I'm Christian Boyce, a Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant.
I have just one goal for my blog: to make it

The best site for Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips, period.


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My Favorite Shopping Site

dealnews.com
(Note: last week one of my customers-- Tom Nevermann, AKA "The Moving Doctor"-- asked me to help him find a good deal on USB-powered speakers for his Mac. I took him to www.dealnews.com and set up an email alert for him, and now every time a good deal on USB-powered speakers comes along, Tom gets notified by email. That experience inspired me to write this blog entry as I know DealNews can save you some money too.)

I get a lot of questions that start with "Where's the best place to buy..."? Generally speaking I refer the asker to DealNews, the best website for finding great deals on tech stuff like Macs, software, printers, and networking equipment-- and a whole lot more. Here's a picture of the DealNews site, with their categories across the top. I never use the categories-- I just leave it on "Everything"-- but the categories give you an idea of the kinds of things that DealNews tracks.

Here's that same page, scrolled down a bit so you can see the deals (the top of the site isn't where the action is):

DealNews doesn't sell anything (except for advertising space). Their business revolves around getting people to come to the site, which they do by scouring the web for great deals and presenting the deals in an easy-to-navigate webpage. They don't care which store offers the deal- it might be Sears, it might be Buy.com, it might be Dunkin' Donuts. Doesn't matter to DealNews (although, if the store gets complaints, DealNews will quit showing their deals).

The more people come to DealNews the more they can charge for their advertisements, so DealNews does what they can to make you want to come back. One way they do it is by updating constantly, and that's a good reason for YOU to sort the deals in chronological order (look for a "sort by" pop-up toward the right), and also a good reason for you to check in on the site more than once a day. Deals don't last forever and sometimes they don't even last an hour. Keep that in mind when you find something you like on the site-- my advice is "buy it right now."

You can search DealNews (see the box at the top right). That's a good start, but a lot of the time the stuff you'll find has already expired. That's a drag, but DealNews has a "Get Deals via Email" feature (right above the search box) and with email alerts you'll know about deals as quickly as they're put on the site. You do have to sign up, but it's free, and they promise not to sell your email address or use it for anything else, so I think you can go ahead with this.

Setting up a DealNews email alert is easy-- you pick a store, or a product, or a category (or some combination), and DealNews will send you an email when something that matches comes along. You can set up as many alerts as you'd like, and with Christmas coming up (only 7 months away) you can sit back and cherry-pick the very best deals and save a bunch of money on your presents. I already have three presents stashed away in my secret present place, all purchased via a DealNews email alert.

Note to Suspicious Minds: you may be thinking "I'll bet they just post the deals of the people who pay the most! That's how they make their money!" Well, that might be true, but their Editorial Guarantee says they will never do that. I think they're telling the truth. If they took payola we'd find out soon enough, and when that happened we'd all go somewhere else for deals. They know that. It's in their best interests long-term to be honest, and that's what I think they are.

Of course they do take ads-- that's how they make their money-- but the ads are clearly labeled and they're not mixed in with the rest of the deals.

I check DealNews at least once a day. Recent deals that I've taken advantage of include free ice cream at Ben and Jerry's, 10-foot USB cables for $1.97 shipped, and a 42-inch 120 Hz Philips LCD TV (not for me, for a friend-- and he saved about $300). Go check it out.

In Case You Wondered
No, we do not get anything for recommending DealNews. We do get something for recommending products on Amazon.com, so if you can't find what you want via DealNews please feel free to use the Amazon link at the top of the page here. When you go to Amazon via that link they'll know we sent you, and a tiny referral fee comes our way when you buy something. It comes out of Amazon's pocket, not out of yours, so you have nothing to lose and the great feeling of supporting this blog to gain.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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Handy iPhone App: Gorillacam


I've been experimenting with a free iPhone app called "Gorillacam." It comes from the people who make the GorillaMobile iPhone tripod but you don't have to have the tripod to use it. Gorillacam improves upon the standard iPhone Camera app in several ways, including the handy features shown in the picture below:

Of these, I like "Press Anywhere" (lets you take a picture by touching anywhere on the screen-- especially handy if you're taking a picture of yourself at arm's length), Self-timer (especially handy if you've put your iPhone in a GorillaMobile for taking a picture of yourself from further away than arm's length), and Grid (especially handy if you're into the "Rule of Thirds" for composing pleasing pictures-- not of yourself this time).

