#335 Appt Dialer, CUSeeMe, xMenu, LED Notifications on iOS 5, Windows 8 Inaccessibility, Mac Mania 15

Domain Name Hosting vs. Web Hosting explained in Dumb Question Corner, and Rod Simmons of the Simple Mobile Review tells us about ApptDialer to set up conference call numbers in your iPhone. Waxing nostalgic about CUSeeMe from the 1990s and how Steve and I saw the future in that early video application. George tells us about a cool app for OSX called xMenu that brings back memories of the original xMenu and brings great use to today. Kevin @big_in_va tells us about using LEDs for notifications on iOS 5 through accessibility, and Patrick Henebry @patrickhenebry explains how Windows 8 isn’t able to be accessible for those with mobility difficulties. In Chit Chat Across the Pond, Captain Neil Bauman, CEO of InSight Cruises to join us to tell us a little bit about Mac Mania Cruises.

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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 October 23rd, 2011 and this is show number 335.

Dumb Question Corner

Dumb Question Corner originated because of a professor I had in college. This calculus professor asked if there were any questions, and I raised my hand and voiced one. He stopped the class, and made them APPLAUD me for having the courage to ask a question. He said that you may think your question is dumb at the time, but that he guaranteed that at least ONE other person in the room had the same question. So for the NosillaCast, Dumb Questions are those you think might be too dumb to ask, but you just have never figured out yourself. You may doubt the power of this tool, but this week we got proof.

A couple weeks back Jim Sewell (aka @deverill on Twitter) asked how to do a Save As and actually navigate to a specific folder. I pointed to the tiny disclosure triangle that showed the rest of the drive with all locations available to him. This was a PERFECT dumb question because once you see it you understand easily how it works, but until someone points at it, it’s not at all obvious. This week Morrie Johnson wrote in and said that he too had always been frustrated by the inability to save-as to any location of his choosing and Jim’s question got him the very answer he needed. Isn’t that awesome?

I’ve decided to add a disclaimer to Dumb Question Corner though. People keep asking me iTunes to iPod/iPhone questions. I will never ever be able to answer any of these questions. iTunes has always baffled me. Lately it’s taken to deleting podcasts – one after another my Mac podcasts have disappeared, this week deleting the MacCast, but earlier deleting my own, the Mac Roundtable, and many others. I can make playlists of my podcasts, but they simply won’t sync to my iPod Nano. I can even make smart playlists and they don’t work to my Nano. My Nano turns 90 degrees often all on its own. Sometimes it jumps to the beginning of podcasts randomly. I don’t understand iTunes and iPods so don’t ask me, ok?

With that disclaimer in place, today we have a new Dumb Question from Michael Woerner:

Hi Allison, I think this might qualify as a dumb question. What is Domain Name Hosting? Will it help with the following?

As a teacher I publish my lessons online using a program called Planbook from Jeff Hellman which does all the html voodoo. Now I’m currently posting to MobileMe but … bye-bye next June. So I’ve been looking at alternatives such as Dropbox & as of today Amazon S3. These both seem to work with hosting my Lesson Plan website but both require a tricky url for the kids to use. So is this were Domain Name Hosting comes in? Can you redirect say an Amazon S3 website to a domain name set up through hover.com or is it the other way around or should I stop pretending i’m a power user πŸ˜‰

Michael – I love this Dumb Question, because I actually know the answer. Lately all the questions haven’t been dumb enough and I’ve had to get Bart to help me with the answer.

So let’s start from scratch here. To have a Web site you need to things, a Domain Name, and a hosting service for the content. A domain name would be podfeet.com or bartb.ie. That’s the name you give humans that is registered to point at a specific web server.

Ok, so every Web site has an IP address that tells the intertoobs where to find it, but for humans to be able to easily access the site you need a Domain Name. You buy domain names from domain name services, like Hover or the out of popularity Go Daddy.

