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I came to the conclusion long ago that people like to complain. As case in point, I relate a comment made recently by a retiring executive at my company: “There have been so many changes in my 34 years here. I remember when we first got a network setup and everyone was awe-struck by its capability and potential. Then a week later everyone was complaining about how slow it was…” We are just never satisfied. And so it goes with Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

The DRM (Digital Rights Management) used by iTMS is at the center of the complaints from iTunes users – in fact DRM is the bane of all digital music purchasers, regardless of the clearinghouse of choice. If I buy a song from iTMS, don’t I own it? When I own something, can’t I do as I please with it? Can’t I play it on whatever device I want, burn a backup copy, use it in a home movie or slide show, or turn around and sell it if I decide I don’t want to own it any longer? Well, no, not in this day it seems. Read more »

Kottke points to a article that points to some comments on Slashdot – yeah I know, it’s kinda like the telephone game huh? – by someone who represents them self as an Apple employee, and who makes some very interesting comments about where Apple wants to […] Read more »

The best utilities work well when they’re needed, and stay out of sight the rest of the time. So it is with Stuffit Deluxe 9 from Allume. In fact, I almost forgot about the new Stuffit version after I installed it to review. But there’s more there than meets the eye – that is, if you look for it. Read more »

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While I’m sure iPodLounge will be all over this in the weeks ahead, here’s a quick glimpse of the iPod DJ Mixer. Looks super cool. I’m no DJ, but I could have fun with that I’m sure. Hat-tip Gizmodo Read more »

Something pretty significant occurred a couple days ago when Tiger was officially given a release date. Did you notice? Apple.com shed some of its lighter skin for shiny black, wherever Tiger was present. Honestly, when was the last time Apple.com really changed in a significant way? […] Read more »

This is one very cool program. I’ve been playing with Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia Software for a couple weeks now and I’m using it more and more everyday. (Look at some of my recent posts – the screenshots are a product of Snapz Pro X.) Sure, OS X comes with Grab for taking screen shots, but it’s pretty basic in function. Snapz Pro X is full-featured and then some.

Snapz Pro X starts up as a background service when you log into your OS X account, so it’s always there, waiting for when you need to use it. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t bother your regular cpu usage when it’s not being used (I know, I keep a top monitor on my desktop with geektool, at all times…) When the mood strikes you, hit CMD + SHIFT + 3 and the options come up which allow you to choose what kind of screen capture you want to take. Read more »

Taking a note from the Knoppix book, Apple will be releasing a lite version of OS X – code named Kitty, in honor of their feline naming conventions – which will run from a bootable optical disc. Knoppix is a Linux distro that only runs from […] Read more »

As more and more signs point to a sooner than later release of OS X 10.4 – Tiger – I find myself planning for that future. Huh? It’s ok, follow along and I’ll explain a skosh more. You see, I hammer on my OS X system […] Read more »

Ever notice that your OS X system isn’t running as quick and efficient as it once seemed to? Are things opening slower, taking more resources to operate, and generally causing you to become more impatient while using the computer? It’s probably time to deal with the gunk build-up that’s accumulated over time in OS X. Here are a few tips that will help you regain that lost efficiency from your system.

Unix has a lot of utility apps built into the operating system, and since OS X is built on a Unix framework, you’ve got those utilities right there and waiting to be used. In fact, you don’t even have to know what those utilities are, or how to use them! I know, right now you’re going, “Huh?” Here’s the trick:
Let your machine run while you sleep at night. (If necessary, tell it not to go to sleep, or to automatically wake in the early AM.) OS X has a few tricks up its sleeves, but they’re only set to run in the middle of the night by default. So letting things run on their own while you rest will help to keep your system running a little smoother than it would otherwise. You really don’t have to do anything about it! Read more »

Taking screen captures and annote-izing (wait, is that a word?) them is absolutely brainless with FlySketch. I love brainless. This little app is so intuitive and useful that it took me all of 60 seconds of fiddling with it to say out loud, “Holy crap this is cool!”

