Posts Tagged ‘Mac’

I’m all about trying to make it easier to get my media shared, and since the xbox360 is so capable of playing movies and music, i wanted to eliminate the task of transferring files from my Mac to a USB thumb drive and then plugging that into my xbox console.  You see, as much as i like media sharing, i am equally lazy about it and want it all to work seamlessly without wires and devices. This is where Connect360 comes in.

Connect360 is free to try in its limited use variation which basically allows you to install it and test it out but limits the number of photos, music and videos it shares unless you buy the full license.  I tried it out, watched one movie using it and immediately bought a license. $20 buys you the full version, which you don’t need to download again, you just unlock the one you already have by putting in your registration info.  But don’t let me convince you its the answer to your needs, you need to try it out and see for yourself, because, as they say, your mileage may vary.

In the Settings you will see a few options in case you want to change something set up during the install.  I’ve left most of the settings as defaults for General, iTunes and iPhoto. This is the registered version, which seems to be unlimited in its number of files it will share.

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The only setting i changed was how often to rescan the Movies folder, pretty much out of the box setup worked fine for me.

The program resides as a preference pane in your System Preferences (as seen in the first screenshot above) which you can easily turn on and off as needed.  When you turn it on, it will take a few minutes to refresh the shared media (depending upon how many files you are sharing of course), and don’t be surprised if everytime you access the preference pane it wants to restart your System Preferences, its a quick process and for some reason beyond me, its the way the program works.

Once up and running, turn on your xbox360 and in your videos/music/pictures areas you will see “connect360” with your mac’s name which once clicked on will show you everything you have shared in each folder/service.  So far watching movies over my wireless network, or listening to music, or just watching a slideshow of photos has worked flawlessly.

I know if you use a windows pc running Media Centre you can already share your files that way, but for anyone with a Mac who wants to share with an xbox360 (or two) Connect360 is a great and pretty inexpensive way to do it.

tcg

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Why change? i liked the old iLife suite of apps, they may not be perfect but they got the job done. I guess you could say i was accustomed to them, like an old friend or colleague, or an old pairs of slippers – you know what to expect, how things work, how they fit, sure they may be a little long in the tooth, worn around the edges, dog chewed, – okay i admit i’m mixing my metaphors a little too much but you get the idea.
Sometimes change is good – but change for the sake of change, hmmm.., well…, why bother. iLife falls into the space in the middle between the two extremes.

iPhoto continues to impress me. As with any change there is a bit of a learning curve but this one is short, it works very similar to the old iPhoto only with events being created whenever you add photos to your library. I like it. At first i thought “great another bunch of stuff i won’t use” but as soon i realized how handy it was to see a few thumbnails of an event and how much easier it is to scroll through events than an entire library, i wanted to give the apple coders a pat on the back.

iDVD, is well, iDVD. There were a few changes but mostly it just seems like a general cleaning up of an existing app without too many new features or changes. Much the same with Garageband. The quick look i took at it made me wonder if i had upgraded it or not, on the surface it’s very similar, only it seems to have a few more buttons and bells and whistles built in. I’m not a musician in any way shape or form, but i do like to play around with this kind of app to see what i can up with – mostly just to get used as background in an iMovie, which is a perfect segue into…

iMovie ’08. Huh?!?! What happened? Did Apple decide we didn’t need to have control over our movies and just wanted to make it very simple for us to make a really stripped down plain-jane movie? Or did they decide we were bright enough to play with the inner workings of iMovie so they removed a lot of the features and abilities we used to have in the old iMovie ’06? “Nothing to see here. Move along. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”. I for one was outraged. Not only did old movies that i had not finished lose their music and titles, and have all their transitions changed to cross dissolve, they also took away the timeline viewer! What kind of an editing program does not have the ability to see your clips in a timeline viewer? Well obviously, this one, but i’m not liking it. I did a little searching on the web and found out i was not the only one which is why Apple has posted iMovie ’06 on their website for owners of iLife ’08 to download and use. One good thing about the new iMovie is the fact the editing has become non-destructive, so you can reedit as much as you want and play around with clips from your library without bringing them back into your movie after you screw them up and blow away a bit you actually needed. I’ll continue to use the latest iMovie but will keep the old one around as well, in my opinion it was better.

Last but not least, iWeb. One thing that jumps out is the ability to add HTML code to your iWeb pages. This will kill the need for a handy little app i was using called iWeb Enhancer, which basically allowed me to cut and paste HTML into the old iWeb pages. Handy for hiding email address from bots. One problem i had was that it did not import my old iWeb files very well, the formatting got all screwed up in the navigation bar and the header and footer. It was not a tough fix, but meant recreating most of the pages with a header and footer that worked and copy-clipping content into them. I’m using the latest and greatest iWeb right now for this blog and find it is stable and just as intuitive as before with a few more features, such as the “web widgets” and the ability to change the theme with ease. That will come in handy when the format of your web pages gets tired looking and you want a change.

All in all, i’ll give iLife ’08 a 4 out of 5, mainly because iMovie is not really an upgrade but an entirely new product, and should have been called something different, possibly iVideo would have been better.

– TCG

 

Someone said it wouldn’t work. So, being one who likes a challenge, I set out to prove or disprove the statement. I couldn’t see any reason it wouldn’t work, so I fired up VPC 7 and created another virtual machine to be used for installing the beta version of windows’ latest (and greatest?) operating system, Vista.

The first hurdle was getting the dvd I created from the downloaded ISO file to be recognized. I was getting a message telling me my BIOS was not ACPI compliant. As it happens VPC does use a virtual BIOS and with a bit of persistence (numerous restarts and continual taping of the DELETE key) I managed to catch the virtual machine at the proper point in the startup to allow me to access the BIOS. Once you catch the bios a simple change is all that is necessary. Find the “ACPI Aware OS” and change the setting to Yes. Then simply exit saving the settings. The machine will reboot and this time will allow you to install windows Vista.
The install took about 2 hours on my ibook g4, and required very little “baby-sitting”. After the install was done, I restarted the virtual machine and was greeted with a very pretty looking group of icons on a scenic desktop background. A few tweaks later and I had the desktop looking more or less like a cleaner version of the familiar WinXP desktop. There was a small problem with the network connections on Vista though. They don’t work. After a bit of searching, I found out that it is a driver issue, which is a fairly easy fix as long as you have a working install of WinXP in Virtual PC. You simply need to copy 2 files from your VPC install of WinXP. The files are “WindowsSystem32driversdc21x4.sys” and “net21x4.inf“.  Place the 2 files somewhere where you can access them in your Vista VPC, a drive you are planning on sharing is best.
Install the VPC additions in your Vista VPC and then share the folder you put the two files noted above into. I copied the two files and dropped them on the desktop of the Vista VPC after that just to make finding them easy. You need to go into the control panel, then device manager and find the your non-functioning ethernet card. Update the drivers to the files you just placed on your desktop. Reboot your VPC and if you did everything correctly, you are good to go surfing/browsing/emailing, whatever, with your now functioning ethernet card.

There are a number of Updates available for Vista, and being as it is a Beta version, there will more than likely be a few a day as problems arise. Updating is brutally slow, as is most things in Vista VPC even with the ram cranked up to 512 (what an annoying limit, but that is a VPC problem and not Vista related), but if all you want to do is prove it can be done and get a look at the next windows operating system without screwing up your current computer, then it does the job. Vista is up and running, but I have not had much time to actually play with it to put forth a worthwhile review of it, so I will withhold my thoughts and comments for now.

TCG