Little Snitch 1.2.4

Little Snitch

If you’re a Little Snitch user, you may like to know that they updated it to version 1.2.4 last week. What’s new is listed as:

  1. Improved protection of Little Snitch against manipulation by malicious applications.
  2. Fixed a bug that in rare situation could lead to a crash of the kernel module.

If you’re unfamiliar with Little Snitch, it’s an awesome little application that runs as a system preference pane. It alerts you when any application tries to connect to a an outside server without your authorization. This is commonly known as phoning home. Check out their site for more product details.

Toast 8 is a Solid Upgrade

Toast 8 Titanium

At this year’s Macworld, Roxio announced Toast 8 Titanium, the next major version of their industry standard CD/DVD burning software. It has a lot of great new features, and I think it’s definitely worthy of upgrading. I’ll go over some general new features, and then hi-light what features most appealed to me.

The first thing you’ll notice when launching Toast 8, is it has a completely new interface. It’s not as though Toast 7 was hard to use, but they’ve definitely streamlined and simplified things in Toast 8. Personally, I like it. It’s much cleaner.

Toast 8 Status Window

One other nice feature about the new interface, is when you click Burn, the entire window minimizes into a small status window, that’s easier to move out of the way, and still monitor your disc.

Two of Toast 8’s biggest features are actually things I personally don’t care about, but they’re worth mentioning. First, Toast 8 will burn Blu-ray DVDs, if you have a Blu-ray burner that is. Second, it can pull content from your Tivo (or Elgato EyeTV) and either burn it to DVD or export it to iPod/PSP formats. I don’t have Blu-ray, Tivo, or EyeTV, so these features weren’t high on my must-have list.

The next big feature is for you audio pros out there. Roxio rolled many of the features from Jam, into Toast 8. If you’re unfamiliar with Jam, it’s Roxio’s tool for minor audio editing, and music CD Mastering (for replication). I’m not certain, but Roxio may have discontinued Jam as a stand-alone product. I can’t find it on their site anymore.

OK, now for the features that I upgraded for. First is Disc Spanning. This was a feature first introduced in Toast 7. It allows you to back up large amounts of data, and Toast will automatically span multiple CDs or DVDs. Toast 7 had a limitation of only doing this for Mac-only discs. Toast 8 will span discs for both platforms. What’s great about Toast’s spanned discs, is it doesn’t just divide the files across multiple discs (like other utilities), it can actually break up a single file, and write it to multiple discs. This is great for backing up video clips, as they are often too big to fit on a single disc. It also just makes archiving a lot of data much easier, since you don’t have to break things up in small chunks.

Toast 8 Catalog

The other feature that I’ve wanted forever is disc cataloging. Every time you burn a CD or DVD, it’s contents are automatically added to a searchable catalog. You can also add old discs to that catalog as well. This makes files much easier to find later. I’ve been meaning to use some sort of software to catalog my hundreds of archive discs forever. Now I can.

The catalog software is actually a free-standing app, that’s bundled with Toast. It’s a version of DiskCatalogMaker, by Fujiwara Software. Without having tried very many cataloging apps, I can’t say if this is the best one out there, but so far it’s worked very well for me. And, it has the big added bonus of being integrated with Toast, which will save you a step every time you make a backup.

DiskCatalogMaker doesn’t just catalog your CDs and DVDs. It can also catalog external drives, zip discs, and any other type of removable media. This can come in handy if you keep files on an external drive, but don’t always have it connected. You can search the drive, without connecting it first.

One other thing I’ll give DiskCatalogMaker, is it’s extremely fast. It will read discs burned with any software, but if you burned your past CDs with Toast, it seems especially fast. I’ve had it catalog an entire data-DVD in less than 1 second. It’s amazing!

Catalog Prefs

if you use DiskCatalogMaker, I do recommend changing some of the default preferences. First, I would check “Scan into Archive files”. It’s unchecked by default, but I personally think that files will be easier to find later, if your catalog has scanned all the files, including those inside of archives. Second, by default if you put a disc into your computer that has already been cataloged, DiskCatalogMaker will add it again to your catalog file (without asking). This seems like a stupid thing to have enabled by default. I doubt most people will want to have the same disc cataloged multiple times. I changed it to “Ask to replace the existing item”. The resulting dialog box gives you the option to do nothing if you don’t want the disc scanned again.

