, which fixes commonly misspelled words; and Smart Dashes, which turns “- -” into “—”.
One of the greatest things about iLife is the simplicity of the applications included within it. Whether it be iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, GarageBand, or iDVD, each application has a very intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use. However, there are times when it can be a little bit confusing to do certain tasks. I will admit, I still use Toast Titanium for anything going onto a DVD, including photo slideshows, movies, and music. Creating photo slideshows within iDVD are rather easy, so I want to show you how to make them:
Create a New Project once iDVD opens up.
Choose a Theme from the sidebar.
Go to the “+” icon in the bottom left corner and choose “Add Slideshow”.
Select the button text and edit it to your liking. To change the font, right-click on the text and choose “Show Inspector Window”.
Edit the Drop Zones (i.e. Background images) by going to “Edit Drop Zones” under Project. Then drag images onto the Drop Zones.
To setup the slideshow, hold down Shift + ⌘ (Command) + “M” or go to View > Show Map.
Now click the “View Slideshow” thumbnail.
Import or drag the images into the window that you want to use for the slideshow.
On the bottom of the View Slideshow window, adjust the settings for Slide Duration and Transition.
Click the Play button.
Once you are satisfied with the outcome of the slideshow, insert a DVD and click the Burn icon located next to the Play button.
After iDVD has completed burning the DVD, it will let you know.
For many computer users, backing up your information should not be something to forget. It’s actually something many people are fairly lazy about or they just don’t think that they will lose their data. Thankfully, when Apple released Mac OS X Leopard, they included Time Machine, which backs up your files automatically. I stopped using Time Machine because it was taking up too much disk space on my external hard drive due to the way it was made to work. It backs up files that were changed, but it still for some odd reason, does not do it right. Carbon Copy Cloner, on the other hand, works like a charm. The first time you use it, it makes a complete copy/clone of your Macintosh HD. Then whenever your next backup is scheduled it backs up only files that have been modified. Carbon Copy Cloner also comes in handy when your Macintosh HD won’t boot up because it creates FireWire-bootable backups. I’m just going to share a few tips on using the application and why it’s a must for any user.
One of my biggest concerns when I first got Lightroom was how I was going to order prints online as I was able to do with iPhoto. Surprisingly, this task can be done fairly easy thanks to Lightroom’s exporting features. Here’s how:
Open up iPhoto and to Preferences > Advanced.
Make sure “Copy items to the iPhoto Library” is unchecked, this prevents unnecessary space from being taken up on your hard-drive by duplicate pictures.
Now, go to Lightroom and select the images you would like to order prints with.
After selecting those pictures, go to File > Export…
In the Export window that appears make the following changes (leave the other settings as they are):
Under Export Location: select Specific Folder (Choose Desktop) in the Export To drop-down menu and check off “Put in Subfolder” (titled iPhoto Order).
Under File Settings: make sure to select JPEG in the Format drop-down menu, drag the Quality slider to the max (100), and select sRGB under the Color Space drop-down menu.
Under Image Sizing: uncheck “Resize to Fit” and type in 240 (recommended default by Lightroom) for the Resolution.
Under Post-Processing: choose “Open in Another Application” under the After Export menu; choose iPhoto.
To save you time in the future, save these settings as a Preset by clicking the “Add” button in the bottom left corner.
Then click the Export button.
Once the pictures have been successfully imported in iPhoto, select them and choose the “Order Prints” button in the bottom right corner on iPhoto.
One of the reasons why I purchased an iPod touch was for the ability to watch movies. The screen was much bigger on the iPod touch making it a lot easier to view a full-length movie. I have many movies on my computer as well as a large DVD collection, all of which I wanted to somehow get onto my iPod touch. Thanks to a wonderful app called Handbrake, I can now easily convert DVD’s and other movies on my computer to use on my iPod touch. Not only does Handbrake convert DVD’s to the iPod format, but it also converts to PSP, Xbox 360, AppleTV, iPhone, and for use on your computer. Here’s how:
Download the Handbrake application if you have not already done so.
Insert a DVD into your computer or locate the movie on your computer you would like to convert.
Open up Handbrake and select the movie.
It will scan the movie and then show the information about the movie concerning the time, chapters, and titles.
If you are using a TV series DVD (e.g. Seinfeld) you have to be very careful about how to select the titles because there are multiple episodes on each disc.
In this situation, select the title number from the “Title” menu, change the name of the file name under “Destination” to correspond with that title number (e.g. “Users/Mason/Desktop/Movies/Seinfeld Episode 1” for Title1, etc). Then, you must click “Add to Queue” after each time you change the name and title.
Usually, there are out-takes, extras, or what not towards the end of most TV series DVD’s. Make sure don’t select those if you don’t want them.
To make sure you are selecting the right title numbers, just look at the time of the title (usually short times) and if you still aren’t sure, click the “Picture Settings” button and it will show you snapshots of that title.
Click the “Next” button in the bottom right corner in the Picture Settings window and you can browse through the scene to double-check if it’s the scene you wanted.
