@summer72h demonstrates how an Abisee Eye-Pal Solo reads an inaccessible PDF off of an iPad. George from Tulsa tells us about the Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh External Battery that can actually power a MacBook Pro, if coupled with the $8 Bix Cigarette Socket adapter and most importantly the $31 Ultra Portable MacBook Super Fast Car Charger/Adapter with MagSafe Plug. After that I’ll give you my thoughts on the All Things Digital Conference, or D11. I’ll tell you what I thought of Tim Cook, Sheryl Sanberg, Elon Musk and Regina Dugan. We even have a bonus story about motor-control disability and Windows 8.
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 June 2, 2013 and this is show number 421. This is going to be a big show – I’ve got my thoughts about the All Things D conference, also known as D11. This was probably at my last time at the conference and one last time it did not disappoint. Before we gets started, we’ll have what can only be called a “unique” review by Summer, and George from Tulsa is back to tell us about a really cool device to help extend the battery life of your Mac on the road.
Before we dig in though I wanted to let you know that I was actually the guest on MacOSKen Day 6 this week! Ken Ray is such a sweetheart (don’t tell him I called him that) and we had a great time. Day 6 is a paid for podcast but it gets you access to interviews with people like Steve Wozniak, Jonathan Coulton, Rod Roddenberry and ME! Check it out at macosken.com/day6
Summer Demo’s the Abisee Eye-Pal Solo
Summer, aka @summer72h has a recording for us that can best be described as, “you’ll only find this here”. In her own unique style she’ll demonstrate how she tested the Abisee Eye-Pal Solo scanner to see if it could read a pdf to her off of an iPad. You may find this recording confusing about halfway through, but stick with her and all will become clear.
I love this, Summer. Like I said, only you would do a review like this. Halfway through I’m thinking, “why the heck doesn’t she shut off that darn bonking noise before doing the recording??? I was sad that the Abisee didn’t play the little song when it starts out – I really think that’s a cute part of the device. I should explain one more thing about this whole transfer. As Summer mentioned, my mom wasn’t using the Abisee any more, so my brother actually packaged it up for her, and then did the handoff to me. When I was meeting him, he was a little bit late, and explained that he was late because he was printing out the manual for her. Yeah, he printed it. Um, really? I of course mocked him for this and he said, “well of course she’ll need someone to help her set it up.” I simply laughed and said, “you haven’t met Summer!”
Realize that I didn’t even tell Summer what Steve and I had sent her, and in about 10 minutes after opening the box, she knew exactly what it was and figured out how to use it! Not only that, she cautioned that the box had gotten bashed in a bit, and sent me a PHOTO of the box so I could see its condition! I have learned with Summer and all of my blind and visually impaired friends, that not only do they want to do everything a sighted person can do, they actually CAN do what they want to do! I love everything about this review!
George from Tulsa – charging a MacBook on the Road
George from Tulsa is back from sabbatical to bring us a great solution that I bet a lot of NosillaCastaways need.
The $90 Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh External Battery is more than three times the capacity of the Air’s sealed internal battery. It includes a USB port for charging cell phones and more, as well as 12, 16 & 19v output with tips for many laptops. But not Macs.
The $8 Bix Cigarette Socket adapter plugs right into the 12v output of the Anker Battery.
The last part you need is the Ultra Portable MacBook Super Fast Car Charger/Adapter with MagSafe Plug. $31. Best get that fast, because I’m surprised Apple hasn’t blocked its sale.
All on Amazon. Click through Allison’s Amazon Associate Link and help pay for the Podcast.
I actually researched this very thing a few months back – my friend Melanie’s son was in Tajikistan and had a power glitch blow out the internal battery on his Macbook. She asked me to find him an inexpensive way to become untethered and I was unsuccessful because even Apple no longer sells the car adapter/magsafe connector any more. You’re right we should snap some of these up, and that charge brick is awesome – 20,000mAh makes me want to bark like Tim the Toolman Taylor!
