Presented in reverse chronological order.
December 14, 2005: We set up some tables and invited members to set up their own Macs for a little one-to-one assistance in problem solving, troubleshooting, and software upgrades. The more experienced members answered questions and shared their expertise. We had a fun time with this kind of meeting, and we’ll probably do it again!
November 17, 2005: Dirk Reynolds showed us what’s new in Filemaker Pro 8. There’s more than one kind of FMP-8: Pro, Pro Advanced, Server Advanced, Mobile for hand-held devices, and Ready-Made Solutions with templates that don’t need programming.
The Ready-Made version is a good choice for hobbyists who want to make a database of their music collections or postage stamps, for home budgets, or for a database for a non-profit organization. Templates are customizable, and a free 30-day trial version is available for download.
Business users can run their entire business on FMP-8, including inventory, contacts and automated e-mail newsletters, and FMP-8 is cross-platform compatible with Macintosh, Windows, and the web.
October 12, 2005: Robert Winokur showed how to take better pictures, and Robert DeLaurentis showed how to edit them better.
Below: camping in the Mendocino Woodlands. A panorama made from two wide-angle shots. Notice how the scene is framed by the trees at the extreme left and right; the image has enough of the surroundings to show what it was like to be there.
Below Left: bundling lavender into bunches. The subject occupies the central one-third or one-half of the image, she has a nice expression, and she’s given enough room in the frame so her feet aren’t cut off. Below Right: The positions of the five subjects describe a gentle curve from the upper right to the lower right corner of the image. The image was cropped to draw attention to the dancing figure at the top, centering him between the left and right edges. To capture an image, stand in the right place and wait for the right moment! (Photos by Robert Winokur)
September 21, 2005: Andrew Heuchert, the Apple rep at CompUSA, and Mike Bishop of The Mac Mechanic showed us what’s new in Macs and Mac accessories. Among them were the new iPod Nano, the iTunes-enabled Rokr phone, new software, and a portable iPod speaker system.
August 18, 2005: This month’s meeting was about communicating with e-mail, with Internet chat, and by telephone over the Internet.
Everyone at the meeting was using e-mail, so no explanations of the basics were necessary. But Dirk showed us some cool features in Apple’s software: When replying to a message, select the text you want to reply to, then click Reply. Mail will open a new message window with only the selected text ready for your reply. Want to attach images? Go to iPhoto, select images to attach to a message, click the Email button, then select image size. If the recipient is using Mail, they will see the images in a column below the text. But Mail can also display them as a slide show, at full screen or actual size, or an overview of all the images at once. Before sending images, be sure to reduce them to appropriate sizes for easy viewing, and keep the file sizes small for easy downloading for people with dial-up connections.
There are various Internet chat services – AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo arae the biggest, but they are not all compatible with each other. Apple’s iChat is compatible with AIM (AOL Instant Messaging) and Jabber. If you don’t have AOL or iChat you can get an AIM account for free at AIM.com. Some iChat users have audio and video as well, so they can talk and see each other instead of typing. This requires Mac OS X Panther (version 10.3) or later, and an iSight or other FireWire camera; a USB headset microphone works better for speech than the Mac’s built-in microphone. You can use iChat with Windows users too, but see MVL Design’s Video Conference Tutorial for iChat and AIM for details on making it work.
You can make phone calls over the Internet and save on long-distance charges using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This requires a VoIP service such as Vonage or Lingo. Dirk uses Skype, a new VoIP provider in England. Their service is free for calls from Skype accounts to other Skype accounts; Dirk reports the cost for other connections as about 11/2 cents per minute, anywhere in the world, payable through PayPal. Conference calls are possible too, and computer-to-phone as well as phone-to-computer calls. VoIP phones and headsets are available as well. For more about VoIP, see How VoIP Works on HowStuffWorks, or search Google for “VoIP” or “ip-telephony”.
Thanks to Mike Bishop and the MacMechanic for the multi-button Mighty Mouse given away in the drawing!
July 21, 2005: Mac tech and web designer John Lincoln showed us a ten-minute slide show, with sound, in iPhoto 5, showing what life looks like where he lives in a tiny mountain village on Mallorca. (The scenery was lovely, and the sound of the goats’ bells was peacefully relaxing!)
After the show, John gave us some tips on using iPhoto and doing slide shows. We enjoyed his presentation a lot. John brought the show on an NTSC DVD, so it could be played on a TV as well as a computer. John also brought a CD of the sound of the goats’ bells, which we gave away as the prize for the drawing.
June 16, 2005: Jim Tinsley presented this month’s “cool stuff”: Want to know whether a flight will be on time? Take a look at Airwise Flight Arrivals Information, where you can select an airline, specify a flight number, and see an up-to-the-minute map showing the location of the plane and the status of the flight.
Next, Ed Togami showed us where to get free (and legal) downloads of music, and how to save them to disk. You don’t necessarily need the latest stuff — Ed used the Jaguar version of OS X (10.2.8).
#1. First, you need to set QuickTime preferences to save movies to disk cache. #2. When you click a link to play a file and it opens in QuickTime Player, select Save from the File menu. (If the name has an audio file name extension at the end, that’s the music file. If not, try saving with the freeware utility iGetMovies, available from Version Tracker. Note: version 2.1.1 doesn’t work with QuickTime 7.) #3. Double-click the saved file and it opens in iTunes! In some cases, song info automatically imports into iTunes with the music. #4. Then Get Info on the tune, click “Artwork”, and on the download page copy the cover art image to the clipboard. #5. Voilá!