Those are the features that stood out for me, but go here to check out everything Toast 8 has to offer.

UPDATE (1.28.07): The MacCast has a nice write-up on the TivoToGo functionality of Toast 8. LINK

Lightbox, Slimbox, and Caption Links

Ever wonder how websites open up images on top of a webpage, like this? More than likely, they’re using either Lightbox JS or Slimbox. Both are fancy sets of javascripts for doing this kind of thing.

This post is a brief introduction to Lightbox JS and Slimbox, and a quick tutorial on how to put links into the image captions. I won’t go into any great detail on how to use Lightbox or Slimbox, as both sites have step-by-step instructions on how to use them. I’ll just outline some of the key differences.

Lightbox JS

Lightbox JS is the more established version of these scripts. It’s been around for a while. It’s built on two other javascript libraries, Prototype and Scriptaculous. Both are included in the download of Lightbox JS. You don’t need to grab them separately.

I use Lightbox on this site. It’s extremely stable, and I’ve never had any problems with it on either platform or any major browser. The only real downside to Lightbox is its size. Combined, the javascript libraries are over 100kb. That may not sound like much, but if you’re trying to keep your site extra lean, you may not want to add that much more code.

Slimbox

Slimbox bills itself as “the ultimate lightweight Lightbox clone”. It offers all of the same functionality of Lightbox, and adds a few more things as well. Instead of Prototype and Scriptaculout, Slimbox is built on another library, called MooTools. The big advantage here is MooTools + Slimbox is only 17kb… significantly smaller than Lightbox. I won’t go over all the added features, because the developer does that quite nicely on his site. But, I do want to point out two things… if you’ve been using Lightbox, you can easily switch to Slimbox, without updating any of your old content. Slimbox uses the exact same code to call the functions, so it’s easy to cross-grade. And, I have noticed one slight bug in Slimbox when viewing a site in Firefox 2.0 on a PC. If you call up an image, and then scroll the page, the overlay doesn’t always continue to cover the entire page. This doesn’t happen in ie or on a Mac. I haven’t had this problem with Lightbox.

Using Lightbox JS with Moo FX

On a quick side-note, I should also mention that I’ve found what appears to be an incompatibility between Lightbox JS, and Moo FX (another javascript effects library). I was trying to use both libraries on my portfolio site, and they didn’t want to play nice together. That’s when I went looking for an alternative, and found Slimbox. I haven’t had any problems using Slimbox with Moo FX (for MooTools).

Creating Links Inside Captions

Both Lightbox and Slimbox have the ability to insert captions when viewing images. You simply add a title attribute. In my example at the beginning of this post, I added this, title="Beer Bunny". Now, lets say you wanted to add a link into the caption. You might try a title like this:

title="Beer Bunny (< a href="http://www.google.com" target="_blank">Search Google< /a>)"

You would quickly find out that just doesn’t work. But, you’re pretty close to the right answer. What you need to do is trick your browser into thinking that the link is not in that title. You need to swap some of the characters for their html equivalent. For example, quotes (“) would be " and brackets (<) would be <. Using this method, here’s what your title should look like:

title="Beer Bunny (<a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/">Search Google </a>)"

Here’s the final result

UPDATE: The code above may not display properly in an RSS reader. I suggest coming to this post in your browser, if you’re interested. Also, the code displays a little wonky in Safari, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.

Mozilla to rename Firefox?

new firefox logo

In a surprising move, the Mozilla Foundation officially announced today that it was renaming it’s popular internet browser, Firefox, to Lucky Kitty. They’ve also released early mockups of Lucky Kitty’s new icon.

Well, OK… not really. But did I have you going, at least for a second? This actually comes from Miss Cellania, who noticed an uncanny resemblance of this photo, floating around the internet, to the Firefox logo… right down to the position of the paw and tail.

I thought it was funny.

Life2Go is Life2Gone

Life2Go is gone

I use a nifty little application called Life2Go, to sync all kinds of useful information to myiPod. Well, at least I did. I’ve been having some trouble with it syncing movie times, and a few other things, so I went looking on the website today. What I found was a simple note saying that “As of January 1, 2007, Life2Go has been discontinued.” That’s it? No other information? How sucky is that?

Luckily, I only paid $5 for it, or I would be really pissed.