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NC #639 Two Catastrophic Apple Problems Challenge Me, Security Bits

This is a bit of a different show – it’s primarily the four part story of my saga dealing with two catastrophic failures with Apple in a single week. It’s quite a tech story with a lot to interesting angles. After that Bart joins us with Security Bits.

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Thoughts on Macstock 2017

It killed me to not talk about Macstock right after I got back, because it was so much fun. I can’t talk about Macstock without talking about the people first. The vibe at Macstock is that everyone is there to learn and to meet people. Instant friendships are struck at break time, at lunch, at the deep dive sessions and at the parties at night.

The People

In fact, one of our new friendships started even before we arrived. I got an email from Corky Heath, who has been been corresponding with me about the podcast for about 8 years. In a weak moment, he thought he’d enjoy picking Steve and me up from the airport and driving us the hour from Chicago to our hotel in Crystal Lake. I say a weak moment, because he essentially became our chauffeur for the entire trip! One time we took the shuttle from the hotel to the conference, and I think we made him sad, so we didn’t do that again! Continue reading “Thoughts on Macstock 2017”

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Confession From a Former Mouse User

Steve Sheridan here, the man behind the podfeet. I’ve been a die-hard mouse user ever since I started using a Mac in 1984. I’ve upgraded over the years, even using one of those fancy ergonomic mice from Logitech (the Performance Mouse MX) with lots of buttons and features, but to be honest I pretty much just scroll and click with it.

Whenever I’d sit down at Allison’s desk and try to use her Magic Trackpad, I found myself frustrated. I often said disparaging things about her trackpad, usually starting with the words “I hate …” When Allison would come to my desk, she would always complain about my mouse, even if it was me using it at the time. She claimed that it physically hurt her to watch me scroll and scroll to go down a web page.

You might have heard that Allison bought me a new iMac for Father’s Day. Since she was buying, she bought it with the dreaded Magic Trackpad. She figured that I would continue to use my Logitech Performance Mouse and she’d get a spare trackpad out of the deal.

I set up my new iMac on the left side of my desk with the old iMac on the right while I did the transfer of my data. Allison strongly urged me NOT to use Migration Assistant, simply because I haven’t done a clean install in five years. What could possibly go wrong? Keeping both systems up at once meant that I was forced to use the new trackpad on the new Mac until I decommissioned the old one. Continue reading “Confession From a Former Mouse User”

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Tiny Tip – MacTracker for Current Price of used Apple Devices

It will be hard to top the first Tiny Tip. So many people have told me they love the strategy of creating a Delete Me folder! Don’t set your expectations that high for every Tiny Tip, though. In the words of Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, “They can’t all be winners.”

When you want the new hotness coming out of Apple, one of the ways to justify your expensive purchase is to resell your existing Apple products. The good news is that Apple devices hold their value really well. The bad news is it’s tedious to figure out what your devices are worth.

Traditionally I write down all of the specs of a machine, and then go over to eBay. I search for the same device on eBay while setting the filter to sold items only. Then I create a spreadsheet and start recording the last 10-12 that have sold recently. I keep detailed notes in my spreadsheet on how they might vary from the one I’m trying to sell.

I throw out the super high ones, which are usually those sold by a company. Then I throw out the lowest one if it’s got something clearly wrong with it or it has something fundamentally different spec-wise from the one I’m selling. I average the selling price in my beloved Excel to determine a price. If I’m selling to a stranger, that’s a fixed number, if it’s to a friend who maybe could use a little bit of help with the price, I’ll lower it a bit. At least I know the value of the equipment, but this process takes 3-4 hours.

Mactracker logoBut that’s not the Tiny Tip. For Father’s Day I got Steve a new iMac, so I needed to figure out what his old one was worth. It’s a 27″ Mid-2011 model. I was too lazy to walk all the way down to his office and pull the specs directly, so I popped open the fantastic free app, MacTracker. (Available in the Mac App Store and in the iOS App Store.)

MacTracker has been around forever, but it’s continued to get better and better over time. The developer now includes all desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, Airport routers and more. You can find out everything about these devices, up to and including hearing their original startup sounds. It’s super cool.

Mactracker showing current priceBut that’s still not the Tiny Tip. HERE’S the Tiny Tip. I looked up Steve’s iMac model in Mactracker and I noticed something new. The Initial selling price was there, but below that was “Current Price” with a US flag next to the price. Boom, you know the current selling price!

But wait, there’s more. I noticed that it was in blue, so I clicked it. I got a prompt asking if I wanted to open the link in a browser. I trust Mactracker, and it was awfully sweet of it to ask permission so I allowed it.

The price link in Mactracker took me to a site called bidvoy at us.bidvoy.net. Now here’s the really cool part. Bidvoy shows you the price over time. There’s a pulldown to choose from some standard time frames from the last 6 months to 2 weeks, or you can set a custom range. The data points even have a trendline through them.

Below the graph you get the average over the last 6 months (which is the number you see in Mactracker). You can see the weekly trend, how many auctions and the price margin. Not sure what that one was.

Below that you can even see the best time to purchase based on this historical data, and the best time to sell. For Steve’s model, you want to buy on a Sunday between midnight and 4 am, and I should try to sell it (if I’m doing an auction) on a Tuesday between 4 and 8 am. They show the prices for those two times, but it doesn’t entirely make sense. The average for Steve’s iMac is shown around $600. The best time to sell says almost $800, but the best time to purchase says $650. I would think that the average should be between the best time to sell and buy, wouldn’t you? Still interesting.

