Use cTiVo to download your TiVo programs to your Mac

In the past, one of the only options available to transfer files off your TiVo and onto your Mac was iTivo. It is a simple utility that performed admirably  when it worked. The biggest issue was it's infrequent updates. Every time Apple Mac OS was updated you needed to use your terminal skills to get iTiVo to work again. I've written several blog posts giving instructions on how to get iTiVo working after the upgrade to Mac OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Tivo & the Mac - Downloading Tivo files
Continuing Adventures with iTiVo
TiVo to Mac - Mountain Lion Edition
TiVo to Mac - iTivo Update

Recently Apple just released Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks and once again iTiVo was broken. Rather than dive in and try to fix it I hit up Google to see what everyone else was saying. Low and behold I stumbled across an application called cTivo.  

All I can say is WOW! Finally! An application that works out of the box without any terminal tweaking. Where have you been hiding cTiVo?!?

cTivo describes itself like this:

"cTiVo is inspired by the great work done on iTiVo, but written in Cocoa/Objective C for better performance and compatibility. Current or former users of iTiVo will find a detailed comparison and upgrade path described in iTivo Users."

It's much faster than iTiVo and once you put in your TiVo's MAK address it will scan your network for all your TiVo devices. 

There are a lot of preference settings to play with that give you tons of options.

You can download the decrypted file or transcode it to many different formats to match your device.

Once you have selected the show to download and the format you want click the download button and it will start to download. 

Download progress is marked with a red highlight bar. Additional files are queued up and automatically downloaded when the first file finishes. 

If you have used iTiVo in the past, run, don't walk, and download cTiVo. It looks like the days of struggling with iTiVo are over. Unlike iTiVo the last update for cTiVo was 2014. I just hope that the developers keep the updates coming. 


iBooks for Mac - Loading books on your iPad

Because I'm a glutton for punishment and a willing guinea pig I loaded the new Mac OSX 10.9 Mavericks on Tuesday the same day it was released. There a ton of great reviews of Mavericks out there but since I read a lot I want to focus on the new iBooks application.

First Some History

When Apple first released iTunes it was a music player and it worked great. Over the years, as Apple continued to add other media, they used iTunes as their application of choice to control and house media files. 

As movies, TV shows, Podcasts & books were added under the iTunes umbrella it grew bloated and disorganized. The name "iTunes" became a misnomer. They should have renamed it iMedia or iJunk-Drawer. With the latest release of Mac OSX Mavericks Apple has finally started to correct that mistake and pull iTunes apart. With the release of Mavericks Apple has moved books to the new iBooks application. Now you can not only store your books in a library but actually read them as well.

Running iBooks

When you start iBooks for the first time it moves all your purchased books as well as your personal epub books to the new iBooks library. 

Here's an interesting tidbit of info for you. I personally like to control where my media lives so my iTunes library preferences is set to not copy media to the iTunes media folder when I add new files. 

What I found out was that iBooks doesn't have this ability and on startup it automatically moves all your purchased books currently resident on your computer to the iBooks library. Any book purchases still in iCloud that you haven't downloaded will not be moved.

If you have personal epub (non-DRM) books in your iTunes library those books will be copied to iBooks and the original file left alone. All iBooks files are now located in your personal library folder inside your home directory:


Make sure this is directory is backed up if you plan on keeping your personal epub book library in iBooks.

PDF Files

There are a few issues with how iBooks handles PDF files. When you open PDF files from within iBooks they will open in Preview not iBooks. All those great features that Apple touted don't work in Preview.

How to actually load books on your iPad!!!!

The biggest issue I had was figuring out how exactly to get your books from iBooks onto your iPad. The easy answer is you can't. When you open iBooks and plug in your iPad it doesn't show up in any iBooks window as you might expect from years of iTunes experience. In order to load books to your device you have to use iTunes. 

"What?!!!" you say? "That doesn't make sense."  If you are like me you expect a new application dedicated to books to be self contained. I expected iBooks to store your books, enable you to read your books and load your books on any iDevice you have. But it doesn't. Frankly that feature alone says that iBooks isn't ready for prime time and Apple should have waited to release it. For a company that is known for great industrial design and user interfaces this is a debacle. 

Here's what you need to do to manage books on your iDevice.

  • Open up iTunes and plug in your device.

  • Select your device in the sidebar and click the books tab and check the "Sync Books" Check box.
  • You will get an very scary looking dialog box that looks like this.
  • Believe what it says! It will remove all your existing music, movies, TV shows & Books from your device.
  • Once iTunes is done syncing you can manually check the books you want to load your device with on a book by book basis. The obvious downside is the cumbersome nature of dealing with large libraries. If you download a lot of technical documents and PDF files like I do and use decide to use iBooks as your default library application you may find yourself with 100's of books to scroll through.

Manually load your personal PDF & epub books. 

The quick an easy way around a lot of these problems is to use an application like Calibre to manage your book library & metadata then manually add them to iBooks by dragging the file from it's Finder folder directly to your iPad in iTunes.  

