Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Search Engine Optimization: How to get better visibility on Google

Search engine optimization is a hot topic for those with websites, and getting to know the in's and out's of it can be a challenge.  Though the topic itself isn't directly related to Mac and PC, it does affect all of those computer users who also have a website.  I came across this video on YouTube on search engine optimization, and I thought I'd share it with all of you:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Solid State Drive vs SATA Hard Drive : Which one should you choose?

With the ever-so changing equipment in computer technology, hard drives have been a part of the latest debate. Let's first talk about the match-up.

Solid State Drives

Solid State Memory has speeds that are similar to RAM but have the ability to store data like SATA. SSDs are distinguished from traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), which are devices containing spinning disks and movable read/write heads. SSDs, in contrast, use microchips, and contain no moving parts.

Pros: Compared to traditional HDDs, SSDs are typically less susceptible to physical shock, quieter, and have lower access time and latency. SSDs use the same interface as hard disk drives, thus easily replacing them in most applications.

Cons: Solid State Drives have been known to wear out like there's no tomorrow, and they don't last very long. The price for these drive are currently very expensive.

SATA Drives

SATA is the method of connection between the motherboard and the drive. This is standard hard drive that is currently found in most systems.

Pros: They are very reliable, and the cost for these drives are very affordable--if you can take advantage of using RAID; however, RAID works best if you are using the same hard drives, especially the same brand, same speed, and same connectors. You can use two different kinds of hard drives, but it would make the system unstable.

1. Very noisy spin-up is required
2. High read latency times,
3. Low mechanical reliability, moving parts does not eliminate the risk of mechanical failure 
4. Smaller range of operating temperatures

The Verdict:

Since the price of SSD drive is so expensive, it really sways the stick to the SATA drive. We all have been used to the noise by now, so I doubt that will be worth the extra $$ you would have to spend. Though the SSD is very fast in accessing data, the read/write the reliability of those drives have been an issue. Once the market settles and the technology gets better, I believe that SSDs will be more prevalent in laptops and desktop computers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Looking for a web hosting platform... any suggestions?

I just bought the macpcharmony.com domain name, and I'm wondering if any of you are familiar with web hosting?  I did a quick search on the topic, and I found a lot of services, but I don't know which one to pick.

If you have any recommendations on web hosting or even domain names,  shoot me a message or even an affiliate link via comment :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is VoIP Taking Over?

This Philips phone can use Skype's VoIP service.

As popular VoIP services, such as Vonage, continue to increase quality and go down in price, a popular question is whether or not it's time to discontinue your home phone in favor of VoIP.

Some households have already ditched their home phones and have gone completely cellular, but for those who frequently call long distance and international, this might not be a practical alternative.  VoIP, on the other hand, offers excellent rates for calls.

A popular complaint about VoIP was that call quality as not always the best, but in recent years, this has significantly improved.  I regularly use VoIP, and the person I'm talking to on the phone doesn't know the difference--the crystal clear call quality is most apparent.

Have any of you completely gone VoIP at home?  If so, what VoIP service do you use?  Skype?  Vonage?  Another?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skype Releases VoIP on Android Phones

Mobile VoIP FTW?

Skype just released its application for all Android phones.  Currently, it can be used over WiFi; however, a hack allows Skype calling to be used over 3G for true mobile VoIP calling.  If your Skype caller ID is the same as your cell phone number, you can make those international calls at a fraction of the price.

What do you think about this breakthrough?  Do any of you already use Skype for VoIP?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Small Businesses: Oursource MS Exchange Hosting or go Gmail?

As soon as a few years ago, if a small business wanted professional and reliable MS Exchange services to push to mobile devices and work with Microsoft Outlook, the easy decision would be to pay for MS Exchange hosting with its annual fee per mailbox.  In a business that had a handful of employees (i.e. a small mortgage or real estate firm that lived and breathed with email), this was a smarter business decision compared to having your own Exchange server and hardware.

