How To Control Sound Volume Level On Each Mac App

My Macs are home to more audio recording, editing, and mixing apps than celebrities have gaffes and scandals. The latest is SoundBunny. This remarkable little app does something that Apple should put into OS X. Individual audio controls for each Mac app that uses sound.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this image of the SoundBunny control panel tells you everything you need to know.

SoundBunny Controls

What you see are the apps in OS X which use sound. SoundBunny gives you an individual volume control for each one. Set iTunes to be loud or soft. Set Mail’s incoming email notification sound to a lower volume, or mute the sound entirely.

You get the idea. Each app that uses sound can be individually controlled for volume or mute. This functionality has purpose. Set the volume on Mail so it’s nice and loud and drowns out iTunes if you’re expecting important email to arrive.

Adjusting the audio controls is equally simple. Drag the control knob to the left to reduce the volume. Drag it back to the right to increase the volume. Click the sound button on the right of each slider control to toggle sound on or off.

SoundBunny does require a restart once you’ve installed the app. What’s missing? I would dearly love to see a few sound enhancement functions for each app’s sound, and perhaps an equalizer feature, but those are minor requests. Otherwise, SoundBunny is sufficiently useful and so totally obvious that Apple should put similar controls in OS X Yosemite already.

Be Your Own ‘Genius’

This one is easier said than done but can work well if your Mac, iPhone, or iPad is having troubles not quickly solved. Joe Caiati was an Apple Genius and gives good advice for Mac users.

No one likes visiting the Genius Bar.

If you are going there it’s because something is wrong with your Apple product and depending on the time of day, you could be waiting for a while to see a Genius. Some wait all of that time just to ask a simple question, but others may need a repair and can be without their Mac for a couple of days or more.

The list is useful but probably not aimed at the average Mac user who does not understand Plist files and whose eyes glaze over when opening Activity Monitor.

Ex-Flight Attendant’s Top 10 Airline Etiquette Tips

My favorite flight is from Honolulu to Maui. 10 minutes up, 10 minutes down; barely enough time to open the in-flight magazine or drink the guava juice. Sid Lipsey created a list of flying tips from flight attendants. Some are obvious, others not so much.

Being late to the airport, getting stuck in a long security line, being told your bag’s too heavy to carry on — these are all preventable mistakes that can lead to great stress, which, as we all know, is a recipe for inconsiderate behavior. So step one for being a courteous flier is to not make any unforced flying errors: Prepare for your flight.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Don’t pack what you can’t lift
  • Help others with their bags
  • Check behind before recline
  • Know the armrest rules (aisle and window seats get one, middle seat gets two)
  • Be respectful of others (no loud music or stinky food)
  • Be polite to noisy, talkative seatmate
  • Those in front should get off first
  • Hold your tongue (no sense in having two people be rude)
  • Be a good parent (or, just never travel with kids)

10 Old Cars On The Way To Becoming Classics

These lists are always subjective but this one is a good way to see if you happen to have an oldie that can also be a goodie. From Autos runs through page after page of Porsche, Lamborghini, Jaguar, before getting to a true classic:

In a sure sign of the collector car generational shift, Bandit-era Pontiac Trans Ams, which could be had all day long for under 10 grand five years ago, are now easier to sell than 1964 GTOs. Great 1976-79 Trans Ams (in black with the screaming chicken hood decal) are among the hottest collector cars in America right now.

How To Rip Colors From A Photo On Your Mac

Color picker apps and color palette utilities abound and Mac users have a growing choice of color tools. One function you won’t find in many such apps is the option to rip a color palette from a photo or graphic design or image. Every photo has a color palette and knowing the colors helps in design.

If you’re a Mac graphic designer or photo professional who needs the color palette pulled from a photo or image and you’d rather not devote the time, effort, and expense of Photoshop’s monthly rental fees and extravagant learning curve, there’s Color Palette from Image; an elegant Mac app that leaves change from a $2 bill.

Drag and drop a photo or image onto the app window and this is what you get. A color palette.

Color Palette for Image

As simple and elegant as the palette extraction is– drag and drop is about as simple as it gets– Color Palette has a few useful tricks.

For example, use Color Palette to correct a palette, save the adjustments or export a color palette to OS X’s color picker.

More Color Palette

Even the number of colors in a palette can be adjust in Color Palette.

What’s missing is a magnifying loupe to extract color values, color picker style. Sure, plenty of apps do that, and there are many inexpensive color pickers on the Mac App Store, but since Color Palette is already open, why not have a built-in picker?

Otherwise, nicely done, often needed, therefore useful, and priced about right.

