#394 MacMania 15, Bad Internets, Sydney Meetup, Windows 8, Knitting, Melissa Jenna from iFixit

We’re back from the MacMania cruise in Australia and New Caledonia, and I’m going to regale you with tales of bad Internets abroad and onboard, how much fun it was to meet friends of the show in Sydney, and how much fun taking classes from Sal Saghoian, Don McAllister, Wally Cherwinski and Leo LaPorte. In Chit Chat Across the Pond, we’re joined by Melissa Jenna, AKA MJ from iFixit.com to talk about product breakdowns and the ratings they give on repairability and recyclability.

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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 25, 2012 and this is show number 394. Well I can’t thank Bart and Allister enough for their fantastic work taking the helm on the show for the last two weeks. Imagine how much fun it was for Steve and me to sit cozy in our cabin on the Oosterdam and listen to Bart and Kevin then Allister and Mark Greentree in Chit Chat Across the Pond. Now I’m not sure how I feel about Bart introducing new music while I’m gone, I’ll have to think about that! Also thanks to the NosillaCastaways who stepped in to help out with recordings.

On Bart’s show, thanks to BJ with his Worms Revolution review, David with his dumb question about Scrivener and Java, Dorothy’s dumb question about upgrading your OS when you depend on plugins and Ian Douglas for his review of Palua. I’m betting that Summer’s heart went pitter pat about that one because she needs something just like this. It turns out there’s actually a bug in OSX that reverts your function buttons back to the default on reboot – if you don’t have a monitor plugged in! How crazy is that? Leave it to Summer, who happens to be blind, to uncover the weirdest bug. Palua letting you toggle that functionality is just what she needs.

Allison, Allister and Steve in front of the Sydney Opera house looking goofyOn Allister’s show, thanks to Kirschen for her review of Maintidget for keeping track of when the daily/weekly/monthly maintenance tasks have completed. I’ve actually wanted to know that often – it’s not that I don’t trust OSX but I just want to KNOW that they’ve been running. I installed this as soon as I got home and I love it! Delivery Status sounds cool too – just what I need is another way to know that I’m the last person on earth to get delivery of the new hotness! It was a blast meeting Trevor at the Sydney meetup, and very cool that he sent in the review of how you can use Dropbox for community organizations. I had never thought of using it for that.

Thank you so much for contributing content so Bart and Allister didn’t have to do so much work and the listeners got a high quality podcast! But before we stop with the love fest, we have a recording from Allister:

Hello Allison and NosillaCastways. Allister here, again, from New Zealand. It seems like only last week I was speaking to you all… OK, it was only last week. This is a message of thanks. A message of many thanks.

Thanks to you, Allison, for trusting me with your pride and joy, the NosillaCast, for a week. And thanks for everything the NosillaCast is – information, entertainment and, most of all, an amazing community.

Thanks to that community. For the encouragement, the support, the contributions, the feedback and, well, just being there.

Thanks especially to Bart. For putting me on the hook to do a show and then setting the bar high the previous week! For his technical assistance. For his contribution. And for being an enabler for all of this. It was many years ago I stumbled across one of Bart’s photos on a Google search, liked what I saw, and began exploring more. I found not only great photography but an entire community with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias.

Finally, thanks Allison and Steve for the opportunity to hang out with you for an all-too-brief time in Sydney. It was, with no exaggeration, the highlight of my year. That I got to meet a bunch of other great people, too, was the icing on the cake. And what icing! I’ve made some new friends.

You know, until recently, I always hesitated to use the word ‘friends’ when referring to people I know only online. After the experience of Sydney, and after thinking about our online community, I no longer have that hesitation.

Thank you all, friends.

I’m so glad Allister and Bart had fun (at least I think Bart had fun!) and it was a great treat for me and Steve to actually get to hang out for a whole day with Allister in person. So happy he made the trip out to meet us!

Sydney Meetup

Allister did a great job of giving you the flavor of the Sydney trip and meetup, what a great time it was to meet Allister in meat space after all these years. I loved the meetup – getting to meet Dough Ingraham (@douggyi) and Trevor Drover (aka trevincanberra in the live chat room and on twitter) was fantastic, Steven Sommer from Sydney was there too, and reuniting with Rose from Tasmania, aka @ozrose was delightful as always. I was touched that they all came from so far away (“a mere 3 hours” as Allister said) just to hang out with Steve and me. And Trevor, we drank the wine you gave us on the 2nd night and it was fantastic!

