Apple Getting Things Done How To Mac Main Tech Tips

iPhone tip: Use a Silent Ringtone to Screen Calls in Your Sleep

Have you ever wished your iPhone would ring only when certain people call? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download the “Silence” ringtone here: silence.m4r
  2. Copy this file into the Ringtones section of your iTunes. (Click to enlarge.)

  3. Sync your iPhone with iTunes to load the ringtone.
  4. On your iPhone, change your ringtone to “Silence” (under Settings -> Sounds -> Ringtone). You’ll no longer hear your phone calls.

  5. For each person whose calls you still want to hear, change his or her Custom Ringtone to something audible: Click the name in your contact list, choose Ringtone, then choose something besides Default

    3_iphone_important_caller 4_iphone_audible_ringtone

Now you can screen calls in your sleep. Because Sunday afternoons are for napping.

Apple Getting Things Done Mac Main Tech Tips

3 Uses for iPhone Screenshots

For all the iPhone users out there: You probably know you can take a snapshot of whatever you see on your screen:

  1. Briefly press the top and front buttons at the same time.
  2. The screen will flash white and you’ll hear a “snapshot” sound.
  3. A picture of your screen is now in your iPhone “Photos”.

I’ve found it extremely helpful to make screenshots, and I do it all the time. Here are a few reasons:

Remember an Interesting Part of a Podcast

If I’m driving and hear something I like in a podcast, I make a quick screenshot of the playback screen. When I get back to my computer, I can return to that spot in the podcast and take notes.


Save a Point on a Map

Sometimes I want to “bookmark” a location on the map before looking up something else. A screenshot is a fast way to do this.


Save a Website Address Without Interrupting Your Reading

Sometimes when I’m reading in Google Reader, I want to save the location of an article to read later. (I don’t want to leave Google Reader immediately because it has to entirely reload when I return.)

If you hold your finger on a link for a few seconds, a menu will popup with the address of the link. Sometimes I simply save a screenshot of the link, then hit Cancel and go back to my reading. Later I read the items I saved in my screenshots.


Screenshots can help you practice “ubiquitous capture” — capturing all notes, thoughts, and ideas, as they come to you, so you don’t have to keep them in your head.

Mac Main Security Tech Unix

How to browse securely with SSH and a SOCKS proxy

I was in Moab this weekend with my family and our motel had free wireless Internet. I used SSH and a SOCKS proxy to create a secure tunnel to my iMac at work. This allowed me to browse Gmail and Facebook securely.

Here’s a screencast on how to create an SSH tunnel and browse securely in Safari and Firefox:

Here’s a full-size video:
How to browse securely with SSH and a SOCKS proxy (full size video)

These are the basic steps on a Mac:
1. Open Terminal. (In your Applications/Utilities folder.)
2. Type “ssh -D 9999”, replacing “username” and “” with the actual username and address of your remote machine. The remote machine will need the SSH service, or Remote Login service, turned on.
3. Open System Preferences -> Network -> Advanced tab -> Proxies.
4. Turn on the “SOCKS Proxy” and enter “” and “9999” in the fields. Click OK and Apply.

Now your Internet connection will be tunneled through a secure connection to your remote machine — a poor man’s VPN.

Getting Things Done Mac Main

Tools are for building

In two days Apple will release a new version of its Mac operating system, so last Saturday I watched the guided tour and read about all of the 300 new features of “Leopard.”

I thought my strong interest in the new operating system was justified since I’m going to take the opportunity to replace my 4½ year old Titanium Powerbook with a new Leopard-powered notebook. But then I got thinking, it’s just a tool. Using a Mac isn’t my goal per se. I might as well get exciting about all the tools at Home Depot — and I do — but if I don’t build anything with them, they’re useless.

Jon Udell refers to himself as a “toolsmith” — someone who loves the tools of his trade — and I think I have a bit of that in me. Being a toolsmith means knowing the ins and outs of one’s tools, with the potential to be very productive with them. But Merlin Mann warns against continual “fiddling” with tools and systems and methods at the expense of just Getting Things Done.

Use whatever tools work best for you, but use tools to build something.

Blogging Mac Main

5 ingredients for a do-it-yourself podcast

At work I’m the “producer” of a podcast, and here are the tools we use:

1. Apple Garageband — Found on every Mac, this free app makes it easy to record and combine tracks, add effects and art, and create podcasts.

2. Logitech USB Headset — This isn’t a professional mike, but it works fine for us and it’s comfortable to wear and use.

3. WordPress — The best open source blogging platform. You’ll need web hosting and your own domain to install this.

4. PodPress — A powerful WordPress plugin that turns your blog into a podcasting platform. This plugin takes care of all the nitty gritty (podcast enclosures), offers an embedded Flash player for easy listening, and provides stats.

5. Mime Config — If you plan to publish “enhanced” podcasts for iTunes, chances are your server isn’t configured to recognize the “m4a” format. Install this WordPress plugin and add the mime type “m4a = audio/mpeg”.

What other tools are you using for creating podcasts?