#123 USB Missile Launcher, TextExpander, Leopard Redux

Technology doom experience at the Cross Country banquet, Graham tests out the NosillaCast on a Zune, USB Missile Lanucher from thinkgeek.com. Honda Bob’s Recommendations at hdabob.com/Recommendations.htm. New homework assignment to assemble a list of mobile websites for screenreaders for the blind, Textpander vs. TextExpander 2 from Smile on My Mac. In Chit Chat Across the Pond, Bart and I discuss what new we’ve learned to hate and like about Leopard one month out. Call for someone to check out the Apple/Filemaker database program Bento from the Apple download site, Allison co-hosting next week on The MacCore at themaccore.com.
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[tags]Leopard, wax, Macintosh, Zune[/tags]Today is Sunday, November 25th, 2007 and this is show #123.

Show format
Last week I chatted a bit about the show format, interviews vs. my scripted reviews. I got this email about that discussion:

“As president of the Oregon Chapter of the Nosillacast Fan Club I cast my 3 votes
for scripted podcasts. Your podcast runs smoothly and I never fast forward because
you were unscripted and went way off topic like that famous podcaster with the initials

Well I can’t very well deny the vote of the president of the Oregon Chapter of my fan club, now can I??? I think what I’ll do is a bit of both. When I find someone interesting to talk to, I’ll record it. If I don’t find someone, I won’t! Keep you guessing that way too…

Cross Country Banquet
– coaches’ iMac was out of disk space so he couldn’t burn. Brought the iMac to the banquet so he could play the iMovie HD file
– I brought the MacBook mini DVI to vga adapter, didn’t fit.
– I brought a firewire drive and my MBP so I could just transfer it and play on my machine
– transferred the file, but the MBP didn’t have iMovie HD, only iMovie ’08 (the stupid new one)
– opened the movie project in iMovie ’08 – no transitions, no music, only the clips!
– booted the iMac in Firewire disk mode (at Ryan’s suggestion) and just dragged the iMovie HD application from the iMac to the MBP – it worked – huzzah!
– and then we went to play the movie on my MPB and it turned out to be STOOPID DRM’d music! copy protection!!! bought in the iTunes store, and i’m not authorized!
– fine, we’ll authorize the MBP.
– can’t do that, no internet connection in the school.
– final solution. hooked the projector to the MBP. hooked the audio to the iMac. Hit PLAY on both machines at the same time. voila.

Zune for Podcasting
Last week I was having some technical difficulties with my Verizon EVDO card for my MBP. Get this – Verizon has really come a long way – they actually had an upgrade to their software just for Leopard posted on their website just a few weeks after the launch. For some reason I just couldn’t get it to work, so I decided to brace myself for a call to Verizon tech support. Here’s where the story gets really unbelievable, I got through right away, and to a guy who knew how to fix my problem very quickly! I know, you aren’t buying such fiction, but it’s true!

His name was Graham, and we chatted up quite a bit while I did a reboot to do the final steps to success. Whenever I get a captive audience like this, I like to torture the person who has to wait with me by telling them all about the NosillaCast. Graham was quite patient, and then confessed that he’s planning on getting a Mac himself. when I told him about the show, he said he’d like to try getting my podcast on his new Zune! I don’t know if you knew about this, but the new Zunes have built in support for podcasting. Great news I think, makes the Zune much more attractive I’d say! I asked him to send me an email after he tried out podcasting on the Zune, fully expecting he was simply humoring me, but he actually did it! Here’s his email:

“Hi Alison, This is Graham, the Verizon tech you spoke with about your aircard. I checked out your website and after messing around with the Zune desktop software, I was able to get your podcast on my Zune. It’s actually pretty easy. All you have to do is in the Zune software, click on “Collection” and “Podcast” in the upper left corner of the software, select “Add a Podcast” in the lower left and drop the RSS feed url in the “Subscribe” box that pops up and hit the subscribe button and it will add your podcast into the user’s collection. After that, it’s just a drag and drop away from getting it into the Zune. If you have any questions just let me know. Graham.”

Thanks for writing back Graham, this is pretty cool! the next step is to get the podcast to show up automatically in the Zune Marketplace so people don’t have to hunt down the rss feed. You can submit a request to have it entered, but you have to have Windows to do that. I was too lazy to launch windows to install it, so I had a buddy of mine submit the Nosillacast for me. guess I’ll have to load it on my windows VM though to find out when it gets in there!

USB Missile Launcher
You know how sometimes you see a tech gift that seems really gimmicky but just once in a while it turns out really cool? My son Kyle got a USB Missile Launcher for his birthday from his Grandmother, and it’s AWESOME! She got it from thinkgeek.com for $30US. Here’s the deal – it’s actually a missile launcher, with 3 nerf missiles. and software to actually drive the launcher! You plug the missile launcheer in, and then you can steer the launcher with the software. It comes with a CD for Windows, but over at Versiontracker.com there’s a freeware download of a Mac version of the control software.

