Faircroft’s Antiques: The Forbidden Crypt – Hidden Object Game

by Marcel Dufresne

May 20, 2022

     Faircroft’s Antiques: The Forbidden Crypt is one of many excellent Hidden Object Games (HOG) developed by Boomzap Entertainment. I have been playing their games for many years and I have yet to be disappointed with the gameplay of their products.

     The basic objective of the HOG is to locate camouflaged items from a list of objects. These are carefully hidden in the picture. It is exceedingly difficult to quickly find all the items as they are well concealed. Also, the name might not be as helpful as you might think. Searching for a bee might be for an insect or the letter B. A bat could be the animal or a baseball bat. It is only with careful observation that all the items can be found. I would venture to say that more than a hundred items could be found per picture of which only a dozen or so are to be part of the list. Once found, you need only click on the object and it is removed from the list. 

     The storyline sets the stage for each of the HOG scenes. In this case, Mia Faircroft and her associate Sofia travel to Italy when an old friend calls for her help with restoring a cathedral. Mia packs her bags for the seaside town of Porto Nacosti, Italy. You are invited to tag along on her travels and discover the secret that lies in the crypt of the town’s cathedral.

     I consider The Forbidden Crypt to be a pure HOG. There is no wandering around looking for inventory items to help to solve a mini-puzzle. Each scene starts with the story dialogue which sets the stage for the hidden object scene. As with most games of this type, the dialogue really has little to do with finding the items. The game comes with the option to skip the dialogue and proceed directly to searching for the list of camouflaged items. I have to admit that I skipped most of the interactions. I play this type of game solely for the pleasure of finding all the objects and I prefer not to be distracted by inessential dialogue.

     The graphics used in this game are superb. The detail and the colours make the scenery come to life. With the music supplied, the atmosphere is definitely Italian. The game allows you to explore twenty different locations in the town. Each chapter presents you with several sites to visit as well as the number of items to find in each one. In the early chapters, you need to look at only a couple of sites. But, as the game progresses, you need to search more and more eventually needing to look at five sites per chapter.

     As you play the initial game going from chapter to chapter, you will find that the game has five varieties of hidden object themes. The normal type has a simple name associated with the object. In Riddle, you must solve riddles to learn the names of the objects you are looking for. This is a much harder type of HOG. You must locate the items one at a time rather than being able to search for any one on the list. Silhouette provides a shadow image while Picture is a picture of each item. The last and probably the easiest is the Collection. The list in this case is comprised of one item only, like a towel or a horseshoe. You must find a specific number of the target item.

     After you have completed a chapter, you then play a mini-game. In The Forbidden Crypt, it is usually a jigsaw puzzle. Again the game provides a multitude of variations to the jigsaw puzzle type. You will need to either spin a piece or switch places or do both. The complexity of the puzzles increases as you move along. To complete the chapter, a final mini-puzzle game has to be solved which might involve finding the differences, cleaning up an antique (the hardest), and more.

     Once you have completed all the scenes, you open up the free play. The Forbidden Crypt has great replay ability. For each of the twenty scenes, you can try to solve the list using each of the five types. Twenty scenes times five variations of HOG provide one hundred different scenarios. And not only that, but each time you play a scene you are not necessarily presented with the same list of items. There are hours and hours of fun awaiting you. The Steam version of the game comes with 28 achievements to strive for which again makes you want to replay the game until all are solved. By skipping a lot of the dialogue, we were able to finish the game in about 7 hours.

     This HOG can be played by yourself or with a group where everyone is helping find the camouflaged items. It is also a game to be enjoyed by any age group. If you prefer playing this type of game without having to move from screen to screen and back again, then I strongly recommend The Forbidden Crypt. Click here to view a video of the gameplay or click here to read more about the game. With all the replay ability and the various types of HOG and jigsaw puzzles, The Forbidden Crypt is well worth the price.  

  

Legi – Quickly Peruse Your Favourite Web Sites

by Marcel Dufresne

May 10, 2022

    Every morning I visit over fifty websites searching for news on my favourite topics. This ranges from sports, books and magazines, TV and movies to education, and apple news, including hardware and software. I can do this quickly because I don’t actually visit each of these sites. I have subscribed to an RSS feed for each and I use an application called an aggregator to gather all the info into one spot. Again this would be way too much to look at since many of the sites have a lot of changes. The aggregator summarizes the data into a headline and a few lines of text. Sometimes a picture or a video accompanies the headline. This way I can check out the headline and see if it is a topic of interest. In sports, I can scan the game scores. If I am curious, I can then hit a key and be taken to the actual website to read about the game and possibly watch a short video of the highlights. This applies to any subscription that the aggregator pulls in. I get over 300 hits in a typical morning of which less than 10% are worth a follow-up. The aggregator allows me to skim through a great deal of info to extract only that which I really care about. 

     RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It indicates a web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to their websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. Not all websites have RSS accessible pages. If you see the special orange icon then subscribing to that feed will allow you to keep track of any changes made on that site. Numerous different websites can be monitored in a single news aggregator. This removes the need for the user to manually check each of them separately. 

     Legi is an RSS feed reader app designed to work on your iPad or iPhone. I use NetNewsWire on my iMac as my feed reader at home. But when I travel, I still like to keep up to date. That is where Legi comes in. With it installed on my iPad, I can quickly scan the websites of interest. I have subscribed to fewer sites for the iPad and have kept the data to only the most important feeds. With all the customization Legi has, it is not difficult to streamline the feeds and have a bare-bones overview.

