Archive for August, 2010

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

The number of educated global warming skeptics continues to drop as Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish academic and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” finally abandoned his anti-global warming position. The mounting evidence made it clear to Lomborg that global warming is a very real and immediate threat to our planet and it must be addressed now. To read more about Lomborg’s change of heart, click here.

I received this press release this morning and wanted to share it with our readers.

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I thought you would like to know that Adobe today announced the Lightroom 3.2 and Camera Raw 6.2 updates are available for immediate download on Adobe.com. The updates, originally posted as release candidates on Adobe Labs, extend raw file support to 16 new popular camera models including the Canon EOS 60D and Sony Alpha NEX-5, and improve on several of the lens correction profiles provided in the Lightroom 3.0 release. These latest updates also add over 120 new lens profiles to help photographers automatically correct for undesirable distortion and aberration effects. A full list of the newly added raw camera support and the new and improved lens profiles can be found on the Lightroom Journal: http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal.

With Lightroom 3.2, photographers can now also publish their photos directly to the popular social networking site Facebook and the online photo sharing service SmugMug from directly within the application. Thanks to detailed feedback from the community on the Lightroom 3.0 release, this update also addresses a number of issues reported by customers, bringing improvements to the Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web modules.

Lightroom is the essential digital photography workflow solution, helping serious amateur and professional photographers quickly import, manage, enhance and showcase all their images from one application. The Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in provides fast and easy access within Photoshop to the raw image formats produced by many leading digital cameras.

Pricing and Availability
The Lightroom 3.2 update is available as a free download for Lightroom 3 customers, and the Adobe Camera Raw 6.2 Photoshop plug-in is available as a free download for Photoshop CS5 customers, Photoshop Elements 8 (Win/Mac) and Premiere Elements 8 customers. For more information and to download the updates visit http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates/.

*You can also connect with the Lightroom team directly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lightroom) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/lightroom).

Newly Supported Camera Models
Canon EOS 60D, Fuji FinePix HS10, Panasonic DMC-FZ100, Panasonic DMC-FZ40 (FZ45), Panasonic DMC-LX5, Pentax 645D, Samsung NX10, Samsung TL500 (EX1), Sony A290, Sony A390, Sony Alpha NEX-3, Sony Alpha NEX-5, Sony SLT-A33, Sony SLT-A55V

This update also improves the color and noise profiles for Casio EXILIM EX-FH100 (DNG) and Leica S2 (DNG) utilizing the DNG raw format already supported in previous versions of Lightroom and Camera Raw.

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Blogs are enhanced when readers take the time to agree or disagree with posts seen online, but there is a common misconception that first amendment rights allow people to post anything they wish about another person or group with impunity. Sorry. Not correct. Slander is not protected by the first amendment, whether it be in printed media or online media.

Doc Babad recently passed me a link to an article he read in the LA Times that was written by David G. Savage. Check it out. This is an interesting piece and it should serve as a clear warning to those that use the internet to voice opinions should remember that written words should not insult or defame others. It may seem unfair and a form of censorship, but it is merely holding everyone to the same standards, whether their comments are printed online or on paper.

What are you feelings about this situation? Should people be able to say anything about anyone or any group with impunity? Who is or is not responsible for their written views? Let us know how you feel about this situation.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I have followed NASA’s site since the first day it became available on the internet. I like how the people there  go all out to get information and news out to fans of the space race. NASA’s site covers more than the ISS and satellites. It also covers future missions, one of which that should tweak your curiosity is exploring Mars. NASA came up with a site (Be a Martian) that is absolutely worth visiting.

Why go there? To explore Mars! This is an educational site for ages 8 and below or 9 and above. This site seems focused on teaching as well as keeping people interested in the red planet. We humans will go there in the future, and students in class today will be the ones to take that daunting journey.

Why go to Mars? Are you kidding? Why did we go to the moon? To explore ‘a strange new world’ (thanks to Gene Roddenberry for that phrase), and Mars is a lot further away and it may hold answers to scientific questions we cannot learn on the moon. It has a higher gravity than the moon, but still much less than here on Earth. I look forward to the day when our astronauts step out on the surface of Mars and demonstrate we humans can and will push ourselves to travel to the planets and beyond in the near future.

