Tag Archives: Apple

DIR-825 and SharePort

If you have the D-Link DIR-825 and are trying to get the SharePort to work, there has been a recent update. Thanks very much to Nikolay for the information. I’m happy with the Airport Extreme but his info may be useful for you. Although you can find the comment at this link, here is the post:

“Not sure when you tried to install the SHareport drivers for MAC but now they are available… over the Christmas (Dec.2010) holiday I installed the drivers for the Mac — downloaded the drivers from the D-Link support web site / the site for DIR-825 and was able to even use TimeMachine on the MAC with the USB drive connected on the router…..The link to the MAC is 802.11n Next I need to figure out the Shareport with my Ubuntu Linux desktop PC. Good luck;”

So, here is hoping that Nikolay’s finding will help you as well.


Updates

Various Updates


Ultimate Ears 5vi

The link to the previous post is here. After spending more time with the 5vi, I like them very much. Contrary to my original intentions, I really haven’t played much with the foam. Even after weeks of use, the silicone tips continue to feel like small acorns jammed into my ears; they don’t annoy me as much as they originally did but it still isn’t terribly pleasant.

Magic TrackPad

The link to the previous post is here. There is no question, the Magic TrackPad, combined with BetterTouchTool, has become a huge time-saver for me. Not once since my original posting have I missed my old faithful Logitech MX Revolution. Here are my favorites:

  • Four finger slide left or right to bring up the app switcher, then two fingers left or right to select the app, then four finger tap to activate. Standard drivers.
  • Three finger tap to send ⌘R, primarily for refreshing websites. BetterTouchTools.
  • TipSwipe Left Finger Left to send ⌘⇧[. With three fingers on the pad, slide the left-most finger to the left a bit. This moves me left one tab. BetterTouchTool.
  • TipSwipe Left Finger Right to send ⌘⇧]. With three fingers on the pad, slide the left-most finger to the right a bit. This moves me right one tab. BetterTouchTool.
  • Five Finger Tap to show the desktop. This is one command that I’ve missed from Windows and BetterTouchTools makes it easy to bring to the Mac.

Magic TrackPad for Windows

Go here for instructions on how to extract the Apple Magic TrackPad Windows drivers from the BootCamp installer that Apple provides here: 32-bit or 64-bit.

The instructions will tell you to find the Bootcamp3135* folders. You can ignore the #Bootcamp3135* folders. I have to say that this did not work with my POS Dell Latitude D620. It proves nothing, though, since the Dell was able to locate my Mac on Bluetooth but could not discover the Magic TrackPad OR my Plantronics Voyager Pro headset.

Magic TrackPad for Ubuntu

In VMware Fusion, the Magic TrackPad works just fine as a standard trackpad. Two fingers to scroll in FireFox also works. Here is information on pairing with Ubuntu. Since I’m using Fusion, I did not have to do any pairing. Here is another page that includes a link to patches (it’s in the main body of posting).

Airport Extreme

The link to the previous post is here. There have been no complaints from the family about web access since installing the Airport Extreme. It does provide more reliable iTunes streaming to our Airport Express, which is about as far from the router as you can get in our house. By more reliable, I mean that we don’t get the cut-outs and buffering lags that we would get in nearly every song using the DIR-825. Unfortunately, as anticipated, it has NOT resolved my problem with losing my Internet connection. It’s no longer a daily event (more like every 2-3 days), but it still happens. The issue is that my Internet connection will just disappear. Adium stays connected but web traffic completely disappears, as does the Mail connection to my ISP’s e-mail. If I have VMware Fusion running Ubuntu, it retains its connection. This has been happening since I upgraded to Snow Leopard. Based on feedback on the Apple forum I have tried:

  • Changing my DNS server to OpenDNS or Google
  • Flushing the DNS cache
  • Renewing DHCP

Only a reboot resolves the issue. This seems not to happen with the MBP’s in the house but they aren’t on all the time like the iMac, so I guess I’m not surprised.

Sharing USB Drive with Windows

As mentioned in the original posting, connecting a USB drive to the DIR-825 was pointless. The software that D-Link provides for OS X was worthless. Going back to the original developer version helped make the drive recognizable but it still couldn’t be used reliably. Files of any size bigger than a few hundred KB would time out. The good news is that sharing the USB drive with Windows from the Airport Extreme was extremely easy and seems to be quite reliable so far.

