#158 Jott, .mac Backup, USB Connectors, Wacom Tablets

Jane from Perth continues her Canon 450D story. In Dumb Question Corner we talk through why USB connectors are different, and whether .mac actually backs up your settings, and one stumper on whether it’s possible to sync iPhoto and Flickr. Willie gives us an audio review of Jott. Get 25% off of ScreenSteps from screensteps.com. In Chit Chat Across the Pond it’s a hodgepodge episode – loving Firefox, Bart has issues with Flickr, our Wacom tablets.

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[tags].mac, backup, Flickr, iPhoto, USB, Jott, ScreenSteps, Firefox 3[/tags]

Today is Sunday June 29th, 2008, and this is show number 158.

Jane from Perth and her Canon 450D (aka Canon Rebel XSI)
Last week friend of the show Jane from Perth teased us by pretended to tell us about her new camera, and I begged her to continue her story. Luckily she decided to humor me. Here’s the next phase in her story…

=============INSERT JANE=====================

Jane, you paint such a beautiful picture of your adventures with your camera – your life comes alive for me. I love that you have connected with other NosillaCast listeners in your photography adventures! When I chose the name for the show and the tagline I made it purposely a bit broad so that no one could claim I was off topic, so we can talk about cameras, microphones, Mac apps, Windows apps, Linux ports to the Mac, just about anything we care to talk about is fair game! not sure if it was legal to pull in car waxing, but what the heck! Thanks so much Jane, always good to hear from you.

Jane’s flickr account if anyone wants to be gentle and check it out!

Dumb Question Corner
queue the music…
Hugo Poon wrote in with a great dumb question: “Why do we have the different shapes of USB ports, and why are they typically associated with a particular category of peripherals? (Example – most printers have the square-ish USB port)”

I actually thought I would be able to answer this one on my own! What I did know was that the cable you’re talking about is called a Device Cable – one end (the squarish connector) goes into a device like a printer, with the flat connector going into the computer as you say. What I didn’t know was WHY they’re different. I searched all over the place, including Wikipedia, and while I learned that the flat connector is called type A and the square one is called type B, but I still didn’t learn WHY!

finally I found this site called Beyond Logic at beyondlogic.org:

“All devices have an upstream connection to the host and all hosts have a downstream connection to the device. Upstream and downstream connectors are not mechanically interchangeable, thus eliminating illegal loopback connections at hubs such as a downstream port connected to a downstream port. Type A plugs always face upstream. Type A sockets will typically find themselves on hosts and hubs. For example type A sockets are common on computer main boards and hubs. Type B plugs are always connected downstream and consequently type B sockets are found on devices.”

that was a PERFECT dumb question because it sounded like something everyone should know, but it was not easy to find at all. As I poked around I found out there are names for the teeny USB cables too – you know the ones that have “normal” USB on one end which we now know are called USB A, but the other end is a teeny trapezoid looking thing that you plug into digital cameras or Blackberries or other small devices? Those are called mini-B connectors, because they’re the downstream equivalent going into a device, just made smaller for the little devices. I’m so glad that Hugo asked this question because now I actually know WHY they look different.

Megan Duffy (aka wizardchimp on Twitter) wrote in with this Dumb Question Corner:

“This time my question is really dumb. With dotmac, I have it set in my System Preferences to sync Mail Accounts and Mail Rules, Signatures, and Smart Mailboxes. Does that mean it’s actually backed up somewhere—if my Mac bites the dust I can retrieve all of this? Or do I need to also use Backup for that? I use Apple Mail but I am using Gmail with IMAP, so I’m not too worried about backing up the actual mail. I’m a bit hazy on exactly how dotmac fits into a backup scheme. Thanks!

I wrote back to her right away with this answer:

I think I found the answer at the mac.com learning center, but it wasn’t completely obvious to me until I read this:

“Using .Mac to sync securely transfers a copy of your Address Book contacts, iCal calendars, Safari bookmarks, Keychain, and Mail preferences to the .Mac servers so that you can access your information from any Mac you register with .Mac. If you make changes to this information on one Mac, the other computers will reflect those changes the next time they sync.”

