I'm a writer and computer sciences student from Belgium. You can always do me a favor with a good article idea, book recommendation, or recipe idea. You'll also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
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Simon's Latest Posts
Taking your pen to hand – or more often keyboard, in these times – is not always a simple undertaking. That’s not to say writing is bothersome. No, rather the opposite. Writing is wonderful, awesome, enchanting, and a hundred other things. The problem then is that there are too many distractions. Loud noises, flashing lights….not just outside of your window, but on your computer as well.
Compared to other standard calculators, Mac OS X users definitely can’t complain. The Calculator app that ships with Macs by default is diverse and incredibly powerful. However, you simply can’t build an app as general as a calculator to satisfy all possible user scenarios. For different users, different apps will always come out on top. Luckily, there’s no shortage of calculator alternatives in the Mac App Store.
Crosswords are one of the world’s favorite pastimes. Sudoku has gained a lot of ground these past few years (although the real sudoku craze has largely calmed down) but this old time-waster isn’t going anywhere. It’s one of the big puzzle totems, and it’s here to stay. As with newspapers and magazines, crosswords are going digital. You might miss your coffee-stained, pencil-marked newspaper friends at first, but the iPad is a crossword wonder.
The term DDoS whistles past whenever cyber-activism rears up its head en-masse. These kind of attacks make international headlines because of multiple reasons. The issues that jumpstart those DDoS attacks are often controversial or highly political. Since a large number of regular users are affected by the attacks, it’s an issue that plays with the people. Perhaps most importantly, a lot of people don’t know what constitutes a DDoS attack.
Everyone has a story to tell. It’s not always a story in need of an audience, sometimes a story just needs to be told. You may want to continue the journal you started when you were just a kid, or keep a weekly account of your travels around the world. Maybe it’s thoughts, not events that need writing down. Day One is a great application aching to serve as your digital scribe, across platforms on OS X and iOS.
How often have you sent an email to yourself, simply to move a picture or document between computers? Often, the only obvious alternative is clear overkill, like setting up a temporary FTP server on your jailbroken iPad. For these kind of scenarios – moving small files quickly and efficiently – Mac OS X’s own AirDrop is the ideal tool for the job.
People are willing to go to great lengths to access video content, and great lengths are indeed required when content often doesn’t become available for a big part of the world until months after its initial release. More so, even though there are websites like Hulu and Netflix boasting the infrastructure to offer that media globally, they actively work to keep people out. If you want to watch region-blocked content on your iPhone or iPad you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.
The iPad (or even the iPhone) is a great device to enjoy apps and video while you’re on the road, or in bed. In fact, you can enjoy your media wherever you are. However, sitting a small distance from your big television set, some of this media might be wasted on the small screen of your iOS device. Instead, you could switch to your computer, or a media center hooked up to your TV. But if you want to enjoy the content from your iPhone or iPad, there’s a third option.
Although AirPlay – a system that allows you to stream video and audio between AirPlay-enabled Apple devices – works great in a lot of situations, it isn’t a perfect system. Perhaps most importantly, Apple’s AirPlay system is proprietary, meaning it’s only officially implemented by Apple and thus only available on Mac OS X and iOS devices, leaving a lot of Windows-Apple crossover users out in the cold. Luckily, both of these problems are solved by AirParrot.
With Spotify and similar music-streaming services on the rise, the run-of-the-mill stereo installation is starting to look more and more inadequate. The main problem with this setup is that if you’re sitting with friends, computer-stereo-hybrid blasting away at the other side of the room, it’s often a chore to play DJ… unless you start involving your mobile devices and an app like Spot Remote for iOS.
One of the clumsiest things to do on Mac OS X is Windows management. I don’t usually look back on my Windows years with longing, but window management has been integrated far less sloppier on Windows 7 than it has on Mac OS X. The buttons at the top of the screen sometimes seem to act illogically. But worse, moving and resizing windows has to be done manually using the mouse. This may seem like a trivial task, but believe me, it adds up.
A more portable laptop (in my case, an ultrabook) comes with all kinds of problems for the music enthusiast. The sound quality of Apple’s built-in speakers is better than most, and I love iTunes’ capabilities for organising my media library. However, anything resembling a decent music collection takes up most – if not all – of the available hard drive space. Without a gigantic hard drive, keeping a local music library simply isn’t feasible.
Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at a number of media center software alternatives. Some people swear by XBMC, or swore by Boxee before it stopped developing the Boxee desktop application. In the end, I always come back to Plex. Plex has matured a lot. Now, it’s not only on of the most eye-catching media center applications, it’s a easy to use solution I would recommend to most people looking to build a media center.
You’re having family or friends over and want to show off the pictures of that trip you made last year. Those pictures you haven’t already shared on Facebook (and aren’t likely to) are waiting patiently on your computer until you can gather around your guests and share the memories you made. There are a couple of ways to access your pictures and slideshows on your Apple TV.
Apart from a handheld console like the PlayStation Vita, your tablet or smartphone is probably the best way to game, and keep yourself entertained on the road. After all, a very decent-sized chunk of the iOS app store is filled with games. Some of these games lend themselves better to the iPhone’s or iPad’s touchscreen interface than others.