Monday, August 30, 2010

Rotating Video on Macintosh

I have discovered that when I took photos with my iPhone still or video camera in landscape mode and viewed them on a Mac they were fine, but if I uploaded them to one particular site online and viewed them on that site, the photo was displayed in Portrait Mode and was not in the orientation for best viewing the photo or video.  The site developer said their software for uploading the photo was Windows based and that my Mac was smarter, in that it was able to ascertain the orientation of the photo while the Windows software or PC was not.

If you are on a Mac and need to rotate the original Landscape video and save it in Portrait mode, you can do so using Quicktime player 7.  This version of Quicktime 7 for Mac still runs on Snow Leopard and you have to have also purchased the extra 'mpeg2 module' from Apple to run with this old version of Quicktime to access many of the movie features.   I have found the $20 is a fair price for the added features that I have used extensively to convert old VHS tapes to viewable format for youtube videos, as well as for making DVD's using iMovie for old home movies. 

Selecting 'Show Movie Properties' under the 'Window' menu.
Then select the 'video track' of the movie

and then select 'Visual Settings' tab to rotate using the option button next to 'Flip/Rotate'

Select Save as and save the movie in the new Portrait Orientation.
I put an example of a video on my youtube site that illustrates flipping a video and rotating it 90 degrees.  Sample Rotated Video

If you need to rotate a photo, you can use various apps on your iphone  or iPad to do so, I like an app called Rotate Mojo and another called Rotater.  If using a Macintosh, you can always, use applications such as iPhoto itself or Picasa (which is available on the Picasa.com website for free).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An iPad in the Labor Room, is this a good idea?

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of the first grandson and third grandchild - scheduled for delivery sometime tomorrow.  I was wondering if the expectant father will be allowed to bring all his hitech gear to use while waiting for the big event.

Do they allow iPhones and iPads in delivery and pre-labor rooms these days?  Should a father come prepared for the big event or should he devote his time to calming the mother and being there for her reassurance - comforting her when the labor progresses?

Could the father track the labor contractions?  One might consider the Labor Mate app that keeps track of contractions by merely tapping the stop watch timer screen, keeping records of those contractions so that you can accurately report the results to the doctor and alert him to the impending arrival of your newborn.

I was playing solitaire on my computer this morning and thinking of the time spent in the pre-labor room, wondering if the distraction of playing solitaire on an iPad would have helped pass the hours before the delivery.  Would this be a good diversion for mothers in labor to help them concentrate on something different from the contractions that are coming?  There is an excellent free Solitaire game for the iPad called McSolitaire that might come in handy to pass the time.  McSolitaire is also available for your laptop as well.  Or maybe you could try out MishMash available for both the iPad or laptop, which allows you to do jigsaw puzzles.  Or how about the many apps that provide soothing sound effects and lovely surreal photos of thunderstorms, rain, ocean waves, birds chirping or many others?

There are various apps for tracking information during the pregnancy such as iBaby and iPregnancy, that might be reassuring during those long nine months.   There is an app that once the baby has arrived you can track how often you change, feed, and put the infant to sleep.  This app Baby Change touts that it helps the parents to keep track of daily events, like feedings, naps, changing the diapers or anything else you would like to track.  You can set alarms to remind you when these events might occur.  Amazing, that I was able to rely on the baby himself to alarm me when I was bringing up my children. 

Of course, having the video and instant photo or recording of the baby to email or share to everyone would be great.  If you are fortunate to have an iPhone 4 then you could FaceTime the arrival almost instantly to those friends and family.  There is also Knocking Video Live app that would allow a quick glimpse of the newborn to those with standard iPhones and even iPads.

And if you haven't finalized the name of the baby yet, you could use one of the Baby Names apps to help you pick a name while you are waiting for the arrival.  I remember distinctively not having picked a name for our son and having to frantically pick a name, as they would not let me leave the hospital before he was named.

As all parents realize later, we sometimes get so busy that we didn't have the time to write down all the important firsts that occurred especially if this was not the first child, so I definitely suggest an app to keep track of all the vital statistics and first events that occur in the little one's first years.   Did you know that some universities want proof that your now 18 year old son, had all his baby shots? 

