Sunday, October 30, 2005

Put A "Start Button" On Dock

But we don't want a "Start" Button!

Ok, there isn't really a "Start Button" like the one on Microsoft Windows, and I doubt there will ever be one from Apple. But what you are going to see is almost the same in terms of its usefulness and behavior.

As easy as drag-n-drop

  1. Drag the 'Application' folder in your root directory to the Dock, and place it somewhere at the right hand side of the divider (where the Trash is). Be cautioned NOT to drag the "Application" from the sidebar. The one on the sidebar is itself an alias, hence doing so will move it over the dock instead of creating a new one.

  2. An alias of the folder is created on the Dock instantly.

Show all applications in a nested list

Do a right-click or ctrl-click on the folder alias, and you'll see a list of all the applications in the 'Application' folder. It works just like the "Start" button on Windows!It can even show the contents of the subfolders in a nested list, much like the "Start" menu on Windows.

Remove the folder alias

If you don't like the idea of putting a folder alias on the Dock, removing it is just as simple. Just drag the folder alias out of the Dock and release the mouse button and it's gone. That's it!

Apply the trick to any folder

The trick works with all folders. What I love about this trick is that it allows you to access the folders and their contents that you need most often without having to dig through layers of opened windows to... err... find the Finder. However, if the alias you make belongs to a Smart Folder, you cannot list the content as mention above; you can only do a normal click and launch the target folder in a new window.

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Field Trip @ Apple Store: iPod's Video Function Tested

iPod's video function tested!

Since the launch of the new iPod about two weeks ago, I have wondered whether videos would look good on the tiny screen. Last Sunday I finally got a chance to play with it at the Apple store.

Size matters

Your digital cameras might be one of the latest modals that come with 2.5" LCD screens, so you may very well know how it is like when running videos on the iPod. In fact, 2.5" is quite big for a portable device that fits into your pocket. The size of the screen is great for casual moments like sharing kid's birthday videos or the latest greatest music videos with friends, but still a far cry from serious movie treats with home-popped popcorns.

iPod + TV

What if you can hook it up to a TV set and play Finding Nemo to everyone in the living room? If so we may just forgive the size limitation with the iPod screen. And according to the Apple store guy, "that's the whole idea of it". Sounds great, doesn't it? Wait till you hear the full story.

I asked the same Apple guy whether the iPod could handle videos in various sizes and adjust them dynamically to fit the 2.5" screen, and the answer was No. It turns out that iPod can only handle videos up to 320 x 240 pixels, which is the native resolution of the screen itself (that's half the TV's resolution, but TV does interlaced frames, so I think it doesn't matter). That isn't very impressive in the age of high-resolution content. However it is still okay to play video on TV with the iPod as long as you are not looking for a cinematic experience. Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, demonstrated that at the product launch using a footage from U2's live concert and it worked reasonably well.

The bottom line is, there is no HD support yet with this release. Perhaps when Apple finally rolls out the true iPod Video, there will be. Let's keep hoping.

Do we like it?

Still, there are things to like about the iPod's video function. Videos run smooth on it, and the LCD delivers sharp images and dynamic colors. Although it may take a few seconds to load the video (buffering, as they call it), once the video starts rolling it will play without skips and delays (unless you have a corrupted file).

And let's not forget that with the new iPod you can now put tons of video content in your pocket and play it on the device itself as well as standard TV sets and projectors. I am sure all of us can think of ways to capitalize on this new freedom. For example, some people are already using the iPod Photo to do slides presentation, now with the new iPod they get to do video presentation as well.

Should you buy it?

If you have craved for the big iPod all these while, by all means get one of these new iPod! With or without video it doesn't make the iPod a less exciting portable music player than it already is. Plus video? Why not!? All in all, the new iPod makes a very good video device on the road. I'd want to use this gadget to watch video podcasts and comedies, but definitely not Star Wars.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Emergency Notice About MacNify Widget

The MacNify widget was built using the one by as a template. is a wonderful site that is dedicated to new Mac users coming from Windows (aka switchers).

