7 year anniversary of the NosillaCast (listen to the first show here). Leon Walsh (aka @leonwalsh) reviews the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive. I review the free and Open Source Seashore Photo Editor from seashore.sourceforge.net. Bluemango Learning hosts a free webinar on Evernote + Clarify on May 16th at 12pm PST at bluemangolearning.com/clarify-and-evernote/. In Dumb Question Corner Katie floyd asks for a way to have real time notes taken during her user group meetings. Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast from otakunopodcast.com reviews the Dry Case Water-proof Case for Tablets. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Don McAllister of Screencasts Online tells us about all the new cool stuff he’s doing with the show, developing apps for his tutorials and more.
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 May 13th, 2012 and this is show number 366. Would you believe today is the 7 year anniversary of the NosillaCast? Yup, May 13, 2005 the inaugural episode debut. You can even go back and listen to that original show – it was 9 minutes and 37 seconds long! I think my intro each week is that long now, isn’t it? I have to dedicate every anniversary show to a guy named Neil down in Florida. We have to thank Neil because after doing four episodes, I did what many people do – I podfaded. But then I got an email from Neil asking, “where’s the podcast?” and that’s when I realized someone was actually listening, and got addicted to creating the show. So thanks Neil, your tiny little push helped make all of this possible.
Well it’s also Mother’s Day, so happy Mother’s day to all the great moms and grandmas and great grandmas out there. Steve gave me an audio file from a listener – he won’t tell me who it’s from, and he won’t tell me what it’s about and he wouldn’t let me take a sneak listen, so let’s play it and you’ll find out along with me what this is all about:
I’m thinking I might need to have someone make me a jingle for the part of the show where I confess my goof ups. In any case, Kevin Barry wrote in with a gentle correction to last week’s show – When I was talking about the need for a simultaneous dual-band router, I said that the iPhones and iPads could only work on the 2.4GHz band. He said that the iPhones can only do 2.4, but that the iPads support 5GHz. I was pretty sure he was wrong because I’d converted all my devices over to the new router, and I was sure the iPad only showed the 2.4GHz band. I whipped open my iPad, and sure enough, it only saw 2.4. I put down the iPad and penned a polite letter back telling him that my new iPad certainly only saw 2.4 and asking for his source of this information. After I hit send, I glanced back at my iPad which was still on, and darn it if it wasn’t showing the 5GHz band now too! So my excuse is that the iPad takes a while to recognize the higher frequency band for some reason, so if you’re doing this at your house then be sure to be patient. And thanks Barry for the correction!
oh maybe I should just call this section “feedback? instead of mistakes corrected? Donald Burr wrote a comment on the blog in response to my answer to Caleb about how Text Edit would quit on him if he flipped away from it without an open document. Here’s what he wrote:
You guys must have missed the post that I did on the original episode where Caleb talked about his TextEdit quitting problem. In that episode Allison said that this was not due to a new feature of Lion. In fact, she was wrong. Lion has a new “auto quit” feature whereby If an app has no active windows, and you switch away from it, Lion reserves the right to auto-quit it, ostensibly to free up memory/system resources.
Here’s a TidBITS article on the subject: tidbits.com/article/12398
I personally like this feature, because if an app doesn’t have any documents open, and it’s not my current app, I’m not using it. So it keeps my Dock and Command-Tab app switcher nice and clean. People are all up in arms about this feature because it makes them go through the trouble of relaunching apps. Well how hard is that? Either just click its icon, or use LaunchBar/Alfred/whatever to reluanch it, easy peasy. But if it does disturb you, there is a way to disable it; the info is in the Tidbits article I linked to above.
Leon Walsh on the Seagate Momentus XT
A gentleman named Leon Walsh and I have talked through email since 2009, and we had the pleasure of meeting him in England during the Liverpool Tweetup that Don McAllister arranged for us. But in all these years, he’s never sent in a review before. I think you’ll agree that he should have done one sooner and he’d better do more!
So lets start in tradition; What is the problem to be solved ?
I have a late 2010 MacBook Pro 2.53Ghz Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and the stock 500gb 5400rpm hard disk. Having upgraded the RAM from 4GB to 8GB to try and increase the speed of day to day tasks, as I was finding that boot times were slow, it took for ever loading heavy applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Parallels and iPhoto; I am defining iPhoto as a heavy app mainly because of the 40,000 photo’s I had stored in the library and it took forever to do anything.
