This week’s headline: ”iPod better than beer with college students”! It was close, but iPods beat out beer for the most “in” thing on campus by a 73-71% margin. Surely this is a sign of the apocalypse. Beer is beating out the iPod here in Vermont, too, as the monsoon continues. We had one day of sunshine in the last two weeks and it looks like this weekend is going to be a washout as well. Maybe we are paying for the mild winter we had this year. It just doesn’t seem fair that our three and a half days of summer are rainy.
I’ve become a Borg. When I travel, I am always amused by people walking around airports wearing Bluetooth headsets. The blue flashing lights and earpiece remind me of the Star Trek Borg. I have been assimilated. My car broke down this week and due to the rain I was unable to ride my motorcycle (okay, I’m getting soft in my old age), so I borrowed Hapy’s little sports car for a bit and have also used our old pickup truck. One of my pet peeves is people who drive and talk on handheld cell phones. I get steamed up by that, especially when I am riding my motorcycle. Drivers chatting away on their cell phones with their attention clearly diverted from the road is both dangerous and incredibly annoying. Well, I suddenly found myself getting a call in Hapy’s car and I missed the hands-free kit in my car. I pulled over to answer the call, then I vowed to get a Bluetooth headset. I have picked up a Jabra BT800. I’m still going to refer to people who use them as Borg, but now I’m one, too!
I was able to get out on the bike for the one sunny day. Grace and I rode over to Lake George for the Americade rally. It was a beautiful ride and a good show, too. I used the TomTom Rider on the motorcycle to plot my course. I think it has some good software because once I checked the preference to “avoid highways,” it selected two-lane roads and even selected a different route for the return journey. The TomTom Rider comes with its own Bluetooth headset so you can hear the directions. It is also a cell phone interface. I received a call from the garage while I was riding, and I was able to answer it and tell the service tech that I’d call him back in a minute when I found a place to pull over.
I picked up a new helmet (Nolan N102) at the show and some special glue that I’ve only seen at these shows: the Last Glue (www.thelastglue.com).
by Don @ smalldog.com
Who’s Afraid of Whom? by Don @ smalldog.com
Time Magazine’s Wilson Rothman stated in a review that Dell and HP should be “very worried, indeed” about the MacBook. Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal followed up with:
“Like all Macs, the MacBook is vastly superior to Windows machines in terms of bundled software and security. Apple’s operating system is better designed, more stable and more modern than Windows XP. Its built-in iLife suite of multimedia software can’t be matched on Windows. And it has – so far – been attacked by only two viruses, compared with the more than 100,000 viruses and spyware programs that plague Windows. Those qualities are worth hundreds of dollars, in my view.”
Mossberg compared the MacBook to the Sony Vaio VGN-SZ240, which sports the same Intel core duo processor and 13.3-inch display. At $1699 the Sony is $629 more than the MacBook. Mossberg gives the MacBook the nod in all areas except that it is a bit heavier (5.2 vs. 3.8 pounds) and lacks a digital film card reader and a PC card expansion slot. He recognizes the MacBook for its superior operating system, Mac OS X; the versatility to run Windows if you want to; better security; better battery life; and better bundled software.
For us the MacBook is the fastest-selling Mac in some time. Every time we think we have ordered enough, we get another flurry of orders. It is a winner. Time is right: Dell and a few others ought to be looking over their shoulders.
Google tossed a small grenade in the battle with Microsoft this week, too, with the beta release of Google Spreadsheets. I signed up for the beta program:
There must still be some openings in the testing program because I was immediately accepted. Google Spreadsheets is, in my view, a very significant development. Google has created a very powerful (yet not Excel) and functional spreadsheet program that is cross platform, internet-based, and free. One of the neatest features of Google Spreadsheets is that it is easy to share spreadsheets. In fact, you can work on the spreadsheet simultaneously with a coworker located anywhere. Google also provides a chat window to trade instant messages while you are working on that business plan.
Polishing up my crystal ball, I see online productivity applications becoming more and more popular. As the spread of broadband capacity reaches just about everywhere, it will no longer be necessary to actually own this software capability, but rather you will simply access it on the net. I found no lag in working on the spreadsheet and it was just as if I was working on Excel at my desk. You store your files online so they are accessible anywhere and you can export them as Excel-compatible .xls files or .csv files.
If you cannot get into the beta program at Google, check out another online spreadsheet:
Zoho sheet has most of the features of Google Spreadsheets and adds a few of its own tricks, too.