The founder of just contacted me that the MacNify widget actually erases the Macmentor widget if you have both of them running on Dashboard. This is my bad! I realized that I duplicated the info.plist file and left an entry unchanged, which caused the problem. My sincere apology to the people at Macmentor. You have enabled me in such a great way and I feel all the more ashamed of this mistake.

To the MacNify widget users, I am taking this opportunity to show some simple steps to correct the MacNify widget from this nasty behavior. A newer MacNify widget that does away with this problem is on the way, but it will take about two weeks to be available. So please follow the simple steps to make changes for good.

  1. Look for where the MacNify widget is stored on your harddisk. It should be found at HOME(i.e. your account)->Library->Widgets. Or you can use Spotlight to locate it.

  2. Right-click or command-click on MacNify.wdgt and choose "Show Package Contents".

  3. A new window will pop up the screen. Open the file info.plist by double clicking it.

  4. In the info.plist file, locate the entry CFBundleIdentifier and change the value to

  5. Save and close info.plist, as well as the window that shows the package contents.

This will solve the widget conflict issue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Updated Tips On Dashboard Tricks

Hope you have been having fun with flipping widgets in and out of dashboard.

There's a newly added command as well as the updated mini app with the trick. Basically it's about how to complete the trick without having to log-out and log-in for changes to take effect. Go check it out!

This is how the mini app's icon looks like.

p/s: the mini app is finally uploaded and ready for download.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Mac Dating Tips

I'm not kidding. I was out today for a treasure hunting at the Apple store, and guess what I found? Apple fanboys seriously need dating tips.

I strolled to the new iPod for some hands-on experience with the video functionality before I could do a review on MacNify. Then there came this couple standing next to me checking out the same iPod. I couldn't help overhearing the guy saying, "just look at that, it is so cool and advanced. How could anyone not fall for it?". The girl, evidently clueless about what the iPod Video was all about, went "really?". So the guy repeated, "just look at that....(blah blah blah)", only with more efforts and zeal.

Okay, I get your point. But... come one, dude, you sound more like begging for permission to spend the bucks on the toy for yourself. Wanna impress her? Then shut up and buy one for her! My friend did that, I did that, and it worked!

Seriously, if iPod is so good that it's almost a sin to not let your loved one enjoy, then the best way to make her fall for it is to get her one. Her friends will be jealous of her, for both the iPod and the boyfriend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Watch Podcasts?


Podcast isn't just about web radio anymore. Technically speaking, the tricks that make audio podcasts tick apply to video contents too!

The video podcast that I watch is commandn, a weekly soft tech program hosted by Amber MacArthur and Mike Lazazzera. It is available on many podcast services. The best places to get it would be the podcast section on iTunes music store, Yahoo Podcasts, and of course the hosts' personal websites.

A ticket to Geek's Club...ok, maybe not

Sometimes tech news is useful even if you are not a geek and don't wish to be one. The knowledge may enable you to decide better when to buy your next tech toy, or whether to buy it at all! You don't have to go for tech enthusiast's type of thing, like TWIT aka This Week In Tech (one of my favorite podcasts too). On the other hand, soft tech news is fun, especially when it comes in video! That's where commandn fits in.

Watching commandn directly on iTunes.

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Best iPod+iTunes TV Ad, Ever!

iPod+iTunes TV ads have always been like nothing else we've seen on TV.

Just like what Steve Jobs loves to say, the best             just got better. Fill in the blank. In this case, it's "Ad".

The new iPod+iTunes TV ads features Eminem. Go check it out!

Some Screenshots

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Free Your Widgets From Dashboard (Part I)

How about placing your favorite widgets on your desktop?

With the launch of MacNify Widget, I'd love to unveil what is possibly the best trick on Dashboard.

You can use widgets outside dashboard too!

