mashby

I love a good story

July 27, 2010

No Buyer’s Remorse Here

Apple just came out with their latest iMacs yesterday, so I took a look at their specs to see how much has changed in the last six months. I’m happy to say very little!

An iMac displaying iPhoto

If I were to replace my 27″ i7 iMac today, I would get the following:

  • A processor that is .13GHz faster.
  • Memory that is 266MHz faster.
  • An upgraded video card (ATI Radeon HD 5750) with twice as much RAM (1GB).

All-in-all, that’s not a huge bump and certainly one I can live with. This iMac is still the most insanely powerful, gorgeous computer that I’ve ever owned. I often feel unworthy to own such a pristine piece of technology, but there’s no way I’d ever think of giving it up either.

July 23, 2010

Absolute Brilliance – Old Spice Personalized Commercials

It’s Friday and you don’t want to work and you’re looking for a distraction? Well, look no further!

OldSpice has done a series of personalized commercials and posted them on YouTube. Simply go to this link and prepare to be amazed. Very funny, very clever and I have no doubt that I’ll be buying an Old Spice product very soon.

Got to go though. I have to create my new voice mail message!

July 21, 2010

SizeUp – The Handiest Little Utility

Today I was knuckling down to get a couple of irritating tasks done and I was struck by how easy it was to manhandle my apps to do by bidding. I grabbed mail.app and with a simple keyboard shortcut threw it to the right side of my screen and then I threw a browser window to the left side. It’s one of those moments where you suddenly focus on something that you usually take for granted and notice just how magical it is.

The software utility that allows me to work this “magic” is called SizeUp by Irradiated Software. It’s only $13 and it’s a game changer when it comes to window management. Whenever I want to move a window to a certain quadrant on my screen I simply hit Command Key + cmd + opt and an arrow key to move it where I want it.

All throughout my day, I’m able to move windows around my desktop with the greatest of ease and all without removing my hands from the keyboard. The keyboard shortcuts are programmed into my muscle memory so that I perform the actions without even thinking about it. It’s only when I’m on someone else’s machine that I’m reminded how much I love this little app.

Irradiated Software makes a similar app called Cinch for those that prefer to use their mouse over their keyboard. So wether you prefer the mouse or the keyboard, Irradiated Software has the perfect utility for managing all the windows on your desktop.

July 15, 2010

I Can’t Make It Stop

The music is in the video below is brutally awful, but I can’t stop watching the woman doing sign language in the bottom right corner. Seriously. I can’t stop.

Maybe it’s her attitude, her facial expressions, her attempts to keep the beat, the Flashdance attire, or the delicious bouillabaisse of all these ingredients, but I can’t stop watching this video. She is absolutely a m a z i n g.

You’ve been warned.

And to live up to my reputation of providing too much information, “Donk” is a real style of electronic music. Yeah, I know. I thought the video was a joke too. There’s even a 30-minute documentary on VBS.tv all about it.

*** Spoiler Alert ***

Britain has rednecks too.

July 14, 2010

My Thoughts Exactly

I just read a great article on Gizmodo by Peter Serafinowicz regarding the various reasons he chooses to pirate music and video entitled “Why I Steal Movies… Even Ones I’m In. It’s a pretty funny read, but it’s also very much on the nose for why I too sometimes download content through illegal means.

I recently directed the music video for Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better.” Contractually, the video had to be hosted on EMI’s official YouTube channel, which disabled non-UK users from viewing it, limiting its audience by around 80%. Frustrated, I put it up on my own YouTube channel with no region restrictions, and at time of writing is just shy of a million views. EMI then remotely disabled embedding on my version, thereby limiting its audience again. If you’re in the business of promoting a band, why would you want to stop people watching their promotional video? (emphasis added)

What I liked about this article is that it isn’t just another geek railing about how business just doesn’t get it and old people are stupid. Peter is incredibly talented and is a content creator himself — and yet he pirates his own content too!

If you don’t know who Peter Serafinowicz, then here’s a couple of nuggets:

  • Played “Sctanley” in the movie Couples Retreat and “Pete” in Shawn of the Dead
  • Done some great voiceover work, including Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode 1 and “The IT Crowd”.
  • There’s a nice interview with him from last February on Boing Boing.
  • And last, but certainly not least… wait for it… he freaking created “Look Around You“.

If you’ve never heard of “Look Around You”, then go bit torrent it right now! Just kidding. You can watch it on YouTube [link] ;)

June 29, 2010

Inbox Zero, If Only For A Nanosecond

Over the past two years, I’ve been working on refining my workflows and making small adjustments to how I handle and process information. One of the chief areas of concern has been e-mail. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by e-mail and one of the habits I’ve been trying to implement has been something called Inbox Zero.

