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Showing posts from November, 2008

Raising kids in an online world

My wife and I have had many discussions of late about how best to raise kids in an increasingly connected world. What I would like to share with you is how much change we’ve seen since we became parents nearly 20 years ago and some of the things we’ve done in order to make it all work.

A Little Background
All of my children grew up around computers and have had my hand-me-down machines in their rooms since a very early age. Since my oldest is now 19 and off in college, that means that a lot of their exposure pre-dated Internet access.

Initially having a computer in their room meant getting them educational software and games that helped with reading, geography and math. One of their favorites was the old Oregon Trail game; as a history teacher my wife loved those types of titles. Giving my kids extensive access to computers at an early age meant providing them with an advantage that I knew would help them later in life.

Connectivity Comes Along
In the late 90s I retrofitted our house with …

RegistryScan.cc tells my Mac I have a Windows Malware infection

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I was happily working along this afternoon when suddenly I received a Skype pop-up text message. I rarely use Skype for text messaging, sticking with Adium for that. It's usually some Skype SPAM asking me to come to some lonely woman's web page to see pictures of her. This time the message looked pretty ominous:

Obviously this is just a SPAM attempt to get someone to jump over to a web site. Kind of tough for my Mac running Leopard to get a Registry hack installed. At the bottom of the message was a link to go to the offending site:

http://www.registryscan.cc/?q=scan

Out of curiosity I decided to jump over and take a look at the page. I'm running a Mac and it was pretty clear this was targeting Windows machines. What I got was this:


Just trying to navigate away from the site presented me with this little pop-up:


What do I love about all of this? Let's see:
The animation leading up to the above screen shot looks like a Windows progress dialogThe Windows XP style dialogs were …

Making the Logitech Harmony 620 remote work with a Mac

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I was buying a couple of items at my local Costco yesterday and saw the Logitech Harmony 620 sitting in a display for $99. I had been wanting a decent all-in-one remote that would help me integrate my primary entertainment set up down in my basement. The equipment is a bit dated but works very well, the only problem being the plethora of remotes that I need in order to make it all work properly.

What looked interesting about this particular device was that it had a USB connector on it and would allow me to program it with my PC. This beat the old process I had to go through on a previous all-in-one remote that required a series of numeric entries into the keypad that felt like a game of Twister for my fingers.

The packaging on the 620 indicated that it supported a Mac so I made the impulse decision to buy it. Turns out I could have saved myself $10 by buying it from Amazon/Target but I didn't feel like driving back and returning it over $10. Once I managed to extract the device from…

Getting the most out of Spaces on a dual monitor Mac Pro

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Ever since I switched from Windows to Mac over 9 months ago I've been obsessed with making myself as productive as possible in OS X. Without question one of my favorite features is Spaces, the multi-desktop feature for Leopard. Here is how I've set up my environment to make the most out of it.

Hardware First
My primary workstation is a Mac Pro with 12GB of RAM and several TB of disk space. In addition I have two monitors attached (Samsung SyncMaster 204B), which gives me an effective 3200x1200 of desktop real estate. In my opinion you can't have too much RAM, disk space or more importantly screen real estate.



The other thing that I've found extremely helpful for me was using a decent multi-button mouse. In my case I'm using the one from my older Windows XP gaming rig, a Logitech MX 510 Optical Gaming Mouse. The best part of it for me is that I've set the additional button below the mouse wheel to activate Spaces, making it really easy to quickly access the list o…

iShowU HD - capture that video easily

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Have you ever wanted to capture video that you see online? Say for example you want to capture a highlight play on NFL.COM—which has some very high quality video clips online—integrating the results into your own video. I was looking for just such a solution the other day and found iShowU HD, a nice little application that can capture virtually any video you can view on your Mac, including Flash based videos from YouTube, etc.

Using the application is pretty straightforward - just set the video capture area, the quality of the output video, click the Record button and off you go:


iShowU HD also provides a way to put together basic screencasts, capturing either the entire screen or just a portion of it while scrolling the viewport with the mouse movement. It can display mouse clicks with a radar-like circle animation and audible click.

The only problem I've had with it was that recording audio (narrating my video capture) had a technical problem with my USB based microphone; it only r…