Blogworld Expo redux, DocScanner Review from Rod Simmons, ZAGG Keys Solo bluetooth keyboard review. Img2icns review from George from Tulsa from img2icnsapp.com. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Shane Jackson joins us to talk about blind accessibility improvements in iOS5 and the iPhone 4S.
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 November 6th, 2011 and this is show number 337.
This week has been pretty darn hectic, we just got back from Blogworld Expo in Los Angeles. I’m really torn with whether this is a good conference or not. In the early days we had the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. This was a tiny little conference of just podcasters, and it was held in a distant suburb of Los Angeles called Ontario. A few years ago the Podcast Expo was sold to Blogworld Expo and now we’re part of a 4000 attendee conference. That’s cool because we’re all bloggers too, right? The conference has a track called Podcamp that’s tailored for us, and the blog sessions are for us too.
On the other hand, the podcast track was poorly run. Katie Floyd and I submitted a few papers and never heard back from Blogworld, so we assumed we hadn’t been selected. Then just two and a half weeks before the show we got acceptance letters! This was too late for Katie to make plane reservations and move around her lawyering stuff, so she had to bow out. The good news is that Adam Christianson of the MacCast stepped in to take her place.
The coordinators of this show went to great lengths to make sure there were plenty of varied presentations from which to choose – but there were TOO many from which to choose. The schedule was three pages wide for each time slot. there are 300 presentations in three days! Because of their lack of planning, many of the sessions had no description at all, a few showed up in more than one place (but the speaker didn’t show up at all). There were a whole slew of keynotes, and while some of them were quite good, again there were no descriptions of who they were to tell me if I wanted to attend.
The conference was at the LA Convention Center for the first time this year, and I actually thought it worked really well. The hotels were pretty far away – 6-9 blocks, but they had shuttles running every 10 minutes during peak times to take us back and forth. Oh, except when it was raining, they didn’t come at all so we took a cab.
So what did I like about Blogworld? I liked the show floor surprisingly enough. It’s quite tiny compared to something like Macworld, but Steve and I got some good interviews of some interesting products. We’ll be putting the video interviews up on Podfeet.com over the coming weeks, I think you’ll enjoy them.
The best part about Blogworld Expo for Steve and me though is hanging out with old friends. A good number of the Mac Roundtable crew were able to attend, and we really missed those who couldn’t come this year. A real highlight for us was that we were able to meet, in real life, Rod Simmons and Robb Dunnewood of the Simple Mobile Review Podcast. They joined the Mac Roundtable for dinner and had a blast. I have to say, by the end of dinner it really felt like Robb was going to convert from Windows to the Mac. He was already leaning and to be surround by the great Mac community seemed to be the kind of nudge he needed to come back to the fold.
DocScanner Review from Rod Simmons
Speaking of Rod, how about a review from him?
View Rod’s written review of DocScanner at simplemobilereview.com
Rod – this is absolutely awesome. I HATE keeping track of receipts when I travel. I usually keep an envelope in my purse and only about 75% of them actually end up in the envelope, I’m always stuffing them in various pockets of my purse – it’s a MESS! When I get back to the office, I have to troop down to the multi-function copier, laboriously log into my Windows domain account on the machine, and scan each receipt into an email to send to my assistant. By the way, my assistant won’t allow me to do my own expense reports, the one time I tried to do it on my own I botched it up so badly it took her three times as long to fix it as if she’d done it herself. I think it’s best if we all stick with what we’re good at, don’t you? I did look up DocScanner, it’s $4.99 for the iPhone and I put a link to the iPhone version in the iTunes Store, and the link to it in the Mac App Store in the shownotes. By the way the Mac version is $15 so quite a bit steeper. I also put a link in the shownotes to the DocScanner Web site where you can get it for both Android and Nokia phones. Happy receipt scanning everyone!
