Sidelined by bad hard drive

April 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Geek Dad, Our Life, Switching to Mac

Our iMac isn’t feeling well. On Friday it locked up and now refuses to boot. I ran diagnostics over the weekend and am trying to repair the hard drive, but it seems like the drive is completely toast. I plan on writing a post with the complete symptoms and tests in a day or so, but for now I wanted to let everyone know where we’d run off to.

The good news is that we bought the AppleCare extension so our repairs are covered. We also had been using an external hard drive for our Time Machine and everything should be backed up. I’ll let everyone know how that works. As a fall back I also backed up our 85 GB iPhoto library to our Drobo about a month ago so the worst case scenario is that we lose 1 month of photos.

Let this serve as a reminder to any other photo nuts that you MUST have a digital backup strategy. This is the second hard drive we’ve had crash without any warning. If a disk suffers a hardware failure there is no way to recover the data unless you send it away to a lab and take out a sizable loan to pay for a service that may not recover anything. Buying an external hard drive (or two!) is cheap in comparison. The ideal solution is something that is automatic, like Time Machine, and will perform regular backups without any human intervention.

Stay tuned to hear how we make out.

Ceiva iPhoto plugin

April 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac

I just received an email from Ceiva asking me to try their new iPhoto plugin. This plugin is still in beta testing, but is available for anyone to download and test out. Using the plugin you can export your iPhoto pictures to any Ceiva frame or album.

The plugin installs easily and adds a new Ceiva option when you select File | Export from iPhoto. The Ceiva Export window presents 3 tabs. One if the image preview. The second is for your Ceiva login information. The third is Ceiva location (frame and album or create a new album). You can save all these settings so after the first setup all future Ceiva exports will go to the same frame and album.

The plugin worked as advertised and I recommend it to anyone with iPhoto who likes sending pictures to someone’s Ceiva.

Why is my Mac talking to me?

April 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac

Jamie has become very fascinated with our new Mac and loves hammering on the keyboard. When I see her headed that way I’ll startup Alpha Baby so she can play without accidentally deleting something. The other day, however, she worked some magic on the keyboard and suddenly the Mac was speaking to us. Every window we opened it would tell us what we were doing and what was on the page. What made matters worse is that this voice was immune to the volume and mute buttons!

It is times like this that I really love Google. I searched for “How do I make my mac stop talking” and immediately found this answer.

go to your “system preferences”, click on “universal access” and under “hearing” turn “voice over” off

Woohoo! Blessed silence.

More Photo Booth Fun!

February 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Pictures, Switching to Mac

The photo booth is perfect for when you’re feeling goofy or bored. Sorry John but I had to post your freaky one! I put in a normal one to makeup for it (and a bad one of me too).

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Alphababy

February 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac, Tips and Websites

I heard about a great free kids program on Jumping Monkeys a few weeks ago called Alphababy.  This is a Mac only program so when we got our new computer I was excited to get a chance to try it out.  Alphababy is very simple concept.   When you run it the screen turns white and every key on the keyboard will display either the corresponding letter/number or it will display a shape.  It also will tell you what it is.  To exit the program you need to hit a 4 key combination making this a great screen saver to prevent the kids from accidentally deleting something while they hammer on the keys.  The boys love hunting for letters and discovering the different shapes.  If you have any little kids in the house who like hopping on the computer, I highly recommend it.

Mac Tip: Sending pictures to Ceiva from iPhoto

February 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac, Tips and Websites

Now that all my files are on our iMac I’m trying to figure out how to everything. OS 10 is still foreign to me, but fortunately Google is there to help me. Here’s a simple tip I found:

Sending pictures to Ceiva from iPhoto is incredibly easy. Simply login in to your Ceiva account and set it up to receive photos by email. Then all you have to do is email your photos to the Ceiva address. I added a new entry in my address book for Ceiva to make this even easier.

Photoshop Elements on the PC had an option to export pictures to Ceiva, but it took several steps and would lock up the program while it was processing. By emailing them I can go back to iPhoto while the messages are being sent. Love it!

Building a better mouse

February 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac

I have often heard mac users complain about Apple’s Mighty Mouse.  My only experience had been the hockey puck mouse that they released about 7 years ago.  It was a horrible, ergonomical  torture device.

With that experience in mind, I was curious to see what the new mouse is like and despite Heather’s immediate complaints I stuck it out…and lasted 3 days.  The Apple mouse is downright painful.  The scroll wheel on top is nice whenever you need to scroll horizontally, but with a 24″ screen at full resolution I rarely need to do it.  This is an instance where Apple sacrificed comfort in favor of design.  A typical mouse has a hump so you are able to rest your hand, but the Apple mouse is flatter forcing your hand to perform a crab-like hover that resulted in hand cramping after any prolonged use.

Fortunately, the solution is easy.  Gotta love USB…I took my trusty ol Logitech from my PC and plugged it into my iMac.  Wonderful!  Familiar mouse AND I have my right click back.  Woohoo!

My recommendation to anyone switching to a mac is to not even bother with the Apple mouse.  Just take the mouse you are using for your PC and plug it into the mac before you turn it on for the first time.  Just one more thing to make the transition easier.

Photo Booth

February 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Switching to Mac

Macs have a lot of powerful programs. I’m busy getting iTunes setup with video podcasts and new playlists, importing old video with iMovie, Time Machine is backing everything up every hour, but it’s the little things that really make you appreciate making the switch from Windows. We’re having a lot of fun goofing around with Photobooth.

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Switching to Mac

February 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Our Life, Switching to Mac, Tips and Websites

After a year of soul searching, researching, and drooling I have finally made the switch and used our tax rebate to purchase an iMac. This move is still a little shocking to me because a year ago I was waiting for Vista to be released so I could buy a new PC. When I started seeing the terrible reviews of Vista I also noticed the feature list for the upcoming release of Leopard from Apple. There were many neat things, but what caught my eye was Time Machine – a seemless file backup tool that is integrated into the operating system. After suffering through a hard drive crash the summer before this feature jumped out at me. Since that time I have been keeping tabs on all the new Apple releases until finally biting the bullet. Here are the key reasons for someone who has used Windows for 20 years to make the jump.

  1. Age – Our current desktop is 6 years old and showing its age. We already had 1 hard drive die and it seems to be getting slower and louder.
  2. Backups – As I mentioned above, the seamless automation of backups is big to me.
  3. USB 2.0 – All our peripherals are mind numbingly slow because of the old USB 1.0 ports.
  4. All that I need – Mac users try to win me over by telling me how Macs can run Windows programs if I install Parallels…but I tell them there are no Windows programs that I need to use. Here is the current extent of our computing…all things that Apple does better and simpler
    • Surf internet (Firefox)
    • Email (Thunderbird)
    • Calendar (Google)
    • Photos (Photoshop Elements)
    • iTunes
    • Blogging (Firefox and occasional HTML editing)

When I looked at what a mac offers it is an identical match to everything I want to do on a computer, but without the hassles of maintaining a PC. So this week we took the plunge and I will be posting about our experiences as we switch over, but first here is what we got.

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