How To Tell If Your iPhone Battery Is Healthy Or Bad

This tip works on both iPhones and Android smartphones (and probably on any other phone, smart or otherwise, that contains a battery). From Nick T on battery problems you can see:

If the battery of your phone is removable, simply take it out with caution (after turning the phone off, of course) and look for symptoms like bulging, corrosion near the metal terminals, and green or white-ish stains. These are all signs that the cell is about to kick the bucket. If you don’t see anything wrong with it, proceed to the next tip. If you find suspicious stains or if your cell has developed a hump, however, it is a good idea to ask your carrier or vendor for advice as your battery most likely needs to be replaced. Don’t put the old cell back inside the phone as you don’t want it leaking any nasty chemicals; these may damage the phone’s circuitry. Instead, seal the battery in a plastic zip bag and make sure you recycle it once it is confirmed to be faulty by a professional.

Duh.

What about problems you can’t see?

Not all phones have batteries that can be easily inspected by the user. If that’s the case with your handset, you can diagnose the health of its cell by monitoring how fast its charge level drops. It is not supposed to drop by two or more percentage points at a time. (Most phones allow you to have their battery level displayed as a percentage in the status bar. If you can’t find the option in its settings menu, try using a widget.) And if your battery goes from full to zero in a matter of hours even when you barely use your phone, its is probably a goner.

My iPhone 6 Plus can go about three days on a charge, a bit less if I play games or use FaceTime.

Cheapest Gas Price On Planet Earth

Vying for the lowest gasoline prices anywhere, even when the earth’s economy faces a glut of oil and lower fuel prices, is Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kevin Sullivan on prices to make you jealous (but not enough to move there):

Ahmed al-Ghaith pulled his Dodge Durango into a gas station in central Riyadh and told the attendant to fill it up. In a country where gas sells for 45 cents a gallon, that cost him $12.

Ouch.

Millionaire Pitcher Lives in VW Microbus

Keith Griffin:

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris was paid a $2 million signing bonus. He promptly used that money to buy a 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia microbus…that he lives in.

That’s right, it’s not part of his automotive collection. A good part of the year it’s his home. This talented pitcher, who made his Major League debut in September 2014, would rather rough it than live the easy life in a place with four walls, a shower and a toilet.

Roughing it?

Daniel Norris

The dude shaves with an ax.

A New But Odd Way To View, Manage, Sort, Arrange, And Share Photos On Your Mac

Mac users have many ways to manipulate, enhance, or edit photos, but fewer choices to manage and share a large number of photos. At the low end there’s iPhoto. Freely available for every Mac with some enhancement tools and photos can be uploaded and shared easily. At the higher end there’s Apple’s moribund Aperture, and Adobe’s highly touted Lightroom. In-between are a number of utilities which act as viewer, or batch processor, or photo editor, but none of them are quite like My Photos Over Time.

Let me call it MPOT to save everyone some reading time and to save me some typing effort. MPOT is a photo organizer with a number of useful functions bolted on. It generates photo collections from a folder of photos, so you’re kinda sorta in control of how your photos are organized.

MPOT can search through many subfolders and display photo thumbnails in JPG, PNG, GIF, but, oddly, not RAW or PSD. Photos can be arranged and displayed by date, all neatly formatted with thumbnails and timestamp. Click to create a photo gallery to upload to the web.

My Photos Over Time

While MPOT’s user interface isn’t scary, it’s also a bit convoluted. The basic toolbar at the top is easy enough to figure out because the icons are labeled, but the viewing process requires many clicks and windows to manage.

MPOT would appear to be useful for Mac using photographers with many photo projects that need to be shared with clients online. An FTP upload capability is built-in, and MPOT documents are saved in the egg page document format which is also used by the HTML Egg Pro app for iPhone and iPad, which is used to create websites (also published by the MPOT app developer).

HTML Egg Pro

In all fairness, it seems like a very convoluted way to organize photos, and then create a gallery of photos to share online. iPhoto does much the same kind of gallery publication for free, and even uploads photos to Flickr with a click.

Another Smartphone Battery Problem Solved

Samsung to the rescue with its proprietary ePoP memory for smartphones. Jay McGregor explains ePoP and what it means for smartphones.

ePoP is a single memory package that consists of 3GB LPDDR3 DRAM, 32GB eMMC (embedded multi-media card) and a controller. It combines all essential memory components into a single package that can be stacked directly on top of the mobile processor, without taking any additional space.

The estimated 40-percent space savings means a larger smartphone battery. Or, a slimmer, thinner smartphone. Or, a bigger battery and a higher resolution screen.

My iPhone 6 Plus has over 400 pixels per inch and the battery lasts two to three days.

Demand, Meet Supply

Why are gasoline and oil prices so low? Barani Krishnan explains it the hard way.

Oil cut short a four-day rally on Wednesday, with investors and traders focusing again on the supply glut in the market after U.S. crude stocks set record highs.

A rebound in the dollar also weighed on crude prices because it makes commodities denominated in that currency more costly.