Since it says it transfers a copy, that would imply to me that you technically do have a backup, right? You’d have to be careful how you synced if you had a disk failure – would want to make sure it one-way synced back to your mac from .mac! And all this will probably work very differently when .mac turns into MobileMe so we’ll have to learn it again in a month!

The plot thickened though when Megan wrote back a few days later to tell me that her drive on her laptop had failed! the good news is that she ran a sync from .mac to her other computer and all of her synced data was there! .mac saved the day!

Honda Bob
We interrupt this Dumb Question Corner for this word from our sponsor!

It looks like Honda Bob is going to have to do a Nosillacast world tour, or at least national tour, because i keep getting letters from people saying, “I live in Oklahoma and I want a Honda Bob!” It’s really a cruel thing for me to advertise a service on an international podcast that can only be enjoyed by those in LA and Orange County! I can picture Honda Bob taking a US map and plotting out a course across the country where he hits as many NosillaCast listeners as possible, wouldn’t that be fun? Good thing he likes to drive! I know he’s driven to Texas before to deliver a Honda to his niece so I think a cross-country tour would be great! Too bad he’d have to charge $400 per house call because of gas prices now! Well, in the mean time, if you’d like to have your Honda or Acura cared for in the comfort of your own driveway by an honest, talented, and geeky mechanic who tells bad jokes, and you DO live in LA or Orange County, give him a call at (562)531-2321 or shoot him an email at hdabob@aol.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Dumb Question Corner iPhoto=Flickr
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Willie wrote in with an interesting idea. not sure it’s dumb enough because I don’t know if it’s possible to do what he’s looking for, but here goes:

“It’s about iPhoto and Flickr, so you may want to ask Bart. I’ll just ask you what I want and have you, or your Twitter, do the work. It’s very simple. I want iPhoto to equal Flicker. This would be:
iPhotos = Flickr photos
iPhoto keywords = Flickr tags
events = sets
albums = collections, if it will work that way.

You know Willie – I have no idea how to do that! I found a tool called FlickrExport from connectedflow.com/flickrexport that might do some of what you want – it’s 12 pounds which is around $25US so I’m too cheap to test it for you. There’s a freeware app called FFXporter from dustin.li too – here’s the description:

“A free iPhoto export plugin for Flickr. This provides a convenient way to upload your iPhoto descriptions, titles, keywords (tags), and ratings along with your photos. It also supports sets (yay!) and preserves GPS tags and other EXIF data. Flickr is a semi-free photo sharing service/site.”

That’s not everything you asked for – seems almost like you want to sync your iPhoto library completely to Flickr and I didn’t find anything to do all of that. I hope one of these two solutions will get you partway there though!

Willie on Jott.com

Willie not only sent in a Dumb Question Corner, he sent in a really interesting audio review!

=======INSERT WILLIE’S REVIEW===============

Problem: I have a to do list on my computer, and when I think of things to do is not when I’m sitting in front of it. I’m 14, by the way, and don’t have as much computer access as I would like. Thankfully it’s summer vacation now. As Merlin Mann likes to say, the time I would remember I need toilet paper (if I was the one who bought it) would not be the time I was in the toilet paper aisle in the Safeway, or more appropriately, Ralphs. I live in Sherman Oaks, in LA.

Problem 2: I lose things, like a pad of paper and pencils, so I can’t really use that as temporary storage. Besides, it’s hard to do that at night if you think of something but can’t let your parents let you know you’re awake, although I’ve gotten better, or walking home from school. However I don’t lose my phone. Aha, you think, SMS! No, I hate the little number keyboard as much as anyone else. I am not a texter. Although if I may answer another Dumb Question from a while ago, this was when I found out that you can send emails from your phone that turn out to be from @.com, and you can do it in reverse! Whoever wanted to send SMSs through their computer need only send email of 140 characters or less to the appropriate address.

