#393 Sydney antics and meetup, Dashboard widgets, travelling iPhones, DropBox for community organisations and podcasting and writing from Australia

This week Allister Jenks from New Zealand stands in for Allison. Allister tells the tale of podfeet encounters in Sydney and talk about travelling with an iPhone 5. Kirschen Seah reviews some OS X Dashboard widgets. Trevor Drover describes how to set up an operate a DropBox account for a community organisation. Bart does Security Light before Mark Greentree joins Allister to talk about how he got into writing and podcasting on Chit Chat Across the Pond.

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Hi this is Allister Jenks standing in for Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias, and today, an EVER so slight down under flavour. Today is arguably Sunday November 18, 2012 and this is definitely show number 393.

On this week’s show I’m going to tell you what Allison and Steve got up to in Sydney before their cruise, Kirschen Seah reviews a couple of Dashboard widgets, I’ll give you a few observations on traveling with an iPhone 5, Trevor Drover explains how to use DropBox for a community organisation, Bart drops by with Security Lite and then on CCATP we’ll hear from Mark Greentree about his work as a writer and podcaster in Australia.

So let’s start the show.

Sydney antics

You all probably know that Allison and Steve are currently on the Mac Mania 15 cruise in the south Pacific. You may also know the cruise began in Sydney, Australia. And if your geography is good, you’ll know that New Zealand is not very far away from Sydney (in fact just over 3 hours’ flying time). Well I decided to take advantage of this proximity to finally meet Allison and Steve in person, in Sydney on November 6th.

I arrived in Sydney a day early and set about finding my bearings and fitting in a couple of activities I wanted to do. I found the Apple Store on George Street in central Sydney – the first Apple Store I’ve ever been to. I took a boat ride to the Zoo and I wandered around Circular Quay – the hub of Sydney’s waterfront. All of this would stand me in good stead for the day that followed.

After a little personal shopping (yes, including at the Apple Store), I met Steve and Allison at their hotel around 11am. It was really great to finally meet the famous couple. Like a true gaggle of geeks, we wandered down to the iconic Sydney opera house with two DSLRs, a camcorder, three iPhones and at least one iPad between us. After taking some photographs around the Opera House we grabbed a bite to eat in a local cafe. Not just any cafe, but one that wasn’t full of people dressed up rather too much for a typical Tuesday – it happened to also be Melbourne Cup Day. This would prove troublesome later in the day, too.

After lunch, Steve tried to convince me to do “the bridge walk”. This involves putting on a boilersuit – in 26 degree celsius heat (about 79 degrees Fahrenheit) – and leaving your camera behind while you walk up one of the main arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I didn’t think I’d cope with the heat and the idea of leaving my camera behind seemed so wrong. Instead we decided to climb up in one of the big bridge pylons for an easier view.

Using my fantastic local knowledge we proceeded to the bottom of the pylon, only to be told we needed to be at road level. Oops. We wandered through the streets of the area of Sydney known as ‘The Rocks’ and chanced upon a visitor information centre, from where we got directions. Having finally found our way onto the bridge path, we were all rather surprised to hear someone calling Allison’s name!

On turning around, who should we see but Leo Laporte, with his girlfriend Lisa and her son. The six of us climbed the pylon to take in the amazing views. We even got to see a party of climbers ascending the bridge arch – or as Steve called them, the chain gang. Camcorders, DSLRs and iPhones (and Leo’s Galaxy) got a good workout up there.

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After descending, we found our way back to the centre of the city and Leo and party went their own way. I had suggested a boat ride was in order and, having used the Captain Cook Cruises “Hop on, hop off” ferry the day before, I confidently declared it was the best option. I relayed the first words I had heard the day before on the PA system commentary: “This boat moves fast and stops fast, so if you’re standing up, hold on.” I also confidently declared to the camcorder-toting Steve that we wouldn’t get wet at the front of the boat.

OK, so it turns out the hour-long boat ride that goes beyond the zoo does go out into far more exposed water. It was windy, it was a little cold and we did get wet a few times. We even got told to sit down as we went far enough out to see the harbour entrance. It was a fun ride and all cameras and phones survived. Steve should have some great video footage.

Upon arriving back on shore we briefly visited the Apple Store before Steve and Allison had to go and prepare for an official cruise cocktail party. Later, we would meet again at the meetup. We’ll pick up with that story later on.

Next up, longtime NosillaCastaway Kirschen Seah from freerangecoder.com reviews a couple of Dashboard widgets for us.

Dashboard widget reviews (by Kirschen Seah)

Hello fellow NosillaCastaways, this is Kirschen Seah from freerangecoder.com. Got a couple of reviews of dashboard widgets, of all things! The first widget is called Maintidget and the problem to be solved is you’d like to know when the last time it was that OS X ran the daily, weekly, and monthly scripts. Now you could always launch Onyx or something similar and that would tell you when those scripts were run. But if you really need to see those dates quickly, all you need to do is to install Maintidget and press the F12 key to launch the dashboard, and it will show you two things: it will show you when those scheduled maintenance scripts were last run and on top of that it lets you run those scripts. The widget is available at: www.giantmike.com/widgets/Maintidget.html.

