Category Archives: Apple

A Google off-guard moment…again. (April 1)

Of all the April Fool’s Day jokes I eagerly await for, it’s Google’s that makes or breaks it for me.

Google Motion (Beta) Apr 1, 2011

Google Motion (Beta) Apr 1, 2011

Ever since its first April Fools Day joke pulled off to very unsuspecting users like myself in 2000, of its “Mental Plex” page (back then, the term “‘netizen” was still so much in vogue, preceded by the clichéd “information superhighway”, and “broadband speed” at home was a dream state we all wished to have), Google’s April Fool’s Day pages were the ones that’d get women like myself, inclined to a little bit of geeky-ness, happily face-palming and getting like-minded discussants into hours-long analyses, Google easter egg lists and such, in forums and chat rooms (it was even more fun when newer members joined in).

Eleven years into this tradition with a few hits and misses — TISP‘s description was so obvious it was corny even before I clicked on the link — Google’s April 1st jokes rank among those diversions that make hours of soaking up information online delightful.

Thinking that 2011’s Google’s Motion (Beta) could be a Mac-specific feature similar to LiquidMac, a fun, novelty app that mimics the movement of liquid in a computer by its orientation (using Apple laptops’ built-in sudden motion sensor technology), I thought , falling into the Apple-user snob mode I realized I hadn’t completely shed off yet (and feeling a little sorry for it), “So, is this cross-platform?,” yet something ticked the instant curiosity pushed the button.

This time, Google caught me off-guard. And a smack on the cheek to go with it. Fun!

My favorite April Fools Day Google joke so far are:

  • Scratch and Sniff (2008) and its reference to books vis-a-vis print getting more digitized;
  • Jobs at Copernicus Center (2004) with its nice illustrations and great geek-y copy;
  • Gmail Paper (2007) and how it resounds so much with life around email;
  • Gmail Custom Time (2008), in relation to above entry;
  • the CADIE (2009) project;
  • last, but certainly not the least, Google’s life-changing Gmail announcement (in relation to (2007) and (2008); see image grab above again for details).

Finally, a shoutout to Google and YouTube’s April Fools Day continuing collaboration. In celebration of Jackie Chan’s recently wrapped up film 1911 (ironically, Jackie Chan was just the subject of a Twitter hoax two days ago), YouTube’s wayback window and logo are too good to miss, I can’t let this pass.

 

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Filed under Apple, April Fools Day, Google, Google.com, internet, internet activity, laptops, Mac, Mac Apps, online tool apps, Sudden Motion Sensor, Video, YouTube

VirusBarrier X5 (from MacHeist)

Membership to Mac-related online apps and sites adds to the unending thrill of being an Apple user, even if it means, like in my case, not  actually being as active or passionate in devoting the same amount of internet time as I used to as when I first signed up for these.

Somehow, Mac-related sites have always been kind of sleek, kind of more fun, requiring a bit more brain power than, say, Windows apps that seem designed with just end-user ‘fun’ in mind, a lot of smooth graphics and little else. This is not meant to be another of those “vs.” posts — never was a fan of that. It’s just how I see and experience it, having come from Windows since the DOS days.

Besides, I never can get into a “vs.” discussion in real life, especially if the discussants are hard core X vs. Y, “Apples vs. Oranges” kind of people.

Anyhow, great online apps and sites provide good diversions from routine and intensive brain+physical work. One such site is MacHeist. Not only are its games (called “Missions”) gems, the bundled apps they have given out so far are great.

While getting squeezed between two major activities in the past few days, I managed to respond to a November Macheist email notification because it was one the best bundles it has ever offered following the one in April ’09.

MacHeist3 (the November edition, aka nanoBundle) includes the following apps:

Except for Hordes of Orcs, I had been able to successfully download all apps as of this writing but have not installed all of them yet. I had used the early WriteRoom version previously and would be looking forward to what the latest has to offer. Meanwhile, still attempting to recover some personal time due to the two major events mentioned (and some other work in between that were not as loaded but were equally demanding of attention), I chose to install VirusBarrier X5 as a supplement to ClamXav.

