Archive for the 'Misc' Category

News Roundup: Cut-out Jobs, Odd Apple iPhone Film Ban, no WP7 Copy & Paste, & More

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Here are some interesting and fun Apple stories I’ve read in the last week or so:

  • Make a cut-out Steve Jobs: With a bit of work and lots of patience, you can create your very own turtlenecked Apple CEO cubee using nothing but paper, scissors and a scalpel. And if that whets your appetite, why not make your own Apple product launch, complete with baying Apple fans? Essential accessories for any desk. 🙂
  • iPad apps: Looks like the iPad is going to hit the ground running app-wise when it launches next week. Mac Rumours revealed various apps from the yet-to-be-launched iPad app store, as well as Filemaker’s Bento for the iPad. Meanwhile, Boy Genius Report has a list – with screenshots – of 60 upcoming iPad apps. Can’t wait to see what other apps the iPad will have at launch.
  • Apple bans protective films from its stores: For some strange reason that no-one can fathom, Apple has banned all sales of films that protect the screens of iPhones, iPods and more from scratches. iLounge follows up this story with a selection of possible theories from readers.
  • Windows Phone 7 won’t have copy & paste: Engadget reports that WP7 won’t have the ability to select, cut, copy or paste text or other content. It appears Microsoft copies Apple in all things – not just when adding features, but even when it comes to leaving features out. 😉 Talking of missing features, it sounds like a future version of the iPhone OS may finally bring us a unified mailbox.
  • Watching movies on your iPhone: James Cameron has opined on the stupidity of watching films on your iPhone (as did David Lynch in no uncertain terms a while back). However, if, after all that, you do fancy watching a movie or two then MoviePeg looks like a very handy iPhone accessory to have. Clever design too!
  • Opera Mini for iPhone coming soon: Here’s a video of it in action – looks super-fast (assuming you don’t mind Opera’s servers caching all of the sites you browse). The question is: Will Apple approve it?
  • The dangers of carrying a Mac Pro: Finally, if you’re 4ft 6in tall, don’t even think about carrying a 40-pound Mac Pro up a flight of stairs…

Oh, and before I forget: Happy 9th Birthday, Mac OS X! 🙂

Black Friday round-up: Great deals on Apple stuff

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Today is Black Friday. If you live outside the US and have never heard of it, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving and marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. Many retailers, both physical and online, give generous discounts on Black Friday, and Apple retailers are no exception. Here’s a quick rundown of the Black Friday offers reported by various Apple blogs today:

  • MacNN details discounts on various iPods and Macs from and
  • Mac Rumors compares MacMall’s discounts on Apple hardware with Amazon’s.
  • MacTech has a free 6-month subscription to their magazine for the first 100 lucky punters.
  • O’Grady’s PowerPage reports on a 70% – yes, 70%! – discount on Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.
  • BabyGotMac brings news of Black Friday discounts on the Gracion Enclose file-sending app, the Tables spreadsheet app, and the entire DEVONtechnologies software range, including DEVONthink, DEVONagent and DEVONnote. The site also mentions 1Password’s buy one, get one free Thanksgiving offer.
  • For all iPhone/Touch gamers, Touch Arcade has a list of App Store games with deep Black Friday discounts – many games are as low as $0.99.
  • And don’t forget Apple themselvesApple Stores around the world are currently offering discounts on a wide range of Apple goodies.

Also, if you do live outside the US, many of these deals still apply (assuming the retailer in question ships internationally).

Finally, has details of hundreds of Black Friday sales from all sorts of retailers. Happy shopping! 🙂

Random green pixels on my Mac display

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

This is most strange. In recent weeks I’ve started seeing individual green pixels randomly appear on my iMac screen:

My first thought was that I had some stuck pixels on my display. But now I don’t think so.

For one thing, if there was a physical problem with the display, I wouldn’t be able to screen-grab the green pixels (as shown above). Also, they appear fairly randomly on the screen; they’re not in the same position each time (though they seem to cluster around the upper portion of the screen).

The pixels only appear when the content “underneath” them is stationary. For example, if I drag an image window around in Photoshop then there are no green pixels, but when I stop dragging then one or two green pixels appear in the image window after around half a second.

It seems to only happen when the content on the screen is dark-ish – for example, they’re very noticeable when opening Front Row – but that might just be because they’re light green.

Also I’ve just done some testing, and the pixels only appear when the display is in “Millions” colour mode. When I switch to “Thousands” colour mode the pixels don’t appear.