Solution: (to my problem, not Mr. SMS’s) Jott.com. They have a phone number, which I gave the most noble speed dial, 5 (it has the little bumpy thing, kind of like j and f on the keyboard). After you’ve signed up, you call and they ask who you want to jott. You say “Me” or “Myself”, and they say “Jott yourself”. You say whatever you want, and after you pause Jott tells you “Got it!”. You can also set a reminder if you want. Then the real magic happens. Jott will transcribe your message, and if you have a difficult to spell word and you spell it out after you say the word, they will use that spelling. That and the slight variety of the responses you get when you weren’t clear enough convinces me that there are humans transcribing them, You will then get an email, and I forwarded it to you for this email so you can see how it looks. You can also do a bunch of other things with jott, including:

1. Send email to other people in your address book, which you can import from a CSV file. I like that better than Twitter asking you for your username and password.
2. Speaking of Twitter, you can update your Twitter status, as well as on Blogger, Live Journal, WordPress, Remember The Milk and tons of others here.
3. You can text message contacts
4. You can receive audio versions of your favorite blogs
5. You can make to do lists entirely within Jott

Bringing up Merlin Mann again, I just completely ruined his Inbox zero, and have let my email become like my to do list, although not my only one. Oh well.

Thanks Willie for such a great review! I had heard of Jott, even saw a video by David Pogue but I think you explain the real need even better than he did. Thanks so much for telling us about Jott!

I am VERY VERY excited about a new sponsor to the show. Here’s the deal – there’s a piece of software that I’m using like crazy at work on Windows and at home on my Mac called ScreenSteps. You might remember me reviewing it a while back, but since then i just can’t STOP making tutorials with it. I keep showing people at work how to use it, and they get as excited as I am, and now they’re doing great tutorials. so I figured if I was that excited about a product and convincing people to use it, maybe I should advertise for them – and they agreed!

Let’s back up a bit to the problem to be solved – someone sends you an email or asks you “how do I…?” and if you’re like me, you’d start taking screenshots and shove them in an email with text, or worse yet put them in Word and try to get the text to wrap around it, and then you’d start to cry because Word would thwart your every attempt to get the document to look nice. Enter ScreenSteps to the rescue. ScreenSteps makes it absolutely trivial to make beautiful tutorials formatted like professional documents in a variety of formats from PDF to HTML and even including the ability to export to your blog! DebbieT from ˚splashofstyle.com, you’re going to LOVE this for your tutorials on your blog!

the hardest part is to not tell you EVERYTHING about the tool here on day one – I have to string it out and give you a bit at a time in order to keep myself entertained. For now, head on over to screensteps.com and watch the video tutorial, or download the free 30 day trial, or heck, just buy it on this recommendation! Here’s the good news, ScreenSteps Standard is $39.95, ScreenSteps Pro is $59.95, but if you enter the coupon code NOSILLA (all caps) you’ll get 25% off! I put a badge in the right sidebar on podfeet.com so you can just click there to go to the ScreenSteps site. Enjoy!

Chit Chat Across the Pond
revelation from Al – using spaces again!
– now that it behaves when you switch apps I’m loving it!
iPhoto Hating
– Just remembered – big iPhoto library swamps DiskInventoryX so I can’t find my big files!
FF3 update
– lovin that too – being able to use wysiwyg editors like on pbwiki is way awesome
– fast fast fast
– stable
– saw my first green favicon in the wild – at paypal! (or is that the one we used last week?)
Flickr Hating – Bart has a few issues with Flickr – still love it – but have gripes none the less
– Silly choices for photo pool customisation – sets OR collections but not both in the side bar … WHY????
– Lack of ability to subscribe to a thread really lets the groups down. No self-respecting BB system doesn’t have this! RSS is NOT the answer for threaded discussion monitoring!
– Debbie T of splashofstyle.com sent in a comment on the blog “On the photo page, go toward the bottom right: “Taken on June 24, 2008 (edit)” – click the edit link. There you will find options to edit “date taken” and “date posted”. So, just in case you have to re-upload a photo and it’s out of order, change the date that way!”
— this might let me reorder my photos the way I wanted!
Wacom Tablet:
Bart loves his new tablet. Thanks Al!
– Takes some getting used to – for the first hour it slowed me down – like typing on the iPhone in some ways
– Once you get used to it it becomes REALLY natural. It is THE way to draw with a computer
– I can understand why bigger is better now … I have found myself running off the edge of the area quite a bit when working with larger image windows
– Using it WITHOUT drivers – I don’t DO drivers if I can avoid it – missing out on some features but very happy so far. Plug, play, done. Working with GIMP.

