April 2009

Candy for your iPod

Recently I needed new headphones for my iPod, but I wanted to get "ear buds" instead of traditional head phones.  This is because I like to keep things simple.  To me, ear buds just look cooler.  They are sleek and small, discretely sliding right in the ear.  I don't need the whole world looking at big silver headphones stretched across my skull. 

I spent a ton of time researching ear buds because even though they're physically small, these things can still get pricey.  I didn't want to spend $80-$100 on some lousy ear buds that hurt my ears or didn't have loud enough volume.  That was actually one gripe I had about the white buds that came with my iPod.  I couldn't always get them as loud as I needed.  Even when blasting my music, I still felt like I could hear every car honk and conversation taking place around me.  This was one of the main things didn't want to deal with any more. After all my research I decided to go with the Skull Candy brand. 

Free Mac OS X Software

Screen Shot of Seashore Graphics Editor

There's actually quite a lot of free software out there, far more than I could possibly cover. So I'm just going to talk about a few applications that I know personally. I figure with any luck at all, a lot of suggestions will appear in the comments.

First up, a recent discovery for me; Seashore is a simple, easy to use and surprisingly full-featured image editor. It supports layers, channels, tools, including textures and brushes, and is perfect if you mostly want to do Save As from .png or .jpg or .tiff, including transparent .gif, and image scaling, by percentage or pixel. There's easy to use documentation embedded in the Help system.

Reading on the iPhone and iPod Touch: Part I

I do a lot of reading on my iPhone. It's a high quality display, and text is quite sharp. The backlighting means that I don't need an external light source, the touchscreen means it's quiet and it's awfully convenient to be able to have a constant source of reading material, without needing a WiFi signal, on a device that I have with me pretty much all the time, and that fits in a pocket. I thought I'd describe some of my favorite iPhone (and iPod Touch) readers. All of the following applications are free, though not all the books for the applications are free. I'm assuming that you are using the 2.1 or later software on your iPhone or iPod Touch. All of them may be downloaded either via iTunes or the App Store application on your iPhone.

Apple Niche Aching to be Filled

Me: Long term passionate user of Apple technology; I bleed in five colors. Seeking that special CPU for remote log-in, GREP and public file-sharing. I heart my iPhone and iPods, and all my Macs; ours will not be an exclusive relationship. I heart Mac OS X, but I'm into Unix, multiple flavors. I think using Terminal is a religious rite. Turn ons: drag n' drop, BBEdit, and track pad gestures. Turn offs: Kernel panics, Vista, and signal drop offs. Intensely loyal, and passionate; my first generation iPod is still fully functional, and I love AutoFill mode. I'm no Vista groupie, but I'm not an iMac type either. I know what I want, and I've had the best. I crave high bandwidth and fast throughput.

iTunes Tiered Pricing Started Today

Today Apple's new "tiered" pricing structure took effect on the iTunes store. Tracks are now priced in three "tiers," the newly released and very popular tracks are $1.29, a very large number (in fact, most tracks)are still $0.99, and some are priced at $0.69. All ten million plus tracks are now DRM free, and are iTunes Plus, which means that you can copy them, burn them as many times as you wish to CD, and play them on an unlimited number of players, though you may have to convert tracks if your player doesn't support AAC, the encoding standard Apple uses. The good news, aside from the absence of Digital Rights Management restrictions, is that all the tracks are encoded at the better sounding 256 kbps, which of course also means the files are a bit larger in size.

Schubert|it PDF Browser Plugin

There are a few Mac OS X applications and browser plug-ins that I've used for so very long that I forget that not everyone knows about them. I'll be posting about a number of them in the future. The Schubert|it PDF Browser Plugin is one of those additions that I've come to depend on so much that when I get a new Mac, or a friend gets a new Mac, I go install it. The Schubert|it PDF Browser Plugin allows you to click on a link to a .pdf file on a Web page and read it right there in your browser. You can print, save, open it in Acrobat or Preview, zoom; even visually divide the .pdf document into two panes so you can look at an image or chart and the text that refers to it at the same time.