Monday, January 31, 2011
There was plenty of cool stuff to look and play with and you can read about some of it here, here, and here. Rather than describe every interesting item I saw at Macworld I'm going to tell you about the things that I bought. You know I had to like it if I spent my own money on it. Here, then, is what I bought.
Camera Plus Pro (iPhone app for cropping/fixing/enhancing photos), $1.99. Share your modified pictures via email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Picassa with just a couple of taps. You get a lot for your money with this one.
Here's a picture I took with my iPhone 4.
Here's how it looks after cropping and sharpening and a little "warming" using Camera Plus Pro. I could touch that triangle in the lower left-hand corner and post it to Facebook in a jiffy if I wanted to.
Here's what the interface looks like for cropping. Easy enough to do.
L5 Remote (iPhone app combined with an infrared transmitter), free app, $49.99 for the transmitter. Use your iPhone as a custom universal remote control for TV and stereo. Create multiple remotes (swipe to move between them) for different rooms. I can make one for controlling Mom's TV and another for controlling my own stuff.
Here's an example of what you can do. Note the buttons at the bottom for various stations-- Tennis, Golf, ESPN and ESPN2, etc. Set those up and you'll never have to remember that ESPN is channel 417 and ESPN2 is channel 429.
Two things I'm going to buy soon:
Kensington "SoundWave" Sound-Amplifying iPhone mount (for use in the car-- attaches to windshield with a suction cup or to an air vent with a clamp), $29.99 with free shipping (via Amazon.com). I've decided to use my iPhone as a GPS, but I need to attach it to the car somehow. This Kensington device is the ticket. The part that makes this thing special is the sound from the iPhone comes out of its bottom speakers and is routed through some tubes into a couple of flared-out openings, and it makes the sound louder-- a very important thing when using a GPS in the car. Without some sort of amplification the iPhone isn't loud enough to be heard in the car. This holder's design approximately doubles the iPhone's volume. And you don't have to take the iPhone's case off to make it fit.
IRIS "Scan Anywhere 2" scanner. List price is $199 but the people at the IRIS booth told me it will go on sale at Frys.com with a $75 mail-in rebate starting February 1st. They expect the price to get down to about $120 after the rebate. This scanner is about as big as a box of aluminum foil so it is very portable. It connects to your Mac with a USB cable and you can shove paper into it a sheet at a time and it scans just fine. The really big news: you can do it even without being connected to your Mac. The Scan Anywhere 2 has rechargeable batteries in it, and it has built-in memory, and it has an SD (camera card) slot, AND it has a USB port for attaching a USB "thumb" drive. So, you can use the Scan Anywhere 2 on an airplane, or in a hotel room, or really just about anywhere. Then, after doing your scans, you connect it to your Mac (or pull the SD card or USB stick and connect that to your Mac), and it mounts on the desktop like an everyday drive, and from there you can drag the scans to wherever you want to drag them. Very neat, especially at $120.
Here's a picture.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Macworld Expo 2011 begins today in San Francisco. Historically the largest annual Mac-related love fest held near a large body of water, Macworld has evolved over the years to a smaller show, with iPods and iPhones pushing Macs aside. However, it is still held near the same large body of water.
I think I've been to every Macworld Expo, which means something like 25 of them, which also means that I'm not 22 anymore. Hmm. I expect to see a lot of iPad-related things at the show, but one thing about Macworld Expo is you really can't predict it. One other thing about Macworld Expo is you can "do" Macworld in thirty minutes by listening to my Macworld Expo Report on KPFK-FM radio this Saturday at 10:30 AM. Click here to listen (or tune to 90.7 FM in Los Angeles). Not now, silly-- Saturday at 10:30 AM. Of course it is OK to practice in advance.
UPDATE: Here's a link to a recording of my Macworld report. Twenty-two minutes and 46 seconds.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
You probably think you know all about making bookmarks in Safari, and maybe you do. But, do you know know all about editing bookmarks in Safari? You will in a minute.
Let's start with making a bookmark. Click the plus sign to the left of the URL, or go to the Bookmarks menu and choose "Add Bookmark..." Or use Command-D. There are a couple of other ways too-- more on that later.
Whichever you choose, you'll end up with this box:
So far, so good. Pay attention to where you put the bookmark. For this example, we'll put our new bookmark into the Bookmarks Bar because there's something we want to do with it.
If you're following along your Bookmark Bar will look a lot like this. Except yours may be so full that there is no room for more bookmarks in the Bookmarks Bar. That's OK-- that's the problem we're going to solve here.
By default, Safari names your bookmark using the name of the website. Sometimes it's a little long, and that can crowd the Bookmarks Bar. If you're right on top of things you can shorten the name before you click the "Add" button. But, if you're that good, you'd be writing this blog, not reading it. And nobody's perfect anyway. Here's how you shorten the name of a Bookmark Bar bookmark after the fact.