I suggest using your iPad and iPhone if they let you bring it along, but be sure to share it with the mother to be.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pong, Water Skis and Speed Control

I am amazed at the products and services offered on the internet. I am also amazed by the tweeters or so-called experts, who give out marketing advise on how to build a start-up company.   It might sound odd, but I have a few words of wisdom and experience.

My husband is a very inventive guy, in fact an engineer.  There were times over the past 42 years he came up with some clever ideas.  I remember the time he made this game, that he wanted me to play on an oscilloscope.  In fact this was back in 1964, that he tried to coax me into the spare bedroom to play this game on the screen.  At the time, I could not imagine people enjoying such activities as sitting in front of a screen hitting a ball around or back in forth.  I enjoyed the game of ping pong but could not fathom that this would be something that the average consumer might enjoy playing in their spare time.  Well, that was definitely a wrong assumption, as we all know that in late 1964 or sometime after that period a company named Atari released the first video game of sorts called 'Pong', a very big hit and the leader to what we all know today as video games.  I learned a lesson at that point in my life, that one should support the ideas of your spouse, encouraging them to follow through on their inventions. 

I also learned that as the years past, there were other ideas that would surface and I stepped forward as a dutiful wife to offer support.  In some cases these ideas were great, but I could see that often the creating and bringing the idea to substance was often more fun for him than following through with the actual marketing of the idea to others.

In one case, he had an idea for fiber-glass water skis.  We had always skied on the old heavy wooden skis and found them cumbersome for the type of water-skiing that we performed: tricking.   He had read an article in an old Popular Mechanics magazine about someone building a sailboat from scratch using epoxy and a special light weight foam material and fiberglass cloth.   Now imagine, that you have a screened in porch that becomes your assembly area.  You order this foam and the epoxy materials and proceed to build 'trick' water skis.  As I recall he made a pair for each of us, one for our 8 month old daughter (for future use), a pair in payment to the boy next door who mowed our lawn and a pair for sending to Cypress Gardens.  The skis were light-weight and a dream to ski on and we used them for many years.  We spent hours sanding and perfecting the layers of epoxy and fiberglass strips onto the foam form that was cut out with a jig-saw, I believe.  The end results were perfection.  We designed a simple white ski with a couple of simple red stripes along the ski.  They were beautiful.  We were naive and trusting, as we sent the pair of skis to Cypress Gardens in Florida.  We had not patented or taken necessary steps to protect the idea.  And it wasn't too long after, that Cypress Gardens introduced their fiberglass water-skis, amazingly with almost the same simple red and white design we had sent them.  They didn't even bother to change the appearance which surprised me.

As the years past, and work and family consumed most of our time, there were fewer inventions that came forth, but another one that I remember was the speed-control for our inboard waterski boat.  If you have ever water skied in tournaments you know that the speed of the boat is paramount to how successful you are in completing a 'trick run'.  As a wife, I tried my best to provide the utmost perfection in controlling the speed of the boat, listening to the hum of the rpm's and doing a pretty good job I thought.  Eventually, he took the idea of a speed-control for the boat and came up with a device that we were able to use on our boat to control the speed automatically in 1970's.  The thrill of creating had again been reached and the follow through to market to others never materialized.  It wasn't long after, maybe a year or two people were trying to come up with a device to control the speed on boats.  I would say it took them at least 10 year to perfect the device and we eventually had one on our last boat as an add-on feature in late 1980's.

I guess I need to make a point here and how this point pertains to products and marketing.  First:  You must have a product that consumers use.  Second:  You must protect your ideas with patents and legal advise.  Third:  You must follow through from creation to market.

:-)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recycling Old Devices - Understanding PlayStation Controller

I have always tried to find a new home or another use for my many devices, as they are replaced with later updates or models.  Some of these items end up in the guest rooms of my home for use.

One such device was the Playstation One player that has long been replaced with a newer model.  At first I thought guests might play games on the old TV, that has also found a home upstairs in the guest room.  But it has been used more as a DVD player for children's movies at bedtime, than as a gaming device.  When the  granddaughters visit, one of the treats at my home is to allow them to watch some Madeline movies.  We have the original movie, as well as a series of animated stories.  The stories are one's that they enjoy seeing over and over again and they are always thrilled to pick which ones they will watch each night.  The stories have great moral lessons.


