Quilted Laptop Cover

For Do-it-yourselfers, here is a video showing exactly how to make a quilted laptop cover. This isn’t something I’m going to try no matter how easy it looks. I generally end up sewing closed the parts that need to be open and leaving open the parts that need to be closed–not a great combination for something that will be used to carry around several thousand dollars of equipment. Still it is worth checking out if you are interested in making your own cover.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a program/service that lets gives you a folder on your computer that syncs to their servers. You can put the same folder on a number of different computers and they will all stay synced together. So you put a file in your Dropbox folder at work and it shows up in your Dropbox folder at home. You can also share folders with other people and it has some nice features for viewing photos.

All in all, it makes a great way to move files around without using sneaker net and is a good way to backup important data with a minimal amount of effort. The program runs on OS X, Mac and Linux so it makes it easy to move things between different systems.

One of the nice things about Dropbox is how simple it is. You can easily explain it to someone who isn’t technical and they can have it up and running in just a few minutes. It doesn’t have many options so there isn’t much to confuse people.

In addition to the files being available in your Dropbox folder, they are also available online, so you can get to important items while you are on the road away from your computer or if you need an important file while your machine is in the shop.

Dropbox also can handle different versions of a file, so you can go back to a previous version of your file if you somehow mess up the current version. This is a great lifesaver if you accidentally overwrite a file with an older version or accidentally delete the contents.

For more detailed information on Dropbox, see this Dropbox review.

Digital Signatures

There are several companies out there that will help you create a paperless workflow. Echosign offers a paperless approval and e-signatures with a free version as well as some paid versions. The free version is a great way to try it out without having to put any money up. This low barrier to entry sets their product apart from the competition. See the Echosign Review for more information and screenshots.

Docusign has a similar offering, but with no free version. Docusign offers some additional features and integrates with CRM systems. While Echosign uses a web based interface, Docusign has you actually download the documents that require your signature. Checkout the Docusign Review for more information.

For people who want a more generic solution, digital signatures and encryption give you a way to handle signatures and encryption without relying on a web based service. The downside is that it may take a bit more effort to get setup, but the upside is that you’ll be using a standard technology that works with most email clients on any platform.

OnyX OSX Utility

OnyX IconMost of the time OS X runs well without much intervention. However there are times when you want to do some cleaning, run automated maintenance at unusual times, or change settings that aren’t readily accessible from the user interface. Since OS X is based on a form of Unix, all of these things can be accomplished at the command line. However for most people, the command line isn’t very friendly. Not only is it hard to find the right command, but it can be very easy to make mistakes. OnyX solves many of these issues by giving you a clean interface to many of OS X’s internals. Continue reading

Why I won’t buy an Intel Mac (yet)

Bi PlaneA farmer and his wife visited the fair each year. One of the attractions was a pilot who would give passengers a short ride in his bi-plane for five dollars. The farmer wanted to ride the plane, but every year his wife would say, “five dollars is five dollars”. After 7 years, the pilot offered the farmer a deal. He said, “If you and your wife can go the entire ride without making a sound I’ll give the the ride for free.” The farmer and his wife were delighted with this offer and climbed aboard.

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Hacking Quicken to Import QFX Files on OS X

Quicken LogoIntuit is not a Mac friendly company. They make an OS X version of Quicken, but it is artificially crippled in order to try to get banks to pay them money. Intuit will only let you import files from banks that pay extra to let their customers download transactions into Quicken for Mac. The fact that you paid for Quicken and the bank paid for a Quicken server isn’t enough. They want the banks to pay another fee for their Mac users–even though there is no additional hardware or software involved. The end result is that Mac users get a product that will only work with a handful of banks. This article discusses a method to get around this limitation. Continue reading

TiVo vs. Windows Media Center

Windows Media CenterTiCo CentralThere are two basic ways to enter the world of the Personal Video Recorder (PVR): through a dedicated hardware unit, like a TiVo or ReplayTV, or through a software-based PVR that runs on your home computer, like Windows: Media Center Edition (WMCE) or MythTV.  In this article I will compare the most popular form of each platform, TiVo and WMCE, to help you figure out which one would be best for you. Continue reading

Travelling with Movies on a Mac

DVD Player IconThere are several situations where you might want to dump a DVD to your hard drive to watch later. For instance, I get significantly better battery life when watching a video from my hard drive than I get when watching it from a DVD. If I’m stuck in a plane for several hours, having my movie on the hard drive can be the difference between finishing the show, or running out of power halfway through. I use a PowerBook and in OS X 10.3 and earlier you could just use the built in Disk Utility to copy a DVD to your disk, but it stopped working in 10.4. However with a few free tools you can accomplish the same thing and more.
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Keeping a Hot Backup of Your Mac Hard Drive

Disk UtilityYou don’t really understand the importance of backups until your hard drive crashes. With most backups, you’ll need to reinstall the operating system and then restore all of your data. OS X comes with a handy tool that will let you create a live copy of your hard drive that can be started up and run just like it is your computer. Continue reading