Step 1: Control-click on the bookmark you want to shorten. You'll get a menu like this:
You want to edit the Name of the bookmark, not the Address. The Name is "The Boyce Blog." The Address is "http://christianboyce.blogspot.com." Totally different.
Here's the box you get. Shorten the name as desired. Maybe just take off the "The." That's Step Two.
What you're doing here is purely cosmetic. The link goes to the exact same address. It just has a shorter name. You can change the name to anything you like. But shorter is better-- that's the whole point here. And there is no Step Three.
OK, that was easy. Now let's do one that REALLY needs shortening: Amazon.
Note: Amazon.com offers your humble blog writer a TINY referral fee when you start your shopping via a specially-coded link. Here's the link-- let's click on it, and then we'll add the bookmark, and this time we'll pay attention when we add the bookmark so the name's not so long.
You can tell that the name is going to be LONG-- you see it at the top of the window. "Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVD & more"-- that's going to take up half the Bookmarks Bar!
(Actually, Safari will shorten the name for you automatically but it's messy. Do it yourself instead.)
Step One is add the bookmark-- click the plus, use the Bookmarks menu, or Command-D. Be sure it goes into the Bookmarks Bar.
Step Two: let's shorten the thing right now, getting it right the first time. Just change it to "amazon" as shown here. Click OK.
So now you have a bookmark/shortcut to Amazon that doesn't take up half your Bookmarks Bar. Yay. And when you use that shortcut it adds a few pennies to the Christian Boyce Coffee Fund. Double-Yay.
Now... let's say you want to rearrange things on that Bookmarks Bar. That's easy-- just click a bookmark and drag it around! Drag left or right and the other bookmarks make room for it. Drag it DOWN and you'll throw it away, with a very nice puff of smoke effect. Make a few bookmarks that you don't really want so you can practice this-- it's fun.
Firefox users: guess what? It works almost exactly the same way for you! Control-click on a bookmark in the Bookmarks Bar and you'll get this menu:
Choose "Properties" as shown here and you'll get this box, which you can edit as desired.
Way back at the beginning of this I told you that there are other ways to add a bookmark. If you know another way, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance at an Official Christian Boyce Economic Stimulus Coffee Cup. Entries must be received by midnight, January 31st 2011.
You want this. Good luck.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Steve Jobs is a lot of things, but he's not a mind-reader. I mention this because article after article tells us:
• "For years, and across a career, knowing what consumers want has been the self-appointed task of Mr. Jobs" (New York Times)
• "Jobs' greatest gift hasn't been for invention as much his uncanny ability to anticipate what people want" (The Associated Press)
• "He is perhaps singular in his ability to know what people want" (The Christian Science Monitor)
I say bah.
Steve Jobs can't tell what people want. But he doesn't have to. He knows what he wants, and he knows that when he shows it to you, you're probably going to say "I want that."
I am willing to bet that you NEVER sat around thinking "You know what I want? I want some raw fish. And wrap it in seaweed. And make it expensive while you're at it." And then someone introduced you to sushi and you said "I want that." You didn't know you wanted it because you hadn't thought of it. And if the person who introduced you to sushi had asked you what you wanted to eat you sure as heck wouldn't have said "raw fish, wrapped in seaweed, very expensive." No chance-- because it would never have crossed your mind.
Henry Ford said "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said 'a faster horse.'" Steve Jobs has cited that quote a few times, usually when someone asks him why Apple doesn't use focus groups to help design products. More to the point, he's put it this way:
"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
That makes sense to me. The point is that a lot of us don't really know what we want-- but show us something, and we'll know whether we want that particular thing or not. The hard part is in the imagining. There is nothing magic about this, and it happens in other fields, notably writing (hardly anyone can start with a blank page and put something good on it, but almost everyone can tell whether someone else's writing is worth reading). Steve Jobs has done a great job of putting ideas on paper and turning them into products. And, when he shows them to us-- and that includes me-- we all say "I want one!" Actually, I usually say "I want two!"
Knowing that people WILL want something (once they see it) is different than "knowing what they want." Lucky for us, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs didn't ask us what we want-- because if they had, we'd all be riding a faster horse, and though horses don't have charging ports for iPhones it wouldn't matter because the iPhone wouldn't exist.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Nevertheless, there are a lot of people saying thinks like "that's the end of Apple, time to sell my stock." I don't agree with that. Yes, Steve Jobs is a special guy. But, he's hand-picked a bunch of special guys to help him run the company, and they've done it before, and they will do it again. Odds are that there's a new iPad coming soon, a new iPhone coming soon, and who knows what else coming soon. These things take a long time to develop and it's very likely that the pipeline is full of products on their way to market.
