Last week I detailed how to set up Time Machine backups to a networked Windows computer that required a lot of somewhat complicated Terminal work. Here's a much easier shell script that'll do the trick nicely.
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Solid-state drives (SSDs) come with all kinds of perks over your standard hard drive, the least of which involves serious speed boosts for your computing. Here's how I installed an SSD in my MacBook Pro.
Customising the appearance of your Windows installation can be frustrating, because both Windows XP and Vista are limited to the Microsoft's default themes out of the box. However, with a bit of tweaking under the hood, your Windows setup can try on a wider range of looks than come pre-installed. Let's take a look at how to patch your Windows installation to allow customised styles, and a few places to find new and interesting styles online.
Linux only: One intrepid Ubuntu user has written up a nifty tutorial on using a webcam tool available in the standard repositories, motion, to turn a standard webcam into a motion-detecting security system. Once the camera sees something large enough move as to be suspicious, a custom script written by the blogger sends a notification to you through your Twitter account. It might not be the most reliable theft or home invasion prevention tool, but it could offer insight into when your roommates are invading your space or whether someone's using your laptop when they shouldn't be. The tutorial requires some command line work, but it's spelled out and explained pretty thoroughly. Photo by MShades.Keep Tab On Home Security With A Webcam And Twitter
VirtualBox makes virtual installations of Windows and other operating systems easier than you'd think in Linux (as mentioned in our second look at Ubuntu 8.04, "Hardy Heron"), but the key missing feature from its free, open-source edition is USB support. Your iPod need not feel shunned from Linux land any longer, however, as the Ubuntu Unleashed blog offers step-by-step instructions on installing and configuring VirtualBox with support for plug-in devices. It's specific to the newest Ubuntu and a little bit more than the "five easy steps" promised, but it should only take a few minutes to unlock the bridge between your system-in-a-system and all your gadgets.Howto: Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu Hardy Heron with USB Support in 5 easy Steps
Linux only: Any Linux user clutching a mouse with more than the standard two buttons and a scroll wheel doesn't have it easy trying to match the same kind of configuration options given by the manufacturer's setup software, which is almost always Windows or Mac-only. The Flow of Consciousness blog walks through installing btnx, a program that can assign nearly any mouse click to a huge variety of actions. Got a Logitech with left and right buttons? Feel free to set them to switch workspaces or even rotate a four-sided desktop cube. The tutorial requires a fair bit of command line work, as the package isn't available in most respositories, but the Ubuntu-related instructions can be adapted to most any distribution. btnx is a free download for Linux systems only.HOWTO Install btnx for better mouse control in Ubuntu Hardy
If you've ever suffered from seeing a great photo sullied by red eye, reflective skin, or other blemishes, Wired's How-To Wiki is offering an assist. The guide provides specific steps one should take with image editing tools to fix distracting imperfections or backgrounds, and while the instructions are written from a Photoshop user's perspective, users of the free, open-source GIMP editor can follow along by finding the (usually identical) tools called for. Hit the link for a lesson, or contribute your own revisionist tips at the wiki. Photo by Noel Zia Lee.Touch Up Your Pics
Real Simple offers three-step processes to tackle the oft-neglected spots around the house that require a little more motivation to get into. From hardwood floors to drapes and curtains and into furniture fabric, the advice is sound and possibly worth printing, if only for the little nuggets of wisdom that prevent further cleaning down the line, as with this cabinet idea;
Consider an idea from How Clean Is Your House?'s Aggie MacKenzie: Store muffin tins, woks, and other rarely used things in plastic bags so you won't have to rinse dust off the next time you use them.
