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Tom Briant

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quicken may solve one of Lion's biggest problems

While checking out the Web, I saw the news that Quicken plans to bring out a "re-engineered" version of Quicken 2007 that works with Lion 10.7.  They also promised to win back the customers they had burned in the past.

I then checked on for additional confirmation. Yes, Quicken had released the letter and provided an e-mail link so that users would learn when this version of Quicken 2007 came out.

The comments at Macworld proved interesting. A lot of customers had given up on Quicken and moved on to other products, such as iBank and Money Dance. Two commenters remarked that Quicken Essentials satisfied their basic needs. Perhaps Quicken needed to expand on this product rather than return to the old code base of Quicken 2007.

Tom Briant
Editor, Macvalley Voice

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Rumors about the iPad

A slew of rumors swirl around the iPad. If it wasn't the hottest holiday gift on the planet, and report rumors of a whole host of new iPads.

First, PC Mag reports, based on reports in, that Apple plans to bring out a 7 inch iPad to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which is selling “by the millions”. Still, Amazon has not released exac sales figures.

Second, Neil Hughes in Appleinsider reports on rumors of two new full-sized iPads for 2012.

Apple will bring out the iPad 3 in March with a Retina Display, Siri voice recognition, and a faster processor.

Apple will retain the iPad 2 at a lower price point, as well as an iPad 2S with a faster processor.

How much of this is analysts reading each other's forecasts, I don't know. I do know that Apple has surprised us in the past, Remember the video iPod's introduction?

All I know is that a co-worker whipped out his iPad 1 at the office Christmas party to play some Christmas songs from South Park. I envied him. I want an iPad!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Floobydust

So what’s going on vs a vs Apple Computers?

Apple rumored to release MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2880 x 1800 pixels) in the Second quarter of 2012.

Steve Jobs not named “Person of the Year” by TIME Magazine. Instead he got a “Fond Farewell” with Tim Cook noted as a “Person Who Mattered”.

Samsung ramping up production of the A5 chip used by the iPad and iPhone 4S at its Texas facility. The facility has created over 1,000 jobs in Texas.

I can’t explain the relationship between Apple and Samsung. They cooperate on the chip for the iPhone and iPad, yet they fight over Samsung’s Galaxy tablet looking too much like the iPad. You married people should leave a comment here.

Apple’s rumored investment in Israeli flash memory maker Anobit makes sense. Anobit’s technology is already used in the iOS devices and the MacBook Air. See this article in Appleinsider for more details.

Apple's investments in acquiring flash memory expertise and technology appear to be centered around packing more storage capacity into Macs and iOS devices at lower prices, with the same level of component reliability and longevity.

On more immediate matters, Christopher Breen shows you how to set up the perfect holiday playlist at

At, they give you 10 tips for extending the usability of an older Mac. This doesn’t include gutting the insides and making an aquarium out of it.

And in news of other tablets, Amazon announced that it had sold “millions” of Kindle Fire tablets, although no specific sales figures were supplied. Will Amazon erect a golden arch with “millions sold” emblazoned on it?

Analysts have pulled studies out of their…files and concluded that Apple’s market share of the tablet market will slip from 61.5% to 59%. Still more people prefer an iPad as a gift to either Obama or Romney on their doorstep singing Christmas carols. So I wouldn’t worry about the iPad.

A survey of analysts’ spouses and kids showed a 100% iPad favorable response to “Would you like an iPad for the holidays? Or would you prefer an Android tablet running Peanut Brittle or whatever version of Android is available?”

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Voice

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The News for December 13th (well, some of it)

Good Morning, Mac Users!

First up, our arch frenemy Microsoft released an iPad version of its One Note program. Speaking as one who has used the M$ Office version of this, you should jump on it. One Note is a really good program and it's free. At least for the initial acquisition. Thank you, 9 to 5 Mac..

From Appleinsider comes news that Apple is planning to use part of its Scrooge McDuck-sized cash reserves to buy Anobit, an Israeli flash memory company. Anobit has founds ways to enhance NAND flash memory and Apple is reportedly already a customer.

From AppleInsider comes news that the MacBook Air sales continue to grow. A new 15 inch model reportedly is in the works and will join its 11.6" and 13.3" siblings early in 2012. Meanwhile, PC Makers are scrambling to compete with the MacBook Air through the "Ultrabook" initiative.

Now for iPad news. The Taiwanese industry newspaper (and gossip monger) Digitimes reports that the iPad 3 is on its way within the next 3-4 months. Hopefully the high resolution Retina display is coming, too.

A recent report out of Japan claimed the iPad 3 may actually be slightly thicker than the current-generation iPad 2, though the reason for the purported increase remains unknown. The device will, however, reportedly still be compatible with Apple's Smart Cover.