Recently, Gmail's email services (including calendar, etc) have encroached on the small business email territory.  Gmail is free and works with mobile devices.  The storage space increases everyday (it's up to approximately 8GB now).  However, a downfall to using Gmail for business is that each account is independently owned by the Gmail user, so the email account cannot be shut down by the employer and reviewed.

Ultimately, serious small businesses will stick with MS Exchange hosting, while small "mom and pop" shops will use Gmail.  The gap between the two services in the business world is still wide, but at least Gmail provides a robust and feature-rich service for free.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Windows Mobile Messaging (Microsoft Exchange) vs. BlackBerry BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server)

In the enterprise infrastructure, 2 hand held messaging platforms are dominant: Microsoft Exchange and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).  Windows Mobile phones and the iPhone use the ActiveSync MS Exchange Server information to sync up with your mailbox, whereas BlackBerry phones use a BES server.

In the current infrastructure I manage, our enterprise phones are BlackBerry devices.  The BES links up with MS Exchange.  When emails are received, they route to both servers.  The main benefit here is if the MS Exchange network account is locked out, the BES continues to be able to send and receive messages.

In terms of being a user, I still preferred the iPhone over BlackBerry as I like the iPhone's OS.  However, from an enterprise point of view, the decision makers seem to be more comfortable with a BES as it has a reputation of being more secure (whether this is true or not is a different story).

What are you experiences and thoughts on this?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Google VoIP? Voice calling in Gmail?

At the end of last August, Google added voice calling to Gmail.  Basically, when enabled, you can dial any regular telephone number for free in the United States and Canada.  Your Google Voice number will appear as the caller ID.

I've used this service multiple times, and I've found call quality to be excellent.  Google is trying to encroach on Skype's VoIP territory.

The only flaw I've experienced so far with this is that you cannot utilize the number pad while connected on a call.  For example, if you are going to call your credit card company, and you need to punch in the numbers, they won't be recognized.  Also, if you are dialing into a conference call, and you need to enter in the meeting room number, you're not able to do so.

Have any of you had experience with voice calling in Gmail? Please share your thoughts...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Skype 5.0 and VoIP... the start to service consolidation?

Skype 5.0 will integrate with Facebook to become an even more powerful, consolidated messaging platform. In addition to the normal messaging, this will bring a VoIP interface when simultaneously logged into Facebook.

Are we heading towards a service consolidation concept in which a person can maintain and entire social network and contact them via text, email, or voice all via an Internet connection? It seems like it's getting closer and closer everyday.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Computer Insurance?

In recent years, as laptop ownership has become more and more mainstream, some people have gone towards purchasing computer insurance to protect their technological investment.

As for me, I've never been tempted to purchase such insurance as the factory warranty is sufficient for me, and I have the ability to open up the laptop or desktop computer and fix myself. When doing so, there's the cost and time factor... does computer insurance ultimately make life easier?

I think it ultimately comes down to the technological ability of the computer owner. If you don't know much, you're better off having a professional service/insurance take care of it. If you are very knowledgeable, it could be more convenient and safe to do it yourself.

What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wrecking computer equipment and going to court... The People's Court (no attorney needed)

I came across an episode of The People's Court where two computer nerds who look like they still live with their parents took each other to court.  When appearing on The People's Court, attorneys or lawyers are not needed because you represent yourself.  Check out the below videos for the funny episode :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bankruptcy Attorneys using the Internet to increase business prospects

The Information Age has brought on ways to market products not seen in earlier times.  Professionals, such as attorneys, are doing this as well.  A recent study indicated that bankruptcy attorneys have budgeted at least $5000 to $10000 per month on Internet advertising campaigns aimed to drive business to their local practice.  Divorce attorneys can do the same thing too.

Once the prospective bankruptcy filers (from all states) make contact with the bankruptcy attorney, the attorney can then advise whether or not a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy is necessary.  A decade ago, a bankruptcy attorney would only take local cases, but they can now get business from as far as the Internet can reach (albeit in the United States).

