NosillaCast live gets an upgrade with Ustream Producer Pro, Tucson Tweetup with pictures. In Dumb Question Corner Doug Whitscarver asks why just asking if he needs software updates he has to enter an admin password, and Greg asks why he has to download iTunes upgrades twice for two accounts. Tom Borowski of mandogmachine.com gives us a review of Captio for the iPhone. How I solved Kyle’s missing Analysis Toolpak problem in Excel 2008 using iChat screen sharing. Allister Jenks of The Sitting Duck Podcast. I fly solo on Security Lite without Bart, but Knightwise of knightwise.com stands in as the spare Belgian regales us with the story of his battle in his head between the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S using Android.
Listen to the Podcast Once (1 hour 5 minutes)
Today is Sunday October 24th, 2010 and this is show number 283. Well the chat room is getting a big treat this week for the live show. Last week they started passing the hat for donations to get me to buy Ustream Producer Pro (they did that because it costs $200!). The main reason for me to switch to Ustream Producer was so that they could watch the show live on iOS devices. Unfortunately by using the free version of Ustream Producer, we lost the recording of the IRC chat window so anyone who watched the video later couldn’t see the chatter going on while I’m creating the show. So, today Steve and I spent the better part of 2 hours learning the basics of Ustream Producer Pro. It’s got a ton of capability but I wouldn’t say it’s the most intuitive program to learn. I think I’ll make a ScreenSteps tutorial on it for others because I could save them some real time!
The great news is that there are a ton more benefits to using Ustream Producer Pro over the web version of Ustream. First, the picture quality is WAY better. Second, I can put in title bars and stuff like that – we frequently get people coming in asking what show this is, now they can just read the title. Of course there’s all kinds of animations of that too so I could get really annoying with it when I learn some more. I can easily flip between multiple cameras now, and even animate the flipping – page curl is my current fav. I can use my MacBook pro iSight, my Display iSight, the BT-1 bluetooth camera, and I can flip to just my desktop. When it’s on my desktop you get a super high resolution version that looks great. I am also piping the IRC chat into Ustream Producer Pro using Camtwist, which is a long way of saying that you can see the chat now. The whole thing looks VERY professional now!
The sad part is that in our recent testing, the NosillaCast isn’t showing up on the iOS devices today, even thought that was the MAIN reason I bought it! Oh well, this has happened before, seems to be intermittent. If you haven’t visited the live show before, you’re missing a lot of fun. Me being there seems to be incidental to the party; the NosillaCastaways have a great time chatting with each other and occasionally yell save to me. Come on by some time, 5pm Pacific Time to podfeet.com/live.
This week I had a real treat – I went on a business trip to Tucson and had a Tweetup after work. As you might expect, The Mac Mommy, Melissa Davis (@themacmommy) was the ring leader of this little event. With her help I was able to meet in real life, Wayde Gutman (@gutmach1960), Karell (@mKarell), and David Moore (@davidbmoore). Melissa brought along her boys – her husband Nate along with their sons Lucian and Keagan. I have to tell you – it’s really fun to have dinner with a whole group of people who DON’T give you a hard time for playing with your phone while you’re talking to them! I put a link to a Flickr set of photos and a video in the shownotes so you can see what a blast we had. They’re iPhone pics indoors so don’t expect artistic quality but you can definitely get the spirit of the event.
A couple of accessibility things came up recently I wanted to tell you about. The first one came up after my review of Parallels for Mac last week in which I compared it to VMware Fusion. I heard back, can’t remember from whom, that another reason to pick VMware over Parallels is that VMware Fusion is accessible while Parallels is not.
Next up on the hit list is Hulu. Wayde Gutman (aka @gutmach1960) is hearing impaired and relies heavily on closed captioning. He told me that Hulu is very intermittent on whether they have captions or not. However, he gave two thumbs up to Netflix who he says always has captions.
