#324 iGrill, Dry Case for IPhone, Clear Rover Puck, Zoogue BinderPad, WD TV Live, MakeMKV, MPlayerX, LowePro Roller, 3GJuice

iTunes affiliate link live at https://podfeet.com so use that for all your iTunes buying including Lion and help out the show. Big announcements: next week’s show will air live at 2pm Pacific on FRIDAY, not Sunday, and the following week the show will be on Sunday again, but hosted by Katie Floyd of macpowerusers.com back on Ustream, and no iOS accessible audio for that one show. I did a screen sharing update about a couple of easier ways to do it, Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast from otakunopodcast.com gives us a review of the iGrill from iGrill.com. Rod Simmons from The Simple Mobile Review Podcast reviews the Dry Case for iPhone from drycase.com/. Two reviews, one on the Rover Puck form Clear at clear.com and the BinderPad iPad case from Zoogue.com. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast from otakunopodcast.com joins us. He does a review of the WD TV Live from wdc.com. He also tells us about how to rip Blu-ray DVDs using MakeMKV form makemkv.com, play them in 1080p with a href=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mplayerx/id421131143?mt=12″ target=”_blank”>MPlayerX from the App Store. And finally he goes through all of the things he takes along with him to cover a conference including the Zoom H4N and H1 from samsontech.com, his Canon Vixia HG21usa.canon.com, the Tamrac 5784 Evolution Messenger 4 tamrac.com, the LowePro Pro Roller lowepro.com/prorollerx, the 3GJuice from 3gjuice.com, and the Monster Outlet 2 Go from amazon.com/Monster-Outlets-300-Laptops-USB/dp/B003TXRTNG and the Virgin Prepaid MiFi virginmobileusa.com/mobile-broadband/mifi-2200.html

itunes

Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday August 7th, 2011 and this is show number 324.

I have a couple of really important announcements to make, so get out your calendars to take some notes. while you’re bringing it up (or digging it out of your bag like a luddite, I’ll tell you about a non-calendar related announcement.

As you heard me whining a while back, Amazon and the state of California (amongst others) are in a tiff over sales tax, and the affiliates in the state have lost a revenue stream as a result. The GREAT news is that I’ve joined the Apple affiliate program, which could be a much better deal for me. Here’s how it works. Whenever I post links about apps in the iTunes store, either iOS or Mac apps, and you buy through that link, I get around 5% of the price you pay. Think about it – these are things you KNOW you’re going to buy anyway, why not click the links in the shownotes and help out the show?

I just stood up my first link, which is easy to find – it’s a big ol’ Lion logo in the left sidebar over at podfeet.com. If you haven’t bought Lion yet, consider using THAT link to buy instead of going directly to the app store to get it. I love this idea, it’s relevant to what we talk about, you get to feel good about helping fund the show. Each fee will be significantly smaller because things are so darn cheap in the app store, but I figure more of you will probably click the link so maybe we make it up in volume? I really appreciate you considering this as a way to fund the show and help me keep up with my pusher, Mark Dalton.

Ok, calendars out? There will NOT be a live show on Sunday the 14th of August. Don’t think I’m leaving you in the lurch though, we’re going to do it EARLY on Friday the 12th at 2pm Pacific. I think we should call it the European show, since it will only be around 10pm in England and Ireland so maybe for once we don’t have to keep you guys up so far past your bedtimes! This show will be broadcast on justin.tv, but as usual just go to podfeet.com/live to find the correct feed of the show. This also means the show will be out EARLY, I’ll be producing it on that Friday night, so you’ll get it a few days early.

I’m doing this because I’m taking a much needed week-long vacation. But that means I won’t be working on content during the week, so our dear friend Katie Floyd of the Mac Power Users Podcast will be hosting the show on Sunday the 21st. There’s two reasons you need to know this so far ahead of time:

  1. First, you need to do some recordings for her so she doesn’t have to work so hard. She’ll be working the week, moving the weekend before, doing her own show, and creating mine! So send in your recorded reviews to katie@macpowerusers.com.
  2. Second, she’ll be doing it from Ustream, not Justin, so again the best way to know where the show is is to watch podfeet.com/live. If you’re not already following her on Twitter, it would be a good idea to so you catch her tweets before the show goes live. Her twitter name is @katiefloyd

Katie isn’t going to try and do the live audio stream over Icecast I’m afraid, just one thing too many for her bandwidth. Now I’ve given myself some calendar notifications to remind me to swap in/out the Justin.tv vs. Ustream.tv instructions on podfeet.com/live so hopefully this will all work out! I also updated the NosillaCast Live Calendar so if you haven’t subscribed to that then check it out over on podfeet.com/live.

