Monday, February 26, 2007

Mac Essentials

I'm writing this post for Leilei, a college freshman, who recently purchased her first Mac, congrats. And I'm just gonna show you some killer apps that would make your mac experience a total bliss. (Start with the basics...)

Enhancing Browsers: I've tried almost every web browser for Mac: Camino, Firefox, OmniWeb, iCab, Opera, Internet Explorer, Seamokey, etc (yeah, I'm a geek...) and of course, Safari. Now I mostly stick to three:

Safari

Comes with your mac. To maximize its performance, I recommend you install the following plug-ins, all are small and handy: Safari Enhancer, Safari Stand (sidebar with previews, etc) and PithHelmet (ad blocking),
❤ Clean. In my experience, Safari takes the least system memory among all browsers. And it's interface is also simple and clear (okay, on this point, maybe not as simple as OmniWeb, but the later surely has much less function than Safari)
❤ Mac's Build-in Dictionary. Move your mouse to any work in a web page, and with Ctrl+Command⌘+D, you can bring up the Oxford Dictionary, which is very useful to students.
❤ RSS reader. Safari's build-in RSS reader is the fastest among all web browsers.

Firefox

I hate Firefox, nevertheless, it's my primary web browser, why? Add-ons. Firefox add-on could be a pain in the ass, slowing down the computer and taking much space in the browser. This is a guy that installed 200 Firefox add-ons, see what he ends up with. On the other hand, some add-ons do enhance your web browsing experience. I currently have Adblock Plus, Fasterfox, Forecastfox, Google Browser Sync (to sync my three computers: 2 Macs and 1 PC), Google Notebook (perfect when you are doing research online, enables you to add notes to links or simply copy down everything you selected), and StumbleUpon (discover new and interesting sites)

Opera

FAST. That's the sole reason I still keep Opera, but isn't that the primary concern?
And be sure to check out this amazing Opera Skin: Oxid It's just the simplest and most elegant browser skin I've ever seen; I wish they made one for Firefox too.

Instant Messaging:

Adium

AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, QQ, etc all in one. Plus, there are endless skins to choose from. The only demerit is the slow transferring speed.


Skype

The best VOIP app ever. The voice quality is as good as, and in some case, better than land phone. Besides, its file transferring rate could reach over 1 MB/sec! (I'm talking about using our school's LAN)

File sharing & other Internet tools:

Cyberduck

The best Mac FTP client. Simple, fast, powerful!
You can also download a Cyberduck dashboard widget, which enables you to upload files right from your dashboard.


Transmission

Torrent client.
I've used a number of torrent clients for Mac: Tomato Torrent, Azureus , Bits on Wheels , BitTorrent OSX , just to name a few. Azureaus may be the second to the best: it's the only one that allows you to download selective files in a torrent file, but it's the slowest of all. Transmission, on the other hand, is very simply, it only has the function you need, which is downloading, and does very well at that:)

Pando

A new software that totally innovate the way people view email attachment or file sharing in IMs, webs, etc. The idea is similar to that of torrent files, you drag something, be it a folder or a file, as large as up to 5 Gbs into Pando and it automaticly create a .pando file that is about 20 something Kb, put it anywhere you like and people could download it using Pando from both your desktop and the Pando server which makes the transferring faster and more secure than torrent downloading.

iGetter
Power and fast downloading tool. The best thing about iGetter is that it allows you to navigate websites in it and view the web site's contents listed in a Finder kind of way; you can even click open the folders and download items as if you've went through the backstage of the site. Very cool and useful indeed.


Media Players:

VCL
It's the only media player you will ever need: it works flawlessly with a number of audio and video formats (avi, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols on it.

Flip4Mac
That's what makes you legitimately say goodbye to Windows Media Player.


iPod & iTunes:

iSquint
It may be the fastest iPod video converter.


