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Archive for April, 2007

How to transfer video from your Comcast DVR to your Mac

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Tivo allows you to record TV shows whenever you want. There’s also a Tivo product that helps you transfer recordings to your Mac.

But if you have a non-Tivo Tivo (a Digital Video Recorder) like the DVR from Comcast, things aren’t as well integrated. Here is a tutorial on how to get video from your Comcast DVR to your Mac and even burn it as a DVD. It requires the Apple Firewire SDK and a variety of other software but it’s definitely possible.

Image of Firewire SDK

Transferring video from a Comcast DVR to a Mac

Mac Server Series: Getting The Mini In A Data Center

As we’ve gone thru the steps of getting your Mac mini set up as a server, we’ve focused on free software and options that are available with Mac OS X. This sure makes it easy to set up an inexpensive server that you can host at your house of office.

But once the machine is set up and running, you may find that the slow or unreliable connection at home is not enough for you. Power outages, theft or slow upload speeds can be barriers when hosting at home. If you want a more reliable server, you’ll probably want to consider a data center to host your machine.

In a data center, you are paying mostly for the space. It can get quite expensive to host a full server. But with the small size of the Mac mini, you can colocate your server for much less.

I’ve mentioned from the beginning that I work with We host hundreds of Mac minis as servers and that is how I’ve become familiar with the setup of these machines. In this video, I answer the most common questions asked and walk thru the signup process. Hopefully, this will show you hosting in a data center doesn’t need to be intimidating or expensive.

Watch it here: Getting The Mini In A Data Center

- Server Video Series

I’ll be happy to answer any more questions here or from the contact page.

Mac Server Series: How to create an SSH tunnel for a secure VNC connection

VNC is a convenient way to control a remote computer. The problem is that VNC isn’t secure. But with a little effort you can create an SSH tunnel that will keep your VNC connection safe and secure. This video shows how.

On the remote (controlled) computer you’ll need a VNC server, such as the free Vine Server, or you can turn on “Apple Remote Desktop” under the System Preferences Sharing pane.

On the local (controlling) computer, you’ll need a VNC client like the free Chicken of the VNC.

To create the SSH tunnel, you’ll need the free application JellyfiSSH (if you don’t want to type the SSH commands in the Terminal yourself.)

Watch it here: How to create an SSH tunnel for a secure VNC connection

iChat Sounds Professional, AIM Not So Much

In my job, we have hundreds of customers that are tech savvy and are nearly all heavy computer users. During business hours, we make ourselves available via iChat and we prefer the customers contact us that way. Most of them do and it works great.

Also, our company is stretched from Canada to Texas to Pakistan so iChat is the best way to keep up with each other.

The reason I like iChat is because I can talk with multiple customers and potentional customers at once. Also, if they have a question and I need to remind myself of the answer, I can do a quick look-up with nearly no delay in the conversation. It’s also a conenient way to send and receive files.

Even though the list of “buddies” gets long and sometimes the chats are numerous, Chax and improving typing skills makes it a great tool to use for business. In fact, iChat is an absolutely essential business tool for me.

So, why does it feel so strange to ask someone for their “AIM buddy name.” To me, “AIM” and “buddy” just has a juvenile connotation to it. It is even worse when their answer is something like, “babyroxx97.” It just feels so strange. It’s the way I use to flirt with girls in high school.

I’m hoping that some of you can help my change my view and see iChat as a big-boy tool. What are your first thoughts when you hear “instant messaging” and “buddy lists.” Does anyone else use iChat for business? Does it increase your productivity? If you don’t use it for work, how often are you chatting for fun? Do you feel that your Mac “buddies” are more prone to use instant messaging than your PC “buddies?”

A Fun Prank With The “Say” Command

ImageWhen Richard (the other FMB writer) and I were in college, we’d play some fun pranks with the Unix “say” command.

For those who don’t know, this command makes your Mac speak. It’s really quite simple to do.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open up This application is located in the your Utilities folder on your Mac.
  2. It will start up and have a prompt ready for you. At this point just type “say (insert words or sentence here) and push return.
  3. Image

  4. As soon as the sentence is done, another prompt will appear. You can type a new sentence or just hit the up arrow if you want to repeat the last one.

And now for the fun part.

Richard and I both had Macs. We would have my Mac in the living room and be sure that SSH was enabled. (video tutorial here) Richard would have his Mac in the next room within hearing distance of mine. From there, he would log into mine via SSH so he had the prompt on my computer. (This wasn’t visible on my computer.)

We’d then invite a friend (aka, a cute girl to impress) over and tell her how cool Macs are because they can hold conversations with you. We’d then encourage her to “ask the Mac a question.” Richard would than answer the question and keep the conversation going by typing the “say” command from his computer.

One tip to make it more smooth is to let the victim friend know that sometimes the microphone couldn’t pick up the question because it was too soft or slurred. Of course that isn’t the case, but this gave Richard extra time to type the responses.

This is a very fun prank to do. It’s especially interesting to hear what kind of questions the person will ask the computer. If it’s a fella, it’s a given that there will be a question about the “size of his hard disk.”