For something that looks roughly the same wherever it’s played, video
sure comes in a lot of formats. Online videos, including YouTube’s, are
often Flash (FLV or F4V) files, while DVDs contain the Video_TS
structure, TiVo shows get wrapped in their own proprietary MPEG-2
format, your camcorder captures clips in AVCHD--and the list keeps
going. You shouldn’t need to know any of this to play and watch video,
which is where Popcorn steps in. Roxio’s software imports these and
other formats and compresses them for use on an AppleTV, iPhone, PS3,
YouTube, DVD, and more. While it occasionally stumbles, the app comes
in handy more often than it disappoints.
Internet radio offers options well beyond the powers of old-fashioned
broadcasting, but something’s still missing--that’s because many music
apps don’t go the extra mile themselves to let you record
internet-radio streams. Radio Gaga plays and records thousands of
stations, but the more you try to do with it, the more you’ll only hear
Your Mac’s Finder is probably one of the last things you ever think
about. It’s just kind of there, doing pretty much the same stuff it
always has. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Path Finder from Cocoatech takes Finder’s basic functions and adds in
tons of new features that will appeal to average users and Mac geeks
Queen’s ubiquitous “We Will Rock You” is a tune that will always rock
the sixth-inning rally, but when it’s on repeat for 25 minutes because
of duplicate copies in your iTunes library, it’s time to do some spring
cleaning. iTunes Dupes Barrier helps you quickly seek out and destroy
duplicate tracks, and it’s a bit more flexible than iTunes’ built-in
Don’t panic, but one way or another, data loss and troublesome software updates will
happen. Regular Time Machine backups help protect your Home folder from
these hazards, but missing or messed up system files can prevent your
Mac from running properly or even starting up. And who wants to perform
tedious reinstalls? Snow Leopard’s installer is great and all, but
seeing it once was enough.
iTunes 9’s Home Sharing lets you drag-and-drop content between up to
five computers on your home network after you tie each to your iTunes
Store account. SuperSync obliterates Home Sharing’s limitations,
letting you sync and share music and videos between as many machines as
you like, either over the local network or the wide-open Internet.
We’re calendar geeks. Without iCal, we’d be completely lost. But that
doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. For one, we often wish
there was a quick way to view dates on the calendar without having to
switch over to iCal and break the flow of what we’re currently working
on. A simple day/date display in iCal would come in handy for
everything from scheduling deadlines to planning weekend trips with
friends. DateLine is a donationware application that adds a lightweight
calendar display to your Desktop and also gives you one-click access to
Initially we all had just one Mac and one iPod. We’d dutifully sync our iPod with our Mac, and life was grand.
Then we got a MacBook, another iPod, and finally, an iPhone. Soon it
was apparent that our music library was scattered across multiple
machines and the idea of trying to figure out which machine had which
songs became an onerous task. So we just threw them all together,
resulting in tons of unwanted duplicate tracks.
When a friend’s child ran up to us at a dinner party with a shocked
look on her face and proceeded to describe what one of the older boys
had “accidentally” stumbled upon on the Internet, we realized that the
time had come to impose some serious restrictions on Web activity in
our house. Enter Net Nanny, recently available for Macs, which helps
you limit access to the Internet’s darker corners. And while there are
parental controls built into OS X, they may not be strict enough.