The NosillaCastaways are a very bright bunch, I know you guys are a great resource for your friends, you help them use their computers, don’t you? I’m betting you write emails to them telling them how to use their software, or how to connect to their networks, or how to do something in their operating system. If you haven’t bought ScreenSteps or Clarify yet to help you with that, you’re torturing yourself unnecessarily. If you were to buy either of those tools you’d be more efficient, you’d create better instructions, and your family and friends would think you’re twice as brilliant as they do now. Here’s the really fun part, you’ll find that you WANT to teach them things. You want to make short little lessons for them. I’m not joking. I’ve seen this happen to people, myself included. Please make yourself happy and go over to BlueMangoLearning.com
I’ve been using the iPad since it first came out and I’m pretty comfortable with the on screen keyboard. I’m a touch typist, and it’s far from a great experience, but if it’s between lugging my 5 pound MacBook Pro around at a conference and using the iPad keyboard, it’s a much better choice.
I have heard a lot of people review keyboard cases, and they seemed to produce more problems than they fixed. The cases always added a lot of weight and a lot of bulk to the iPad, which diminishes the value of the iPad considerably. You might as well carry a laptop around if you’re going to mess with all of that.
My friend Linda came into work to proudly show me her new iPad case/keyboard combo and I couldn’t believe how awful it was. I didn’t even bother to ask who made it it was so bad. The thing was actually trifold, so three layers of bulky padded case, it was heavy because the case included the keyboard AND it was really clumsy to flip around to use the iPad as intended. It was dreadful.
I mentioned to her that the only bluetooth keyboards I’d consider would be standalone where you didn’t have to lug them around all the time. I have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard for my Mac Mini and I’d tried it with the iPad but it just didn’t blow my dress up. As elegant as the Apple keyboard is, it’s full size which is just too big. I also noticed a lot of confusion in the family room when the iPad and iMac were fighting over the keyboard.
Linda told me she’d bought the ZAGG Keys Solo keyboard and would bring it in to show me. Well, I’m writing this entire review using the ZAGG and I’m loving it! It’s standalone, but tiny, the exact width of the iPad, which is perfect. As I said I’m a touch typist but the key widths work great even for my size 9 hands (that’s pretty giant for a woman, about medium for a man).
It has a slot right behind the keyboard that fits the iPad so it stands up nicely, and it has a rubber edge on one side so it keeps the iPad from slipping and getting damaged on the screen side. I keep saying iPad but this keyboard is definitely made for Android as well – many of the keys have the little Android guy on them so it definitely has some unique functionality for those tablets.
Speaking of keys – the ZAGG Keys Solo has arrow keys! it has a command key! it has cut and paste keys! It even has a home key that takes you to home on the iPad, a lock key that really locks, you can control the volume from the keyboard too. You can control video and audio playback with play, pause, fast forward and reverse. I LOVE having all those functions at my fingertips!
With all that goodness comes a very strange sacrifice: auto-correct…doesn’t. You don’t automatically get a capital letter after a period and two spaces. You don’t get the apostrophe in contractions automatically like don’t and can’t. It doesn’t even offer you the correct spelling when you make a mistake, simply underlines the word after the fact. I think that’s really strange that the functionality of the iPad OS changes so dramatically when you add a keyboard.
The ZAGG Keys Solo has a battery in it that they claim lasts 2-3 weeks during normal use! Isn’t that awesome? When the power light comes on to tell you that it’s getting low, the manual says you still have 1-2 days left of power. Crazy cool. Oh, and it charges via a standard micro-USB cable. There’s an on/off switch for the keyboard so you won’t accidentally be pressing keys when it’s in your backpack. Next to the power switch there’s a connect button – press that while you’re in the Bluetooth settings on your tablet and you’ll get an onscreen popup with a code you type in and boom, you’re paired. Easy peasy as Niraj would say.
I found that I got used to the ZAGG Keys Solo instantly, found it delightful to type on and I believe it will increase the number of things I do on the iPad, like writing reviews like this while I’m waiting for my haircut!
The ZAGG Keys Solo weighs 11.5 oz and you can get it in white, black, or silver. The one I’m using is silver and it has black keys so it looks just like a mini Macbook keyboard. You can either purchase it from Zagg.com for only $69 or you can use my affiliate link in the shownotes to get it for $67 at Amazon. I highly recommend the ZAGG Keys Solo Bluetooth Keyboard.
Dumb Question Corner
I sent a dumb question over to Rod Simmons last week. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy a show called Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott. I noticed recently that in talking about Windows 8, he refers to Win32 and then WinRT. I was curious what these two things were, and why WinRT is all the rage right now. Rod sent over this answer, to MY dumb question.