Do Yourself Some UNIX Commands

  1. Fire up Terminal, and run the command: defaults write devmode YES

  2. To verify the changes, run defaults read devmode. It should return you a YES, which means that dashboard is running in development mode.

  3. Lastly, run killall Dock. This will kill the Dock...duh! But Mac will immediately start a new one and reload your dashboard as well.
*if you wish to restore to normal mode, simply type defaults write devmode NO.

If There is Part I, There Must Be Part II

Just in case you find the UNIX commands too daunting, I have created a mini application to do just that for you. But you see, my current download bandwidth is all taken up by the MacNify Widget. Many readers have not been able to download the widget and I know it sucks. Therefore I really am not going to put more things there just to disappoint you. I'll leave the direct download of the mini app to Part II of this topic, when I finally find a host with generous bandwidth. Meanwhile, if you are keen on trying out the mini app, you can place a request at and I will send it to you. You are encouraged to share it with friends too!

Show me the Mm...magic!

After running the UNIX command or the mini app, you are good to go. Let's do the trick!
  1. Launch dashboard by clicking the dashboard toggle key (e.g. F12, depending on your settings in Preference->'Dashboard & Exposé').

  2. Click on any widget and drag a little. Here's the catch: while dragging, hit the dashboard toggle key once. WHALAH! Now the widget is on your desktop, and it stays on top of all windows, all the time!
*repeating step 2 with the widgets on your desktop will bring them back to dashboard.

Show it off

With this trick you can now use your favorite widgets without even launching the Dashboard, and perhaps wow a few friends who don't read MacNify!

p/s: the mini app is finally uploaded and ready for download.

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

iPod With Video Feature

No Kidding!

Earlier on Apple sent out invitations to the presses and media, with nothing but one phrase printed on the card: One More Thing.

So what is it? Video, that's the thing. But if we zoom in a little, there weren't just one more thing, but a few more.

There was the new iPod that plays video (finally!), and there was the new iMac G5 that doubles as media center with remote (think TV)! We will talk on the new iPod this time.

iPod Video...?(See for yourself)

All of us will conveniently call it that way, although Apple seems to play down the idea of iPod Video even with the video capability added. Point to note: there is no official name as "iPod Video" whatsoever, just iPod. In a way, that's logical. Just like how iPod Nano completely replaced the iPod Mini, the so called iPod Video now completely replaced the original granddaddy iPod. In other words, video has become the standard function on iPod. So if you go for a full-size iPod from today onwards, you get to play video!

Some journalists, like Leo Laporte of TWIT, didn't believe Apple would do an iPod with video so soon given that they just released iPod Nano not long ago. But Apple did it anyway. It just goes on showing how distinct these two products and their target markets are that cannibalization isn't a concern that bothers Apple. In fact, Apple has to do it in order to create a product lineup with clear differentiations across the iPod familly.


So it plays video alright, are there more to watch out for? Sure there are. First, it's thinner, 45% thinner than the previous full-size iPod. Than there's a longer battery life: the 30GB model plays audio for 14 hours, the 60GB one 20 hours. There are a few more interesting findings, like the mentioning of audio recording and video-out to TV in the spec list.

MacNify's take

It's too soon for a hands-on test even for MacNify at this moment, so there are no final words yet. It would be great if it plays HD video directly on TV through the AV cable. After all the screen on iPod is too small. As soon as it hits the local Apple store, I'm going to check it out!

The one important thing is, iPod with video is finally here! Rumor no more, deal with the fact, iPod wannabes!

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Get the MacNify dashboard widget now!

Screenshot of MacNify Widget
I cannot be more excited and pleased to announce that MacNify is now available as a Dashboard widget!

Thanks to atom/RSS technologies, now you can have the best Mac tips and tricks delivered right to your desktop. The process of making the MacNify widget has been a very fun and rewarding experience for me. I hope the widget will make it even easier for you to get all the must-have tips on MacNify. So download it for FREE now, and reap the benefits of MacNify, tips and tricks for Mac you ought to know!

