Don't lose your new music in iTunes

There are lots of cool free tunes out there at places like 3hive and fat planet. But once you get them into iTunes, it's easy to lose them or at least forget them. So that wouldn't happen to me, I created this iTunes smart playlist. You might want to skip the "is not Classical" part of this, but somehow I think my BBC Beethoven doesn't belong on the same mix as Royal City's Spacey Basement. I added the "is not 1 star" bit because there are songs I've downloaded that I don't want to listen to that often, or that I don't like but haven't deleted. That gives me a handy way to boot the song off this list.
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I Probably Know your Password

I Probably Know your PasswordEverybody loves convenience, especially when it comes to remembering things. So most people pick easy to use and easy to remember passwords. Unfortunately, memorable passwords are often easily guessed.

Here are a few guesses of mine. Do you have a password that matches one of these Passwords Not to Use?

  • password
    pwd
    qwert
    asdf
    zxcv
    12345 (etc.)
    your initials
    your initials and the number 1
    your birth date or anniversary as a number
    spouse/significant other's name
    kid's names
    admin
    secret
    any professional sports team name
    rude terms for bodily functions derived from the anglo-saxon
    your user name
    your user name backwards
    blank
    swordfish
    your car license tag
    Don't use any of the above with 5 for an S, 1 for an I, 3 for an E, or zero for an O. For example:
    passw0rd
    pa55word
    adm1n
  • Things to use if you can't think of something else

    the name of your first pet, adding 2 or more numbers to the start or end. For example: Tiger63 or 59Spotty

  • Have more than one password

    You have a password for your internet account, for your log-in to work and also for some web sites you visit like eBay.
    Don't make them all the same! Keep two or three passwords for different classes of things:
    internet accounts
    work logins
    web sites
    online banking

    Why? If you use the same password for everything, then one person learning it can mess with everything about your electronic self. With only one password, someone can lock you out of your internet service by changing your password on you, then go wild on eBay with your account, hack your remote connection to work and steal or erase job info and empty your bank account. All while you're on hold with technical support trying to figure out why your internet connection isn't working! Now that's inconvenient!
    To make sure your Mac is secure, contact Different Computers. That's easier than reading stuff like this!

Cooking with a Rake

All my clients know I'm big on analogy and metaphor. It’s how I explain technical things to non-technical people.Working with a new client recently, I hit upon an new analogy: cooking with a rake.Cooking with a rake - in other words, doing something with tools that make the job much more difficult.Why do people cook with rakes?

    I've always done it this way.
    The rake salesman told me using a rake was very simple.
    What else is there for stirring a pot or chopping carrots?
    I don't have time to learn to use a spatula right now, I have to get this dinner prepared on a very tight schedule!
    Everyone I know uses a rake to make sushi.

Now, those who know me may think I'm about to launch into some sort of anti-Windows tirade, about how MS Windows 95-98-NT-2000-ME-XP is the rake.Nah, that’s too easy. Especially on a Mac site like this.
All the readers have read it before anyway.No, I want to show the, um, “rakishness” of some applications and methods many Mac users rely on.

First up: America OnLine.
Did you know that AOL started as a Mac-only service? Yup. Way back in the late 80’s, before the internet existed, AOL was a proprietary bulletin board system aimed directly and exclusively at Mac users. Well, the last part of that has changed (note version 7 for PC but only version 5 for Mac) but the first part hasn’t. AOL is still, in its heart of hearts, a proprietary bulletin board system. The broader internet is tacked on, but if AOL had its druthers, you’d always use a keyword to visit CBS news, never by typing “www.cbs.com” in a browser window.As my buddy Brad put it “AOL is a walled garden. They don’t want you to leave the garden, no matter how nice it is on the other side of the wall.” Many AOL users don’t even realize that AOL and the internet are different things. Sometimes it seems like AOL forgets this too.AOL is simple. So is a rake. But like that rake, when you need to do complicated things, it is not the best tool.
AOL mail is the best example. Do you need to set your email address to automatically forward messages to someone else? Can’t do it with AOL.Do you need to automatically sort incoming or outgoing mail into project folders? Can’t do it in AOL.Want to export your email addresses to a database for managing mass mailings or email merging? There’s no way to do it with AOL. This is probably intentional on AOL’s part, since the ability to export email addresses makes it easier to change from AOL to some other way of doing things.Do you need to change email addresses and forward your AOL mail to another address during the transition? Not with AOL. They won’t set it up. Do you want to download your old email en mass for long term storage? You can only do it one at a time with AOL.
Every other mail program available on the Mac, from Claris Emailer 1.0 (circa 1992) to MS Entourage X (recently released for OS X only) has more and better email management than AOL mail. And most all of them are easier to upgrade, migrate to or from, or export to other programs.

