Thursday, October 15, 2009

Exploring the Wonderful World of PC 1985

This summer I took on the project of saving some of the old VHS, 8 mm film clips and mini dv tapes to my Mac.  I will be doing a few blogs on this procedure in November.  My main goal was to backup all those old tapes the kids made in junior high, before the tapes disintegrated.  

I came across a video on VHS  made in 1985 depicting a typical computer session in our home.  We were testing out the new VHS video recorder and I was trying to setup a new PC.  I had been an Apple user from day one, having such machines as a Lisa, Apple II, Apple II+, a Franklin (Apple clone), and Apple III.   The first programs, that I wrote and developed, were designed to run on Apple computers.   As my programs became popular, I was asked to port the software to the 'World of PC's'.    I thought I would post this old video, as an example of some old VHS footage that I was able to salvage.

Before I start explaining how I converted the numerous old VHS type tapes to my Mac, I thought I would explain how I was able to post this video into this blog.

Since the blogger site allows HTML embed code, this seemed the easiest way to embed the video to this site. So I went to my youtube site and brought up the video that I wished to place on this blog as an example.

To the left of the video, below the youtube account name and description of the video is the URL for this video, as well as the embed code for the particular video.  I also noticed a 'gear type icon' to the right of the embed code.  Clicking on this 'gear icon', options for adding a border, color theme and size to the player for this video was given. 

 I then copied the ‘embed code’ and pasted it into the blog HTML code editor for my blogger site.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flash or Not to Flash

There is a free app for the iPhone called 'Camera Flash Free' that I just downloaded to my phone.   It offers the options to take photos that are adjusted by a magical algorithm to provide light or flash to the end result.   The app also allows you to select a previously taken photo and to apply lighting to that photo as well.

I have taken a photo of a shiny coffee caref using the built in iPhone camera and also with the Camera Flash Free app.  Here are the results:

Secondly, I took the first photo above, the one taken with the built in camera app for the iPhone, and applied the lighting using the Camera Flash free app to an existing photo in my Camera Roll.  The results are below:

What do you think about this free flash app?  Does it help the photo?  Well, one thing is for sure, like you learn on ebay when taking photos of shiny objects, beware of the refection that appears on the object, you may expose yourself.

Changing and Viewing Permissions from Finder

On occasion, my husband and I exchange files via our dropboxes on the Mac.  Inevitably if I want to change a file or copy a file, it seems that the 'Permissions' have not been granted for me to do so.   Basically, when this happens, it is necessary to change the permissions on the file or folder.  This can be done from the finder, by the user who owns or is sharing the file.  Here are the steps necessary to change or view permissions from the finder:

Select the folder or file in the Finder.

Using the cmd I, to get info or ‘Get Info’ from the File Menu (from Finder)

Choose ‘Sharing and Permissions’ pop-down menu to view the various permissions that are allowable for that folder of file.  Click on the lock in lower right hand corner of the Get Info window, so that the lock is open.

Type in the Administrators Name and password, to allow changes to be made.

Next using the pop-up menus for ‘Privileges’ in the second column next to each user’s name, select from the options allowed.

To set the privileges to be applied to all enclosed items (folders, files) within a folder, select the ‘Gear Icon’ pop-down menu.   Select option, and then click OK when the alert box appears to apply to all enclosed items.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Update to MobileMe Site

Looks like Apple updated mobileme services today.  Adding an icon to quick access for 'find my iphone' feature.  Along with the new icon, the Find my iPhone feature will now play a sound at loudest volume on the misplaced phone.  Users are also given the option to password protect or lock the phone.

Subscribed calendars in iCal should now sync with the iPhone. 

There were some other minor fixes, as well as improvements to syncing with Snow Leopard, accessing iDisk and syncing reliability.

Additionally MobileMe Gallery can now accept movies created in Quicktime Player.

Moving Firefox Bookmarks to Safari for use on iPhone

I use Firefox and Safari browsers on my desktop Mac.  Since the iPhone uses Safari as a browser, it is handy to have bookmarks from each browser in the other browser's bookmark list.

It works primarily the same way moving from Safari to Firefox, and vice-versa.  Basically you use the 'Export' mode to create a html list of bookmarks that are saved to your desktop. Then you use the 'Import' option to import that list to the desired browser.

For Firefox, you will find the option by selecting 'Organize Bookmarks' from the 'Bookmarks' menu. A list of bookmarks will appear in a browser window.

Select 'All Bookmarks' and under the 'Pop-down' star icon menu, select 'Export HTML' option.  Select where to save the file and give the file a recognizable filename.

You can click on this html source code and it will appear in a browser window, with a list of the clickable links that were saved in the html format.

Next open the other browser, in this case, Safari. Select 'Import Bookmarks' under the 'File' menu and select the file that was saved in html format from the Firefox browser.
The bookmarks will be imported at the bottom of the current bookmark lists, rename by clicking on the name and giving it a name that reflects that it is imported from Firefox.   As you add more bookmarks to Firefox, you will have to export and import to Safari, removing or deleting previous bookmarks that were imported previously to keep an updated list.  It would be nice if these would auto sync from browser to browser, but currently this is the best way to transfer bookmarks.

