Category Archives: Mac

App Cubby Launches Launch Center Pro

If you haven’t heard of the Launch Center App before, you will want to now. App Cubby first launched their shortcut app Launch Center and it was basically a list of shortcuts and actions. It was in a list view and it was really handy.

Now they’ve redone the app and relaunched it as Launch Center Pro. The basic point of this app is to make things easier to do and faster to do things. The shortcuts you create in the app can be specific to certain apps or people, like create a new item in Omifocus, or message or call a certain person to launch Instagram in the camera view.

The format of Launch Center Pro uses a grid of large buttons, that are accessible with gestures. There are a lot of supported apps and actions, and I really only went back to using the original a few weeks ago, but it saves me a lot of time and actions.

The one thing I do like is that you can schedule actions to happen, so for example if you want to write an entry in Day One everyday at a certain time, you can schedule it to notify you.

There are a lot of supported apps and actions, and they use the Custom URL scheme. If you are unfamiliar with what that is, it’s how you can launch apps and actions, and a developer has to use that within the app itself. If you want to add one that’s not included, you can check the handleOpenURL index. Most of the time though you can just try appname:// and see if it will open your app (replace appname with the name of the app you want.

You can also customize the icons in the app, which is nice, and I highly recommend you get it and start using it, the more you use it, the more you will get used to it and customize it.

Launch Center Pro is available right now for $2.99 in the App Store ($4.99 after the introductory pricing).

 

Apple’s Let’s talk iPhone Announcement

apple-iphone-event-iphone5Apple has it’s iPhone event tomorrow. It says Let’s talk iPhone, but we all expect them to announce iOS 5 and iCloud, as well as a new iPhone of some kind.

The Times to start listening and following along are:

7:00AM Hawaii

10:00AM Pacific

11:00AM Mountain

12:00PM Central

1:00PM Eastern

6:00PM London

Here are some places you can follow along.

TWiT

GDGT

Engadget

The Case for Google Voice

gvoicelogo.jpgI’ve been using Google Voice for a long time now, I started using the service when it was still called Grand Central. Since the Google takeover, the service has become more and more useful. Here is my case for everyone to make the switch to Google Voice.

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The newest feature that they’ve added is number porting. This of course means that you can port any current number you own to Google Voice for a small $20 fee. I myself wouldn’t want to port a cell number because you will be responsible for all ETF’s and other fees, but this makes more sense for people who want to get rid of their landline service and keep their number.

 

The part of the service that I use the most is the SMS, it allows you to send unlimited SMS messages for free through the service. This can be done on the iPhone and Android apps, as well as from the web interface. You can also send a message to up to 5 people as well.

The other feature that sells it for me is the phone forwarding options. This allows you to add all your current phone numbers to the service, and then when someone calls your Google Voice number it will ring to all those phones. Phones can be mobile, home or work, as well as Google Talk, and you can customize the times the phones will ring, so if you aren’t going to be home between 8-5 on weekdays, you can choose to not have it ring your home number at those times. If you are going to be in a meeting or have some work to get done, you can turn on the Do Not Disturb feature and all calls will go straight to voicemail. You can also record calls if you need to, of course you need to be aware of local laws regarding call recording.

If you don’t want to make the full switch, you can sign up for the service and just use it for voicemail on your mobile phone, because when you get a voicemail, it’s transcribed for you, so you don’t always have to listen to them. The transcription is not perfect, but 90% of the time I get the gist of it without having to listen to them.

The other thing that I love about the service is the call blocking, ever since I’ve been with the service, I hardly get anymore unwanted calls, and if I do, I block them and then the next time they call, they get the standard phone company “We’re sorry this number is no longer in service” message, and you’ll never get a call from them again.

It’s best also to keep your contacts in Google contacts and I would also recommend that you keep them in groups such as Family, Friends, Work, etc. That way, you can record separate voicemail greetings for each of those groups. Since it is a voip service, you can also buy credits to make very cheap international calls.

The service is great for what it does, and they seem to be rolling out new features on a regular basis, so go to the Google Voice website and get your number now and start using it.

As always if you have any questions you can email me or leave a comment below.

 

5 Things I Want to See in iOS 5

I love the iPhone, and have yet to take the leap into an iPad, but that’s the next item on my Apple purchase list. So with the release of iOS 4 the system got better, but it’s still a little lacking. Here are a few things I would like to see in iOS 5.

1. Wireless Sync

I would love to be able to sync without plugging in, especially if I want to just add a few items. This is available to jail-breakers, but not everyone wants to take that leap, so it’d be nice if apple could just turn the switch on and let us sync without wires.

2. Lock Screen Improvements

The lock screen is rather useless now, all you get is a clock, but I would love it if Apple bought the company that makes intelliscreen, which is a very useful lock screen for jailbreakers.

3. SMS Enhancements

At one time I had my idevice jail-broken, and loved biteSMS because I could reply to a SMS from the notification screen, or quickly compose a SMS from anywhere, this doesn’t seem like it would take too much to implement, and would be a wonderful addition.

4. Better Notifications

This one is a no-brainer, the current notification system is clunky and needs work, if you get multiple notifications you have to go through them one at a time, and they pop up on top of each other, this is another one that Apple needs to buy the company that makes the Notifier app for jail-broken devices, and it would make the notification system a lot more usable.

