I was meeting with Artie yesterday and we commented on the fact that it was the longest day of the year – the summer solstice. Actually, what we said was, “I guess we’ve broken the back of summer.” Winter is always right around the corner here in the north country, but we have some more fun yet to go this summer, including the new bocce season now that the NHL and NBA playoffs are done.
Today is “Take your Dog to Work Day.” I got a kick out of the press release from one of our competitors that talks about the two dogs that are at their offices. Every day is take your dog to work day at Small Dog Electronics. In addition to our working dogs, our customers often bring their dogs when they come to visit our retail store. Everyone shares in watching out for the pups and the dogs make sure we are doing okay, too. I can watch the dogs move from desk to desk in our open office environment, searching out a pat on the head, a butt scratch, or if they are really lucky a treat. But it is clearly a two-way street. We have a very busy office and as the dogs move around the room they act as a stress relief valve. I can see the stress move from an employee to the dog he or she is petting and then be dissipated with a wag of the tail.
We have quite a few dogs that come to work each day – on some days there may be as many as a dozen dogs of all sizes and shapes. The dogs seem to find their own areas: we have warehouse dogs, sales room dogs, main office dogs, and showroom dogs. Fantail acts as the doorbell. I don’t know what we would have to do if we doubled our staff size and had 25 dogs here, but we are committed to not only providing the best in customer service to our Mac-using customers but also to remaining a place where every day is take your dog to work day!
New Pawcast Featuring an Interview with Adam Engst By Ed @ smalldog.com
We have a very special Pawcast this week. Don interviews Adam Engst, publisher of TidBits and the Take Control series of ebooks. All Macintosh users should subscribe to the TidBits newsletter. Week after week, year after year, it continues to be one of the premier sources of useful Mac information. It’s free to subscribe. You can read more about TidBits and subscribe here:
This is a mobile Pawcast. Instead of sitting in the “studio,” I walked around like a field biologist, documenting Small Dog employees at their desks, in their native habitat. I used Griffin’s $15 lavaliere mic, which would have gone with the Griffin iTalk (which has been discontinued).
You can listen to the Pawcast at blog.smalldog.com or through the Podcast directory in the iTunes music store. Search for “Small Dog Electronics” or follow this link:
What the Heck Is Photocasting? By Ed @ smalldog.com
Photocasting is a technology that will make you rich and famous. Well, maybe not, but it is an great tool that allows you to easily share high-quality copies of your digital photos with anyone with an RSS reader or RSS-compatible browser. According to Steve Jobs, “photocasting is like Podcasting for photos.”
You are ready to Photocast if you have iPhoto 6 (part of iLife 06), a .Mac subscription, and an internet connection. It’s easier and faster to make a Photocast than it is to make a new web page of photos. It’s also much faster to add or remove photos from a Photocast.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it’s typically used publish brief notices when web content is updated or changed. These brief notices can be read through a web browser, such as Safari, or through an RSS aggregator, a couple of which I recommend below. A person typically subscribes to a website’s RSS feed and then uses an aggregator to learn when the website has been updated and whether any of the updates are worth reading. I have a couple dozen subscriptions that I refresh throughout the day for websites such as nytimes.com, versiontracker.com, bbcnews.com, and even Small Dog’s blog, “Barkings.”
Photocasting harnesses the power of RSS to syndicate digital photos instead of web content.
How it works:
1. In iPhoto 6, select an album you’d like to Photocast, or create a new album and fill it with photos you’d like to Photocast. The name of the album will be the name of the RSS feed.
2. When you are connected to the internet, select the album you’d like to Photocast and then either select the orange and purple Photocast icon or go to Share > Photocast in iPhoto’s menu.
A box will pop up, asking what size photos you’d like to share. Choosing “Actual Size” will send out potentially huge photos, so only do this if you know the recipient wants the full-resolution photos (for quality printing or detailed editing, for example) or at least has a high-speed connection. I usually choose medium or small in my Photocasts; I can always email a full-resolution photo if needed.
You also have the option of password-protecting your photos. Your photos will be online and potentially might show up in a Google search. Those photos of you imitating the boss? They might need a password.
Now click publish. It may take a few minutes for the photos to publish online. You then have the option to send an email announcing your Photocast. I always at least send one to myself so I can keep track of the URL where the photos are displayed on my .Mac account. You can send out the email again at a later time by selecting the photocast album, clicking the “i” button in the lower left corner of iPhoto, and then clicking on “url” in the information box that appears.
3. Every time you add or remove a photo from your Photocast album, iPhoto will update the RSS feed and upload the new photos to your .Mac. account. You can also click on the broadcast icon in the title of the album you are Photocasting to force the RSS feed to update.