The ability to draw (boxes, notes, fuzzing-out, etc) over top the image you’re about to grab, and include those edits in the grab is fantastic. I think the most ideal use is for any tutorial based instructions. It’s just so simple and fast when it comes to taking and labeling screens in one move.

Last week I turned in a few screen shots to my manager upon her request. With FlySketch, I was able to put my notes and helpful information right in the shots! It was so useful compared to having a notes sheets referencing different screens, and then different portions of those screens in some cases. Much less confusion, and absolutely simple to generate. Read more »

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I was excited to get my hands on this little mouse – and I mean little! It’s the perfect size for my 3 year old son to use, and he loves that. It’s definitely for travel purposes – I don’t think I’d recommend it for regular day to day use or you’re sure to end up with carpal-tunnel before you know it. But in order to bring accurate news and reviews to our faithful readers, I’ve used it regularly for 2 weeks, sacrificing my personal health in the process.

The quality is very high, and with the included 2 AAA rechargeable batteries, it’s got a nice little heft to it. It’s really just enough to let you know you’re moving something around in your hand – not so much that you’ll notice its added weight in your laptop bag. Read more »

This is about the coolest website design I’ve seen. Ever. Make sure you’ve got the Flash plugin installed and your sound up for the full experience. I really don’t have anything else to say. It’s just so cool, you gotta check it out for yourself. Read more »

If you’re a developer, or maybe more specifically, an aspiring developer, you have got to check out MAMP. Some of you may be familiar with LAMP, which was the Linux Apache MySQL PHP installer package. Well the incredibly cool folks at webEdition have blessed the mac […] Read more »

I recently got the opportunity to play with Rogue Amoeba‘s latest offering, Airfoil. For those of you unfamiliar with Rogue Amoeba, they specialize in audio-based applications for OS X. (I’ve been a long-time user of Audio Hijack Pro and LineIn) Definitely check them out if you’re an audiophile of any sort.

Airfoil takes the idea of Apple’s AirTunes to the next level by allowing you to stream audio from any source (program) on your Apple Computer to remote speakers using an AirPort Express. You’re no longer bound to iTunes when it comes to utilizing your home stereo for audio from your Mac. Read more »

Initially this was to be a review of Moneydance and nothing more. But since I didn’t have experience with anything to compare it to, I checked out a few other personal finance apps for OS X as well, so I could give you the full scoop. In all, I tried Moneydance, iBank, Money, and iFinance. I left Quicken out because it seems to be the typical choice, and I wanted to see what the smaller developers had to offer.
iBankiFinanceMoneyMoneydance

To start off, I’ve never consistently tracked my finances (like I – and you – should) with software or a bank book. Yeah, I know: Bad Nick. Well, this has been a great chance for me to get into it, and surprisingly, I’ve taken to it like a homerun hitter to steroids… I should actually mention, that I keep track of my finances through online banking with my bank’s website. So on a daily basis I can see what’s happening with my accounts. This is great, so why use an app in addition to the online access? The first and most useful reason is the graphic depictions of what your money is actually going toward. Having a pretty, color-coded chart to show you where all your hard-earned cash went is nice for tayloring a personal budget, to say the least.

The online banking type of person will love Moneydance. It was the first one I reviewed, and it’s the one I’ll be sticking with. (If you do your banking by monthly, mailed statements, then you may find one of the other apps more to your liking. More on them shortly.) Read more »

The reactions that Apple products elicit from “passers-by” are – in my experience – always some form of awe. Whether I’ve got my powerbook out at work, on the train into the office, or in a waiting room someplace, it gets noticed and always brings people […] Read more »

Well, at least “according to sources close to [Apple]“. April 1st is not confirmed or denied as the announcement date (while it IS April Fool’s Day, it’s also the anniversary of the Apple I…) of the Tiger release, but mid April does seem to be the […] Read more »

It’s pretty hard to swallow the rumors floating around that Tiger (OS X 10.4) may be announced by Apple on April 1st. I mean, really. Who announces something that big on a Friday, but especially April Fool’s Day? Well, in recent history, Google’s GMail was announced […] Read more »

