The Boyce Blog: November 2009

Find it on Amazon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hardware and Software Money-Savers

Microsoft Office 2008
Amazon has Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home & Student Editionat $89.99, almost $60 off of the list price (The Apple Store sells it for $98). This is an especially good deal because you get three installation serial numbers in the package, meaning your $89.99 covers three machines. Microsoft Office is a little on the clumsy side but if you're getting documents in Word and Excel formats you'll be glad that you have Office installed.

airport express
Another good deal: Apple Airport Expressfor $94.95 (Apple's price: $99). Use this to extend your wireless network, and/or to play your iTunes music from your Mac through your home stereo-- wirelessly.

iwork box
And another: iWork '09 Family Pack for $80.49. This is the 5-installation Family Pack, at only $1.49 over the single-user version at Apple. Apple charges $99 for the 5-user pack. Amazon sells the iWork '09 single userpackage for $72.99, if that's the one you need.

All in all, it pays to check Amazon's prices. Use the Amazon box at the left-hand side of this page to do your search, and simultaneously support the Blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We'll be back next week. Meanwhile, enjoy the turkey and pumpkin pie, and check out our older posts. Answer our poll question too, if you have the time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Magic Mouse and 27-inch iMac in stock at Amazon

iMac 27 quad core
It took a few weeks but Amazon finally has the new Apple iMac 27 inch Quad-Core in stock. You can click this link to go straight there. The price is $1972.98, or $26.02 less than Apple charges... and you don't pay sales tax if you're in California, and there's no charge for the shipping either. When you consider the sales tax it costs you $210 more to buy it from the Apple store. The warranty is through Apple either way, so it seems a lot better to get it from Amazon. (Those of you not living in California should go through the motions of buying the iMac through Amazon to see what your total will be. Regardless, it's probably going to be less expensive than going directly through Apple.)

Magic Mouse
Amazon also has the new Magic Mouse, reviewed by me here a few days ago. You can click this link to go to the Magic Mouse page on Amazon. You get free shipping and no tax (in California, and maybe where you live too).

Note: purchases made on Amazon through the links above benefit The Boyce Blog. Such contributions-- which come from Amazon, not from you-- keep The Boyce Blog going, and are very, very much appreciated.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Stuff I Like: Automatic Time Zone

Well looky here: another nifty improvement in the Date & Time preference pane, thanks to Snow Leopard! Finally, all of a sudden, and only in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, your Mac can show you the correct time for wherever you are-- automatically! Those of you who travel with a Mac laptop will appreciate this-- no more trips to the Date & Time preference panel to set the proper time zone. You do have to turn this feature on, so get in there and do it now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stuff I Like: Snow Leopard Date options

I've been digging around in Snow Leopard, looking for something new, and I found something in the Date & Time preference panel. Finally, after years of waiting, we can display the day, the date, and the time in the menu bar, all at the same time! Until Snow Leopard, you got the day and the time, but not the date (not without clicking on the time). Now you get all three at once.

Here's what it looks like. No click required!

Maybe you're good at remembering the date. I'm not. I found myself heading to the menu bar to find out the date several times a day-- but not anymore! I will probably save myself hundreds of clicks per month. Not sure what I'll do with the clicks I'm going to save but it's nice to think about.

Anyhow, if you're on Snow Leopard, go to the Date & Time preference pane NOW and check the "Show Date" box as shown in the image below. A click saved is a click earned. Etc.
I know, I know: there are plenty of third-party ways to get the same effect. I think it's better that it's built-in, that's all. So check it out and save yourself some clicks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Apple's Magic Mouse

There it is: Apple's Magic Mouse (held by someone else's nicely manicured hand). I have one (a Magic Mouse, not a nicely manicured hand) and so far, so good. I've used it for a week and I'm happy. It's super-precise, it's wireless (yay), and there aren't any parts to get gummy and quit working. Plus it slides very well on the desk.

