#341 NosillaCastaways Party at Macworld | iWorld, Jot Pro Stylus, Swollen Battery, Top 6 iOS Tips, 1Password

NosillaCastaways Party at Macworld | iWorld – register using the menu bar link at podfeet.com (or click this link). The password is the name of my longest running sponsor, all lower case. Jot Pro Stylus Review from Adonit. Swollen battery woes on a 2007 Macbook, and Rod Simmons of the Simple Mobile Review Podcast gives us his top 6 iOS tips. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart brings us his 1Password review from Agile Bits.

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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 November 27th, 2011 and this is show number 341.

NosillaCastaways party at Macworld | iWorld

The excitement is starting to heat up for Macworld in January. I know this must be a torturous time for those of you too far away to attend. But for those of you who will be making the trek in 2012, I hope you’ll come to the 3rd annual NosillaCastaways party. It will be on Friday night from 6-8 pm at Jillians, which is right around the corner from Moscone Center in a place they call the Metreon. If you CAN come, here’s how to register.

Click on the link in the menu bar that says NosillaCastaways Party 2012 (or follow the link in the shownotes). You’ll find that it’s password protected, enter the name of my longest running sponsor, all lower case. From there you simply enter your name, email address and twitter handle if you have it and click submit. On that same page there’s a Paypal button just in case you’d like to donate to the party fund. It’s definitely not required but people seem to like to help out so this is the easiest way to do that. You’ll get a confirmation page once you register.

I have to thank Connor for helping me set this up using Google Docs Forms. Last year it was a nightmare doing with a plugin from WordPress – I spent hours and hours cleaning out spam from that. With the password protected page I think it will work much better.

I enjoyed learning about Google Forms, they’re really easy to create. Basically you set up a list of questions with answer options like radio buttons and check boxes and free text entry fields. you can even have an action caused by the choice of radio button. Think, “will you be bringing a guest?” followed by yes/no buttons that trigger a new field for guest name if you say yes, but jumps to the next question if not. I had some trouble with the logic, like I wanted to have an option where if you said you wanted to donate it would take you to a donation page but if not it would skip you past that, but it doesn’t let you enter any html or anything like that to customize the look and feel.

They do have a whole pile of themes to choose from but even there I wanted to center some text and I could even do that in html. Anyway, the great news is that the invite page creates a Google Spreadsheet showing the time someone registered, and their name, email address and twitter name. MUCH easier than that lame plugin I used last year!

Anywho, I hope if you’re coming to Macworld you’ll come to the party to say hello, heck if you’re in the area and not coming to Macworld, still come over and say hi.

TextExpander

link and image to Smile siteSpeaking of Macworld | iWorld, how annoying is that new name? I get why they changed it, because it’s not all about the Mac any more since covering Apple is so much more these days. But still, Macworld | iWorld? It’s not so hard to say, but typing it is a real pain. First of all, if you don’t want the purists like Dave Hamilton hollering at you, you have to remember that the w in Macworld is NOT capitalized, but the W in iWorld IS capitalized, but the i in front of it is NOT capitalized. Good grief. As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a PIPE in between the two words. If you’re a programming type, or a system admin, you know what a pipe is, but for normal people it’s the vertical bar on the key with the backslash above the Enter key. Ok, so we’ve got Macworld with a lowercase w, then space pipe space, then iWorld with a lower case i and an upper case W.

The VERY first time I saw this new name, I popped open TextExpander and pasted it into a new snippet and abbreviated it with mw iw so with four keystrokes I can easily type Macworld | iWorld. Think about how many characters that’s already saved me just while writing up the shownotes for this episode? If you don’t already have TextExpander, head on over to smilesoftware.com and download the free trial. You’ll be hooked very quickly, then I want you to use the link in the shownotes to TextExpander for Mac in the Mac App Store so you can get it for all your Macs. Go forth and type Macworld | iWorld to your heart’s content!

