Sunday, March 30, 2014

DVD or Blu-ray Slideshow from iPhoto

Ok, so you’ve got a Mac and you want to make a DVD slideshow.  You’d think since Macs are so video oriented this would be easy.  The truth is as Apple has migrated away from DVDs (and optical media in general) this has actually become more difficult.  You cannot even purchase iDVD anymore which was a good way to make a slideshow.

In this blog post I tell you how to create a slideshow that can easily be played in a DVD player using only your Mac.  Unfortunately my method does require that you own a copy of Toast.  It doesn’t have to be the latest version but it is needed to encode the video for DVD (or Blu-ray) and of course you need a DVD (or Blu-ray) burner to actually write the optical media.  Alternately you can use the free Burn application found here although it doesn’t support Blu-ray.

First setup the slideshow

Select the photos or album (or an Event, a Faces or Places group, or a project such as a book, card, or calendar) you want to add to your slideshow.  Note that you can manually order the photos in an album or sort them by different criteria and the slideshow will show them in that order.

You can see in this screeenshot I have created an album entitled LOL Cats and placed some images in it.

Now that you are viewing the album you want to make a slideshow of go to File->New Slideshow.

Now you’ve created a slideshow with your images.  There are several settings we want to tweak, however, to optimize our slideshow for a DVD.

First, let’s choose our Theme which will have some default settings that we will then change.  Click the Themes icon in the lower right of the screen.  The Theme selector should appear.  By default Ken Burns is usually selected.  

This is a nice slow pan and zoom effect for each slide, however, usually when dealing with slideshows you want to put on a DVD you will find that when the images are stylistically zoomed in it crops your pictures too much, often leaving the heads off from pictures of people, for example, and zooming towards their feet.  So instead we will choose Classic as our theme.

In this example I am not going to use music but you can always specify a soundtrack if you want to. One is usually selected by default so let’s turn that off by clicking the Music icon in the lower right corner of the screen.  When the window appears, deselect the Play music during slideshow.  Then to save that setting make sure to click the poorly named “Choose” button even though we didn’t really choose a song to play.

Now we want to fine tune the settings that are defaults for the Classic theme.  Click the Settings icon in the lower right side of the screen.  Now you should see the Settings window.  Note that there are two tabs at the top, “All Slides” and “This Slide.”  We want our changes to apply to All Slides so make sure that tab is selected.  

The first thing we will do is change the slideshow time to 5 seconds which is more reasonable for a DVD.  You may even want to go longer depending on your audience and subject matter.

I personally like the Dissolve transition so I am going to enable it here and keep the speed at the default.

By default it creates a Title Slide as the first slide and displays the name of the Album.  You can edit the text on the title slide but in this case I’d rather not have one so I’m going to uncheck that.

Repeat slideshow doesn’t make sense here as we will be putting it onto a DVD.  If we want it to repeat their we will have to set that in the DVD burning software, so I’ll uncheck it here.

You do not want to select Scale photos to fill screen as it will zoom the photos so there are no black bars around them but that means the sides or top and bottom will usually be cropped which in almost all cases is undesirable.

Lastly it’s very important to choose the correct aspect ratio.  Since this is going to be a DVD chances are you will be playing it on a newer 16:9 (widescreen) HDTV.  Unless you know you will be playing on the older style 4:3 TV or projector, you should choose 16:9 here. If you choose 4:3 and you play it back on a 16:9 it will either have black bars on the sides, or the images will be stretched and distorted to fill the sides of the screen.

NOTE:  There appears to be a bug in iPhoto 9.5 where it will not offer you the 16:9 setting unless you currently have a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor plugged into your computer.  I’ve submitted this as a bug to Apple and am awaiting a response.  This tutorial worked because I was using a 16:9 (1920x1080) format display at the time.

At this point you can click the Play button at the bottom center of the screen and view your slideshow.  If it displays the way you like it, it’s time to export it.

Click the Export button at the bottom center of the screen.  You only have three options for the resolution of the final movie.  We are going to choose the 1080p highest resolution (especially if you will be making a Blu-ray) although the 720p resolution would be fine for a regular DVD.  I also deselected Automatically send slideshow to iTunes since we don’t want it there as we are going to burn it to a DVD.

