Using Automator to Launch Applications

Automator window showing some of my work flowEvery Sunday night between 4:30 and 4:45pm, I get ready to do the live show. It’s a pretty complex operation (I even have a diagram). Most of the hardware pieces are plugged in all the time, my microphone, my camera, and my Mac, but I run seven applications on my main Mac to get the show to come out in video on, and audio on Alpha Geek Radio and the NosillaCast app and The diagram is terrifying to most people but I’ve been doing this for a while so I’ve pretty much got the hang of it. Every once in a while I may forget a step but it’s pretty obvious what I forgot since something just won’t work. This week I was jogging on the beach when it occurred to me that Dorothy (aka @maclurker) should really automate some of this for me. She’s the one who automated the back end for me, so once the show is done I push a button and the audio file gets encoded properly with all the right ID3 tags and such for iTunes. The only problem is that she’s off on her silly boat with her husband (or is it silly husband with boat) up to Canada. Yeah, she left me. Sure she’s got Internets most days but it’s not the same. Continue reading “Using Automator to Launch Applications”

Leaving a DSLR for a Mirrorless Camera

comparison shot of the two cameras (hint, the D5100 is HUGE)I started in photography with a Minolta X700 in 1978. The day finally came when set aside my trusty camera for the sexiness of digital with the Nikon 950. I didn’t actually get rid of my Minolta because I loved it so much. Time marched on and I went through a series of point and shoots but I got back to my SLR (Single Lens Reflex) roots with the Nikon D40. I was seduced by Bart and Kirschen getting the Nikon D5100 eventually and with Dorothy standing behind me urging me to upgrade so she could buy my D40, it was an easy choice. Knowing that your camera is going to a loving home makes the decision easy. I think we develop emotional attachments to our cameras because it was through the camera’s eyes that we’ve witnessed the events in our lives, so they’re a part of that experience. Or maybe I’m just weird that way.

I had Chris Marquardt from on the show about a year ago to talk photography with me and I grilled him about these new fangled mirrorless cameras. He talked me out of thinking about them, mostly because they were slow to focus at the time.
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Produce a Multi-Camera Shoot on an iPad for $5

screenshot of multicam in actionYou know how on high-end TV shows they have these complex and very expensive devices to switch cameras between newscasters, and video feeds, and doing beautiful cross-dissolves or quick cuts between them? Would you believe there’s a $5 iPad app that can do a lot of that and even record your multi-cam production? This is a case of something I don’t really need but now that I can do it for $5, I’m pretty sure I’ll start to use.

The application is called MultiCam from a company called RecoLive from I mentioned you could run it on the iPad but there’s also a version for the iPhone and a camera application for the Mac. We’ll get into all of that soon enough. Let’s start with a simple set up. I launched MultiCam from my iPad. I also launched it on my iPhone. On the iPad I see two panes at the top; one is a preview and one is the live view. In the bottom right area, I can select cameras to add to my multicam shoot.
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Easily Grip Your DSLR with ProStrap Camera Wrist Straps by Kirschen Seah

Greetings fellow Nosillacastaways – Kirschen Seah from here with a review. It’s about camera related accessories this time.

both cameras showing both strapsFirst off – let’s look at the problem to be solved. You have a nice camera, be it compact or Digital SLR, and don’t quite like the idea of hanging the camera with the included neck strap. Most of these are thin and can cause quite a bit of pressure on the back of your neck. And then there’s the extra time you need to look down for the camera, wrap your right hand around the grip, whisk it up to eye level, and take the shot. Wouldn’t it be perfect if the camera sat ready close to your hand? Well there’s an accessory for that.
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Best Alternative to Photoshop by Allister Jenks

Hello fellow NosillaCastaways. Allister here again, from New Zealand with perhaps a surprising answer to a common question. The problem to be solved? Numerous times in the last few years I have heard podcasters addressing the question “What software should I use instead of Photoshop?”

