Right click rantings

At times, I realize my Mac education is a little limited.

I love my Mac, I truly do. However, I did not grow up with one. I grew up with PCs, and still remember the days of the DOS prompt with the same type of fondness that my grandparents remembered the days of walking barefoot five miles each way to school in blizzards.

At times, I realize my Mac education is a little limited. When I learned DOS and even Windows, I felt like I really needed to learn the inner workings of the operating system to use PCs effectively. Joyously, I’d get to a command line prompt, and type in cryptic commands such as MKDIR C:whatever and FORMAT C:.

When I switched to a Mac, I no longer felt that I needed to understand the technical workings of my computer. I’m often surprised by how well I can shuffle along in a state of ignorance. So today, I was wondering, and not for the first time, why Mac mouses don’t have right clicks.

I was thinking of things I used to do quite easily back in the days when I was a Windows user, such as right click and save.... right click and e-mail... Today I decided to go beyond wondering, and I Googled the situation.

This is what I discovered: I can get a two button mouse for my Mac, and apparently, I can go through software applications and enable preferences to use right click. For some strange reason, I feel both empowered and humbled. Empowered, because I can now set up my Mac to use right clicking, and humbled that it took me so long to dig into this.

Could your online presence hurt your college acceptance?

If it’s something you wouldn’t let your grandmother read, better not post it online.

More and more colleges and employers are claiming that they look up a person online prior to hiring or admitting him or her into a job or program. I suppose it’s understandable—I have done it myself with potential babysitters, which is probably why I don’t have a babysitter!—but is it really fair?

I would say no. Even if you have some teenager trying to look cool—or an aging adult attempting to do the same!—posting a bunch of silly things online about partying or whatever, you have to know that much of it is false. People are constantly buffing up their online presences—I only wish they’d be smarter about it. We lived for thousands of years without social networking, and people who were hired for jobs could have been murderers for all anyone knew. I don’t think an employer should have a right to snoop in your social networks (if they’re private) or into your credit, either.

If you want to ensure that what you share online doesn’t keep you from a job or a college you have your eye on, here are a few simple tips.

  • Set everything to private or for friends-only. This is not foolproof; friends can share whatever you post, and with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy policies, you never know what will be made public suddenly. Still, this is a good, simple tip to use to ensure that people don’t see your information if you don’t want them to. And for goodness sake, don’t friend people you aren’t really friends with who will carelessly share your information, either.
  • Never post anything that puts you in a negative light that can be seen by lots of people. Keep a blog? If you rant a lot or detail stealing from a 7-Eleven or underage drinking, set the blog to private or to friends-only and let only people you give permission to see your blog. Even so, keep in mind that they, too, can share or print your blog—so you might as well keep a paper journal instead if you’re going to share very intimate details!
  • Use an alias. I have friends whose employers connect with them on Facebook who do this. It should NOT have to be this way, but since it is, an alias can let you share whatever you want—aside from photos!—and keep you protected from prying eyes.

Using Visual SlideShow for Mac

The slideshow will grab viewers' attention and it humanizes the non-profit’s mission

Like many of you, I dabble in using my Mac for creative pursuits. Recently, I volunteered  to help a small non-profit establish a website. The non-profit has a very limited budget, so I donated my time, and I needed to use free photos and tools. 

One vital piece of content we wanted was a slideshow of the non-profit’s clients on its home page. Of course, this needs to look polished and professional, and of course, we couldn’t buy a program to create the slideshow. 

I searched through various free Javascript options and I was becoming a little discouraged. The options that produced the best results were daunting to use. Sure, I could have figured it out eventually, but I could not really justify spending the time it would take, as I had several other clients clamoring for my attention. 


So, I kept searching, and am I ever glad that I did. I found a great product, called Visual SlideShow for Mac. It is free for non-commercial use, although if I need this product for a commercial site, I will gladly pay for it. 


Visual SlideShow was easy to install and use. It offers a wide variety of options for borders, thumbnails, and transitions. You can choose from a selection of standard sizes for your slideshow, or you can use a custom size. 


I did run into one little hitch with using it. I initially set everything up to publish locally, and when the slideshow was the way I wanted it, I tried to publish to a test website. The ftp connection was refused, and to be honest, that may have been operator error. However, I adjusted file locations and names in the code, and manually ftp’d the files to the test site. It was a little more tweaking than is ideal, but it worked. 