     There are four icons at the bottom of the Legi screen. These are Playlist, Favorites, Feeds, and Settings. I will start with the Feeds. Adding a subscription to Legi is super easy. There are four means to accomplish this. The first is via the URL address. If you type in the URL and it is an RSS available site, it will be added to your feeds. You will immediately be able to monitor it for updates. Next comes via Search. You can type in a topic and a list of possible sites will be displayed in the window. Choose one or more to be added in. Next is via the browser. Enter an address or a search term in the text field to browse the web. Legi will then look for RSS feeds provided by the page. You can then use the RSS icon at the bottom right to subscribe. The last option is to use OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) import. This is a unique format that allows aggregators to interact with each other. To use this I first went to my NetNewsReader application and exported its OPML file. I sent this to my iPad and chose to import OPML from the last of the Legi subscription options. Within seconds Legi had subscribed to all of my old feeds. 

     When you choose Feeds at the bottom, you can peruse the items by subscription. Choose a feed and all the articles are there. The best way to go through all the articles is to just skim the headlines. Legi places these in terms of newest to oldest. Only a couple of lines of the article are shown. If you want to see more of it, then hit the arrow key and it is displayed in the right window. The articles are sorted in terms of dates and small numbers show up in a column. These are dates and let you quickly go to the date you want. 

     The Playlist option contains folders of smart lists. The first is Today’s News which contains all the new articles regardless of the subscription. The second smart list contains all the unread news. You can create your own smart list which will be added to folders. This method conveniently puts all your articles in one place. I however prefer to look at my articles subscription by subscription rather than all in one folder.

     If you designate an article as a favourite, then it will not be deleted after reading it nor after a certain length of time. It will be kept until you designate it as unfavorite. This way you can store items that you do not want to be deleted. 

     The key to a good aggregator is the ability to customize how the info is displayed. It is in the settings that you can make Legi work as you want. The feeds can be customized as a whole or individually. Tapping the (i) lets you edit the individual feed’s properties such as the language of the feed, the refresh rate and whether read articles should be deleted and when. If none of these properties are set, the default settings will be utilized.

     Legi comes with a few more interesting features. The globe icon displays the article as it would appear on the website. The eyeglasses icon displays the article in a customized layout. Everything but the main content is removed so that the text is all that is left. This removes unwanted distractions such as ads. The Reader Mode lends itself to a hands-free option. The article will be read to you using an audio player. The app can also be used offline to avoid using mobile data. If you use a Bluetooth keyboard on your iPad, you can also control most of the features using the keyboard shortcuts provided by the app. When you hit the delete button, you can choose to delete all the articles at once or choose ‘x’ number of days old.

     An RSS Feed reader lets you read blog articles, magazines and news sites much easier and much more comfortably than through a normal web browser. Legi is a powerful RSS Feed Reader App. The App supports iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Apple Watch. It lets you quickly subscribe to and organize your news feeds, which are then updated automatically, so you always have the latest news available within the App. It removes all the clutter of a website so the full content is presented for the best reading experience without any distractions. Click here to read more about Legi from the developer’s website or click here for the App Store version. For about $4 you can have all your favourite Web sites in a form that you can quickly look at. Save time and get Legi.

PopClip – Streamline Many Everyday Text Edit Functions

by Marcel Dufresne

April 29, 2022

    When I bought my first computer so many years ago it was for the word processing capabilities of the new machines. It would replace my old typewriter and the need to use whiteout to cover up mistakes. The ability to Cut, Copy, Paste, and move text around seemed magical at the time. Nowadays the versatility behind any word processor application, whether free or expensive, is commonplace. But the Cut Copy and Paste functions are still one of the main commands that we all use. 

     PopClip is a simple little application that reduces the time taken to implement these three functions. PopClip pops up when you select text with your mouse, giving you a customizable row of helpful action buttons. The first step you take to edit your text is to highlight the designated area. Then you will either type in a keyboard shortcut such as ⌘C or look under the menu bar item Edit and find the appropriate command. The beauty of PopClip is that a popover menu appears immediately after you highlight the text allowing you to choose the function without further typing or searching. This might not seem like a time saver but if you use PopClip for any length of time you will immediately appreciate it.

     Cut and Copy commands are easy to understand, but using the PopClip Paste function has some options. There are three ways to make PopClip appear when you want to Paste in an empty text field. If you long-press (hold the mouse button for 0.5 seconds) the paste option appears in the popover menu. Similarly, a double click and a shift-click will also activate Paste. Or you can use the ⌘V keyboard shortcut and bypass the PopClip application. PopClip does not inactivate any of the keyboard shortcuts. It just makes implementing them faster. And even though Cut Copy and Paste would be the most common commands to activate, PopClip comes with a host of other functions. You can choose to download from over 200 extensions. Click here to view the full list. Adding an extension is a simple matter of downloading it and double-clicking it when it shows up in your Downloads folder. It will immediately appear in the active extensions list of the app. The next few paragraphs will delve into some of these.

     My favourite extra extension is the Dictionary (Thesaurus). Because I use it infrequently, I always forget the keyboard shortcut for it. I then have to search under the Edit menubar item for Spelling which then leads me to look it up in the Dictionary. With PopClip, as soon as I highlight a word, the dictionary function is at my disposal. I can look up the selected word in the pre-selected Dictionary. The Dictionary action only appears if the word you selected is actually in the dictionary.

