#221 TimeScroller for iPhone, BlogWorld Expo, Voiceover on Mac, Clean Install of Snow Leopard

Allison on Mac ReviewCast show #222 about Incoming! from incomingapp.com, come to BlogWorld for a NosillaCast meetup – see blogworldexpo.com. Charge only cable for Mifi from Pre Central works great. TimeScroller for iPhone in the iTunes store. In Dumb Question Corner Sue asks if she has to back up from inside Windows from her Virtual Machine, and Chris from Scotland asks why he doesn’t regain disk space when he deletes files on his external drive. Shane Jackson and Buddy Brannan discuss voiceover on the Mac and how as a built in functionality it is invaluable. James from the UK tells how ScreenSteps helps him do tech support from out of the country for his family. I explain what it’s like doing a scorched-earth install of Snow Leopard. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart and I talk about a huge Twitter flaw, how great it is that Apple is doing some anti-malware work in Snow Leopard, and finally we wind up by talking about “new math” on disk size by Apple.

Listen to the Podcast Once (1hr)

Today is Sunday August 30th, 2009 and this is show number 221. Well happy Snow Leopard week to all of you! Today’s show is going to be PACKED so let’s jump right in!

Mac ReviewCast
It’s time I tell you that I’m a regular on another Podcast. Yes, I’m cheating on you. I sneak out in the dark of night and write articles and reviews for the Mac ReviewCast. I’m glad I’m getting this off my chest, it feels good to confess. The hard part is that so many of my reviews are AMAZING, and you don’t get to hear them. Well, I was feeling guilty about that, so I decided to tell you about show #222 for Saturday August 22nd where I reviewed a really interesting Twitter search app called Incoming! from incomingapp.com. Even when I’m not on there being amazing it’s a fantastic show – all of the editors and contributors are wonderful, and Tim isn’t bad actually.

Blogworld Expo
Now that I’m confessing my indiscretions, I should remind you that I’ll be speaking at BlogWorld this year! It’s from October 15-17 in Las Vegas. I’m on at 11:30am on Friday the 16th, so the audience will be HUNGRY! At least they won’t be hung over, right? I’ll be doing a beginning audio podcasting class, and I’m REALLY excited about it! I hope you can make it out to Vegas so we can have a NosillaCast meetup! Check out the details at blogworldexpo.com

Typinator update
Last week I reviewed an application called Typinator from Ergonis Software that lets you create snippets to expand into long phrases or even sentences. I was enamored with the program, and only one thing confused me. When you create a snippet one of the options is “whole word”. I said I didn’t understand what it meant, but luckily Dick Nelson wrote a comment on the blog explaining exactly how it works:

    The whole word feature you did not understand is used to only expand an abbreviation when it is a ‘word’ (surrounded by spaces). So, when an abbreviation is in the middle of a word it does not get expanded, as you noted in the Blackberry example. I used case sensitive abbreviations and sometimes end them with a special character. My special character is a ‘/’. I know the slash is used in path names, but if the preceding characters are not an abbreviation it doesn’t cause a problem.

I tested out Dick’s explanation on a misspelling I do all the time. for some reason I spell “to” backwards really often. I put it in as part of the auto-correction set and told it to make it a whole word, and it worked exactly as Dick said. I can write the word “hot” without it getting autocorrected but o-t as a whole word simply can’t be typed! I think it’s because it’s part of the auto-correct set but remember last week when I said that you can undo one of Typinator’s snippets? Well not with those in the auto-correct set.

One other thing, I mentioned how cool it was that Typinator allows you to have the cursor left in the middle of a phrase rather than the end, which is very handy when you’re working in html. Connor sent me a note letting me know that TextExpander can do this as well, which is something I’d never mentioned (or realized) about TextExpander. We’re so lucky to have so many good choices on the Mac!

Charge Only for Mifi
If you’ve been following along for the past month or so, you’ll know I’ve been searching for a way to use my Mifi as a wifi hotspot longer than the 4 hours than the battery lasts. Drew gave me the cool tip to hack the device cable by blocking the data pins in the USB connector, but it didn’t work quite right. Then Drew gave me a link to a place called Pre Central where he found a charge only cable for the Pre which uses the same micro-usb connector. Well I got that cable this week and it works like a champ! now I can plug in the Mifi and use it all day as a wifi hot spot! The cable is a tad long at 5 feet but it’s pretty thin and flexible so it won’t take up too much space.

