NosillaCastaways are smarter than the Apple geniuses, Plantronics Voyager Pro HD Review from Rod Simmons (Plantronics Voyager Pro HD), Olloclip review from Rod (Olloclip). Kindle Fire review (amazon.com. Tom Stewart sends in his first review – explaining how to use an Aperture Script from ApertureExpert.com to swap out RAW images for JPEGs.Ray Solar Charger review by Rod Simmons from quirky.com. BlackBerry Bold 9930 Review, and Robb Dunewood of Simple Mobile Review Podcast joins us to talk about the past, present and future of Research in Motion.
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 20th, 2011 and this is show number 340. I hope you enjoyed that surprise episode 339, the interviews from Blogworld Expo. Steve also posted the video of Adam Christianson and me going our talk at Blogworld, entitled “Beyond the Technical”. I put it up on podfeet.com, so check that out too, it’s pretty fun. Adam and I were enjoying ourselves so much that at the end I had to give him the hook to pull him off stage! I have to give Katie Floyd credit here too – it was her idea to do this talk, and she even put most of the notes together that we used for the talk. Unfortunately the people doing the scheduling at Blogworld didn’t tell us they’d accepted our talk until it was too late for Katie to make reservations to come out for it. So thank you Katie for all the work.
Update on MacBook Pro not charging
Last week I described our experience with the Apple Genius in trying to figure out why Kyle’s MacBook Pro wasn’t charging. I had done an SMC reset myself before we went in, and the so-called genius did the wrong kind of SMC reset (she used the one for MacBook Pros with a sealed battery when he has the removable battery). In any case she was unable to find anything wrong with the machine but while she was working on it, it continued to say not charging.
Well the NosillaCastaways came through – Nick Brennan wrote to me and simply told us to try the SMC reset again. Kyle did, and it fixed the problem! So about that “genius” title they use at Apple… Thanks for the help Nick.
Rod Simmons Plantronics Voyager Pro HD Review
Rod explains that Plantronics came out with a new headset to beat the one he reviewed a few weeks ago. The Plantronics Voyager Pro HD can be found on my Amazon Affiliate link.
Rod also tells us about the Olloclip that gives you three lenses all in one instead of the three piece kit he reviewed last week. It’s triple the price but much more convenient.
Olloclip – $69 – all in one kit, molded piece for all the lenses together, perfect alignment with the lens.
Rod’s images from the Olloclip:
Well last week I said the 3 in 1 lens kit was on my Christmas list but I just changed it to the Olloclip. I know it’s a lot more money but I think I’d actually USE it if it was all in one. I’d love to see how if it’s one piece you can actually change lenses?
I learned a big shortcoming of ScreenSteps this week. My friend Doreen asked me to help her with printing address labels for her holiday cards this year, so I figured before I came over I’d make her a really cool set of instructions to use, of course created in ScreenSteps. When I got to her house, she hadn’t even printed them out yet, much less read them to get a head start on learning what she’d have to do. The shortcoming in ScreenSteps is that you have to actually REMEMBER to send the other person the instructions. Yeah, I sorta forgot. The good news is that when I got to her house, I printed them out for her and I was abel to point step by step for her so she’d be able to replicate the steps when I was gone.
I love to make these kind of instructions. You and I both know that all you do is create a group, drag people into it, then print and choose Address labels and select the type you bought at the store and you’re done. But when you actually go through it with someone who hasn’t got a lot of experience with the Mac, there’s a lot of little nuances to making it work and that’s where taking screenshots and annotating them with ScreenSteps really makes it useful for them. When I left her house, I knew she’d have a document to go back to later and it would reduce the number of support calls after the fact. If you want to have fun like this, go over to BlueMangoLearning.com and check out both ScreenSteps and their newest product Clarify.
15 minute Kindle Fire review
I’m going to do something completely unfair – I’m going to review the Kindle Fire after two 15 minute plays with it. When I first heard about how it would work I thought it would be a runaway success, mostly because it’s a very inexpensive portal to buy products from Amazon. As a fan of Amazon, and from a distance watching a spectacular business model revealed, I figured it was genius. I’m not sure that I was wrong but I have to say I wasn’t delighted with the Fire.
