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September 2006

Arson: a little too close for comfort

I walked out to the bus stop this morning to find that the real estate agents’ office (Pondside Realty) just around the corner from me blackened and smoldering. There were a couple firefighters and policemen, and TV trucks around, too. I didn’t hear a thing last night: I sleep like the dead.

Thankfully, the fire didn’t spread. The realtor took up two lots on the corner. In the same building are a nail salon and a tailor. Right next to this commercial building is an old wooden triple-decker. I’m amazingly glad it was raining heavily last night and fire didn’t spread to the residential properties.

The local CBS affiliate says it was a gas bomb. There was a witness.

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Making a disk image from a DVD/CD

Use the Disk Utility app in the Applications->Utilities folder.

Insert the master CD, run Disk Utility (DU). In DU’s window, on the left, you’ll see a list of all the disks on the computer, including hard drives and CDs or DVDs.

Disk Utility CDROM

Select the “2nd level” icon, “25.4 MB Untitled 0” in this case. Then, click on the “New Image” icon in the toolbar. This will bring out a sheet asking for Save As etc.

Disk Utility Master

Give it some name, “fave_app” in this case. And make sure the “Image Format” is “DVD/CD master”. Hit Save. This will create a disk image on the desktop named “fave_app.cdr”.

This cdr disk image file will also appear in Disk Utility. To burn a new disk using that disk image, just select it, then click the “Burn” icon in the toolbar. It'll ask you to insert a new disk.

Note that I don’t know if this will overcome copy protection if there happens to be any on the disk.

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Useful things for the Mac OS X newbie

So, I’ve helped several people switch from Windows and Linux to Mac OS X, now. I’ve never written anything down but I figure now’s as good a time as any. My hints may not be completely up-to-date for those running OS X.4 (Tiger) since I’m still on Jaguar (X.3.9). Anyway, here goes. This is primarily a list of free or shareware (try now, pay later) software that’s useful.

Watch this post for updates. I think this could use a reorganization.

  1. Backup is free with a .Mac membership. Sign up for a trial membership, and download it. Cancel the membership right after. It’s not worth the $10/month. $FREEish
  2. Bookends is a bibliography manager. An alternative to EndNote. Only played with it a bit since I use a completely different bib manager (BibDesk) for ultrageeks. $100
  3. GMail is a great free email system, plus you can use the Mac’s Mail application to read it and send email through it. $FREE
  4. QuickImage Contextual Menu is a fast way to view images without having to open a separate application. Just right-click and view. $FREE
  5. Acrobat Reader. I am loathe to recommend this because I’ve had problems with it. But some forms, particularly tax forms, seem to only render properly with Acrobat Reader. $FREE
  6. Flash Player is, unfortunately, quite necessary. $FREE
  7. VLC video player will play almost any video and audio format you can think of. $FREE
  8. SnapNDrag is the best screen and window capture utility I have ever used. $FREE
  9. FlickrExport is an iPhoto plugin that allows you to easily tag pictures and upload them to Flickr. £12
  10. Adium is a multiprotocol client: you can use it to chat on AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, .mac, Gtalk. I don’t think it supports video chat using the iSight. My favorite soundset because it’s soothing and nonobtrusive is Tokyo Train Station. $FREE
  11. Free Ruler could be useful for designers. $FREE
  12. Yum! is a nice recipe manager. $Donation requested
  13. ourTunes allows you to download music from other people’s shared iTunes libraries (instead of just streaming it). $FREE
  14. Clutter puts images of the CD covers all over your desktop so using iTunes becomes a bit like playing CDs in real life. $FREE

Of course, on OS X.4 (Tiger), check out Dashboard Widgets for things like dictionaries, thesauruses, weather reports.

Update: For blogging, I like to use ecto. It allows me to easily compose posts, save them temporarily before posting, add images, video, etc, make links to Amazon items. Definitely less hassle than logging into a blog webpage to compose posts. It’s not free, but well worth the asking price in convenience. I wouldn’t blog as much without this.

Update 2: Acquisition: search for and download music from the net. $18

Update 3: iStumbler: lists all wireless access points, and if they are password-protected. $FREE

Listening to Gone, Biggie, Gone from the album “Gnarls Biggie” by Sound Advice

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