Friday, October 29, 2010

China now has the world's fastest supercomputer

The Tianhe-1A in the flesh...

China now unofficially has the world's fastest supercomputer.  The Tianhe-1A hits 2.507 petaflops, which easily crushes the Cray XT5 Jaguar located in the United States.

The reason why this news is important is because it shows that China's processor technology might surpass the technology in the United States, meaning that Chinese chips could replace US built chips.

What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Microsoft going to buy Adobe?

There have been rumors around Microsoft possibly buying Adobe.  If this happens, how will this affect Adobe CS5's offering on the Mac?

Since Adobe released it's Creative Suite for the Mac, it has long been considered (along with Final Cut Studio) to be the premier professional editing suite for media.  Microsoft would be foolish to not cater to the Mac market.  Adobe Creative Suite 5 works flawlessly on OSX, and I find it to be just as stable as the offering for Windows 7.

Do you think Microsoft will really buy Adobe?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update: Windows Server is up and running... now I'm thinking about installing Ubuntu Server

As an update to my post last week, I have Windows Server 2008 R2 up and running on my spare computer at home.  I've barely gotten around to messing around with it, but since a lot of you suggested that I do the Linux server, I have that stuck in the back of my head.  I'm pretty familiar with Windows Server, but there's always the intrigue of learning something new (this is why I also run OSX).

Now I'm thinking that I should go the Linux route?  Is it fairly simple and easy to maintain?  What are your thoughts?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones

I recently picked up the Bose QC15 headphones for a great price (brand new in box, local pickup from eBay).  The pros on this set of headphones are that they're comfortable, good a class-leading job of noise cancellation, and the sound is crisp and clear.

The only con is the price; however, I got mine for very cheap. Actually, if these had a microphone (I know, I keed), this set would be perfect because I'd be able to use these on VoIP calls on Skype or Google Chat.

Generally speaking, I'm anti-Bose because I think they spend a lot of money on marketing and pump up their pricing to pay for it.  But the headphones made me change my mind.  I fly frequently, and I needed a pair.

Do any of you have noise-canceling headphones?  What do you have and what are you thoughts on them?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anyone run a Hackintosh Computer?

Hackintosh laptops and desktops have been gaining some cult popularity since the Mac went with Intel processors.  From what I've heard, you have to jump through hoops to get it setup, but once everything works, you're good to go.

Is anyone running a Hackintosh?  What are your thoughts?  Was it worth the trouble?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apple's New OSX Lion... response to Microsoft's Windows 7?

Apple released the details of their operating system upgrade, OSX Lion.  The concept behind Lion is meshing Snow Leopard with an iPad.  This seems like a good idea, but I'll reserve my judgment for when I actually use it.  Luckily, Apple's operating system upgrades are only $50, so I'll pick it up when it comes out.

Besides the features of Lion, I'm thinking that Apple is trying to one-up Microsoft.  (Yes, I know that Linux rocks, but in the mainstream, it's really OSX vs. Windows.)  Windows 7 is just plain good... I love it.  When it was Vista vs OSX, OSX won hands down.  If you didn't like OSX, you either went to Linux or just stuck it out with XP. 

Once Lion is formally released, we'll be able to accurately compare it with Windows 7.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Update: I'm going to use Windows Server 2008 R2 for my home server

After a lot of thought and suggestions from all of you, I've decided to beef up my old machine a bit and use Windows Server 2008 R2.  I was able to obtain a copy of this at a discount, so it makes more sense.  Also, it's nice having the version with all of the features... I guess I'm a "just in case" type of guy.

This is going to be quite a project, and if I can get my hands on Microsoft Exchange 2010, I might put it on there too.  It'll be nice to play around with this and host my own Exchange server too.  I'll keep you all updated. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Setting up a home server?

