Archive for February, 2012
- We begin with some important Ask Different news. Three new moderators have been elected. Congratulations to our own Jason, Daniel, and Mike! We look forward to working with you all.
- In other Stack Exchange news, there is now another way to see a site’s top questions. The greatest hits page, accessible at /questions/greatest-hits, shows the top 1000 questions based on how popular they are to the Internet in general.
- High on that list is How can I block specific telephone numbers on my iPhone 4?, with more than 146 thousand views at the time of this writing. Jason’s solution is to create a contact with all the numbers that he wants to block and assign a silent ringtone and empty vibration pattern to it.
Screenshots, pictures of a computer screen, are often used to illustrate software reviews and workflow tutorials. They’re particularly useful to the Ask Different community. It’s sometimes difficult to explain multiple settings in a preference pane or application dialog box. Many questions and answers can be improved by including images. Best of all, it’s free and easy. Mac OS X includes all of the tools you need to take great screenshots and the process is painless once you develop an efficient workflow.
The specifics of this tutorial are geared towards Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The basic steps for taking a screenshot are the same for previous versions of Mac OS X going back as far as I can recall, but some details and the capabilities of Preview will vary according the version of the OS you’re using.
Taking a picture of the entire desktop is simple. Press ⌘(command) + shift + 3 simultaneously on the keyboard and you’ll hear a shutter click (assuming your Macintosh audio isn’t muted). In a moment, an image file will appear on the desktop. If you want to copy the captured image directly into the clipboard without creating a file—to paste directly into another application—use ⌃(control) + ⌘(command) + shift + 3.
This is a screenshot of my desktop. That’s a screenshot file in the upper right corner.
Zynga’s hit Hangman and Scrabble fusion ‘Hanging With Friends’ updated with a new feature! From their version 4.14 update notes:
Hanging With Friends now has Missions! Level your way through over 100 missions that test your Hanging skills, and rescue the Princess! On the way earn coins and unlock exclusive content.
No longer do you simply play an asynchronous game of Hangman, but now you can coerce your play habits into accomplishing missions at the same time! The princess won’t save herself, you know. All of this on the heels of the introduction of micro-transactions into Hanging With Friends, allowing you to buy virtual coins with real money in order to buy (drum roll please) character and balloon customizations, or hints for use during the word building and solving phases. We all know how much Zynga among numerous other companies like their virtual goods and currencies, and just how many horror stories come as a result of a young child playing this simple game and deciding that they need more coins to accomplish their objective; and what luck, all it takes is mommy and daddy’s password to do it!
This week the Apple universe is filled with hints about an impending iPad 3 announcement, speculation around what incredible product developments are next, and serene celebrations of Steve Jobs’ birthday. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for Apple and Ask Different.
In our own corner of the Apple world, we want to honor you, the community, who dare to take a deeper look. Apple users around the universe continue to resolve their inquiries by referring to the comprehensive body of knowledge you are creating here. We thank you on our behalf and theirs.
This week, people who write 5 posts (questions and/or answers) and share those 5 posts (on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook) will receive Ask Different gift swag (shirts, stickers…) and will be entered into a raffle for an iPod Touch.
- Posts should have a score of 2 or more.
- We can only track shared posts that were clicked on at least once
- You should use sharing buttons embedded in the question page on the left side or the link below the question (to make sure we can accurately share gifts with everyone who shares their insights!)
- Posts should be written and shared between now and 11:59pm UTC on Friday, Feb. 24.
Thank you again for continuing to create this incredible community. If you have any input, suggestions or musings about current, past or future site promotions or anything ping me anywhere.
I awoke yesterday morning to a sea of posts about Apple’s latest operating system, Mountain Lion. Instead of holding a press event or waiting until WWDC to announce the next Mac OS X, Apple chose to secretly meet with an indeterminate number of journalists in both California and on the east coast to provide presentations of Mountain Lion to journalists individually. The journalists were then given a MacBook Air with Mountain Lion preloaded and an embargo not to publish until yesterday. My feelings about this were long a little angry, so I cut them from this article and posted them here.
In any case, I am not a journalist. I didn’t attend a presentation and I don’t have a pre-release copy of Mountain Lion. I’m also not in the developer program, so I’m unable to download and install Mountain Lion on my own hardware. I do not have the ability to run this software in any capacity. My impressions and opinions in this article are necessarily influenced by reading the articles and watching the videos produced by the people that have; namely, news sites like The Verge, Macworld, and Daring Fireball. However, this has not stopped me from already forming an opinion…
First impressions (from reading Apple.com)
My initial impressions from reading Apple’s overview page on Mountain Lion were that the new features were a bit underwhelming. I initially felt that by featuring apps like Reminders and Notes so heavily, it betrayed the fact that the rest of their updates were comparatively weak as well. Then I flipped over to the features page and saw that there were a few other, more significant features. Here are my thoughts on them briefly:
The Ask Different 2012 community moderator election has been underway for the past two weeks, and yesterday the polls finally came to a close. We had many qualified candidates in this election, and three very capable moderators have been elected.