Citigroup says it will launch in February 2012. Cross your fingers!

And it's December 13th, which means it's time for the 12 days of Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Autodesk Discovers New Consumer Market thanks to the iOS App Store

According to MIT Technology Review and Apple Insider, Autodesk has discovered a whole new market.

Known for the high-end AutoCAD, Autodesk originally planned SketchBook as a Windows PC consumer product. But the product didn't attract much attention in that market.

So two middle managers, Chris Cheung and Thomas Heermann, explored the idea of porting Sketchbook to iOS and the new iPhone App Store.



They expected 100,000 downloads in its first year. Instead, they got a million downloads in 50 days. Sketchbook has grown from the initial iPhone to an iPad app and a Mac app.

If you want to test it out, you can download the free Sketchbook Express app from the Mac App Store.

Back in the Saddle Again...

Hi everyone.

Yes, I'm back after taking a break from blogging. I plan to blog regularly from now on.

Today I have two products to talk about. One is free software (until January 1st) and the other is a wireless, solar powered full-width keyboard with numeric keypad.

First, I want to talk about Toucan, a new search tool available from the Mac App Store. It's free until January 1st.

Toucan's icon is that big-billed Brazilian bird. If you ate Kellogg's Fruit-Loops in the past, you'll recognize the icon.

This search utility is fast. It gets its speed from 3 things:

1. It indexes the file names in your User/Your Name/ folders for fast, fast access.
2. It doesn't index the contents of the files, just the file names
3. As I said in #1, your search is limited to just your User/Your Name Folders and sub-folders.

That being said, I've never seen a search go so fast.

I'll cover search options in depth in forthcoming articles and blog posts. You have 3 kinds of search utilities.

1. Searchlight-which indexes a wide range of folders for their (1) file names (2) file contents (3) metadata associated with the file, such as the make of camera for a photo. It's built into OS X and works relatively fast. But it doesn't search every corner of your Mac.

2. Easyfind from Devon Technologies. This is freeware that does a brute-force search, checking every file that matches the search criteria. It searches folders that Searchlight doesn't touch in the system folder. Since it's free, I recommend you add it to your bag of tools.

3. Toucan and locate. Toucan does a indexed search of your file names, which gives it incredible speed. Pick it up at the Mac App Store.

If you don't run 10.6.6 or better or use PowerPC Macs, you can use the Mac's built-in command line utility locate. I would recommend you also download the free utility LocaterX to give it a graphic front end. You'll probably have to run an update of the database initially.

Now for the fun stuff. How about a full-sized wireless keyboard powered by the ambient light in your office or home? Apple doesn't make one, but Logitech does.

I suggest you read this review in 9to5Mac about it. It has two drawbacks. One, it uses a proprietary USB dongle instead of Bluetooth. So it takes up a USB port. Two, it's made of plastic, not aluminum, so it feels flimsier than Apple's wireless keyboard. So don't drop it on the floor or drop anything on it.

That being said, the review gives it high marks. Consider it if you want a wireless keyboard with a numeric keypad.

That's all for now.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On-Line Publicity Doing Very Well

I’m doing it! I’m sending out emails and making calls to Apple consultants in the Los Angeles area, telling them about our Apple User Groups LOGO.

The feedback I’ve gotten has been 100% positive! I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. Every single firm I’ve talked to out there, whether large or small, has said yes. And it takes all of two minutes for them to commit. These consulting firms and Apple resellers really value User Groups.

A couple of consultants told me, “We get a dozen calls a day from people who have problems. But we don’t have time to give all those callers free advice and answers. So now when we get those calls, we can tell them to just click on your logo and find themselves a user group. That gives them somewhere to go for good advice and ongoing group support.”

Several other consultants said, “We’re happy to give support to user groups, because you are offering us a quid-pro-quo. You get your Logo up on our website, and our business gets listed on your Links Page. We like supporting groups like yours, and it’s also a good deal for our business.”

And we'd like to thank Joey Rule from MacTalk, who prsented iPhoto '11 at our August 2011 meeting.

Here are the consulting firms that have already signed up:

  1. AppleTalk
  2. We Cover LA:
  3. Mobile Computer Repair:
  4. Stan’s Tech Garage:
  5. Productivity Consulting: Anton Anderson was a MacValley presenter in November 2008. Anton did a great job of presenting Bento.
6. User Friendly Technology:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Game Offer of 1/2 off

Hello Everyone,

Darren Dredge, Application Systems London Ltd. in partnership with Aspyr
sent this special offer for user groups.

We are pleased to announce for the next week in partnership with Aspyr, we
are able to offer to you, your members and readers more than 50% discount
off 3 of the best selling Mac Games. Being download games, once downloaded,
they can be played straight away!

