SmugMug is a photo-sharing website and image hosting service which allows users to upload both photos and videos to their SmugMug websites. The site is designed with both individuals and professionals in mind, it’s beautiful and very flexible at the same time. As Trey Ratcliff likes to say “It’s like dating a hot yoga instructor“.

SmugMug is very affordable and at only $40 per year for unlimited data storage it offers an incredible value. Not only that, but it offers awesome website building tools that make your online galleries even more amazing. Look at my photography website here.

By using the link below you will save 20% of your first year subscription, so the first year is only $32 for the basic plan. As always, there is a 14 day trial, so you have every chance to try it before you buy.

So head over to SmugMug and register now.  You will love it!

After admiring my Sony NEX-6 and its replacement Sony A6000 for some time, I have finally given in and bought the Sony A7 II last week. I didn’t have much of a chance to use the camera during the week but this weekend I gave it a bit of a run for its money.

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There are a few things that I’m really impressed and some others that I’m somewhat disappointed.

The image quality is amazing, the IS (OSS) is doing a brilliant job, the camera feels nicely in hands and the controls layout is pretty good. Having said that, the front and rear dials are a bit out of place, or rather awkward to reach when shooting, but I guess it may be a matter of getting used to twisting my hands a bit.  The exposure compensation dial is also something I didn’t quite like, but I was able to program the rear control wheel to do that task for me. The battery life time is even worse than on A6000, much worse in fact. But it has its reasons.

Good news is that I was able to use my Yongnuo remote triggers and flashes with the A7 II and that all my E-mount (APS-C) lenses can be used as well, with some compromises, though. I’ll write about these topics shortly.

For now, here is one portrait I took today. Wait until I tell you what lens I used, you’ll be impressed…

peter

This article was originally written in 2006, but the solution below still (in 2015) applies to Mac computers with optical drive.

Earlier this evening I inserted a blank DVD into my MacBook Pro wanting to burn some files. However, OS X never recognised the disc, nothing on the desktop, nothing in the Finder, not even in the Disk Utility. I pressed the Eject button, pressed and held F12 for a few seconds, but the disk was stuck.

I had a DVD stuck once before, even though recognised by the system, and I got it out after tilting the computer 45 degrees forward. But this time, whatever I did there was no eject mechanism sound at all, just a very quiet sound of the disk spinning up and slowing down every few seconds.

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So I decided to use good old trick of holding down the mouse button while booting the computer up. Rebooted, held the trackpad button down – but nothing. Even more interesting is that the computer wouldn’t start up at all.

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If you miss the beautiful colour icons in the Finder sidebar, it’s time to get them back. Simon Barnett has developed SideEffects, a small application that does exactly that – replaces the boring grey sidebar icons in your Finder sidebar with a beautiful set of colour icons.

SideEffects works on both OSX Lion 10.7 and Mountain Lion 10.8.

The application is free, but there is a link on Simon’s site to PayPal page that helps you in showing your appreciation for his work.

If you would like to add application to the Dock in OS X you can do it in three ways:

  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Now select the application you wish to add and click and drag the icon to the Dock. You can place it anywhere, the other  icons will nicely move out of the way and make room for the new one.
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  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Double-click the application you wish to add to the dock. This will open the application and add it to the Dock temporarily, until it’s closed. Select the application icon in the Dock and move it to a different location, anywhere will do. Once you move it the application will stay in the Dock even after you close it.
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  • Open Finder and navigate to your Applications folder. Double-click the application you wish to add to the dock. This will open the application and add it to the Dock temporarily, until it’s closed. Right-click on the application icon in the Dock and select Options > Keep in Dock.  If you are not running Lion (10.7) then right-click and select Keep in Dock.
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If you wish to remove the application from the dock simply click and drag its icon off the Dock and it will disappear in a puff of smoke. Note: This will only remove the application from the Dock, it will not remove it from your Applications folder.

 

You already know how to use the QuickView in OS X, select the document or image and either click the QuickView icon in Finder or press the space bar.

However, once the file is displayed you can either view it in the default size (fit to window) or in full screen view.