  1. Go into the Airport Utility and find the IP address for the Airport Extreme.
  2. Go to the Windows machine and run Windows Explorer.
  3. From Windows Explorer, go to Tools->Map Network Drive.
  4. Select an unused drive letter.
  5. In the “Folder” field enter \\IP_address\USB drive name. Example \\192.16.8.0.1\My_HD.
  6. Check Reconnect at logon if desired.

Magic Trackpad

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Let’s get this right out in the open…try as I might, I can find no magical properties in this device. Food left on it does not stay preserved for an unnaturally long time. Razor blades placed under it do not resharpen themselves (Google “pyramid power”). Rubbing it produces no Genie. Offering sacrifices to it seemed to have no impact at all, except in neighbor relations since my neighbor is now missing his prized goat. However, in a pinch, it might serve quite nicely as a kitchen chopper; just remember that it does have a glass surface so you don’t want to go all Ninja Chef with it.

The box is quite small. In it you will find the non-magical trackpad, a small manual, some other paperwork. Two non-rechargeable batteries are included in the unit. The manual was totally unnecessary but it covers all the basics. The most useful component, aside from the trackpad itself, is the bottom of the box, which shows the various gestures available.

When you pair the thing with your Mac, it will realize that a software update is required to get the trackpad drivers. This was a quick process that, I believe, also required a restart. Prior to the restart, the trackpad worked fine as a mouse but the two/three/four finger actions were not functional. Once the drivers are installed, System Preferences will include a new entry for Trackpad.

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This is where you set the attributes for the trackpad. As you hover the cursor over the settings, that setting will highlight and a how-to video for that setting will play, showing you how it works (in the shot above, the Rotate feature is highlighted).

All the gestures work as advertised. It responds just as quickly and accurately as the trackpad on a MacBook Pro. The button click can be managed two ways. The default is mechanical. The two feet on the front bottom of the device are buttons that will register the click or you can set the device to allow Tap to Click. I’ve read complaints about the button click but, so far, it has worked quite well for me, especially from near the center of the trackpad. Get too close to the bottom edge and more effort is required to activate the buttons (not a great deal more but the difference is noticeable). The multi-finger gestures are the reason I wanted this thing. The two finger scroll and three finger page back/forward are much more intuitive, responsive, and efficient than performing similar actions with a mouse.

My biggest beef is the application switch feature. Four fingers to bring up the app switcher works just fine. The problem is that the cursor does not automatically go to the switcher window. If your cursor was in the lower corner of the screen when you activated the switcher, it will still be there and you’ll have to navigate up to the window to choose the app you want. Having said that, you can use the arrow keys to move among the app options, so it isn’t a deal killer. I’ve also read complaints about click and drag but I’ve had no issues. I tend to use one finger to select and then slide another finger to move the object and this works quite well. If you find yourself running out of real estate with the finger that is moving, it seems to work well to switch which finger is stationary and which one is moving and the action continues without missing a beat. (Addendum, it was pointed out to me that you can use four fingers to activate the switcher, two fingers to navigate the switcher window, then a four finger tap to activate your app of choice. Thanks, jfm429!)

I have an image of Ubuntu in Fusion that I play with a bit. Without any Fusion update, the trackpad works just fine as a mouse and the two finger scroll works. The more advanced features do not work. Although I would like to report the results with a Windows image, my XP image got corrupted by viruses and I ended up deleting it. There is an additional download required for Boot Camp to activate more of the features for Windows. It seems to be a Boot Camp specific update and is not something you can run on your Windows PC to make use of the trackpad. In very limited testing, my Dell Latitude D620 did not find the trackpad. It found my iMac, my wife’s laptop (upstairs), and my BlackBerry. No sign of the Magic Trackpad. I tried turning off the bluetooth on the iMac to see if it had some exclusive hold on the trackpad and this did not resolve things. So, I don’t expect it to work with Windows (XP, anyway) yet.

Is it worth it? For me, yes. On those occasions when I could get my mits on my wife’s MBP, I lusted hard for her trackpad and the multi-touch gestures. Having that ability now with my iMac makes me much less interested in getting my own MBP (which is great because I can’t afford it). If you have limited real estate and you’re jonesing for the multi-touch features, I highly recommend the Magic Trackpad. As a comparision, I find it much more useful, intuitive, and responsive than the Magic Mouse, which I absolutely hate to use.

