How I Became a Mac OS user

Years ago, I got tired of Windows for numerous reasons which I don’t have the time to elaborate in this post. Eventually, I switched to Linux. It was new, exciting, and the opportunity to learn something entirely different was fascinating to me. When Ubuntu Dapper Drake came along, I went all in. That was my desktop of choice for a very long time.

After each Ubuntu release, I worked hard to get everything working from the flash player, media, and just about every tool that I needed, just to get the desktop to function the way I wanted to. After several years of Ubuntu updates and fixing the desktop, I got tired of it. It was an exercise I really didn’t want to do every six months.

I switched to the Mac OS because it it’s based on BSD, a Unix variant, which is familiar to me. In some ways, I can get still get down and dirty using the Terminal if I wanted to. The Mac OS for the most part, is a very stable environment. And everything worked at get-go. I’ve been a Mac OS user ever since.

Checking MD5 Hash on a Mac

When you download a file from a website, they usually come with a 128 bit hash the called MD5 hash. The 32 digit hash is used to check for the integrity of the file to make sure the file hasn’t been altered in any way. So, how do you check MD5 hash on the Mac OS? Open up your Terminal and type the following:

md5 linux.iso

The MD5 command will spit out a 12b bit hash that you can compare it with on a website’s download page. If the hash match, then the file’s integrity is intact. If it doesn’t match, then the file has been altered and compromised. Get rid of it. You never know what’s in it.

Capture Screenshots on Mac OS X

Capturing screenshots on the Mac OS is quite easy. You’ll just have to learn the commands. So, without further ado, here are the keyboard shortcuts to get you going.

How to capture an active Window

Command + Shift + 4

To capture an active Window, use the keyboard by holding the Command and Shift keys, and then pressing the number 4. You will see a crosshair with the screen axis numbers next to it. Press Spacebar to select the entire active screen. Click the mouse or the touchpad to capture the screen. If you want to just capture a small section of the active Window, hold and drag the mouse or touchpad, when you see the crosshair with the screen axis numbers when prompted. The screenshot will be automatically added to the desktop.

How to capture an entire screen

Command + Shift + 3

To capture the entire desktop screen, use the keyboard by holding the Command and Shift keys, and pressing the number 3. The screenshot will be automatically added to the desktop.

Kindle for the Mac

I was browsing the Apple App Store the other night, and I came across an application called “Kindle” for the Mac. And, it’s free. So, I downloaded the application and installed it. Amazon recently made the “Kindle Apps” available to anyone with a smartphone and a computer. You don’t need a Kindle device.

Kindle Apps will work on the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and the Windows 7 phone. If you own a Kindle, you can synch any of the Kindle Apps to work in conjunction with your Kindle device. So, Kindle owners are now able to read the books they’ve purchased, not only in the Kindle devices, but also on their computers and smartphones.

The Kindle app for the Mac comes empty. There are no books. You will need to download the books from Amazon’s website. To download, just click on the “Shop in Kindle Store” link on the top hand right corner of the window. You can purchase thousands of books, including the latest releases, as well as download all the free public domain books that are available.

If you already own a Kindle, you just have to register the application with your Amazon credentials. To synch the books you’ve already purchased, you just login and the application will download all your books. It will also remember the last page you’ve read as well as synch any annotations you have created on your Kindle device.

I downloaded two free books, the Art of War by Sunzi and The Adventures of Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can see reading on the Kindle can be an expensive hobby. Reading electronically does have it’s distinct advantages. At least, you don’t have to lug around a book everywhere you go.

1 Million Apps Downloaded in 1 Day

One million were apps downloaded from the Mac App Store in in just one day. It’s quite impressive. You can add me as one contributor to that statistic. I’ve downloaded a couple of applications in Twitter and TextWrangler. Both were free. The Mac App Store features the top paid and free programs in the store. So, it’s interesting to see which apps are popular. You get a feel for what apps are trending.

Just a couple of applications worth noting.

MindNode for Mac is a elegant mindmapping application for collecting, organizing and outlining your thought and ideas. It’s a perfect tool for brainstorming, holiday planning, research, writing, project management, and meeting notes. The best part of it all is, it’s free. Can’t beat that. I’ve used a mindmapping tool before in my previous work to brainstorm and organize thoughts. I even used it for talks and speeches.

If you’re familiar with HDR images at all, you wonder how it is done. Well, Light Compressor is an app that lets you easily combine multiple exposures into striking HDR images. Light Compressor will combine the images you’ve taken from a tripod and give you the freedom to tweak the color curves, the tone-mapping and saturation before saving it as high quality 16 bit/channel tiff image. This app is practically free for just $0.99.

