The Boyce Blog: February 2011

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nifty Time-Saving iPhone Tip


Ever get an email on your iPhone, and for whatever reason you would rather call the person than email him back? You can do it in a couple of taps. For example, let's say you get this email on your iPhone.



If the email contains a phone number, like this one does, just touch it. A little window will pop up:


Touch "Call" and you're done. That's pretty easy: the phone number is in the email, you touch it and tap Call. A touch and a tap.

(So... if you want to make it easy for people to call you, add your phone number to your email signature. On an iPhone, you do it in Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars/Signature. On a Mac using Mail, it's the Mail menu, then Preferences..., then Signatures. Gmail people: click Settings at the top and look around.)

But... what if the phone number isn't in the email? Do you have to look it up? Of course the answer is "no, not if you finish reading this blog entry." All you have to do is touch the sender's name, up at the top of the message. It's outlined in red here so you know what I'm talking about.



If the sender is in your address book you'll be taken to his contact information, and from there you can touch whichever phone number you want to call him at.



Touch any phone number and it dials. Nice. So that's just a touch and a tap too.

You can scroll down a bit and see the rest of the sender's information, like so:


Touch an address and you'll see it on a map. Touch the web page address and it opens in Safari.

Scroll to the bottom and you find some handy buttons:


All in all, pretty handy stuff, especially if you're using your phone while driving, even though you would never do that. (A great place to never do that is San Jose, CA but if you do you might get to meet my brother, State Traffic Officer Spencer Boyce of the California Highway Patrol.)

Note: if you don't have the sender in your address book, touching the sender's name will take you to a screen where you can put him into it. It sounds like a lot of work but a good address book on the iPhone will pay off over and over for you. So don't cut corners on the address book. Make it as complete as you can.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Retailmenot.com: Money-Saving Website


Ever buy something online, and right at the end you see a little box that says "Enter your promotional code here"? Ever wonder how you're supposed to get those codes? I get them from Retailmenot.com. Retailmenot.com provides discount codes for use on other websites (and printable coupons for use in stores, and news about special offers). I've made checking with Retailmenot.com a habit-- every time I'm about to buy something online, I open another browser window (File/New Window, or Command-N) and see if Retailmenot can help me save some money. A lot of the time they can.

It's an easy website to figure out. Here's what it looks like (note: it's better on a Mac than on an iPhone):



You can search for a store-- here's what happens when you start typing "Jcpenney":


Rather handy. When you see the store you're interested in you can click on it and boom, you're shown a list of discounts and special offers for that store. Here's part of what that looks like (it's a long list).



Retailmenot is pretty clever. They'll show you deals for other stores and online merchants that are similar to the one you've chosen. And sometimes they just come out of the blue with a great idea. Here's one they recently showed me from Amazon:



Who knew? That's a great deal. Thanks, Retailmenot.com!

Monday, February 14, 2011

VIDEO Tip: Safari Bookmarks

Back by popular demand, it's VIDEO. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a movie should be worth even more. Let's test that theory out.

A couple of weeks ago we had a contest about Safari Bookmarks and cool ways to make them. Nine-year old Zach won it with the first tip in this video. The second tip is provided at no additional charge, though Zach probably already knows all about it.

Have a look. Click the picture below to start the show.





NOTE: the first tip in this video also works in Firefox. The second one does not. Use Safari.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Instant Access to Websites with your iPhone and iPad


The iPhone's Safari browser is nice and quick. What isn't quick is typing in a web address-- it takes longer to tap-tap-tap http://christianboyce.blogspot.com into Safari than it does to read the articles when you get there. There are ways to make getting to websites in Safari quicker; here are two of the best. The second one's better than the first but read the whole thing anyway.

First, use the bookmarks. The icon looks like an open book, at the bottom of the Safari app (circled in red below). Tap that button and you're on your way. Of course, you have to get bookmarks into your iPhone. The easy way: set them up in Safari on your Mac, check the box in iTunes to synchronize bookmarks, and sync. Or add them via the Share button on your iPhone (keep reading).


