Monday, February 16, 2009

Fonts Too Small in Apple Mail?

Do HTML messages sent from Windows users look microscopic in Apple Mail? Use the following trick to force Apple Mail to always use a larger minimum font size on received messages - some HTML messages might not look exactly as intended but at least you can now read them.

1. Quit Mail

2. Open the Terminal and type in the following:

defaults write MinimumHTMLFontSize 12

3. Restart and your HTML messages are readable.

You don't have to choose 12 point. Select whatever you like.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Apple Mac Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters

When Mini DisplayPort was unveiled by Apple, Steve Jobs stood strong behind it as an alternative to both DVI (used in previous Macs) and HDMI (an industry standard for newer HDTV LCD displays).

But that left people with new unibody Macbooks (released from October 2008) without a way to output to their perfectly good monitors and TVs. (Hey we spent good money on our LG, Dell and Samsung HDTV monitors, Mr Jobs.)

Soon those with newer Apple Macbooks and Macbook Pros sporting the Mini DisplayPort will have an easy way to output video to their HDMI LCD screen or TV.

American discount cable website will sell the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters for $14.25 from 15 March.

And if you have a desire to connect your shiny new Mac laptop to a monitor or TV with a DVI or VGA input but have balked at Apple's $29 price tag for such a device, then you're in luck. Another two new offerings will convert the Mini DisplayPort signal for DVI or VGA but at half the asking price of Apple's adapters.

In the meantime, if you need a quick and dirty workaround to get Mini DisplayPort to HDMI, try a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter piggybacked to a DVI to HDMI cable. But be ready to fork out the cash for two adapters to end up with some nasty looking plastic.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Log out Gmail sessions remotely

Little known fact: Gmail does NOT time out. Gmail sessions will stay open until you log out, even if you have another session open.

The problem:
Here's a scenario: you open your Google Mail and check your emails at a computer at work but forget to log out. Later at home, you check your Gmail again and log out.

The session at work is STILL OPEN. It will stay open until it is logged, even if that is years. If somebody doesn't delete or send anything, you will never know that the session is still open.

GMail does not have the option to set a time out. What Gmail has is a little-known ability to log out sessions remotely. That means, in the above scenario, you can go home and log out the session at work. You can also check to see what sessions have been opened and where. Learn how to keep safe online with these instructions.

How to log out Gmail remotely:
At the bottom of your list of emails is a line that says something like:
Last account activity: 1 minute ago at this IP (XX.XX.XX.XX) Details

Click on the word Details

You will be taken to a window that shows all your recent Google Mail activity. You can check to see if the IP address is all the same (and therefore from the same computer, as long as you have a static IP address).

To sign out remotely, click on the button Sign out all other sessions.

You can now breathe easily knowing the open Gmail session is the one in front of you.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

iLife 09 released today (iPhoto 09, iMovie 09, GarageBand 09, iWeb 09, iDVD 09)

Apple today released iLife'09, which is a software package that includes the updated iPhoto '09, GarageBand '09, iWeb '09, iDVD '09 and iMovie '09. I'll take an in-depth look at iPhoto '09 as soon as I put it through its paces, but for now, take a look at what's new.

'iLife continues to be one of the biggest reasons our customers choose to get a Mac,' said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, before he went for a long lie down.

'With iLife ’09, we’ve made working with photos, making movies and learning to play music a lot more fun, and iMovie users are especially going to love the advanced but easy-to-use new features.'

iPhoto ’09 adds face detection. This looks like one of those novelty features that will waste away hours of your time as you help iPhoto to recognise who is who in your iPhoto album. It also adds GPS geo-tagging.

iMovie ’09 adds a Precision Editor, video stabilisation, advanced drag and drop, and animated travel maps.

GarageBand ’09 introduces a new way to help you learn to play piano and guitar with 18 basic lessons and optional lessons from top musicians such as Sara Bareilles, John Fogerty, Norah Jones and Sting.

iWeb ’09 adds new iWeb Widgets, such as iSight video and photos, a countdown timer, YouTube video and RSS feeds. It also has its standard easy templates for whipping up websites.