Mac Roundtable
This week’s show was Don McAllister, Katie Floyd, David Sparks and I talking about some software picks, our latest toys, how we manage our email and what we think mobile me will help or hurt our processes. Check it out at macroundtable.com

It’s that time again, time for me to sadly say goodbye! Please stay in touch till next week by emailing me at allison@podfeet.com, and sending in audio comments and reviews at nosillacast@gmail.com. don’t forget to keep sending in those Dumb Questions too! and if that’s not enough, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

4 thoughts on “#158 Jott, .mac Backup, USB Connectors, Wacom Tablets

  1. Drew - July 1, 2008

    Hi Allison,

    I recently lost my Wacom Bamboo stylus when it rolled off the back of my desk and wedged itself into an odd little crevice created by a household remodel. After discovering that a replacement stylus costs $30, I became very motivated to retrieve it. I succeeded by using a length of garden hose and a shop vacuum; not a procedure I want to repeat.

    My Bamboo did come with a little plastic puck that acts as a pen holder, but I don’t find it convenient to use on its own. I’ve attached the puck to the upper left-hand corner of the tablet to avoid losing the stylus again (using double-sided tape). Maybe something like that would help you as well. Given what a replacement stylus costs, some loss of aesthetics is acceptable.


  2. debbie T - July 1, 2008

    wow, what an action packed show! I hope you don’t mind, but I am listing all my thoughts here! It’s long winded, so be prepared!

    First, thanks for the recommendation for the free iphoto to Flickr app (flickr eXporter) – I should have purchased the $25 Flickr Export, but I chose the less expensive iP2F, which isn’t necessarily bad, but I am not happy w/ the photo compression quality.

    I wrote to them and asked about their compression, and they said they were indeed using “standard” quality compression , but were thinking of changing to “high” quality. The problem doesn’t show itself unless you upload as smaller re-sized photos. I don’t like having large versions of my photos online, I resize to 600 pixels wide, and photos look absolutely terrible. They are noisy and pixelated. yuck!

    Secondly, wow, I just loved both Jane and Willie on the show. They both did a great job and it makes me want to dig into Garage Band myself and record something for you….hmm, maybe someday.

    Allison, I am going to have to check out the ScreenSteps software now. I see they have some movies to look at, so I am going to watch them. How sweet of you to think of me! I do love writing tutorials, but it takes so darned long, and anything that saves time would be a blessing!

    Glad the little tip about changing dates in Flickr helped. I enjoy the Across the Pond chatting between you and Bart, and look forward to hearing it!

    I agree about the Flickr discussion groups – they really need to modernize them! I wish I could subscribe to certain threads, or whole forums.

    I also wish it was easier to read reply comments on photos that I commented on. It is almost impossible to read through the “Comments You Made” page, especially if you commented on a popular photo. I think the photo sharing site “Ipernity” has it right! They allow you to “reply” to a specific commenter that posted to your photo page, and your response comment will be listed on their home page, so they can easily read it. But I don’t think they will be doing much updating to Flickr, seems they just do what they have to, and leave it alone. too bad.

    About the Wacom tablet, I have had mine for ages (I think around 7 years, maybe longer) and it was only 3 years ago, that I felt comfortable using it full time instead of a mouse. I tell you, it has made a difference in how my wrist feels, no more aches and pain from the mouse! It does take getting used to, and as I said, it didn’t happen overnight for me. But somehow it just clicked and I love using it for EVERYTHING now!

    And I think this is one last comment (I warned you this was long!) – I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the new Firefox 3 and the way it saves passwords. I have always found it irritating when you type in a password, click yes to save it, and then realize that the user name or password is wrong. Then you have to dig through the saved passwords to delete it. I just love that it now allows the page to load before you save the password. So, if it’s wrong, you will know ahead of time before saving.

    Thanks so much Allison – I do love your show, and I am so happy to be a listener again! I really missed you and your fun style and humor!

  3. podfeet - July 5, 2008

    DebbieT – amazed you use a tablet full time instead of a mouse – do you set it down to type? If I could type with it in my hand I think I’d do it too

    thanks for all the great comments!

  4. debbie T - July 19, 2008

    Hey Alison,

    Just catching up on the podcast.
    Yes, most times I do set it down to type. I also try to use as many keyboard shortcuts as possible, so I can keep my hands on the keyboard as long as possible.

    Occasionally, I do keep it in my hand for quick types.

    Love your show!

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