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The iMom Project, Day Six

Ten tips in ten days. Day Six.

One of the things that we've grown used to on the Mac is Undo. Make a mistake, and if you catch it soon enough you can go to the Edit menu and choose Undo. Super powerful, and super handy. I use it all the time. Turns out the iPhone has Undo too, but you have to know how to do it. Or undo it. Whatever.

First let's look at some scenarios where you'd want to use Undo. Maybe you've been writing an email on your iPhone, and somehow you select a bunch of text, like so:

And then, with all that text selected, you start typing again, or maybe just accidentally touch a key on the iPhone keyboard, and all of a sudden all of that text that was selected is gone. It happens. Oops.

Or, maybe you typed something, backspaced over it on purpose, and then changed your mind again and decided you wanted it back after all. Each of these scenarios screams for an "Undo." So now we're going to learn how.

Remember the Etch-a-Sketch? Remember how you erased it by shaking it? Of course you do. If you think of it as "undoing" your Etch-a-Sketch picture (instead of erasing it) you will know how to "undo" on the iPhone. That's right: when you want to Undo something on the iPhone, you shake it.

Give it a whirl. Type something into an email (or anywhere else that you enter text on the iPhone). Now shake the iPhone (side to side). A little message pops up, with a button that lets you "Undo Typing." Looks like this:

Touch the Undo Typing button, and of course you are back to where you started... but if you shake the iPhone again, you get another little message, and this time there's a "Redo Typing" button. (There's still an Undo Typing button, which would "Undo" your typing even further.) Looks like this:

You can tell from the times on these screen shots that I took a long time to think about whether I wanted to undo or redo, but that's OK. You can take as long as you like.

This "Shake to Undo" method works on the iPads also but you really have to move it to make it happen. I recommend that those who want to use "Shake to Undo" on an iPad hold on with both hands because if you don't have a good grip you will fling the iPad across the room.

That wraps up Day Six of the iMom Project. Hoping you learned something.

Bonus: music to shake your iPhone to.

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The iMom Project, Day Five

Ten tips in ten days. Day Five.

Let's talk about the Calculator app. I am sure that you have tried it already, and you are probably thinking it's a little simplistic for a Math major like yourself. Which it is. But, sometimes you just need to do a little quick addition or division or whatever. And the Calculator is great for that.

But wait, there's more.

Suppose you enter something into the Calculator and you make a mistake. Maybe you're trying to enter 727.62 and you get everything right except for the last character. Do you then touch the "Clear" button (marked with a C) and start over? Well, you could. But you don't have to! All you have to do is swipe your finger across the number display and the last digit is erased. Swipe it again and another digit's erased. Erase as much as you need to, then type in the proper digits. See below.

First, the original boo-boo...

Then, we swipe from left to right, in the Calculator's display (or, as it turns out, from right to left in the Calculator's display-- doesn't matter) and we get this:

Finally, we touch the proper digit-- the "2"-- and we are done. This saved us a little bit of tippy-tapping-- all we did was one swipe, and then the 2. That's less work than touching the Clear button and then typing in 727.62 again, which we could easily mis-type again anyway.

Here's another neat thing. The "Clear" button clears only the last number entered, so if you are in the middle of a calculation and you make a mistake you don't have to start over. For example, if you want to figure out the sales tax on an item that costs $19.37, and you type in the 19.37 and touch the X and then you type 0.875 instead of 0.0875, you can touch the "C" and clear just the 0.875. Then you can type in the right number and hit Equals and you're done. (You will notice, after you touch the C button, that it changes to "AC"-- for "All Clear." That can be handy too.)

Of course there is still more.

If you rotate the iPhone you get a much more sophisticated and capable calculator. Have a look at this beauty:

Plenty of options, and all for free. Note: you can rotate the iPhone in the middle of a calculation and it won't miss a beat. (One reason to use the rotated one, even if you don't need the functions, is the rotated Calculator can show 16 digits while the "normal" one shows 9.)

Want more? Good, there IS more. Suppose you use the Calculator and you get some big ol' number as the result, and now you want to put that number into an email. Do you jot the number down, and then switch to the Mail app and then type it in there, giving you two chances to make a simple transcription mistake? No you do not! You touch the Calculator's result with your finger, hold it down until it turns blue (the result, not your finger), then let go and tap "Copy." Now you can go to the Mail app and paste. This way, you can't write it down wrong, and you can't type it in wrong. Way to go, Apple.

One more hint: turn up the volume when you're using the Calculator so you can hear when you've pressed a key. The sound is good feedback.

OK, that's it. Made it with two hours to spare. Halfway through The Project.

Still have questions? Email me.

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The iMom Project, Day Four

Ten tips in ten days. Day Four.

Today's tip: use the "search" screen. It looks like this:

Once you get to this screen (I will tell you how in a minute), you can search for just about anything on your iPhone (or iPad). Here's a partial list:
  • Apps
  • People
  • Notes
  • Emails
  • Calendar events
I say "partial list" because you can also search, right from this screen, the web (using Google), or the famous Wikipedia. But that stuff's not actually "on" your phone, and the list was about stuff on your phone, so we have to make that distinction.

