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Archive for September, 2015

by Tom Nelson

OS X El Capitan, the latest version of OS X as of the summer of 2015, is available from the Mac App Store as a free download. Like previous versions of OS X, El Capitan has the annoying habit of automatically starting the installation process once the download is complete.

ElCapitanDesktop1

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

This would be fine if all you wanted to do was quickly install El Capitan as an upgrade install over your existing version of OS X.

But even if this is your goal, it’s not too likely that you’re actually ready to start the install process. After all, there’s quite a bit of housekeeping to be done before you commit to installing OS X El Capitan: that includes having a recent backup of your data, and making a bootable OS X El Capitan installer on a USB flash drive.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

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by Tom Nelson

Feel the need for speed? Since its early days, OS X has supported multiple RAID types using appleRAID, software that Apple created. appleRAID is actually part of diskutil, the command line tool used for formattingpartitioning, and repairing  storage devices on a Mac.

Up until OS X El Capitan, RAID support was built into the Disk Utility app, which allowed you to create and manage your RAID arrays using a standard Mac app that was easy to use.

For some reason, Apple dropped the RAID support in the El Capitan version of the Disk Utility app, but kept appleRAID available for those willing to use Terminal and the command line.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Don’t you hate having your every move around the web tracked by web sites, ad agencies, and online stores? I really am tired of visiting a manufacturer’s web site to gather information about a product, and then afterwards seeing ads for that product everywhere I go on the web.

PrivacyBadger

Image courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Federation

Enough is enough; it’s time to sic a badger on them. In this case, Privacy Badger, a browser plugin that detects and blocks tracking cookies, the predominant method for advertisers to know where you are, and to serve up related ads from sites you have visited.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

RAID 0 is one of the many RAID levels supported directly by OS X and the Mac. RAID 0 (striped) splits data equally among two or more disks that make up the striped RAID set. A striped RAID array is primarily used to increase the performance of a Mac’s storage system.

DiskUtilityRAID0

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Ever since OS X Panther, the Mac has supported multiple RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) types, including the ability to boot from the various RAID types.

Boot ability isn’t a factor of the RAID array, but of what interface type is being used to connect the array to a Mac.

Modern Macs can make very effective use of RAID arrays connected to them using USB 3 or Thunderbolt interfaces. If your Mac supports multiple internal drives, they, too, can be configured into a bootable RAID system.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The Finder has a lot of interesting tricks designed to make you more productive. Some of these tricks, such as one described here (zooming into an image preview), are specific to certain Finder views, as well as the pointing hardware you’re using.

ColumnViewPreviewZoom

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Finder Column Display

When you have the Finder view set to column display, the last column in a Finder window displays a preview of a selected file. When that file is an image file, you will see a thumbnail of the image.

Text files show up as thumbnails of the actual text document, complete with the ability to scroll through the text. PDFs also show up as a thumbnail, complete with arrow keys to turn to a different page in the PDF.

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by Tom Nelson

With the introduction of OS X El Capitan, Apple brought a few new features to Safari, including the ability to mute audio from those annoying auto-start ads and site videos.

SafariMuteMenu

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Of course, the ability to mute sound in a tab is nothing new; Chrome has had this functionality in one form or another for quite a while. Apple’s implementation is a bit more straightforward; it doesn’t require you to find a GUI setting and turn the feature on; instead, the mutable tab feature is on by default.

All that’s required for the tab muting function to work is to have a web page that auto-starts audio when you open the page in a tab in the Safari browser.

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by Tom Nelson

Question: I inserted a CD into my Mac, and now I can’t figure out how to eject it. Where is the eject button?

Answer: It’s been a while since Apple has offered Macs with built-in optical drives that could make use of a CD or DVD. The last models were the 2012 Mac Pro, which could actually accommodate multiple optical drives, and the mid-year 2012 non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple first removed the optical drive in the 2008 MacBook Air, but as of the end of 2013, when the Mac Pro was replaced with the newer model, all optical drives are gone from the Mac lineup, at least as built-in options. But that doesn’t mean there’s no demand for optical drives, or the CDs or DVDs that are used in them. That’s why external optical drives have been a popular peripheral for many Mac users.

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by Tom Nelson

Facebook has a built-in chat system that allows you to keep in contact with your confirmed Facebook friends. The only problem with this chat system is that you need to keep your Facebook web page, or at least your browser, open if you use the Facebook Chat pop-out window.

There’s a better way. Facebook uses Jabber as its messaging server, and both iChat and Messages can communicate with Jabber-based messaging systems.

MessagesFacebook

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

All you need to do is create an iChat or Messages account specifically for use with Facebook. Once you have either messaging system set up with a Facebook account, you can contact all your Facebook friends with the messaging system you’re most familiar with using.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

As we head into fall, the refurb store seems to have a more consistent stock of Mac minis and Retina iMacs, but the larger MacBook Pro continues to be a no-show. There also seems to be a large number of 2013 Mac Pro models available, if you’re looking for a dual-graphics processor workhorse.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Once again a Mac mini makes our deals list. This model has a middle-of-the-road configuration that makes it a good candidate for those of you looking for a small desktop Mac.

Our second deal is one of my favorites, the 27-inch Retina iMac; this time it’s powered by a Quad-Core i7 running at 4.0 GHz. This is the fastest Retina iMac available; it even gets the highest scores in some benchmarking tests against any current Mac model.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

As you may have suspected from the title, there are two Midnight Mansion HD episodes. While I recommend both, we’re going to start with Episode 1; if you find it a fun diversion, Episode 2 is more of the same.

MidnightMansion

Image courtesy of ActionSoft

Midnight Mansion is a classic platform game that allows you to explore five different spooky mansions in the guise of Jack Malone, an intrepid explorer who has nerves of steel (unlike you and me), and is sure that he’ll find the secrets of each mansion, along with the rumored treasure.

Read more on About: Macs.

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