Well, everyone knows Angry Birds. If you don’t, no worries. Angry Birds is the number one paid app in the Mac App Store. At just $4.99, you can download and play this hugely popular game. Dish out revenge on those green pigs that stole the bird’s eggs. Lots of angry birds here. The game features 195 levels. It’s well worth the price. If you ever need a break from work, go play this game.

The New Mac App Store Opens Today

As promised, the new Mac App Store opened up today. It comes stocked with thousands of games, utilities and productivity programs. To install the Mac App Store, you will need to do the following: (1) You need to be running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. (2) You need to run today’s update of Snow Leopard to version 10.6.6. After the update, you will be prompted to restart the new OS version. After the restart, you will see a new Mac App Store icon (it’s shaped like the letter A, next to the Finder) on your Dock. See image below. The Mac App Store is also available from the Apple Menu.

The new Mac App Store is organized pretty much the same way as iTunes. In fact, you need your iTunes account or Apple ID to download or purchase applications, utilities and games from the Mac App Store. The top paid software is currently Angry Birds, followed Chopper 2 and iPhoto. There are also dozens of free programs like Twitter, Evernote, Caffeine, TextWrangler and a few more.

The new Mac App Store is going to make shopping for software a lot easier for Mac users. I imagine that every software will be available from the Mac App Store in due time. This is just a start. Only a few thousand applications, utilities and games are currently available in the store. But not everyone is happy. There are some developers left out in the cold.

To install the Mac App Store, just run the update if you’re running Snow Leopard.

Interesting enough, iMovie was also updated during the update today. I’m not sure if this was part of the update or iMovie update was available before today’s update. Anyways, there’s a new version of iMovie also that showed up on my MacBook Air as well.

VLC Multimedia Player

If you’re looking for a media player that plays all media formats, then you should look into the VLC player. It’s available in Windows, Mac and Linux. It handles DVD, VCD, SVCD, Audio CD, web streams, TV cards and whole bunch more. VLC comes with every imaginable codec that’s ever built. Hence, the reason why it plays everything.

It even plays files that are damaged, missing or are broken. This open-source media player is a favorite for many. The VLC media player can be used as a server and a client. It can send and received streaming videos. If that wasn’t enough, VLC also comes with dozens of skins to match your desktop.

To download, visit VLC’s website.

How To Connect Samba Shares on the Mac

Here’s a quick tutorial of how to connect to a Samba share on the Mac. Samba is a open-source software that provides interoperability between Unix/Linux and Windows systems. The Samba software allows for the sharing of files and printers between Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac OS X systems.

At home, I have NAS (network attached storage) with a 60GB drive running Samba. I use the NAS to store, share and backup files. I can access the NAS drive from my PC, Linux (Ubuntu) and now from the Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Press Command-K. A window will appear.
  3. Type smb:// Use the IP address of your Samba share.
  4. Click connect.

If you’re Samba share is password protected, you will see a login screen, similar to the one below. Just enter your username and password, and press Connect.

Once connected, you should be able to browse the files on the Samba drive, just like any other file or folder on your Mac. The Samba drive will also show up on the left hand panel of the Finder under the Shared section. See snapshot below. Notice the Public folder is available for browsing.

There you have it. How to connect Samba shared drives to your Mac.

Ubuntu 10.04 Title Bar Buttons

I just spent my first minute with Ubuntu 10.04. I already don’t like it. Whose idea was it to move the Title Bar buttons to the left side? I’m not even going to link dozens of websites giving out tutorials how to move the the title buttons back to the right. And one more thing, the purple background reminds me way too much of a Mac. In the meantime, I will play around with it some more.

Google Chrome Now Available For Mac and Linux

Well, it’s official. Google Chrome browser is now available for the Mac and Linux. Information Week has the details:

“We’ve been working hard to deliver a first-class browser for the Mac — it took longer than we expected, but we hope the wait was worth it!” declared Google product manager Brian Rakowski in a blog post. “We wanted Google Chrome to feel at home on the Mac, so we’ve focused on uniting our clean, simple design with subtle animations and effects to create a snappy and satisfying browsing experience on OS X.”Google also released a beta version of Chrome for Linux and browser extensions for users of beta and developer builds.

Google’s design goals for Chrome, which represents the foundation of the company’s forthcoming Chrome OS, remain focused on speed, stability, and security. As an example, Chrome isolates each browser tab so that buggy Web page code will only crash the tab and not the entire browser. Chrome’s multiprocess architecture is also a way to protect users from poorly coded or malicious extensions.