Archive for the 'tech/web' Category

os x lion


i don’t need to write a review about the new os x lion, just one line.
it is quite simply, shite.

apple has taken away ‘spaces’ + replaced it with some poorly scoped side scroller system which organises itself depending on what your apps want to do rather than what you as the user want to do. it’s awful, unintuitive + a massive step backward in easing workflow, also no longer allowing you to drag files/folders/apps across different spaces or arrange them as you want.

lauchpad is a pointless + gimmicky variation on the dock, except no where near as smooth, simple + accessible.

no rosetta powerPC apps will work anymore, meaning half the independent apps i use are now useless + i am not going to pay for apples own approved low quality versions.

certain aspects have been aesthetically ruined. just google the new address book + ical.

full screen apps, although a great idea, have no default options or access to the desktop whilst active. was it too much to be able to use my mac the way I want to? like on os x snow leopard for example?

+ lastly, RAM. it’s important, + i want more of it, not less.

microsoft, i eagerly anticipate windows 8.

when you google…


not that this will bother many people, but it should. google really isn’t being well behaved…

all right, what happens?
when you search google + then click on a link, your search term is sent to that site along with your browser + computer information, which can uniquely identify you.

so what if a random site could work out who you are?
no one really, but these sites usually have third party add-ons, + these build up profiles on users which they then sell to advertisers, which is how your google searches affect the adverts on your bank sites.

but so what if i get tailored adverts? i don’t pay attention to them anyway.
advertisers aren’t the only companies they sell to.
your profile can be bought by anyone, including insurance companies, banks + credit experts, which will affect you.

so that’s a problem how?
it is. if you don’t know why then do the research.
but that’s not all, google also saves every search you make alongside your computer information. this information can then be accessed on request, which again for most people is not a bad thing, but for anyone who has ever searched something a little dodgy (ie for a torrent site or conspiracy theory) this is a massive thing.
remember that anyone else who searches using google on your computer is tallying up their searches against your name, so letting your friend around to check out the wikileaks documents means that technically you are breaking international privacy laws.

there are ways to avoid this, proxies are a good start + there are plenty of free internet ones out there. you could download software such as ‘peerguardian‘ or ‘tor‘ which hide you whilst online. or you can use alternative websites, one good one i use is duckduckgo, who specifically do not give out your information.

happy webbing!

this makes it easy


click HERE to see the importance of net neutrality.

self-host for free


with a little thought, i have found a way to get sites hosted online for free. there is a catch, the url of the resulting site isn’t user-friendly, it will look something like this:

also i’m not sure about the bandwidth limitations if you’re looking for viewing rates of say, a few thousand a month, so this won’t be a true public website.

however, if you’re looking to create an online cv or portfolio, then this is perfect. the chances of someone finding or even looking for your url are minimal, so you can put up data that you are happy to share with clients or employers etc, give them the url + thus private access to your fully working site.
the best thing is that this is quite easy to do + only takes five or ten minutes.

step 1
sign up for a dropbox account here. you’ll need to download the software + set up your account, i advise watching the video to better understand the concept. it’s a great little program + i would suggest it to anyone.

step 2
once that’s all done, go to your new dropbox folder. inside it there will be a public folder, go into this + create a new folder which you should name in relation to your website, eg ‘web’.

step 3
now i’ve done this with iWeb, it may be different with other programs, but basically you’ll want to change your web making programs host folder for the site. obviously you’ll have had to make + save your website first.

go into iWeb + click on the site folder in the sidebar which brings you to the screen above. under ‘publishing’, click the ‘publish to’ dropdown + select ‘local folder’, also enter your site name + email. in the ‘folder location’, click ‘choose’ + select the folder you made in the public folder of your dropbox folder in step 2. in the example below i’ve named mine ‘krae_on’.

step 4
you’re nearly finished. make sure you’re connected to the internet, go back to iWeb + click ‘publish site’ from the bottom task bar of the program. this will now publish the folder to your online dropbox cloud, + should take a couple of minutes depending on connection speed + the size of your site.

