Happy Tuesday,
Much of the state is digging out following record-breaking snowfall over the weekend (33″!). I didn’t even realize we were in the midst of a major weather event until I saw friends’ Facebook posts; only a few measly inches fell here in the Mad River Valley!
I’m heading to Burlington tomorrow, where Katie reports still-unplowed roads are the norm. Our Service Writer in Burlington travels from Swanton every day and had a very crazy commute!
This edition of Tech Tails has two meaty articles. Rebecca writes about an Xserve that had all of us baffled, Ed shares his tips to avoid and rectify system slowdowns, plus some tips for your gadgets in extreme temperatures.
Happy new year from all of us at Small Dog Electronics!
As always, thanks for reading and keep in touch.
Matt
“matt@smalldog.com”:mailto:matt@smalldog.com

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Welcome back to Deal Retriever! In this week’s deal, *we’re offering the Pure Digital Chrome Flip video minoHD for cost–$184.99–with free shipping!*
!http://blog.smalldog.com/images/1509.jpg!:http://www.smalldog.com/wag 19750/at_dr/


Did you know that Small Dog Electronics matches charitable donations? Get into the spirit of the new year and make a donation today–it will go twice as far!Read more about our Charitable Giving Program and make a donation: “Smalldog.com/charity”:http://www.smalldog.com/charity

__Deal Retriever deals are valid for one week only and while supplies last.__

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Thank you for your support in 2009! All of us here at Small Dog Electronics realize that ultimately it is you, our loyal customers, that pay our wages and we pledge to continue in 2010 to provide the very best in customer satisfaction.
We believe in making customers for life and want to hear from you with comments, suggestions, complaints, praise or just a friendly hello!
Happy New Year from Small Dog Electronics!
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
_Don, Kali and Ed_

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We always know a new Apple product is going to popular when a large number of Small Dog Electronics employees decide to buy it for themselves. The new iPod nano with built-in video camera, microphone, pedometer, and FM radio is a perfect example of this. (And in case you’re wondering, green is the most popular color.)
I recently tested the video from the new nano against a Flip minoHD. In some ways, this isn’t a fair comparison. The Flip is a dedicated video camera, and shoots in HD with a wide 1280 x 720 aspect ratio. The video camera in the nano isn’t really intended to replace a dedicated video camera; it’s there to capture spontaneous, fun videos. It captures standard def. video at a 640 x 480 resolution. The nano also features 15 built-in special effects like X-Ray, Security Cam, Cyborg, and Kaleido, which further accentuate the fun factor. Still, I thought the video from the nano looked surprisingly decent.
I basically attached the two cameras with rubber bands and walked around Small Dog. Video here is shown side by side. All audio comes directly from the nano, not the Flip. Neither the Flip nor the nano has a particularly outstanding microphone.
Of course these videos are ultra-compressed by the time they’re posted online. Don’t forget to watch in HD!
“Click here to see the video on YouTube.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB76K8hHMqA
“Click here to see the video in a larger size in better quality on Vimeo.”:http://vimeo.com/6728321