     Highlighting a URL link makes available a few other options. I can have the link open in a different browser. If you select several links, PopClip will open all of them. If you hold shift (⇧) when you click Open Link, PopClip will copy the links to the clipboard as a list. PopClip will perform a web search for the selected text and put it in a new browser tab. You can change the search engine used for the search. Besides letting you open it, if you select a URL,  PopClip lets you shorten it (using Bitly), or add it to your reading list.

     If the highlighted text is actually a part of the Finder’s path, such as ~/downloads, then an extension is available to reveal the selected file path in Finder (opens the file folder). You can transform the text from lowercase to capitals, or sort the selected lines alphabetically. You can send a snippet to a translation website, or add a task to your favourite to-do app. PopClip integrates with many popular apps and websites. And these are only some of the available extensions that PopClip offers. 

     PopClip’s Preferences allow you to customize the display. You can adjust the size of the popover, from small to very large. You can position the popover above or below the highlighted text. Each of the extensions can be turned on or off by simply using the checkbox next to it. Further changes can be made to the extensions using the gear icon next to the name. There is an exclusion window to add any application if you need to exclude it from displaying the popover menu.

     PopClip is simple, lightweight, and super useful. With PopClip, you just highlight the text, choose Copy from the popup menu that appears automatically, position the mouse where you want to place the text and with a click the menu again shows up automatically and you choose Paste. It might not sound like a big-time saver but when you think about how often you do that sort of thing when editing documents, the value of PopClip becomes evident. And that’s just one of the things it does so well. Click here to read about all its features or to download a copy of it. I strongly encourage you to download the free trial. It is fully functional and lets you try it for 150 uses. Add some extensions and experiment with it. You will be amazed at how much time you can save.

Minitube – Uncomplicate Searching For and Watching YouTube Videos

by Marcel Dufresne

April 21, 2022

  Search any topic on the Internet and you can usually find a YouTube video about it. Your browser is the primary viewer for these clips. But browsers are somewhat cumbersome and use up a lot of your computer’s memory. It is for this very reason that you can find dedicated applications developed to watch YouTube videos and provide simple controls. Minitube is one such application and, to my way of thinking, it has been the best one I have tried. Read on to learn more about this application.

     Minitube is a YouTube desktop application. With it, you can watch YouTube videos without any fuss. You type a keyword and Minitube gives you a seemingly endless list of video streams on the topic. Unlike some third-party YouTube applications, Minitube does not emulate the original YouTube web interface. Rather, it aims to create a TV-like appearance.

     Simplicity is the key to this application. Minitube’s interface starts with a search box where you can search for videos by keyword. Your last ten most recent searches are automatically saved underneath and are an easy click away every time you launch the program. Once you enter a search term, Minitube immediately loads a playlist that matches your query and starts playing the first video automatically. 

     The playlists are easy to navigate through. You can change the order of the list, moving any clip up or down through the others. However, Minitube is not a YouTube playlist creator. You can’t use it to create your own flexible playlists. If you restart Minitube, any previous order changes to the playlist are lost. It is however an efficient means of creating a quick YouTube list on any subject. Just pick a topic, and your playlist is immediately waiting for you.  

     The Minitube initial window has two other tabs besides the most popular search tab. If you’d rather browse videos by category, a browse tab on top lets you switch to the “browse” section. Here you can load playlists of popular or featured videos, and videos about selected topics. The four categories are Trending, Gaming, Movies and Music. To get a more local flavour, you can choose one of the 47 available countries via the bottom right button. This will often change the language of the clip or the subtitles.

     Lastly, there is also a subscriptions tab. You can subscribe to YouTube channels and be notified of new videos. There is no need to login with a YouTube account to access this. If you have a previous subscription list from a YouTube account, this can be exported into Minitube. The Dock Minitube icon has a notification number that lets you know how many unwatched videos are awaiting your viewing pleasure.

     Once a playlist is loaded, you can enjoy it as is, or refine your search by clicking the magnifying glass icon or using the ⌘+E keyboard shortcut. This lets you sort your results by relevance, date, view count, or rating, and specify how old a result can be, and its preferred duration and quality. When viewing a playlist, it’s easy to reorder videos by dragging and dropping, or by using keyboard shortcuts. Other options include looking for related videos to the one playing, opening a video on YouTube, and a special option called “find video parts” which can help you locate the different parts of videos that come split into different sections.

     Minitube is all about search, and older searches are easily accessible. Playback on Minitube is usually smooth and instant, without any noticeable buffering time. By consuming less CPU and less memory than a web browser, Minitube preserves your laptop’s battery life. For each video, a quality toggle on the bottom right switches between 360p, 720p, and 1080p, and this is regardless of what quality options the video actually offers. Don’t be surprised if you switch a video to 1080p and don’t get the shiny result you expected. It’s probably not available in that quality.

     Unlike most video players, Minitube’s full-screen player does not provide any controls whatsoever. Pausing and playing is possible using the space key on your keyboard, but anything else requires that you exit full-screen mode. A “compact mode” is also available, which provides the ability to watch videos in a resizable window, but without the playlist, controls and menu marring the viewing. Minitube includes built-in sharing options to Facebook and Twitter, as well as an email option, and a quick way to get the video’s link.

