The OS Quest Trail Log #16:

I decided it was time to move out of Adobe LightRoom (which I’d be running under a eval license key) and back into Aperture. I found LightRoom easier to use, especially to organize photos, but there’s no way I could justify the $299 price. Since I already have Aperture there’s really no price for which I could justify the purchase.

I figured I’d export from LightRoom and import into Aperture. But I ran into problems exporting from LightRoom even though I told LightRoom to export the original files. I figured this would be more a copy than an export. But several images that had been imported as JPEGs were corrupted when exported. When viewed in Finder the file name and preview image were another file which made me think it was a LightRoom database or export problem. The images worked fine in Lightroom. So I imported the files directly from their location on the disk. I ended up using Smart Folders to get the files for each category I wanted and them importing into Aperture in groups so I could tag them during importing. Tedious but at least I didn’t have a lot of files in LightRoom.

But Aperture wasn’t without it’s problems either. The app crashed several times and pinwheeled a couple of others. I was at the latest version of Aperture and LightRoom and had all the Leopard patches. Both the LightRoom and Aperture libraries have always been excluded from Time Machine backups. All-in-all it was an unpleasant several hours for what I expected to take an hour at most.

Then there were additional frustrations with my Airport Extreme Base Station. Others have reported problems with drives connected to the base stations. But then I started the Airport utility and it didn’t show any drives connected. So I rebooted the base station and the drive appeared in the Airport Utility and in Finder. But then things got worse when I tried deleting some files from the drive. At that point I lost the Base Station completely, including Wireless and Internet. Starting the Airport Utility froze up Finder and the Airport Utility itself. Force quit didn’t work but I was able to shutdown the iMac and then I power cycled the base station. Long story short, the drive didn’t always appear and when it did the base station would freeze up whenever I tried to access the drive, even after trying a different cable and drive. It worked at one time, just not today. I don;t remember using it since the 10.5.1 update although I might have. In a related matter, updates to my Apple TV via wireless through the base station had appeared to be slow. After the base station reboot they were about 10 times faster.

Software Updates

Firefox was updated to version 2.0.0.10 on Nov. 26th and version 2.0.0.11 on Nov. 30th. The first update contained security fixes while the update on the 30th was released to address website incompatibilities introduced in the previous release.

Econ Technologies released ChronoSync version 3.3.6 that contains Leopard related enhancements and bug fixes. I use ChronoSync to copy files between my Macs.

Skype has released a beta version of their software that’s Leopard compatible. I’ll stick with the old version for now. Except for the firewall problems it’s been working fine for me. I prefer the known problems to the unknowns of a beta.

I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been a Leopard compatible update for SuperDuper! but they been updating the progress on their blog and are making progress.

News & Links

Apple – Support – Discussions – BIG issues with 10.4x software update … – It appears the OS X 10.4.11 update doesn’t play well with Boot Camp. At least in some cases.

Apple.com: Apple keyboards and keyboard mapping in Windows XP – Map of Apple keyboard to Windows.

InfoWorld.com: Apple Boot Camp beta expires Dec. 31 – The Apple Boot Camp beta will officially expire at the end of this year.

Kleime.com: TimeMachineScheduler – Freeware that provides a bit more control over Time Machine in Leopard. via macsimumnews.com

Official Google Reader Blog: Attack of the interns: recommendations and drag-and-drop – Google Reader adds Drag-and-Drop and feed discovery features. Discovery uses your web browsing history along with your current feeds.

PCWorld.com: Business Center: Did Microsoft’s Security Focus Hurt Vista Adoption? – Interesting take on MS emphasis on security in Vista.

TUAW.COM: Mac 101: Drag and drop in the Application Switcher – Useful tip for leopard users.

TUAW.com: Google Gadgets in your OS X Dashboard – I don’t use Google Gadgets or Desktop so it isn’t something I care about. But the next version of Google Desktop will all us to run Google Gadgets in the OS X dashboard.

TUAW.com: IconGrabber: easy icon extraction – Great little Quicksilver plugin for those of us with the need. There’s also a standalone app for those who don’t use Quicksilver.

Techdirt.com: Even Microsoft Execs Are Confused About ‘Vista Capable’ Claims – Microsoft marketing is even too complicated for its own executives.