step 5
once that’s done, go to your dropbox account online. go into your public folder, then the folder you created in step 2, + within that folder there will be an ‘index.html’ file. click on the drop down next to it + select ‘copy public link:’.

it will bring up a box with a url in it which should look a little like what i put at the start of this post. this is what you will give to people to allow them to see + use your site, but before you go giving this out, copy it + go back to iWeb. in the large empty box which says ‘website url’ paste this link + re-save + publish. doing this makes sure that all the links + images work properly.

step 6
use the url to go + admire your handiwork. this could be used to show clients commissioned websites before they’re sent for being properly hosted, or as a cv/portfolio to show employers etc.

it’s not a solution, but it’s great for what it is, + is a great way for testing + sharing ideas before you shell out for a proper domain :)

net neutrality no more


a new ‘net neutrality’. no more choice, no more pirates, no more new sites. let me explain [*pirates can just skip down past the crossbones pic]. the ramifications of this are a bit complex, so forgive my patronising.

the internet in lamest terms can be seen as a motorway. at times it gets very crowded, causing lots of cars to get caught in traffic. think of these cars as the data of the internet.
currently all data queues, regardless of its content. this is fair.

new plans are suggesting a partitioning. this plan in the motorway terms means putting a row of bollards down one lane + forming an empty or ‘fast lane’ which only certain cars can use, allowing them to skip the traffic. verizon [with backing from google] are saying that this would enable them to provide slow loading content quicker by sending it through their ‘fast lane’, + that by taking this traffic out of the other lanes, general traffic will flow faster.

but this is not how it will work.

by allowing service providers to create + control their own ‘fast lanes’, you put internet traffic speeds into the hands of corporations, who will inevitably turn their ‘fast lanes’ into ‘toll booth lanes’, a situation already happening with wireless network providers which is why mobile broadband is so shite.

what does this mean? firstly, companies could introduce a higher speed ‘second internet’ service at a higher price, driving up your internet costs. but such money worries are irrelevant in view of the bigger issue, this is where it gets complex.

let’s consider that yahoo provide your internet. yahoo sites such as ymail will load quickly + run well, but other sites such as hotmail will be slower to load than they are currently, + even prone to stalling or not loading at all.
this is because yahoo will slow general traffic speed, + thus hotmail, to enlarge their own private fast lane. this fast lane will be for traffic from their own sites, such as ymail, encouraging [aka forcing] users to switch, increasing yahoos internet market share + thus their own profits.
the same will happen to data from sites who do + do not pay for this ‘toll booth lane’. so google, who can afford the tolls, will be given priority over sites who can’t.
to make it worse the FFC will be powerless to stop them.

to further demonstrate how priority traffic lanes will be devastating for the internet, let’s consider a new site springs up. let’s call this new site ‘facebook’.
it may have to potential to become one of the biggest + best loved social sites on the web, but starting out it would not be able to afford the ‘toll booth lane’ costs.
from here two things could happen. it could be bought out, flooded with adverts + ruined [like myspace + youtube]; or it could fail, as inevitably users ignore it for quicker + more stable alternatives provided by their service provider, such as friends reunited or windows live.

a devastating third alternative is that it never even gets recognised, as no one bothers with it in the first place. this situation would become commonplace + would devastate the internet as a source of innovation + a place for new ideas to find success. future facebooks would never happen, let alone sites that are truly innovative such as spotify or ebay.

not that i condone or promote it, but let’s look at what these new plans potentially mean for the immense society of pirates online.

internet providers controlling traffic speeds. this is only possible if they are able to monitor traffic, otherwise how will they know what to allow onto their fast lanes + what not to? how much information they would be able to get from traffic monitoring is a topic in itself, but you can guess that it’s still too much for comfort. + when they know that traffic contains data from sites known for piracy, how quickly do you expect that traffic to be allowed to flow?