As Granny gets older,  it is often hard to remember which buttons on the PS controller do what to operate in the DVD mode and it often takes me a while to remember which of the symbols on the controller will get that the movie to play.

I just love the internet, I just read a snippet of what the symbols on the controller stand for and maybe now I will be able to remember logically which one operates the device properly.  Here is what the designer had intended when he used the symbols:  pink square, red circle, green triangle and blue X on the controller:   Article referencing the following quote located on technologizer.com:
"We wanted something simple to remember, which is why we went with icons or symbols … I gave each symbol a meaning and a color. The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one’s head or direction and made it green. Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively."
So next time the granddaughters request a movie, I will try to remember this unique description for the controls and see if I can get that Madeline movie rolling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What to Do While Standing in LIne

When you are waiting in line, time can pass by quite slowly.   This is especially true when you are waiting in a line that is a bit on the long side.  But in this ever-expanding world of technology, it seems there is always something at one's fingertips.  Some of the technology you may have on hand with you at any given time, and that may help pass the time, might be: a cell phone, a PSP or other gaming device, iPod or MP3 player, Kindle, or even a camera.

Having a cell phone this day in age is like having a mini computer.  You can connect to the internet to accomplish all sorts of tasks.  While you are waiting in line, you can access the internet and check your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites. One can easily update his or her status, letting everyone know that standing in line is boring, and you prefer being on Facebook.   Or you can upload those pictures you have meant to update, send out that e-mail, or finally add those people. While also online, go ahead and pay some bills, or order that item you have had your eye on.   Or, check your bank account to make sure you have the money to cover a shopping spree. You could even download ringtones, music, games, or wallpaper while you are waiting.

While also on your phone, there are several other things to help pass the time that do not involve the internet.  For instance, you can take an updated picture of yourself.  Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone is a tad bit vain, and we like to have pictures of ourselves. You remember those games that you downloaded?   Go ahead and play them.  Try to get the high score, or beat the pre-existing one. You could also text your friends. You could make sure that plans you have made are still on, or ask a question that has been on your mind.

Some people may also have a PSP (Play Station Portable) or other hand-held gaming device with them. Pop in a game, turn the sound off if you need to, and play.   Some devices even allow you to play movies on them, so you could finish that movie that you started three weeks ago.  You can always plug-in a pair of headphones, and listen to either the movie or game without disturbing those around you.

IPods and other MP3 players are also popular devices.   These allow you to listen to music or podcasts.   Some even transmit radio.   And, like the hand-held gaming device, you could even watch movies or music videos.  Some even give an option to download new items, so you can update your musical selections while you are waiting.

A Kindle is also another popular gadget one might have.  With a Kindle, one can read a book anywhere, without having to tote a heavy book around.   Waiting in line is a great opportunity to finish that chapter you are trying to finish, or even those last few pages of that book.  Most gadgets like this can connect to the internet, so you can download more books you want, or update your wish list.

Some people carry cameras around. You never know when that perfect opportunity to take a picture will be.   Sometimes, we do not delete those pictures that are of no use to us. While waiting in this long line, you could pass the time by going through the pictures on your camera, and deleting the ones that you do not need.  You can also change your settings, to make sure you are taking the best pictures and videos you can.

Cell phones, PSPs or other hand-held gaming devices, iPods and MP3 players, Kindles, and cameras are great devices to help pass the time. With all these devices, who can ever say, "I'm bored" again? These devices are the perfect size to take anywhere, even while standing in line.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Increase Exposure for Your Personal or Home Business Using Technology

There are several ways to increase exposure to your personal or home business using technology that you already have or can easily apply.  Two main methods are through implementing social networks, as a member of Twitter or Facebook and by utilizing portable devices, such as an iPod Touch or iPad, laptop, or cell phones.

Social networks allow you to connect to both potentially new and current customers.  Using contests, you can generate interest in and create buzz for your product and services.   For instance, on Facebook, you can alert your friends and family that you run a business or service.

You can even create a Facebook page for that business, which will describe what you have to offer to all your friends - inviting them to join that page.  On your business' Facebook page for instance, if you run a computer repair business, you can offer a special code for 20% off a customer's first computer repair. This practice will entice new customers to try out your business and will help promote repeat customers.