To get started, you need to sign in and create a user name and password. Next, you need the current version of Silverlight to use the majority of the areas on the site, and that is checked for you and you are automatically moved to Microsoft’s site if you need to upgrade Silverlight. This was the only part of the site I did not like. I’d rather not install Silverlight but I did so I could see the animations. The image quality not a problem, but I’d rather use other existing products to see animations and wish NASA would add support for those products in the future.

There are a lot of places to explore, so after restarting my browser I looked around the site and was impressed. Excellent UI and graphics, great educational tool, and just plain fun. I also want to mention that there is a link on the main page where you can go to the Mars Exploration Program site, which is also worth a visit. They have a ton of excellent pictures taken by Mars explorers and the quality of the images is excellent.

POSITIVES

  • A good educational tool loaded with interesting information about Mars.
  • Well designed – excellent graphics and a nice user interface.

NEGATIVES

  • Uses Silverlight instead of Flash.

RECOMMENDATION

Check it out at http://beamartian.jpl.nasa.gov/welcome. It’s worth the time to see the sites and maybe, just maybe, be inspired to consider a career in the aerospace industry so you could be ‘the one’ to actually go to Mars. What a thought.

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

— Apple’s tools to shortcut your daily workload

Introduction:

A few months ago I attended a very interesting Mid-Columbia Macintosh club (Tri-Cities, WA) and listened to Scott Armstrong our president discuss Snow Leopard and his favorite Macintosh 101 things. At that time, I once again realized the degree of redundancy and flexibility of the OS X operating system, which allows you to ‘compute’ in your own personalized way.

In Apple advertising lingo:

  • “The Power to Be Your Best”
  • The Computer for the rest of us”

As Scott discussed the dock and sidebar with our members, I again became aware of how many tools, Apple’s and those created by others, there were to support accessibility and access to your files, documents and applications. These do and will allow you to organize and quickly access items in your startup hard drive, network and mounted volumes. Such tools, those I’ve set up and work with daily, to make life easier during the 6+ hours/day I spend ‘mac-puting’ — but otherwise pay no attention to.

I’m not going to tell you how to organize your files and folders in a manner that suits your working style but yet allows you to understand/remember in 6 moths, where stuff is stashed. I did that several times over the years:

  • Thank Goodness — Your Mac is Not a File Cabinet, One person’s guide to hard disk organization [MacNut 2003]
  • Organizing Your Mac, The Responsible Macintosh Column, macCompanion, Nov 2008.
  • There’s one more 5-7 years ago, but I named it weird and haven’t time to play Spotlight games to find it.

Triple Play – Full House, Whatever!

Actually your choices create at least a full house with a little help from shareware and freeware. I use DEVONtechnologies free XMenu  1.9 (Snow Leopard compatible) and have used Unsanity’s shareware Fruit Menu, being updated to snow leopard. More on these and other possible file/folder accessibility program alternatives, below. Now the details…

My Menu Bar (Apple OS X) — Without the use of an add-on application, this is the least flexible of Apple’s OS related tools. But I do use enhancement tools, since mousing to the menubar is a good way for me to go.

A few samples

My Dock (Apple OS X)

As you know the left hand side of the dock is reserved for applications I use it for my frequently used items as well as temporary storage for applications I’m testing. The dock’s right side focused on storing frequently used folders or documents.  I’ve illustrated this by four example, read the Apple help files to learn more about configuring your dock.

Doc’s Dock, A Snapshot – An Ever Changing Mix

Professional FilesHousehold Files

Nuclear Energy Book I Revision

MacUpdate site link

Main Professional Societies

Amazon.com Link

macCompanion

Energy Books and Projects

Orders and More-Taxes 2010

Asian Recipes plus Pasta & Seafood

NON-Asian Recipes w/o Pasta & Seafood

Home Related—to Finish or File

Databases and FilesComputer Related – General

Three Rivers Folklife Society

Active Links

Seldom Used Installed Applications

Burn to CD/DVD Images

Current Active Consulting Projects

Library {Apples}

Applications {Apples}

Documents {Apples}

Harry’s Documents

Harry – Home

Trash

Note — Temporary Items are marked in blue. The contents of my permanent folders change but the categories usually don’t.   I also store some of these permanent  and temporary folders on my sidebar, but I do prefer using the Dock or augmented menu based tools most of the time.