Mac Mania

MacMania itself is really cool. Imagine traveling for 2 weeks with about 70 people who all believe that it’s not only socially acceptable but EXPECTED to whip out your iPhone, iPad or Mac in the middle of cocktails? It was awesome. Sure you could talk about gardening or motorcycle riding here and there, but if you went on too long about it you’d be shunned.

The classes themselves might actually have been my favorite part of the trip. Getting to hear Don McAllister and Sal Soghoian and Wally Cherwinski teach is a real joy. Leo didn’t do many of the classes, and to be honest it was all stuff I knew already but he’s always entertaining. He did decide to do demos that used the Internet, which was an odd choice. Leo has been on these cruises and knows how bad the Internet is. Picture a satellite connection from the middle of the ocean, with 70 Mac Mania people trying to get on it all the time. Normal cruises it’s not too bad, but Mac Mania really puts a crimp on the speed. Pat Fouquet from Mac Mouse Calls who has been on a lot of these said that when they did the Rhone River cruise, the captain announced that after one day, the Mac Mania people had used up 100% of the Internet they’d purchased for the whole cruise! Needless to say Leo’s demos were all a bust.

I’ve talked about Don a zillion times and if you haven’t bought yourself a subscription to Screencasts Online yet, be sure to ask for it for Christmas. You may not have heard of Sal Saghoian though. He’s the product manager for AppleScript and Automator at Apple. He’s brilliant, funny, energetic and a spectacular teacher. He starts on a subject very slowly, repeating himself, going over things to make sure you’ve got it, then starts to accelerate like a great orchestral piece that starts out slowly and expands to blow your mind. His class on Automator was positively brilliant. Steve taped the whole thing, and with the exception of one part Sal asked us not to talk about, he gave Steve permission to post the video. Steve took about 300 hours of video during the cruise so I’m not sure when that video will be up but I’ll be sure to post it on the show when he does.

Wally Cherwinski (@wa11_y) is an accomplished videographer who did one class on how he composes his videos. He takes short video clips – 10 seconds long that capture how things felt rather than how things looked. For example, on one cruise everyone was taking pictures and video of the shore, but he took video of the people themselves, which helped you know what it felt like on that part of the trip. He then assembles these very short clips and adds music and produces some of the most compelling video you’ve seen. Really cool to watch how he works.

I enjoyed teaching my 7 classes SO much. The audience was there because they truly wanted to learn, and they brought with them varied levels of expertise. From Frankie the doctor in the front row with exhilarating enthusiasm for everything she was learning to Andy with his Linux background to Tom with his Photoshop skills and Rollie trying to throw me off my game – I could go on and on, but each of them helped me and taught me while I was teaching them. I know that sounds funny, but I’d describe a podcatching tool and someone would holler out the name of the one they loved. I would not be able to answer a question and someone else from the audience would jump in with the answers. As the group warmed up to each other it got more and more fun because the interaction accelerated.

When Captain Neil told me there’d only be about 60 people in the class, I was surprised. I pictured a vast sea of faces just awaiting my brilliance. What I didn’t realize was that having a smaller number made it more intimate and friending and interactive. I absolutely do not wish there’d been more people in the classes, it was just perfect!

I think one of my favorite comments came from Barbara, a retired science teacher, who was so thrilled to be there and get to learn so much. She said, “I feel like I tried out for the school play and ended up at the Academy Awards!” Great description of how it felt.

As you probably recall, I worked really hard on my presentations, starting back in March. As Don pointed out before his first class session, it was very hard to predict whether you had enough material or too much for 90 minutes. What I discovered real time was that the ones where I could do demos went just about right, but those where I had to rely on screenshots were always too short. I think poking around in menus and exploring as the audience asked questions takes a lot of time, but without the Internet, the Podcasting one for example went by in only 40 minutes! Luckily I anticipated that, so the morning of my talk I decided to add in a wild description of how I do the live show. That was mean because it only terrified people! I was animated as I described the 238 balls I juggle in the air to pull it off so they enjoyed it but most said they wouldn’t ever try to podcast because of it! Then I switched gears and explained how simple creating an audio podcast without the live component is and they calmed right down.

I also had a great deal of fun messing with Don. He’s soooo polished and his presentations are beautiful, and he mentioned during his first presentation that I had been teasing him before the trip, because he told me he was working on making pretty transitions. I told him he should be working on content instead. Well a little fun had to ensue after that, right? In my second presentation, I had three photos of Don on one slide, the first of which came in with a lens flare, the second with sparkles, and on the third one I lit him on fire. He got back at me later and put up a picture of me blindfolded! It was all great fun.

