Back in July I wrote a blog post entitled “Top 5 Menu Bar Apps” in response to Tammy’s question of what my favorite apps were. In my top 5 was a menu bar app called Jettison, and I sang its virtues for letting me very quickly eject external drives and put my Mac to sleep in a single gesture. I was very enamored with Jettison but it has gotten flaky on me in that it won’t launch at login every time. So imagine the value drop when you have to launch an app in order to eject and sleep? Not really very useful. To be fair, I never contacted the Jettison folks to see if they had a fix.
I bring all this up because last October, I got a comment on that blog post suggesting an alternative called Mountain from appgineers.de. For the last two months I’ve been moving it out every week hoping to get time to take a look at it, and finally that time has come.
Mountain’s reason for being is to allow you to quickly mount and unmount local drives, servers, and disk images. It runs as a menu bar app so you’ve got easy access to it’s services. There are three categories of things it can play with:
- Internal volumes
- External volumes
iFlicks review from iflicksapp.com by Jeff from New Hampshire helps you get your videos into the right categories in iTunes. I review the Fire TV Stick from Amazon (spoiler, I like it!) Donald Burr brings us his review of the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P App-enabled, Portable Label Printer. I tell the story of the trials and tribulations of trying to leave my current Domain registrar to go over to Hover (see the shownotes to get a coupon code for 10% off). Don’t forget to use the Amazon Affiliate link in the left sidebar at podfeet.com for your holiday shopping! George from Tulsa reviews 3 Android devices: The Nvidia Shield Tablet, the Amazon Fire HD6 Tablet and finally the Amazon Fire Phone (I’m not even going to let you have a link to that one based on George’s review!) In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart takes us back through the beginning of Taming the Terminal Part 25 of n on IP Subnets and then takes it home to the point that I actually understood it!
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- Getting organized!
The solution: a labeler!
But they really suck!
- Label cables/power bricks to match them up with the devices they belong to
- Label drawers that store various types of cables/other objects
- Label file folders
Enter the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P App-enabled, Portable Label Printer!
- Lousy little rubbery keyboards
- Tiny, faint, barely visible display
- Very limited selection of fonts, no capability for images, etc.
- 6x5x2 inches
- Fairly heavy (about 1.5 lbs, but that’s with batteries in it)
- Large door on the side of the machine where you load the tape cartridges
- Windows on both the side and front of the device, let you see what kind of cartridge you have loaded
- Connections on the rear for power and USB
- No keyboard or display – that’s because it’s app enabled!
- Can print on labels between from 1’4″ wide to 1″ wide
- Can print over USB from Windows and Macs
- Can print from mobile devices over Bluetooth
- App supports text, graphics, and barcodes (both 2D and 3D)
- Single line or multiline text, variable font and font size, and can add a border
- Wide variety of label types are available
Printer knows what size of label is inserted (so you can’t print on the wrong size)
Printer can be powered either by AC or battery
App supports many different label types (plain old text, graphics, barcodes, etc.)
App comes with a lot of standard labels (warning/safety labels, etc.)
A lot of customizability in the app
- Standard stick-on labels
- Extra strong adhesive labels
- Cable wrap labels
- Different colors (including clear)
Excellent build quality (even though it’s made of plastic, it’s very tough plastic and it feels solid)
- Use images from their clip art library, or use your own
- The conversion to B&W for your own images is very customizable
- Cartridges can’t be hot-swapped (means you have to turn it off/on, and then reconnect the Bluetooth)
- The app can get a bit wonky
- Not iPhone 6/6+ optimized (I’m sure they’re working on it)
- Sometimes gets into a mode where all the menu choices disappear
- Somewhat clunky and weirdly organized UI
- Sometimes doesn’t detect the printer – only happened to me once, and fixing it was as simple as force-quitting and relaunching the app
- At $100 it is a bit steep compared to most dedicated labelers ($10-30) but compared to higher end systems ($50-70) it is competitively priced considering the customizability and features
- Label cassettes are a bit pricy (around $25 a pop) but they do last a long time
- A great, solidly built and versatile labeler that makes really nice looking labels
- The app is a bit wonky but it works reasonably well in general, and I’m sure the glitches will be fixed
- This thing has other uses too
- Luggage tags, “if this item is lost, contact me” tags, conference badges, etc.