this new ‘net neutrality’ is one step toward increased company profits, the killing of new companies + the sinking of piracy in its only remaining open sea.



a brilliant way to send files + things across the internet securely + easily, no sign up required, no downloads needed.

just go to + click ‘send a file’ to upload whatever it is.
send the recipient the ‘peer link’ address, they copy it into their address bar, click ‘download’ + done.
*note, the internet window you’ve used to upload the file has to stay open, as soon as it’s closed the peer connection is lost + the file can’t be retrieved at the other end.



mac users who like minimalism will love this. PLAINVIEW

it enables full screen browsing, hiding everything away in keyboard accessed windows. so say you need your bookmarks, ‘⌘ + B’ brings up a small window with them all listed, + they can be directly imported from safari or firefox saving having to reinsert them all. the address bar is ‘⌘ + L’ + tabs are ‘⌘ + T’

it’s all tidy + it’s all familiar, making it the perfect minimal browsing experience

more recycled betterness


from the same site, THIS is another example of how truly wasteful we are. our pollution needn’t be pollution, in fact our pollution has the potential but not the support to be better + more efficient fuel + construction material for our modern world

THIS product uses recycled bottles in place of brickwork. the air inside each bottle makes it an infinitely better insulator than brick, capturing the suns heat + emitting it slowly throughout the evening. the slight transparency keeps it opaque for privacy, but does allow for a natural daytime glow saving on lighting costs. the final wall is actually considerably stronger than brick or concrete, more environmentally durable + easily recycled again. it costs a lot less than traditional building materials, + saves the need for chemical + environmentally damaging waterproofing + insulation

the way our industry ignores these better alternatives at the cost of the environment, just for not wanting to step away from tradition, is sickening

recycled is better than new


THIS webpage shows a new building material stronger than concrete that has the potential to divert large quantities of waste from landfills. the following post is taken from this webpage:

uk company affresol offers a truly novel building material called ‘thermo poly rock’ [TPR], which is made from select waste products. the resulting material is stronger than concrete, is waterproof, fire retardant, + can be used to build low-cost modular housing. each house built with TPR panels will save an average of eighteen tons of waste material from being disposed of in landfills

“every country in the world has issues with waste and we now have an opportunity to turn waste into an enduring housing resource that is 100% recyclable.”
– ian mcpherson, affresol

TPR is cold-produced from waste products mixed with resin and polymers which can then be poured into molds like concrete. once cured, the company says that TPR offers great thermal insulation, is not subject to insect infestation or rot, does not leach any dangerous chemicals, + is 100% recyclable. the company also states that TPR panels have better flex and tensile characteristics than concrete, and the panels can be manufactured to different grades of strength as appropriate to the end use

the TPR panels can be used to frame houses, saving large amounts of lumber in the building process, + because the material is waterproof, houses can be put up year-round. the panels are molded at the factory + transported to the site once construction begins, which can greatly speed up the building process, taking less than a week to build the entire structure. according to affresol, houses built with TPR panels also cost less than traditional building methods

in addition to being environmentally friendly, the affresol house is targeted to lower income families, offering “a real and cost effective opportunity to the thousands of people who are currently unable to get onto the first rung of the housing ladder”



not real, but surely the next step for apple? i mean, i’d like an iPad once the newer models come out with all the extras, but it is just a bigger iPhone. i want this!