- Call of Duty 4 - Join the battle - become part of the team
- Civilisation V - Sid Meier's legendary franchise reborn
- Duke Nukem - The king is back!

Please visit this URL for more information and to purchase these great value

The promotion ends Tuesday the 15th of November at midnight (GMT)!

Thank you

Kind Regards
Darren Dredge

Application Systems London Ltd.
1st Floor, 2 Woodberry Grove
North Finchley, London, N12 ODR
Company Number: 06914712
VAT Number: GB 979283555

Tel: +44 (0)207 1486440
Fax: +44 (0)207 1486441
Mobile: +44 (0)7974741122
iChat: <>

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why You Want a Mac this holiday season

If you want my opinion on which computer to get a loved one or yourself, I’d say “Go with a Mac instead of a PC”. I have several reasons for suggesting a Mac.

1. A Mac in the long term, if not the short term, will give you less grief. I recently spent a Friday evening and all of a Saturday trying to upgrade my aging Windows XP PC. Now I’ve added memory, an extra hard drive, and a new Ethernet card to this 7 year-old machine with no trouble. When I tried to add a new video card, a fancy one featuring an Nvidia GeForce 6200 processing unit, I thought I’d have the cat’s pajamas. Instead I might as well have tried to bath a cat. I finally gave up, put the new video card back in its box for another day or another owner, put the system back the way it came, and chalked it up to experience. Bad experience. And let’s not go into what reinstalling a Windows operating system involves. The horror!

2. You pay a premium for a Mac the same way you pay a premium for a really good car. I plan to buy myself a Mac Mini for roughly $950 next spring. That’s a lot of money for such a small computer. But my Mac Mini will come with sufficient memory, lots of hard disk space, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and two video outputs. It also comes with a Thunderbolt port (?) for when the Thunderbolt external peripherals start coming down in price to the level of ordinary mortals. Best of all, it comes with the Mac operating system, which is what Microsoft wants to beat.

3. What about the “Mac tax”? As I said, you do pay more for a Mac than a Windows machine on sale at Frys. But what else comes with that. Well, I’ll bet the machine at Fry’s comes with trial-offer software, aka “crapware.” You’ll get a free subscription to Norton Anti-Virus. After the free trial, you get socked with an annual subscription for an overly complicated program. This is my advice. If you do have to settle for a Windows machine this holiday season, install Windows Security Essentials. It’s a FREE anti-virus program from Microsoft itself. Just Google “Microsoft Security Essentials” and you’ll find the specific place on the Microsoft site for the program.

4. You’ll probably find a trial offer on a Windows computer for Microsoft Office. It costs over $100 after the free trial runs out. Here’s my advice. Check out your work or your child’s school/college for a cheaper version. If you work for the Federal Government, Microsoft wants so desperately to get a copy of Office into your hot little hands that they’ll give it to you for $9.95. Check out your agency’s Web site for the Microsoft Home User Program. The Home User Program also offers Microsoft Office for Mac for a similar price.

5. If $100 is too much for a word processor, here’s my next suggestion. Google “LibreOffice” and get a free office suite. That’s right, FREE. They will ask for donations, but that’s another matter. You can get a perfectly good office suite for FREE for Windows or Mac. Note: LibreOffice is derived from the Open Office project. The developers had a fight, and the majority split off to form LibreOffice. Same great software. If you get documents from an Open Office user, they work transparently in LibreOffice. And LibreOffice works with all versions of Word and Excel and even WordPerfect!

6. What if your beloved already has a computer and likes their printer, keyboard, mouse, and monitor? They just want to get away from Windows? You want a Mac Mini as I plan to get. Now in addition to the Mac Mini, you’ll need to get a PS/2 to USB converter cable at Staples, and adapters for the kind of monitor your beloved has.

7. Now if they use a big-screen TV as their computer’s screen, a Mac Mini is already set to go. If they use a flat-panel screen for their computer, they’re set to go when they unwrap the package. If they still use a big hot heavy tube as their computer screen, then you need to go to the Apple store to ask for a “VGA adapter for the Mac Mini”. That’s about $20, but it beats having to wait until the Apple Store is open again.

