Finally I Have an iPhone!

By Pete | @kingpetey | 17 Jul 2008

It's been a year in the coming but finally I have an iPhone. I managed to find one at a reasonable price and have unlocked it to use T-Mobile (so I don't need a new contract with O2).

I've been wary of smart phones since I had bad experiences with the MDA Vario, it wasn't that it was a bad phone hardware wise, it was the laggy software that let it down. I recently had the chance to play with a HTC Diamond whilst setting it up for a client, it has the stylish looks but again the Windows Mobile software let it down. The lag was still there when you tapped the screen (often twice or three times) and having to use the pen every time you wanted to use the phone was another annoyance.

Fortunately the iPhone makes up from where the other smart phones are let down. The phone itself looks great with a big scratch resistant screen. The software works well and when you press a button (with your finger) it works instantly.

Unlocking was very easy, much easier than with a Nokia or Sony Ericsson, you just download an application called ZiPhone and click 'Do it all', this upgrades/downgrades the firmware, activates and unlocks the phone.

It also installs Jailbreak which allows you to install third party applications and games. I installed a useful one that automatically uploads pictures to Flickr when you take them on the camera.I was expecting it to be slow to type on the iPhone but the speed is very similar to other phones.

If you can pick up a second hand iPhone then I would recommend unlocking it as its so easy to do!

Here are some of my top tips for additional OS X functions, most have come from my experience at home and work.

1. Plugging in a TV or Second Monitor

Most Mac models come with an external connector for attaching additional screens (normally a mini DVI connector). From this you need a mini DVI to DVI connector then another cable to plug into your screen, this can be a DVI to VGA cable, DVI to DVI cable or as I have a DVI to HDMI cable. All the cables are very cheap and can normally be picked up from Ebay.

OS X should automatically detect the second screen plugged in and you can open system preferences to adjust the resolution. You may have to play around with the settings, my 26" LG HD TV looks best on 1280 x 720 rather than its native resolution.

Second Monitor

I've had my iMac plugged into my TV for the past 6 months and people still think its cool how I can move my mouse from one screen to another.

2. Sharing your Internet over Wireless.

While I was at University our local cable supplier didn't give out free wireless routers so to save buying one I shared the Internet out through my iMac's wireless. In Leopard the Internet can be shared from the Sharing section in System Preferences.

Sharing over Airport

3. Bluetooth Internet Through Your Phone

It usually takes ISP's about two weeks to put ADSL on a phone line. Clearly I couldn't be without Internet for two weeks so I turned to my mobile phones provider (T-Mobile) to hook me up to the net. Now that 3G signal is well established (and I have a 3G phone) I got speeds of around 3mb for

***Unfortunately the remainder of this article has become corrupt and lost :(***

It's been quiet here at ImAFish for the last week because we have been working on our latest project:

www.ipodhistory.com

iPod History has pictures and details on every single iPod including size, battery life, compatibility and launch date.

The site is a great place to find out what others have to say about iPod models they have owned and to put across your views. It's still early days for the site so all comments are appreciated.

We have tried to make the site as informative as possible but are open to suggestions. If you like the site then please stumble it or add it to your blog!

For more check out www.ipodhistory.com

Shrewsbury, UK - Pete White and world famous ImAFish have today launched three new niche environmental blogs to help people keep updated with news in their respective areas.

www.reachnews.info tracks industry trends and news for REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances).

www.rohsnews.info brings up-to-date news regarding ROHS (the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment).

www.weeenews.info covers a range of stories in and around WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)

ImAFish takes the issue of the environment very seriously and helps where possible to spread environmentally friendly messages.

How to make a Sawed-off USB Key

By extra | | 18 Apr 2008

Holy crap-- somebody just went and TORE MY FREAKING USB CABLE IN HALF while it was still attached to my laptop!!! (No-- wait-- sorry. That's just my USB drive.)

read more | digg story

Brickarms can help you build your private army with everything you need, from the superadvanced Colonial Marines' Xeno Pulse Rifles to NATO's G36 Assault Rifles to vintage German Rocket Propeller Grenade launchers and even PPK pistols with Brausch silencers. It your private army is a bunch of LEGO minifigs, that is. Interview with the "arms dealer".

read more | digg story

OS X Leopard

By Pete | @kingpetey | 30 Oct 2007

My iMac has been in repair for the past week and has been given a clean bill of health ready for me to sell it. On Friday OS X 10.5 Leopard was released after two and a half years since Tiger arrived. I brought my last iMac shortly after the release of Tiger so it seems fitting that I finally upgrade to an Intel Mac. The Ars Technica review of Leopard is the most in depth I've read and highlights a lot of interesting areas with the new OS. If you want to know many of the under lying technical changes to OS X as well as the more graphic changes then its well worth a read.

