Next 5 things for your mac

Mac LogoHot on the heels of the similarly titled post, I have a few other gems I’ve come across or been pointed towards to make life on the good ship MacBook that little bit more simple. Not that it’s difficult in the first place, just different if you’re used to Windows.

Note: Feedback from the family, who are a mix of casual and regular PC users, would suggest the Mac is easy to use. So fear-ye not Mac virgins, this is not a platform (only) for the uber-geeks.

That said, if you *are* an uber-geek, there’s lots (and I mean lots) to float your boat here.

So, what do we have in the bag this time?

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First 10 things to put on your new Mac

Mac OS X LeopardAs you may heve read from previous posts, and at the risk of boring any regular (aye right!) readers, I got a MacBook a short while back. It’s a bit of a migration for me, having uset a PC for most of my career. I published a list of keyboard shortcuts previously and heres a list of other things I’ve hunted down as ‘essentials’ for day to day work/play.

I know there are alternatives to all of the below, but these are the ones I plumped for. One prevailing factor influenced the choices below; they’re all open source/freeware. My budget for toys is dry following the arrival of the MacBook, so it’s cheapies or freebies for me for a while.

So here goes:

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There is indeed an app for that

apple-iphone-3gAccording to the iPhone adverts, regardless of what you want to do, “there’s an app for that’. Now, I’ve always been a bit cynical to marketing blurb, especially from the big companies. But having had an iPhone for a while now, I can honestly say, I think that claim may actually be pretty close to the truth. There seems to be a limitless number of apps out there to do just about anything.

It’s quite simply the best phone I’ve had. Looks good, nice and slim in the pocket, fantastic UI and the apps, well, that’t where this phone sticks out in front of the rest.

If you don’t have an iPhone, this post will either be of no interest to you at all or may ust convice you to get one.

It already comes with some great apps, like Google Maps But you’re not stuck with just that, of course, there’s a wealth of apps you have to pay for, but in these economic times, let me run through a “Top 5” of the coolest free apps I’ve downloaded so far…

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The Leopard has landed

apple-logo-black-xsanNo posts for a while, partly because I’ve been on holiday and busy with other things, but also because I have a new toy. I’ve gone over to the dark side, as a few of my friends have commented, and now have a foot in the MacBook camp.

So I’ve been spending time getting to grips with the myriad of differences between Windows, which I’ve used for the last 20 years or so, and the platform of choice for the creative world. The butterfly finds another flower to alight on, so to speak.

So, how’s it going so far?

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New boots and panties

My new theme: AspireFor those of you old enough to remember Ian Dury, you’ll recognise the title.

But this post has nothing to do with Ian Dury, or indeed music. Its about a new look for the blog.  I decided that after sticking with the iNove theme for a few months, it was time to move up a gear.

So I hooked myself up with a new, free WordPress theme from, it’s called Aspire, hope you like it.

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Extra long posts: how to

It's a long postBackground: I made a massive post some time ago, when I compiled my Desert Island C90 tape.  It felt really long as I created it and subsequently edited it quite a few times and added to it.  There are 24 tracks on the post, each with a little bit of blurb and embedded video and, added to that, some introductory blurb and ‘buy it’ Amazon MP3 options.

The thought occurred to me that maybe I should come up with a method of splitting it up into manageable chunks to make it easy for the reader.  So, how to do…?

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Amazon widget

Buy it at Amazon
In my continuing quest to beef-up the blog with useful content, I went through and added links to corresponding content to my previous posts (evidence the videos on the C90 post).

I had to do a reasonable amount of digging to find an Amazon Associate plugin that would do the job. Google comes up with many links, and a few WordPress widgets that looked promising.  But, here’s a bit of info to save anyone following this blog for WordPress tips the hassle of hitting a couple of dead-ends.

The first I tried was “Amazon Widgets Shortcodes”, install and setup was OK, but following the instructions didn’t produce the desired effect.  Not sure if I missed something, but was getting nothing from it, so had another look around for something better.

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Social Bookmarking

social** Note: This plugin has subsequently been replaced by another **

Added the ‘add-to-any‘ button to allow social bookmarking. A great implementation, easy to include and configure. I went for a bit of repositioning of the default location for the button, to slip it in on the same line as the post footer.

I followed the instructions on manual deployment, but found that I had to modify 3 of the php files from the theme, as opposed to the two mentioned in the ‘readme’.

Maybe it’s the theme I’m using, not altogether au fait with all this yet. I had to modify (i) index.php as that displays all posts, (ii) posts.php as that displays single posts and also (iii) archive.php as that displays posts batched under an archive, or otherwise grouped by category.

That said, once I found the necessary locations to mod, it was a simple paste of the code into the file and all was good.

Twitter integration

Twitter BirdI just implemented the ‘Twitter Tools‘ plugin. Again, surprisingly easy to bolt-on, no issues and looks to be working just fine, first time. I could get used to this level of ‘fit for purpose-ness’.

I went mainly for the defaults in terms of configuration. Simply set it up with my login for Twitter and away we went.

Some great features in this plugin; (i) It displays your recent Twitter activity in the sidebar, (ii) You can Tweet directly from the site if you’re logged in and (iii) It automatically consolidates your tweets into a daily/weekly blog-post.