Shelved

How many sites do you visit regularly?  I bookmark sites constantly and add videos to my favorites on YouTube on a regular basis.  All of these links tend to get very unorganized, and as as you can imagine I now have hundreds of links and videos to keep track of.  In order to make this task as painless as possible, I now use an application called Shelved.

Whenever you have a link you want to keep, just drag and drop it into the shelved window. It then opens the site within the Shelved application.  In the left pane of the application, you can easily add and create new “shelves”.  This provides a simple way to organize links quickly. You can also go into Browse>Browse With, and select a browser to open a given link in. You can choose from any of the browsers you have on your mac, and they are automatically read in Shelved.

As you can see I only have 2 shelves of Technology and News. Although it is easy to create more by clicking on the + symbol in the bottom, left corner.

On the right side of the application there is a preview of the webpage. From the top right corner you can select the shelf you want to organize the webpage on, as seen below.

If you are a common user of Del.Icio.Us, then this is certainly for you. Not only can you keep all your links in the same application, but you can also export the links you want to share to Del.Icio.Us. All you have to do is log in to Del.Icio.Us from within Shelved, and from there you can then choose what to export.

The folks over at ExtraZeal worked hard and made this app one of the best link organizers for the mac. The application is currently in alpha stages, and is available as freeware.  You can download it here.

Rescue Your Time

Ever wanted to know which applications or websites you spend the most time on? Well, look no further. This handy service can help solve your problems.

Rescue Time (for Windows and Mac), is one of the simplest, easy to use, online services, helping you see what your biggest time suckers are on your computer. You first have to download the free software, which runs as an application; basically monitoring your every click.

Analyze.

Once you have logged onto their site, you can then get access too all the data it has collected, laying it out in simple to read bar graphs.  This allows you to see the apps/sites you are using the most and also, how much time you’re actually spending on your computer.

Process.

You then have the ability to go back throughout the day and see exactly when you were on your computer and what you were doing. There are also charts for the day, week, month and year to help you look back at those productive and unproductive days, weeks and months. Tying into that, there is a tab labeled goals and alerts where you can set up reminders to yourself for general things in life, or to remind yourself of the apps or sites you are using a little too much.

One feature which I find extremely useful is that you have the ability to tag multiple apps or sites. So let’s say, you tag Textmate and Mars Edit (two wonderful text editors) with the tag “Blogging.” And then you put Safari and Mail under a tag called “Personal.” This is a great way to see how much time during the day which you spend on work versus play.

Implement.

Personally, I check Rescue Time once every 2 days, taking points of the things that consume the most time for me. I then gradually try and cut back at least 20 minutes a week, on these time consuming apps/sites. While this service might not be for everyone, I do encourage heavy computer users to take a look at it. Productivity and simplicity are two key traits in living a happy life.

Best of all, this is available as a free service for individual use.  Signup can be found here

How-To: Two Airports, One Network

Technology moves at a very fast pace. Products are continually updated with new features, and the prices keep dropping as cheaper manufacturing methods become a reality. However, purchasing a new product doesn’t always mean ditching the older one.

In my case, the updated product is the Airport Extreme Base Station with gigabit ethernet. I have used a D-Link wired router in conjunction with an Airport Express base station ever since I got into the wireless networking game, and when Apple came out with the new wireless N router, I knew it was time to upgrade. That got me thinking about what I could do with my older wireless G based Airport Express. As soon as I got my iPod touch, its fate was sealed: both routers would share my network to all areas of my house (I decided to ignore the Wireless N feature of the Extreme so that my iPod could join). But how?

After looking around for a while, I have the solution, and present that here so that others may benefit.

Set up the main base station

You may have heard of WDS before, probably in the fine print of an instruction manual. WDS — or wireless distribution system — allows multiple access points to share the same network and internet connection over a much wider area when compared to single systems. This tactic is often used on university campuses for complete property coverage. It has been a feature of every Airport Extreme model since they first came on the market, and it can only be used with other Airport routers.

To set up the main base station, you likely only need to make one change to your current setup. With Airport Utility (Applications/Utilities) open to the Wireless tab, you will see the box Allow this network to be extended, which needs to be checked. Once you save the settings and restart the router, you will see a new tab called WDS. That’s it for the main station, now you can set up the remote access point.

Set up the remote station

With my particular setup, I’m using an Airport Extreme and Airport Express, but any combination of Airport stations are acceptable, as long as they are using the same frequency (A, B, G, N, etc).

The easiest method for configuring this remote station is to reset it to factory defaults. For instructions about your particular model, have a look at Apple’s instructions for the Extreme, with links to the other stations. Most require you to simply hold the reset button while the station is plugged in.

With the base station reset to factory defaults, you will notice a new wireless network called Apple Network xxxxx. This is the remote station, and you will need to join this network before configuring the router.


Open the Airport Utility while on this network, and you will be able to use the Setup Assistant to do the dirty work, which I have found to be much more efficient than doing it manually.