Let's talk about how to get to this screen. There are two ways that I know of:
  1. You can, from any of the home screens, swipe from left to right until you get there, or...
  2. You can, from any home screen, press the Home button (which takes you to the first home screen), and then press the Home button again. If you're already at the first home screen when you press "Home" so much the better.
Note: do not press the Home button multiple times quickly. Press it once, see what happens, and then (if necessary) press it again.

So... let's say you want to call me on your fancy new iPhone. Yes, you could go to Contacts, and then you could search for me, and then you could touch my phone number to call me. But, now that you know how to search the whole iPhone, you can press the Home button a time or two to get there, type in a few letters, and voila, there I am. You save yourself the trouble of going to the Contacts, and the result is just as good. See below.

Just touch my name, which brings up all of my numbers, and touch the one you want to call. By the way, I got rid of the old 310-927-3711 phone number so you can take that out of your address book. There are enough ways to contact me without having a second cell phone.

Notice, when you find stuff this way, that you don't have to specify WHERE you want to look. The search automatically in all of the places listed above, all at once. That's cool. Also, you don't even have to touch the blue Search button. The iPhone will search as soon as you stop typing. Everything should be so easy.

So that's it. Play around with this. I think you will be surprised at how handy it is. You might even find things that you didn't know were there!

Still have questions? Email me.

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The iMom Project, Day Three

Here we go. Day Three.

The iPhone clock app. So simple. Yet, so fabulous. I use the clock every day and so should you. Here are some ideas for you:
  1. Use it as an alarm clock. It's way way WAY better than the alarm clock you use now, because with this one you can set multiple alarms! Set an alarm for 7 AM on weekdays and for 9 AM on weekends. Set an alarm to remind you that your favorite TV show will soon be on. Set an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed!
  2. Use it as a timer. It's way way WAY better than the timer you use now, because the one in the kitchen is attached to the oven and if you're out in the yard you won't hear it go off. Set a timer for two minutes so you don't forget to stir the coffee. Set a timer for 12 minutes so you don't forget to take the biscuits out of the oven. Set a timer for 60 minutes so you don't run out of time on the parking meter.
The clock app actually has four functions, not just two, but I never use the stopwatch and I only used the World Clock a couple of times-- I don't need to know what time it is in Paris on a daily basis. But who cares about what I don't use. It's the stuff that I DO use that is so neat. Anyway, get familiar with the iPhone's Clock app, and you'll find yourself using it all the time.

Here's a picture of my iPhone, with various alarms set for various days.

And here's a picture of the timer, ready for the biscuits.

That's it. Check back tomorrow.

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The iMom Project, Day Two

Ten tips in ten days. Day 2.

When taking a picture with the iPhone, remember that the picture is taken when you take your finger off of the button, not when you touch it. So, get the camera app going, compose your picture, put your finger on the button and keep it there waiting for that perfect moment... and then, very gently, take your finger away. You will get better pictures this way (stabbing at the button to capture the picture at just the right time results in a jarred iPhone, and a blurry picture).

Bonus: remember that that the camera "button" is on the screen-- it's NOT the home button. See below.

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The iMom Project

I set Mom up with an iPhone 3GS this week, and she's getting the hang of it. I thought I'd speed up the learning process by teaching her a tiny bit about the iPhone every day. My plan is ten tips in ten days. Figuring that a lot of other people are new to the iPhone too I thought I'd put the tips here on the blog so everyone else can benefit. That means you, Debbie, and also you, Christi.

So here we go with Tip Number One.

Know How to Zoom In and Zoom Out
There's a shortcut for zooming in (and out) and people usually "discover" it by mistake. The feature is not necessarily turned on, but if it is, a three-fingered double-tap on the iPhone screen will zoom you way in.

Here's what a home screen looks like normally...

Here's what it looks like after a three-finger double-tap:

That's a 500% zoom, by the way.

I've received calls from people who have accidentally triggered a zoom with the three-finger double-tap. They think that something was wrong with their phones. It can be pretty mysterious the first time, that is for sure, but all you have to do to get out of it is do the three-finger double-tap again. Easy.

You can zoom any screen, any time. Works everywhere. If you want to scroll around when you're zoomed in, use three fingers to drag the screen around.

If you find yourself accidentally zooming in and you want to turn the feature off, do it like this:

Tap the Settings app, then General, then Accessibility, then Zoom. Turn it off using the switch next to the word "Zoom." Of course, if it's off and you want it on, you can switch it ON, and try it right there. No need to "save" or logout or reboot or anything. You can always come back and change this setting later. I leave mine set to "On" because zooming in comes in handy every so often.

OK, that's it for Tip Number One. Give it a whirl.

Welcome to the party, Mom.

Still have questions? Email me.

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Search Google Images by COLOR

I know, everyone knows how to use Google... but not everyone knows how to use Google IMAGES to search by COLOR. They will if they read this blog entry.

Suppose you go to Google and you search for something. Here, I've searched for Yoda. I want pictures, so I'll click either of the three red-circled "Images" links.

The result of course is a page full of Yoda images.

