Mom on Buzz Out Loud, Mona doesn’t know she’s joined a cult, InterfaceLIFT.com for beautiful wallpapers, Stanza for iPhone/iPod Touch and Mac desktop from lexcycle.com (iTunes direct link to Stanza). Pan Macmillan from panmacmillan.com and O’Reilly’s Safari books at safari.oreilly.com for DRM free books Stanza can read. Make your iPhone into an Ocarina from ocarina.smule.com (iTunes direct link to Ocarina) In Chit Chat Across the Pond Steve challenges Bart about HDCP plugging the analog hole, Bart reviews Photomatix from www.hdrsoft.com and Bart describes his glee at his Christmas cards from Apple.
Listen to the Podcast Once (57 min)
Today is Sunday December 7th, 2008, and this is show number 181.
You guys have heard a ton about my mom and occasionally you get the fun of hearing her in a recording. Well on Buzz Out Loud from CNET, they were talking about Windows 3.1 being retired, and asked the audience whether anyone was even using a computer that was over 10 years old. That was just the cue I needed – I made a quick recording of my mom talking about her computer that’s over 25 years old! I sent it in, let’s have a listen before I tell you the rest of the story:
The first I knew that our little recording actually made the show was when I got this email from friend of the show Donald Burr: “Heard you on today’s BOL, at the end of the show. For a minute there I was like ‘wait a second, did my iPod suddenly skip ahead to a Nosillacast episode??!'” That was really cool. I heard from MacTrucker through Twitter that he heard it too which was great. But the very best was that an old friend of mine I haven’t heard from in maybe ten years wrote to me this week because he heard me on Buzz out Loud! How cool is that? Mostly through podcasting I’ve been finding new friends in far reaches of the world and who have interesting lives so unlike mine. This was a new surprise to reconnect with an old friend. Another example of how much I get out of Podcasting.
How do I do it?
Steve wrote in with a nice note – he was one of the people to turn me onto the Aperture tips podcast. I wanted to read you what he wrote:
Hi Allison, Glad the podcast helped you out, I know how you feel when you can’t get something the way you want it. I think Richard Harrington does a really nice job with the video. I’m like you a beginner at Aperture, and I’m also learning Photoshop CS4.
How do you get the time to do podcasts?
- You love to work out
You have a couple of kids
A full time job
You do some reviews for other podcasts
And you love computers
That got me thinking, How do I do this? One trick is that my kids are off doing their own thing. Podcasting showed up to fill the void right as my daughter went away to college and my son became a teenager who would rather have his eyeballs eaten by rats than pay any attention to me!
I think it all gets down to doing what you love to do. I used to wander around work bothering people with things like, “hey, have you seen this cool new utility?” they didn’t care at all. Now instead I talk about those things to people who really DO care, and who choose to listen.
Another important bit is that my biggest fan is my husband Steve. On Sundays he does the laundry and makes dinner (and brings me a beer during the live show) and even joins the live show while he’s cooking. Knowing that he loves the show, loves to participate and help me find the time is probably 50% of how I can do it. If he resented the time I spent on the show or didn’t take on work load around the house I doubt I could have made this work.
the hardest part is the part of doing reviews for other podcasts. It’s really really hard to fit that in. But at least every few weeks I get an email that says “I heard you on the Mac Reviewcast…” or “I heard you on the Mac Roundtable…” so I know I gain listeners that way. I have a slow but steady growth of listeners so I keep doing all those side jobs! I also bother people in coffee shops cramming my card in their hand if they have a Mac, things like that. I can tell you I’ll probably keep doing this as long as you guys keep listening and reading!
Upside down camera on Screenium
Last week on the show I talked about Screenium and I mentioned that they let you flip the camera upside down but I didn’t know why anyone would want to do that. Chris from Minnesota wrote in with one reason why HE would want that capability.
I own and use the original Firewire iSight camera. One of the accessories that came in the box was a handy magnetic mount. I was at a loss as to just what good this might be other than holding the grocery list to the refrigerator. Until, that is, I made custom bookshelf in my office to house my Powerbook, nice speakers, and other peripherals. I was having trouble finding just the right spot to mount my iSight when I had a flash of inspiration. Grabbing a large fender washer and a 3/4″ screw, I mounted the washer to the underside of the shelf that was just above my computer. Then I used the magnetic base to mount the iSight under the shelf and out of the way. Perfect!