Here’s a Photocast feed I set up for this article:
You can cut and paste this link into your browser or enter it into the RSS reader of your choice to see Photocasting in action. For fun, I’ll update the photos over the weekend.
You can click on the small photos to open the full-size photo in a new window. Remember, I’ve opted to publish these photos at the smallest size.
Finally, for RSS readers, I recommend Ranchero’s NetNewsLite or Newsfire. Both work well. I use NetNewsLite, but many of my peers use Newsfire. You can also read RSS feeds in Safari by bookmarking a website’s RSS page, but I prefer the stand-alone aggregators.
Apple Certified Refurbished Products By Don @ smalldog.com
We have a good selection of Apple factory-refurbished products in stock and arriving over the next couple of weeks. Apple now calls these products Apple Certified Refurbished products to distinguish them from reseller-refurbished products. After a 30-second discussion, Ed and I have decided to adopt Apple’s new moniker for these products.
So just what are these products and why should you consider an Apple Certified Refurbished product?
Apple Certified Refurbished products are pre-owned Apple products that undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process before being offered for sale. Artie and I visited the Apple refurbishment center in Sacramento a couple years back and we can verify that the refurbishment process is thorough and professional. We came away from that visit awed by the sheer volume of work being done at that facility (it was also the Power Mac G5 factory) and with a lot of new ideas for our own facility and procedures.
Products that enter this program have been returned to Apple under Apple’s return and refund policies. Some have technical issues, while others may have been returned for other reasons, such as buyer’s remorse. Nevertheless, Apple puts them all through a complete refurbishment process which follows the same basic technical guidelines as Apple’s finished goods testing procedures.
Each Apple Certified Refurbished product:
– Is fully tested (including full burn-in testing). – Is refurbished with replacement parts for any defective modules identified in testing. – Is put through a thorough cleaning process and inspection. – Is repackaged (including appropriate manuals, cables, new boxes, etc.). – Includes the operating software originally shipped with the unit and the custom software offered with that system. – Is given a new refurbished part number and serial number. – Undergoes a final QA inspection before being added to sellable refurbished stock.
The resulting products carry the same 1-year Apple warranty as new product and are eligible for AppleCare Protection Plans on the same basis as new machines.
Why Buy Apple Certified Refurbished Products from Small Dog Electronics? By Don @ smalldog.com
I know that you have a choice of where to buy your Apple Certified Refurbished products. Apple is both our most important supplier and our most significant competitor. The prices you pay are likely to be about the same, so Small Dog Electronics has to give you a bunch of good reasons to give us your business rather than going straight to Apple for the same product.
While prices will be close, we are going to strive to be just a little better both because we charge sales tax only in Vermont and because we ship our products via UPS 3-day orange label service while Apple ships ground. We charge our actual shipping charge, which is almost always less than the cost of sales tax.
Good reasons to buy from Small Dog:
1) Have it your way. Small Dog has a greater selection of upgrades and peripherals than Apple does. We will upgrade your memory for the cost of the memory with no additional charge for installation. Apple does not offer memory upgrades for Apple Certified Refurbished Products
2) Small Dog provides technical support to supplement Apple. Depending on the value of your product, we provide two or three free incident calls with your purchase of an Apple Certified Refurbished product.
3) Dog treats! With your purchase, you are automatically a member of our Top Dog Club and will begin to accumulate “treats” with each purchase. These treats can be redeemed for products at Small Dog Electronics. The process is automatic, so there is no need to sign up for the Top Dog Club to begin to earn treats.
4) Good things come in small packages! When you deal with Small Dog Electronics, you are dealing with the “mom and pop” Mac store of the net. We take no customers for granted and we are committed to making YOU a Small Dog customer for life.
5) Support a socially responsible business. Small Dog Electronics is a business that measures its success by multiple bottom lines. While profit for our shareholders is an important measure of success, we firmly believe that our success is also measured in how we treat our employees, how we treat our vendors, how we treat the environment, and how we responsibly act as a member of our community.
6) Free Small Dogs with every order! Does Apple send you any dogs? No way!
iPhoto 6.0.4 By Holly @ smalldog.com
Last week I mentioned that the season of celebrations (graduations, weddings, etc.) is upon us. This week I want to continue that theme and discuss an iLife application – iPhoto 6.0.4 – that can be used in many ways to accentuate these celebrations. Today I’m going to discuss the iPhoto books.
Next month my family is celebrating the 90th birthday of my paternal grandmother. A 90th birthday is a momentous event, so in honor of the occasion I decided to create an iPhoto book for her. It includes pictures of her and her late husband, photos of my father as a child, pictures of my sister and me as children, and current pictures of the whole family.