Dumb Question Corner
I have a dumb question from Doug Whitescarver that has me stumped. He has a new installation of Snow Leopard, and to check for software updates, it asks for his admin password. I’m not talking about to install the updates, just to check for them. I verified with him that he is running as an administrator, I thought for sure that was the problem. If anyone has an idea why this might be, Doug and I would both like to know the answer and more importantly the fix! By the way he has an installation of Leopard on another machine and it doesn’t ask for his password when he clicks software update.
I’m running 0 for 2 on Dumb Question Corner this week, Greg Norton asked a question I can’t answer yet either. here’s his question:
=========insert Greg Norton Dumb Question Corner================
DUMB QUESTION (this one might actually benefit others…): my partner and I share an iMac at our house. It has two separate accounts, each with its own copy of iTunes. We each have iPhones which we sync with the iTunes libraries in our separate accounts on the computer. So here is my question: when Apple updates the iTunes software (which can take a long time to download), is there a way to avoid having to download that update twice? I usually do it first, since I sync a lot more frequently. A week or two later when my partner gets around to syncing (yes, I know), his copy of iTunes prompts him to update the program all over again… which means another half-hour long download. Any ideas?
Now I’m pretty sure this is a case of Greg doing an installation inside his user Applications folder instead of doing it at the top level Applications folder, so he and his partner have two copies of iTunes, but I’m not sure how he caused it, or how to fix it. I assume if they have different logins as he says, they should be able to keep their libraries separate but still use the same version of iTunes, right? If anyone knows of a clean way to fix this I’d sure like to help Greg out!
Thomas Borowski on Captio
One of the things I use my iPhone for most is taking quick notes on the go. I have some of my best ideas when I’m out walking the dog and if I don’t capture them immediately, I’ll probably forget them before I’m back home. Up until recently I was using the iPhone’s built-in Notes app, which has the downside of being kind of slow to use and I needed to remember to check it when I got back home. I also tried using a voice recording app but that has basically the same downsides.
I also tried Evernote and probably half a dozen other apps, but none of them did what I wanted or were not easy or quick enough to use. What I really wanted was an app that I could quickly enter some text into and send it to a place that I regularly check. For me this comes down to either email or OmniFocus, my app of choice for task management. I don’t own or intend to buy OmniFocus for the iPhone and it would be overkill anyway, both feature- and price-wise. So that leaves email.
The logical thing to was of course to use the iPhone’s built-in Mail app. Or so I thought. While it did work, it was neither elegant nor fast, because it required way too many taps:
- Tap the New Email button
- Either enter my email address or tap the plus button and select my own contact entry from the list and select one of my email addresses
- Tap the subject line and enter a subject
- Tap the message body area and enter the message text
- Tap send
See how many taps that takes? Way too many. When you’re out walking the dog while trying to send yourself a short note, you’ll have run into a tree by the time you tap Send. At that point I had more or less given up on finding the perfect solution when Josh Helfferich on Twitter mentioned Captio.
Captio is from Boonbits, a one-man iOS developer shop run by Ben Lenarts from Utrecht in the Netherlands. No, that’s not Michael Jackson’s wacky mansion, that’s the Neverland Ranch. The Netherlands are…well… Holland, basically. It’s a small country with lots of water who’s population migrates through Germany in campers come summertime.
Anyway, Captio’s tagline is “Email yourself with 1 tap”, and that is exactly what this app does. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a perfect example of a “one thing well” type of app. Now this may sound a bit underwhelming at first, but let me ensure you that it has the potential to change how you deal with note-taking on the go entirely. Forget fiddling with complex and feature-laden apps that take too long to load and that make you tap your way through an overcrowded interface just to take a simple note.
Here’s how Captio works:
- Launch it.
- Type in the note.
- Tap send.
Yes it really is that easy. The app launches in less than a second on my iPhone 3GS and immediately greets you with a blinking cursor inside a new note. No need to tap a plus button or navigate a menu, just start typing. This is huge, because I remember how many taps it took me to get to a new note in Evernote. More than once I had forgotten what it was that I wanted to write down by the time I finally had the cursor blinking in a new note. With Captio you can do a brain dump a mere second after you hit its icon on your home screen.
