Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Apple Movie Rentals (and Macworld thoughts)

RentalsLike I do with every Apple iTunes new feature, I buy immediately to help promote the format. The introduction of Movie Rentals is no different…

If you rent a movie through iTunes, a new source appears in iTunes “Rented Movies”. I decided to watch Pirates of the Carribean (one of our portfolio companies’ software has been used in the various Pirates films). Seeing rentals at $2.99 makes me wonder what the cost of delivery and infrastructure is for a circa 2GB file? Is Apple making any money on the rental? If any one knows the economics, please post in the comments.

The other main highlight for me was Time Capsule. I’m a backup fanatic (ever since I had 3 mac laptops stolen in one fell swoop), and Time Capsule will really simplify my backup strategy. 1TB of storage sitting in our closet ticking away… well done Apple!

Filed under: Apple Computer

Spotlight on System Files

If you’ve been missing system files (e.g. plist files) in your Spotlight results or Finder searches, you need to follow this tip over at TidBits:

When you choose Other, you get a dialog listing all the kinds of metadata the Spotlight index knows about. You can just pick one to use it; you can also select a checkbox to specify that that option should appear in the menu from now on, so you don’t have to pass through the Other dialog to access it. I recommend that you immediately check two items that I think you’ll be using quite a lot:

System files. When set to Include, files are sought even in special locations such as /Library/Caches and ~/Library/Preferences. For example, if you search on “com.apple” you won’t find much, but if you include system files, you’ll find hundreds of preference files.
[Emphasis mine]

Spotlight items. When set to Include, searches are expanded beyond files and folders to include other sorts of entities, such as iCal events, Safari history items, and preference panes.

A huge power user tip: When you summon the Finder search window with Command-Option-Space, or from the Spotlight menu, Spotlight items is set to Include. When you summon the Finder search window with Command-F or by typing in a Finder window’s search field, Spotlight items is not set to Include. This is actually quite brilliant. Spotlight is making a very reasonable distinction and assumption here: if you started in the Finder, you probably just want to look for files and folders, but if you summoned the search window in a more global way, you probably want to look at all kinds of entities. Of course you can always summon a Criteria Bar and change the setting if the initial default isn’t what you intended.

Good search means a lean, clean system…

Filed under: Apple Computer

Coda- one window web development for OS X

coda.jpeg

I’ve been using Panic’s Coda, everything-web-development tool, and agree with others, it is the bee’s knees. Not only is it a great web development tool, it’s five tools in one window: HTML Editor, CSS Editor, Terminal, FTP, Browser and Library.

One of the great features is saving your work on a “Site”. When you close Coda, all the tabs you had open while working on a particular site are saved- essentially saving your entire workspace. Split windows are really helpful as well. Another useful (unless you’re a ninja coder) is the Book Library integration. You have HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP reference manuals built right in- which means you can find specific code in 3 nano seconds.

The software is at 1.0.3, so it’s very early days, but the software shows lots of promise. Ruby on Rails integration is (rumored) to be coming as well.

Filed under: Apple Computer, Software

Free Dave Matthews @ iTunes store

dj.osklwccs.jpg

Grab Dave’s video while it’s free… (US store only)

Filed under: Apple Computer, iPhone, iPod

Migrate from .Mac to Gmail in three steps

Introduction

It’s almost that time of year again- the annual “Do I keep .mac, or do I leave it” decision. I’ve had a mac email address since the iTools days when it was all free. After years of paying my mac tax, I’ve decided to leave .mac and migrate to my own domain (hosted within my gmail account).

Migration

Google lets you manage your own domain effortlessly. I’ve set up a Google Apps account for jasonball.com which lets me manage about 100 emails on the jasonball.com domain.

The key here is I’m reading and managing everything from within one unified inbox at my gmail account (could have been from within the jasonball.com/gmail account, but I already use most Google products through my existing gmail account).

Google have made it dead easy to migrate from any service. For .mac there are three steps:

Step One- Move *all* your messages into your Inbox. This includes your sent messages. Although Google won’t register sent messages in your gmail inbox, nor in your gmail “sent” folder, it does add them to your archive- with the right date AND threading. This makes it easy to import all your inbox and sent messages- making them easily searchable.

Step Two- Go to the Settings>Accounts>Get mail from other accounts. Add .mac (even though it refers to POP accounts). You’ll need to input your username, password and these pop server details: mail.mac.com, port 995, select “use secure connection”, select “archive incoming messages” and you’re off to the races.