This is not a Bamboo. You can use the surface to draw, just like you can a trackpad, and you have a large surface to work with, but it won’t have the erase or multi-button features that you get with a Bamboo. If you’re looking for those features, invest your money with Wacom. I was really interested in trying Inklet but it appears that it needs to be updated to recognize the Magic Trackpad as a trackpad. It’s a shame because it looks like a nice alternative to the Bamboo if your needs are simple and the handwriting recognition would be fun, especially if it works as expected with their Pogo Sketch. If you want to extend the abilities beyond what Apple offers, look up the Better Touch Tool. Very limited testing suggests that it will work quite nicely. I set a three finger tap to ⌘R so that I could easily reload web pages without navigating or heading to the keyboard.


D-Link DIR-825 vs. Airport Extreme — Sort Of

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I hate routers. Seriously. Maybe it’s me but I just haven’t had great experiences with them. Over the last 12 years or so, we’ve had 5 or 6 different routers; is there an unwritten rule that they must suck?

The DIR-825 has been on point for the last two plus years. We bought it because it got excellent reviews. For example, on Cnet it got 3.5 stars out of 4 (interestingly, checking the user reviews now shows an average of 2 stars with 49 votes).

This sucker has been frustrating from the beginning. D-Link seems to churn these things out without ever perfecting the firmware or bothering to adequately update it after the fact (call me stupid but 3 of my routers have been D-Link). This router (the Rev-A version) was never able to determine that new firmware was available. It would randomly reset the date and time, which played hell with my favorite feature; the ability to turn the wireless off at a certain time of night. It would do this whether I asked it to get the time settings from my computer, from manual settings, or from the Internet. With Shareport, it offers the ability to connect a USB drive for network access. Using the D-Link drivers, I was unable to even see the hard drive. I eventually found out that they just don’t work with Macs. By using these drivers, I was able to get the hard drive recognized but it was very unreliable. Writing or reading large files was impossible. If you’re seriously techie, the DIR-825 allows a wealth of control over your network. Time will tell if that granular control provides benefit or not.

The signal was pretty good on the 2.4 GHz band but not at all good at 5GHz. As the family got more and more dependent on their laptops, I found myself searching for a way to improve the signal so that the kids could move freely about the house. After watching for a while, I found this antenna at Meritline and bought two when they were on sale for $6.95 each (seems to happen every few weeks).

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As you’ll see below, the antennas definitely improved our signal. Everyone noticed that their range had improved; they were even able to work out on the deck. So, just as things started looking up, fate dealt me an interesting opportunity…

Although I was intrigued by the Airport Extreme, I felt I had been burned enough on routers that I was unwilling to shell out the big bucks that Apple was asking. Plus, it pissed me off that there were only three ethernet ports. As time passed, I bought a 1GB switch that sat next to the router because not even 4 ports was enough. Then, Cowboom offered a refurbished Airport Extreme at a fantastic price. How could I pass it up? Now was the time to see if Apple could change my experience with routers.

The unit was delivered promptly and was well packaged for shipping. The inner box was nondescript and non-Apple. Inside was the manual, the power cord/brick, and the router. As with anything Apple, setup was a breeze. Plug it in, plug the Mac in, then activate the Airport Utility. The utility allowed me to quickly name the network, set a password, and go. I went beyond the standard and setup a guest zone, as well as changing the IP range from the default of 10.0… Gone was the ability to have the wireless turn on and off based on the clock. Gone was the ability to set priority for my Vonage adapter and our Xbox 360. However, unlike the D-Link, plugging a hard drive into the USB port provided instant satisfaction. The hard drive shows up under “Shared” in the Finder Sidebar.

Overall, setup took me 5 minutes. This contrasts with the D-Link, which I recently had to setup again after finally finding a firmware update that I hoped would fix the time issue as well as an ongoing connection issue. The firmware upgrade wiped my settings because I wasn’t smart enough to save my settings first. That setup took over an hour.

Before plugging in the Extreme, I decided to get signal strength readings from various spots in our house. I did this from the same spots using iStumbler to provide the readings. Of course, I don’t know how accurate the iStumbler readings are but it’s all I had to go with. I took the readings using the DIR-825 with the standard antennas, using the DIR-825 with the Meritline antennas, and using the Extreme. The table below shows the readings, with a brief description of how far (approximately) the spot was from the router. Wherever it says “over,” it is indicating an approximate horizontal direction away from the router.