The winners are:
Jason Salaz unsuccessfully ran for moderator last year, but since then has been actively involved with Ask Different, is one of the regular hosts of the Ask Different Podcast, and is all around a great asset to the community.
Daniel holds the record on Ask Different for the greatest number of helpful moderator flags. In a lot of ways, he’s been performing the role of moderator for months, at least now he has the diamond to prove it.
Mike is the most prolific Ask Different member, and he also has the highest reputation score. Deservedly so – I’ve come to realize that there’s very little about Apple products that he doesn’t know, and I’m glad to have him on board the moderation team.
Congratulations! I look forward to working with the three of them, as well as Nathan Greenstein, in making Ask Different even more awesome. Members of the site feel free to ping any one of us in chat if you have any questions or issues.
- We begin with some talk of the Ask Different 2012 Community Moderator Election that is currently in progress. This year’s election is different than last year’s for a number of reasons, most of which are directly linked to the size and participation in Ask Different. We discuss the voting process, STV, and we wish all of the candidates the best.
- Also in Stack Exchange news, Jeff Atwood has announced that he will no longer be working at Stack Exchange, beginning in March. He is leaving to spend more time with his children, including two new twins. We greatly appreciate all of the work he poured into Stack Exchange and are glad that he is able to choose to spend time with his family. You should also read Joel Spolsky’s farewell post on the Stack Exchange blog. more »
As someone who dabbles in both photography and graphic design, I spend a lot of time in graphics-oriented apps. There are several leading apps in this category, but which is the right one for you? Is Photoshop better than GIMP? Is Pixelmator better than Photoshop?
The free one. GIMP is free, open source, and cross platform. It has a reasonably good feature set, but doesn’t perform particularly admirably and has a user experience that is decidedly un-Mac-like. GIMP is free.
The big one. Photoshop has been around for a long time, and is the industry standard. Photoshop is the archetypical ‘professional’ app: tons of features (some questionable), a usable-but-not-great UI, and a ridiculous price. Photoshop CS5 is $700, Photoshop CS5 Extended is $1000. Amazon has small discounts. Students and teachers get big discounts.
The shiny new one. Pixelmator is relatively new, incredibly inexpensive, and has quickly gotten a good reputation. Pixelmator is beautiful and a pleasure to use, performs very pleasingly, and has a respectable feature set. Pixelmator is $30 on the Mac App Store.
To start, open up Terminal. To open Terminal, click on the Spotlight icon and type in the word “Terminal”. Click on the result Terminal (or hit Enter). Once you have opened the Terminal, you’ll be ready to log in to your SSH account.
The SSH included with your Mac is a little different from the one which you would have installed on a Windows machine. On a Windows computer, you can either enter your username into a GUI, or use commands in the Command Prompt (which is the Windows version of the Mac Terminal) to log in. On Mac, we don’t have that GUI, so we’re going to log in using a single command. This is actually a little quicker than using a GUI. Let’s get to it:
In the terminal, type:
I’m using the username and the server that my professor at college assigned to me, so here’s what my login looks like:
Hit enter and you’ll be prompted for a password. The password is case-sensitive, naturally. Notice that the characters that you type don’t appear onscreen. SSH is more responsible about web security than I am. Once you have entered your password, hit enter again. If you’ve logged in successfully, you’ll see something like this:
Once again, notice the password isn’t shown at all. (In case you’re wondering, the blurred out bit has some info about your internet service provider which I’d rather not leave floating around the net, so that’s blurred out.) Assuming that everything went well, you should be all logged in and ready to go. Yay! Since we’re done for now, type “exit” to log off. I hope you enjoyed your first trip onto wherever you logged into!
- Welcome to the podcast, Daniel! This is the perfect week to have Daniel on the podcast because, in addition to being the #10 user on Ask Different, he’s a community college teacher.
- We begin with a discussion of Area 51 and the process of starting a Stack Exchange site. Kyle recalls that his ‘Apple’ proposal took some time to get off the ground; in many ways, that was harder than maintaining the site now. Daniel used to do something similar when he evaluated potential Usenet groups.
- Ask Different has come a long way from its Area 51 days. Our traffic and questions have been rising steadily ever since graduation, about one year ago. That’s right, on January 28th, 2012, Ask Different celebrated its 1-year anniversary! Here’s to an even greater site a year from now. more »