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Blog: Switch2Mac

iPod Nanos Scratch Themselves

29 Sep 05 by DL Byron

I hadn’t seen anything quite so hysteric with Apple’s products, then the scratching. Scanning some of the blogs, I saw a comment where a guy swore he like just set his nano on the desk, came back and it was scratched! iPods have been scratchy for as long as there have been iPods. My wife scratched here iPod Photo in like 4 minutes while walking out of the store and later that day bought a case. For the scratch concerned, Todd Daily posts on how he polished his nano with Brasso. I suggest Flitz.

Sweaty Palms

After about 3 months with my first PowerBook G4, I noticed the pitting on the palm rests, near the trackpad. I researched it, called AppleCare, Google, discussion forums and figured out that my sweaty palms are corrosive to anodized finishes. So, I found a mild polish/protectorant called Flitz, polish my laptop occasionally, and got over it.

Zen and Scratches

Part of getting over scratches is having kids. Here are some recent scratch examples that I’ve learned to live with

  • My son raked the hood of my Volvo with a metal rake (he thought he was washing it for me)
  • My daughter walked along my Volvo with her backpack and left a scratch about a foot long
  • My Sony Ericsson phone is one scratched up phone and it just doesn’t quit
  • Put my Trek racing bicycle in a bike rack and lost a huge chunk of paint from the top tube

This week I noticed a gigantic scratch on the hardwood floors in the office. No idea where that came from, but it’s huge, and well, “scratches happen.”

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Apple and Intel

06 Jun 05 by DL Byron

John Gruber summarizes the Apple and Intel rumor and stories in two recent posts. The first is the Intel rundown and the second observed exactly what has fascinated me. No one was talking much about WWDC before this story broke and there hasn't been a peep from the "free-speech" rumor sites on leaked products, mocked photos, anything. Gruber also disses Scoble, which is funny in itself. I'm with Macworld's Jason Snell that it's something else . . . a new device, WiMax or something. Whatever it is, we can see once again how Apple can make headlines.

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Backpacking it out of EML hell

03 May 05 by DL Byron

I'm on a productivity roll this week, with Tiger, Mail, and Backpack.

EMLEntourage has a ton o' great features and all those whizbang features are really slow on Panther and incredibly (unusable) slow on Tiger. Entourage is also not indexed by Spotlight, which has already saved me once. MS has promised an update, but I'd been thinking about it for a while and finally decided to switch to Apple's Mail application. I imported 17K mails, spent a few hours cleaning up the import and now, instead of attempting to organize everything, I'm setting up Smart Folders that display the results of a search. For example, I set one to show the last 30 days of email and another to show me all mail with Clip-n-Seal in the title.

I don't care where my mail is, as long as an application finds it for me.

Resisting the urge to be tidy takes a while, but it's a reality when you have 17K emails. Mail imported amazingly well. I screwed it up by trying to get tricky with rules (set by if mail is older than and less than) and then had to figure out what was what. I started over and finally resulted to

  1. Export Entourage Folder
  2. Import a folder at a time into empty Entourage "Migration" Identity - created just for this purpose
  3. Import into Mail from Migration Identity
  4. Run Smart Folders and Rules on Imported Mails
  5. Curse Entourage's .eml and .mbox format

EML Hell

Note: Do not mistakenly drop a folder full of mails to your desktop instead of a folder, or you'll get "EML Hell" as demonstrated in the photo and curse eml files.

Backpacking it

Once I got my desktop cleaned up from eml hell, I tried the new PIM (personal information manager) app from 37 Signals. It promises easy collaboration to gather your ideas, to-dos, notes, photos and files online. Then share the ideas, set email and reminders. Now, I'd like to see a Backpack Widget, where I can bang out a brilliant new blog business plan in bullets, have it uploaded, shared, and added to a growing list of such amazing plans.

