I’m delighted to announce that the Apple App Store accepted my first iPhone app, Fine Tip – Tip Calculator, on my first try. You can use Fine Tip to quickly calculate your next restaurant bill’s tip and grand total. It’s fast and easy to use. Take a look at the demo/tutorial:
Years have passed with no significant changes made to the podcast functionality built into the iTunes (now Music) app. As a daily consumer of podcasts, I had high hopes for Apple’s newly released (June 26, 2012) ‘Podcasts’ app.
While some improvements were made – namely the ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app – for several reasons, I will remain loyal to Downcast:
- Direct Updates, But No Wi-Fi-Only Updates: The most important new feature of Apple’s new ‘Podcasts’ app is its ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app without the need to physically connect the iPhone/iPod to a computer. Inexplicably, Apple provides no setting to limit such updates when connected to Wi-Fi only. Without this feature, Podcasts users will quickly see their monthly bandwidth allotments eaten up by podcasts downloads. This is a major fail!
- 30 Second Skip & Instant Replay, But No Ear-bud Control: Finally Apple built-in the ability to skip forward 30 seconds. Instant replay has been built-in for years. But, surprisingly, you cannot trigger this functionality with the ear-bud controls. I listen to hours of podcasts every day through my ear-buds. While walking dogs, carrying a baby or out in the winter, I do not want to have to reach into my pockets every few minutes to skip forward or rewind a podcast. And there is no Siri control of podcast playback either. Grrr!
Because I used Windows Live Mesh in the past (or maybe because I tested out Skydrive in the past, I don’t know), I was eligible for the free upgrade. Without this free upgrade I probably wouldn’t have used either Google Drive or SkyDrive because their free storage options (5GB and 7GB respectively) were not quite large enough to contain all the contents of my pictures (7.5GB) and key files (2.5GB) directories.
While I was an enthusiastic early user of Dropbox,
I prefer SkyDrive over the new Google Drive and DropBox primarily because I can sync any number of disparate existing folders from my PC. Google Drive and Dropbox limit your sharing to only one dedicated folder.
[Update: After reading the Paul Thurrott piece listed below, I discovered that, unlike Live Mesh before it, Sky Drive does not yet allow you to sync multiple disparate folders . It appears to have the same dedicated folder limitation that Google Drive and Dropbox have. Alas, while I’m happy to have the 25GB upgrade, it won’t be used until I can use SkyDrive to sync multiple folders.]
If the warning above annoys you as much as it does me whenever you open an attachment in Outlook 2010 (or outlook 2007) the video below shows you how to get rid of it.
[Note: This is a reprise of an earlier post where I showed how to do this in the context of Outlook 2007.]
There is a known video rotation issue when importing videos into Windows 7 that were taken in landscape mode with the iPhone 4 and 4S . In Windows, iPhone videos will be upside down if, when you took them, you held the iPhone horizontally with the recording on/off controls at the top. Turns out that if you want your video to be right-side-up when importing them to the PC you will need to hold the iPhone upside down when taking the video.
Also, all videos taken in portrait mode on the iPhone will appear sideways when imported onto the PC. There is no way to take portrait videos on the iPhone 4 and 4S without them appearing sideways on the PC.
In the video below I show you how to use the terrific free ‘Freemake Video Converter’ app to solve this problem by rotating your imported videos to the proper orientation.
There is a known Windows 7 rotation issue with portrait photos taken with the iPhone 4 and 4S. Unlike with the 3G or 3GS, photos taken in portrait mode on the iPhone 4 and 4S do not auto-rotate when imported in to Windows 7. This is the case: (i) whether you sync your photos via iCloud; or (ii) whether you physically import them via USB; even when you explicitly set the Windows import utility to auto-rotate them on import. The issue is being discussed here, here , here and here on the Apple support forums and here on the Microsoft support forum.
To make matters worse, a good portion of these photos end up locked in such a way that you cannot subsequently rotate them with the various photo rotate tools built in to Windows 7 (see error message in the image above).
As part of my ongoing move to a ‘ paperless’ office, I purchased a Doxie scanner. It’s small, easy to use and does exactly what I need – scan to an app or the cloud.