And when you’re done typing, just tap send. The first line of the note automatically becomes the subject line of the email and any subsequent lines go into the message body. When the email has been successfully sent you get a nice little “swoosh” sound and that’s it. Captio then immediately reverts back to its note entry mode so you can enter your next note.
If making a text note isn’t enough for you, Captio also lets you take a photo or pick one from your camera roll and send that as an attachment. And if you don’t have a network connection when you tap send, the note gets stored on your iPhone and a badge on the app’s icon indicates how many notes are waiting to be delivered. When you launch or switch to Captio again, any stored notes get sent automatically if a network connection is available.
The only thing you need to configure once is the email address your note gets sent to. Captio asks you for the address when you send your first note and you can change it anytime via the app’s preference pane in your iPhone’s Preferences app. You can also set a custom prefix for the email’s subject line, which comes in handy when you want to handle Captio’s emails in the mail client on your Mac with rules.
The only possible downside to Captio is that as of now the app uses the developer’s own server for handling the emails. While the developer states that – quote – “the server does not collect or store any personal information (like your notes and email address), only anonymous usage statistics and internal error reports”, it’s probably a good idea to assume the notes you are sending yourself are not private or at least not totally secure. While I seriously doubt that the developer is sitting there reading the notes people are sending themselves, it’s probably a good idea to not use the app for sending sensitive information. But that’s good advice when it comes to email anyway, right?.
And that’s all there’s to it: Email yourself with 1 tap with Captio. Captio runs on the iPhone and iPod touch and in compatibility mode on the iPad, so it doesn’t natively support the iPad’s screen resolution, but it’s still quite usable anyway.
Tom sent in that review ages ago, before I went to Blogworld, and I immediately bought the app. Like Tom, I email myself little reminders to make sure I do things, or remember someone’s name. I’m sure the Getting Things Done people are having a stroke right now, but hey, it works for Tom and I so you go back to your smug little in box zero and leave us alone. While I was at Blogworld Expo I had basically zero quality time with my Mac to write the podcast (having too much fun) so I relied on Captio to send myself emails for later incorporation into the podcast. One nice thing is every email comes entitled Captio so I could create a rule to pile them up in one place. Thanks Tom for a great $1 app – really solved my problem!
I mentioned ScreenSteps at the beginning of the show – it’s my favorite tool for documenting anything on the computer, Mac or Windows. I take screen snapshots with their built in tool, but you can use any snapshot tool you like, then you annotate the images with arrows, boxes, even step sequence numbers. Finally throw some text in to explain the why of the step. When you’re done, click Export and choose from PDF, html, even post directly to your blog! ScreenSteps takes all the work out of doing documentation, makes you look even more brilliant than you already were, and you get all that for only $39.95 for the standard version or $79.95 for ScreenSteps Pro. Apply the coupon code NOSILLA and you’ll even get 25% off of that price. Head on over to ScreenSteps.com and make yourself happy and brilliant.
Missing Excel Analysis Toolpak
My son Kyle is off at UCLA studying chemical engineering, and he had an assignment where he needed to do a regression analysis on an Excel file of data he’d taken during an experiment. No worries, there’s a regression option inside the Analysis ToolPak in Excel, right? Well, there USED to be, but since Office 2008 they took it out of the Mac version! Now this is just plain mean in my opinion, but hating on them for it wasn’t going to get Kyle out of the bind he was in. The good news was that I’m running Office 2004 still (and dang, is it slow!) but it still had the ToolPak. The other good news is that a lot of Mac programs are drag and drop now so I thought maybe I could give it to him (I have a family pack) by dropping the file into my mobile.me account. Unfortunately the files were HUGE, hundreds of megabytes so we tried to pick through and grab just the files he needed and zip them up, but after about an hour of fooling around with that we gave up.