Screen Sharing Update

Last week I talked a lot about screen sharing but I forgot a really easy way to do it. Both Melissa (aka @TheMacMommy) and ConnorP both reminded me that if you can see the other machine in your left sidebar, then clicking on it will reveal a button that simply says screen sharing. That’s even simpler than dragging it up into your menu bar!

Barry Fulk, (aka @fulkb) also wrote in with a really cool tip:

I heard you talking about screen sharing on #323 and I thought I’d pass along a little menu utility that I use to quickly access other machines via screen sharing. It’s called ‘ScreenSharingMenulet’ and can be found at: klieme.com/ScreenSharingMenulet

Why do I like it? Here are three nice reasons:

Easy to use: it sits in the menubar and automatically detects both local clients and “Back To My Mac” clients. It’s Lion, Snow Leopard and Leopard compatible and it’s free! (Donationware)

Thanks Barry – that’s awesome!

iGrill by Donald Burr

Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast from otakunopodcast.com reviews the iGrill.

Thanks Donald, so good to have you back on the show! The iGrill sounds like a geek’s dream for outdoor cooking. Steve loves to barbecue, in fact we haven’t ever used our oven to actually cook meat, I don’t think I have the vaguest idea how to do that! maybe the iGrill would make a good present for him. Thanks for the review!

Dry Case by Rod Simmons

Rod Simmons of The Simple Mobile Review Podcast reviews the Dry Case for iPhone from drycase.com/.
iphone 4 in the drycasiphone 4 in the drycas

Rod’s summer vacation video with footage taken on the iPhone 4 while in the Drycase

Thanks so much for the review Rod – this is fantastic! You know, I interviewed the DryCase guy at Macworld and I thought it sounded cool, but I was skeptical, you know? You going to trust a $600 phone in a ziplock? But seeing your photos – even the one of the iPhone in the sand, that really convinces me this thing is real. I wish I’d had something like this to capture some of my family vacations when the kids were young – I love to be in the water and would have definitely had it right in there like you did on the video. The still shot of the kids in an inner tube behind a boat with this giant splash coming at you – no one could take that photo without the Drycase! I just bought it for my summer vacation coming up. I put a link to the Simple Mobile Review Podcast website in the shownotes too, hope you’ll come back and do some more reviews, that was great!

ScreenSteps

As you guys know, I’m a member of the Mac Roundtable crew. It’s a constant challenge to figure out how to democratically run a giant group of people – when should we record, who can come, what are we going to talk about, who’s going to do the recording, who’s doing production, who’s doing the shownotes, the list goes on and on. We love doing the show, but a few people seem to carry more of the load than the rest of us, like Katie who seems to get stuck editing and posting the show more than just about anyone. One problem was that Libysn had changed the whole way you upload and manage the episodes, and then there’s finding the intro and outtro music, and remembering the password for the website and posting the notes.

One day I decided to just sit down and document the whole darn thing using ScreenSteps. It took me a while because I had to figure it out, but documenting it was super easy. I took screenshots of every step, annotated the images and wrote the full explanations of every step. A simple export and I posted it to a private area for the MRT clan. All I had to do was sit back and read the reactions of the crew members.

  • Thank you Allison, great work, but I tend to think you need a life more then even I need one, and boy, I could use one. 🙂
  • Great job and thank you. I think I can even follow along. 🙂
  • Great work Allison, although there are some steps in there that I never do 😉
    Will follow it to the letter next time. PS Where do you get the energy?

This is the kind of reaction you can expect if you buy ScreenSteps and start documenting stuff. You know I’m not kidding. Go over to ScreenSteps.com and get the free trial, or just skip that step and just buy it! You know you want to. Also check out the public beta of Clarify at bluemangolearning.com/clarify/.

Rover Puck by Clear

In the past month I’ve reviewed two different 4G wifi hot spots, the Samsung 4G, and the Novatel 4G Hotspot. In case you don’t remember, the Samsung did not meet my expectations – basically it wouldn’t hold a wifi signal so I sent TWO of them back. The Novatel has been a champ, delivering fast download and upload speeds, and holding a stable connection pretty much all day long. The only beef I have with it is that it won’t charge via USB and deliver any connection to the internet at all (won’t even act as a USB modem).

