How-Tos

Solving the Leopard Puzzle

 The grumbling about Leopard started before its arrival. After all, it was, ahem, late. Apple had originally wanted to release it at 2007’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, but had to borrow some personnel from the Mac OS X team to help get the iPhone finished for its big coming-out party on June 29. Then when the cat was finally out of the bag on October 26, early reports of install problems, performance hits, bugs, and even the dreaded blue screens of death put a damper on all the great things about Leopard. We dig a lot about Leopard, but plenty of little touches (it’s always the little things, isn’t it?) in the interface have always seemed odd. While minor issues with the aesthetics and functionality of Leopard’s interface hardly represent major problems, they can still be incredibly frustrating.  And we here at Mac|Life were annoyed right along with you. But as the Beatles used to sing, it’s getting better all the time. The Mac OS is now up to version 10.5.2, and a lot of the little annoyances have been cured, either by Apple in its software updates, or by third-party apps, Terminal hacks, and other workarounds. One by one, all the pieces to customize Leopard to your exact liking are falling into place.

Readers Reinvent Apple

 Analyzing patents is one thing. Coming up with entirely new product ideas is something else entirely. Back in January, as part of our “What Comes Next?” feature, we asked for your three-dimensional “fauxtotype” designs of Apple’s “Next Big Thing,” whatever that may be. Over 50 would-be 3D designers sent us their creations, ranging from the obvious (iPod alarm clocks galore) to the unexpected (Apple-branded prefab buildings) to the curiously oblique (an Apple-created photo ID card). After much debate, voting, and gnashing of teeth, we whittled down the selections to our five favorites, which we present to you here for the first time ever. Wondering what you might soon be wearing on your ring finger…or riding in when you take to the friendly skies?

Morphing Music in GarageBand

GarageBand puts you in control.

 One day, we wanted to watch one of our favorite DVD movies. We popped in into our DVD player, sat back on the couch, relaxed, and let ourselves get thoroughly into the action. Then it happened, and of course during a totally gripping scene: The movie playback suddenly got choppy, and then froze. Our DVD player was stuck, and we had to turn it off. When we ejected the DVD and flipped it over, there it was: a scratch deep enough to disrupt the movie, as well as put an end to our viewing experience. As versatile as DVDs are, the disc surface area is quite sensitive and prone to scratches that’ll render it unusable. If you have kids at home, chances are you’ve spotted your little ones enamored with the shiny discs and how they make great toys. Or maybe you’re just a little careless (unintentionally or not) with the discs. That’s why it’s a good idea to make backups of your DVDs.

Roberto Baldwin's picture

I Shall Call Him, Mini Mod

 Case modder, Hideo Takano, placed his Mac mini into a custom built case that resembles the Mac Pro tower. The side of the case even opens to reveal the enclosed hard drive. Takano also added a USB port and power button to the front of his mini tower.  If you think you have the mad skills to recreate this masterpiece, Takano has posted a how-to to create your own. The original directions are in Japanese, but the power of Google Translate could get a few brave souls on their way. Our favorite translated step: And this is part of the hole in the earth and many offer a table in the front part.   

True Learning

We all know the value of education, but a trickier decision parents have to make is when to start formally educating their kids. It’s becoming more common to send toddlers for a year or two of preschool before they start kindergarten at age 5. And the structure is a lot different than in years past—even kindergartners get homework these days. 

Flying Meat Acorn 1.0.1

Acorn offers a very simple, uncluttered interface that lets you focus on the image.  iPhoto comes with some decent tools to tweak an image, and even add basic effects. However, if you want to design a montage, add text, or create artwork from scratch, you’re out of luck. You could resort to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, but both are giant leaps on the learning curve, especially for anyone used to iPhoto. This is where Acorn comes in—it’s not only a good value, but also easy to use.

Get Your iLife in Gear

All the gear you'll need to become the ultimate iLife user.

 Enjoy yourself. For most of the self-employed, a bad day of freelancing beats a good day in the cube farm.  The life cycle of a business idea can be a beautiful thing to behold. From the “Eureka!” moment when you discover what it is you want to create, to the moment you get a nice, big, fat paycheck for selling your creation, getting a home business up and running can be a wonderful, empowering experience. But if you think it’s just a matter of getting the right gear, you’re wrong. All the gear in the world won’t help you break the shackles of working for The Man if it’s used incorrectly (or costs too much). Indeed, the keys to success are the soft ingredients: the best Mac applications, the best online services, the best practices for making a go of it alone. We offer a six-page primer on establishing financial self-determination—with your trusty Mac by your side. 

Michael Simon's picture

iPhone Buzz Kill

 For as long as I’ve owned my iPhone, it’s held a permanent spot on my desk in its dock adjacent to one of my JBL Creature speakers. My cell phone is my primary form of communication in and outside my home, so it needs to be within reach at all times; and with so much e-mail checking and Internet browsing, it also usually needs to be charged.