How to Hack a Mac and FileVault Encryption

How to Change the Password on a Mac

Let’s say a friend or family member has forgotten his/her Mac’s password and wants you to break into his or her computer and re-set it. It turns out that hacking a Mac is a heck of a lot easier than hacking a PC. Back in January of last year I wrote about how easy it is to break into a Windows PC. But breaking into a Mac is even easier provided FileVault disk encryption hasn’t been turned on and in most cases it will not have been .

There are a number of ways to break into a Mac just as there are several ways to compromise a PC. In this post, I’m going to show you the easiest way to hack a Mac.

All you need to do to hack a Mac is to boot it into Recovery Mode (the Recovery Partition that’s on every Mac) and fire up Terminal. To access the Recovery Mode on a Mac, press the Cmd and the R key during the boot-up process. Once you’re in Recovery mode open Utilities and open Terminal and type resetpassword into the Terminal window and then hit the Enter key. It’s pretty much that simple. I’ve put the exact details at the very bottom of this post.

RecoveryMode

Click the above image to enlarge it.

Before OS X 10.7 Lion, you didn’t even have to open Terminal. You just had to boot into Recovery Mode and then go to Utilities and then select Password Reset from the menu.

So Wow, is it easy to hack a Mac or What! So how do you prevent someone from coming along and breaking into your Mac and mucking around in all your files?

To prevent someone from resetting your Mac’s password and gaining access to your files, all you need to do is to go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy and enable FileVault to be turned on. Once FileVault is enabled no one will be able to re-boot your Mac into Recovery Mode and make changes to your password. FileVault encrypts your entire computer making all of your files totally inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t know your password. But do you really want to enable FileVault encryption on your Mac?

The Pros and Cons of FileVault Encryption

Apple’s newest OS, Yosemite, enables FileVault by default. Before OS X 10.10 Yosemite, FileVault was turned off by default. And I think there was a good reason for this since there are pros and cons to FileVault and for me the cons out weigh the pros for average Mac users.

Here’s why you might not want to enable FileVault encryption. First of all, if there are a few things you’d like to keep private on your Mac, it makes more since to store those things in a single encrypted folder than encrypting your entire computer. Secondly, it will definitely slow down your Mac – newer Macs with lots of RAM and SSD drives barely enough to notice but older Macs appreciably. Most importantly you’ll need to remember your Mac user account password or recovery key (I’ll explain recovery key in the FileVault setup instructions below) or you’ll never be able to use your Mac again.

As I mentioned before, FileVault encryption will slow down your Mac especially if you’re doing something RAM intensive like working with PhotoShop or doing Movie editing. So if you’re going to use it you might want to set up two user accounts one encrypted with FileVault for all your sensitive files and the other without FileVault encryption for when you are doing everyday stuff like working, playing games or surfing the Web.

When I got this new iMac in November of last year, one of the first things I did was turn on FileVault. A few days later I turned it off and it’s been off ever since. I’ve got 16 Gigs of RAM and a Fusion Drive, but I could still “feel” the drag that FileVault encryption was causing. But if you want to turn it on here’s how:

1) Log on to the user you want to encrypt with FileVault

2) Go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy and click on FileVault tab

turn-on-filevault

Click the above image to enlarge it.

3) Click the padlock icon and type in your Mac’s password

4) Click the Turn On FileVault button and you will be presented with this page:

FileVaultOptions

Click the above image to enlarge it.

Using the Recovery Partition to Change a Mac’s Password

There is a hidden partition on your Mac called the Recovery Partition and it’s been a part of OS X ever since OS X 7 Lion so this password re-set hack I’m about to detail will work on any Mac running Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks or Yosemite.

1) Restart the Mac. You can use the power button on the back of the Mac to do this.

2) The instant you hear the Startup chime press and hold the Command and R keys for 5 seconds and release. Soon you’ll see the Apple logo and a progress wheel (or bar in the case of Yosemite).

3) Once the Mac has booted into Recovery Mode you’ll see a page called OS X Utilities. I’ve put a picture of it at the top of this post.