     For the most part, using Minitube is completely intuitive. However, there were a couple of buttons that I was not sure about. Scrolling over the icons did not reveal their use. With some trial and error, I was able to come up with a reasonable use for all of them. It took me a while to find the magnifying glass icon, but I eventually stumbled upon it. A short user manual might be useful. And some of the other menu items could be explained with it. Another feature I would like to see would be a timer at the end of the time playing line indicating how much of the video is left to play.

     If you love watching YouTube videos, Minitube is worth checking out. Click here to read about the app or to download it. You can use it as is but your use will be interrupted every so often (5-10 min) asking for you to purchase the full version. If you spend much time on YouTube, Minitube is well worth the $12 CAD price tag. Minitube enhances the YouTube video service with its instant access to videos and its simple interface. It is great for kids. Just type the name of the program and Minitube will play each show one after another. It is a definite step up from using YouTube in your browser.

First Time in Paris – A Pure Hidden Object Game at its Best

by Marcel Dufresne

April 4, 2022

     First Time in Paris is a hidden object game (HOG). The basic objective of the game is to locate items from a list of objects. These are carefully hidden in the picture. It is exceedingly difficult to quickly find all the items as they are well camouflaged. Also, the name might not be as helpful as you might think. Searching for a bee might be for an insect or the letter B. A bat could be the animal or a baseball bat. It is only with careful observation that all the items can be found. I would venture to say that more than a hundred items could be found per picture of which only a dozen or so are to be part of the list. Once found, you need only click on the object and it is removed from the list. 

     The storyline sets the stage for each of the HOG scenes. In this case, amateur travel blogger Kate is approached by a struggling hotel for her first big gig. Now, she and her daughter Nicole are on a trip to Paris to figure out how to save the Hotel Hospitalité. You will join them as they journey through the streets of Paris, see the sights, taste the food, meet the people, and hear their stories. Along the way, you will help to uncover the beauty of this historic Parisian hotel and use your knowledge to save the Hotel Hospitalité.

     I consider First Time in Paris to be a pure HOG. There is no wandering around looking for inventory items to help solve a mini-puzzle. Each scene starts with the story dialogue which sets the stage for the hidden object scene. As with most games of this type, the dialogue really has little to do with finding the items. The game comes with the option to skip the dialogue and proceed directly to searching for the list of camouflaged items. I have to admit that I skipped most of the interactions. I play this type of game solely for the pleasure of finding all the objects and I prefer not to be distracted by inessential dialogue.

     The graphics used in this game are superb. The detail and the colours make the scenery come to life. With the music supplied, the atmosphere is definitely Parisian. The game allows you to explore the most famous sites of Paris such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Because there are such precise graphics, you might think that the hidden objects would be easier to spot. You would be wrong. I found them to be even better hidden than most of the other games I have played.

     As you play the initial game going from chapter to chapter, you will find that the game has eight varieties of hidden object themes. The normal type has a simple name associated with the object. In Riddles, you must solve riddles to learn the names of the objects you are looking for. This is a much harder type of HOG. You must locate the items one at a time rather than being able to search for any one on the list. Silhouette provides a shadow image while Image is a picture of each item. No Vowels removes all the vowels from the list and Scramble mixes up the letters. Another very difficult type is the Pairs. You know how many pairs you are looking for but none of the names are given. Instead, you must click on various objects until you find one from the hidden list. It lights up to indicate a hot spot. The last and probably the easiest is the Collection. The list in this case is comprised of one item only, like a towel or a horseshoe. You must find 16 of the target item.

     After you have completed a chapter, you then play a mini-game. In this case, it is a jigsaw puzzle. First Time in Paris again has a multitude of variations to the jigsaw puzzle type. You will need to either spin a piece or switch places or do both. The complexity of the puzzles increases as you move along. You can replay the puzzles from the Photo Journal button. Fortunately, puzzles pieces do lock when in the correct orientation.

     As a bonus, each of the scenes has five fun facts about Paris hidden in the scene. They are revealed one at a time, so the window has to be replayed five times to get all the fun facts out of the way. A question mark indicates the fun fact trigger. 

     Once you have completed all the scenes, you can now play the unlimited game. First Time in Paris has great replay ability. For each scene, you can try to solve the list using each of the eight types. This is recorded for you. If you are missing a fun fact, this is also recorded here. Thirty scenes times eight variations of HOG provide two hundred and forty different scenarios. And not only that but each time you play a scene you are not necessarily presented with the same list of items. There are hours and hours of fun awaiting you.

     The Steam version of the game comes with 16 achievements to strive for. There are speed bonuses given for quick completion of the lists. This shows up in the total game score.  This HOG can be played by yourself or with a group where everyone is helping find the camouflaged items. It is also a game to be enjoyed by any age group. If you prefer playing this type of game without having to move from screen to screen and back again, then I strongly recommend First Time in Paris. Click here to view a video of the gameplay or click here to read more about the game. With all the replay ability and the various types of HOG and jigsaw puzzles, First Time in Paris is well worth the price.  