8. Got any questions? Put a comment in the blog or e-mail me at

9. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The President's Blog for November 2011

At our November 2nd MacValley Apple Users Group meeting, we will have a presentation of Apple’s Pages 09.
Pages is a showcase App at the new online App store for the Mac. For the almost negligible price of $19.99, the user gets a full-featured writing app that includes a contextual format bar where you can format your text and adjust images. You can also use the bar to choose your fonts, change text size and color, adjust your line spacing and your paragraph alignment, check your spelling, and proofread your document. It takes a few clicks to add headers, footers, footnotes, and bookmarks.
You can save your documents in MS Word format (DOC), along with RTF, PDF, or as plain text. Using Mac OS X Mail, you can export your docs as ePub or PDF files.
And this is neat -- If you want to publish your writing, you can send your ePub document to iBooks via iTunes, and you can self-publish on iBookstore.
Quite a deal for under twenty bucks.
For more info on our upcoming general meeting, to go
Cristael Bengtson

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apple is making a TV set

According to Bloomberg, Apple now wants to make a TV set. The iTV? Jeff Robbin, who developed SoundJam, the genesis of iTunes, will head the effort. Steve Jobs considered Mr. Robbin so valuable he wouldn't let TIME magazine release his last name in an article, for fear that a competitor would steal him away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cristael's Thoughts on Steve Jobs

At last Wednesday’s MacValley meeting, we had a moment of silence for Steve Jobs. We all mourned the passing of a man who was wholly unique.
I remembered way back in the mid 1980’s when I was, like so many people, drawn to the Mac -- the computer for the rest of us. To this day, I am a member of ‘The Rest of Us Society of America’, that ninety-nine percent of us who are not computer experts.
So back in 1985, I bought my first 128K Mac and a ImageWriter printer to go with it. I took them home, and I found out that I could cut! I could copy! I could paste!
No more plastic bottles of messy, sticky white-out. No more typewriter erasors that left a hole in the typing paper. It was a writer’s dream come true.
Never mind all the fancy stuff that came later. For me, that first copy-and-paste on my 128K was a defining life moment. One of those times when you see a better world at your fingertips.
That day, Steve Jobs and the Mac became a part of my life. And today, my iMac is helping to make my dreams about writing come true.
A great man is one who changes the world for the better in ways that are small as well as great. And Steve Jobs did just that. Jobs’ visionary dreams, his ability to gather the most brilliant and most creative people around him, his drive for perfection, and his genius for marketing, gave us the Mac, the iPad, the iPod, and the iPhone.
Power was handed to so many people, lots of us just average folks, by the products that Steve Jobs dreamed and then put on our desks.
Jobs had a vision for Apple, and he had the sheer determination to make it work. Over the years, Jobs’ vision has worked for me and so many others like me, in so many ways.
Truly, God made Steve Jobs and then He broke the mold.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Exporting Data from Appleworks 6 to iWork and others

At the October 5, 2011, MacValley General meeting, I engaged in a conversation between two other members and myself.

One member said she wanted to move on to Lion, but felt fearful. She has a lot of documents in Appleworks format. She knows that Appleworks won’t work under Lion, so what will she do?

I gave her several suggestions off the top of my head for converting various Appleworks documents into contemporary formats.

I also helped another member Saturday the 2nd with a Classic program they want to run under Leopard 10.5. All in all, MacValley has a lot of members who move slowly from past into present.

So sitting at my computers and logging onto the Intertubes, this is what I found after a day of research.

First, if you want to move from Appleworks 6 to a modern format, you need conversion software.

If you want an Apple sanctioned solution, go to Apple’s iWork Website and download the 30 day trial of iWorks ‘09. For 30 days, you can see if your old Appleworks word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations will convert into iWorks formats.

From iWorks-well, Pages, Numbers and Keynote-you can then export to 3rd party formats.

Pages can export to these formats: PDF, Word (.doc), RTF, Plain Text, and ePub.

Numbers can export to these formats: PDF, Excel (.xls), and Comma-Separated-Values (CSV).

Keynote can export to these formats: QuickTime movie (.mov), Powerpoint (.ppt), PDF, just the images, HTML, and to your iPod.

Online Resources for Appleworks to iWorks conversion

The longstanding Appleworks User Group has updated to become the Appleworks/iWork Users Group. You can reach them at

Well, what about the other formats?

What about the Database format? What about the Painting and Drawing formats?

You can save Paintings in a variety of formats that OS X Preview will open, such as PNG, JPEG, and Windows BMP. So Painting is no problem.

Appleworks Drawing, though, is another matter. For that, you need Dekorra Optics’ EazyDraw 4.0. It will open up these Appleworks drawings if you use version 4.0 or before. Let me quote from their README file of their latest version, 4.1:

This version of EazyDraw (4.1) DOES NOT include support for AppleWorks, ClarisDraw, MacDrawPro, MacDrawII, and MacDraw classic drawing formats. Go to the EazyDraw support web page: for more information and a solution for converting these drawing files on your current version of OS X. EazyDraw version 4.0.0 is provided as a solution for importing these drawings on OS X version 10.4 and newer, including OS X version 10.7 (Lion).

