Mac Shortcuts that will Speed You Up

May 23, 2009

key-lead

So we showed you how to enhance your workflow in Windows by 22 useful shortcuts. Today, we’ll look at Mac shortcuts that can accelerate your work.

General Shortcuts

Cmd (the -key)+C Copy
Cmd+V Paste
Cmd+X Cut
Cmd+L Go to address bar (in web browsers)
Cmd+T Open new Tab
Cmd+P Print
Cmd+S Save

Finder Shortcuts

Cmd+] or [ Go back and forth within a Finder window
Cmd+Delete Move file or folder into trash. (Select multiple files to send them all to trash)
Cmd+Shift+Del Empty Trash
Cmd Click Select multiple files not adjacent to each other
Shift Click Select multiple files adjacent to each other
Cmd+I Show info (add option to show one-windowed inspector)
Cmd+F Search
Tap Space-bar Preview file in Quickview
Cmd+O Open file/window
Cmd+Opt+O Open file/window while closing former window
Cmd+W Close window/file
Cmd+Option+W Close all open windows
Cmd+A Select all
Cmd+N New Window
Cmd+Opt+N New folder
Cmd+D Copy (Duplicate) file(s) or folder(s)
Cmd+L Create alias (Shortcut)

Applications and Windows

Cmd+Q Quit Application
Cmd+H Hide current application
Cmd+Opt+H Hide all other windows/applications (other than current)
Cmd+Tab Allows you to switch between open applications.
Cmd+`
This key, also known as the tilde-key located to the left of the ‘1’ key, lets you within the application you are currently working in.switch between open windows
F9
Shows all windows open (using Exposé)
F10
Displays all open windows within your current application (similar to #2)
F11
Shows Desktop
F8
Shows Spaces
Command+Click Window When you hold down command, you can move windows in the background (windows not in focus). This is an extremely useful shortcut that allows you to move windows (say a youtube video) in the background without switching out of your current window.

Taking Screenshots

Cmd+Shift+3 Take screenshot of entire screen
Cmd+Shift+4 Take screenshot of certain area of the screen (If you press the space-bar at this stage, you can select which specific window to take a screenshot of.
Hold control with either of the two combination and you can copy it to your clipboard instead of making a file.

Power Options

Ctrl+Shift+Eject Turn display off
Ctrl+Eject Show Shutdown/Restart/Sleep dialog box
Cmd+Opt+Eject Put computer to sleep with no warning
Cmd+Ctrl+Opt+Eject Shutdown computer with no warning

—Ray S.

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Web Development – The Next Level

May 22, 2009

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So you know HTML, CSS, maybe a little JavaScript. If that’s as far as you want to go in your web development skills, then great. But if you’re like me, then you’re looking for something more. You see all of these incredible web sites, like Amazon or Ebay, and you wonder, “How in the world do they do that?”. That was the question that opened up a whole new world for me.

If you take a look around at the modern Web 2.0 experience, you will see all sorts of really neat things. Technologies like AJAX, Server-side web applications, data-driven content, and so much more. The web is becoming more and more like the desktop every year. It truly is an incredible platform, with the ability to connect users to data and even users to users from all over the world.

The rate at which it is all changing and improving is another incredible aspect. Bill Gates, while addressing the University of Washington in 1998, said:

“Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, ‘I don’t know how to spell that.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.’ But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy.” (Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates)

Now it is, some would contend, the primary place most do their computing. From email, to social networking, even to online banking, this is an incredibly diverse platform. It would be foolish for serious web developers or programmers to ignore the web as not only a place to store online brochures (i.e. the classic 4 page “home, about us” website), but as an incredible programming platform.

