How To Use DuckDuckGo As Your Default Search Engine with Safari and Omnibar

I wrote this inspired by Fred Wilson’s post on DuckDuckGo. It occurred to me that a lot of people may not know about DDG and if you do, you may not be able to figure out how to use it as the default search engine for Safari. Why would you want to use DDG instead of Google, Bing or Yahoo? Mostly because of the better results, but their awesome privacy policy, which differs quite a bit from the others out there, is certainly a plus as well.

DuckDuckGo has been my default search engine for all of my browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Safari). It’s simple to make it the default for every browser except Safari. I’m not crazy about any of the methods DDG recommends, so I created my own method using the incredble Omnibar extension, which you should already be using. Make sure you download and install it before proceeding as the following instructions assume you have it installed.

  1. Select the text in your address bar. You can generally do this by triple clicking on whatever URL is currently in your address bar.
  2. Right-click on the text in the address bar and select ‘Edit Omnibar Search Providers’.
  3. Click on the plus sign to add an additional search provider.
  4. Rename the search provider DuckDuckGo.
  5. You can designate your own search letter or phrase to easily use other search engines with DDG. I just use “d”, though I rarely use other seach engines.
  6. In the URL field, just use “{searchTerms}” and press Enter/Return.
  7. Select DuckDuckGo and click on the “Set as Deafult” button then click the “Done” button. 

Congratulations! You’re now using the best search engine with the best results and you’re not being tracked. Please take a moment to reblog this and share it everywhere your friends are.

Every Nerd Has One Of These Moments

Last night at approximately 11:30pm, I decided to update my Lucid Lynx Ubuntu installation to a beta of Maverick Meerkat. Did I lose you there? A while back I followed some instructions for getting my MacBook to dual boot using rEFIt, which was pretty easy. It grabbed some of the unused space on my internal hard drive and repartitioned the drive so I could also install Ubuntu. It works like a charm. You get a cool boot screen that lets you pick between Mac OS and Ubuntu (or whatever other OS you want to play around with). I’ve tried Parallels, VirtualBox and VMware and there’s just nothing like dual booting. As a geek, I just wanted to give it a try and play around. I do have to say, Ubuntu really rocks. I could probably use it full-time and I’ve considered it. I ended up using it for a week straight and the only thing I couldn’t get it to do was recognize my second monitor at work. For those who don’t like tinkering, Ubuntu is somewhat of a nightmare. It also really makes you appreciate OS X when you come back to it.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, I would start with the Ubuntu Community Documentation. There’s a whole section on switching from Mac, which frankly no one in their right mind would do, at least not completely. As soon as you work your way through that, you’ll want to immediately check out OMG Ubuntu’s amazing list of 10 things to do after installing Ubuntu 10.04. You’ll also want to add that blog to your Google Reader. It’s one of the best Ubuntu-focused blogs out there. You may also want to take a look at my Ubuntu bookmarks.

So back to last night… I burned a CD of the latest Meerkat installer, booted up my MacBook from the CD and went ahead with the installation. The problem was that because I was booting from the CD, I wasn’t just dealing with the Ubuntu partition, but my entire internal drive, which of course I didn’t realize until the installation was done and it booted right into Ubuntu. Face palm. Of course I knew better. I felt so incredibly stupid, but that’s what I get for messing around late at night when I’m not paying attention

The good news is that it forced me to do one of my annual clean installs of OS X and I also moved every document on my hard drive to Dropbox and my Dreamhost remote server backup. My computer is running faster than I ever remember, which is nice. I lost some photos and music that I hadn’t backed up over the last few weeks, which I was pretty upset about. I pay for Mozy and ended up uninstalling it because every time it got to my iPhoto library, the fans on my MacBook sounded like a jet engine and became totally unusable. Guess it’s time to give it another try, but not before I install Ubuntu again.

When was your last face-palm nerd moment?

Why Mac Consulting Helps Me At My Real Job

I’ve been doing Mac consulting in one form or another for nearly 12 years now. When I’m between jobs, it’s something I fall back on. And when I have a job, it’s a side hustle that not only makes me some extra cash, but it also helps me at my real job. Helping people with their Macs teaches me to think with a different part of my brain than I usually do. I’m not solving problems at the office like I do when I’m diagnosing why a MacBook Pro is the only computer that can connect to the AirPort Express in some guy’s house when his iMac and Mac TV can’t even see the network. It’s process of elimination. It always works the same way. And in the years that I’ve been solving people’s Mac problems, I’ve never not been able to figure something out. I may have to consult an obscure thread on a message board or even call someone who knows something I don’t, but it’s never impossible. And I guess that’s what’s exciting about it. You know damn well that there’s a solution, but how do you get there? There are no rules. The client isn’t gonna think less of you because you had to call some other guy or look around online. They’re going to think you’re a genius because you thought to do the things you did and they feel like their money was well-spent. You walk away with a wad of cash, another victory under your belt and a recommendation. Happy Mac users talk and for every good job I do, I get at least 2 new customers.

When I was working in music supervision for feature films, I had an awesome boss who taught me a lot. I wasn’t always fond of how he did it, but it’s made me a much better employee. The main things were to pay close attention to detail, exhaust all possibilities and be really nice. If you can’t pay attention to detail, it’s a non-starter. In order to be good at any job, you can’t let details slip through the cracks. We all make mistakes, but there’s no worse mistake that the kind that result from carelessness. Working as a Mac consultant comes with a lot more pressure than my other job, believe it or not. It’s all eyes are on you. Sometimes the client is literally watching everything you do. If you miss a detail, either the client will catch you or you’ll realize what you missed after you’ve spent too much time diagnosing a simple issue. Missing one small detail can make the difference of solving a problem in 1 hour or 4 hours.

I used to think that checking things online or calling someone else that might know a little more than I do would come off as weak to a client. Boy was I wrong. Clients are impressed by it. You know where to look and who to call to solve a problem. Having a second opinion is always nice too. I’ve even called Apple a few times when I’ve gotten real stuck. And the client was happy I did. You have to exhaust all possibilities when you’re trying to problem solve. There’s nothing worse that saying you can’t figure out why a computer won’t power up and then a client notices the power strip isn’t turned on. Many times, it’s the obvious stuff.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with some of the biggest egos in the music and movie business, it’s that being kind, saying thank you and smiling will get you really far. My Mac clients are no different. I would say that the vast majority of Mac users are cool, creative and hospitable people. When you’re kind in return and stay positive even when you’re sweating bullets, it can make a big difference. They may even buy you lunch or dinner.

Sometimes I forget a lot of this stuff when I’m doing my regular job. Doing a little consulting on the side helps keep my brain working and helps me think more critically when I’m at the office. Just like anything, you gotta practice to stay sharp and if practicing means I can make a few extra bucks, then I’ll be doing as much of it as I can.