I was toying around with the idea of buying an SSD drive, but if I match the capacity of my internal drive would have cost a kings ransom and I don’t think that a 7200rpm drive on it’s own would have made that much difference from the stock hard drive that Apple supplied from what I had researched.
In steps the Seagate Momentus XT which is essentially a hard drive with an extra large cache for storing the most commonly used tasks in Flash memory to speed up access times.
Just to get the basics out of the way, the New Momentus is only available as 750GB, 2.5-inch drive. The previous generation was available in a few models, the most popular of which was 500GB. The new model has 8GB of single-level cell flash increased from 4GB of the previous generation, a 6Gb/s interface, and a rotational speed of 7200RPM.
I used Carbon Copy Cloaner to copy all my data via a USB caddy to my new drive before opening the Mac up and doing the swap.
The difference is awesome, I have gone from having to wait over two and a half minutes for my machine to boot to the desktop to under 50 seconds with the Momentus XT, I used to have to wait over 2 mins for Parallels to come out of hibernation and now takes under 15 seconds.
I am blown away with two things, first is the speed of this drive and the other is the price. Compared to a 512GB SSD which would have set me back around £460.00 which is around $740.00 from Crucial, I paid £120.00 ($200 US) for a 750GB drive. I would recommend that anyone wanting to inject some speed in to their Mac go out and buy one of these drives.
Anyway, this is my review of this truly awesome device, keep up the good work Alison and hope to meet up again when your next in the UK.
Thanks Leon Walsh aka @leonwalsh
Thanks Leon – you should have started doing reviews AGES ago! You have a fabulous voice and your material is great! I put a link in the shownotes to my Amazon Affiliate link to the Seagate Momentous XT – it’s only $144 US on Amazon. That’s insanely inexpensive for huge storage plus a speed boost from the hybrid use of a small SSD. Fantastic way to breath life into an old OR new machine.
Seashore Photo Editor Review
My buddy Niraj sent me a link to 30 Great Mac Open Source applications over at mac.appstorm.net and I was really excited to find some new stuff to review. Here’s the sad news – I knew about 29 of them already but there was one jewel there I had never seen before. Let’s see if we can come up with a problem to be solved first, shall we?
We could start with either you’re broke or cheap or simply like getting a good deal, either way. You want to do some photo editing on your Mac, but you aren’t really any kind of high-end photographer, but you want to do a little gaussian blur her, and perhaps clone out a facial blemish there. You don’t need $600 Photoshop, and while Photoshop Elements is pretty affordable, that’s still overkill for what you need. You could go for Acorn for $50 or Pixelmator for $30 which are both fantastic image editors, but still too rich for your blood. The only place left is free, so you’re probably thinking I’m going to suggest the GIMP, an open source image editor, but I’m not.
I want to like the GIMP, I truly do, but every time I use it I hate it more. All these floating palettes, and non-standard windowing and janky tools – I truly do dislike it. I’ll never forget the time I needed to create a 1024×768 black rectangle and it took me well over an hour to pull it off using the GIMP. So not the GIMP, but still free – enter Seashore from seashore.sourceforge.net. It’s an open source project based around the GIMP’s technology and uses the same native file format, but you’d never recognize it as even being a distant cousin. Seashore is written in Mac OSX’s Cocoa Framework so it’s beautiful like a Mac app should be. If you want to download a comparison chart showing Seashore vs. the GIMP as well as Acorn, Pixelmator and Photoshop and Elements, there’s a link in the shownotes to a PDF showing all the features across all the products.
One of the things that drives me the most bonkers about the GIMP is that it has every single menu as a different floating window. I’m constantly moving them out of my way when I’m working and then trying to find them again when I need them. Seashore is much more civilized, it’s all one interface with the menus and palettes as part of the same window.
I like the simplicity too of Seashore – it has a row of very obvious buttons across the top. For selection tools you’ve got a rectangle and circle select, a loose lasso, a rectangular lasso and a magic wand. For drawing type tools there’s a pencil, paintbrush, text tool, eraser, paint brush and gradient tool. Then some nice effects tools like a blurred mouse cursor that allows you access to all kinds of blurs and bumps and other special effects. My favorite tool is the clone stamp tool – perfect for removing blemishes or that weird guy standing in the background of your otherwise lovely photo. The last four buttons are the eye dropper, a knife for cropping, zoom tool and the move tool. There aren’t any tool tips to tell you what each tool does, but when you click on them there’s a line below the tools telling you what to do to use the tool you’ve chosen.
