Murphy uses AirFoil to send audio from a web browser to an Airport Express or an Apple TV. It’s great for listening to Pandora throughout the house, with various speakers all in sync. There’s an Apple TV connected to the stereo and an Airport Express connected to a Tivoli radio in the kitchen. AirFoil can also send audio to another Mac, like the G5 upstairs that has decent speakers connected. Three sets of speakers all playing one stream throughout the house.
Airfoil keeps getting better. Recently it gained the ability to ‘hijack’ audio from an application that’s already running. Previously, you had to start AirFoil, and then launch the application from AirFoil to send its audio to another device. Not anymore – AirFoil can access already-running applications now. And they’ve added an iPhone app. So Murphy can bring a portable radio out on the porch – connect an iPod touch – and listen to the same stream that’s playing in the house. In a nutshell, it turns an iPhone or touch into a battery powered Airport Express in terms of music streaming.
The software is rock solid, no drop-outs. The interface is simple and unobtrusive.
Using Quicktime Murphy could listen to the aapl quarterly conference call over AirFoil. Sending the stream into the kitchen beats lugging a laptop in there. It’s great for Songza, Pandora, YouTube – or whatever audio you want to transmit. You can even transmit an iTunes stream to your iPhone or touch – enhancing its multi-speaker functionality.
The iPhone / touch application is free. The desktop software is $25. AirFoil for Mac / Windows. There’s a bundle with both for $40.
A quick look at simple ways to open frequently visited web sites directly, without your mouse.
Hopefully you don’t click in the address bar and forward-delete and backward-delete to erase what’s there. But some people do. Here are Murphy’s tips for opening web pages directly with the keyboard.
1. Add an alias for the site to the Dock. You can access the Dock with Control+F3, even if you’re in another application. Use the arrow keys to select your site-alias and the Return key to open it. You can create the alias by dragging the icon from your browser address bar to the Desktop. Then drag from the Desktop to the right side of the Dock.
2. Command+L and a Firefox keyword. This is an easy one. Command+L selects everything in the address bar in Safari and Firefox. Control+L does it in Internet Explorer. Now you can start typing – whatever is highlighted will be deleted. But don’t type out the url, just type the keyword you’ve assigned to the site, which could be as short as one character. Keyword? Read on…
Edit your bookmarks in Firefox and view properties by selecting a bookmark. There’s a field for keywords. Go ahead and set a keyword – now you can enter the keyword in the address bar instead of the url.
Safari doesn’t have the bookmark keyword feature – but you can use Command+1 and so forth to access the bookmarks on the bookmark bar. They’re numbered from left to right automatically.
3. TextExpander. With TextExpander your Mac is always watching for certain text strings. When you type a configured string the assigned action is carried out. The action can be an Applescript. A simple script can open your browser of choice to your destination site. The great thing about TextExpander: Your browser needn’t be active to invoke it. You could also use TextExpander simple text replacement to replicate the Firefox keyword function in Safari. More about TextExpander. $29.95.
4. 1Password. You might know about or even use 1Password for storing all your log-on credentials in one secure database. But it also features a bookmark pop-up that lets you jump to a site and auto-populate your username and password. 1Password lets you assign names to your entries, so you can keep them short. It’s a way to bring keywording to Safari.
1Password licenses start at $39.95. This post has more information and a screencast about 1Password.
5. Terminal. Do you always keep a Terminal window open? Set an alias in Terminal to open your favorite browser and pass along the site to enter. A command like this will store the alias for you:
alias mm=’open -a Firefox http://murphymac.com’
Then open a terminal Window, type mm and hit return. Your page will open. See this post for information about making an alias available when you reboot.
6. Use Quicksilver.
Do you have a favorite way to open favorite sites? Let us know in the comments.
Related Post: Murphy shows how to open a set of tabs in Safari with one click.
If you didn’t participate in Macheist you missed out on a great application called 1Password. With 1Password you can store your login credentials from multiple websites and log in with a couple clicks.
Do you have multiple Gmail accounts? 1Password makes it a snap to switch between them. (there are other applications for this purpose) Actually, if you have multiple usernames on ANY website 1Password will help you keep them straight. Watch the screencast to see how Murphy sets up sites for 1Password.
It seems like Murphy is creating new usernames and passwords all the time. Keeping them sorted can be taxing on the brain. The last thing you want to do is use the same password on multiple sites. Better still, 1Password can help you generate strong, unique passwords since you won’t have to remember them. Read more »
Your Mac makes it easy to browse the web using a secure connection to a proxy. There are a couple of reasons you might want to do something like this:
- You’re working at a company that has blocked access to certain sites
- You’re using a wifi hot-spot and you think the provider might be snooping
- You don’t want your work IT guys watching your traffic.
- You’re having unresolvable problems connecting to Internet resources from your current location.
Lifehacker posted complete instructions on how to configure Firefox to use an SSH session for all its activity. There are only two steps. One is to change a preference in Firefox. The other is to initiate the SSH session using the N and D options – which together listen for a specified port on your machine and send the corresponding traffic to the proxy – which is the machine at the other end of your SSH connection.
The proxy (maybe a machine at your house or your hosting provider) actually retrieves the web pages you want using its Internet connection, then sends them to you over the encrypted channel. The provider at your location can’t see what you’re browsing, they just see that you’re connected to a remote computer using SSH.
If you’ve got a Mac at home that you can leave on you can use it for this purpose. But it’s not ideal. Most residential ISPs don’t deliver good upstream speed. Everything you want to see will first be downloaded and then uploaded by the machine at your house.
Murphy’s hosting provider allows SSH access. That’s a valuable thing in a host for many reasons – and it allows you to use their machine(s) as your proxy. You’ll probably get much better bandwidth going that route. Nice pun.
In the screencast Murphy uses a domain name instead of the external IP of his home machine. This is accomplished through an entry in the hosts file. He also mentions using ssh, securely, without passwords. There’s a screencast on that too.
Sidenote: Murphy started creating this screencast at Panera and realized the G5 at home (which can accept an SSH connection) was asleep. But there’s a Windows machine that’s always on in the basement – and it can be contacted to wake up other machines on the home network. You could do something like this with Mail rules – or just use Chicken of the VNC.
How much longer are all those old MTV videos going to be parked on YouTube? Probably not much longer. It seems like more and more videos disappear from Murphy’s favorites every day. What can you do about it? Download some of your favorites and store them yourself.
There are plenty of tools for downloading the videos. And others that play them. There are probably even some that do both. For the screencast Murphy uses a really simple add-on he started with a while back, when there weren’t as many. It’s called VideoDownloader. If you’re just a casual downloader it’ll probably meet your needs. Other tools have more features, like the ability to queue pages for download. Check this post on TUAW for a rundown on the other tools.
In the screencast Murphy uses VLC to playback the downloaded video.
Who knows why the MTV video library isn’t online yet. But after Monday’s EMI news you never know what might happen. In the meantime, maybe you should grab some of your favorites from sites like YouTube.