I here share just the barest how-to summary:

  • To add a file or folder, drag its icon from a Finder window to the right hand side of the Dock
  • To add an application, drag its icon from a Finder window to the left side of the Dock
  • To arrange or rearrange items in the Dock, drag them into the order you prefer. (This can be tricky since icons vary in grab-ability, so don’t give up)
  • To remove an item, drag it off the dock — Poof, it’s gone. No, not the item on your hard disk or mounted volume, it’s only an alias.

My Side Bar (Apple OS X)

Finder windows have a sidebar on the left side of the window that displays icons for items you use frequently, including disks, servers, and folders. To open a Finder window, click the Finder icon in the Dock. If the sidebar is not visible, open the View menu and choose Show Sidebar. If Show Sidebar is dimmed, choose Show Toolbar. [From Apple’s help.]

To add, remove, and rearrange items in the sidebar:

  • To add a file, folder, or application to the sidebar, drag its icon to the Places section.
  • To remove an item, drag its icon out of the sidebar. Although the icon disappears, the original is still in its place on your computer. 
You can’t remove items from the Shared section.
  • To rearrange items, drag to where you want them in the sidebar.
 Note, you can’t rearrange items in the Shared section.

My Other Goodies to Supplement Apple’s Tools.

X-Menu 1.9 —XMenu adds one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar. They give you access to your preferred applications, folders, documents, files, and snippets. Launch any application or insert text snippets or URLs into your email messages or Pages documents with a single menu choice. Freeware from Devon Technologies)

FruitMenu 3.8 — FruitMenu is a haxie that gives you the ability to customize the Apple Menu and contextual menus. Using a visual editor you can edit the contents of the menus to suit your needs and taste. FruitMenu will also display the contents of the FruitMenu Items folder inside of your Library folder, launch applications and shell scripts from the Apple Menu and contextual menus, to allow easy file navigation and launching. To make the haxie completely flexible and customizable, you can assign hotkeys to particular menu items. (Shareware $15 from Unsanity LLC) now for Snow Leopard

Other Possibilities

…More than we would ever need, at least most of us. These tools are either supplements to and/or enhancements to Apple’s dock, or add to the flexibility of the Apple Menu bar. They go by various category names, so read the application titles below and re-learn the jargon. Although I’ve tested a few of these items and continue to do so, I’ve not been convinced I need my than my present ‘full house’ of tools.

Dock-It 2.7.4 — Dock-It is a multifunctional launcher and Finder enhancer for the Mac OS X operating system. It utility allows for multiple docks & more. (Shareware $10.00 – Gideon Softworks).

Dock Spaces 3.10 — Have 5 different docks and swap them from the menubar. Freeware Patrick Chamelo)

AppMenuBoy 1.0.4 — When Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) changed the way that folders are represented in the Dock, I lost a handy start menu made by dragging the Applications folder to the end of the dock. AppMenuBoy is a small Cocoa application that creates a hierarchical menu of your apps in the dock and menubar Freeware David Phillip Oster

DragThing 5.9.5Tidy up your desktop with this versatile launcher. DragThing, the original dock augmentation software, is designed to tidy up your Macintosh desktop. It puts all your documents, folders, and applications just a single click away. Highly flexible, it allows multiple docks, each customized to suit your exact needs. It stores frequently used clippings such as text and pictures, and lets you easily paste them into other applications with just a click. Shareware $29 by James Thompson)

Application Switcher Menu 2.3 — ASM (Application Switcher Menu) is a small utility that adds a system-wide menu to the right side of the menubar. This menu lists all of your open applications, so you can easily switch between them. And you can set ASM to automagically hide other apps when you switch to another app! This is one utility you must have! Brings back the application switcher menu (and more) to Mac OS X. It’s highly customizable and offers some nice extra features, such as Classic Window Mode (orders all windows of an application to front when it becomes active) or Single Application Mode (automatically hides applications other than the front-most one). Frank Vercruesse $9.50)

Overflow 2.5.7 — Overflow is an application designed to quickly launch applications, open documents, or access folders while reducing the number of items needed in your Dock. Anything you want can be added to the Overflow interface, making it accessible through a few simple mouse clicks or keystrokes. The interface is resizable, and fully customizable. Create separate categories for your applications, work files, games, or anything else you want to be able to access quickly. After using Overflow, we think you’ll find it just as indispensable as we do. Stunt Software Shareware 14.95

LaunchBar 5.0.2 — is an award winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the web. It provides instant access to your applications, documents, contacts and bookmarks, to your music library, to search engines and more, just by entering short abbreviations of the searched item’s name. Shareware, Objective Development $35.00

QuickAccessCM 1.7.1 — QuickAccessCM is a contextual menu plug-in for easy access to frequently used folders, documents and applications. It can be used as a launcher, file commander or installer. QuickAccessCM plugin provides a number of access augmenting feature has independent modules to your contextual menus.