4) Don’t try to click on anything on this page. Instead go to the Menu at the very top of your screen and Click Utilities > Terminal.

5) In the Terminal window type or copy and paste resetpassword and hit Return.

6) A new window will open that will look like this:

EnterNewPW

Click the above image to enlarge it.

7) Click on the icon of your drive

8) Select the desired user account. It will be pre-selected to you if you’re the only user.

9) Enter your new password twice. It has to be different from the old one, of course.

10) Click the Save button

11) Go back to the Menu at the top of the screen and click OS X Utilities > Quit OS X Utilities and you will be prompted to restart the Mac

12) Log on with your new Administrator password you created in step 9 and if necessary go to System Preferences > Users and Groups and start cleaning house.

Windows 10 Gets a Huge Facelift

Windows 10 Newest Build 9926

The newest Windows 10 preview is available for download. I downloaded it last night and installed it this morning. This build, build 9926, is a huge download and a huge improvement to the OS as well. I’ll list the major enhancements from the build 9879 that was first offered to us Win 10 Quinea Pigs in the bottom of this post.

Last weekend I posted on this blog how to go about installing Windows 10 Technical Preview running in a virtual machine on your PC or Mac. You can read that post by scrolling down to the post directly below this one or if you arrived here via a search engine you can get to that page by clinking here.

Last week’s post showed a screenshot of the Windows 10 build 9879 Start Menu. Below is a screenshot of the Start Menu in the new 9926 build.

Windows10

Build 9879 Start Menu

StartMenuNewBuild

Build 9922 Start Menu

What’s New In the Latest Windows Ten Build

Say “Hey Cortana” To Cortana

Cortana

Cortana Windows 10 Personal Assistant

Cortana is to Microsoft Windows what Siri is to Apple iOS devices (iPhones, iPods and iPads) and Google Now is to Android phones and tablets. Just like Siri or Google Now you can speak to Cortana (normally in the form of a question) and she will answer you in a human sounding voice over the speakers of the machine or device you’re using.

When you first open Cortana in Windows Ten, she’ll ask you what your name is. I told her my name is Jay. She repeated my name and asked me if she was pronouncing it correctly. She’s so polite.

Is Cortana as good a Personal Assistant as Siri or Google Now? I don’t have an opinion. What I am impressed with is that Microsoft is rolling this functionality out onto PC’s. Cortana has been up and running for a good while on Windows phones but with Windows 10 she’s coming to desktop computers in the very near future as well.

Oh and you can get in the settings and configure her to respond when you say “Hey Cortana”.

Continuum

Continuum may be the beginning of Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Handoff. Apple’s Handoff allows you to begin a project large or small on your iPhone in any Apple app and then take up where you left off on any other iOS or OS X device. So far Continuum is not linking phones and PCs to the degree that Apple’s Handoff does.

Right now Continuum is offering the ability to switch between table and PC mode, depending on which Microsoft device you’re using. But MS will probably roll out more features for Continuum in the future.

Full Page Start Menu

I thought the Win 10 9879 build Start Menu looked pretty cool but the new 9926 build Start Menu looks even better. Scroll back up to the two screenshots and judge for yourself.

OneDrive

You probably have a Microsoft OneDrive account. You may remember that it was called SkyDrive when it first came out back in 2007. If you don’t have a Microsoft OneDrive account, Windows 10 will nag you about setting one up every time you log on. It’s obvious that Microsoft is aiming to make OneDrive their answer to Apple’s iCloud. But OneDrive has a long way to go to catch up with iCloud.

New Windows Store App

If you click to make larger the new Start Menu image above, you’ll see the new Store App prominently displayed in the upper right-hand corner. And yep, the Store is open for business on Windows 10.

Xbox App

By enlarging that picture you’ll also notice the new the tile that will open the new Xbox App. If you have Xbox you can register in this app to play games on it I suppose.

Add a Desktop

AddDesktop

Windows 10 Gains Multiple Desktops

One of the things I love about Macs is the ability to switch between Desktops. Now Windows 10 allows this as well. There are many thing you can’t yet do with desktops on Windows 10 that you can on a Mac or Linux. For instance you can’t change the wallpaper for individual desktops. But just having more than one workplace is a great leap forward.