AOL’s web browser is another good example. It’s the most limited browser in widespread use, but that’s not the biggest issue. Due to complicated technical issues I won’t go into here,* anyone using AOL for their internet service provider doesn’t have access to the most up-to-date “real” internet. Sometimes it takes days for AOL’s service to “notice” that a web site exists, or that a set of web pages have been updated. If you need to find uncommon web sites through AOL, your selections are likely to be more limited than if you use another service provider.

AOL isn’t the only rake in most people’s kitchens. I’ve seen people struggling to use Excel for something that really requires a simple database in a program like AppleWorks or Filemaker Pro. Or manually faxing the same document to a hundred different addresses, when there are fax programs to do it all.If you find yourself asking “Why is this so hard/inconvenient/time consuming?” then you’re probably cooking with a rake. Take a moment to find the right tools, and your cooking will be more enjoyable!

What is Different Computers?

Set up and Installation
So you just bought a Macintosh. Or 50 Macintoshes. Call us for help getting your new computer zooming, or to get those 50 computers up and on a network. Save yourself the hassles of configuring email and web browsers while gaining the benefits from computers set up the way they should be.
Purchasing Assistance
Can't decide between a MacBook Pro and an MacBook? Curious if you should buy now or in two weeks? Are you wondering how to get the best deal? Call Different Computers for a consultation.
Training
Tired of only using a little bit of your computer? We provide personalized training on how to become a Macintosh "power user."
Troubleshooting
Trouble getting your new MacBook logged into the Windows server on your network? We can show you how to do it.
Network Design
The cable company won't tell you how to get your three home Macs on a network. We can. We'll show you how to get everyone on the internet, how to get everyone backed up, and how to access your home Mac when you're not at home. If your business still relies on modems to connect to the rest of the world, call us to untangle the confusing world of DSL, cable modems, ISDN and other dedicated internet access.
Web site Consultation
It's easy to build your own Web site-and it's easy to build it wrong, or with the wrong tools. Learn some tips and tricks to building good-looking, fast Web sites.
Backup Strategy
Would it ruin your day if all your data disappeared? Do you have a copy of all your latest emails, work records, homework, PhotoShop files? If you don't, you need a backup strategy. We can show you how.

Contact us at mdawson@differentcomputers.com

Vista Hardware Requirements

If you're planning on buying new hardware to run Micro$oft's VISTA operating system (whenever it manages to come out) here's a reason you might want to rethink that PC purchase. Do I really need to tell you what I think you would be better off with?

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New Tricks, Old Mac

Jon Dawson, Dec 2005

Here's another, vivid example of why Macs rock.

Just this past summer, my stepmother couldn't do anything beyond web and webmail on her generic Linux PC (which used to have windoze on it, until it became too infected to use. Her local computer "expert" put Linux on it, replacing Windows, so instead of an unreliable virus prone mess of a computer, she had a reliable, confusing, unfriendly one.)
Now she's emailing me digital pictures moments after I ask her for one.

On her Mac.

Did you read her previous comment about her new mac?

Here's another, earlier post about getting ready to switch Jean.

Allow me to recoup. Here's the message I just got from her today:

"Hi! I just took this picture of your Dad"

Here's the message I got from her before I gave her my old, screen broken iBook:

Oh Mike.......once again I am so frustrated with this thing! I can't believe it is all me. I have really tried to find a different "teacher" but I have been unable to. Therefore: I have decided it must be ME. Maybe it is me and maybe I am just not capable. When you mentioned a new computer, I thought..."oh no....I will just fail again." Whatever, I would sure like to try. It is so wonderful of you to offer this opportunity!! Bell South does not recognize Linux for technical support, but they do recognize Macintosh. Maybe you will go to the book store with me and help me find a book of instructions for dummies, idiots, whatever. This is so great and I appreciate it...I truly do. Forget the clothes line, and help me with this.

What a difference. All because she has a mac, which just works.

Does your computer cause you constant trouble? Here's the answer.

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Networking

The cable company won't tell you how to get your three home Macs on a network. We can. We'll show you how to get everyone on the internet, how to get everyone backed up, and how to access your home Mac when you're not at home. If your business still relies on modems to connect to the rest of the world, call us to untangle the confusing world of DSL, cable modems, ISDN and other dedicated internet access.

Purchasing assistance

Purchasing Assistance
Can't decide between a MacBook Pro and an MacBook? Curious if you should buy now or in two weeks? Are you wondering how to get the best deal? Call Different Computers for a consultation.

Set up

So you just bought a Macintosh. Or 50 Macintoshes. Call us for help getting your new computer zooming, or to get those 50 computers up and on a network. Save yourself the hassles of configuring email and web browsers while gaining the benefits from computers set up the way they should be.