What parts of your home space do you least look forward to spiffing up, and how do you fit it into your schedule? Let's hear about it in the comments. Photo by ewen and donabel.Deep-Cleaning in 1-2-3 Steps
You can get decent photos out of a standard, consumer-grade digital camera, but a little post-processing can turn them into fantastic wide-angle landscapes. You don't need to be one of those people who can explain the concept of lateral chromatic aberration to get truly eye-catching digital pictures. With a few shutter clicks and some free, cross-platform software, you can easily mesh standard digi-cam shots into true landscapes, fix one photo's deficiencies with another, and create layered photo collages. Let's take a look at how to use the free, open source application Hugin to make two basic kinds of panoramas.
Seeing a giant Word file arrive in your inbox can leave one feeling like it's the last chance to cram before a test—you just want to find the portions with relevant information in them, in context. The How-To Geek blog shows how to use Word 2007's AutoSummarize feature, creating a new document that scores sentences by the occurrence of certain words and using whatever percent of the original's length you want. It's a mighty helpful tool for students, and for anyone whose co-workers tend to, say, get lost in their own verbiage.Easily Summarize A Word 2007 Document
The Digital Inspiration blog has a timely step-by-step tutorial on creating a "slipstreamed" Vista installation DVD that has all the fixes and tweaks from Service Pack 1 included. The guide utilises the previously mentioned vLite tool, and requires a Vista installation CD—but you create the new DVD from inside your existing Vista install, so don't get too format-happy before reading through. For a similar method of creating an updated XP installation CD, check out RyanVM's Update Pack.Slipstream Windows Vista with SP1 & Create a Bootable Vista SP1 DVD
US-centric: Editor: When you're out and about and think of something you want to remember, you can leave yourself a voicemail you have to transcribe later, or you can use the excellent voice transcription service Jott. We've covered many ways you get can get things done over the phone with Jott, but today guest writer Brad Isaac has a new one: how to add to note-taking application EverNote with Jott.
Desktop photo manager Picasa is a Google product, and photo-sharing web site Flickr's owned by Yahoo, and the two companies don't make it obvious how to get the apps to talk to one another. When I returned home from a vacation on the beaches of Thailand, I had a hard drive loaded with photos and I wanted a way to organise, caption, and publish them all at once without duplicating work. Here's how I did it with Picasa and Flickr.
The email address you chose when signing up for Gmail seemed completely hilarious when you first signed up, but after a year of sending resumes to employers from [email protected], you may be reconsidering your choice. Luckily with Gmail's easy-to-use Mail Fetcher feature and POP3 access, you can easily import all of your old emails to your new, respectable Gmail address with a few very simple steps. Here's how it works:
The time has come. You've been salivating for months over all the exciting goodies Apple has promised to deliver with Leopard, and now that you've got your install DVD, you're ready to make the upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5. Presumably you've already prepared your Mac for Leopard, so all that's left is the upgrade. Here's how it works.
You already know how to share a PC's printer on your home network, and now it's time to give the Mac users some love. If you've got a printer hooked up to your Mac that you want to share out to Windows PC's, you don't have to get your hands dirty with Samba. Using Apple's Bonjour client for Windows, it's easy to detect and use shared Mac printers. Here's how.
You're working on document on the laptop in the living room and you want to print—except the printer's in the home office. Sharing a printer connected to a PC on your home network and printing to it from any other computer, even over a wireless connection, is a breeze. Whether you want to print from a Mac or another PC, here's how to share a single printer for use by any computer on your home network.
You already know that you can load bookmarks in Firefox's sidebar, and that narrow webapps like iPhone-optimised services work well there. Reader Eli writes in with how he customises his Google Calendar agenda to load in his Firefox sidebar, with events from multiple calendars, as wide as he likes. Here's how to set up your Firefox sidebar-friendly agenda using GCal's embeddable calendar HTML.
With the launch of Apple's iPhone and the newer iPods, CoverFlow adds a whole new visual element to your music experience on the go. While iTunes alone can help you get the album cover art you're missing into your library, it's not as obvious how to get that eye candy on your iPod device. Here's how to fill in the missing album art in your iTunes library and add it to your CoverFlow-enabled iPod in just a few steps.