There are a lot of new features in Leopard but a few stand out with Time Machine looking to be one of the best. I currently use Super Duper for my daily backup but it only takes a snapshot of my drive rather than backing up file changes. Spaces are also a welcome improvement and after using multiple desktops on Ubuntu I can imagine they will just as useful in OS X. The updated look in Leopard also looks exciting though I wont be convinced about the space theme until using it for a bit. I hope to have a new iMac within the coming weeks and if I can find anything that hasn't already been covered elsewhere on-line I will post it on here!

Our recent article - 21 Ways To Develop Cancer has caused quite a stir with a number of sceptics and people with first hand experience with electro magnetic radiation (EMR). A number of comments suggested we talk about how to avoid EMR where possible. Certain people are more sensitive to EMR than others, in a similar sort of way to how pollen effects only certain people. The effects of EMR can be as simple as headaches to life threatening cancer. It is impossible to cut out EMR from our daily lives however we can minimise our exposure to it, with the help from Safe Living Technologies and the guest writer of the previous article - Martin Weatherall I have compiled this list of advice to minimise exposure.

  1. Avoid living near a mobile phone masts or radio/TV transmitters.
  2. Avoid using cordless phones, especially DECT phones as these transmit radiation even when not in use.
  3. Avoid using wireless baby monitors or wireless security systems, where possible hard wire them in.
  4. Where possible do not use wireless routers - use CAT5 cable.
  5. Where possible use your mobile phone on hands free but without a Bluetooth headset. Aviod using a mobile phone in your car without an external antenna as the radio waves will be reflected back at you from the metal chassis. If your phone has poor signal in the car an external antenna should improve your call quality too.
  6. Only use a mobile phone or cordless phone for emergency calls only, use a corded phone for all regular conversations. Avoid using a mobile phone if pregnant and do not allow a child under 16 to use a mobile phone at all.
  7. Try not to keep your mobile phone in the same pocket all the time, if possible keep it away from the body in a bag or on a desk. Otherwise rotate it around the body.
  8. Avoid using the Microwave, it doesn't do anything good for your food anyway and will flood adjacent rooms with radiation.
  9. Minimise the number of electronic devices around your bed, this can include lights, alarm clocks, telephones, extension cords and electric blankets. Battery operated devices such as an alarm clock are good replacements.
  10. Make sure you don't sleep near your fuse box or distribution box.
  11. Avoid living near or under high voltage power lines. The same goes for electric sub-stations and transformers.
  12. Avoid all unnecessary exposure to x-rays and CT scans.
  13. Drive cars that have low electro magnetic fields.
  14. Make sure electronic devices are grounded (this is not such a problem in the UK as we have three pronged plugs unlike the rest of Europe and America).
  15. Avoid using a dimmer switch in the house as these emit high magnetic fields and cause dirty electricity.

This article from Safe Living Technologies provides a lot more detail about how to cut down your exposure to EMR.

52 Ways to Speed Up OS X

By Pete | @kingpetey | 13 May 2007

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After Apple recently announced a delay to OS X 10.5 Leopard I had to delay my iMac upgrade until the Autumn. This led me to thinking about how to speed up Tiger to get the most out of my ageing G5. This is what I came up with:

General System

1. Repair Disk Permissions Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Select your Macintosh HD and select Verify Disk Permissions. If needed you can then Repair Disk Permissions.

2. Clear out login items Its good to check that unwanted programs are not starting up when you login to your Mac. This can be done from System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items.

3. Clear out unwanted applications Go through your applications folder and see if you can save yourself some disk space by removing any applications you no longer use.

4. Clear out unused system preferences Check in your system preferences if there are any unused system preferences tabs that can be removed. If you do find something you don't use you can either disable it within its menu or remove it from '~/Library/PreferencePanes'. You may have to reboot or do a force empty trash (see #38).

5. Clear Desktop Its been reported numerous times that having a clear desktop can increase the speed of your Mac. So either put your junk in folders or delete it!

6. Empty Trash (if it wont empty see #38) I'm always amazed when I'm looking on someone's Mac and they haven't ever emptied the trash! Check what's in there then save yourself some space and empty it.

7. Turn off Universal Access (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Universal Access and turn off anything you're not using.

8. Turn off Bluetooth (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Bluetooth.

9. Turn off speech recognition (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Speech Recognition.

10. Turn off internet sharing (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet

11. Check there is plenty of disk space on the boot drive. Your Mac uses some of your hard drive space as virtual memory when there is not enough actual memory available. Its good to always keep 10% of your hard drive free for such activity.

12. Remove Unwanted Language Packs OS X contains hundreds of languages that you most likely wont use. Monolingual is a free program that can root out these languages and remove them saving you some extra disk space.

*Edit: Warning people have experienced problems with Monolingual so becareful what you remove. Only a reinstall will put the languages back so decide weather you really need the extra space by removing them.

13. Remove any desktop changing programs Until recently I had a nice program that would put a different babe on my desktop each month. It looked great but once I started looking in activity monitor it was taking up lots of memory and processor time.

14. Check dock for unwanted apps. Your dock should only contain your most used applications so take a look through to see if there is anything you can remove or uninstall.