So there’s what Windows 10 is looking like so far. I’ll keep you posted on further developments when the next Windows 10 build arrives in a month or so.

If you found any of this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

Put Windows 10 on Your PC or Mac

How to Run Windows 10 in a Virtual Machine on Your Mac or PC

Last Wednesday (January 21, 2015) Microsoft announced the latest build (9879) for Windows 10 which is not even in beta yet but is still in Technical Preview stage. A couple hours ago I installed this newest version of Windows 10 on my Mac. It looks great and so far is working fine. Below is a picture of it running on my Mac’s Desktop.

Windows10

If you’d like to get Windows 10 Technical Preview for yourself, I’ve got detailed instructions for installing it below. There are about four ways you can go about getting Windows 10. You can install it on an old PC you no longer use because you DO NOT want to install it on your every day Windows machine. Once you have installed Windows 10 to over-write your OS, you have crossed the Rubicon and there’s no going back. A far better way would be to partition your drive and install Windows 10 there. An even better way would be to install Windows 10 on an 8 gig USB drive and run it from there. But by far the best way to get Windows 10 for yourself is to run it as a Virtual Machine. What could be more geeky! And besides that’s easiest and safest way to do it.

As you can see by the above screenshot, I used VirtualBox as the virtual machine I used to install Windows 10 on my Mac. You can use it on a PC as well. It’s free and it’s easy to use. Just go to Oracle’s website and install VirtualBox and I’ll wait here until you get back.

Back so Soon! Now you need a copy of the proper Windows 10 Technical Preview IOS file. You can get one at Microsoft’s official Windows Insider Program page by signing up to be an Insider. If your computer has a 64 bit processor, you’ll want to get the 64 bit version of the IOS file. If your computer has a 32 bit processor then get the 32 bit file.

Oh by the way, that Windows 10 Technical Preview IOS file is huge – about 4 gigs. It will take awhile. Well after all, you’re downloading a full-blown Windows OS. Once you’ve finished downloading the Windows 10 Technical Preview IOS file, move it to your Desktop so it will be easy to find.

How to Install Windows 10 as a Virtual Machine

Let’s do this!

Let’s assume you have a free version of VirtualBox and the proper Windows 10 IOS file. The only other thing you’re going to need is your Microsoft account user name and password.

Open VirtualBox and click the New icon in the toolbar. In the window that slides down, type “Windows 10” in the Name box and be sure to click to choose “Windows 8.1 (64 bit)” in the Version box. If you downloaded the 32 bit version of the Windows 10 ISO then choose “Windows 8.1 (32 bit)”. Now click Continue.

Now just follow the VirtualBox wizard and go along with the default settings pretty much. Memory size – you’ll want at least 2048 MB. For space size you’ll be offered Custom or Fixed so choose Fixed because it’s faster and far simpler.

Once you’ve clicked though the wizard, you should see a progress bar as VirtualBox creates the virtual machine that your copy of Windows 10 Technical Preview will run in. If you don’t see a progress bar, you’ve done something wrong so start over and create another virtual machine choosing a different name like maybe WindowsTen.

Once the progress bar has run its course, your VM will have been created and you should see it highlighted in the VirtualBox side panel. Now click the Start button in the VirtualBox toolbar and you’ll see a box asking you to “Select start-up disk” so click the little folder icon next to the pull down and navigate to the IOS file on your desktop click it once to select it and click Open and away we go!

Windows will start to load.

As I was watching Windows 10 load on my Mac earlier today I was thinking “I’m hosed because Windows is going to ask me for a product key and I ain’t got one”. But as it turns out I didn’t need one. Once I typed in my Microsoft user name and password, the Windows setup wizard informed me that a security code had been sent to the email address associated with my account and that I should get that and type or paste that number into the box provided. I did that and entered it and Windows 10 finished installing without a hitch.