NOTE:  Depending on the size of your images it may give you a warning that your slideshow will be some ridiculously large size.  You can ignore that warning as it seems to be a bug in iPhoto.  The final file will be a reasonable size (usually less than 4GB.)

Choose where you want to save the exported movie file and click OK.  

Now it will start creating a movie based on your slideshow.  Depending on the size of your images and the number of images you have in your slideshow (and the speed of your computer) this can take several hours.

Now you should have a video file with a .m4v (or .mp4) extension that we can use Toast to convert to a video DVD.

Launch Toast.  Select the Video Tab.

Drag and drop our movie file into the large open area in the Toast window.  

In the lower left portion of the screen we can adjust options.  Click the More button to get to all of the options.

There are three options tabs on this dialog.  Click Disc.

In this slideshow we do not want to show a menu, we want the disk to auto play, and we want it to repeat.  So select “Auto-play disc on insert” and “Play all items continuously.”  Also go ahead and name the disc.

Now click the Menus tab.

Since we are not showing menus we can simply deselect all the checkboxes here and ignore the other settings.

Lastly click the Encoding tab.

In general you can use the Automatic settings but I would drag the Video Quality selector to Best.  That will slow down the encoding process but give you the best looking video.

Click OK.  At this point we are ready to burn our DVD.  Insert a blank DVD and click the big red Burn button in the lower right of the window.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Comparing T-Mobiles new pricing on iPhones

Ok so T-Mobile has added a new pricing structure that removes the subsidized cost of a phone.  This doesn't necessarily stop you from paying for a new phone over a two year period but it breaks out the cost of the phone from the plan cost which gives you more information on what you are paying which is still an improvement over competitors who hide the price of the phone in the plan.  And if you, for example, choose not to upgrade your phone, you know your plan costs at non-T-Mobile providers still include a monthly subsidy for a new phone.

The question quickly becomes, for someone like me, that has multiple phones on a single Family Share plan at AT&T, will this new type of plan save me money?

Here we go.

Let’s look at a scenario that actually mimics my current phone plan:

Let's assume you have two smartphones like an iPhone and one basic phone that has no data or texting.

On AT&T currently you would pay monthly:
$69.99 for 700 shared minutes with rollover minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 3GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 3GB of data for your second phone.
$9.99 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $169.98 and remember AT&T does not include a hotspot feature with the $30 a month data plan. 

On T-Mobile currently this same setup would look like this:
$50 for the first line.
$30 for the second line.
$10 for the third line.
Apparently this includes 500MB of data for each phone and no hotspot capability.
Let's add Unlimited data at $20 per line which also adds hotspot capability.
$20 for unlimited data on the first phone
$20 for unlimited data on the second phone.

That’s a monthly cost of $130.00.  $39.98 per month less than AT&T but with unlimited data and hotspot capability.

Now let's add the cost of a phone.

On AT&T's a new iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage has an initial upfront cost of $399.  If you divide that $399 over 2 years, that's $16.63 per month.

On T-Mobile, a new iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage is $349.99 + $20 per month over 2 years, which comes out to $34.58 per month if you divide the initial cost and monthly payment over 2 years.  

So to compare monthly costs, let's take that $16.63 per month for our iPhone at AT&T, and add to that the extra $39.98 per month that AT&T's plan costs then subtract the monthly payments and initial cost of $349.99 for our iPhone on T-Mobile at 34.58 and you appear to save $22.03 per month on T-Mobile's plan.

That's if you buy 1 iPhone.  But we said we needed two.  So let's double the numbers.
AT&T Initial cost:  $798/24 = $33.25 
T-Mobile Initial cost:  $699.98/24 = $29.17

Add in AT&T's $39.98 plan difference so AT&T is $73.23 per month
Add in T-Mobile's $20 per month payments X 2 phones = $69.17

And now T-Mobile is only $4.06 per month lower, although with unlimited data and hotspot.

So what does that mean?
It means if you don't upgrade your phones every 2 years to the latest models, you can save as much as $39.98 per month with T-Mobile.  However, if you have two smartphones, and upgrade them every time you become eligible for an upgrade you actually save only $4.06 per month.