New integrated FTP publishing allows you to publish your website to virtually any hosting service and updates to your site can now be automatically added to your Facebook profile. (Check out some other great Mac Facebook plugins in our reviews.)

iLife ’09 is yours for $79/£69 or free if you buy a new Mac from today.

If you bought a Mac on or after January 6, 2009 you can get an iLife ’09 upgrade for a $9.99/£7.95 delivery fee.

iLife ’09 requires Mac OS X version 10.5.6 or later.

Take a look at the iLife ’09 video tutorials. There are 70 of them and they really give you a good idea of whether iLife '09 is a worthwhile upgrade.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Reviews: Mac Facebook plugins

Want to share your photos on Facebook easily on a Mac? Want to know what your friends are up to blow by blow? (OK, that sounds more like Twitter, so maybe day-by-day.) Just download these free Mac OS X plugins and you can lose even more hours lost in a Facebook

Facebook Exporter for iPhoto
Mac Brainiac Rating

Download Now
(191K) Developer: Facebook

Made by Facebook
Works well when it works.

Can be buggy
Not necessary with iPhoto'09.

This free plugin for iPhoto enables you to export photos (with tags) directly to your Facebook account. Though if you have iPhoto'09, this feature is now built-in.

Mac Brainiac rating

Download Now (1.1MB) Developer: Paul Borokhov
Discreet and simple
Quick access to Facebook
Keeps in sync with Facebook.
Unstable in Leopard.

This free Mac program integrates itself into the menu bar and brings up cool Growl notifications about Facebook events.

You can also access common Facebook pages and see how many messages you have. Not to mention how many events, pokes, friend requests, photo comments and wall posts. (Oops, I just mentioned it.) It's fast and scans Facebook for what's new every 30 seconds.

Mac Brainiac rating

Download Now (49K) Developer: Ed-Shiro

This widget is made to live in your Mac OS X dashboard. It keeps you up to date with all the usual Facebook notifications such as pokes, messages, friend requests, group invites, and event invites.

Facebook Toolbar for Firefox
Mac Brainiac rating

Download Now Developer: Mozilla Firefox

This free extension for Firefox brings Facebook into your web browsing.
You can look up and see how many new pokes, friend requests, and messages you have next to the little pictured icons. A pop-up will notify you when your friends update their statuses or write something to you.

The most interesting feature is the share button, which lets you share the page that you are currently browsing by sending it to friends or posting it to your profile.

Mac Brainiac rating

Download Now Developer: FSB Software

Address Book contact photos are synced.

Doesn't always work!

This application syncs your Apple Address Book with your Facebook account. What does that mean? All your contacts' details are kept matching: names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers and even photos.

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Firefox: use tabs as multiple home pages

Having multiple tabs open each time you open Firefox can make it easy to catch up on your favourite website.

How to do it:

Have a group of tabs open by default when you launch Firefox.

Go to Firefox > Preferences > Main

under 'Home Page' enter the addresses of the pages you'd like to launch every time you start Firefox. Separate each web address with the pipe symbol (which looks like this |)

Another way to do this:

You can also simply open up all the tabs you want to launch automatically as your homepage and in Firefox preferences (again Firefox > Preferences > Main) select 'Use Current Pages'

What groups of tabs do you have set up? Let me know in the comments.

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Windows 7 with VMWare Fusion on Macbook white

Intel Macs can run Windows on a separate partition with Boot Camp, but it's also possible to use VMWare Fusion to run Windows side-by-side with Mac OSX. So is the free Windows 7 beta trimmed down enough to cut it?
Clever: Works off Boot Camp installation without installing a different copy.
Stupid: Unusably slow on a non-pro Macbook.

My experiences:

Although it loads eventually, it is sloooooowww. When I boot to Windows 7 directly (without Fusion) the system is usable and runs nearly as fast as a Windows XP box, but booting up in Fusion is filled with black screens and the spinning blue disc thing from Vista. It also drags down Mac OSX.

When you first boot up, you're asked to update with VMWare Tools. This helped the mouse pointer and graphics speed a little, but it is still like operating Windows 3.1 standing in treacle (ah, memories).

