Reduce PDF file size

When you’re busy in Pages and adding pictures to your document the file size increases dramatically, this is also reflected in the size of the PDF when you export it. There is however a very easy way to reduce the amount of MB by using the ColorSync Utility.

Just start that program, select ‘File’, ‘Open’. Choose your PDF, then select ‘File’, ‘Export’. In the dialog you now get choose as Quartz Filter ‘Reduce File Size’, hit save. You now have a PDF the fraction of the size of the original without any noticeable quality loss (depending on the original file).

I’ve been able to create a 1 MB PDF from an original of 60, while the pages document was 100 MB.

Apple developing home media server

Last week, just when I thought I had looked into every option available for a home media server the rumor is posted that Apple might be creating one. Better just wait for the keynote which will be held Tuesday at 9 am PST or 18 CET.

Image from MacRumors forums.

iPhone Tech Talk Amsterdam

In October I read about the iPhone Tech Talk tour and immediately registered for the event. I’m still teaching myself Cocoa so I thought this could be helpful. Only a week before the actual start time people got their registration confirmations and I was one of the lucky few. While I can’t go into detail about the content of the event, since I’m bound by the NDA. Which is strange to say the least, wouldn’t you want people who take the time to go to your event to talk about it with others?

Anyway, the actual agenda varied from the one posted on the website. The presentations I saw were:

  • iPhone Development Overview
  • iPhone User Interface Design
  • iPhone Development Tools Overview and Programming Concepts
  • Introduction to Objective-C and Cocoa Touch
  • Developing iPhone Applications with UIKit
  • Maximizing Your Application’s Performance on iPhone
  • Submitting to the App Store using iTunes Connect

If you compare this with their original list, you see that there were a lot more sessions than originally planned and as a result the speaker had a lot of trouble fitting it all in his schedule. Which is disappointing, removing two or three topics would have been better especially since there was a lot of overlap between some of them. User Interface Design for instance explained all the different controls available and this was repeated again in the UIKit presentation. What would have been better was explaining the concepts behind it in the first session and then actually implementing a sample application using the UIKit. Model View Controller was also explained three times, why not explain it once and show code the second time. Knowing the theory behind it is good, but actually showing us why some things are in place would have been better.

Did all this make it a useless event? Certainly not, if there is one in the future I hope I will be able to attend again and because this was the first time Apple organized something like this they probably still have to learn what content fits and what not.

And ow yeah, catering was excellent! 😉

Developing .NET Software on a Mac

Followed some links and found this podcast on deep fried bytes. It’s interesting to hear, although the title is a bit misleading. They talk about .net development 25% of the time using virualization tools like VM Ware, the rest of the podcast is filled with general switchers info and some recommended applications.

Nothing about Mono though, too bad.

WWDC 2008 Keynote Aftermath

In the wake of Steve’s keynote, there’s one feature which I definitely like. MobileMe.

MobileMe is .Mac upgraded to the needs of your current digital life. It allows you to synch wirelessly, meaning, without the need to dock your iPhone to your Mac, or PC, or any combination of those. Isn’t that great?

In the past I’ve run Exchange for a while on a machine at home, one of the benefits of being an IT student. But that was just overkill and not maintainable, since I also needed a domain controller for this to operate. I briefly investigated writing a synchronization program, but Outlook couldn’t not be accessed via remoting. There were commercial alternatives but none appealed to me.

That is before monday and the introduction of MobileMe, for more information visit the official site.

Was the keynote only about this new product? No. The iPhone 3G was officially announced and this time it’ll be available in most parts of the world, including Belgium, yippee. But the distributor here, Mobistar, fails to give any specific launch date. For the rest, not much exciting news. Yes the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch was announced, yes there were demos of custom applications, no nothing we didn’t know already.

Mac keyboard and mouse

I wanted to use my PC screen when I’m sitting behind my “desk” and working on the MacBook, choosing between 13″ and 22″ display is easy. The side effect of that was that my head is constantly on a 45 degree angle compared to my body which tends to be less than comfortable after a while. I couldn’t connect my keyboard with a PS2 connector since there is no port of that type on the MacBook or for that matter any laptop I know of. So the Apple stakeholders just got a bit richer and I now have a wireless Apple mouse and keyboard.

Installation is child’s play, unbox the items, add the included batteries in their container, set up the bluetooth devices (can be found on the upper right corner of your desktop), turn the device on and you are done.

Bluetooth Configuration

The keyboard is the same as the one on the MacBook so I’m loving it. The MightyMouse does it job (even right clicking yay!) but the buttons on the side are a bit harder to work with. I don’t think I’ll ever use them.

A nice side effect of the size of the keyboard is that your desk seems to have grown.

Mac setup

HTPC, high definition for the masses

…or well at least for me.

Two months ago I finally decided to build a home theater pc. I had been playing with the idea for quite some time, mostly looking for something which offered all I needed in a small compact device, but which went furhter than playing back movies. The end result was either a Mac Mini , an Apple TV or a home build system. The Mac Mini offered a computer in a very small size, I could use the internet to look something up, check my mails etc. . The Apple TV is more of a consumer electronic retail system, it can play back movies or music, rent the latest blockbuster online, shop on iTunes etc. A home build system on the other hand, can do whatever you want it to do.