Also that 3rd phone in our hypothetical example was a feature (non-smart) phone.  Looks like you can get a Samsung t159 for $3 a month at T-Mobile.  On AT&T I used an old Razor so it didn't cost me anything for the phone.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft.Data.Entity.Design.BootstrapPackage.BootstrapPackage

Upon opening some solutions in my latest VS 2010 SP1 installation I would see an error dialog stating that:

The 'Microsoft.Data.Entity.Design.BootstrapPackage.BootstrapPackage, Microsoft.Data.Entity.Design.BootstrapPackage, Version=' package did not load correctly.

I was able to solve the issue by running the following from command line:

reg delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\AutoLoadPackages\{adfc4e66-0397-11d1-9f4e-00a0c911004f} /v {7A4E8D96-5D5B-4415-9FAB-D6DCC56F47FB} /f 

reg delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\AutoLoadPackages\{93694fa0-0397-11d1-9f4e-00a0c911004f} /v {7A4E8D96-5D5B-4415-9FAB-D6DCC56F47FB} /f 

reg delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\VisualStudio\10.0\Packages\{7A4E8D96-5D5B-4415-9FAB-D6DCC56F47FB} /va /f

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Parrot Bluetooth MKi Series Remote Control Functions

Did Parrot create the most complicated automotive Bluetooth system remote control on the market today?

I made the following diagram to show the functions of the remote.  Now you be the judge:

Technically (if you consider the up and down actions of the jog shuttle knob to be equivalent to separate + and - buttons) this is an 8 button remote control.  Many buttons also have a secondary function if you hold them down for 2 seconds as opposed to simply pressing and releasing them (for example, pressing and holding down the jog knob toggles the dim night mode on the display.)

Would you like a PDF with this graphic in higher resolution so you can learn to use your remote? I created one here for you to download.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Flatten a Folder Structure in AppleScript

Introduction (i.e. The Problem)
You can skip this introduction if you already understand the problem and are trying to solve the same issue.  Just start at Describing the Solution.

Ok, so recently I was given a large archive of files.  These were old automated backups that I had nothing to do with in the past.  They were stored in individual directories.  The directories each had a name that indicated the date the backup was run.  Inside the directories were one or more files that indicated a time that the backup was started.  It looked a bit like this:

The above is much smaller than the actual directory but it gives you an idea.  There was a single top folder called "archive" that contained all the subdirectories (or folders.)  Each subdirectory had a date as the name in Year-Month-Day (yyyy-MM-dd) format separated by hyphens.  Under each directory was one or more files.  The files had names that indicated when their particular backup started in Hour-Minute-Second (HH-mm-ss) format separated by hyphens.

Now I had to run a batch application on every .bkp file to create a summary of each change for audit purposes.  This application could take an entire directory of .bkp files and generate the needed report.  It had one shortcoming though, it could take a single directory as its input and would look for every .bkp file but it was not recursive.  Meaning it would not check subdirectories.  That means I could manually point it to each "date" directory such as "02-03-2010" but not to the top level "archive" directory.  As there were over 500 "date" directories I really didn't want to have to do that manually.

Describing the Solution
What I needed was a way to move every .bkp file stored under a date directory up one level so the files were under the top level "archive" directory.  Then I could just point the batch application to the "archive" directory and it would run though every file.

However, in moving the files that only had the time as their name such as "11-00-00" out of its sub directory I would lose what date it was created on.  I'd rather not lose that information.

Even worse you can see several .bkp files have the same name so they could not all be moved into the top level directory without name conflicts.

What I needed was to prepend the subdirectory name such as "02-03-2010" to the .bkp filename so the filename was actually "02-03-2010_11-00-00.bkp" (in this case I used an underscore "_" character as a separator between the folder and the file name.)  Then I could move the file up to the top level directory and not worry about name conflicts or files being overwritten.

Searching the Web for a Solution
Since I'm on a Mac this seemed like a perfect job for AppleScript.  As a good engineer never reinvents the wheel I figured I'm not the first person to run into this problem so I could probably find a solution out there and just reuse it.

I found this first:  Flatten folder structure via AppleScript | Macworld
This script basically worked but it didn't solve the problem of duplicate named files being moved into the same directory.  I needed something a bit more advanced.

I also found this:  Mac OS X Hints
But that didn't seem to work and still didn't address the naming issues.

Unfortunately I didn't find any workable solutions.

Creating Our Own Solution
Ok, so here's the solution.  Looking at some of the code for the two links I listed above I wrote the following script.