But how does it work? How are web applications made? For those who have only done HTML and CSS, you will find a whole new world awaiting you. In this post I will explain at a basic level how web applications run. I will keep this as platform specific as possible (although I am horribly biased toward a certain family of technologies)

Introduction Into Web Applications

First, let’s define a web application. Turning to Wikipedia:

“In software engineering, a web application or webapp is an application that is accessed via web browser over a network such as the Internet or an intranet. It is also a computer software application that is coded in a browser-supported language (such as HTML, JavaScript, Java, etc.) and reliant on a common web browser to render the application executable.” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_application)

So a Web application is simply an application that is on the internet. I will explain it in a slightly more technical way then Wikipedia does:

“A web application is an application that is hosted on a web server that renders content that it processes to the user in common browser languages (e.g. HTML). Due to the page content being processed on a server (as opposed to the client), the server handles the “thinking”, instead of being limited to whatever variety of resources are on the client’s system.” (source: Jack Chapa)

Think about what this means. In traditional web sites, you would need to be sure that everyone could use your application by ensuring that the user had the necessary technology to do so, forcing you to go to the lowest common denominator. With server-processed web applications, you can use all of the technology that the server has. The server will send the HTML to the user. Basically, the server is the brains of the application, instead of the user’s system.

Here is a diagram that will help explain the differences:

programming-server-diagram

The ability to harness the full power of the server instead of relying on the client enables much more powerful applications.

Examples of Web Applications

All of this theory is well and good, but how about some solid examples? I won’t go into actual coding in this article, as my purpose is to provide a very, very high-level introduction into what web applications are.

The first example I will use is the website. It is powered by the WordPress software. Take a look at the URL of this article. It probably looks something like:

http://www.tonysgeektips.com/index.php?p=696

If the “index.php” part isn’t there, don’t worry about it. Because “index.php” is the default page, it is assumed that the URL address is referring to it.

Okay, so what does this have to do server side programming? Take a look that last part, the “?p=696”. Without going into all of the details, the “?” symbol tells the server that from here on out, everything in the URL will be a “query string”.  The query string is a place to set values that the server will/might need. In this case, the query string tells the server that that the browser is requesting the page “index.php” and that “p=696”. When the server recieves the request, it loads up the index.php page. The page then has some logic that looks to see what the value of “p” is in the query string. In this case, “p” is referring to the ID of the page. Where is the id/page stored? In a database, which is a place located on the server that stores information. So you see, one of the applications of server side programming is that you can have one page that displays differently depending on what is passed in via the query string. All of this happens on the server, not the client. Do you see how powerful it is?

Of course, the query string is only one example of the vast number of possible uses of server-sided applications. Other examples include e-commerce, RSS feed generators, or CMS systems (like wordpress) to name a few. The sky is pretty much the limit.

Wow, This is Pretty Slick Stuff. How Do I Start?

I’m glad you asked. There a many different technologies out there for web application development. The technology you should choose depends on what you are trying to get done. I won’t go into many details on each individual technology, as each one is incredibly vast. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

  • Microsoft .Net
    • .Net is a framework containing technologies such as ASP.Net, C#, VB.Net, and SQL Server. This is what I personally use in my development, and couldn’t recommend it more for an all-purpose, well-documented, platform. From a foundational level, it was incredibly easy to learn, but has tremendous power as you get more advanced.
  • LAMP
    • The combination of Linux Apache MySQL and PHP make up the core of the open-source family of web development. I have worked with this a good bit, and it has some pluses and minuses. I would never personally use it for my own applications, but by saying that I open up a whole can of worms. =D
  • ColdFusion
    • This is Adobe’s platform for application development. I like Adobe and don’t doubt that this a high quality platform, but I haven’t seen this one widely used, so I would use caution before choosing it. I have never used it myself, so I can’t offer much on it, however.
  • Java Server Pages
    • Web sites using the popular Java platform. Again, I have no personal experience with this, but have a lot of respect for the Java platform.

In addition to those, you also have Ruby on Rails, Perl, and many others.

In Conclusion

I have only barely thought about scratching the surface with this article. In order to really begin, you need to do a lot of research and get a book. A great place to start with the .Net world is with the Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express Edition (don’t worry about the other express editions for these purposes) and a book (Beginning ASP.NET 3.5 in C# 2008 is a good one). For PHP, all I can do is direct you to www.php.net and recommend you getting a book. Do an Amazon search for “PHP 6”.

Please feel free to ask your questions and share your experiences and suggestions in the comments.


New Google Labs Feature – Inbox Preview

May 21, 2009

Today, Google announced a new Gmail lab feature, Inbox Preview. If you enable this, it gives a preview of the first ten items in your Gmail inbox while your inbox is loading. Those on dial-up, rejoice! You can forget about waiting for that page to load only to find an empty inbox.