Recently I was lucky enough to grab the attention of the venerable Quicksilver developer, Alcor, and ask him some questions about the OS X-altering program he conceived. If you haven’t heard of Quicksilver, or don’t know what it does, or haven’t tried it yet, stop right now! Read this, this.
Ok, welcome back. So I got to ask some questions about Quicksilver, it’s background, Alcor’s intentions with the application, and so on. But instead of me babbling about the background of the interview, just read what he had to say:

The Apple Blog:
I LOVE QS. I’m honestly giddy and like a little school girl when I gush about Quicksilver to others. It’s just so natural when you get used to it. I don’t know any other application that people would be this gung-ho about. How does it feel to be the creator of such a groundbreaking app with such a cult following? And What’s it like to be responsible for changing the way so many people use their computer?
Alcor:
It is nice to have people so passionate about it. The community that has grown up around it is probably the greatest reward. In the end, the users are the ones who do most of the innovating. We are just providing tools. Read more »

Taking Amit’s information to the next level, these guys used the Powerbook Motion Sensor along with some custom code (which they provide for download if you’ve got a tasty new Powerbook) to control their iTunes music – mainly skipping to the next track – by bumping […] Read more »

Amit Singh has done it again with a fantastic look at the Motion Sensing technology in the new Powerbooks. It’s pretty in-depth, so if you’ve got some time and wanna know all the geeky details, definitely check it out. Amit also explains how to change the […] Read more »

This article at CNN Money makes note of unnamed music labels planning to up the cost of digital music from the current 65 cents/song. As the article mentions, The Steve ain’t happy about this. The Record Labels are said to be comparing the higher cost of […] Read more »

Recently I posted about iCal and Address Book, and my suspicion that they were a couple of unsung heroes amongst the OS X-included apps. As a follow-up, I’ll start with iCal and my findings after using it daily for a few weeks.

My general conclusion is that iCal is a good calendar program as far as calendar programs go. I mean, what do you really do to make a calendar really stand out from another? On its own, I don’t think it shines the way I suspected it would. It’s helped me keep better track of my life and all the stuff that goes on around me. (My wife is especially appreciative of this aspect of my new iCal use.) At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? Read more »

Last week we posted an introduction piece to Quicksilver, meant to walk the un-innitiated through the world of Quicksilver. This week Dan Dickinson has a great mid-level piece on tweaking Quicksilver. It’s meant for the more Quicksilver-familiar crowd, and is a great next step for those […] Read more »

UPDATE:
I’ve noticed this post getting a lot of play lately. Glad to see it’s viewed as useful to so many! Look for a Quicksilver & Tiger piece with new and exciting Quicksilver goodness in the coming days, here on The Apple Blog.

Quicksilver is one of the most innovative applications to be found on OS X. That may be my opinion, but there hasn’t been a person I’ve introduced to it that hasn’t said [in some form], “It’s changed the way I use my computer!” That’s awfully telling I’d say.
To be fair, LaunchBar and Butler are two more popular alternatives to Quicksilver – LaunchBar is $30 for a 5 computer license and Butler is Donation-ware. In contrast, the founding developer of Quicksilver (known as Alcor on his forums – look for an interview with Alcor in the coming weeks) seems to spend more of his time working on QS than getting around to creating a donation section on blacktree.com.

Why is it better? Alcor is one of the most responsive developers I’ve come across. Beta updates seem to come – on average – about every couple weeks. He is constantly answering questions and listening to the multitude of fans on his forums. I’ve not seen a similar, consistent practice by a developer…in my memory. So not only is Quicksilver fully featured and powerful as all get-out, but it’s always evolving.

OK, what does it do?!
Short answer: It’s a launcher. It allows you to open files from a keystroke instead of clicking through the Finder for them.
Long answer: What doesn’t it do? QS indexes your hard drive into a Catalog. That Catalog is available at a single keystroke and then allows you access to everything on your computer. Not only can you open applications, but using QS, you can move files around, append text to files, locate a file and attach it to an email…The list goes on and on and on and…

But to really appreciate Quicksilver, you’ve got to dive in. Nothing I could write would explain it nearly well enough (you’re probably saying to yourself, “Yeah, that’s painfully obvious…”). Seeing absolutely is believing. And as it says on the Quicksilver Preview page:

In the end, Quicksilver has one very important effect. , The effort associated with frequent tasks fades into the background and you are able to act without thinking. After an adaptation period, Quicksilver becomes an extension of yourself; the process fades away leaving only the results.