-- Select the folder in the front most window that you want to flatten before running
-- this script deletes the folders it flattens so it can destroy data!
(* Behavior…

Select Folder_Top in the front most Finder window, then run script…

-Folder_Top (type: folder)
--A   (type: folder)
---1  (type: file)
---2  (type: file)
--B   (type: folder)
---1  (type: file)
---2  (type: file)

-Folder_Top (type: folder)
--A_1  (type: file)
--A_2  (type: file)
--B_1  (type: file)
--B_2  (type: file)


tell application "Finder"
set this_folder to (selection as alias)
set this_folder_list to every folder of this_folder
repeat with i in this_folder_list
set this_file_list to every file of i
repeat with x in this_file_list
set theFile to (name of x)
set theFolderName to name of container of x
set name of x to theFolderName & "_" & theFile -- change "_" to whatever seperater string you want.
end repeat
set this_file_list_with_new_name to every file of i
move this_file_list_with_new_name to this_folder
-- delete i  (* uncomment this line to delete the subdirectories when done*)
end repeat
end tell

You should be able to copy and past this into the AppleScript Editor.  Then go into the Finder and select your top level folder.  Go back to the Script Editor and click Run.  If you trust the script uncomment the delete line and it will remove the empty subdirectories when it is done moving the files.  Good luck!

I've received a couple of emails that this can be useful in preparing to batch process videos with Handbrake if you don't want to use the Handbrake CLI (Command Line Interface.)  I added a mention here so if anyone searches specifically on Handbrake folders in Mac OS X they will find this entry.

I was not able to figure out how to do this using the more simple Automator in Mac OS X.  I realize you can use Automator to call an AppleScript but that defeats the point here.  If anyone can implement this logic using Automator I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Comparing Verizon shared data pricing

Ok so Verizon has announced its shared data pricing.  On June 28, 2012 you will now be able to share a data plan across multiple phones much like you already can share text messages or voice minutes (think like a “Family Share” plan.)

The question quickly becomes, for someone like me, that does have multiple phones on a single Family Share plan, will sharing the cost of data instead of paying for data on each phone save me money?

Here we go.

Let’s assume you have two smart phones (like an iPhone or an Android.)

On AT&T currently you would pay monthly:
$69.99 for 700 shared minutes with rollover minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 3GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 3GB of data for your second phone.

That’s a monthly cost of $159.99 and remember AT&T does not include a hotspot feature with the $30 a month data plan. 

On Verizon currently (without shared data) this same setup would look like this:
$69.98 for 700 shared minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 2GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 2GB of data for your second phone.

That’s a monthly cost of $159.98.  1¢ less than AT&T but 1GB less of data for each phone. Like AT&T, Verizon does not include a hotspot feature with the $30 a month data plan. 

Now let’s see how much Verizon with shared data will cost:
$70 for 4GB of shared data (you could go as low as 1GB for $50 but I tried to keep the plans close in data capacities)
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the first phone
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the second phone

That’s a monthly cost of $150.  A savings of just under $10 from the non-shared data plan.  And if you could drop your data to 1GB or 2GB you could save an additional $20 or $10 a month respectively.  Also it appears Verizon includes the Mobile Hotspot feature on the shared data plans which it didn’t with the non-shared data plan we chose above.

Let’s look at one other scenario that actually mimics my current phone plan:

Now let's assume you have two smartphones like an iPhone and one basic phone that has no data or texting.

On AT&T currently you would pay monthly:
$69.99 for 700 shared minutes with rollover minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 3GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 3GB of data for your second phone.
$9.99 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $169.98.

On Verizon currently (without shared data) this same setup would look like this:
$69.98 for 700 shared minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 2GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 2GB of data for your second phone.
$9.99 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $169.97.  1¢ less than AT&T but 1GB less of data for each phone.

Now let’s see how much Verizon with shared data will cost:
$70 for 4GB of shared data (you could go as low as 1GB for $50 but I tried to keep the plans close in data capacities)
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the first phone
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the second phone
$30 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $180.  That’s an increase of $10 from the non-shared data plan. If you could drop your data to 1GB or 2GB you could save an additional $10 or break even with the monthly cost of the non-shared data plan.  Also it appears Verizon includes the Mobile Hotspot feature on the shared data plans which it didn’t with the non-shared data plan we chose above.