The usual answers include The GiMP, Acorn and Pixelmator. Certainly all three of these apps are powerful and functional for many purposes. The GiMP, in particular, is aimed squarely at taking on Photoshop although it lacks some finesse in the interface, being open source and cross platform. Acorn has been improving in leaps and bounds as has Pixelmator which recently added yet another Photoshop-inspired feature with layer styles. Both of these have great interfaces.
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Allister Jenks on Diagnosing Freezing iMac

Greetings fellow NosillaCastaways. Allister here from New Zealand again with a tale of trouble. First, the problem to be solved. How about being called out in the live chat room last week to provide some content? No? OK, how about you’ve taken two weeks off work to get in some quality time with XCode and not even half way into the first week your Mac decides to freeze? Often. Yeah, THAT’S a problem to be solved.

Fortunately I am now able to (mostly) trust my Mac enough to compose and record this. I’m sure your Mac will run reliably until the end of its days, but if I’m wrong about that, maybe this tale will help you out.
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Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset by Donald Burr

Hey there Allison, Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast here, back with another review. Today I am reviewing the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: wearing a Bluetooth headset makes you look like a total tool. And indeed this is true. But they are the best solution if you want to use your phone handsfree. Holding a phone (even one as small and thin as the iPhone) up to your ear can get tiring, and you can’t use the old telephone handset trick (remember those?) of wedging it between your head and shoulder. Plus, in most states, it is now illegal to use a phone while driving without a handsfree device of some kind. Most phones come with headsets (e.g. iPhone earbuds) but they’re usually pretty lousy, and they are wired, and sometimes that cable tends to get in the way, or get tangled up in things (especially if you’re moving around your desk area, etc.) You might be thinking, “Why not use a Bluetooth speaker phone?” There are indeed quite a few of these devices out there nowadays, such as the Jawbone Jambox, and they work well, for the most part, but you can’t really use them when you are in a situation where you would disturb people (say, in an office setting) or if you want to keep your conversation private. So a traditional “wear it on your ear” style Bluetooth headset is still the best way to go in my opinion.
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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM Lens from Steven Goetz

Hi my name is Steven from London, Canada

I would like to review the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM Lens. But first the problem to be solved. My Wife is an avid runner, she participates in many running events and I found wanting to find a better lens for photographing sports.

This lens is designed for Canon’s EF lens mount, and has a good focal length range of 70mm to 200mm, and sports a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8. The first thing I noticed right off the bat is it’s a large, heavy lens, and it’s cream colouring really stands out. Once I attached the lens to my Canon EOS 7D, I found the package to be really well balanced.
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My Top 5 Favorite iPad Apps

Ages ago, listener Tammy sent me an interesting question – she asked me what my top 5 favorite apps were. I asked her Mac or iOS and she said both. I complained that the question was too hard but that maybe I could answer with 5 in each category. The more I thought about it, I realized I can’t answer that either – I have to pick 5 for Mac, 5 for iPhone and 5 the iPad. It’s about time I answered her – I wonder if she even remembers asking me!

I’m going to set some ground rules here. First, I don’t think I’ll include anything that comes from Apple, unless maybe it’s a hidden gem or something like that. Second, even though Clarify IS one of my favorite apps, since they’re an advertiser I think I’ll leave it off the list. I also decided to eliminate apps that maybe everyone knows about so that the list is more interesting. Let’s start with my Top 5 favorite iPad apps, and later we’ll go through my favorite iPhone and Mac apps.

iThoughts Mind Mapping from Toketaware

iThoughts LogoOk, you guys probably saw this one coming, since I spent the entire show 2 weeks ago talking about how much I love mind mapping and how iThoughts is my favorite mind mapping tool. I couldn’t leave it off this list though, since I immediately whipped it open to start making my list of favorite apps! I created a central node called favorite apps, then three nodes form iPad, iPhone and Mac, and then started dropping in my favorites in each. When I noticed that I had too many favorite iPhone apps and not enough iPad apps, I simply dragged one of the nodes and moved it from iPhone to iPad since the app ran on both platforms. iThoughts really helps me organize my thoughts before they’re linear.