My friend John bought a 3rd type of 4G hotspot – the Rover Puck from clear.com, and he let me test it out right when he got it. This 4G Hotspot isn’t associated with any big ISPs, the service actually comes from Clear.

The Rover Puck is a giant device compared to the other options we’ve discussed – it’s about the size of a hockey puck – 4.25in in diameter and .8 in thick. It has also has four big feet that are on both sizes making it a bit more ungainly.

From a physical UI perspective I had some problems – like figuring out how to turn it on! My buddy Niraj found it – the switch is actually black on black. When you do get it turned on, there are various other indicators that light up on black that you wouldn’t originally notice.

The first thing I recommend you do when you get ANY wifi router whether it’s your home router or one of these mobile hotspots is to change the password to administer the device, and to make sure it’s set to WPA2 encryption. Most routers are accessible through a web interface, with the notable exception of the Apple Airport base stations. The Rover Puck uses a web interface, but for the life of me I can’t find a way to even check what encryption they’ve used, much less change it to WPA2. That concerns me. They do have an option to change the password to administer the device (the default is printed on the bottom of the device. The Rover’s interface allows you to create a guest account, so you don’t have to share your wifi password but still be polite and share a cup of internets.

I mentioned earlier that there are lights that show up on the puck, and they’re actually easier to figure out the meaning of than the Novatel hotspot. They show power, wifi signal and 4G signal in easy to determine lit up icons, but they only show as on or off, they don’t show you how good the signal actually is. Luckily they do show you the battery life left, but only when you click the power button once.

Now the main reason you want one of these devices in the first place is to get blazingly fast 4G speeds – but this was where the Rover Puck fell short for me. In my office where I am getting 18mbps down and 6 up on Verizon Wireless, the Rover puck came in at a measly 2.82mbps and .1 mpbs up! this was much worse than 3 G speeds, heck that’s probably bordering on EDGE speeds. John did some testing at his house and did get significantly better speeds, on the low end of what you’d expect for 4G. So as with all of these devices your mileage will vary according to location. With the Rover Puck I think I’d be very cautious to check their cover maps, I’m not sure Clear has the kind of coverage you could expect from Verizon or even AT&T.

The Rover Puck is only $25 with a 2 year contract, or $99 with no contract. That’s REALLY inexpensive. You can even lease it for $6/month but you have to sign up for a 2 year plan if you’re strapped for cash at the moment. Plans start as low as $20/month for 200MB which is probably too small for anyone listening to this show, and it’s capped at 1.5mbps down and 500kbps up. So that’s stinky. The higher plan is $45/month for no speed cap down, but the limit you to 1.5mbps up. And get this, the Rover Puck will not connect to 3G networks unless you give them another $10/month.

so let’s review: the Rover Puck from Clear is big. It’s clunky. It’s slow. The data plans are capped on speed, and the coverage area is much more limited than the competition. About the only thing I can say nice about the Rover Puck is that it’s cheap to actually buy. Stick with the Novatel 4G Hotspot through Verizon.

BinderPad from ZooGue

There are about 231,468 iPad cases on the market, so I’ve resisted the urge to review any of them – until now. I got my hands on the BinderPad from Zoogue.com that has a unique use that I thought made it worthy of reviewing.

The problem to be solved is you’re a high school or college student who has to carry big 3-ring binders around to school – it would be handy if your iPad fit right into the binder. With more and more textbooks moving to the iPad this could be a great way to carry your books and binder all in one.

The Zoogue BinderPad is a dark grey case that has a flap on the left side that has 3 binder ring holes. These holes are very securely reinforced so there’s no chance this is going to rip out of the binder. The case itself allows you to slip an iPad 2 (no iPad 1s I’m afraid) in from the top. the back of your iPad is protected by a very soft suede surface.

After you slide the iPad in, you tuck a little flap over that holds the iPad in place. It takes a bit of fiddling to align the hole on the back with the camera, but it’s not too bad. The case allows easy access to the dock connector and the buttons with no alignment issues. While the case holds the iPad firmly in place, my one complaint is that the left side kind of bends up, not staying flush with the iPad itself so it looks less finished than it could be. I like how little thickness and weight the Zoogue BinderPad adds to the iPad, which is pretty important if you’re taking up valuable space in your binder.