15. Choose suitable applications for files Be sensible when choosing what applications open by default - think do you really need Photoshop to open just to view an image when preview will work fine? Right click on a file then select Get Info.

16. Check Software Build If you have an Intel Mac then check the build of the software is universal - it might be that the application is still running through Rosetta and that a universal update is available.

Eye Candy

17. Remove dock animation Navigate to System Preferences > Dock then un-tick Animate Opening Applications.

18. Avoid animated desktops Navigate to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver then un-tick Change picture.

Dashboard

19. Remove unused widgets. Each widget takes some memory and processor power even when you're not using the dashboard so only enable the ones you use. Alternatively you can disable the dashboard - see #23.

20. Check to see how much processing power and memory each widget uses. Some widgets are more intensive than others, if there is one that is particularly demanding see if there is one with similar functionality on the Apple website. To do this run Activity Monitor - Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.

As you can see the widgets I have running are all using an acceptable amount of Real Memory.

Tinkertool Tinkertool is a utility that gives you access to additional settings within OS X.

21. Remove animation effects. The animation effects are the eye candy that make OS X look nice but they are not really needed, you can turn them off from the Finder pane within Tinkertool.

Tinker Tool Finder

22. Disable Dock shadow. From the Dock pane un-tick Enable Dock shadow.

23. Disable Dashboard. If you don't use the Dashboard you can deactivate it from the General pane.

24. Skip checksum verifications when opening DMG files. This will speed up the loading of disk images when opening. This can be found in the Applications pane.

Tinker Tool Applications

25. Remove or deactivate unwanted login items from the Login Items pane. You might already have done this in #2.

26. Reduce delay time for display of loading pages in Safari. This should speed up your web browsing experience, found within the Safari Pane.

OnyX OynX is similar to Tinkertool however has many more options and preferences.You may have already done some of these in previous tips. Parameters

Onyx

27. Un-tick Graphic Effects (Finder tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #21.

28. Un-tick Animate 'Opening applications' and 'When alert in background' (Dock tab).

29. Disable Dashboard (Dashboard and Expose tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #23.

30. Set Safari speed of web page display to fast (Safari Tab). You may already have done this in #26. Maintenance

31. Repair Disk Permissions. You may already have done this in #1.

32. Run Maintenance Scripts.

33. Reset Spotlight Index (it may take over a day to rebuild the index afterwards).

34. Run complete system optimization. Cleaning

Oynx

35. Clear Internet Settings.

36. Clear User and Font Caches.

37. Clear unused logs.

38. Force Empty Trash Automation

39. Check settings - The default settings should be fine here. Click Execute.

Safari

You can do some of the following by resetting Safari - click Safari > Reset Safari. *Edit: Resetting Safari does not clear Favicons.

40. Clear Cache. To speed up page loading Safari saves a copy of every page in its cache however if the cache gets too large it can actually slow down page loading so its best to empty it occasionally. To do so click Safari > Empty Cache.

41. Clear History. Safari can remember every single site you have visited which can have a negative effect on its performance. You can empty it be selecting History > Clear History.

42. Clear AutoFill. AutoFill is the data is saved in forms such as your username and password on websites. As with the cache and history the AutoFill can mount up over time. To empty select Safari > Preferences then select the AutoFill tab. From here you can go through the three AutoFill sections and clear out data that you no longer want stored.

AutoFill in Safari

43. Clear Favicons. Favicons are the little icons you see to the left of the URL in the address bar. These can be cleared by emptying user folder/Library/Safari/Icons.

Firefox

44. If you use Firefox then you can get specially optimized versions of the browser based on your processor architecture - either G4, G5 or intel.

45. Extensions Firefox has some great extensions but they can slow down the browser so take a serious look to see weather you really need that extra toolbar!

iTunes

46. Smart Playlists These can slow down the operation of iTunes as they reload the contents of the list every time the program loads. If you have a a smart play list that does not change very often then you can either deactivate live updating (by clicking file > edit smart play list) or copy of the contents of the smart play list in to a regular play list.

Other

47. HP Printer drivers can often cause problems and use a lot of processor power so check in the activity monitor for HP Communicator, if it seems to be constantly running at 80% - 100% then try uninstalling it. I had problems on my Mac Mini for my HP PSC 1110 all in one with the HP software on OS X 10.3 maxing out the CPU after printing. I had to remove the software and just use the basic drivers rather than the full suite.

48. Check Classic is not running if not being used. Classic can be disabled from within System Preference. Classic

49. Run Software Update. The latest updates sometimes provide speed increases as well as fix bugs and vulnerabilities.

50. Update other applications. It's always best to run the latest versions of your programs. Websites such as Mac Update and Version Tracker are good places to keep your applications up to date.

51. Add More RAM. There is only so much you can do with software, the cheapest way to give you're Mac a speed boost is to upgrade the memory.

52. Reboot your Mac. After doing all this optimization it might be an idea to reboot your Mac. If your like me and use sleep mode for the majority of the time then a reboot once in a while often helps too!

Update: Interested in seeing how many hits this article has got and how to do it for your blog then read here?

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