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As promised, here is my list of favorite FREE applications for Mac. While these are my own personal favorite apps, many of them are also great for new Mac users and recent switchers.
These are all legitimate applications, and not pirated or black market titles. I use these apps weekly and even daily, and don’t hesitate to recommend them.
Note that I didn’t include any web-based applications and services in this list, though I was tempted to do so. We’ll cover our favorite web apps in a future Kibbles & Bytes.
*1* “OnyX”:http://www.titanium.free.fr/pgs/english.html This is a multifunction maintenance, optimization, and personalization utility for Mac OS X. It’s available for Panther, Tiger, and Leopard. I use it about once a month or so to keep all my Macs running smoothly.
OnyX allows you to verify your Mac’s Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, run miscellaneous tasks of system maintenance, configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Exposé, Safari, Login window and some of Apple’s own applications, it deletes caches, removes a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.
“Click here to learn more and download OnyX!”:http://www.titanium.free.fr/pgs/english.html
*2* “VLC”:http://www.videolan.org/ VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, more) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
In other words, VLC will play back many file formats that the QuickTime Player, Windows Media Player, etc can’t handle. Best of all, VLC doesn’t need any external codecs or programs to work.
“Click here to learn more and download VLC.”:http://www.videolan.org/
*3* “Bean”:http://www.bean-osx.com/Bean.html Bean is a small, easy-to-use word processor (or more precisely, a rich text editor), designed to make writing convenient and efficient. Bean is Open Source, fully Cocoa, and is available free of charge! MS Word, OpenOffice, etc. try to be all things to all people, and indeed offer many more writing tools, templates, and output options. But sometimes you simply need to write, and that is Bean’s niche.
Bean includes many writing essentials including a live word count, a Get Info panel for in-depth statistics, a zoom-slider to easily change the view scale,
an Inspector panel with lots of sliders, date-stamped backups, auto-saving, page layout mode, an alternate colors option (e.g., white text on blue), selection of text by text style, paragraph style, color, etc, a floating windows option (like Stickies has). find panel allows regular expressions (pattern matching), and all of Cocoa’s good stuff (dictionary, word completion, etc.).
I combine Bean with “Think”:http://www.freeverse.com/apps/app/?id=7013 for efficient, clutter-free writing.
“Click here to learn more and download Bean for Mac.”:http://www.bean-osx.com/Bean.html
*4* “NetNewsWire”:http://www.newsgator.com/Individuals/NetNewsWire/ This is an easy-to-use RSS and Atom reader for your Mac. It allows you to browse, subscribe, read, and save hundreds of thousands of website feeds. It is a true desktop Mac application, with integration with Spotlight, Address Book, iCal, iPhoto, Growl, Twitterific and more. Best of all, it effortlessly syncs with NetNewsWire’s web-based RSS reader for free, allowing you to manage all your RSS feeds from any Internet-connected computer (Mac or PC).
“Click here to download NetNewsWire!”:http://www.newsgator.com/
*5* “HandBrake”:http://handbrake.fr/ HandBrake is an open-source, multithreaded video transcoder, available for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. It will convert just about any video file you can play on your Mac into a variety of other, easier to play, more portable video formats. Most people use HandBrake to back up their DVDs, or convert a DVD into a file that can be played back on their iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, PS3, etc. Use it as you will. HandBrake has been updated substantially over the past several years since its initial release
“Click here to learn more and download HandBrake.”:http://handbrake.fr
*6* “Carbon Copy Cloner 3.”:http://www.bombich.com/software/index.html I admit, since Time Machine debuted with Leopard, I don’t use this app as much as I used to. However, for simple, successful backups, Carbon Copy Cloner can’t be beat. You can also use CCC3 for backing up across network, backup to disk images, and backup of selected files only. CCC 3 features an interface designed to make the cloning and backup procedure very intuitive. In addition to general backup, CCC can also clone one hard drive to another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica of your source hard drive.
“Click here to learn more and download Carbon Copy Cloner!”:http://www.bombich.com/software/index.html
*7* “The Unarchiver”:http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/unarchiver.html Forget the other commercial unarchiving apps (like the free version of StuffIt)–the Unarchiver is all you need. Uncompress RAR, 7zip, tar, and bz2 files on your Mac. The developer notes “Many new Mac users will be puzzled the first time they download a RAR file. Do them a favor and download UnRarX for them!”
“Click here to download the Unarchiver and learn more.”:http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/unarchiver.html
*8* “Google SketchUp”:http://sketchup.google.com/ Google SketchUp is used to create, modify and share 3D models of anything you like. I know a few people who used SketchUp extensively to plan and pre-visualize house renovations. I’ve used it to create a virtual set for planning camera placement. There are dozens of video tutorials, an extensive Help Center and a worldwide user community for SketchUp, making it relatively easy to learn.
It’s amazing that SketchUp is free! “Download SketchUp by clicking here.”:http://sketchup.google.com/product/gsu.html
*9* “Tweetie for Mac.”:http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-mac/ Tweetie is my desktop Twitter app of choice. I like that I can easily mange multiple Twitter accounts, view entire tweet “conversations” iChat-style, and compose Tweets in a seperate draft window (with built-in URL compression). The free version is ad-supported, which so far I don’t mind. I mean, it is free after all.
“Click here to learn more and download Tweetie for Mac.”:http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-mac/
*10* “AppCleaner”:http://www.freemacsoft.net/AppCleaner/ Want to remove some of the apps you’ve downloaded here, or downloaded in the past? Try AppCleaner. It’s a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. Installing an application distributes many files throughout your System using space of your Hard Drive unnecessarily. AppCleaner finds all these small files and safely deletes them.
“Click here to learn more and download AppCleaner for Mac.”:http://www.freemacsoft.net/AppCleaner/
Honorable Mention: Quicksilver. I know I’d get lynched if I didn’t include this app, which is #1 on many lists of essential Mac software. I simply don’t use it anymore, or ever since I upgraded to Leopard. It’s an awesome app though. “Click here to learn about and download Quicksilver”:http://www.blacktree.com/?quicksilver
Runners Up: “Audacity”:http://audacity.sourceforge.net, “Adium”:http://adium.im/, “NeoOffice”:http://www.neooffice.org/neojava/en/index.php, “CyberDuck”:http://cyberduck.ch/s, “Firefox”:http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/firefox.html, “Camino”:http://caminobrowser.org, “Carbon Copy Cloner”:http://www.bombich.com/software/index.html, “xPad”:http://www.getxpad.com, “Windows Media Components for QuickTime, by Flip4Mac”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/wmcomponents.mspx, “iStat Pro”:http://islayer.com/apps/istatpro, “Think”:http://www.freeverse.com/apps/app, “SuperDuper”:http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html, “Burn “:http://burn-osx.sourceforge.net/Pages/English/home.html “Chicken Of The VNC”:http://sourceforge.net/projects/cotvnc, “Skype”:http://www.skype.com, “Anxiety”:http://www.anxietyapp.com/