There is another way to zoom the view, though. Once the file is displayed hold the Option key on your keyboard to display magnifier pointer and click somewhere on the displayed file. The file will zoom-in to where you just clicked.

You can click 10 times to zoom in 10% increments to a maximum 200% magnification. At any stage you can let go off the Option key and move the image around within the window.

To zoom out simply hold Option+Shift and click on the file, again in 10 steps.

One of the very frustrating things in Mac OS X is that you cannot click a button and show Desktop. Well, you can … sort of. You have three options:

  • Press F11, this will engage expose and move all windows to the edge of your screen,
  • Click anywhere on your desktop while holding Cmnd-Option on your keyboard – this will hide all programs, except Finder if open, or
  • You can use ShowDesktop, a free application by Everyday Software that sits in your dock or your menu bar and shows desktop by simply clicking on it.

Here is a very handy tip for all of you who like to have a messy and crowded desktop, with hundreds many windows open at the same time.

You are writing an article and referencing at the same time from another source, say the web browser. Now you need to move that browser window in the background, but it really annoys you that every time you do that, you lose the focus of your main window, or even a group of windows. Photoshop, anyone?

Don’t worry, doesn’t need to happen. Simply hold the Command key down, then click on the window in the background and move it.

The window will move in the background, without affecting the harmony of your desktop mess. You can even move it ‘through’ the foreground window, it will just keep going like there’s nothing in its way.

If you are one of a numerous victims of MacBook and MacBook Pro hard drive failures, there is a glimpse of hope that you can still have your data recovered. It involves removing the hard drive from its enclosure, from the computer in this case.

Removing the hard drive from a MacBook is a breeze, it takes good part of a few minutes.  However, MacBook Pro owners will need some bravery, surgical precision and, of course, lots of time. Be aware that opening the MacBook Pro will definitely void your warranty.

Sometimes the drive heads get stuck in a parking bay and consequently your hard drive fails to read or boot. There is no clear indication that would help distinguish between this and the genuinely dead hard drive, but since it’s not working anyway, you can still give it a try. Often this fixes the issue.

Remove the hard drive from your computer and hold it on the palm of one hand. Give it one flat-handed brisk slap on the top of the drive. Just one. Then place it back into your computer and see if it worked.

If it’s still dead then it’s bad news. If it works – you have a decision to make; leave it as it is, and continue with your life like nothing ever happened, or get the data off the drive as soon as possible and get a replacement drive. It’s really up to you.

You’ve also learned about the benefits of backing up, so go on and get that external drive, they’re cheap as chips now, and back-up, back-up, back-up …

Boy, can it be frustrating when your wireless network starts dropping every few minutes!

First it works fine, then the traffic stops even though the Airport indicator shows the full signal. When I click on it, the status shows as “Airport: Scanning” then after a few seconds it’s “On” and the traffic goes fine. Minute later it stalls again.

Endless reboots, change from Airport Extreme base station back to my old WGR614 Netgear router, changes and tweaks at both ends, dozens of tips and tricks in different forums, all tried, and nothing helps.


Then a friend of mine suggested to delete a few preference files and the things are working perfectly fine now.

Here is what to do: go to your user preferences folder (~/Library/Preferences) and delete all files containing com.apple.internet… I found only two files – com.apple.internetconfig.plist and com.apple.internetconfigpriv.plist, backed them up and then deleted both.

The wireless connection works like a charm now.

When you press the volume-up or volume-down key on your keyboard you will see a volume control indicator on your screen. There are only 16 steps and if you want to ‘fine-tune’ you will have to go to the system preferences and move the volume control slider pixel by pixel.

OSX volume control

Well, not really. You can still do some fine tuning with your keyboard. Simply press and hold Shift+Option keys and then press volume-up or volume-down. The 16 increments will suddenly become 64, as each step is divided into four. See the rightmost white square on the image above, it’s only half-off, another notch would make it 3/4 off and so on.

You can also toggle the volume feedback sound by simply holding the Shift key while changing the volume with the volume keys. And if you really need to access the sound settings in the  System Preferences, but feel somewhat lazy to reach for the mouse, just hold the Option key and press volume-up or volume-down on your keyboard.