PowerPC processors are no longer supported beginning with EazyDraw version 4.1.0. EazyDraw 4.0.0 is provided on our Support web page, it still supports PowerPC on OS X versions 10.4.x and 10.5.x.

You got that? Go to, download Eazydraw 4.0 from their support page and convert those Appleworks drawings!

The version of EazyDraw you get from the Mac App Store does NOT support importing Appleworks drawings! Go to the Web site and download the appropriate version for your needs.

If you expect to use Eazydraw for several months, buy a 9 month license for $20. This covers both version 4.0 and the newer version 4.1.

What About Databases?

Let me steal unabashedly and admiringly from Chris Breen here:

Open the Appleworks database and choose Organize->Show All Records.

Select a layout that displays every field, select all, and copy the text to the clipboard.

You can also export the database as ASCII text. If you export the database data to an Appleworks spreadsheet and then move it to FileMaker, some odd characters might appear.

Open a new spreadsheet document. This can be Appleworks’ own spreadsheet component or an Excel document (Ed. I just tried Numbers from iWork ‘09 and it worked great)

Paste the text into the spreadsheet.

In all likelihood your data won’t contain field headings-Address and Phone Number, for example. When pasting your text, be sure to plunk that text down a couple of rows, leaving room to enter the field heading titles in the first row of the spreadsheet.

Save the spreadsheet as ASCII text.

Open that file in Filemaker Pro (or another database that imports delimited ASCII text, such as Bento 2).

The data will appear in a spreadsheet layout, meaning you’lll have to recreate the original database’s layout. No, your forms do not copy over from Appleworks.

What about MacLinkPlus?

DataViz does not sell MacLinkPlus anymore. I have MacLinkPlus. We can talk at the meeting.

What if I have to run Appleworks? What are the extreme options?

Your extreme options come down to this:

You can keep Appleworks on a separate machine and link the two machines via Teleport. Teleport lets you use one keyboard and pointing device to control up to 3 other Macs. Go to the Abysssoft Web site for more information. It’s a free donation-ware program.

If you have to run Appleworks on a MacBook Pro, I have successfully tested the option of running Appleworks on the Sheepshaver PPC emulation with OS 9.04.

As for running Appleworks under Snow Leopard with a virtual machine such as Parallels/VM Fusion/VirtualBox, I haven’t tested this. Tell us what you found out.

Thoughts on Steve Jobs while listening to George Gershwin

As I listened to Oscar Levant play the Three Preludes of his mentor George Gershwin this morning, I thought about Steve Jobs. Steve died too soon, as did George Gershwin; but left a vast legacy behind him.

The first item I would like to deal with is Steve himself. Steve was often difficult to deal with, and a lot of people who felt the lash of his tongue and temper have often dreamed of the day when they could…dance on Steve’s grave. His personal life was not perfect. None of our personal lives is perfect.

Having said that, I should state I feel very glad that Steve did not see Apple as his family’s business, like the Ford family from Henry Ford on down has seen the Ford Motor Company. I assume his children are exceptional and will achieve great things. If they get free MacBook Pros for life to aid them in that creative process, that’s fine. But Thank God and Steve that some 21 year-old kid is not expected to replace their father at Apple’s helm. Thank you, Steve, for institutionalizing your way of doing business at Apple.

It’s true that Apple and Steve didn’t invent many of their products. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player in 2001. When Apple introduced the iPod, they built on the iTunes music software, with a track record of ripping CDs into MP3s successfully and burning CDs from those MP3s. A lot of Windows software back then sputtered and failed in those simple tasks. Apple also had a high-speed interface in 2001 in Firewire 400, which allowed you to fill up the 5 GB of your iPod with music as quickly as possible. Everyone else used USB 1.1 or a kludge through the Windows machine’s printer port. You had to wait and wait for your MP3 player to fill up with music. But Apple’s iPod/iTunes? It all just worked together the first time.

I just put on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which I bought from iTunes some years back, on iTunes for Windows. Later on tonight, I’ll put on some Beatles. That’s my way to remember Steve and what he brought into my life.

And to quote from the first Pixar movie, “To infinity-and beyond!” Bye Steve, I’ll see you in my iPad next year.

Tom Briant

Editor, Macvalley Voice

Monday, October 3, 2011

A few words from Ken Gruberman about Sibelius

Hi everyone,
YES, I will be back at MacValley on October 5th to demo Sibelius 7 music notation software as I promised, and I am really looking forward to it. Sibelius 7 is the most advanced and nuanced version of Sibelius yet, and now includes over 25GB of sampled instruments that are included at no extra cost! This is ten times more than Finale offers. This allows Sibelius 7 users to play and hear accurate sounding scores no matter what the instrumentation.

