10
Feb 07

Inquisitor 3 : Neat Enhancement to Web Search in Apple’s Safari Web Browser

The built in web search in Apple Mac Safari 2 & 3 web browsers leaves much to be desired in comparison to Firefox 2.0 ( or the new Firefox 3 Betas). This is where a nice little addon called Inquisitor brings in the much needed parity for Apple’s Safari web browser. When compared to Firefox’s (v2.0) built in search Apple Safari 2.0 and the Safari 3.1 lacks 2 very important features :

  1. Safari does not allow search engine customization. Only Google search can be used.
  2. Safari cannot provide live search suggestions like Firefox 2.0/3.0

Get Inquisitor 3 from the developer’s site located here [external link]. The developer has made Inquisitor freely available. The developer’s web page has link to PayPal for donation.

Installing/Uninstalling Inquisitor 3

Installation is pretty straight forward. The downloaded dmg file contains a installation app. Just execute the app and restart Safari. Inquisitor 3 now also works on OSX 10.5 (Leopard).Inquisitor, does not install in the Application folder, so in case you want to uninstall Inquisitor, you can use the same Install app – which gives an option for uninstalling Inquisitor 3.

Getting Started with Inquisitor 3

Once Inquisitor is installed and Safari is restarted, just try a web search on the Apple Safari’s search box on the top right hand corner. I just typed “Gone With the Wind”. Pronto, a beautiful pop up appears below the Safari search box with 3 site suggestions and some keyword suggestions. Inquisitor can use both Google or Yahoo to provide search suggestions. Check out the screenshot below. The way the search suggestion are displayed give Safari one up on Firefox 2.0. This looks so beautiful, so very Apple like.

Inquisitor default provides only Google search. New search engines can be easily added from the Inquisitor preference pane located inside the Safari preference pane. I quickly added Yahoo, IMDb and Wikipedia search for the predefined filters already provide by Inquisitor. For each search engine, I was required to provide a keyboard shortcut. All these were done in less than a minute. Inquisitor also allows adding on custom search engine. In my case I added Ask.com by adding the search url- http://www.ask.com/web?q=%@ .

Inquisitor 3 provides some basic configuring options. It also allows previous search history to be used to refine suggestions. With Inquisitor switching the search engine is not easy as in Firefox. The way it works i that the user is required to assign a unique keyboard short cut for each search engine selected. After the user types the search term in the search box, the appropriate shortcut keys needs to be pressed. By default, pressing enter/return results in Google search being used. In the screenshots above, I have assigned Cmd+Y for Yahoo search, Cmd+W for Wikipedia. If someone uses many different search engines, it will be a pain to remember keyboard shortcuts assigned to each search engine.

A work around for it is that as soon as the search key work is typed, wait for the pop-up to appear below the web search box (see screenshot on the left). Here there will be a list of search engines configured, use the mouse to click on the search engine you want to use for this search.

Conclusion & Recommendation

Overall, Inquisitor 3 is an excellent and high quality addon for Apple Safari web browser. It enhances the user experience on Safari web browser in a very neat way. Users should at least give Inquisitor 3 a try.

The reader should also check out the review of Acid Search addon for Apple Safari browser. Like Inquisitor, Acid Search allows customization of search engine in Safari, but cannot do search suggestion.

Test Setup Used for this review:

  • Safari 2.0.4 (419.3) Mac OSX Version 10.4.8 (Tiger), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)
  • Safari 3.1 (5525.13) Mac OSX Version10.5.2 (Leopard), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)

28
Sep 06

Universal AC3 codec for QuickTime

Finally we have a working AC3 codec that works on the Intel Macs. Get it from A52Codec 1.7.2 – VersionTracker. This one really works :-)

Usually you will find AC3 audio on those common DivX movies, DVDs etc. Until now ac3 audio would not play on the Intel Macs- both on Front Row or Quick Time. Sometime back, somewhere on the web, I came across another universal ac3 code for QT, but this one just kept crashing the QA player or Front Row.

With this new A52Codec v 1.7.2 universal binary available at Version Tracker, ac3 audio playes great on QT or Front row. The code appears pretty stable and the audio clear.

The download comes in a dmg format. After clicking on the DMG from the Finder, it’s almost drag and drop install.

  1. Drag & drop the A52Codec.component into /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components
  2. Drag & drop the AC3MovieImport.compontent into /Library/QuickTime
  3. Drag & drop A52Preferences.app to your Applications folder.

Big thanks to the creators of of this codec.


16
Sep 06

Apple Remote with VLC Player – Part 3 (iRed Lite)

This is the third post of the series on using the Apple Remote with VLC Media Player. In this post we will cover a amazing new application called iRed Lite. In the first post we covered Remote Buddy and Apple Remote Helper in the second post. iRed Lite is a new Beta software and has the promise to be the best of the three applications we have reviewed here.

iRed Lite

iRed Lite is a extremely stable and capable for Beta software. It comes with built in support for about 10 applications (like iTunes, System, Finder, QT Player, Keynote, Eye TV, MS PowerPoint, iPhoto, Preview ….)

What iRed Lite is capable of is more interesting. iRed Lite includes a expert editor using which anyone can easily create a Apple Remote control profile for any application that runs on Mac OSX. You can easily create a application profile using the applications hot-keys or using Apple Script. It took me to 30 minutes, read iRed Lites documentation and create a usable profile for VLC player.

This Expert Editor makes iRed Lite a very useful and powerful tool. You can customize and adapt it to control any application using the Apple Remote.

Being a Beta Software, it has some rough edges. For instance switching between profiles can be sometime tedious. Its documentation has scope for improvement.