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Spotlight saved me

01 May 05 by DL Byron

Spotlight After upgrading OS X to Tiger (I used the Archive and Install method) I started restoring my Localhost server (Websharing) and absolutely could not remember how I got MySQL running with MovableType locally. I googled it, looked all over for it, and finally typed "MySQL" into Spotlight. The directions were in an iChat I had with Doug in March and Spotlight found it. 10 minutes later, I was up and running. Spotlight saved me hours of work.

After that, I realized that I don't care where my data is, as long as an application finds it for me. Spotlight finds data as quickly as I type.

Underneath that beautiful interface, OSX is a 'nix box and that means I run my blogs locally on my Powerbook for testing, development, client demos, and lectures.


For more on using localhost, Movable Type and MySQL with OSX check

And Walt Mossberg's review of OS X and Spotlight.

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Talking Smack with MusicNet

12 Apr 05 by DL Byron

Pam pPod On our way back from NYC, a couple weeks ago, our flight was delayed and we joined other travelers huddled around the only power outlets in the terminal. We’d take turns plugging into the outlet to charge our laptops. The newness of her iPod hadn’t worn off yet and Pam was playing with all the menu features (Pam is shown in today's photo at the Manhattan Apple Store, happily about to purchase her iPod). Seeing her iPod, the traveller next to us noted that he had the latest in digital audio gadgets and showed us his Creative Zen Micro and pitched us on how users prefer subscription services. He also claimed that Apple would have a subscription service in 6 months. We discussed this further, debating subscription v. pay for downloads, Real’s hack, how Napster is destroying its brand, and it turns out the guy was a marketing rep for MusicNet. As he discussed MusicNet’s services, he also disclaimed most of the features of the Zen micro: “it’s not, but, it could, this bugs me, the menu … .” His effort culminated in the radio being the only feature better than the iPod and that’s because the iPod doesn’t have a radio. He was a nice guy, but Pam and I remained unconvinced.

The flight was delayed another hour and the debate about subscription services picked up again. I don’t really care either way. I prefer to buy music and some want to lease it. There’s room for both. While a recent study found that pay-per-download is preferred, I’m sure MusicNet’s marketing staff is at the ready to say otherwise. They can also convince themselves that the iPod sucks because it doesn’t have a radio.

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Molly's Mac

16 Feb 05 by DL Byron

Any day now Molly’s new mac should arrive. She told me last week that she’d finally ordered a new PowerBook. A few weeks earlier, I’d watched her switch decision, or “epiphany,” go down. We were sitting next to each other at the Blog Business Summit and she absolutely could not get her PC to connect to the WiFi network. She spent most of the morning cursing, turning it off and on, editing the registery, card in and out, etc., and said, “damn it, I should just get a mac.” Of course, I said, “yes you should!”

Like my other friends that have switched, I don’t think she cared too much about the operating system or loyalty to one platform or the other. Citing her iPod, she just wanted a well-engineered product that works. I hope she reports on her progress with the new PowerBook. We’ll see each other again at SXSW and then Web Design World.

Mac buying tips:

  • Apple offers educational discounts
  • Amazon runs various specials and rebates on Apple's products
  • Your mac will ship with everything you need for the basics. Watch for another posts on developer applications.

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10 security Updates today

09 Feb 05 by DL Byron

Today I checked on the security updates for my PC. I'd seen a news item that a new batch was available. I use the PC for testing and the one applications that I can't get to work on my Mac (Polar's Heart Rate monitor software, it run's great on VPC, but the USB doesn't correct.) There's 10 updates, yep, 10. What are we at now, 300 patches so far for XP?

Credit to the hard working crew at MS for getting those out, they're the ones in sleeping bags, the ones that use free pop and snacks to survive all night sessions, but I've always wondered at what point would MS customers experience patch fatigue. What does annoy me is the few times I start the pc first thing that happens is that the security center tells me a patch is waiting. Great, that ten minutes, turned into an hour.

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Why Does Windows Still Suck?