The other thing I tested was the Ecosol PowerStick with the Mifi. As you may recall I did a review last week of the PowerStick, which is a thumb-length USB device that comes with 9 different cable adapters. There’s two ways the PowerStick could help with the Mifi – one would be to use the PowerStick as intended. I could plug the 2 inch microusb cable into the PowerStick and give the Mifi a few more hours of life. Or I could plug the Mifi into the PowerStick while it was plugged into my laptop and see if it would charge and provide wifi at the same time. I’m glad to report that both options work! I did notice one odd thing – my laptop got really hot while I had the PowerStick/Mifi combo plugged in, which I found curious. As soon as I unplugged the PowerStick my laptop started to cool down. I plugged the PowerStick back in without the Mifi getting juice from it and the temp on the laptop continued to drop.

The important thing about all these experiments is that they will work on a Mac or Windows or Linux – desktop, laptop or netbook. As soon as you remove the data issue, you can charge the Mifi on any computer and use it on Wifi. Thanks Drew for sticking with me on this!

TimeScroller update
Last week I told you about my FAVORITE Dashboard widget, TimeScroller from timescroller.com, which ROCKS! when I wrote to Terry, the developer, he told me that he has an iPhone version too! It runs $2US, and in some ways it’s more capable than the dashboard widget. On the phone it has a much bigger database of cities, and you can search by country which would help the geographically impaired like me. Terry hopes he can get some of the enhancements from the iPhone app into the widget some time soon – in the mean time go buy TimeScroller from iTunes there’s a link in the shownotes!

Dumb Question Corner
==insert music=========

    Hi Allison, First, your show ROCKS! I would never miss it. Like you, I hate to read directions……so I might have been able to find this information somewhere, but then I wouldn’t have a chance to write and tell you how much you and your show ROCK!

    So here’s my dumb question. I switched to a Mac a little over a year ago. I recently purchased a new MBP 13″ to replace a Sony Vaio. My other Mac is a 20″ iMac. In my spare time, I teach classes on machine embroidery software design. Those programs unfortunately are Windoz based:{ So, I installed VMware Fusion and Windows XP (on the MBP) and have those “other” programs up and running just fine. My question is in regards to backups. I make a Super Duper clone of my Macs weekly and run Time Machine on my MBP (w/ a USB drive) and Time Machine w/ Time Capsule on the iMac. Will those programs capture the stuff on the Windoz side of the machine? Or do I need to be running some type of back up directly from Windoz? I’m sure I could have figured this out on my own, but then I’m miss an opportunity to email you and tell you how much I love your show!

First of all, Sue, YOU ROCK! what a great letter! I don’t care what your question was, I would get an answer for you after that!

Ok, enough preening under your praise, when you create a virtual machine (VM) using VMware Fusion, or Parallels, or the free VirtualBox from Sun, it creates a huge file (I think the default for Windows is something like 12GB) in Mac OSX. As long as you’re backing up that VM file, you’re backing up the Operating system in the VM, the applications and any data you’ve created in the VM. If you had a hard drive crash, you’d install the VM software on the new drive and then drag that huge VM back into the right folder and you’d be back in business! In fact, this is one of the advantages of a VM for Windows. Take a backup of that VM file when it’s healthy, ad then if at some later date you get a virus, you can just pop that backup back on your system and virus-be-gone!

Now let’s go through another scenario. You want to have Time Machine like backup on your Windows installation. That’s a whole ‘nother Oprah. In that case you’d want to use a utility within Windows to back up your data files as you work. Since I’m no Windows expert (heck, I’d have to work pretty hard to get up to “Windows novice”) I’d suggest looking at lifehacker.com where they’ve listed the top five Windows backup solutions.

hope this answered your question – and with comments like yours, write in ANY time!

Chris Bridgeford from Scotland
======insert his recording=========
It’s possible that this is the quintessential Dumb Question because I think just about everyone who ever used a Mac ran into this early on. I know I did, I kept emptying the trash but then not regaining space. The reason it fits so well in this category is that the answer is so simple. All you have to do is empty the trash! The files live in the trash can, but the trash is associated with the disk from which they were removed. If you eject the drive with the files in the trash, they’ll disappear from the trash on your mac, but when you plug it back in they’ll come back into the trash, and the whole time they’re living on that drive. I love it when the questions are easy! Btw, I’m pretty sure that Chris is the first Scot to make a recording for the NosillaCast and I hope he does more!

VoiceOver by Shane & Buddy
Shane Jackson and Buddy Brannon from blindworldblog.blogspot.com give us a great explanation of how VoiceOver works out of the box on every new Mac.
======insert shane/buddy===============
This is so cool – I’m pleased that Apple is coming along for all of us. After hearing how easily this works for Shane and Buddy I happened to meet a guy who works for Apple and since I pretty much couldn’t really ask him any questions that he’d answer, I decided to tell him how awesome the work Apple has been doing on Accessibility is and how much of an impact it has on people. He was really floored – Apple is essentially like Taliban cells where no one talks to each other in different groups so he didn’t even know the iPhone was accessible. Thanks for sending in the recording guys!