But before you buy a domain name, you would need a web hosting service, a place to put your content, a server that will contain your web-accessible files. Again, you can buy your web hosting services from companies like Hover and GoDaddy. there are a zillion companies who do this, and don’t ask me who’s best, that’s like asking what’s the best color. Every hosting service out there has haters and lovers. I’ve heard good things about Hover lately and many people I respect are advertising for them so you might want to consider using them.

So to create a site like podfeet.com, I rent space on a web host, and I rent the domain name. I pay a monthly or yearly fee for the web host and a yearly fee to keep the domain name. With me so far? Now to actually build the Web site, I use an open source (e.g. free) tool called WordPress to make the content look pretty. I won’t go into exactly how to use it because I’m going to suggest an easier way for you to go.

Instead of renting a domain name (which is cheap) and renting a web host (which is still cheap but you’re talking maybe a hundred dollars a year that a teacher might not want to spend), there’s a free option that will get you most of this. It’s a commercial outfit called WordPress.com. You go to WordPress.com, ask for a free account and then pick a name. Let’s say you choose MichaelWoerner, they would give you a free domain called MichaelWoerner.wordpress.com. They would set up a free Web site for you on their hosting service and install WordPress for you. From there you can pick a visual theme that makes you happy, and get to work. If you change your mind later on the theme, you can even change it any time you like.

Now WordPress is technically a blogging platform, but I can see this working really well for a teacher. Picture each blog post is a new assignment, or class notes for that week. You can also add what they call Pages, which are static and change less often. So on a Page you could put your rules of behavior for the classroom, or your rules of when assignments are due and how much the grade drops for each day late, or contact information for you, or links to the school Web site, that kind of thing.

This is one of the easiest things to do, and if you have any trouble at all I’d be glad to lend a hand, I got here by other people pulling me up so I have to pay it forward.

One caution, WordPress.com makes its money off of advertising, so you don’t have control over their advertising. I haven’t created a new account in ages, but I seem to remember that they had some sort of filtering of ads you wouldn’t allow, but that memory could be flawed so don’t count on it. You can always upgrade later to a paid plan if the ads were intrusive.

I hope this answers you question of what’s a domain name, and maybe gives you some more info for how to move forward on this cool project.

ScreenSteps & Clarify

Before I forget, remember that Clarify’s sale ends in the Mac App Store on Monday the 24th, so I sure hope you’re listening to this late on Sunday night! I’ve heard from a whole bunch of people that they grabbed it on sale, and most of those people already own ScreenSteps. Even when it comes off sale it’s still a great deal, it’s only $30 for a Mac or Windows license, or $40 for a cross-platform version. If you want the Mac only version, get it on the Mac App Store and it’s licensed for the Macs in your house. But wait, what’s Clarify do? It allows you to clarify communications with co-workers, friends, family and developers. Let’s say you find a bug in some software, or a part of the application that confuses you. Command-shift-3 and you’re snapping screenshots in Clarify. When you’re done taking screenshots, throw some quick annotations on them (like blurring out your credit card number or home address, putting a few sequence numbers on to show the order you filled it out, and then pop it up to the web (free of course) and you get a link to send to the developer. Just this week I was working with the lovely Nora from Bruji about a unique problem I was having with DVDpedia. I used Clarify to explain the problem and she wrote back, “Excellent screenshots and captions!” She could totally see where the problem was and is attacking it now. Head on over to the Mac App Store and get Clarify. If you use the link I put in the shownotes, it’s an affiliate link so I get double credit for it!

Rod Simmons on ApptDialer

Full review text at simplemobilereview.com

Rod this is pretty cool. I only recently figured out how to set my iPhone to do the dialing for me, at least on my OWN call-in number. Pretty cool to be able to do it for all of them. It’s funny how our threshold of pain is some number UNDER $3. If you’d said $1.99 we’d all be like, cool, no problem, but $3 and we say woah! That’s pretty steep! thanks for the great tip Rod!