So what's the conclusion here?  If you have any non-smartphones on your shared plan it will probably cost you more to go to shared data because they are increasing the cost per phone. This may encourage people to move away from basic phones and use smartphones. I'm sure Verizon would like that as they make more off of smart phones. This is also reflected in their basic phone offerings. They barely offer any basic phones and often charge $80 or more for these phones that provide little functionality outside of making and receiving calls.  However, if you have all smartphones it looks like it might save you a little money.  Interestingly the differences are around $10 a month.  Those actuaries at Verizon juggled the numbers so no matter how you arrange your plan, they make pretty much the same amount of money but did you expect anything different?

My biggest disappointment is in how much a non-data basic phone adds to the monthly fee.  With the previous Family Share plan, that line was $9.99 a month.  With the data sharing plan (and remember this basic phone won't use/cannot access the data portion of this plan) that line now costs $30 month.  Another way to look at it is currently, an additional smartphone costs $9.99 + $30 for data whereas a basic phone just adds $9.99 per month.  On the new plan a basic phone costs $30 per month whereas an additional smartphone costs only $10 more at $40 per month.  You could look at it like you pay $30 per line (as opposed to $9.99) and $10 for data (as opposed to $30.)

You can view the Verizon shared data plan details yourself here.

Monday, June 04, 2012

When Naming a Group on Facebook, don't use & (an ampersand)

Although Facebook will happily allow you to create a group with an ampersand & in the name you cannot search on it.

Let's say, for example, you created a new Facebook group or page called:  "A and B - Sales & Service"

Then you typed the exact phrase "A and B - Sales & Service" into Facebook's search field.  You would be disappointed to find the search results are 0.

You see, the & is a valid character in a group or page name on Facebook, however, it breaks the Facebook search routine.  So, continuing with this example, if you instead typed "A and B - Sales" It would find your group successfully.

Something to keep in mind when naming your next product or interest on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

EDID Reader for Windows that Works

Chances are if you need to read the EDID information stored in a display you are already frustrated. Usually you only need to see this low level information if something isn't displaying correctly. The last think you want to do is download multiple applications that claim to extract the EDID information only to find they do not work correctly or at all.

So I've done the searching and experimenting for you and if you are on Windows (specifically I was on Windows 7 64bit but this should work on most versions of Windows) I recommend the free Extron EDID Manager that can be found here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Applications Allowed in Parental Controls don't Show Up

Parental Controls are a nice integrated feature of Mac OS X. The problem is they have some problems.

This article specifically addresses when you allow specific applications for a restricted user but they still do not appear available to the user.

I’ve been fighting this issue for nearly a year. Sometimes I’ll add a new application for my child (usually a game or educational application) via the Parental Controls control panel only to find the application is never made available to my child. There are tons of posts that span several years and different versions of Mac OS X describing this problem and a few suggestions that never worked for me. After a particularly frustrating day I decided to determine what was causing the issue. The good news is I did find the cause and offer a solution here...

I tried a lot of things that didn’t work including reading the console log entries, reinstalling software, running Disk Utility and repairing permissions. Finally I started comparing an application that behaved as it should and one that refused to show up. Here’s a picture showing the comparison.
Preview behaved as it should and MarbleBlast Gold would not. BTW my username and main admin account on this machine is “aric.”

See the difference? Preview is set to system: Read& Write whereas MarbleBlast is set to aric: Read&Write.

For the record I had run repair permissions multiple times so this is apparently a permission issue that is not corrected by Disk Utility.

So we’ve identified the problem… what’s the easiest way to fix it if Disk Utility doesn’t do the trick?

Instead of working on the individual applications and manually adding system: Read&Write (which should work if you only have one application to fix.)

  1. I recommend selecting the Applications folder and doing a Get Info (either command I or File->Get Info). You should see permissions similar to those shown on my Preview application consisting of system, admin, and everyone.
  2. Now click the lock in the lower corner of the Info window for the Applications folder so you can make changes. I show it circled in red in the picture below. It should ask for your admin password.
  3. After that you should have access to the permission settings. We don’t want to change the permissions for this folder but we do want to use a feature here.
  4. Now click on the Gear icon at the bottom of the same window. I show it circled in green in the picture below. A drop down menu should appear with an option called “Apply to enclosed items…” Go ahead and select that.
  5. Now on my computer applying that setting took several minutes so be prepared to let it run until it is finished. You’ve really solved the problem at this point.
Parental Controls seems to cache permission data sometimes so I recommend rebooting the system now too. After that everything should work as you expect! Unless you run into Parental Control Issues with applications due to creator problems which I’ll save for another blog post.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

iPhone forces you to double accept appointments you already accepted in Outlook

Ok, so here are the symptoms. Your iPhone is setup to get/send email and appointments with your corporate MS Exchange server. You use MS Outlook as your email and calendar application on your Windows machine at the office.

