The "Spinal Tap" reference to the volume control that goes to "11" notwithstanding, there's a lot of confusion surrounding volume controls. There shouldn't be; the volume control setting has nothing to do with how loud an amp can play. Some folks mistakenly think that if you don't have to turn the knob up very far from the minimum setting to achieve high volume, that "proves" it's a powerful amp. No, not at all; the maximum volume level of any amp is determined not by how far you turn the knob, … Read more
Siri has been a controversial figure (incorporeal though she may be) since she made her debut nearly two years ago, adding much-needed voice-powered automation to iOS but sparking controversy over her limited capabilities and problems recognizing accents.
In fact, to hear some of my friends and family members tell it, Siri is just plain useless. With all due respect, that's because they're doing it wrong. Siri may not be perfect, but she works properly most of the time -- provided you follow a few simple rules of operation.
Here's how to sweet-talk Siri so she behaves the … Read more
Being a multi-user operating system, OS X sequesters settings and personal data in separate home folders, which are accessed when the respective user logs in. By default, the contents of each user's folder are off-limits to another user, which is good for security but can be a burden if one user would like to share files or folders with another.
For example, if you save a Word file to your Documents folder, or even to your Desktop, then another user will not be able to access it from his account. One approach here is to modify the default permissions … Read more
I've lived in NYC since birth, so you might think I wouldn't have a hard time with noise. It's always been part of my life, but restaurants used to be a lot quieter than they are now. The noise isn't just an annoyance; in some places it can reach dangerous levels, according to standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The noise is generated by the restaurant's sound system and people talking, in an acoustic setting too often designed to exacerbate and reflect, rather than absorb noise. Bare floors and … Read more
FileVault in OS X is Apple's included data encryption technology, which allows for seamless encryption of the entire hard drive to secure your data in the event your computer is stolen. FileVault is generally set up in the Security system preferences, where you can enable and select accounts to allow unlocking of the disk, but if you have your Mac set up as a server and wish to enable FileVault, there are several ways you can do so remotely.
The first option is to use screen sharing, where you log in to the OS X interface to access the … Read more
There are times when you may need to boot to a volume other than the main OS X installation on your Mac, whether to try a specific software configuration without affecting your main workflow, or to troubleshoot an existing OS X installation by loading a fresh one from an external drive, or even to boot and use a Linux or Windows installation.
The standard way to do this for Apple's systems is very simple. When you boot your computer, hold down the Option key -- before or after hearing the boot chimes, depending on the type of keyboard you'… Read more
When you run commands in the OS X Terminal, they will usually output some result, such as the information you are trying to look up, or status details about the command being run. By default this output is send to the Terminal window, where it is displayed for you to see before the command exits and drops you back to the command prompt. If you are intending to use this output for something you can copy and paste it into another file, but there are other ways to save the information that you may find helpful.
One common approach to … Read more
The PDF format is commonly used to provide electronic forms and other documents, and often these will require you to fill them out and submit them for processing somewhere. Often, such PDFs are given form properties where you can click various fields to edit them and input the necessary information; however, often this is not the case, and those distributing the form simply have it as a basic and apparently uneditable PDF.
In these cases, you may find yourself printing the PDF, filling it out by hand, and then scanning it back into your system to submit; however, this is … Read more
If you would like to encrypt a file or two on your Mac to keep it secure, there are several options available to you. There are a number of third-party tools, such as GPGTools' GPG Suite, which offer encryption options for files (more details here), but Apple also offers built-in encryption support with disk images.
While securely wrapping files in disk images generally requires using Disk Utility, you can do so through the command line as well, which may be useful if you are accessing a system remotely through SSH, or scripting a routine where you would like to encrypt … Read more
The PDF format is handy as a cross-platform approach to preserving document layout and structure; PDFs are commonly used for electronic forms with editable fields for you to fill in data. While this is convenient, if you have a PDF form you are managing, you may run into an issue if you want to save the PDF's entered data in a static form that can no longer be edited.
Doing this is called "flattening" a document, and is commonly applied to any file type that contains multiple elements to present a final rendered product. For example, a … Read more