CUSeeMe

five video chat windows with controllers showing from CUSeeMeFor some reason Steve and I both had the same nostalgic thought about technology this weekend. I’m not sure why we both thought about this particular topic at the same time, but we both were thinking about a technology called CUSeeMe. CUSeeMe was developed by Cornell University (hence the spelling) and it was the earliest computer-based video conferencing tool we ever used. Our buddy Ron convinced us to download and install this software on our Mac, and to get a webcam. This was around 1992, 3 years before it was ported to Windows.

I remember distinctly how hard it was to connect to each other. We’d go into what were called reflector sites where you could talk to random people on video (those were simpler, cleaner times, no chat roulette here…well maybe a little). We’d be on the phone to Ron fiddling with endless settings, trying to get audio and video working properly. After maybe an hour of fiddling, suddenly this greyscale image would come into focus, with maybe an entire 2-3 frames per second. Really fuzzy, the video size was maybe an inch on a side, but it was Ron looking right at us, and he was a whole mile and a half away!

I remember thinking that this was certainly a crappy experience, but I got chills because I could tell I was seeing the future. I knew this was just the beginning and that one day this kind of video chat would be simple and easy to do, and maybe common place. Nowadays I don’t think much of popping open a video Skype window to chat with Dorothy while she and I discuss the scripts she’s writing for me, or I’m interviewing Steve Stanger from New York or Allister Jenks from New Zealand for a Chit Chat Across the Pond episode and we decide to do video, or my pusher Mark Dalton and I get on Skype video so he can explain things to me better. It’s not as pervasive as I’d like, because some areas (notably Ireland) don’t have the bandwidth to hold a good video chat, but still I’m talking to people all over the country and all over the world on video. And it’s really really good video.

It’s taken nearly 20 years to go from that postage-stamp sized greyscale 3 frames per second image on CUSeeMe to get to high def video across the globe, but we’re really there now, and I think it’s simply amazing.

George from Tulsa on xMenu

How long ago was Allison’s 89th Show? So long ago it ran only 38 minutes. So long ago the iPhone wasn’t on the market. So long ago the problem to be solved in listener Maurice’s review of xMenu was bringing OS 9’s ability to modify the Apple Menu into OS X.

OS 9?

So many OS versions later, does anyone even remember that OS 9’s Apple Menu could be modified? I sure don’t. All these years later, is the xMenu program Maurice found useful in April, 2007 still relevant?

Want one click access to Applications, Files, Folders, even URLs? xMenu. Papered your Desktop with Alias Links to Applications, Folders, Files? xMenu. Frustrated by Stacks and Lion’s Launchpad? xMenu. Overstuffed your Dock so it gets in the way? xMenu. Lose “things?”

xMenu’s Snippets is a persistent clipboard that survives reboot. Poor man’s TextExpander, no setup is required. Drop whatever, URL, image, text, in xMenu’s Snippets Folder, and store it a Menubar click away.

xMenu’s setup is easy, but better explained in a ScreenSteps walkthrough than a necessarily brief audio clip. Investing modest time learning xMenu should yield substantial productivity gains. xMenu is Universal, works on all Macs running 10.5 or later. xMenu is freeware, provided by Devon Technologies.

As always, check Allison’s Shownotes for my Screensteps Intro to xMenu, as well as related links.

============
Well George I sure do remember the cool way you could pull down on the Apple menu to see all your programs. But those were simpler times, weren’t they George? I installed xMenu and clicked on the application icon in the menu bar, and on my 27″ Apple Cinema Display which is 1440 pixels tall, the application menu only gets down to the letter “i”! I’ll have to goof around with the other features you’ve described, it sure looks like fun!

Smile

TextExpander logoFor some reason, three of you out there are still not using TextExpander. I wrack my brains trying to figure out why you wouldn’t want a tool that reduces repetitive stress from typing. Maybe you’re too young to realize that RSI will happen to you some day. Maybe you just need more examples. Well with over 200,000 characters saved so far this year through the use of TextExpander from Smile, I can give you some good ones. How about trying to spell Bart Busschots? Do you think I actually can spell it? Really? I can’t tell you how many emails and tweets he’s never received from me because I didn’t spell it right. I simply type , b b and out squirts Bart Busschots.