If you get a meeting invitation it shows up on your iPhone calendar notifications as well as Outlook. If you accept it on your iPhone everything is fine and Outlook understands it's been accepted. However if you accept it from Outlook your iPhone won't realize it's been accepted and will still show it as a notification and an unaccepted meeting in your calendar. You then have to accept it from your iPhone which sends an additional accept notification to the meeting creator causing them to think you are an idiot.

As I searched the web for a solution I found convoluted answers about Exchange not being setup correctly, MS and Apple bugs, etc.

There was another clue to my issue. Two other co-workers with iPhones were not having this behavior so it was somehow specific to my setup.

It turns out this is a bug in the iPhone if you have Outlook setup to keep meeting requests in your inbox after accepting/declining. You see by default (and most users keep their default settings) Outlook will remove a meeting invite from your inbox once you respond. At that point the only way to find that meeting is in your calendar and no longer in your inbox. This can be annoying if a meeting request had an attachment and you didn't remember the date of the meeting and need to open the attachment. So whenever I get a new work PC with Outlook one of the first things I do is change that default setting to leave meeting requests in the inbox.

Apparently the iPhone uses that information to determine if you've accepted/responded/denied a meeting request. This appears to be a bug in the iPhone as it assumes the user hasn't changed their email settings in Outlook.

To get the iPhone to recognize that a meeting request has been responded to in Outlook so it stops asking you to accept/decline, do the following in Outlook (This should work for Outlook 2003 and 2007, not sure about other versions): Go to Tools->Options->Email Options->Advanced Email Options. Look for the item called "Delete meeting request form Inbox when responding" and make sure it is selected.

If it was already selected then you have a different issue then I did. This has solved my problem 100%.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unlink YouTube and Google Account or Gmail passwords

Hey so the last time I tried to log into my YouTube account it said:

Sign in with your YouTube or Google Account.

So I tried using my YouTube account that I've had for years, but then it said:

Please use your Google Account. We no longer support signing in with your old YouTube password.

So apparently Google linked my Google/Gmail account with my YouTube account. I don't remember asking it to and it sure doesn't seem like something I would want considering I've had the same YouTube login since early 2007. Anyway if you run into this situation you can unlink your two accounts by following the link below.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

iPhone heads to Verizon?

The iPhone becoming available on Verizon in the U.S. has been an ongoing rumor for the last few years. A new iPhone is always released in June and leading up to June the rumors start to fly. Supposedly the sources this time are "more accurate" so it's possible but don't get your hopes up. Also it *is* understood that AT&T's exclusive contract runs out this year so that may indicate more of a chance as well...

To keep some perspective I've posted the rumor as it has appeared over the past few years...

Here's the same rumor in October 2007:

Here's the same rumor in September 2008:

Here's the same rumor in November 2009:

Long story short... I'll believe it when I see it (or rather when Steve Jobs says so.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

My favorite Regular Expression for deleting a line at a time

Ok, so you probably know the power of regular expressions or regex. One of the great things about regex is that with most modern text editors (and even some old classic ones) you can use them to do quick editing over a large file.

My favorite (and this will work in Visual Studio) is for removing lines at a time based on some match.

Let's say we want to select (most likely for removal) any line from a file that has the word Bart in it. Our regex would look like this:


The \n indicates new line. If you left off the \n the line would be selected without the new line character. If you are doing a replacement (such as with nothing to delete the line) and leave off the \n the line is selected but not the return character so for removing the text, a blank line would still exist in the file, whereas including the \n will delete the entire line from the file.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Snow Leopard Doesn't Support Some Epson Printers

UPDATED: See update below...

Well I wish I had known this before I upgraded to Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Apparently Epson hasn't released drivers for some of its more expensive "pro" printers such as my Epson Stylus Photo 2200. It appears the same is true for the 1280 and 2100 and probably others as well.

Epson has stated they will release a new printer driver by the end of January 2010 that will be distributed by Apple as a software update.