Win10TechPreview

Running Windows 10 on a Mac is a hoot. You can use your mouse and keyboard without any configuration required. It looks good and feels very responsive. I’ll be checking it out for the next few days and weeks and I’ll be on the lookout for updates from Microsoft. And if I find some interesting stuff I’ll let you know about it.

If you found any of this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

NostraDumbass Predictions for 2015

NostraDumbass Predicts the Future

Nostradamus

I’ve never really been very good at predicting the future but then history has shown us that neither has anyone else ever been especially good at it including Nostradamus Most of whose writings dealt with disasters, such as plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders and droughts. To sum up Nostradamus: “A disaster now and then? Yeah, you’re gonna have that.”

As Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Just ask the NSA and the CIA who in Dec. 2000, several months before the 9/11 attacks, collectively issued an 85-page document predicting what the world would look like in 2015. It’s not laughable but it’s not all that accurate either.

So if Nostradamus, Yogi Berra, the NSA and the CIA can’t accurately foresee the future what makes me think I, NostraDumbass, can? Well, I don’t get out much and I read a lot.

Tech Stuff

The Apple Watch

Gold-Apple-Watch

I predict that Apple will introduce the Apple Watch early this year and that people in the States will be able to buy one before Valentine’s Day February 14th. And I predict that they will be called Apple Watches and not iWatches. And I predict they will fail miserably.

The cheapest one will be around $350 but pricer ones will be available too. Apple is rumored to be making gold watches that will sell for 4 to 5 thousand dollars. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber who has friends high in Apples’s software engineering departments claims Apple intends to market some of its gold watches for as much as $10,000.

The Apple watches are every bit as attractive as you would expect pieces of jewelry to be that’s made by Apple. You can see all twenty-two models of Apple watches here including the Mickey Mouse model and some gold ones as well.

Will Brad Pitt and and the rest of the coolest people on the planet wear this? Not unless Apple pays them to and then not for long. Would Steve Jobs have worn one? Well, he might have worn the Mickey Mouse one.

As gorgeous as these watches are and as cleverly as they no doubt will be designed, I predict they will be a bust.

Apple Pay

apple-pay-tim-cook

I predict that Apple Pay will, by the end of 2015, be deemed an unmitigated success. Just yesterday New York City’s Department of Finance announced it would begin allowing people to pay parking tickets with Apple Pay.

Apple says it has partnerships with 220,000 stores. A partial list includes Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Duane Reade, McDonald’s, Sephora, Petco, Panera Bread, Staples, Nike, Walgreens, Subway, Whole Foods and of course Apple’s own online Apple Store. Chain grocers Winn-Dixie and Albertsons just last week came onboard and Disney World signs up next week.

Apple Pay will only work with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 and the yet to be released Apple Watch (see above). It supports Master Card, Visa and American Express issued by almost all major American Banks.

For now Apple Pay is only available in the US but it is set to launch in the UK in the first quarter of this year.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that is very soon to be a major player in the smartphone, tablet, PC and TV market in the US, UK and the rest of the Western world.

Although you may have never heard of them, Xiaomi is the third largest smartphone maker in the world followed by Lenovo and LG at fourth and fifth place respectively. Samsung remains in first place world-wide despite declining shipment volume, followed by Apple in second place.

While Apple sells more smartphones and tablets in the US by far than does Samsung, both Apple and Samsung better be looking over their shoulders at Xiaomi.

In the very near future, Xiaomi will begin selling a smartphone here in the States that uses a variation of Android that is far more popular in Asia than any other Android phone.

I predict that Samsung will lose significant market share to Xiaomi in 2015. And I further predict that by the end of 2015 no one in America will wondering how to pronounce Xiaomi. By the way, it sounds like “SHOW me” if you pronounce the s in show as a z.

Move Over iMessage, Snapchat, WhatsApp et. al.

I predict that by the end of 2015 we will all be as familiar with Line a free to use Android and iPhone messaging and video calling app from Japan and WeChat, a messing service from Tencent in China as we are today with WhatsApp and Snapchat.

