Camouflage Your Desktop

camoformac.jpgFor bloggers and screen casters, camouflaging your desktop is a very important task. Is a pain to start deleting or hiding your icons and programs every time you are going to show a screen capture of your desktop to anyone, fortunately there are a couple of solutions for you (for us.)

Camouflage by Brik Software at briksoftware.com is a great choice to do just that, if you are like me you probably have a messy desktop, stuff that you are currently working on and they need to stay where they are. If you have to show anyone your desktop, you can at anytime run Camouflage and hide your messy desktop with the convenience of being able to bring all back once your done.

One of the downside of the application is that it’s available only for Mac, no Windows or Linux version is available. Another great feature that its missing is the ability to hide icons, wouldn’t be great to have this app selectively show only the icons you want people to see. I guess you could hide the entire dock, or maybe there is some sort of application that takes care of this, but convenience is king.

This application has a couple of options or settings that makes it really cool, one is the ability of changing the wallpaper. If you are a fan of ladies without much clothes, you can hide them with one simple click and bring them back once your done. I’m not saying that this is the only use, but you get the point. Maybe you have a background with your company logo that you want people to see when you are showing off your desktop.

Once you activate the application, you can call all your files on your desktop by double-clicking on your main desktop. A finder window will open up revealing all your messy desktop items, you can change this option to a single-click but what’s the point of that.

Find this application by visiting www.briksofware.com, its totally free. Also, check other application they have available for sale, if you like Camouflage for Mac you make a small donation if you feel inclined.

I would like to know if anyone knows of a similar program for other platforms, that way we can share the love with those of you who use Windows or Linux. Also, if you know of a similar application but with different or better features, leave a comment to spread the word.

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Aperture, My Review.

I downloaded the Aperture free trial over 30 days ego, I finish playing with it and throw it in my computer’s Trash. I’m submitting my review now to make sure you understand that I didn’t get rid of it because it was bad, but because I have no need for it. The software went from a price tag of $299 (USD) to $199, but even with this price drop I feel that this program is not for the aficionado.

aperture2_box.jpgThe process of getting a trial license was easy and fast, after a couple of minutes I was up and running. Getting it set up was easy too, the first menu you see allows you to choose among a set of options that gives you tutorials, imports, etc. I have a folder with photos that I manage using Bridge from Adobe, so I import those images into Aperture for the test.

The import was fast, you could tell it was doing some cache processing in the background and when it finish it created a proprietary file in my Pictures folder. I wasn’t able to test every single feature, but a couple of the ones I did test impressed me very much.

Lets talk Aperture, the user interface (UI) is great, I was able to click through most of the selections without needing to read the manual. I should mention that I tested Aperture on an Intel Mac mini (1.83GHz with 1GB of RAM) and that was not a problem, I would assume that newer MacBooks and iMacs have no problem dealing with all the features of the software.aperture2_vieweronly_imac.jpg

The first feature that impressed me was the Loupe tool, I selected high-resolution photos and the Loupe tool took me to the details with in without any problems. I test it with a couple of 3 mega pixels photo that I have on my library and after 200% magnification you can tell is a poor image by its pixilation.

The next feature that wows me was the full screen editing option, I have a 22-inch monitor and my raw images looked amazing. You can all sorts of options to manipulate the images, of course, not ala Photoshop but when manipulating colors, contrast, and brightness is the best you can ask for. The menus hide when in full screen, and just by doing a mouse over the corners of the screen you can activate the menus you need to work on your photos.

Finally, the way you manage your media, so easy that even the most inexperienced user can take advantage of all the features this software has. You have an exceptional organizer on the left side of the screen, you can import directly from your camera, the web or any folder on your computer. You can also export to Flickr, to the web, or create an album, you can import/export from iPhoto and ultimately you can print your own images at home with any of the professional printers available out there.

aperture2_imac2screens.jpgOf course, what is Aperture with out the community, every Mac owner is proud of belonging to a great family, a family of users that help each other no matter what. For all the help you may need you have Aperture tutorials at www.apple.com/aperture, you also have the Apple discussion forums at http://discussions.apple.com/category.jspa?categoryID=184.

You can find user groups as well, there’s an Aperture Foundation that while is not affiliated to Apple Inc is a great resource to any photographer. Find groups at Flickr, as well as a plug-in for Aperture, find about anything just by doing a search in Google for Aperture. If you have knowledge of great places to get Aperture help, tips and tricks, or anything else related to Aperture, feel free to leave a comment including your tip.

