A couple of weeks ago I switched out my trusty, but ageing, Mac mini for a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. I'm spending more and more time travelling these days and while I can get away with an iPad for many tasks, there are times when I really need a "proper" computer. But one of the hassles is that my budget didn't extend to a 2TB SSD which added another $1800 to the price tag. So, that meant looking for an external storage solution. Here's what I bought and how I set that drive up.
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Your crafty older relatives used to have to mail-order their video tutorials or wait for "This Old House" reruns to get their DIY on, but the age of streaming video has been good to those who like to tinker and try out neat tricks. From prying open beer bottles with telephone bills to picking locks, from sealing chips to folding T-shirts, we've posted a lot of concise but instructive clips at Lifehacker. Today we're featuring 10 of our favourites, chosen for the tricks they teach as well as their watchable quality. Get ready to fill some weekend project time.
The Digital Photography School blog has an instructive tutorial on using layers for those just getting their feet wet inside Photoshop, or other high-end image editors like the open-source GIMP. Those jumping in will learn how to make transparent layers, use masked layers to roll back effects, and duplicate layers for sharpening and other effects. Hit the link for a quick schooling, including links to related lessons, or offer up your own tutorials and advice in the comments. Understanding Layers in Photoshop
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
Whether trying to win bidders on eBay or attract eyeballs on a tutorial or craft site, the best way to stand out is with an attractive, detail-showing picture. Photography tutorial site Photojojo offers a wealth of tips for your camera, your staging, and other things to keep in mind while trying to represent your goods. Two bits of advice many commerce-minded shooters should heed:For small items such as jewelry, you can use more interesting backgrounds. Gemmafactrix uses vintage books and industrial surfaces to show off her jewelry on Etsy, and it works great. Wood, paper, cloth and metal can all add a little something to your images.For tutorials and larger items like clothing, you'll have to pull back to get everything in the shot. Make sure the rest of your studio/ apartment/ mobile command unit isn't visible in the shot. Set up by a blank wall and use it as a backdrop.
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.
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
Windows Vista only: Shadow Copies, an automated file version saver built into all copies of Windows Vista (and enabled by default), isn't a complete backup solution, but it could be a life-saver in certain situations. As The How-To Geek blog points out, however, it's pretty hard to find, let alone extract files from. Luckily, a forum member at the Geek's site has posted a complete tutorial on accessing and recovering previous file versions using the free utility ShadowExplorer. Using ShadowExplorer requires a good deal more clicking and searching than Apple's Time Machine, but it's a good solution for those "Oops, I forgot to back up ..." moments. Hit the link below for instructions and screenshots. Recover Files with Shadow Copies on Any Version of Windows Vista
We've shown you how to disable Windows Vista's secure-but-really-annoying User Account Controls feature (a.k.a. the "A program needs your permission ..." pop-up) using Vista's settings and tweaking apps, but reader Kel points us to a way of disabling that prompt for specific applications. The trick involves downloading a Microsoft utility and clicking through about a dozen prompts, but it really does work, and you can keep your security settings just where they are while removing a major annoyance. Here's hoping Microsoft includes this kind of app-by-app disabling in their upcoming Service Pack 1. Disable UAC for Certain Applications in Vista
As you might have seen in our comments, our readers love them some Pivot Tables, an aggregation tool that can show your spreadsheet data any way you tell it to. If you've felt left off of the data-wrangling bandwagon, the Productivity Portfolio blog has a guide walkthrough explaining the benefits and features of the tables and setting up a simple voting analysis table for an example. Better yet, the post includes a printable PDF for your do-this-when-I-get-home convenience. For more Excel 2007 knowledge, try out PP's equally helpful guide to AutoFilter. Learn to use Pivot Tables in Excel 2007 to Organize Data
Now that Leopard's long since dropped and the masses have seen the simple power of Time Machine, it might be a good time to take another look at similar solutions for other systems. Luckily, the Howto Forge has posted a helpful step-by-step through installing and configuring TimeVault, an integrated backup solution for Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions. The tutorial walks through the process on an Ubuntu system, but would likely help other GNOME-based systems get most of the way there. If you're more the DIY, terminal-hacking type, you can always use cross-platform solution rsync to get the job done.
Creating Snapshot Backups Of Your Desktop With Timevault On Ubuntu 7.10