This week I don’t even have to write my own ScreenSteps ad because James from the UK did it for me. here’s his email from this week:

    Hi Allison, I have been listening to your show for well over a year now and really enjoy it.
    I switched from PC to MAC a couple of years ago as part of the iPod halo syndrome.
    Now, I have the whole family switch over to the MAC and iPhone.
    The reason in mailing you is to let you know that I just downloaded a copy of Screen Steps (with your coupon code) and despite Bart’s Twittering last week I still went ahead from the trial to the paid version.
    I live in the UK but work during week days in Germany. My wife wanted to know how to burn her images from iPhoto to disk so she could share them with family members who are Windows users.
    I keep showing her and my daughter how to do these type of things on the MAC but as with all training of family members they just want answers ‘here and now’ and Dad’s always around when I need help anyway so why should I remember?. Not anymore, I’m out of the country!
    Enter Screen Steps. With my first attempt. I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Not perfect, but that’s more about me than Screen Steps. I was pleased that a co-worker wanted a copy of my guide when she saw it and that confirmed my satisfaction in the purchase of Screen Steps. I’m now making similar guides as PDF’s out here in Germany and using Dropbox to share them with my family.
    I look forward to the continuing development of Screen Steps and will also have a look at your site for examples of what I could do. Anyway thanks for the show, and keep giving Bart hell!!
    James (UK) ie. not crazy

What more can I say to that? If you are inspired by not crazy listener James’ review, head on over to screensteps.com and download the free 30 day trial, or if you’re ready to buy be sure to use the coupon code NOSILLA to get 25% off the purchase price!

Snow Leopard
One of my jobs in life appears to be living on the edge so the rest of you don’t have to. So when Apple released Snow Leopard this week, I had to be one of the loonies to load it on day one. I’m going to talk about it not because it’s amazing and crazy cool and to try and convince you to run out and buy it. I’m going to talk about it because of how I installed it. one of the worst features of OSX is how easy they make it to do what they call an archive and install, which is an in-place upgrade. It’s sort of like the magician that pulls the table cloth out from under the dishes without disturbing them, except in this trick he also slides a new table cloth back under the plates! I say it’s one of the worst features because I’ve used it so many times, I can’t even REMEMBER when i last did a clean install! I have done this over and over again from laptop to laptop, it’s been at least five years, maybe longer. This is like moving from one house to another and not throwing any crap away while you’re packing.

Things were starting to get VERY weird on my machine, so I decided that I should do a scorched earth install this time. Nuke and pave. Clean install. I was scared. But Shane and Buddy swore they’d stand by me, taunting me by telling me that they did it blind using voiceover, that I was some sort of weenie if I didn’t do it! Ok, I made that last part up, they were very kind and offered to hold my hand throughout the process!

Before I started I ran my weekly bootable backup, and then verified that I could boot from that drive. That gave me a warm feeling that if all went to heck in a handbasket I could get back. I then did an erase from the disk utilities folder on the install disk (which you can only get to by hitting the Utilities button on the install disk and rebooting). Then i chose to install. The entire OS and apps installation process took a total of 32 minutes. when i was done, I had a grand total of 10.56GB of disk used. Crazy! Snow Leopard installed a grand total of 28 applications on my drive. I looked back at my old drive and I had 259 applications! After 3 days of working with Snow Leopard and being VERY selective on what I moved over, I have now 84 applications. Think about how much crapoloa must have been sitting in my system library from all those applications? I also only had about 40-60GB of disk space empty on my 300GB drive, but now I have 112GB free. Not bad!

Now here’s a cool part of doing this migration – most OSX applications can actually simply be dragged over from the backup drive. It’s important to launch the app and poke around a bit and see what’s missing, frequently it meant a trip back to the /Library/Application Support folder to go see what bits it might need to keep all your data in place. For example, Feeder, the tool I use for creating the podcast shownotes and for producing the feed, keeps all of the data in that Application Support folder.

Like I said, most apps behaved quite admirably with a few exceptions. Aperture from Apple had to be reinstalled, and so did GarageBand, but iMovie and iTunes worked fine. Yum! my recipe application of choice had issues, I had to boot back into Leopard, launch Yum, export the recipes and then import them back into Yum! in Snow Leopard.

