Splash of Style...Macs, Photography, Design, and other Passions

Comcast Announces New Universal Caller Id

June 25, 2009 by debbie T | ComputersMac SoftwareRamblings

This is so cool. I can’t wait until it’s established at our house.

Comcast sent an email today announcing a new feature for their customers with TV, Internet, & Telephone bundle packages. When a telephone call comes in, the Caller ID will display on the TV screen.

Yeah! That will save me from having to stand up and walk over to our phone just to see who it is. If it’s mom, I will answer (maybe…LOL Just kidding) and if it’s a stupid telemarketer, I will just let it go to voice mail. I wonder if there’s an option on the remote to sent it immediately to voice mail!?

There’s also another option to download for your PC which will display the Caller ID on your PC, but that’s not as appealing to me as the TV. It’s an Adobe Air app, so it’s Windows and Mac compatible.

It’s supposed to be starting in about a month. Oh and the best part is, it’s FREE!

Now if only I can get Comcast to add specific phone number blocking, that would be a big help! Still can’t understand why I can’t have a list of phone numbers that are blocked from calling me. It’s sounds so simple! But what do I know!?

Anyway, the Comcast Universal Caller ID is cool and I can’t wait to try it out!

Create Simple HTML Photo Page in iPhoto

February 1, 2009 by debbie T | ComputersDigital PhotographyiPhotoMac SoftwareWeb DesignWeb Development

I maintain a basic web site for a local non-profit, and every year, I must update their photo page of Officers. It’s always been time consuming to try to reassemble the table html codes and move all the names and titles to their appropriate spots.

I wanted to find an easier way to create a simple html table for the photo page. I looked into iWeb, but the output page looked like a portfolio, and the code was virtually impossible to edit later.

I had imported all the necessary photo files into iPhoto, and while I was checking out the Export command, I noticed there was an option to export as web page.

Read the Rest of the Article

Getting another New Battery for my MBP

January 27, 2009 by debbie T | ComputersMac Corner

Well, I spoke too soon. I was bragging about the increase in battery capacity after I received my Macbook Pro back from Applecare after my logic board repair.

When it was sent out, the battery capacity was @ approximately 63%; when I received it back (Jan 9) it was raised to 89% capacity. hmm, very curious. I thought maybe I got a (different) new / refurb battery back by mistake. I was happy to gain the extra capacity, so I wasn’t complaining!!!

Well, by Jan 23, it was back down to 64% capacity, and down to 50% this morning. I even tried calibrating twice with no luck, it actually got worse.

So, I figured I better phone Applecare before I ran out of time. I received my current battery as a replacement in April, so I didn’t want to wait too long.

What a pleasant experience. I am getting a new battery sent to me! Yay! The Applecare rep talked to a tech specialist, and they seem to think it might have drained due to the problematic logic board which was replaced (or maybe the bad Nvidia card). I don’t care what the reason is, I will have a happy Mac with a new battery.

UPDATE Sunday, Feb 1: Got my new Macbook Pro battery on Friday. I installed it this morning, making sure to shut down my MBP first, and unplugging from the charger. After I installed the new battery, I plugged it in, then rebooted.

Once I booted into OS X, I saw that the charge was @ 59% I launched Coconut Battery to check the data. 100% capacity @ 5563 mAh.

I will not remove the power cord until it’s fully charged at 100%. I will probably calibrate it tonight or tomorrow.

Attaching an Image File in Gmail Message

November 20, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersInternet

Tutorial written for my Dad, but if others find it helpful, that’s a bonus!!! My Dad uses Windows XP, and that is the OS the tutorial references.

Let’s start by launching Gmail with Firefox (or with whatever browser you use to access the Internet.)

Read the Rest of the Article

haha, New Windows PC Ads Made On Mac

September 20, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersInternetMac Corner

I love it! Computerworld reports that some of the new ad still photos posted to Microsoft’s own web site were created with Photoshop CS3 on a Mac.

By way of Macrumors

Automountd Trying to Connect to Backups.backupdb

August 9, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersInternetMac CornerMac Software

I just bought a new 1TB external hard drive yesterday, and my Chronosync backups were still working last night to sync all my files from various hard drives to backups on the new drive.

This morning I noticed a Little Snitch (gotta love this app!) requesting to allow “Automountd” to connect to “Backups.backupdb”

I recognized Backups.backupdb as the location of Leopard’s Time Machine backup, but I was unsure why automountd wanted to connect to the Internet; besides Time Machine is not configured to auto backup. I always click the Time Machine icon in my menu bar for manual backups AND the drive I do use for backups was definitely attached to my Mac overnight.

So I googled “automountd” and found this article.

He received the very same message from Little Snitch. In the article he explains in plain English what is going on. Even though the first time I read it, I was a bit muddled, but when I read it again, I think I understand the answer to the problem, but I still don’t know why automountd was trying to connect in the first place, especially since Time Machine is not set to auto backup.

