Category Archives: Hardware

Plain Shock-Absorbent Case For Your iPhone

Say hello to the Speck CandyShell for:

iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3S, iPhone 3.

With its “hard outer shell and soft, rubbery, shock-absorbent center” it offers the protection you might want for your precious Apple device. Looks pretty decent if you ask me and the $35 price tag is acceptable. User reviews are good and it comes in different colours.

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Stream Your Pre-2011 Mac’s Screen To Your Apple TV

In order to use AirPlay Mirroring – the new screen streaming feature Apple built into Apple TV and Mountain Lion – you need a Mac bought in 2011 or later. So if you have a Mac from 2010 or before you’re busted, you won’t be able to mirror your Mac’s desktop to your Apple TV even if you have Mountain Lion installed. Apparently the reason is the lack of graphics power, says Cult of Mac. The on-GPU H.264 encoding (if you really need to know). Someone else told me it’s because of content licence problems. But don’t give up, this is where AirParrot comes in. For a reasonable $10 you can enable AirPlay Mirroring on your pre-2011 Mac. Simple as that!

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Apple World Travel Adapter Kit

If you are the world travelling type who likes to take his Apple gear with him, you might be intersted in Apple’s World Travel Adapter Kit. The collection of six AC plugs has you covered in North America, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong. It works with the iPhone, iPad and your portable Mac. It’s yours for $39,00.

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iPhone 5 LTE Specs & iOS 6 Feature Availability

Depending on where you buy your iPhone 5 (i.e. which mobile phone carrier) you will get different models with varying tec specs (LTE support). You will also have different iOS 6 features available (services like Siri), depending on the country you use the iPhone. At worst your iPhone will only work with the LTE network of some providers. (There are 3 different iPhone 5 models at the moment). So better make sure you know which one you’re buying! For a break down of the LTE capabilities of the iPhone 5, refer to this official Apple site. If you want to find out which iOS 6 services are supported in your country, make yourself familiar with Apple’s iOS 6 feature availability list.

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Stream Music Through Your Power Socket

Netgear is about to extend your AirPlay network with the Powerline Music Stream Box (German website). This means you can not only pump data through the power lines in your home but connect speakers to your Apple AirPlay network as well. (We are talking music streaming with iTunes or iPhone and iPad). The Powerline XAUB2511 comes with an Ethernet port and a USB port which talks to USB speakers and connects to a stereo using cinch cables too (adapter included). You may also use the USB 2.0 port to plug in a hard drive or a printer for easy network sharing. Price? 140 € for two Powerline adapters.

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Check Where All The Space On Your Mac Has Gone

It’s simple, really. But you need to know where to look: Open the Finder window and hit “cmd & F” to bring up the search bar. Now select “Kind” and “Other…” and look for “File size”. By ticking the little box you can add it to the standard selection. What is left now, is to choose “is greater than,” enter a file size of your choice and there you have it! Just for choice: You could also go with this tool.

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Keep An Eye On Your Home Network

iNet helps you to check which devices are connected to your home network, gives you their IP, MAC address and scans for active services. Not a tool everyone needs, but great for nerds, paranoid Mac users and network admins. There’s a free iPhone version (really quite limited) and the fully functional app for a steep $5.99.

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Turn Your Mac Into A (Plex) Media Centre

Interested in transferring your DVD collection to a Mac for easier access and nicer presentation? The open source project – Plex – is the place too start. The free software effortlessly manages your movie library and streams your flicks not only on your home network to other Macs, but to the iPhone and iPad too (there’s an app for that, you know). You can also set up secure film streaming via the Internet. One way to move all your DVDs to your Mac while ensuring flawless streaming and picture quality is MakeMKV. There are many options for ripping and encoding DVDs, however, Plex, the MKV video format (and a Mac Mini) make a great team as a media center!

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The Ultimate Powerstation For Your iPhone

Ok, ok, it is pricey for a spare juice pack – $129.95 – to be precise. But it also says “ultimate” in the headline and the battery delivers a powerful 6000 mAh! Meaning you can finally start that trip around the globe without worrying all the time where to charge your iPhone. For some extra fun, the manufacturer throws in some dust and water resistance too. Meet the mophie juice pack powerstation® PRO over here. (The name is a bit overdone, I agree).