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How Social is Your Networking?

My sister is hilarious, yesterday she posted a comment on her own MySpace account the almost kill me. She wrote, “Warning, friends with no hands will be deleted.” Immediately her friends started writing to her saying hi or whatever, I found the idea very cute but after doing some thinking around her motivations to do what she did, I asked myself how social my networking is.

Every time I hear about a new social networking platform, I head to the website and create an account. I just create a presence and sometimes I don’t even get to updated it as often as anyone would think. One example is my iMeem account, I created it and never even wrote my bio, it may very well be close by now. The idea is that if anyone that knows me creates an account on any of these new social site and looks for me, at least they find something.

When it comes to update these accounts, I just don’t do a good job. I try to simplify my life by adding picture to Flickr and getting links wherever possible so that I don’t have to upload them twice to different sites. I use different social sites for different purposes, for small rants I use Twitter, for links I use Pownce, for day-to-day stuff I use either MySpace or Facebook. I have a Jaiku account that feeds whatever I do on Twitter, and a Virb.com account that feeds from my blog.

I created a Bebo account that I never pay attention to, I have an account with Digg with one friend that I only use, well for Diggs. This is why I think my social networking skills suck, at least on the web. I update my profiles like once every two weeks, I barely say hi to my friends unless I know is their birthday. I consider myself very unobtrusive, which is not bad, I think.

I would hate to have friends that write to me every single day, except for my mom, which she actually does write to me every day. Even when at the same time, I don’t mind anyone writing to me constantly, as I check my accounts maybe, once a week. What is your experience?

I have a Find Me At tab on my WordPress blog that holds my accounts for every single social site that I’m in, go ahead and add me. I promise I won’t be intrusive and I only leave comments that are of good taste. A final word, go out there and get as many friends as you can to subscribe to your social sites and keep them growing.

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I think I fixed the ACL problem

Even since I upgraded to Leopard I’ve been having a problem that seem to be a common issue among Leopard users, when using the repairing permissions options in Disk Utility a long list of ACL used to show up. The message was actually something like, ACL found but not expected.

They had something to do with user templates, I took my Mac back to Apple where they told me that this was a common issue, they had knowledge of it and they were working on fixing it. That was back in 10.5.0, we are already in 10.5.2 and for those of us who see the error, we have seen that it has not been fixed.

Apple assures me that this was not affecting the day-to-day use of my Mac, it was nothing to worry about they said. But, it has bothered me since I discovered it. Today, I started thinking on doing some troubleshooting to see if I could see any difference and I did.

I went to my system preferences, users, and created a new user with admin privileges. After that, I disabled automatic login and restarted. Logged in with the new user account and ran the repair permissions once again without any different results.

Frustrated I when back to my account and deleted the user I created, activated back the automatic login for my account and went back to disk utility. This time the disk utility took over a minute to run and returned no ACL errors, I was shocked, apparently this is the fix.

Crete a user, run repair permission on the new account, come back to your account. Delete the newly created user and run repair permissions again. Please, someone try this and tell me if it works or not, I’m dying to know and I don’t have another Mac available to test this fix.

Please, leave your notes on this post to share it with the community.

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Who’s Buying the MacBook Air?

When I first saw the MacBook Air back in January, I was very pessimistic about the notebook selling at all. A couple people around the web had the same concerns, stock prices plunged after Macworld 2008, and one of the concerns was the MacBook Air. What happened?

The MacBook Air is the hottest selling device in Apple.com and many retail stores are stating that they have run out shortly of the notebook. Even on Apple’s website, you can see a shipping estimate of 5-7 days for a notebook that is new on the market.

There are a lot of exciting reports about this around the web and the conspiracy theories never ends, some are saying that Apple never build too many of them, others say that they were expecting it to sell out because is so hot. I can’t help asking myself, who’s buying these machines.

For starters, I think many Apple fans have gotten one by now, then you have the people that buy anything Apple announces on Macworld. Then you have the bunch of kids that have a lot of cash to burn, then the professionals that really need an ultra portable machine. Lastly, we have those that get it to review it, then they sell it on e-bay.

Is all these making any sense, we are talking about a $1,800 machine that is underpowered and has limited connectivity. Whatever you want to do on it will drive you to get a USB hub and plug a bunch of dongles before getting anything done.

