Router Issues – No More!

I recently got to try a variety of Wireless-N routers and have picked the winner. I first gave a cheap Belkin version a try and it is not even worth mentioning by name. My Macbook Pro failed to connect to it when I chose the Wireless-N mode and had to use it as a Wireless-G router. I then got the extremely cool, eye-catching, geek-pleasing, easy-to-use and expensive Belkin Vision router. It was a whopping $160 and provides some highly satisfying stats on the display. I tested it using the online speed testing sites and it was very accurate. The buttons on the front are a little hard to push and don’t have a good feel but the display provided me tremendous satisfaction. However, due to the cost I figured I would give the Apple Airport Extreme a shot. It worked effortlessly with the Macbook pro but not so well with my other PC and due to the limitations in the number of ports (just the one port to hook up the Cable line), I decided against it. The one feature that really attracted me was the Audio port but I never even got around to trying it out. I then gave the Linksys WRT300N router a go and it worked pretty well. It occassionally needed a reboot probably from the Bittorrent traffic that downloads my Tekzilla and NBC Nightly News Podcasts. So, I changed the settings in utorrent software to limit the number of outgoing and incoming connections and ever since it has been as stable as two fingers stuck together with SuperGlue.

Popularity: 8% [?]

Ipod 1.1.2 update – Don’t install it!

I have a weakness in installing updates for some software since they often incorporate new and cooler features. However, I never had that weakness for Windows except for the Service Packs but I always install the Mac updates. So, I went ahead and installed the latest iPod firmware (v1.1.2) and ta-da.. no more movies. Looks like this update forces the iPod to only accept rented movies and not your DVD’s that are compressed to be watched on an iPod. Boo Apple!

Popularity: 12% [?]

Firefox 3

I have finally made the switch. I got rid of Firefox 2 and also uninstalled the extremely useful MultiFirefox Mac application created by David. Firefox 3 uses much less memory and seems a lot more stable except for one bug that really bothers me and I have submitted reports a couple of times – but I guess the Firefox developers don’t really care about Mac users :(

What is the bug you ask? After using FF3 for a while, when I right click on a link in an effort to open it in a new tab, it randomly selects one of the other context menu options (sometimes it selects mail this link and other times, it chooses to bookmark it or bookmark it on del.icio.us). I have had this issue from the first beta they released. After hitting ESC (escape) a couple of times, it usually stops or else I just restart the browser. Initially, I thought it had to do with the trackpad not recognizing my right click (double tap), but even when I use a regular mouse – I face the same issue. It’s not the end of the world and fewer crashes are more important than the minor annoyances of Firefox.

Another disclaimer – Firefox still crashes once a fortnight and I recently saw the following box allowing me to disable add-ons to launch firefox in safe mode. Very nice! I just wish they had options to individually disable JavaScript or Java or Flash since very often it is one of those plugins that causes the site to crash over and over in an endless loop. It would have also been great if they offered the option to pick which sites to open out of the last session. There are probably add-ons to do that, but I would prefer to see it built-in.

And one more thing… (in Steve Jobs style), I tried signing up for another Yahoo account yesterday for testing purposes and is that sign up process outdated or what? It asked me to enter an alternate email address and I entered my perfectly valid current Yahoo email address and it declined it saying that it was an invalid email. I then tried using my Gmail account with the + sign to see if Yahoo wanted to spam me with it but it wouldn’t let emails with a + sign in it. Talk about old school. The + operator in Gmail is such a lifesaver and helps me from having to create multiple accounts when I need to test applications. Catch up already Yahoo. However, I must add that after I created the account and went to edit my profile in that outdated and ugly screen, it allowed me to enter my valid yahoo email address. Come on Icahn, get Microsoft to buy Yahoo and let it go even further downhill.

Popularity: 14% [?]

Essential Mac applications

Digg and del.icio.us periodically feature “top 10 mac applications” or other must-have Mac applications for windows switchers. Instead of naming the same software, I am recommending some of the mac applications I cannot live without (some of them are not free – I got them with the MacHeist II Bundle and they are worth every penny).

1. Firefox 3 – if you dont know what firefox is, you shouldn’t be reading this
2. 1Password – Great password (keychain) management software and has plugins for pretty much all the Mac browsers (eg. Safari, Camino, Flock, Firefox 2, Firefox 3 but no Opera support AFAIK). Use the same keyboard shortcut across all the browsers to log in to your sites.
3. LaunchBar – Pretty similar to QuickSilver (which was the software I anticipated the most). However, Quicksilver used to crash every once in a while and I am not a hard-core Quicksilver user. LaunchBar is not free but came with the MacHeist bundle but is very stable, efficient and quick. Gets the job done right and is a huge lifesaver and prevents me from adding all my top used applications in the Dock. You need to hack one of the files (editing the properties file) to avoid seeing LaunchBar in the dock when it is running.
4. Parallels – I need Windows mostly for work – I will probably give the latest version of VirtualBox a try at some point.
5. Eclipse – for all development needs

Other than that there are some applications that are just really helpful:
a. Preview
b. Pressing the space bar to see the quick preview of any item
c. Google Notifier – makes it really easy to add events to the Google calendar which syncs with the Blackberry.
d. CoverSutra – shows the Album Art on the desktop, handy shortcuts and submits information to Last.fm
e. GeekTool – just to help remind myself who I really am – no seriously, I mostly use it to view my to-do list and to have a weather map loaded on the desktop.
f. Jollys FastVNC – This might fall in the above essential category since I sometimes get lazy to walk across the room to my Windows PC and prefer to VNC to it. I prefer Jolly’s FastVNC to Chicken of the Sea.
g. Time Out – helpful to remind you to take breaks and forces you to concentrate on work while you work.
h. Skitch – This should also fall in the above category. Still in beta and I have some invites left. Really handy Screen Capturing application with tools to make annotations. The best part is how you can easily post the screen caps online or drag it to the dekstop.
i. Windows RDC Client 2.0 beta
j. Transmit – Because no other FTP client is as stable although Filezilla 3 is now compatible with Macs.
k. TextMate – it is as good as the praise it gets
l. LittleSnitch – Keeps an eye on all outgoing connections. The trial version works pretty well but it is worth getting.
m. Miro – handy to keep up-to-date with the News (NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams) or Tekzilla.
n. Caffeine – helps to watch videos uninterrupted by the dimming screen or other power saving mechanisms
o. Transmission – for all your torrent needs – to download legal stuff like Ubuntu iso’s, of course!
p. VLC Media Player – to play all kinds of video files and has a better interface than the Windows client IMO.

Wishlist
I hope to see Picasa for the Mac soon.

Popularity: 9% [?]