By the way, I mention the thrill of being an Apple user but I can honesty say the Mac I work on is not all a smooth and easy ride. This Mac in particular is a 1st-generation MacBook Pro (ca. 2006) and its age is showing. It has, on the average, stayed on for 48 hours without shutting down. Its optical drive has been bricked by a nasty firmware update by Apple back in 2008, something, some say, Apple has hidden from the public: not a very noble move by Apple there. (NOTE: I dug up archived sites on this superdrive issue when I was looking for solutions which can be read here and here).

It’s a Mac Anti-Virus program

As the name suggests, VirusBarrier X5 is a virus scanner and anti-virus app for the Mac like ClamXav. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to scan the whole 80gb hard drive as it combed through 592,641-plus of combined apps and files.

VirusBarrier X5 interface design is a masculine feel, something the boys will love. It kind of reminds me of the Windows audio player app "Winamp".

The intital scan detected X97M/Yosenio.gen hidden within an Excel macro (.xla) file named “GhostWorld.xla” which, I discovered, was in the Mac. How I got this file is beyond me. Perhaps it was picked up by my USB drive after plugging it into the Windows computer at the neighborhood internet cafe a few weeks ago. (Strangely, all other GhostWorld associated files are dated “12/11/04, 5:29 pm” as revealed in Finder. It predates the Mac in which it now resides, and the installed Office applications, by two years.)

Since I had not run ClamXav after the period in which I suspect I got the Yosenio.gen file from the net cafe, there is no way for me to determine whether ClamXav could have detected or overlooked the file. I noticed that the Mac did exhibit certain unusual behaviors since that period, such as going through a soft crash or freezing up when I plugged in the USB wifi stick, etc. I did plug the USB thumb drive into my mother’s Windows laptop by mistake and, just as I had suspected, its default anti-virus scanner, McAfee, popped an alert faster than I could eject it.

Mac-ros

Ok, the point is Macs may be immune to Windows viruses but it serves as a temporary asylum in which these hibernate until such time that a device, like a USB thumb drive, is stuck into its ports, and just as quickly as a Windows malware jumps into alien environment such as OS X, that it transfers  to an empty space in the removable device waiting to be transported into another computer that it can infect or to successfully cause trouble.

On the other hand, macro viruses are cross-platform viruses and can thrive in both Windows and Mac environments. Macros are helpful application commands designed to enhance certain features of, say MS Word or Excel files. However, since macros are not executable files and are document-related (e.g. they exist within an application’s files and do not need a command to invoke its execution), they are deemed more dangerous than trojans, worms and viruses.

I am always wary about getting Windows viruses because I’d like to avoid being responsible for infecting another computer, specifically a Windows-based computer. The Windows malware may not wreak havoc on the Mac and I can just proceed to work as usual, without any worry of my files being corrupted and such, because Windows malware are programmed to sniff out specific Windows files to play hookey with. But because the Mac serves as convenient transport zone for these suspicious files — as long as they stay undisturbed in a ‘safe’ place (other than the Trash) — that it still makes me very wary of them. Having said that, if one is running Windows on a Mac, it is just as wise to install a Windows-based anti-virus program for one’s protection.

I’ve decided to keep VirusBarrier X5 inspite of my limited hard drive space. It puts an icon on the menu bar for instance access to its other features, and another icon in the dock. It is an unintrusive app that provides real-time scanning without hogging my limited resources. ClamXav, meanwhile,  can slow down my work during background scans, by the way.

I’m quite happy with VirusBarrier X5, and grateful that an excellent site like MacHeist, which has provided my license, has included this app in its bundle and have donated part of the ‘loot’ to charity in the process. I can’t wait to give the other applications a try and for the next bundle to come along.

Well done, Macheist and Intego.

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Filed under Apple, Mac, Mac Anti-Virus, Mac Apps, MacHeist, Notes to self, online tool apps

iQuickNotes for the iPhone: a Filipino app

Filipino IT consultant and fellow Mac forum member Floyd Piedad of BlueInstinct Solutions in Manila posted a thread seeking support for iQuicknotes v1.0, an application for the iPhone in lieu of its default Notepad app. (Release date: 03/01/2009)

Now here’s something that should be reflective of our status as texting capital “of the world” that goes beyond managing corner stalls of ringtone download and wallpaper services, jail breaking and unbelievably cheap mobile phone monthly rates.

