Archive for October, 2009

Stuff-It Or Buy It?

October 19, 2009

I registered and purchased Stuff-It yesterday, first impressions? Well I probably wouldn’t recommend it for the novice user, if you just want to do simple compression tasks on your Mac then use the “Compress” option in the File menu of Finder to compress your folders to a Zip file, Zip archives are the main type used these days on the Internet so this should suffice for most people, similar compression options are available for Windows XP users too from the context menu in the Windows Explorer.

I’ve been interested in Stuff-it for quite some time because of its advanced compression options but the price has been holding me back, you’re looking at around $100.00 Australian for this compression/expansion suite.

The Suite contains quite a few utilities and thus far I’ve only had a small play with the Stuff-It Archive manager, I’ve found one part which isn’t accessible with Voiceover on the Mac at this time, that’s the compression or expansion progress windows which pop-up when you’re adding/compressing/expanding archives, perhaps a friendly email to Smith Micro will sort this out for the future? We’ll see .

Operation for the most part of the archive Manager is simple, you can search for archives on your drive, they’re then listed in a table and you can open each at will with command-o once its been selected, you can use the menu or the tool bar of the application to manipulate or modify the archive.

Things can become rather tricky when you start playing with compression options and I suggest a full read of the manual so you can understand what each option may do to your archive, if you like getting the smallest archive possible then you’re going to be quite impressed, Stuff-It has a wide variety of tools to experiment with but be prepared to do a whole heap of testing to find your right combination for whatever your archiving, in most cases – if you want a quick and reasonably well compressed archive of files – then leave Stuff-It to its “automatic” settings, by default Stuff-It chooses which compression methods to use by the “file types” its compressing.

Interestingly, Stuff-It talks about how you can make a Stuff-It archive of already created “Zip” archives and compress those to an even smaller size? I’ve not tried this yet but it will sure come in handy for all the audio books and magazines I get in “Zip” format, just dump them all into a Stuff-It archive and leave them to their own devices .

There’s much more to Stuff-It of course including variable incription methods for archives – some of the incription methods are used widely with wireless routers and are quite resistant to hacking – and some tools which allow for the backup of a Mac system, these may be particularly useful as none of the backup techniques or applications I’m currently using compress files.

Stuff-It is available for Windows XP but I’m not sure I’d be recommending this application, I’ve not played with it for long but it appears that Winrar offers far advanced compression algarythms, it certainly does a better job on all the files in the tests I’ve done thus far and its cheaper to buy. Their is a version of RAR for the Mac but its command line driven and – too my knowledge – doesn’t as yet have a Graphical User Interface, I really hope that changes.

More to come on the subject of Stuff-It I’m sure .

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Discovering New Features Of Nisus Writer Pro

October 15, 2009

Okay, some nice features I’ve noticed in Nisus Writer Pro and 1 I’ve never seen there before.
Firstly, you can now have Nisus play a sound when various actions take place such as the manual or automatic saving of documents, cool.
Next, the editing of clipboards is now accessible, Nisus Writer Pro can handle multiple clipboards, just choose the one you wish to work with at any one time from the Nisus Writer Pro Preferences under the Clipboard pane, to edit the clipboards contents bring up the toolbar and press the “Edit” button, edit to your hearts desire .

Users Of Total Recorder Be Warned

October 15, 2009

I’m always discovering new features and functions in the Total Recorder application and I do discover some bugs from time-to-time but the support team at High Criteria seem pretty helpful. One you need to be careful of is the problem in Total Recorder’s error trapping when typing in a filename, for some reason Total Recorder won’t tell you if the “/” character is in a filename. Now obviously, if you’re typing in a filename manually then you’re not likely to use the “/” character but if you’re pasting say from a schedule on the web to the filename box into the scheduler of Total Recorder? Well, that can be a different matter as I’ve just found out.

so what’s the consequence of all this? you get an extra folder created off your directory where Total Recorder stores your files along with a possible meaningless filename which you have to try and sort out, in other words the wasting of a few minutes which you could quite easily devote to more productive pursuits.

Next thing, be very careful! how you set your power management settings of your Windows PC, if the PC goes to “Standby” mode or the hard drive goes to sleep then I’m afraid that Total Recorder will go to sleep to, this problem is probably beyond the folks at High Criteria as its more a Windows thing I’m supposing. Audio Hijack Pro – the nearest thing to Total Recorder on the Mac – can tap into the operating system and wake or even start your computer just before the scheduled recording is to take place and I’m guessing of course that such nice and nifty things just aren’t possible with Windows due to the design of the PC itself.