Frankly, I’m stumped. If it’s not a display issue, is it a problem with the graphics chip? But then again, I only noticed the problem since upgrading to Leopard a few months ago. Graphics driver problem? Some sort of issue within Leopard? It sounds vaguely similar to the problem in this Apple discussion thread – which would indicate dodgy VRAM – but unfortunately there’s no example screenshot to compare with.

What’s more, the problem seems to be getting worse by the week, with more and more pixels appearing, and – ooh – I’ve just noticed my first ever blue pixel.

Anyone ever seen anything like this? My graphics card is an ATI Radeon X1600. Is my Mac slowly dying? Heeeeelp! 🙁

100th post! Yay!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Well, it had to be done. 🙂

Two years later, and still going strong! What started out as a diary of a Linux-to-Mac switcher has gradually evolved into a general blog about using Macs day-to-day.

I must say, I’m thoroughly enjoying writing this blog and, judging by the number of readers, you’re enjoying reading it too! I’d like to say big thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my ramblings over the last couple of years. Having such a good audience really makes writing this blog worthwhile.

It looks like the most popular topics are the software reviews and Mac tips, so I’ll continue to produce more of these in the coming months.

If you have any topics you’d like to see covered in this blog, please write and let me know! You can contact me (Matt) via the contact form, or simply post your comments below. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Lack of choice at the iTunes Store

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

iTunes Store iconAccording to the Apple PR machine, the iTunes Store recently became the #1 music retailer in the US. I’m not sure what their ranking is based on, but it’s certainly not on the size of their catalogue.

A Kink in the system?

For example, I fancied buying some Kinks music this morning. I took a look at, where I found a couple of well known “best of”s: The Ultimate Collection (4.5 stars, sales rank: 2,334), and You Really Got Me: the Best of the Kinks (5 stars, sales rank: 643). Both contain all their well-known singles and then some, making them essential purchases. Amazon also has The Village Green Preservation Society (5 stars, sales rank: 2,490) in stock – arguably one of Ray & co’s finest albums.

None of these albums is available on the Australian iTunes Store. Instead, a search for The Kinks reveals such well known (not!) albums as Everybody’s in Show-Biz (3 stars, sales rank: 201,108), Low Budget (not rated, sales rank: a mighty 540,642), and A Soap Opera (not rated, sales rank: 512,616), which Rolling Stone reviewed by saying, “Musically, there isn’t one really striking melody on the album”. In all, Amazon features 530 products by The Kinks (admittedly many are duplicates, but that’s still a lot). iTunes features (drum roll…) 30.

Really incredible (to quote Steve Jobs). Guess I’ll be buying my Kinks music from Amazon then.


That experience really got me going (sorry), so I tried another act: The Divine Comedy. Unquestionably, Neil Hannon’s finest output includes Casanova (5 stars, sales rank: 36,912) and Promenade (5 stars, sales rank: 103,104). Amazon also stocks the very respectable “best of” album, A Secret History (4.5 stars, sales rank: 1,159). Guess which of these masterpieces is available on iTunes? That’s right – none of them. Instead we get treated to just 2 of The Divine Comedy’s 10 albums, as well as 6 identical copies of Diva Lady, a single.

Well, whaddaya know? Amazon wins again. It lists 167 products by The Divine Comedy. iTunes lists 20 (and most of those are duplicates).

I could go on:

  • Aphex Twin ( at least 9 albums; iTunes: 2 albums)
  • Frank Zappa ( practically all of Zappa’s 80-odd albums; iTunes: 1 album)
  • Decoder Ring (Despite being an Aussie band, carries more of their albums than the Aussie iTunes Store)
  • Engineers (great band, simply not available on the Aussie iTunes Store at all)

…but I’d be here all week.

Now admittedly, most huge artists (with notable exceptions like The Kinks above) are well represented on iTunes. But venture even slightly into the realm of alternative music, and you discover that iTunes is a musical desert. What makes this all the more incredible is that Amazon is selling physical goods, whereas iTunes’ catalogue should be limited only by Apple’s hard drive space.

Maybe I have eclectic tastes – who knows? – but in the last year I’ve only once thought, “I fancy buying that album!”, gone to the iTunes Store, and actually found it.