For returning customers, offer periodic discounts, super saving coupons, contest or raffle. This type of selling practice will make sure that your customers continue to look at your page for the latest new and upcoming deals and promotions.  The extra exposure you acquire from these deals will likely lead to repeat customers.  Your business name will become 'branded' and stay fresh in their mind.

While social networks offer great services to advertise your products, other technologies also allow you to more efficiently and effectively run your business.   For example, for almost all phones there are expense trackers and "to do list" applications.  To run the best business, you should always enter the relevant information into your expense tracker and complete tasks on your "to do lists". With a mobile expense tracker, you can add purchases, such as new repair discs for your computer business to your tracker while you wait in-line to pay for these items.   The same applies to your "to-do list".   You no longer have to worry about carrying around a pencil and paper to keep track of your to do's.  There are many apps available to keep track of hours spent on services, as well as traveling expenses incurred for business deductions on your taxes.

Finally, you can use your technology and social networks simultaneously for a better overall optimal business solution.  And if you have investors, you can start a private or public page on a social media site, and keep them up to date on your activities.  You can also provide customers with knowledge of local activities that relate to your business, as well as support for your product or services.  For instance, if you are showing off your business at a job fair, you can use a GPS locator on your phone to send your location to potential applicants. These applicants can then visit you by following directions from your Facebook page. Or, they can just submit their applications from home to your social media site - how easy is that! 

If you use technology and social networks correctly, you are sure to gain better exposure for your business while running it more effectively.  By utilizing social media sites, small businesses can gain needed exposure at little to no costs, which gives them a chance for a more even playing field in today's advertising market.  Social media sites can provide the branding and interaction with customers needed for a successful business.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A New Kind of Tech Frustration

Tech Frustration seems to be common for more people these days.

In our present world, everything is about up-to-date technology, the latest hand-held devices, and nobody can forget about finding the newest apps.  Laptops seem to be getting smaller every year, while phones and blackberries are constantly acquiring new capabilities, seemingly wiping out the need for a computer. Although this technology and amazing new era of communication should be exciting for people all around the world,  some find that this wave of technology leaves them groaning and disappointed.

The reason? It's the same reason these new devices aren't spreading as fast as companies had hoped: Price.

All technology, especially the newest generations, comes at a high cost, and this cost is often too high for the average person, especially in the current economic climate. With the price of new iPhones at over $500, and sometimes even reaching $800, it's no surprise that other rival companies to Apple are coming out with similar devices at a lower cost.  But what frustrates many persons, the most about these devices is that even the alternatives to the iPhone cost hundreds of dollars, and the expenses don't stop with the mere cost of the phone. Depending on what company they buy the device from, they can rack up a cell phone bill averaging hundreds of dollars a month between calling, texting, internet, and data plans, especially if they are buying for their entire family and not just themselves.

And then there's the cost of apps.  A lot of them are free, but others are not.   It is not unusual for some teenagers to have 150 apps on their phones that would cost almost as much as the price of the phone itself.  For some parents, that is the breaking point.  Some parents can't afford dishing out a ridiculous amount of money every month to these companies so that they can receive texts from friends, that text them 50 times a day about the latest Red Sox scores, or so their daughter can check her email and Facebook her friends at school while she's supposed to be paying attention in class.

Now, you probably don't want to be that monster mom or dad that suddenly takes away everybody's cell phone and cuts off their access to everything completely, but you might recognize that some changes need to be made to manage these rising costs.   Some families have to work out compromises, ones that can decrease the family costs while still allowing for the moderate use of this technology. 

Possibly a compromise to keep unlimited texting on the phones, is an OK solution, as that is not the bulk of your phone bill, but instead removing the internet capabilities on your devices, since you already have laptops in the house with wireless internet readily available to you.   Also, you might consider restricting your family to free apps only, since the cost of hundreds of apps might be unnecessarily driving up your expenses.

By limiting the extent of your devices' technology, it can save your family a lot of  unnecessary expenses. Getting past the frustration of the price of technology may take you a bit longer.  But, since the general trend is for prices to come down after a new technology has been on the market for years, you may not have to restrict your devices in the future.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Since you can't use Flash software on Apple mobile devices, what is a mobile techie to do?