It’s very hard not to compare the Fire to an iPad, and I hope I wasn’t judging it to a device 2.5 times its price. So let’s think first about what the Fire should be for $200. It should be a good book reader, it should be a passable web browser, it should be easy to attach to a wireless network since it doesn’t have 3G, and it should be light because it’s only a 7 inch screen. Since we knew ahead of time it was based on the BlackBerry Playbook hardware, we expect that it would have gorgeous video playback.
There are some differences in the hardware from the Playbook. They moved the awful power button from the long side to the short side of the device, but two people complained to me that when they held it to read a book that’s right where their finger was and they kept turning it off. I guess they can’t win. They did replace the proprietary connectors that the Playbook had, so now it has a nice little micro-USB connector.
The first thing you’ll think when you pick up a Fire is, dang that thing’s heavy. The 7″ Fire weighs in at 14.5 oz, while the 10″ iPad weighs 22 oz. This may sound like a geometry hoax, but a 7″ tablet is exactly half the size of a 10″ tablet, but the Fire weighs 65% as much as an iPad. that doesn’t sound like a huge difference but it’s amazing how much you notice it. Every person I’ve talked to or listened to on shows has mentioned the weight.
The Kindle Fire doesn’t have a physical volume rocker. Ok, we’re used to a company that doesn’t believe in buttons, but that one seems a bit of an odd decision. I figured they’d do it in software and when we played a song sure enough we got an onscreen volume slider. But later when we went to play a video, the onscreen volume slider caused the song to start playing again and to control its volume, rather than allowing us to hear and control the video. Bit of a fail there for sure.
One of the biggest surprises (not in a good way) of the Fire is that the page turning in the Kindle app is jerky. I’m so used to watching the pages flip nicely in the Kindle app on my iPad that I was really shocked that they hadn’t made the effort to make reading, of all things, a superb experience. Maybe coming from a true Kindle people wouldn’t expect smoothness but it’s quite a shock coming from the iPad. You might think the hardware for $200 just isn’t up to the challenge, but the Fire plays video smoothly!
I tested out the Netflix app and it was a real joy on the Fire. I found a TV show easily, clicked on play and IMMEDIATELY the video began to play. This was using the Fire on a 4G mobile hotspot so the speed was pretty good. It wasn’t as crisp as a native video would play but that’s more a factor of the compression that comes along with video streaming. I also streamed a show from Amazon and again it was delightfully easy and looked good
The home page of the Kindle Fire has a Cover Flow-like interface where you flip through your apps and media like we used to back in the days of record albums. If you don’t know what those are, go ask your mom. This is pretty, and fluid, but not terribly useful. You end up with this jumble of stuff, an app then a song, then a movie, another app, a book, it’s a mess. I also found it hard to stop this carousel of images on the thing I actually wanted to choose. Pretty, but not that useful. I believe there’s a book shelf mode that looks more useful, but I didn’t get a chance to check that out.
There’s a software switch to lock the screen in a specific orientation. I locked it in portrait mode, but when I asked to play a video it switched to landscape mode automatically which I think is terrific. Some might want it to obey what they told it to do but I liked that it overrode my decision.
Now I’m not sure how important web browsing will be for this device but it seems to me that it would be in the top five things you’d want to do. We went to Amazon.com on it and clicked a video on their home screen and it was awful. It was very very jaggy looking, even in the small embedded video player. We switched to full screen and it stayed awful. After that the images on that same page also appeared jaggy when they had looked fine before we played the video. It seemed to heal itself after a little bit. Very odd.
Now here’s the weirdest thing I found in web browsing. I went to podfeet.com (of course that’s the first place you’d go too, right? right?) My Web site theme can identify if you’re coming from a mobile browser and presents you with a mobile friendly view. That worked great on the Kindle, and then I clicked the button at the bottom of the page that allows you to view the site in it’s “real” form. It rendered beautifully on the Fire. I clicked the link to the latest blog post and it came up in all its glory. But THEN I clicked a link in my text, and the entire web page got selected (it showed visually that it was selecting the entire page), and it went directly to Amazon.
Now you might be thinking that Amazon hijacked my browsing experience on purpose, but I think that it actually picked up the Amazon link in my left sidebar. In any case, I’d have to give the web browsing experience a pretty heavy fail rating for that one.
