Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Media card reader. You know, those 5 to 50 plus in 1 USB card reader. Apparently not all of them are compatible with Macs. The one I have is not even detected by my Macbook. Bought another cheap $18 one, and it is detected fine. Just a note: when buying something, make sure to read the system requirements, and try to buy things that explicitly say Mac support.
Another one for the wish list. Most PC notebooks can automatically set the brightness of the screen to a lower setting when using battery power (set in the BIOS). I don't seem to find anything like this on my Macbook. Sure, I can just reduce the brightness manually, but it's easier if the system can automatically do it based on the power source.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
1. In iPhoto, I find that I can just drag each roll to the sidebar, and iPhoto will create an album for it. So I did this for all my "rolls," to duplicate the folder structure of Picasa.
2. When editting a photo in iPhoto, you can adjust the color semi-automatically. It's the same idea as finding a neutral color in Picasa, but manually. In Picasa, I can just click 1 button. In iPhoto, you press the Apple key, find a neutral gray color area, and click on the area while still pressing the Apple key. iPhoto will adjust the photo's color accordingly.
Now, in regards to Office 2004 test drive. I know I don't and won't use or need it, so might as well uninstall it. Sounds simple right? I went to the Office 2004 test drive folder, and there's an "Remove Office" icon. Double click that, and went through a couple of screens, but on the screen where the uninstaller ask for what program to uninstall, it listed nothing. WTF?
Searching google, there is not much info about this. I was thinking, maybe the program is not "installed" yet. It's in the hard-drive, but in a pre-installed state. This is very common place when you buy a PC which have tons of pre-installed trial/bloatwares, where the files are in the hard-drive, but final/finishing installation only happens when you start using the programs. So, I decided to run MS powerpoint, went through the license agreement, and quit. Then I re-ran the uninstaller, now it managed to find the office 2004 test drive program. Weird part is it also found Office X (an even older office version for the Mac). Finally, Office 2004 uninstalled, and trash is emptied.
1. I tried to import a bunch of videos taken with my digicam to iPhoto. 1 of them is 1GB in size. Regardless of what I did, iPhoto choked on this 1 file. Everytime I connect my camera, it said "ready to import," and when I pressed import, it started importing, but in the end it didn't transfer the file at all. So I had to go back to my windows PC, imported the file, and copy the file manually to my Macbook.
2. Picasa has these nice effects such as glow and soft focus that you can customize. The effects in iPhoto are more limited and no customizations.
3. Picasa has a tray where I can "hold" my photos while I'm browsing, very useful for a large library. No such thing in iPhoto. I guess I can create an album, and drag-n-drop the photos, but the tray and hold feature in Picasa is much easier to use.
4. The Picasa Web album plug-in for iPhoto doesn't support uploading videos. :(
I just hope that Google and Apple will colaborate together to make either iPhoto better, or Picasa for Mac.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Backing up pictures from Picasa is very easy. Although by default it is set to backup to optical media, you can reconfigure the backup tool to do a backup to any folder (networked drive, external drive, etc). Simply select the albums you want to backup.
Importing to iPhoto is as easy as importing Picasa's backup folder. Unfortunately, all my editing and enhancements from Picasa are lost, so I would have to review my photo library one of these days and re-do any enhancements using iPhoto. :(
Apparently iPhoto can handle videos too. I have some videos taken by my digicam in my Picasa library, and iPhoto transferred them just fine. Unlike Picasa, playback of videos in iPhoto is handled by Quicktime.
On Picasa, I'm used to have my library setup by folders. With iPhoto, each folder becomes a roll. Problem is, the rolls are not listed in the library sidebar. Definitely something that I have to adjust to. Another point for Picasa, looks like iPhoto doesn't have a built-in backup feature. Ability to do full-screen editing is nice, but I already miss Picasa's features. Picasa's "I'm feeling Lucky" button seems to do a better job than iPhoto's "Enhance" feature. Also I can quickly pick and set a neutral color and do auto brightness/contrast/lightning on Picasa, while everything is manual in iPhoto. Picasa is just so superb (when I first use Picasa, I though it was made by Apple as iPhoto for windows) that it is definitely going to be missed. Again, with Google and Apple being buddies, I hope the best of both will come in the next version of iPhoto, or maybe Picasa for Mac.
I was planning to have the iTunes library sitting on my networked storage, but later found out that syncing the library to multiple computers will be a great hassle. Local hard drive it is then. Restoring them is pretty straight forward too. I insert one of the restore DVD to my Macbook with iTunes opened, and iTunes automatically asked if I want to restore the music. After it finished with 1 disc, it will eject the disc and ask for another. At this point, you can cancel if you want to continue later, which I find to be great. iTunes seems to see any backup disc as an individual backup, so restoring your library partly is not a problem. Basically you can insert any of the backup disc in any order anytime you want, and iTunes will just restore that disc. However, when after I restore my last disc, iTunes still asked for the next disc, which I think can confuse some people (just cancel it and you'll be fine).