If the CEO of Christian Boyce and Associates takes a medical leave of absence, you'd be right to worry for the company. In Apple's case, just worry for Steve.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Mac help Austin Texas
... and you get a pretty good list. But, there are a lot of repair places listed, and you don't need repairs, you need help. You can make the "repairs" items go away by modifying your search like so (the minus sign is the key):
Mac help Austin Texas -repair
Pretty good. But, it turns out there's a cosmetic company called MAC and they're showing up at the top of your search. Change it again, using the minus sign:
Mac help Austin Texas -repair -cosmetics
That just about does it (though, at this writing, the top item is a help-wanted ad, where someone needs a chicken sitter! I do not make this stuff up).
So, what have we learned? Use the minus sign in front of words that you DON'T want included in the search results. Be sure that the minus is preceded by a space, and that there is no space after the minus. You want this:
Bonus Tip: Google doesn't care about the capitalization. So mac help austin texas -repair -cosmetics gives the same results as Mac help Austin Texas -repair -cosmetics. Save yourself a tiny bit of work there.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Well well well. As predicted, you will soon be able to use an iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network. You can read all about it on Verizon's website but they leave a few things out. Here's the stuff they don't come right out and say.
- Verizon's version of "3G" is not as fast as AT&T's version, so speed-wise AT&T's network is better. When you have coverage.
- Verizon's 3G network has more coverage than AT&T's, so coverage-wise Verizon's network is better.
- Verizon's network does not allow you to talk on the phone while doing internet-data things such as sending email or browsing websites but AT&T's does.
- Verizon has not announced pricing for its iPhone service.
You can't sign up for an iPhone for Verizon until February 3rd, and maybe until the 10th. Depends on whether you have a Verizon account already or not. If you're using an iPhone now (with AT&T, of course) you will have to get another iPhone because the AT&T iPhone won't work on the Verizon network. Different antennas and all that.
I think it boils down to this: if AT&T has good wireless coverage in the places you go the most, you're better off with an AT&T iPhone. Technically AT&T is a better network, with better speed and more modern technology. Of course, AT&T's network is rather overwhelmed in some parts of some cities, so if Verizon works more reliably for you then Verizon's the way to go, even though it 's slower and uses older technology. Do keep in mind that if you want a Verizon iPhone you will have to get in line behind my friend Jeff, who has been waiting since 2007.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Apple introduced its Mac "App Store" today and I love it. I think you will too. First things first: your Mac has to be on 10.6.6 or later. Here's a link to the 10.6.6 Combo Update. You can't use the update unless you're already on 10.6.something, FYI.
When you install the 10.6.6 Combo Update you get one new application-- the App Store-- placed into your Applications folder, and it's also given space in your Dock. Give the App Store icon a click and you're in-- that's all there is to it.
Here's what you see when you launch the App Store. By the way, I don't like the App Store's icon, even though it's blue. I think they could have done better.
In many ways, the App Store is just like the iPhone's App Store already in place for the iPhone, and it has all of the iPhone's App Store advantages:
- Very, VERY easy to purchase an app, 24 hours a day
- Apps install themselves-- all you do is choose an app and pay.
- Payment handled through your Apple ID, the same one used for iTunes purchases and iPhone app purchases-- no need to supply credit card info again and again.
- Well-organized, searchable collection of apps.
- Lots of free stuff.
Yes, you can find apps all over the web, but that's part of the problem-- they're all over the web. In the App Store, everything is right there in one place. It's easy to find apps, even if you're not looking for them-- for example, I downloaded the free "Alfred" shown above, and am having a great time playing around with it. I probably would not have stumbled across Alfred if not for the App Store. I am sure that you will find plenty of neat apps that you weren't necessarily looking for when you go to the App Store. It brings a little extra fun to the Mac.
Installing an app purchased from the App Store is completely automatic. When you click the little "free" button under the app (or the one that says "$4.99" or whatever-- you have ONE thing to do, namely enter your Apple ID name and password. The app then flies across your screen in a nice arc, landing in your Dock. That's it! No disk image to deal with, no dragging to the Applications folder, no message about this app being something downloaded from the internet, do you want to use it etc. Could not be simpler.
If you know what you're looking for you can search for it (top right). If you're just looking around, try looking at the free apps, or the paid apps, or the "Staff Recommendations." Or browse by category: Business, Education, Entertainment, GAMES (hi Zach), Photography, Productivity, etc.-- 21 categories in all.
One more thing: in many cases the App Store will save you money. For example, if you want the latest iPhoto, but don't want to spend $49 for the entire iLife suite, you can spend $14.99 and get just iPhoto-- and get it right now. How cool is that?!
Nothing's perfect, and if you want to read about all of the imperfections here's a nice link. I think the good far outweighs the bad, and I'm sure that the App Store will be a big hit with Mac users and software developers alike. I see that the people who programmed Angry Birds for the Mac have the 3rd-highest gross for the day-- and at $4.99 a pop, they must have sold a zillion copies, because the programs at numbers 1 and 2 sold for $79.99 and $14.99, and the program in position 4 sells for $29.99. Which reminds me: parents, encourage your kids to learn how to program for the Mac and iPhone. Someday they might strike it rich. The Angry Birds guys did. Happy New Year indeed.