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A Grouch Abroad: An Idiosyncratic Report

(Being an account of the recent trip that Shea and Diana, his long-suffering wife, took to the city of Florence [the one in Italy]. Cosmopolitan readers will note that the perspective is American and somewhat provincial. You have a problem with that?)

A Greenhorn's Guide to the Mac Web

Google and RSS feeds have fundamentally rewired the Internet in recent years. Instead of visiting our favorite websites on a daily basis, we search for content and sift through it in our RSS readers. But if you're looking for the most up-to-date content from sources you trust, there's still no better way to get it than visiting the actual websites. Which websites should you visit? That's a good question.

Set Up a Wireless Captive Portal Server

What does a captive portal server, also called a NAC (Network Access Control) do? It can sandbox any wireless connection until some form of authentication is provided. These servers are used in many cafes and public places that offer wireless internet. For example, when you try to connect to the wireless network at Starbucks, it will force your web browser to the same page - no matter what URL you enter. Until you authenticate, you can't go anywhere on the Internet.

Using Quicksilver's Clipboard

One of Quicksilver’s many handy features is the Clipboard module. When activated, it can keep track of the items that you have cut and copied, and let you see what is currently on the clipboard- what will appear when you paste. It can store rich formatted text and images just like the regular clipboard.

Eccentrics

I have another book for you, friends: Carl Sifakis’s American Eccentrics. It is in fact the ideal bathroom book, with entries that can be enjoyed at a short sitting as it were. Sifakis simply gives one- or two-page accounts of some of our stranger countrymen and –women and starts the whole thing off with a very thoughtful introduction. As always, I recommend the book itself. What follows is just a taste.

Back to School Apps for Your Mac

It's that time of the year again. Time to think about breaking out the books, looking sharp for all the attractive members of the opposite sex, making new friends, and hopefully learning something. We're talking about school, of course. Let us tell you: There's never been a better time to take your Mac into an educational environment. Free and low-cost programs can help you turn your Mac into the ultimate learning device, and prevent it from becoming another glorified MySpace machine!

Create a Web Development Environment With MAMP

Those of us who have websites know that we need a development environment to work on new features, make changes, and just experiment. If you're creating static HTML pages, you don't need much - you can create the pages on your Mac and preview them locally in your web browser or a with WYSIWYG application like iWeb. However, things are a bit more complicated if you're working with web applications that use PHP and MySQL.

First Look: Safari 3 Public Beta

Important Note: Safari 3 is "beta," pre-release, time-limited software meant for evaluation and development purposes only. This software should not be used in a commercial operating environment or with important data. Before installing this software, you should back up your data.

What's It All About, Alfie?

No, not that Alfie. I just couldn’t resist the title.

While I was wrestling last week with the whole issue of incentives (“Carrots and Sticks”), a friend steered me to a remarkable book—Punished by Rewards—by one Alfie Kohn. Kohn is an erstwhile academic who, according to his website, spends all his time these years researching, writing, and lecturing at large. He is also a maverick, a contrarian, which is always tonic.

Needless to say, you should read the whole book. It is a rich feast, and Shea is offering you only a meager snack here.

Top Five Firefox Extensions

Mac users are extremely fortunate to have several web browsers to choose from. There's Safari, Firefox, Camino, OmniWeb, SeaMonkey, Netscape, iCab, and many others.

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