Blackberry 7230 First Impressions

7230Previously I reviews the Blackberry 7100t. While I was generally happy with the device, I found that I was avoiding typing because of the strange keyboard (multiple letters on each key).  I started looking for a better solution and started looking at the Blackberry 8700 series.  While these looked like great phones, they were very expensive–generally about $300 even when signing up for a 2 year plan.After a brief search on ebay I found a 7230 for under $80.  It doesn’t have some of the additional features of the 8700, but I figured it would give me a good chance to try out the keyboard and see how I like the form factor.  If I decide I don’t like it, I’m not out much money and I can always turn around and sell it again on eBay.

Another reason I went with the cheaper phone is because neither the 8700 nor the 7200 phones work with OS X as a modem.  However, the newest Blackberry Pearl 8100 does work with OS X. I don’t want a Pearl because it has a similiar key layout to the 7100t, but I’m hoping that the next phone released with a full keyboard will have the OS X compatibility.

Continue reading Blackberry 7230 First Impressions

Tips for choosing a Large Monitor

MonitorI’ve seen a few articles this week suggesting that a larger monitor may be a better upgrade than a faster computer. I recently bought a 24 inch flat panel monitor from Dell to use with my G4 Powerbook and I’ve been impressed with how much easier it makes things.

You don’t really realize how many windows you have open at a time until you have the extra space to display them. I’m finding that having the large monitor lets me spread things out and it is much easier to jump back and forth between a web browser and terminal window because I can just change where my eyes are looking instead of selecting a different window.

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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 OnyX OSX Utility

Quicken for Mac Hack

In a previous article we looked at a way to hack a QFX file (Quicken’s version of OFX) to trick Qucken for Mac into letting you import at file from a bank that doesn’t pay extra money to Quicken for Mac support. Here we are going to examine a few ways to automate that process.

Since OS X is based on a form of Unix you have access to many of the Unix command line tools. Specifically, OS X supports sed, which is a utility for manipulating text files. The following two sed commands will make the necessary replacements in a QFX file.

Here is a script that will make the changes to any number of files passed in on the command line. (Shown as an image to keep wordpress from mangling the code.)
You can download the script here: sed_script.txt

By using automator, you can make it so you have the ability to option click on a QFX file and tell Automator to make the necessary changes.

Here is an example of that that looks like in the automator application:


Once this is setup correctly, you should be able to option click on your QFX file and see the following menu item to Process QFX:

Automator option click

After seeing my original post, Matthew Ryan sent me the following email:

Mark – I wrote to you a couple weeks ago thanking you for your QFX for Mac article on your web site, and wondering if you had an automated solution. You were kind enough to send me a shell script that handles the task.

I took your script, and wrapped it up as an AppleScript that does the following:

1 – Uses your Unix command to edit the file with the WaMu ID.

2 – Launches Quicken and imports the QFX file.

3 – Automatically deletes the original QFX and converted version after the import.

I am attaching the AppleScript here for your review. If you have any comments or changes, feel free to make them. And if you wish to make this available for download on your site, I give you complete permission to do so with no restrictions.

Mac users have been screwed by Intuit for way too long, so I appreciate you effort in coming up with a solution to the issue. I’ve been using the AppleScript daily for a week now, and it’s really convenient. 🙂

— Matthew Ryan

You can download a zipped copy of his file here: QFX Convert You will probably need to tweak it to make it work on your system. Thanks Matthew!

Between the Automator method and Matthew’s Applescript, you should be able to create a solution that minimizes any extra steps to import QFX files.

A few readers have said they had problems getting this method to work with investment accounts.  It is possible that you’ll need the bank id numbers from a bank with an investment account option to make it work.  If anyone finds numbers that work, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Managing Podcasts in iTunes

Picture 10.pngI subscribe to quite a few podcasts. Since I have virtually no commute time, I only get caught up listening to everything on my iPod when I go on a long trip every few months. I’ve found that the default setup for listening to podcasts doesn’t work very well for this type of listening. Out of the box iTunes and the iPod work well if you are listening to all of your subscriptions a few times each week. If you only listen once each month the podcasts can be hard to manage. Here are two tips that will help manage your podcasts in iTunes. Continue reading Managing Podcasts in iTunes

Click to Call with Vonage

Vonage LogoVonage offers an interface that allows you to setup calls using a simple web urls that make calls to There is software that makes use of this interface like the add in for Outlook that lets you click on a number and dial it. In this article we are going to look at how this works behind the scenes and make a simple address book where you can click on a number to have it dialed. Continue reading Click to Call with Vonage

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.

Continue reading Why I won’t buy an Intel Mac (yet)

Sony Ericson T610 and Mac Bluetooth

In the past I’ve been stuck using Nextel for mobile internet access. Nextel service seems to work ok, but it is very slow, has limited coverage, costs $79 per month, doesn’t support Bluetooth, requires third-party software to work with OS X. So when I had an opportunity to switch to a different carrier I went with T-mobile because they have Bluetooth phones and because they offer unlimited internet access for $20 per month when added to an existing cell phone plan. Continue reading Sony Ericson T610 and Mac Bluetooth

Blackberry 7100t with OS X

7100t BlackberryThe other day I was talking with my mechanic about cell phones and asking him how he liked his Treo. In the conversation it came up that he had a Blackberry 7100 sitting in the drawer and would be willing to sell it, so I decided to buy it and try it out. I was particularly interested in using the device for it’s email capabilities. Currently I use a Sony Ericson T610 which is a nice small phone with Bluetooth. The thing I like about the T610 is the fact it works with OS X on a Mac. I can easily sync my contacts and calendar using Bluetooth and when traveling it works as a digital modem allowing me to check my email without dealing with any wires. However the T610 is very hard to use for sending email or browsing the web from the device itself, so I was curious if the Blackberry would be any easier with it’s funky two letters on each key keyboard. Continue reading Blackberry 7100t with OS X