Al & Steve’s excellent adventure to see Blue Man Group, DebbieT’s tutorial on adjustment bricks in Aperture at splashofstyle.com. WordPress plugins: Akismet, IWPhone, Subscribe to Comments, Ultimate Google Analytics, WordPress Database Backup, wp-cache and WP-PayPalDonate. Google Talk gets video, Yum 3.0 released at yum-mac.com/. In Dumb Question Corner Suzanne asks how to move playlists of iTunes paid music from one mac to another and Sebastian asks how to get his router to let him to use a usb pen drive for storage. Best Buy gives me great service with a knowledgeable salesperson. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart and I talk about disabling auto-run on Windows, we have the Twitter poll results on whether you like iPhone talk on Mac podcasts, and we go through the new features in iPhone 2.2. Help Bart get attention on the missing proxies in VPN for the Mac by writing at apple.com/feedback/iphone.html. check out the MacRoundtable too at macroundtable.com.
Listen to the Podcast Once (58 min)
Today is Sunday November 23rd, 2008, and this is show number 179. Well you know how incredibly wild and spontaneous Steve and I are, right? oh yeah, that accurately reflects who we are. We took off for the weekend and went to Las Vegas and went to see blue man group! An amazing experience – see them if you can ever get the chance!
Last week I talked a lot about Aperture, and I mentioned that I haven’t been finding the need to even launch Photoshop Elements any more. With all of the great adjustments you can make it didn’t seem necessary, but I did wish that I had sharpen inside of Aperture. Well, yet again DebbieT came through and pointed out that sharpen is in Aperture. Not only did she tell me how to get to it, she did a full ScreenSteps tutorial over on her site at splashofstyle.com In her tutorial she not only shows how to add new adjustment tools to the menus, but also how to undo specific adjustments which is something I had been searching for! She’s such a great teacher! I know, I’ve been pimping her site an awful lot later but I learn so much from her I can’t help it. I promise she’s not paying me to advertise for her.
I got an email from listener Brad asking for some advice on how to choose a WordPress theme for his blog and what’s up with all those plugins. Here’s his email:
Hi Allison, It seems after every NosillaCast I feel compelled to give you feedback but I’m always in the middle of something like washing dishes, driving, or falling asleep. For instance, when you relayed your experiences with GoDaddy, I agreed with every point you made. Then there’s you and Bart, I love hearing you two argue. I also think up dumb questions and forget to write them down. I was riveted by your new magnet-prone MacBook Pro story. I was surprised you had your friend install the HD though, it’s so easy. I love tinkering!
Anyway, I’ve been getting into WordPress a little and am a bit overwhelmed by the assortment of themes. Victor told me about a few plug-ins he uses like Askimet, PodPress, Discuss, Socialble, RunPHP, and Woopra. I was just curious what features you looked for when designing your site?
The first thing to know is don’t get overwhelmed by plugins right off the bat, they’re SO easy to find, choose, download, install, activate…AND deactivate! There’s no harm in testing them and discarding at all. Research assistant Niraj is addicted to plugins – he put 40 on one site inside of a couple of weeks!
remember even if you pick an annoying theme to start, you can ALWAYS change it! the beauty of WordPress is that every post you make, page, you make, title you enter, even images you upload are entered into a database but it’s the theme that formats it, rendering the html to make it look pretty for the web. Launch your website and play with themes and plugins – you’ll be amazed at what you can do and never mess up your content at all!
when choosing a theme, make sure you choose one that’s widget ready, that makes it more fun in the future – calendars and other fun sidebar kind of stuff. if you go a site like alexking.org, they let you choose themes based on colors, left vs. right sightbar or both, variable width vs. fixed width. They have a great interface there where you can flip between themes and see how the look of the content changes. Just find something that fits your requirements – but remember over time you can mess with it – colors, widths, fonts – it’s all tailorable as you start to dip your toe into it!