Having bookmarks makes using Safari on your iPhone a lot easier-- just tap Safari, tap the Bookmarks button, scroll around through the folders and eventually you find what you're looking for and then you tap that. Whew. Not easy enough.

Here's the right way: add icons for your favorite websites to your Home screen so you can load them in one tap. Actually, make that "Home screens." As long as there is room for another icon on one of your Home screens this tip works. When there's no more room, you can't use this tip.

So how do we do it? Easily, that's how:

1. Go to the web page that you want to make an icon for.
2. Tap the "Share" button (just to the left of the bookmarks button). You'll get this screen:



You want "Add to Home Screen." Choose that, and you get this:



Like they say-- "An icon will be added to your home screen so you can quickly access this web site." Adjust the name as desired (more on that later) and tap the blue "Add" button. That's it. Here's how your Home screen might look after adding this site:



One tap on that red-circled icon and you go straight to the web page. Pretty neat, but not actually pretty. There's room for improvement. Two tricks: first, before adding the icon to the Home screen, stretch the web page until you're looking at exactly what you want the icon to look like. Here's an example, using http://christianboyce.blogspot.com:



I know this guy.

NOW when you hit that "Share" button your icon will look pretty good, depending of course on who's looking. Mom likes this one.

The second thing to do is to keep the name short. As we saw above, "The Boyce Blog" turned into "The Bo... Blog"-- sounds a little stinky. Shorten up the name and you'll end up with something that fits, as seen below.



Next time you want to go to the Boyce Blog, poke that icon in the nose and the page will come right up.

(Bonus: to get rid of an icon just touch it and hold it until it wiggles. Then tap the circled X in the top left corner of the icon. Double-bonus: this whole thing works for iPads too.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

iPhone's Greatest Hits


To my new-to-the-iPhone Verizon-subscribing friends, first of all WELCOME. We are glad you're here. The party is three and a half years old and it's just getting started. You're late, but in six months no one will remember.

Second, you can learn a lot about the iPhone in three and a half years. But, lucky for you, I already learned it, and I'm going to boil it down to the things I think you will really like about the iPhone. Here, then, are the iPhone's Greatest Hits.


Use the Clock app
. It's terrific. Use it as an alarm clock that goes off at 6 AM on weekdays and at 8 AM (or not at all) on weekends. Set a second alarm to remind you that it's garbage day tomorrow. Set another one that goes off at midnight to wake you up in case you fell asleep at your desk writing blog entries.


Did I mention "use the Clock app"? It's also a handy timer. Set it for ten minutes even though you never forget that you have biscuits in the oven.


Get your Apple Address Book up to date and sync it with your iPhone. With good info in your iPhone's contacts database you can do a whole lot of stuff in just a couple of taps. For example, touch a person's phone number to dial it. Touch a person's email address to create an already-addressed message. Touch a person's home or work address to see it on a map. (And once you've seen the address on the map, tap it and get driving directions to or from.)


Keep the screen as dim as you can stand because the brighter it is, the faster the battery drains. And it might drain so fast that you run out of juice before the day is through. (Bonus hint: get a cigarette lighter charger thingy and keep your iPhone plugged in when you drive.) Keep Bluetooth turned off too, unless you need it. And definitely turn off that "Ask to join networks" option. It will drive you nuts. Home/Settings/Wi-Fi/Ask to Join Networks OFF.


When you're scrolled way down, like maybe in the Zs in your iPhone contacts, touch the time (top of screen) to scroll back to the top. Bonus: it gives you a search box so you can find people by typing a few letters of their names. This works in a lot of places-- Mail, Safari, Stocks, Messages, and more. This is a standard iPhone feature, so expect it to work everywhere.


Give the Calendar's List view a try. It's really the best way to go.


Explore the App Store. On your Mac, start iTunes, click on "iTunes Store," and have a look around (or click this link). On the iPhone, touch the App Store icon. There are zillions of iPhone apps and a lot of them are free. You'll be amazed at what's out there.