I’m impressed with the workmanship on the Zoogue BinderPad, and if you’re carrying an iPad 2 around separate from your binders, this might really fit your needs. The Zoogue BinderPad will run you $29.99 plus shipping from zoogue.com

Smile

At work we’re stuck on Windows, so I don’t get to use TextExpander, and it used to bug the daylights out of me, I felt so inefficient having to type out things all the time instead of having a tool do it for me. Then Jean MacDonald of Smile told me about a relationship they’d established with the developer Patrick at a company called 16Software, make of Breevy. Breevy is much like TextExpander except it runs on Windows. The relationship the two companies formed was based on the fact that since they were working in two different OS’s they had no competition with each other, so they decided to allow abbreviations, or snippets as Smile calls them to be shared through Dropbox. If you can’t use Dropbox where you work, you can zip up the snippets and mail them to yourself so you get all that goodness in one place.

I told a friend of mine about Breevy at work (remember, it works much like TextExpander) and within an hour of her downloading it, I heard her telling her office mate that this was the BEST application she’d ever seen! She has to fill out work orders and has to enter the contact info for the technicians. over and over and over again. She used to put them all into an Excel file and then copy and paste the info, but when she had Breevy she could simply type in a couple of characters and boom! all the info splats out into the form.

I’m telling you this to help trigger your brain on the kinds of places you repetitively write things, which could be replaced with TextExpander on the Mac. How about this one – I type nm; and instantly it types out my name. Maybe your full name is Joe Bob, but Allison Sheridan is a whole lotta characters and I don’t ilke to type them out. How about your phone number? All that parentheses, and then dash and numbers and stuff, how about ph; instead? The possible ways you can avoid needless typing, AND avoid repetitive stress injury are as broad as your imagination.

I promise that if you buy TextExpander, you’ll use it and love it. I can promise this because Smile has a 90 day guarantee on TextExpander so they’ll give you your money back if you don’t like it. But you will. Every day you procrastinate on buying TextExpander, you’re wasting keystrokes! I’ve saved just under TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND keystrokes this year so far! that’s 11 hours of typing. Do it. Go buy it. Now. Save yourself. smilesoftware.com.

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast from otakunopodcast.com joins us this week.
WD TV Live from wdc.com

WD TV Live – the set top box for people who hate the Apple TV

wdtv is the size of a paperback bookHow to watch Blu-rays on Mac, even though Steve says they’re a bag of hurt (this also relates to the WD TV Live above so we can include it there)

Al’s main problem with the Apple TV (check this, I don’t know if I got all the details) is that it forces you to play in Steve’s sandbox – i.e. it only plays content from the iTunes ecosystem. If you want to put your own content on it (like home movies, DVDs that you bought, etc.) you have to jump through hoops to get it to work (i.e. rip the DVDs, encode them properly for iTunes, tag with metadata, yada yada)

* A small (about the size of a small paperback) set top box
* Connects with HDMI, component, composite (optical audio out too)
* connects to your home network, plays back media from any Windows share (including os x built in Windows file sharing, and the Drobo FS)
* also has USB port – you can attach a hard drive, USB stick, etc. that has media to it and play it from there
* Music, Photos, Video
* Plus model adds Internet streaming – Netflix, Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Pandora, YouTube, Facebook
* plays just about every format under the sun
** MPEG-4, DIVX, XVID, H.264, MPEG-2, …
** in a variety of containers: AVI, MP4/M4V, even the dreaded MKV
** also directly plays DVD Rips (VIDEO_TS/ISO)
* Supports subtitles and multiple audio tracks (very important for anime/foreign film buffs)
* Not as refined a UI as Apple devices, but (IMHO) an acceptable compromise
* Built in 10/100 Ethernet port
* WiFi available as an option (can even do 802.11n)
** problem: it took me a few tries before I bought a WiFi adapter that worked reliably (link to it)
* Surprisingly cheap
** Plus model is only $85.99, it’s worth it (especially considering the non-plus model is only available from a third party seller for a price that’s MORE than the Plus model?!)
** There’s also one with a built in 1 TB drive for $179.99

Watching Blu-rays on Mac and your TV

* First, the bad news. There’s no Blu-ray player for the Mac.
** Only way to directly play a Blu-ray is to install Windows and a Windows based Blu-ray software (PowerDVD, etc.)
* You can however rip them
* MakeMKV – they still call it “beta” but it has worked quite well for me: makemkv.com, play videos using MPlayerX from the App Store
** Rips both DVD and Blu-ray
** Can rip all audio tracks as well as subtitles
* Playing them on Mac:
** Full 1080p is kind of heavy unless you happen to have a really powerful Mac, so I usually like to downsample it to 720p using Handbrake
** Handbrake is a free file transcoder, used to be complex to use but is now simple (it has presets for various Apple devices, “Apple Universal” is what I usually choose) – handbrake.fr
** Once Handbrake has chewed on it you are left with a bog standard M4V file, that pretty much anything can play (iTunes, QuickTime, etc.)
* Playing them on your TV:
** No problem with the WD TV Live, it understands the MKV file format perfectly, just throw the MKV file onto your fileserver, Drobo FS, etc. and you’re good to go

