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Macintosh, Mac Apps, iPhone, Steve Jobs, Apple

December 29th, 2008

Local Mac Community Helps User Recover Stolen MacBook Pro

This story was written with the permission of the victim. Names were intentionally omitted for security reasons. The suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

All’s well that ends well. Almost. One member of our PhilMUG community lost his laptop on the eve of his birthday. A thief broke into his car and stole his MacBook Pro along with some other gadgets. Due hard times the incidence of laptop theft has been getting higher. I personally know of 3 people who’s laptops got stolen recently. Sometimes, by some luck you’re able to recover your stolen laptop. That’s what happened to this person. He was able to get back his MacBook Pro with the help of our local community.

In the interest of protecting the member’s identity since the culprit is still under investigation and for security’s sake, I’ll be referring to the member as Lucky John.

On December 23, 2008 Lucky John gets a several private messages from forum members and moderators saying that an ad was placed for a second hand MBP that has the same serial number of his MacBook Pro. He posted the serial number of his MBP the day after it was stolen.

Lucky John checked the for sale ad and verified that the unit’s serial number was the same one as his. He contacted the seller, posing as an interested buyer. He asked several questions to get the seller to think that he was really interested. He even told the seller that he was getting the MBP as a Christmas present for himself.

That same morning they both agreed to meet so Lucky John can inspect the unit. Upon meeting with the seller he confirmed that the laptop was indeed his. This was verified through some marks on the unit. Even though the laptop was thoroughly cleaned and polished, some scratches could not be removed. A few more questions later and they both agreed on the price. Lucky John and the seller agreed to meet at 7 p.m. that same evening to conclude the transaction.

This is the part where it gets interesting…

Lucky John sought the help of local law enforcement agencies to conduct an entrapment operation. Several operatives from the law enforcement agency accompanied Lucky John to the coffee place where they agreed to meet that evening. Dressed in civilian clothes, the operatives positioned themselves in several areas of the coffee shop. When Lucky John hands over the money to the seller that would be the signal for the operatives to act and arrest the seller.

Lucky John saw the seller arrive at the coffee shop. He motions to him to join him at his table. After a final inspection and several minutes of small talk, Lucky John hands the seller the money. The law enforcement operatives take action and apprehend the seller.

The seller was taken to detention and a case will be filed against him for selling stolen property. The seller defended himself by saying he was also a victim. He said that he bought the MBP from another local web site and he was just reselling it. That being said there was still some deception on his part because when Lucky John asked him about the background of the machine he gave a totally different story. He said that the machine came from Australia. In any case his innocence or guilt will be determined by the court.

The reason I’m writing about this is to share the story about how a local Mac community was able to help in recovering a stolen Mac. There’s a big element of luck in this situation but it was also a result of several things that Lucky John did that also helped him recover his stolen Mac. Here’s some things to do if ever you have the bad fortune of having your Mac stolen.

1. Go to your local Mac communities or the Mac community where the Mac was stolen and report the stolen Mac. Post the details behind the theft and post the serial numbers. This will alert people to be on the look out for your Mac.

2. Report it to your local Apple service centers/stores as well. Especially those who also accept trade-ins for Macs. This will also help alert these establishments to be on the look out for stolen computers. There’s a chance that it might be be brought in for service by either the person who stole it or the person who unwittingly bought it.

3. Browse local sites/communities and other sites that post classified ads. Who knows your computer might end up being there.

Other tips to prevent or just to be safe are:

1. If you travel a lot it’s prudent to use encryption on your data. Mac OS X has File Vault.

2. Use a password for your account and set your Mac to automatically require a password when waking up from sleep or after a time from inactivity.

3. Backup your data. This should be a must for all to prevent total data loss. The hardest thing about a stolen computer isn’t so much that the hardware was lost but the data that you can’t replace. A computer can be replaced. Some data can’t be recovered once lost.

Lucky John’s case was an extremely lucky one. It goes to show that sometimes it does pay to be a part of a local community. The local community he belongs to was able to help him recover his stolen laptop. The people who alerted Lucky John about the stolen MBP also deserve a pat on the back. Their vigilance made one person’s Christmas just a bit better. If his data was recovered it would have made it perfect. Still the MBP back is better than nothing.

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By Juan -- 3 comments

December 27th, 2008

Now This Is A “Mighty Mouse”

[via MacBlogz]

If this thing does come true it will be one of the best mice I’ve seen ever. A Multi-touch Mighty Mouse would be killer. It would truly redeem the name of the Mighty Mouse, which till now is a severely over priced but slightly lacking pointing device.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things about it but I personally think it’s just not worth the price tag Apple placed on it. A Multi-touch Mighty Mouse made our of aluminum however is a different story.

Imagine a mouse that reacts to multi-touch gestures. No moving parts, made out of aluminum, sleek as hell, aaaahhhh… That’s something ain’t it?!!

It will not only be a good device it will be a piece of art. A conversation piece even.

So if MacBlogz’ concept mouse does make it to the market I will surely be lining up for one.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 24th, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

It’s been a good year. A lot of blessings bestowed upon us Mac geeks. From the iPhone 3G to the newly designed Macbook and Macbook Pros it’s certainly been quite a ride. There’s certainly a lot to be thankful for.

From my family to yours, my sincerest wishes that you may have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Here’s looking towards an even better year.


By Juan -- 1 comment

December 23rd, 2008

App Of The Week: EventBox

“Pack your social networks in one box”. That’s the apt slogan that The Cosmic Machine coined up for EventBox. This app puts together in one interface several popular social networking services. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr are some of the services that it integrates.