The rest of the setup can be accomplished by following the assistant and inputting the correct options. The screens appear as follows:

  • 1. Base Station details
  • 2. Wireless network condidtions – choose I have a wireless network and want to add another base station
  • 3. I want this router to wirelessly join my current network
  • 4. Extend the range of my Airport Extreme network
  • 5. Choose your original network from the dropdown menu
  • 6. Automatically find the original base station’s address


When the Assistant has completed the setup and restarted the routers, you should see both base stations inside 1 Airport Utility window — much like the photo above. Both routers will show Participate in a WDS network in the Wireless panel.

There you go. Now you can hang on to that early base station and create a network that covers more area than either could do on their own.

Spec Smackdown: Nikon D60 vs. Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Over the past several months, both Canon and Nikon introduced new entry-level Digital SLRs to their lineups. Both brands offer many new features, and better image quality. Boy, these cameras are sweet. Their light, portable, offer stunning image quality, and they are a huge step up from the previous version. It’s a Smackdown!

Round 1: Design

Both the Canon and the Nikon have wonderful design. The XSi features a huge 3 inch screen, while the D60 sports a 2.5 inch display. Being that the Canon uses Live View technology that allows you to see the image on the screen before you press the shutter button, I love the larger screen. Both the XSi, and the D60 feel almost natural to use. The buttons fall right where you would expect them to be, however, being a hardcore EOS 40D user for nearly a year now, I would love to see the addition of a “Quick Control Dial.” The D60 has the shutter button, preset modes, power switch, and command dial all at your index finger, allowing it to be almost identical to its 6.1 megapixel predecessor, the Nikon D40.

Winner: Both camera bring excellent design to the DSLR table. They both have many of the buttons placed on the right side of the unit, allowing your thumb and index fingers to do most of the controlling, without moving your left hand off the lens, making it feel almost natural to use. Canon’s XSi and Nikon’s D60 both get a 9 this round.

Round 2: Features

When comparing both brands to their predecessors, you are blown away with some of the new features. The XSi now features a 12 megapixel sensor, and Live View. The D60 is now equipped with 10.2 megapixels, and Nikon’s “Integrated Dust Reduction System” which presents several ways to rid the dust from the image sensor. Both cameras are a giant step up from their predecessor, however the Canon XSi simply has more features. The screen is absolutely breathtaking, and the shots don’t disappoint.

Winner: Canon’s XSi has plenty of features that will last you for years to come, and are easy to access and use. Don’t get me wrong- The D60 is an excellent camera, it’s just it doesn’t bring enough punch to compete with the XSi. The D60 gets a 7 this round, and the XSi gets a perfect 10.

The XSi features a 12.2 megapixel sensor, and a DIGIC III image processor allowing for excellent images. The Nikon, on the otherhand, features a 10.2 megapixel sensor. Both cameras offer great image quality, that will last you for years to come. However, the Canon XSi seems to add a bit better color quality, and sharpness to each photo. The Nikon D60 gets a 8, while the XSi gets yet another 10.

Round 3: Performance

Both the Nikon and the Canon start up immediately after you flip the power switch, allowing for you to capture the shot you want, when you want. The autofocus is wonderful on both cameras, as well. The XSi is quick to autofocus on the subject, while on the D60, it seems you wait just a tad more for the camera to focus completely. The Nikon gets a 4, while the Canon gets a 5.

Round 4: Value

Boy – these cameras have value. They are both stuffed to the brim with features, compared to their predecessor, and will have enough power to supply you for years and years to come. The Canon XSi retails for $899 with a 18-55mm lens whereas the Nikon D60 retails $150 cheaper at a mere $750 with a 18-55mm lens. In my eyes, if you have the money, spend the extra money and get the XSi, which features a larger LCD, LiveView, greater megapixel count, and frames per second (FPS), just to name a few.

Winner:

The Canon XSi scored a 34, and the Nikon D60 came in with a 28.

Obviously, the Canon is a better built camera all around, and I’d recommend spending the extra $150 on a camera that packs a bunch more features. Don’t get me wrong- the D60 is an excellent step up from the D40, but it just seems Canon brought more to the table this time. XSi Wins!

Simon Says

As the Web 2.0 trend continues to grow by leaps and bounds and websites become more complex, monitoring servers and websites has become a necessary task for webmasters and site owners alike.  I recently stumbled upon an app that handled this task with ease, all the while doing so in a simplistic yet intuitive environment.  Dejal Simon is aimed at making website and server monitoring as simple as possible, while providing you with all of the features and tools that you would come to expect.

At the heart of Simon is the monitor window.  From here, you can see the current status of all of your monitored servers, websites, and applications.  Included in this window is the “test table” which shows valuable information such as how long ago the last change or failure occurred, and when the next check will occur.  If you don’t feel like taking the time to read all of the statistics, Simon has that covered.  Also included in the monitor window is a graphical layout of the tests.

One feature in particular that I found very useful was Simon’s “Smart Change Detection”.  With this extremely customizable tool, you can narrow down the sections of your website that you want monitored for changes.  A huge benefit of this is that you will no longer get false positives from banners, ads, etc. It even works for port tests, allowing it to detect when the number of messages in your mailbox changes.