I'm thinking of setting up one of my old machines at home with Windows Home Server... does anyone have any experience with this?  I have an increasing amount of files to store, and I want to be able to remote desktop into my home server from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Do you think this is a good idea?  Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Adobe Creative Suite vs. Final Cut Studio

When it comes to a complete suite of multimedia editing, the two industry leaders are Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Studio.  Adobe CS is available on both Mac and PC, and Final Cut Studio is only available on Mac.

Since I use both Mac and PC, I'm partial to Adobe because of the similar functionality.  I used Final Cut Studio for a little bit, but I never really put enough time in it to give a full evaluation.  I didn't bother because I'm just so comfortable with Adobe CS5 in general.

Also, there are rumors of Microsoft buying Adobe, so this debate could get interesting in the next year if this is indeed true.

Which one do you have experience with?  What's your preference?

Monday, October 11, 2010

AT&T Debuts HTC Surround, LG Quantum, & Samsung Focus as Windows 7 Smartphones... Cellular VoIP to be mainstream in 2011?

Today, AT&T and Microsoft unveiled 3 new devices to run the new Windows 7 mobile operating system.  The 3 include the HTC Surround, the LG Quantum, and the Samsung Focus; and the planned release date is during the 2010 holiday season. 

With Windows Phone 7 devices hitting the marketplace, will cellular VoIP become more mainstream in 2011?  We already saw Skype's ability to work over 3G on Android phones (albeit with a hack), and it's safe to say this capability will be uncovered with the Windows 7 phones.

On an Enterprise level, will the Windows 7 smartphones encroach on the territory currently shared by BlackBerry and the iPhone?  The Windows 7 smartphones will obviously work with MS Exchange and could offer ease of use with an existing infrastructure.  Time will only tell. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cloud Computing and the Future

"The Cloud"

Cloud computing is one of the hot topics in terms of the next evolution of the operating system and how we're going to use computers in the future. In short, cloud computer is Internet-based computing where the accessible data is stored on a server and accessed via the Internet and a secure connection. 

From an enterprise perspective, cloud computing makes sense because all information is stored on company servers, and this information can be accessed by using ANY enterprise computer, logging into your account, and working away without saving anything on the local computer in use.  Deploying such technology is costly, and it's tough for companies to justify this expense especially with a traditional infrastructure in place. 

From a personal computing perspective, one could argue that cloud computing might not be too practical.  Personal computers have privacy (of course, to a certain extent), and you can store your personal information locally.

What are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Glossy vs. Matte Computer Screens

When purchasing a new computer screen, one of the major decision points is whether to get a glossy or matte screen, assuming both are of high quality (i.e. IPS).  Both have their pros and cons, which I'll detail below.

Glossy Screen:

Pros: Glossy screens have a sexier look to them.  Colors appear brighter, and the display is very sharp, especially in the Apple iMacs and Apple Cinema Displays.

Cons: The glare is the most distracting thing about a glossy screen.  If your main light source is behind the screen, it can mitigate the glare, but if the main light source is in front of the screen or behind you, forget it.  Given the mentioned positives, the glare seems to be the deciding factor for most go who matte instead of glossy.  Also, it's difficult to color calibrate a glossy screen... it can be done, but you're much safer doing color editing on matte.

Matte Screen:

Pros: Little to no glare, and a matte screen is the professional industry standard for all serious photo/video editing. 

Cons: Looks plain and not as flashy as the glossy screen.  The glossy screen, especially in the new Apple displays, looks and feels high quality with the glass front.  The matte looks more dull.


It just depends on what you value.  If you can stand the glare (or minimize it to be bearable), and you don't do much color editing work in your photos and videos, glossy could work for you.  However, if you're a professional who needs a high-quality monitor, then matte is the best option.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Xmarks Going Out of Business... Maybe Not?

More than a week ago, I wrote about a free bookmark-syncing service called Xmarks.  A few days later, the Xmarks blog reported that it was going out of business because it could not sustain itself in its current model.  Lack of advertising and a method to capitalize on it were the major factors.

