Your computer is optimized for daytime use. Even if you're a mile away from a window, your brain still knows what time it is, and as the sun sinks below the horizon (wherever that may be), you need softer, cooler light. That's part of the reason it can be so hard to sleep after intense bouts of World of Warcraft or late-night coding; your brain is confused by mixed signals. Enter f.lux, a sweet, small, free app that works on all major platforms to automatically adjust the brightness and tone of your monitor based on time of … Read more
iOS 5 and iCloud have just been released and MobileMe users are finally allowed to transition their accounts from MobileMe to iCloud. The process is easy, but there are some steps along the way.
The slideshow takes you through Apple's MobileMe migration wizard, which is really just a few Web pages of warnings and information regarding the change. Before you begin the move, make sure you have all of your computers updated to OS X 10.7.2 as well as any iOS devices updated to iOS 5. Once everything is updated, visit mobileme.com/move from your computer.… Read more
Not every shot is perfect, but most are worth salvaging. Sadly, for most of us, image-editing software can be too intimidating or frustrating to use. Even GIMP, the open-source image-editing software, isn't immediately intuitive.
A Canadian usability research team has released AdaptableGIMP, which lets users search for tools based on what they want to do. It makes life much easier for nondesigners. Here's how to use it:Download and install AdaptableGIMP. Page through the intro screens and agree to take part in the research. (It will record some usability data.) Set up an account, if you'd like. … Read more
Visualize yourself holding a USB plug. Now visualize yourself trying to put said USB plug into its port on your computer. Hmm, it didn't go in? You must be holding it the wrong way; try turning it over. Still nothing? Odd, try it the first way again. Oh look, it fits now.
This scenario is something a lot of computer users have gone through at least once. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to spend time fiddling with the USB plug every. Single. Time?
The problem at hand can actually be avoided rather easily. One … Read more
Erasing an SSD (solid-state drive) not only sanitizes the drive, but recovers lost performance on systems with inefficient garbage collection. Utilities like CCleaner or DBAN are made for magnetic disk drives and won't work on SSDs. Fortunately, there are two free secure-erase utilities that do work with SSD drives.
The first utility is named Secure Erase (HDDErase.exe), and was developed by the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at the University of California, San Diego. It's free and effective, but requires DOS boot media. The biggest problem with Secure Erase, however, is that development ended in 2008, thus … Read more
The ability to quickly save the content of your screen is a useful feature to have, especially if you are troubleshooting aspects of your system. If an error window pops up on screen, instead of describing it to a technician, it helps to snap a screenshot and send that to better show exactly what is going on.
There are several options for creating screenshots in OS X, including Apple's "Grab" utility and the common keyboard shortcuts for doing so, but in addition to these, you can also use Preview. Generally this tool is used for viewing PDFs … Read more
I feel a little uneasy writing this one up, since it's such a simple idea, but with Halloween coming up I feel it's my public duty to remind people that you can add sound to your costume or decorations for less than $50.
Now that the iPod's heyday is over, you can pick up a halfway decent MP3 player for as little as $20. Slap it together with one of those ultracompact portable speakers, and you have an inexpensive little sonic grenade that can bring the miracle of music to just about anything.
I know I'll … Read more
Printer sharing in OS X is a convenient feature that turns your computer into a print server and enables you to share any printer configured on your system with other computers on a local network. This is great for setting up non-networked printers (in other words, USB printers) for use on the network.
However, unless you set up a password, then the shared printer can be accessed by anyone. In a work environment it may be beneficial to have a password so that random people setting up printers on their systems will not inadvertently print to your printer.
The first … Read more
Generally installing OS X takes about 20 to 40 minutes, but there are times when the install process may take longer or seem to hang at a specific step. This may be especially true if you're using Apple's new Internet-based installation for Lion. When this happens, even though the installer progress bar has an estimated time remaining underneath it, the time will not change and the bar will not advance.
This mainly happens when the installer is waiting for data to load. The installer will wait for the media to be available, and instead of updating its status … Read more
Computer experts will tell you of the importance of performing regular backups to save your personal or work-related data in case of a system failure. Simple backup methods such as burning the data to a CD are perfect for archiving data that you put on your computer, but less effective when it comes to backing up installed programs. Installed programs usually require product keys to prevent software piracy or copying, and a misplaced or illegible key can lead to software becoming unusable to you in the event of a crash. Fortunately, NirSoft has a product that can retrieve the product … Read more