Ok, it sounds dopey so far, but when you launch the missiles – it makes this awesome missile launching SOUND! We used it to shoot at each other, to shoot at the cats (don’t worry, it’s nerf missles, plus we never SUCCEEDED in hitting the cats anyway) but the most fun was stacking chess pieces up to try and knock them over. I’m telling you, best fun I’ve ever had playing chess! If you’re looking for a silly gift for that hard to please, but fun loving geek in your life, I recommend the USB Missle Launcher for sure!

You’ve heard me talk about Honda Bob and how he’s the greatest mechanic of all time, right? What’s cool about Bob is that he’s also a teacher. He really enjoys helping people find solutions to their auto problems. That’s why he spends so much time and energy on his website, hdabob.com. In keeping with that need to help, he’s created a page called Honda Bob’s Recommendations at hdabob.com/Recommendations.htm (capital R). In this section he gives recommendations on places to find classic and hard to find Honda and Acura parts, recommendations on what coolant and oil to buy depending on the age of your car. He even suggests what car wax you might want to consider. I’m afraid he’s actually branching out into my territory though – he’ll even drive to your house to do a claybar and wax treatment! How’s that for full service? there’s lots more on this page, but one of the great services he provides is helping the owners of cars he’s cared for to sell them. We bought Lindsay’s first car this way – what better way to be sure you know exactly what you’re buying than to have your mechanic make the recommendation? The car we bought needed a new radiator, but we KNEW that going in, so we were able to figure out what the car was worth, instead of having it be an unfortunate surprise later on.

If you’d like to have Honda Bob care for your Honda or Acura cars, and you live in the LA or Orange County areas, give him a call at (562)531-2321 or email him at [email protected]. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

New Homework Assignment
I think it’s time for a new homework assignment. You did a great job telling people about podcasting, and an outstanding job posting reviews on iTunes (but if you haven’t done one yet you’re welcome to do one still!) Next up should be a fun one. Remember a while ago we figured out that mobile phone websites make fantastic sites for screen readers for the visually impaired? Normal websites are chock full of extra links, graphics, all kinds of slop that’s fun if you have a big screen and you’re sited. Turns out mobile devices share something in common with screen readers -they both function much better without all the extraneous stuff. Susan Gerhart of apodder.org, the author of the podcatching client @podder for the visually impaired wrote to me and asked if I knew of a site where someone had compiled all the good mobile phone sites. She hadn’t been able to find one, so she’s starting one up. I had poked around a bit too, and hadn’t found a good listing anywhere.

so your homework assignment for this week is to email me any good mobile sites you know about or can hunt down, and I’ll get them over to Susan. This will be fun – sort of like a treasure hunt! I’m sure there’s good search terms that would uncover piles of them, but we just haven’t found it yet! Get to work now, we need your help!

Ages and ages ago a little company called Smile on My Mac created a piece of freeware called Textpander. This sweet little utility was designed to let you type your commonly used phrases with just a couple of keystrokes. Let’s say you have a signature line with your name and contact info – why type that every time if you could just type something like sig and a semicolon? Texpander has been one of the first tools I load every time I reimage a Mac – a top essential in my toolkit. Over the years, the Smile on My Mac folks have been developing the tool, and renamed it TextExpander and it became shareware. Everyone raved about it, but I couldn’t think of anything else I’d want Texpander to do, so I couldn’t figure out why I’d want to pay for an upgrade. You know the saying – if it ain’t broke…

Well Jean MacDonald of Smile on My Mac sent me a review copy of TextExpander 2, and challenged me to actually read up on what the new tool does so I could decide if it’s worth the upgrade cost. The gauntlet is thrown down, lets see what TextExpander 2 can do. One quick terminology lesson – they call the little sections of text you want to instantaneously type “snippets”, so in my example, my signature line with contact info would be a snippet.

the first thing I noticed all on my own, is the easier ways you can create snippets now. In the old version I had to open system preferences for Textpander, type in my snippet, click down into the shortcut area and then type in my desired shortcut. Easy enough and I saw no flaw in this. but now with TextExpander if you’ve already typed the annoying text somewhere, you can simply select the text you want to become a snippet, and then in a menu bar pulldown say “Create Snippet from selection”. It instantly takes you to the spot to enter the shortcut and you’re done! Big score for the new version, because usually I type an annoying string of text 2 or 3 times before I realize I’m going to be typing it a lot and I have it right there to select – why type it again to make a snippet?

