Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which I answer Mac-related questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week, readers wrote in with questions on the locations of the various libraries in OS X, the options for using an old internal hard drive from a MacBook as an external hard drive, and the options for managing Wi-Fi networks that span greater distances than their radios can cover.

I welcome contributions from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!

Question: The location of various libraries in OS X MacFixIt reader &… Read more

Can expensive audio cables improve the sound of a hi-fi?

Some audiophiles swear that cables can make or break the sound of their hi-fis, while others poo-poo the idea and use the cheapest hardware store wires. The debates have raged for years, but the only way to really know for sure is to try a set of high-end cables in your system. When I sold hi-fis for a living, I convinced a lot of reluctant customers to buy a set of cables, with the promise I'd refund their money if they didn't hear a difference. The majority of them kept the cables; even some of the most skeptical … Read more

Manage digital photos the easy way with iPhoto Library Manager for Mac

Users with multiple digital photo storage areas may have difficulty working with them using traditional photo programs. While limited in terms of features, iPhoto Library Manager for Mac works well as a library manager.

Available as a free trial version with limitations that are not apparent, the full version requires payment of $29.95. The program's download and installation, in part due to the native installer, completed quickly, and setup required acceptance of a user agreement. Support for updates appeared to be available and, while there were no easily located instructions, the program's menus were easy to figure … Read more

The 404 1,236: Where we're hidden in plain sight (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Cell phone towers disguised as trees are a puzzling attempt at aesthetics.

- You know you're rich when you have the luxury of turning down an iPad.

Bathroom break video: ASMR keyboard raindropsRead more

Unauthorized unlocking of smartphones becomes illegal Saturday

For all you polyamorous types out there who don't like the long-term monogamy demanded by most American wireless carriers when it comes to smartphones, I have bad news.

Starting this Saturday, it becomes illegal in this great land to unlock a new smartphone without the permission of the carrier that locked it in the first place.

This all goes back to a final rule issued in late October by the Librarian of Congress (PDF) -- the Library of Congress handles the rulemaking for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is the specific law we're talking about here. The … Read more

First all-digital library in the U.S. will look like an Apple Store

The first book-free library in the U.S. may look pretty familiar to visitors. That's because it's being modeled after an Apple retail store.

Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, will launch the nation's first all-digital public library system, dubbed BiblioTech, this year. A prototype location on the county's south side is slated to open this fall, and the county hopes to open similar libraries in the future.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff got his inspiration for the all-digital library from Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

"… Read more

Library of Congress digs in to full archive of 170 billion tweets

The U.S. Library of Congress said today that it has completed a process of collecting a full, ongoing stream of tweets, and that it has begun work to archive and organize more than 170 billion tweets.

Under an agreement struck between the government institution and Twitter in 2010, the microblogging company is providing the Library of Congress with a full stream of all public tweets, starting with 21 billion generated from between 2006 and April 2010, and now supplemented with about 150 billion more posted since then.

In an announcement about the status of the project today, the library … Read more

Library Web sites see boost in mobile traffic

Mobile is key for any organization that wants to capture the attention of Americans -- even for an institution that seems as antiquated as the public library system.

The number of Americans using mobile devices to access library Web sites has more than doubled in the last three years, according to a Pew Research Center report released today.

Based on a survey of 2,300 people in October and November, Pew determined that 13 percent of Americans ages 16 and older go to a library Web site using a mobile device. That's substantially more than the meager number of … Read more

Dropbox snaps up cloud-based photo organizer Snapjoy

Dropbox is continuing to reveal its interest in getting into the online photo sharing space. The latest piece of evidence is the acquisition of Snapjoy, a startup that provides a cloud-based photo library.

For reference, Snapjoy's platform can be used to collect photos from a multiude of online and offline sources (i.e., Flickr, desktops, an iPhone, etc.) to be stored in a cloud-based account. Users can elect to share some or all photos, either via invite to select friends or on social networks.

One of the differences that Snapjoy aimed to convey is that its elegant photo stream … Read more

View a 2,000-year-old scroll of the Ten Commandments online

Google is once again offering a glimpse into ancient history with online images of rare scrolls dating back more than 2,000 years.

Courtesy of Google, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the new Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is now home to detailed digitized photographs of thousands of biblical and non-biblical manuscripts. These ancient scrolls were discovered in remote caves near the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956.

Among them, the scroll of the Ten Commandments may be one of the most fascinating. Dating back to sometime between 30 B.C. and 1 B.C., the … Read more