And the second one is one of my favourites – it’s called Delivery Status and it comes from a company called Junecloud. If you’re buying lots of things say from Amazon, you typically get this package tracking number. Now Delivery Status knows about several package delivery services and is able to query their websites to figure out when your package is due to arrive. And the best part – it syncs with your iOS devices if you run Delivery Status touch, that’s a $4.99 iOS application. And in order to get sync to go, you’ll have to register on Junecloud’s website first.

And all you need to do is either enter the package tracking numbers on your Mac or iPhone or iPad (it’s a universal app, which is nice), and both computers will sync with each other.

Now if only the delivery drivers had GPS receivers which transmitted their location – you’ll know when that iPhone 5 will be arriving.

You can get Delivery Status widget from: junecloud.com/software/mac/delivery-status.html.

Both Maintidget and Delivery Status cost nothing, and the registration on Junecloud’s website to sync your deliveries also costs nothing.

Once again, this is Kirschen Seah from freerangecoder.com and I’ll see you in the bitstream.

Thanks Kirschen. We don’t hear a lot about Dashboard widgets these days, but there are still some useful ones out there.

Travelling with an iPhone 5

One of the things I noticed in Sydney was the overwhelming number of iPhones. I honestly think I saw about a dozen Samsungs and similar versus a hundred iPhones. Of course, all the phones I saw were in view and being used, mostly in the familiar one-handed ‘communication on the run’ pose.

I added to this by frequently whipping out my brand new iPhone 5 – I received it a week before I flew to Sydney – to use for a mixture of Maps, photos, video, Twitter and email. Plus a little iMessage when I was planning where and when to meet Steve and Allison.

Before I travelled, I had asked about local SIM cards and had even gone so far as talking to Telstra, one of the large mobile providers, about data costs. I’m glad I couldn’t find their presence at the airport and instead opted for the friendly Optus folks. For the princely sum of AUD$12 I got unlimited calls, texts (including international) and data. The only catch is this would only last for five days. No problem, as I was only there for three. Having unlimited may not be so strange to some in Europe and North America, but it’s unheard of in New Zealand. It was great to be able to just use the phone as Apple intended without having to worry how much data I was consuming. And use it I did.

In Maps I had bookmarked my and the Sheridans’ hotels and the pub where the meetup would be. I also used Maps to find the approximate location of the Apple Store – though that expanse of glass was visible a couple of blocks away – and the zoo.

I took many opportunistic photos with the iPhone because I was able to whip it out of my pocket, hit the home button and swipe up to start the camera app. This was consistently fast and the greatest problem I had was seeing the screen through my sunglasses – especially in portrait orientation. I wonder if I need circularly polarised sunglasses?

One thing I was very glad to have with me was my HyperJuice Mini 7200mAh battery pack. By the time mid afternoon rolled around I was usually worrying about a low battery. Not that it was about to run out, but when it gets below 30% and there are still hours left in the day, I start to get antsy. On a couple of occasions I could be seen walking around with a familiar white cable exiting my backpack and going into my trouser pocket. I’m not sure what people around me thought, but it was peace of mind for me. The HyperJuice Mini holds enough charge to fully charge an iPhone 4 six times, so on a 3 day trip I didn’t even bother topping off the battery in the hotel.

One thing I hoped to find in Sydney was ‘just the right case’ for my new iPhone 5. Cases are an intensely personal choice and I was quite fond of my iPhone 4-sized iSkin Solo. But just as in New Zealand, iPhone 5 cases were thin on the ground. At least in the obvious places like the Apple Store, major electronics retailers and mobile carriers. I eventually found an ‘easy to put on and take off’, somewhat flexible and somewhat grippy case in, of all places, a small tourist souvenir shop down at Circular Quay. They had the biggest range I’ve seen anywhere and I picked one up for a tidy AUD$14. I’ll still look out for the perfect case, but this will tide me over nicely.

Next up, Trevor Drover, who I met in Sydney but who hails from Canberra, offers us some tips on using DropBox in a way you might not have thought of.

DropBox for community organisations (by Trevor Drover)

Goodday Allister and NosillaCasterways, Trevor in Canberra here. It was really great meeting up with yourself, Allison and Steve, the incredible Oz Rose, Douggyi, Steve, the loverly Jean McDonald from Smile and the charming Don McAllister in Sydney recently, prior to the MacMania cruise. Oh, there was another guy there called Leo Laport, but he was caught up in a vortex of his own admirers!

My problem to be solved was setting up a Dropbox to be shared by committee members of a community organisation. I tested the concept by sharing one of the folders in my personal Dropbox account and that seemed to work, but recognising that I would not be on the committee long term, sought another solution that did not involve me maintaining the committee files permanently. There is a paid version of Dropbox for teams but that seemed way out of our price range.

