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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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.

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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.

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Spec Smackdown: Nikon D60 vs. Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Nikon D60 camera

Nikon D60

Canon EOS Rebel XSi camera

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.

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Simon Says

Dejal Simon application logo and screenshot

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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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.

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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 logo

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 screenshot

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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Customize Your Leopard Dock For Free With Dock Library

Ever since Mac OSX Leopard was introduced customizing the dock has become a popular tweak to the operating system. At first the only way of customizing the dock was by transplanting the files yourself, or using an automator action. And if you don’t know what you are doing; things could go wrong.

Panic’s Candybar also has a way of allowing you to change the dock design (and do lots of other UI changes) – but it does, of course, cost in the region of $30, It’s a fair amount of money, there must be a free option if all you want to do is change your dock?

Enter, Dock Library, an easy way to customize your dock with ease, all within a clean GUI interface. Editing your dock with Dock Library couldn’t be easier. Dock Library also comes with a few popular docks for you to try out when you download the app; but if you want to find more, all you have to do is go to a website, such as LeopardDocks.com, choose the dock, you want to try out, download them. and open up Dock Library.

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The Canon 135L

Canon 135L f/2 lens

I’ve had the Canon 135 f/2 L series lens in my possession for over two months now, and it has completely exceeded initial expectation - now sitting in the line as my favorite lens, ahead of the marvelous Canon 24-70 f/2.8L.

Sharp wide open at f/2, super fast autofocus, a beautiful smooth depth of field at low aperture settings, and a perfect focal length for long range landscape/short range sports are a few of the areas where this lens really shines.

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The 50mm Prime

Long have I been a subscriber to the theory that those new to the digital single lens reflex arena should start their lens collection with one, relatively inexpensive piece of glass, the f/1.8 variation of the 50mm prime, in either a Canon or Nikon mount, depending on the users choice of camera brand.

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 prime lens

50mm f/1.8

As a Canon user there are two different relatively affordable variations of the standard 50mm prime lens. An f/1.8 and f/1.4 version. The f/1.8 variation is the lightest and the cheapest ($79 USD) of all three, it’s the perfect piece of glass to introduce an individual to primes lenses. I’ve owned this lens in the past and thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of inability to zoom. Owning the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 forced me to use my eye to its full creative ability.

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 prime lens

50mm f/1.4

Second in the line is the slightly heavier, and relatively more expensive ($329 USD) f/1.4 version of the 50mm lens. Advantages of this lens include a far more superior build quality, faster focusing, full time manual focus ability, and a larger aperture opening. I now own this Canon 50mm lens due to its advantages over its cheaper counterpart.

Also available is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. This is the only 50mm prime lens in Canon’s line which features the “L” tag, as a luxury series lens. It features the most superior build quality of all Canon 50mm primes, and is one of two lenses in the Canon EF mount lineup which will open to f/1.2 (the other being the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM) - allowing in a significant amount of light.

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