Node Mobile 3G Broad-Band Up And Running

October 14, 2009

I finally managed to get this up and running yesterday, thanks to Scott for his excellent knowledge of the Internode Node Mobile system and no thanks whatever to the Internode Node Mobile support pages which gave me incorrect codes, I entered these into the Node Mobile modem upon setup so its not surprising that I couldn’t connect to my Node Mobile service.

I’m very impressed with the small number of test results I have thus far in my use of Node Mobile, I made a call to the “Skype Testing Service”, using Skype and the audio quality was excellent, just waiting for my Dad – Who’s in France – to find some time to give me a call on Skype so we can see how good the video is using Node Mobile, if Skype works as well as it did then all I can say is that the download/upload speed must be preety decent, haven’t done a speed test as yet.

For residents of Australia, you can find out more about Node Mobile by visiting Internode at http://www.internode.on.net and following the appropriate links.

VLC Media Player

October 13, 2009

You can find this incredible little piece of software at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

VLC may be of particular use to those of you who have migrated from a Windows machine to a Mac and who have collected a lot of MP3 files over an extended period of time.

Its more than likely you would have a lot of .M3U playlists to manage your collection with? VLC will handle these with little modification on your part, the only changes that have to be made are if you’ve been using “nested playlists”, in which case you’ll have to replace the backslash character with a slash character, something which can easily be done with a text editor, this modification refelcts the Mac’s operating system and the way it finds paths.

VLC is available for Windows of coruse though – the last time I checked the software – it wasn’t accessible to those who are blind and who rely on a Screen Reader, in which case use Winamp or Windows Media Player, .M3U playlists are completely compatible with these 2 packages.

So what’s the advantage of VLC over Itunes? Like other products, VLC has advantages and disadvantages over Itunes and the main thing I’ve found thus far with VLC is the ability to handle your playlists straight off which is a huge plus if you’re running a network containing computers running various operating systems, suppose you have Winamp on a Windows machine and VLC on a Mac machine then the playlists are pretty much compatible with each other so they can be shared over your network.

I think that the quality of decoding of MP3 files is far better with VLC than is the case with Itunes and I’m curious to know what MP3 decoder VLC is using? I suspect it uses Mad and you can get this excellent MP3 decoder as a Winamp plug-in for your PC at http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_id=12349&atid=112349

VLC handles video files too! and I’m told the quality is far better than you’ll get than with Quicktime, or Winamp though VLC seems – from what I’m told – to be comparable with Windows Media Player, I can’t judge as I can’t see the pic .

There’s a lot to VLC including Podcast management, extra audio/video plug-ins and preferences and a “Discovery” service where you can discover shoutcast radio stations broadcasting on the Net, you can even use VLC to stream media content to other computers or devices on yoru Network.

3G Mobile Broad-Band

October 12, 2009

On saturday I ordered a 3G Mobile modem from Internode, http://ww.internode.on.net and they go through the Optus mobile network in Australia. Plans seem to be fairly good value for money starting at $14.00 a month for 500MB data allowance, the maximum price is $35.00 for 5GB data allowance per month and this includes both uploads and downloads.

If you sign up for a 2 year contract you get the modem for free and that’s what I did, I got the confirmation email yesterday that my application had been processsed so now all that remains is the modem to arrive and for me to set the whole thing up, should be a great aset for the Macbook, I did think about getting a Phone modem for it – and perhaps I still will – but the 3G modem seems a more practical option and it will be very useful even if the ADSL line goes down – don’t kid yourself, it does happen at the odd time -.

so what if you use your data allowance? You can “top up” your data with a “Top up”, similar to pre-paid I guess but you can’t go over the data allowance so no fear of any nasty excess charges like you get with some providers in Australia.

I’m going to do some tests with the new Node Mobile service, for example I’ll be very interested to see how the service performs with Skype.

I’m please with the coverage I’ve seen thus far, every address I’ve typed into the “Coverage Checker” has had the 3G service accessible so that suits me fine, I can go visit my Mum and still keep in touch with everyone.

XLD, a nice little CD Ripper for your Mac

October 11, 2009

Thanks to Gordon and Lynnette Smith from the U.K. for finding this very nice little application and bringing it to my attention.