in the my lovely minimal post a while back, in the top right of my desktop is the day, date + time. some people assumed i was sad enough to edit this every minute to keep it accurate, no no no

geektools is the app, available HERE. it settles itself as a system prefplane, + allows you to arrange various shells running scripts, system information + images or texts, running in the background as desktop items. if you use automator workflows you can get them running on the desktop also, though remember to adjust the refresh times, otherwise they’ll be running every 10secs. the nice thing about geektool opposed to other apps is that geektool simply displays what’s already happening, so no extra cpu usage, just information. also it’s very customisable, allowing you to show information in whatever place, size, colour or font you want, so you can get it looking perfectly suited to your desktop background or icon set etc

leopard users + older can use the stable second versions, whereas snow leopard users have to use the beta version 3, which does unfortunately have a few bugs restricting what you can actually do with it. hopefully the patches will be out soon

that’s about it. i’m not versed in the terminal so for scripts a look around the mac forums or a simple internet search will always provide cool shell commands + some dead good desktop examples for inspiration

solar beat


click HERE very nice site where each planet is given a note to play as it passes a line across our solar system. very relaxing + elegant



a site that allows you to save an infinite amount of web pages + organise or ‘tag’ them however you choose for ease of finding at a later date
check it out HERE + check out my tags HERE

the best way to explain this is with an example
sign up + save the ‘add tag’ link to your bookmarks bar or favourites (can’t remember if it’s an installation or a link but either way make sure you have easy access to it)
go search a site of interest
find something that you want to look at or show to someone later
click ‘add tag’ + tag it it under something memorable or relevant, i use categories, eg ‘technology’, ‘art’, etc

now say it was another day + you need this webpage. you would either have to re-find it, which can be difficult + time consuming, or you can now look at your delicious + simply click on the tag, then on the link which will take you straight to where you saved it from
most people will question the requirement of this, but if you’re doing research or you use the web more extensively than most then this site is a godsend. it saves having hundreds of favourites all over the place + not being able to find them later, + replaces it with a word cloud of your favourites tagged in a way you know + understand, allowing you to quickly find anything you’ve saved

connect 360


a lot of people have xbox 360’s, they’re awesome. what a lot of people don’t have is a way of wirelessly connecting their mac (therefore their itunes, movies + pictures) to it, allowing them to truly use the functionality of the console

i don’t want to sound pretentious here, but in our house we all have 360’s + some sort of laptop or mac. before i get you all excited, all the xbox’s have to be on xbox live + on the same network for this to work (security reasons)

for pc’s the free vuze programme allows you to wirelessly share your shared folder to any 360 on the same network. so i can access all my friends media + enjoy them on my own tv in my own room, without having to bother them with asking to put their stuff on a usb stick for me etc

for macs this isn’t possible. you need to trick the xbox into seeing your mac as a pc. connect 360

a demo is available along with the full software HERE, it’s only cheap + well worth buying as the demo quickly becomes restricting
once installed, you access + run it from the system preferences, where it gives you a great selection of settings to play with. with pc’s what you share must be in the shared folder, which means moving everything around + taking up memory; with connect 360 you choose which folders get shared. no moving anything around, no setting up a shared folder, you simply tick the box on which folders you want to be accessible

also the connection is seamless. i’ve had this running movies + music on three xbox’s from all over the house with no lag or delay at all
though saying this, having three xbox’s wirelessly connected to each other + three other computers/macs did create lag in online games. simply quitting the applications (connect 360 + vuze) did solve the problem instantly



been moving all my music across from my pc to an external hard drive for back-up + for use with my macs iTunes [which sucks but all mac users are unfortunately stuck with it] only to find that almost half of it is in .wma format

this program HERE is a lifesaver

seriously, iTunes on mac has no .wma conversion tools + i would have literally died if i’d had to re-rip half my library, which is over 80gbs + contains well over 10,000 tracks [can’t help boasting about figures like that]
this little piece of software is brilliant, just drag + drop the tracks from wherever they are + it will make an mp3 version + place them into the folders where they came from, sssuuuccchhh a timesaver! if asked to at the tick of a box it will even delete the .wma files that it’s just made conversions of, saving even mmmooorrreee time!