Speaking of Finale, Sibelius 7 features some compelling ways for Finale users to finally switch over to a much easier and more intuitive way of writing music.

This is an important step forward, as many professional orchestrators and other musicians I’ve talked to over the years have told me about their ongoing frustration with using Finale, and expressed their desire to switch over to Sibelius. The only thing stopping them? Their fear of “having to start all over again” from the ground up. Now, with Sibelius 7’s new Speedy Entry system and the ability to open Finale-generated Music XML files, they’ll feel right at home!

AVID’s marketing team has been working with me to provide materials for the demo, such as pens and literature, along with an actual boxed copy of the program itself.

Don't take this for granted; most marketing departments — Avid's included — have endured huge budget and staff cuts. So most of them do everything online and have very little in the way of printed literature and goodies to give away like the old days. And a prize donation? Almost unheard of now! But, because of our long-standing relationship, they have agreed to give us a copy of Sibelius 7, which sells for $599, and one of you will be going home with it at the end of the evening.

Because of the specialized nature of this software, the prize will be featured in its own drawing. Tickets will be one for $5, or three for $10. Do you feel lucky?

Speaking of online, if you think about it, you can get everything online these days regarding marketing, especially regarding Sibelius. You can download a free demo of the software. You can get the fact sheet and see tutorial videos and a Finale/Sibelius comparison page, etc. etc. To learn more, watch videos, or even download your own trial copy, simply go to:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Few Words about the Kindle Fire

In my opinion, the Kindle Fire is a classic case of “hit ‘em where they ain’t”. The price point of $199 and the size factor make it plain you have an alternative to the Wi-Fi 16 GB, particularly if you want to think of your tablet as a service like a cell-phone or ISP. You often get a discount on a cell-phone when you buy a mobile phone contract. My Wi-Fi equipped router came free from AT&T. I expect that AT&T has made up for the cost of the router through charges on my phone/TV/Internet bill.

So I would expect the same with the Kindle Fire. Amazon will sell it to you at a very nice price for you to consume entertainment with it. You would get TV and movies through Amazon Prime. You get a free deal on Amazon Prime with the initial purchase, just like the free deals with premium TV. You would buy music through Amazon MP3. Amazon would offer you books and magazines. You could also shop for other merchandise through Amazon.

Amazon, of course, would recoup the cost of the Kindle Fire through your purchases.

Amazon’s use of its cloud servers strikes me as the most interesting part. The Kindle Fire only comes with 8GB of storage. You would store your music and books and magazines in the cloud, and you would rent your own little piece of it from Amazon. Cha-ching!

To make use of the cloud, Amazon expects that you would stay in proximity to pervasive Wi-Fi.

Amazon’s interface differs from other Android tablets. So far, I’ve read positive reviews of this interface, based on what reporters at Amazon’s New York press conference saw. They didn’t get to touch. It’s like Fashion Week, gawk at the models all you want, photograph them, too; but you don’t get to take one home.

Amazon will release it on November 15th. So I’m waiting for the reviews and for the chance to touch one at Staples.

But I’m still budgeting for an iPad next year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jonny Evans of Computerworld speculates about the ipad 3

Go here for speculation about the iPad 3.

News and Views

LaCie has announced the first sub-$1000 Thunderbolt peripherals. They are a pair of hard drives, one for $399.95 featuring two 500 GB hard drives and another for $499.95 featuring two 1TB hard drives. You have the option of setting them up as RAID 0 or 1. More details here.

Apple has taken the criticism of Final Cut Pro X to heart and released a major rewrite. They also offer a 30 day free trial! Want details? Go here.

When is iOS 5 coming? Well, according to analysts (not just bloggers in their underpants), iOS 5 Gold Master should go out to the contract factories between Friday, September 23, and Friday, September 30. More details? Go here.

Finally an iPad joke: "L.A. restaurants installed table-fixed iPads Friday, letting people place their orders by themselves. Waiters will be laid off. When Charlie Sheen saw the story he apologized to the executive producer of Two and a Half Men and asked for forgiveness and reincarnation."

Thanks to Argus Hamilton for that bit of levity and we'll see you later

Defeat the Hackers and don't give them access to your Lion Passwords

Apparently Apple goofed and allowed the changing of passwords without requiring the administrative password. Bad mistake.

But has instructions on how to deter possible hackers. Go to here for the whole story.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Synergy2 for Mac and Windows-one idiot's experience

Synergy2 for this idiot and his Mac

When I say “idiot”, dear reader, I don’t refer to you. I refer to me, and my quest to learn how to use Synergy2 with my MacBook and my Windows 7 box.