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Bluetooth Speaker And iPhone Charger

Not a bad idea, this Braven Bluetooth speaker. Because it not only enhances your sound experience when listening to music on the iPhone, but also charges the thing. Plus you can daisy-chain multiple speakers together for even more (surround) sound. There’s a shock resistant outdoor variant of the Braven six series available too. Prices range from $149.99 for the basic model up to $189.99 for the silvery version pictured above, promising up to 20 hours of wireless play time. For all technical details and colours head over to the company’s website.

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Good-Looking AirPlay Speakers By Libratone

Pretty and pricey! The Libratone Lounge speaker (picture) and the smaller Libratone Live combine design, Apple’s AirPlay technology and punch. Both speakers come with a 150 Watt total. Which translates to 1x50W bass, 2x25W tweeter and 2x25W midrange. You can stream your music from iTunes, your iPhone or iPad sans cables to up to six speakers (depending on your WiFi). All this luxury doesn’t come cheap though. The Libratone Live sells for $699.95 and its bigger Lounge brother for $1,299.95.

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Thunderbolt Port: Apple Cinema Display Flickers

Owners of the Apple LED Cinema Display 24-inch (introduced in 2008) may experience problems when connecting the display to a Thunderbolt port: An “intermittent flicker.” The 24 Inch LED Cinema Display randomly goes black for a second. Don’t worry Apple has a fix for this – quietly hiding in the support section. (It does not show up via your regular software update). So just download the Firmware update yourself, follow instructions and you’re good to go.

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Crazy Fan Noise And Lack Of Responsiveness…

…may be symptoms after upgrading to a new Mac OS. It is usually related to Spotlight indexing your Mac and may take several hours (the older your Mac, the longer it takes). If you’re getting nervous, open Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder) and check the CPU load (select all processes). If “mds” and “mdworker” are the ones causing the work load everything is fine. Let them be! If not, follow this hint.

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Extra Power For Your iPhone

Endurance isn’t exactly one of the iPhone’s specialties. So if you find yourself far away from a power socket or USB car cigarette lighter adapter you may be in trouble. That’s when you realise you should have bought the New Trent iCruiser IMP1000. It’s a real power pack with 1100mAh to charge the iPhone 4 up to six times! To keep your stylish gadget going you have to fork over $76.95 (sale!) Of course the thing charges other equipment too and lasts 500 recharge cycles.

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AirPort Utility For iPhone

Finally you can check, restart, edit and even fully set up your AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express or Time Capsule with a few taps via your iPhone or iPad. The AirPort Utility for iOS App (universal) lets you see connected wireless clients and your passwords. So be careful! Once you enter your AirPort password into the app, whoever plays with your iPhone can see and change your Wi-Fi passwords(!) Usability is very good – as you might expect from Apple’s own developers – and as far as I can tell so is functionality. Can’t see which option might be missing compared to the AirPort utility for Mac OS X. Get it while it’s fresh!

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Connect Multiple Hard Drives To AirPort Extreme

This is pretty pretty cool, if you’re into wireless storage solutions. Get yourself an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station, connect an active USB hub to it and you can access multiple hard drives/printers via your WiFi network. Apple isn’t exactly “promoting” this feature but it’s there (last paragraph). The attached USB drives show up in the Finder on your Mac and you can even use one for Time Machine backups. You have several access settings to fiddle with, however they don’t distinguish between the different hard drives.

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New Features Of iPhone 4S & Sample Pictures

Putting it in a nutshell: The six most important (new) features of the iPhone 4S are:

Dual Core processor (1 GHz) & powerful graphics / a pretty nice camera (8 Megapixels) check out Apple’s sample pics / Full HD Video (1080p; 30 fps) with video stabilisation (sample) / iOS 5 / iCloud storage and backups / Siri – the “intelligent assistant”. Details -> over here.

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Protect Your iPhone 4S With New AppleCare+

Have you ever dropped your iPhone? Are you the clumsy type and worried you will break it in the future? You might consider the newly introduced Apple Care+ when buying your next iPhone! For a one time payment of $99 you get all sorts of damage control PLUS: “Coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage from handling, each subject to a $49 service fee”. Your drop insurance holds good for two years and has to be purchased together with the iPhone. It’s not a bad deal I guess!