Bitcoin

bitcoin

2014 was a horrible year for Bitcoin. And I predict that 2015 won’t be much better for the beleaguered Internet currency. I don’t mean to suggest that Bitcoin is going to fade away and die in 2015. After all NY City is about to allow traffic violators to pay their fines with both Apple Pay and Bitcoins and a host of other reputable merchants have recently agreed to exchange their dollars and pounds for Bitcoins.

I predict that Bitcoin will become a viable currency but it won’t happen in 2015.

In November of 2013 Bitcoin soared to $1,100 but the price of a Bitcoin opened on the first day of last year at $770 and today one Bitcoin is worth $316.37.

Until the volatility of this currency is stabilized by attaching it to a real-world commodity it is worthless as an investment.

I predict that one year from today Bitcoin will be trading at or about the same price it is today.

You Will Be Hacked

I predict that Sony’d will become a part of the English language lexicon. To Be Sony’d will mean to be hacked.

And I predict that dozens of major companies will have their servers and networks compromised in 2015. Hackers will penetrate even the most supposedly secure government and private enterprise computer networks.

I recently wrote about using Wi-Fi to grab files from my PC to my Mac. I could do this because they share the same Wi-Fi network. The Internet is synonymous to Wi-Fi. If you’re on-line on your phone or computer then you’re on this giant world-wide network and you could be Sony’d at any time.

Politics

I predict that by the end of 2015 the Republican Party Platform Committee will officially repudiate it’s stance against human involvement in Climate Change.

I predict that by the end of 2015 the Republican Party will officially repudiate its opposition to marriage equality.

I predict that by the end of this new year the leaders of the Republican Party will begin to show some compassion for undocumented workers contributing to our robustly growing economy.

NostraDumbass

So there are my, NostraDumbass’, fearless Tech and Political predictions for 2015. We’ll revisit this page a year from now and see how I did.

Mucking Around on a Mac

Magic Mouse Won’t Right-click

Recently I restarted my Mac exactly as I have done tons of times before and fired up the NYTimes on Chrome and WTF! I couldn’t right-click with my Magic Mouse. I go to CNN and the mouse won’t right-click there either. I try to right-click and the mouse behaves exactly as if I had left-clicked it. I switch browsers to Safari and still my Magic Mouse left-clicks perfectly and scrolls smoothly like it always did when I run my index finger up and down the middle of it. Double finger tap will send me to Mission Control like always. Long story short, Magic Mouse worked perfectly except for the fact that I could no longer right-click.

O.K. before you chime in and say “You can accomplish a right-click by holding down the Control Key and clicking normally.” I know that and I also know that I missed the hell out of using the left-click on my Magic Mouse.

But I managed to find out that i needed to Reset the PRAM or parameter random-access memory and here how you do that.

Turn off the Mac. Notice I didn’t say re-start your Mac. I said Turn your Mac off. Now startup your Mac and hold down Opt, Cmd, R and P keys until your hear the startup chimes sound twice. You might want to practice holding these keys down all at once because it’s quite a stretch.

After you complete the simple maneuver described above your Magic Mouse should regain the ability to right-click.

You can read more about Resetting the PRAM in Apple’s tech support pages.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

Add a Space Between Apps in Your Dock

Question: Why would I want to add a space between my apps in the Dock on my Mac?

Answer: Because I’m a geek and I can.

AddSpaceToDock

But really, I’ve dragged all of the apps I most often use to the left side of my Dock. It makes since to me to put a space between those and the rest of the ones I use less frequently. So here’s how to do this.

Step 1: Launch Terminal

Step 2: Type (or better yet, copy and paste) the following command and hit Return:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add ‘{tile-data={}; tile-type=”spacer-tile”;}’

Step 3: Type in the following command and hit Return:

killall Dock

Now you’ll see a blank space in your Dock and you can drag it anywhere you want. If you want to get rid of it, right-click on it and delete it or just click and hold it and drag it off the Dock.

Sleep/Wake Your Mac with Touch ID on your iPhone

I have my iMac configured to sleep if I leave it unattended for thirty minutes. And naturally, I have it password protected. This means that some days seemingly dozens of times I had to re-awaken the Mac by hitting the spacebar on my keyboard and then typing in my password.