The key benefit of this scanner is that I can scan into any app that accepts images or documents. Most importantly for me, it scans directly into Evernote. I’m finally able to ‘easily’ get rid of any number of rag-tag pieces of paper that collect with odds and sods of information.
I have a Brother copier, printer, scanner but its too difficult to use. To scan documents on it I have to, place it in the scanner, close the lid, press a whole bunch of buttons, open the archaic Brother ‘Control Center 3’ software, scan in the document (at a glacial speed) where it store the document somewhere on my computer. From there I have to find it, sort it, open it and do something with it.
With the Doxie, on the other hand, I just place the paper in the scanner, press the Doxie button, it scans (faster than the Brother) then it asks where I want to send it (to Evernote, Flicker, Paint.net, Google Apps, most any app on my PC) and then it sends it to where I want it stored/used. It’s so much easier. There is no file where the document/image is stored on my PC unless I want it.
The only issue I have with it is that I still have not found a way to scan directly into OneNote. For now I scan into Paint.net, then copy it over to OneNote.
Bottom Line, it’s fast, easy, and exactly what I need.
I bought a brick for the Twit Brick House and received this Certificate of Appreciation:
Today I received an email from Seppo Sahrakorpi of Pilvi Computing announcing his new ‘Streaming Guide’ which links to all the disparate TV streaming offerings available to Canadians. I tested it and it works well. The interface is rather sparse, yet simple and effective. It’s a simple alphabetical list of all TV shows that can be watched online in Canada. You can sort by various genres.
Putting this together must have been an awful lot of work. What’s more, to keep it up-to-date, will require a herculean ongoing effort. Let’s hope Seppo is up to the task! Thanks for all the hard work Seppo.
NOTE: Last I tested it, Hotspot shield still allowed Canadians full access to Hulu.
This week, Netflix launched its long awaited and much coveted Netflix Canada service. Unfortunately, the content selection cupboard is mostly bare.
The limited offerings (and lack of DVD service) explains the $7.99 Cdn per month price. The minimum monthly fee that Americans pay for their Netflix service is $9.95 U.S.. For that they get a DVD-by-mail service and a substantially broader array of on-demand offerings.
Limited Launch Offerings:
Browsing through their movie and TV offerings, it appears that there are only about 100 older movies available – too many of which are third-rate movies. There are no new movie offerings.
There are only 18 TV series available at launch, with Heroes seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 constituting four of the 18. Mad Men seasons 1, 2 and 3, but not any of the current Season 4, make up another three of the 18. Several of the available TV series I’ve never heard of (Hoarders, Paranormal State, The Boondocks, Drop Dead Diva?). Aside from Heroes and Mad Men, there are no other past or present broadcast or cable network prime-time hit TV series available at all.
Happily, the service is not chock-a-bloc full of the made-in-Canada TV content that riddle the Canadian versions of the Apple TV & Xbox 360 on-demand services. In fact, there isn’t a single made-in-Canada movie or TV show available through the service.
At this moment I can access each of:
- Hulu: I can access full episodes of shows on Hulu now. Below, for example, is Episode 2 of Season 1 of MasterChef:
- Pandora: I had happily used Pandora for a long time before they cut off access to Canadians. I’m delighted that I can access it again.
Since upgrading to iOS 4 a couple months back my iPhone 3G has ran as slow as molasses. So frustratingly slow that I have been considering replacing it with an Android (though Android handset choices in Canada are few).
Today iOS 4.0.1 was released. As you can see below it purports to include iPhone 3G performance fixes.
After futzing around with my updated iPhone 3G for an hour I can report that the update has fixed the problem somewhat. Apps do start and function quicker than they have recently. But the device and its apps still run noticeably slower than pre-iOS4.
I’m still considering an Android but, for the time being, am unlikely to completely abandon the iPhone. I’m hoping future iOS updates continue to fix 3G performance issues. But, I’m not holding my breath.
I’ve been waiting patiently for my Flipboard invite since its launch last week. I received my invite earlier today and have been playing with it ever since.