My measly 1GB RAM is no way enough for Windows 7 because Fusion shares that RAM with Mac OSX, cutting it down to 512MB.

Mac Brainiac verdict: Running Windows 7 on a vanilla Macbook through VMWare Fusion is only recommended for those with more RAM and processor grunt. However, Windows 7 runs smoothly on a Macbook with Boot Camp. Windows XP is also happy to run side-by-side with Mac OSX with Fusion.

What I used
: I installed Windows 7 beta build 7000 on my Macbook white first generation 1.83GHz Intel with 1GB RAM.

I used VMWare Fusion 2.0.1 to run Windows 7 virtually from within Mac OSX Leopard 10.5.6.

Share your experiences with running Windows 7 on a Mac in the comments below, but make sure you leave your machine's specs.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Install Windows 7 on a Mac - Walkthrough with pictures

Microsoft is offering a free trial of the Windows 7 beta that will be valid till August 2009 when it will self-destruct (or maybe just expire). You just need an email address. So how do you get the dual-boot goodness onto your Mac machine? Just follow this guide.

This guide uses a DVD-ROM. If you don't have one or just want to have a play with Windows 7 on your Mac, take a look at my guide to installing Windows 7 with VMWare Fusion.

(This guide is mainly for 32bit Windows users. People installing 64bit Windows 7 and having problems should jump to the comments at the end for tips.)

Why do it?
Sometimes you just need to run a Windows program. Installing Windows 7 beta improves on Vista and is free until Aug 2009. Yes free. You can download updates from Microsoft as if you bought it.

Using dual boot every time you boot up, you can choose whether to use the Mac or Windows operating system.

My Mac Brainiac guide makes it easy to install Windows 7 step-by-step.

Difficulty level:
Slighty brainy.

What you need:

  • Macbook (or some other computer. I used the Macbook White first-generation Core Duo 1.83 GHz 1GB RAM)
  • Click to download Windows 7 beta (I used build 7000)
  • DVD-Writer
  • Your Mac OSX Leopard installation DVD
  • *Refit (*optional, if like me your internal DVD reader is busted and your external one isn't recognised on boot up without a little help. This free program creates its own boot menu. Read more below.)

Step 1 - Creating the Windows 7 install DVD
Copy the Windows 7 .iso file into a DVD. Don't just drag it to the disc. The .iso in an image that has to be restored to a DVD. (Check here later for a Mac Brainiac Picture Guide to copying an .iso file into a DVD.)

Step 2 - Installing Refit boot manager
Install Refit if you have trouble having your DVD drive recognised by your Macbook on bootup. Your Mac usually decides what is and isn't acceptable to boot from. Refit lets you decide. You won't need Refit after you install Windows 7, but it's useful to keep.

Step 3 - Partitioning your hard drive
Partition your Mac with the Boot Camp Assistant. Open it with Spotlight (click Apple + spacebar and type in Boot Camp Assistant).

In the Boot Camp Assistant, select Create or remove a Windows Partition > continue

Now select how large you want your Windows 7 partition to be. Microsoft recommends 16GB, but you can get away with 12GB if you don't install anything else.

You'll be prompted for your Windows DVD. Insert it and continue to restart your computer.

Step 4 - Booting the Windows 7 installer DVD
Hold down option as you are booting your Macbook to choose to boot from your Windows 7 install DVD. (If you installed Refit, select Refit and boot from Windows disc.)

In the Windows 7 installer, select the correct partition to install Windows 7. This should have been named BOOTCAMP by the Boot Camp Assistant. Select this partition and click format to make it understandable to Windows.

The Windows 7 installer will guide you through the installation, which takes about 30mins. It restarts during the install and you will need to hold down the option key each time and select to boot from the new Windows partition.

Step 5 - Installing Boot Camp drivers
We're in. Things might not look right yet though. Plus there will be no sound. You can fix this by installing the drivers from the Leopard install DVD. Insert it and let setup.exe run and install all the drivers. This will take a few minutes and all kinds of screens will flash up. Go make a coffee or Red Bull. Come back and you're done!

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