I’m telling you all of this because I thought you might enjoy the solution we finally came up with. I had him email me the Excel file, which of course was in .xlsx format. Then i downloaded the translator to give backwards compatibility with my older version of Excel. I opened the file in Excel 2004. Next we connected via iChat and turned on screensharing. I then allowed him to control my computer via iChat and he was able to plug away with the commands on my Mac. It worked pretty darn well. There was a fair amount of lag for him, so once I caught the pattern of what he had to do, I repeated the steps for him (he had five tabs of regressions that needed to be performed). He was able to watch and catch me if I made a mistake, but that way he didn’t have to suffer the annoyance of the lag when picking menus. When he was done, he saved the file out, he emailed it back to himself and he was good to go. I thought it was a clever solution to a rather sticky problem, so I thought I’d tell you about it so if you ever get in that kind of bind you might be able to use that same solution.
Allister’s search for a Text Editor
We have another listener review – enjoy
=========insert Allister’s audio=========
Hi Allison. This is Allister from New Zealand. Host of The Sitting Duck Podcast and sometimes contributor, sometimes confounder to the NosillaCast. What I have for you today is not strictly speaking a product review, but it does start with a problem to be solved and I assure you there is a solution at the end. Really, this is more about the process I went through.
The problem is that I tinker with WordPress. Probably too much, really. But no, the *actual* problem is that I wanted a good text editor to work with WordPress-related PHP files. By “good” I mean one that will handle syntax highlighting of quite complex expressions. It’s to do with HTML quotes versus PHP quotes but I won’t bore the audience with that detail.
I had been using Smultron, but it doesn’t handle the situations I was encountering. Plus, Bart started recommending it, so development ceased. Then I heard on the NosillaCast that Bart was recommending the son-of-Smultron, Fraise. So now, of course, development has ceased on that also. In any case, it still had the same problems.
So, what to do?
After much Googling, the choices for rock-solid syntax highlighting seemed to settle on Coda, from Panic Software for $99 or BBEdit from Bare Bones Software for $125. Yikes! It seemed like an awful lot of money for what I needed. I’m sure both products would excel at the task, but both were also over qualified.
I tweeted Bart who suggested Coda was a good bet and BBEdit spotted my plea on Twitter and talked up their offering. BBEdit also offered their FREE ‘baby brother’ TextWrangler. A quick test of TextWrangler showed it wasn’t quite up to the task, suffering the same issue as Smultron.
So, in a quandary about dropping some serious dollars I Googled some more and Espresso from MacRabbit popped up. Hold on a minute! A quick search of my GMail confirmed my suspicion that I already owned a license for it. w00t! So why did I own a license and not really remember? In a word, MacHeist. MacHeist 3 to be precise. I’d bought the package purely for WireTap Studio from Ambrosia Software, but it also included Espresso.
So I set about checking Espresso’s capabilities. First up, connect to my FTP host. Oh, dear! Let’s just say Espresso’s FTP server handling is buggy at best. After many failed attempts and several serious hangs, I was despairing of ever finding the solution. Hold on a minute!
I’m an idiot. Smultron, which I had been using for quite some time, does not have FTP server functions. I had configured it as the default external editor for Panic Software’s Transmit FTP client. “Insert sound of hand smacking forehead.” A short moment later I had configured Espresso as Transmit’s default editor and I was in business. w00t!
A short test or two later I was happy. Espresso handles most situations I have thrown at it and is generally a great editor for PHP and the HTML and CSS I delve into. Problem solved!
So what are the morals of this story? “Do your research”. I must have spent several hours on Google and the resulting sites, looking for software, feature lists and user experience. Much software was found and discounted in this phase.
Try to remember what software you already own! Allison, I think this goes doubly for people like you (well, and me) who download a LOT of stuff to try out. Sometimes it doesn’t solve *today’s* problems but it may just solve *tomorrow’s*.