In other words, the supply chain is full, demand has peaked, and oil producing and exporting countries do not want to cut production.

Demand, meet supply.

Ford Tough?

Great video from Anthony Alaniz of a Ford F-150 pickup truck pulling a tractor trailer truck through Chicago’s snow packed streets. What happened?

The tires dig as billows of smoke and snow erupt before the behemoth begins to move. You hear the semi engine revving in unison with the pickup truck’s. The F-150 pulls the semi out in just over a minute, appearing to take almost no effort (Ford, make this into a commercial. You can thank us later.)

Impressive.

Not so impressive is Theophilus Chin’s Ford Mustang hatchback.

The idea behind the rendering was to create a shooting brake, but somewhere along the way it morphed into this hatchback. And, well, it’s not the best looking version of the Mustang. It was created by Thoephilus Chin, and to be fair, there was a good amount of work that went into keeping the car’s signature elements, but it just doesn’t work.

Ford Mustang GT Hatchback

Yep. It doesn’t work.

What Am I Missing About Mac Screen And Graphic Annotation Features?

How much do you use document annotations or screen capture annotations? A friend of mine asked me to try a clever Mac application which captures anything on the screen, and lets you annotate whatever is on the screen or captured image. In a way, that capability turns the Mac’s screen into some sort of magical whiteboard (without the white, markers, or eraser).

The app I tried on my Mac costs a mere 99-cents and it’s called Screenink. As in digital ink for what’s on the Mac’s screen.

What you get is a clever utility which lets you annotate– write or draw– almost anything on the Mac’s screen while you’re using your Mac, and capture the screen images and save them as graphic files. All the palette tools you need to write, draw, copy, annotate are available with a click.

Screenink

Draw speech bubbles with text, arrows, lines, circles, rectangles, boxes and control shape, fill, stroke and color– all over the top of whatever is on the Mac’s screen at the moment. There’s even an option to capture the screen with a freeform shape tool, and pick out a color from the screen.

There’s even a built-in ruler and magnifying loupe.

More Screenink

There are a few dozen screen grab and annotation apps on the Mac App Store to tell me there must be a market for such utilities. Apple even puts some of the annotation tools into the Preview app and Mail app, so users obviously want the functionality.

So, what am I missing? What’s the point? Why do Mac users need such capability?

Marriott’s Convoluted Logic

Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s CEO, on the Wi-Fi blocking scandal that plagues the company. Total PR speak.

We have withdrawn our petition to the FCC on cybersecurity – an initiative we thought was the right thing to do. However, in the face of disagreement from both regulators and our customers, we see that the effort was doomed.

Really? Blocking a customer’s ability to use a personal smartphone hotspot was a good idea?

We wanted to protect the security of Wi-Fi use for conferences at our hotels – it had nothing to do with individual guest use of Wi-Fi or personal Wi-Fi hotspots.

Uh huh. Sure. That’s the ticket.

In fact, we have led the industry in offering millions of customers free Internet access. In October, we announced that Marriott Rewards Members – a membership that is free and open to anyone – would have free Internet when they book direct. That message has been drowned out by the noise with the FCC.

Good grief. The FCC did the right thing by scolding Marriott which did the wrong thing, then masked it by saying “free internet” (if you join a Marriott membership group).

Cybersecurity is a major concern across the business world and, certainly, in our industry, where guests and conference-goers rightly expect that any hotel-provided connection be secure.

The subject at hand is Marriott’s desire to block user hotspots, not hotel-provided connections. Doublespeak is PR’s language; the one Marriott uses.

We are in a pitched battle against hackers who are at work daily trying to fool consumers…

Just as Marriott tried to fool consumers by using security as a shield to extract more money from customers. Marriott only did the right thing when exposed and shamed publicly for customer abuse, then scolded publicly by the FCC.

Still, using doublespeak PR, the company managed to pat itself on the back.

Raspberry Pi 2 and Windows 10

ZDNet with details on Microsoft’s plan to make Windows 10 available for free on the new Raspberry Pi 2:

One of the keys to making Windows 10 run on the Raspberry Pi platform is better hardware. The new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has at its heart a quad-core ARMv7 processor that is said to be six times more powerful than the old Model B+ version… Microsoft has announced that it is developing a custom version of the Windows 10 operating system and that this will be released free of charge to the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.

The key to Raspberry Pi’s success is the price tag, specifications, and size.

  • A 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 BCM2836 CPU (up from a single-core 700Mhz part)
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (up from 512MB)
  • Complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1 (software will need to be recompiled to take advantage of the new multi-core processor)
  • Identical form factor to the existing Raspberry Pi, which means it can fit into existing enclosures
  • 10/100 Ethernet port
  • 40-pin extended GPIO
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 pole Stereo output and Composite video port
  • Full size HDMI
  • CSI camera port for connecting the Raspberry Pi camera
  • DSI display port for connecting the Raspberry Pi touch screen display
  • Micro SD slot
  • Micro USB power source

Not bad for $35, but doesn’t that make Windows even more of a cheap OS for the masses with little differentiation from free?