Finding Apple friendly sites for your mobile device can be a very daunting task for the average techie user. Below is a collection of some great websites that have been "techie tested" and Apple "approved'.

For the best experience make sure you have the latest browser available - okay, ready, set, here we go!

http://vaullt.com
"A Video Showcase by Tim Potter" featuring "The Revenge of the Cossack Hat".  This site is a must see.  It will keep you entertained while you're waiting for a flight, or just because you need it.

http://www.simplymattd.com
If you enjoy comedy check out Simply Matt.  A really funny guy whose site is littered with quips and funnies as well as a schedule for locking in a live show.  This site has regular jokes and a Blog too, so check it out.  I'm sure Matt would love to hear from you.

http://eyestylesllc.com
For an eyewear site, Eye Styles is actually pretty hip.  Offerings of gaming and computer classes make this site a little better than a trip to the store and if you need them, it's a good site for eyewear too.

http://www.devinist.de
This Hi Tech site for Andrew Fuchs has some unusual interface options, that you will want to experience for yourself. The Munich based Media Innovation Lab has created eye candy for those who covet amazing graphics and more interesting usability.  It's sure to get your creative ideas flowing.

http://www.edgarleijs.nl
One of the best by far, this personal site for Edgar Leijis is an amazing example of just how great the graphics can be on your Apple mobile devices.  Boasting a zero loading time there is no reason not to see it for yourself.   This is the future of web design literally at your fingertips.

http://gandrweb.com
This web designer's site sponsors Build Guild, a monthly event for locals in the web community and promises a good time for all who attend (if you reside in the Abilene TX area that is). Gandr Web Design is also a good site to keep up with other Apple friendly websites.

http://www.cherryblossomcakesdc.com/
Planning an event in DC? Celebrations can be a hassle but not if you've got Cherry Blossom Cakes on speed dial.   These cakes really make any event special and to top it off they are a pleasure to look at, such beautiful creations equally serve an artistic purpose.

http://www.thetravelagency.cc
Finally, you don't want to miss this one.  The ultimate media experience in the form of a virtual journey, The Travel Agency is rich with information, as well as incredible interface.  From Amsterdam to K-Swiss, they really do make stories travel.

Finding sites based on HTML4, 5 or CSS doesn't have to be a hassle. With the sites listed above you should be on your way to loving your iPhone or your brand new iPad, and you don't have to skimp on the fun to find graphically interesting content to watch, listen or read anytime, anyplace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If iPhone Isn't in the Cards for You

If a person can't or won't change to AT&T what device would you recommend to them? Why? What small, portable tech devices are the closest in spirit to Apple's products?

The Droid series from Motorola, HTC and others offer almost everything the iPhones do.

The Android phones offer several options not available on the current generation of iPhones:  (These options are basically not available on the Apple iPhone, due to the policies of Apple in regards to Flash and their system regulations.   I support Apple on making these decisions and feel that they have always had policies that produced superior and innovative products).
  1. Flash integration in the latest versions of the OS (Froyo, or v. 2.2)
  2. Physical keyboards in several models.  Although I personally like a touch keyboard over the tiny keys available on physical keyboards.  Apple also includes numerous international keyboards as a standard option in its system.
  3. Ability to "root" the phone (or disable the standard UI in order to implement modifications)
  4. No application censoring in the Android Marketplace (whereas Apple holds a tight rein over the type of content that may be added to their store).   
There are several apps that allow you to modify and customize almost all of your phone's abilities, based on, for example, your proximity to a wi-fi connection, or whether it's lying face up or face down. Automatically turn down the volume on a call from your deaf grandmother, or lower the volume of notifications and turn off wi-fi when you enter your office. Apple does not allow this sort of automated manipulation, nor do earlier versions of the iPhone allow multitasking apps, at which the Android platform excels. The latest version of the platform also allows USB tethering and hotspot creation.

Perhaps the best feature of the Android-based phones is the smooth and nearly complete integration with Google Apps. Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Latitudes, Places, Night Sky, Google Earth, etc., all come either pre-installed, or they can be installed with a few clicks through the Android Market. Best of all, a GPS navigation system via Google Maps is useable for most of these apps.