Dropbox only allows you to be connected to one account and in fact makes it difficult to even try and setup another account on the same computer after you have setup your own personal Dropbox account. To get around this I created a new user account on my Mac from where I firstly created a new Gmail email account in the organisations name so that I could verify my credentials with Dropbox, then went through the simple setup for the Dropbox account. As most of your would know, both of those are easy to accomplish.

The tricky part was how to provide access to add and remove contributors to the shared folders within the community organisation’s Dropbox if it is not installed on anyone’s computer. The solution was to do it via a web browser as users will be aware that you can log into your web based Dropbox account from any computer if you know the user name and password. You can also do it from your own Mac even with Dropbox installed.

Firstly you “Launch Dropbox Website” from the Dropbox icon on your menu bar. Then you “Sign Out” of your account and then “Sign in” again using the user name and password of your organisation. Sharing the folders is done in exactly the same way as you would do it on your personal Dropbox account.

When you have finished then you “Sign Out” then “Sign In” again using your own user name and password.

With the shared folders resident in the personal Dropbox on each committee members computer it now becomes easy to make documents available to all members who have access to those shared folders.

I had created a set of instructions for my community organisation; one for the administrator which included the logon details and passwords, and one for the committee members who may not have had previous experience with Dropbox using of course – ScreenSteps. Then in my regular session at my local ACT Apple User Group meeting some members expressed interest in using the Dropbox process for other organisations they are affiliated with. So I have adapted and expanded my instructions to include the setup process as well as the maintenance process. The links to the instructions will be in the show notes. TTFN

Well thanks for that Trevor. It’s always interesting to find out how people use familiar products and services in different ways. I’m sure more than a few listeners will relate to your situation.

OK, it’s back to Sydney for the final time for a quick recap of the ‘official’  meetup.

Sydney meetup

On the night of November 6th, amidst countless Melbourne Cup celebrations, local podcaster and blogger Peter Wells of MacTalk had arranged a meetup at Harts Pub in Sydney. Leo Laporte, Don McAllister and Allison were billed as the guests of honour. Although a courtyard had been booked, the wind got pretty serious that evening and so probably close to a hundred Mac faithful squeezed in to various parts of the pub alongside the Melbourne Cup celebrators. Seriously, for a 3 minute horse race, they sure make a day and night of it!

As meetups go, it was predictably noisy and in this case packed. I spent some time braving the wind in the courtyard before giving in to the inevitable and entering the crush. Leo had arrived and could be found quite simply by looking for the densest part of the room as many flocked around him. I found Allison and Steve but before joining them made a beeline for Don McAllister. A good old chat ensued and Wally Cherwinski joined in for a time. Next I spotted Jean MacDonald from Smile Software. I introduced myself and was a little surprised she knew who I was. It turns out Jean is planning on coming to New Zealand sometime soon so there was much to talk about. I finally joined Allison and Steve at a table along with Rose Matthews (aka @OzRose), Doug Ingram (aka @douggyi), Trevor Drover (aka @TrevInCanberra), Steven Sommer (aka @stevensommer) and Alex. I’ll also give a shout out to Shaun the oven installer, Rick the teacher, Tony the musician and Kim and Joanne.

I met so many wonderful and personable people that night, and it was worth the crush and the noise to be there. We Apple geeks are a wonderful bunch.

Next up, Bart stops by for Security Lite. Take it away Bart.

Security Lite

Important Security Updates:

Important Security News:
Intersrting Security Links:
Well thank you very much, Bart, for dropping by with that bumper edition of Security Lite – and I’ll tell you a secret: if you hadn’t put the jingle in, I would have!
Disclaimer: We had some serious technical issues with Skype while recording CCATP, so apologies for some of the sound quality.

Chit Chat Across the Pond (With Mark Greentree)

  • Podcasting for fun
    • A show with 3-5 international guests on a variety of tech topics
    • TimeAndDate.com for booking shows across timezones
    • Managing guests – how many is too many?
  • Mark is a co-host of The Geekiest Show Everpodcast
    • Do not listen with kids present – the explicit tag is there and has been necessary on occasion!
    • Mark and Kevin Allder geek out and talk about whatever takes their fancy and generally act like goofballs
    • Just two like-minded geeks having a no rules chat

About Mark Greentree:

1 thought on “#393 Sydney antics and meetup, Dashboard widgets, travelling iPhones, DropBox for community organisations and podcasting and writing from Australia

  1. Donald Burr - November 18, 2012

    Delivery Status is awesome. One neat feature of the mobile app is that you can use the camera to scan barcodes with tracking numbers in them. Useful when you yourself are shipping out a package and want to ensure that it gets to its intended destination; simply scan the barcode when the UPS guy or whoever prints out the label and slaps it on your package. In the “tracking no.” input box, you will see a little camera icon button to the right; tap it and point your camera at the barcode and boom, it’s entered.

    FYI most package deliver drivers DO carry GPS’s these days; that’s how the central dispatch centers track them to make sure they don’t slip off for a drink somewhere and try charging that to company time, etc. Unfortunately (as of yet) there no way for us mere mortals to access this data 🙁

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