Brad also asked in a later email how you can be sure a theme works with the latest version of WordPress (2.6.3 right now) – I don’t think they’ve done any huge changes to the file structure in WP so theme changes are usually unaffected. Again, just try a theme and if it doesn’t work, deactivate it. WordPress is so much fun, you can be as create or as lazy as you want.
Brad asked me what my favorite plugins are, and I don’t really use all that many. The one you absolutely must have is called Akismet – it stops spam comments. It has caught 149,938 spam comments so far! Get that – only 62 more spams and I hit 150,000! My next favorite is IWPhone which actually recognizes of the device accessing podfeet is using the iPhone web browser, and reformats it into a theme that looks great on the iPhone and iPod Touch. A while ago at DebbieT’s advice I added the plugin Subscribe to Comments which lets people who comment on your blog get email notifications if anyone else comments. I think that’s a great courtesy to the readers – I used to make comments back on the blog AND email people, but that only works for the admin of the website, normal commenters don’t see the private email addresses.
I use Ultimate Google Analytics to analyze my web traffic. It will tell you all kinds of fun info about the visitors to your website – how they found you, what they were searching on, where they came from. Lots of fun. Just for an example, i checked mine just now and people found my site through searching micro sd, ustream, camtwist, and wait, what’s this? someone searched on madagascar penguin rico? What the heck? I know I travel with Rico, in fact he went with us to Vegas this weekend, but how did someone else know?
Next up is WordPress Database Backup. This great little plugin sends me a backup of my WordPress database once a week and I can ask it to do one for me on demand so if I’m doing a WP update I can grab a quick backup first. Gotta love automated offsite backups. A while ago I installed a plugin called wp-cache that is supposed to speed up the site for frequent visitors – no idea if it’s doing anything but I hope so! remember early on I said widget ready is important – one of the widgets I use comes in the form of a plugin called WP-PayPalDonate – I don’t think I have to convince you how important that plugin is!
Brad also assumed I used PodPress which is an easy way to make podcast feeds in your WordPress site, but I actually don’t use it. I’ve messed with it on our Mac Roundtable site, but I can’t imagine not using Feeder for my feed!
Well gee, I said I didn’t use very many plugins but i guess I do quite a few! I put links to all the plugins I mentioned today in the shownotes.
Google Talk with Video
Recently Google started allowing us to do video with Google Talk. Now of course I’ve got access to iChat AV for video, and then Skype which is even better because the compression seems to work better and you can chat with people on all different operating systems – Mac, Windows and Linux. So I don’t actually need another video chat client, but you know me, if it’s out there I’ve gotta check it out. Now I don’t regularly go into Google Talk, but I’ve noticed something cool. My home page is iGoogle so I’ve got a tailored portal kinda page with my Gmail showing in the window. Turns out that if you do that, you’ll automatically be logged into Google Talk. Every once in a while I’m working away on something and I hear some weird noise, and I can’t figure out what the heck it is. Eventually I figure out that my browser wants attention – and there’s Bart chatting me. I like it because then I can pop out that discussion into a standalone window and I never had to launch an external app. Bart likes it the other way around, but luckily we’re not on Chit Chat Across the Pond right now so I can just declare my way right!
ANYWAY, one day I’m just viewing who’s online on Google Talk, and I see an icon at the bottom of the section on the web page about google video talk. Unfortunately for Robert Lachman of photographyandthemac.com he happened to be online right then and had his iSight available, so I made him run the little installer for Google video and test it out with me. It was probably one of the best video chats I’ve ever had! Now to be fair, we’re both on really fast connections, and we’re only about 30 miles apart, but still it was gorgeous video. Check it out over at google.com/ig, it’s always a good idea to have alternatives I think because something invariably goes wrong on one of them when you REALLY want to talk to someone on video chat!
