Archive for June, 2011

Better Know your Wireless Router

June 9, 2011 by jcrawfordor. 11 comments
Almost everyone these days has a small box with antennae somewhere in their house. It may look innocent, but while it’s killing your babies it’s also applying multiple filters and rulesets to the thousands of packets coming in and out of your network every day.  Wireless routers are ubiquitous today, but there’s a lot of people (even those very competent with computers) that aren’t quite sure how their router should be set up. In this tall post, I’ll show you through the common options and settings on a home router and explain what each does and how you might want to set them, along with some tips for a fast and secure network.

Ask Different Podcast #6: WWDC Keynote

June 7, 2011 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the sixth episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin and Jason Salaz.

We devote this entire show to the announcements from the WWDC Keynote:
  • First up, the next version of Mac OS X, 10.7 “Lion”, will prominently feature multitouch gestures for moving between applications and invoking Mission Control and Launchpad (other new features in Lion). We discuss how we feel about Apple’s shift away from the mouse and if it means that desktop Macs will be sold with trackpads instead.
  • Based on the successful iOS App Store, the Mac App Store has proven to be a big hit with Mac users. We discuss new App Store features in Lion and highlight the success that apps like Pixelmator have had in the store.
  • Following up on our earlier discussion of the idea of the Continuous Client, we discuss how it ties in with Lion’s upcoming support for saving and resuming app state, autosave, and versioning of files.
  • We wrap up our discussion of Lion by talking about AirDrop, a way to drag and drop files from one Mac to another without needing to configure file sharing, and the “iPadification” of the new interface for the Mail app.
  • Apple also previewed some new features of the next version of iOS, iOS 5, starting with a completely redesigned notifications interface. We discuss what’s different and how it makes it easier to read and manage multiple simultaneous notifications.
  • Twitter is now deeply integrated into iOS, and features a single sign-on area in the settings. We discuss what this means for Twitter, third-party Twitter clients, and the conspicuous absence of Facebook.
  • Mobile Safari has also seen multiple improvements, including a tab bar and an Instapaper-like Reading List feature. There’s also a new to-do list app called Reminders. We discuss whether the tab bar was a good idea and the usefulness of location-based reminder alerts.
  • The Camera app has undergone significant improvement. We talk about the faster loading time, the ability to quickly take a picture without having to unlock your device, and how the volume button has even been configured to act as a shutter button!
  • The requirement to activate an iOS device through iTunes will soon be a thing of the past – iOS 5 has cut the cord and is PC-Free. We discuss what the benefit is, and how iOS has made it possible.
  • Apple has brought its Messages app to the iPad and iPod touch, and they’ve renamed it… iMessages? Yes, it’s true – we discuss use cases, the similarity to Blackberry’s BBM service, and cringe at how bad the name is.
  • Move aside Mac, Apple has re-envisioned the digital hub and it now centers around iCloud. MobileMe is being phased out as well, and the Contacts, Calendars, and Mail services are being absorbed into iCloud.
  • iCloud also offers a cloud-based backup service for iOS devices, allowing users to back up and restore without ever needing to involve a computer. We discuss the benefits of this, and the limitations Apple has placed on it.
  • Purchases made through the App Store, iBooks Store, and iTunes Store are catalogued in one place and can be downloaded and re-downloaded to all the devices on your Apple account. We discuss our disappointment at the lack of a facility to stream music, and how the new price point – free – is sure to drive adoption.
  • One More Thing… iTunes Match. For $24.99/year, you can have iCloud scan your iTunes library for music that had not been purchased through the iTunes Store. If the iTunes Store carries the file, you will be upgraded to a high-quality version. If not, iTunes will upload it to iCloud and offer the standard iTunes in the Cloud services for that music.

This episode was recorded on Monday, June 6th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at



Living on the Bleeding Edge of Firefox

by Simon Sheehan. 3 comments

As an avid Firefox user since it began, I’ve developed a great liking towards the browser and its consistent updates. As version 3.6 phased into a 4.0 Beta, I just had to try it out. But then I thought to myself: If i like to try out the new beta’s, why not just go to the bleeding edge? And with that, my journey began – Welcome to Nightly. Welcome to Nightly

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QoTW: How do I set PATH and other environment variables?

June 6, 2011 by Simon Sheehan. 1 comments


How do I set PATH and other environment variables?

Questions about setting environment variables the PATH are very common here, and in most cases the answers are very similar to each other. In the future it would be nice to have a good Q/A for this. So the question is: How do I set the executable PATH and other environment variables on major operating systems? A good answer would include a simple explanation of what environment variables and especially PATH mean to the OS, as well as simple guidelines on how to set them accordingly.

Being an avid computer user for years now, the PATH is something that has crossed me quite a few times now. So when I saw this question, it was time to put my learning hat on.

One of the most well-known is called PATH on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It specifies the directories in which executable programs* are located on the machine that can be started without knowing and typing the whole path to the file on the command line. (Or in Windows, the Run dialog in the Start Menu or Windows Key+R).

So now that we know what the PATH is, where are these things set? With a quick look around, I found it was easily found on Windows 7, by simply popping open the Start Menu and typing in “Environment.” The first option was Edit environment variables for your account. Click it, and here we are:

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Digging Deeper: Mastering Spotlight in OS X

June 3, 2011 by slhck. 1 comments

Spotlight is a great feature of OS X that many of its users love for being simple and fast. With a single click or keystroke you can search for files and applications on your Mac. Results are displayed instantaneously and often very useful.

Most of the users click the Spotlight button on the top right of your OS X menu bar or press CmdSpace to open the Spotlight window. While this comes in handy for simple application launching or finding files you use on a daily basis, there is much more to Spotlight than this.

When our user @kjo asked how to find old unused files in OS X, he wanted to find files that had not been opened in a long time. Let’s see what Spotlight can do to help us here.

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