After you have added all the correct titles and corresponding file names to the queue, select the “Toggle Presets” button and choose the format you want to convert the video to.
For example, I would choose Apple > iPhone & iPod touch if I wanted to use the video on my iPod touch.
Once you’re done with that. click “Show Queue” then click “Start”.
The biggest trick is to make sure you are always choosing the right titles and then adding them to the queue with the right file name in sequential order.
Movies that already on your computer are ready to convert once you’re in Handbrake: just choose a format (iPod, PSP, etc), a destination for the converted movie to go, and then click Start.
This past year, I’ve been doing lots of reading mostly from two of my favorite authors: Daniel Silva and David Baldacci. Due to how books are printed nowadays, I find it much easier read a hardcover book than a paperback. The font size and line spacing is much larger with hardcover books. The only setback with purchasing hardcover books is the hefty price tag. Thanks to the online store, Amazon, purchasing hardcover books has never been easier. This is more of a personal experience I’m going to share with shopping on Amazon. First off, let me tell you that buying used books is not a bad thing. In fact, I’ve purchased over 15 used books these past two years on Amazon, saving me well over 200 dollars. Here are several pointers I have about finding the best deal for used books for when you go onto Amazon.
Search for the book that you would like to purchase.
When you go to the page that shows the book you want, look for a round box that says “Also Available In”.
If there is not a box, then just click the used link.
The reason I like to use the box is that is where you can find the hardcover versions.
When you see the version of the book you like, just click the link next the type of book you want.
For example, if I wanted Hardcover, I’d click the link in the Other Offers column that is directly across from “Hardcover”.
After you click that link, a new page will load with all of the used, new, and collectible versions of the book.
If you want the best deal, browse through the used/new selection and try to find one under a dollar — most of the time you will.
Even is if it is a used book, most are in readable condition (just read the user comments to make sure).
Once you’ve found the book, just add it to your cart.
If you do the math, buying a brand new hardcover would have cost me about $25 at a local bookstore. Instead I payed $4 for a used book ($0.01 for the book + $3.99 for shipping). Pretty good reason to use Amazon, right?
Torrenting is a very controversial topic nowadays, especially with music piracy. For some people, like myself, I strongly believe torrenting should be allowed. One example where torrenting is helpful is for students. There are times when a student does not want to put out several thousand dollars for a program like Final Cut Studio. I’m aware that there are student discounts on software like Photoshop, but many companies still don’t offer them for higher-end applications. On the other hand, many people prefer to get movies from torrent, which is very understandable with movie ticket prices these days. I’ve put together some helpful tips on how to use a torrenting program, uTorrent (PC & Mac) to decrease the time it takes for a torrent to download.
Change Priority For Multiple Torrent Files
By having the ability to change priority on a file basis, you can not only speed up your torrents, but get only the files that you need (e.g. just the video file or serial number).
In uTorrent, go to the Files tab and select the files that you need and right-click.
Change the priority to High Priority.
Next select the files you don’t need (like .nfo, .txt, sample.avi, etc..) and change the priority to Don’t Download.
Surprisingly, when you limit the download rate instead of using unlimited speed, the download time will decrease significantly. Same thing with the upload rates, in part because the more you’re uploading the more peers will connect, therefore causing more connections.
Go take the Verizon online speed test when you aren’t downloading anything.
After the tests are complete, you should get two numbers: the Download rate and the Upload rate.
Next you need to convert the rate from Mbps to KB/s via Google (e.g. 1.8 Mbps to KB/s).
Now you use that for your download rate/upload rate in the uTorrent preferences.
Most torrent networks use the TCP port 6881 and above. Due to the amount of internet usage that BitTorrent accounts for, many internet service providers (e.g. Verizon, Comcast, Bellsouth) want to limit the connection on those ports (6881-6999).
Therefore, it can help to make your TCP port somewhere above 10,000.
Go to uTorrent > Preferences and go to the Network tab. Under the Incoming TCP port field click the Randomize Now button until you see a TCP Port that is above 10,000.
If you are using a router, make sure you have the “Automatically map port” field checked.
If you need access to your router’s settings, go to Network in System Preferences to find the address. Then type in your router address in a web browser. Contact your internet service provider if you have trouble changing your router settings.
A little over two years ago, I bought my first digital SLR camera. When I first started taking pictures with it, I kept the settings in automatic mode. I had the feeling that if it was on automatic, then it would handle just about any situation on its own without any intervention. Well, that was when I found out I was completely wrong. After going to local classes at a camera store, I started to understand the different settings and when to use them. I still continue reading many articles online and tutorial books at my local bookstore. Because I know what it was once like to start off with a DSLR for the first time, I thought I’d share some helpful places where you can find tips on how to use your camera to its full potential.
By far, this has been one the most helpful little books that refreshes just about anything when you need it. The Digital Photography Field Guide book gets you started off with the basics of the camera controls and slowly leads into the more complex things like lighting and exposure. I still bring this book in my camera bag because I know that there will always be a time when I need it.