How about typing out NosillaCastaways? That’s not too hard to spell but it’s a lot of characters and there’s that annoying capital C in the middle (whose idea was that anyway?) I type ncs ; and out pops NosillaCastaways. Do you guys listen to Steve Stanger’s great new podcast iSeeiShootiPhone? you don’t really think I type all that out, do you? of course not isip ; and boom, it’s done. Some words are super easy and not that long but I type them SO often it’s worth having a TextExpander snippet. Facebook is fb ; and Dropbox is db ; and Final Cut Pro X is simply f c p. I talk about Wirecast pretty often, so it’s just wc ;. I’m sure there’s words you write all the time for which you could use TextExpander to save you time and stress on those wrists. Put it on your holiday gift list right now – it’s only $34.95 from http://smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/index.html

Kevin on LED Notifications

Kevin Allder, aka @big_in_va on Twitter wrote in with another interesting trick in iOS 5 accessibility:

Dear Allison,
On my way into work this morning I was listening to show #334, my apologies to my Wingman and the Nosillacastaways for missing the live show. As I listened to the description of yours and Kyle’s adventures of with iOS 5 you mentioned the fact that you could now setup up custom vibration notifications within iOS. This was attributed to the care and attention Apple pays to the needs of hearing impaired users, which we all know of course is true and wonderful of them to do. Knowing yours and most if not all of your listeners passion for pointing out these handy features I thought I would tell you about one you didn’t talk about. That is the ability to enable LED notifications under iOS 5. I read about this on one of my favorite blogs Lifehacker, over at Lifehacker.com. The author Adam Pash wrote a nice little summary about this of which I have included the following snippet:

**************************************************************************************
Enable LED Notifications

A lot of phones allow you to flash an LED for a more visual alert. To enable LED notifications in iOS 5, you’ve got to dig down into the Accessibility menu in Settings > General > Accessibility, then enable LED Flash for Alerts. There’s a pretty big catch to this one, though: It only works when your phone is in silent mode (that is, vibration turned off in Settings > Sounds and the vibrate/silence hardware switch toggled on.

You should also keep in mind that it’s not a persistent flash; as far as I can tell, it emanates one showy series of flashes and then goes away.

**************************************************************************************

Now while this is very cool as Adam mentions it is not perfect, but hey what is. He also mentions other features which you covered and provides a link to a more detailed article on Wired magazine’s website which I have included below as well as a link to Adam’s post on Lifehacker. I hope you find this interesting and useful.

Until next week your friend and nosillacastaway, Kevin

Patrick Henebry on Mobility

Patrick @patrickhenebry sent me a really interesting explanation of how mobility accessibility affects him and how different OS’s are useful, or not. In his message he explained that the Metro UI in Windows 8 is not only not accessible for mobility impaired users, it’s designed in such a way that it’s not possible. I forwarded his very well written and thoughtful letter to Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, both hosts on Windows Weekly on the TWiT network. Mary Jo didn’t feel she could help, but Paul actually forwarded Patrick’s email on to Steven Sinofsky, the President of the Windows division at Microsoft. I thought that was pretty cool, and here’s hoping that Steven takes this seriously and gets some changes in place before Windows 8 is cast in stone. Hope we’re not too late.

Chit Chat Across the Pond

As I’ve mentioned on the show before, Don McAllister and I will be speaking on Mac Mania 15 in November 2012 to Australia, so this week I have asked Neil Bauman, CEO of InSight Cruises to join us to tell us a little bit about Mac Mania Cruises.