Holiday Shopping at Amazon

So the holiday season is upon us, but these days it’s a lot easier than it used to be. I used to go to the malls, fight the traffic, fight for a parking place, dig through piles of junk searching for the perfect present. I’m SO much happier now buying most stuff on line, my stress level bout the holidays has dropped by 90%. I think having Amazon there for the most centralized place to buy things makes things even easier. If you’re going to be shopping through Amazon this holiday season, I was wondering if you’d think about using the Amazon affiliate link in the left sidebar at podfeet.com. All you do is click on the Amazon picture and when it takes you to Amazon, anything you buy there will send around 3% of the purchase price back to support the show. You pay the same price as if you had bought it normally. I’d sure appreciate it if you would. Oh, and if you’re buying through the Mac App store, click on the Lion in the right sidebar, and a small bit of change goes to the show there too. Thanks!

Jot Pro Stylus Review

We were all excited when we got our first iPads, with no clue to what part they would play in our lives. We quickly figured out that this little device could do amazing things we’d never dreamed we’d need to do. But I’d bet that about 80% of people who’ve used an iPad thought, “it would be cool if I could take notes by hand with this.” Typing is cool, but sometimes it just feels easier to grab a pen and scratch paper and scribble out notes, or draw a stupid little diagram to explain what you’re trying to do. I dumpster dive weekly to the printer recycling bin at work to get paper for just this purpose.

Jot Pro from AdonitSo we tried to use our finger to write and draw. Talk about epic fail – everything we did looked like we were finger painting. So then we went on a search for a stylus. Unfortunately, capacitive screens don’t work with nicely pointed styli (is that a word?), they only work with big fat tips. Some came with sponges, some with brushes, and I even heard you could use a frozen sausage as a stylus but I never had the nerve to try that. And guess what? they all made us look like we were fingerpainting! It’s been so sad, all these really really cool note taking applications have sprung up, allowing us to draw, and type and even record the audio from a meeting or class – but they never could really take off because there we were drawing with a sausage!

All that has changed though, there’s a new kid in town. It’s called the Jot from Adonit at Adonit.net. Picture a cylindrical pen. At the end it comes to a fine tipped, ball point. But instead of ink, there’s a flat, clear, plastic disk attached to the ball. When you place your Jot stylus on the surface of a tablet, the plastic disk rotates on the ball until it’s flat on the surface of the tablet. Ok, this is a lot of words but it really makes the use of the Jot very natural. You can place the Jot pen in a very natural writing/drawing position, and the disk does the job of being the fat sausage for the capacitive touch you need.

The regular Jot is $20, but for $30 you get the Jot Pro which has a nice rubberized area for a nice grip, and also is magnetized so if you have an iPad 2 it will actually stick to it with the magnet. in my experience it wasn’t that strong though so I’m not sure the magnet is all that useful. I like the rubberized grip though, it feels really nice in the hand. If you’re interested in buying the Jot or the Jot Pro, I put a link in the shownotes to it via my Amazon Affiliate link.

Swollen Battery

Just for fun over Thanksgiving I decided to add memory for two of the family’s laptops – Lindsay’s boyfriend Nolan’s Macbook, and Steve’s Mom Merlee’s Macbook. They’re both the 2008 white MacBooks, Nolan had 2GB and Merlee only had 1GB, so they really needed some help. A quick trip to the Other World Computing site at macsales.com and for about $55 apiece I was able to get them 2 4GB of RAM each. When Nolan and Lindsay came over, I let Lindsay have all the fun and in just a few minutes she had the new RAM installed and Nolan was delighted.

Later that day Ken and Merlee (Steve’s parents) made their way to our house for Thanksgiving. Even though we were in the midst of dinner preparations I knew this would be quick work so I flipped over Merlee’s Macbook and pulled out the battery. Then I removed the three captive screws holding the angle bracket that covers up the RAM slots. I flipped the two levers and out popped the old memory. I put in the new sticks, closed the levers and put the angle bracket back in place. I tightened down the screws and then put the battery back in place. But it didn’t sit quite right. So I pulled it out and angled it in slightly differently, but it still wasn’t flat. Then I tried to slide it in from the other end, but it still wouldn’t go in. I tried to hold it down with one hand and use a nickel to turn the lock…but it still wouldn’t go in.