How To Mac-Out Your PC

May 21, 2009

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Despite all of the Mac vs. PC arguments, many people will agree that Macintosh OS X looks really cool. The dock, the wallpaper, the smoothness. Everything just seems to flow together so seamlessly. For those out there who don’t own a Mac (like me and roughly 95% of the population), there is a way to make your PC look somewhat like a Mac. Sure, you won’t get all of the built-in features like software, hardware, etc., but with a little bit of tweaking, you can make your PC look astonishingly like a Mac.

Here’s a few screen shots of what my finished Mac-ified PC looks like:

With Stardock's ObjectDock™, hiding the Windows Taskbar, and cleaning up the desktop icons, you can get the Mac-ish feel

With Stardock's ObjectDock™, hiding the Windows Taskbar, and cleaning up the desktop icons, you can get the Mac-ish feel

As you can see, I have a dock on the bottom, which is incredibly smooth. On the right side, it displays all of your currently open applications. This dock, called ObjectDock, is supplied by Stardock, the makers of some pretty slick software. At the time of this writing, you can download ObjectDock here: http://www.stardock.com/products/objectdock/

The ObjectDock has many features. To access them, click on the “Configure Dock” button which resides on the dock.

Here is how I got my machine setup after downloading StarDock:

  1. Get some wallpaper. I got it from http://thedailymac.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/space-desktop.png. You will probably need to convert it to a .jpg to get it to work, though.
  2. mac-pc-4

    With my Windows Taskbar set to Auto-hide, I can access all of the standard Windows functions.

  3. Next, move your Windows Task Bar to the top of your monitor. Also, set it to auto-hide (right-click the taskbar -> Properties -> Check “Auto-hide the taskbar”). That way, you can primarily use the dock, but have the ability to access the Windows task bar if you need it.
  4. Clean up and move your desktop icons. I’ve never seen a Mac with lots of icons cluttering it. Clean up the ones you don’t use. I actually have a folder on my desktop where I put my miscellaneous files. I find that this makes it easier to organize my desktop. If you want to completely hide all of your icons right click anywhere on the desktop, and under the “View” menu uncheck “Show Desktop Icons”. This doesn’t delete them, but simply hides them.
  5. The ObjectDock has many options, including customizable zoom on hover

    The ObjectDock has many options, including customizable zoom on hover

  6. Within the dock itself, there are numerous settings you can adjust. It’s pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll let you play around with it. Feel free to comment with specific questions.

And with that, you now have a Mac-itized computer. There are many more things your can do to add to the feel, like adding Mac mouse cursors, getting the Safari 4 Beta, and of course, iTunes.

Do you have any ways you like to alter your Windows computer? The comments are open for you to share the various ways you add some additional flavor to your Windows experience.


Microsoft To Release New Search Engine

May 21, 2009

Soon, Microsoft will be releasing their new search engine, Kumo. This will be replacing Windows Live Search. Many of the features that it will contain are similar to other search engines. cnet has posted screenshots, that you might be interested in.

As I look at all of the search engines going around these days, I can’t help but laughing. It’s almost like the browser wars of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. This time, though, there are many more players. You have the leader, Google, then you have Yahoo!, Alta-Vista, Live (soon to be Kumo), Ask, Dogpile, as well as many others. Google is almost like the Microsoft of the internet. It is one of the largest internet companies, has lots of cash, and is bundling everything together. The other companies, while many of them are huge, don’t have the same internet presence as Google.

With the internet becoming more and more the primary computing platform, it will be interesting to see if we end up with one company monopolizing the whole thing, or whether we end up with a bunch of different companies sharing the market.


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May 20, 2009

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Netflix To Enter Windows Media Center

May 20, 2009

Coming soon to a Windows Media Center near you, Netflix. For Netflix subscribers, you will soon be able to stream available Netflix movies from Windows Media Center. Also, you will have the abilty to manage your DVD queue.

This is a really neat addition that will probably increase people’s use of Windows Media Center, allowing you to manage even more of your media in the same place.