Archive for January, 2005

I am officially declaring this the week that I have discovered internet radio. Granted this is not the first week that I’ve listened to streaming music over the internet (it’s been available in iTunes for a while now), but this week that it has started to grow on me. Things can be rather slow at work on Thursday nights, so I decided some music was in order. Of course, my entire music library is at home and not at the office. I fired up iTunes (which I had installed at work to manage a bunch of sermons I downloaded from the seminary’s website), and clicked on the radio module. After browsing around and trying a few stations, I found a nice classical station—Mostly Classical—that played some really good stuff.

However, that wasn’t the end of it. Tonight at home, I found two other interesting stations. The first is Digitally Imported – Hard House. Maybe it’s all that DDR I’ve been playing, but I’ve begun to take an interest in some forms of electronic music. It just so happened that the aforementioned station was playing a really good CD when I tuned in (“Hardhouse” CD 2 published by ID&T, to be exact). I was hooked almost instantly. I sat back and turned on G-Force, which must be made for this kind of music because the visualization was perfect. It’s too bad that the CD is from the Netherlands, and I couldn’t even find it on eBay.

The second good station that I discovered tonight is Best of the 80’s. Given my keen interest in 80’s music (particularly that of the New Wave variety), this station was a natural choice.

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The Library is quite the busy place this week—at least for me it is. This is Access residency week. For those of you who don’t know, Access is Covenant’s distance education program. During residency week, Access students come into town for a week of high intensity course work for which they’ve been preparing during the previous months. While they’re in town, it’s a good opportunity to give them an orientation to the services that the seminary offers to its students, including library privileges. Thus, being the librarian in charge of public services (reference, circulation, bibliographic instruction, database access, etc.) I had to give a presentation to the Access students at residency for the first time.

Now Per, my brilliant predecessor, having presented at this orientation numerous times in the past, left me the nice PowerPoint slideshow that he has refined over the years. Nevertheless, I felt it necessary to make a few changes—to personalize it to my style. The first order of business was to nix the animated screen shots and go to live demos. Second, I had to rearrange a few things to better fit my intended flow. Third, I needed a new design template, since the one Per had used screamed 1990’s (which is probably when he first made the presentation after all). None of the factory-installed design templates struck my fancy, so I ventured onto Microsoft Office Online where I found a nice design featuring a stack of books—rather appropriate for a library, I thought. With a new, more contemporary design template featuring subtler, more natural coloration and a photographic accent, my PowerPoint slideshow was ready to go—and just in nick of time too!

I was pleased with how well the presentation went. I had to go pretty quick, but I managed to cover all the basics and I also answered quite a few follow-up questions along the way. The next day I had the opportunity to have lunch with the Access students, and many of them expressed their appreciation for my presentation. I was glad for the positive feedback.

Back home, I decided that I liked the design template that I had found so much that I wanted it on my home computers. I launched PowerPoint, but found that Office Online wasn’t as nicely integrated on the Mac as I had remembered it being on Windows at work. First, I tried Mactopia, Microsoft’s Mac specific website, but I couldn’t turn up any templates that were not already installed on my computer. I then ventured over to the generic Office site (where every page informs you that you are using an unsupported browser unless you are using IE… grrrr). I tracked down the template and downloaded it. However, when I tried to open the compressed file, I found that it was a .cab file that Stuffit Expander couldn’t open despite the nice Stuffit-style icon that had been assigned to it.

Not to be deterred, I headed over to Mac OS X Hints, where I found just the hint I was looking for. Someone had written in some time ago about an open-source, command-line .cab utility (although no executable binary was available, and it had to be built from the source code). In addition, much to my delight, one of the comments on the hint was someone announcing that he was going to put together a package for Fink. I launched FinkCommander, found cabextract, and installed it. Sure enough, cabextract did the trick. It opened the .cab file and I had my template. I just had to give it a sensible name (and appropriate file type and creator codes for good measure), and I was ready to go. The only snag is that I haven’t been able to figure out how to get the template to show up in the formatting palette along with the default templates. Hmmm…

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Recently, a switcher asked me, as a long-time Mac user, to recommend my favorite Mac software. After much thought, I came up with my top picks, and decided to go ahead and share them with the world.

TLA Systems, Ltd. · $29
Simply the best application launcher available. Don’t make yourself search through your Applications folder or overstuff your Dock. DragThing lets you organize your Apps and keep them at your fingertips. (See my DragThing dock)
Oak Tree Software, Inc. · (cost depends on modules selected)
The best Bible study software available for the Mac, and arguably the best for any OS.
Taco HTML Edit
Taco HTML Edit
Taco Software · Free
A simple and clean interface for editing HTML, CSS, PHP, etc. Features HTML tag coloring and auto-organization.
Aaron Voisine & The GIMP Team · Free
The open-source, professional grade image editing program GIMP in a self-contained Mac OS X application bundle. Features drag-and-drop file opening, printing through Gimp-Print, and display of help in the default web browser.
Selznick Scientific Software, LLC · $18
Never write your passwords on a Post-It note again. PasswordWallet stores all your usernames and passwords in an encrypted database locked with a master password. Also features an excellent auto-type feature.
FlrSoft · $20
Don’t have .Mac? iSynCal lets you synchronize your iCal calendars between multiple Macs.
stupidFish23 · $7.50
If you haven’t discovered the joy of having multiple clipboards, then you’re seriously missing out. ShadowClipboard keeps a history of what you cut and copy accessible from your menu bar.
Panic, Inc. · $25
FTP in a clean, easy-to-use interface.
The Azureus Team · Free
Powerful, cross-platform BitTorrent client. Features multiple torrent downloads, queueing/priority systems, start/stop seeding options, and instant access to numerous pieces of information about your torrents.
Fink + FinkCommander
Fink: The Fink Project · Free
FinkCommander: The FinkCommander Project · Free
Fink opens up the world of open source UNIX software on Mac OS X by making it easy to find, build/install, and manage many useful libraries, binaries, and other software packages. FinkCommander provides a GUI for Fink.

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Some time ago, Gimli—my firewire hard drive that I put together using my PowerMac’s original 6GB drive and an external case—died. I just turned it on one day to find that it wouldn’t mount, and Apple’s Disk Utility couldn’t do anything. Maybe it was one of those Firewire drive killing system updates that Apple seems to have a knack for issuing these days. Anyway, one of my Christmas presents was Alsoft’s DiscWarrior, which I promptly installed and tested upon returning home. And sure enough, DiscWarrior scavenged the hard drive, rebuilt the directory structure, and resurrected it from the dead with all the original data apparently intact. Go DiscWarrior.

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