iTunes sucks

darwiin remote


just a quick one today. if you own a wii remote, you can use it to control your mac!
you can download the software HERE. it works brilliantly with frontrow [which is a great alternative to iTunes + VLC when you have a remote] + also with gaming where it can be used like a light gun. it can be made more accurate with leds + it also has bluetooth capabilities

the only issue [unless you’re a gamer], is you do wonder how often you’re going to use this app…



apples dock is a marvel launcher + navigation tool allowing you to be a mouse click away from any program, folder or document you need, + is infinitely customisable. however there are more ways of getting where you want to go, via the keyboard + thereby without filling up the dock, allowing it to be used in different ways which i will cover later. quicksilver is a popular third party launcher app, with a nice interface + the extra ability to manipulate files + run scripts on top, making it quite a powerful little program. similar apps include launchbar + butler though i haven’t used these

the problem i had with quicksilver is that despite its potential i only ever used it as a pretty launcher, + it just doesn’t navigate around the system deeply enough. it doesn’t find any sub-folders unless specifically set up to do so, which includes albums in your iTunes folder, pictures, work, any folder outside the main ‘finder’ window. a major hassle when compared to the existing spotlight

spotlight tends to divide mac users; it is either used for everything or nothing. i confess i used to hate it, mainly because its interface is very bland + i missed seeing my lovely icons, but the more i got annoyed with quicksilver, the more i liked spotlight. the strength of spotlight is in its power + its customisation. it will find anything* on your mac, from deep sub-folders to system preferences, + using a simple check list you can organise what, where + in what order spotlight searches + presents its results. i have it set up to only show applications + folders, which speeds it up dramatically + means that with only a couple of letters the top hit is almost always what i’m looking for
*when i say ‘anything’, spotlight has another feature not found in other apps; the privacy option. this allows you to make specific apps/folders/images etc not show up in the search results [great for hiding that /b/ folder]

that this is bundled in with the os should be enough to make it first choice over third party apps, but its extra customisation options + raw power really make you question why you would use anything else anyway

screen lock


a way of locking the mac without having to save everything + close down applications

i’ve known about using password locked screensavers in conjunction with hot corners for a while now, but how often do you or others accidentally activate hotcorners? it gets incredibly annoying. there are apps out there, but who wants more third party programmes clogging up the hard drive? that + they are often slow, frustratingly slow when compared to letting the mac do it for you

with a simple preference change this invaluably useful tool is yours, no downloads, no hassle

‘applications’ > ‘utilities’ > ‘keychain access’
menu item ‘keychain access’ > ‘preferences’ > check ‘show status in menu bar’

there should now be a padlock in the top right of the menu bar, click on it + it drops down with a small menu where the first option is ‘lock screen’. this has the same effect as using a password locked screensaver, but without the hassle of hot corners + accidents. simples



seriously, go HERE + check it out. i recently discovered this + am still getting to grips with it’s power, but even at a basic level it is pretty amazing

there’s a lot to explain but i’ll try my best to be brief…

you can choose not to download any software + just sign up for an account. this way you can sign in on any computer + upload pretty much any filetype you want, from simple text to pdfs + audio. once uploaded they are saved without any alterations + can be accessed + downloaded by you in full, just sign in. it’s kind of like flikr or photobucket, except it’s private + accepts every file type. it allows you to organise all your uploads in a variety of ways, making it easy to set up to work exactly how you want it. you can also email files to + from the account; emails are automatically added to the library as if you’d uploaded them

if you find the online method a bit slow + clunky or don’t have constant access to internet, then you can download a small piece of software for your pc/mac/phone that greatly simplifies the process. the software gives you an offline version of the online system, which you can organise + upload to freely. it then allows you to synchronise the two quickly + easily whenever’s convenient, effectively doing a mass upload to the online account. it works the other way around too, so if you’re using a different computer with the software installed you can do a mass download

the software has advanced search capabilities + allows you to create tags, making it a useful organisation tool as well

in short, at the most basic level evernote acts as an external hard drive that exists online, available to you wherever you have internet. at a more advanced level it can be tailored to completely change the way you work



weird site that’s strangely fun [more so for graphic designers], where type becomes a toy. check it out HERE