So bottom line from using two different Kindle Fires for about 15 minutes each, I have to say I’m disappointed. Not that it’s not the fastest coolest iPad killing tablet, but because it doesn’t do a good job as a book reader, it’s very heavy, and it fails on the web surfing front. Other than the weight, this can all be fixed in software so perhaps if you’re considering it, wait for the next rev of the software before you do.
Aperture Script Review by Tom Stewart
We have a first time review by Tom Stewart this week, but he sure sounds like he’s a seasoned audio reviewer to me. Let’s have a listen:
￼Hi Allison, I know you are a keen photographer and an Aperture user so I would like to share this tip/product with you.
Like most photographers I like the post-processing benefits of RAW images, but I like the space-saving size of JPEG files. The reality is that probably 95% of our pictures could be shot in JPEG and still be perfect for their ultimate use, however we never know when we press the shutter if the resulting file will be one of that 95% or one of the other 5%. The solution is to shoot all of our images in RAW and then once any preliminary processing is done, to save those 95% as JPEGS. I have found a great tool to make this process painless.
In my new Aperture workflow, I first delete any images which I don’t want to keep and make any global white balance adjustments to the other images in the batch. I then rate the images from one to five stars. The four and five star images are those which are special and I may want to enter into competition. Those I will keep in RAW to give me future flexibility. I then select the balance of the images and run an applescript which I purchased for $1.99 from ApertureExpert.com. This script runs the following Aperture processes to convert my selected RAW images to JPEGS.
It exports the selected images into another format and size.
- In my case I choose JPEG – ! Original Size
- This leaves the original RAW image in your project and gives you the chance to ensure that the new image is converted properly before you manually select and
trash the Rejected images.
It reimports them back into the project in the new format.
It marks all of the original selected RAW images as Rejected.
I just ran this process on a project with 97 images. It took less than 9 minutes and regained almost a gigabyte of disk space. While I could do the same process manually, the script enables me to start the process and walk away while the work is being done. It is also worth noting that deleting the Rejected Images in Aperture leaves them in the Aperture trash bin. Emptying the Aperture bin moves them in the OSX trash bin. This gives several opportunities to change you mind. But remember to empty both the Aperture and OSX trash bins to realize the space savings.
Once I have gone through my existing projects it should reduce the size of my Aperture library considerably which will definitely speed up my backups. Although hard disk space is cheap, it is nice to have all of my photo collection in the one Aperture Library. And given that we have on-site backups, time machine backups, off-site backups, and archival backups, the space savings do multiply.
The other point to remember is that the JPEG images can still be edited and will be best for many uses such as uploading to the web, printing, or emailing.
￼The instructions with the script are great, but in addition you will need to lock the script after you have copied it into the destination folder. Right-click, Get Info, Check the locked box.
Love the show, Tom Stewart, Arva, Ontario, Canada
Thanks Tom, this is a great idea! I love how you first identified the why of this, the problem to be solved, and then how you gave us just enough detail on the solution that we could follow along. I thought the only solution to the RAW problem was to buy bigger and bigger hard drives! $2 for an AppleScript is a much better solution. By the way, I can’t believe this is your first review, the audio quality was fantastic too! I sure hope you find more things to review for us, Tom, this was great.
You know I’m a big fan of TextExpander from Smile, and I use it constantly. It’s hard to express how critical this tool is for me, and to translate that into how it can help you. Let’s see, while I was writing these shownotes, I used it to: expand bmw ; into the full web link for Bluemango Learning, I put in the ending of the shownotes by typing end ; , Every new subject on the blog has what’s called a heading tag size 3 and I create those by typing , h3. ScreenSteps and TextExpander? that’s SS ; and te ;. I had to enter some html in over on my blog to post the Blogworld Expo video – and putting in the line breaks was , br. Heck, every time I saw Blogworld Expo, that’s bwe ;. Later in the show you’ll hear my review of the BlackBerry 9930 – and BlackBerry is spelled bb ; in my world. Chit Chat Across the Pond? that’s a lot of characters to type, how about ccatp ;? I could go on but just think in one blog post how many characters I’m saving!
If you type at all and you’re either a poor typer and want to go faster, or you’re a speedy typer who just can’t waste a second, you would love TextExpander. If you’ve been delaying getting it for some crazy reason, just put it on your holiday list! Click the link in the shownotes to buy TextExpander from the Mac App Store for all your computers!
