The Boyce Blog: June 2010

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

iPhone Software Update (iOS 4)

Somewhat overlooked in last week's iPhone 4 pandemonium is the updated operating system for iPhones called "iOS 4". It's available as a free download for existing iPhone and iPod Touch users. (Sorry, it is not available yet for the iPad.) I put it onto my iPhone 3GS and it's working fine.

Here's what you'll get when you install iOS 4 onto your existing iPhone: (note: iPhone 4 owners can skip this-- the iPhone 4 comes with iOS pre-installed.)
  • Multitasking: in effect, it lets you suspend an app, and come back to it later, just as you left it-- saving you the time it takes to launch it and get to where you were.
  • Folders: you can group apps into folders now. Each folder can hold 12 items. I have two and a half pages of folders, grouped just the way I like them (Navigation, Utilities, Reference, Shopping, Sports, etc.)
  • Improved Mail: you can see all of your Inboxes at once.
  • Digital Zoom for the camera: like the one in Gorillacam, but now built-in.
  • iBooks: you can now buy books from Apple's store, and read them on your iPhone or on your iPad. Note: free Winnie the Pooh book is included and the books have the same groovy page-turning animations as on the iPad.

It took about an hour for me to do the update on my iPhone 3GS and I would expect it to take about the same for you. If you have an original iPhone (aluminum back), you're out of luck-- it won't install at all, so don't try. If you have a 3GS it's a no-brainer-- go get it, it's free.

Here's a link to Apple's site where you can learn more about the iOS 4. Here's a link showing how to install it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Speed Up Your Mac (#1)

Everyone wants a faster Mac. It's a lot easier-- and cheaper-- to make yourself faster at using the Mac you have. Here's a great way to do it. First in a series.

Ever seen one of these? It's a Print dialog box with a couple of pop-up menus. If you want to make changes to the print settings you have to click the little up-down arrows in the blue area.

The problem with those little up-down arrows is they're LITTLE. So you have to be rather precise with the mouse, and that takes time, and it's the same with every pop-up menu, in every program, all day long. Except it's not.

Turns out that you can click ANYWHERE on the pop-up menu. Anywhere! Here's a picture showing you (in blue) where you can click-- that's a much bigger target, and much easier to hit. Knowing this, you don't have to be so precise anymore, and that'll save you time.

Here are some more examples. Which would you rather click on-- the big area in blue, or the tiny area in red? Go for the blue. Make it easy on yourself.

Here's the Appearance preference pane.

Here's a slight variation: an iCal event entry panel. Still, it works the same way. Click in the blue area.

So there you have it. With a larger target it's easier to put the mouse in the right place. Assuming you save two seconds per menu, and also assuming you deal with 37.4 pop-up menus per day (a number I just made up-- I mean, the national average), you'll save more than 5 hours in a year using this "aim for the larger target" method. That would let you spend more time ordering stuff through my Amazon link or baking cookies for sending to your favorite Mac guy.

By the way, this is my 200th post to this blog. How about that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

iCal calendar for World Cup matches

In the "better late than never" category, here's a calendar for your iCal with the time and date of every World Cup match.

Click here to get the calendar.

All you do is click on it. iCal will add it automatically. I would set it to refresh once per day-- not so important now, but when we get to the knockout round it will be nice to have the country names rather than "1st place Group C vs. 2nd Place Group D." You can turn it off with a simple uncheck-of-the-box later, or even delete it. So you're not stuck with this calendar for life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Free iPhones

Radio Shack will be selling the new iPhone 4, and will be offering $200 as a trade-in for iPhone 3GS owners. Since the new iPhone is $199, you're basically getting it for free. Worth checking it out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Free corn dogs!

Hot Dog on a Stick is giving away free corn dogs today, from 5 pm to 8 pm. One per customer. FYI.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mail Tip: Photo Browser

Apple's Mail program gives you several ways to send digital photos via email. There's the hard way (make a new email message, then click the paperclip icon, then hunt around for your picture, then give up); the less-hard way (switch to iPhoto, find your picture, select it, and click the Mail icon), the easy way (drag a photo to the Mail icon in the Dock), and the super-easy way: use Mail's built-in Photo Browser.