The Android also has apps similar to the ones available on the Apple iPhone.   Looking for a great restaurant? Go to Places and look for restaurants - you'll instantly get a listing of nearby restaurants. Click on one of the restaurant results to read an  up-to-date reviews.  Call them with a touch of a button, make reservations, and either get directions for later, or hit the Navigate button to fire up the GPS and head on over.  A long keypress on the URL and you can copy the information, paste it to your calendar, and create an event to send to your friends.   If they don't use the calendar, you can paste that information into a Google Talk dialog, or send it in Gmail.  Take some photos with your friends, and upload it to Picasa.  Even take a video and upload it to the Google-owned YouTube. 

Where Apple probably takes the lead in screen resolution, in the realm of hardware capabilities, many of the Android phones are equal to or near to the iPhone's capabilities, including video recording, photography and sound quality.   If you can't or won't change to ATT, an Android phone may be the next best thing to an iPhone. -

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back-to-School Ideas for the Tech Loving Child

(and ways to treat yourself while buying for them)


If your child loves technology, then the back-to-school season is a great time to find products for him or her, since many stores offer back-to-school discounts.  At the same time, you can usually find a way to treat yourself by also buying discounted products or by using reward cards.

The right purchase for your child depends on his or her age and what you want to spend.  Most people would not consider a computer inexpensive, but if you do, then the back-to-school time is great for your technology-focused kid. You can find a new, cheap computer for around $300 that can last many years. Your child can learn a lot from a computer, such as a programming language, how to work software programs, or how to install components.  However, this option is not open to every child.

Searching yard sales, Craigslist and eBay, you can find a used computer at a lower price. This way, your child can learn first-hand how to fix a computer and install new software. If he or she ever needs any help, you can guide them as they repair the computer.

For a less expensive item for your younger child, you can look at the products offered by Leapfrog.   Leapfrog offers many educational toys that look and act like laptops. These toys work great for younger children because the toys teach the children a lot, and since kids love imitating older people, they enjoy these toys that look like their parents' laptops.

There are also many robots that are perfect for older children.  Using these robots, kids can begin to see how batteries and radio frequencies work.  As a parent, you could even buy a few, simple books on these subjects to help encourage your child's interest in technology.

Another inexpensive option is to sign your child up for a local, technology-focused group. These groups may exist in your neighborhood or at the nearby library; or, you may need to start a group yourself.  Either way, these groups can grow your child's interest in technology, especially if you bring in other parents who work in technology-related fields. Also, your child can make friends with other kids who like technology.  There may even be special classes or clubs at your child's school that he or she can join to learn more.

Trying to find the right products and ideas for your technology-focused child could be difficult, but you can also benefit from it.  If you plan on buying anything for your child, make sure you use a credit card or a store card that uses a rewards program.  Generally, store rewards programs offer better rewards, but these rewards tend to be redeemable in that store only.  So, if you find a certain product for your kid, you should look to bigger stores like Target or Amazon, so that you can also find something you like at that store.  Also, if you find a good technology-related program for your child, you will be able to meet other parents, which may develop into new friendships.

Ultimately, when you find the best product or program for your child, you will be ensuring that his or her knowledge and interest in technology grows.

Monday, August 16, 2010

All I want for Christmas is my two bluetooth devices - Magic TrackPad and Bluetooth iPhone Headset

I just received my Magic Trackpad this week and bravely ventured to connect it to my desktop Mac and give it a try. Of course, setting up a bluetooth device on a Mac is fairly straight forward. You turn on the device, turn on bluetooth in your system preferences and then click on a setting to have the Mac discover the device. It a matter of seconds, the device will show up as an option, ‘connect to device’. Shortly, you will be prompted to download the driver for the Magic Trackpad, quit all applications and install with a reboot.

Once connected you will want to open the ‘TrackPad’ hardware icon in your System Preferences and proceed to set up your TrackPad according to your preferences:

Basically, the entire process of settings is based on one, two, three and four finger movements.  One finger to click and to point or hover over icons, files and such on your desktop.  Two fingers to use to scroll left and right and up and down, to pinch open and closed and to zoom.   Three fingers is best used for me to drag icons, files, and things on my desktop.  Three fingers will select and will move things basically.  Four fingers can be set to use with Expose and to use across your desktop from left or right or up and down on the desktop.

