Archive for the 'mac' Category

Mac calendar syncing on the cheap

Ever since I got my iPhone I’ve been wanting to integrate its calendar app more into the planning of my day to day stuff. I did some research initially, but gave up about finding a solution that didn’t tie me into some sort of perpetual sync-software subscription model for ages. There are lots of available options if you want to pay, but I wanted free. Not as in speech, but as in beer.

I finally found a setup that works for me. It is as follows: My google calendar account is the heart of the operation. That’s where my different calendars are all based. On my iPhone I installed the excellent app called Nemussync. While neither the website nor the utility is super flashy it works beautifully out of the box and does two-way synchronisation between your iPhone and your google account. Setting it up for automatic updates can’t be done from the GUI yet, but it’s a fairly benign little hack (you basically just have to copy a .plist file to a directory, it’s on the nemussync page under FAQ).
Now that the iPhone is hooked up to the google account all we need to do is set up some hefty syncing between ical and the google account. Google calendar now supports CalDav which means that you can sync your calendars both ways for free. Google even supplies a nifty little tool to accomplish this. The process is really quite seamless and my experiences thus far are really positive. Thumbs up to all the macheads at google who make this possible.

Oh… and screw you mister Jobs and your overpriced MobileMe disaster.

notetaking on my mac

I (re)started life as a graduate student a couple of months ago now and I’ve been using the opportunity to drastically revamp my notetaking techniques. My system is still under construction, but this is what I’ve got so far:

  • General notetaking: Voodoopad
    I fell in love with Flyingmeat’s little, nifty app when it was first introduced to me. So much in fact that I splurged the 30 bucks for it when I reached the limitation of the free version (15 pages max IIRC).

    • pros: lightweight, easy to use, really easy wiki-like functions and a great search function.
    • cons: only very rudimentary support for drawing sketches and figures. Not the greatest for handling pictures and screen clippings.
  • other contenders for this post: Circusponies Notebook, Evernote, Tiddlywiki

  • organizing PDFs and other reference material: EagleFiler
    • pros: great support for tagging and folders and subfolders, lets me read my PDFs in skim instead of in Preview.
    • cons: world’s ugliest icon (almost shameful to keep it in the dock), not the most intuitive tagging system in the world.
  • I started out with Yojimbo solely because it had an awesome name and BareBones makes some killer software (textwrangler FTW!). I never disliked Yojimbo, but the number one killer for me was when I realized that I couldn’t open my PDFs in skim instead of in Preview. EagleFiler just opens with whatever program is set for default in your OS. Nice integration. Handles powerpoints and such as well.

    Other apps considered for the job: Yojimbo, nice and orderly folder structure

  • Overall General mind-dump: Evernote
    I’m very fascinated by Evernote. It’s in beta at the moment and a closed beta at that, but you can sometimes find invitations floating around the blogosphere. I got in through an article in Wired and I’ve seen them offer up invites on jk-mobile.com as well.Evernote shows some awesome promise at being a dump for all the things that would otherwise occupy your mind. I’ve note done any thorough testing, but as a replacement for random files scattered across my desktop and notes in the post-it dashboard widget it’s awesome. There’s a desktop client (for both osx and windows) and various mobile clients as well. You write your notes, send e-mails, do screen dumps, take pictures and dump them into Evernote which in turn lets your organize and tag them and (drumroll) makes everything searchable. Even your photos and screendumps. It’s an awesome technology that has worked very well so far for me. I took a photo with my mobile of a job-listing I saw at school. E-mailed it to my Evernote and when I came home it was searchable (even if the pic was grainy as heck). I’m impressed. It’s still in beta and does weird syncing errors and crashes sometimes. But it shows great promise. Hopefully they won’t make it too expensive when it leaves beta.

    • pros: Awesome app, pretty icon, text recognition in pictures!
    • cons: Beta-symptoms. Mac client still not as packed with features as windows counterpart.

There are more stuff to be covered about this in the future, but that’s for another writeup. How to handle to-do’s, e-mail etc. will be covered here some other time.

In conclusion it’s sad to say that there is no OneNote 2007 killer for the mac. There are some awesome apps made by indie-developers, but the “do-it-all” notetaking app is nowhere to be found. My Eee (which was the last pc I’ve had with windows on it) had Onenote 2007 installed and while the dimunitive screen made a lot of stuff harder than it should be there was a lot of good stuff to be said for the program. I still think there must be Mac-developers out there who can best it. After all they’d be building it on the world’s best operating system, right?

Office for Mac: The software equivalent of a hot dumb blonde?

Various blogs are posting reviews of the new Office for Mac 2008 which according to Wired is due to be released the week of the 14th of January. For all of us who’ve taken the plunge to intel macs this is good news. Office 2004 was unbearably slow under Rosetta and the beta that I’ve tried feels a lot more responsive on my Macbook.

So far so good.

But what about the functionality? Microsoft and Apple both use the Mac Business Unit as an indication that Microsoft is committed to releasing software for the Mac. We mac-users are even special enough that we merit our very own releases. We are also so nice and visual and creative that we don’t care about not having VBscript in Excel or a host of other things that our office pack just doesn’t do.

Is Microsoft dumbing it’s Mac:Office down to make sure the Mac will never really be seen as a serious contender for businesses? would it really be impossible to do a unified release of Office for both the PC and Mac?

You’d think it was easier for them to just focus on one release and there’d be less confusion about cross platform compatibility to boot.

So my questions is: Is Microsoft doing this to keep the Mac irrelevant to mainstream business users (despite its often touted superior security profile) or are Mac users simply so focused on “the pretty” that they happily feel special with their dumbed down office and pre-save compatibility checks?

streaming media on the Eee

I’ve managed to grow quite frustrated with the Eee. I do primarily use it for surfing and the odd youtube video, but always suspected that I’d like to watch some videos etc. too.

This turns out to be a little more difficult than anticipated. Either way, after a little messing around and lots of google-fu, I found enough instructions to get a semi-reliable server solution going, so I can stream video from a network share on my macbook to the Eee.

I’ll post a more in-depth tutorial later, couldn’t find one online to specifically cover my needs, but to get you started here’s a brief overview (I’m using the stock Xandros install in easy mode):

  1. Download Sharepoints for your mac here
  2. Setup network share on Mac using sharepoints. I chose my movies folder, but obviously any folder will do.
  3. Enable windows sharing in system preferences
  4. Restart a half a million times (it feels like it)
  5. On the Eee, open file manager and choose tools > mount network share
  6. Browse to the mac and voila.
  7. Select reconnect on startup

I’m having some stability issues with streaming movies. Lots of choppiness, I can’t figure out if this is because I’m streaming wirelessly on a 802.11G connection and the proverbial tubes are not fat enough or if I’ve misconfigured something somehow. Any feedback appreciated.


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