I no longer have to do that because nowadays I usually wake my Mac with the iPhone app MacID. The app uses the same iPhone’s fingerprint sensor that unlocks your iPhone to unlock your Mac as well.

Apple makes sure that third-party apps like MacID don’t have access to your actual fingerprint data. Even Apple doesn’t have that because it’s only stored on the phone. Using the Touch ID sensor simply checks to see whether or not the fingerprint is valid. If it is then MacID uses Bluetooth to wake your Mac.

MacID

MacID cost $4 for both the app that you download for your Mac and the one you put on your iPhone. Naturally you must have a newer iPhone that supports Touch ID and is running iOS 8 or higher and you must be using a newer iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air running OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

I’ve been using this app for several weeks now and I love it. The only problem is that now and then the iPhone app won’t recognize the Mac. When that happens the fix is to r-click the app in Mac’s menu bar and Quit the app then open the app by typing MacID in Spotlight and choosing to Open it.

You can read more about this great software and download it to your Mac at the MacID website.

Adding a Signature in Preview

Sure I know that all decent photo apps allow you to put text on your edited pictures but putting your signature on a document is a little more difficult to do. But if you own a Mac it’s easy to add your signature to pics you email to friends or to any documents that you can insert an image in.

AnimeJay copy 2

Here’s how to do it. It’s really easy. The first thing you want to do is write your name (signature) on an unlined sheet of white paper.

Add your signature to your documents

Add your signature to your documents

Then just open Preview on your Mac and if you’ve upgraded to Yosemite, click Tools on the menu bar at the top of the screen. Then mouse over Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures > Create signature. Now hold the paper with your signature to your Mac’s camera and move it around until you’re satisfied with the way it looks and then click the Done button and and your done.

Slow Motion Window Minimizing

Holding the Shift key while you minimize a windows makes the window do a trippy, seconds-long treck to the Dock.

Make Snippets by Dragging Highlighted Text to the Desktop

On almost any program in a Mac, you can highlight text and then click and hold it with your mouse and drag it to another location in that document. If you drag it to the Desktop, it becomes a Text Clipping that you can use as a memo or drag later into a future document.

If you have lots of Text Clippings sitting around on your Desktop, you can peek inside them clicking them and hitting the Space bar to use Quick Look on them.

If you found any of this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

How to Type an Apple Symbol on an iPad or iPhone

How to Type an Apple Logo in iOS

Most Mac users know that in most programs on a Mac that let you enter text you can print the Apple logo Apple logo by using the keyboard shortcut Option+Shift+K. But you can’t do that on an iPad or an iPhone using iOS default keyboards. But you can make it happen and I’ll show you how.

Create an iOS Keyboard Shortcut for Apple Logo

Oh sure, there’s probably gunk that you can download to your iOS device that will allow you to type an Apple symbol using your iPad and/or iPhone keyboard. But why clutter your device with needless third party junk when you can do the same thing the geek way.

This is easy and elegant. First, on your Mac open your Mail App and compose an email to yourself and in the body of that email just type the shortcut (Option Shift K) so you have Apple logo in the body of the message.

Next, open that email on your iPad or iPhone and copy that Apple Logo to your clipboard.

Copy Apple Logo

Now in your iPad or iPhone go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts and tap the “+” icon in the upper righthand corner to create a new keyboard shortcut. In the Phrase dialog box tap and hold to paste the  symbol. In the Shortcut box enter any combination of key strokes you’d like to use that will cause iOS to display . I used !apl but you can use any symbol and one or more letters. But don’t forget to tap Save in the upper righthand corner and your done.

So now give it a try. Open any app that you type in on your iPhone or iPad like Messages maybe and type your new shortcut. Ta-Da you get a Apple logo. Cool huh? And if you have all your iDevices synced through iCloud, setting up this shortcut on one of them will automatically set it up in all the others.