The part that takes the longest is collecting the photos. If all my pictures had been in my iPhoto library, it would have taken a lot less time, but 65 years ago there were no digital cameras so I had to scan half the photos I used in the book. Once the pictures were in an album in iPhoto, I chose the “create new book” icon. The photos showed up above the book and I just clicked and dragged the photos into the empty photo slots. From this point I could let the software take care of it with “autoflow” or let my creativity run wild. (I ran wild!)
There are twelve new styles (picture book, modern lines, formal, travel, watercolor, photo corners, contemporary, folio, family album, crayon, baby boy, and baby girl) and seven old themes (picture book, classic, story book, collage, portfolio, yearbook, and catalog).
– Make sure your images have a resolution of 300dpi or better for best results. If a photo has a lower resolution, iPhoto will let you know by placing a yellow triangle with a black exclamation point in it signifying that the photo may print at too low a quality.
– Decide beforehand what size of book you want (large, medium, or small). I didn’t see an option for changing your mind once you have started creating a book, so if you like the layout you have but don’t have enough pictures, you’ll need to start over. On the other hand, you could print the book with your printer and use the printout to re- create it in a new book.
– You can’t delete the set number of pages in a book, but you can change the number of photos per page. Choose among 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, or blank page. You can add pages if you need to. The cost for an extra page varies among the different sizes of books.
– Once you import your photos into the book, you can’t duplicate the photos there. If you want to use the same photo more than once in the same book, you will need to create a duplicate in your library and then drag the duplicate into the album/book.
– You can switch between viewing the pages in the book on the upper bar (above the book itself) and viewing the unplaced photos. I found this helpful because I could look at the book as a whole and see how the pictures flowed.
– You can turn off the page numbers in Settings, which is located along the bottom bar of iPhoto. At the bottom of the dialogue box that comes up are two choices with check boxes. If you uncheck the box for “Show page numbers,” the book will not be numbered.
These books make wonderful gifts or keepsakes. I think my grandmother will really like the book. With the different sizes, there’s a book for almost every budget. In fact, I may make two more books – one for each of my dogs!
For more information on the iPhoto books:
Apple has released the iPhoto 6.0.4 update in the Mac OS X Software Update. This update to iPhoto contains a variety of new Greeting Card and Postcard themes for use with Apple print services, including invite and thank you card designs for summer parties, weddings, birthdays, etc.
The iPod 5 R’s By Don @ smalldog.com
This is from Apple’s Knowledge base, and I think it is an important article to repeat here. Many of our technical support phone calls involve problems with the iPod that can be solved by following these 5 R’s.
If your iPod isn’t merrily playing music to your ears give these 5 steps a try:
NOTE: Please make sure that your iPod is fully charged and then toggle the Hold switch on and off before performing these steps.
1) Reset your iPod, iPod nano, iPod mini, or iPod shuffle.
2) Retry your iPod with a different USB or FireWire port on your computer. (The latest iPods can only be synced through USB.)
3) Restart your computer and make sure that you have the latest software updates installed.
4) Reinstall your iPod and iTunes software. You can download the latest versions of iPod Updater <http://docs.info.apple.com/ipod/ download/> and iTunes <http://docs.info.apple.com/itunes/download/> from Apple’s website.
5) Restore your iPod using the latest iPod Updater. IMPORTANT: Please note that restoring an iPod will erase all songs and files on your iPod and restore it back to its original settings. Make a backup of any files on your iPod before restoring it. After restoring, you can transfer your music and files from your computer to your iPod.
Here’s a QuickTime movie that shows the 5 R’s in action:
If none of the R’s work and the iPod is still under Apple warranty or AppleCare Protection Plan, you can go to Apple’s iPod support site to schedule service for your iPod.
You will need your iPod’s serial number to get service. If you have trouble reading the tiny serial number on your iPod, don’t go running out to the drugstore for reading glasses. Just launch iTunes (iTunes 6 and later) and you will be able to find the serial number even if your iPod is not connected to your computer.
How to find your iPod serial number using iTunes 6:
1) Launch iTunes.
2) Open iTunes Preferences from under the iTunes menu item in the menu bar.
3) Select the “iPod” tab.
4) If your iPod is connected, click on the Version Number in the right corner of the iPod preference screen and it will display your serial number.
5) If your iPod is not connected, click on the “No iPod is Connected” message in the center of the screen and it will display the serial number of the LAST iPOD THAT WAS CONNECTED.
Check out our blog <blog.smalldog.com> for more details.
Small Dog Electronics Forms Board of Advisors By Don @ smalldog.com
Hapy and I have formed a board of advisors for our company. It is our way of finding some diverse expertise to help guide our company to the next level. We are having our first meeting on Friday. I thought I would introduce these folks to you briefly:
Larz Barber: Larz, an old friend of mine and also a Small Dog customer, works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in Burlington. Larz uses a MacBook Pro and runs both Mac OS X and Windows XP on his Mac.