Ghost on the Shore – A Romantic Phantasmagorical Adventure

by Marcel Dufresne

March 23, 2022

     Ghost on the Shore is an exploration game centered on a stranded adventurer and a ghost she meets on an island. You play as Riley, a young woman looking for a fresh start, who arrives on the Rogue Islands after being forced to seek shelter in a storm. Her boat arrives intact and moors on the dock of an abandoned island. As soon as she disembarks, she is joined by a voice in her head. This turns out to be Josh, a persuasive ghost who encourages her to go and explore the island. 

     The wonderfully drawn landscape of the game is akin to wandering through a water-colour world. Panning around the scenery, I was immediately immersed in the story. Ghost on the Shore offers some genuinely phenomenal vistas for you to gaze upon. From clifftop views of beaches to old cottages engulfed in vines, there are many quaint sights to see. Some of the passages are blocked with fallen debris, others are accessible and receptive to an investigation. While you walk through this landscape, you learn the history of the islands and their occupants through the items left behind. As you explore the crumbling homes of the vanished islanders and rifle through their belongings, you find clues to the mystery. Included in these finds are many personal letters, notes, and even some cassette recordings. These are key to solving the riddles of the island and possibly discovering why Josh is haunting the island. All of this is needed to set Josh free which is the ultimate goal of the game.

     Ghost on the Shore offers an intriguing storyline to go along with the beautiful landscape. The writing and voice acting are exceptional and do a lot to endear you to the main characters. As Riley wanders along the trails, Josh constantly attempts to enter into a conversation with her. You are frequently given multiple dialogue options to choose from. You must decide very quickly which of these to use or the game will choose for you. The choices in the dialogue influence your bond with Josh and ultimately determine Riley’s fate. This relationship and the subsequent banter between Josh and Riley is one of the best aspects of the game. 

     Ghost on the Shore also allows you to interact with a range of objects. Hot spots are indicated by a cloud of small lights. A dot appears in the center of the screen as one approaches a hot spot. Sparkles highlight the active site the first time you come near. Approaching these lights reveals the object present. Each hot spot offers you tidbits of information about either a character or some event in their lives. You’ll encounter books with worn-out spines, aged bottles with the paint peeling off and an assortment of trinkets all of which slowly divulge the fate of this haunted world. With each new item, Josh remembers more and more of his time on the islands, and Riley is encouraged to reveal more of herself. The inventory holds the facts (journal), letters found and tape recordings of the inhabitants.

     The game is set up as though Riley can wander anywhere she wants around the islands. In actual fact, the path is linear in nature. It makes one feel as though you are wandering all over the place when in fact Riley is being funneled along a set path. As such, there is no map as none is needed. Blockages appear as part of the landscape. Stone fences, cliffs, debris and such direct you along the trail. I once found my way blocked even though I was on a trail I had previously walked on. This was my cue to get off the island and sail to the next one.  

     With the preferences, I was able to change the graphic speed to accommodate my computer. It was way too fast to control when I first started the game, but I was able to adjust the game speed to a very manageable level. I was able to coordinate the arrow keys for movement with the mouse which controlled the facing direction to quickly zoom around the landscape.

     Ghost on the Shore is a compelling walking sim with an intriguing mystery at its core. The dialogue and voice acting are superb and carry the narrative to a satisfying conclusion. The world provides a captivating location to explore. The various items you find and the ghosts you talk to keep you coming back to find out more. Click here to have a look at a video of the game. With its multiple endings, Ghost on the Shore provides many replays. It took me about six hours on the first go around. The next time was faster. There are 20 achievements to strive for including one for each of the four possible endings. You can purchase Ghost on the Shore on Steam for $19.99/£17.49/€19.99. I definitely enjoyed playing the game. There is a very tangible mystery here that I had fun unravelling. The game managed to immediately capture my attention with the scenery and the wandering trails. I am sure it will do the same for you.


iCab – An Internet Browser With Better Search Aspects

by Marcel Dufresne

March 14, 2022

     There are many browsers available to surf the Internet. iCab is one of these. It is an alternative web browser for the Apple Mac with numerous useful features not found in other browsers. It has been around for more than 20 years, a testament to its usefulness. Read on to find out more about this application.

     iCab has too many features to list in a simple review so I am just going to highlight some that I have come to use frequently. The first of these is how iCab facilitates one of the main uses for a browser, searches. For most browsers, you type your search item in the URL field and the default search engine gives you a list of hits. In iCab, there is a separate search field in the browser toolbar which can be used instead. Just enter the keywords you want to search for and press return. Clicking the icon at the left of the search field will open a popup menu where you can select the search engine that is used for the search. It also contains a list of previous search terms. This gives a lot more flexibility to your searches as you can quickly switch from one search engine to another. You are not limited to only the default search engine. As with all browsers, you can still use the URL field to search in the internet. Even here you are not limited to the default search engine. To initiate a search in another search engine enter the key letter for the search engine first (like “g” for google or “y” for yahoo) followed by a space character and the search term, then press the return key. Use the iCab Preferences to configure which search engines to list and what shortcut letter to apply to them. 

     Continuing with the search theme, if you select a word or phrase in the web page itself and highlight it, iCab can search the selected text in the default search engine. The search result is then displayed in a new tab or window. If you are looking for a specific word in a long browser scrolling window, you can initiate a search for a specific text located within the current window.

     When saving a web page, it is possible to save it in several ways. It can be a document that you can access offline. HTML pages can be stored in a compact ZIP file which includes all images on the page. iCab can also convert the web page into a stand-alone application that can be run on its own.     