Did you also notice that Google has started letting you promote search results to show which ones actually were what you’re looking for? If you do a search for something, next to each search result are two buttons – one is an arrow going up to a line, and the other is an x button. If you click the arrow button, it moves that search result to the top and if you click the x button it gets rid of it. Right now this only affects how you see it – according to the Wall street Journal the current idea is that if you search on that term again later you’ll get the good result right at the top. I love this idea because I live on search, I hardly ever bookmark anything. now my favorite search results will always come to the top. In the future though they may allow you to see your own search results based on how other people may have promoted their results to the same search. Might be a way of adding human powered search to the algorithm. I can imagine that being really easy to wreck by evil doers, just repetitively doing search/promote from a bunch of fake accounts. Hope that’s not the case, it sound like an interesting idea. In the mean time I’ll be using it for myself to improve my ability to find what I’m looking for.
There’s one thing that did bug me about ScreenSteps and they’ve come up with an excellent solution. On occasion you’ll sometimes want to reorder the steps you’ve created. Dragging a step to the right place technically works but it’s tedious to do because you have to wait for the scroll with all the graphics rendering by. Now in version 2.2 they’ll have an Inspector window that lets you drag just the titles of the steps up and down. It works SO nicely.
They also did some work rearranging the icons in the toolbar, which will be much easier to follow. They also made the icons easier to identify for what they’re meant to do. Niraj asked for this specifically!
If you’re interested in buying ScreenSteps, check out their great videos at screensteps.com and be sure to use the coupon code NOSILLA for 25% off!
Yum Acquired by Dare to Be Creative, v3.0 Released
Way back in November of 2006 I did a long series of reviews on different recipe applications. This was ironic, since I don’t even hardly cook, but there are so many cool recipe apps out there. People have gotten really creative with these apps so they’re really fun to play with. It’s sort of like my admiration for mops. I see ads for all the new cool mops and I really want to buy them, but of course I don’t even use a mop at all at home!
anyway, when I started comparing a few recipe apps, people kept sending me ideas for more of them. It seemed that SOME of the fans really found this a fun category, but after a while some people got a bit weary of the topic. Well I figure it’s been two years, so maybe it’s safe to bring it up again. The clear winner in my book when I did all the reviews was an application named Yum from nixanz.com, created by a guy named Nick. Ever since I found Yum I’ve been using it for the few recipes I actually DO make. I got an email from Nick this week telling me the great news – that he sold Yum to Dare to Be Creative, AND that they’ve come out with a new version of Yum.
I can’t imagine what I’d like better in Yum – it had categories and an easy way to enter ingredients, gave you a place to give credit to who you got the recipe from, really nice printing options, integrated options to email recipes out, and you could even export a Yum file to share a recipe with a friend who has Yum. what else could I want? Well, I got hold of Phillipp over at Dare to Be Creative and he agreed that it would be fun for me to review their new release.
Yum 3.0 came up with the same familiar 3 pane design with the categories on the left, the recipes listings in the middle, and the actual recipe you’re viewing in the right pane. The look and feel of it is cleaner, though instead of big thick columns between the panes, a sharp thin line separates the columns. I didn’t find it as easy to grab those lines and resize the widths, it kind of jumped around on me a bit. Both versions had a rating system, the new version shows you the ratings in the column with the recipes listed which makes it easier to find your best stuff.
The left column with the categories has little blue flags next to each category, and if you’ve selected that category it turns yellow. The recipes in the list have an icon that I had to blow WAY up to even guess what it is – I think it might be a white chef’s hat with a whisk upside down next to it. Not sure what all these icons are for, maybe just to make it look nice.
Several things that used to be available on the main window seem to have moved out – no longer do we have categories, text layout and view/edit. Then I noticed there’s an Edit button at the bottom of the pane showing the recipe. click that and you’re in business able to edit all of the fields from categories, time to prepare, servings, method and ingredients. You can enter the ratings in here too, but it wasn’t obvious to me that I was supposed to click next to rating to make it do anything – need some visual cue there to tell you to drag your mouse across the blank space to get the stars.
There’s an intriguing feature in there to allow you to scale the recipe to serve a different number. Isn’t that a great idea? I made up a recipe that served 6, and then set it to scale to 3, and it deftly cut my ingredients in half. That’s so totally awesome! I was always quite the whiz at fractions growing up but that doesn’t mean I want to divide 4 2/3rds in half! Unfortunately as soon as you leave the edit menu it reverts back to the pre-defined servings. i guess you don’t want it to permanently change the recipe, but that does mean you’ll have to have your Mac out on the counter while you’re cooking which could get a bit messy for the Mac!
