The Boyce Blog: September 2008

Find it on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10.5.5 update

Hard to recommend the 10.5.5 update just yet. There seem to be some installation issues. Half of the machines at Boyceworld took the installation without incident and are working fine. The other half took forever to restart after the install, then went to a blue screen, then turned themselves off. After restarting a few times all seems normal but everything leading up to that certainly wasn’t pleasant. I think you can live without it, but if you are daring and want to install 10.5.5 at the very least be sure you are completely backed up, AND repair permissions before you install, AND be sure nothing is running when you do the install (hint: restart first, then do the Software Update), AND be sure that all external disks are disconnected.

Personally, given all that, if you still want to do 10.5.5, I think you should have me do it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

iPhone 2.1 Software

Thumbs UP to the iPhone 2.1 software. It’s working perfectly here.

According to the documentation, the 2.1 update provides:

1. Faster backing up of the iPhone
2. Faster synching
3. Faster Contacts browsing
4. No more crashes

Other than that, it doesn’t do anything.

If you are on any other version of iPhone software starting with a 2, get this update. You won’t be sorry. If you are on a 1.0 version of the iPhone software, contact me and I’ll explain why you might want to upgrade.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stuff You Didn't Know You Had

And now, something completely different!

Apple loads new Macs with a lot of software that we all use (iPhoto, Safari, Mail, iTunes, etc.). They also load new Macs with a lot of software that almost no one uses. But if more of us knew about it, more of us would use it. I think. My goal is to put that software to use, one Boyce Blog reader at a time.

Today’s program that You Didn’t Know You Had is “Grapher.” It’s probably in your Utilities folder (which is in your Applications folder). The icon looks like this (though not as big).



Double-click it, and you get this:


Click the “Open” button and you get this:

Type in an equation (it starts with “y=”), hit Return, and voila! Your equation is graphed. Here’s one, a 2-D example:

Here’s another, this time a 3-D example.

Yes, that’s z=(1/6) * x*x + (1/6) * y * y. Very good.
If you happen to be taking high school math-- you know who you are-- this will be incredibly useful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tip of the Day, September 3rd, 2008

Today’s topic: The Desktop.

We love The Desktop. We put all of our stuff there. And then we open up Safari, or Mail, or something else, and we cover everything up. When we need something from The Desktop, Step One (and Step Two, and Step 3) is “move all those windows out of the way so you can see The Desktop.” Very inefficient. No one likes it.

Today we are going to learn how to use “Exposé.” Exposé allows us to get to The Desktop with a single keystroke. It will save you a ton of time.

Exposé can be configured using the System Preferences (under the Apple menu). Click on the “Exposé and Spaces” button in 10.5 (“Dashboard & Exposé” in 10.4), then the Exposé button, and you’ll get something like this:

See where it says “Show Desktop”? You can click there and choose the keyboard shortcut that you want to use to trigger the showing of The Desktop. On my Mac, it’s Shift-F3 (the arrow means “Shift”). When I press that combination of keys, everything scoots off the screen-- temporarily, revealing my Desktop. I can double-click an icon from there or do anything else I want. Another press of Shift-F3 will bring the windows back. Pretty handy.

All you have to do is pick the key(s) you want to use as the trigger. It could be plain old F9. Or Shift-F10. Or just about anything you want. Hint: try holding down a modifier key (Command, Option, Shift, or Control) when you have that “Show Desktop” menu clicked. The menu will change to reflect what you’re holding down.

Once you’ve chosen a key to show The Desktop, close up the preferences and try the key out. Fun, yes?

Bonus Hint: Click and HOLD your “Show Desktop” key. The Desktop appears. Let go of the key and the windows come back. This saves you one keystroke if all you want to do is LOOK at your desktop. Think one little keystroke isn’t worth saving? One day, when your wrists are burning and your hands are falling off from overuse you’ll say “Dang it, he was right.” Save yourself some pain and say it now, before you get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome like everyone else.