If you found any of this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

Creating Webpages with Markdown

Writing for the Web with Markdown

What is Markdown

Maybe you know how to create webpages using HTML or HyperText Markup Language. If you do, you know what a pain it is. Markdown lets you write using plain text and later convert it to HTML to post it online. So, even if you don’t know a thing about HTML you can write webpages using Markdown.

Aside from marking up webpages with Markdown, you use Markdown to format text, add links and images to many note taking apps. And every day now more iOS, OS X, Android and Windows developers are beginning to incorporate Markdown into new applications.

Markdown Is Easy to Learn

Markdown is very intuitive and simple to use. You can write Markdown on any text editor from something as elaborate as Microsoft Word to something as simple as Microsoft’s NotePad. On a Mac you can use TextEdit, Pages or even Notes. But when you get hooked on using Markdown like I am you’re going to want an app on your PC or Mac that is specifically designed to help you write in Markdown.

You can google around and find lots of apps designed for Markdown on Windows, Androids and Macs. I use MarkdownPad on my PC. On my Mac, I’m torn between Typed which features several extras like Zen Mode that will play soothing audio for you while you compose your blog posts or whatever and Byword an equally impressive Markdown app and so for now I ‘m using them both.

Here’s How Markdown Works

In HTML to make a header i.e. headline in big bold letters you use HTML header tags styled with even more CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code. What a hassle! In Markdown, you do the same thing using hash tags like so: # Header. Typing one hash tag followed by a space then followed by your text makes a huge, centered headline. Two hashtags followed by a space make the headline slightly smaller. Three hash tags and then a space makes it smaller still and six hash tags creates the smallest headers.

To create a paragraph in HTML you would use a paragraph tag or the letter p surrounded in angle brackets and then end the paragraph with the same symbol but with a backward slash in front of the p. But you can do the same thing in Markdown by hitting your return key twice. Meaning, putting a space between your lines of text is all it takes to create paragraphs.

Formatting is easy with Markdown. To make text bold, surround it with two asterisks like this: This is **bold text**. This is bold text or you can use the keyboard shortcut Cmd + B to make highlighted text bold. For italics surround text with underscore like so: _italicized_ and that text will be italicized.

To create a list, start new lines with a single asterisk, minus sign or plus sign and then a space. And you can create numeric lists by beginning a line of text with the number one and a period and then a space with the second line beginning with the number two (2) and a Period (.) and then a space and so on. That space between the asterisk, minus or plus sign is important. And speaking of spaces, remember to put a line of space between the last paragraph and the beginning of your list.

I’ve written this page using Markdown instead of regular old HTML and you may have noticed I’ve provided some links. Linking to other places on the Web is really tedious using HTML and it is so simple with Markdown. Here’s how. Find the page you want to link to in your browser and copy it’s address to your clipboard. Now go to the text in your Markdown app, find the word you want to use as the anchor and put your cursor to blinking in front of it and use the keyboard shortcut Cmd + K and you’ll see your anchor word between brackets and an empty double parentheses. Click between the parentheses and paste your URL and you’re done. In Windows MarkdownPad the link producing shortcut is Ctrl + L.

Speaking of shortcuts, here are some more

  • Cmnd + b makes highlighted text bold
  • Cmnd + i makes highlighted text italicized
  • Cmnd + c Copy the selected text to the Clipboard
  • Cmnd + v Paste the Clipboard contents into the current document
  • Cmnd + x Cut the selected text and copy it to the Clipboard
  • Cmnd + a Select the entire contents of the current document

Posting to WordPress Using Markdown

WordPress.com supports Markdown and so supports anything written in Typed Or ByWord on the Mac or MarkdownPad on a PC.

Converting Markdown to HTML

Some Markdown text editors will show you what your Markdown document will look like in HTML. But a quick and easy way to convert Markdown into HTML is to use John Gruber’s Dingus online page. Just copy your Markdown to your computer’s clipboard and paste it into the Dingus webpage.

Markdown examples

Below are some examples of how to use Markdown. First I’ve written what you should type to make a certain thing happen followed by its HTML equivalent followed then by the keyboard shortcut for the same action if applicable. In most cases you’ll need to highlight the word or phrase before applying the shortcut to it.