Here's a picture of a new message's toolbar, with the Photo Browser button circled:

When you click that button you get a palette like this one:

Everything in iPhoto shows up in this palette. So does everything in Photo Booth. You can choose an album, like so:

You can double-click a picture to see it larger, you can search for a picture using the search box at the bottom, you can control-click on a picture to change the view to "View as List." Here's what that looks like-- could be handy someday.

I like the Icon View but it's nice to know the List view is available.

Once you've found the picture you want you simply drag it into the Mail message, exactly where you want it to be. For example:

That was easy... but there's one more thing. Look at the bottom right of the message window. There's a little menu, called "Image Size." Here's a better view.

You can click on it and change the size of the image. As you choose different options the message size (shown at the bottom left) adjusts instantly. Pretty neat stuff, really.

So... next time you're in Mail, and you want to attach a photo, click the Photo Browser button. It makes sending photos unbelievably easy.

Bonus Tip: look for a Photo Browser (sometimes called a Media Browser) in other applications too. You'll find one in Pages, Keynote, Numbers, RapidWeaver, iMovie, iDVD, Pixelmator, and probably a lot more, but (notably) not anything from Microsoft or Adobe.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

iPhone 4- yes please

When the first iPhone came out I got one, but I didn't really "get it." Now, though, I get it-- and I'll be getting the new iPhone the first day (June 24th, 2010).

Here's a link to Steve Jobs introducing the new iPhone ("the iPhone 4") at the World Wide Developers' Conference two days ago. He explains it better than anyone, so get the story straight from Steve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

iPhone Sliiiiiiide Technique

If you're an iPhone user you know that accurate pointing leads to efficient use. Actually, it's the other way around: inaccurate pointing leads to inefficient use. It's not easy to be accurate when your finger's bigger than the buttons and keys and controls on the iPhone's screen, but it turns out there's a useful technique that will help you when you're off the mark. In a nutshell, it's this: if you touch the wrong key, don't let go-- just sliiiiiiiiide to the right key, and then let go. For example:

Here I'm in the middle of writing a text message. I want to write "Stop it" and I've gotten as far as the "S." When I go for the "t" I miss and land on the "r."

You can see it in the picture below.
Do I accept that "r" and then delete it and then try for the "t" again? No! Instead, when I see that "R" indicating that I hit the wrong letter I simply sliiiiiiide over one letter, wait for the "T" to show, and then I let go. Ahhhh-- that feels good.

Here's what it looks like.

This technique works other places too. Here's one example that I use all the time: in Contacts, you get that TINY A-Z list at the right.

Supposedly you're able to touch a letter in that list and jump to the that letter in your Contacts file. More times than not I don't land where I want to-- but with the sliiiiiiiide technique I just keep my finger down and sliiiiiiide to the proper letter, and then let go.

Here's what it looks like when you touch and HOLD (yes, the list turns gray):

Keep the "sliiiiiide" technique in mind for the next time you touch the wrong spot on your iPhone's screen. It makes correcting an error as easy as making one.

I have likened this method to playing checkers: your move isn't official until you let go. Maybe that will help you remember.

National Office Manager Appreciation Month

June is loaded with holidays: there's Flag Day and Fathers Day, of course, but there's also National Donut Day (on the 4th-- free donut at Dunkin' Donuts if you follow that link), Donald Duck Day (on the 9th), and Waffle Iron Day (on the 29th). To that, add National Accordion Awareness Month and National Turkey Lovers Month, and you might think that June is all holiday-ed out. But no. It turns out that June is National Office Manager Appreciation Month, and in recognition of National Office Manager Appreciation Month all Amazon referral fees for the month of June will be gift-certificated to my Office Manager. If you don't have an Office Manager you can show your appreciation for mine by clicking the Amazon link at the top of this page when you want to do some shopping.