Overall I think my classes went really well, and I’m not just saying that. I was really worried about the one on iOS photography that Steve Stanger helped me with, but it went much more smoothly than I expected. I’m not a huge user of iOS photography apps, but he helped me focus the talk on just a few apps and some techniques to help people use them. He suggested one in particular that I hadn’t used before called Touch Retouch HD. This is an iPad app that helps you remove unwanted stuff from your photos almost like magic. I got the oohs and aahs from the audience that Steve promised. The real fun came later though.

On the trip I met Tom Grollman, who is a great photographer and an even better Photoshop expert, actually teaches Photoshop. We were discussing a photo I took and he suggested it would look better if this stick weren’t in the photo. He brought up Photoshop and showed me the Content Aware tool that does an amazing job of removing unwanted stuff. It worked pretty well but you could still see a few aberrations in the image where the stick used to be. I brought the same photo up in Touch Retouch HD on the iPad, and Tom said, “that BETTER not do a better job!” We played around with the tools, and luckily it didn’t beat Photoshop but it looked pretty darn good for a $1 app! Tom was so impressed that he made a note to buy it as soon as we had Internets!

Internets

Speaking of Internets, it was excruciating on the ship. Let’s start with when we got to Sydney. I had decided I would just buckle down and buy an international data plan for my iPhone from AT&T before I left. Rather than stress out about it, I dropped $120 for 800MB. Everyone on the ship thought I was nuts, because they, like Allister were buying sim cards in Australia and getting deals like unlimited data and calls and texts for $12 for 5 days. Yeah, that would work if I had an unlocked iPhone! Oh well. So as we wandered the streets of Sydney for the first 2 days, and then in Brisbane, I tracked my data usage and it was quite easy to stay under around 50MB a day which would keep me under the 800MB limit. cool!

We set sail for Brisbane and when I got there it worked fine too. What I COMPLETELY neglected to realize was that when the ship set sail, it would be WAY off the coast so I wouldn’t be able to use my data plan at all! All I had was “SOS Only” showing on my phone. ARGH! Well the good news was that they had wifi on the ship. Now this wasn’t any kind of GOOD wifi, I think Steve and I clocked our average speed at something around 40 KB/second, or 320kbits/sec. Seriously. The even better news was that it cost an arm and a leg. Instead of charging by data size, which is awfully hard to control, they charge you by time. We bought 500 minutes for $175, and almost made it through the trip on that, jumping on, downloading mail, disconnecting, writing responses, and then jumping back on to send. It really was annoying. But it gets worse.

Our third stop was at a place called Hamilton Island, so you’d think we’d be able to use our cell phones there, but we took an excursion to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. (I promise I’ll get back to the data plan story in a second). This trip never took us to land, but it was fun to get out on the sea in a slightly smaller vessel. We found out on the ship that we could actually go scuba diving if we wanted to, paying about $125 extra. Right then Leo came over me with the most plaintive look on this face, asking if he could borrow $125 from me as he hadn’t brought a credit card! Of course I said yes, but I told him the payback would be about 5 more appearances on MacBreak Weekly! Kidding of course…mostly. anyway he was soooo happy about this. I think my favorite part of the dive was his reaction to it – he was literally jumping up and down with excitement beforehand and when we were all suited up with 30 pounds of equipment on us plus weights, he announced that this was his new hobby! he hadn’t even been under water yet.

Leo and us after scuba divingI have to say that the diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef was nothing to write home about. I’ve seen better in Hawaii right in front of the condos and hotels. I talked to a marine biologist on the trip who said that the reef is actually dying, as a natural process that reefs go through. We had fun anyway but it was a bit surprising. I put a picture in the shownotes of Leo, Jean MacDonald from Smile (with whom we spend TONS of fun times), Leo’s business partner and girlfriend Lisa, plus Steve and me all joyous after conquering the depths of the ocean. We’re very proud of ourselves!

On the way back Steve and I sat on the back deck and we noticed that people were disappearing from the port side of the boat. Turns out the waves were getting pretty big and they were getting soaked! Instead of running away from that, I took off my towel and sat there on purpose! I could only stand it for about 2 minutes, it was like having salt-laden sand whipping into my eyes! At least I made people laugh, a bunch of people I didn’t even know took photos of me doing it!