Setting up the Magic Mouse is easy, except for getting it out of the box. Generally speaking, unboxing an Apple product is a delight, something you want to share with a friend (putting it back in the box, taking it out again, over and over). Not so the Magic Mouse. But once out of the box, it's trivial to set up.

If you're using Mac OS X 10.6.2, you need only to turn the Magic Mouse on (it runs on two AA batteries, which are not only included, but installed at the factory). You can see the on-off switch at top right in the photo below. The Magic Mouse in the picture is on.

If you're using Mac OS X 10.5.8, you will need some software, available here. If you're using 10.4.11 you will not be able to use the Magic Mouse. Sorry Mom.

Everyone wants to know how it feels in the hand and the answer is "it doesn't." That is, you don't hold it in your hand, you hold it with your hand. You don't rest your hand on the Magic Mouse, you rest your hand (the heel of it) on the desk, and hold the Magic Mouse lightly. And it's comfortable that way.

The scrolling-via-the-touch-sensitive-surface is very convenient, and it's nice knowing that it's never going to get gunky. I use the scrolling feature all the time. I love that the Magic Mouse is wireless, and that it's not too heavy even with the batteries (it's barely heavier than the wired Apple Mouse it replaced). The only thing I don't like about the Magic Mouse is the name. Big deal.

The Magic Mouse has a few options: you can set it up to do a right-click, you can zoom, etc. The older Apple Mouse had more options but most of them were better left turned off, so really there is not much of a loss in the options department. Here's a look at the Preference Pane for the Magic Mouse, in Mac OS X 10.6.2:

Nice to know I have a ways to go before the batteries need replacing. Looks as if the batteries will last about three months at a time. I'll keep the wired mouse around just in case.

You can see from above that I turned off the "with momentum" feature. The idea is that you can scroll and if you're vigorous about it the scrolling will continue a bit after you stop. That quickly drove me crazy, not that it was a long drive. At the same time, others think it's the greatest thing ever. Nice that they give you the option.

The Magic Mouse costs $69. You get one for free when you buy a new iMac so if that's in your future don't bother buying a Magic Mouse separately. As of this writing, the Magic Mouse is very hard to find-- Apple doesn't have them online, and neither does Amazon. I'll post an update here when the Magic Mouse is widely available again.

UPDATE: Amazon has the Magic Mouse in stock. $69, free shipping. Click this link to get it.

I like the Magic Mouse and I imagine you will too.

For a video demonstration of the Magic Mouse click this link, courtesy of Apple.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time to Upgrade to Snow Leopard

Apple released the 10.6.2 Snow Leopard update and it fixes a whole lot of issues (click the link and start the download while you read). I had been waiting for this update before moving to Snow Leopard, and I'm glad I did. Apple had already put out the 10.6.1 update, but that didn't address the problems that early adopters of 10.6 had been reporting. For those problems, we'd have to wait for 10.6.2, and now it's here. Armed with the 10.6.2 update, I installed 10.6 on my original Intel iMac (the white one), and then the 10.6.2 update, and also the HP Printers update, and everything is great. Printing is fast again, the iMac starts up quickly, Mail's loading speed is especially improved, and overall the iMac is running better than it was in 10.5.8.

If you have an Intel Mac of any sort and you've been waiting to install 10.6, now is a good time. There is always the chance that something that you use will not be compatible with 10.6, but if you make a backup first (please) you'll be able to revert to 10.5. There's a good list of compatible/not compatible programs at worth your time to check it out.

It is always better to download the "Combo Update" (linked above) rather than a simple Software Update. So do it that way if you can. In fact, if you already did the Software Update, download the 10.6.2 Combo update and run it.

Given the advantages of 10.6 over 10.5, and the super-low cost ($29), upgrading to Snow Leopard (10.6) is a smart move. The only question really was when to do it. With 10.6.2's fixes in hand, the time to upgrade is now.