Instead of opening the several networking apps in several browser windows, EventBox packs it all for you in one neat interface. You just have one app open and it retrieves your data for you.

A great idea but the app is still in beta and there are some kinks that need to be worked out. I had a little trouble authenticating my Facebook account. But it seems to be working now.

One of the things I’m not so hot about right now is that there’s no slideshow feature for the pictures I’m viewing. Especially Flickr. You can scroll to the photos but there’s no automatic way to play them all. You also can’t view the bigger versions without it opening a browser window for you.

Right now as a beta release this is ok with room for improvement but so far I don’t see myself paying $20 ($15 during the beta period) for this.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 18th, 2008

Finally I’m Able To Blog From My iPod Touch

I posted about the WordPress app for the iPhone and iPod Touch awhile back. Unfortunately the WordPress version we’re using for The After Mac wasn’t a version that was supported by the mobile app.

b5media, upgrade the WordPress versions of the blogs, hence I can now post via the mobile app. Woohoo!

I’ll post a better review about the app tom.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 17th, 2008

Apple’s Final MacWorld

[via Engadget]

2009 will mark the last year that Apple will participate in the annual MacWorld conference. To add insult to injury Steve Jobs won’t be delivering the keynote.

This marks an end of an era. While the reason they state might be valid such as reaching more customers through their retail stores and online, MacWorld is still an event unlike any other.

The conspiracy theorist inside of me is speculating that Steve Jobs just hasn’t found a suitable replacement to give the keynote. He just doesn’t see himself doing it for a long time so it’s better to quit while you’re on top so to speak.

Whatever it is, it’s a sad day. I guess I won’t be staying up till 3 a.m. during MacWorld.

Read the post here.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 16th, 2008

2 New Apple Holiday Ads

Apple has to new “Get a Mac” holiday ads. “I Can Do Anything” and “Tree Trimming” are animated versions of the Mac/PC ads that have gained popularity.

Watch the new ads here.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 16th, 2008

2008: The Year of the iPhone

[image courtesy of Apple]

[via CNET]

Apple had a rocky road at times with the iPhone in 2008, but it finished the year having turned its first phone into its most important product. The iPhone began the year as a gadget status symbol in four countries and ended the year as the world’s second-best-selling smartphone, putting Apple in perhaps the best financial shape in the tech industry as the world entered a severe economic downturn.

2008 truly has been the year for the iPhone. Looking back this is the year that Apple’s new jewel made its mark not only with Apple fanboys but in the mobile world.

With the help of the App Store, the iPhone made significant inroads into the territory of companies such as Nokia, RIM, etc. The third quarter saw the iPhone selling more units than RIM’s Blackberry as well as Windows Smartphones. For a phone that’s only been around for a couple of years, that’s quite an achievement.

The App Store was a huge success driving a lot of developers to make applications. Over 10,000 made its way to the App Store. Even if most of them are 99 cent applications. Never have we seen something like it.

The iPhone is not the best phone. It’s hard to text message, there are some basic features such as MMS and copy/paste that are still missing but it is a great mobile computing platform. In the age of the internet that’s something that makes up for it’s short comings as a phone.

This is also the year that the iPhone made its way around the Globe. Opening up a whole lot of new territory for Apple to spread iPhone love.

2008 is certainly the year of the iPhone.

Read the CNET article here.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 12th, 2008

Mac News Roundup

Here are several interesting news items that I’ve read from all over.

Apple tweaks App Store layout amid developer unrest [via AppleInsider]

According to AppleInsider, Apple has tweaked the App Store interface in reaction to feedback by developers and users. Apple has separated the Top Free Apps, Top Paid Apps and segregated it into categories as well.

Apple Releases Firmware Updates for ‘Late 2008′ Portables [via MacRumors]

Apple released EFI and SMC firmware updates for its late 2008 Macbook, Macbook pro and Macbook Air notebooks.

AT&T Sells iPhones Online With Home Activation [via Cult of Mac]

AT&T is going back to offering home activation again for the iPhone. There are a few adjustments such as the option to talk to a live person when ordering your iPhone, etc.

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By Juan -- 0 comments

December 12th, 2008

App Of The Week: VLC Remote

This week’s chosen app is an iPhone/iPod Touch app called VLC remote. This app allows you to control VLC on your Mac or PC. It’s 99 cents for a limited time according to the developer.

I found this through Lifehacker.

I watch a lot of tv shows and videos on my computer. Much more than what I watch on TV. I have a nice 17″ MacBook Pro and when it’s about several feet away it’s still good to watch on. But controlling VLC was always a bit of a pain. Not unless I had my wireless mouse with me. But since I usually watch on the couch, there’s no flat surface to move the mouse in.

Now before you all go say I’m a lazy ass bastard, let me just qualify and say that I have a disability and it’s really hard for me to move and control my computer from afar. So the VLC Remote is almost a godsend.

It’s a fairly simple app but it does its job well. The response is quick. You almost feel no lag when you control VLC. You can open and browse through your computers folders to play the videos that you want.

The only problem I have so far with it is that you can’t remotely open VLC. You need to open VLC from your computer for the VLC Remote app to connect. Hopefully this is something that the developers can work on.

I’ve also been playing with it for a short time but I can’t find a way to delete the ones I’ve played already from the playlist. Every time I open a new video file it just adds to the playlist.

Apart from these, it’s pretty much worked as advertised. You need to download the latest version of VLC as well as these setup instructions so you can configure everything.

There’s a free version but it only offers basic controls and comes with some advertising.

VLC Remote is developed by Hobbyist Software. Go try it out now.

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By Juan -- 0 comments