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Time will tell how my experience goes with the Extreme and I’ll provide updates as my experience continues.


MacJournal 5.2 — Test

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This week, I am traveling. I have an iMac but no MacBook. Having a Dell XP laptop means that I had to use the native WordPress posting for my beer review last night. It works ok but I found myself missing the simplicity of MacJournal. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have used word processors for so long but whatever the reason, using MacJournal is a much more satisfying experience.

This morning, I decided to install MacJournal on my wife’s MBP. Further, I decided to try to get everything setup without referring to any help and without referring to my previous review. It took less than two minutes to establish the connection with WordPress and to recall how to customize the Info Bar so that I could add my tags within MacJournal. It was very simple and appeared to come off without a hitch.

So, here is the acid test. I’m going to select “Send to Blog” and we’ll see what happens. I fully expect everything to transfer just fine. If it doesn’t, I’ll post an addendum.

Ok, it went off quite well, but not 100%. As I was writing this, I was wondering how I would categorize the posting and couldn’t remember what MacJournal did. To my surprise, when I opted to send the entry to WordPress, a dialog appeared and asked me to classify the entry. It presented the categories I have used so far and allowed me to pick the one I wanted. Here is the bad news…it ignored what I selected and the category was posted as uncategorized. I checked the Mariner knowledge base but there was no entry about this issue. I’ll send a support request and add the results here.

Despite this issue, I still find MacJournal a very effective and pleasant way to maintain my blog. Also, I know that when I get home, I’ll just have to tell MacJournal to download my entries from WordPress to ensure that my copy of MacJournal fully represents what is on the site. Easy peasy…

Further addendum… when I used MacJournal to send the post update update… (great English, eh?), the category changed to match my selection. Not sure if this will be a recurring issue or not. Since it worked the second time around, I will not post a support ticket. I’ll see how the next few posts go.

Still further addendum… in subsequent posts, the issue above has not reoccured. I’m going to write it off as a user error. My opinion of MacJournal remains quite high and I certainly prefer using it to the editing feature within WordPress.


MacJournal 5.2

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MacJournal, by Mariner Software was picked up through another bundle. Here is another example of software that I didn’t really feel an overwhelming amount of interest in. But, hey, I spent the money and figured I’d give it a shot for my WordPress blogs. My experience so far has been very good.

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Setup was dead easy. Tell it that this is a WordPress blog (other options are: LiveJournal, MetaWeblog, Atom, and Movable Type), enter the URL and user name, then tell it to Reload. The link was created without a hitch.

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Next, I picked the option to “Download Entries from Blog.” MacJournal then asked if I wanted to download all the entries or enter a number of entries to download. I downloaded all of them so that MacJournal reflected the full contents of the blog. This wasn’t actually necessary, since it would also just start adding to whatever was there but I was planning on splitting one blog into two. Once I had everything, I created the second blog (in MacJournal, the blog equates to a Journal and each posting equates to an Entry), moved the entries that belonged in the second blog, and then updated them (actually, to be safe, I also deleted everything in the original blog before re-uploading). If I didn’t like the order, I could drag and drop to change the sequence. If I needed to move an entry between blogs, the drag and drop worked just as well.

Dealing with graphics is much easier in MacJournal than with the WordPress editing environment. I didn’t really like messing with graphics directly in WordPress but MacJournal acts just like any other word processor, allowing me to drag graphics from Voila, change their size, and then center them.

Other features include the ability to edit the Toolbar:

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The ability to edit the Info Bar. Info bar options are items that are probably blog settings or attributes:

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Features that I have not tested fully include the ability to:

  • Enter Quick Notes — you can setup a key combination to trigger the quick note. This is useful for journaling. You can also use it to create a new entry or to append to an existing one. You can also apply tags to the entry.
  • Import podcasts, calendar entries, pdf files.
  • Add audio or video entries. Note: this did not work for me because I have not upgraded my account.
  • Create Import Droplets. They are small apps that sit in the finder. Anything you drag and drop onto the droplet will be directed to a specific journal. When you drop it, you also get the chance to assign tags.
  • Post photos to Picasa.
  • Embed YouTube videos. Note: this did not work for me because I have not upgraded my account.
  • Schedule entries to get posted at a future date/time, but you must leave MacJournal running.
  • Publish with iWeb.
  • Publish to MobilMe.