Well anyway the point of that story is that I still couldn’t use my iPhone because we never actually made it to Hamilton Island. No worries, the next day we were supposed to go to a place called Mackay. But then the weather turned bad and they closed the port so we couldn’t go ashore! We were all pretty disappointed. I hadn’t realized too that it takes two full days to get to New Caledonia (our next stop) so without the Mackay stop they added a day to that, and extending it to five full days without going ashore. I began to feel as though we’d never go ashore again, as though we were the last people on earth. So now I’m figuring when I get to New Caledonia I can use the daylights out of that data plan!

I was a little concerned when Jean told me that it wasn’t going to work in New Caledonia, but I did a search for New Caledonia and AT&T and found a page showing coverage there. I figured I was golden.

me in an australian bush hatSo we get to the first stop, a very small island named Lifou. Turns out there’s snorkeling there – yay! I’m a huge snorkeler, would pretty much spend every day of every vacation snorkeling if they let me. I pretty much forgot about using my phone! Jean and our new friends Devon and Maryanne (who are absolutely HILARIOUS by the way) struck off to find the beach after spending about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to rent equipment in Australian dollars from someone who only spoke French, and getting me an Australian bush hat. Yeah, I looked awesome in that. We weren’t the spryest at getting this done but we finally got to the bay and it was amazing. We snorkeled beautiful coral and great fish, then we had beer and Pringles for a mid-morning snack, and did some more snorkeling. Then we made a hike up to a church overlooking the bay, which was shockingly difficult for such a short walk – we really felt the lerthargic effects of our Wall-E like existence on the ship.

Finally we got back to the harbor and spent a lovely afternoon drinking a cold beer in the shade with local music in the background. Right then I got an idea to show off the Cards app on the iPhone. I’ve had it on my phone since it came out but never used it, and no one else had either. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an app that lets you take a photo from your library and put it on a real post card and have it mailed, all without finding stamps. I figured a pic of Steve and me with our Number 1 beers and my silly hat would be perfect. In the middle of doing this, I suddenly get a text message from AT&T telling me that I was WAAAAAY over my data plan and that I didn’t have coverage there, and that I darn well better call them right away.

So I call them on the phone, and explain to the first woman that I DID buy an international data plan, and that I KNOW I have lots of megabytes left. She tells me to hold please while she transfers me to the international people. I hold and I hold and suddenly realize I’m sitting here in paradise, the LAST thing in the world I want to do right now is talk to AT&T! So I took a screenshot showing I’d waited over 9 and a half minutes, and figured I’d use that for ammunition to talk my way out of this and went back to my Number 1 beer. Now here’s the amazing part of the story. About 5 minutes later I get a text message from AT&T that says that they’ll credit my account for the usage today if I just stop using it right away. Boom, airplane mode on and I threw my phone in the bag. didn’t want to play with it anyway! I thought that even though their website is pretty darn misleading, they did handle this well and since they weren’t going to charge me a house payment I was happy. Maybe my standards are too low these days but I was happy.

Knitting and Crocheting

Here’s an odd thing – on the first day I noticed a woman named Linda had brought her knitting with her. Well it turns out that I crochet actually, and I had brought my latest project along on the trip. I was thrilled she brought it out because it made it socially acceptable for me to bring out mine! I find that I’m no longer capable of simply paying attention when someone is talking – I have to have something else to do, and crocheting occupies my fingers so that my mind can focus on the speaker. Pretty soon Devon had her knitting out too, and then a fourth woman was furiously working away on a project while we learned in the sessions. I never would have expected to find kindred spirits like that.

Windows Digital Workshop

windows digital media workshop sign with Al looking confusedThe whole time we were doing the classes in the Hudson room, right next door was the “Digital Media Lab” which was actually a Windows-based classroom. We thought about ALL trying to show up one day and just mock them but we decided that would be too cruel. One of the guys in our crew, I think it was Russ? did go to one class, it was all about Windows 8 and he was curious to actually get to see it in real life. But get this. The class was sponsored by Microsoft…and the instructor didn’t even have Windows 8! He did the entire class on Windows 7 using Powerpoint to show slides of what Windows 8 looks like! Isn’t that nuts? I know Windows 8 came out just a few weeks before the cruise, but c’mon, even I could have demo’d it using a virtual machine!

Now that was pretty funny but what really tickled me was that the next class was called “buying advice for Windows 7”! Seriously, the Microsoft guy was teaching about Windows 8 but then giving buying advice on Windows 7. Gotta love ’em.