Here are some places where you can find free recordings:
- MP3s are available at Amazon.com (free registration required). Click the “Music” link, then “Free Downloads”, then click “Browse Digital Music” to see the available genres or use the search feature. You won’t find everything for free, but you can make serendipitous free finds within genres. It’s a good place to find unknown performers showcasing their new recordings. Song info, and sometimes lyrics, can also be found along with album artwork.
- Download.com Music
- GarageBand.com (free registration required)
- Got kids? Free Kids Music has plenty of amusements for young listeners. For example, “There’s a Cow Parked in the Driveway”! Burn your kids’ favorites to a CD and take it with you to play on trips.
- Those interested in American history will find hundreds of historical speeches and transcripts at American Rhetoric (not all are free).
- Last but not least, Internet Archive will delight fans of The Grateful Dead. Here is a massive archive of music, video, and web pages going back years. Remember a Dead concert you heard in the 1970s? You might find it here!
Then Apple’s Andrew Heuchert showed us some of the new features in “Tiger”, the latest version of Mac OS X (version 10.4). Among our favorites:
- Spotlight file search;
- Dashboard with Widgets;
- Safari now displays PDFs directly without using a helper application;
- QuickTime 7 enables high-resolution video on DVDs (when they become available in the near future);
- iChat AV can display up to 4 images for video conferences, up to 9 people in an audio conference, and is compatible with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger).
April 21, 2005: We began with some “cool stuff”: a look at Google Maps.
The main presentation was all about organizing your thoughts! James Lee of Tropical Software came by to demo their flagship product, TopXNotes™.
They have developed a modern note pad for Mac OS X loaded with handy features, such as …
- QuickNotes to keep your “top 10 notes” in a floater on your desktop for easy access,
- NoteOrganizer advanced table of contents with categories and groups,
- MuitlView to view more than one note view at once,
- Templates for easily creating new kinds of notes,
- Encryption to help keep sensitive information safe,
- And many other features.
March 17, 2005: Brian Carlin and Ian Lessing demonstrated lots of useful techniques for Mac OS X users.
#1. Brian began by using Apple’s AirTunes software to send music wirelessly from iTunes on his iBook to a pair of powered speakers plugged into an AirPort Express in the back of the room. (One person commented that she uses an AirPort to wirelessly network to a printer in another room.) #2. Quick tip: In a Finder window, type the beginning of a file name to highlight it immediately. #3. Use the Activity Monitor (in the Applications > Resources folder) to see if one application is slowing down your Mac. Click the “% of CPU” heading to sort the list by what’s using the most system resources. #4. Brian showed us Freefall, a program that displays the orbits of earth satellites – and we saw how much processing power it used in the Activity Monitor. #5. You can zoom in to see something larger! Press Command-Option-8 to enable Zoom, then press Command-Option-+ to zoom in around the pointer. Press Command-Option-hyphen to zoom out. (Press Command-Option-8 again to disable Zoom.) #6. CronniX can launch applications for you at preset times. Want to wake up to music? Set CronniX to start up iTunes in the morning. #7. AppleScript can automate tasks for you. Brian showed how easily some simple scripts can be written. #8. Password protect contents of your USB “thumb drive” to protect it in case you lose it. #9. Save a Mac/Windows-compatible slideshow as a QuickTime movie in iPhoto 5.0.1. (Don’t use iPhoto 5.0.0 – it will corrupt your files! Update it to version 5.0.1 before starting it up the first time.)
#10. Ian showed how to use Keychain for optimum convenience and security for passwords on many web sites. It’s a good idea to change the Keychain password so it’s not the same as the System password. #11. Becky Davis suggested using different passwords for each web site where highest security is needed, and one password for web sites you only need to log into. Use passwords you can remember but no one would guess, like initials from the title of your favorite book, with numbers added. #12. Always make a backup copy of your Keychain file! #13. Keychain First Aid checks the Keychain and offers to fix any corrupted passwords for you. (You have to reenter the password.) #14. Ian also showed how to make a backup user account to use in case of problems, and how to select a picture or use one from your camera as an icon to go with the new user. Set the backup user account to “Allow user to administer computer”. #15. If you often share your Mac with someone else, enable Fast User Switching. #16. Set up filters in Eudora to sort mail into mailboxes when it arrives, and set up Eudora’s self-learning spam filter. To sort messages already received, highlight messages to sort, then select “Filter Messages”.
February 17, 2005: At the end of the Q&A session, Dirk Reynolds showed us new archiving software called Delicious Library. After refreshments, the presentation was iWork, focusing on Pages, the new word-processing software from Apple. Drawing prizes were a copy of iWork, donated by the MacMechanic store, and products from the Apple company store in Cupertino.
We had a good turnout on a rainy night. Dirk Reynolds showed Delicious Library and iWork.
(Photos: Brian Carlin)
January 20, 2005: Our annual report of the Macworld convention in San Francisco. Dirk Reynolds gave a slide show and review of new Apple products and Apple news. Dirk also described Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4), saying it was to be released in the first half of 2005. Mike Bishop of the MacMechanic store gave us a slide show and description of the Macworld convention, and pictures of the Apple store in San Francisco. The drawing prize was a new iPod Shuffle.