Quick summary of my issues with iBooks 

  • You can't do a get info on a specific title
  • You can't edit meta data for your personal books - No changing cover art, author or any other information.
  • There is no direct way to load a book to your iDevice from iBooks
  • PDF files use Preview
  • Files can't be stored outside your library as they could in the past


I'm sure that over time Apple will fix all the niggling little (and big) issues with iBooks. I just wish that such a heavily advertised new feature was as great as Apple hardware. This application feels more like a beta release than something that shipped with a the fanfare apple gave it.

One last thing

I haven't tried it but here are some instructions to restoring book management to iTunes rather than iBooks. *Warning* Use at your own risk!

  • kill the bookstoreagent service using Activity Monitor
  • Delete file associated with that service

  • Use AppCleaner or similar utility to unistall the iBooks application
  • Restart iTunes
  • Import your books again


Celebrate with Apple - Top Rated iOS Apps free!

To celebrate 5 years of the App Store, Apple is giving away apps & games! Grab them now while they are free.

Here are some of the games & apps to choose from:

From Epic Games and ChAIR Entertainment comes Infinity Blade II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed, best-selling iOS game Infinity Blade. Infinity Blade II continues to raise the bar for triple-A mobile gaming. Journey into the world of the Deathless tyrants and their legion of Titans. Build skills and upgrade characters… all while delving deeper into this mysterious, timeless adventure.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an exploratory action adventure with an emphasis on audiovisual style. Traverse a mythic little realm, use a sword to do battle & evoke sworcery to solve mystical musical mysteries. Co-operate with friends via Twitter, experience a videogame world that is affected by moon phases & help a wandering warrior monk complete her woeful errand.

You have always dreamed of flying - but your wings are tiny. Luckily the world is full of beautiful hills. Use the hills as jumps - slide down, flap your wings and fly! At least for a moment - until this annoying gravity brings you back down to earth. But the next hill is waiting for you already. Watch out for the night and fly as fast as you can. 

Help Swampy by guiding water to his broken shower. Each level is a challenging physics-based puzzle with amazing life-like mechanics. Cut through dirt to guide fresh water, dirty water, toxic water, steam, and ooze through increasingly challenging scenarios! Every drop counts!

BADLAND is an award-winning atmospheric sidescrolling action adventure platformer taking place in a gorgeous forest full of various inhabitants, trees and flowers. Although the forest looks like it’s from some beautiful fairytale, there seems to be something terribly wrong. The player controls one of the forest’s inhabitants to discover what’s going on. Through his journey he discovers astonishing amount of imaginative traps and obstacles.

Add beautiful text and artwork to your photos and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr & Instagram. Create inspirational, informational or even funny images to share quickly and easily. In only a few seconds you can add captions, quotes, jokes, memes, poems or anything else you can think of to a photo.

TOUCH THE GROOVE. The world’s #1 pro DJ software brings high-impact DJing to iPad. Touch your tracks and create stunning mixes in seconds.* Free Dropbox account required.

A new way to journal. Enter your memories, ideas, events and photos to have them synced to your iPhone and iPad using iCloud or Dropbox.  ✮ App Store App of the Week - Jan 2012 ✮  This is your personal history. Preserved.

This first-of-its-kind app of the bestselling cookbook—How to Cook Everything® from New York Times columnist Mark Bittman—has 2,000 recipes, 400 how-to illustrations, and a host of features that appeal to cooks on the go.

Barefoot World Atlas is a magical interactive 3D globe that invites children to explore the regions and countries of the world, discovering hundreds of fascinating features and immersing themselves in the rich wonders of our planet. This is a multi-language, universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The rich and beautifully detailed graphics take full advantage of the amazing new high definition retina screen.

Cell Phone Privacy

By now everyone knows that the NSA is listening to your phone calls. It's scary and annoying but there's not a lot you can do about it short of dumping your cell phone and living inside a faraday cage. Privacy is something you don't know you care about until it's gone. So what can you do? How about not letting your cellular service sell your data to third parties and marketers.

It's not to hard to opt out of this intrusion into your privacy. Just click the links below for your carrier, log in and opt out of the program. Remember that almost anything free on the web isn't.  There is always some sort of ad, data mining, third party pop-up that's paying the bill.  Keep your guard up and try to maintain your privacy. Once you loose it, it's almost impossible to get it back!

* Thanks TechCrunch for the links


Optimize Your WiFi Network Using NetSpot

Pulling CAT5 Wire through your home use to be a normal activity for the geeky homeowner. Now everyone uses WiFi. Using WiFI saves a lot time and effort but how do you know where to put your router? Is the signal weak in your family room? Do you have slow Internet speeds in your bedroom? Using a tool like NetSpot you can map your network, visualize the coverage and figure out the perfect configuration.

NetSpot is free and you can get it from the Apple App Store. As of this posting, the current App Store version is 1. 3.344. Version 2 is available directly from NetSpot. I have taken most screen shots below using the older version. I will make note when the screen shot is version 2.

It goes without saying that you must have a portable Mac with working WiFi to map your network. After you download the app start it up and you will be asked to create a new survey and either draw or load a map.