Finally, be sure to figure out just what problem you are solving. Many of the products I encountered along the way are very capable but did not meet *my* requirements and the one I ended up selecting has some serious weaknesses that don’t matter to me. If anyone listening and has similar, but different needs, be sure to follow the links in the show notes to check them all out and see what might work for you.
(The backing track is Lazy Tuesday by KCentric, licensed through Mevio Music Alley. )
Thanks Allister, I love your delivery! The lesson is certainly right about searching to see if you already own stuff! Yesterday I had a problem with Transmit, it decided that it didn’t want to let me ftp to my website any more. I went to my ISPs crappy web-based ftp uploader and it was working fine, so I knew it wasn’t my site having a problem. I tried making a 2nd configuration file but it failed too, tried flipping from FTP to SFTP and back, nothing worked. I used to use Cyberduck, so I downloaded it again, it offered to import my bookmarks from Transmit so I said yes. Cyberduck was able to ftp into my site with no difficulties at all!
Now what does this have to do with Allister’s story? Well after Cyberduck saved my bacon, I decided to give a donation to the developer. but then I got to thinking about what you’d said, and I did a quick search in my receipts folder and sure enough I’d already donated! See how it all comes together? One last fun thing with Allister, he and I did a Faceplant on Saturday, with him on the Mac and me on my iPhone, and it worked perfectly! I threw a screenshot of the two of us goofing around into the shownotes – it was fun to finally “meet” him!
Lindsay needed a minor bit of work done on her car recently so she drove her 1998 Accord up to LA just so she could have Honda Bob take care things – she wouldn’t trust anyone else with her car. Now you’ve come to expect Honda Bob to do a quality job, charge a reasonable price, and drive to your house to fix your car, and even clean up after himself. What you also get is really good advice well beyond the normal services. While he was replacing Lindsay’s brakes, he called her over to show her how her tires were wearing down and that it was time to replace them before the rains come. He was concerned for her safety – and I’m convinced it’s not just because she’s my daughter and he’s known her since she was born. He treats everyone with this kind of care. He isn’t going to make a dime off her getting new tires, he didn’t say, “oh my brother Sam has a tire shop…”, no it was pure and simple, you need to stay safe and here’s how to do it. If you live in the LA or Orange County areas, and you drive a Honda or an 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
Well I’m flying solo on Security Lite, but I found the page Bart usually shows me on uscert.gov where they have the current updates we need to know about so I’m going to do my best!
- Apple releases Java for Mac OSX Leopard and Snow Leopard – guess why? well because there’s vulnerabilities that can cause an attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service of course! We really should have a jingle for arbitrary code execution, don’t you think? All you have to do to fix this one is run software update on your Mac and you’ll be golden.
- Google Chrome got an update for Linux, Mac and Windows – everybody sing along with me now, arbitrary code execution, denial of service, but also URL spoofing and even bypassing security restrictions! I’m pretty sure Chrome updates itself now because I just checked, and I’m running 7.0.517.41 which is the new good one. They must giggle like crazy when they name those versions though!
- Firefox got an update too – for all the same reasons! I see why Bart doesn’t read all of this any more out loud to us. There’s a fix for Firefox 3.6 and 3.5, and it also affects Thunderbird and Seamonkey if you’re running either of those. Check to make sure you’re running automatic updates on all of those.
Chit Chat with Knightwise
In this Bartless episode of Chit Chat Across the Pond Knightwise from knightwise.com joins us as the spare Belgian. He regales us with the story of his battle in his head between the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S. If you want to follow him on Twitter, look for him at @knightwise and you can follow his wife Nyana at @niejana
It’s time to close things out this week – hopefully Bart will finally be back on his feet – or at least sitting upright in his chair for podcasting, but many thanks to Knightwise for sitting in for him. In the mean time, please help out the show by writing an iTunes review if you haven’t already (only one vote per person), sending in your Dumb Questions to email@example.com, and by remembering to use the Amazon search link at podfeet.com to make all of your purchases – it doesn’t cost you a dime but a small percentage goes towards the cost of creating the NosillaCast. In between shows, be sure to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.