Gadgets, software, etc. We find invaluable for covering a convention

* MacBook Pro – you NEED a real computer to edit and post audio/photos/video
* Zoom H4N – useful as a USB audio interface, can plug in nice XLR mics (2 XLR mics = 1 for me and 1 for co-host) – samsontech.com
* Zoom H1 – I’m really liking this for a portable handheld recorder to do interviews with – with a puff ball stuck on it, it has the same size/feel as a handheld mike – samsontech.com
* DSLR with 17-50mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses (consider renting lenses fromlensrentals.com
* Video camera (in my case the Canon Vixia HG21)usa.canon.com
* Shoulder rig for camcorder
* Tripod and/or monopod
* A good bag
** I don’t like “backpack” style bags, I’ve almost knocked down exhibit hall displays by turning the wrong way
** I prefer either a good shoulder bag, or a roller
** Tamrac 5784 Evolution Messenger 4 (shoulder/messenger style) tamrac.com
** LowePro Pro Roller x100/200/300 (roller)lowepro.com/prorollerx
* 3GJuice from 3gjuice.com – gives that extra oomph my iPhone needs to get through the day (also works with the iPad)
* Monster Outlets 2 Go Laptop – because your hotel room never has enough power outlets in it (plus it charges USB devices too!) amazon.com/Monster-Outlets-300-Laptops-USB/dp/B003TXRTNG
* Virgin Prepaid MiFi virginmobileusa.com/mobile-broadband/mifi-2200.html
** I have hotspot service on my iPhone, but having a 2 GB cap means I can’t do very much with it
** The only “unlimited” option still out there (costs you $50/month though it’s pay as you go, they only charge you when you want to use it)

Thanks one more time to my hero, Donald Burr of otakunopodcast for rescuing me when Bart fell ill – Bart was happy too because he hadn’t left me bereft! That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsors for helping to pay the bills: ScreenSteps, and Smile. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at allison@podfeet.com, follow me on twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

6 thoughts on “#324 iGrill, Dry Case for IPhone, Clear Rover Puck, Zoogue BinderPad, WD TV Live, MakeMKV, MPlayerX, LowePro Roller, 3GJuice

  1. Claus Wolf - August 7, 2011

    Enjoyed the show this week and very much look forward to the 2pm Pacific show on the 12th! I so will need to stay up for that one 🙂

  2. Donald Burr - August 8, 2011

    As mentioned in CCatP, I did end up shooting a new cooking episode this weekend:
    http://otakunopodcast.com/2011/08/07/video-0011-asian-classic-cuisine-mapo-tofu/

    In case the embedded player doesn’t work for you, the video is also on YouTube:

  3. podfeet - August 8, 2011

    Yay – the European show!!!

  4. Donald Burr - August 14, 2011

    ERRATA:

    In my iGrill review, I stated that there is no alarm function on the iDevice (iPhone, iPad, etc.) itself. This is mistaken. I’m not entirely sure how I missed the obscenely large “Set Temperature Alarm…” button on the main monitoring screen. Click it and you can either pick from a number of presets (representing a wide range of different meat types and doneness levels), or you can set your own custom temperature thresholds. And the alarm sound that the app uses is rather hard to miss, unlike the underwhelming alarm beeper on the iGrill unit.

  5. TheMacMommy - August 14, 2011

    sigh. This is going to be one of the most expensive episodes yet. Well, at least I now have Nate’s birthday/Christmas present picked out! Now I need to do some more consulting to support my gadget addiction. You guys are enablers!!! The whole lot of yas! (just kidding, sorta)

  6. Donald Burr - August 19, 2011

    YES!!! Someone has finally done it!! There is now a native Blu-ray playback app for the Mac!

    http://www.macblurayplayer.com/

    I have tested this, and it works wonderfully. Not the best UI I’ve seen, but since this is the only Blu-ray solution out there for Mac, I’m giving them a pass.

    Best part is, FREE fully functioning download, and they normally only charge $60 for it (very reasonable, WAY cheaper than the Windows Blu-Ray players).. but if you act now that price goes down to $40.

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