Over all, I would rate iRed Lite ahead of Remote Buddy.

Getting Started with iRed Lite & VLC Player Remote Controls

  1. You can grab your copy of iRed Lite from here.
  2. For VLC Media Player support download this profileiRed Lite VLC Player Profile ). This is required for VLC Player to work with Apple Remote. I have created just basic video navigation controls(fast forward, rewind, pause resume, full-screen), audio controls (volume up, volume down) & base DVD controls. Click on the thumbnail below for mappings used in the Apple Remote for VLC Player. I have created this profile on iRed Lite on Beta version 0.96 (build 21).
    iRed Liet - Apple Remote controls for VLC Player
  3. Install the DMG file for iRed Lite
  4. Launch the iRed Lite app
  5. Launch the iRed Lite Expert Editor (Show Editor) from the OSX Menu Bar.
    ired-on-menu-bar.png
  6. From the iRed Lite Expert import VLC.irla file contained in iRed Lite VLC Player Profile

iRed Liet Editor

Now time to enjoy a good movie on the VLC player from the comfort of your sofa or your bed.

powered by performancing firefox


09
Sep 06

Use Apple Remote with VLC Player – Part 2

In the earlier post I covered Remote Buddy for using Apple Remote with non-Apple applications like VLC Media Player. This time we will look at another application called Apple Remote Helper. Unlike Remote Buddy, this is a free download.

Apple Remote Helper

Click to Expand

The Apple Remote Helper does exactly what the tile of ths post says – it can control the VLC Media player using the apple remote. Only VLC Media Player and no other applications.Apple remote Helper can:

  • Play/Pause
  • Increase/Decrease Volumes
  • Skip to next Tracks

However, Apple Remote Helper cannot:

  • Rewind/Fast-Forward

Still its good enough if you only need to watch those VCDs or watch those AC3 DivX movies on a Mac. It is ver simple & easy to use – all you need to do is launch it from spotlight and click on the button called “Listen to Remote” (check the screenshot above). You can now get load your movies on VLC and you are good to go. The application appears to be very stable and I ahve not experience and trouble with it in the hours I have used it.You can download it for free from this location. (Note: The download location is in rapidshare.de, you may get a few pop-ups and some ads, still it should be worth it if you don’t want to pay for Remote Buddy)This application is free, but I do not think this is Open Source. Perhaps releasing the code will get someone to add the fast forward & rewind features.Overall this is a decent free alternative to Remote Buddy.Also check related post on Remote Buddy.


16
Jul 06

Windows on Mac – File Sharing with Parallels

With Apple moving to Intel i386 platform, running Windows OS on a Macintosh is now a realistic situation. A number of readers have come back with the question on how to share files across Mac OSX and Windows OS installed on their Mac-Intel System. Actually, with Parallels its quite easy.At moment there are top options of running Windows on Mac-Intels

  • Virtualization – Parallels or iEmulator
  • Boot Camp – This is from Apple that allows dual boot of OSX Tiger and Windows XP Sp2.

Read related posts on Boot Camp, Parallels and CrossOver Wine for Mac :

  1. CrossOver Mac, comparison of Parallels, BootCamp & CrossOver.
  2. Discusses when you would want to use Parallels, and when Boot Camp.

Now to the main agenda for this article, how to share files across Windows & Mac ? Again there are two ways suing SMB file share or using Parallels toolsSharing using Parallels ToolsThe Parallels installer for Mac ships with a tool called “Parallels Tool for Windows”. This allows you to share file systems with the Native HFS+ Mac partition, share clipboard, keyboard, mouse etc. This is what you need to do after you have installed Windows XP on your Mac-Intel using Parallels:

  • Start Parallels, select the Windows XP installation from Menubar->File->OpenRecent. This will open up a window like this

Windows Xp setup on Parallels- Mac

  • From the window above click on the Edit Button, now when the configuration window opens select the sharing option where add you OSX folder you would want to share

Enabling OSX Shared folders for Parallel’s windows XP installation

Click on Image to Expand

  • Now start the Windows XP
  • After logging into your XP account, go back to the OSX Tiger Menu bar for Parallels. Here click on the Menubar->VM->Install Parallels Tool menu item. This will start the parallels tool installation.

After the parallels tools are installed you will notice a desktop shortcut on your Windows called Parallels Shared folders, and a icon on your system tray for parallels. Click on the desktop shortcut to view, edit or add files on the HFS+ folder you had shared.

Parallels Shared folder icon

Sharing using SMB shareSMB protocol is used by Windows to share folders over network. Since OSX Tiger and Windows are running concurrently and two operating systems with individual IP addresses, files can be shared using SMB protocol. If you are not already familiar with SMB share this is what you need to do .Share OSX Folders using SMB

  1. Open System Preference fro your OSX Tiger Dock.
  2. Click on the icon labeled Sharing, from the configuration Pane the open up enable Windows Sharing and then enable Windows File Share in the firewall tab in the same view.

Share Windows Folder using SMB

  1. On Windows Explorer right click on any folder you want to share which will open up a context menu.
  2. Click on the “Sharing and Security”
  3. From the dialog box that open up, click on share this folder check box (if you are doing this for the firest time you will need to click on the network setup hyper lin on this dialog).

With this you setup is complete. So how to you access the shared folders ?On Windows : Type \your-mac-name on the address bar of windows explorer or go to network neighborhood of your windows system.On Mac : On the menu bar for Finder select Go->Network to see the list of SMB enabled system in your network. Here click on the name of the Windows virtual machine you are running.ConclusionOf the two methods – SMB or Parallels Tools either of them can be used for file sharing. Choose the one you like best or use both. technorati tags:, , , ,