     It is possible to automatically delete the History when quitting iCab. This can be useful if iCab is used on a computer that is shared by multiple users. You can enable Phishing/Malware detection in the “Security” Preferences (only for registered users). If iCab should open a suspicious web page, iCab will display a warning. iCab can block undesirable content, like ads and pop-up windows. Also, many settings can be automatically configured, based on the URL of the page you’re visiting, so you can have individual browser settings for different websites.

     It is very easy to customize the toolbar. I especially like that there are some buttons available in a combined format that need less space in the toolbar. Bookmarks and navigation are two examples. The Navigation Toolbar can be customized by selecting the menu item View > Customize Toolbar. You can add items to the toolbar or remove the ones you don’t need. 

     The Preferences offers other quick and easy ways to customize iCab. It resembles a normal application preference window. Many browsers open a separate web page from which you can change the view. I have had difficulty finding exactly how to make the changes I want with these. With iCab, all the customizations are quickly accessed in the Preferences window. A simple example of this is choosing the default for different Internet protocols. In the Preferences, go to the Programs button and quickly choose your favourite RSS reader, Browser, etc.

     The status bar at the bottom left of the browser window is used to display status information for the current website. The several icons on the left side include the following. The busy indication is animated while the web page is loading data from the internet. The online icon shows if iCab is Online. Clicking the icon will render iCab offline. When iCab is in Offline mode, it won’t load any data from the internet anymore. Instead, it will load the data only from the web cache. This is useful if you want to revisit certain web pages when you don’t have internet access. The next icon shows if a web page was transmitted encrypted and secure or not. The RSS Feed icon indicates if the website provides one or more RSS feeds. Clicking the icon will display a list of RSS feeds, and selecting one will open up your RSS reader enabling you to add it to your list. There are more icons, most of which are more pertinent to web creators.

     The menu item Tools contains several very useful additions to the browser. The Page Overview opens a small floating window that will show all of the headings of the currently displayed web page. This is useful to get an overview of web pages with longer texts. Clicking these headings in the Page Overview window will immediately scroll to this heading on the web page. So the page overview will also help to navigate within larger web pages. The Links Overview opens a new window with two areas. The left area of this window displays all links to the current web page. Clicking any of these links will open the linked page in the right area of the Link Overview window. The link list remains visible all the time. This feature can be very useful on pages that provide a large number of links to articles. Because the links remain visible all the time, it’s very easy and fast to read all the articles. Normally you would have to go back to the links page each time you’ve read an article to be able to go to the next article, or you would have to open all the articles in new tabs or windows to keep the links page open all the time. Using the “Links Overview” window you don’t have to do this. 

      There are many more features to iCab than the ones mentioned here. There is a very extensive help manual that covers all the available features. iCab is shareware and the downloadable product is fully functional. However, as with most shareware applications, it periodically displays a dialogue box asking the user to pay $10 and upgrade to the “Pro” version. I had been using the free version for quite some time and was very pleased with it. When I switched to the Pro version, I found that it loaded web pages much faster. Click here to download a copy of this browser. Try out the incredibly handy search functions. I have no doubt you will be switching to iCab for future web searches.

SuperDuper! – Clone Your Computer’s Drive and Avoid Catastrophes

by Marcel Dufresne

March 1, 2022

     The mantra of any computer user is “Save! Save! Save!”. You never know when a catastrophe will befall you. A drive might fail or you might accidentally delete a file that you now regret doing. Another scenario has your drive (or computer) failing completely, requiring a full restore. You might have sent your computer in for service, and it came back wiped clean. Whatever the crisis, having a proper backup is the best solution and your only protection is to save your work. Many applications do this for you so that you don’t have to remember to save. The Mac OS comes with Time Machine installed. Just attach an external drive and Time Machine will save your files every hour. For most of the time, Time Machine is all I need but I found it lacking in several ways. This review is about a product from Shirt Pocket called SuperDuper! which I must say does just what I want it to do in terms of backup.

     SuperDuper! is a backup software utility that enables you to create a backup of the files and folders located on your computer, and then restore them if needed. The use of the program does not require special computer skills and as such is suitable for both beginners and pros. There is an extensive help menu that explains in easy-to-follow detail how to use all parts of the application. 

     SuperDuper! consists of two main methods for backing up your files. You can create a simple backup of all the files on your computer or just backup the user files. Backing up all files is by far your best option. It creates a complete backup of the selected volume. If the source is a boot volume it can be used to start your system in the event of a hard drive failure. Clones make great backups for users who are backing up for safety, and where the need to recover various previous versions of a document is not necessary. It means that you can continue working on a project even if the internal hard drive fails.

     Backing up just the user files is similar, but it does not create a bootable backup. Instead, it only backs up user-specific files in the Home directories of the various accounts on your system. This type of backup is not bootable, since it doesn’t contain operating system files, but is useful for storing copies of your personal data. Take note that it’s much harder to recover from a disaster if you’ve only got your personal files backed up. 

