Taking a screenshot in Mac OS X

Taking a screenshot in Mac OS X is a relatively complex process compared to the straightforward ‘just press the key’ approach Windows users will be used too. However, once you know what to do, the screenshot functionality of OS X is considerably more powerful and versatile.


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Burn ISO disc images to CD or DVD with Mac OS X

As a relatively recent Mac convert I had one of those ‘Well how do you do that then?’ moments today when I wanted to write an ISO file CD. As a past user of disc burning software on Windows, I expected to find a ‘Burn Image to Disc’ option either by right-clicking on the file or in the ‘Burn CD’ dialog, but no such option exists. I then went to the Disk Utility in OS X in search of more options, but again, no mention of writing ISO images to disc and, rather confusingly, the ‘Burn’ option is disabled when you select your blank disc from the list. So just how do you do it?


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Photoshop Tutorials

The following Photoshop Tutorials describe some of my favourite techniques for creating and modifying both photos and graphics for web use.

During the series the Photoshop Tutorials will cover; Touching up photos, Use of light and shadows, The wonders of the Burn, Dodge and Saturate Tools, Warping, Blending and Liquefying. Along the way i hope you will pick up some useful ideas to help inspire your own Photoshop creations!

If you have a tutorial that you would like to share, or that you wish to feature on our blog, please get in touch.


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iTunes Songs On Any Device

Jon Lech Johansen, the guy who made a name for himself by cracking DRM protection on DVD’s and for reverse engineering the iTunes FairPlay system, has yet again made headlines with a piece of software released by his Company DoubleTwist.

The program, which allows users to share digital media files across multiple devices, breaks the Apple iTunes DRM copy protection allowing files purchased from the iTunes music store to be played on music players other than the iPod.

“The digital media landscape has become a tower of Babel, alienating and frustrating consumers. Our goal is to provide a simple and well integrated solution that the average consumer can use to eliminate the headaches associated with their expanding digital universe” said Monique Farantzos, co-founder of DoubleTwist.

According to DoubleTwist, around 100 songs can be converted to a DRM free format for other devices in little over 30 minutes.

So what do we think about this? Well, I think its fantastic. Here in the UK, the price of a single song is higher than for example the States (currently £0.79 or $1.50 in the UK v $0.99 in the US) and for my money I expect to be able to do what I like with my music.

As for the effect this will have on the music industry..? Maybe it will convince iTunes to fall in line with the rapidly growing list of providers of DRM free such as Amazon (US only at the time of this post) and if so, it looks like its simply speeding up the inevitable sweep towards freedom of sharing.

Best WordPress Plugins

With the blog a little over a week old, I thought it was about time we shared with you what we believe are the top WordPress plugins. We’ll tell you about the tools that make our lives that little bit easier including: the ‘All In One SEO Pack’, ‘Feedburner’, ‘Related Posts’ and ‘Spam Karma’.

We’d love to hear your top plugins, so leave us a comment.

Akismet

Akismet comes pre-loaded with WordPress (or at least in 2.3.3+) and is probably the best spam filter plugin you’ll ever use. From the Akismet website:

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not.

You will need an API key from WordPress to use it which you can obtain here. We’ve read great things about this plugin – and as yet- no spam!

Our Rating: 5/5


All In One SEO Pack

This plugin allows customisation of the <title> tag and allows you to add a meta description and keywords to each blog post. The plugin also has the handy feature of optionally adding ‘noindex’ to duplicate content pages in archive or tag categories.

It’s a great set of features to have to hand and we fully recommend it.

Our Rating: 4.5/5


Amazon Media Management

When it comes to monetization of blogs, you can go with the traditional Google AdSense or Yahoo! Publisher Network ads, or some increasingly ineffective banners, or you could provide your reader with something useful, something targeted, something recommended by you – a book, a film or a piece of software for example!

AMM allows you to pull products from Amazon onto your blog and provides a referral with your Amazon Associates ID allowing you to make commission on any products your readers buy.

We had to customise the templates a little to get them how we wanted, so some HTML coding is involved if you want the perfect marriage of WordPress and Amazon but there is good support available and an easy-to-read guide.

Our Rating: 4/5


FeedBurner

An essential WordPress tool which interfaces your websites RSS feeds with FeedBurner. Quick and easy to install.

FeedBurner provides you with statistics on subscribers, click-throughs and bookmarks from your feed. It also has the added benefit of taking the content off of your server, saving you bandwidth and helping you survive a Digg!

Our Rating: 5/5


Related Posts

A great little sidebar widget and replacement for the next / previous article links that come as standard with WordPress. Installation is an easy upload to the plugins folder. Activate it and drag the widget onto your sidebar and away you go. The creators website descibes how it works:

The posts are sorted by the number of matching tags and then by the post date. It is also possible to insert the list of related post in a post via a placeholder.

Our Rating: 3.5/5


Spam Karma 2

If you hate spam as much as we do – you may want to add a second line of defense without having to ask your readers to pass an annoying (and often accessibility unfriendly) ‘Captcha’ test. We’ve found it picks up on anything that has slipped past Akismet and has an easy moderation area so you can check the spam should you wish.

Our Rating: 4/5