In the article, another article was referenced. That might contain the answers to automountd, but seriously, I don’t have the time right now to read it. So, I will list the article for future reading reference:

I ended up denying access (until quit) in Little Snitch, and there appears to be no impact on Time Machine’s backup ability. I manually started the backup and it did take a very long time to start the tiny backup (a few mb) but when it was finished, the files looked okay.

I will keep an eye on it.

DNS Poisoning & How To Protect Yourself

August 7, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersInternetMac CornerWeb DesignWeb DevelopmentWirelessWordPress
UPDATE: I will be updating this article very shortly. I have new info on how to change the DNS settings for dialup as well as wired users. I will be adding a few screen shots and step by step instructions.

Now I am not one to panic about malware on the web. I have always prided myself on smart & safe browsing. But when I first heard about the new DNS Poisoning problem on the Nosillacast podcast a couple of weeks ago, it scared me. This could be a problem affecting everyone, no matter what safety precautions they take while surfing the Internet.

The subject is so complicated, and I won’t pretend to understand it fully, but I think I understand it enough to explain the situation to my family and friends, which is what I am trying to do with this blog article.

Okay, bottom line is there is a type of flaw that can be exploited by the bad guys, which enables them hijack vulnerable unpatched systems at your Internet Service Provider (Comcast for example) and change the path of traffic to their own web pages. So, if you are trying to go to amazon.com, your browser address bar will display “http://www.amazon.com” but you might be redirected to the hijacker’s site who has created a web site that looks very similar to Amazon. From there, it could be possible to install malware to your computer or to trick you into giving your personal info like credit cards or passwords.

This vulnerability can also affect your email, which is even scarier. A bad guy could intercept your email message(s) and insert a malware attachment or web site link. And you wouldn’t even know it was happening.

Are you vulnerable?

The Security Now podcast lists several links to sites that will “test” your site for the vulnerability:

I ran the test @ DoxPara and the following message appeared:
“Your ISP’s name server, xxxxx, has other protections above and beyond port randomization against the recently discovered DNS flaws. There is no reason to be concerned about the results seen below.”

I have heard that similar messages are appearing for other Comcast users. Since the information I am finding online concerning Comcast is vague and unclear, I am not 100% sure I trust Comcast to deal with this. So, I am taking matters into my own hands until I am sure.

I have read that other ISPs like Time Warner and AT&T have NOT patched, so there are still a lot of people out there that are in trouble!

Good News – Use Open DNS

The good news is, you can bypass your ISP’s DNS computers, and use another. Open DNS is a very secure and highly recommended DNS server that offers use of its servers for FREE! All you need to do is change a couple of settings in your router.

Not using a router? If your computer is attached directly to a high speed modem (ie DSL, Cable, satellite) then you are highly vulnerable to this flaw, as well as many other attacks.

Using a router keeps you safe behind a “hardware” firewall, and that firewall can thwart most attacks…so do yourself a favor and head to Staples, Walmart, Target, or Amazon and buy a Linksys, Netgear, or DLink router. It is an absolutely necessary tool in today’s times!

Change Your Router’s Settings

It is very easy to change your router settings to use Open DNS servers instead of your ISP’s.

Note: Don’t worry, you aren’t changing to a new Internet Service Provider, you will still be using the same ISP, it’s just the DNS computer information that you are changing.

There are detailed instructions on the Open DNS site, but I will walk through the instructions for changing a Linksys router.

First you need to access your router’s settings. Linksys router users can use this link:

A password window will appear. The user name is “admin” and unless you previously changed the access password, the default password will be “admin”.

Important note: in the router settings, your password should be changed for extra security. To learn more about configuring your router for better security, please read my prior article.

Once you have logged into your router, you should be on the “Setup” page/tab.

Toward the bottom of the page, there is a setting called “Network Address
Server Settings (DHCP)”. Locate “Static DNS 1” and “Static DNS 2” and type in Open DNS’s server numbers, which are: and

NOTE: If you have current DNS settings, then write them down just in case you need to revert back.

change dns servers on linksys router

Once the new DNS numbers have been entered, click the “Save Settings” button. And that is it!

Again, if you are not using a router, I cannot stress enough that you need to go out and buy one. They are usually about $50 and sometimes less. I recommend the Linksys WRT54G series routers, but DLink and Netgear also make good routers. Buy whichever is on sale that week; most will have detailed instructions explaining how to set security.

Okay, next, a word or two about Open DNS. Besides free use of their DNS servers, they also offer all sorts of parental controls and other security. I haven’t really delved into their offerings, but from what I gather, it’s all free. How can all this be free? Well to offset their costs, they have advertising revenues. Keep in mind, that whenever you type in a wrong address into your browser, Open DNS will take you to a custom search page, usually with your corrected web site URL on top.

For instance, if you type “ebay” instead of “ebay.com”, your browser will take you to a search page for “ebay”. Some have complained that this isn’t fair, wah wah wah…but who cares. They have to make money somehow. I don’t mind that they make a little on searches.

To learn more about Open DNS and all their offerings, check out the Typical Mac User podcast for a special 3 part series on all the details.