XLD can be found at http://tmkk.hp.infoseek.co.jp/xld/index_e.html

So why use this tool? If you have a huge! CD collection and you want to “rip” it accurately to your computer then XLD is the perfect way to do it if you have a Mac, if you have a Windows PC then use EAC.

What’s wrong with Itunes? Itunes unfortunately does not perform accurate ripping to your computer and this is particularly important if your CD’S contain scratches, a lot do and you won’t know exactly unless you examine them carefully.

You can use XLD to convert from file type to file type, many rippers such as XLD, EAC and Easy CD DA Extractor create “cue/flac” or “Cue/wav” pairs, the “Wav” file is the actuall audio content of the CD whilst the “Cue” file is a set of instructions which tell the ripper or application where tracks start and end as well as providing additional information about the CD. These file pairs can be used by XLD to create tracks of the associated CD in another format, say tracks in MP3, OGG or AAC depending on your personal preferences.

In testing of XLD, I found it to be as good as EAC, only other application that comes anywhere near XLD on the Mac is the Max Ripper but this project is nowhere near as comprehensive as XLD.

XLD uses the “Accurate Rip” database to find information on the offsets for your CD’S so you can be assured that accurate ripping will be carried out.

This application comes from Japan and is free, may the author continue with his good work.

My thoughts on Snow Leopard

October 6, 2009

So people have talked long and loud about Snow Leopard, the new operating system for the Mac, has the talk been worth listening to? For the main yes it has and there’s been a lot of great press about what Apple have done with this new release, don’t take any notice of the doubters or those who throw stones at the product as they’re most likely ill informed or have a hidden agenda for some other product or company .

I did read somewhere that Microsoft claims that Snow Leopard is a “Service Pack” to the operating system of the Mac, the people at Microsoft then go on to state that it was rather tragic that Apple would charge for a Service Pack when Microsoft don’t. Sorry boys but you’re not in the real world , Apple release updates for their software which I would certainly compare to Service Packs. An operating system to my knowledge is a system which operates a computer and a new operating system is generally a re-writing or a re-working of an older operating system to enhance performance, give the user new features, to aid the development of future software for a computer using that operating system and so on, Snow Leopard from Apple certainly fits these descriptive terms and – for an operating system – is very well priced indeed, cost me $40.00 to upgrade whereas to upgrade from Windows XP Pro to Windows 7 Pro is going to cost me well over $600.00 and I’m asking myself – given the great performance and productivity increases I’m getting out of my Mac machines and Snow leopard – is an upgrade of my Windows systems worth the bother?

When you upgrade to Snow Leopard, you’re not going to see too many new bells and whilstles, what you will notice is a speed increase across most applications you’re likely to use and this is evident in some more than others.

For the user of the Mac with little or no sight, you’ll enjoy the enhancements which have been added to the built-in Screen Reader of Snow Leopard called Voiceover, its a real pleasure to surf the web using Safari and Voiceover though I prefer to use the new Infovox voices rather than using the default Alex voice which is shipped with Snow Leopard, having said that however Alex is not all bad, its a very natural sounding voice which breathes when pausing at the end of a sentence.

Amadeus Pro Podcasts

October 6, 2009

I notice that one of the last entry’s I made here was to do with my Podcast on the popular and very good value-for-money Amadeus Pro Audio Editor. I’ve been very happy and overwhelmed with the feedback I’ve received on this project and I’m only sorry that I haven’t been able to get around to producing the promised “Episode 2” which will deal with audio editing in the application, I scratched the surface of this in “Episode 1” when I summaries many of the commands available to edit audio, add effects and so on which were available from the menu system. Amadeus Pro of course contains many more commands and shortcuts than were mentioned in that Podcast and I’ll deal with some of them in the next installment.

As it happens, many more features, functions and keyboard shortcuts have been added to the software over the last few months so perhaps its just as well I’ve not been able to do the Podcast episode as planned , editing with Amadeus is now easier than ever and I suggest that this is largely due to the excellent feedback that users of the software are providing the author with, yours truly being amongst them.

If you’d like to download a trial or purchase a licence for this software then point your browser to http://www.hairersoft.com/Welcome.html

Back again after a fairly long absence

October 6, 2009

Well here I am back again having just finally registered my copy of Mars Edit, the easiest way I know of to publish your blog on the Internet if you own a mac, point your browser to http://www.red-sweater.com/products/index.html to download a trial copy.

Mars Edit – whilst easy to use – contains a lot of advanced features which I’m going to have to read up upon.