The only issue was that the camera was now upside down and all my video chats appeared to feature yours truly hanging from the ceiling. Ecamm Software to the rescue! I installed iGlasses which, among other handy adjustments, allowed me to invert the image back to the the proper perspective and still keep my camera tucked up out of the way.
Sure, my use might be a little unusual, but having the ability to reverse an image in both the horizontal and vertical orientation is a nice little feature to have in any software. Thanks for such a great podcast, and keep ’em coming! Chris
Well Chris – you’ve got me there – that’s a great reason to be able to flip the image. I wonder if they were thinking of you when they put that in! Thanks for writing and thanks for the kind words.
Mona’s new computer
Well, they’re dropping like flies. First my friend Ileana bought her first Mac, then my friend Melanie got one for her daughter, next up my friend Doreen bought two Macbooks on her switch, and now it was Mona’s turn. I love going to the Apple store with someone else’s credit card so imagine my delight helping Mona buy her first Mac! We even ran into Doreen there – she was using that $100 a year deal where you can have private lessons as often as once a week – she’s actually doing it and loving it! You can ask as dumb of questions as you want and they have to keep a straight face!
I think my favorite part though was when I told Mona, oh hey, there’s that guy Tony who works here who jumped into my Diggnation photo last week, I wanna go say hi. She says to me, “well I didn’t know I was joining a CULT here or anything!” I couldn’t stop laughing – did she miss a memo or something? Of COURSE it’s a cult! I’ll have to teach her about the reality distortion field and everything. She has so much to learn. I wonder if she doesn’t know about the sacrificial rituals either?
Well anyway, we brought home her new 20″ iMac and she ran off to work, when she came home her son had pulled it out plugged it in and was playing already! She and her husband were amazed at that. I was showing her around the OS a bit and suggested we bring in some photos. She pulled some off her camera and I showed her how easy it was – plug it in, iPhoto launches and pulls them in. She said, oh. Then I showed her full screen on her photos, and again with the “oh”. Hmmm…then she said, you know Al, my son Cody ALWAYS has red eyes in photos, does it have anything for that? I showed her how in iPhoto she could just click on the eyes and they would instantly be fixed. She said she could die and go to Heaven now, her life was fulfilled. Seriously, this made her SOOOOO happy because she has all these great photos of Cody but they all look bad because of the redeye. You never know what will blow someone’s dress up do you?
the only downside of the whole event was that while they have Verizon FIOS that is WICKED fast, their house must be made of lath and plaster because there is ZERO wireless signal getting from the kitchen to the bedroom, and it’s only about 50 feet away. Either that or it’s the gigantic steel refrigerator that’s in the path. So I got the brilliant idea we’ll just bridge a 2nd wireless router in. They dashed out and bought one, but it turns out there’s some jankiness to how Verizon’s modem/router works and you have to do some gene splicing to get this to work, and it includes actually turning off the routerness of their device and ONLY using the 2nd router to dish out IP addresses. I’m afraid I flinched and ran away. I was certain that I’d leave them with no internet at all if I tried without about 8 hours do do it.
The good news is that in my discovery on this, I asked them for the router password, and they didn’t know what it was. I went online and searched and found out that Verizon puts in one of three passwords, including password, password1 and no password at all! Can you believe that? their wireless network has been completely unprotected all this time – AND they had it set up for WEP instead of WPA. I have to go back and fix that, but at least we changed the password. What a bunch of morons. Mona is pretty persistent, she’s going to call Verizon and make them walk her how to set up the 2nd router – I sure hope she can get it to work!
One of the things I like about the way I named my show is that I can pretty much talk about whatever I want and you guys can’t claim I’m off topic! I know, it makes it hard to pin down what the show is about but hey, that’s the price you pay. I have a quick tip here that’s making me happy – desktop wallpapers. My buddy Adam has always got these spectacular scenery shots on his monitors, you know the kind that just draw your eyes in because of the composition and the detail? The kind that make you just want to crawl into the monitor? I asked him where he gets them and he told me about the site interfacelift.com. I lost 45 minutes of my day this afternoon playing around in there finding cool new pictures.