All Things D
This last week was the All Things D conference, hosted by the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. If you’ve been listening since show number 2 of the NosillaCast, you’ll remember that it’s the very 2nd thing I ever told you about. Back then I was more diligent, I rushed back to my hotel room and did a recording each night about all the cool stuff I heard. Yeah, I’m too lazy for that now, I’ll pile it all into one show. This conference is super swanky and exclusive and I’ve really enjoyed it so much over the years, especially getting to hang out with my buddy David Roth who I met the very first conference and I know Steve and I will be friends with him for life.
All Things D has really amped up their game, every single interview is up on the All Things D site before I could even have gotten back to my room anyway, so I won’t have to give you the full blow by blow but rather give you enough highlights to help you decide whether you want to go watch a particular interview.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tim Cook was probably the headliner of the show with the opening interview on Tuesday night. I had really high hopes for this conversation, not because I expected him to be as riveting as Steve Jobs, but because I have a lot of respect for what he’s doing and I think he’s got great ideas. I’m afraid he wasn’t just not as riveting as Steve, he pretty much didn’t answer any of the questions. Of course Walt and Kara baited him a lot trying to get him to make product announcements, but it was more than that, he seemed to dodge a lot more than I’d hoped. Let’s talk about what he did answer.
Walt asked him how they look at their rivals and asked him to comment on the stock price. He said that they’ve always had competent rivals, like Microsoft and Dell but that they use as their North Star as simply making the best possible products. He admitted being frustrated that the stock is getting hammered, but he also pointed out that in 2009 the stock was at $79. He said that they need to make products that enrich people’s lives. He said that a LOT and I think he really means it.
When asked whether they would bring out the next big thing and when, he only said that the people who brought you the iPhone/iPad/iPod and Mac are still in the company with incredible ideas. Walt asked him about TVs and he said yet again that they’re still playing with the AppleTV. I thought it was interesting though that they’ve sold over 13M AppleTVs, over half of them sold just last year. He kept saying it was good from a learning perspective and that TV can be a lot better than it is today. Just like always he said “its an area of great interest”. I really got the sense that TV is still simmering on the pots in the lab and not coming out any time soon.
Wearables became a big discussion point at D11, and when Kara asked Tim about that he showed off his Nike Fuelband. He did say that any of these devices that do more than one thing are not great. When asked about glasses he felt it was a tough thing to do because people want them light, unobtrusive and they are a fashion statement, but the wrist is interesting and natural. That seemed to really say they’re doing a watch.
When asked to speak about how Android is trouncing them in volume he said that Apple has never been about the most, it’s been about the best. He pointed out that a US study in November said that there is two times as much e-commerce on the iPad than all other Android devices combined. Not just Android tablets – tablets AND phones. The iPhone also had more e-commerce than all Android devices. I think he said they want to enrich people’s lives again here. Walt asked him why those numbers are so slanted, and he said that a lot of phones in other countries that are called smart phones, we would probably define them as feature phones.
I have to say Tim was completely wrong on one point. Walt pointed out that people want bigger phones, maybe even a stylus, and Tim said that only at a macro level ti seems that way, and that while customers clearly do look at size, what they REALLY care about are things like whether their photos look right on the phone, things like the right color balance. Really? Have you ever heard a regular person say, “wait, my Nokia 920 is nice, but that color balance is all off…I can’t deal with that.” I think he’s way off base there.
I don’t know if you’ve been following the fun about the Senate Subcommittee in front of whom Tim spoke last week but it’s been pretty fun. The idea was that they were supposed to roast him for Apple’s tax dodging but instead it was a mix of a love fest for Apple, and a discussion of how they hadn’t actually broken the law. At D11 Tim talked about how it wasn’t a pain to go see the committee, he saw it as a great opportunity, a catalyst to focus on the real issues and come in with proposals, not asking for tax breaks. His best line was when he said that Apple’s tax return is two feet high! He said that they pay $6B a year in taxes, that it’s more than any other company in the US. He said that with his proposed redesign of our corporate tax structure they’d probably pay more, but it would then make sense to bring money back into the US.
There was a lot more conversation but to be honest not much more that was terribly interesting. Link to Tim Cook full interview at allthingsd.com
Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg
I really enjoyed Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, but not because of what she had to say about Facebook. She talked a lot about a book she’s written called “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. I was fascinated by the research she’d done and the conclusions she’d reached about how women lead in the workplace. Earlier in the conference, Kara Swisher had referred to herself as “bossy”. When Sheryl came on stage, she took Kara to task for it. She pointed out that strong, forceful women are often called bossy or pushy but you’d never hear a strong forceful man called bossy. She polled the audience and just about every woman there had been called bossy at one time or another and only a handful of men had heard the same thing.