If you don't have a Snow Leopard disc you can buy Snow Leopard from Amazon and save a few bucks. Single user is $25, five-user Family Pack is $43.99. They ship for free.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All You Need is Command-L

According to the Beatles, All You Need is Love. If I had been a Beatle I would have suggested All You Need is Command-L because Command-L does so many things for a Mac user.

First, this Quiz:
Question: how can you tell when someone's used a Mac for a long time?
Answer: because he calls that crazy cloverleaf/open apple key on either side of the space bar "the Command Key." You can call it anything you want, but technically it's a Sevärdhet, an ancient Viking symbol used today by Scandinavian road-sign makers to signify "point of interest." Apparently, you can be driving in Scandinavia and all of a sudden there's a big Command key on a post on the side of the road. Sounds like fun to me. Read all about it.

So, what can Command-L do for you? Well let's see...

In the Apple Address Book, Command-L toggles between the Editing view and the non-Editing view. Faster and easier than reaching for the mouse and clicking "Edit."

In Preview, Command-L rotates the document to the left.

&In Safari, and in Firefox, Command-L sends focus to the address bar (the place where you normally click to type "" or possibly some other site). It also highlights everything in the address, so all you have to do is start typing. This is going to save you a LOT of time. Next time you want to load up some new web page, do Command-L, type the address, and hit Return. Bingo.

(Note: you can save even more time by NOT typing "http:///www." You can save a bit more by not typing ".com" or dot-whatever. So, when you want to go to "" you can simply do Command-L, then type "apple" and then Return. If that DOESN'T work for you it's all because of your internet service. Send me an email and I will help you fix that problem, for free if you tell me you saw it on The Boyce Blog.)

Know any other Command-L tips? Add them here by clicking the "Comments" button.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Free Mac Software

The people at MacHeist put together bundles of software at a low price. This time it's VERY low: $0. All you have to do is visit their site and sign up. For FREE you get...
  • ShoveBox (for storing information snippets, though I prefer Evernote)
  • WriteRoom (a nice little writing program)
  • Twitterific (very useful if you use Twitter at all)
  • TinyGrab (for sharing screenshots over the internet)
  • Hordes of Orcs (game)
  • Mariner Write (a very nice word processor)
For free, why not give these things a try? That's what I'm going to do. The offer expires on Wednesday the 11th, so get going and click this link.

Introducing Managed Service from Christian Boyce

save big with managed service from Christian Boyce

We're introducing something new today: Managed Service from Christian Boyce. In a nutshell, you get the same great service as always, but you get it sooner and it costs you less. Click this link to read all about it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Google Stuff You Didn't Know

When you want to find something on the web I'll bet you head for Google. It's so easy, so fast, so powerful-- and so free! I'm sure you use Google all the time, and you're probably completely satisfied. So was I, until I did a little extra poking around. Turns out we're using just a tiny bit of Google's powers. For example...

Want a weather update?. Just type "weather" into the Google search box and hit Return. You get up to the minute weather, and a couple of days of forecasts. You don't have to type in your city-- Google knows where you are. (If you want to know the weather somewhere else, type the city's name or zip code in too.)

google weather

Want to check a stock? Type the symbol into the search box and hit Return.

google stocks

Wondering how many feet in a furlong? So was I, until I asked Google. Sort of nice to be able to ask my question in plain English.

google conversion

I could go on and on-- there are all kinds of questions that Google can answer for you. Movie times, airplane flight information, sports scores, package tracking. And more. Luckily, Google's provided a page called "Explore Google Search," which you can access by clicking here. Have a look. I'm sure you'll learn something.

Note: I could have titled this "Google Stuff I Didn't Know (until a little while ago)."

Bonus Google Tip for Safari Users
Save the time and trouble of moving the mouse up to the Search box in Safari's Toolbar by pressing Command-Option-F. Try it a few times and you'll be hooked.

keyboard command option f