However, shortly after that announcement, users of the popular add-on pledged that they would pay for Xmarks if it meant that the service could continue.  Xmarks now has a link on PledgeBank where people can commit to paying $10 US a year for the service: http://www.pledgebank.com/XmarksPremium

According to Xmarks, if they can get 100,000 people to pledge, the company can stay in business.

As for me, I enjoyed the service while it was free; however, there's no way I'm paying for it.  I can revert to other free, bookmark syncing services.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Best Buy: iPad cutting into laptop sales

Has the iPad affected consumer demand for Netbooks and notebooks? According to comments by Best Buy's chief executive, Apple's popular tablet is chopping away at laptop sales.

Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn told The Wall Street Journal... that internal estimates showed the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50 percent.

Best Buy reported solid second-quarter earnings...thanks in part to strong iPad sales. But the company also said it lost market share for the quarter due to limited inventory for the iPad.
The retail chain started carrying Apple's tablet as the device went on sale in the U.S. in early April. But Best Buy quickly ran out of inventory since it stocked the iPad in only around half of its nationwide stores. The company announced this week that the tablet would be available on September 26 in all its retail outlets.

The comments by Dunn echo findings from other sources that notebook and Netbook demand is slowing because of the iPad.

A column in today's Fortune Magazine points to a new report from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty saying that "tablet cannibalization," mostly by the iPad, is at least partially to blame for the downturn in notebook sales over the past eight or nine months. Huberty's latest report follows a similar one issued in May in which she forecast that tablets would prove to be a big threat to Netbooks.
Fortune quoted Huberty's conclusion that "we expect tablets to continue to pressure PCs as more vendors launch products (e.g., Dell Streak and Samsung Tab) and Apple expands its iPad distribution."
Other analysts have also been eyeing the impact on the laptop market from tablets. In early July, Barclays Capital issued a report saying that Wintel (Windows and Intel) laptops would take a hit because of the growth of the iPad and rival tablets. A June report from DisplaySearch found that the iPad was already grabbing market share from Netbooks and that momentum was shifting from Netbooks to tablets.

Demand for the iPad has prompted several analysts to up their sales forecasts for the device. In July, ABI Research said it expected Apple to ship around 11 million iPads by the end of the year, while iSuppli predicted that 12.9 million iPads would ship this year, a huge jump from its April forecast of 7.1 million units.

Of course, if the iPad is cannibalizing laptop sales, the news isn't exactly disappointing to Apple. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook expressed his sentiment in July when the company announced third-quarter earnings.

"Our guts tell us that this market is very big," Cook said. "If it turns out that iPad cannibalizes PCs, that's fantastic for us because there is a lot of PCs to cannibalize."

Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Choose an Android Smartphone

Here's a quick guide on Andriods, courtesy of Gizmodo:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Windows 7: How to Use Split Screen feature

If you're like me, you love multi-tasking and one of the featured benefits of Windows 7 is the split screen. Now this does come in handy when your trying to keep track of your fantasy football teams on Sunday's, which I do, so here is how you  do it, courtesy of e-how.com

1. Open the documents or web sites you want to view side by side. If you want to look at two web sites side by side you will need to open 2 separate browser sessions not just have 2 tabs open on the same browser. That means you need to click the browser icon to open another browser session.

2. Go to the screen you want to view on the left. Hold the Windows icon key down. This is the key that has the windows 7 logo on it. It is usually in the bottom left of your keyboard. Hold the left arrow key at the same time you are holding down the windows icon key. This will move your first window to the left.
3. Go to the screen or document you want to display on the right. Repeat the steps above. Hold the Windows icon key down and the right arrow key at the same time. This will move your second open window to the right.
4. Hold the Windows icon key down and the up arrow key at the same time to maximize your window again. You will need to put your mouse on the screen or document you want to maximize and then press both keys down simultaneously.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BlackBerry PlayBook: New Rival to iPad?

BlackBerry released a promotional video on their new PlayBook due early next year.  Samsung is also releasing the Galaxy Tab, which is also poised to be an Apple iPad competitor.