My biggest problem has been with serial numbers and license codes. I’ve been using Rapido Serial for years to store all my license codes, but the product has been discontinued and I can’t seem to find the file it uses to store the data. I ended up going back to Leopard, launching it, and copying and pasting line by line into a spreadsheet. Bart suggests I try out Password Vault (which he describes as looking like a kid threw up icons on the screen) but I’m thinking maybe just a non-proprietary Excel file will be safer for the future.

I love the guys over at Ambrosia Software, and they make AMAZING tools like Wiretap Studio that I use to record Bart and I on Skype, and Wiretap Anywhere, but they have this goofy licensing where your codes actually expire. There’s no point in saving the codes really because they expire anyway. I’ve been waiting all weekend to hear back from them on Wiretap Studio. I also had trouble with Audio Hijack Pro, it would only capture one half of the conversation. Camtwist is the app I use to record my screen for the live show (podfeet.com/live and it doesn’t seem to be recognized by Stickam yet, have to figure that one out too. The poor chatroom folks had to just see a big picture of me tonite!

I have yet to figure out how to move my Previous Recipients list from Mail.app and get it into my new one. This is a cool feature where you can write to someone by typing part of their name, and if they’ve ever written to you even if they’re not in your address book they’ll pop right up. You can imagine I get email from zillions of people who I don’t necessarily want in my address book but I’d like to be able to write them again without finding their emails first. If anyone knows how to do that I’d sure like to know!

I synced my iPod but it insisted I erase everything first. I’m afraid of what to do on the iPhone, I’ll have to redownload all my apps from iTunes to make those sync back up, which will be a pain. If anyone knows a way to get all my apps back into iTunes other than one by one I’d sure like to know!

now you might ask me how I like Snow Leopard. Well, it’s WICKED fast! I’m hearing other reports of this phenomenon, but I suspect a large part of the speed increase is because I’m not carrying 80GB of crapola with me now! I have to say Safari is SO fast launching that it’s worth quitting and reopening next time you need it. Probably the biggest difference I’ve seen is on Safari. It boots really fast, but I’m probably not quite done installing all the startup items I like – I do have Quicksilver, Zooom/2, MagiCal, TextExpander, Caffiene, and DropBox so far, so I’m sure I’ll get that’s slowed down again.

I’m giving the dock another try because there’s a cool feature where you can click and hold on an app and it shows you all the windows open for just that app. Very cool for someone like me who keeps tons of applications open and tons of windows open in each one.

I did have a freaky experience, I had 3 apps open and i hit copy in Excel, the screen went blue for about 1 second, and then all my apps were gone and I was at the finder. LIke it was saying, “what? what apps? no, you weren’t running any apps, you must have been dreaming!” It was scary I tell you!

Even scarier was when I was installing Wiretap Anywhere which is a system preference. I installed, it made me reboot, then it had an update, another reboot. I opened it up and started telling it what to do and the system pref locked up. I did a force quit, reopened system prefs, and WTA was GONE! “what system pref? WTA? no, you never installed that!” I opened Twhirl to tweet about this lunacy…and got a kernel panic. You know the worst screen you can see – the one that turns a dark grey overlay on top of your screen and in white letters in 26 languages it tells you you’re screwed? sigh, very sad.

One feature I think is way incredibly cool is that you can make your icons in icon view huge, and then you can actually scrub through the files. Like if it’s a video, you can watch it in icon view. if it’s a PDF, word, powerpoint file you can flip through the pages. it’s nutty it’s so cool!

Bottom line is that I’m very glad I did a scorched earth install, I feel cleansed. It’s not for the feint of heart though, and I’m really glad I had a 3 day weekend to pull this off. I am still only at about 85% of full functionality but with that backup drive (or I should say BOTH backup drives, one at work and one at home) I’m pretty confident that I can get up to say 95% by next weekend. I may have to find alternate tools to get to 100%. I think for $29 this is a worthy upgrade but I can’t tell you you have to have it to survive the year! And you’re welcome for the service I provide of living on the edge so you don’t have to.

Honda Bob
When you go to get your car fixed, you have to figure you’re either going to get an idiot or a thief, and sadly you hope the person is ONLY a thief. Imagine having a mechanic you can actually trust? how crazy is that? I trust Honda Bob – not only will he not overcharge me, he won’t do unnecessary repairs, and he’ll always make things better! If you live in the LA or Orange county area, AND most importantly you drive a Honda or an Acura, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at [email protected]. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Security Light – Big Twitter Flaw