After restoration, I find couple things missing, namely the "last played" meta tag and my playlists. Those are missing. Bummer. I have setup playlists to rotate my songs based on the "last played" tag. For the playlists, I went back to my Windows PC, and start exporting my playlists 1 by 1 (oh I wish Apply can just include playlists in the backup). A slight hassle having to import them 1 by 1 to my Macbook. Also, I find playlists that are dependent on other playlists, will screw up. On my Macbook, those playlist seem to not be able to find the other playlists that they are dependent to, even though they are there. So I have to re-linked them 1 by 1. Another thing missed is even though all my podcasts are backed up, iTunes lost track on which podcasts I have listened to, so all podcasts came up as new. Subscription is also lost, so I have to re-subscribe all my podcasts.
OK, library is set. Now syncing my iPods. I know that Macs can read and write on PC-formatted iPods (not the other way around though). However, on my iPod setting screen in iTunes, I saw a warning saying that only Mac formatted iPods can be updated (firmware) via iTunes on a Mac! Another bummer! Since this is a switching plan, I took the dive and restore my iPods and have them formatted for the Mac (restoring iPods on Macs will automatically make them Mac-formatted).
I find iTunes on my Macbook is super smooth, especially when viewing cover flow. Viewing cover flow on Windows is very laggy, while it is silky smooth on my Macbook. I guess all that hassle gotta worth something. :)
So, not a smooth and hassle-free experience. Couple points in regards to iTunes:
1. If you set iTunes to backup your whole library, it will backup everything. For those that have massive library, this means tons of DVD dual-layer blanks, and slow burning process.
2. Backup doesn't backup playlists, "Last played" meta tag, podcast status and subscription.
3. You can only update the firmware of a Mac-formatted iPod on a Mac. Exception is the shuffle, which doesn't get that note on the setting screen.
4. You can restore any backup disc anytime without having to sit there restoring all discs in order at once.
Wish list for Apple:
1. Make the backup program to backup playlists and complete metatags.
2. Allow backup to use external hard-drives.
Friday, June 22, 2007
First of all, mail. Setting up is quite easy, but apparently mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. My email server uses SSL, and its certificate uses a wildcard (*). First, mail keeps bothering me to check the certificate being authentic. The Mac help did suggest adding the certificate to the keychain, so I did, yet mail still bothers me. So after countless of searching, I found out the mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. I tried installing Thunderbird, but then Thunderbird doesn't sync with the OS' built in address book, and hinders me from syncing it with my cellphone. So I decided to stick with mail app, even though I have to click 1 more button every time I want to check my email.
Next, calendar. My plan is to sync Google Calendar with iCal and my cellphone. Well, gcal and iCal cannot do a 2-way sync without 3rd party app, and they cost money! IMO this is something that google can/should do themselves. I can subscribe a gcal calendar with iCal, but no syncing. I finally decided to export my calendar gcal, forget about it, and start using iCal exclusively. With Google being more involved with Apple on the iPhone, I do hope one day we will have a perfect sync between gcal and iCal, hopefully without a force upgrade to Leopard.
Syncing with my cellphone using iSync via bluetooth is very smooth. This is why I like Macs. I turned on BT on my cellphone, register it on my Macbook, couple clicks here and there and it syncs my address book and iCal perfectly. The ease of iSync is one reason I decided to accept mail's annoyance and give up gcal.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Couple of catches on Tiger:
1. If I want to place the dock at the bottom of the screen, I can only do that on the primary display. Not as flexible as moving windows' taskbar.
2. The menu bar can only reside on one of the displays. Whichever display it's on, it becomes the primary display. With the way the Mac OS' GUI is setup, if I have an app open in the secondary display, I must go to the primary display to access the app's menus. In windows, each app has its own window/menu bar, so this is not a problem.
My Logitech Z-10 USB speaker was automatically detected, and the volume keys on my Macbook's keyboard correlates to the volume on the speaker itself. Other advance features like shortcut buttons and the LCD display on the speaker don't work though, since there's no official Mac driver from Logitech.
I also purchased Apple's Mighty mouse, since it seems that no other manufactures make a bluetooth mouse that doesn't require its own dongle. I want bluetooth since the Macbook only has 2 USB slots. 1 is already taken up by my speaker. Bluetooth setup is pretty straight forward. It will take a while for me to get used to the mouse. The tiny scroll ball feels weird at first, but prett easy to get used to. The hard part is doing a right click. Another annoyance is the inability to have/setup a back button for internet browsing.
Just purchased a black Macbook couple of days ago. I've been planning to switch to Mac from Windows. Tire of waiting for Leopard, I decided to go ahead and get this black Core 2 Duo Macbook. I'm going to blog my experience in switching my digital life from Windows to Mac.