Final Thoughts

If this is NOT enough to get you moving then go use Google — Check: Organizing Your Mac. Also check the MacUpdate site for utilizes of you choice and updates to the ones you use.

In addition you might try, Apple OS X Spaces (a tool which I ignore.) – its purpose is to organize your main windows into ‘project’ groups to decrease desktop and window clutter and increase access to project specific tools and documents. Perhaps if I were using a small screen based computer and traveling with it, I’d try it but my iMac’s 24” screen is plenty large enough for my work.

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Acknowledgments: Unless otherwise noted I have provided the additional sources for the material in these articles. I also found in my many notes I’ve stashed for future articles, that certain themes keep coming up, that parallel what I’ve read or practiced.  In most cases I have acknowledged as well as modified the original document(s) to personalize them for my own use and for you our readers.

As needed the information provided was created, and as appropriate demonstrated on my iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB installed 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM now running Snow Leopard Mac OS X version 10.6.4 with all current security updates installed.

This article was originally published in the April issue of macCompanion, and has been updated for our readers. Alas, macCompanion is no longer published so we’re cherry picking the best and most relevant our recent writing for the MHBlog.

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I’m an amateur astronomer. I had a refracting telescope long before I owned a personal computer, and I used my telescope  to take more than a few photos of solar eclipses as well as planets in our solar system.I don’t own a telescope right now, but have my eye on a nice Celestron when the budget will enable me to make the purchase without raising the ire of my supportive wife.

What is an astronomy fan to do without a telescope? My preferences are to watch shows on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel or use computer software. I’ve been a long time fan of astronomy software for computers and have used and reviewed a lot of different products on a wide variety of platforms. One of my older favorites was Distant Suns, which I used on my old Amiga 3000. A couple of newer products I use on my Macbook and PC laptops are Starry Night and Voyager 4.52, both excellent products and absolutely worth the cost of the software.

Why all the background? Because we now live in the age of the internet, where data and  data access is far greater than any time in the history of our culture. Some recent uses of the internet have been of special interest to students, namely Google Earth and Microsoft’s WorldWideTelescope. Most people are probably familiar with Google Earth, so let’s spend a few minutes talking about WorldWideTelescope.

What is WorldWideTelescope? A browser-based (or Windows client) product from Microsoft that provides impressive images of the planets in our solar system, as well as guided tours of nebula/galaxies/planets/black holes/star clusters/supernova. It is easy to select an item to examine, and there are a number of ways to view the images. Once you select a planet or stellar object to visit, just double-click on it to move in for greater detail.

One negative point about the tours. I took the Mars tour, which streamed from wwt.nasa.gov. The audio was either out of sequence with the video, or the speaker’s voice was drowned out by the musical soundtrack. The video also was not smooth, but it was watchable. I also saw the video on extrasolar planets, and the audio and video were much better than the Mars tour.

Why bother with a web-based astronomy product? It is 1. An excellent way to learn about space, and 2. is free. Stop by and check it out here.

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I downloaded and installed the free Barnes & Nobel Nook software recently and I like it as much as the free Kindle software. It is easy to install and use (even for even computer neophytes), and everything I examined was easy to read. I did have three things I want to point out about the software:

1. The Good:  The Nook provides 10 free SparkCharts: Anthropology, Astronomy, Biology, Calculus 1, Chemistry, Essays and Term Papers, Macroeconomics, Psychology, Research Style and Usage, and Sociology. All are excellent references for new undergrads, and this will save you around $69.95 (with an average purchase price of $6.95).

2. The Bad: Unlike Kindle, I could not download free books without entering credit card information, even though I wanted to download free books. Why?

3. The Questionable: When an update installed, it used 7 significant digits to show download progress. Why would anyone want to see the download progress is 92.4577522 percent complete?

I honestly haven’t decided to buy the Nook or the Kindle. I do really like the Apple iPad , which is more than an electronic book but is also quite a bit more expensive than the Nook or Kindle. Students in the near future may only have the option of buying (or renting) electronic versions of textbooks, so I’d suggest downloading both free products and give them a try.