     Mac OS X users might be wondering why they might need a backup utility in addition to Time Machine. Time Machine is user-friendly and an essential utility to keep you from losing data. However, it lacks some of the features that SuperDuper! has. This includes making a bootable backup, and most importantly for me, flexibility when it comes to scheduling. While it is possible to customize the Time Machine schedule using third-party software, Time Machine backs up your hard drive every hour and does not offer you the possibility to change the timetable to better fit your needs. I get around this lack of flexibility by ejecting my external drive and reconnecting it two or three times a week, which is all that I need. With SuperDuper!, I can now customize my scheduling down to the minute. With it, I have the option of backing up daily, weekly, or monthly. You need not have SuperDuper! running for it to execute the scheduled backup. If you have activated the scheduled creation of backups, the process will start automatically at the stated time. And I can also back up manually whenever I wish. 

     Disk cloning is a special type of backup. I found this to be my main reason for using SuperDuper!. The first time you clone your drive takes much longer (hours) than backing up only the user files. It is faster (minutes) the next time. After the dreaded hard drive crash, you want to get back to work right away if possible and avoid doing the restore process until later. The backups created in Time Machine are not bootable and will require you to either reinstall your system and then copy your files over, or install using Time Machine’s backup. With a bootable backup, all you have to do is install your clone disk and you are back to work immediately.

     When you first open SuperDuper! you are presented with a window that contains the choices for backing up. First, you’ll need to choose the volume you wish to back up, and the place to store the backup. You can back up to an internal drive, an external drive, or an image file (which can be stored locally or on a network volume). Backup all files produces an exact copy of the source. Smart Update only copies (or deletes) files and folders as necessary. This takes much less time after the initial backup, doing in minutes what could otherwise take hours.

     Two other options that appear in the During Copy drop-down menu are Copy newer and Copy different. They control what SuperDuper! does when it copies a file from a folder on the source volume to the destination and finds that there is already a file in that location with the same name. When Copy newer is selected, the file on the destination is replaced with the one from the source if the file on the source has a newer (more recent) modification date. Copy different replaces the file on the destination if the source file is different (not necessarily newer) in any of its attributes.

     Each time you launch SuperDuper!, all of your settings from the previous session will be restored, including the source and destination volumes, if available. If you want to update an existing backup, click Options… and then change the During copy setting to Smart Update…. When you click Copy Now, SuperDuper! will only make the changes necessary – replacing, adding and removing files and folders – to ensure the backup exactly matches the source. This will typically only take a few minutes.

     SuperDuper! is a simple means of backing up files and folders in the original and then restoring them. Click here to go to the website and get more details on what it can do for you. You can download the free unregistered version to check it out. With an unregistered copy of SuperDuper!, you can only choose Erase, then copy…. This option erases the destination volume before writing to it. While this ensures that the result is an exact copy, if you’re performing a second or third backup, it also copies all your data over again, taking extra time. Download SuperDuper! today to find out whether it is the right backup program for you. Use this opportunity to clone your drive even if you opt not to purchase the app. With both Time Machine and SuperDuper! running, I feel capable of handling any catastrophe. 

Commander One – Mount Android Devices to your Mac With this Dual-Panel File manager

by Marcel Dufresne

Feb 22, 2022

   Because it’s always there, most of us are not aware that the Finder is just another application running on our Macs. If you quit the Finder, your computer will still run. You could start any application in your Dock or keep using one that had been started before you shut down the Finder. However, you could not easily open any others. Commander One is a Finder substitute that offers many features not found in the Finder application. It does not modify the Finder files stored on your drive. Unlike other similar applications, it does not close the Finder app. Commander One is installed as a standalone application and it runs on its own with the Finder still active. When launched, it produces a window similar to Apple’s Finder window but is a lot more productive. By adding quick access to remote servers, a dual-panel mode, and many other extras, it is a definite time-saver. There is a free mode that is worth trying out, and a paid Pro version. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to view the main differences between the two and read on to discover the useful host of functions that could be at your fingertips. 

     Commander One, like the Finder, is a file manager for Mac. With it, you can copy, delete, compress/uncompress files, connect to an FTP server, and a lot more.

     Commander One has various functions that make you more productive and can save you time. First and foremost is the dual-panel. The two-panel system is especially useful for those who work with several directories and files at the same time every day. No more do you have to jump back and forth between open windows. With Commander One you can have both folders open in the same window. This makes operations such as comparing the contents of folders from two different locations easy. Simple operations such as move or copy happen much more quickly using Drag and Drop from one side of the window to another. With three view types that can be different for each tab or panel, you can set up each side of the window to your liking. 

     Many of the operations of Commander One’s interface resemble ones found in the Finder but they are easier to access as they are part of the window itself. You don’t have to search through the pull-down menus to find the one you want. For instance, you can open an unlimited number of tabs by just tapping (+). The top of the window provides access to many often used functions. You can show hidden files, get info on a file, do a Quick Search, archive, or start the connections manager. 

     With Commander One you can handle files not only on local drives but also on FTP servers and in Dropbox (in PRO Pack mode). With a built-in FTP manager, you can easily connect to remote servers. With two panels instead of just one, this FTP client Mac solution promotes efficiency and speed. You can also access and manage data stored on Amazon S3 (PRO Pack) and contents of Google Drive and OneDrive (PRO Pack). See the image below for a complete list of drives.

     With Commander One you can view the list of all the computers in a local network. Commander One PRO Pack supports Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) for working with external MTP devices. It allows browsing iOS device contents (the Document directory) to edit/remove/compress files and transfer data between it and your Mac. In the future, the developers hope to be able to work with iOS devices over the Wi-Fi without connecting via USB cable. You could listen to your Android device music, watch movies, and check photos on a Mac without actually copying anything to it. If needed, you can copy any files from your Mac to your Android device and vice versa. Just connect your device to Mac and it will be available as a mounted drive in Commander One. I was able to see my wife’s old Amazon Fire tablet in Commander One’s window. I could then add files such as an ebook and manage the content of this tablet. Apple’s Finder does not even acknowledge the existence of this drive.