Rod didn’t send any text, but the gist of his response was that WinRT allows developers to write code for both Intel and Arm processors. WinRT will be the underpinnings of their tablet OS so like most tablet vendors they’ll be able to run on Arm processors as they’re more efficient for battery life and heat than Intel processors are today. He suggested I think of Win32 as the Rosetta software that used to allow us to run PowerPC apps on our Intel-based machines.
Thanks for the great explanation Rod, I think I actually get it! I judge whether a smart person is actually smart by whether they can explain complicated things to someone with no education in their field. If anyone ever blows you off and says “it’s too complicated to explain to you”, that means they don’t REALLY understand it. Bless you for NOT talking about abstraction layers Rod, my head kind hurts just saying that phrase.
Img2icns Review – George from Tulsa
Next up, let’s hear from George from Tulsa.
George explains in his ScreenSteps Tutorial how to use the software Img2icns to change a boring folder icon into an image of his lovely cat, Claw of Satan.
This is, well, lovely George, great choice of icons. I remember in the old days you could simply drag a jpg onto the get info folder icon, wonder why/when they changed that? Img2icns is free by the way from img2icnsapp.com, or they have a $12.90 version that lets you also create iPhone icons among other things.
Blindfolded Week 2
It’s week two of my preparation for my Blindfolded presentation at Macworld. I didn’t get nearly as much time to play with the accessibility features of iOS and OSX since I was at Blogworld Expo but I did figure a few more things out. the main thing I figured out was that the built in tutorial is not really very good. There’s a couple of screens I’ve tried 15-20 times to do what they said, and it simply doesn’t work. I suppose it’s possible I’m doing something wrong, but I really don’t think so. I’m reading the instructions, I’m hearing the instructions, I’m following the instructions and it simply doesn’t do what it says. I was getting really frustrated and discouraged and so instead I went to the best training ground on earth – Youtube. I found a couple of demonstrations that gave me a few new hints I hadn’t learned before.
For example, if you use the VoiceOver keys command-option and type the letter D it takes you right to the dock and lets you use the arrow keys to move along to pick out an application. Command-option M takes you to the menu in the currently open application. From there it’s a piece of cake to walk across the menus and down them simply using the arrow keys. Just learning those two things helped me get into the bigger picture of how to navigate around the system a bit. It’s a long haul to go yet, but every little hint helps.
Rod Simmons sent an answer to one of my questions about VoiceOver from last week:
======insert Rod box accessibility==========
I’m loving how much Rod is contributing to the show, but Simple Mobile Review Podcast is a whopping 28 characters. That’s a lot of typing, heck I typed it three times already in this episode, so that’s 84 characters. What if I had a tool…some kind of thing that would let me not have to type all those characters? That’s right where TextExpander comes in to save the day. I typed out Simple Mobile Review Podcast once, and then selected the text, and clicked option-t. Up pops a window that lets me assign a short keystroke, like smr ; and I’ve now got Simple Mobile Review Podcast in four characters instead of 28.
After Blogworld Expo, Don and Barbara McAllister came to stay for a couple of days, and I was working on the ad for TextExpander, and Barbara announced that it’s her favorite software on the Mac. she explained that she does triage for Don answering the emails that tend to be repetitive, like answering emails about lost passwords, that kind of thing. She said that she wouldn’t do the job without TextExpander. She used to be a personal assistant, and she just wishes she had TextExpander back then. I think that says a lot – an unsolicited testimonial for a product means so much more than listening to me. I was also bragging to Don that I’ve saved 212 thousand characters since January, and then he checked his 11″ Macbook Air stats and he’s saved over 600 thousand since July of this year! I’m a rank amateur at this TextExpander thing really!
In fact, when we were at Blogworld Expo Don was doing a panel, and in the middle of it this woman raised her hand and said, “I just realized, YOU’RE Don McAllister! and thank you for TextExpander!” Jean MacDonald from Smile was in the room and she was just beaming. So if you don’t believe me about TextExpander, you can believe Don and Barbara, right? Head on over to smilesoftware.com and get your own copy of TextExpander from Smile.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Once again Shane Jackson, a blind and hearing impaired Apple specialist joins us to talk about accessibility on iOS 5.
You can contact Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.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.