The site describes the app as:

“…designed with the simple goal of having a better-organized notepad. We had just one critical usability requirement: you should be able to open your note in as little as two clicks after opening the application.”

Features include:

iQuickNotes UNIQUE COMBINATION OF FEATURES

  1. FOLDERS: Group your notes into folders or subfolders, with the number of notes contained indicated

  2. SEARCH: Search for any word in your folders or notes title AND contents

  3. FAVORITES TAB: Tag notes or folders as your favorite and quickly see them through the Favorites tab at the bottom

  4. BY DATE: Want to view your most recently added or edited note or folder? Just click on the By Date tab at the bottom

  5. BY NAME: All your notes and folders are indexed by their first letter for easy access

I do not own an iPhone but would be supportive, as I hope you will be, too, of application development that are meant to help in productivity and better information management.

Floyd wrote in another Mac forum that he submitted the app in February 2009. That it took less than a month for Apple to approve it among thousands of third-party apps submitted, and is now available from the iTunes store, means iQuickNotes fulfills Apple’s requirements. It must mean that iQuickNotes has something to contribute to iPhone users in a substantial way.

The app will be of better service if iPhone owners try it out (v1.0, download from here) and send their comments and suggestions to support@blueinstinct.com.


 

More technical info on iQuickNotes from apptism.com
Developer’s site, screen shots and app description here.
A community of Filipino iPhone Programmers can be read about here.

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Filed under Apple, Camphone, Filipino, iPhone app, Mobile phone, Note taking, Philippines, Proudly Pinoy, Software development, Technology, University of the Philippines

low-tech gets hi-tech


In May when my cousin was here for a visit, one of her concerns was charging purchases using her debit card at gas stations. No, it wasn’t that her card would not be honored; rather, the concern was perhaps the fact that the staff at our gas stations – greasy and poor lit as they are in some branches, the stations – might commit identity theft, whether intentionally or otherwise, as may have been the unfortunate experience of some of her friends and acquaintances back in the US.

Of course we assured her that incidence of card fraud was nearly unheard of in Manila. Ok, that may not be entirely true. But at least for us whom she was with, none among our circle of friends have so far been victims of such incidents.

Identity theft have been rarely reported in the news; some cases have been topics for late-night TV docu-series that told of MOs at ATMs or swiped payments made by shoppers in malls or department stores using credit cards, but even these establishments have put in place certain measures of verification prior to receipt of payment.

So, it does not mean that consumers are safer because we do not seem so hi-tech and covert – even the Love Bug author was supposedly found to be not much of a techie himself.

However, there is a bigger danger to unconcealed illegal activities in that the victims are far at risk because they face direct assault to their persons and properties. And when the low-tech lowlifes decide to go hi-tech, the consequences are instant, unsavory, and more damaging.

The irony to low-tech crimes on hi-tech properties – laptops in this case – is that the items stolen are [1] of no use to the thief [2] because the thieves themselves may be computer-illiterate. This does not mean, however, that the thieves are totally technologically challenged, as they reaffirm the dialogue on Invention. Therefore, in being so challenged by the prospect of getting their hands on a piece of technology, they resort to primitive means: smashing windows, unhooking car locks with wires, distraction (“What time is it?”) &mdash the usual, low-tech MOs, ho-hum, but it seems to work effectively. The overall irony, though, is that these thefts have been occurring more regularly lately, yet none have been reported in the news.

Could it be that the victims are not wont to bother filing a police report? Could it be because some see stolen laptops as merely a case of losing expensive toys and nothing more? I think what is missed out is the fact that laptops have become the equipment of choice for serious work by some people – no, make that most people here in the Philippines – my friends included. And what an investment in time, money and productivity it took them to make this choice possible. Caveat emptor!
…………………………………………..

Culled Stats:
• The price of a workhorse laptop (Apple or PC) is almost equivalent to a second-hand car.
• The most incidents of stolen laptops are from unattended vehicles parked in public places.
• The second most popular places for stolen laptops are in public cafés.
• There have been rare cases of Macintosh laptops being returned to their owners because they were password-protected.

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Filed under Apple, laptops, Manila