Here's a preview of the BlackBerry PlayBook.  What do you think about it?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Does a Dual/Multiple Monitor Setup Increase Productivity?

1337 battle station
Awhile back, the New York Times published an article that claims that a dual monitor setup increases productivity.  The idea is that more desktop real estate results in multitasking that can get more things done.  On the flip side, too much multitasking (especially when distractions are included) could lead to less productivity.

Personally, I prefer a dual monitor setup.  I went from having three 17 inch monitors to a single 24 inch and now two 24's.

Does anyone else run a dual/multiple monitor setup?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Drobo vs. ReadyNAS

For those looking for a home networked backup/storage system, the 2 products that immediately come up are Drobo and ReadyNAS.  Both support RAID type technology and feature hot-swapping hard drives in case of failure.

Does anyone have experience with any of these products?  What's a good recommendation for home networked storage?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Online Backup: Mozy or Carbonite?

In terms of online backup, there are two front runners: Mozy & Carbonite.

Mozy: http://mozy.com/
Carbonite: http://www.carbonite.com/

Both services require you to install their software on your PC or Mac so that it can do automatic backups of the files you'd like it to save. Mozy offers 2GB worth of backups for free and also has paid MozyHome and MozyPro plans.  Carbonite's subscription includes pricing plans that range from 1 to 3 years.

Does anyone use any of these services?  What are your thoughts on online backup?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Xmarks: Sync your bookmarks between browsers and computers

Xmarks is a FREE bookmark syncing browser add-on that allows you to sync between different browsers and computers.  It's compatible with Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Safari.

Using it is very simple.  Go to Xmarks' website and download the appropriate add-on for your browser here: http://download.xmarks.com/download/all .  Next, create an Xmarks account and sync your bookmarks to the Xmarks cloud.

Once you have your bookmarks synced to the Xmarks cloud, all you have to do is install the Xmarks add-on to each browser and/or computer you use and sync that specific install with your Xmarks account.  Whenever you add a new bookmark to any of your browsers, the change will sync to the cloud and then update when you open the other browsers on the same computer or different computer.

I've found Xmarks to be most helpful when using a work computer and home computer.  If I'm using my work computer and find something that I want to bookmark, I just bookmark it the conventional way (protip: CTRL+D on PC and CMD+D on Mac are the default shortcuts for bookmarking in browsers), and when I open the browser on my home computer, it will sync with Xmarks and show my new bookmark.

Syncing is very easy with Xmarks.

Xmarks also gives you the option of syncing your passwords.  In regards to storing passwords, Xmarks says: "Password Sycnhronization encrypts your passwords using a secret PIN of your choosing before they ever leave your computer. This ensures that nobody but you, not even Xmarks, can gain access to your passwords."  (On a side note, I store my forum passwords in Xmarks but not others since I like to think storing them in my head is most trustworthy.)

If you're currently a Xmarks user, have you had positive/negative experiences with this service?  Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Internet Explorer 9 Beta is Available as of September 15, 2010

Last week, Microsoft released the highly-anticipated beta version of Internet Explorer 9.  You can see the new features, take a test drive of the application, and download IE9 on Microsoft's official page located here: http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/

With the most recent release, Microsoft is hoping to gain back ground lost to Firefox and Chrome in recent years.  What's your preferred/primary Internet browser?  (See poll on the side.)

Has anyone downloaded and used the beta IE9?  If so, what do you think about it?

TidySongs keeps your iTunes Clean

If you're an avid music lover as I am, you have hundreds and probably thousands of songs in your iTunes library. But with different computers and iPods, you may have double, triple copies of the same song or missing artwork... this is where Tidysongs comes in to save your music day.

I first ran into this software when I was ripping my old CD's to my iTunes library, and depending on what program you were using, it would tag the song incorrectly or not tag it at all, and you would get the music stanza (which in my opinion can pretty annoying.) This can also be a problem if you do not use iTunes as a music store.

iTunes and other programs rely on correct information in your songs to find album art--not TidySongs. Even if your song names have misspellings or missing info, TidySongs' intelligent database technology will find the matching artwork.