 shortcuts


people who use macs come to learn all the basic ones pretty quickly, things like ⌘ + Q = quit, ⌘ + Tab = cycle through programs, etc etc

here are some useful ones you may not have known about though
⌘ + ⇧ + 4 = take selected area screenshot
⌥ + ⌘ + esc = bring up force quit window
ctrl + tab = cycle through safari tabs
⌘ + ` (back tick) = cycle through safari + photoshop windows
⌘ + arrow keys = move around folders + folder hierarchy
ctrl +  ⇧ + ⏏ = turn off screen [move mouse/press any key to turn back on]
⌘ + delete = move item to trash
⌘ + h = hide application

as if that wasn’t enough, try this: open the Terminal, type ’emacs’, press ⇧ + Esc, type ‘xdoctor’…
i honestly don’t know why that’s there, but it is. have fun



nice graphic clock that’s available to download as a screensaver HERE

ball dropping composure


a smart page HERE where you draw lines across a space, + the balls dropping into it create different sounds depending on their velocity + time between impact on the lines

windows 7


has been caught with her pants down

i’ll admit, my first rant may have been a tad exaggerated, windows 7 isn’t exactly the apocalypse. but it is still crap

a new os should be all about increased speed + stability, with new features thrown in to boot. they’ve flopped both. a few times already the bbc has reported crash + security issues, + multiple people have experienced dramatic slowing of processes since doing required updates

along with my driver problems which couldn’t be resolved without new hardware, i wonder how microsoft is going to survive the os arena when google chrome  arrives

apple vs windows


the concept of apple’s long-running “get a mac” tv campaign is that the characters are personified computers. it’s right there in the opening lines of every ad in the series: “hello, i’m a mac.” “and i’m a pc.” it’s not windows/mac os x, they are not representative or average pc/mac users, they are computers.

they’re not dressed as computers, they’re dressed as people; it’s postmodernism taken to a very silly and profoundly unserious commercial end.
but the concept reflects the actual business that apple is in. apple does not sell operating systems, they sell computers. microsoft does not sell computers, they sell operating systems. apple and microsoft are undeniably engaged in one of the longest running and most interesting rivalries in business history, but it is very odd in that it is an orthogonal rivalry. apple’s direct competition isn’t microsoft, but instead pc makers who sell computers running windows.

this is not a minor semantic point. there is no argument that the single most distinguishing difference between a mac and a pc is the os. the genius in the conceit of apple’s ads is that they acknowledge this without making windows the target, they do so by diminishing windows. windows is just one element of what it is that makes pc (the character) who he is. the ads are neutral, sometimes even deferential, towards microsoft. yes vista is once mocked, but several of the spots have emphasized how microsoft office works just great on a mac. in at least one of the ads, the mac character even makes it a point that he can run windows just as well as pc can, via boot camp.
the framing of apple’s ads is not about either/or. not a choice between two rival products, like coke/pepsi. the framing instead is special vs regular; not coke vs pepsi but coke vs “soda”.

windows is not the mac’s rival or competitor. it is the omnipresent homogenizer that weighs pc down.

it doesn’t matter whether that is actually true, the point is that this is the role apple has reduced windows to in this advertising campaign. windows is regular. the default. the norm. mac os x and the software that runs on it is special. it is something that the mac can never lose and which the pc can never have.

and so what makes microsoft’s new “i’m a pc” commercials so jaw-droppingly bad is that they’re not countering apple’s message, but instead they’re reinforcing it. the spots themselves jump between dozens of different people who “are” pcs, and makes a point of emphasizing that there are a billion windows-running pcs worldwide. this only emphasizes that “pc” is not a brand name but a generic.

microsoft’s new ads emphasize the same message as apple’s. that the mac is the one and only brand-name computer in the world.

[taken + edited from]

look, but don’t touch


a lovely site HERE demonstrating how computer interface could be reinvented with a non-click type approach. a beautifully made site with a well designed system that examples the idea well.

screen shot