  • UK Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) researcher David Naylor discovered a HUGE Twitter security flaw.
  • He was looking for ways to stop Twitter changing all URLs to so-called "no follow" URLs that don’t give you "google juice" – he managed to do that – but also MUCH more:
  • Story broke on the 25th
  • Have been watching it develop – have not seen a single report stating that it has been fixed yet as-of the 30th
  • What does it do? It allows an attacker to inject JavaScript code into Twitter. This would allow an attacker to steal your Twitter cookie hence becoming you on Twitter – or to post tweets as you. Or to inject the code into YOUR Twitter posts hence making a Twitter worm!
  • How can you protect yourself?
    • Totally avoid the Twitter web page – clients are probably OK as they shouldn’t execute JavaScript
    • Use NoScript to block all JavaScript on twitter.com

Security News – Snow Leopard Anti-malware feature

  • Apple have not been pushing this – but OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard contains a rudimentary anti-malware feature
  • This is NOT an AV from Apple
  • This doe NOT allow you to scan your Mac for viruses or Trojans
  • It is ONLY and extension of Apples File Quarantine feature which affects files you download with one of a list of known apps.
  • In Leopard we already had the File Quarantine feature – it’s what pops up those messages when you first try to run a file you downloaded from the web.
  • Now as well as warning you that the file came from the web, the file is also scanned for known Apple Malware
  • Apple provide the signatures – only two ATM – more could be pushed by Software Update
  • ONLY protects from files you download through standard browsers or messaging clients – not from FTP servers or files given to you by friends
  • This is NOT a replacement for AV
  • Closes Windows equivalent would be Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal tool that gets pushed down through Windows Update from time-to-time to scan for major Windows malware
  • Very good and detailed description here:http://www.macworld.co.uk/mac/news/index.cfm?RSS&NewsID=27012

Snow Leopard Changes the Definition of a MB

  • Computer scientists invented the terms byte, MegaByte, GigaByte etc – and they defined them in the only way that makes sense in computers – binary
  • 1024 bytes in a KB, 1024KB in an MB, 1024MB in a GB and so on. Why 1024? because 2^10 = 1024.
  • Computers count in binary, i.e. powers of two. You build actual computer memory in twos, hence you regularly see the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048 etc. in computer related things
  • Hard drive manufacturers decided they could make their disks look bigger if they changed the rules – and re-defined the MB, GB, etc. for their own use. They made it a round 1000 B in a KB, 1000 KB in an MB, 1000MB in a GB and so on. So a hard drive sold as 500GB is NOT really 500GB
  • In Snow Leopard Apple caved to the hard drive manufacturers – and followed their lead. Hence OS X will now tell you the 500GB drive you have really is 500GB. It isn’t of course.
  • As a computer scientists this really gets my goat – it started off as a cheap and IMO wrong and deceitful way of inflating hard drive sizes to push up profits – I can’t believe Apple caved to these #£$%^$s

I never thought Bart could make the discussion of how a megabyte is calculated into a fun segment but I was in hysterics with that! We stayed on Skype for a few minutes afterwards and continued to giggle about it. I guess it’s time to wrap this up, so here’s everything you have to remember. Go buy yourself some logo items at CafePress.com/nosillacast, send me email at [email protected], follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet, and when you buy through Amazon use the Amazon search window on my site to do it. Oh, and remember to join the live show at podfeet.com/live at 5pm GMT-8 on Sundays and use TimeScroller to figure out when that is where you live! Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

1 thought on “#221 TimeScroller for iPhone, BlogWorld Expo, Voiceover on Mac, Clean Install of Snow Leopard

  1. Donald Burr of Borg - August 31, 2009

    A couple quick notes…

    Sue’s dumb question:
    For a Time Machine-like backup facility under Windows, take a look at “Volume Shadow Copy.” It’s a bit specialized – prior to Windows Vista, it was only available in the higher end Windows XP Server editions. Starting with Vista, it is available in consumer level Vista, and I believe it will also be in the consumer level of Windows 7.

    Chris’s dumb question:
    Even when you empty the trash, sometimes it takes OS X a few seconds to a few minutes to “reclaim” the free space that was taken up by the files you deleted. Sometimes the “free space” indicator increases immediately, sometimes it takes anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and I have even seen it happen where it doesn’t update at all unless I unmount and re-plug-in the drive. It’s a bit quirky. this is probably due to caching being done by the OS to improve performance.

    Bart’s rant about 1024 vs 1000:
    I can see his point, but I can also see Apple’s point. They probably got tired of all the whining users going “…but your ad copy said that it comes with a 500 GB hard drive… but it only is 486 GB (or whatever)… LAWSUIT!!!” And rather than attempt to fix the hard drive industry (which as we all know is probably next to impossible), they instead decided to fix how they calculate MB/GB. Still a reprehensible situation but I can understand where they’re coming from. IMHO Apple shouldn’t take the blame for this, the HD industry should.

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