Number conversions are always convenient to have around. There are many times when you may need to convert grams to pounds, miles to kilometers, or see the latest exchange rates. In OS X there are some convenient ways to convert numbers that are readily available.… Read more
When you load a website, or use any other fully qualified domain name (ie, www.macfixit.com), the name needs to be resolved to something that your computer can use, such as an IP address. The service that does this is DNS, or "Domain Name System", which is essentially the index or address book for the internet. The DNS network consists of servers and resolvers that work to cache and propagate a distributed hierarchical database of internet names, domains, and subdomains. The resolved IP addresses are sent to the client system (your computer) when you make a DNS request.… Read more
The best of today's home theater in a box systems are excellent, but how do you find the one that's right for you?
First, read my CNET reviews; they're loaded with information about how easy the HTIB is to use and how well it performs. It may be a dubious honor, but I probably hold the record for testing more HTIBs for magazines and Web sites than any other reviewer.
Most HTIBs come with Blu-ray or DVD players, receivers, and five or more speakers and a subwoofer. Right, HTIBs also come with lots of wires and setup chores, so they're almost as complex to install as separate receiver, player, and speaker-based home theater systems.
If that's more than you bargained for, maybe you should be looking for something simpler: a single-speaker surround system? That would eliminate most of the wiring and setup hassles. Check my CNET reviews to see if one is right for you.
For small bedrooms or dorm rooms, a budget HTIB or single-speaker surround system may be ideal. Family-size home theaters may require larger systems with larger speakers and powered subwoofers.
Connectivity varies a lot in this category, so don't assume all HTIBs have what you need. If you don't want to switch inputs on your TV every time you select a different video source, say from a game system to a Blu-ray player, make sure the HTIB has enough HDMI and other video inputs. Some HTIBs don't switch video at all. Some have USB inputs and iPod-docking capabilities.
HTIBs tend to sound best with movies; music comes in a distant second place. I always refer to HTIBs' performance with movies and music, so if you plan on listening to a lot of music over your new system, definitely look for that in the reviews. Don't assume the sound will be equally good for music and movies; it rarely is. … Read more
On Call runs every two weeks, alternating between answering reader questions and discussing hot topics in the cell phone world.
It's been a long time since I've devoted an On Call to reader questions, but e-mails about the Motorola Droid have poured in following the device's debut last month. Some have offered nothing but effusive praise for the handset, while others have raised concerns. I've included a sampling of e-mails from the latter camp below. And be sure to catch my follow-up to a previous Android post at the end of the question-and-answer session.
Q: I think you described switching to Google Android quite well. I like the Droid, but I'm thinking of waiting for a GSM version. Will there be a GSM version and do you think that Verizon Wireless will carry it? - Tandon55
A: A GSM version of the Droid already exists. The Milestone, as it's called, is almost identical to the Droid except that it has pinch-and-zoom multitouch. We're not sure why it has the extra feature--believe us when we say we're not happy about the disparity--and neither Verizon Wireless, Google, nor Motorola is offering an answer. The Milestone will land first in Europe and Germany, but it won't come to Verizon Wireless. Verizon uses CDMA, which is an incompatible technology to GSM, and Verizon already carries its own version of the phone.… Read more
Because the Finder is the default interface for OS X many people may not realize it is actually a standalone application with its own settings. Instead, people may look for settings and options in the System Preferences, assuming the Finder is an integral part of the system.… Read more
Apple has updated a couple of knowledgebase articles that may be useful for MacBook users. The articles cover how to enable and disable the built-in sudden motion sensor in MacBook and PowerBook computers, and also how to use the glass multi-touch track pad.… Read more
Periodically you may have a collection of files that you may wish to catalog by printing a list of the file names out on a per-directory basis, or by saving the name list in a document. Unfortunately there is no way to do this directly in the Finder. There is a "Print" command in the Finder, but this will open a document in the preferred application and try to print it from there instead of printing the current folder view.… Read more