Organize Your Mac Desktop

A couple of Mac desktop defaults that I like have changed with OSX Snow Leopard. The icons no longer default to a grid and the Hard Drive icon is gone. Here’s how to change it back.

Putting back the Hard Drive:

  1. In the Finder, choose Finder -> Preferences.
  2. Click the General icon on the toolbar.
  3. Select Hard disks in the Show these items on the desktop section.
  4. Close the Finder Preferences window.Show Hard Drive on Desktop

Making your icons align to a grid:

  1. In the Finder, choose View -> Show View Options
  2. Choose Snap to Grid from the Arrange by drop list.Finder View OptionsNotice that this is also where you can change the icon size, grid spacing, and text size.

Google Stops Censoring Search Results in China

Google ChinaFollowing up on Google’s promise from January 12th, Google China just moved its web servers for China to Hong Kong so that they can be run without censorship. Now it is up to Chinese authorities to decide to shut off all or partial access to Google.

Although Google is not the largest search engine in China*, Google’s many services (web search, mail, documents from Google Docs, photos, etc) are heavily used. If Chinese authorities shut off access to the servers completely, there would be a lot of pissed off Chinese geeks.

* Traffic market share of search engines in China, August 2009, China Internet Network Information Center:

Baidu: 51.5%
Google: 32.9%
Sohu: 4.6%
Sina: 4.0%
Yahoo: 3.7%
Others: 3.3%

Google blog post announcement of decision.

From the Washington Post:

Google stops censoring search results in China by Ellen Nakashima and Cecilia Kang

Google announced Monday that it had stopped censoring search results on its site in China and redirected users to an unfiltered search based in Hong Kong.

The company said in January that it was holding talks with authorities in China to determine whether “it could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.” On Monday, Google said the government in Beijing “has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.”

The announcement Monday effectively represented an attempt by Google to sidestep China’s demands for self-censorship on its Chinese-language site,

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and operates its own economic and political systems. By redirecting Chinese search traffic through servers in Hong Kong, to — the firm said it had effectively transferred the jurisdiction of its search business off the mainland.

“This move is entirely legal by Chinese law and Hong Kong law and that is important to know: that we are abiding by the law,” a source at Google said on condition of anonymity.

In its announcement on its Web site, the firm said that it belived its new approach was a “sensible solution.”

“We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services,” Google said.

The company said it will also monitor access issues and publicly disclose any time the services Google offers are made unavailable in China.

It remains unclear whether the world’s largest Internet search firm will leave China entirely, as it has said it might be forced to do. The company said it has no plans to pull staff from the country.

Windows “AntiSpyware” 2009

Gina Trapani wrote up a great article on the infamous Antispyware 2009 and how to get rid of it. This software pretends to be legitimate antivirus software, but is itself a virus. There are many variants of the software and I wrote about one of them called Antivirus XP 2008.

How to Remove XP AntiSpyware by Gina Trapani

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with a malware-laden PC, but my long streak of luck ran out this weekend when a family friend–who describes himself as computer illiterate–called. “Every time I try to do anything on the computer,” he told me, “I get a message saying it’s infected, and I have to pay $69 to clean it, but I tried to do that and I couldn’t.” He couldn’t even navigate to the Mozilla site to download Firefox; Internet Explorer was completely hijacked.

Read the rest of How to Remove XP AntiSpyware

XP Antispyware 2009

Move iTunes from PC to Mac

As of iTunes 9, it is pretty simple to move the iTunes library from one computer to another, even between Windows and Macs. These instructions detail a move from a PC to a Mac.

  1. Update to latest version of iTunes on both systems. In Windows: open iTunes, then Help -> Check For Updates. On Mac: open System Preferences then Software Update.
  2. In Windows: open iTunes’ preferences (Edit -> Preferences) and click the Advanced tab. Check both Keep iTunes Media folder organized and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library. These settings keep all your media files in the main iTunes Media folder, which you will later copy to your Mac.iTunes Advanced Organized
  3. In Windows iTunes: Choose File -> Library -> Organize Library. Check Consolidate Files, then click OK. This moves any files that weren’t in the right folder and makes sure that the library file has the correct pointers to these files’ locations. If the Upgrade To iTunes Media Organization option is not dimmed, check this too; it sorts your files in separate sub-folders.iTunes Consolidate Files
  4. Copy the iTunes folder (in Windows 7 located in username\My Music\iTunes, in Windows XP located in Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\iTunes). You can copy by sharing the folder over the network, copying the folder to an external drive, or by pulling the Windows computer’s hard drive and attaching it to the Mac by a USB adapter (see picture). Pulling the drive is usually the fastest method if you have a huge library. Copy the iTunes folder to the Music folder in your user folder on the Mac. If there is already an iTunes folder, it means you’ve launched iTunes at least once on the Mac. If there’s no music there, you can just replace the folder. However, if you’ve already added music, you won’t be able to merge the libraries; in the iTunes Media folder, found in the iTunes folder, move the Music folder to your desktop and add those files into iTunes after you’ve completed this process. (Note that you’ll lose any playlists and play counts associated with those files. Alternatively, you can add the music from the PC to Mac’s iTunes by dragging it into iTunes, thereby losing the playlists etc of the PC’s music.)USB IDE Hard Drive Adapter

Biking Directions with Google Maps

Google recently added biking directions with Google Maps. See Bicycling as a drop-down option when looking for directions.

Google Biking

Beta Warning

The yellow note at the bottom to use caution isn’t just for legal reasons. Many have reported mistakes, such as directions to bike through Arlington Cemetery.

But, like everything Google, it seems to get better over time. People report these mistakes to Google by either clicking the here link at the bottom of the Beta warning or clicking Report a Problem at the bottom right of any Google Map.

Report Biking Direction Problem to Google

With the snow melting away in DC, it should be fun to bike again soon. Give Google Maps biking directions a try.