Seashore supports layers, including different types like multiply, screen, dodge and burn. Overall Seashore isn’t the best image editor out there, it won’t make you give up Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and it’s not as pretty as Acorn or Pixelmator, but it beats the heck out of the GIMP and yet it’s still free. Having listened to last weeks’ show with all the listener contributions, I now know what it’s like for you guys where every show costs you money, so the good news is this one is free! Check out Seashore from seashore.sourceforge.net.
You all know that Clarify from Bluemango Learning is one of my favorite applications for writing out quick explanations of how to do something on the computer or to point out a bug to a software developer. Recently Bluemango Learning teamed up with the folks over at Evernote so now you can drop your Clarify documents straight into Evernote. Just back in January Antony Horner from the UK sent over a note saying he’d started hand importing his Clarify documents into Evernote, but now he can do this with the click of a button in Clarify.
This week on May 16 at 12pm PDT, internationally-recognized productivity expert and Evernote Productivity Ambassador Joshua Zerkel, CPO® of Custom Living Solutions will walk you through why creating procedures are so important, and easy ways for you to get started. He’ll also show you how to use Evernote and Clarify to easily document and centralize your processes and procedures so you can easily find your next steps at a moment’s notice!
There’s a signup link in the shownotes (bluemangolearning.com/clarify-and-evernote/ for the free webinar. I signed up right away because I knew this would be really cool. Go check it out!
Dumb Question Corner
Katie Floyd, host of the Mac Power Users podcast with David Sparks sent in a terrific Dumb Question. She was also very patient waiting for an answer – I left her hanging for nearly three weeks!
The problem to be solved: I run my local Mac users group meetings and there is a good portion of the meeting this free-form question-and-answer where anything goes. I’ll get a variety of questions and may provide a number of different links and resources off-the-cuff in the course of the meeting. I’m so busy running the meeting, that I don’t have time to take notes and later post these links for future follow-up. I noticed that many of our members are feverishly taking notes during the meeting but sometimes will email me later for something they missed and of course by that time I’ve forgotten what I offered.
What I’m looking for is some kind of system where volunteers can take public notes during the course of the meeting about topics that were discussed with links to the various resources that can be posted after the meeting on our website. I’m thinking perhaps the form for this would be a wiki. I know you’re a big fan of wikis you so I thought I would ask you for help and suggestions.
Here are the requirements: it has to be easy. Most of our users are novice and if I’m going to ask for volunteers to keep notes in this mechanism then I need to be user friendly. I need some kind of control mechanism to keep out spam another nasty things. Also preferably it would be nice if I could find a service is hosted by someone else and then just to be linked to or embedded in our site since our website is hosted for free by a local company and I don’t want to bother them by asking them to set up fancy SQL databases and things that sort.
We are a nonprofit organization so if possible if service that has a free basic component or a low-cost component for nonprofits would be ideal. So, is a wiki what I need? Do you have any ideas on how I can get started?
First of all Katie, I love that you run the local Mac users group. The things you do for them are amazing, can’t believe how much work you do! I wish I lived close enough to go, I bet ti’s a blast.
You bring up an interesting question, and I know exactly what I’d do. I would use a variant of the open source tool EtherPad. I once interviewed the CEO of Appjet, maker of Etherpad before they got bought by Google, added to Wave, and then got sprinkled to the winds when Wave turned into a big fail. He told me about an interesting use of Etherpad, but before I explain it, let me tell the audience exactly what Etherpad does. I know you’re familiar with it but bear with me.
Etherpad is an editable web page, where multiple people can be on the same page editing at the same time. The left column is for free form text with very little options for formatting – bold, underline and a few bullet options are all you get. I actually encouraged the CEO to keep it that way and not allow feature creep! On the top of the right side is a listing of all the connected users, all with a different color so you can tell who’s writing (you enter your own name for the other writers). Below that is a chat area so people can converse outside of the text they’re building together.
There’s a really clever feature to Etherpad where you can actually play the page on a timeline watching how the text was created, rolling it forward and back. You can take snapshots at different times saving versions in case it gets botched up later. You can export this text when you’re done to plain text, html, a bookmark file, Word, PDF or even the Open Document Format.
So now back to the use case the CEO of Appjet told me about. He said that Universities were using it to take class notes. He explained that they would allow a few designated people to be official note takers in the class, and those people would write together in the text area. All other people in the class were allowed to access the Etherpad page, but they were only to make comments in the chat area if they felt some material had been missed. Through this process, an accurate note set was created for all members of the class.
