#193 FastMac iV, Addictomatic, Free PC apps, Audacity tutorial, Kindle 2, Maxtor One Touch, Raw vs. Jpeg

Addictomatic for aggregating web 2.0 searches addictomatic.com. Audio Hijack Pro from rogueamoeba.com and Azid from Softpedia at Softpedia. 32 Totally Essential (and Free) Apps for Every New PC maximumpc.com. Al finally releases her Audacity Tutorial in the right sidebar at podfeet.com under tutorials. Pat Dengler reviews theKindle 2 from Amazon, and Maxtor One Touch for the win. iV iPhone portable charging pack from FastMac. In Chit Chat Across the Pond I ask Bart to explain the difference between jpeg and raw, and why I might want to shoot raw. Bart’s blog post on the topic: http://www.bartb.ie/blog/?p=1295. In Security Lite he walks us through the Adobe Flash update to fix a vulnerability, and about two new vulnerabilities – one on Adobe Reader, one on my beloved Excel.


Listen to the Podcast Once (1 hr 10 min)

Today is Sunday March 1st, 2009, and this is show number 193. We’ve got a really big shoe today so let’s dig right in!

Live Show
Last week in Dumb Question Corner I answered Michael’s question, and I really enjoyed what he wrote back:

    Wow! I wasn’t surprised that you responded but so quickly and to merit such a response on the podcast, that impressed me. I did sit in on Ustream for a few minutes and was surprised at how much effort it takes to create a show but, in the same way I don’t want to see what is going on in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant that I eat at, I think I’d rather enjoy the finished product. Thanks again and I will keep in touch! Regards, Michael

I’m glad he wrote this – a lot of people get a real kick out of the Ustream live show (5pm GMT-8 on Sunday nights at ustream.tv/nosillacast, but I can see how watching the sausage get made might take some of the fun out of it. This weekend I actually figured out how to do Chit Chat Across the Pond live with both Bart AND my video showing on Ustream, so we did it for a small rather spontaneous audience. One person pointed out though that if you watch Chit Chat Across the Pond and you go to the live show, there’s nothing left at all on Monday morning! Well the best part about podcasting is it’s all about you – what you want, when you want it and how you want it! Btw, I’ll be doing a tutorial on how I cracked the code of sending both videos to Ustream, here’s a hint, all I needed was three cameras, Audio Hijack Pro, Soundsource, Camtwist, Skype and Ustream to make it happen!

I’m a big fan of mashups, where clever developers figure out how to aggregate a bunch of stuff together to give us new information. My favorite this week is a website called addictomatic.com. The idea is to enter some words, and addictomatic will give you all the recent mentions of those terms from twitter, live.com news, youtube, bloglines, google blog search, Digg, Flickrtruveo video search, ask.com news, blikx mainstream, wikio, technorati, wodrpess.com and yahoo websearch! Whew! I hadn’t even heard of some of those! Now it sounds like this would be a big mess, but the site has a calm dark grey background, and each service is in a calm white and beige rounded box. It’s not messy at all, it’s really quite pleasing!

If you like some of these services better than others, all you have to do is drag their boxes around to put your favs at the top, and you can even click the x in the corner of a box to banish it from your view. This kind of mix and match, dragging interface makes me so very happy! You can click on Available Sources in the menu bar and see even MORE sources than I listed already! You can turn off sources from this view too.

I should give an example here so you can get a better idea of what you’d DO with this – I typed in “macintosh windows” and from many of the services I found tools and toys that worked on both the Mac and Windows. since this is all freeform you can look at anything you want – midwest tornadoes, golfclubs, baby chickens, whatever interests YOU and you’ll find amazing new resources of information. go check it out at addictomatic.com.