Personal Computer Patches

Besides your ISP computers, personal home computers, as well as business computers also need to be patched.

As far as I can tell, Microsoft issued a security patch a week or two ago, so make sure you are 100% up to date with all your Vista or XP critical patches.

As for Mac users, there was a patch issued, but it looks like it doesn’t fix everything, so when I am out from behind my router, I think I am still vulnerable if I connect to an open wifi spot. I am still a bit foggy on that issue, so more research is needed.

More Questions

Since I am still learning about this vulnerability, I still have additional questions that I haven’t found answers to.

For example, are cell phones that connect to the Internet still vulnerable? What about if you use a VPN (virtual private network)? What about web based email like gmail?

There is also a problem with routers being vulnerable too, but the issue isn’t as dire, because they would only be attacking your small network. Initially, I think routers will be okay, and the bigger networks like ISPs will be attacked first. I would like to find out more about the router issues, and whether firmware patches will be issued.

Hopefully I can find the answers online soon.

Helpful sites if you want to learn more about the DNS Flaw:

Macbook Pro LCD Calibration Problems

July 22, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersDigital PhotographyMac Corner

Regarding my first post, I was initially very happy w/ the calibration. I had purchased an X-rite Eye-One Display LT from Adorama.

I was disappointed because the Eye-One Display came highly recommended on various sources online.

So, I tried the calibration again, same pink hue. It doesn’t look bad at first, until you really start to look at it. It really shows up when looking at a white background.

I was leaving on vacation, so I had to wait to contact anyone. On my return, I had a miserable cold, and I didn’t feel like thinking, much less speaking to anyone to try to trouble shoot the problem.

Finally, yesterday I called X-rite’s customer service department to see if they could help me. Well, the person I spoke to (Kevin) was no help at all. He didn’t seem knowledgeable about the product and his advice in the end was to make sure my Mac’s gamma was 2.2 and not 1.8. I didn’t think this would have any impact on the pink hues, but alas, I did try to calibrate one last time. Nope, the same pink hue, but it just looked “darker” w/ the 2.2 gamma set.

I was fed up.

The good news is that I spoke to Adorama this morning to ask about a return, and after I explained myself, they generously agreed to the return even though it was slightly beyond the 14 day return period. Yay for Adorama!

Canon Printer Error Message-"more than one ink installed"

July 3, 2008 by debbie T | Printers

I have a Canon Pixma MP500 all-in-one printer, and I have been receiving sporadic error messages. Either an ink is missing or “Error Number : 1681 More than one ink tank of the following color is installed. Magenta [8] Use only one ink tank per color at a time.” – both errors point to the Magenta ink tank.

It is temporarily repaired by removing the magenta ink, and seating it back into place. The printer works again, and a few days later, the error appears.

Today, it was particularly stubborn. I reseated the magenta ink tank several times, and when it wouldn’t work, I turned to google. It appears that a lot of others are having the same issue with Canon printers.

I decided to call the Canon technical support. sigh. A lot of good that did. Because the printer was almost two years old (purchased in Aug 2006), they would have to charge me $10 to troubleshoot the problem. Oh but the good news is, he wouldn’t charge me if he couldn’t fix it. Well, of course it would probably be TEMPORARILY fixed, but that wouldn’t help in the long term.

I hung up with tech support and opened the ink compartment again. This time, I reseated all the ink cartridges, and that seemed to fix it for now.

After reading some of the other problems others were having, it appears a lot were using refilled or 3rd party ink. I learned my lesson with the Epson, and will only buy official Canon ink.

I think it just may be time for a new printer. Shameful really. I guess 2 years is long enough for printers to last. sigh. Oh well, those new Kodak printers with cheap ink look tempting. I will look into them!

Macbook Pro LCD Calibration

July 2, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersDigital PhotographyMac Software

whoo-hoo. I calibrated my Macbook Pro display for the first time! I was nervous (not sure why, it wasn’t like it was going to blow it up if I made an error).

The colors look very nice. My eyes feel like they need adjusting, and I have a tiny slight headache, so I turned my brightness down for now. I hope I get used to it.

UPDATE: no, the colors were not very nice. In fact, the calibration led to a head ache for a couple of days until I took a look at my original calibration settings. Wow, there was a strong pink hue to the calibration from Eye-One. Read about it in my updated article.

Anyway, I purchased an “Eye-One Display LT” calibrator from x-rite. You can find them on Amazon as sold by Adorama. I have purchased from Adorama twice now, and they are very good.

The instructions that came w/ the product are a bit scarce, but if you take your time, it isn’t very difficult to accomplish the process. I guess the deal is you need to calibrate regularly, like once a week. The software will supposedly remind me.

The reason I chose the Eye-One LT is because the price was inexpensive @ $140. Yes, there were other calibrators that were less expensive, like the Spyder 2 Express, but for a little more money, I could get a “semi-pro” level tool.

Plus, the reviews for the Eye-One Display LT were very good.

The x-rite website is packed with lots of information; I am going to have to sit down and read over all their tutorials and articles soon.