One warning: Neither of these applications will work with Safari right now. You need to be running Internet Exploder or FireFox 1.5 (recommended).
I was able to open any of my Excel sheets from my hard drive. New sheets that I created using these applications all opened easily in Excel. I began to wonder what other applications were available.
One of the questions we get asked a lot with the new Intel-based Macs is “Where is the word processing program?” While Text Edit is available and there are some test-drive applications included, we even had one gentleman angrily return his iMac because it did not have a word processor. Now I have a better answer. You don’t need no freaking word processor! Just connect to the internet and type away. Just like the spreadsheet programs, there are some word processors out there, too.
Writely has recently been acquired by Google and will make a new appearance soon as a Google word processor, but you can check this one out at:
They will also give you an opportunity to enter your email address to be notified when Google opens up the software to new registrations. The software is compatible with Microsoft Word and has the same sharing and collaboration features as the spreadsheet applications.
Zoho also has a word processor. I was able to give that one a better test because their beta program is still open and easily accessed at:
I gave Zoho writer a good workout and it is a very capable and fast word processor. I may start using it to see how versatile it can be.
Should Microsoft be quaking in its boots? I doubt it, but if you look forward you may find that Microsoft Office, Word, and Excel will move from being indispensable to being irrelevant. With Apple nipping at its heels with a clearly superior operating system and now with hardware that can run any operating system and with Google attacking its flanks with online collaborative productivity applications, Microsoft needs to innovate or they too may become irrelevant.
What My iPod Did on Summer Vacation Dawn @ Smalldog.com
It’s summer and perhaps you have planned a vacation. I was inspired to write this article after reading a National Geographic article about traveling with an iPod.
The most obvious use of an iPod is to create the background music for your road trip. Not everyone has the same musical tastes, but road trip favorites often mention some type of road or travel, for example Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love,” and “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf. To play these items through your car stereo, you can use a cassette adapter or an FM transmitter.
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Audio books and podcasts are a great way to pass the time on long trips. Podcasts are usually free. There are two places to check for free audio books: Audiobooks.org and Project Gutenberg’s Free Audio Books – as well as paid subscriptions at Audible.com
Audio walking tours are becoming the rage, with several websites selling walk-along tours to follow with your iPod. Here are just a few:
Rick Steves Free Audio Tours: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/ travelnews/0602/audiotour.htm
Stingy Scholars list of free tours: http://stingyscholar.blogspot.com/ 2006/02/free-ipod-tour-guides.html
Recording sounds and saving pictures to your iPod are two suggestions National Geographic made. You’ll need a voice recorder to record sounds to your iPod. Not all iPods allow voice recording. Putting images on your iPod will require a camera adapter (not compatible with all iPods).
Other things to load up on your iPod:
Maps – Here’s a tutorial for saving Google Maps to your iPod:
Your iPod has universal power, so connecting to power sources outside the U.S. requires only a plug adapter. Apple’s World Travel Kit comes with six different plug adapters, which should cover you for any country. You can also find the proper plug adapter at the airport gift shop.
So load your iPod up with music, books, information, and perhaps even videos and you will be set for traveling or just hanging out at the beach!
iCal Really Is Great by Ed @ smalldog.com
I’ve only recently started using iCal. While I used to think it was lame, I now completely depend on it. In fact, if I miss a deadline or forget to do something, it’s only because I haven’t entered it in iCal.
iCal makes it easy to create and print calendars, download and publish calendars over the internet, and use calendars to organize people and events. It’s based on the industry-standard iCalendar (.ics) specification. According to Apple: “This is a text file that can be easily shared on the Internet. For more information on the iCal calendar format, see http://www.imc.org/pdi/ or http:// www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2445.txt.” This open format makes it easy to import standard .ics calendar files into iCal. There is also a menu feature to import files from Microsoft Entourage.
I recommend opening iCal and examining some of the menus at the top of the screen. There are lots of options for customizing its look, navigating calendars, seeing information associated with various calendars, and creating new calendars and to-do lists.
iCal has excellent printing options. I love the look of these printed calendars; they’re as crisp and clean as you’d expect from Apple. You can print in color by day, week, or month. You can print out your day’s events as a list. This would be a great way to outline workshops and events for participants. On very busy days, I sometimes print out my schedule and keep it on my desk. The printed list includes the to-do items linked on the calendar.