Throughout the conference there was a lot of talk about the gap in the US in the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (or STEM) educated people and how we have to figure out how to fill that gap. She made the point that since only about 11-20% of women go into these fields, if we simply got their proportions up to the same % of men, we could actually close that gap. What I liked about her talk was that she was focused on what women can do, not saying that men are big old meanies and should start treating us fairly but that we have to start changing how we look at our own competencies. Very encouraging and I definitely plan on reading “Lean In”.
Regarding Facebook she had a few interesting things to say. When they first started, 53% of their users came back every day. The figured this would only hold up for early adopters. Surprisingly now with over a billion users, 60% come back every day. I don’t care how much fear or creepy factor you get from Facebook, you have to say that they’ve got to be doing something right to get people back. Walt asked hear about trust and said that when they get it wrong it’s a huge problem (so she acknowledged that they have gotten it wrong from time to time) but when they get it right it’s a huge opportunity. She felt that a step in the right direction was to move privacy controls to where they’re more contextual – when you upload a photo it asks you right then who you want to share it with, instead of having that control buried deep in a giant pile of other controls. She also said that they’d worked to make those controls more visual to help people understand. I hate to admit it but I haven’t found myself yelling at Facebook quite as often as I used to.
Kara asked Sheryl about how annoying the ads are in the news feed and I think her answer could not have been more off base. She said that with a billion users, someone will always be annoyed by something. I wrote in my notes, “NO WE ALL HATE IT!!!” Am I right here?
Tom Skaggs from Disney Theme Parks
Tom Skaggs from Disney Theme Parks showed of what is either a really really cool thing or a super creepy thing. It’s a wrist band called the My Magic +. You’ll be issued this when you go to a park, and it will serve as your park pass, your hotel key, allow you to buy stuff at the stores, do your Fastpass, and you can even opt-in to have it tell the Disney characters your kids’ names. If you lose the wrist band, you simply report it and they give you another one – so no one can charge to your account. You can even limit how much can be spent – maybe you don’t want your kids to be able to spend more than $20 or $50, you can limit that, or even to $0. They did talk a little about using the bluetooth long range sensors they could do crowd control by creating fun diversions away from where there’s a lot of congestion. I suppose they could use this for nefarious reasons to track YOU, but I’m an optimistic person so I think it’s really cool.
Nuance vs. Windows 8 Accessibility
Paul Ricci from Nuance, makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking had an interview but it’s what happened after his interview that I wanted to tell you about. At the open mic session I went to the mic and first of all thanked him for the great work that they do at Nuance and how it helps those with motor control disabilities. As I’m pretty sure I’ve explained on the show before, good friend of the show Patrick Henebry has Cerebral Palsy and depends on Dragon to be able to type. He is wicked good at it and so I wanted to start by making sure Mr. Ricci heard the praise. Then I explained to him what Patrick has explained to me, that Windows 8 is completely inaccessible to him. Two huge problems stop him before he can barely get started.
- During the voice training portion in Windows 8, the computer freezes/becomes non-responsive. Without being able to complete the training, no profile is created so that Windows will understand the user’s voice. This is repeatable across computers and has been verified by Microsoft Tech Support to Patrick. Windows 7 worked perfectly during the training portion.
- The documentation is from Windows 7 – referencing the Start button for example, which shows that little care was taken to make sure this works.
I knew this wasn’t as much a question as it was a plea but I asked him whether there was anything Nuance could do to help Microsoft. He said he didn’t think so but I pressed a little further and just said that if it ever comes up in conversation maybe he could offer to lend them a hand. I sat down and right after that, Steven Sinofsky, former head of Windows for Microsoft made a beeline for my chair, handed me his card and asked me to contact him! I wrote him a pretty detailed email on Saturday outlining everything Patrick and I had tried, and I was even more delighted that 10 minutes later he responded. He wrote,
Thank you for your note. I appreciate the comment you made to Nuance at D11 though I admit I was disappointed to hear it given the amount of effort we put into Windows 8. It does seem like there is some mismatch going on in things that are worth looking into. I copied a gentleman from the Windows team who will help to see that this gets looked into.