Using Picasa to Import iPhone Photos

Picasa, the application available for free from Google, has a wide variety of uses and is becoming one of my favorite and simple to use apps for photos. 

I discovered that if you run Picasa and connect your iPhone to your Mac, you can access and download the photos from your iPhone to you Mac.  Select the device, in this case, the iPhone from the pop-down menu.

Once selected, the photos stored on the iPhone will appear in the window on the right hand side.  If you select a photo on the left, you will see the preview of the photo and the information such as name, size, date below the preview.   You can use the ‘curved arrows’ to rotate the photo for best or correct orientation for import.

You can select all the photos to import or select only those you wish to import.  You can exclude ‘Duplicates’.  You can select ‘Cancel’ to abort the importing of photos.

If you choose to import some or All the photos, you will be given the options of selecting the folder where the imports will be placed, creation of a subfolder, ability to enter info on the photo location, date, description.   You will be able to leave the photos on the camera, iphone or device, or delete all photos or selected photos.

Once you have imported the selected photos, it seems that Picasa will mark the photos and the preview with a small red x in a circle on those photos that have been imported previously.

This application not only gives me an alternate means to download the photos from my iPhone, but also from my digital cameras and scanner.  

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Salvaging a Photo by Cropping (Picasa)

I just recently started taking photos. I had always given way to letting my husband and family members take the photos. I have found that even if you are a beginner, you can often salvage those photos that seem to have nothing to offer.

For instance, while at a recent event, where my husband was the star attraction, there was no one to do the photography, but me. So I whipped out his fancy camera, tried to utilize the zoom to focus in on the action of the moment. As I had never really used his camera, I wasn’t very successful in capturing his rocketing speed around the racetrack.

Since the number of pixels for his camera offered me a smaller photo area within the original photo of still good resolution to produce a better photo, I decided to try cropping and editing in Picasa again.

I double clicked on the original photo, bringing up the ‘Basic Fixes’ tab option.

Then I clicked on ‘Crop’ and this brought up the pop-down menu that allowed me numerous common sizes that I might like to use for producing a nice snapshot (4x6, 5x7, 8x10), manual cropping, or for use in slideshow or video production (4:3, 16:10, 16:9). These standard sizes allow one to produce the right pixel dimensions without manually having to guess.

The nice option to undo the crop, and recrop the photo is an extra nice option.

The use of digital cameras, photo editing software has allowed us to all to pick up the camera and give it a shot!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Editing Old Halloween Photo with Picasa

The application that is available through Picasa allows me to do so many cool things with old photos. I just took this photo and cleaned up some spots on the photo using the 'retouch' option in the photo editing pallette. It does a nice job of removing those spots on old photos. The nice thing about Picasa is the ability to undo many editing techniques as you check results and change your mind.

There are auto color, auto contrast options that can fix a photo in one click in some cases. With this photo, I applied the 'auto color' adjustment and then 'cropped' some off the left side of the photo to give it more balance.

Another option that is available is to automatically 'Blog This'. I was able to select these two photos, the before and after from Picasa window and click on the 'Blog This' to instantly put these photos onto my eblogger with text.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Avoiding Excessive iPhone Costs While Traveling & Other Tips

One of the things I do when I use my iPhone overseas, is send my important itineraries, maps, medical documentations, copy of passport pages, and such to my account.  Since mac account is an iMap account, I read those emails before I leave, putting them in folders in the mac mail account and I am able to access this information on my iPhone, even if I don't use the phone or have access to wifi. 

I was on a boat in the middle of Galapagos island, I had music from the ipod player, itineraries, notes in my notepad, Spanish lessons to listen to in the form of mp3 podcasts, maps of islands to visit, alarm clock, games,  flight info, etc.  All in one small device, easily accessible. 

I kept the phone specifically set to 'Data Roaming OFF', left it in airplane mode, until I had access to wifi in hotels in Equador and Peru.  I was able to send emails to family from Macchu Pichu.  How cool is that!

Remember that any text messages, voice mail and emails sent by others will be billed to you as data received.  So I always notify my family and friends not to call me or send excessive emails.  So if you have an account that is set for business that you might receive tons of emails on your iphone and you don't want to pay for the ones sent to that account, you should also disable that account on your iPhone while away.

Remember that when using your iPhone in other countries, there will be roaming charges which will  cost you more to make calls or download data. And since the iPhone constantly checks email accounts and can be used to browse the web, data roaming can quickly add up to lots of money.

There are two easy ways to avoid incurring the huge charges that iPhone data roaming can cause:
    •    ATT's Data Global Package
    •    Turn off Data Roaming

The ATT's Data Global Package is designed for iPhone users in over 29 designated countries.  You can check the pricing and availability for the country you will be visiting at this site:

Remember to use WiFi as often as possible, rather than the 3G or Edge network.  Remember also that some countries and areas may advertise WiFi, but the internet may really be a devoted 3G network.