You can publish your iCal calendars to the web to view from any internet-connected Web browser.
The easiest way to share calendars on the web is with .Mac. All you have to do is select the calendar you’d like to publish, connect to the internet, and select “Publish.” When you publish a calendar, you can then send email notices to friends, family, and coworkers to let them know your calendar is online. Indeed, every time you refresh or update your published calendar, you can send out an email to a group of people. Don Mayer publishes a calendar for Small Dog employees on the web and lets us know by email when makes a change. It makes it easier for us to keep a unified schedule.
If you don’t have .Mac, there are other, slightly more complicated ways to publish your calendars on the web. You can export a calendar, upload it to a web server, and then type the uploaded file’s internet URL in the “Subscribe” bar under “Calendar” in iCal’s menu bar. This works well, though you have to repeat these steps to keep your published calendar up to date with your local calendar.
You can also publish your calendar to any WebDAV server. You might pursue this option on your own office servers for in-office use. This requires a little expertise, but your server administrator can help set this up.
There are third-party companies that will host your iCal-created calendars. Research these though Google.com.
One of the best things about iCal are the hundreds of free iCal- compatible calendars on the web. You can download these into iCal to stay up to date with all sorts of events – holidays, sport schedules, entertainment events, school dates, and much more. You can see a selection of downloadable calendars here:
And many more here:
I rely on iCal’s email alarm feature. You can use iCal to send multiple reminders to yourself for the same event. I usually have a reminder sent to me on the morning of the scheduled event and again fifteen minutes before the scheduled event. For some reason, you can only send emails to email addresses listed on your vCard in Address Book.
You can use iCal to invite people to events. To do this, create a new event, then open the “Info” pane by clicking the “i” in the lower right bottom of your calendar. In the “Info” pane, click on the “attendees” field. You can add anyone who is in your address book. You can also email entire Address Groups.
Apple says: “A centralized notification box keeps all your invitations and responses in one easy-to-access location so you can manage events right inside iCal instead of your busy email inbox. The handy iCal Dock icon alerts you of new attendee responses even when your calendar is hidden.”
Speaking of Address Groups, you can also create Calendar Groups. These are great for managing several different calendars relating to a single theme, such as children’s school schedules, work, baseball schedules, or anything else for which you might need multiple calendars.
Finally, Google has launched a an online calendar program. It’s free, has a good mix of fun and useful features, and is worth checking out. However, I’ve found iCal works best for me, particularly with its integration with Address Book and mail. The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a great post about integrating Google Calendars with iCal here:
Apple Pro Tips by Dawn @ smalldog.com
Apple has created weekly tips for the professional community which cover a variety of topics. These tips are handy for everyone, not just professional users. Here’s a sample:
Checking for Bad Fonts – This is the most recent post, which walks through the steps needed to find corrupted fonts with Font Book.
Create Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts: Use the Keyboard System Preferences to create shortcuts.
See-Through Notes – Make your stickies transparent.
Drag-and-Drop Desktop Printing: Do you miss the ability to have a desktop printer as you did before OS X?
How to Calibrate Your MacBook or MacBook Pro Battery By Dawn @ smalldog.com
PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD), MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Pro (17-inch)
With these computers, follow these steps to calibrate your battery:
1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge your PowerBook’s battery until the light ring or LED on the power adapter plug changes to green and the onscreen meter in the menu bar indicates that the battery is fully charged.
2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for at least two hours. You may use your computer during this time as long as the adapter is plugged in.
3. Disconnect the power adapter with the computer still on and start running the computer off battery power. You may use your computer during this time. When your battery gets low, you will see the low battery warning dialog on the screen.
4. Continue to keep your computer on until it goes to sleep. Save all your work and close all applications when the battery gets very low, before the computer goes to sleep.
5. Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or more.
6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged again.
Tip: When the battery reaches “empty,” the computer is forced into sleep mode. The battery actually keeps back a reserve beyond “empty,” to maintain the computer in sleep for a period of time. Once the battery is truly exhausted, the computer is forced to shut down. At this point, with the safe sleep function introduced in the PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD) computers, the computer’s memory contents have been saved to the hard drive. When power is restored, the computer returns itself to its pre-sleep state using the safe sleep image on the hard drive.