The current version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.2) includes the open source Gutenprint driver for these printers, however, most people report that either they don't work, or the colors are so off that they are useless.

For a list of Epson (and other) printers supported with native drivers in Snow Leopard you can go here. If the driver lists Gutenprint next to the printer name (i.e. Epson Stylus Photo 2200 - Gutenprint v5.2.3) you know that the manufacturer hasn't developed a native Snow Leopard printer driver yet and your printing results may vary.

BTW you may find the printer driver on Epson's website here that claims it is compatible with Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6. That file is identical to the older printer driver that worked under 10.5 and is not a new one that fixes color issues in 10.6. Epson has stated multiple times that the new version will be available through Apple's software update and not a download from their website.

UPDATED: January 3rd 2010

Well it appears they've released the update. Oddly it doesn't appear during the Apple Software Updates but through the new printer driver update facility that Apple added to Snow Leopard. Now you might be wondering how to get the update to appear? Well, mine showed up automatically when I plugged in the USB cable of the printer to the computer. Immediately I got a dialog saying updated drivers existed and asked if I wanted to download them. Note that I had already uninstalled the non-working Gutenprint drivers, so if you were using those, I have no idea if you would get the update notification. I hope you would.

After downloading it automatically added the printer, and I was able to print. I haven't done any detailed photo printing but printed a few color pages on plain paper the colors looked good. So good luck to you and thank you Epson for living up to your word. It would've been better if you had these drivers available when Snow Leopard shipped but better late then never. You can see several printers have been added here to the list here with a + which indicates the Vendor software was recently added via software update.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Clicking HTTP URL Links in Outlook 2003 on Windows opens two browser windows in Safari

I've seen this happen in both Safari and Firefox. This fix is specific to Safari although the Firefox fix is probably similar.
If you open explorer.exe (the Windows file manager, you can just double click "My Computer" or "My Documents" to get an explorer window) then go into
1) Tools->Folder Options...
2) Then click the File Types tab.
3) I scrolled down and found two entries for:
(NONE) Safari URL
As you can see from the picture, the Delete button was grayed out so I couldn't delete one of them.
4) I selected one of them and clicked Advanced.
In the Actions list was a single entry named "open"

5) I selected that action and clicked Remove.
After that I only get one window in Safari when I click links in Outlook 2003.
I've gotten some feedback from other users (including Firefox) that this isn't always the problem/solution so I'm adding another step here.
You may have to remove the DDE entry. Follow the steps above 1-4. Select "open" and click Edit...

If you see anything in the DDE Message area, just clear it out and click OK.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

iTunes 9 Released, new version of Fetch Art coming soon

Today Apple released iTunes 9. I am currently testing a new version of Fetch Art and should know about compatibility with iTunes 9 and have a new version with some bug fixes available in about a week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Robocopy trumps RichCopy

Microsoft has released a new replacement for Robocopy. What's Robocopy you ask? Only about the best way to copy a lot of files across a network via the command line in Windows.

Robocopy will copy a directory with any amount of files and subdirectories. It will merge the contents of the directories if duplicates already exist in the destination depending on options you pass it. If a file cannot be read, it will pause and retry a certain number of times, and if you lose your network connection during the copy, when your connection is back, you can reissue the same command, and it will pick up where it left off, not recopying the files it already copied.

It's a really great command line tool and I wish drag and drop copying in both Windows and Mac OS X behaved like this instead of failing miserably if the network drops or wiping destination directories out even if they contain different files from the source.

Robocopy is great. It's one of the first things I install on a freshly formatted Windows box.

So what could be better then Robocopy? According to Microsoft TechNet, RichCopy. RichCopy is the next generation Robocopy adding an easy to use GUI and performance enhancing multithreaded copying (so it can move more then one file at a time which reduces network lag if you are moving a lot of small files.)

So today I installed RichCopy and put it to the test. I needed to move a directory that had 19.8GB in 69,510 files and 13,654 directories (or folders if you prefer.) I started RichCopy and used its GUI interface to start the copy. My network performance was only about 10Mbps (I'm on gigabit people) but it's an overworked corporate network, so I don't think that's any fault of RichCopy. Unfortunately about an hour and 45 minutes into the job, the server disappeared from the network for a second. No problem, right? That's the kind of thing RichCopy was made to handle. Unfortunately at that point RichCopy crashed with an exception, and the only option was to close the exception dialog which closed the RichCopy application.