I hollered to Lindsay to stop making bruschetta, and come help me. I asked her if she’d had any trouble getting Nolan’s battery back in place because I just couldn’t seem to get Merlee’s to seat properly. She, being far more observant than me, took one look at the battery and said, “well that one doesn’t look right, it’s bowed.” I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed, but the battery had swollen up so it was completely misshapen! I’d heard about batteries swelling before but I’d never seen it before, it was actually kind of frightening. Ken sometimes worries unnecessarily, but this time I told him to be alarmed. I suggested he make haste and get himself to an Apple Store and Kyle helped him make an appointment at the genius bar. I thought his experience might be of interest.

His little friend Jason at the Apple store ran some tests on the battery, and found that in 4.5 years it had only been fully discharged a total of 12 times. I’m not shocked to hear this, they keep the Macbook plugged into power on a desk at all times, only carrying it away when they’re on vacation. Jason suggested that this was the root cause to the battery warping. He said it’s like a car battery, that it has to be exercised to stay healthy.

Jason said most MacBook batteries last only 1.5 to 2 years anyway even if they are discharged regularly. Ken made the best remark to him at this point – he said, “so if I had treated it as you suggest, discharging once a month, it would have lasted 1.5-2 years, but since I kept it plugged in all the time for 4.5 years it lasted a lot longer?” Jason didn’t have much of an answer to that.

Ken told Jason he also had an iMac desktop and was considering buying other Apple products and that several relatives and friends who were Apple experts told me the battery was defective and that Apple should replace it at no charge. I think Ken wore him down, because after 10 or 15 minutes of “discussion” at 7pm on Black Friday evening, Jason finally said he would make an exception for me and replace it at no charge, but this was a ONE-time exception. I love that one time exception line, don’t you?

On the one hand, Jason did seem to know what he’s talking about, I found an article in the Made by Monkeys blog over at ElectronicsWeekly.com where they explain how over charging can cause a battery to swell. If you can’t believe a blog called Made by Monkeys, who can you trust? On the other hand, I think Jason made the right decision replacing Ken’s battery for several reasons, one of which is that letting him leave with that battery would have been highly dangerous. The other side effect is that Ken is very likely to buy more Apple products in the future, and this good treatment certainly helped cement his view, so for the price of a $100 battery, it will pay off handsomely for Apple in the long run.

Rod’s Top 6 iOS tips

Rod Simmons goes through his list of tips and tricks for using iOS.

  • How to turn on read receipts
  • How to turn off Ask to Join Networks
  • Why he hates Photostream
  • Why reminders are awesome
  • Siri can remember items to lists (think groceries)
  • Private browsing on your phone – for Holiday shopping, not porn!

I’m with you on most of these Rod, but how could you dislike Photostream? I LOVE Photostream, for one reason. I take pictures with my iPhone and they’re automatically in my Aperture. No more import required, I LOVE it! On the read receipts, you may not want to turn that on if you’re dealing with people who have limited text messaging plans, wouldn’t that be a bad thing? I wish it worked the other way around, that I could choose to get read receipts not to send them. I like the private browsing tip – not because I actually worry about that (no one else uses my phone) but because it’s an awesome fast way to close all of my tabs! I’ll use it for that for sure. thanks Rod, these were great, I’ll definitely be playing with them.

ScreenSteps

I talked a long time about how my in-laws were up for Thanksgiving and how they brought their laptop up for the memory upgrade, but I also had another mission. I set up Merlee ages ago with automated backups with Time Machine. I think I mentioned how like Time Machine loves to do, it had quit running on her a while back but I’d gotten it back started again. I realized at that point that while Ken is RELIGIOUS about backing up his data files (they fit on a thumb drive), he could stand to have a full system backup too in case of a hard drive failure. I gave him a hard drive to use for this when he was up for Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t set it up for him because he has an iMac that’s at home in San Diego. So let’s all take a WILD guess on what I did? You can all say it with me, I made him a ScreenSteps tutorial! I know, it’s only like 3 steps to set up Time Machine, but I knew that if I handed him a lovely three page document with beautiful screenshots, annotated with numbered steps, big red arrows, and boxes around the important bits, the chances of a support call later would be minimized.