Tidysongs also helps remove duplicate songs, fills in missing artists, and adds missing album art work. You can finally remove the music stanza image from your players display, all automatically. Tidysongs is available on both Windows and OSX and it is 39.99, which is a little pricey but it does get the job done and does it well.

For more information and download of a free trial version visit Tidysongs: http://www.tidysongs.com

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dropbox: Managing Your Files Everywhere You Go

Managing files between computers and mobile devices has just got a lot easier with the help from the folks at Dropbox. Dropbox is service which allows you to store your files on a cloud network (which means an Internet-based network, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand)

The benefits of Dropbox includes automatic syncing when new files or changes are detected, automatic backup of your files, and the ability to restore previous versions of your files.Dropbox is available for Windows, OSX and Linux a free Dropbox application for iPhoneiPad, and Android, which lets you access your files anywhere you go. For Blackberry users a mobile-optimized version of the website is also available for owners of Blackberry phones and other Internet-capable mobile devices. 

Dropbox's pricing plans start with the Basic plan which is 2 GB of storage for free. A Pro 50 plan of 50 GB for 9.99/month and the Pro 100 of 100 GB for 19.99/month. Every time you refer a person to Dropbox, you get an extra 250MB added to your account for free with a maximum of 8GB.

For more information, visit Dropbox at http://www.dropbox.com/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

E-Readers And How To Get Them Working For You

Trying to get an e-book to an iPad or any other device (Sony e-reader, Nook, Kindle) can be difficult, but with this is simple program Calibre e-book management, reading your books from your devices will be harmonious. 

What i like the most about Calibre is that it has a very simple interface that anyone can use, and it also can convert many of the popular formats such as PDF and EPUB with just a couple of clicks. It even searches a database that will help tag your files as well as find cover art and creates a separate file so that you can keep your original file and upload it to your device.

If you are using any iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iTouch), just open iTunes.  Go to file, select add file to library, sync to your device, and that's it. The best part is that Calibre is free and is available on Windows, OSX, and Linux.

Below is a quick guide tour from the creator of Calibre.  For more information, visit the homepage for Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

OS Virtualization (Parallels Desktop/VMware Fusion) vs. Bootcamp

If your only computer is a Mac, and you have a need to run Windows, you're faced with two options: use OSX's Bootcamp and boot into Windows or use virtualization software, such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion.

Parallels Desktop 5 has been tested to be superior to VMware Fusion 3 (see comparison here) so I'll be talking about Parallels in this post.  Also, Parallels Desktop 6 was recently released on September 14 and features a 64 bit engine, surround sound 5.1, and superior 3D graphics rendering speeds.


Installing Windows 7 in Bootcamp is fairly straightforward.  After the installation is complete, reboot your computer and hold down the Option key to get the below screen.  Select your Windows partition to load Windows.

Hold down the Option button at reboot when you see the white screen to activate this menu.

The OSX installation disk does a good job of installing all the drivers needed for Windows 7.  The only problem child is the graphics driver.  When playing a video or a game, the computer begins to run very hot, and the fan is constantly on at full speed.

A software alternative is to download additional software to control fan speeds, or you can simply use a laptop cooling fan.  Nonetheless, the overheating issues are a problem and a hassle.

On the flip side, using Bootcamp to run Windows 7 is advantageous because all of your system's processing resources are dedicated to the running OS. 

Parallels Desktop:

I currently have Parallels Desktop 5 on my computer (I will be upgrading to version 6 soon), and the installation was also straightforward.  The graphics drivers work well, and I haven't experienced additional overheating.  Parallels also allows Windows 7 to run Aero Peek as you get a more accurate rating on the Windows Performance Index (version 4 features outdated graphics drivers that disable Aero Peek due to the Windows Performance Index graphics rating of 1.0 regardless of hardware).  The sound is a little softer compared to the volume in OSX; however, the difference is slightly noticeable.