For instance, if I swipe to the right or left on my TrackPad with four fingers, the cute dock of apps I am currently running magically appears in the middle of my desktop, allowing me to use the one finger click to select between these open applications.   If I swipe with four fingers in the up direction on my TrackPad my desktop is magically cleared of all open windows cluttering it.  If I swipe with four fingers in the downward direction on my TrackPad - all the apps reappear in a neat organized grid pattern on my desktop.

It takes a little practice to get used to using the trackpad, but the learning curve, even for someone in her 60’s was only about a half hour.   I only lost two files that I picked up with the three finger gesture and dropped somewhere.  Spotlight said they were on my desktop, but I wasn’t able to see them, so suspect that I dropped them outside the viewing desktop.  I just searched for the two files and used the spotlight search window to select them with one finger, move them with three fingers into a temp folder on my desktop.

I would have to say that my wireless mouse is now feeling a little neglected as this Magic TrackPad is replacing him.   I have also found that the battery in the trackpad has lasted much longer than the one in the mousepad.   It is said that blue-tooth devices are good for short distances and also use less energy.  We tested the use of the TrackPad from a larger distance from my real desktop and it did seem to lack the ability to communicate efficiently.

Now this may sound strange, but I have my desktop computer hooked via cable to my Home Theater setup in my office (which is also our theater room).   We like to watch Instant Movies from Netflix that run on the Mac computer.  We put the Mac computer into ‘Mirror Screens’ mode, and the movies play on the desktop computer, while simultaneously appearing on the Home Theater Screen.   We have to set everything up via the computer, but with the TrackPad and sitting in a chair facing the Home Theater Screen, rather than sitting at the Mac computer - we were hoping to operate the movie controls using the TrackPad as a remote so to speak.  We may have to test this out more and also determine the actual distance that the Trackpad still functions from the computer.

So wish me luck in getting this TrackPad to Magically control my Netflix movies with my Home Theater.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Desert Island Top 5 Apps for iPhone

If you were in a situation similar to that depicted on the TV show "Lost" what 5 apps would you want to have the most - with no signal to just call someone?

If you ever find yourself stuck on an island, you are going to need something to entertain you.  Luckily, there are plenty of iPod and iPhone apps that will help you pass the time before you are rescued:

1) Amazon Kindle Reader - This app allows you to read eBooks from Amazon on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Amazon currently has the best choice of eBooks to download. You can also download free, public domain books from many websites online.   Just be sure you download the books before you get stuck on the island because there probably will not be any internet access on the deserted island!

2) iFitness - This app shows you a ton of different exercises that you can do. You can go through these different exercises randomly or just select a part of your body that you want to work out.   For instance, if you want to exercise your pectorals and biceps, iFitness would tell you that push-ups are a good workout for these areas.  It also allows you to track your progress, so you can see what workouts you did in the past.  When you're stuck on an island, you definitely want to stay in shape!

3) 101 Cookbooks - This app allows you to access all the recipes from 101 Cookbooks, a cooking site. From chocolate chip cookies to spicy salsa, this app will show you all the ingredients you need to make your favorite foods.  Then, it will show you step by step how to make these foods. If you have this app combined with iFitness, you will have a better chance at staying in shape, since you will be able to look up healthy foods. This app also shows the most popular recipes from 101 Cookbooks. When you are stuck on an island, you will have plenty of time to cook, but will also want variety in your meals; with this app, you will stay full!

4) Rock Band - This app allows you to play the popular Rock Band game on your iPhone or iPod. If you don't know Rock Band, the game allows you to use a virtual instrument (usually a guitar) to play popular music by pressing a few buttons (on the iPhone or iPod, you play on the screen).  This game can keep you entertained for days.  It has different difficulty settings, so you can start easy then work your way to becoming a rock star.  It also has a high score board, which will allow you to try to beat your best set. Rock Band combines the fun of playing video games with the entertainment that comes from listening to music.  Needless to say, if you're stuck on a deserted island for a long time, this game will help you to become a rock star!

5) Flashlight - This app seems really simple since it just turns your screen bright white, but it's very helpful when you are in a new place at night.

These are only five of the many great apps, so this list does not cover all that are available, but it does show some of the best for a deserted island.