32 Free Apps for Windows
This week a Windows friend of mine asked me for a free tool for Windows that would help him pull audio from a commercial DVD. I know, this is a grey, or even possibly a DARK grey area, but I still wanted to find out what was out there to help him. Of course I turned to the best technical resource I know – Twitter! Unfortunately based on the research they did for me there aren’t any good options like Audio Hijack Pro on the Mac from rogueamoeba.com. My favorite example of how AHP helped us was when Steve drove to a real brick and mortar store, and bought a physical CD. On the package it said there was a free bonus track available as a digital download. How exciting! So he brings it home, drops it into the Mac, and guess what? the track is only available if you’re using Windows!!! He was SO mad! We dodged around their idiocy though. I launched Parallels on my Mac and Windows on top of that. I downloaded the file on the Windows side, then launched Audio Hijack Pro on the Mac side. I told AHP to capture everything coming out of the sound card, and then told windows to play the song. Voila! I had capture a perfect digital copy of the song onto the Mac side!

so anyway, the problem was free tools on Windows for ripping the audio from a DVD, wasn’t it? Adrian Bacon came up with a workable but painful method, he said ” I use a DVD ripper, then azid to convert DD stream to wav file, then I can do what I want with it. Involved, but perfect quality.” The real downside is that ripping the DVD takes a LONG time, when playing the song is so fast. I did a search for Azid and their website is “down for a while” which made me nervous but I found it on a legimitate site, Softpedia so it’s probably not dodgy!

The real fun began when my buddy Andy McCaskey from slashdotreview.com sent a link to maximumpc.com where they’ve compiled a list of 32 Totally Essential (and Free) Apps for Every New PC. this list is fantastic. there’s a lot of the usual suspects, like VLC for video playback, Mozilla Thunderbird for email, Putty for logging into servers, but there’s also a lot of apps I’d never even heard of in here. for example, a product called RipBot264 as an alternative to Handbrake that’s supposed to allow you to rip high def DVDs! Or how about a file recovery program called Recuva? they say it holds your hand and tells you everything is going to be ok while it goes and finds the photos of your daughter’s birth that you accidentally deleted and your wife is going to KILL you if you don’t recover. check out this great list at maximumpc.com and make sure you make it to the last page where they describe InstallPad which will allow you an easy way to install a bunch of apps (including the 31 here) with one application! Thanks Andy, that was really cool!

Audacity Tutorial
audacity logoAbout two years ago I promised to do an Audacity tutorial showing how to record and create podcasts with it. I did a bunch of work by hand taking screen captures and writing text up to go with it and dreading wrapping that all together. then a year ago I got ScreenSteps and the first thing I did was start working on the Audacity tutorial again. I stopped for some reason, i think because I got tangled up in describing every single feature in the tool, instead of focusing on the bigger picture. finally some people I work with begged me for instructions on how to make a podcast for free so my hand was forced.

I started over and that finally did the trick. I’ve posted the tutorial in the right sidebar at podfeet.com under tutorials (I know, tricky, eh?) In this version of the Audacity tutorial I explain where to get it, which version to choose (hint – use the beta!) and then I walk through some real basic steps to record. I explain how to set your audio to receive your microphone and recommended settings for the quality. You can use Audacity to create MP3 files, but it’s sort of a weird, boogery process to get it to work, and since you’ve got a perfectly good MP3 encoder inside iTunes, and since I recommend using iTunes to add all the meta data anyway (like author, genre, and all that) why not just use iTunes.

Let me know what you think, and let me know where you think I should elaborate. Should I go into a bit of detail on how to edit the recordings in Audacity? What do you wish you knew more about to get going with Audacity?

Pat Dengler on Kindle 2

So remember when I nearly committed hari kari after I stuck a magnet to my brand spanking new Macbook Pro? And remember it was Pat Dengler who talked me down off the ceiling and helped me breathe again? She’s the same woman who upgraded the drive for me in my old MacBook Pro and seemed to actually enjoy it?

Nothing like having in home service of your Mac (if you live in the LA area…wait, this reminds me of someone…) Anyway, Pat sent in her first audio review, and she chose the Amazon Kindle 2. I know we’ve all heard a lot of hype about it, but here’s a real person who will explain what it’s really like in our terms.