They’ve added an interesting slider at the bottom of the main recipe pane – have you ever wished you had more room on the left for the ingredients name and quantities? or maybe the ingredients are pretty simple and you want more room for the method. This is a completely non-standard kind of control, but on Yum you slide that little ball back and forth and dynamically change the text widths. It’s really quite handy and very useful!
The old version was missing one thing a few of the other apps had – the ability to create a shopping list from the recipe. Yum now has that feature and I REALLY like how it works. You select shopping list, and it shows you the list of ingredients with little check boxes next to them. If you check an ingredient, it means you’ve already got it. Once you’re done checking them off, you hit print and it shows you both the ingredients you still need with check boxes for your grocery trip, along with the items you already have checked off. You can also email the shopping list, save it as a text file, or even save it to your iPod! I tested that feature with my Nano and it put a really nicely formatted file in my Notes section of the iPod. In Yum as you edit the grocery list you can put sections of the store in – like fruits & veg, or meats, and when it puts the list in the iPod it sorts it into piles by section of the store. Very very clever! the only bummer is that the iPhone and iPod Touch don’t support the notes feature that other iPods have so we can’t use this feature with those devices.
If you’re like me, you’re always dashing back over to the recipe to double check it (maybe more experienced chefs don’t do that) but with Yum you can put your recipe into full screen mode and it displays in HUGE text each step of the way, and you can flip forward and back through the steps with the arrow keys.
As I worked my way through Yum this week I found a few minor issues, and I emailed the developer Phillipp from Dare to Be Creative, and he got back to me immediately and even thanked me for finding the little problems. He even worked on fixing the issues and came out with a new version of the software BEFORE I could finish writing my review. That was my one fear – I used to get great response from Nik, but it looks like he sold his creation to some folks who care about their products just as much. Check out Yum for only $19.95 US over at yum-mac.com/. Oh – and version 3 is a free upgrade for previous Yum owners!
Dumb Question Corner
=========queue the music==================
First up is Suzanne with an iTunes question:
Hi Allison, I did this once a long time ago and now cannot remember how it was done. Our main music library is on the desktop. I want to copy/import the purchased music to my laptop. I know I can use the music as “Shared” but I want to import it so I can make my own playlists, etc. I remember it was painfully simple but cannot figure it out and help was no help at all. Can you help? And is there a way to only get some it without individually going through the list? Is there a way to put a playlist that I can then copy over? Suzanne
I spent some time noodling this and I am so excited I figured it out! As you know I’m no expert in iTunes or iPods but I keep getting these questions!
So the music library is on the desktop and you want to bring playlists over to the laptop. Here’s the process. On the desktop, create a playlist or playlists of what you want to move. You do that by hitting the plus sign in the bottom left, give the playlist a name, and then click on the Library icon, find the music you want to put in the playlist and drag it into the playlist.
Now on the Laptop, go in to System Preferences, click on Sharing, and make sure File Sharing is turned on:
Back on the desktop, open a Finder window and look in the left sidebar for shared computers – you should see your laptop in the shared list.
Click on the laptop’s icon and to the right you’ll see a Connect As… button. Click that button, and enter your login name and password. Now you can navigate into your user folder and see the desktop of the laptop.
Back in iTunes on the desktop machine, simply drag the playlist(s) directly from iTunes into that desktop folder on the laptop. The songs will now be copied over to the laptop and will be in a folder with the same name as the playlist or lists.
Once the music has been copied, go to the laptop, open iTunes, and simply drag the folders into iTunes in the playlist area and the songs and playlist format will be copied into your iTunes. Once you’re done with that, you can delete the ones you put in the desktop folder.