  • How many people on the ship are with Mac Mania?
  • Too early to kow for sure, but around 100 … around 5%
  • Is it a standard classroom setting for the sessions? Do you have to choose whether to watch me vs. Don?
    • Pretty much.Too early to know for sure, but we do not anticipate more than one track.
  • Do you miss a lot of the cruise being in class all day? Do you still get to do the excursions?
    • A lot? No. Some, sure. But mostly boring stuff, like bingo … there’s little time to sit and read as we’ll be in class if we’re “underway”.We only offer classes when we’re at sea.
  • How many hours a day are you in sessions?
    • Varies on the port schedule … but for those days when we’re at sea ALL DAY, we typically offer five 90-minute sessions (8:30, 10:30, 1:30, 3:30, 6pm)
  • Do you segregate the Mac Mania nerds from the normal passengers?
    • No … but the classes are private and not open to the general cruising population
  • What’s it like for traveling companions who aren’t of the nerd persuasion?
    • FUN! People love to cruise.
  • How do you live that long without Internet access?
    • You couldn’t. Your arms and legs would fall off.
  • What level are the attendees – are these über geek professionals? novices? a mixture of both? How nervous should I be that the audience is smarter than me?
    • Uber geeks?No … just very smart, pretty sophisticated users that love to learn more and more.Novices?A few … for certain … but not many.Smarter? Probably a bit nervous. πŸ˜‰ Know more?? Not too nervous — you do this for a profession … RIGHT? (I did invite the right Allison Sheridan, right??)
  • When should someone sign up for Mac Mania 15 – how fast do these book up?
    • Varies … but the eclipse cruises could sell out without much notice. Mostly, it’s a question of planning such a far away trip. Most people like to plan for such a thing waaaay in advance. Air will be cheaper the sooner your buy it, too.
  • You do other InSight Cruises right? Can you talk about those? – and is Mac Mania your favorite?
    • YOU BET. Our newest partner is the New York Times. We anticipate doing a variety of very interestig events for them. We also do cruises for Scientific American magazine. Indeed, the MacMania and “Bright Horizons” groups will be sailing together this April on our chartered river boat, cruising the Rhine.
    • Now that’s not a fair question!! πŸ™‚ Honestly, my favorite has been the chess cruises. We did three of them. Sadly, we don’t do them anymore. Anyway, I love the game and play it well so it’s always a treat to be around grandmasters and past U.S. champions (and world champions).
  • These cruises aren’t inexpensive but the cost of the conference for the amount of training you get is pretty good, right?
    • I would argue that the cruises are a deal. Excellent food, excellent service, very good (and constant) entertainment is available in multiple venues … the conference fee is, as Alfred P. Newman always said, “cheap”.
  • Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
    • Learning is fun … cruising is great fun … traveling and exploring the world is eye-opening … Mark Twain said, “I don’t travel to see new things, I travel to see things through new eyes.” Add to that the comaraderie of the MacManiacs and just indulging your body and your mind for 2, or so, weeks … there not much better in life.
  • Where should people go if they want to learn more about InSight Cruises and to sign up for Mac Mania 15?
  • 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. I contribute a fair amount over on Google Plus nowadays so just search for me by name if you want to circle me up. 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 and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

    12 thoughts on “#335 Appt Dialer, CUSeeMe, xMenu, LED Notifications on iOS 5, Windows 8 Inaccessibility, Mac Mania 15

    1. George from Tulsa - October 24, 2011

      xMenu is on the Mac App Store, as in the link in the shownotes.

      It is also available, with Devon’s additional valuable freeware programs and service menu additions with release notes, at this direct link:

      http://www.devon-technologies.com/products/freeware/

    2. David F - October 24, 2011

      Hi Allison, greetings from Alberta, Canada.

      I have been listening to your podcast for about a year now, and have to say I look forward to my Monday afternoon bus ride home from work because that is my time to sit, relax and enjoy the Nosilla Cast.

      This is my first time writing in, and I have a couple of questions regarding ScreenSteps and Clarify from Blue Mango Learning. I am hoping your expertise with those products can help me out.

