Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: iPhoto 09 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide

Like other Visual Quickstart Guides, the version for iPhoto '09 is not a manual but a detailed and complete how-to guide. Instead of covering every feature, the book covers those features you'd be most interested in, and the author doesn't disappoint. Rather than answering the question "What does this do?", the book answers the questions about "How do I do this?"

The book covers the following topics in detail in a logic progression of how a new user would approach the topic, and features chapters on installation, importing and managing photos, working with the Faces and Places feature, slideshows, editing, publishing, and printing photos. As a bonus, the book also contains a great appendix on photography techniques to make anyone a better photographer.

Within each topic, details are covered one page at a time with copious screenshots (hence the Visual part of the title) making for a quick read without too much fluff and superfluous information (the Quickstart part of the title). Engst's excellent writing style enabled even the more complex topics to be succinctly and deftly handled in just a few paragraphs. Personally I've always had problems getting pictures to print correctly on photo paper and after reading the short page on Printing Standard Prints and the Troubleshooting guide, I realised what I was doing wrong and no longer have a stack for recycling each time I want a simple 4x6.

The Troubleshooting chapter in particular is an outstanding guide on figuring out what to do when iPhoto acts quirky. It helps you with those functions that should work, but due to current bugs in iPhoto, don't. You won't find this detailed guide anywhere, so serious iPhoto users should buy it for this reason alone!.

Although I consider myself an intermediate iPhoto user, I still found quite a bit of value from this book. I clearly don't use the full potential of iPhoto, and know more about how to use certain functions to my advantage rather than learning for the sake of learning. Both beginner and intermediate users will find just what they need in this book. Rarely can a book walk that line of not talking down to intermediate users and not talking over the heads of a beginning users. Here is proof you can do both.

Pros: Covers the most useful topics within iPhoto in a quick easy to understand format with great tips and tricks along they way.
Cons: Absolutely none

Five out of Five dogcows

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Backblaze vs. CrashPlan: Mac Backup Smackdown, Round 2

In this article for TheAppleBlog, I reexamine online backup services and compare BackBlaze to Crashplan. Which one is best after another year of testing--read the article to find out

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hardware Review: iVisor AG Matte Protector for iPad

Throughout history various philosophers and scientists have envisioned a goal, yet have never been able to achieve it. Early on we had the alchemists who tried to turn lead into gold; in the last century physicists tried to create cold fusion, and more recently have been trying to prove the existence of the Higgs boson. Likewise, mankind has tried for ages to create screen protectors that are bubble free. Science simply has been unable to achieve a bubble free applied screen protector....until now.

Moshi has turned the rules upside down. When I first heard about the iVisor AG Matte Protector for iPad, I denied it's existence as well. I thought it would make it easier to be bubble free, but I simply couldn't fathom that Moshi had achieved the impossible. For the record, I'm about the worst at applying screen protectors. I constantly have bubbles, bumps and dust on the screen and eventually just give up. Therefore I can think of nobody better to test the iVisor AG Matte Protector for iPad

If I hadn't done it with my own two hands and seen it with my own two eyes I would not have believed it. On my first try with only a light wiping of the screen, my iVisor applied without a hitch. Zero bubbles, zero distortion, and zero glare. The screen looked so much better without the glare or fingerprints of the original iPad screen. The touch screen was just as responsive as before. My concern about the laws of physics, however, was immediately challenged.

The next morning the sun did come up, gravity was still working yet my iPad screen was still protected and was fingerprint and bubble free. After getting a bit of grease on the screen, I was able to remove the protector, clean it, and reapply the iVisor again without bubbles.

Overall, the iVisor is the best screen protector I've ever seen for any device. Not only does it protect the screen and reduce glare, the zero-bubble feature is simply amazing and isn't science-fiction but science fact. After using the iVisor, I can't imagine ever dealing with the hassles of the average screen protector. I can't wait until they come out with this for the iPhone and the iPods!

I think I'm going to revisit that whole lead-gold thing again, because thanks to Moshi I believe anything is now possible.

Pros: Protects the screen, zero bubbles, zero glare
Cons: Makes you question established laws of science

Five out of Five Dogcows.

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here , Macsimumnews here as well as other groups listed on the right

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Hardware Review: Matias Folding Keyboard for Bluetooth

While many people can do occasional typing on the iPad or iPhone via the virtual keyboard, serious keyboarding simply isn't possible without a true external keyboard. While Apple offers two options, they are limiting and the Matias Folding Keyboard provides an ideal third option for serious iPad typists.

Before I got the Matias Folding Keyboard, I used the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and the Apple iPad Dock with Keyboard. I immediately disliked the iPad Dock. It required me to remove my iPad from it's protective case while docked and didn't allow me to change the angle of the iPad nor move the keyboard to a more comfortable and ergonomically ideal position for me. Of course, it wasn't as portable.

The Apple Bluetooth keyboard was much better for me. My main complaint about it was that I didn't terribly like typing on it. The keyboard is physically small and the keys aren't as responsive. Additionally, when I'd do number crunching, I missed the 10-key pad of a traditional keyboard. Travelling with the Apple Bluetooth was better than the Dock, but the metal keyboard got hot in the car and the cylinder at the top of the keyboard didn't always fit in travel bags easily.

The Matias Folding Keyboard is an ideal compromise for the serious iPad typist. Unlike Apple's offerings, this is a full-sized keyboard. There are no tiny key caps designed to look good, but not to do heavy typing. This keyboard folds to about the overall size and thickness of the Apple Blutooth keyboard, but unfolds into a full keyboard complete with number pad and a spacious typing area.

If you want to effectively type with an iPad, the Matias Folding Keyboard is an ideal combination of portability and function. You'll have a full sized keyboard that's compact and and a pleasure to type on.

Pros: Full sized keyboard with the ability to fold down to a portable size
Cons: Could use some feet to make it a bit more ergonomic.

4 out of 5 Dogcows

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here , Macsimumnews here as well as other groups listed on the right