Bidvoy showing graphs

But bitvoy isn’t done yet. After the graphs, you can see a list of the same model currently-selling on eBay. For each one they show the current bid price (or buy it now price), the time left, and a red, blue or green badge telling you if it’s underpriced, normal, or over priced. If you see one that strikes your fancy as a buyer, you can click on it and go right into the sale on eBay.

One caution on using Mactracker and bidvoy. While this is easy, if the Mac you’re buying or selling isn’t the average model, the price you see here will not be representative. For example, in looking at the current auctions, I realized that this includes not just the i7 version I bought for Steve, but also the i5’s that are less valuable. I cranked up the RAM and disk when I bought it for him, so that should be taken into account too.

Using Mactracker and its connection to bidvoy is a great starting point and can get you most of the way there with the simple click of a button. I should mention that the iOS version of Mactracker doesn’t have this current price feature, so you’ll need to view it on a Mac.

I’ve just realized that the definition of a Tiny Tip is that it could be described in one sentence or two but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a lengthy post about it anyway!

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CCATP #491 Peter Wells on WWDC

Wwdc logoThis week our guest on Chit Chat Across the Pond Lite is Peter Wells, who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald – and is a semi-regular guest on DTNS. Peter was asked to attend WWDC by Apple and in that capacity had amazing access to Apple engineers to ask the right questions. We talked about the new iMac screen (1 BILLION colors) and whether you can tell the difference, whether Kaby Lake processors matter in desktops, where the speed of the new SSDs might matter, and about VR/AR and graphics cards. He gives us his views on the new 10.5″ iPad Pro and whether it’s worth double the price of the iPad nothing. Peter is very bullish on iOS 11 and how it will affect the iPad market.

You can follow Peter on Twitter @peterwells and here are links to Peter’s recent articles in the Sydney Morning Herald about WWDC:


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NC #620 Apple Watch Swimming, Standard Mac Apps, BrainPort Visualization Through the Tongue, eSight Low Vision Glasses, Non-tech Podcasts, GhostReader, BeatsX

Allister here standing in for Allison this week. I have a miniature review of using the Apple Watch Series 2 for swim workouts, I’ll quickly review 26 Mac Apps you didn’t know you already had, Allison will pop by with two more videos from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, I’ll make some recommendations for podcasts you might want to listen to that aren’t about technology, Terry delivers on his callout from Allison with a review of GhostReader text to speech software, and I’ll finish up with a review of the BeatsX Bluetooth earbuds with Apple W1 chip.


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GhostReader Text to Speech – Guest Review by Terry Vogelaar

GhostReader screenshotI am Terry from Holland and I would like to do a review of GhostReader from ConvenienceWare. Let me start by the problem to be solved. As a graphic designer, I am often the last person to see a text before it is multiplied in a huge quantity. So I need to be very good in proofreading. But whenever I just want to read, I am still scanning for typo’s, punctuation errors and grammar mistakes. It takes forever for me to finish a book. Fortunately, many books are available as audiobooks. But many other books are not. Of course my Mac comes with text-to-speech capability. For example, Pages can read its text out loud. But it is not easy to pause a long text and continue the next day. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn longer texts into an audiobook? Continue reading “GhostReader Text to Speech – Guest Review by Terry Vogelaar”

CSUN 2017: Tap Systems Wearable Keyboard

Allison interviews Trevor Settles from Tap Systems about their innovative wearable keyboard. Tap is a bluetooth, one-handed “keyboard” that allows the user to type out characters on any surface with combinations of finger/thumb presses on the surface. Tap works with any bluetooth enabled desktop or mobile OS that supports the HID Keyboard Standard. This includes iOS and Android phones and tablets, Windows and Mac computers, and most Smart TVs. The Tap keyboard will be available for purchase around August of 2017. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

Learn more at http://tapwithus.com

Using a Screen Reader? click here

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NC #610 Synology, Workouts++, Satechi, Cascable, Elgato, iDevices

It’s a fun-filled episode this week with interviews from CES with Synology, Satechi, Elgato and iDevices. Sprinkled in between I’ve got a review of an app for Apple Watch called Workouts++, and an app called Cascable that will let you do more to control your WiFi-enabled camera.


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Cascable to Capture, View, and Edit RAW Photos from Your Big Girl Camera

Cascable logoIf you’ve got a relatively recent DSLR or Micro Four Thirds camera, you’ve probably got built-in WiFi. This feature is pretty cool. It allows you to connect your phone to the camera’s WiFi and then download the images. Maybe your manufacturer even lets you remotely control the camera. I’ve got the Olympus E-M10 and this feature has allowed me to capture better images and yet also post the pictures to social media nearly as quickly as those posting from their phones’ cameras.

As cool as this feature is, there are a couple of downsides. Most cameras (possibly all) will not let you view or transfer RAW photos. You either have to shoot RAW + JPG or you have to convert the images in-camera to JPG before getting to play with them. Some manufacturer’s software will let you view and download RAW images, but what you don’t realize is that it’s actually converting them to JPG before it does that. A recent update to the Olympus Share software now lets me view RAW images but I tested the download and it was a JPG upon arrival.

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Cascable iOS image preview with EXIF data

My E-M10 has a dedicated app and the remote control capabilities are pretty cool. I can change white balance, exposure and more. But there are a few things that I can’t do with it, notably have fine control over bracketed shooting, doing time-lapse photography and more.

Now that I’ve set the stage (or perhaps we could call it “the problem to be solved”), I’d like to tell you about an app called Cascable from cascable.se that might be a one-stop shopping app to download RAW photos, provide more advanced remote control of your camera and a lot more.

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