It’s just an application in the Applications folder, but there are lots of quick ways to get at the deep information stored in the Mac’s Dictionary.
There are two ways to view Dictionary: as a pop-up panel, an unobtrusive semi-transparent window with basic information; or as a normal application with a full-fledged window. Use it either way.
There are two ways to access Dictionary: through a contextual menu, which is what you get when you right-click on items; and through Dictionary’s main window, like any other application.
Try right-clicking on a word in a web page or a text document. You’ll see Look Up in Dictionary in the contextual menu. Choose it, and whammo! You’ve got your definition. It’s that easy.
You can improve on that little definition, however. Open the Dictionary application, then go to its Preferences (in the application menu, to the right of the Apple menu:
- Check the boxes for all the sources you want information from when you look up a word. (I’ve got them all checked.*) Selecting individual sources in the list sometimes gives you more options: for Dictionary, for example, you can choose which pronunciation you want displayed.
- (10.6 and earlier) In Contextual Menu, below the list of sources, choose whether you want a panel or a full window to open when you right-click on a word.
- Choose a font size as well. There are buttons for enlarging and reducing text size in the main window so don’t think too hard about this setting now.
Close the Preferences window and you’re done!
- Ctrl-Command-D on any word in almost any Mac app, including browsers. (Yet another benefit of ditching Microsoft Office!)
- Lion Users: try a 3-finger tap on a word to get a definition. Sweet.
- When reading in Dictionary, you can click on words to get their definitions too. It’s a great way to delve further. Use the forward and back buttons like in Safari and Finder.
*If you have languages besides English enabled on your Mac you might have the option of a language dictionary too.
What a fantastic bunch of new toys and tools to talk about! Since Lion, iPhone 4S, iOS 5, and iCloud have come out, we have some recommendations to make. Here goes:
iOS 5: Go get it!
The free update to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches is nothing but awesome. Better notifications, better messaging, faster camera access, readable web pages in Safari, and location-based reminders… Whew. I’m really pleased by the whole lot of features. Run, don’t walk, to update your iTunes to 10.5, and then plug in your iPad or iPhone (3GS or later).
You’ll be invited to begin updating your device to iOS 5.0. Agree to the license, yadda yadda, and it will start downloading. Might take a while, depending on your internet speed, and then iTunes will start applying the update to your gadget.
The entire process can take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on how much stuff you keep on your phone or tablet, so set it running when you can be without your little digital lifeline for a bit. (I know. I get the shakes too, sometimes.)
iPhone 4S: Can I have mine now, please?
(Many of you already have Siri Assistant on your phones, because we put it there, starting about two years ago. As of today, that older version is defunct.)
I chose not to pre-order my iPhone 4S, because I remember the 3GS+MobileMe debacle two years ago. As eager as I can get for the latest-and-greatest, I don’t need it badly enough to justify downtime. But anyone ordering from now on will receive the phone long after iCloud is in full swing, thus enabling some very cool features, including photo sync between devices.
Lion: Hold Til Ready
OS X 10.7 “Lion” is lovely. A tasty chocolate coating around a very solid, nutritious walnut of a system that was 10.6 Snow Leopard.
They called me Coleridge in pre-school.
Most people will want to upgrade to Lion, and will be very happy with the new system. Installing is easy: If you have Snow Leopard, and you keep up with Software Updates, you can buy Lion for $29 from the Mac App Store in your Dock. It will install itself right in place, restarting when it needs to.
Many features in Lion are refreshing, especially the full-screen modes available in many apps. Schedule us at j2mac.com and we’ll show you how to use multi-touch gestures, recover auto-saved versions of your documents, and organize your workspaces!
Auto-resume of apps and documents after a reboot is easy to get used to. Scooting around your workspace with a trackpad instead of a mouse is the wave of the future. Apple has reduced visual clutter, and aimed at keeping their users productive. (Some of the prettiness in Lion I can do without. A lot of it I turn off, grateful there’s a switch.)
But Lion is still young, and a bit wobbly. We’ve found instabilities in iChat and elsewhere, and some things just don’t seem to work like they should. A second update, 10.7.2, just hit on October 12, and we are hoping it will clear up some of the inconsistencies.
Another issue affecting long-time Mac users is that programs written before 2006 won’t run on Lion. At all. This includes Microsoft Office 2004 and Internet Explorer. Good riddance and all, for sure; but a lot of you don’t have Office 2008 or 2011, and at least one office still needs IE for the Mac for time tracking.
We’ll look at iCloud in a sec. It’s very slick… and it requires Lion. I’ve upgraded my MobileMe to iCloud, so because I can’t live without Address Book syncing between all my computers, I am going to have to upgrade my second laptop this weekend. I just have to go through my applications and figure out what I need to export from those older programs. Most newer Mac users won’t have to deal with this process at all, but we are happy to help those who do.