On your iPhone go to 'Settings', 'General', 'Network'.   Set 'Data Roaming OFF'.  This will prevent your iPhone from accessing any cellular network data services, even automatically when you might be unaware of it, if a roaming surcharge would be applied. From this same screen, you can additionally turn off 'Enable 3G'.

At the most extreme, but simpler to do, you can enable the iPhone's 'Airplane Mode', essentially turning your iPhone into an iPod and game machine.

If you intend to leave all of the above options enabled, at least 'disable Push' and 'set Fetch to Manual'. Do this by going to 'Settings', 'Fetch New Data'.

Goto 'Settings', 'General' and Turn OFF 'Locations'.   These changes can reduce usage at least a bit.
Remember, you are free to reverse any of these settings whenever you want the access back temporarily.

You may also want to check  out the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit, to make sure you have the correct plugs for charging your phone in foreign countries.

NOTE: Did you know that you can put the iPhone in 'Airplane Mode', but still use the 'Wifi'? This will turn off the access to phone calls and enable you to connect to Wifi when available. Merely, put in 'Airplane Mode' and then select 'Wifi'.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Image Capture Extras - Sharing & Retrieving iPhone Photos & Movies

Just noticed a new feature in Image Capture that allows you to share devices such as iPhone with others on your network.  When you attach an iPhone to your Mac and run Image Capture it gives you the ability to retrieve photos in full resolution and movies from your iPhone, via an Import button.  You also have the options to save these to folder of choice.  You can also ‘Share your iPhone’ with those users on your network running Snow Leopard.  For those of you that have had a hard drive crash and want to retrieve what photos and videos are left on your iPhone, this is a great way to do so!

You can view the photos in list format with info columns: name, date, file size, aperture, depth, color space, width, height, DPI, EXIF, focal length, Shutter Speed, ISO, Location (GPI coordinates), Flash, Maker, Model for each photo.  You can also view the photos in icon form.  You can rotate or delete photos from buttons located in the lower left corner of window.  The right hand corner slider allows you to increase the size of the thumbnail of the photos viewed in list or icon view.

You can  import photos to mail, preview or iphoto or other folders on your Mac.   You can build web page with your photos and also make pdf file.   Once the files are imported a green circle with check mark indicates those photos that have been imported previously.

You can also sort the photos by any of these columns.  Sort by date, name, etc.

The ‘Make PDF’ option, takes selected photos from camera or iPhone and imports them into the ‘Make PDF’ app which allows you many options for saving, printing or viewing.  You will find numerous layouts for the pdf file format.  There is also a custom layout setting that allows you to choose paper size, picture size or width and height of image, with ability to crop image to this picture size or fit image within the picture size and to save this custom layout.

The option to Build Webpage, allows the user to store the images files in the download folder that are selected to a folder called Webpages or to folder you create in your iDisk, if You are a
mobileMe member and then you can publish them to the web.  A folder named ‘Webpage’ (with a date time stamp in name)  is created by default in the Picture folder.  Once created, you can use an FTP (file transfer protocol) to upload it to your web server. 

Both of these options ‘Build Webpage’ and ‘Make PDF’ make use of the new ‘automatic tasks’ of Snow Leopard.

This is a great way to both be able to download photos also from other devices such as cameras.   I can also access my scanner using Image Capture.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Exploring Vlingo

I have been looking at the various voice commands available with my new 3GS iPhone, which allow me to call phone numbers, call contacts in my address book, make correction (cancel, wrong, nope, no, not that), start music, play a specific playlist, play a specific artist, pause the music, skip to next song, go back to previous song, shuffle my songs, turn on Genius feature, get info about what music is playing, and get help.

Basically to activate the voice command on a 3GS iPhone, you hold down the 'home button' for a few seconds and just talk.  So far it is working pretty good.

I decided to see if there were any other apps that might be useful for voice commands and remembered I had downloaded the app 'Vlingo' and had not taken the time to explore what it had to offer.

It has some pretty neat features as well.  Besides the ability to call a contact in the address book, it had some other interesting features.  You can search Google maps by speaking:

Search the web by using Yahoo! or Google

Update your status by speaking on Facebook or Twitter.

Vlingo links to Facebook and Twitter and you have the ability to pull up your Twitter and Facebook accounts from Vlingo and view profiles, friends, messages and webpage for standard viewing.  It is a fast, efficient means to update your status on either social site, via speech that is translated to text for update and posting to either account.  The translation seems to be working effectively and without too many mistakes in translation.  I would definitely recommend this app and it is free, too!

The translation of what I spoke was so good that I decided to use it to send an email.  So I selected the 'Social' tab and tapped the 'Press + Speak' button and talked.  Then I selected the text in the bubble at the top of the screen, did a 'copy' ... moved to my email program on my iPhone and pasted it into the body of the email.   Could be cool to see how you could talk, translate to text and paste to send friends email.