Here's an example showing the Grid and the Bubble Level (you can turn on more than one feature at a time, depending on which feature you've chosen.)

Here's how it (might have) looked without using the Grid and the Bubble Level. What a difference! Heh.


One feature not shown above is "Digital Zoom." You can zoom in 4x-- and though it's digital (and not optical), it looks pretty good. Yes, you could just take the picture without the zoom and then "zoom in" in Photoshop... but Photoshop's a pain, and expensive. This thing's easy, and free. Zoom in, take the picture, and send it to a friend, without coming home to connect to your computer. Couldn't be easier than that.

Here are three pictures, the first at regular magnification, the second zoomed half-way, and the third zoomed all the way. They all look pretty good to me. I held the iPhone in the same location for each picture.


Zooming is as easy as dragging a slider to zoom in or out. You'll get it on the first try.

Gorillacam works with all iPhones, including the original, as long as the iPhone is on version 3.1 or better of the iPhone OS software. Your iPhone ought to be on 3.1 for other reasons, and that's free too, so there's really no reason NOT to give Gorillacam a try. There's more to Gorillacam than I've mentioned here, and all of it's good, so go get it and have some fun. In case you missed it, here's the link.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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About That Stolen iPhone...

It sounds like a joke-- "Guy walks into a bar..."-- but it's pretty serious stuff: Apple engineer loses prototype iPhone in a bar, someone finds it, leaves the bar with it, and sells it to tech/rumor/news site Gizmodo.com for a cool 5 G's. Gizmodo takes it apart, writes about it, gets lots of attention. Apple wants its phone back, police get involved, search warrants are presented, Gizmodo reporter and the guy who "found" the iPhone are both in big trouble.

That's the short story. Until now, that's all we had. Until now.

The longer story is very nicely told in the Affidavit for Search Warrant as published by Wired.com tonight. Have a look. It's a little slow to get started but when you hit the half-way point it starts getting interesting (and it gets better after that).

Looks like crime doesn't pay after all. Good.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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iPhoto: Edit Using Full Screen


I'll bet you use iPhoto a lot-- not just for storing and organizing your photos, but for editing them too. The usual method of editing starts with you choosing a photo to edit by viewing thumbnails, as shown below.

Then you double-click a thumbnail and get the editing window shown below. The picture you chose is highlighted in the thumbnails across the top of the window, and the image itself is enlarged in the center of the window, ready for you to crop or straighten or whatever. That's not a bad way to do it but it's not the best way.

Next time, try this: hold the Control key and click and hold on a thumbnail. You'll get this nifty "contextual menu" and you can choose "Edit Using Full Screen" from it.

Your picture will zoom to take up the entire screen. Move the mouse to the top of the screen and you'll see thumbnails again-- that makes it easy to choose another picture. Heres' what that looks like.

Move your mouse to the bottom of the screen and you'll see these buttons-- same as in the normal "double-click-to-edit" view, but with two more buttons: Info, and Compare. "Info" is pretty obvious, but Compare is worth a little explanation.

Here's what happens when you click on "Compare"-- it shows you the picture you were editing, AND it shows you the next picture, side-by-side. You can quickly scan through your photos using the left and right arrow keys (that will load the next picture into the frame with the border) and when you find one you like, you can edit using the tools across the bottom.


You can also choose photos to compare by clicking them in the thumbnail bar across the top of the screen. And, if you want to compare more than two, hold the Command key down and click on as many more as you'd like.

Even if you never make use of Info and Compare it's always nicer to work on a larger image. Give the Control-click-Edit-Using-Full-Screen method a try. You're going to like it.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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