iPhoto ’11 Large Triangle with Exclamation Point

I recently updgraded my Hackintosh due to a hard drive failure and decided I’d start using Apple software to manage and maintain all of my digital files (pictures/music/videos). My main reason for this was the ease of use, simplicity yet powerful features that iMovie offered. So naturally, iMovie was the first program that I began to use frequently. Next was iTunes. I had always stayed away from managing my music in iTunes, but now that I’ve owned every iPhone, I figure, I may as well convert and start using iTunes. Plus, with the addition of the Remote app, I have become a huge fan of iTunes and the ability to control the music played in my house from any room. Now, onto the last bit of personal media that I needed to maintain. Pictures.

I had always been a fan of just organizing my photos using good folder structure¬†and naming a heirarchy (which I still adhere to), but I figure that takes a lot of time, and I don’t necessarily need full control. Apple develops software to take the work and worry out of tedious tasks like that, so I decided… I’m going to start managing my pictures in iPhoto. Whoops!

First of all, I didn’t setup my iPhoto database in the “traditional” sense. By default, iPhoto wants to copy all photos to the iPhoto database. I did not enable this option. I instead, left all of my pictures on my secondary hard drive (around 75,000 images) and let iPhoto run its scan. It took nearly 2 hours to complete on my absolute beast of a machine – more to come on that – but once it completed, there were problems. Upon trying to browse the pictures, nearly every picture i tried to enlarge, I was presented with a large gray triangle with an exclamation point in it. All the thumbnail images were displayed in iPhoto, but upon trying to view the large version of any thumbnail, iPhoto gave me the gray exclamation point.

I am currently in the process of rebuilding/repairing my iPhoto database as per some user suggestions in various forums, but it has been stuck at 99% for the last 30 minutes. I’m losing confidence and starting to consider switching to Aperture, or maybe back to Picasa3. Picasa has always done a good job and never had a problem with the amount of images that I’ve thrown at it. The fact that iPhoto creates and maintains an entire database seems a little stupid to me – especially considering the fact that I didn’t import any photos and the iPhoto database is currently at 6.4 gigabytes. Seems like too much. I’m going to let this thing run, but I’m curious to hear if anyone out there prefers Aperture over iPhoto, or if there is another strong photo management application.

iTunes Keeps Opening Automatically in Windows 7

I recently updated to iTunes 10.5 here at my office and for some reason, iTunes has decided that it ALWAYS needs to be open. iTunes now opens when I boot up my computer. Upon closing it, iTunes will re-open itself within 1-5 minutes. Seems to be very random. This will happen continuously. As many times I close it, it will always open again. So far, the only way I’ve found to stop this annoyance is just to leave iTunes open, which really isn’t an option for me. I don’t need iTunes consuming any memory while I’m trying to complete other tasks.

Has anyone else had the problem of iTunes opening automatically, continuously and repeatedly? It is really frustrating because each time it opens, it comes to the foreground.

Notification System for New Albums and Concert Performances from Artists You Like

I have so many apps, programs, websites, tools, etc etc that I use related to music (I listed them out below).

But I’m still missing a functionality I really want… and that is: a notification system when an artist I follow is about to release new material, or is about to perform in my area! If anyone knows of something reliable that provides this data, I’d love to hear about it.

Muspy is supposed to tell when artists release new material, but its unreliable. It misses a lot of data, or sends it late, and duplicates data (for other country releases).

Last.fm has listings on artist performances, but its incomplete and hard to get at the data. It relies on artists/users to upload the information regarding tour dates. Also, it doesn’t have a notifcation system for when artists you like are coming to your area. You’re left with hoping you visit the artist’s page at the right time.

Here’s the things I’ve used related to music:

  • Last.fm (web, desktop, mobile)
  • Pandora (web, mobile, desktop “OpenPandora”)
  • Grooveshark (web, desktop, mobile)
  • Spotify (desktop, mobile)
  • iPod (mobile)
  • iTunes (desktop)
  • Windows Media Player (desktop)
  • Youtube (web, mobile)
  • iHeartRadio (mobile, web)
  • iLike (mobile, web)
  • mySpace (web)
  • Muspy (web)
  • 8tracks (web)
  • AllMusic (web)
  • Playlistify (web)
  • Shazam (mobile)
  • Soundhound (mobile)
  • BingMusic (mobile)

Then there is of course, the more traditional avenues: FM radio, Satelite radio, Television, Concerts, and Coffee Shops.

