Speed up your web browsing on Mac and iOS with one simple change.

What is DNS?

So this post may at first appear to be geeky and jargon laden but stick with it.

When you visit a website you type in its web address in your browser. Something like dujio.com , for example, but this isn't actually the real address of a website.

The real address of a website will be a number (IP address) that looks something like this:

192 . 168 . 1 . 15

Obviously it's too difficult for people to remember numbers so there is a technology known as DNS or Domain Name System. This system is like a giant telephone directory that converts the text address that you type in into the IP address or number that actually represents a website.

Many organisations provide access to the sytem from your internet service provider, mobile phone company or even via Google or other DNS projects such as OpenDNS.

These organisations act as a gateway to the DNS directories but for many reasons their speed and effectiveness varies but more concerning is that they are able to gather data on your network usage and use it to target ads or sell on to third party companies.

Who is Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is a company that specialises in securing and optimising websites and their back ends - increasing their robustness and safety in world filled with threats to our online lives. They have debuted their own DNS system that appears to be significantly faster than the competition.

With one simple change you can greatly increase the speed at which websites load in your browser and also increase your online safety at the same time. Unlike Google, Cloudflare doesn't harbour your data and make use of it.

What About My iPhone/iPad?

Well you're in luck, in the past few days Cloudflare have also released an app to enable you to easily get the same benefits on ios. Yous simply download the app from the App Store (just search for Cloudflare). Its very simple and guides you through the process. The app actually installs a VPN profile to your device and is simply an on or off switch.

How Do I Use It On My Mac?

Its quite simple but Cloudflare do a good job explaining it. Simply type 1.1.1.1 in your browser to visit their website and get easy instructions about how to use it with your Mac.

Let us know in the comments what you think?


Quick Tip: Mac - Unit Conversions in Spotlight Search

Spotlight search is such a brilliantly smooth and action packed feature of Mac OS.

One under utilised skill that spotlight posesses is the ability to convert units as quick as a flash.

Invoke spotlight search (⌘ + SPACE) > then type something along the lines of “588 rupees in pounds” and it will instantly display the resulting currency conversion and several other popular currencies.

Neat huh!


You're doing it wrong!: SEO and getting your site seen.

There are many pitfalls in making websites and one of them is the belief that you can pay somebody (or something - as it tends to be software that does generic SEO) to improve your visibility in search engines.

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Quicktip: Emoji Everywhere

So we are all, by now, used to using the little Japanese symbols known as Emoji in our communications on iPhone and iPad. They inject a little humour and fun into otherwise plain old text. Many people, however, are not aware that they are also available on your mac.

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Smart Home

Smart Stuff = Smart Home

It seems that everything these days is given the moniker "Smart" but what does it really mean?

Well, in a nutshell, its an easy way of saying that the device/object/thing is interactive, usually via WiFi or bluetooth and more than likely via a mobile app. The idea of the connected home has been a fantasy since the 60's, but now it is slowly becoming a reality.

Here I will run through a few of the most popular and some unusual smart devices available today.

 

1: Okidokeys Smart Locks

 

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So some might hesitate at the idea of an electronic lock, but they have been around for a while and seem to pass muster. The new part here, however, is the ability to unlock with your mobile device. The advantage here is that you can grant temporary access to trusted parties, i.e friends, neighbours feeding the cat etc and revoke at any time - all remotely.

Price: between £110 - £163

More Info: https://www.okidokeys.com

2: Philips Hue Connected Lighting

 

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Philips introduced the Hue system over a year ago and it has had an exclusive deal with the Apple Stores. This lighting system is very popular because it consists mainly of colour changing bulbs, meaning that you can use your existing light fittings and lamps to create beautiful atmospheric lighting. The boon of Hue is that you can control the overall design of a room - the bulbs are aware of each other and you can create schemes and gradients using the mobile app - even grabbing colours from your photos. There are also modes that assist with relaxation, concentration and sleep.

 

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Recently, Philips also introduced two new members of the hue family, lightstrips - perfect for behind televisions, desks, kitchens etc and Bloom, a connected lamp that flood lights whole walls. All of the hue devices are connected via a little box that you plugin to your home router known as the bridge. Its very simply to set up and can create beautiful light-scapes.

Price: £49.95 - £179.95

More info: http://www.meethue.com/en-GB

 

3: Withings Body Analyzer

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Withings create several health based devices that all have corresponding apps. The first one is the Withings Body Analyzer. This clever little scale is able to record your weight, body fat percentage and also your heart rate. Interestingly, the latest version, also checks your air quality, measuring CO2 readings and the temperature every 30 minutes.

Great for families, you can setup multiple profiles to track goals and measurements separately. Withings has its own tracking app but there are lots of apps that their devices are compatible with.