Remember that if your music was purchased through the iTunes music store you’ll have to authorize your laptop to play it. One final step to save yourself some grief. Back on the Desktop machine, click one more time on the icon for the laptop and click Disconnect. If you forget to do this, and put the laptop to sleep, your desktop will keep searching for that machine and will hang up and make you think it’s crashing – which is EXACTLY what I let mine do!
Sebastian on USB
Sebastian sent in a dumb question as a recording – but I don’t know the answer actually. Let’s listen and maybe someone can help me out!
I asked Sebastian through email what router he was using and he said it was called FreeBox from www.free.fr. I’m having a little trouble finding info because everything about the Freebox is in French. While I took 4 years of high school French, that’ WAS over 30 years ago, so I fit the ugly American stereotype perfectly! I found a full spec site on it so I sent it back to him asking him if he could see anything on this site that might say whether you can use the usb port to add drive space to your network. http://evil.rain.free.fr/articles/freebox/
in the mean time if you want to check out some of sebastian’s work:
podcast: Sebastian in Paris Podcast
Best Buy TV Experience
I don’t know if you remember this, but ages ago Steve actually WON a 42″ Dell Plasma TV. It was pretty cool at the time, even though I never would have chosen a plasma because they’re such energy hogs, the darn thing was free. Over the years we’ve noticed that the newer flat screens have much much better pictures, but we had no excuse to buy a new one. then some wonderful things started to happen. First the TV after about an hour of watching will start to blink on and off. it has to be rebooted! Unplugging it seems to fix it, but now I’ve seen it do this after 10 minutes. then a while ago we lost the ability to turn the TV off by using the button on the TV. No big deal because we could use the remotes but another sign of failure. then the other day I couldn’t turn it off even with the remotes – had to unplug it! About a month ago there was a big POP and now whenever we turn on the TV it starts with the picture squished up very narrow and you have to use the size button on the remote to fix it. All this lead us to the startling decision that we could get a new TV – yippee! and of course we have to do our share to reverse the downward spiral of the economy.
the real story I wanted to tell here though was the great support we got at Best Buy. People are always slamming these kind of stores but I seem to have great success finding knowledgeable sales people. We went in with our minds pretty set on a Sony, looking at the XBR4 series. The guy politely explained first that the XBR4 is 2 years old and that the XBR6 series is now out. Of course that’s what we wanted then, because 6 is better than 4. In all seriousness, I’m kind of disappointed, I tried to use Ultimateavmag.com which is the site Leo LaPorte always references, but all they had reviewed was the xbr4. Oh well, we adapted our expectations up. the sales guy explained to us some of the advantages of the 120Hz TVs that are out now, and was very good at explaining the different advantages of plasma vs. LCD. Maybe one of the things I liked about the guy was that he convinced Steve that LCD was the way to go, which is what I wanted him to like!
One HUGE advantage of LCD is going to be in weight. We didn’t know if the bracket we used to mount our 42″ dell would hold a bigger TV (you knew we would go up in size, right? don’t act surprised.) Get this – the 42″ Dell plasma weighs 101 pounds and a 52″ Sony XBR6 only weighs 77 pounds! Isn’t that wild? I also figure we’re going to see a significant drop in our energy usage, that darn plasma was SOOOO hot on top when it was running. You’d literally feel the heat as you walked by. In fact, we haven’t even lit a fire in our fireplace in the last few years! Now maybe it’s global warming, but maybe it’s that plasma which is helping to CREATE global warming.
I can’t remember everything the guy told us but I just wanted to give Best Buy a big shout out for hiring a smart guy who knows what he’s talking about. They did a great job, and we bought the new TV from them, expect to get it delivered tomorrow – woohoo!