Of course you can use the options in the left-hand column to choose an image size (use "Medium" or "Large" if you intend to print the image). But... how about those color options? Who would have guessed that you can find images of Yoda that match a color scheme?

Here's what you get when you click the green square.

Of course, Yoda is green. So you don't see a major effect here. However, look what you get with blue, and black, and purple. Very interesting, and just what you need to match your bag and shoes!

Of course it works with other searches, not just for Yoda. Here are some examples of color-filtered Texas wildflowers. First, the non-filtered search...

Then red (it shows right there on the screen)...

Then yellow...

Then pink...

Then blue. Neat.

I think it's rather amazing. I don't know when they added this feature, but as always, as soon as I noticed I wrote it up here.

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Radio Interview: WWDC Wrap-Up

I talked Saturday with with Digital Village, a terrific radio program based in Los Angeles, about Apple's recently concluded World Wide Developers' Conference. We talked about iCloud, iOS 5, and Mac OS X Lion. This link will take you to Digital Village's archived audio page-- my part is right at the top (or, if you're coming in late, it's in the June 11th 2011 section). Lots of other good stuff to listen to while you're in there. Have a look around.

From their web page:

"Digital Village is a weekly broadcast about the impact of technology, computers and the Internet on media and popular culture, hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons.

Rather than endless product reviews, we focus on how the technology is changing the way we communicate."

That works for me.

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Save Money with Apple's Back to School Promotion

Apple launched their annual "Back to School" promotion this morning, offering a $100 "Back to School Card" with purchase of a qualifying Mac. The card can be used at the Mac App store, the iPhone/iPad/iPod App Store, the iTunes Store, and the Apple iBookstore.

You have to purchase between now and September 20th, 2011 and to be eligible you have to be a college student, a parent buying for a college student, or a faculty or staff member at any grade level. If you're an elected or appointed member of a school board, or an elected or appointed officer of a PTA or PTO, you're also eligible.

Buy through the Apple Online Store for Education. Or, buy it at your school's Authorized Campus Apple store. Or, buy it at an Apple Retail store and tell them you want the education discount (bring an acceptance letter or a school ID). You'll save at least $50 that way, probably $100, and maybe more than that.

So... you save money on the cost of the machine, AND you get a $100 gift card. You'll also get Mac OS X "Lion" for free via the "Up to Date" program (see this link) so there's another $29 you're not spending. Just about every Mac qualifies, including MacBooks, MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, iMacs, and Mac Pros. Maximum of two per customer.

Still have questions? Email me.

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iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

I sure love my iPad 2... but I seem to spend a lot of time switching between the regular onscreen keyboard and the numbers one and then back. At least I used to. Now, I make use of a bunch of nifty shortcuts. All of them involve holding down a key on the iPad's onscreen keyboard until you see a pop-up of other keys you can choose from.

See the picture:

This picture shows the pop-ups you'll get when you hold down the iPad's "E" or the "N" or the comma or the period (dark gray keys). The blue shows which symbol will be inserted if you let go without doing anything more. It's easy to get an accented "e" in this manner-- just hold the "E" key, slide up and over to the accented "e", and then let go.

There are many other keys (including the vowels) that will also pop up alternate symbols if you press and hold, so experiment a little and see what you can find. The numbers keyboard also has some alternate symbols-- give that a try as well.

Using this press, hold, and slide method you can save yourself a trip to the numbers keyboard just to get an apostrophe. Now you know how to get an apostrophe from the ABC keyboard, by pressing and holding on the command key. It's only a second or two, but they add up.

Try it. You'l like it.

BONUS: when addressing an email you get a different keyboard. On that one, holding the period down gives you .com, .net, .org, .edu, and .us (in addition to the period). How handy is that! It's my new favorite shortcut. Here's a picture.

DOUBLE BONUS: a lot of this works on the iPhone as well.

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Steve Jobs Keynote at WWDC 2011

Steve Jobs will give the keynote speech at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference today at 10 AM. It is sure to be all over the news. I will post a link to the official keynote video as soon as it is available (it does not appear that we will be able to watch it live at 10 AM).

No one "on the outside" knows what Steve Jobs will show at WWDC, except for what Apple has formally announced:
  • More stuff about Mac OS X 10.7, aka "Lion"
  • New stuff about iOS 5 (a new version of the operating system that makes your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch work)
  • New stuff about a service called "iCloud"
Anyone who says he knows more is probably just guessing. Apple does not like leaks, so even if a person does have insider info he would be foolish to tell. So no, I don't know whether we will see an iPhone 5. Or an iPad 3. Or some other gizmo that completely changes the game.

Basically don't know any more than you do. I have to wait for the keynote, just like everyone else. No matter what, it will be great to see Steve Jobs doing his thing on stage, even if it's delayed until Apple gets the video up.

Next year might be a different story. By then, I will be, officially, an Apple Developer, building iPad and iPhone apps (I can do simple stuff already, and making progress week to week). Thus, the WWDC would be a great place for me to be next June. In that case, I could report live from Moscone West.

If I can get my company to pay for it I'm going.

UPDATE: the Keynote Speech video is available via this link.

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