TWIP is a podcast created by Alex Lindsay of PixelCorps. When I first started listening to this podcast, one of the main things that I really liked was that the guys were straight up about their reviews. They would tell you what works and what doesn’t. That’s the kind of the material you need at the beginning because the further along you come, the more options there are as far as photography equipment and software goes. In each episode, they go over a poll that was posted the previous week, post a contest link, reviews of the week, and websites or podcasts to visit.
When it comes to learning about anything Photoshop, these guys know it best: Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and Dave Cross. In each video episode, each guy usually shows a tip that they have learned recently in Photoshop. Ranging from anything like making people look skinnier or how to create a holiday card. Thankfully, because they show some really creative tips, I always find something useful that I can use within my own photos. Another nice part of the show is the quick breaks that they have with tips on using your SLR camera or other equipment.
Probably one of the most useful resources for me by far, Digital Photography School, created by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, has tons of everyday tutorials. Each week, I like to check out the newest content on their website and see if there’s anything that I could use as an outdoor photographer. Fortunately, I always come across something that I can use like “Family Portaits Do’s and Don’ts” or “10 Ways to Take Stunning Portaits“. The best part is that if you are unsure about what to do, you can always ask the thousands of users on the forums who are willing to help you.
Fabio Sasso, is one of the most inspirational graphic designers I’ve ever seen. Everyday, he posts something called “Daily Inspiration”, which is basically a collection of graphic design pieces or photographs that he has found creative. As a photographer, it helps to see how other people work and what other styles of art are out there. I’ve learned to look at taking pictures very differently after browsing through some of Fabio’s Daily Inspiration posts. His blog also covers many other topics such as web design and Photshop, so I would highly recommend you take a look at it.
The first time I saw this magazine was in a bookstore when I was just browsing around the Photography magazine stand. The title of the magazine was what initially grabbed my attention, “Outdoor Photographer”. The main reason it grabbed my eye was the fact that I was an outdoor photographer myself, so it would only make sense for me to be focused on that name. Since that day, I’ve been a subscriber to Outdoor Photographer. I love how they show detailed pictures in their articles to make it feel like you’re actually there. The topics in the magazine cover anything from creating powerful landscape shots to thinking like Ansel Adams. If you’re just starting off with photography, I would recommend keeping the magazines because they are very informative for only a couple of dollars an issue.
One of the best ways to share pictures with friends outside of email is Flickr. Many users like it because it gives others a chance to see your work and comment on it as well. On the other hand, I use it to find out how certain images were taken. One of the coolest features about digital photography is that everything can be stored electronically, including the properties used when taking the picture such as: ISO, shutter speed, white-balance, and aperture. When you want to learn the most about your SLR and when to use certain settings this is when it becomes helpful. When you are browsing through someone Flickr photos, there is usually a link that is called “MoreProperties” located under Additional Information. Having access to what settings were used in other people’s pictures is very valuable information. I also find Flickr helpful for finding places to go. When I’m about to go on trip somewhere, it helps to know what places look nice, especially for photography. And what a better way to find out than Flickr. Users post pictures of the places to visit and best locations for taking pictures. Just like I talking about earlier with Abduzeedo’s Daily Inspiration articles, Flickr has many creative photos which give you a new perspective on how to see things the next time you’re out on a photo shoot.
A couple months ago, I switched over to Firefox completely after using Safari as my main browser. Now that I have found the right plugins and tweaked the settings, using Firefox has helped me browse the web smarter. Being a web developer, I’m constantly looking for lots of information on various websites, forums, and personal blogs. I’ve been so accustomed to having to click on the “next page” or the “1, 2, 3” links on the bottom of the page that it never really bothered me. All I can say, is that after installing the AutoPager plugin, I’ve been able to browse through sites much faster and save myself time.
Download Firefox if you don’t already have it installed.
Get the AutoPager plugin from the Firefox website or from the “Get Add-ons” menu inside of Firefox (Tools > Add-ons).
AutoPager will work instantaneously after you restart Firefox.
Tweaking AutoPager To Work On Every Site
I have noticed on some sites it can be hard for AutoPager to detect the “next page” or the “1, 2” links.
In order to make custom settings on a per-site basis, all you have to do is go to Tools > Auto Pager > AutoPager.
A sidebar will appear on the left of the screen.
In the URL Pattern field make sure the correct website address is filled in.
Then for the Link XPath and Content XPath, simply click the yellow spy-glass icon in the AutoPager sidebar. This will automatically detect the links.
Just to be sure, click the “Test Site” button that looks like a stack of papers.
If the site continues to the next page as you scroll down—success!
If not, then use the Pickup Link and Pickup Content buttons to select the links manually.
Just hover over the parts of the page that have links and/or content, click once and they will show up in the sidebar.
When you’re done making changes, click the Green checkmark icon to save the changes.
Ever since I have been using VMware Fusion, I never really thought about managing the disk space. Primarily because most of my documents and applications were stored on my Mac and not in the virtual machine partition. Therefore, when it did come time for installing applications in VMware, there were installation problems. It takes a little bit of work, but after following these instructions of which my tutorial is based on, you should be all set.