As of this recording, Tim has already gotten it to someone else inside Microsoft and they’ve assured us that they’ll get it to the right people. I’m hopeful that we’ve finally found the “in” we’re looking for. Fingers and toes crossed that Microsoft allows Patrick to make a difference to all of the people who depend on Windows for their livelihood or pleasure but can’t use a mouse and keyboard.
Probably the most fascinating person at D11 was Elon Musk. If you haven’t heard his name, he has three rather big things under his belt. He started Paypal, then he started Tesla motors, and then a little effort you might have heard of, SpaceX, the first commercial company to deliver a payload to the International Space Station. So he’s a real under achiever, right?
He told us that when he was in college, he wanted to change the world. He started that little Internet company, Paypal, but he said anyone can do something like that. Starting a car company is about the dumbest thing you could do, but he wanted to prove that you could make a long range, electric car – so that other people would start making them. He talked about when the EPA changes caused General Motors to actually take back all of the EV1s (they were only leased by the say) and then crush them. He said that people held a candlelight vigil for their cars – if you have a product that gets people to do that…shouldn’t you try to do more of it?
Throughout All Things D, Walt and Kara kept trying to goad people into making surprise announcements (especially Tim Cook) but pretty much no one took the bait. The one person that at least pretended he wasn’t going to spill any beans and did anyway was Elon Musk. The biggest question with electric vehicles is how far you can go – and during the show Elon announced that their Supercharger stations are now deployed across three times the area they were previously, allowing a trip from LA to NY all on Superchargers. I had to go look them up to see what the big deal is, turns out that with a Supercharger you can go 200 miles on a 30 minute charge. That’s not bad at all, have a soda, go potty, and you’re back on the road again.
For Elon Musk, a venture like this isn’t quite enough challenge, he wants to get us on Mars. When asked why Mars for SpaceX, he said because Mercury is too close to the Sun, Venus is too hot and the high pressure is challenging. Mars is colder than earth but ~room temp in the summer, but we could warm it up with greenhouse gases – we know how to do that!
With all the talk about STEM education, I asked him at the open mic what he thought about immigrant education in STEM and how we don’t encourage people to stay. I put a link in the shownotes to the full interview on allthingsd.com, and I highly encourage you to watch the whole thing but if you’re looking for my question and his answer, drag the slider to around 54:15 in the video. I apologize that the video player isn’t accessible to screen readers, I have someone looking into this at the Wall Street Journal. Anyway, I thought Elon Musk was absolutely wonderful and the best interview at D11. I love being around big thinkers like that.
Regina Dugan of Motorola Mobility
Regina Dugan took the stage at D9 two years ago when she was the head of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She was by far the coolest speaker telling us about stuff like hypersonic flight that they were doing at the Agency. Now she’s taken a job at Motorola Mobility and Walt had to ask her why of all the companies who would love to have her would she take a job at a company with maybe 3% market share in phones. She pointed out that transformative products usually don’t come from incumbents, so she wanted to go to a company willing to take big risks.
She reminded us that Motorola was the company that created the Iridium Communications network of satellites to cover the entire earth including oceans, poles and airways. It failed spectacularly, but her point was that Motorola is a company willing to take huge, gutsy risks. Motorola has a new phone coming out soon called the MotoX, which will be using low-powered sensors to perhaps know that you want to take a photograph when you take it out of your pocket, or to deliver a different experience when the sensors tell it you’re going 60mph. The MotoX will be built in the USA all in Texas. She pointed out that while Apple is operating at a 50% profit margin (according to Horace Dedieu of Asymco it’s closer to 20%) but Motorola doesn’t have to do that for low end phones (while saying that the MotoX will be in competition with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone. Not sure I buy that argument!
Remembering that Google actually owns Motorola, Walt asked her how hands off are they actually. She responded that they have no extra access to Android, no advantages, and that they’re managed like any other partner. She went on to explain that if an Android team member moves over to Motorola they’re actually rebadged as Motorola employees. It was hard for them to explain why Google owns them if they get no extra goodies from being part of the family.