Get to know the Camera app. HINT: it takes pictures when your finger comes off of the button, not when you touch it. That way you're less likely to shake it. HINT: when composing a picture, touch the screen to show what you want to focus on (and set exposure for). HINT: when composing a picture, touch the screen to get a little zoom slider. It's not a "real" zoom but hey, it's free. HINT: when you take a picture, tap the little square thumbnail at bottom left to see what you took. Touch the "Share" icon (box with curvy arrow) to get all kinds of options (email the photo, assign the photo to one of your contacts, use as wallpaper, etc.). HINT: if the "Share" icon isn't showing gently tap the picture. The icon will come back.


Get to know the Maps app. Touch the arrow at bottom left to see your current location on the map. Touch the turning page icon at bottom right to see options to show and hide traffic and to choose between a map view, satellite view, and a hybrid view. Touch a "pin" on the map to get more info about that location, including (often) a photographic Street View, phone numbers, and driving directions.


Finally, read what I've written about iPhones to date here on the Boyce Blog. Every post is categorized so all you have to do is click where it says "iPhone" under the By Category heading at the left. This one time only I will provide a link that does the same thing-- just click here. You can search for specific topics using the search box, also at the left (click here if you don't see a search box). It's all free, and it won't take three and a half years. As always, send me your questions and if they're of general interest I'll answer them here on the blog.


By the way, Verizon has some good iPhone information on their site, and I'm as shocked as anyone. Here is the link. I'd read all of it if I were you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Introducing "The Daily"


From the press release:

New York, NY, February 2, 2011 – Today Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Corporation, unveiled The Daily -- the industry’s first national daily news publication created from the ground up for iPad.  
 
“New times demand new journalism,” said Mr. Murdoch. “So we built The Daily completely from scratch -- on the most innovative device to come about in my time -- the iPad."
 
“The magic of great newspapers -- and great blogs -- lies in their serendipity and surprise, and the touch of a good editor,” continued Mr. Murdoch. “We’re going to bring that magic to The Daily -- to inform people, to make them think, to help them engage in the great issues of the day. And as we continue to improve and evolve, we are going to use the best in new technology to push the boundaries of reporting.”
 
The Daily’s unique mix of text, photography, audio, video, information graphics, touch interactivity and real-time data and social feeds provides its editors with the ability to decide not only which stories are most important -- but also the best format to deliver these stories to their readers.


You can download The Daily from the App Store via this link. It's free. But not completely (and of course you have to have an iPad-- there is no version for the iPhone). When you subscribe to The Daily they send you a new edition every day, and it costs you roughly 14 cents per day (exactly 99 cents per week). If you pay for a year up front it's $39.99 for the year, or roughly 11 cents per day, or $3.33 per month. Compare that to what it costs to subscribe to a newspaper on a Kindle:

• New York Times, $19.99 per month
• The Wall Street Journal, $14.99 per month
• The Los Angeles Times, $9.99 per month
• The Austin American-Statesman, $5.99 per month
• The Boston Globe, $14.99 per month
• Chicago Tribune, $9.99 per month
• The Denver Post, $5.99 per month
• The Houston Chronicle, $5.99 per month

There are some advantages to the Kindle offerings (for starters, you can read them on a Kindle, and that's a GREAT way to read stuff), but they're not in color (The Daily is), they're not loaded with movies and sounds and interactive elements (The Daily is), and they're not designed to be read on an iPad (The Daily is). Of course, there's that little matter of "content" and it will be interesting to see whether The Daily turns out to be as polarizing as Murdoch's Fox News Channel (note to Mr. Murdoch: please, no).

They're offering a 14-day trial so if you have an iPad you may as well check it out. The Daily includes daily crossword and sudoku puzzles, by the way, and though I haven't tried it out I am guessing that doing them on the iPad will be a neat experience (literally).

Whether The Daily turns out to be great journalism or not, it's a step in the modern direction as far as presentation and delivery, and while you can't wrap a fish in it I think the modern way is going to win. I am guessing that a LOT of people in the "real" newspaper business will be watching The Daily very closely-- and if it's a success you can bet that we'll see a bunch of publications putting themselves onto the iPad too. I'm thinking that "newspaper delivery boy" may not be a really good career choice in the not-too-distant future.

You can read the official press release here. You can go to The Daily's website here. Lots of good stuff in both places.