InterfaceLIFT lets you sort through all the options by date, # of downloads, ratings, comments, random and you can store your favorites. They have wallpaper for widescreen, fullscreen, HDTV, dual monitors, triple monitors and even mobile devices. You can choose even more granularity, for example within wide screen there are 5 options, surely one to fit you screen. Once you’ve chosen that, just click the download button and your image comse up in the browser window so you can right click to download.
I know there’s a lot of cool sites out there for wallpapers – if you have a favorite you’d like to share shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why you think it’s the coolest site ever!
And now for a word from our sponsor, ScreenSteps from screensteps.com. ScreenSteps is simply amazing. It’s the fastest and most enjoyable way to make documentation for anything you do on your computer. If you just help other people learn how to do things through your blog or even emailing instructions to people, your life happiness factor will improve if you use ScreenSteps to take snapshots, annotate them and make beautiful PDFs or HTML for your blog. But what if you’re really into this for the money? You want some online ability to share your lessons and manuals with teammates so you can collaborate. Thats where ScreenSteps Live comes into play. Greg from ScreenSteps walked me through some of the improvements coming out with the 2.0 release due soon.
Previously you had to upload lesson by lesson and then assemble them into a manual on the website. Now you can upload an entire manual, but your team can still pull down a lesson or the entire manual to work on it. They’ve now got some configuration management built in so if a teammate checks out a lesson it’s locked so others can’t step on their changes. I haven’t tested this part myself – I’ll be curious to see how well this works because configuration management is one of the hardest things to get just right.
Next up they’ve gotten syncing working between your desktop version and the version online. Hey, like config management wasn’t tricky enough – let’s tackle syncing! Anyway, if someone edits the manual on ScreenSteps Live, like they add tags, change the order of the lessons, you can sync your desktop version with it. Because they’re brilliant developers, they did decide to limit the syncing to things like tags and order of lessons, so if there’s CONTENT changes within a lesson you’ll have to download the new version from ScreenSteps Live to your desktop. This is super tricky stuff – anyone who has ever synced their address book anywhere any time knows that duplicates and merged records are a nightmare, so I think they’re brilliant to go slow here.
If you’re not already a ScreenSteps user, then you’re just not happy enough. Click the big fat ScreenSteps logo in the sidebar at podfeet.com, or go to screensteps.com and download the free trial. When you can resist it no longer, be sure to use the coupon code NOSILLA to get 25% off of your purchase.
My friend Darlene came to me with an interesting question – she explained that she travels a fair amount and she really likes to read. The problem is that she reads very quickly so even a short trip means carrying her own weight in paperbacks. She got the idea that the iPod Touch might make an adequate eBook reader while doing other things as well, so she asked me to check into it for her. I decided to test out Stanza from lexcycle.com. As I read about Stanza I didn’t really believe it could do what it said it could do.
I started by downloading the app directly from the iTunes store onto my iPhone. When Stanza first comes up on the iPhone it shows the Library which has your books by Title, author, subject and then it shows Latest Reads. you’ll find that they’ve prepopulated it with the book The Time Machine so you have something to read and play with. Reading on the iPhone is pretty darn good. You simply swipe the pages to move right and left just like you would expect. Tapping on screen opens other options, such as the ability to jump to chapters which have been bookmarked in the book. And of course the GREAT option in here is the plus button to add a bookmark of your own! Yay – I was hoping they’d have that
You also get an option to change things like text color, background color, and link color. You can even reverse the colors if that’s easier for you to read. They show you a nice preview of what it will look like so you don’t have to go back and forth to test different options.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m starting to have a WEE bit of trouble reading small print (my eye doctor Billy says I’m darn lucky to just be hitting this at 50!) so I appreciate the fact that comes with a nice font size slider. That seems to be one of the great advantage of ereaders – if you’re young you probably want to cram a lot on the page, if you’re an old fart you can crank up that size and not look for your glasses. Just because they can I guess they also give you options of a whole bunch of fonts, line spacing and margin width. There’s an option to change the hyphenation to a bunch of different languages – I’m not sure what the heck it means to choose Croatian hyphenation over Danish but I bet if you need that you’d know exactly what they’re talking about.
The options just go on and on – turn images on or off, change display styles, hide phot status, auto hid toolbars, sheesh! Oh wait, here’s one really good one – you can lock book rotation, that might be handy so you can read laying on your side and not have the book rotate on you! Glad they thought of that one.