It’s crazy how often and in how many different ways we have access to music! In another article, I’ll attempt to summarize everything that these tools are trying to accomplish, and every functionality one could possibly want related to music.

Symbolic Links Not Working in OS X Lion

I used to use symbolic links within Mac OS X Snow Leopard to point a few of the folders in my home directory to an external hard disk that I share with my PC (Music, Documents, Movies). Upon updating to OS X Lion, the Symbolic Links no longer work – they now show up as an alias (or as a PC style shortcut). This is frustrating because I can no longer select the “folders” when trying to save a file. I now have to go to my external disk and find the folder where I want to save my data/documents.

Has anyone else experienced this or found a work around?

The best Windows PC laptop alternative to a Macbook Air

For the past year or so, I’ve been doing work on an Asus 1000HE EeePC. Well, its no longer “working” for me. Don’t get me wrong… it’s a great little netbook.. probably one of the best made still to this day. It’s got excellent battery life, pretty quick, lightweight, and very small. But as a computer programmer and web developer, I just need something (literally) bigger.

But not too big. My main concern is ultraportability. I’m not looking for a desktop replacement. Especially since you can make a pretty killer desktop nowadays for under a grand (see this article). I’m sure there will be more articles to come on that project once its completed ;.)

I just want a laptop I can quickly throw in my bag and take to the coffee shop, and yet which has a big enough screen to actually get some business done on it. So I started looking at the (13.3″ Macbook Air). With it’s dimensions and weight, it’s a great balance between size and portability. But at ~$1300, it decreases the thickness of my wallet a little much for my liking. I also don’t need the frills and thrills of the Mac OS so much. Most of my business is done best in Windows. So my search for a comparable PC began.

I was sort of surprised to see that in terms of hardware layout and “slickness” (pure coolness factor), there weren’t many companies trying to compete. Apple certainly has the edge in terms of marketing. It took me a couple months, but I think I finally found a great alternative to the Macbook Air. I’ll just have to boost my image elsewhere.

So without further ado… the best “PC Air” that I found is the Toshiba Portege R835-P56X.

Let’s take a look at the specs compared to the Macbook Air… keying in on the most important features.

Portability / Size

Mac Toshiba
Display 13.3″, 1440×900 13.3″, 1366×768
Battery life 7 hours 8 hours (6 cell li-ion)
Weight 2.9 lbs 3.2 lbs
Thickness 0.68″ 1.05″

They have the same screen size, but Mac’s native resolution is higher… so you get a bit more screen space (at the cost of smaller text). The Toshiba squeezes out a little more life, and also has a removable battery for easy replacement in the future. The Mac is 0.3 pounds lighter, and 1/3 of an inch thinner.

Now lets take a look at the power aspect. Time is money. The faster, the better.


Mac Toshiba
Processor 1.86ghz Core 2 Duo 2.3ghz Core i5
Memory 2gb 1066mhz ddr3 sdram 4gb 1333mhz ddr3 sdram
Hard drive 128gb ssd 640gb sata

Toshiba is quite a bit faster (Mac has a 2.13ghz option at the cost of $300 more, but even then, it’s still slower). Toshiba also states speeds of 2.9 GHz with it’s “Turbo Boost Technology” (whatever that is). Toshiba’s memory is faster by 125%, comes with twice as much, and is expandable to 8gb (compared to only 4gb max in the Mac). Toshiba’s hard drive is larger, while Mac’s is faster. However, some people have replaced Toshiba’s internal hard drive with a solid state drive. With several reports of power-on-to-fully-loaded-OS times of 20 to 25 seconds, this seems like a great option for this laptop (unless you’d rather have the extra space). Here’s a comparable SSD to the drive in the Macbook Air. You could even sell the Toshiba’s internal 640gb hard drive on ebay for $50 to $80, and end up making a great upgrade for ~$200.

Let’s try to compare apples to apples as much as possible (after all, we are looking for “an alternative to the Macbook Air”). If you were to upgrade each Machine to get them as close as possible to each other, here’s what you’d end up with:


Mac Toshiba
Starting Price $1300 $800
Hard Drive Upgrade n/a $200
Memory Upgrade $100 n/a
Processor Upgrade $300 n/a
Total (incl. est. tax) $1840 $1083

So what do you get with the Mac for the extra $750? Not much: a higher res display, a slighty lighter / thinner Machine, Bluetooth preinstalled, and some cool commercials. But you also give up some battery life, a good deal of processing speed, an extra usb port, and an optical drive.