==============insert Pat=========================

Maxtor One Touch

So you’ve all heard my whining about how Time Machine doesn’t work for Steve or me, because we create huge files every week and all those copies of the data aren’t really solving the problem we have. I still tried it a bunch of times for Steve and I just couldn’t get it to work for him. You’ll be shocked and surprised at what DOES work for him though. We bought a Maxtor One Touch backup drive at Costco for him. I use one of these on my Windows box and it’s perfection. For me I let it run in the background while I’m working and about 3 or 4 times I’ve realized that I’ve borked a file, and every single time I’ve been able to get it back from the Maxtor safely. That unattended backup is essential to a good strategy. But here’s where the One Touch comes into full glory. Let’s say you’ve just finished downloading the pictures of your baby’s birth, you don’t want anything to happen to these or your wife is going to KILL you, so you reach over and push the One Touch button and bam, it runs a backup! I know, with tools like superduper! you can launch the program and say back up now! but this is so much more satisfying!

At first when I set it up for Steve we set it up to back up at intervals, but the problem was it would wake up his machine and fire up a backup, waking him up in the middle of the night! so this is again where having that handy little button on the front to hit to say “now!” turned out to be really handy. We shut off the auto backup function and now he can instantly backup whenever he thinks of it. I sure hope he does think of it, I thin he will! I can tell you that when I sat down to do our taxes on his machine (because it’s not a laptop and never wanders from the house I figure it’s a better place to do taxes) and after I spent about 3 hours working on them, you can be SURE I remembered to click that one button on the Maxtor One Touch. it’s not a great deal most of the time, 750GB is $120 right now on Amazon and I think we paid about that or perhaps a tad less at Costco, but the key here is that he DOES have backups running now!

One more thing – when I first got the drive, my first intention was to scrape off all that silly One Touch software and install Super Duper! to work with the drive, but they make it REALLY hard to get it off, and reformat the drive. I forget exactly what went wrong, but I know I finally gave in and let One Touch rule the backups. For those of you who like to control things, this is probably not the backup drive for you. For those of you who want to just say “backup NOW!” it’s fantastic.

This weekend I had some more fun with Knightwise. He convinced me that just putting Ubuntu on my OLPC was not enough, that I needed to make it into a linux server now! What the heck, sounded like fun! The great news is that on his podcast over at knightwise.com he’s done a fabulous video tutorial on how to install a linux server. It’s a great screencast because he shows you every single step of the way, but also explains WHY you’re doing each step. When I did the original OLPC Ubuntu install I was just blindly typing in commands because the instructions didn’t give you a bit of info on what you were doing for each step. I did have some trouble (I’m sure it’s operator trouble, not Knightwise’s video instructions, but I found myself suggesting to him that a great companion to his video would have been a ScreenSteps tutorial. The video is great for the concept but trying to scan with the playhead back to the screen where he opens the interfaces file to enter the static IP address was a bit difficult, especially getting it to stop on the right spot so I could read it on the big screen, then take my glasses off and peer an inch away from the teeny tiny little OLPC screen to see if I was typing it right. A ScreenSteps tutorial would have allowed me to go back through the steps and read the text much more easily. He could have done screenshots and annotated them so easily with ScreenSteps and then put in the bit of text necessary to explain each step. One quick click of the export button and he could have sent the instructions right to his blog so everyone could see them. Hey Sas, maybe you should get him a copy of ScreenSteps for his birthday! It’s only $40 for the standard version and $60 for the pro version, and remember the 25% off coupon if you enter my name spelled backwards in all capital letters: NOSILLA! head on over to screensteps.com and buy it!

iV from FastMac
iPhones and iPod Touches are great, right? The problem with them is that they’re TOO fun. We want to play with them all the time! Let’s say you’re at a conference. You’ve got all that twittering to do, by the time the dinner invites start to go out you’re already out of battery power, what do you do??? It turns out a whole slew of manufacturers have set their minds to solving this problem for us. the good news is there are options, the bad news is you have to choose! The basic idea of these devices is that you charge them up, and then attach them in some fashion to your iPhone, and they transfer their power over to the iPhone or iPod Touch. I’ve looked at a few of them and it appears that the big differentiators are 1) how it attaches, and b) how many mAh it can deliver.

ok, wait a minute – what’s a milli-amp Hour a measure of, anyway? I found this description on stevesforum.com (no relation):

    voltage and mAh are two different, but interrelated, things. voltage is a measure of the electrical power a battery can deliver, while mAH (milli-Amp hours) is a measure of how long the battery will maintain usable voltage at a given output current. a 2500mAh battery should provide approximately twice the life of a 1200mAh cell in the same application, even though their output voltages are the same.

um, ok. so out of that I got that a number twice as big is twice as good, right? so you want a LOT of milli-amp-hours, sounds good.