So now I've got Robocopy doing the copy. It doesn't have a fancy GUI but it's working.

Oh BTW, there is also a GUI for Robocopy here. But I tried it and it had at least one bug (back when I tried it.) It may work for you, but, if you are looking for a robust copy tool, chances are you can handle the command line anyway.

Here's something to get you started on Robocopy:

robocopy source destination /S

By default robocopy won't copy files that appear the same so it always performs a merge and that's what this command line will to. The /S says to be recursive but don't copy empty directories.

The Wikipedia entry on Robocopy covers all the optional parameters.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fixing Printer Sharing in Mac OS X

Ok, so an odd thing happened trying to print the other day. I share a USB printer from my Mac to other computers on the network. After unplugging the USB cable from my Mac at one point to move some stuff on my desk and then plugging it back into the same Mac, printer sharing for this printer no longer worked.

I could print fine from the computer connected directly to the printer via the USB port. I share it with three other computers and none of them could print to the printer, although they could see it on the network.

When I tried to print from a networked printer the document would simply never print. When I opened the printer queue on the computer I was trying to print from it said:

Unable to get printer status (Forbidden)!

Also if I tried to add the printer to a computer that wasn't using it previously, although the computer could see the printer, it could never choose the correct printer driver.

Here’s the fix:
On the computer sharing the printer (the one the printer is connected to) you have to reset the printing system. Just open Print & Fax in System Preferences and right click in the list of printers and chose “Reset printing system…”

It will ask you if you are sure, and you’ll have to supply an administrator password. That will remove all your printers.

Then you can click the + button and add them manually, however, I found it was easier to power cycle my printer and it was automatically added to the list. Make sure to check Share this printer and you may have to turn on Printer Sharing in the Sharing control panel too. The Print & Fax control panel should notify you if Printer Sharing is not enabled.

You may have to remove and re-add the shared printer on any of your networked computers you wish to print from. Two of my computers started printing to the printer with no problems, but one of them had selected the wrong driver (a generic postscript driver.) You could tell it was wrong because the printer icon didn’t match the one on the computer that the printer is connected to.

It could still print ok with the wrong driver but it couldn’t access any of the printer’s settings such as paper type or print quality.

Here’s things I tried that didn’t work:
  1. Turning off and on printer sharing.
  2. Deleting the printer from the computer I wanted to print from and re-adding it.
  3. Repairing permissions on the computer sharing the printer
  4. Printing from another computer that could see the shared printer. It behaved the same from three different computers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

iPhone 3GS, 3G, and original iPhone Comparison

A lot of people are talking about "new" features of the iPhone 3G S, however, many sites listing new features are listing items that exist for previous generation iPhones as well. Also, several sites are only comparing the new 3G S to last years 3G and not even including the original Edge only iPhone in their comparisons. So I felt the need to put together this table.

Hardware Differences



3G S

Metal back

plastic back, more curved shape

Recessed headphone jack

standard headphone jack

No stereo Bluetooth headphone support

Stereo Bluetooth headphone support


3G (3.6Mb/s HSDPA)*

3GS (faster 7.2Mb/s HSDPA)**

No GPS (simulates using triangulation=very inaccurate and often unavailable)


GPS + Compass (should allow turn by turn directions in future software)

No video

640x480 30fps video (fixed focus during recording)

2MP fixed focus Camera

3MP auto focus camera

Original CPU

Faster CPU

Original graphics

Faster 3D graphics

Powered by old iPod chargers****

Powered only by newer chargers****

Supports 1 button inline headphone remote

Supports 3 button inline headphone remote including volume control

No voice dialing

Voice Control

No tethering




No Nike + iPod

Nike + iPod built in

New features added with the free 3.0 software update to all iPhones



3G S

Cut, Copy and Paste



Global Search



Horizontal keyboard in most apps



Voice memos



Notes sync with Mail/Outlook



* Some reports state that AT&T artificially limits 3G access to 1.4 Mbps instead of allowing the full 3.6Mbps HSDPA speed.
** Not available in the US with AT&T yet.
**** The original iPhone supported the 12 volt charging (as did older iPods) and many car chargers only supplied that voltage. The 3G and 3G S require newer chargers that do not rely on the old specification.