The drawing tools included in NetSpot are great but you can also use use a drawing program like iDraw or Intaglio to create your map. If you are a paper and pencil sort, you can also draw a map by hand, take a photo of it using your iPhone or iPad and import the file using the "Load a Map" function.

After you have the map loaded you will be asked to select two points and give the correct dimension between the two points.

Now you just need to start scanning. Click the "Start Scan" button in the upper left of the map, click your current location on the map and NetSpot will start scanning. 

A list of available networks will appear in the panel on the left and a green circle will show the location you just scanned. Now walk to a new location and click that point on the map. A new scan will start. Continue on until your whole area has been scanned.

Click the "Stop Scan" button in the upper left of the map section to stop active scanning. Now comes the analysis. 

If you are using version 2.0 you can use the Discover mode and just see the network information you have gathered. This is an improvement over version 1 and gives you a quick look at the raw numbers.

To see a graphic representation of the numbers you need to switch back to the Survey mode. Use the"Visualize" drop down menu and choose from various options.  Below is the graph of Signal-to-interference ratio.

The closer to the hot end of the spectrum you are the better your WiFi performance will be. You will also see where NetSpot thinks each of your routers is located. In my case I noticed that they seemed misplaced. Using the "Resume Scan" button I added more points on my map and got a better representation of their actual location. I have 3 routers on 2 floors. I have circled them in red. 

Don't be afraid to add a lot more data points. In this case more is better. By clicking on a WiFi hotspot you can get more information about that router.

If you are using version 2 then you get a pop up explaining what the definition is for each Visualization selection.

"The signal-to-interference ratio is similar to the signal-to-noise ratio, but in this case the interference is specific to co-channel interference from other radio transmitters."  

In plain English that could mean that you have a problem if your network channel is on the same frequency as your neighbor. If so you might want to change it. As you can see, by using the different plots you can easily figure out where dead zones might be, if you need a bridge repeater or if you have too many routers in one area. 

In general NetSpot does a great job of giving you a visual picture of your network. Getting the location of wireless equipment right always means a little trial and error and having a tool like this can really help perfect your configuration.
There is a paid for Pro version available with more features but for home use NetSpot is a great product.


Movie Effects - Quick, Easy & Free way to Rotate Video

With a Mac there are always at least 2 or 3 ways to do something. As time goes by, and new apps are created, there might even be a better way. Such is the case with rotation of video. I wrote a post a while back on how to rotate video using iMovie. Since iMove comes with your Mac when you buy it, using iMovie to rotate your video was an easy way to get the job done. 

Two years has passed since I wrote that blog post and the number of applications in the Apple Mac App store has exploded. I recently discovered a great little video editing application called Movie Effects that has a lot of features. One of which is rotating video.

The developers from Etinysoft list Movie Effect's key features as:
  • Whole window are available for dragging and dropping any video
  • Support almost all popular video formats such as mp4, mov, avi, flv, etc.
  • Freely apply more than one effects to a video.
  • Customize parameters of a part of effects to your desired level.
  • Directly preview video before or after effects being applied.
  • Add image as watermark at any point with effect “Image Watermark.
Go download a copy now and explore this great app. To help you out here's a walk through of how to rotate video. 

Open the application and at the main screen drag a copy of the video you want to rotate. 

In the left hand column click "Add Effects" and select "Rotation"

You will notice that rotation is just one of the options to change your video so feel free to play around. Once you have selected rotation there will now be several choices on how to rotate. Just make sure you preview your video before you process and save it. If you select 90° rotation and vertically flip it you will end up with this:

Opps! Selecting just 90° rotation you will get the correct orientation. 

Now that you have your video rotated you will want to save it. Select the save format at the bottom and you will see that there are a ton of formats available to you. Select the one you want and click save.

Just be careful with the choice you make. Some formats will change the aspect ratio of your video. For instance, selecting "Common Video" and "MPEG4 MP4" created this video

Opps again! For use on a Mac, going back and saving as iPhone, iPad or AppleTV format worked just fine. Again, explore experiment and see what works for you. 

That's it! your video is rotated with only a few clicks.  Movie Effects is a great application that lets you rotate your videos quickly and easily. Best of all it does a lot more then that and it's free!


How to Edit Your Playlist On Your iPhone

With the iPhone now a permanent part of my daily life one thing that has changed is music. Music is always playing in my house and because everyone now has an iPhone or iPod. 

Music sets a mood, makes someone laugh or can help set the tempo of a workout. Our normal mode of operation is to load up our iPhones, iPads and iPods with music by plugging into the computer and syncing up. You can do the same thing via WiFi or iTunes Match but we find it more convient and faster to just cable up. After you unplug and are on the go, one thing that isn't clear is how to change the order of your playlist. 

If you want to change your playlist on your iPhone just open up the playlist and click the "Edit" button. 

You can delete a song by selecting the red circle beside the song then hitting the red "Delete" button that pops up. 

If you want to reorder the playlist click on the bars off to the right of the song yo want to move, hold it down and drag it to the position you want. When you have it where you want it click "Done".

When you are done your playlist will be in the order you want and you are ready to enjoy your music in the order you want it!