SizzlingKeys
Have you ever feel you just want to skip this song but too lazy to switch to iTunes while you are working on... let's say... OmniOutliner? Or have you ever wished if you could just rate the song without going back and forth to iTunes and do it? SizzlingKeys is just the answer for you. Whether you are a short-cut geek or just want to have a quick peek at what is playing right now, SizzlingKeys has got it all for you. You can assign short-cut to Skip, Pause, Play, rate, and so forth; you can also get a notification displaying a song's name, artist, album, album cover when it started playing. And there are many more lovely functions in this tinny small app. SizzlingKeys really makes iTunes a lot better.

Senuti
Easily upload your iPod music to your computer.


Other apps that make your life easier:

SuperDuper!

Face it, no one really backs up his hard drive on regular bases. But we all feel safer when we have a neat disk backup tool in the application folder.

Onyx

The cheapest (free) and best maintenance worker and cleaner your mac would ever have. It also allows you to optimize Finder, Login window, Dock, Safari, Dashboard, Exposé, Disk Utility, etc.


Stuffit Expander
Expand compressed files/ folders. So far, it opens everything I throw to it: .rar, .sit, .tar, .tgz, .zip, etc.


AppZapper
"The uninstaller Apple forgot"
Unlike Windows, Mac doesn't have something like the registry list, but drag and drop the file in the application folder to trash does not delete it completely either (though this deletes most of the application), AppZapper helps you to clean apps with one drag-and-drop.

Address Book Importer
Essential Address Book tool. It enables you to import contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or any contact book that can export a CSV file. With the help of AddressBookToCSV, you can now sync all your contact list. (Hint: if you are using a BlueTooth-support cell phone, you can sync with all of them. Never worry about losing your contact again.)

Keyword Assistant
Adding keywords to iPhoto pictures could be painful, but this neat plug-in comes into rescue. You can now add, manage your keywords with ease. Seriously, I think Steve Jobs should buy this and build it into iPhoto.

Growl
It's a highly customizable tool that displays notifications when there's a change in certain application. Most basic uses include displaying a notice when you get a new email (similar to Gmail Notifier), or displaying newly received IMs, or notifying you when your download has finished, etc. It can display iTunes songs (this function is similar to SizzlingKeys, so I turned it off). It can even display notifications on other Growl-enabled computers by, for instance, automatically sending a Growl IM when your transfer is finished. You will be amazed at how many applications that you are using support Growl. And for the few that don't, you can use OmniGrowl to enable them as well.

QuickSilver
A quick-launch app with beautiful design. The only thing I find somewhat intriguing is that though I unchecked the Document box in the Catalog folder, it keeps loading the search results in Document still, no matter how many times I rescan, relaunch, or even restart my computer. Every time I goes back to check it again, the Document is checked again. That's really annoying. I think it should be some kind of a bug. But other than that, Quicksilver should be really handy.

Friday, February 9, 2007

反省贴

家门口新开了一家糕点店 September-九月生活,两位售货小姐声音都是甜甜的,嫩嫩的,就像它做的那软软的发酵起来的蛋糕一样。

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把MSN Space上的帖子转到这里,发现这几年来写的中文果然是屈指可数——自责一下。哎。。。以后要加油了!

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终于上了学校的教务在线,中华经典选读Prof. Ames 居然给了我97,真不枉费我写得那么用心,只可惜最后两篇weekly essay草草应付了,早知道用功写写说不定可以达到当年王颖冲姐姐99分的纪录(其实心里知道是不可能的,呵呵)。可恶的王元陆!手机电话从来不接,又不回短信,又不回邮件,上次明明说我的term paper写的挺好,问他意见他又说给我发邮件,可是邮件呢?到现在两个月了都没回!而且他居然给了我个89!!!!我的GPA啊!就这么被他给毁了!不过我还是心有余悸的,毕竟term paper不是自己写的。。。不过心里总忍不住想,要是我自己写term paper会怎么样?我写的应该不会比那几篇差吧。。。哎。。。后悔的话多说无意,寒假多看书吧。