When running the virtual machine, you can choose different views: window view, full screen view, and coherence.  The coherence view allows you to run the Windows programs as if they were standalone programs in OSX.  This is my favorite feature.

Coherence view in Parallels Desktop 6

Parallels gives you the option of customizing the system resources to the VM.  You can chose a single core or multiple cores and also choose how much RAM you want to dedicate to the VM.  

The only disadvantage to using Parallels to run Windows 7 is that you can never dedicate all of the hardware resources to the operating system since OSX is always running in the background; however, with customizable resource profiles and improved graphics performance in version 6, this should not be much of an issue.

The Verdict:

Parallels Desktop is such an efficient VM application that I removed my Bootcamp partition and haven't regretted it one bit.  Version 6 is aimed at PC gamers who have Macs and need maximal graphics performance.

If you absolutely have to run Windows on your Mac, Parallels Desktop is the best way to go.  If you just bought a Mac, miss your Windows functions, and have no specific application or gaming need for Windows, suck it up and learn OSX... after all, that's what this blog is for.

The price is $79.99, while the upgrade option (needs version 5) costs $49.99.  Parallels Desktop's product page is located here: http://www.parallels.com/products/desktop/

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MacDrive: Using both NTFS and FAT32 formatted disks on Windows systems

My personal computer is a MacBook Pro, but my work computer is a Lenovo T400.  When I purchased my MBP, I came across a problem: how do I seamlessly swap files back and forth?

My PC is joined to a corporate domain, so I did not want to mess with the settings and join it to my home network and enable file sharing.

An immediate solution was to use Dropbox and link both computers to my account.  The only problem was that my free account was maxed out at 2GB, and if I wanted to move a big file (say 500mb), I'd have to move it into the Dropbox, wait for it to upload onto the cloud, and then wait for it to sync with the other computer... it was quite time consuming.

OSX uses the FAT32 file system, while Windows uses the NTFS file system.  OSX is able to read NTFS drives but not write to them.  Windows 7 does not recognize FAT32 drives at all.  At this point, I could transfer files from PC to Mac (put the files from PC on the NTFS external hard drive and then plug into Mac) but not the other way around.  Also, my main external 2TB hard drive is also my OSX Time Machine backup drive.  Since Windows 7 is not natively able to read FAT32 disks, I didn't have the capability to move my large files from the 2TB drive to PC.

I came across MacDrive, and it's a Windows application that allows Windows to read from and write to FAT32 drives.  The installation is quick and simple, and the program runs in the background, taking up about 2MB of RAM.  MacDrive solved my file swapping dilemna, and both my Mac and PC are able to read and write to my 2TB external hard drive.  It is the only program that I found that's easy and simple to use. 

MacDrive retails for $49.99 for a single license.  The official website is located here: http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive/

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Steermouse: Using your multi-button PC mouse on a Mac

If you've recently purchased a Mac computer but prefer your old multi-button PC mouse (Logitech, Microsoft, etc), Steermouse serves as a software solution allowing you to take advantage of your mouse's full functionality on OSX.

Official Steermouse website: http://plentycom.jp/en/steermouse/

Having used Apple's Magic Mouse for a month, I just found it to be highly uncomfortable and a hassle to use.  Although it supports multi-finger gestures, the side-swiping forward and back motions did not feel natural and jarred the mouse from side to side.  It made me long for my trusty Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX.

The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX paired with a Macbook Pro

By default, the Logitech mouse works on OSX; however, the use of the shortcut button underneath the scroll wheel and the forward/back buttons on the side were disabled.  Steermouse enables this functionality, and it allows you to customize the action of each button.

Buttons 6, 7, and 8 allow other buttons, besides the fwd/back ones, to be customized.

At only $20 US for a single computer license, it's a bargain considering the savings versus buying a trendy $70 Macbook accessory... the Magic Mouse.