Mark Englehardt: You probably know Mark because he has been with Small Dog from our humble beginnings. (He once ran the whole office for a week by himself while Art, Hapy, and I went to golf school in New Orleans. No, the golf school did not help our games!) Mark is also on our board of directors and is our website architect. He lives on his boat in Benicia, California.
John Osgood: John is our neighbor here in Waitsfield and owns a number of business ventures. We trade him internet access for access for our employees to the “Not Too Athletic Club” located here on our campus. John is a developer of residential and commercial real estate and has been developing landfill gas to energy projects for the past decade. We had to put him on the advisory board because we are constantly asking him for advice when he drops in for a cup of espresso.
David Garfinkle: David runs a second-generation family business in Montreal that manufactures corrugated boxes and displays and other packaging materials. He met Hapy at the MIT Birthing of Giants program several years back and is Hapy’s Habs ticket connection.
Keith Rinzler: Keith is an entrepreneur from Atlanta who was also a part of the MIT Birthing of Giants program. He has a broad entrepreneurial background, including the development of the concept of “Truckside Advertising.” (You might remember our truck from a couple of Macworld Expos.) His patented system was eventually purchased by GE Capital and renamed MediaVehicles.
Leslie Nulty: Leslie is the vice-chair of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and is a financial management consultant with an economics degree from Cambridge and a rich history of business and nonprofit experience.
John Keenan: John is the Director of Sales for the East Coast and Canada for SonicWALL corporation and has been in the industry for as long as I have. I met John when he was a manufacturer’s rep for a number of Mac-related companies and have found his advice invaluable over the years. He is an unabashed Red Sox and Patriots fan, so he fits in well with our crew up here in Vermont.
Steve Magowan: Steve is a lawyer with Gravel & Shea, PC. I first met Steve when he gave a presentation on employee ownership at a conference in Burlington. He one of a very few experts in employee stock ownership plans and he counts expertise in business transition planning among his other skills. I kept running into Steve on airplanes and we discovered that we share similar opinions on health care reform as we worked on the campaign for Scudder Parker for governor of Vermont.
Hapy and I have been filling these people’s inboxes with information to get them up to speed on Small Dog. Keith sent me a long analysis of our business and one of his statements was particularly perceptive. Here’s what he had to say:
“It is your customers that hold the answers to all of your most pressing questions about the future of SD. Your customers, not your officers, your Board of Directors, or even your esteemed Board of Advisors. If you devote your marketing energy and resources toward harnessing that knowledge, you will not only become much more valuable to Apple. YOU MIGHT BE THE NEXT APPLE!”
I doubt that we will ever match the greatest success story in American business history, but Keith confirms what we have known for some time: the strength of Small Dog Electronics is you!
I have always thought that through Kibbles & Bytes I have a board of advisors that helps to make Small Dog Electronics a stronger company. You are part of our advisory committee, and I will always value the comments and suggestions that you offer. We have a unique opportunity to communicate with our customers every week and those of us who write for Kibbles & Bytes take this quite seriously.
Your Feedback Is Needed! By Ed @ smalldog.com
First, a mea culpa. I apologize to the handful of people who have emailed me about a Tech Tails or Kibbles article and have not received a response. I do try and write back to everyone, but this doesn’t always happen for a variety of reasons. This is something we will improve, so that everyone always receives a response.
Your feedback is invaluable to us. It drives our company. We’ll be soliciting feedback on specific new and upcoming projects in the future.
Again, thank you for your feedback, and keep it coming!
Here are the specials for this week, valid through June 29 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
EZQuest Monsoon 300gb 7200RPM Firewire 400/USB 2.0 – Free Shipping – $175!
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FREE Shipping On All Premium Stitched Leather iPod Cases!
iPod 20gb (color display) with FREE Kensington case and FREE shipping, for $225.00!
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Airport Extreme Base Station w/Modem And Antenna Port (r) – FREE SHIPPING – $179!
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PowerMac G5 DC/2.3GHz (r), 23″ Apple Cinema Display (r), 3 year AppleCare Plan for both G5 and Dsiplay – $3399!
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MacBook Pro 15in 2.0GHz 1gb/100/Superdrive (r), XP Pro w/ Bootcamp, Take Control eBook – $2039!
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Congratulations to the Miami Heat and the Carolina Hurricanes for the exciting NBA and NHL championships! With the Cubs in the cellar yet again, I think I am free from most sports until the fall. Rob and I are already betting on the Patriots vs. Bears game in Foxboro in November, and we are scheming to find some tickets (hint, hint).
The Small Dog softball team is playing again this year on the renovated field. Artie has taken on the pitching duty and a bulked-up Hapy is aiming for the fences. Our own bocce tournament is back this year, too.
Thank you for reading Kibbles & Bytes. Have a great weekend!
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Don, Ed, and Holly