WebProNews.com: Yahoo Merchants Toasted By Monday Outage – Yahoo Merchant Solutions suffered outages on “cyber Monday”. Oops

cos.net: Anacron for MacOS – runs daily, weekly and monthly tasks if they were missed because the mac was off or asleep. Updated for Leopard. Freeware.

creativepro.com – Expand Your Photography with Specialty Lenses – Good overview of various lens types and how than can be used.

engadget.com: Windows XP to get a significant performance boost with SP3? – One of several articles about claims that XP SP3 will offer a significant speed improvement of SP2. While Vista SP1 won’t be speeding things up.

hanynet.com: WaterRoof ipfw firewall frontend – IPFW firewall frontend for Mac OS X with a GUI interface. Open-source & Freeware.

linuxappfinder.com: Windows and OS X Software Alternatives – A search site to locate Linux aleternatives to Windows and OS X software. Via Lifehacker.com

suntimes.com: Kindle can light up your life – Andy Ihnatko likes the Kindle but not because he likes eBooks.

wsj.com: Google Plans Service to Store Users’ Data – Wall Street Journal is reporting (without official Google confirmation) that Google is still working on their online storage offering and “could be released as early as a few months from now…”

The OS Quest Trail Log #15:

When I upgraded to Leopard I kept Safari as my default browser so it would open whenever I clicked a link. But I kept using Firefox for almost everything. I liked how fast Safari was when I did fire it up. So this morning I decided to switch over and start using Safari as my primary browser, only going to Firefox when there’s no choice. Safari definitely feels faster and uses less memory.

The Greasemonkey and Browser Sync extensions to Firefox give it an edge in features over Safari, especially when running multiple computers. But, having to stop and start Firefox after using it for extended periods has become a bit annoying, especially when I had to do a force quit for Firefox. Let’s see how far I can go with Safari.

Software Upgrades

There were a lot of software upgrades for me this week. I already wrote about the upgrades to WordPress 2.3.1 and VMWare Fusion 1.1. Then there was the OS X 10.5.1 update for Leopard. I haven’t noticed much of a change since the upgrade. Wireless on my Mac Mini now works when it wakes from sleep mode but that’s about if for noticeable changes.

Adobe released Lightroom 1.3 which includes fixes for Leopard and additional enhancements. I updated my evaluation copy of Lightroom and found that the evaluation counter was reset back to 30 days.

Fetch, from Fetch Softworks, has been updated to version 5.3. It includes improved compatibility with Leopard. I upgraded but rarely use Fetch these days so haven’t used it since the upgrade.

Remote Buddy 1.8 was released. Four fixes, 5 new features, 7 enhancements to an already great remote control program. I didn’t have any problems after the upgrade but I barely scratch the surface of what this app can do.

News & Links

maintain.se: Cocktail 4 for mac no supports Leopard – Cocktail 4 has been released and now supports leopard. Cocktail is a maintenance and UI tweaking tool for the Mac.

News.com: Firefox 3.0 may ship with a slew of serious bugs intact – CNet tech news blog is reporting that Mozilla may ship Firefox 3 with only about 20% of the “blocker” bugs fixed. Blockers are supposed to be serious enough to justify postponing a release.

OmniGroup.com: OmniFocus for the Mac – Described as peronal task management software. Pre-release Beta no available. You can download the beta for free. If you buy before the Jan 8th release you pay half price ($40 – charged immediately)

Techdirt.com: Congress Moves Forward With Required University Subsidies To Napster, Ruckus – TechDirt has an article that’s a rather glaring indictment of our government and how they subsidize failing businesses by attacking education.

TidBITS.com: FileMaker’s Bento: Undercooked and Slightly Fishy – Good overview of Bento and its shortcomings.

arstechnica.com: New bill would punish colleges, students who don’t become copyright cops – The article sums up the incredibly bad idea rather well.

bentotrial.com: Meet Bento — Learn More – Bento is from Filemaker and is described as a personal database that’s Leopard only. A beta preview is available for download.

engadget.com: Vista SP1 release candidate goes out to testers – The headline says it all.

kessels.com: JkDefrag v3.29 – Free open source disk defragmenter for Windows 2000 through Vista was update to version 3.29.

techcrunch.com: gOS PC Sells Out: People Like A Google Focused PC – Seems like the $200 Walmart PC, the one in the oversized case so people think it’s powerfull, appears to be a hit.

tuaw.com: Improve your Stacks with some drawers – Haven’t tried it yet, but sounds like the slickest solution out there.

wsj.com: Google Has Even Bigger Plans for Mobile Phones – The Wall Street Journal is among those reporting Google will bid on some wireless spectrum in January. They report Google is already running a test version of an advanced wireless network.

The OS Quest Trail Log #5

It was a big weekend here at the OS Quest Data Center so I figured I’d wait for the long weekend (made even longer with a vacation day on Friday) to end.