5. Default Apps

The built in Apple apps are nice, but not for everyone, I would like Apple to let the users choose their default apps, I don’t use the Calendar app, but if I make an appointment through mail, it goes into the calendar app, and for the love of God, let us delete the weather and other apps we don’t use or need.

This is just a small list, but it’s some of my biggest ones I would like to see implemented. Let me know in the comments what you would like to see changed in iOS5.

AirVideo: One of the Best iOS Apps

watch video on iphone

I started using this app during the first version, and if you don’t know what it is, I’ll explain that now.

AirVideo comes in two flavors, the free version and the $2.99 paid version. The main difference between the two is that the free version limits the number of items displayed in each folder.

AirVideo: Air

AirVideo Free: Air

Here’s the lowdown:

  • Video Streaming: Watch videos from your computer, over the air via WiFi or 3G, on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. No need to sync with iTunes or transfer files.
  • Live Conversion: Convert video from a non-iPhone friendly container like AVI or MKV, or codecs like XviD or DivX while you’re watching. No need to convert first, watch later.

Continue reading AirVideo: One of the Best iOS Apps

Apple Event To Be Streamed Live By Apple

In a move that no one knew was coming, Apple released a press release stating that they themselves would stream the event. There is a catch though, you have to have a Mac running Safari on OS X version 10.6, an iOS device with 3.0 or higher, or an iPad. This is because they will be using the open HTTP live streaming protocol.

In reading the multiple blogs about why Apple is deciding to do this, according to TechCruch, they claim that streaming media will be a key part of the event, I myself think that with the new Apple TV or iTV, that will introduce some sort of iTunes in the cloud option, but there will probably be limitations, as I wish I could put my 1.72TB of iTunes media on the cloud, but it would take a year to get it uploaded somewhere.

This will also cut back on the illegal streams and hopefully Steve won’t have to tell people to shut off their wireless devices.

Anyway, it’s all rumor and speculation, so tune in at 10 AM PST and watch for yourself at Apple.com.

My WWDC ’10 Predictions

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With the opening of WWDC 2010 tomorrow and the big keynote, I have been sifting through all the rumors and predictions and here is my list.

1. iPhone OS 4 along with iPhone HD

2. Safari 5 and a big Snow Leopard update

3. Cloud based iTunes / MobileMe

4. Updated Apple TV

Those are the big ones I think will be announced, since the new iPhone isn’t really a rumor anymore we can probably guarantee a new one. I don’t however think it will be available on Verizon.

Those are my thoughts on it, we’ll see for sure once the keynote starts.

My Daunting Snow Leopard Upgrade

thumb160x_snowleopardbox.png I am a somewhat new Mac user, and my MacBook Pro is just a month old, has been replace once a week after I got it for hard drive issues, so my second machine was starting to act funny, I got my copy of Snow Leopard and started the upgrade process (I had everything backed up to externals just in case I ran into issues). So the upgrade seemed to be going fine, until I got the message that said the operating system couldn’t be installed.

Next on my list was to boot from the disk, and use disk tools to format and repartition the drive and start from scratch, again no go. So, still not convinced that something was wrong, I tried to reinstall leopard on the frehshly formatted drive, and it installed fine, I then attempted to do the snow leopard upgrade again, and again I got an epic fail.

My hard drive was a little louder than usual, even before the upgrade, and I had been having issues of the spinning beach ball spinning for awhile, then the drive would catch up and it would run fine, but after three attempts I decided to go to the Genius Bar and see what they thought.

He took the machine in the back, and after about 10 minutes, came back and said they were going to replace the drive and that it would be ready on Tuesday, this was a Friday, and I needed my machine over the weekend. With a barely working machine, I headed home with my tail between my legs, but I remembered I had an old 80 gig drive that would work, so I formatted the drive and installed snow leopard on the external, swapped the drives in the machine, and limped along until Tuesday when my new drive was ready. I am now fully up and going, but I went through the most difficult upgrade process I have ever gone through.

The one thing I am happy about is that I could migrate everything from the external to the new internal, and all my settings, programs and documents were just the way I left them, I still had to reinstall a bunch of apps, but that’s not as big a deal on a mac as it is on a windows machine, so if you had similar or other issues with the Snow Leopard upgrade, let me know in the comments.

How to Tag Your Videos for iTunes the Easy Way

For a long time I was an avid windows user, and had a hard time properly tagging my videos for iTunes. I prefer to add MPAA ratings, actors, and all the data that you cannot add directly in iTunes itself. I didn’t like the fact that the videos would show up wrong, or the artwork was jacked up. Now to clarify, most of the videos you buy directly from the iTunes store or get as a digital copy off your DVD’s come properly tagged. The crisis was for downloaded content or movies that I rip from my personal DVD collection.

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Now that I am a full time mac user, I heavily rely on a couple of programs for getting the job done. If you want to get your personal DVD’s into iTunes and tag them the right way, I recommend the following combination of programs. Handbrake and MetaX. Handbrake is an open source app that takes DVD’s and a variety of other video files and converts them to a host of formats, the main one being MPEG-4 which is iTunes and iPod friendly. MetaX is a meta-data tagging application capable of batch tagging MPEG-4 as well as QuickTime videos.

Both programs will make your ripping and tagging much easier, and handbrake will throw the file into MetaX if you change that in the prefrences.

It’s an easy way to make sure that all your files are properly tagged and so iTunes puts them in the right place.