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Introducing: Apple’s iCloud

With iOS 5 and the next update of Mac OS X Lion (10.7.2.) just around the corner it is time to take a look at iCloud. The free service (curtsey of Apple) keeps your different Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) synchronised over the Internet. That includes photos, music, documents, and apps among other things. You get 5GB of free storage and your purchased music, apps, books, and TV shows, as well as the photo stream (of your last 1000 pictures) don’t count against that cloud space. Only mail, documents, the camera roll, account information, settings, and other app data will fill up the 5GB (that’s not too bad, right?) If you want more storage you can buy up to 50GB for $100 per year.

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Enhance Your Scrolling Options

Scroll Reverser gives you several options to adjust the direction of scrolling in Mac OS X Lion to your personal taste. You may opt for reverse horizontal or vertical scrolling and set different scrolling behaviour for your mouse, trackpad or tablet. Scroll Reverser is free of charge and rests in the menu bar for quick access (if you want it to).

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Enable AirDrop On Unsupported Mac

So, officially you only get the benefits of easy file sharing (aka AirDrop), when you have any of the following Mac models:

MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer); MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer); MacBook (Late 2008 or newer); iMac (Early 2009 or newer); Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer); Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010).

However there is a way around this (kind of*). Meaning you have to tinker with the Terminal first. Just type the following into the Terminal: defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces 1 (that’s it!) Now non supported Macs will know how to “AirDrop” files *as long as the Macs are in the same network. Thanks, Mac OS X Hints! To find out which WiFi cards support AirDrop check out this web site.

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Check Your MacBook Battery

Mac users interested in the health of their MacBook Pro battery (such as full charge capacity and cycle count) find the relevant information via the “About This Mac” menu (upper left corner) and “More Info” in the “System Report”. For even more details on your internal power supply – like the battery temperature or your current battery power usage – turn to coconutBattery!

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Test Your RAM In Mac OS X

Sometimes if you experience sudden programme crashes or a kernel panic on your Mac faulty RAM is to blame. To find out get yourself a copy of Rember and do the free memory test. Also useful if you bought new RAM modules and want to check they are O.K. It’s best to quit all other applications. By the way, testing takes a while!

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Pimp Your Mac Pro To USB 3.0

Feel left out of the action of a growing number of USB 3.0 devices? HighPoint comes to the rescue and offers you the RocketU Quad USB 3.0 for Mac. The PCI-E card brings 4x USB 3.0 ports (5GB/s, type-A) to your Mac Pro. It supports up to 4 external USB HDD/SDD and handles RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD. Of course the thing is backwards compatible with older USB devices. Unfortunately there’s no price tag yet.

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Find Out More About Your Mac

Lion makes it much easier these days to find information and help for your specific Mac model. Go to “About This Mac” in the upper left corner of your screen (the Apple symbol) and you’ll find direct links to the user manual, specifications and hardware support. A good place to start if your want to upgrade or repair your Mac or just want to find out its noise level.

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Check Your Mac Storage

Not a major feature but still good to know is Lions revamped “About This Mac” info panel. You can quickly find out where all the storage on your internal drive went or how much memory (RAM) is installed. Plus there is a link to an Apple document describing how to upgrade your Mac’s memory.

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Apple Manuals & Tech Specs

There is a ton of information available on Apple’s websites. The problem is to find the right document or hint when you need it. Three places to start digging are: Apple’s manuals for their hardware, the official site for technical information or the Apple how-to video section. You may also want to check out iFixit if you need to upgrade or repair your Mac.

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MacBook Pro 2011 Power Consumption

In case you’re interested in some unofficial numbers regarding the power consumption of the new MacBook Pro 2011: Average use load ~25 Watts; Full load ~85 Watts; Standby ~1.9 Watts; Power adapter only ~0.0 Watts. Not bad, right? It’s the powerful Intel Core i7 Quad Core (2.2 GHz) we are talking about after all. Want to know about the noise of the MBP – check out Apple’s relevant numbers over here (sound power level and sound pressure level).

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Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts


Startup keyboard shortcuts, Finder keyboard shortcuts, application and other Mac OS X keyboard commands – the easiest way to often do things on your Mac is via shortcuts. Apple lists many Mac OS X shortcuts on a dedicated site. Particularly useful are the startup key combinations when you’re Mac is behaving strangely.

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