05 Feb 05 by DL Byron

Writing a passionate article for the San Francisco Gate, Mark Morford asks, "Why Does Windows Still Suck? Why do PC users put up with so many viruses and worms? Why isn't everyone on a Mac?" Mark asserts that there is a better way to compute and is puzzled as to why hordes of consumer aren't revolting in the streets, or the Redmond campus, over Windows. Well, consumers don't usually picket your store or campus, they just go somewhere else and I think there's a quiet revolution going on. I've switched, my developer friends have switched, Apple's retail stores are full, the Mac Mini is selling out, and Apple's brand is stronger than ever.

More people are switching because they're just tired of Windows and realize there has to be a better way. This isn't about Mac v PC any longer, but a product that's broken vs one that works. As my latest friend to switch said, "I don't care if it's Windows, Mac, Linux, or Joe Bob's OS, I just want it to work, not crash, and not continously need security updates." Right on. I can't disagree with that.

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NewsFire 1.0

05 Feb 05 by DL Byron

David Watanabe announced NewsFire 1.0 this morning (or night in Australia). I'd posted earlier on RSS in general and how NewsFire is the first reader that actually worked really well for me. Besides the "minimalist yet expressive user interface," NewsFire is built to power through hundreds of feeds with your keyboard. The best way to understand the interface is to just download it and watch how it continuously reorganizes itself based on the feed count.

A tip on using NewsFire with Safari is to set your Safari preference to, "Open links from applications in a new tab." Then set NewsFire preference to, "Open Web Browser Behind the NewsFire Window" and you're opening all the links you want to read into new tabs.

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The Trip to Macworld

01 Feb 05 by DL Byron

Macworld A highlight of the trip to Macworld Expo a few weeks ago was visiting Six Apart's offices. It reminded me of the dotcoms, just the good parts, and it was a very good, happening vibe. Being there felt like I was on the verge of something bigger. We talked about TypePad and Movable Type and the Blog Business Summit. I was at Macworld to support Steve's tech session on Blogging and he was on. He got the crowd fired up and it reinforced that we need to show more nuts and bolts, the how to design blogs.

It was my first time at Macworld and man do I have good timing. I touched the Mac Mini, iPod Shuffle, and huddled with the Mac faithful. It's a good time to evangelize the Mac platform and the trip inspired this new Switch2Mac category on this blog.

2 years ago I switched full time to a Mac and haven't looked back. I'd always used both: PC at work and Mac at home. Not anymore. I know 3 confirmed switchers and one more on the way. As I wrote in the Importance of the Mac Mini, users are just exhausted by their PCs and ready for something better. Switcher number 4 absolutely could not get his PC to make a video (see It's raining sideways - ha-ha dance). Enter iLife. More on that in the next post.

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.Mac SDK

31 Jan 05 by DL Byron

dotmacThis week Apple announced an SDK for .Mac. That's fabulous news for Mac users, switchers and those thinking of switching. Why? Because one of the least publicized features of switching to Apple is the .Mac membership and membership does have it's privileges. .Mac offers a shared network drive (mac and pc), virus protection (don't need much), homepage, syncing, exclusives, and more.

Two of the features I use all of the time are iDisk and HomePage. iDisk is a public FTP that I share with my friends and clients. If a client or friend needs to send me a huge file, they just log onto my public iDisk from a Mac or PC, upload it, and they're done. Using the .Mac HomePage, my family easily puts photos and movies online in a few clicks. Why that's important is that the family can create their pages and not wait for me to finish some honking client site and get to them. They just publish away, as you can see on our galleries. Note the pug photos are always popular.

The .Mac SDK is important because .Mac can become even more integrated and innovative. For example, you could sync RSS feeds to your account and have them on the go, wherever you go, or more importantly, a cross-platform sync between Mac and PC calendar applications. Now that'd be something very useful.