     The Internal Process Viewer lets you view the processes that are running currently in the system. You can view additional information or kill any process (in PRO Pack mode). This function is the same as running the Activity Monitor application on the Mac. Again Commander One saves you time by providing this function without having to open a separate application. Another application that is built-in to Commander One is the Terminal, the command-line text-processing utility (in PRO Pack mode).

     Commander One lets you edit files faster with the text editor of your choice which can be used when you open a file for editing. To insure against data loss on a drive, Commander One lets you safely eject it. To do this, click the Eject button. A handy toolbar button permits hidden files on the Mac to be listed.

     Commander One is a fast and simple Mac archiver, supporting multiple types of files including ZIP, TBZ (in Free mode) and 7ZIP, TGZ, tar.bz2 (tbz2, tb2), tar.Z, tar.lzma and tar.xz (in PRO Pack mode). Files can be copied/moved directly from one archive to another. You can delete files and create new folders directly in an archive. You can also utilize the built-in packer to open RAR and ISO files (in PRO Pack mode).

     Commander One has a search function. If you prefer the more conventional Spotlight search, it is available in addition to the Advanced search and search by contents. Commander One lets you search for any files and folders on any disks even if compressed. You can use Regular Expressions for a more precise search and make it case-sensitive. Even when you don’t remember the name of the document, you can search for words inside it with flexible settings.

     Using the Preferences, you can customize the look of Commander One with additional themes and endless colour options for text, background and more. Personalize the app to your individual preferences. And of course, it supports the dark mode. Even with the most common function readily accessible from the Commander One window, you might want to speed up your work with hotkeys. You can set up your own key combos from the Preferences. Any action is done much faster with your favourite hotkeys. 

     Besides being a great FTP software for Mac, Commander One is probably the fastest way to copy, move, delete the files, and more. With Commander One you can use two panels at once, set up your very own hotkeys for any action, and mount any drive you have. I am confident that you will find many uses for even the free version of it. Because it resembles the Finder, there is no learning curve to go through. You will be able to use Commander One as soon as you start it. There is a help manual available if you do come across any problems. The PRO Pack can be downloaded and used for a free 15-day trial. Click here to download the free Apple file manager version of Commander One. It is packed full of many important features for Mac file management. No matter what proficiency you have with your computer, Commander One will make you better at controlling your documents.

Typeeto – Pair Your Computer’s Keyboard to Most iDevices

by Marcel Dufresne

Jan 31, 2022

     One of the accessories you might invest in after purchasing an iPad is an external keyboard. The on-screen keyboard works well for single words or simple text messages but is quite inadequate for any extensive typing. The hunt and peck method just takes too long. Also, my fingers are a bit too big to comfortably hit the right key every time. This problem becomes even greater when you use an iPhone, having a much smaller screen. It is for this very reason that so many different Bluetooth external keyboards have been developed to handle your device’s typing needs. This review deals with an application, Typeeto, that turns your computer’s Bluetooth keyboard into an on-screen external keyboard. The application is much cheaper than any keyboard you could buy and if you have a computer, the hardware already exists. Read on to find out more about this wonderful application.

     With Typeeto your Mac can supply any of your devices with a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard. The list of devices includes not only the iPad and iPhone but also an Apple TV or your android device. As long as they have Bluetooth capabilities, you can pair your keyboard with the device. Imagine how much faster you could be typing on your iPhone or iPad with a full-scale keyboard. Typing large amounts of texts on your mobile devices becomes easier and faster with Typeeto. 

     Making the connection between your computer and the device is as simple as making any other Bluetooth pairing. No additional keyboard apps have to be added to your device. All you have to do is pair your device and Mac via Bluetooth, launch Typeeto, and start typing. Once paired, Typeeto remembers the connection and shows all possible devices from the drop-down menu bar icon. There are no restrictions as to the number of devices you can connect. You can switch between them with one click, or assign a hotkey to each device to make things even faster.

     Long passwords and many web addresses are a pain to enter on a phone or other small gadgets. Typeeto comes with a copy-paste feature to quickly enter these. It will also work to copy-paste text as long as it is less than 1024 characters.

     I especially like the ability to use my Mac keyboard to control my Apple TV. The most time-consuming problem I have with the Apple TV is adding in long passwords. Maneuvering around with the arrow keys to get the exact characters takes time and I often accidentally click on the wrong letter necessitating having to work my way down to the delete key. Now with Typeeto active, I can copy-paste the password. Also, I can use my Mac’s keyboard as an Apple TV remote. I can more easily search for any file by typing its name in the search field, work with menus, play/pause/rewind, or fast-forward any file.

     Typeeto is the cheaper solution to buying an external keyboard for your iPad, iPhone or Android devices. Using your Mac keyboard lets you make most of your device. Click here to read more about this very functional application. Typeeto will dramatically improve your typing experience by letting you enter long texts on your device. Using its copy-paste function will reduce the number of typing errors you make for passwords and such. You can get Typeeto from the Mac App Store. It has a very specific function and it does it very well.