The slideshow will grab viewers attention, and it humanizes the non-profit’s mission. I’m glad that Visual SlideShow made creating it manageable. 


Upgrading to Mountain Lion

A checkered past in software technical support has left me leery...

A checkered past in software technical support has left me leery of installing major upgrades, especially operating system upgrades. I am, however, leaning heavily towards installing Apple’s Mountain Lion upgrade on my iMac.

I have been preparing for the process. A short while ago, I started a cloud-based back up service; I could no longer tell myself that I would many back up using Apple’s Mobileme service, because that service was going away. So, I have a back up in place, just in case. 


Next is to determine if my iMac is current enough to run Mountain Lion, and it appears that it is. I can check that off. 


Finally, I will need to upgrade from my current OS to Lion, then to Mountain Lion. I’m pleased that Apple will continue to maintain its unprecedented level of profitability by ensuring I pay for every single upgrade, rather than allowing me to go directly from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. 


Though I’m not looking forward to the upgrade process or expense, I am looking forward to having my calendars sync across devices. Since Mobileme was shut down, I’ve missed that feature, and I never know where I should be going or what I should be doing. 


I also like the enhanced security features in Mountain Lion. I’m less enthused about all the sharing, and I hope I don’t inadvertently share something I don’t intend to, such as private client information. Really, does anyone truly appreciate how sharing is built into so many websites and apps? So many people are unaware that they’ve enabled sharing, and have announced to all their family and friends that they are watching naughty videos. 


 If you’ve taken the leap to upgrading to Mountain Lion, I’d love to hear about your experiences.


Robots prepared to kill us all.

We are officially doomed…

The Suidobashi Heavy Industry has doomed us all. Their robot, the Kuratas Mecha, is supposed to be a techy, artistic dream—yet the project supplies projectiles at bodies that it easily targets a la The Terminator.  It’s controlled by a joystick just like you might imagine it would be in some scary sci-fi movie, and it even has a little seat for you to ride in so you can enjoy the view of your opponent being attacked by your robot.

The projectiles—which are currently BBs—are ordered to fire upon a target once that target—get this—smiles. So it only shoots happy people. Or people who laugh when they are nervous, like me.

As with most modern devices, you can also control it with your iPhone, making the potential killing machine even more efficient.

You can watch a video of this creepy project from Tokyo here. Sure, it’s slow for now, but I can imagine what will happen with the thing if the government manages to acquire one. This should be easy enough to do, too, since the creators have already launched a page where anyone can buy the thing. I’m telling you, the law is far behind our technology.

Heaven is using Photoshop on a Mac

The sands in a freelancer’s life shift...at times slowly, at times quickly, but always and continuously. At times, the sands shift, and an abyss is revealed before us. Other times, the sand shifts and we view heaven on the horizon. This past week, when the sands shifted for me, I once against glimpsed heaven, and this time I will keep it in my sights. 

As a professional or hobbyist creative, heaven is using Photoshop on your Mac. I’ve extolled the virtues of open source options; they can do many photo editing tasks, and of course, they are affordable for all. And yet, something was missing. Everything felt like such a struggle. I once again took the plunge, and once again installed Photoshop on my Mac. It feels amazing, like coming home, a home without piles of laundry, stacks of dirty dishes or annoying relatives. It feels like coming home to the one you love. 


When I was limited to open source options, I found that I just didn’t pursue graphic design work, because I just wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Lately, I had a few more gigs that I struggled through, but still I wasn’t sure I could justify the investment in Photoshop. Fortunately, Adobe is offering much more affordable cloud-based options, so it’s more within my budget. I’m dreaming up projects and mini-businesses to justify my on-going love affair. 


Are you a Photoshop-Mac user who has tried to use open source options? If so, was it an easy transition? Did you ever consider paying the price and returning?


Using open source Inkscape with your Mac

Many Mac users are creative types, who often work as graphic or web designers. These people may have worked for a business that can afford premier graphic illustration software, such as Adobe’s Illustrator. If you are one of these people, I envy you. 


Many other Mac users are hobbyists, who also love to create, but might be unable to afford the premier tools. This is the category in which I find myself. 