This is the summary of some tips for new Mac users I have posted in my blog over the past 18 months. If you are new to Mac, I would recommend you read them, you may find some of them very handy, a few maybe quite fascinating.

Installing applications on Mac is somewhat different to the installation you may have experienced on Windows. While some new users struggle to get it at first, it is incredibly simple and easy. [details]

The Dock provides easy access to some of the applications on your Mac, displays which applications are currently running, and holds windows in their minimized state. But if you see it only as a pretty strip of cool bouncing icons, then you’re dead wrong. There is so much more to Dock then you could imagine. [details]

What’s the jelly bean’s job in OS X – We all know about that jellybean on the top right corner of OS X windows. And we also know that clicking it will toggle the toolbar on and off. But what if we wanted to customise the toolbar even further. [details]

Shortcut to Desktop – Sometimes, when saving the file, we’d like to have it saved directly to the Desktop, but the option provided by OSX points somewhere else. This explains how to save the file to desktop in one keystroke. [details]

Accessing menus – If you come from Windows world and are used to using menus, you may feel a little strange that you can’t do it on Mac. Actually … you can. [details]

Zooming the screen – One of the great features of OS X (10.4) is that you can zoom in the screen, perfect when viewing small images. [details]

Slideshows in Finder – Imagine you have 80 photos on a CD and you’d like to preview them all. You can either double-click on each one to open them in Preview, import them all to iPhoto, or simply use Slideshow in Finder. [details]

Changing icons in OS X – There are trillions of beautiful icons for Mac out there, so why not use them, you can replace your default icon in a few simple step. [details]

Screen capture and text clipping - One thing I couldn’t live without is the screen capture, lets you select an area, window or full screen. And capturing text is even easier, just select and drag away. [details]

Switching windows and applications – Many new Mac users are slightly disappointed that Cmnd+Tab (Ctrl+Tab on Windows) is actually switching between applications and not between the windows, as they used to do in the Microsoft world. But there is something else that works even better. [details]

Other things you may find useful are Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts and Most popular Mac applications, as well as few handy tricks such as invert screen and slow motion.

In one of my previous posts (Full screen on OS X) I have written about Megazoomer, a very useful piece of software that lets you maximise your window to a full screen size.

Just press Command-Enter, and the front-most window grows to fill your entire display. Megazoomer was only available for PPC platform, but now there is also the univesal binary. See details and download from Ian Henderson’s website.

Also, thanks to Eddie for pointing out something that I have completely forgotten to write about – OS X zoom feature. From about 10.4.7 or 10.4.8 Apple silently introduced a new feature to Mac OS X – screen zoom.

Just hold the Control key down and scroll your mouse wheel up, and your screen will zoom in. Scrolling the wheel down will zoom out. On Mac notebooks you can hold the Control key down and scroll the trackpad with two fingers (what’s this called – twin-scroll?) to achieve the same.

There are a few ways to increase text size on Mac, but to zoom in the graphics, e.g. small image on the website, this is just perfect solution.

What is Mac OS X Dock ? It’s the beautiful thing on the bottom of your screen, the thing you either love or hate, but the thing you can’t live without after you’ve been using it for a while. It provides easy access to some of the applications on your Mac, displays which applications are currently running, and holds windows in their minimized state.

Dock 1

What are these icons ?

The icons are representing applications you have on your Mac. Some have been placed there during the OS X installation, others are placed there by the user. Sometimes you will see the little black triangle, just below the icon, this means this application is running.

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Many new Mac users are slightly disappointed that Cmnd+Tab (Ctrl+Tab on Windows) is actually switching between Applications and not between the windows, as they used to do in the Microsoft world.

But many didn’t know that you can actually switch between windows within an application by pressing Cmnd+~ (tilde).

Problem here is that you have to have the application in the foreground so you can switch the windows.

This is where Peter Maurer’s Witch comes to the rescue. Witch lets you access all of your windows by pressing a shortcut and choosing from a clearly arranged list of window titles.

Witch

Witch is a freeware utility and works like a charm, so no reason not to try it. Download free universal binary on Peter’s web site.