‘The Fastest Mac Browser I’ve Ever Used’

To say that we live in the Golden Age of Browsers is mostly an understatement. All the major web browsers are good; fast, secure, packed with usable features, with dependable webpage rendering. And they’re free.

Look up and down the line of browsers from Apple’s Safari to Google’s Chrome, from Mozilla’s Firefox to Opera– there’s not much to not like about each one, though each has a distinct personality, slightly different user interface, and different customization options.

So, why would a sane person enter the market with yet another web browser?

I don’t know but it doesn’t matter. Vivaldi brings a new look and noticeable speed improvements to the already overcrowded web browser market. The guy behind Vivaldi is Opera’s former CEO Jon von Tetzchner. Vivaldi is based on Google’s Chromium project but looks and feels much different than any browser you’ve used recently.

Vivaldi boasts the basics of webpage browsing. It’s clean and fast.

Vivaldi for Mac

Vivaldi claims to be for browser power users but the speed, simplicity, and elegance might attract other users. It’s the only Mac browser I’ve used in recent years that appeared notably faster at rendering web pages than Safari or Chrome.

What Vivaldi does not have is bells and whistles. Unlike Safari, Chrome, or Firefox extensions or add-ons, Vivaldi seems bare but modernesque, in an iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite way. For the rendering engine, Vivaldi’s team chose Google’s foundation, rather than Mozilla’s engine or Safari’s WebKit.

Browser tabs turn color to kinda sorta mostly match the color scheme of the webpage. The Quick Commands tool is reminiscent of Spotlight on a Mac. Some buttons don’t work yet (Mail, for example), but the overall feel is good. Vivaldi won’t take long to set up as settings are nominal.

Vivaldi Settings

One thing missing in Vivaldi that I would like to see is a focus on security, rather than on standardized bells and whistles like email or extensions. Vivaldi will never top what is available for Chrome or Firefox, so why not go in a different direction? Speed and security.

Apple, By The Numbers

Apple’s best financial quarter ever with the only dim spot the continued drop in iPad sales (name another tablet maker that sold 21-million units in a quarters).

The Company posted record quarterly revenue of $74.6 billion and record quarterly net profit of $18 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $57.6 billion and net profit of $13.1 billion, or $2.07 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 39.9 percent compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The results were fueled by all-time record revenue from iPhone® and Mac® sales as well as record performance of the App Store. iPhone unit sales of 74.5 million also set a new record.

That’s more than 34-thousand iPhones sold every hour, every day, every week of the quarter.

Angered iOS Users

Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly with yet another smackdown of yet another Apple iOS update. I’m not sure how this constitutes news, but it’s 2015 so almost anything goes these days.

Owners of older iPhones and iPads continue to suffer a myriad of problems with iOS 8 and Apple is starting to give the distinct impression it would rather ignore them and move on.

The latest evidence came last night with the release of iOS 8.1.3, a release specifically focused on bug fixes but one which bizarrely chose to ignore the major Bluetooth, WiFi, battery and calendar problems that have affected older iPhones and iPads since iOS 8 was released more than four months ago.

There’s more presumption than news in Kelly’s contribution. Every iOS or OS X or Windows update has issues. What is seldom discussed in such contributions to news is how much the update is to blame or how many of the problems are user contributed.

We have six iOS devices running the latest version, and four Macs running the latest OS X Yosemite. Zero problems.

Wrecked Lamborghini Huracán For Sale

Jeff Glucker:

When you wreck a car going nearly 200 mph, it’s going to be in pretty rough shape. That’s what happened to a Lamborghini Huracán… The driver was traveling on a Hungarian highway when he lost control of the car. His Huracán wound up in a ditch while he and his passenger wound up in the hospital. Now that Lamborghini has wound up in the classifieds.

And, yes, there’s a video of the crash and a photo of after the crash.

Lamborghini Wreck

Ouch.

Dodge Charger Hellcat: 204 MPH

Raphael Orlove:

Seriously, Dodge, people care as much about the Hellcat being the fastest four-door in the world as much as they cared about the Maserati Quattroporte being the fastest sedan in the world when that thing came out a decade or so ago.

Everyone likes it because it has 707 horsepower and does burnouts and sounds like tearing a musk ox in half and looks awesome and also does burnouts. But that you claim it will do 204.55 mph, an average between 206.90 and 202.20 runs on a 7.5 mile oval, is cool too

I’ve owned only one Chrysler product through the years; a minivan I was certain would last forever. Mostly because I’d replaced every part on the beast two or three times.