What’s so hot about it? I know. The looks, the style, the ingenuity, the fact that no one has ever built a laptop that is so thin, I’m afraid to get one because I know I’m going to brake it. I love the design, I like the weight, and the screen size. However, the sad truth is that I don’t need one.

I was talking to my niece yesterday and she told me that she noticed a bunch of tourists buying these machines to take them home and sell them for a profit. I don’t doubt that but how many of these have gone overseas already, I don’t thing too many.

Anyway, I’m dying to see the reports showing how many have actually been sold, also, I’m haven’t seen it yet on the street. If I hit the lotto, I’ll get one or two, otherwise they are too expensive for me.

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iTunes No 2 Music Reseller, Industry Down 10%

I was thinking about this over the weekend, some firm expert in the subject announced that Apple’s iTunes just became the number two reseller of music (in the US?) but the industry still wend down ten percent.

I was listening to Adam from the MacCast explaining how the economy factors into this decline as well as piracy. I have a different taste in my mouth, how about thinking that there are not as many good singers out there as there were before.

If you think about it, ten years ago I would walk into a music store and say to myself, I need C+C, Snap, MC, this one, the other one. Today is very different, I buy music as I discover it. I’m not buying albums anymore, the last physical CD that I bought was 3 Doors Down: Seventeen Days.

Today my spending is growing but at a single level, I can say that I spent like little over $100 in music last year. This year is different, two months into 2008, and I have spent almost $50 bucks in music already. Things are different, with the ability of buying only what you like, artists need to become a little more intelligent about selling their music.

When was the last time you needed two or more songs because they complimented each other? Long time for me, there is no need for me today to buy a whole album of any artists because songs are becoming singles on an album. Did you get that? Every single song inside one album can be played without the need of having the whole album, there is no urge to buy any album.

A word on piracy, the last time I downloaded a song that I didn’t pay for it was around 2004. Except for Radio Head’s latest album, which I downloaded but didn’t contributed, as I didn’t liked any of the songs. Is not that they are so bad, but just that they are not my style.

I seriously doubt that piracy is winning over convenience, I know there are kids that actively download pirated content, but I see this same kids turning legit more than ever before. Think about it, if you can get whatever you want for $0.99, there is no need to steal anymore.

I industry is not doomed, is just changing. This people need to adapt to survive, I really think artists need to take a more active role on their music distribution scheme, before it’s too late.

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Microsoft Goes Open

Microsoft announced the implementation of new “Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability,” I was really impressed with this announcement until I read a couple reports from experts in the industry. I’m asking myself now if Microsoft is trying to screw up the open source community with this so-called effort to be more open.

jokes.jpgSkepticism comes to my mind, as we know that Microsoft likes to make promises and then they don’t deliver, but it looks like this time they are clear on what their goal is. They claim to want to play nice with the interoperability side of their business by ensuring open connections, I’m not a developer so this means very little for me.

I’m thinking they want to make sure that all MS Office documents are compatible with other document management applications like OpenOffice, NeoOffice, and other flavors of Office Suites, etc. Are they really doing this or open just means that they want more people developing for them on some sort of freeware license, leaving open standards behind.

On the other hand, maybe they are just trying to help the occasional developer that is trying to do a plugin for MS Office, proprietary, functional only to one company. This developer will have the tools to make the plugin 100% integrated with the office suite without paying royalties or licenses to MS. I’m not buying it, something tells me that I’m not getting this at all.

Microsoft also mention data portability, I’m not sure what this would mean to the end user. Does this means portability across platforms, compatible across programs, or portable as one open standard? I heard Paul Thurrott saying on his show with Leo Laporte that this is not the first time Microsoft tries something like this, just to look good on the eyes of those who are not happy with them, i.e. the EU.

Whatever is that Microsoft if trying to do, whatever their intentions are, we will know soon rather than later. For now, they still dominate the market and unfortunately I haven’t find any other software that allows me to write the way MS Word does. One day I will leave this company forever, for now I think there is no competition to their Office Suite.

Do you agree with me? Don’t hate me for expressing myself, if you have a better clue of this approach by Microsoft, they talk to us about it by leaving a comment on this post.

Photo source http://tech.optzile.com/?p=11

Windows Weekly with Leo Laport and Paul Thurrott

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