Very occasionally, something so devastating will occur that I feel the need to take a bit of space here on macosxhints to help drive awareness and perhaps some additional financial support for those affected by the events in question. In the nearly five years I've been running the site, today marks only the third time I've done such a thing (September 11th and the Indian Ocean tsunami were the other two events).
I'm sure by now you've all seen pictures and read the stories of the incredible devastation left in Hurrican Katrina's wake in Louisiania, Mississippi, and other southeastern states. The scale of the tragedy is hard to comprehend, and the effects will be felt for many years to come. Support needs are immediate, and immense in scope: food, water, clothing, shelter ... the basic necessities of life.
So I'm taking this space today to encourage everyone who can do so to make a contribution to support the relief efforts. Every little bit helps, and there are many agencies who will be working to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. To keep some attention on the recovery efforts, I have linked to two of the larger agencies, the Red Cross and AmeriCares, in the top-of-page space normally used for the Pick of the Week. (The Pick will return at a future date, in a slightly revised format.) However, feel free to donate through whichever group you are most comfortable with -- just make sure they are a reputable agency who will route your funds directly to relief efforts. This page at the Network for Good site lists a large number of agencies involved in the relief efforts, if you're not sure how you'd like to contribute.
I have made a donation this morning (via AmeriCares), and hope that if you're financially able to do so, you'll consider doing the same via your agency of choice. Though your individual donation may not seem like much relative to the scale of the disaster, if we all give a little bit, together we can make a dramatic difference in the lives of many, many people.
Your humble host;
Note: Check with your employer; they may have a matching gift program for eligible charities; IDG is one such company, and so my contribution has now effectively been doubled.
As you've probably noticed by now, the hints pages look a bit different -- the top box in the right-hand column now holds a "big box" ad. This style of ad is quite popular throughout the web (including on many of Macworld's pages), and the advertisers asked about placing a big box on macosxhints.com.
After much experimentation (including placing the big box within a hint's body or between two hints), I believe the right-hand column position strikes the right balance between usability of the site and placement of the ad. To accomodate the ad, I increased the right-hand column width by either 110 pixels (from 200 to 310 in Classic) or 124 pixels (in the other themes, due to the graphic box edges). What this means is that, while it's still possible to browse macosxhints in an 800 pixel wide window, the hints themselves may be narrower than appears comfortable at that width. So if you've been browsing the site with a very narrow window, you'll want to make it 110 (or 124) pixels wider to return to the same width for the hints column.
Thanks for your continued support of the site and its sponsors, who make the whole thing possible...
Thanks to my amazing programming abilities the technical folks at Macworld, I'm pleased to announce a new RSS feed here on Mac OS X Hints. We've still got our normal full-site feed, as always, but now there's also a Tiger-only feed as well. This should work as expected and show you only the Tiger-related tips.
Keep in mind we've also got a Tiger tips page along with the headlines only view of the site. Both of these pages provide just the title of each hint, which makes for super-fast browsing...
I'll be in Boston this week for the Macworld Expo, so site updates will probably be on a somewhat different time schedule this week. Daily updates should be online each day by 9:00am east coast time, if everything works right :).
If you're in the States, enjoy the extra day off today, have fun watching the fireworks tonight, and we'll be back as usual tomorrow! Note that there may actually be some hints posted a bit later today, but I'm not promising anything at this point :).
First, I've doubled the RSS feed size to 20 (loud cheers?). This will be in place until I get the site upgrade done, at which time it will change to the (even better) 24 hour mode (all activity in the last 24 hours.
Second, there were more than 10 hints posted today, so you might wish to visit the site if the feed isn't showing you all 20 articles.
Finally, there was a somewhat notable announcement about the future of macosxhints today (don't worry, it's not going anywhere!) which you may wish to read...
For nearly five years now, I have run macosxhints.com as a hobby and love of the heart. But as the site has grown, so too have the demands on my time -- between daily updates, email correspondence with readers, browsing the forums, book projects, magazine articles, and assorted speaking engagements, it has become very difficult to fit everything into the "free" time between my day job and my family life (my typical day starts at 4:30am and ends at 10:30pm). Though I didn't start the site with any thoughts of it becoming a full-time job, it was quickly becoming just that. I could sense the dreaded burnout approaching, and the life-balance issue was not going to automatically get any better.
As I love my work on the site and other Mac-related ventures, I had to find a way to avoid the burnout and bring some semblance of balance back to my schedule. To me, the obvious solution was to quit my day job. The question was how to do that. I could try to make a living off the ad revenue on the site, but I'm really not much of an entrepreneur -- I didn't want to have to worry about running macosxhints.com as a business. So instead, I sought out a partner who could take over the business side of the site while I continued to do what I love doing.