So Simon detects changes, failures, and recoveries.  What about when you’re out of the house?  You’re a busy person, but you need to know when these things happen.  Worry not; Simon has a handful of notifiers to get you the info you need when you need it.

A quality that I look for in any application is good use of screen space.  Simon has truly impressed me in its usability from both the dock and menu bar.  Its status menu allows you to quickly access global functions, all tests including their status icons, and sub-menus of quick-access operations all from the comfort of your menu bar.

Simon is a very useful tool for anyone who needs to monitor a handful of servers or websites. After using it for a while, I’ve noticed that I am more relaxed knowing that I will be notified at the first sign of anything gone wrong.  Not only does Simon monitor your servers and sites, it puts your mind at ease and lets you enjoy the more important things in life.  Simon says so.

Simon is available at Dejal.com with pricing starting at $29.95 for a basic license.

Review: HP Pavilion dv2840tx ‘Artist Edition’

Whilst the casing design won’t appeal to everybody, HP never intentioned the dv2840tx Artist Edition notebook to appeal to the everyday consumer. This notebook is designed to swing a younger crowd into the HP stable – and perhaps even draw some graphic designers away from their MacBooks and into the world of Windows.

The actual casing was designed by Joao Oliviera from Portugal, as part of HP and MTV’s 2007 notebook-design competition. Although thousands of stunning illustrations were sent in, HP has chosen a highly distinctive, and even thought-provoking variant.

The highlights continue under the lid, with the entire screen surrounds and keyboard layout painted a deep brown. In bright lighting this turns a rich chocolate, whilst in a more natural light it is almost black. The keyboard, having a ‘painted’ finish, can feel quite worn at times, but it is very comfortable to use, even during extended typing periods. It is also really well put together, with none of the keys bending and no difference in feel after a real keyboard bashing.

The touchpad is lacquered in a golden bronze finish and although it feels very ’sticky’ at first, especially coming from a MacBook Pro user, it is very functional and accurate for when you are not using an external mouse.The palm rests provide decent grip and do not grow too hot over extended use. They are decorated in a similar fashion to the lid of the notebook.

Feature set

The dv2840tx Artist Edition, like its other dv2000 series stablemates, ships with Windows Vista Home Premium. HP probably should have included Vista Ultimate for the premium market that this notebookwill appeal to, if simply for Samba server integration (which alarmingly is not part of Home Premium).

HP does include some ‘bloatware’ with the notebook but we were very pleased to see that this does not clog the desktop with icons of free trials by default; all included ‘crapware’ is hidden away in the start menu and can be removed fairly easily.

Otherwise, apart from some full-version HP image editing software, the Artist Edition features a fairly vanilla Vista software set. Because it is not weighed down by unnecessary programs, the 2.4GHz processor, of the new ‘Penryn’ type from Intel can perform to its full capability.

In terms of expansion and external ports, the Artist Edition is pretty well set. Disappointingly you only get two USB ports, and they’re side by side, which can be a squeeze, but the laptop more than makes up for that lack by integrating three video out solutions – S-Video, VGA, and outstandingly – HDMI. You also get a solitary FireWire port, 100mbit Ethernet, a media card reader, 56k modem port, DVD read/write drive, and a special holder-port for the bundled Media Centre remote.

On the front edge of the notebook are three audio ports – one microphone in, but two headphone out ports. This is great, as that one time that you need to share audio with your friends, or are on a long flight, you’ll be able to plug two sets in.

Wirelessly, you can connect to the net via 802.11g spec WiFi or to peripherals via Bluetooth 2.0. Unfortunately we were not able to share any files between a MacBook Pro and the Artist Edition, but this may have been a niggly glitch with the loaner.

Performance

The Artist Edition is definitely quick, due to its 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ‘Penryn’ processor. As already stated, it really shines right out of the box, and even under very heavy pressure from two or three Adobe CS3 applications running together.

For designers who may have a Mac Pro, or possibly a strong Windows desktop at the office, the Artist Edition can and will satisfy their needs for a portable Adobe app powerhouse. Photoshop CS3 was a standout on the Artist Edition, opening quickly and processing large edits faster than a base MacBook, which was a surprise.

The dedicated 128mb NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS graphics card works pretty well for some light gaming, too. In highly intensive and immersive games it stumbled a bit but generally framerates of 25+ were achievable on most games with medium-high graphics settings.

Cold booting to the login screen took less than average lengths of time, too, usually taking around 45-60 seconds to achieve this.

Bottom line

The HP Pavilion dv2840tx Artist Edition is a great notebook. If you are an artist, or designer of some sort, than I am sure you would find this to be a reliable, fast, stylish portable powerhouse for on-the-go editing. However, if you really want the best of power and looks for your laptop, you’re still better with an Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Whilst that may be, though, if you are after a Windows laptop for below A$2000, then the Artist Edition, or its slightly more conservative ‘Thrive’ sibling, and its decent feature list, above average performance and sheer comfort when working for extended periods should appeal to you.The HP dv2840tx is too good to look over.