She talked again about how Motorola is the scrappy underdog with bold vision. We heard bold vision and bold goals from her work at DARPA and she didn’t disappoint about Motorola. She said they’re working on some big problems, the first of which is authentication. Evidently research shows that the average user authenticates 39x/day, and if you’re a power user it’s closer to 100x/day. She asked, what if you could WEAR your authentication as a tattoo on your arm? She then pulled up her sleeve and showed that she had an electronic circuit tattooed on her forearm! It was super creepy but she said with something like that you could wear it for days before it had to be replaced.
If you thought that was creepy, next she pulled out a pill she said was made from an inside out potato battery (?) and you could simply take it like a vitamin every day and it would send out electronic pulses that would authenticate you. She claimed that the FDA has approved these pills, and that you can take 30 a day if you want or need. I know both of these ideas are kind of out there but I love that a brain like hers is thinking so far outside of the box. I have a fair amount of imagination, but it’s pretty constrained to what I can paint on the inside of my box! Again this is an interview you really want to watch, so I embedded the interview with Regina Dugan of Motorola Mobility in the shownotes so you can watch for yourself. I’m sad that I won’t be going to D any more, but it was a great ride.
I decided to take a trip down memory lane and look back on all the ScreenSteps tutorials I’ve created over the years, and this is ONLY the ones I created at home, I’ve created GOBS more at work! My very first one was in February of 2008 when a listener named Ira asked me to help his wife figure out how to get a link to just one listing on a real estate agent site she had. It’s only 5 little steps long but with those screenshots, a few arrows, and a few words to explain why she’s doing each step and she was in business.
I found the long form manuals I did so that Bart and Katie and Allister could so graciously manage my show for me when I was on vacation. I found the Podcasting on Podcasting series of tutorials – which Rod Simmons of the SMR Podcast just referenced last week so they’re still valuable even 5 years after I made them. I remember when I handed over control of our high school’s cross country website that I’d built in WordPress and I had to teach the woman taking over how I used jAlbum to upload images taken at the meets. We walked through the ScreenSteps tutorial once in person, she came back once for questions and she’s been uploading photos with abandon for the last four years without my help.
That’s just a few of the 172 tutorials I’ve made for myself and for others over the last 5 years of using ScreenSteps. You can do this too – get people off your back from asking endless questions by investing just a little bit of time creating ScreenSteps tutorials and having fun on the way. Check out the free 30 day trial over at BlueMangoLearning.com.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
- First started podcasting: Mac Pro Podcast, one of the first video podcasts / screencast shows
- Screencasting was HARD back then, no good tools, strange workflow in NLEs
- MPP retrospective: https://vimeo.com/49764243
- Podcasting helped me go independent
- What HiLo Media does plus Mac-related clients – Screencasting vs. Screen Capture
Final Cut Pro X
What was it about Final Cut Pro X that professionals hated so much? what was missing or done wrong?
- Initial version incomplete
- The bad: Lacked Multicam, OMF export, different XML format, previous version projects couldn’t be upgraded, buggy, no tape output, no broadcast monitor output
- The good: Much faster, much-needed interface & code overhaul, new paradigm works great, better price, better for small house or individual editor
I’ve heard that they’ve changed a lot of stuff in X now to make professionals happy
- what did they change?
- Multicam, RED camera support, broadcast monitor, a “fix” for no OMF export
- Not for pros needing to collaborate
- Not for broadcast or film
- OMF, easier collaboration, better integration with other pro apps
Workflow – how does that work for you? tools? techniques?
- Recently switched whole team to Adobe Suite (premiere pro, after effects)
- Couldn’t collaborate with FCPX / easy with PP and dropbox — bigger budgets = more collaborators
- Ran into brick walls on TV Pilot development
- Motion can’t touch Adobe After Effects
- Adobe Premier Pro feels like “FCP8” plus new version out in June will fix a lot of complaints of FPC7 switchers
- Subscription model works great for small business
- HiLo Media couldn’t run without Dropbox / Google Docs
- Audio / color suite in my new home (can talk about gear) and how to collaborate with editors, audio post, etc.
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 and app.net @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! 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.