Right now, at 11:54 am, I enjoy qualified success, typing on a MacBook’s keyboard and a Magic Trackpad while writing this blog post on M$ Word 2010 on my Windows 7 box.

The Secret Sauce to making this arrangement work

Last night, I finally turned on my Mac’s Firewall under 10.6.8. I had relied on my router’s firewall for security. I had thought (silly me!) that any signal that made it through the router could get to my Mac.

Well, turning ON the firewall enabled the signals from Synergy on my Windows box to get to my MacBook. First problem solved.

The other piece of the puzzle, the other dollop of secret sauce, was to use QuickSynergy from Google Code as my Mac’s GUI for Synergy. I have tried using SynergyKM, which looks nice, but doesn’t work for me. QuickSynergy solved the second problem.

QuickSynergy is brutally efficient. It only cares about setting up your Mac’s keyboard and pointing device(s) as the server for all the other machines using Synergy.

Now Synergy2 doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes I have to turn QuickSynergy on and off several times. And some times I need to reboot both systems to get them to cooperate.

On the Windows side, I use the software for Windows provided by

The Next Step

I would like to know how to get my Windows keyboard and pointing devices to control my Mac. It’s a question of intellectual curiosity. I have a way to do it with the Win2VNC program from Sourceforge. I use it with OS X’s built-in VNC server and it works great.

As for connecting Mac to Mac, I use Abyss Soft’s Teleport preference panel. Version 1.01 for PPC and 10.4, and Version 1.02 for Intel and 10.5/10.6. It works great, much better than my experience with Synergy2 between Mac and PC. That’s why I’m getting another Mac as my next computer!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sharing a keyboard between PC and MacBook using win2vnc

I'm writing this blog post on my MacBook, but I'm typing on a keyboard attached to my Wintel PC. How did I do this? Simple. The open-source (but donations accepted) program Win2VNC.

Win2VNC works like this

On the Mac side:

1. Go to System Preferences. You will set up the Mac's built-in VNC server.
2. In System Preferences, you want to go to Sharing. Open it up.
3. Click on Remote Management to activate it. But you're not done yet!
4. Click once on Remote Management. You will now see a panel that says that Remote Management is ON. You will see the IP address at which other computers can access it. Write this down! And finally Computer Settings.
5. A dialog sheet will slide down with several settings. You want the one that says "VNC Viewers may control screen with password"
6. Click on the button to the left of that phrase to activate password control.
7. Now enter a password and click on "OK". You're good to go on the Mac end.

On the PC side:

1. Go to to download the installer for win2vnc. It's less than a megabyte in size.
2. Go to where you downloaded it and launch the program.
3. Installation will be done in a moment.
4. Go to your Windows Start menu and start up win2vnc.
5. It will ask you for the IP address of the Mac, which is the server.
6. It will then ask you for the password.
7. You can now move your mouse from screen to screen.
8. Where you have the mouse pointer is the active screen. You can type using the Windows keyboard on your Mac!

Tom Briant typing on a shared keyboard

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A free alternative for the Mac for M$ One Note

If you bought yourself or your child a new Mac recently, Congratulations! Hopefully the child uses the computer to get good grades, not just high scores in Angry Birds.

Now one computer tool that the competition, M$ Windows, offers is One Note. It's a very nice program. And Apple doesn't have a version of it. Not in Office for Mac.

Now you could get Windows running on your child's computer for the cost of buying Windows 7 and Office for Home and Student, but that seems...ridiculous. Why did you buy Apple and Macintosh to install Windows?

Fortunately, you have alternatives to One Note. One in particular, Growly Notes, won't cut into your kid's budget for gas or food or laundry. That's because it's free!

Anyway, Growly Notes gives you a virtual notebook with

Notebooks-like the ones you lug from class to class

Sections-like the dividers in the 5 section Mead notebooks, you can divide up your notebook

Pages-individual pages for, say, each day's lecture notes

Notes-the entries you make on each page. You can type in notes, you can “print” to Growly Notes from the PDF option on your Print dialogue, and many programs will have the Services menu to send text to Growly Notes.

Take notes on your classes, organize them, and tag important points or questions.

Here are some suggestions for how to create and organize your class notes:

You can take notes while using another program. Choose Window/New Floating Note Window. The note goes in the Scratchpad. When you’re done you can cut and copy it to this notebook.

Create lists with Insert/Bulleted List and Insert/Numbered List. Or just click anywhere on the page and type *, -, or 1 to get a new list. To make lists within a text note like this one, use the Lists popup menu on the Ruler (Format/Ruler). Use the Tab key to indent further, Shift-Tab to indent less.

Tables are useful for keeping ordered sets of information. Use the commands on the Table menu.

