Tim Longhurst's Blog

Optimize your Mac: Trash Google Desktop

June 9th, 2008 · No Comments

My MacBook is running like new – for months it’s been getting increasingly sluggish. Finally, I decided to see what could be done. I did some searches for optimizing my mac, and I came across a number of posts encouraging people to remove Google Desktop, Google’s search program that allows you to search through your own local files.

Besides recovering the 6000 megabytes of storage space Google was hogging for the application’s cache files, I’ve also noticed an appreciable improvement in both speed and battery life(?).

So there’s a tip for ya!

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Category: Things that make you go hmmm

Helping vision impaired babies learn with computers

May 19th, 2008 · 3 Comments

We recently had a beautiful baby boy born into our family. He’s absolutely perfect. As in most families we’ve all been thinking about his future and how we can work together to create a happy life for him full of opportunities. One consideration for us is that Bodie is legally blind.

We’ve been advised that Mac’s are the most commonly used platform for vision-impaired people. Being a Mac user, I’ve spent a little time exploring what applications are available for vision-impaired babies or toddlers. Well, there isn’t a lot out there.

The good news is that I’ve found a great little application called AlphaBaby. When running, the application allows kids to play with a Mac keyboard without anyone fearing accidentally renamed – or deleted – files. As the baby taps letters and numbers on the keyboard, the characters appear in a large font on the screen. The application also ‘speaks’ the characters in a synthesised voice – or your voice, if you go to the effort of recording your voice in a separate program.

I wrote to the program’s developer, Laura Dickey, and requested two features be added with vision impaired babies in mind: 1) a black background option (it’s currently white) and 2) the option of having even the “escape”, “tab”, “delete” keys etc. spoken outloud – a great way to teach kids the keyboard. Laura was quick to respond and felt that these two features could be added (with a few key’s excepted) – possibly in the next revision.

AlphaBaby is available for free download. I donated to support the ongoing development of the program and if you find it useful I hope you do too!

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Category: Communication and connection

Synchronising your calendars on the web, a Mac and a Nokia

November 13th, 2007 · 1 Comment

calendar photoOne of the ways I manage my time is by keeping a totally digital calendar. Now, no matter where I add an event, whether it be on my phone, my Facebook or my MacBook, all my appointments are available via Google Calendar, my mobile phone or my laptop.

It was easy to set up, but for it to work smoothly I had to bring a number of applications together, so I thought I’d list them all in one place.

HereĀ  are the applications I use to sync my calendars:

Facebook -> Google Calendar (one way): fbCal (website – donation encouraged). Syncs your Facebook events and birthdays with Google Calendar.
Google Calendar <- > iCal (two way): Spanning Sync (Mac OS X application – $65).
iCal <-> Nokia (two way) APPLE: iSync (pre-installed Mac OS X application), NOKIA: Nokia PC Suite. [ALSO: Optional, but well worthwhile – syncmobile applescript (free) and Cronnix (donation) can be used to automate the sync every hour.]

Hope that all makes sense! Please use the comments for any questions.

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Category: Communication and connection