Several of my friends, including Victor Cajiao of the typicalmacuser.com had the Mophie Juice Pack on their iPhones at MacWorld Expo this year. The Mophie Juicepack is sort of like an iPhone case – you slide the iPhone/iPod Touch into the case with the dock connector, and it starts charging the device. The Mophie runs $100 and it gives you 1800mAH’s. I liked it and thought it was pretty cool and I had some serious gadget envy! It was pretty big, essentially doubling the size of the iPhone, but for doubling the time you could Twitter on your iPhone/iPod Touch, it was a great solution! They make the Juice Pack for both generations of the iPhone/iPod Touch which is cool.

then my friend Brian showed up at my door Friday and said, “I have the coolest thing since sliced bread!” He showed me the Kensington Mini battery pack and charger. This is a whole different device, it’s a tiny little device that connects to then end of the iPhone/iPod Touch on the doc connector, essentially lengthening the device, not thickening it. Does that make sense? The Kensington device is only $50 so the price is right, that’s for sure. The Kensington battery pack only has 1000mAH and as we learned in our earlier lesson, that’s not nearly as good as 1800, right? but it’s half the price, and half the size, maybe even less than half the size. Here’s another good point for the Kensington, since it just plugs end to end with the device, it doesn’t just work to charge the iPhone/iPod Touch, it also works on Nanos of all generation, and iPods of all generation too! The downside of the Kensington is it feels like you might snap it off if you tried to carry it around and use it while it’s attached because it’s sort of hanging off the end of your device. But at half the cost, and REALLY small and light to carry around – it weighs a grand total of 1.6 ounces. I think this is a great solution.

Ok, so you’re thinking we have this all wrapped up, right? high capacity go Mophie, small and light go Kensington. Well that’s way too easy, isn’t it? Well my good buddy David Sparks of “I love a woman who travels with the internet in her purse” did a great review of the Richard Solo 1800 over on macsparky.com back in December (there’s a link in the shownotes of course. the Richard Solo takes the middle ground – it also attaches end to end to the iPhone/iPod Touch, but it’s much bigger than the Kensington, and delivers the 1800 mAH of the Mophie. They even priced it halfway between the other two options – it’s $70. David loved this unit. Ok, GREAT. Now what do we do?


Well let’s introduce a fourth player in the market. At the end of MacWorld Expo after I SWEAR I’d been to every single booth on all the floors in 3 days, my buddy Jonathan Witherspoon says, “Hey, did you go to the FastMac Booth? BEST IN SHOW, by far, is the iV!” Oh GREAT. What could I do but get my hands on the iV and give it for a spin.

Here’s the specs before we get started – the iV from FastMac doesn’t have 1000mAh, it doesn’t have 1800 like the Richard Solo, it has 3100mAh! This bad boy will take a completely dead iPhone and charge it to 100%…twice. Seriously. You’d think this one would break the bank, but it’s actually $80 for the iPhone 2G and $100 for the 3G. I was excited that they supported the first version of the iPhone since that’s what I have! The iV is most comparable to the Mophie too, because it’s more of a case-type charger. While it just about doubles the thickness of iPhone, it’s very usable with the iV hooked onto it. There’s no way you’d walk around with a Richard Solo attached to your iPhone because instead of making it thicker, it makes it longer – same with the Kensington.

