Recent Articles By Dave Hamilton [RSS]
I'm quite happy to welcome Smile back as this week's TMO sponsor. And I'm quite happy that they again asked me to talk about PDFpen because this is something I use on every Mac I have, and I use it almost every day for one purpose or another. Read on for a few examples of how I use PDFpen every day.
I've long been a fan of the concept of a Network-attached Storage (NAS) drive, that being a device which attaches to your network and provides both storage and network-centric services beyond just simple file sharing. I've tried nearly everything out there, and it wasn't until I used the Synology DiskStation units that I finally felt someone got it right. Yes, they're "network attached storage" units, but they also easily provide additional services like an iTunes server, the ability to stream audio/video to dedicated iOS apps (even across the Internet), their own private cloud called Cloud Station (i.e. your own Dropbox), and more. In fact, third parties have created (unsupported) packages you can install to let your DiskStation become a Minecraft Server, a CrashPlan client and server, and much, much more. It's too cool, and I highly recommend these to everyone looking to add functionality to their existing network.
Yesterday Synology added the DS1513+ to their line-up of DiskStation NAS units, and the DS1513+ has a few things that prosumers will find attractive. First is the 2GB of RAM that is (finally!) user-upgradable (to 4GB) – this makes running lots of packages feasible. It's also got a dual core processors, necessary for doing on-the-fly video transcoding, and more. The DS1513+ also has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports (admittedly overkill for us home users), and the ability to expand beyond the five drive bays included. Cool Stuff Found, indeed!
Reader John has a hard disk gone bad and needs to recover some files off it before he moves on to a newer, more reliable disk. With that, though, he's having trouble deciding which data recovery software to use, in part because there are no good reviews of any options out there.
Ever have your Mac tell you that your startup disk is so full that you can't run any more applications or really do anything? That happened to Sarah, and we help guide her through diagnosing and solving this problem... and we might even learn some troubleshooting tricks along the way!
Evomail, an iPad-only email client that aims to truly "re-invent email," was released today. I've been testing the release candidate they submitted to Apple, and from what I've seen it's a respectable first volley of a product whose path will be, in the words of its founders, "a marathon and not a sprint." Part of the reinvention is UI-related, and part is functionality, specifically allowing full-time push notifications from a 3rd party client. This reinvention, however, comes at a cost: you need to provide Evomail access to your email account so their servers can log in to check for mail and deliver these push notifications.
Once again I'd like to thank Smile for sponsoring us here at TMO, and this week I get to tell you about PDFPenPro 6. You've likely previously read my stuff about PDFPen, and PDFPenPro builds on that with a few key features, including document permission settings and a new automatic form field creation tool.
Ever have a bunch of files you want to rename? Maybe you received a group of documents from your Windows-using friend that have some wonky text in them, or maybe you want to serialize and date some pictures? Automator, built right into your Mac, makes this so easy you'll scratch your head twice; once for not having done this with Automator in the past, and a second time if you've never used Automator before because you'll see how easy and powerful it is.
You like using Handbrake but loathe the UI when you have a folder of videos to convert? Now you're in luck. HandBrakeBatch, built to use Handbrake in the background and do exactly that, has been around since June of 2011 (near as we can tell), but was most recently updated just this past February (of 2013, that is), and worked very well in our tests. It requires that you have Handbrake installed, and will use any presets you have in Handbrake, including those you've custom-defined. Next time you need to batch convert a folder full of movies (and they don't really all need to be in the same folder, either), fire up HandBrakeBatch and let it get to work.
It is with great pleasure that I announce this week's returning sponsor, Crashplan. We all know we're supposed to back up, and we even have some easy ways to do that locally now thanks to Apple building Time Machine into the OS. And that's good, but what happens if your Time Machine disk gets corrupted or, worse, what happens if it's stolen or damaged at the same time as your main Mac? CrashPlan can help.
For years the best option for Mac-using TiVo owners to get content off of our TiVos and to our iDevices was iTiVo. But iTiVo, built largely in AppleScript Studio, has always had a buggy user interface, and with Mountain Lion it originally required some Terminal fu to get it to work at all. Building on the work done for iTiVo (and even reading your preferences from iTiVo), cTiVo picks up and takes the whole project into Objective C, making it a faster, cleaner app than its predecessor. And as with iTiVo, cTiVo is 100% freely available and open source.