Ok, enough with the setup of the book reader – how about BOOKS? What can this actually read? Darlene confessed to me that her deep dark secret is reading trashy romance novels. Hey, quit snickering, I like watching my soap opera, so who am I to judge?
The Stanza reader on the iPhone shows an Online catalog showing several free download sites like Project Gutenberg with 20,000+ books available to you for free, along with several that were paid sites. One intriguing site is called High School Reading – they specialize in all the drivel, I mean, uh, classics, that you’re forced to read in high school. Hey come on, who on EARTH would read Billy Budd by Herman Melville if Mr. Flagler hadn’t made them read it in Junior year? Who are they kidding calling that slop a classic?
I downloaded the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn from High School Reading and it couldn’t have been easier. Now we really wanted to see if any contemporary books were available, and I couldn’t quite tell from the iPhone app, so I headed over to LexCycle to do some more research. I noticed right off the bad that they had a graphic showing the book Twilight on Stanza, and that’s a current best seller so I was very encouraged.
That’s when I figured out that there’s a Stanza application for the desktop and it makes acquiring books even easier. I know, it was quite a strain doing it right on the iPhone, right? I downloaded the free Stanza application (it’s free for now but they think they might charge for it after it comes out of beta if they add a bunch of cool features.) I launched it, and up came a big blank screen. Seriously. Nothing at all in a window that took up most of the screen! About the only menu option I could find was File –> Open File. Hmmm…must mean I need to find some books to read!
Back to the website. The FAQs were really good – especially if you’re trying to figure out how to get your own book to work in Stanza. The FAQ I was looking for though was which file formats does Stanza support? I found the answer there: “Stanza contains built-in reading support for Amazon Kindle, Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT, PalmDoc, Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, HTML, and PDF. More details can be found on Stanza’s Supported Formats page.” Well heck, that’s great! I especially liked to see that books for the Amazon Kindle will work because that’s growing SO rapidly in popularity, especially since Oprah said she loves the Kindle and now Amazon is sold out!
I adore Darlene and I was willing to do a lot for her but I wasn’t quite ready to plop down my hard earned cash to buy a book, but I thought maybe I’d try downloading a free book to the desktop and see how that works. I went back to Project Gutenberg and took a look at their top 100 EBooks and saw A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. We were just watching the Muppet Christmas Carol movie so I thought that was a great choice. If you haven’t seen the Muppet Christmas Carrol, DEFINITELY check it out. It’s very true to the story filled with real quotes from the book and it’s delightfully done only as the muppets can tell a story. I’m telling you, I cry every year when I watch this and Tiny Tim dies! After you watch the movie, read the book and you’ll love the story even more.
ANYWAY, so I downloaded the book, and then I went back to Stanza on the Mac and opened the file. It looked great on screen, showed several screens actually separated by black vertical lines. I put a screenshot in the shownotes so you could see what it looked like there. You can do ALL those options I talked about already in the iPhone but this is not really where we want to be, we wanna get this on the iPhone. This is when it gets really cool. in Tools, they have an option called Sharing, and you can turn on regular sharing or anonymous sharing. Get this, next I went to the Stanza on the iPhone, and I had an option called “shared books”.
When I clicked that, it said “Books on Allison-macbook-pro-448. not sure what 448 is, maybe a port or something? anyway, if I clicked THAT, then I saw A Christmas Carol.
I clicked on A Christmas Carol and saw a download button. Clicked that, and got well, another download button! That’s cool, I clicked on Download, and nearly instantly I had the book on the iPhone.
The only thing I had trouble with was search. I wanted to prove to Steve that when Gonzo is narrating A Christmas Carol he’s actually reading from the real Charles Dickens manuscript but when I searched on words like “chains” when Marley (or in the movie the Marley brothers) where talking about chains it didn’t find it. Not sure why, later I was able to search other things in other books but it failed me on everything I tried in a Christmas Carol for some reason.
I am REALLY impressed with this application, it’s flexibility to work with the free downloads combined with its ability to work with the newer formats for DRM’d content is a perfect balance. They accommodate old eyes with the font slider so how could I not love these guys? go out and download Stanza today from Lexcycle and expand your reading!