Organizations with a bunch of Macs should hold off for now, until a hardware or software upgrade requires them to move forward. For businesses using a Mac server, I’m also officially recommending against upgrading to Lion Server until at least 10.7.3.
iCloud: The point is moot, the cloud is yours
iCloud is the very worthy successor to MobileMe. If you are using MobileMe, you will transition to iCloud services by June 2012. If you have a new iPhone or iPad, or you update to iOS 5, you’ll be living in the iCloud.
When it launched, iCloud had some trouble, and I couldn’t sign up until a day later. But everything seems clear now, and I am so far very pleased by iCloud’s function: Photo Stream syncs your photos from iPhone to iPad to iPhone. The Find My Mac feature could recover your computer from theft.
It does appear that all your MobileMe configurations will continue to work until next year, so if you are hanging onto older phones and computers for a bit, you don’t have to be rushed about making the move. Give us a call at 210-787-2709 or email our new Help Desk! at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure it all goes smoothly.
Steve Jobs is directly responsible for my livelihood, my passion for technology, and even many of my hobbies and pastimes. Even for this 1984-baptized Mac geek, computers were clunky, nearly pointless contraptions until Steve returned to Apple in 1997. (Perhaps the internet helped a little.) I may no longer be the Apple fanboy that I once was, but I’m awed to have witnessed this fundamental change in our civilization that this one guy helped usher in.
“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Your man in the cloud,
I gotta admit, until Apple made their big June presentation, this year had been ho-hum for this nerd. New iPad — yeah, cool, whatever, but wasn’t there supposed to be a whole mess of tablets, each cooler than the next? Meh. Even when they finally shipped, they failed to impress.
Then we got a faceful of geek downers: WikiLeaks persecuted, Sony’s networks disabled, and hacks and security breaches every day. Unfortunately, it’s time for me devote a whole ’nuther couple of newsletters to the darker side of the Internet. I am even gonna beg that everyone either read ’em, or otherwise educate themselves on keeping their data secure.
But I want to do the FUN STUFF FIRST!
<p>Nothing like a good Apple keynote to stir it all back up again. Last month, Jobs and Co. unveiled their next generation software, with good, solid material for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and even for this new-fangled internet the kids are on about all the time. </p>
For the phone and tablet, we’re getting a bunch of new features in the fall. You can read about all the goodness in iOS 5, but among my favorite bits are quicker camera access, wireless syncing and backups, notifications all grown up, and instantly legible articles in Safari. Bold & italics in email, too… Hey, anyone wanna know how I just did that on my iPad?
There are some hot ’n’ heavy rumors about built-in voice control and voice-to-text transcription. These goodies, as well as turn-by-turn navigation, already distinguish Android from the Apple devices. Perhaps these boons will be bestowed upon the iFaithful this year. Perhaps typing on the iPhone will no longer suck quite so bad.
Perhaps iPhone will come with a flying rainbow gumdrop pony.
One other credible guess is that a new iPhone will hit in time for the holidays. Nerds and analysts predict a refresh of the current phone, with faster “4G” Internet.
By the way, in case this whole “3G/4G” thing has you muddled, you’re not alone. The phone companies have deliberately confused you. Here’s the scoop:
<p>”G” does stand for “generation,” not of the iPhone, but of cell phones in general. It mostly refers to the internet on your phone. </p>
- 1G was the first consumer-affordable cell phone network. Remember the big bricks in the 80’s, with fat rubber antennae and batteries with lives shorter than a ballpark hot dog?
- 2G was the first digital cell network. Think your first cell phone: candybar-size, with a black-and-grey screen. Made phone calls, and we thought it good. This second generation eventually featured the mobile internet. The first iPhone was advanced 2G, featuring slow, but functional, web surfing.
- 3G is where most of us are now. Darn good internet, serving most people’s needs. The second, third, and fourth iPhones have all been 3G.
- The term “4G” is controversial. It actually refers to a specific standard for super-fast wireless internet… that doesn’t actually exist in the real world, at least not in a commercially available form. The cell phone companies, unwilling to wait for this tech to become viable, have instead rolled out networks that are indeed faster than 3G, and called them “4G.” The nerds have moaned and groused, but they don’t got the money, honey.
Make sense? All the other major cell phone manufacturers and carriers have successful 4G [sic] products. The main beef with the current lineup is real sad battery life. I want to guess that this issue prevented Apple from releasing an iPhone in June. If they can get a faster phone, with a faster connection, and uncompromised power supply, they’ll have the competition beat once again.
Credit to Engadget’s primer on the subject.