So let’s get started! Read more »

Perhaps this is nothing new for you, the intelligent readership of The Apple Blog – but it was new to me… Ted over at PowerSDK posts about the death of his wife’s iPod. Sure, we’ve all heard about these things before, that’s nothing new – but […] Read more »

Seems that someone at Apple slipped-up and sent a periodic email to consumers in Great Britian, and it included the box art/logo for the upcoming Tiger release. The inclusion was apparently a mistake, as subsequent emails featured different graphics, omitting the Tiger box. Basically, it looks […] Read more »

My comments about the books from iPhoto 5 sparked a lot of feedback. Thanks to everyone who left comments; The insight, personal experiences, and information were great to read. As promised, here are my impressions from the book I ordered last week and received last night: […] Read more »

Engadget is reporting about the new Mini Skirt Blue-glo from Plasticsmith. It’s really cool looking. Of course first thought is, without a usb or firewire hub (or both) built in, it’s pretty useless. But hopefully that’s to come soon. Some of the commenters had some cool […] Read more »

Sony just announced it will be releasing a cell phone that will apparently compete with the “iTunes Phone” from Motorola. It’ll be named after Sony’s long dominant (until the iPod came along) Walkman line of products. And get this: It’ll play mp3 and AAC files! So […] Read more »

In DAILY FEEDING, I’ll attempt to help you simplify some of the more daily and mundane tasks of computing. To kick things off, I’ll start with protecting your data through regular backups.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this topic – why? I’ve lost way too much data due to poor back-up practices. But the past few months have brought some break-throughs that will hopefully help you avoid my mistakes.

I actually lucked out about 5 months ago: I’d just run my first backup of my Home folder (after having my powerbook for almost 2 years), when I hosed myself the very next day. Thank goodness I’d made a backup the night before! And oh yes – the biggest issues arise from user-error, and I generally know what I’m doing on a computer… Read more »

Raise your hand if you’ve ordered a book from iPhoto. My father-in-law ordered one right after installing and opening iPhoto 5. He got it in about a week later and called me. He was not impressed (mind you, he’s a huge Apple nut). I figured he […] Read more »

While Hewlett Packard is having a bad week or so, Apple stands to gain some firepower. HP’s senior vice president of marketing, Allison Johnson will be moving to Apple to breath some new life into Apple marketing. In her new position, she will be responsible for […] Read more »

As reported in detail on MacRumors, Panther update 10.3.8 is now available through Software Update. It weighs in at a hefty 27mb and fixes/optimizes a number of different things across the operating system. As good sense goes (and by popular recommendation), it’s generally better to wait […] Read more »

Looks like some more classic Apple media has surfaced over here. It was mentioned by Slashdot, so slashdotting is in effect… Plan your download times accordingly. (I imagine the it’s only a matter of time before sites start getting “TABbed” like crazy… ;)) Read more »

If you’re all about showing that iPod Shuffle off, and don’t care to spend more on accessories than the Shuffle itself, then here’s the case for you! Gizmodo reported on the iPodLounge mention (where you can see some other pics of sick iPod casings as well) […] Read more »

Back when I was in high school, I worked at Best Buy for about 6 months. (Of course I was selling computers!) Yeah, that was a fun time…trust me when I say, no one knows anything there. But I digress. I mention this job because we […] Read more »

As mentioned previously here on The Apple Blog, some people had been experiencing speed issues and other things with iPhoto ’05. Well Apple released iPhoto 5.0.1 in Software Update. I couldn’t verify personally because my Powerbook is at AppleCare for a screen replacement, but the good […] Read more »

Following the release of newly upgraded Powerbook G4′s, I feel it’s time to do a little soul-searching on the topic of the G5 processor in Apple’s Powerbook line. There are so many things that Apple has to contend with (way to go, to The Apple Blog’s […] Read more »

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