I sometimes show up late to the party. I'll listen to a song that my music-savvy friends point me toward and think, "Nah. " Then, months later...
I sometimes show up late to the party. I’ll listen to a song that my music-savvy friends point me toward and think, “Nah.” Then, months later, I’ll hear it again and like it — sometimes without making the connection that I had panned it earlier.
This happens with software, too. I initially thought Twitter was just a clever waste of time, but now I use it all the time. (For a good explanation of why Twitter is more than a flighty version of instant messaging, see this blog post by the pseudonymous blogger Rands: snurl.com/29px6.)
Another example is Objective Development’s LaunchBar (www.launchbar.com), a utility that launches applications (and much more) by pressing Command-spacebar and typing the first couple characters of a program’s name.
Finally gave in
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I resisted using LaunchBar for a long time, despite being pestered by a colleague, until I finally succumbed and realized that it’s probably the most used and most useful utility on my Mac. (Second place goes to St. Clair Software’s Default Folder, www.defaultfolder.com.)
And now I add another application to the list: 1Password by Agile Web Solutions ($34.95, agilewebsolutions.com/products/1Password).
Managing passwords is a necessary byproduct of today’s digital life. Checking e-mail, shopping online, subscribing to Web sites, electronic banking — all sorts of transactions require proof that you’re you.
Although you could use one password for everything, that’s a bad idea.
So you need lots of passwords, which 1Password collects and securely stores on your Mac. Plenty of applications offer this capability, including the built-in Keychain Access utility on your Mac.
What I like about 1Password is that it can automatically fill out the forms on all those Web pages without requiring me to dig through my list of passwords. In fact, the 1Password application is rarely even open on my machine.
And although Web browsers offer autofill features, they don’t all keep that information in the same place. For example, there are sites I visit in Firefox because at one point I set up a Web password that was stored in Firefox’s database, and I didn’t bother to transfer it to a Mac OS X keychain so that Safari could read it, too.
1Password works in all major (and many minor) Web browsers, letting me bypass the application-specific methods of storing passwords.
The software can also synchronize passwords to the iPhone (in a clever way: it creates a specially formatted, encrypted bookmark in Safari that contains all the data). Go to a login page whose password is stored in 1Password, tap the Bookmarks icon in Mobile Safari, and choose the “1Password Logins” bookmark that was created to automatically fill in the form and proceed.
1Password can do more than that, such as generate secure passwords, save secure notes, sync to a Palm device and store wallet items (digital versions of things in your wallet such as credit cards and forms for the important information — card number, security code, etc.). You can also upload your encrypted information to an online service, my.1password.com, to access it securely from any Web browser.
iPhone remote control. In my last Practical Mac column (“iPhone is pricey, but well worth it,” May 4), I expressed my wish for software that would let me control iTunes on my Mac from my iPhone in the middle of the night when my baby daughter is being fed.
Within a few hours of the column appearing, several people wrote in to tell me about two programs that are exactly what I was looking for.
Both Signal ($24.95, www.alloysoft.com) and Remote Buddy (approximately $31 U.S., www.iospirit.com) act as a Web server on your Mac. You point Mobile Safari on the iPhone (or any modern Web browser on another computer) to a special address provided by either program and control iTunes from there.
Signal only controls iTunes and is nicely sparse. A search field makes fast work of locating music, but browsing the library is also straightforward.
Remote Buddy started life as a multifaceted remote-control program before adding iPhone support, and therefore it does a mind-boggling array of other things.
Sitting on the couch in my living room, I could control iTunes on my MacBook Pro in my office upstairs, playing music on the stereo through an AirPort Express.
But I could also view my Mac’s screen and control it, as if I were running Timbuktu or Apple Remote Access. The iPhone’s screen size made this mostly impractical, but it was neat nonetheless — as was the capability to activate the MacBook Pro’s iSight video camera (viewing my empty office chair, but still).
With control over music, watching movies on my iPhone, combined with 1Password’s secure handling of passwords and Web logins, I no longer need to leave my couch.
Never mind, the baby is awake. Time to start some music and play.
Jeff Carlson and Glenn Fleishman write the Practical Mac column for Personal Technology and about technology in general for The Seattle Times and other publications. Send questions to email@example.com. More Practical Mac columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists