Fall Cleaning On My Hard Disk

Yesterday while I was working on a project in iMovie, I received a warning that my disk drive was getting too full, which apparently then prompted iMovie to trash and empty the project I was working on. Stunned and shocked, I sat there in disappointed amazement, wondering how my project had been erased by my Mac right before my very eyes.

While I am still pondering what happened to my project, I embarked on cleaning up the disk drive on my Mac. I realized that I had a ton of files in Pages, Numbers and others that were out of date and that I didn’t need. ‘Finder’ was a great place to go to easily drag unwanted documents and other items into the trash bin to free up space. I was able to quickly free up space and feel a little better about operating and working on projects without them disappearing. The ‘Mac Help’ section in Finder also had some great tips on how to clean up and increase space on your hard disk:

Increasing available space on your hard disk

-Delete items you don’t need by dragging them to the Trash and choosing Finder > Empty Trash.
-Move files you don’t often use to an external disk drive, such as a FireWire disk drive. Once the files are transferred, you can delete the copies on your computer.
-Compress large folders into smaller archives (such as .dmg or .zip files).
-Store files on disks, CDs, or DVDs instead of on your hard disk.
-Remove languages you don’t need from applications. You can remove languages in the Application’s Get Info window. Select the application in the Finder and choose File menu > Get Info, then select the unwanted languages and click Remove.

If you have other ideas on how to clean up and increase space on your hard drive, or if you know where my iMovie project might have gone off to or why that might have happened, leave a comment below.


Changing Default Microsoft Word Template

I’ve had a nagging problem since installing Microsoft Word 2008 for the Mac. For some reason the default template adds an additional 10pt space after each line making it look like double spacing is turned on. I have to change it every time I type a doc, not a big deal. The bigger deal is having to change it EVERY TIME one of my kids or wife wants to type something. I finally sat down to change it today once and for all. Here’s what you need to do to make a change to the default template for Word 2008:

1. Make a backup copy of Normal.dotm (Default Word Document Template) found in /Users/~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/.
2. Open the Normal.dotm.
3. Make whatever changes you’d like to make to set it up the way you’d like to start each new document in Word.
4. Save the template.

That’s it. Keep in mind that whatever changes you make to the template will change the starting point/default template for all future Word documents.  This process should also work for other default templates for Microsoft Office for the Mac applications.


Digging Into BeatMaker

I purchased and downloaded Intua’s Beatmaker when it first released earlier in the year. This “mobile music creation studio” that runs on the iPhone is easily one of the most sophisticated, if not the most complicated apps I’ve downloaded for the iPhone so far. While it’s been fun to press buttons and make drum and sequence sounds come out of the iPhone, I have to admit that I haven’t really learned to use this tool beyond very basic tinkering.

This week, as a drummer was out of town, I contemplated using BeatMaker to program up some of the tracks for the performance, but I realized I didn’t have the know how to adequately put songs together and needed to learn how to not only create patterns, but also assemble songs. BeatMaker is a different animal than GarageBand, ProTools, or Logic, my normal music creation tools. I looked to the Intua website, and found these videos, but sadly, they don’t have much in the way of instruction, so much as just a visual demonstration of capabilities. In this next video, they show how to assemble a song from patterns, but the dude is just flying around the screen without saying anything else.

I’ve since downloaded the latest version, as well as the latest updated version of the manual, and have finally determined to tame the beast that is BeatMaker. Stay tuned for my series on using the BeatMaker program and understanding the interface.


Flickr Launches New iPhone Optimized Site

Flickr has launched a new iPhone Optimized version of it’s site, and so far, it’s not too shabby. If you’ve been using programs like Exposure to access Flickr on the iPhone, you may very well prefer to use the mobile version now.

You can’t edit, or use the Organizr, but pretty much everything else is available through the site as normal. This is almost like a lighter, sleeker version of Flickr, meant to perform well on your iPhone. Call it Flickr Lite.

Those heavy duty Flickr users out there will have to decide if this is a decent version of Flickr for you or not. I only use it occasionally, but do enjoy it for the ability to quickly load and show off an iPhone photo.

This may just fit the bill. Share your experiences about the iPhone optimzed Flickr on the iPhone.


Photo Booth Tips?

One of my wife’s favorite features on our MacBook is Photo Booth. We’ve spent hours of laughter and fun on this application with friends and with each other. While we’ve learned the basic programs of Photo Booth, i.e. how to take pictures, how to add effects, etc. we know that with all Mac applications, there’s got to be more that this application can do.

I found a great tip at Tekzilla which reveals that if you hit the shift key when clicking on ‘take picture’ then you eliminate the flash when the picture is taken. Furthermore, if you want to take the picture immediately without the countdown, hit the option button and get an instant pic.

While I know that Photo Booth is a relatively simple program that provides hours of entertainment (at least for my wife) are there any other intricacies or tips that I don’t know about?

Please leave a comment if you here or know of anything that could improve my Photo Booth experience.


Can’t Transfer Large Files to LaCie External Drive

I picked up a LaCie Little Disk 320GB hard drive to store some files I’d previously had on my iPod Classic.  I have several large data files that are upwards of 8GB.  When I went to transfer one of these over, the transfer failed at about 4GB with the following error message:

“Sorry, the operation could not be completed because an unexpected error occurred (Error code -1309)”
After trying several times, I started looking at what might be wrong with the drive.  Turns out the drive comes formatted from the store as FAT32 which has a file limitation of 4GB.  I assumed that since I bought the drive from the Apple Store (stupid assumption), that it would be formatted for the Mac out of the box.
The fix was simple in case you ever run into this.  In fact, it’s a good practice to reformat any external drives or data storage devices prior to using them just to be safe.  Here are the steps:
  2. Launch Disk Utility, select the external drive you want to reformat in the left hand column.
  3. Go to the Erase tab, set the drop down menu to the file system you want to use (Mac OS Extended…), then click Erase.
  4. Your new external drive will be ready to use.