LastPass Password Manager from

LastPass logoI struggled with whether to include LastPass because while I use it constantly, and it works really well, I still wish I never had to deal with passwords. LastPass doesn’t make me happy, it just makes me less sad. I guess I get a little bit happy when I push auto-fill and it plops in my name, home address, phone number, email address, credit card number and expiration date, but the whole password thing just feels like a necessary evil. I’m glad LastPass is in my arsenal and I use it constantly, but I sure wish it didn’t have to exist at all!

Captio to Send Yourself Emails from Tupil

Captio about to send a message to meMy next pic will really irritate every hard core Getting Things Done person listening. You know the type, they use Omnifocus to write up their tasks, achieve Inbox Zero and all that nonsense. Don’t you hate those people? Hate may be a strong word, but all that productivity they have makes me crazy. One of the most basic mantras of these people is that you should never use your email inbox as your to do list. Which is exactly what I do. I’m out and about and I realize I need to remember to do something – I send myself an email. It works for me because when I get to my email I realize I have something I need to do – and either I’ve grown bored with the topic by now and I just delete that thing I thought was so critical earlier, or I do it, or I add it to my to do list, Wunderlist.

But I don’t use Mail on my iOS devices to send these emails to myself, I use Captio from Tupil to send the emails. As Tim Verpoorten used to say, Captio does one thing and does it well. When you first launch Captio, you tell it just this one time what your email address is. After that initial setup, from now on you can tap on Captio, type in a message and hit send. Boom – no addressing the email, no subject to mess with, just type and hit send. You can attach a photo if you like, but I’ve never messed with that. Hey – maybe I don’t even have to type – just take a picture of the thing I need to deal with when I get home and be done with it! I must confess I use Captio on the iPhone more than the iPad but it’s a universal app and I have too many iPhone apps I love so I moved it to the iPad list!

Captio might sound like heresy to you but I use it constantly and I seem to get an awful lot of stuff done, don’t I?

Downcast for Video Podcasts from

Downcast logoEvery morning while I brush my teeth and have my breakfast, I watch the news. But I don’t watch TV news, because that’s just way too darn disturbing. I watch tech news and analysis. The Daily Tech News Show with Tom Merritt is my current favorite entertainment for my morning ablutions, and Downcast is my app of choice on the iPad. I love how I can double tap on the screen to pause, it flips up to my AppleTV (when my AppleTV is in the mood) and it’s super easy to download video podcasts using either search or entering a url directly. Man, I’m making this sound boring but it’s an awesome way to watch shows!

I watch Don McAllister’s ScreenCasts Online podcast at the gym when Dorothy deserts me, and I can’t tell you how much attention I get when I’m watching my own personal TV. Most normal people still don’t know what a podcast is – don’t you feel sorry for them?

You’ll be interested to note when I get to the iPhone apps – I don’t use Downcast, but rather another pod catching app.

Notability from Ginger Labs to Take Notes

Notability logoI’m not a fan of writing things by hand any more, but the one place it still seems to fit is in taking notes during a meeting. Somehow I get more distracted with spelling things correctly and formatting when I type, and hand writing allows me to pay attention and focus on the speaker. I might even want to sketch something out too. Then again, sometimes I do like to type notes. I want to be able to do all three. I also want my notes organized.

There’s a problem to be solved though with hand writing on an iPad. It’s simply not possible to write clearly as small as you can with a pen and paper so you end up getting maybe three lines on screen at a time and your handwriting looks like a 1st grader’s script.

My app of choice to solve all of these problems is called Notability from Ginger Labs. Notability lets you flip back and forth typing notes, handwriting notes, sketching and even doing voice recording. They also cracked the code on how to allow you to write by hand and yet not have the letters be huge. At the bottom of the screen you can pop up a magnifier section. You handwrite comfortably in the magnifier, but your text comes out nice and tiny on the main screen.

I’m not going to go into all of the details of Notability today because I actually did a full review on show #360 in April of 2012. I think it says something that two years ago it’s still one of the most useful apps on my iPad.

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