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7/19/2006:
Open DNS

Category: Internet
Skill Level: NA

I recently read a little blurb somewhere about a new network of DNS servers.  For the non-tech savvy, DNS servers are what lets us find web pages by names such as "yahoo.com" instead of  "66.94.234.13".  Anyway, all of the world's internet traffic relies of 13 DNS servers.    Don't you think it's time we added some more?

Enter OpenDNS.  OpenDNS is a free service offering DNS name resolution, phishing scam interception, address typo correction, and much faster lookups that standard DNS servers.  I just reconfigured my router the other day to use their servers and I noticed an immediate increase in lookup speed.  I am not on their payroll and get no benefits whatsoever from passing on this information.   I'm just an impressed user who wants to spread the word. (Yes, this post is a copy and paste from my other site: Ball of Confusion.)

3/21/2006:
Windows Does, In Fact, Suck!

Category: Commentary
Skill Level: NA

Have you seen me lately?

Has our hero abandoned his quest for better Macintosh hints and software? Is humanity doomed? Is this a stupid intro to this entry?

Why the lack of hints on this page? Well, in February, I started a new job. In many ways a better job but in one particular way, a horrible job. What is the pea under this mattress? It's the fact that I am stuck using a Dell box running Windows XP. (That's not a knock against Dell. I'm sure it would make a fine Linux machine.)

So, I've gone from using Mac OSX 8+ hours per day to using it for roughly an hour per day. The only tip I can come up with in this situation is stay on a mac. It's still much better for several reasons. Years ago, I had a job that had me using Windows 98, and trust me, Windows has come a long way. There's a lot of lipstick on this pig, but it's still a pig.

So, what does this mean to you? Have I abandoned this labor of love? No. Posting frequency may decrease, but it will not end. What am I working on right now? My priority is to find away around Speed Freak clogging the system logs. This seems to be the only complaint about the app at this point and I see it as the only stumbling block on the road to perfection. Also, I'm kicking around the idea of merging Idle Hand and Time Bomb into one app. I'd also like to do a site redesign that's more css based and less table based.

Stay tuned.

1/20/2006:
Everybody Loves Free Stuff!

Category: Review
Skill Level: NA

Want some new mac software without the hassle of paying money?

Software for Starving Students, is an organization that provides and entire cd full of free software. Some are open source, some are not. I mention this collection first because it includes not 1, but 2 of my own programs: Tweak Freak (the old 2.0 version) and iShred. It would have been nice if they asked me first, or even told me. Oh well. The CD image can be downloaded via the BitTorrent file provided at their page. If you're new to BitTorrent, here is everything you need to know. My client of preference is Transmission, but there's plenty of other options.

The FSuite CD, is another collection of free software. The difference between this and the above is that this one is all open source software. The CD image can be downloaded directly or via BitTorrent, which coincidentally is on the cd.

Who wants games? The iDevGames competition recently came to an end, but all the entries are still available for download.

Lastly, here's a great article, complete with links, about several open source, free games for the macintosh.

1/16/2006:
A is for Apple, J is for Jack

Category: Review
Skill Level: 9 of 10

I've been trying off and on for about a year now to find a way to successfully run disktool in single user boot mode. This would give you all the benefits of running disktool from a boot cd without the hassle of leaving your chair. There is a command line version of disktool available, so it should be possible, right? Well, turns out that it is possible, but it's a huge pain in the butt. I eventually gave up, but not in defeat. I gave up because I found a better way.

Enter Applejack. Here's the description from the product page...

"AppleJack is a user friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X. With AppleJack you can troubleshoot a computer even if you can't load the GUI, or don't have a startup CD handy. AppleJack runs in Single User Mode and is menu-based for ease of use. Using AppleJack, you can repair your disk, repair permissions, validate the system's preference files, and get rid of possibly corrupted cache files. In most cases, these operations can help get your machine back on track. The important thing is that you don't need another startup disk with you."

I love this app, I wish I wrote it and can't recommend it enough. Just one warning, single user boot mode can be a bit scary for those who've never ventured outside of the GUI and, if you don't understand that last statement, this app is not for you.

Download Applejack

Please note that this is not my application and I cannot provide any support whatsoever.

1/3/2006:
Streaming & Scheming

Category: Music
Skill Level: 6 of 10

...so, this guy I work with is a big Deadhead but pretty dim when it comes to computers. A few months ago, I introduced him to Archive.org's live music archive. This site is a HUGE archive of live music by bands that allow bootlegging, hence, it is perfectly legal. There's been a bit of a legal tussle going on regarding ownership of bootleg Dead shows and the latest impact on arhive.org is that soundboard bootlegs are now streaming only. This is all well and good if you plan to listen in front of your computer, but what about that shiny (or scratchy) iPod you listen to everything else with? Wouldn't it be nice if you could just download mp3s? Well, you can. I don't advocate any sort of copyright infringement or circumvention of copy protection or anything else that can be considered illegal, but....here's how...

1. In your browser (Safari pictured) right click (control + click with single button mice) the streaming link and select download linked file. The file should be an "m3u" or playlist file. These files tell iTunes where to get the songs and what order to play them in.

2. Once the file is downloaded, drag it onto TextEdit's icon (or any other text editor). Once it is open you will see a list of web addresses. Choose "Select All" from the "Edit" menu.

3. Next, select "Copy" from the "Edit" menu. This will put all of the addresses on your clipboard so that you can transfer them to your download program. In our example, we are using the simplest of solutions, Safari.

4. Open Safari and bring the "Downloads" window to the front. Select "Paste" from the "Edit" menu. This will add all of the links from the downloaded file to your Safari download manager. The downloading will begin immediately and all files will be saved to your designated download folder.

1/3/2006:
Welcome to Whatnot

Welcome to whatnot, my repository for neat little tips, tricks and commentary on all things pertaining to macintosh computing. Updates will not likely be on a regular schedule, but I'll try to do several per month. My first post answers a coworker's prayer...