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.

How To Main Tech Tips

How to Save Voicemail Forever on Your Mac

With a combo of free Mac applications, you can record and save voicemails from your mobile phone.

You’ll need to install the following Mac applications:

skype Skype. You’ll use Skype to make a call to your mobile phone and listen to your voicemail. Though the app is free, you’ll need to buy Skype Credit to make a “Skype Out” call to your mobile phone.


audacity Audacity. You’ll use this free application to record your phone call.


soundflowerbed Soundflower and Soundflowerbed. This free system extension will connect Skype to Audacity. It’s like a laundry chute for audio; you can direct audio from any application to another. It does this by adding a pseudo “device” to your list of audio devices in System Preferences.


  1. Open Audacity, then Audacity Preferences. In the Audio I/O section, change the Recording device to Core Audio: Soundflower (2ch). audacity_preferences
  2. Open Skype, then Skype Preferences. Under the Audio tab, change Audio Output to Soundflower (2ch).
  3. Open Soundflowerbed in your menu bar, then under Soundflower (2ch), select Built-in Output. Soundflowerbed allows you to monitor the audio passing through Soundflower, like having a window into the laundry shoot to watch clothes that fall past.
  4. Back in Audacity, click the Record button to begin recording.


  5. In Skype, make a call to your cell phone. When your greeting begins playing, press the sequence of keys that accesses your voicemail (probably the asterisk key followed by your password.) Listen to your voicemail as you normally would. Then hang up. skype_phonecall
  6. Switch back to Audacity and click the Stop button. You should see the zig-zaggy waveform of the message you just recorded.
  7. Click the Audacity cursor directly before your message. (You can find out where this is by using the Play and Stop buttons.) From the Edit menu, choose Select then Track Start to Cursor. Push the Delete key on your keyboard. This will remove extraneous audio before your message. audacity_before
  8. Click the Audacity cursor directly after your message. From the Edit menu, choose Select then Cursor to Track End. Push the Delete key. This will remove extraneous audio after your message. audacity_after
  9. Choose Export from the File menu and save your voicemail. You can email it to a friend or save it in iTunes. audacity_export
Main Security Tips

Choose a good password

You’ve heard over and over the importance of choosing a good password, but we all seem to keep the same bad habits. Roger Grimes analyzed 34,000 real passwords and discovered some interesting trends:

  • As expected, English vowels are by far the most frequent occurring password symbols.
  • [In passwords with numbers,] the number 1 appeared 45 percent of the time, followed by the number 2 (22 percent.)
  • The exclamation point was the most commonly used non-alphanumeric character.
  • Words, colors, years, names, sports, hobbies, and music groups were very popular.
  • Other popular words include: angel, baby, boy, girl, big, monkey, me, and the.
  • Names of sports — golf, football, soccer, and so on — were as popular as professional sports teams and college team nicknames

Drawing on this study and other wisdom, here are some tips for choosing a good, secure password. Read #8 if you don’t read them all:

  1. Don’t write your password on a sticky note attached to your monitor (or “hidden” under your keyboard.)
  2. Don’t choose anything obvious like your birthday, spouse name, etc.
  3. Don’t choose any single word you can find in a dictionary.
  4. Don’t use the same password on a secure site (like your bank) as on an insecure site (like a mailing list.) If someone discovers your password because it was emailed to you from an insecure site, you don’t want your bank account to be vulnerable. Ideally you’d keep a different password for each site.
  5. If a digit is required in your password, don’t simply append a “1” or a “2”. If a symbol is required, don’t simply append an exclamation point.
  6. Learn which channels are secure and which are not. Generally HTTP, FTP, and VNC are not secure, while HTTPS, and SSH are secure. Don’t use secure passwords on insecure channels. (Look for the padlock in your browser.)
  7. Pick a password you can remember, so you won’t have to write it down.
  8. Pick a LONGER password. Think of a phrase or sentence or haiku, not a word. Password length is more important than symbols or numbers. For a security expert like Mr. Grimes, a 6-9 character password with “complexity” (symbols, numbers) is fairly easy to break, while a password with 15+ characters is almost impossible to break.

Eventually, we may be using our fingerprints or some other biometric procedure, but until then, choose a good password.