说到寒假怎么过,那天不知道是看了什么电视很受启发,我19岁的人生,把时间花在看电影上真是最大的浪费,电影这种东西,层出不穷,要看,等到退休的时候吧。现在的人生,唱歌,打扮,登山,极限运动。青春,是用来挥霍的。

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Laughs Last, Laughs Best - Movies and Their Endings

Winter break, what can I say, movies, movies, and more movies. As a matter of fact, I just went to a DVD store and got 7 more movies before I even finish the ones I have at hand.
Well, first let me briefly account the movies I watched in the past two days: The Illusion, The Lake House, Edward II, The Prestige, Children of Men, The Night Listener, Crank, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, Scoop, etc.
Let's just say a few words about each:

The Illusionist
One of Edward Norton's best performance, all is great until... you guessed it, the ending. It was so cliche that I want to puke. I mean, come on, reveal the secrets of his get-away, this is not so hideous, but to go back to some kind of farm where the lover is waiting and washing the horse? That's so 60s!

The Lake House
A matured performance you can only expect from the castings like Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. The story is simple enough, taken from a Korean movie, and there's no action, no special effects, no dazzling costumes or anything. But the so unlikely story was woven in this so natural manner that makes so real and being able to resonate with others. One of the best romance movies of this year.

Edward II; Sebastiane
I'm sure you've heard about Derek Jarman. To these two movies, I don't know what to say, but, they are like nothing I've ever seen before. (Apart from Wittgenstein of course, which was also directed by Jarman) Shocking, in a way.

The Prestige
Better than I expected. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman certainly put up a good fight. The ending was pretty astonishing (no... it might not be the word, maybe gross, when you see those giant glass tanks filled with water and has got a human body in each one, and the man has killed himself for the show... ahrrr...) So how much are you able to "sacrifice" for your dream? I guess that's what the movie has left us.

Children of Men
I should love this movie, I really should. I dig into this kind of future/disaster movies. But this one? Urrr, I don't think so. Of course, I couldn't help weeping when they hold the baby and walked downstairs out and everyone just stopped fighting and people extended their hands to bless them. It was really touching. But again, I hate the ending. I mean, why do they always have to make the "good guy" die in the end? And why they always always get the timing so RIGHT? Cliche... Movie cliches... I'm just so sick and tired of this. By the way, who the hell cares about whether or not they used two long shots in the movie.

The Night Listener
Banal.

Crank
The action, the temper, the background music, and the humor, this is one of the best movies of the year. You gotta see this, and trust me, you'll love it:) Oh, by the way, this is the movie that could make you laugh your head off and weep at the end. The ending is beautiful. That one last phone call. No hurrying. Nice tempo.

Little Miss Sunshine
I began playing this movie with all expectations high, you know, after all the great reviews you've read and the awards it has already gotten and the possible-Oscar winner, but it turns out to be a real disappointment. I mean, it might be the kind of movie our parents would love to see, at least the 30, or 40 something. But not me. I find it pretty boring. But there's one line I really like (and it seems to me that it's been quoted everywhere): "Do what you love, and fuck the rest."

The Queen
A possible-Oscar winner. Just another proof that my taste is obviously not on the same track with those bunch of people at the Academy's. I find this movie a little bit boring... Especially when you are looking at those people trying their best to imitate, but just couldn't get there, yet. It's just frustration.

Scoop
Clever. Funny. My third Hugh Jackman movie in a week, I believe. Oh man, he is hot. Scarlett Johnasson happens to be one of my favorite actresses of all. Maybe one of Woody Allen's too, seeing how she has stared in two of his latest major movies. The character Hugh Jackman is playing is kind of ideal man, that is, of course, before he was found out to be a murderer and cheater. But yes, I mean, handsome, wealthy, well-educated, have a good-taste in art and music, even lesbians would fall for him, believe me. And another thing worth mention is the ending. Oh God, Woody Allen is just so good, soooo good. I've never seen an ending as wicked and humorous as this one before. I could watch the movie a thousand times simply for this ending!