The iV from FastMac has a fantastic feel to it – a soft finish that’s really really fun to touch. I don’t wanna get creepy here, but I keep stroking it it feels so good. It also has a very bright LED light on the camera side, which seems kind of silly at first, but they point out that it’s pretty handy to use to light up things when you want to use the incredibly poor camera on the iPhone. Getting some extra light in really makes the camera a lot more useful. Here’s another nice touch. I happen to travel with an iPhone AND a Blackberry AND of course my Cradlepoint so I can carry the internet in my purse! So what if one of those devices loses charge while I’m out and about? No worries, the iV can charge them too. With the flick of a switch I can turn on power to a built in USB port on the iV so I can charge any USB devices. They’ve integrated all these options in a nice clean way, you don’t even notice the ports on the bottom until you go looking for them. In fact, there’s a dock connector on the bottom too, so you can charge the iV while the phone is docked in it, so you’re charging the whole string of things. This also means you don’t have to carry around a 3rd party cable like some of the other options, your standard iPhone/iPod connector cable works perfectly.

I mentioned that the 3G iPhone version of the iV is $20 more, but without thinking I handed the iV for the 2G to my buddy Ron who plugged in his 3G iPhone, and it plugged right in and started charging, and it fit just fine. I’ll have to ask the folks at FastMac why they have a separate version if this one works – hope it doesn’t do any damage to the iPhone!

They also include two little party favors in the box – not sure why but they’re a nice touch – you get a free hard plastic screen protector for the iPhone and a headphone extension cable with a microphone in it. I think the idea is if you lose your iPhone headphones, you can use regular headphones and retain the microphone and clip it to your shirt to keep the mic in the right place. Nice touch.

Michael from FastMac told me that the iV works best if you wait till your iPhone drains to 10 or 20% and then charge with the iV for 45 minutes – that will give you a full charge that way and you can charge more often with the iV. I took his word for it, this was way too much math for me to do to catch the iPhone drained to a precise number! I did let my batter drain pretty far down, stuck it in the iV and checked a while later and it was charged back up. I can think of so many situations where you could use the iV – think of a camping trip? Or a conference with all that Twittering? Or even just a few days away on travel you could use it as your charging station for all your other devices. I’m very happy with the iV from FastMac and I would definitely recommend it – thanks Jonathan for bugging be to check this out! Check it out yourself at fastmac.com

Honda Bob

==========INSERT HONDA BOB FROM EVAN=============
Follow Evan at twitter.com/vanmo92

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Grandparents on Linux – Bart’s Grandfather is on Linux too!

Security Light

  • Adobe Release Flash update to address security problem (via Adobe Support)
    • Linux, Windows, & Mac
    • Flash did not auto-update for me
    • You can see both the latest version and the version you are running if you visit http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/
    • Check you are up-to-date in ALL browsers you use!
  • MAYE: Adobe released an advisory stating that there is a security problem in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat on all platforms (arbitrary code execution)
    • No real fix yet, due on March 11
    • Temporary fix by turning off JS within these two Adobe Apps settings
    • Might be wise to use RCDefaultApp to make sure neither of these is your default PDF reader so that web pages can’t exploit you!
  • MAYBE: MS released an advisory warning about an un-patched flaw in Excel on all platforms
    • No fix
    • No date for a scheduled fix
    • Best workaround – don’t open Excel files from untrusted sources.

Raw v.s. Jpeg

My idea was for you to explain to me why raw is so cool, specifically:

  • what exactly is raw vs. jpeg
  • how much bigger is raw?
  • what kind of Mac tools can edit raw
  • Why Bart Uses RAW (http://www.bartb.ie/blog/?p=1295):
    • White Balance Adjustment
    • Exposure Adjustmet
    • Tonemapping
  • real life example of how you would use raw
    • take two photos of the same thing – say a castle in Ireland
    • One in jpeg and one in raw
    • what do you see in a photo that you know you can’t fix in jpeg but you can in raw?
    • what types of controls take advantage of raw?
    • do you select specific areas to adjust, or is it some other functionality?  I can’t picture it

3 thoughts on “#193 FastMac iV, Addictomatic, Free PC apps, Audacity tutorial, Kindle 2, Maxtor One Touch, Raw vs. Jpeg

  1. Pat Dengler - March 3, 2009

    Ooops! Correction on my Kindle 2 review – it uses a MICRO-B USB connector on the Kindle side…not a MINI-B!

  2. Elli Mceaddy - April 23, 2011

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and certainly not seem to get something done.

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