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Review: Reference Tracker

Until now, many assignments have left college students with a pile of books stacked upon their desks; sticky notes popping out to mark places of importance. In the twenty-first century this really shouldn’t be an issue. And now for Mac it isn’t thanks to Reference Tracker by Maklinware.

Getting Started

To start using Reference Tracker you simply open it and click on the bright green “New Reference” button. From there you get a drop down menu which allows you to select the appropriate text that you are going to reference. There are a whole host of options to choose from varying from a chapter in a book to a article in a newspaper. Of course there is a generic “Book” option if you can’t find the exact template for your needs.

Bookmarks

Below all of the information that you enter is the cited text field. So if you have some quotes that you think you will use in the essay or paper that you are writing, you can drop them in such that they are easily accessible at a moment’s notice. Sticky notes are an added bonus as well. If you have something that you need to remember but have no special place to put it, just open up a sticky and place it wherever you want it in the window.

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Schedule Your Work With Cronnix

The wonderful thing about computers and electronic gizmos is that they do mundane, repetitive tasks quickly, efficiently and with much less lip than humans. In fact, that’s all they ever do. But how to use this power?

Enter Cronnix.

Cronnix is a GUI for OS X’s crontab server. Crontab is a system-level application that runs every minute and checks whether programs or scripts are set up to run at that time. It enables you to schedule programs at any time your computer is on, and accomplish tasks that would normally be time consuming to perform manually. Work like backing up websites and cleaning up your computer is prime for automation. Cronnix makes it very easy to schedule bash scripts or even regular applications.

I’m just starting to touch the possibilities of the crontab. Currently I have two programs set to run with Cronnix: one is a nerdy, complicated method for loading my MacBook’s uptime on my blog, the other is an Applescript to record the web stream of a local radio station. Both are too complicated to share here, but if you’re interested in the uptime system, head over to my personal blog.

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Review: Remote Rocks And Rolls

With the release of the iPhone 2.0 software on July 11th, the doors have opened for many creative and useful applications to change the way we use our iPhones (or iPod touch).

First out of the gate to show how to do a revolutionary application is Apple with their iTunes control software, Remote.

Remote turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless controller for your computer. It works with v7.7 of iTunes on both Windows and OS X, and requires that iTunes be running.  However, it does not require that you share your library. I imagine using Remote while having your computer connected to a TV or speaker system, and controlling the music selection from the iPod. The system also has a “check this out” factor, as it is kind of weird changing the song from anywhere in the house.

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First Look: RapidWeaver 4

Back in 2004, Realmac software released the first version of its popular RapidWeaver web development software.  Since its initial release, it has won many awards from Mac publications all around the globe, and still continues onward with that trend.  Just a couple months ago RapidWeaver 4 hit the streets, and is already changing the way consumers create websites.  From its more professional iWeb-like templates to its ease of creating pages, RapidWeaver 4 is sure to be an instant hit for people who want a simple way to create professional looking websites.

Make a Site.

It couldn’t be any easier. You simply click file > new project, and a new project will form. Once you complete that, whenever you want to add another page, you simply click the button in the top left hand corner.  It will ask you what kind of page you want – From Blog and Photo pages, to Blank and Contact pages as well. Simple as that. You can now choose from the abundance of themes that RapidWeaver has to offer, or you can download more themes form the Realmac website. Editing your site is also very easy and straightforward. You simply hit the edit button to edit the photos and text on the current page, and if you want to see a preview of your site, just click preview to see a version of your site as it were already online.

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Start Fresh With Some Handy Apps

Let’s say you want to start fresh. Perhaps a clean-installation of OS X, or a good cleaning (and CRON jobs) of OS X’s underlying BSD sub-system. Well, here’s a list of around 15 (mostly) freeware applications that are useful to have on your system. I have also included alternatives, just in case you have something against a certain application.

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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.

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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.

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A Cover Story

Please take a moment and take a good look at CoverSutra and Cover Stream, two full-blown, all-out iTunes controllers.

CoverSutra 2.1.2: Integrates a customizable album artwork display, a floating control window, a pop-up notification system for song/album changes, and a spotlight-esque search bar into one application.

Cover Stream 2.0: A CoverFlow browsing window makes it easy to find what you want to listen to. Has a quick search feature, a resizable album art display, and a notification pop-up for song changes.

You Can’t Judge an App by It’s Cover

On an initial superficial glance, these two iTunes controllers may look like long lost brothers, seperated at coding:

They both use HUDs¹, they both display album artwork on your desktop… even the preferences icons have similarities if you look close enough.

There’s a good explanation for this: CoverSutra and Cover Stream were primarily designed by the same person: Laurent Baumann, an undeniably talented graphic designer from France.

There’s a good story to this, really there is. Something we don’t often hear in Mac software articles is the story. How was this software created? Everything has a story. It’s only on rare occasions that someone asks just what it us.

The characters in this story are Cover Stream developer Fabian Kowalski and CoverSutra developer Sophia Teutschler, as well as Laurent Baumann. I contacted each of them for their insights, and, of course, for their story.

(In fact, my contact with Laurent inspired his personal blog post on this subject, which is very similar to what he corresponded to me. I will link to it later².)

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Spaces

When the first details of Leopard sprung onto the scene at WWDC 2006, Spaces was something which caught the eye for a second, and immediately disappeared from my mind. Even over the past few weeks when the official feature list was posted on Apple’s website and Spaces was featured as one of the main components to the operating system, I still glanced over it – thinking it wouldn’t change the way I worked.

Boy, was I wrong. At this point in my continued exploration of Leopard, Spaces is by far one of the most convenient Leopard feature.

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