With my switch to Comcast I have a little time with both DSL and Comcast since the DSL will run for another couple of weeks. A co-worker suggested I keep the DSL as a backup or to increase my bandwidth. Being a router guy he happened to have a Xincom XC-DPG502 router that he sent me. Since it didn’t cost me anything (except time) I figured I’d check it out. Once I packed the Xincom back up I pulled out my new Apple Airport Extreme Base Station and set that up.

Xincom DPG502 Router

While not the typical home router the Xincom is a relatively low cost router ($180) that has two WAN ports that can be set up to load balance or to operate as a fail-over backup. Even ignoring costs I decided keeping DSL and using the Xincom wasn’t for me. Many secure connections (such as https websites or my Mozy backups) can’t bounce between ports so they stay on the WAN port they first get. I found many times my connections were using the slower DSL connection and it was processing 50% of the traffic even though the load balancing said it should use only 10%. I also had a problem accessing some websites through the Xincom although they were accessible through a different router. It took awhile to get there but I eventually narrowed it down to the Xincom even though it didn’t make much sense.

The fail over feature seemed to work well although the connection has to be down hard. You can also set the router up to connect to a server on the Internet and consider the link down if it’s not accessible. The router can also be set up to connect to a server on the Internet and mark the wan port as down when it’s not accessible.

Apple Airport Extreme Base Station

Once I had enough fun playing with the Xincom I packed it up to send back and pulled out my new Apple Airport Extreme base station. I wanted to set up a 802.11n network for my Apple TV, my Macbook and once I get a USB 802.11n USB adapter my Mac Mini. In addition to the extra speed I’m hoping to avoid the interference I always run into since I live in an apartment complex. It also give me gigabit ethernet and the ability to attach a USB drive.

The installation is a bit different in that I had to install the Airport Utility (which required a reboot) on my iMac and then update it through software update before I could install the Airport Base Station. Then I had to update the firmware on the base station once the Airport Utility connected to it. I’m used to accessing the routers through a web browser but in this case it’s done through the Airport Utility.

It took longer than I expected but ended up being problem free.

Linksys Won’t Bridge – 2Wire Will

In order to keep only 802.11n devices on my Airport to avoid degrading the speed I needed to set up a second wireless access point for my 802.11 devices (Tivo, old Windows laptop, occasional work laptop). I figured I could just use my Linksys but that was no go. There’s no Bridge mode and when I found a third party firmware that could do it I ended up not being able to flash the firmware. I then found I could bridge my 2Wire gateway so I was able to set that up.

So now my network consists of the Airport Extreme connected to the cable modem and providing the 802.11n network. It also provides the ethernet cable connection to my iMac and the DHCP addresses for everything on the network. The Airport is connected via ethernet to my 2Wire 2701-HG gateway. The 2701 just provides the 802.11g wireless network and it’s in bridged mode. It’s own wan connection is unused and DHCP to its wireless devices is provided by the Airport.

Comcast

I’m liking the speed of Comcast. But all is not perfect. I’ve had some problems where the connection just drops and I have to power cycle the cable modem. It usually happens overnight so I don’t notice until morning. Since I’ve been in vampire mode this weekend I’ve been on the computer when the connection goes away and power cycling the cable modem always fixes it. Jumping to another PC also fails to connect to the internet so it’s not an iMac problem. Even though cycling the modem seems to fix it, it does show activity.

New Business

With my move to cable for internet I’m looking into dropping my phone land line completely. Anyone who I want to talk to already has my cell phone number. The only ones who call my land line phone are telemarketers. I want another phone number that I can give to people who I can’t trust with my cell phone (potential telemarketers) so I’m looking into Skype and some other options. I also just came across an offering from AOL which seems like it might fit the bill.

I finally got motivated to head out and take some pictures. My latest camera, Panasonic DSC-LZ8. It’s a SLR-looking point and shoot with a 12X zoom that also shoots RAW. The downside is that OS X doesn’t have a RAW converter for it so iPhoto and Aperture won’t read them. Adobe Lightroom will read them so I installed the 30-day evaluation. When shooting RAW the LZ8 also saves a JPG so I did a quick comparison. I imported a couple of RAW photos and exported without any processing. The corresponding JPG was slightly better (so it was processed by the camera) and of good quality in my opinion. What I didn’t expect was how much I’d like Lightroom. It just seemed more intuitive than Aperture for importing, organization and quick processing.

Links & News

NeoOffice 2.2.1 is now available. NeoOffice is an OS X port of OpenOffice.org. At one time NeoOffice required the installation of X11 but that’s no longer the case. While it’s been awhile, and several versions, since I used it my previous experience was that it was to big, slow and cumbersome for my limited needs (same complaint about OpenOffice.org at the time).

Lifehacker brought a link to a series of cheat sheets for every character key on a Mac.

BuiltWith is a website that tells you what tools are used on a website.