Tag important notes using the commands on the Format/Tag submenu. You can find all tagged notes quickly using the Find Tags tool on the toolbar.

Create simple illustrations using the drawing tools, found on the View menu.

I copied that list of ideas from Growly Notes built in Students template. The program comes with several templates that you can use immediately or adapt to other uses. I would recommend the Students and Moving Checklist template to students based on my family's experience.

Growly Birds Notes bears a resemblance to One Note. The programmer, Chris Mason, worked at Microsoft and knows how close to make a program resemble a M$ product without getting the legal department on his case.

I'll write more this week on Growly Notes and how it compares to more expensive programs such as DevonTHINK and Circusponies Notes.

By the way, if you decided to go ultra-cheap and take a old Dell notebook and install Ubuntu on it, I'd recommand Basket Note Pads. It's the Linux answer to One Note and Growly Notes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stan has a question for our readers

Our second questions comes from Stan in Santa Monica, who has problems with iCal:

"Hello.....I'm taking you at your word....feel free to write with questions.....I just moved to Santa Monica and I need some help in setting up my iMac......would you know of anyone in my area who might be able to work with me.......I'm on line and working,but when I use iCal I get a small window that says THE SERVER RESPONDED WITH AN ERROR
The server did not recognize your user name or password for the account "". Make sure you enter them correctly.....

I click ok, but it comes back a few minutes you know of anyone in or near Santa Monica who might help...

I thank you so much...."


Hi Stan --

You've sent a really great question, and while I definitely don't know the answer, I can make a suggestion or two. And our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Briant, can post this on the MacValley Blog (minus your last name and your email address). We'll see who else might have comments that could be helpful.

First, for some really good names, go to Apple's website and look under Apple Consultants Network. (,%20cA)

We've found some really great people that way, and some of them have even given presentations at MacValleys General meetings.

Second, look under the Apple Reseller locator ( They almost always have in-store consultants. There are some good ones out there, and they can be very helpful.

Thanks for your email --

Cristael Bengtson
MacValley Users Group

Again, what do you readers advise Stan to do? Put your answers in the comments

Andrea has a question for you readers!

Our President, Cristael Bengston received the following e-mail:

Hi Cristael,
I have an entire house full of old Mac's.

I need to wipe the hard drives and then try to see if I can
donate to a school or something..

Can you suggest something?

Mac User since 89..

In response, Cristael answered:

Hi Andrea --

What a great question to ask! This is one that comes up every so often, and we've never really gotten a good answer for it.

A few suggestions:

1. Do you know any schoolteachers? They might have ideas as to where you can get in touch with someone in charge of classroom computers.

2. Call your local schools and talk to the secretaries -- or P.A.'s -- in chief. Secretaries (Oops, P.A.'s) are major founts of information on just about everything, and if they don't know the answer, the secretaries' network probably will.

3. Check with your local Apple resellers. See what kind of info they have on getting those hard-drives wiped for free.

4. Also try & get hold of the people in the LA recycling department. Or go online and hunt around their site to find recycling centers that specialize in computer recycling. They might know a thing or two.

This is such an interesting email you've sent that I'd like to ask our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Briant, to post this on the MacValley Blog (minus your last name & email address!) I'll bet there are more people out there who would be interested in answers to this question.

Thanks for your email!

Cristael Bengtson
MacValley Users Group

Now I'm asking our readers to suggest answers for Andrea and her surfeit of Macs.

What would you suggest Andrea do?

Tom Briant
Editor, MacValley Voice

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Steve Jobs has resigned

Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, Inc. today.

He released a letter he could not fulfill his duties.

I’m sorry to see Steve go. I wish him well. We all wish him well.

As for Apple, the departure of its iconic CEO does NOT leave it in a state of disarray. The letter refers to a succession plan. Tim Cook, formerly the Chief Operating Officer, now assumes the formal title of CEO. He had functioned as CEO in Steve’s absence.

Apple has a successful range of products from the iPod nano to the Mac Pro, from OS X Lion to Final Cut Pro X. It has NOT blown $100 million dollars on a half-baked product trying to compete with its chief consumer rival. (I’m looking at you, Leo Apothker of HP, and wondering if your board thinks it’s time for you to go)

It appears that health concerns have answered the rhetorical question I posed some months back. Does Steve Jobs want to stay as CEO of Apple until he’s 65,75, heck, 85? American corporate history is full of corporate chief executives who stayed on well beyond their peaks. Their corporations suffered as a result.

It is also fortunate that Steve has not groomed any of his children or family members to take his place as CEO. Familial succession at IBM in the case of the Watson family worked. Once. Far better that Apple’s succession should depend on merit.

I hope that Steve lives long enough to see OS XI.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Voice

Full text of Jobs's letter

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.




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