For instructions on using the Macnify Widget, see here.

*To report bugs, contact

Version History

  • Version 1.1, released on 5 November 2005.
  • Version1.2 with fixed RSS feed.

Alternative Download URL

Besides getting it from Apple's website, you can get the widget here.

Note for using Dashboard Widget

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is required. If you're using Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget's icon in the Widget Bar to open it. If you're using a browser other than Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, unarchive it and place it in /Library/Widgets/ in your home folder. show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget's icon in the Widget Bar to open it.

More Tips on Dashboard Widgets

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Make Your Mac Invisible

Last week's topic on 'private browsing' using Safari was a piece of cake. This week we will talk about something more advanced, something called 'stealth mode'. Again, this is an Tiger-only feature.

Like all things Apple, this advanced option is just as easy to set up.
1. Open 'System Preference'.2.Choose 'Sharing'.3. In 'Sharing', click the 'Firewall' tab, then look for the 'Advanced...' button at bottom-right corner.4. Clicking on the 'Advanced...' button will pull down a page with more options. Check the box for 'Enable Stealth Mode', and you are done!

Stealth? As in Invisible?

That's right. With your Mac running in 'stealth mode', it will turn down any 'ping' or 'port scan' request from outside, so bad guys (and everybody else) just do not know you exist at all! Nifty, huh?

It's geeky, but what is 'ping' and 'port scan' anyway? Well, they are very legitimate network tools that every computer science student should know. Together, they can be used to find out whether your Mac is on a particular network, and whether you leave any doors wide-opened for bytes to sneak in. System crackers (casually known as 'hackers') usually start their attacks by pinging and port-scanning your computer. Once they plant some secretive codes inside your computer and make them run, your machine will become their faithful servant, not yours. I've seen it in action before.

For an outsider to run foreign codes on your Mac is tough, much tougher than on Windows. But if the code is bad-intentioned enough, or if you are careless enough, it could still happen. By setting up the 'stealth mode', you can avoid most casual attacks by being 'invisible'.

Fortify your network

This is beside the point, but have you also secured the wireless router in your home or small office network? Even if your Mac is in stealth mode on the network, you computer is still listed in the router's client table. So if your router is taken over, bad guys can still find you. So please, folks, crank up your router's security! (stop broadcasting SSID, setup MAC address filtering, firewall ... usual procedures, ya'know)

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Private Browsing with Safari Web Browser

Safari logo
Safari 2.0, Apple's own web browser, now offers a function called 'private browsing'. You can easily locate it at the menu bar.

Select Private Browsing on Safari menu

Background check

Web browsers typically record all sorts of information regarding your web-surfing activities. The most common one is the 'history', which stores all the URLs that you have visited. Next is the so-called 'cookie', in which some websites leave markings for all kinds of purposes like identifying you as returning visitor or providing customized page responds. The third one is the 'cache', which stores web elements like html files and images on your disk. The purpose of the cache is to fake an impression of faster loading the next time you visit the same site, as some bytes are already on your computer.

What's the offer?

Okay, no more geek's talk. What you really need to know is that when you activate 'private browsing', Safari leaves NON of these trails on your computer. It makes sense in terms of personal security because many phishing attempts, whether to steal your precious identity or just to monitor what you do on the internet, are accomplished by sniffing through the cookie and cache. This feature also makes it impossible for people in-the-know to walk through your computer and obtain sensitive data like your online banking user ID.

Does that mean no one is watching?

If you are fancied with the idea that by not leaving any trail you are free to do anything without bearing the consequences, you should quit thinking that way now. Private browsing is NOT a tool for you to bypass the law, because whatever you do is still traceable by your internet service provider. It is only a tool that prevents malicious codes and people to steal your identity and privacy. You can also disable this option by means of Parental Control when you setup less-privileged account on your Mac.

Yet another Mac tip is on the web!