From Apple’s Knowledge Base article #86284:
DLO Homedock Deluxe Dock and Remote for iPod – $120 The DLO HomeDock Deluxe is the world’s first iPod dock that lets you view and select your iPod’s music on your TV screen. It’ll change the way you experience your iPod and your music. The HomeDock Deluxe adds a new twist to the iPod by displaying your iPod’s music content onto a TV – allowing you to navigate, select and play your songs using the included 18-button remote control. Browse through Playlists, Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres and more from the sofa with your HD Deluxe.
Speck SpeckTone Retro Speaker for iPod – $125 The first in a line of “fashion and performance focused” speaker systems for the iPod. The Retro has clean lines and a nostalgic elegance of a 1950s style via its all wood, sonically tuned speaker cabinet finished with high-gloss lacquered “piano finishes”.
MacSpeech iListen Software – $99 Dictation, Transcription, Editing, Formatting and Speech Navigation within any application. iListen frees you from the keyboard and mouse. You are able to dictate text, edit and format it with just the power of your voice. iListen provides you with the simplest and easiest way to get text into the applications that you use – simply dictate anywhere you would type.
MacSpeech iListen with Headset and Microphone – $149 TalkAnywhere Dictation and command and control for virtually any Macintosh application. A USB microphone is included in this package of iListen is the VXI Parrot Translator. An excellent introductory headset/microphone.
Designer’s Guide to Mac OS X Tiger – $29.99 Written by design and prepress pro Jeff Gamet, this book focuses on the Mac OS X Tiger features that designers want and need to know to work efficiently and effectively with the operating system. You’ll find chapters devoted to fonts, printing, creating and working with PDFs, managing color, networking, shifting between Classic and Mac OS X, Mac OS X’s built-in design and productivity tools, system maintenance, security, and more.
Mac OS X Unleashed 10.4 Tiger – $49.99 Mac OS X Tiger Unleashed is the most comprehensive guide to unlocking the full power of Mac OS X Tiger that you can find. Written by Unix/ BSD experts and Mac users, John Ray and William C. Ray, you will go inside the Mac OS X Tiger operating system and the underlying BSD environment. In-depth background coverage and useful hands-on lessons will help you understand the changes with the new version and master the new features.
Sam’s Teaches Yourself Applescript in 24 Hours – $24.99 Sam’s Teach Yourself AppleScript in 24 Hours offers a clearly written, well organized introduction to AppleScript. The book starts with running existing scripts, then teaches the reader to write simple scripts to create shortcuts and increase productivity on the Mac OS, then moves on to working with popular Macintosh applications with scripts.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through June 15 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
Keep your laptop cool and comfortable with Rain Design’s 15-inch iLap stand – only $49!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16715/mymac
LaCie 160gb 7200RPM FireWire P3 Porsche – $99
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iPod nano 2gb White (r), FREE Premium Leather Crimson ClickCase – $169!
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Pod nano 2gb Black (r) with FREE Ebony ClickCase – $169!
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Apple iPod 20gb with Color Display with Free Kensington Case! – $195.00
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Complete bundle for iPod 5g – speakers, earbuds, case, FM transmitter, charger, more – $199
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CHUMS iPod Video Flip Case Urban Plaid – FREE shipping – $22!
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CHUMS iPod Video Flip Case Tonal Green – FREE shipping – $22!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16734/mymac
MacBook 13.3-inch 2.0GHz with 2GB RAM/60GB HD/SD/AP/BT white – $1509
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16729/mymac
Power Mac G5 2.3GHz DC – 250GB HD, 2.5GB RAM, GeF6600, 20-inch Apple Display, AppleCare – $3249!
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Dual Processor G5 Xserve with 3gb RAM and 3 500gb Apple SATA Modules – $5099
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Dual Processor G5 Xserve – $3169
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16739/mymac
Single Processor G5 Xserve – $2439
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I have a Goddard College Board of Trustees meeting this weekend, which is always stimulating. It is always a pleasure to interact with the other trustees and the staff of the college. They have launched a new Masters program in Socially Responsible Business and Sustainable Communities which I believe is an exciting new recognition of the need for corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices. More importantly, however, is that this program and similar programs at other colleges and universities are a clear indication of a trend toward socially responsible business practices and the need to train new leaders to help companies understand and address these important issues.
I hope we’ll get a break in the rain so I can get to some much needed yard work.
Thank you so much for reading Kibbles & Bytes. Have a great weekend!
Your Kibbles & Bytes Team,
Don, Dawn, Ed, and Holly