The next most obvious thing is that snippets can be organized into categories. let’s say i have a set of things I type frequently for my podcast, like my email address, or Honda Bob’s phone number – those can be in a category of podcast, say separated from my work snippets, so there’s fewer to choose from – if you really get into this you can get a really loooong list going! I took the chance to organize my snippets so I have fewer things in each list – I think that’s a nice feature.

TextExpander now allows you to sort your snippets in a bunch of different ways. The ones you use all the time are easy to remember – you type in a keystroke that triggers them. But then there’s all those snippets you use only sometimes, what would be a good order to look for them in a list? If you like alphabetical order, that’s there. if you like date created or date modified those are there too. But what I think is the most useful sort is you can see them by the most recently used.

They added a bunch of features that escape me why they are needed but they’re there in case you do I guess! you can print snippets, play around with what sounds get played when you trigger a snippet, and hotkeys to enable/disable snippets. I can see why you might want to disable a snippet – what if they hotkey you chose happens to be the same key for say, “burn CD” in a particular app. but what are the chances you’re going to remember a hotkey to turn it off? I’m thinking a pulldown menu would be fine for that.

The new TextExpander lets you use .mac to synchronize your snippets, so no matter what Mac you’re on, you’ll still be able to save time and energy and typos! I think that the old Textpander was totally worth a shareware fee, even though they gave it away for free – the new TextExpander with all it’s enhancements is even more worth it. TextExpander is only $30US, or $45 for a family pack. Full time students can get an educational discount, and get this – Smile on My Mac even offers a 90 money back guarantee! I like that they made it 90 days – I think it would take at least a month to get completely addicted to TextExpander like I am!

Chit Chat Across the Pond

General Leopard Stuff Bart wants to get in:
I found a way to fix the stooopid transparent menubar bartbusschots.ie/blog link to the transparent menu bar fix
I installed my first quicklook extension – VERY nerdy one but nice bartbusschots.ie/blog link to the nerdy quicklook plugin for programmers

What’s good about Leopard a month out:

seeing network devices on the side – maybe will work reliably now?
Bart seconds that one. Leopard plays MUCH nicer on the network … MUCH nicer screen sharing!
Bart let me watch him work in Omnigraffle so I could watch the workflow
Used it to get a serial number from a mac friend of mine
now I’m finding if someone DOESN’T have Leopard it’s a pain I can’t use screen sharing

Quicklook – wow
Al seconds that one
Time Machine actually saved my bacon in work this week – did a save instead of a save-as … oops!
The new Spotlight is great – couldn’t do without it anymore.
Some nice ‘little’ things
The new sharing configuration page is a lot better – way more control
The new print system is nice
The new network setup is an improvement – the old internet connect stuff is merged in as it should be IMO
You can now tell Finder to secure delete your trash by default

What’s bad about Leopard a month out:
Spaces still bugging me – now I had a failure where if I switch apps it DOESN’T switch to the right space. had to use the f8 and C you taught me to collect into one window
PubSubAgent has accidentally quit – report?

Agree with Allison about Spaces – If it wasn’t for spaces I’d LOVE Leopard, now I just like it
Firewall BAD
Still two things I can’t do in Leopard:
Can’t get GIMP working
Can’t get PostgreSQL database installed and working

Has anyone checked out Bento yet? It’s supposed to be like a Filemaker for the rest of us. Filemaker and Apple worked together on this to create a database manager for the Mac that integrates application data like our iCal, Address Book and other data elements. It’s in public preview from Apple, and I was hoping someone listening who has database experience would check it out for us. I’m going to play with it, but since I have no database experience my opinion won’t mean much. But then again, when did that ever stop me before? If you DO think you’d like to do a review, I put a link in the shownotes to the Apple download site so you can go check it out for yourself.

Before we go today, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be guest hosting on The MacCore with Katie next week – we record on Saturday but I’m not sure what day it will air. I’m really looking forward to it, she’s a lot of fun! Check it out at themaccore.com.

On that note, I think I’ll wind up the show here. As always I’ve loved getting all the great emails (especially Len’s emails with the photos of his futile attempt to assemble a microphone stand!), so keep them coming by emailing me at [email protected]. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

2 thoughts on “#123 USB Missile Launcher, TextExpander, Leopard Redux

  1. Paige - November 30, 2007

    Hey, Allison, I’ll bet my cat, Powderpuff, would LOVE the USB rocket launcher. The noise wouldn’t bother her at all since she’s deaf as a post…and if it moves, she’s on it!

  2. NosillaCast @ podfeet.com - January 6, 2008

    […] shortcuts for stuff you have to type all the time. I did a full review of TextExpander back on show #123. I use it to type in my email address, my signature for emails, my website address, Honda […]

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