Hopefully, this gives you a sense for the potential for MacJournal in your work. There are certainly other uses. I have focused on the applicability to maintaining a blog. You’ll find MacJournal at http://www.marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=85


Yep! You Betcha!

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A fun thing about the Mac community is the periodic release of software bundles. If you’re willing to take the plunge, you may find programs that you didn’t know you needed. One such bundle provided Yep. Yep wasn’t on my radar. It didn’t even look terribly interesting to me. I already had Paperless from a previous bundle and didn’t care for it much at all.

So, I installed Yep! and forgot about it for a while. A month went by and I decided to have a look at it. After opening, the thing churned for a while, looking for all the documents on my Mac. Still not impressive. It probably took 20-30 minutes before all the documents appeared with their thumbnails. This got me a little more interested. Then, I began playing with applying tags to my documents. There are currently 65 tags in my system and Yep lets me combine them in any way that I feel is suitable. I can then begin clicking tags to filter the results down. What follows is an attempt to show some of the power of this program. Hell, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong about some functionality. It is not an exhaustive discussion of every feature. For that, RTFM…

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The top row of icons lets you control how documents are displayed, as well as what other info about the documents is displayed.

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This is the bookmark bar. Each entry is a bookmark that reflects a search criteria. Displayed above are the defaults. They can further be organized into folders. Dragging a file to a bookmark that is location based will put it in the desired location. In my case, I regularly use the Untagged option. Since I painstakingly went through the process of tagging all my documents, selecting Untagged will show me only the newest arrivals on my Mac. Every day or two, I look at the untagged documents and tag them. This is has helped me to maintain control of my documents and to easily find anything I’m looking for. I don’t care where the document went since all untagged docs will display. By default, the documents are stored in a Filed Documents folder and then further filed under Year/Month/Day, with each of those taking you a level deeper in the folder structure. As we will see later, if you don’t like this, it is easily and quickly remedied.

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Apparently, this bad boy is referred to as the “crumb trail.” This bar lets you tighten up your filtering by selecting a certain type, certain location, certain tags… The button to the right that says LIVE allows you to set whether the display is actively updated or fixed. The search field allows you to search among only those documents that are currently displayed, based on your filtering. You can select whether you are searching based on the file name or file contents. Searching based on content is impressively quick.

wpid-wpid-voila_capture31-f9ars769kgfv-t1vhwaqw5xpn.jpg The tag column along the left side allows you to click on the tag(s) you want to filter by. Clicking on a tag will add it to the filtering bar above. Hovering over a tag will tell you how many documents have been assigned that tag. At the bottom of the column there is another field that allows you to filter among the tags currently displayed.

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The right column displays detailed information about the current document. You can move the file to a different location, you can reveal the file in Finder, you can display the Finder info. The power of this (to me) is the ability to select a group of files and then move them where I want them. To be honest, I’m not that keen on the default filing scheme but I really don’t care. I can filter on “eBook” and then select all the files and move them to the eBook folder. Extremely easy and fast. Much easier than screwing with the Finder.

Finally, there is this feller:
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Travel is a standard part of my job. Travel means expense reports. If you’re smart, you always scan your receipts before sending them into corporate. Scanning and creating new documents is a breeze with Yep. Before finding Yep, I used the HP software to scan my receipts. It was problematic at best. When I decided to upgrade to Snow Leopard, I learned that those bastards at HP didn’t feel like updating the software for my All-In-One. No problema, thanks to Yep; I have a better interface and can immediately tag the receipt file and determine where it goes. Eat that HP!

This review was brief but my hope is that it gives a sense for the power and utility of this program. To my surprise, I cannot imagine functioning without it at this point. For work, I have to use an XP machine. Every day I find myself longing for Yep. Ironic Software also has a Finder alternative called Leap. It looks amazing. My hope is that it will become part of a bundle someday. That bundle will be an instant buy. Find them on the web at: http://www.ironicsoftware.com/ . I have no financial interest in the company and they don’t know I exist… For me, this software rates a 4 out of 4.

This review was created (as a test) with two other bundle apps: Voila and MacJournal. Perhaps I’ll review them at a later date.


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