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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hear the Christian Boyce Macworld|iWorld Report on the Radio


I'll be giving my annual "State of the Mac (and iPad, and iPhone)" address this Saturday on the Digital Village radio program, hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons. The show starts at 10 AM this Saturday, January 28th, 2012 and in Los Angeles you can listen to it live on the radio, 90.7 FM KPFK. If you aren't within range of KPFK, listen over the internet using this link. And, if you miss the show, listen whenever you want by visiting Digital Village's Audio Archive. My part of the show will probably start around 10:20 AM but I'd tune in at 10 and listen to the whole show. Ric and Doran always have an interesting show, even when I'm not on it.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Apple's iBooks Textbooks Announcement


Apple's out to fix another broken industry, same as they did with music and cellular phones. This time it's textbooks, and I'll let Apple tell you why it's needed, and why the Apple solution is the right one. Here are a couple of links that tell the story: this one is a promotional video, and this one is the entire introductory event from last week.

One very interesting part of Apple's plan is that just about anyone can publish a book in Apple's iBookstore. You don't have to be a big-time publishing company, or even a small-time publishing company. You could be, for example, a Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant with cowboy boots who wants to publish a book of Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips. You can sell your books or you can give them away (or both). It's up to you. Read all about it here.

Apple's created a Mac application to help you create beautiful books. It's called iBooks Author, and you can download it for free by clicking here. The app looks a lot like Pages, so if you know how to use that one, you're going to have no trouble making books. iBooks Author is loaded with great templates and a lot of other stuff that will help you make beautiful books with minimal trouble. You will need Mac OS X Lion to run iBooks Author, by the way.

iBooks Textbooks could be a game-changer. It's way better than a PDF, partly because PDFs can't be re-flowed when the reader changes the font size or rotates the page. It's also way better than "publishing" materials as web pages, mostly because web technologies are not suited to precise layouts and ease of use. With iBooks, you feel as if you are directly manipulating the pages, and that's way better than reading something in a browser. So, people who used to publish books as PDFs and web pages now have a better platform for their work. There's no reason to shoe-horn a beautiful book into PDF or web page form, not anymore.

It happens that I really like "real" books. But, having read several books on my iPad, I'm already seeing the value and advantages of digital books. Apple's iBooks Author is going to help a lot more people get on the digital book bandwagon. It's not the end of books as we know it but it might be the beginning of the end of textbooks as they've been for generations. File this away and let's see how things turn out a couple of years from now.

In the meantime: if you have an iPod Touch, an iPhone, or an iPad, click here to get the new iBooks 2.0 app. While you're at it, try this link for an eye-popping collection of iTunes U courses, made for the iBooks app. Don't know about iTunes U? Click here to read my article about it, and click here to read what Apple has to say. Warning: if iBooks Textbooks doesn't make you want an iPad, iTunes U will. It's that cool.


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Win a Free Pass to Macworld | iWorld


Macworld Expo will be held January 26th through January 28th, 2012 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. This year, the show has a new name (Macworld | iWorld) which more properly reflects the show's split focus. If you're anywhere near San Francisco you ought to check it out.

I will be speaking at Macworld | iWorld this year as part of the new "RapidFire" session on January 26th. My topic is "Super Tips for the iOS Maps App" and while you may know a lot about Maps on the iPhone and iPad you might just learn something new. (You can learn a lot about the Maps app right now by reading a couple of my articles: iPhone Maps Super Tips, and The iMom Project, Day Seven (which was all about Maps).) As part of my deluxe compensation package, Macworld | iWorld provides a couple of "iFan" passes for me to distribute, with a value of $125 each, and if you email me with the subject "Macworld Passes" I will enter your name into a pool for a random drawing.

Entries must be received by 5 PM Pacific time, Friday, January 20th, 2012. Drawing will be held right after that. Winners will be notified by email.

UPDATE: the contest is over. Congratulations to Kina Casey and Larry Halme, winners of the iFan passes. Show-floor-only passes may still be available via the websites of some of the Macworld exhibitors, including beatthetraffic.com and macscan.com.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Favorite Keyboard Shortcut: Command-option-f


I like keyboard shortcuts. I especially like keyboard shortcuts that work in multiple programs (like Command-P for Print). Recently I learned a new one: Command-option-f, and it works in seven programs. Learn it once and get seven times the usage.

I really should tell you what it does but you'll figure it out.

Safari
In Safari, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the Google search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using Safari and you want to do a Google search, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy.

Firefox
In Firefox, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the Google search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using Firefox and you want to do a Google search, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Exactly the same as in Safari. Quick and easy again.

Mail
In Mail, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using Mail and you want to search for an email, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return.This is our third "Quick and easy." I sense a pattern.

iTunes
In iTunes, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using iTunes and you want to search for a song (or you want to search the iTunes Store), you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy number four.

Finder
In the Finder, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using the Finder and you want to do find a file, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy-- that's five in a row.

Font Book
In Font Book, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using Font Book and you want to find a font, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy #6.

Evernote
In Evernote, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right
(outlined here in red). So, if you're using Evernote and you want to find a particular note, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy-- that's SEVEN!

You might be wondering why not just do "Command-f" which is "Find" in a lot of cases. The reason, in most cases, is Command-f puts you into a different kind of Find mode than what we want here. For example, if you do Command-f in Safari, you'll be searching for a term on that page. Same thing with Firefox-- you won't be triggering a Google search, you'll be searching for something on the page you're already on. (This can be handy but it's not what we want to do here.) In iTunes Command-f won't do anything. In the Finder, Command-option-f and Command-f are interchangeable, so I like to use Command-option-f for consistency with other programs. In Font Book, Command-f does nothing at all (other than make your Mac beep at you), in Evernote Command-f will search the note you're on, and in Mail Command-f sets you up for a search-and-replace in the current email message. Nothing wrong with that but it's not what we wanted to do.

I would not be surprised to find Command-option-f working in other programs too. If you find one, send me an email and I'll update the blog.

You may also enjoy reading about the wonders of Command-L. It works in a lot of programs though it does not do the same thing in all of them.

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