It may only last a nanosecond, but I had to take a screenshot just to mark the milestone.

screenshot of my mail.app inbox

Granted, the purpose of Inbox Zero isn’t just about having an empty inbox. It’s about processing the information and getting it out of the inbox into something more useful. My processes have been getting stronger and stronger and today I hit zero.

Here’s hoping I stay there.

June 25, 2010

How I Blog

This is my third article today and I was contemplating why I was posting so much this afternoon and the answer surprised me — because it’s fun! I have created a toolbox of software that makes publishing to my blog quick and easy.

I thought it might be helpful to explain the tools behind mashby.com, so below are the four tools that make up my blogging toolbox.

WordPress

wordpress-logo-1.pngAt the heart of my tool set is the Content Management System (CMS) that I use to manage all the content on this blog. The software I use is called WordPress.

I’ve written before about how wonderful WordPress is in an article entitle Alchemy In Action, so there’s no need to to repeat myself. However, I will add that since I wrote that over a year ago, WordPress has just gotten better-and-better. It’s an amazing blogging platform and it’s what allows all the other tools I use to really shine.


MarsEdit

Mars Edit LogoAs great as WordPress is, I find that I prefer to create my articles in an off-line editor versus creating the posts through a web browser. My tool of choice is MarsEdit by Red Sweater software.

Do I have to use an offline editor? Of course not, but there’s something special about being able to save drafts of posts, or easily format images in software written specifically for the Mac. There are a bevy of features, such as a robust WYSIWYG editor and the ability to have a perfect preview of your article before you publish, but the following are the key features for me:

  • Ability to save drafts — I tend to write in fits and starts due mostly to interruptions. With MarsEdit I can save an article I’m working on and then finish it later.
  • Easy Image Posting — Posting images is as easy as dragging and dropping directly into the article. The image will upload when the article is published, but I can position it and see what it looks like in preview prior to publishing. Brilliantly easy and this feature alone is worth the price of the software.
  • External Editors — I’ll go into detail on this one in the next section, but when I really need to focus, this one little trick is worth it’s weight in gold.
  • Support For Multiple Blogs — I actually use MarsEdit for multiple sites, so having one tool to publish from is a big help.

Write Room

WriteRoom — Distraction free writing software for Mac & iPhone.pngSometimes I need to drown out some of the distractions on my desktop. E-mail, instant messengers, not to mention Twitter can make my desktop a bit of a minefield. So when I need to focus just on the text of what I’m writing, I turn to WriteRoom, by Hogsbay Software.

It may seem like a simple tool, which it is, but it can make a big impact on helping you to focus. Everything drops away behind a solid background and all that remains is the simple text and cursor. The only thing I can focus on is typing. In the immortal words of Stimpy, “Joy!”

Thankfully MarsEdit supports external editors, so I simply select “File Edit in WriteRoom” and I’m now in typing bliss. When I’m done, or ready to do some fine tuning with links and images, I simply hit escape, and save and close WriteRoom and everything imports back into MarsEdit.

The process is actually so smooth, you’d think that the two programs were written by the same developer.

Skitch

skitch-1.pngLast but certainly not least in my toolbox of blogging must-haves is Skitch.

Skitch is a unique imaging tool that lives directly in your title bar. When you need to grab an image, you simply take a quick screenshot and drop it into MarsEdit. It literally couldn’t be easier.

If you need to do some editing, you can resize, crop, add text, or graphics and of course name the file. It’s intuitive and easy to use and best of all — it’s free!

I use Skitch all the time, not just for blogging and I really wish these guys would ask for money. I would happily pay for it and I want to ensure that the program stays around. It’s not a replacement for Photoshop, but for 99% of us image editing mortals, it’s more than enough for what you need.

Conclusion

So there you have it. My complete arsenal of tools and how I use them. Hopefully some of what I shared may be of use to you and may assist you in finding an easier way to manage, edit and publish to your blog.

To show you how all of these tools work together, I threw together a quick screencast so you can see each tool in action. Enjoy.

June 25, 2010

Mashby 4.0

My head has been swimming with thoughts of the new Apple iPhone 4, so I guess the number 4 has been rattling around so much, I decided to revamp the blog to a new template. Thus, we have Mashby v4.0!

mashby-1.png

The template is called “Manifest” and was created by Jim Barraud. It’s brilliantly simple and clean and easy to read. I was considering this template the last time that I switched templates, but it was too stark of a change and I wasn’t ready for it.

So gone are the widgets, sidebars and distractions. All that remains is the content itself, so I suppose I better get to crackin’ on publishing better entries. :-)

June 25, 2010

Oh So Tempting

AT&T will charge me $499 for the new iPhone 4. If I trade in my current iPhone 3GS, it brings the price down to $310. How can I resist? Please, tell me! HOW!?!?!?

June 15, 2010

QQ

Apple Store.png

As you can see from the image above, I don’t qualify for the subsidized pricing until March of next year. QQ

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