At the moment I follow 74 terrific Twitter users. About 75% of their tweets contain links to interesting articles on topics dear to my heart. Flipboard turns this curated feed of news stories and blog posts into a beautifully personalized eZine. As I flip through Flipboard, instead of links to the stories in my Twitter feed, the first few paragraphs and accompanying picture from most of those linked stories are attractively and interactively displayed on my iPad. If I want to read the full story, I tap it and am instantly taken to the underlying story on its originating website. Another tap and I’m back to my Flipboard eZine. See the demo below:
Leo Interviews the writers/creators of the wildly successful ‘I’m on a Horse’ Old Spice commercial. They explain, step by step, how Isaiah Mustafa got from the shower to the horse.
Having recently updated my Adobe Flash Player software for the umpteenth time on two different PCs, I discovered that if you download and install it in the normal way, you end up with a new and unwanted Adobe Download Manager Firefox extension that cannot be removed.
Here’s how to avoid this:
On the Adobe Flash Player download page, uncheck the “Free McAfee Security Scan Plus” option (who knows what that will add to your machine), then click on the yellow “Agree and install now” button:
Google Apps Sync (see video below) for Outlook is a Godsend!
Until recently I was using:
- iMap to sync email between Outlook, Google Apps Gmail and my iPhone/iPad;
- Google Calendar Sync to sync my calendar between Outlook and Gmail; and
- iTunes to sync contacts and calendar with my iPhone/iPad.
Until Google Apps Sync I had no way of syncing contacts between Outlook and Gmail. When iTunes version 9.1 crapped out and stopped syncing contacts and calendar with my iPhone (this was fixed in iTunes 9.2 by the way) I made the decision to pony up the $50 a year for Google Apps Premier which includes Google Apps Sync.
It was worth every penny. I am rid the sync hodge-podge described above. I now have an end-to end, email, calendar, contact sync solution across my PCs, Google Apps Gmail, my iPhone and my iPad.
The Problem – How to Sync Only Selected Contacts
I only want a relatively few current contacts synced from Outlook to Gmail, my iPhone and iPad – about 250 or so contacts. But, I have accumulated some 800 contacts including historic clients and colleagues from prior law firms, restaurants from when I lived in different cities, old friends I no longer keep in touch with and so on. I don’t want to lose these contacts but I also don’t want them cluttering up my Google Apps Gmail, iPhone or iPad contact lists.
While you can segregate contacts within different contact folders inside the Google Apps Sync account in Outlook, all contacts such segregated contacts continue to sync into the unified Gmail, iPhone and iPad contact lists – regardless of the contact folder structure you set up inside of Outlook.
Contrary to what I read and heard on Twitter and multiple podcasts over the last week, I believe that Zuckerberg did not:
- self implode
- have a panic attack, or
- evade questions.
at last week’s D8 Conference. I think he acquitted himself well. Yes it was hot in there and he sweated a lot. Yes, he’s not an ideal public speaker. But at 26 years of age, for who he is, I think he did well.
At a few points there were noticeable gaps in time before he answered a question. Some characterized those gaps as a panic attack. I characterize it as the response of a careful and thoughtful person. Thinking before speaking is an admirable quality.
I understand why people disagree with Facebook’s privacy policies (most notably Jason Calacanis), but I don’t understand the rabid Facebook villainization I’ve witnessed recently.
The D8 interview was interesting. Certainly the most insightful Zuckerberg interview I’ve seen.
Watch the video above (larger version here) and judge for yourself.
Due to a recent rash of spam commenting, for the time being I have changed The Daleisphere’s comment settings to permit comments only from registered users. When leaving a comment you’ll be asked to identify yourself through any of the accounts shown in the graphic above – ie: by using any of your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo or OpenID accounts. Note: This is secure. Neither I nor Disqus gain access to your account details when you login this way.
Unfortunately I’ve had to delete hundreds of spam comments over the last few days. Hopefully Disqus will soon get a handle on whatever technique comment spammers are using and put a stop to it. Otherwise I’ll have to seriously consider moving to IntenseDebate. Sorry about this. 🙁
I tested out the Seesmic iPhone App today. Seesmic on the web is my current preferred method of viewing tweets on the desktop. While the iPhone app is a terrific start, given the deal breaker points discussed below (not remembering where the user leaves off in the timeline, no landscape viewing modes and no ability to adjust fonts), I’m sticking with the new official Twitter App (aka Tweetie 3) on my iPhone – bugs and all.