      Here is the problem to be solved…

      My wife needed to write some “how-to” documentation at work, and was dreading the the task using Microsoft Word on her Windows PC. I told her to download the free trial of “Clarify” to try it out, and she loved it. She was considering buying “Clarify” for work when she discovered to day that she needs a bit more of the heavy lifting that “ScreenSteps” can provide. So now she has a complete “Clarify” document that she would like to convert to a “ScreenSteps” document. My question is: Is there any export/import functionality between Clarify and ScreenSteps?

      Hope you know of a way to do this, because if you do, it leads to my second question… since she needs to buy the PC (yuck) version of ScreenSteps, is there a way for us to let them know that Allison sent us via an affiliate link or something else? πŸ™‚

      Thanks, and keep ‘casting from us Canucks!

      David F

    3. Tim McCoy - October 24, 2011

      Neither of the two screensteps links for george_xmenu.pdf work;(semicolon just for Al) it downloads as a “pdf” but tells (error) that it has html contents. Changing the suffix to “html” doesn’t work either.

    4. George from Tulsa - October 24, 2011

      Tim, Glad someone is actually interested in my tutorials! I’ve notified Allison by email of the 404 codes, and she also monitors her blog when she’s not at work, so she’ll probably get it fixed soon.

    5. George from Tulsa - October 24, 2011

      David F

      I’m a regular Screensteps user, and can tell you why what you propose is probably going to be somewhat difficult.

      The images captured for Screensteps are stored on the computer in a folder unique to each tutorial. (I use Mac, not Windows, so you’ll have to find where the Windows version puts them yourself). The captures go on the disk “raw,” so any editing in Screensteps on the images is actually overlaid onto the image in Screensteps, and not written onto the image itself.

      Here’s what to try:

      #1. Screengrab the Clarify image. Try Screensteps as your screen grab tool; they are separate programs and should work simultaneously. If they don’t try any of the other many Windows screengrab tools. Her text should copy and paste as text.

      #2. I’m not using Clarify, but presume it “exports” as Screensteps does to HTML or WORD. The export from Screensteps exports the “complete” image, including any edits on the image. It should be possible to find those images from the disk folder where Clarify puts them, and simply import into Screensteps.

      Good luck!

      #2.

    6. David F - October 24, 2011

      Hi George, we will give it a try tomorrow. Thanks!

    7. David F - October 24, 2011

      Will be interested to hear how it goes –

    8. George From Tulsa - October 24, 2011

      Oops, “Will be interested to hear how it goes –

      Was supposed to be TO David F, not from David F

      Ah, well, it HAS been one of those days.

    9. podfeet - October 25, 2011

      Sorry about that Tim, teach me to use a capital letter in a UNIX file name! 404 error s/b gone.

      George, thanks for stepping in to help both Tim and David F (even if you did impersonate him).

      David F – so glad your life is loving Clarify and looking forward to ScreenSteps. To tell them you heard about it here, I think there’s just a field somewhere for freeform text in the ordering process.

      As far as moving files from Clarify to ScreenSteps, I’m not sure if there’s an automated way, but if she does end up doing copy/paste from one to the other, at the very least she can right click on an annotated image in Clarify and choose Copy with Annotations, then paste it into ScreenSteps. Much easier than finding all those images.

    10. Trevor DeVore - October 25, 2011

      David F: We will be releasing an update to ScreenSteps in the next 2 weeks that can import Clarify documents. Not all Clarify features can be supported in ScreenSteps 2, however, because there is no equivalent. For example, there will be no frames around images and the image position relative to instructions will be lost.

    11. David F - October 25, 2011

      Hi everyone. Thanks for all your helpful info! She followed George’s (or is that my own πŸ˜‰ ) advice and was able to move the annotated screen shots into ScreenSteps and then copy the text. They looked fine doing that.
      @Trevor, thanks for letting us know about the new functionality in Screensteps, now she wants the highlight tool in Screensteps, but I thought I read something about it being added soon too. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your help, I feel a purchase happening in the near future!

    12. George from Tulsa - October 28, 2011

      David F –

      Hooray! And thanks for letting us feel good about helping out.

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