 

Price: £129.95

More info: http://www.withings.com/en/bodyanalyzer

 

4: Belkin Wemo Switch

 

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The Wemo Switch by belkin is simply an adapter that you plug any electrical device into allowing you to remotely control the power from your mobile, wherever in the world you are. You can schedule switches to come on and off at set times. There is a version which comes with a motion sensor to trigger power based on movement and there is also a new version called "insight" that will allow you to track individual expenditure for each device you have connected to a wemo insight adapter. They work in tandem and you can use many throughout your home.

Price: Starts at £39.95

More info:  http://www.belkin.com/uk/Products/home-automation/c/wemo-home-automation

 

5: Parrot AR Drone

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Whilst not quite a domestic essential, the AR Drone from parrot is a boat load of fun. The quadrocopter is controlled via an app on your iOS or Android phone and has an on board camera to record video or take stills. Perfect for checking out which neighbours have swimming pools!

Price: £279.95

More info: http://ardrone2.parrot.com/ 

 


The Siri Enigma

Siri was perhaps the biggest and most "new feature" of an Apple device for quite some time. How many of us actually use it in day to day life? - I for one haven't been taking advantages of some of the cool things Siri can do and as of iOS 7 Siri has had a bit of an upgrade.

The trouble is, Siri's repertoire is growing and its sometimes hard to even recall what you can ask Him/Her/It to get stuff done.

Heres a great video that reminds us of some of the handy and cool things that the helper with 'tude can do!


Make Address Labels For Your Christmas Cards

Its a basic and very simple little thing, printing address labels. It happens to be something that many people miss on their Macs, however. You can customise the look and feel and add a logo or icon depending on the holiday.

Most label packs will have a Avery number or equivalent which means you do not need to layout etc just type in the number and away you go. 9-5 Mac has posted a nice brief article on how to nail this time saving task!

 

[button link="http://9to5mac.com/2013/12/07/how-to-print-customized-address-labels-for-holiday-card-envelopes/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+9To5Mac-MacAllDay+%289+to+5+Mac+-+Apple+Intelligence%29" size="medium" newtab="on"]Click Here To Read[/button]


Going Paperless

My office is far from spacious and as such the paper mountain is just simply not an option. Despite most of the world going digital, so much of our lives is still paper based.

Until companies, governments and our employers get with the programme we still have to battle against the accumulation of dead trees.

This is where technology can really play its part in simplifying your life and streamlining how you handle your paper work.

The first thing you should think about is investing in a really powerful scanner. Not the kind for scanning photos but the kind that can scan quickly and two sides at the same time. The Fuji Scan Snap range of scanners are pretty flawless.

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The Scan Snap ix500 is the latest from Fuji and packs many brilliant features but the most interesting is the ability to scan straight to you ios devices.

It is certainly not cheap but its super speed double side scanning and the fact it handles all different sizes of paper at once means you can fill it with invoices, bills, business cards and receipts and in a couple of seconds the whole lot is digitised.

 

There are lots of services and software out there for the storage of your docs. Here are some links to some that you might find useful.

Evernote - The ever useful and ever free evernote is superb for scanning to and is often integrated into the scanners software.[/one_half_last]

Paperless - I use this software as its very similar to the Finder you have on your mac and it has basic OCR (optical character recognition  what this means, in a teeny tiny nutshell, is that the documents you scan are converted into searchable pdfs, saving time in tagging and naming files as all the text is searchable.

Yep - This little gem is great for those of you that like to use tags to organise your world. You can download a demo from their website.

 

One of the other elements of my near paperless life is the ability to make reasonable scans with my iPhone. I only have an iPhone 4 and yet the camera is more than suitable enough to scan documents. There is an app that makes things very simple and that is Genius Scan.

There are hundreds of scanning apps for iPhones and I have tried many of them and this one is heads and shoulders above the rest.

The main trick for me is its ability to auto crop and size your snaps as well as converting to High Contrast black and white which means that those wrinkled up thermal printed receipts that are normally so difficult to capture are made super clear and easy to read.

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Genius Scan - An iPhone app I simply can't be without!

 

 

What do you use? do you have any gems to share? If so please leave a comment below :)


Cheat Sheet

 

Who doesn't like a little helping hand now and then?

With the tons of apps we all seem to have installed on our macs these days its no surprise that its no shortcut learning keyboard shortcuts, especially for those apps you do not use all the time.

This is where the beautifully simple cheat sheet comes in.

Simply install and then whenever you need a prod/reminder of the keyboard shortcuts just press and hold the command key et voila!

http://www.grandtotal.biz/CheatSheet


Extra Word Services for Mac....Tools for writers

Have you ever needed to re-order sentences in Word or Pages alphabetically or numerically? Ever typed a whole paragraph without realising you had caps lock on and want to change it all back to lowercase? Well its not possible to do either of these and many other wordy things without Devon Technologies wonderful WordService plugin (completely free).

 

Once installed it adds many new services into the Mac's global Services menu (that oft forgotten and lonely place on many a mac!).

 

 

CLICK HERE