- ITS FREE
- NICE INTERFACE: It has a terrific and elegant interface.
- CLASSIC RT: It supports classic ‘RT’ retweeting.
- EVERNOTE INTEGRATION: You can now post a tweet to your Evernote database with the click of a button. I love this idea! I hope more twitter apps (iPhone or desktop) add this feature in the future.
- UNLIMITED LOAD OLDER TWEETS: It supports unlimited ‘Load older…” tweets at the end of the timeline (something that the Twitter App also supports in theory but is often buggy)
- WICKED FAST: It is surprisingly fast when loading those older tweets. It is faster than the Twitter app, Tweetdeck and Echofon.
- ADJUSTABLE ‘TWEETS LOADED’ SETTING: I like the ability to set how many tweets it downloads at a time. I always set these to the max – usually 100.
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU LEFT OFF ON START: I try to read every tweet from the limited number of people I follow. To do this I want my Twitter app to start up where I last left off. The Seesmic iPhone does NOT remember where I left off when I shut down the app and restart it – even if I shut it down for just for a minute and come back. THIS IS A CRITICAL FLAW AND DEAL BREAKER FOR ME!
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN RETURNING FROM LINK: If you are, say, 5 hours down your timeline, and then you click on a link in a tweet to read a linked story within Seesmic’s embedded browser, when you return, you are returned to the TOP of the timeline – not where you left off. You must scroll down and find where you left off in the timeline. If you left off beyond the 100 tweets loaded, you have to reload the older tweets. VERY ANNOYING & ANOTHER DEAL KILLER!
- NO LANDSCAPE MODE: It’s all portrait all the time. This is especially painful when viewing websites within its embedded browser. THIS WAS ALSO A DEAL KILLER FOR ME (Twitter App & Echofon do landscape – Tweetdeck doesn’t)
- NO USER SELECTABLE FONT SIZE: My aging eyes need this!! Another deal killer for me. I note Tweetdeck also cannot adjust fonts whereas the Twitter app and Echofon can
Since I marked my first 100 Twitter followers with this post back on July 4, 2009, I thought I’d mark my second hundred followers with this post. It took 13 months to reach 100 Twitter followers and just over five months to pass the 200 mark on December 7, 2009.
As was the case in my earlier post, I still only follow a relatively small, but terrific, group of people (currently 64). When I follow someone new, I try to cull another. All with the view to reading (or at least scanning) most every tweet they make.
Twitter has changed the way I use the Internet. These exceptional 60+ sources feed me almost all of my daily tech news. I rarely surf from blog to blog the way I used to. I have also abandoned RSS feeds altogether. Twitter-sourced news is superior.
I have also abandoned Friendfeed. Despite some strong lobbying by Davis Freeberg, I just didn’t see the point. Everyone is on Twitter. And, since Facebook purchased Friendfeed back in August, its future is uncertain.
If the warning above annoys you as much as it does me whenever you open an attachment in Office 2007, here’s how to get rid of it.
Microsoft has understandably made security a cornerstone of its recent software releases. Each time you attempt to open a possibly malicious attachment in Outlook 2007, a warning dialogue box like the one above appears. It presents an always-checked, always-grayed-out box that reads: ‘Always ask before opening this type of file’.
Because Word, Excel, PDF and other document types can contain malicious code, you should, as the box warns, only open attachments from trustworthy sources. But, if you have a modern Anti-Virus program such as AVG or Microsoft’s Security Essentials (both of which are free), attachments in your emails should already be checked for malicious code. When this is the case, this warning dialogue box is an unnecessary interruption that becomes increasingly annoying if, like me, you receive emails with attachments many times a day.
The Solution in Windows 7
Warning: You should only do this if you have anti-virus software installed on your computer that checks for, and quarantines, all emails that contain attachments with malicious code. And, as the warning says, you should never open attachments from anyone that you don’t know and trust!
OK, you’ve been duly warned. Here’s how to do it:
Last March, I switched ISPs from Rogers to Bell’s fiber-to-the-building Internet Max 16 service. I made the switch at the same time I ‘cut the chord’ – dumping Rogers cable in favor of HD, over-the-air only, TV recorded on my Series 3 TiVo.