Now let’s picture these people who furiously take notes during your user group meeting, I bet some of them are the type of people who would love to be designated notes takers. If a few people (or even everyone if your user group isn’t huge) worked together on one set of combined notes, everyone’s workload would go down and the quality of the notes would go up. People could even type in the chat, “what did she say?”
When the user group meeting is over, you could simply export to html, and plop those notes right into the web page for the user group for all to read and access later.
There are a lot of variants out there of Etherpad, but some don’t seem entirely stable. As you know we use Etherpad to take the shownotes for the Mac Roundtable this way, and we’ve lately had a lot of trouble with PiratePad, but had good success with TitanPad. All of the Etherpad variants are free, and all you have to do to create a page is go to titanpad.com, and click the big button that says Create Public Pad. If you want a memorable url, you can type in titanpad.com/usergroupmay2012 or something like that and as long as it isn’t already taken you have a unique url.
I think this method will be much easier for your audience to use (you just type!) and is easier to export, and will provide you with great notes for everyone. Hope that helps.
Donald Burr on the DryCase for Tablets
That’s cool, Donald – it was Rod Simmons who did the review of the Dry Case for phones last summer and I ran out and bought one right away. I used it on our vacation in Mammoth, actually taking pictures in the pool! The only thing I couldn’t get it to do was start a video while underwater. I could start the video above water and it would continue while I was underwater but somehow actually tapping the buttons while submerged was a bit problematic. Having a DryCase for a whole tablet would be very cool! By the way, I just listened to Jolie Mason on the Tech Doctor podcast (FABULOUS episode by the way) who explained that she puts her iPhone in a ziplock while cooking. Looks like this is an even better solution for someone who flops food all over the kitchen!
Chit Chat Across the Pond
In this week’s episode I interview Don McAllister, creator of the Screencasts Online tutorial podcast hosted at screencastsonline.com
SCO is a subscription service, how does that work?
Members signup for a monthly, quarterly of annual payment and then receive a regular Mac or iOS tutorial every week. Or both! Plus access to the entire catalogue of back episodes – over 350 now.
What’s the difference between sponsored and regular shows?
Don’t do that many sponsored shows now. Usually done independently from the vendor. Might get a list of things they’d like to be brought out in the show. Once completed, they get the rights to distributed or repackage the show for their own use. Sometimes, I’ll include the work to rebrand a sponsored show.
What kind of apps do you teach?
Everything and anything – tend to not cover Pro level apps in depth. But may touch on them to give people exposure or just enough to get started.
Apple Apps, 3rd Party apps, OSX, iOS even hardware related – basically anything that might interest the ScreenCastsOnline audience. Try to keep it mixed and varied. Also try to keep it up to date with new developments as they happen.
How do you decide which apps to do?
What ever takes my fancy that week. I do have many suggestions but it has to be something I’m interested in. Need to keep up the enthusiasm and want to make a show – it’s a ton of work so I have to know I’m going to enjoy it and also know the audience will enjoy it or get benefit from it.
How do you learn those apps?
They are mostly apps I’ve got some experience with. I’m fortunate in that I can seem to explore and assimilate most of the features of a new app pretty quickly. You have a different take on an app when you know you need to demo it to others. You looks harder are try and explorer deeper than you might normally. I have to make sure I cover all the bases.
Added iOS track – nearly twice the work but I’m getting smarter in pre and post production – Switching to ScreenFlow as my main tool has helped plus automating Handbrake.
Felt that iOS was an important area to cover, especially as more sophisticated iOS apps become available.
SCOTutor – Mac and iOS
Explain and what’s fun about it?
Standalone video tutorial apps for both Mac and iOS – aimed at both beginners and larger topics. Not everyone wants a membership plus it’s a good way of bringing in new members.
Interesting to see the other side of App development
Closed captioning – what motivated you, how do you actually DO it?
Just felt it was the right thing to do, although a major PITA and a bigger spanner in the weekly production process. Can finish a show until the subs are finished.
Get audio professionally transcribed, some text manipulation and then import movie and text file into MovieCaptioner. Then sync the individual lines of text with the audio. Export to SRT file and embed with Quicktime movies.
Links that Don mentioned during the interview:
iOS Developer who created Don’s SCOtutor Apps: Simon Wolf – ottersoftware.com
Designer of the new Screencasts Online Website: Jamie Peak – jamiepeak.co.uk
ScreenFlow – telestream.net/screen-flow
Don on Twitter – twitter.com/donmcallister
ScreenCastsOnline – screencastsonline.com
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of ScreenSteps and Clarify. 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 @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.