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Recently, I created a Pages document that grew to be unusually large in file size due to the images that I was using. The Pages file was roughly 140MB, so even exported to a PDF, it only shrunk to about 50MB–still too big for an email.
Rather than resize the images that I put in the document itself, there’s an easier way.
In Pages, select *File > Reduce File Size.* This will resize the images according to how large they actually appear in the document itself.
*140MB > 1.2MB?* Success!

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My husband Chris recently ditched Windows for good on his MacBook, on which he had previously been running Windows via Boot Camp as his primary OS. Once he decided to make the leap for good, he just backed up his important files, deleted the Windows partition and started using OS X.
All worked great until the time came to sync his iPhone. Since he was still on the same computer, he didn’t think anything of plugging it in. However, he had been in the Windows world, and the two operating systems–though on the same physical computer–treat syncing devices separately. When he plugged his iPhone in, iTunes naturally treated it like a new device.
Without thinking, he clicked through the windows prompting him to set up his new device and all info was lost. Around the same time, I had been having issues with my own iPhone and needed to troubleshoot to getting it working correctly again. What a great time to write about safely backing up and restoring an iPhone!
So, if you’re having issues with your iPhone or iPod touch or you’d like to utilize the restore feature before syncing to a new iTunes library, here are some things to keep in mind (if you need step-by-step instructions for the restore process, see the bottom of the article for links):
* *iTunes has a built-in feature that backs up your data each time you sync, update or restore your device.*
However, this does NOT include your photos, videos or audio. If you have the information still on your computer that you want to sync, it will do so; however if you’re setting up your device for the first time and your information is not already on the computer, you want a more fully-featured backup program such as “iPhone/iPod touch Backup Extractor.”:http://supercrazyawesome.com __(Leopard only)__
* *If you want to restore your device from a backup, either right click the iPhone or iPod touch icon in the lefthand navigation bar or click Restore in the Summary tab in iTunes.*
If your data is completely up-to-date the way you want it, and you need to restore it because it’s acting funny, I’d recommend syncing first, so you have a recent backup.
Note: If you click Restore in the Summary tab and proceed from there, it gives you a little more information about the backups than if you right click on the device icon (e.g. my old iPod touch and iPhone are named the same thing–only the former example gives you your phone number to indicate that it’s a phone, rather than an iPod!)
Depending on the size of the backup, it could (and probably will) take several minutes.
* *Once your data is restored, all of your information should be back on your device, but the apps will be out of order.*
If you’re like me and have several pages of apps that you’ve painstakingly organized to perfection (yep, I said it), I recommend taking a screenshot of each page beforehand to help you sort them out afterward! (iPhone only: To take a screenshot, press the Home button and the button on the top simultaneously. It will take a screenshot that is then stored in your pictures.)
More resources:
“Backing Up/Restoring your iPhone/iPod touch software”:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1414
“iPhone and iPod touch: About backups”:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1766
“iPhone Troubleshooting Assistant”:http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/troubleshooting/phone/
“iPod touch Troubleshooting Assistant”:http://www.apple.com/support/ipodtouch/troubleshooting/ipodtouch/