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Cheesy Mac

23 Jan 05 by DL Byron

There was much Mac talk at Scoble's Cheesy party. Every new conversation I heard was Mac-related, but we didn't stay that late, so it could went to Tablet PCs and Xbox by the end of the night. iPod this, Mac Mini that. I thought that maybe we should start a Scoble Mac Mini fund and get that man a Mac. And, right as the CTO of Amazon walked out the door, Scoble said, "that was the CTO of Amazon." Damn, I wanted to ask him about Eric Meyer, Clip-n-Seal, and more.

More Scoble

Scoble is keynoting the Blog Business Summit. I'm speaking there in a couple sessions and will blog it.

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The Importance of the Mac Mini

12 Jan 05 by DL Byron

Mac Mini I was really bummed out to not watch the Macworld Apple Keynote live (here's a podcast of it). I've done so every year, for like 4 years. About 15 minutes into the keynote, I was hitting various mac fan sites for reports, and my friend Lenn announced in iChat that he was in the press room at Macworld. "Ok, cool!" and he offered to document the keynote as it unfolded, "flippin' awesome." Lenn rules. Highlights from the chat include the often rumored, much discussed, "headless mac," actual name Mac Mini.

Lenn P says: Mac Mini - Shows the hardware, it is simple and beautiful. Has a slot loading optical drive, firewire, USB 2. DVI & VGA output. Size is STAGGERINGLY small and beautiful. Bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse. Comes with Panther and iLife 05. Two models $499 for first one, second is $599. The most affordable Mac ever. Jan 22 in stores and on the Amazon Mac Store

Talking Points

Later in the day, one of my switcher friends asked, "what's a headless mac?" Good point. For the less-than-zealous mac fan, a "headless mac" is a term the press gave to a Mac computer without a monitor attached. Apple has finally entered the $500.00 computer price range. Countless articles about that strategy are being written now, if not already published. While the pundits debate it, what it means is one less barrier to switching to the mac. For the switcher evangelist, a few talking points:

  • It's for the halo effect, targeted at Windows iPod users, and for your PC friends who pop off about Apple's prices, Apple now makes a cheap little PC.
  • While inexpensive, the Mac Mini is good. Fans say, "the mini completely rocks!"
  • A hidden market will emerge from techno-geek-pros who use Windows and Linux and who would spend $500 to have a Mac to test.
  • Go to the Apple Site. They're totally aiming the Mini Macs at switching Windows users.
  • Nobody cares about clock speed. They just want to post photos and mix little home movies and not worry about viruses and spyware.

I think that last point, "not worry about viruses and spyware," is the most important. Earlier this week on NPR, Walt Mossberg, called on the the PC industry to address security issues." He said, "users shouldn't have to be their own IT department." In a demonstration between a PC and Mac, he showed NPR's Steve Inskeep that there's no spyware on the Mac and unlike windows, Macs were written to be a networked computer, with security in mind. Microsoft is hard at work correcting their security problems, but OS X is unix-based and inherently more secure for one simple reason: any application that wants to install prompts you for an account name and pass and has to be verified.

The most recent switcher I've talked to, switched for that exact reason. He was exhausted by spyware and viruses and didn't want to worry about it anymore.

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Fear of Bold

07 Jan 05 by DL Byron

Fear of Bold Where Veen has organized his life into happy little folders, my aggregation is an ominous, overwhelming amount of bold. I fear the bold because when I open Bloglines and see all that bold, I pause, not click on anything, and move onto something else. However, after the rush of praise, eventual comparisons to Pointcast, incredible information overload, and serious doubt from me that anyone was actually using it (besides Scoble), RSS is finally becoming useful with new, improved RSS readers applications like Basecamp, 43Things, and CNN’s feeds.

RSS Countdown

I''ve replaced that "fear of bold" with the "RSS countdown" using Newsfire, a rocking little app. While it has it’s own issues, it works for me because it doesn't use the mail application metaphor. It’s two panels, not bloated, and aquafied. If I see the countdown going way up in my dock, I find the feed with the most items (like the nonstop posting at Endgadget), and change it to ping every 12 hours and expire after one day.