In conclusion… I set out to find a good alternative to a Macbook Air. What I found was something better, for a much lower price. I’ll use the extra money to buy some accessories, and still have enough leftover to buy an iPad if I want. Let me know what you think.

Highly Rated Accessories

Building a Hackintosh (PC-based Macintosh) in May 2011

After being a PC owner and user for most of my life, I recently purchased a Mac laptop which I love. Mac makes some amazing software for picture/video editing and management. So due to the fact that I don’t store all my media on my laptop, I have decided to build a Hackintosh – CustoMac Pro. I’ve started doing some research and have found some great resources which I will list in a future post. For the time being, here is a brief overview of the hardware that I am looking to puchase for my new Hackintosh CustoMac Pro buildout.

  • Intel i7 Quad-Core 3.2Ghz
  • 6-12GB of DDR3 RAM (haven’t decided the amount yet)
  • 120GB OCZ SSD – would do 60GB, but decided I want 60GB for each OS, will dual boot OSX and Windows 7
  • Gigabyte Motherboard – these seem to be the most compatible

For those that have already build a Hackintosh, I’d love to hear your experiences below in the comments. Let me know how it went & what you might do differently if you were to re-build one now.

Osama Bin Laden Dead – Seal Team Six Photo Evidence – Real or Fake

Well, as could be expected, a photo of Osama Bin Laden dead has been leaked and has been being spread around the internet for much of today. As much as we all wanted to see Bin Laden dead, it was only a matter of time before someone out there began creating fakes. Well, below is the first picture that I’ve seen of Osama Bin Laden dead, but is this authentic photo evidence? Is this really a picture that was released from one of the members of Navy Seal Team 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Regardless of the legitimacy of the photos shown below, there is one thing for certain. All the victims of the 9-11 attacks can now rest in peace. Thank god for our troops and Navy Seal Team Six.
Osama Bin Laden Dead - Photo Evidence - Real or Fake
Osama Bin Laden Dead - Photo Evidence - Real or Fake

Bin Laden Dead – Photo Update

We just read that this is a fake generated from another image, shown below. What do you think?
Osama Bin Laden Dead - Photo Evidence - Original Photo That Lead to Fake

The Simplest Way to Accept Money – The Square iPhone Dongle

This is great! If you’re the type of business owner that frequents trade shows, or travels, or needs to be able to accept money on the fly, you need to check out Square! This isn’t a paid advertisement, or post, I just came across the Square website while browsing for payment options and thought this was great. The company I was looking for is currently all online, but this is definitely something that I can recommend to all of my other clients. This could come in handy at a multitude of events and will definitely revolutionize the way that payments are made and accepted.

Check out Square today!

Firefox 4 – Increase the Width of the Active Tab in Firefox 4

Though many people are complaining about the new version of Firefox, there is a lot of good that has come out of it. One of the things that happened was the tabs have been moved to the top of the screen. This makes for much more screen real estate, but the downfall is that we can longer see the page title. This little userChrome tweak will help you increase the width of the tab in order to make more space to see the page title.

You just need to add a few lines to your userChrome.css file.

  1. In the Firefox button menu, select Help>Troubleshooting InformationTroubleshooting Information  menu
  2. In the about:support page, press the Open Containing Folder to access your profile folder
  3. In your profile folder, move to the chrome folder, and open the userChrome.css file. If it is not there copy the userChrome-example.css file as userChrome.css
  4. Add this code at the end of the file:
    @namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul");
    .tabbrowser-tab[selected]:not([pinned])[fadein] { min-width: 300px !important; }
  5. Restart Firefox to apply the change. Now the active tab will appear wider than the rest of the tabs so you can see more of the current page title.

Note: I wanted to have a very wide tab, so I set my min-width attribute to 300px – 200px is a good value to start with and you can adjust it from there.

GMC_Util is not defined – chrome://goobox/content/connection.js

I’ve recently been getting a ton of errors in the console within Firefox and I haven’t been able to figure out the cause. For some reason, chrome is telling me that GMC_Util is not defined, when in fact it is and is being referenced in other places within the same JS file.