Web Tools

If you use Fire­fox (and if not, what are you wait­ing for?) you are famil­iar with use­ful exten­sions such as Video Down­loader, which allow you to save local copies of the videos you watch on web­sites such as Youtube or Vimeo. You can then watch these videos when­ever you please.

But this doesn't account for those rare but pos­si­ble times when you are not on your machine, or don't have access to a browser set up to your tastes. No exten­sions available.

That's where "Keep­Vid" comes in. Just enter your URL and it auto­mat­i­cally extracts any video(s) found on that web­site and allows you to down­load in both FLV and MP4 for­mats. The MP4 would play on your Nokia, iPhone, or Black­berry too. The FLV file is a flash viewer file, and eas­ily played using com­mon video play­ers – if you don't have VLC, get it pronto.

Here's a straight­for­ward screenshot:

KeepVid screenshot saving a Youtube video

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Fire­fox 3 has a "fea­ture" that auto-fills a web­site that you wish to go to as you're typ­ing in the Loca­tion bar.

I wanted to turn this off, but with­out turn­ing off other auto com­plete functionality:

  • I want to retain the auto­com­plete in forms (which can be man­aged from Tools -> Options -> Privacy)
  • I also want to retain the auto­com­plete in the search box on the right (which can be turned off by right-clicking inside the box, and then check­ing off "Show Suggestions")

But the Loca­tion Bar is a some­what more involved beast. After hunt­ing in the innards of "about:config" I dis­cov­ered that this was pos­si­ble. Just fol­low these steps:

  1. In the loca­tion bar, type about:config. The loca­tion bar is of course the place where you type URLs. Note that this is your inter­nal Fire­fox con­fig­u­ra­tion. Don't mess with it.
  2. In the text box that appears at the top of this page, enter browser.urlbar.maxRichResults as the pref­er­ence name. (Tip: copy it from here and paste it into that box.)
  3. Set the value to 0 if you wish to dis­able the auto-complete alto­gether. I have it set to 2 so I get some sug­ges­tions but it doesn't crowd up the experience.
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If you're here, you know what I'm talk­ing about. The Safari plu­gin sounds like a neat lit­tle tool but is a pesky cus­tomer on any com­puter. Not the way to win hearts. Delet­ing it doesn't work, not do the instruc­tions on their website.

Here is how I did.

  1. First, close Safari. This is VERY impor­tant, as it does not work otherwise.
  2. Start Ter­mi­nal. (Go to Appli­ca­tions -> Util­i­ties -> Ter­mi­nal, or type Ter­mi­nal in Spotlight).
  3. Under Ter­mi­nal type "sudo –s" with­out the quo­ta­tion marks to log in as root.
  4. Then enter:
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
  5. Go to the blue (or gray) apple at the top left of the screen, then select Force Quit. From the menu of items, click on "Saft" and click on the Force Quit button.
  6. Then, in the same Force Quit win­dow, click on "Finder" and click the "Relaunch" button.
  7. In the Finder win­dow, on the top right bar (the Fil­ter spot­light bar), type "saft" with­out the quotes. Delete with delight any file called Saft. Note: This may reveal a few other files that may con­tain the word "Saft" such as in my case (a Python file). Nat­u­rally, you want to NOT delete these. Just get rid of the Saft files.
  8. Empty the trash. If there is a file that won't delete because it's in use, then Force Quit "Saft" again as in Step 5 above, and then Empty Trash again.
  9. Go back into Ter­mi­nal, and type "sudo –s" again with­out quo­ta­tion marks. Then enter:
     defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

    This will set the Finder back to the way it was before. Then type "exit" and it will exit out of the root.

  10. Now nav­i­gate to the folder: /Library/InputManagers. Note that this is NOT the "Library" folder in your Users folder. This is the Library folder from the root. Inside Input­Man­agers is the "saft" folder — get rid of it.
  11. Empty Trash (again). If it says Saft is in use, reboot the machine and empty it then. Or if you use some excel­lent util­ity like Main­Menu you can "Force Empty Trash".

Go back to your happy, prob­lem free Mac!  :)

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If you use RSS, Google Reader is among the best there is. So good, in fact, that I imported all my old Blog­lines feeds. The inter­face, the star­ring of impor­tant feed items, the shar­ing — all of it is addictive.

Recently, I started using the Vienna client on OSX, which looks good but it's a pain to man­age the feed list­ings in two places– Google Reader, and local Vienna.  Yes, you can import your Google Reader OPML into Vienna, but to have them synced, you need to import it often.

But that's a man­ual sync and not very useful.

If Vienna's user forums are any indi­ca­tion, the auto­matic syn­chro­niza­tion between Google Reader and Vienna is among the top requested fea­tures, and I can under­stand why.

Well, I won't be wait­ing for Vienna any­more, as the Adobe AIR Google Reader client is here, and it works like a charm!

The inter­face is very Mac OSX like, very clean and nifty. Just set up your Google email and password:

And you are ready to roll. Of course, it doesn't (yet) have the func­tion­al­ity to tweak font sizes or flag impor­tant items or share — i.e., a com­plete desk­top alter­na­tive to Vienna or Google Reader, but this is a fan­tas­tic start.

Google Reader Desktop Client - Adobe AIR

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The excel­lent Google Docs ser­vice has already thrown the gaunt­let in the Office doc­u­ment edit­ing space. If your needs are to have a basic Word or Excel doc­u­ment with­out auto­matic pag­ing, or foot­notes, or Table of Con­tents, and such, then Google is already a pretty sound option to do your doc­u­ments and save them as DOC or PDF files.

The best part is the live col­lab­o­ra­tion that Google or the likes of Zoho have made pos­si­ble. Online col­lab­o­ra­tion among team mem­bers was some­thing in which Microsoft has also dab­bled, but in its typ­i­cal man­ner of releas­ing "Enter­prise" fea­tures. No sur­prise that that has never really become the norm out­side some cor­po­rate microcosms.

Today, Google has upped the ante in the war for online doc­u­ment edit­ing by launch­ing the tem­plates. Sim­ple addi­tion to their rapidly grow­ing arse­nal, but a shape of things to come. From wed­ding invites to busi­ness let­ters, it's an eas­ily expand­able ser­vice. The API and "open source" exten­si­bil­ity think­ing of Google will make sure that you or I can con­tribute our own tem­plates to the gallery. Nifty.

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I use the excel­lent Sub­merge to flat­ten sub­ti­tles into my AVI files and other movies. But some­times, sub­ti­tles are avail­able from sources such as Sub­Scene or All­Subs as not the usual *.srt files (Sub­Rip for­mat) but as *.ssa or *.sub.

While search­ing for a con­verter between the cap­tioned for­mats, Google did not turn up too much. After some search­ing I found a nifty lit­tle util­ity that allows you to con­vert between many for­mats of sub­ti­tles. It's Win­dows only, so if you are not on Win­dows you may have to use this within a vir­tual machine:

Down­load Sub­ti­tle Workshop

Usage is as sim­ple as load­ing a sub­ti­tle file from the File menu, and then Save As and Bob's your uncle.

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Finally, we can (hope­fully) test Safari on Win­dows too, but it remains to be seen how this com­pares with Fire­fox and its bat­tal­ion of exten­sions and the ever-blazing Opera.

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I have to admit, I'm just in it for the "RSS".

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Hav­ing tried a bunch of PDF writ­ers like Acro­bat Stan­dard itself, and PDF Cre­ator, PDF 995, Desk­top PDF etc, many of which sit as Acro­bat Dis­tiller printer mod­ules, here is a sim­ple tip.

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