A quick check and the feed countdown is up to 908, whoa, must be CES and the nonstop geek posting.

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Both Terrifying and Thrilling

02 Nov 04 by DL Byron

DIY iMac G5 Repairs

DIY Mac My experience with Do-it-Yourself iMac repairs was terrifying and thrilling. The new iMac G5 produced a whirling, whining sound that I described to AppleCare as, "a sound that bores into the base of your skull." In response, AppleCare sent me a mid-plane assembly, an instruction manual, and a few tools. The whole process took about 45 minutes and corrected the problem. It was terrifying to open that case. I was afraid of messing with perfection. Like, once I'd opened it, it'd make more sound, some weird creak, or a pixel would go bad but now the iMac is as quiet as as a whisper and I have even more respect for the engineering team at Apple. The internals are well designed and organized, with tabs to pull up parts, and guides to place cords. Wired reported on DIY repairs last week and found that consumers do prefer to fix it themselves. I wasn't sure how it'd go, but glad I replaced the part myself.

You can follow the iMac G5 sound problems in the Apple discussion groups. I'll note that AppleCare was very helpful, courteous, and I encourage other iMac owners to fix the problem if they have it.

Jonathan Ive, VP Industrial Design, recently said that Apple is in business to make great products, that they, "make money to support our desire to make nice things," and the iMac is an example of that. Inside of the case, you can see the attention to detail. The iMac designers love what they do. You can tell.

I uploaded a few more photos of the iMac disassembled. The pink towel had a calming effect on my nerves.

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A computer that's a real pleasure to use

24 Sep 04 by DL Byron

I can't recall a time when I've read more positive press about Apple. The thin new iMac is gathering it's well-deserved share of glowing reviews, but more importantly are the articles about switching to Macs for security. I chatted with a Windows developer earlier this week who removed all personal data from his Windows machine and does all of his computing on a PowerBook. He still uses his PC, but connects to it via Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). I do exactly the same thing. I've worked on both platforms for years and switched full time to my PowerBook last year. For testing, I use Virtual PC and RDC for work and both work very well.

As Walt Mossberg states, "It's a computer that's a real pleasure, not a hassle, to use." Moreover, Kevin Maney of USA Today quotes Daryl Forrest, a developer of software for Windows. "I have moved all non-work-related computing to a new Apple Power Mac G5," he writes. "I like Windows XP, but the risks are too high these days. It's sad that it has gotten to this."


Check these articles for more on Mac.

Giving props were due, Microsoft is working very hard at fixing windows, XP SP2 is a good update, and Longhorn is on the horizon, but until then, there's no reason not to use a better and safer operating system. The family's new iMac will arrive in a few weeks.

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Thin New Imac

01 Sep 04 by DL Byron

I was initially underwhelmed by the new Imac until I read a few more reviews about how Apple keeps the computer cool and where they put the power adaptor. The design is what the previous dome imac was supposed to be, except it would’ve had a hump in the back or been larger, like competing PC products. Apple’s engineers waited until they could make a thin, all-in-one flat panel. As a minimalist, I think it’s remarkable and as a computer intended for the Ipod generation, it should be a success. It also may very well be the last desktop we see from Apple before it’s all laptops and tablets.

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Powerbook Palm Rest

19 Aug 04 by DL Byron

The palm rest of some Aluminum Powerbook can corrode and become pitted with black specs or dots. This is caused by the sweat from your hands oxidizing the anodized surface. Several Apple Discussion forums debate the problem at length. Early on, I had decided to just deal with it by occasionally wiping the palm rest surface with water and a clean cloth. During our recent vacation, I forgot to wipe the surface down and returned to a palm rest covered with white streaks (and pits) that I couldn’t remove. After a long search, I found a polish called Flitz that safely cleaned and polished the surface and now appears to “repel” some of the sweat. It doesn’t repair of fill the pits, but it’s does make them less obvious.

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