- Labels with barcodes!
Check it out at the link in the show notes
Also be sure and check out otakunopodcast.com if you are at all curious about anime, manga, Japan, culture, food, travel, etc.
- Product labels (i.e. if you are a small time retail store)
- QR codes that advertise your website or whatever, that you can stick on flyers, promotional materials, etc.
George from Tulsa here to give you a brief overview of three Android devices I recently purchased.
Nvidia Shield Tablet
The Nvidia Shield Tablet is a serious gaming machine and showpiece for Nvidia’s connected gaming network. It’s also the fastest Android tablet on the market today, surpassing even Google’s flagship Nexus 9. I’m not a gamer, think Atari 2600, and bought the 32 GB LTE Shield to connect my camera card, copy off Olympus format RAW files, and edit them using the Android App Photo Mate R2. I hadn’t even installed Portal and the Half Life Series Nvidia promoted as draws to buy the Shield. But on Thanksgiving Day my visiting younger generation saw the Shield, and begged. Then disappeared into gameland.
The Shield’s form factor is much like the familiar Nexus 7, just a bit bigger. It offers a 1920 x 1200 screen, dual front facing stereo speakers, and even a subwoofer. Leave your Bluetooth at home. There’s a Stylus and Apps that use it. My daughter, the art school graduate, reports the Stylus works pretty well, but isn’t a threat to replace her Wacom Cintiq Android Tablet.
I upgraded my Shield to Android 5.0 “Lollipop” before setting it up. After using Android L on that device, I blocked its install on my Nexus 5 phone and 7 tablet. Maybe someday, not yet. It is too bright, I’m not a fan of card based notifications throughout, and prefer the ease of accessing settings on the older KitKat. KitKat is faster.
The Shield came unlocked, with an ATT SIM. I had no trouble activating it on T-Mobile as a 3 GB $10 a month add to our existing plan.
Lisa at MobileTechReview did her usual thorough review of the Shield when it first released. If anything I’ve said about the Shield captures your interest, refer to Allison’s Show Notes for a Link to Lisa’s review.
Amazon Fire HD6 Tablet
Amazon’s Fire HD 6 tablet is cheap, really cheap, priced as low as $99. It’s also quite good, if a bit heavy. I bought one because I’ve been carrying last year’s far more powerful HDX 7 in a pouch while I walk so I can listen as Amazon’s superb Text to Speech reads Kindle eBooks. The HD 6 is running Fire OS 4.5.1, a much improved version of Amazon’s Android Fork. Its physical controls are easier to operate by touch than the more expensive HDX. Overall, an amazing device—for the price point.
After I bought the HD 6, I thought how much better it would be if smaller and lighter. Like, say, phone sized.
And no sooner did I make that wish than Amazon delivered, putting the 32 GB Fire Phone LTE unlocked GSM on sale for $199, and throwing in a year of Prime worth $100.
It’s no wonder the Fire Phone was a giant Fail. It’s UI isn’t good, depending on four battery sucking cameras to track a user’s face and present context sensitive menus. The Fire Phone is hot to the touch in default mode, and munched its battery fast. I turned all that stuff that Amazon calls “dynamic perspective” OFF which saves much processing and battery, but leaves holes in the UI. I had to use the built in MayDay Help Feature to find Audiobook menus that stopped appearing without the tilt response that’s part of “dynamic perspective.”
It’s just too bad. The Fire Phone, minus the bizarre dynamic perspective cameras and UI, is a solid device with good performance. The camera is a 13 megapixel with optical stabilization and an f2.0 lens. Its side firing stereo speakers have good separation, work ok in a quiet room, are best for straight voice, but won’t inspire owners to leave the Bluetooth behind.
To wrap up, if you’re interested in serious and mobile gaming, the Shield currently has no real competition. If you’re open to Android, and want Android’s best performance, it’s the Shield.
At the current unlocked price of $449, though that does include the year of Prime, I don’t see how Amazon will sell any of the Fire Phones stuffed into its warehouses. I know this may not be fair, but I just can’t see relying on that device as a communication tool.
There are better tablets than the Fire 6. But there’s simply nothing else for sale today that’s competent, pleasant to use, so portable, and which offers so very much entertainment value for so little money.