Recently, I’ve needed to use .AI template files to create some simple pieces, such as a book cover and business cards. The budget didn’t allow for hiring a designer, much less for buying Adobe Illustrator. I thought of options, and I thought of looking for open source solutions. 

Thanks to the open source community, Mac users with limited budgets have a great, free alternative to Illustrator. That alternative is Inkscape, a vector-based design tool that has many of the same features. I can’t say that it is as nice to use as the premier software, but you will be able to create and edit vector graphics. 

The interface struck me as a bit clunky at times, and some functions aren’t as intuitive as I remember Illustrator to be. In all fairness though, Inkscape may seem less intuitive because I’d been more familiar with the other product. 

Inkscape is quite robust. It seems to have the basic vector graphic functions covered. It also offers a selection of filters from simple blurs to lizard skin. You can also embed bitmap graphics, such as JPEGs. This is very convenient when you need to include a photograph into your project. 


Moving From MobileMe to iCloud

At the time of this writing, the deadline for moving from MobileMe to iCloud is still a couple of months off, but I feel it bearing down on me like a swarm of bees on a miscreant beekeeper. I hope this forced transition doesn’t sting as much as I fear it will. 


I don’t really use MobileMe all that much, but what little I do use, I’d like to move to iCloud, and I expect to use iCloud more in the future. The actual transfer I’m sure will  be smooth; what scares me is the prep work. I need to update my system to the latest operating system (OS) version before I can make the iCloud move. The mere thought of that puts white-knuckled fear in my heart, just to mix metaphors. 

Logically, the upgrade to the newest OS should be a blissful stroll in the park. I think I’ve even done a Mac OS upgrade before, and the fact that I’m only pretty sure I’ve done one makes me think it was easy, and therefore not very memorable. Sadly, that was not the case with other OS’s I’ve tangled with, and hence the white-knuckled fear. 


So dear readers, I’m asking for your help. Do you have any experience with either upgrading your Mac’s operating systems? Moving from MobileMe to iCloud? Even better, have you done both? 


How did it go for you? Are there any tips or tricks that you would like to share? If not, how about a word of encouragement? And please, wish me luck!


Change the look of your Dell PC

Dell offers a lot of great computers, but sometimes these computers can get well- boring. There are a few color PCs out there, but not many of them offer a look that feel unique to our particular taste. As the world of technology continues to grow, we are not offered some great ways to change the appearance of our laptop.

If you’re looking to upgrade your dell laptop quickly and easier, you may want to opt for a laptop skin. These skins go over our laptop and are applied much like a sticker. The skins come in many different designs and they can be custom fit for your particular Dell PC. Actually, you can even have a skin custom made for your laptop, having it created with your idea of a perfect design. You can put these skins on yourself or have a professional put it on for a low cost, ensuring there are no mistakes or flaws.

If you’re looking for a more intense upgrade, there is now a method available that allows you to change the entire casing of your laptop. This method is more expensive, but allows you to use a ‘housing’ that meets your taste. You can choose to change the appearance of the overall Dell PC, including the keyboard, or you can just change the top shell, giving your laptop a unique look. If you choose this method you want to have a professional who is familiar with PCs to complete the process in order to prevent damage. You also want to be sure that changing the casing won’t affect your warranty if it is still active.  

Sony wants Another Round

Sony is pleased with the success of its latest movie '21 Jump Street' as a result, the company is already in the works for a sequel to the cop comedy. The movie stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as two undercover cops who pose as two high school teenagers to carry out a bust. Tatum most notably gained his shine in ‘Coach Carter’ and ‘Step Up’. While Hill most notably gained fame in the 2007 movies ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Superbad’.

Though no contracts have been signed the two leading men are expected to return. As a surprise to everyone the movie has earned mostly positive reviews, and is on track to earn more than 30 million in its opening weekend. 

It will be interesting to see how well Jump Street hangs on in the box office next week once 'The Hunger Games’ comes into theaters. Hunger Games has a larger fan base that happens to have the same passion that 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter' fans continue to maintain.  However, execs at the studio are thoroughly impressed with the way that the movie is performing. '21 Jump Street has been gaining buzz since last year when it first premiered is theatrical trailer. As a result, the movie has had to rely on word of mouth and luck to get possible viewers into theaters.

Keep your eyes peeled for any possible sequel trailers to this movie. Production may be expected to start on the film as soon as by the end of this year.