So even if you’re not an über geek, I’m SURE you help other people with their computing needs, do yourself a favor and put ScreenSteps or Clarify on your gift wish list for this year, and make yourself, and your friends an relatives happy! I put a link to Clarify in the Mac App Store in the shownotes, or you can check out ScreenSteps at ScreenSteps.com.

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Security Light

  • iTunes 10.5.1 released for Windows & Mac – addresses dangerous security flaw that affecting iTunes auto-update (does not appear to have been exploitable on Mac, but patched anyway) –http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5030
  • The Flashback Trojan continues to mutate and spread – to the point that it’s very hard to keep up with all the variants – if you use Safari, be sure you have “open Safe Files” turned off, and always be suspicious of installers opening when you didn’t expect them to. The real Flash updater will pop up, but if you right-click on it’s Dock icon and go to Options -> Show in Finder, it will be located in /Applications/Utilities.

I’ve also made a slight update to www.xkpasswd.net, adding presets for use with Apple IDs (Apple have very precise rules on passwords for Apple IDs), and for Windows NTLM passwords.

Main Topic – Bart’s Review of 1Password

What is 1Password?

    1Password logo

  • 1P is a password manager that will store passwords for you in an encrypted format, and will, with the help of DropBox, sync your encrypted passwords across multiple computers/devices.
  • 1P stores much more than just web passwords, it can store any kind of password, as well as software keys/license files, personal information like bank account numbers, social security numbers, membership details etc, as well as ‘secure notes’ which you can use to save anything (I use them to save the hardware and warranty details of all my devices, e.g. serial number, make, mode, refs to any support calls, and date of expiry of Apple care for the Macs, iPhones, and iPads that I look after for myself or family members)
  • There are versions of 1P for OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android
  • As well as being a stand-alone all on all those platforms, 1P also provide a number of Browser plugins that let you integrate your saved passwords with the main modern browsers (Safari, IE, Chrome, FireFox etc..)
  • If you sync your encrypted 1P data file via DropBox there is also a web-based interface to access your passwords (with your 1P password) directly from DropBox’s website – handy for when you’re away from your own devices
  • 1P can also generate passwords for you – helping you to use secure passwords and avoid re-use.
  • Price:
  • MAS – $24.99 till Nov 30 2011 (then back to regular $49.99)
  • Universal iOS app on App Store for $6.99 till 30 Nov (then back to regular price of $14.99)
  • Windows version available on website for $24.99 until 30 Nov (then back to $49.99) –https://agilebits.com/store
  • free read-only reader app for Android and Windows Phone on the relevant app stores

Some Background to my Review:

  • I am using only the OS X and iOS versions
  • I am NOT using the browser plugins, I am instead using the stand-alone app, and using OS X’s keychain as a ‘cache’ of passwords, and only going to the 1P app when I change a password, or when I have a ‘cache miss’ – I decided against the browser plugins because I don’t want 1P to determine when I can update my browsers and what browsers I can use. I use a lot of SSBs, and I change around between browsers a lot, so the idea of plugins scares me.
  • I am coming from the stand-alone app Password Vault from Lava Software, so I have kept my workflow the same as before, but just changed app
  • I wanted a good standalone app because I manage MUCH more passwords than just web passwords (~50% web I estimate), so I dismissed LastPass very quickly

The Good:

  • The app seems to be designed around sound cryptography –http://help.agilebits.com/1Password3/agile_keychain_design.html
  • OS X app is native Cocoa – feels like a Mac app, and behaves as expected
  • Very good first-run instructions – no ‘scary’ blank screens, but helpful illustrated instructions instead
  • A good range of templates for capturing the relevant data for your non-web passwords
  • Because it uses DropBox for sync, and DropBox has good Proxy support, so does 1P
  • As you change your passwords, a history is maintained by 1P, so you can see both your current and old passwords
  • You can get a universal iOS app
  • Support for importing from many other password apps, and in many formats (though not from PasswordVault)
  • When you can access customer support, it’s superb. Friendly, helpful, and well informed, but, at times, particularly when the app is on special, support can be totally and utterly overwhelmed, and when that happens they do things like remove the email address from their website and tell you to use their forums which I absolutely HATE. These kind of poor experiences may become a thing of the past as Agile are moving to a new support system –http://support.agilebits.com/
  • Support for tagging and smart folders, as well as plain old manually created groupings in folders – makes organisation easy (on the Mac version, NOT true on iOS version)
  • Searching on OS X app works very well (NOT true on iOS version)
  • Built-in automatic encrypted backups made for you – so even if a sync bug should break everything, you are not lost
  • MAS version already sandboxed, so no fear of a loss of functionality in March 2012 when sandboxing becomes mandatory in the MAS