As some of you may know, in addition to maintaining the site, I'm also a Contributing Editor for Macworld magazine. I've been writing regularly for them for quite a while now -- my first article appeared in the April, 2002 issue, and I've had a monthly column since November of 2003. During this time, I've come to know the staff at Macworld (technically, it's Mac Publishing, LLC) quite well, and they're a great group of people who believe in the Mac and their role in providing useful information to Mac users. A few months ago, I approached Rick LePage, Mac Publishing's President, with a proposal that I felt benefited both parties greatly. After some discussion to work out the details, we reached an agreement leading to this announcement:
Effective today, I have taken a full-time position with Macworld as a Senior Editor. As part of this relationship, Mac Publishing, LLC, is the new owner of the macosxhints.com domain and copyright. While some of you may be thinking "Sigh, there goes another great resource down the tubes," I'm convinced that's not the case here -- this new arrangement will benefit, not hurt, the macosxhints.com community. "How so?," you're probably thinking. To answer that question, and many others, I have written a detailed Q&A page. I'll save the long explanations for that page, but here's the main reason this new arrangement won't mean the end of a great resource:
My involvement with macosxhints.com will increase, not decrease: This is not one of those situations where a site founder's role diminishes, or they vanish entirely, after the site joins a larger organization. My main job with Macworld is to keep doing what I've been doing: test hints, post hints, work on site upgrades, implement new site features, and write articles and columns for the magazine. The difference is that I now get to do all of this five days a week, instead of jamming it all into two days plus spare time here and there. For the first time in nearly five years, I have only one job, and I'm thrilled that I'll be able to focus 100% of my attention on hints and the Mac community.
Please see the Q&A page for a whole bunch of more specific questions and answers; I've done my best to try to guess what the most-asked questions might be. But as always, feel free to email me (there's a link at the bottom of every page) with additional questions or comments. Please note that I will not be able to respond to every individual question that might get posted here in the comments, so if you have something to ask, email is the way to go -- I'll then be able to add the most-often-asked questions to the Q&A page.
To prove my point that things will continue here as usual, the daily mish mash of new hints will be coming to you today at the usual time -- around 7:30am Pacific.
Update: First, there is a batch of 11 hints online now, and I'll be working on some more later this morning (wow, it's great to be able to say that!). Second, Macworld's Editorial Director Jason Snell, has written a nicely detailed explanation of what this means to me, to Macworld, and most importantly, to the Mac OS X Hints community...
It's the Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which means Monday is a work holiday. I will be publishing some hints between now and the end of Monday, but the schedule will be a bit odd due to family commitments. Ideally, I'll post at least a few each morning ... but keep in mind, that's "ideally," so don't be surprised if reality differs (it usually does!).
One of the more frequent requests I get is for a "headlines only" hints page -- a ton of hints per page, showing just the title (clickable, of course) for each hint. I kept putting off the project, as I thought it would push my limited PHP skills.
But while putting together the Tiger Hints page (well worth a visit if you want to see all the 10.4 stuff in one place), it dawned on me that I could quite easily (by changing one query) create said headline hints page. So, without further ado (and not a whole lot of testing!), here it is:
You'll see 100 hints per page, with just title, date, and number of views. By default, it's in reverse date order, but you can change that easily using the simple sort interface. As noted, this page hasn't been extensively tested, so please let me know if you see any problems with the output. At some point, I'll figure out a good spot to put this on the main page, but for now, this is your notice -- bookmark the page for future use.
Also, we're running our sixth browser wars poll, which are always fun. So take a minute to cast your vote, and encourage others to drop by as well -- I'd love to see a large sampling on this one. In the last go-round, Firefox was making ground on Safari, and it will be interesting to see if the trend is continuing. In putting it together, I was amazed to find there are (at least) 14 browsers available for OS X, not counting those that run through X11.
First, for everyone who has submitted hints, thank you! We've published 164 Tiger-only tips so far, which is pretty amazing given that 10.4's only been shipping for about three weeks.
Also, if you submitted a hint, please don't assume that I've blown it off, deleted it, or otherwise lost it. As of today, there are literally hundreds of unread hints in the queue -- I'm about eight days behind the queue. So if you haven't seen your hint yet, don't despair; it's probably just because I haven't gotten to it yet. And while I appreciate the offers of assistance, I'm doing OK with the workload -- I don't think anyone wants to see 50+ hints a day here, as a lot of the good info would just go flowing past without a chance for everyone to see it. So yes, it will take a bit of time to catch up, but there won't be any lack of reading material during that time!
Finally, and most usefully, I've created a new Tiger Hints page. On this page, presented in batches of 100 per page, you'll find every single Tiger hint we've run. And, unlike my 10.3 hints page, this one is automatically updating, so it will always be current. You can sort the list by date or times viewed, and in ascending or descending order. This is the best way to quickly scan for the Tiger-only tips. A link to that page also appears in the header, directly above the tips area, and I'll leave that up for while so everyone has a chance to bookmark it.
Update: I fixed the theme issue noted in the comments, so it should be readable in all four themes. I've also added a new "sort by Alpha," just so you can see how often I start a hint with the letter "A."
I'm going to try to run another batch of hints this evening, and then do some more catchup this weekend...