Fitbit

I think I’ve mentioned a few times a little pedometer thingy called the Fitbit. It’s just a little clip that you carry around with you and measures your steps, stairs climbed, calories burned and miles traveled. It’s super fun and a bunch of the NosillaCastaways are Fitbit buddies so we can compare online how well we’re doing. tt4mac is the winner every week but he finally confessed that he’s a mailman! What I didn’t realize before the trip was how competitive Allister is, especially when it comes to Fitbit stats! He wandered Sydney a lot more than we did and kept yanking my chain about it. I did hit a personal record walking with him, I got 18,000 steps that day but I somehow can’t quite recall what his step count was…

Jean MacDonald from Smile was on the cruise and she is CRAZY about the Fitbit! We were constantly comparing our counts. One day we didn’t wear them because we were going to be swimming more than walking and when we got back I suggested the stairs instead of the elevator, and she said, “what’s the point, we’re not wearing our Fitbits!” I have to tell you that being on a ship for 2 weeks with infinite food supply and pretty much nowhere to go but from your room to class to food, we felt a bit like the characters in the movie Wall-E! One day my total step count was 2300 steps! Well, have to keep our weight up now don’t we! No wonder Johan called me “fatish” on the ship. Do you wonder how that comment worked out for him in the long run?

ScreenSteps

One of my talks on the ship was called “Creating Spectacular Documentation”. The talk started with built in screen capture tools, like command-shift-4, and the Grab utility. From there I went up a notch to tools like Skitch and Jing for taking screenshots and annotating them before sending them on. Then I brought out the big guns: Clarify followed by ScreenSteps. I was really pleased with the audience reaction to this. One guy came up and said, “gee, couldn’t you have told me about this about FIVE YEARS AGO? Do you realize how much time I’ve wasted without these tools???” Another guy calmed him down and said, “the way I’m looking at it is that I’m not wasting hours and hours of my life in the future because of these tools! Some people were enchanted with Clarify, some felt they needed the professional tools available in ScreenSteps. It was so fun to be able to see their reactions. The audience loved it but said afterward that I need a better title for this talk because it almost scared them away. If anyone has an idea for a better title, one that would make people want to attend, I’m all ears. Anyway, if you haven’t bought Clarify or ScreenSteps yet, be sure to check them both out at BlueMangoLearning.com, and be sure to tell them Allison sent you!

Macworld | iWorld

Registration for Macworld | iWorld has now begun and I sure hope a lot of you come out for the show. It’s in San Francisco Thursday January 31st through Saturday February 2nd. I’m actually doing a Tech Talk on Saturday at 11am. They accepted my paper on iOS Productivity and I’m really excited about it. For a while they had on the Tech Talk Page a list of Featured Speakers, and Chuck Joiner and I were actually on it! I knew I should take a screenshot of that, because now it’s been replaced by the actual agenda. We’ll be having the annual NosillaCastaways party on Friday night February 1st from 6-8pm at Jillian’s right next to Moscone Center. I’ll be doing the same kind of registration I did last year where there’s a signup sheet for attendees. We do that to keep the party crashers out and to help me get an idea of how many people will be there so we have enough hors d’oeuvres. Again hope you can come out and enjoy the fun of the show and come to the party so we can meet up!

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Melissa Jenner

MJ (Melissa Jenna) from iFixit

iFixit is the first place we all look now to find out what’s inside the newest gadgets

The site is really great for finding out how to repair your devices, get the parts and upgrades and instructions

  • Does iFixit just take apart Apple gear? I think I heard you took apart a Microsoft Surface?
  • Explain the rating system iFixit uses for repairability
  • Do you guys fight over who gets to tear down the newest cool thing? I remember you being jealous to not be in Australia…
  • do you do the teardowns AND the video? Can you explain the division of labor?

Latest gear:

  • What did you find out about the new iPad Mini?
  • How about the 4th gen iPad?
  • What did you find out about the new iMac?
  • What inspired you to let your daughter scratch your iPhone on purpose?
  • What’s up with that pentalobe screwdriver?
  • Did you guys figure out anything interesting about the Fusion drive? Is it really two discrete drives with some cool software i

    Find iFixit at ifixit.com, on Youtube at youtube.com/ifixityourself and on twitter at @iFixit

    Find Melissa at @melissajenna and melissajenna.com

    I had SUCH a great time with Melissa, we went on for a good half hour after I finished recording, what a lot of fun she was! You definitely should go watch her on video too, love her sense of humor. 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 allison@podfeet.com, 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.

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