The Bad:

  • Early on there seemed to be some bugs with the MAS version that mucked up my syncing – I ended up with two out of sync data files, neither of which were complete. It was a total mess, but, with the help of support everything was fixed. I also had a sync problem on iOS, but that was very easily fixed by turning sync off and then on again. *touch wood* I have not had any sync problems in a long time now, and things seem to be stable. As sync is so vital, I found these sync bugs extremely worrying, especially because I had ZERO sync bugs after YEARS of using PasswordVault.
  • Although there are a lot of templates, and they are very good, you can’t make your own, or edit existing ones, and they are both incomplete, and US-centric to the a fault.
  • Smart folders have limitations – have had funny behaviours when syncing between Macs (though seems to have settled down), and they do not work on the iOS or DropBox web versions at all
  • iOS version leaves a lot to be desired:
  • COMPLETELY different interface on iPhone and iPad – basically two totally different apps wrapped into one with an if statement to decide which to launch. No consistency at all, not even of design philoshopy or security architecture.
  • The iPhone version FORCES you to use a stupid PIN AS WELL AS your master password, iPad version does not do that, and is consistent with the OS X version when it comes to the security model
  • No easy lock button to protect your data on either iOS device, you have to set it to time out REALLY fast, or accept insecurity. If you set it to time out fast, multi-tasking over and back to it becomes a MASSIVE pain. Need to round-trip twice, once to get username, then again to get password, so instant lock means passcode twice. I settled for 1min timeout as reasonable compromise, but a longer timeout and a manual lock button would be significantly more usable.
  • No global search on either iOS device, you need to repeat your search in each category until you find what you are looking for – made infinitely worse by the lack of smart folders.
  • The iOS versions are great for getting you out of a bind, and it’s very handy to have all your passwords in your pocket for when you need to log into something on someone else’s computer, but they are in need of a MAJOR overhaul in the next release!

Over-all conclusions:

  • Compared to PasswordVault 1Password is a HUGE upgrade – much easier to use, much nicer interface, and a much more powerful app all round
  • I’m very happy with the OS X version, and all I really need from it in future versions is customisable templates
  • The iOS versions of the app are functional and usable, but lacking in features and somewhat deficient when it comes to usability
  • At the sale price, I think the 1Password suite is good value for money, at the full price I think it’s a little overpriced
  • Screencasts Online video tutorial on 1P 3.9: http://www.screencastsonline.com/tutorials_files/SCO0314-1password.php

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.

2 thoughts on “#341 NosillaCastaways Party at Macworld | iWorld, Jot Pro Stylus, Swollen Battery, Top 6 iOS Tips, 1Password

  1. George from Tulsa - November 27, 2011

    For years I have been using

    PASSWORD WALLET

    It is a cross platform password program that will generate passcodes, with one click launch websites and position the cursor in the appropriate field then, with one click, enter the user id and passcode.

    On those sites which have questions? I store those as though they were passcodes, one click to enter, never forget.

    The program is small. Its data files are small. On a Mac, the program can either be opened automatically from the Keychain, or require a user typed passcode. “BlowFish encryption algorithm with 448-bit keys.”

    I carry a copy of mine on a USB stick, so I always have it with me, though the data file can, because it is encrypted, be stored on Dropbox, etc.

    Me? Even with encryption, I don’t want to put my passwords on the net, except to enter them on secure sites. Thank you very much.

    Password Wallet works across many platforms, and is worth a look!

    http://www.selznick.com/products/passwordwallet/index.htm

  2. Tom Payne - December 7, 2011

    There is a ” lock now” option for 1Password on the iPhone.
    Go to setting, security, wal la LOCK NOW.

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