I chose to leave the messages on .mac just in case I change my mind over the next five months. Google only loads 200 messages at a time, so it will take a while for all your emails to automagically appear in gmail (but they will and the time stamps will all be correct also.)

Step Three- There is no step three! (well, maybe some cleaning up, select as read/filing/tagging you might want to do, but not required. You might also want to uncheck that “auto renew” button for your .mac account).

Final Thoughts

Why leave .mac? Well, aside from calling it .crap for years…

I don’t use the blogging tools (I use TypePad).
I don’t use the photo albums (I use Flickr Pro).
I don’t use iDisk other than for backup- and a total of 2GB doesn’t get you very far (I now use Mozy, which offers 2GB for free, but pay the $50 per year to back up my entire HD).
I don’t use the iSync bookmarks feature I use Google Browser Sync and Delicious.

.Mac costs me about $150 per year (I have my wife, mom and dad on the service so it costs more than the standard $99). My current set up costs me about $75 net per year (Typepad gets offset with Adsense)- and I get much, much more for my money.

Other small details: .mac’s spam filter is pitiful. I had to buy Spamsieve a while back (excellent software) which meant that I had to read emails in my Mail.app. Google has caught every spam message that .mac missed. Also, the tight integration with calendar is great as well (i.e. there’s an event mentioned in an email and a “add to calendar” appears to the right of the message.

Any questions or problems doing the same, drop me a line: blog at jasonball dot com.

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Filed under: Apple Computer, Other

Back up your Mac [Updated]

Anyone who knows me knows I’m seriously paranoid when it comes to backups. I have two duplicates of my hard drive that I rotate out monthly and store off-site and have mission critical files backed up daily online. I even have priceless photos stored on DVD on two continents in case one continent sinks.

Now, I have Mozy, the snazzy new client for Mac OS X. Apparently it’s good enough for GE who have recently contracted with the company to provide point and click backup for 300,000+ employees and good enough for Tim Draper to invest into.

Mozy gives you unlimited online backup space for $4.95/month. Which means about 120GB for me…ymmv.

They’ve taken the easy to use quickpicks philosophy introduced by Apple’s Backup and added Retrospect’s incremental backup process- which means after a full backup, only the files that change are uploaded- and also it constantly polls your system for new/changed files and then uploads those automatically. All this means you have an off-site copy of all your files (music, photos, email attachments, etc.)

If I don’t see any serious glitches (it *is* still in beta), I will definitely be signing up for the service.

[Update May 22nd]

I have now parted with $54 for 1 yr of the service. Mozy has been quietly backing up my system happily and efficiently. I’ve spot-checked and done a few delete/restores. Seems to be doing what it should do… Highly recommended.

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Filed under: Apple Computer, Software

Joost successfully runs on Apple TV

One of the glaring holes in Apple TV is internet content, so a Joost boost is just what the doctor ordered.

Don’t know how long until Apple updates the software to block any mods. I somehow doubt Apple will allow Joost to run officially on the device…

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Filed under: Apple Computer, Software

Slimming down iPhoto

Great piece of command-line kung foo here.

I shaved a gig of “original” photos. There are some apps out there that do the same thing, but without the command-line drama of “Will this actually erase my entire computer if I mistype something?”.

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Filed under: Apple Computer

Thoughts on Macworld

I was asked yesterday what I thought about the iPhone. My gut reaction was, "bleh". Nice, but I’m not going to rush out and get one. I will probably wait until the chipset supports 2MB download speeds- making it a viable internet device. The functionality that Steve demoed would come in very handy in central London. The price point as offered on Amazon.de at 899 and 999 Euro seems a bit steep for what the phone currently offers as well…

The killer intro (well, update) was the Apple TV. I was hoping to buy one this weekend at the Apple Store on Regent Street. I’m an iTunes junkie (see previous post comments). I buy Season Passes for Lost, etc. and download movies as well. I’m a compulsive subscriber to video podcasts. Having all of that accessible from the comfort of my sofa is very attractive. Watching "Me TV" is much better than some house developer show or reality TV format on Channel 4….throw in access to my music collection from our media server and we’re rollling.

Filed under: Apple Computer

iTunes 2 billion songs purchased

In case you missed the announcement, hidden amongst other Apple announcements, iTunes song sales have now topped 2 billion. That means an additional 1 billion were sold in the past 12 months. The data points graphed looks like this:
Itunes2billion450fu0

Make your own crystal ball projections….

Via Mad Dog in the Fog

Filed under: Apple Computer

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