Tips & Tricks


One of the disadvantages of living in the boondocks is that it takes longer for technology to reach our neck of the woods. I live in the fringes of Sta. Rosa, Laguna and one of the frustrations I have in living in this place is the lack of a decent internet access. I do have access to dial-up internet but everyone knows that most modern online services requires something faster than the 56K speed achievable on a modem. I can’t view YouTube videos, I can’t do **ehem** BitTorrents, I can’t even do simple software updates for my spanking brand new MacBook!

Speaking of the MacBook, lack of DSL service in my area has been magnified because Apple, in their arrogance, has eliminated the built-in modem for their latest line of computers. To do dial-up on a new MacBook, one has to purchase a Php4,000++ Apple USB modem. Well, I decided to make things better – at least for me.

I set up my old iBook (which still have those ever-useful built-in modem) to dial in to my ISP and I configured it to share its internet access through its built-in Wi-Fi adapter. So that’s basically it! I get to enjoy surfing the ‘net (at dial-up speed) from the comfort of my bedroom by basically converting my old iBook into a dial-up wireless access point!

Well, thinking back, this may not be the most cost-effective way to have Wi-Fi at home but then again, I already have my iBook at hand and I might as well use it to make things better for me. Besides, that’s what technology is supposed to do for techies like us… make things better for us.

Quick & Dirty Tip:

It’s maddening to get a game and not know how to play it.

Doubly maddening if there isn’t even a manual handy. This is especially true for old legacy games, which is about all we can afford to get sometimes.

Well, I found something to solve this problem online. Just go to Replacementdocs: The Original Web Archive of Game Manuals. It’s a godsend for absentminded dorks like me!

As they say on the home page:

– Have you ever rented a game that came with no instructions?
– Have you ever bought a used game and found out later that the package you received didn’t come with an essential map or answers to copy protection questions required to play the game?
– Have you ever bought a re-released game and then realized that they only included an Installation Guide, no game instructions at all?
– Has your wife (or husband!) ever just thrown out all your game manuals because they thought “you didn’t need them anymore”?

This site is the answer to our problems.

As Borat would say (or maybe not, since he’s being sued for plagiarizing this saying at the moment), Wowoweewah!

I don’t know what your habits are, but I can’t stand a dirty laptop. I’m not even someone you could call pathologically neat—some days, my working desk looks like a pigsty in a war zone—but something about unkempt laptops gets my goat.

You know what I mean (don’t tell me: you probably have one): it’s the laptop you never wiped since three days after you bought it, so that the wristrest has begun to darken where the wrists never rest; beneath the keys on the keyboard is a chipmunk’s winter trove of peanuts, Chippy, kornik, and Chocnut, aside from enough hairballs to upholster a small sofa. The E, S, T, and M keys are shiny—touching the rest could give you some viral infection. The screen’s buried behind a coat of infernal grime.

OK, OK, so some days my own PowerBook might look like that, too. That’s when I take a break and assemble my clean-up gear: an old sando (or that ratty T-shirt from college you couldn’t bear to part with until your sister used it to wipe dog poo from the floor); a little water (plain tap water, nothing ammoniac); some masking tape; and a Q-Tip or two.

The sando and water (very slightly damp) are for the screen and the exterior (a regular, circular wiping motion does it); the masking tape is for that granary under and between the keys; and the Q-Tips are for the keys, the corners of the trackpad, and other hard-to-get-at places that could use a little scrubbing.

By the way, I don’t use silicone skins or screen protectors or any such prophylactics. I like the sensual feel of the bare keys at my fingertips (and you arguably can’t find a better one than the aluminum PowerBook’s keyboard—one more reason I haven’t “upgraded” to a MacBook).

When I’m done detailing my G4, it’s almost like I’m looking at a new Mac altogether; it’s almost like I just bought a new machine—for the price of a Q-Tip. So if you ever get that urge to buy something smart and shiny, try cleaning up your old gear, and save the money for a new sando and a sack of peanuts.

Quick & Dirty Tip:

Have you ever borrowed someone else’s iPod and thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could play the music on my computer’s big speakers? I mean, without actually transferring them to your hard disk or buying one of them expensive iPod HiFi speakers – and play them directly from the iPod itself through your laptop or desktop?

It’s possible. All you need is Senuti.

Senuti is freeware that lets you restore your iTunes library from your iPod to your Mac after a hard disk mishap. (We won’t get into what other folk really use Senuti for, but you can figure out what by yourself and we don’t need to spell it out. This tip is just a pleasant side benefit.)

All you need do is install Senuti, then connect your friend’s pod to your Mac (you did understand that this is a Mac-only tip, right?). Unlike similar software like PodWorks, Senuti‘s got a bonus – its interface is just like iTunes, and it lets you play everything on the foreign iPod as if you owned the thing.

So now you can grab anyone’s iPod at the office, connect it to your Mac and quickly play it like a jukebox without the added hassle brought on by DRM. That’s it, pancit. As for Senuti‘s other uses, well, that’s up to you and yours.

By the way, what’s up with the weird subject header for this post, you ask? It’s related to Senuti’s weird name. Figure it out.

Requirements: iPod, Mac, Mac OS X 10.3 or better, Senuti

I admit, I am one of the most disorganized person I know. I have the attention span of a 7 year old and I have very poor short term memory. This is a problem I acknowledge that and I have been searching high and low for ways to alleviate, if not solve, this problem.

Around a year or two ago, I “discovered” GTD. I’ve been trying to adopt some GTD principles in my life and I have found that if I stick to it, I get more things done despite of my “problem”. However, this also sparked other problems: How do I bring my GTD thingies with me?

My first attempt was to use a TiddlyWiki-based GTD aptly called GTDTiddlyWiki. It worked fine for me since I can put it in a flasdrive and run it on any computer I’m using through PortableFireFox. I can also use it in my iBook (soon to be a MacBook but that’s a different post altogether). The problem with this setup is that I don’t have access to GTDTiddlyWiki all the time. So after a few weeks of using GTDTiddlyWiki, I ended up abandoning it.

Enter Jello.Dashboard2. This is an MS Outlook-based GTD that *may* solve my conundrum. Jello.Dashboard uses MS Outlook’s features (mail, calendar, tasks, notes and journal) and displays it in a neat “homepage” within Outlook. Tasks can be created, edited and updated using Outlook. It is also “lightweight” because there’s no actual need to install Jello.Dashboard, just a few minor tweaks in Outlook’s configuration.

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What I love about using Jello.Dashboard is that I can now sync my tasks/contexts into *both* my Palm Treo650 and my Moto RAZR V3x (via Motorola Phone Tools). Now I can update my tasks even if I’m away from my computer!

Hopefully with this setup, I can get more things done and at the same time make sure that my deadlines are all monitored and met.

Jello.Dashboard is “donationware” and can be downloaded here.

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