Down Under doldrums

This dearth of decent music is partly because I’m in Australia, so I have to buy from the sparsely-stocked Australian iTunes Store. (Australians always seem to get a raw deal when it comes to choice.) However, the US and UK stores have the same measly 1 Zappa album, and the US store has the same miserable Kinks collection (anything to do with them being banned from the US in the sixties?!), though the UK store is better on the Kinks front. Anyway, why shouldn’t I be able to buy music from the US or the UK store? The Internet is supposed to be global, right? I can buy from, so why not from the UK iTunes Store? For that matter I can buy all this music on CD in an Australian record store, so why not on the Australian iTunes Store?

If this is the future of music retailing, please bring back the past!

A New Direction

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Happy New Year to you! Yes I’ve been bad – I haven’t updated this blog in months. The reason? Well, the theme of the blog was “switching from Linux to Mac”. And I’ve switched now. It was easy, and I prefer the Mac. That’s it. So there hasn’t been much to write about really. 😉

Therefore I’ve decided to repurpose this blog into a more general one about Macs and Apple. This means I can cover more topics than just “what’s it like switching from Linux to Mac”. Which hopefully means I can update more often, and give you something interesting to read more than once every three months!

I’ll be talking about my experiences of using my iMac both at work and at play; talking about and reviewing any cool new Mac software I’ve discovered; commenting on up-and-coming Apple news – that sort of stuff. It could all be frightfully dull, or it could be the most exciting Apple blog ever. Who the hell knows. We’ll find out soon enough.

Whatever happens, thanks for tagging along for the ride – it’s good to know ya. 🙂

First Impressions

Monday, May 29th, 2006

This is what happened in my first few hours of Mac ownership…

Unpacking it was of course very exciting, and I was impressed with the way the whole thing is packaged. It feels like you’ve bought a high quality piece of gear the moment you open the box.

I was surprised at how small the Apple Remote is. Good job it attaches magnetically to the side of the iMac or I might lose it! They could have made the keyboard cable a bit longer though. I have one of those desks with a keyboard tray which means the cable has to go over the top of the desk to the Mac, rather than behind the desk and back round. It’s not too bad in practice though.

Problem #1 was pretty funny – I couldn’t work out how to turn it on! So much for the Mac being a paragon of ease-of-use. After 5 minutes of looking round the side and back, and pressing random keys on the keyboard (I’d heard you could power on Macs this way), I eventually had to give in and read the manual. I don’t know how I missed that power button at the back!


It’s Arrived!

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Haven’t posted in a few days. That’s because my nice shiny new iMac turned up on Wednesday (about a week early) and I’ve been playing with it! 🙂 It’s very nice indeed and, apart from a few minor quirks and oddities, on the whole I’m very happy with it. It still feels quite new and mysterious though.

The funniest moment was when I had it all plugged in, but couldn’t work out how to turn it on! I must have spent 5 minutes looking for the power button, and I’m ashamed to say I had to read the manual in the end to find it! :-/

I’ll be posting more detailed first impressions in the next day or so, but for now here are the obligatory photos of me unpacking it and setting it up.

On Its Way…

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Just placed my order for the Mac at the Apple Store. 🙂 Here’s what I ordered:

  • iMac 20″ Intel Core Duo 2.0GHz (Big screen for watching movies on!)
  • 250GB hard drive (I struggle to fill my current 40GB drive with stuff, and the 500GB ones are noisier apparently)
  • 256MB video RAM (games are gonna require it in a year or two)
  • 1GB RAM (1x1GB stick) – figured I’d get a second stick elsewhere and save my $$$!
  • Oh and AppleCare. Just in case the thing blows up 12 months and 1 day after I bought it. 😉

It’s going to take a little over 2 weeks to turn up. I was a bit irritated that the store implies “5-7 business days” but then they sneakily add on 2-4 delivery days at the time you place your order. Ah well. Maybe it’ll arrive a bit sooner!

Now I’m playing the waiting game…

First post! Woo!

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

Welcome to my blog. This is my first blog ever. (New, exciting!)

I am about to “switch”(TM) to using a Mac – in fact, buying a Mac – for the first time. (New, even more exciting!)

This blog will record my progress in the strange new Mac world over time. I’ll be covering:

  • my reasons for switching
  • choosing a Mac
  • actually buying the thing
  • first impressions
  • my ongoing experiences with my Mac
  • problems and hair-tearing-out situations (this should fill up most of the blog ;))
  • the final verdict. Will I grow to love the Mac way of life, or will I be flogging the Mac on eBay in 6 months?

Time will tell…