Get the 16 GB version, consider Amazon’s “All You Want” $9.99 a month Kindle Unlimited with tens thousands of books and audio books, and with the addition of Amazon Prime, music streaming and cloud storage.
If there’s any Amazon-branded gear that interests you, watch for daily deals. Seems there’s always something on, er, “Fire Sale” this Holiday Season.
Hooked up to our TV we’ve got a TiVo, a Mac mini, an AppleTV, a Roku, and a Chromecast but when Donald Burr tipped me off that the Fire TV Stick was coming out and for 2 days Prime members could get it for $20 (normally $39), I immediately had Steve check to see if we had any open HDMI ports left on our receiver. In the search for the holy grail of TV watching, we added the Fire TV Stick to our arsenal when it arrived today.
Now what problem do I hope the Fire TV Stick will solve for us? We already get Netflix on every device we own, including our toaster I think. We get Amazon Video on the Roku that works really well. We haven’t done the Plex thing to play our movies (yet) but a few of our devices will do that when I get around to it. The AppleTV is great for renting movies and watching the keynotes and we use Airplay every single day to fling video podcasts to the TV, but I hate that little remote with a passion and it doesn’t get Amazon. I love the remote for the Roku. It fits so nicely in my hand and it’s much easier to turn on subtitles than it is on the AppleTV. Unfortunately it shows me what I’ve watched on Netflix in the reverse order of the AppleTV so I get confused easily. I don’t do much but Netflix and Amazon with it but the experience is good. The Chromecast is more of a novelty item. When I do launch it, I get confused looking for the remote till I remember there IS no remote. For us it’s like Airplay but harder to figure out, so the Chromecast is not much use to us.
This show is filled with THIRTEEN wonderful listener contributions. From the sweet to the silly to the artistic to the snarky, they’re all fabulous. I tell you the story of how we ended up with 200 Volts AC in our house and what that does to unprotected devices (spoiler, it’s a BAD thing). In Chit Chat Across the Pond, Bart gives us the first half of his IP Subnet explanation in Taming the Terminal part 25 of n, where he unravels the mystery of subnet masks.
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Tom and I talk about the new Google reCATPCHA and how it affects accessibility.
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Yesterday I got an urgent, last minute request from Jason Howell to join MacBreak Weekly in progress as Leo had called in sick. I come on about 22 minutes into the show. I had a great time with Mike Elgan hosting along with regular Andy Ihnatko and iMore’s Serenity Caldwell.
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Send in your recordings for the 500th episode next week, if you’re doing holiday shopping at Amazon, please use the search box on podfeet.com to get us a little love. Slau’s “If Every Day Were Christmas” is coming out on iTunes any minute now, watch my Twitter/G+/FaceBook accounts for the announcement when it goes live. Bart’s secure, random and memorable password generator Version 2 has gone live at xkpasswd.net. Should I Sleep review from Leon Sargent. Why you do want notifications on your wrist. New sponsor – Hover at Hover.com listen to the show (or look at the sidebar) for a 10% off coupon code for new customers. Why you need to know how your VPN works. In Chit Chat Across the Pond, Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast teaches us how Apple’s development tools are helping developers deal with the plethora of screen sizes we have now.
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Olympus Wi-Fi Camera
I droned on and on about my choice of a new mirrorless camera a few months back, and in the end I chose a camera from Olympus called the E-M10. One of my favorite features of this camera is that it has built in Wi-Fi. I can tap Wi-Fi on the screen, and my iOS devices can connect to it to choose individual photos to suck in so I can shoot them off to social media sites. It’s much more convenient the Eye-Fi card method where EVERY photo sucks into your iOS device. You can also control the camera from your iOS device, zooming, changing settings and even taking photos, all from the App called OI.Share, which stands for Olympus Image Share.
When I got my new iPhone 6 I installed OI.Share on it but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to work with my camera’s Wi-Fi. The phone could see the Wi-Fi hotspot of the camera, and it could connect to it just fine, but I couldn’t get OI.Share to talk to the camera. I tried it on my friend Diane’s iPhone 5 (who has the same camera and the same software installed) just to make sure it wasn’t my camera being the pest, and it worked fine on her phone. She suggested maybe it was an iPhone 6 problem, so we installed OI.Share on our good friend Pat Dengler’s iPhone (AKA yourmacdoctor). Again, it worked just fine on Pat’s iPhone controlling my camera.