  • # Largest Header html: <h1>Largest Header</h1> shortcut: Cmnd + 1
  • ## Smaller Header html: <h2>Smaller Header</h2> shortcut: Cmnd + 2
  • ### Smaller Header html: <h3>Still Smaller Header</h3> shortcut: Cmnd + 3

You can keep making smaller and smaller headers down to the smallest which is:

  • ###### Smallest Header html: <h6>Smallest Header</h6> shortcut: Cmnd + 6
  • **Bold Text** html: <b>Bold Text</b> shortcut: Cmnd + b
  • _Italicized Text_ html: <i>Italicized Text</i> shortcut: Cmnd + i

If you found any of this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

Sharing Windows Files With Your Mac

Sharing Windows Files With a Mac

If you have a Mac and a Windows PC sharing the same Wi-Fi network there’s a really easy way to share files between them. You don’t need to install any virtualization software or any additional software at all as long as you’re running at least Windows 7 and at least OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

The method I’m about to describe works because your Mac is able to detect your PC as a server on the Wi-Fi network they both share.

First I’m going to show you how to locate your Windows folders and files on your Mac right in Finders. Later I’ll show you how you can give your Windows PC access to your Mac even though I don’t recommend doing that since Windows is so much more susceptible to malware than the Mac is.

How To Access Your PC From Your Mac

On your Windows PC go to Control Panel > System and Security > System to find your computer’s network name and the name of the Windows workgroup your PC is on. Jot these down as you’ll need them later.

On your Mac, open System Preferences > Internet & Wireless > Network (in Yosemite it’s just System Preferences > Network) and click Advanced. In older iterations of OS X you may need to choose Wi-Fi over Ethernet to find Advanced. In Advanced, click the WINS tab. Enter your Mac’s name in the NetBIOS box. The name may already be there. If it is leave it as it is. And then type your PC’s workgroup name into the Workgroup box. The default name is “Workgroup” duh. Click OK and close System Preferences.

Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Click the Desktop of your Mac to bring Finder into focus and click Go in the Finder menu and select “ Connect to Server”. Type “smb://yadda yadda and replace yadda yadda with the name of your Windows PC that you found in your Windows Control Panel. Click “connect” and you may or may not be asked for a user name and password.

Here is where a lot of people get confused. I did too at first. What’s being asked for is the name and password that you use to log on to your Windows machine. The username is probably your first name. The password is whatever you type into Windows everyday to unlock it. If you’ve never set a password to your account, you’ll probably need to go into the Control Panel on your PC to set one up in order to get this method of Mac to PC connection to work.

If you’ve followed the above instructions, you will now see your PC listed under Shared in Finders on your Mac. Click and enjoy.

In a post coming soon I’ll show you how you can access files on your Mac from your PC. In that upcoming post I’ll also talk about why you might want to think carefully about doing that.

If you found this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.

OED’s Word of the Year – Glassholes

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Glassholes

Every year the venerable old Oxford English Dictionary announces its word of the year. Last year’s OED word of the year was SELFIES those smartphone photos we can’t help but keep snapping of ourselves. I’m predicting that next year’s OED word of the year will be GLASSHOLES. I’m guessing that Glassholes will be a word we use to define nerds who can’t stop talking to Google Glass out loud in public places and become distracted while interacting with Google Glass while doing important things like driving. “O.K. Glass. Start recording” Google has so far only allowed a few thousand “fortunate” people to test Google Glass, the wearable glasses that show video in the upper portion of the right lens of Google Glass. But in the early Fall of this year Google has assured us that anyone with an extra 15 hundred dollars can buy Google Glass and that means that by the end of 2014 millions of Glassholes will be sharing the the nation’s roadways with us.

The Glassholes are coming. Prepare yourself. http://bit.ly/1bzgGlc

Bi-Polar Vortexers

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GlobalWarming

It causes me to sigh and roll my eyes when I hear people try to use the first two cold snaps of the year as proof that Global Warming is a left-wing hoax. Last year was the fourth warmest year ever recorded. All of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. According to publications on NASA’s website, ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activity and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.