Bell offered me a one year promotional deal for their Internet Max 16 service where I would receive (in theory*) download speeds of up to 16 Mbps and 1 Mbps upload for $41.90 a month. At the time, my theoretical 10 Mbps down service from Rogers (with a 95 GB cap) was costing me $59.95 a month.
As with Rogers, all of Bell’s plans have data caps – much smaller than comparable U.S. ISPs I might add. The data cap for the service under the Internet Max 16 promotional offer is 100 GB.
Periodically during each month, I check my Bell Internet usage meter** (shown below, after the jump) to make sure I’m staying within the 100 GB cap. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the month where I am always running up against the cap.
As you can see in the picture below (circled in red after the jump), Bell’s ‘My Internet usage’ meter contains fine print which reads:
Note: Current total Internet usage activity shown may be delayed by up to 60 hours.
As usual, Americans can watch live streams of 2009 U.S. Open tennis through the US Open 2009 Website.
Also, as usual, Canadians and the rest of the world can’t.
Below, I include links to two services offering live streamed 2009 U.S. Open tennis matches. When I tested these sites on Monday August 31, I could find every match I wanted to watch in English.
To schedule your viewing, the U.S. Open Tennis 2009 play schedule is here.
You can find several matches on MyP2P. You may have to click around awhile to find one that works and/or is showing the match you want in the language of your choice. Some links require a plug-in to be downloaded. I don’t trust them. I only access those that play without a plug-in.
Since purchasing my iPhone back in August 2008, every time I connected my iPhone to my PC (originally Vista, now Windows 7 RC), iTunes would automatically start the Windows ‘Import Pictures and Videos’ wizard (“IPVW”), regardless of whether or not there were any new pictures on my iPhone to import.
Since I connect my iPhone to iTunes every day (to update my podcasts, backup data, install new apps etc.), I had to cancel out of the IPVW every time I connected. This was a daily frustration!
Along the line I had collected up some 30ish pictures in my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ for the following reasons:
- Originally, I had not set the ‘delete from iPhone when importing’ option in the IPVW, so those pictures remained on the camera roll even after syncing; and
- For some good pictures, I just wanted to keep a copy on my iPhone for viewing.
Strangely, there is no way to move pictures from the iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ to an album in the iPhone’s native Photos app.
Most of the time I want pictures to be copied off my iPhone when I sync. As a result I had set the IPVW’s Import settings (see link in picture above) accordingly. To my mind, the iPhone should only automatically pop-up the IPVW when there are new pictures that a user might want copied over to the PC. That is not how it works.
Today, July 4, 2009, Robert Jones became the 100th person to follow me on Twitter. Dave Zatz was the first non-automated follower to follow me. Thanks Robert & Dave. Joining Twitter on June 4, 2008, it took exactly 13 months to go garner my first 100 followers.
Having reached the 100-follower milestone, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on my experience to date.
On Followers and Following
Who I Follow: For the most part, the only people I follow on Twitter are those that I have an ongoing relationship with (about 15 to 20 people) and thought leaders (about 35 people). In order for me to continue following someone they must have a high wheat-to-chaff ratio. Meaning, most of their tweets must be about topics I am interested in – not what they ate for lunch.
Loyalty: I am a rather loyal sort. If I follow someone, I follow them. The reason the list of people I follow is short (by Twitter standards) is because I read/scan most every tweet that comes in.
The Kawasaki Exception: Early on I followed Guy Kawasaki. He was/is an interesting Twitter user. But this guy (pun intended) doesn’t know when to stop! He sends out torrents of tweets each day. I couldn’t take it any more. He is the only person I unfollowed because of too many interesting tweets. FYI his post: “How to Pick Up Followers on Twitter” is pretty good except for his advice to follow everyone that follows you – ugh!
How I Found those I Follow: The best way of finding interesting people is to mine the following list of the people that I already follow.
Who I do Not Follow: Anyone else. I know, this makes me an anomaly on Twitter. I don’t have the time to follow many more people. If I follow someone new and stick with them, I’ll usually remove someone else.
I Do Not Follow to be Followed: Most people that have huge follower lists also follow a huge number of people. How can someone follow 10,000 people? 1,000 people? Really!? I can barely keep up with the 50 people I follow.