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Over the Holidays one of the biggest requests was “Speck SeeThru”:http://www.smalldog.com/search/?find=speck cases for the new Unibody MacBooks, which we did not have in stock after selling out quickly. However, they just landed again at both of our retail stores!
We currently have in “clear”:http://www.smalldog.com/product/75113 and “pink”:http://www.smalldog.com/product/75114 for the SeeThru hard shell cases, and “black”:http://www.smalldog.com/product/75115 for the Speck SeeThru Satin hard shell case.
Personally, I just got a white Unibody MacBook and have been waiting for these to land! I have always used Speck products on my laptops to keep them looking clean and to prevent scratches. The new white MacBooks tend to get a bit dirty on the bottom rubber, so these cases from Speck will eliminate that problem!
They also serve as great protection for your laptop. When I have had Speck cases on my Macs before, I just put them right in the laptop sleeve of my “TimBuk2 Messenger”:http://www.smalldog.com/search/?find=timbuk2+messenger bags and didn’t have to worry about protection. I highly recommend this product to anyone with a Mac laptop!

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Last week, I wrote about “how to make your Mac more like a PC.”:http://blog.smalldog.com/kibbles/?c=kb617 Now, here’s a Top 5 for the other side: those who want to make their PC more like a Mac! Whether you’re someone who wants the look and feel of a Mac because you’re used to one at home and your evil bosses make you work on a PC at the office (kidding) or simply because it’s fun to mix it up a bit, the following tips should help:
1) *Get Firefox (or Safari):* Seriously, ditch Internet Explorer if you haven’t already! Both “Safari”:http://www.apple.com/safari/download/ and “Firefox”:http://www.getfirefox.com are much faster, cleaner, secure browsers for the web. In addition, Safari has the same features you love on the Mac side, and Firefox offers a seemingly infinite number of extensions to customize it (including numerous Safari/OS X skins). It’s a no-brainer!
2) *Use Thunderbird:* Similarly, using Thunderbird will mimic your Mac experience. There are skins (themes) for it as well that emulate the look of Apple Mail–nice and clean. (We’ll be writing about our favorite Firefox/Thunderbird extentions in a future Kibbles.) Don’t worry about ditching Outlook; Thunderbird can handle all of the same types of email accounts (POP, IMAP, etc.) that it can, so you won’t miss a thing. (Just be sure to have someone guide you through the process if you’re unsure of some of your email settings.)
3) *Fix that UI:* Face it, the user interface of a Mac looks good. If you’re still using Windows XP, it’s especially apparent that it doesn’t look as great. Try “StarDock’s WindowBlinds,”:http://www.stardock.com/products/windowblinds/ a utility designed to make XP or Vista look amazingly Mac-like. It’s a non-permanent option that’s safe for work computers (as long as you have access) because it just gives your PC the smooth, aqua ‘skin’ of OS X.
4) *Create PDFs:* Miss how easy it is to make a PDF in OS X? Grab “PDFCreator.”:http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ Create a PDF from anything you’d be printing instead–no rebooting necessary!
5) *Get Command back:* Use “SharpKeys!”:http://www.randyrants.com/2008/12/sharpkeys_30.html This tool allows you to switch your Alt and Ctrl keys, emulating the Command key on an Apple keyboard.
Have some tips of your own? Let us know. Next week, I’ll feature some feedback from both of these articles!
Image credit: “Instructables.com”:http://www.instructables.com

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