Ray Solar Charger Review
Rod Simmons reviews the Ray Solar Charger from quirky.com
This looks really nifty, Rod, and for $40 think about how useful this would be in a power outrage. Well not at night but you might be the only person with a charged cell phone during the day. I am getting a REALLY good Christmas list from listening to you, Rod – keep it up!
BlackBerry Bold 9930 Review
So you guys know I’m a big iPhone fan, right? When I’m working though, the BlackBerry can be a tolerable device for the job, as long as that job is emailing and checking your calendar. I’ve been using a BlackBerry for quite a few years starting way back with the 7230. It had big flat buttons that were easy to click and this dreadful, small, low resolution greyscale screen…and it changed my work life, but more about that later.
This week I got the new BlackBerry 9930 from AT&T. I first heard about the new models from Robb Dunewood on the Simple Mobile Review Podcast, but he said they were only available on Verizon. I set him up as my early warning system to give me a tip when they came out on AT&T, and he came through like a champ.
I want to back up a bit and describe the BlackBerry I was using just prior to this new model. About a year ago I got the BlackBerry Torch right after it came out, and for a BlackBerry it wasn’t bad. A lot of people didn’t like it but I thought it was the best of both worlds. It had a slide out keyboard and a touch screen so I could still type but when I wanted to just select something I could touch it with my finger. I tried their onscreen keyboard but ergonomically it wasn’t very good. The torch is a rather narrow phone so the screen is small, but it’s thick because of the slide out keyboard, in this case the worst of both worlds. I also don’t like how the keys are tiny and kind of sharp, very uncomfortable typing experience.
Now let’s talk about the new Blackberrys. There are two model lines, the Bold and the Torch, and after my Torch experience I figured I’d go back to the Bold. The AT&T version is the BlackBerry Bold 9930, and it’s really a gorgeous device. it’s the exact same length at an iPhone at 4.5 inches, only a smidge thicker than the iPhone (smidge is a technical term, it means it’s go look it up, it means .04 inches ticker) and about .3 inches wider. It’s so dramatically thinner than the Torch I really notice how sleek it feels, and the extra width doesn’t feel wrong in the hand. I asked quite a few people to try it from big guys to women with small hands and they all said that it did not feel too wide. The display is much bigger than the Torch but still quite a bit smaller than the iPhone at only 2.8″ wide, sporting exactly half the number of pixels. Again, compared to an iPhone the BlackBerry Bold 9930 is no competitor, but for a BlackBerry it’s just gorgeous.
I mentioned how much I dislike the sharp, little chicklet keys on the Torch, the Bold 9930 has much nicer flat keys that have just enough extra width to make them very pleasing. I found that I pretty much disliked typing on the Torch, and would avoid anything but the shortest responses, but the 9930 is much more pleasing. I still think I prefer a virtual keyboard but for a BlackBerry it’s the best I’ve used since the earliest days of the 7200 series.
Bottom line time. If you’re in the market for a new BlackBerry, the 9930 is an excellent device, and I’d have to say for the things BlackBerry brings to messaging, I have to agree with Robb Dunewood, this is the best BlackBerry they’ve made.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Robb Dunewood joins us for the past, present and future of Research in Motion.
- My first device from RIM was theRIM 850 Interactive pager
- The device was a utilitarian as they come ( could send email and get email )
- Carried a cell phone and palm pilot as well
- Tried out Windows CE as my first device with voice and data
- was very cool but not reliable
- had to manually check for email
- wasn’t as pretty as PocketPC or Palm, but, the thing just worked…
- Consumers started to discover the BlackBerry
- nt-family: verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 13px; font-size: 115%;”>Business people carried BlackBerry devices by default
- RIM development problems: http://blog.jamiemurai.com/2011/02/you-win-rim/
- RIM failed to realize that the definition of what a smartphone was changed
- RIM probably should have bought Palm
- The BlackBerry went from being the phone that everyone wanted before June 2007 to a joke of a mobile operating system by 2009.
- RIM released not one, but, two additional operating systems based on the same one that ran on that RIM 850 from back in the 90s…
- BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7
- PlayBook is arguably the worst execution of a tablet launch in the history of tablets
- No Native Email on the PlayBook
I really enjoyed having Robb on the show tonite, I hope you did too. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.