Mac OS X has an option to keep hard drives spinning for quick file access, or to save power and reduce noise by spinning them down when they're not in use. This can be convenient, but is rather limiting for users who would like to customize when their disks should spin down.… Read more
I have always been intrigued by tools that have provided similar functions as the Dock to other operating systems: in the classic Mac OS, there was the control strip, and I even appreciated the "quick launch" feature in Windows XP. I have enjoyed seeing new features and refinements added to the OS X Dock over the years; and in Snow Leopard, Apple has added a few new features that may be useful to some people, but which can easily be overlooked if you use the Dock in the same way as you did with Leopard.… Read more
If you've got burnt thighs from an old MacBook Pro or you notice that your computer is always overheating and crashing from using CPU-intensive apps (like playing PC games in a virtual Windows environment), you might want to check out smcFanControl. This free, GPL-licensed utility has a single purpose: letting you increase the minimum speed of built-in fans, so your Intel computer will run cooler.
smcFanControl lets you monitor the current temperature (in Celsius or Fahrenheit), assign different minimum speeds for each fan using sliders, and even apply different settings when your power source changes (for example, going back … Read more
With Snow Leopard, Apple changed the "International" preference pane organization, and also altered the input menu icon so that depending on the options in the menu, it removes the country flag. This is a subtle change, but I personally liked having my country's flag in the upper-right corner of my computer.… Read more
Apple's OSX Snow Leopard update offers several noteworthy enhancements, and plenty of behind-the-scenes tweaks--but has anything in the operating system changed in regard to energy efficiency?
We took a 17-inch MacBook Pro and ran it though our standard energy use tests, first under OSX 10.5.6 (a.k.a. Leopard) and then after we installed Snow Leopard, which brought us up to OSX 10.6. Our test system, already Energy Star-compliant, had a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, and we had the discrete Nvidia GeForce 9600 graphics turned on.
The differences were minor, but we were … Read more
Periodically, readers will need to access files off old computers that they have kept stashed away for years (I still have my PowerBook 150, and will probably never get rid of it). If you are one of these people and have protected your old Mac with OS 9's password protection, there may be a chance you have forgotten your log-in password and cannot access your system. As with OS X, in order to get around the password protection in OS 9 you will need a boot CD, in this case preferably one that's loads the classic Mac OS.… Read more
Among the bevy of problems--some large, some small--reported by iPhone users following the release of iPhone OS 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS lurked a bug I encountered in Find My iPhone on Apple's MobileMe service.
Find My iPhone remembers all your devices, including any old iPhones turned off or sold after you upgraded to the iPhone 3GS. Until now, there was no way to make Find My iPhone forget that old iPhone.
Apple has quietly released an updated Apple support document, "MobileMe, iPhone OS 3.0: Troubleshooting Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe," which now states:… Read more
Auto speaker setup and calibration is a popular feature on almost every receiver and a lot of home-theater-in-a-box systems.
Sure, it sounds like a peachy idea, but the accuracy of auto setup is hardly a sure thing; and at their worst, auto setup systems sound worse than no setup at all.
Ideally, the setup system automatically determines speaker sizes (large or small), measures speaker-to-listener distances, sets the volume levels of all of the speakers, determines the proper subwoofer volume level, checks that all the speaker wires' "+" and "-" connections are properly oriented at the speaker and receiver ends, and calculates the subwoofer-to-speaker crossover point. Some receivers also employ EQ (equalization) curves to correct for speaker and room acoustic anomalies.
What's not to like? Well, it the auto setup worked perfectly, nothing.
But they're mostly flawed: Subwoofer calibrations are almost always off. Auto calibration systems boost the sub volume much too high, and overestimate the sub distance to the listener by a factor of two (so a 10 foot distance becomes 20 or more feet).
Worse yet, auto setup systems rarely set the subwoofer-to-satellite speakers crossover frequency to the optimum point. That is, they tend to set the crossover too high, say 150 Hertz, which unnecessarily restricts the speakers' bass response. The speakers might sound better with a lower crossover setting. I recommend 80Hz for all speakers with 4- to 6-inch woofers; 100Hz for 3-inch woofers; and higher settings of 120Hz or 150Hz only for the tiniest speakers.
Accessing the measurement data post auto setup can be tricky on some receivers. Then you really don't know what you have.
Thing is, manual setup isn't all that difficult and will likely be more accurate. And chances are you wouldn't muck up the distances as poorly as the autosetup would. Running the test tones over the speakers and manually adjusting the sound by ear or with a Radio Shack meter isn't so hard to do.… Read more
To really be a Jedi-level iTunes guru, you must master the art of the Smart Playlist. The most enlightened of all the playlists (don't let Genius Playlists fool you), Smart Playlists can be used to quickly create genre playlists, sort out your least favorite tracks, or keep your kid's insipid music from infecting your iPhone.
To help you on your way toward total playlist domination, I've put together a little video and a slideshow to get the ball rolling. If you've got a favorite Smart Playlist tip to share, please be kind enough to drop it … Read more
Though the open nature of Android has always allowed you to alter the G1's software, options for personalizing the exterior of the phone have been few. Fortunately, however, the upcoming T-Mobile MyTouch 3G offers customization choices both inside and out.
We can get a preview of what's in store for new MyTouch 3G users by looking at current Android modifications. By far, the most popular options are home-screen replacements. For a couple of bucks, users can purchase apps in the Android Market that completely replace the default home screen. Once installed, there are hundreds of free themes for … Read more