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.

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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:, , , ,


09
Jul 06

Apple Remote with VLC Player – Part 1 (Remote Buddy)

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VLC Player is a free cross-platform media player. It can play almost any video or audio thrown at it (check this). It can play media that Apple Quick Time or Front Row cannot play. For example, if you get a video with AC3 sound, Quick Time cannot render the audio for this, but VLC Player can. The biggest pain in watching a video with VLC player is that the Apple Remote does not work with it. You need to remain glued to your key board or mouse just to pause the movie when your phone rings.There is help at hand in form of an application called RemoteBuddy. With this application running on my Mac, I can now seat peacefully on the couch and watch movies on the VLC player, just like I would do with FrontRow.

This tool can do much more than remote control VLC player using the Apple remote. It also supports other applications like KeyNote, Real Player etc. Using Remote Buddy you can control 10+ applications using the Apple Remote.When you run RemoteBuddy it can autodetect if any supported application is running. Suppose VLC player is running, it will switch to VLC Player profile and now you will be able to control the VLC Player using the Apple remote. When Remote Buddy is running you can control it from the icon on the menu bar.

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With RemoteBuddy, you can do much more with the Apple Remote on you Macs.

Screenshots of Remote Buddy (click to expand thumbnails)

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18
Jun 06

Mac: Can Apple Boot Camp and Parallels co-exist?

Apple has been known to make bold and mysterious decisions. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple choose to drop “Boot Camp” altogether in the 10.5 (Leopard) iteration of it’s Mac OSX. But the question is would they really drop Boot Camp in favor of virtualization ?

Here is an interesting question raised at TQAW blog :

I can’t even find Apple’s own Boot Camp mentioned on the ‘you can even run Windows’ page of Apple’s Get a Mac site – surprisingly, it’s Parallels Desktop that has the spotlight now. Could Apple be giving Boot Camp the back seat in favor of the no-rebooting convenience of Parallels Desktop?

Apple’s Windows site mentions Parallels Desktop instead of Boot Camp – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Developing a new piece of software costs money. The software in question is Boot Camp !!! Cost of developing is much more than paying the developers, the QA folks who builds and tests the software, it’s much more than the cost of facility & infrastructure.

Being in product development myself, I can tell this much – the real cost is the time. For any software company engineering resources (dev, qa) is finite. If Apple didn’t have any intention to discontinue Boot Camp they would have used the resources to write Boot Camp. Simple. they could have used the time and the resources to write something else that would have got them more revenues.

If you compare Boot Camp to Parallel’s/ Desktop for Mac, you will notice that these two software are not altogether same.

For now, Boot Camp only allows us to install and dual boot between Mac OSX 10.4.6 and Windows XP SP2. No other OSes are supported. You can only boot to one OS at a time – either into OSX or into Windows XP. This similar to Grub or Lilo you would use to dual or multi boot Linux/Windows on a PC. The concept to Boot Camp comes with lot of advantages.

  • No matter which OS you have booted into, you get native speed and performance. With boot camp I played gaes on my Windows XP setup with quite good performance. Boot Camp transforms my Intel iMac Core Due 2Ghz into a great gaming PC. For everything else I use Tiger without any performance penalty.
  • With Boot Camp each supported OS runs natively and separately. So, if Windows XP has a trouble it will not impact my Tiger installation.

The trouble in Boot Camp’s paradise is sharing of files between the Windows and Tiger partitions. Tiger can read from the from Windows NTFS drive ( if you used FAT Tiber could both read and write, but using FAT file system is not a good idea at all). If you are booted to Windows, you wouldn’t be able to even see the Tiger’s HFS+ partition. There are 3rd party tools like MacDrive 6 that lets you use HFS+ drives from windows.

Parallel’s instead lets you run both Mac OSX and Windows (even Linux , BSD etc.) concurrently on you Mac. In this example let us take OSX Tiger and Windows XP. Since both are running concurrently, sharing files between them is as simple as accessing SMB shares over a TCP/IP network.

But Parallel’s or any other virtualization software (like Virtual PC, Vmware, XEN…) is not about sharing files ? There are some very good alternatives of Windows software for Mac. Then why would anyone want to use Parallel’s desktop. I can describe a use case where I have used virtualization regularly. Suppose, you are software developer who has to check cross platform compatibility of your software and you are tight on your hardware budget. This is where parallel’s or other virtualization software can help, on the same hardware you can run different OSes. In case of Parallel’s desktop you can run scores of OSes with it on you Mac.

Other then the above I cannot see much use case for parallels. In my tests of Windows XP running on Parallel’s I have found Windows run quite sluggishly. Surprisingly, if I remote desktop to the Windows XP (running on Parallel’s) the responsiveness is much better.

Of course, you can buy Parallels and run 20 OSes on you Mac. Why ? Just for fun 🙂

Different people have different needs and have different use cases. Neither Boot Camp nor Parallel’s can address everybody’s needs.

I don’t see Apple giving Boot Camp the boot any time soon. Boot camp and
virtualization softwares like Parallel’s will co-exist ( just like XEN
and Grub have co-existed). If you go by the rumors Leopard may even
have virtualization built into it by default.

Related Post :Mac: CrossOver Wine to join the party with BootCamp & Parallels

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09
May 06

Firefox on Mac – Useful Extensions (Part 1) – FlashGot Download Manager

Even in its default installation, the popular Open Source web browser, Firefox is quite feature rich. Most of the competing browsers are playing the catchup game, with the only exception is Opera. The key USP of Firefox is the ability to extend the default browser using the numerous extension available for free. There is a plethora of extension available at this site. There are extension for blocking web ads, for writing blogs, for tracking stocks, for managing downloads ………….

Over the next few days I will cover some of the most useful Firefox extension. For today, I intend to cover extensions for managing downloads. I am writing this post on Firefox 1.5.3 Mac OSX (universal).

FlashGot

Where to get : https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/220/

How to Install : From the above page click on the “Install Now” link.

How to configure: From Firefox menubar go to Tools -> Extensions. A new window pops up. Select FlashGot here and click “Preference” at the bpttom of the window.

At the time of writing this piece, FlashGot was the most downloaded extension on the mozilla.org extension site. The reason this extension is so popular is because the default download manager is firefox is quite inadequet for large file downloads.

Default Firefox Downloads Window

As you can see from the screenshot to the right, this is the stock download manager you will find in Frefox or Safari (this still is better than the one in IE6 or IE7 Beta). I still say this is inadequate because :

  1. It cannot resume broken downloads
  2. It cannot do multi part downloads which is critical is speeding the downloads

So, we have to depend on third party products like iGetter or Speed Download on Mac. Unfortunately the developers of these tools do not have plugins for Frefox.

FlashGot fills the important void by allowing us to seamlessly use these download acceletors from Firefox. This makes FlashGot a must have.

FlashGot supports lot of download managers or accelerators. After installation, FlashGot can autodetect which download manager you would want to us. In my case I use iGetter, and I will use iGetter as an example here.. Flashgot can autodetect downloads that needs to be transfered to iGetter by the type of content. Suppose, I need to download the latest update for firefox. FlashGot will see that this is a dmg file and pass this iGetter. Downloading with iGetter is far more secure and faster then the stock Firefox download manager.

FlashGot is designed for ease of use and can work without any custom configuration. For power users it also suports quite extensive set of configuration options.

Options