So I waited on Macworld in January, hoping for an Apple TV update which had an optical drive and the introduction of iTunes rentals in Europe. Alas Steve didn’t bring anything for me, well there was an Apple TV upgrade but that only affected the US market.

With the Apple idea now abandoned I looked to small form factor, mini-itx to be precise, because that’s what appealed me the most in the two Mac systems. This site proved to be very useful, it offers reviews, shows what fits together and what not, user projects and has an online shop. If I had more experience in this matter and money was not a problem then I would probably have bought my parts here. The absence of any helpful guides and how-to’s related with playing back HD content on any mini-itx based system scared me. I also didn’t find any case which would take two 3.5″ devices (DVD/BD-ROM and hard disk) and two full sized expansion cards.

So I just went for micro-atx, the path others had taken before me. These sites proved to be very informative:

I read through the links above, googled, asked my colleagues and compiled my final list of components.

Let me comment on these. I did not want the case to look like a computer, this one has more of a HIFI look and it comes at a reasonable price. The only thing I feared was that the front panel is silver while my optical drive is black. The two did, however, fit together. For the motherboard I went for the most basic around with enough connection abilities. Asus has a variant of this one with onboard wifi, but since I’ve had problems in the past with wireless products of different manufactures working together I chose this one and added a wifi dongle to the shopping list. I maxed out the RAM since memory these days has never had such low prices. The hard disk, with 500GB, is more than enough. I don’t plan to use it to store data indefinitely, but you can never have enough space. The graphics card had to be able to play back high-definition content, but nothing more. I was not going to play games or do any photo editing on this machine. Now the only thing left was an affordable optical drive, the Pioneer BDC-202BK was just what I needed. It can play Blu-Rays, DVDs and CDs and burn DVDs and CDs. Perfect! As operating system I chose Windows Vista Home Premium, since that’s the model that comes with Media Center.

The end result is actually quite a powerful device which can play high-definition content (up to 1080p), from it’s hard drive, the internet or from it’s optical drive. It can do all I that I was looking for and more. The only improvement you can make on this build, in my opinion, is removing the CPU cooling unit that comes with the processor and place either the Antec board that controls the airflow (for more information go to the product page) or use a more silent cooler from Zalman or Scythe since the only noise that comes from the machine is the standard Intel cooler. But I only hear it when no movie is playing, so it’s not that big of an issue for me.

Should you use this as reference for your own build, don’t forget to make sure you have the correct cables etc. for your tv. Mine has a dvi port and a 3.5mm audio port so I could use the cables I already had.


Ran into this gadget while looking around on ebay, I just couldn't resist. Somehow the coffee I drink at work just tastes better.

The iPhone has landed

Last week, through a series of events, an iPhone ended up on my desk. I was not planning on getting one, since I really liked my HTC s710 . But if I hated the new phone, I could allways sell it on ebay and make a profit.

The phone has a very nice design, everything just looks good. The box it comes in, the housing, the screen,… it just breathes quality. Now I’m not going to write an in detail review about it, but the most important improvement, if I compare it to my previous phone, is the web surfing. No longer is the layout of any site screwed up, you can zoom in and out on any site. Turn the phone on its side and you get a panoramic view, it’s just amazing, boom! This is significantly better than on the htc, but webmasters should still think about the footprint of their site on smartphones. I read the news on the mobile version of tweakers and while I could use their normal version, I still prefer the lighter one. It loads faster, has less graphical content,… just because the iPhone can display a full web page in all its glory doesn’t mean you can forget people are using other devices to visit your site.

The Youtube integration is a cool feature as well. I was able to get youtube content on my htc with vTap, but no way near the sound and video quality I now have.

Sending mail, nothing special here. Except ofcourse the touchscreen enables the nice scrolling feature which you have in all iPhone applications. There is integration with for instance, google mail, and you get imap integration if supported by the mail provider. But I just stick to the regular pop3.

Music playback, the iPhone is an iPod so you get all of the features they have and more. Most notably is the coverflow which is a visual representation of your music albums. So instead of moving through the folders on the disk you get more of a real life experience of going through your cd collection.

There is plenty more I could talk about but you’ll be able to find all of it on the internet, a good place to start is the Apple site. So what’s my advice on this new toy? Great device, it has a nice user interface, is more stable than my Windows Mobile device, doesn’t hang as much as the htc but it isn’t perfect. There are improvements that should be taken care of, for instance the keyboard doesn’t follow the rotation of your iPhone in all applications. Also I don’t think the device is for everyone, while I enjoy having my mails with me all the time and have the capability to go online everywhere anytime, I’m not Mr. everyday consumer. Most people will settle for a simple cell phone and MP3 player which you can both get for 1/4th of the price. But hey, don’t listen to me, you won’t regret having the device and the Apple marketing machine will probably do it’s best to convince you it’s the next best thing ;).

Below is a side by side comparison for the size.From left to right: a Nokia 5510, a HTC s710, an iPhone. There’s a screen protector with some air between it and the screen on the htc and some fingerprints on the iPhone 🙂 All can be removed easily.