<p>To date, the iPhone models have been iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G S (for “speed”), and iPhone 4. Most pundits are guessing at “iPhone 4G.” </p>
If you own an iPhone 4, and don’t find yourself thinking, “Gosh, I wish this was faster,” then perhaps you’d want to wait ’til next year for an upgrade. Owners of older phones might look to the autumn to renew their contract and get a spankin’ new subsidized jobby. And remember, you can always ditch your old phone on sites like Gazelle for a tidy sum.
(Another prediction calls for a 4G iPad this autumn, but I bet against it.)
<h3>The Mac</h3> <p><img src="http://www.downloadatoz.com/resources/201104/26/imgs/os-x-lion-150x150_128x128.jpg" alt="lion logo" title="" align="left" height=15%" hspace="12"/>The Mac operating system is getting a big makeover, too. Mac OS X 10.7 is nicknamed Lion, and I will spare you any feline puns now. You’re welcome. </p> <p>The big new features, coming to Macs in July as a <i>download in the Mac App Store (!)</i> are listed <a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/">here</a>. I am curious to see whether the average Mac user takes to things like full-screen apps and document grouping, but Auto Save, Versions, and Resume rank up with Time Machine and Spotlight as major moves forward: imagine never ever losing work again! Perhaps it won’t be fail-proof at first, but I like to imagine it’ll be close enough to save our collective butt consistently. </p> <p><a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/mission-control.html"><img src="http://images.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/images/gestures_missioncontrol_screen.jpg" alt="Mission Control" title="Mission Control in Lion" height="30%" align="right" style="padding:5px;" /></a>On the geekier hardware side: The latest refreshes of iMacs and Pro laptops feature the new, blazing-fast <a href="http://www.apple.com/thunderbolt/">Thunderbolt</a> data port, and this is big news for the near future of computing. We want to move stuff <em>quick</em> between computer and backup or other storage. Conventional hard drives feel slow, and so does USB, compared to the new solid-state drives (SSD) that started appearing in the first MacBook Air in 2008. SSDs are now common, though still comparatively expensive; Thunderbolt connections will increase demand for faster storage, which will bring prices down. </p>
What this could mean for you: getting hundreds of pictures and videos off your camera in seconds, copying high-def movies to your media jukebox in a snap, and backups happening so quickly you don’t even think about it.
Last I heard, inventory of Mac minis, MacBook Airs, and Mac Pros is dwindling, and I think we are getting ready to see at least new Mac minis with Lion Server and Thunderbolt. I have been holding out for a new media server and a new laptop. I’m saving up!
I also want to state here and now my own most ridiculous prediction: a slim rack-mountable server appliance to replace the Xserve (R.I.P. 2011). I want a solid-state drive to boot quickly, and two 500GB hard drives for data. And I want Windows guys to pee themselves when they see it.
<p>As to when I recommend you upgrade, it’s easiest for me to hold to my <a href="http://j2mac.com/2009/09/so-far-snow-good-10-6-in-brief/">recommendations for prior versions</a>: If you really need to, OK, but if you can hold off until Apple’s goes through a couple of revisions, you’ll increase your chance of a smooth transition. Server owners, especially, should wait at least until 10.7.2 or thereabouts. </p> <h3>The Maybe</h3> <p>The real curiosity in Apple’s presentation was <a href="http://www.apple.com/icloud/what-is.html">iCloud</a>, an online service to succeed MobileMe, and then some. It will cost exactly nothing.</p>
The things iCloud purports to do include:
- sync your contacts, calendar, and other data
- store documents for easy access on any device or computer
- automatically backup any photos taken on the mobile devices to the internet, making them instantly available on all your other devices and computers
- automatically sync anything you purchase in iTunes between devices.
In addition, for $25 a year, we’ll get iTunes Match, which will be a bit of magic I’ve craved for years — the ability to store music I already own so that you can play it anywhere. This will not be limited to stuff I’ve bought through iTunes. Any mp3 or AAC file I have on any computer will either be uploaded to Apple’s servers, or matched against a track already hosted by iTunes.
As I mentioned in this blog post, Apple’s history of online services has been at times spotty, ill-conceived, or poorly implemented. This time, they seem to be serious about learning from their mistakes, and their new giant data center in North Carolina speaks to a new dedication to keeping our stuff safe and accessible. ICloud sounds like a serious, considered utility aimed to solve some very real, very new problems.
That said, “cloud computing” means using all of the online services pertinent to one’s work and lifestyle. Apple mostly creates solutions for individual consumers, and just a few for businesses. Just as MobileMe never became “MobileUs,” iCloud is not intended to be “weCloud,” and the marketplace for online solutions for businesses large and small continues to grow and thrive. Besides the obvious lifestyle applications, I’m totally jazzed to see how businesses can use all this shiny new Apple tech to keep bringing in the bacon. We know we’ll have a good soundtrack while we fry it up.
In a couple of days, I’ll put out two security emails. Please stay tuned!