I haven’t seen Honda Bob in a while, but I guess that’s a good thing, right? He does such a great job on our cars that they run beautifully. I wondered whether all my talk of him would make you think we have to have repairs done weekly – but we do have four Hondas motor company cars, and two of them are getting a little bit long in the tooth, so a fair amount of assistance is required to keep them in tip top shape. We’ve been in good shape lately though. If you really enjoy having to get to the dealer at 7am, bothering your friends to help you get to work, having to take vacation time to go back and pick it up, or even better sitting in that annoying linoleum room watching Oprah and Ellen sitting on a plastic chair, then you should never call Honda Bob to work on your cars. He won’t let you do ANY of that, he’ll make you sit on your recliner watching the ball game while he works. He wont’ even let you get up early to do it. He’ll come when it’s CONVENIENT for you, how weird is that? If you’re lucky enough to live in the LA or OC areas, and you would like outstanding and convenient in-home care for your Honda or Acura, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
security light – really just if we need time. One for Windows users. US CERT is warning about malware travelling on pen drives, and gives good practical advice (hence it qualifying) for how to protect yourself – basically, turn off auto-run so simply plugging in a pen drive won’t hose you! subscribe to CERT the US Computer Emergency Response Team. they put instructions on how to disable autorun at www.us-cert.gov
Twitter poll – how do you feel about iPhone talk on Mac shows?
marieboyer @podfeet Like iphone app reviews! (I hate discussion of Apple/Mac rumors; fast-forward button)
bobdejonge @podfeet I enjoy & look forward to iPhone stuff on mac podcasts for sure!
fatyank @podfeet I like app reviews. They have helped me find some very useful programs.
trucklover @podfeet I don’t mind the iPhone reviews / pics during a MRT podcast. I have picked up several apps that were mentioned.
dcrane2 @podfeet it’s a double edged sword, But I think in general it does get tiring to hear about iPhone topics so often on mac centric podcasts. Also, there has been so little Mac news, many shows would be shorter or gone otherwise.
Beiju @podfeet They make me very, very jealous… about 13 hours ago from twitterrific in reply to podfeet
sebinparis @podfeet I think that podcasts should stick to what they do, but if the host wants to change – let them
Rob Hanson web_wiz @podfeet re: listener poll – I only hated iPhone content on Mac podcasts while I didn’t HAVE an iPhone :0D
Looks like I was wrong, more people like iPhone talk on Mac podcasts than hate them, so let’s talk about the iPhone!
* still no proxy settings in VPN config – was in 1.x. gone from 2.x, bloody annoying when Apple go backwards!
* Help Bart by putting your 2 cents at apple.com/feedback/iphone.html
* Podcasts now in right order – YAY! (this is actually a big deal for me)
* when on a “home screen” other than the first one, clicking the home button now scoots you straight to the home one. Now that I have 4 screens with apps I’m really starting to need this!
* Download OR stream podcasts right to the iPhone – yay! I use my other two iPods for podcasts primarily but sometimes I just have the iPhone with me and I want a ‘cast but they’re all out of date because I don’t sync very often. this solves my problem completely! Even works dandy over EDGE! (Bart said this didn’t work on EDGE for him at all though.)
* street view – still not sure this is an advantage anywhere, but it does work. Oddly you have to drop a pin first to see whether the location has a street view or not. Here’s Moscone Center street view. First searching on Moscone Center:
If you see the little person on the left in the red circle, that means you have street view for that location. click on the blue arrow and you get this:
* Supposed to be Mail enhancements but we didn’t notice any.
* Improved formatting of wide html email – I think I know what they’re talking about – I get email from aol users that I simply cannot read – suddenly WAY too small
* Improved sound qual on visual voicemail – I thought it was still way too quiet, and then realized I wasn’t listening on the speaker fone, so it’s PLENTY loud!
* preference to turn on/off auto-correct using keyboard settings – that could make some people very happy, but we don’t need it.
I was on the Mac Roundtable again this week, and we had a great time grilling Don McAllister about how much fun he had on the Mac Mania cruise through the Mediterranean. It was pretty fun – we grilled him for a bout 40 minutes when we realized we hadn’t asked a single thing about what it was like to see places like Italy and Greece. Yeah, we found out about wifi access and exciting topics like what kind of power plugs they use, but nuthin’ about the real trip! Go check it out and you can hear the story about how Don and his wife got left behind when they missed the boat! It’s over at macroundtable.com.
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