Ocarina for iPhone
It’s been suggested by many that I can’t see outside the box. Heck, i don’t even know I’m in the box half the time, and I’m not even sure I want to go outside the box! anyway, because I’m so firmly in the box, I have great admiration for those who get out of the box and run around freely! there’s an app for the iPhone that is all about going outside the box. I remember when the iPhone first came out people said it was interesting not for what it could already do but for what it would be able to do in the future when developers got their hands on it. That is so very true when you hear about this app.
It’s called Ocarina from ocarina.smule.com. An ocarina is an ancient flute-like wind instrument that has four holes on either side of an oval shaped enclosed shape. Now what’s that got to do with the iPhone? Get this – the Ocarina application turns your iPhone into a musical WIND instrument. they use the microphone to sense how hard you blow across it, and it plays music! On the touch screen there are four pads that you use to change the pitch of the instrument. Seriously, you’re playing your iPhone with your breath. I’ve showed it to about a hundred people and 80% of them don’t believe I’m actually making the noise by blowing. They buy the touch pads but not the blowing part. Ok, now that you’re begging me, I’ll play it a little bit for you right now. Before I do though, I should explain that in the gene pool of my family, 50% of the musical talent that should have been spread evenly between the four kids went to my brother Jan who teaches at the Berklee School of Music. The remaining 25% was split evenly between between my other two brothers Grant and Kelly, leaving absolute zero for me. Don’t believe me? here goes:
=============PLAY OCARINA, attempt to play a scale==============
See, told ya! the folks in the chat room atustream.tv/nosillacast are watching me right now, they can vouch that that was actually me blowing into my iPhone. Ok, so you think that’s cool right? Let’s take it up a notch. on the screen I’m going to tap once and four menus come up at the bottom. One has a teaching section where they explain how to make the notes of the scale, one allows you to change to different harmonic scales, but one is positively magical. I’m going to click on the globe icon, and suddenly a very google earth looking globe will come up and it will spin around to a random location on the earth, and then we will hear LIVE someone playing their ocarina iPhone.
I’m not kidding, it’s the most beautiful thing – curling up out of the earth are these blue lines with green doughnut shaped things floating up to represent the keys as they’re pressed on the iPhone. Don’t like that guy? then click the fast forward looking button and you advance to another artiste. If you find one you like, you can heart them, and you can even zoom in a bit so you can see a little more closely where they are. All over the globe you’ll see little white lights flickering too – representing all of the people playing right now. It’s simply astonishing. If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, go get this app for only a DOLLAR!
To get you started on their website they have instructions showing the holes and how you cover them to play different songs. They have Amazing Grace in there which explains why I find so many people playing it on the globe thingy! They’ve got forums for sharing things you’ve learned, they have the sheet music, tons of fun over at ocarina.smule.com.
So it’s the holiday season again. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa, gifts seem to roll into the process of celebration. Well this year, why don’t you ask all of your friends and family to chip in and buy you a Honda so you can have Honda Bob as your mechanic? This would make you as happy as ScreenSteps! Ok, I’ll try to be serious here, but it’s hard when I’m so happy with Honda Bob. Get this – if you do drive a Honda, or an Acura (which by the way is owned by Honda Motor Company) and you live in the LA or Orange County areas, you would never ever have to go to the dealer to give your car the normal scheduled services. Out of warranty repairs? Ok, I’d like to pretend Hondas never break just like Macs never crash, but once in a rare while it does happen. But instead of begging rides and missing work to get to the dealer, why not have Honda Bob just come to your house while you relax, or meet you at work while you’re productive? Someone at work the other day suggested I try a different kind of car, and I just said “Um, but I’d have to get another mechanic! why would I do that?” Well if you want this kind of kid glove treatment for your Hondas, give him a call at (562)531-2321 or shoot him an email at email@example.com.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Topic: Steve debates HDCP affect on Analog Hole
On last week’s show Bart said one of the things HDCP did was plug the analog hole and Steve challenges that statement.
Topic: Photomatix Pro
HDR software from www.hdrsoft.com, only with the power to really start doing cool things. Getting infinitely better results than with Bracketeer. Big downside though is the price – about $100. Check out how much better his photos are than with Bracketeer at bartb.ie
Topic: Bart just got his first ever printed goods from Apple through iPhoto. Very impressed. Ordered more, now working on a calendar!
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