September 23, 2014
The NYC area has lots of maker-type groups and events. Here are some of the ones we learned about at Maker Faire this year.
This shared workspace in Brooklyn offers classes in soldering, Arduino, Python and iOS programming, and more.
A community hackerspace on 14th Street; they have open house every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm.
Art in Odd Places
October 9-12, on 14th Street from Avenue C to the Hudson River. Visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.
Based on Gowanus, Brooklyn, this group “fights planned obsolescence” by getting together to fix things. Drop by with something to fix or creatively reuse, or just to watch and learn.
This group of “theater artists” pops up in a different neighborhood for a short while, so you can bring your items by and have them fixed. Prices are low. The first pop-up was in Inwood; join their mailing list to find out where will be next. Or become one of their Repair Wizards.
There are hackerspaces throughout the country, including lots in the tri-state area, so do a little searching to see if there’s one near you.
September 22, 2014
We went to Maker Faire this weekend, at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. We saw a lot of exciting projects, ideas, and objects; we’ll share those with you over the next few blog posts.
Today we’re sharing 4 cool Do-It-Yourself projects we saw at Maker Faire.
This self-setting rubber means you can fix your computer power cables, put a better handle on your stovepot, fix a leaking shoe….You have 30 minutes to apply it, and then it hardens in 24 hours. This kit costs $22.
Use their special inks (which come in lots of colors) to use sunlight to print onto cotton fabric. Make your own one-of-a-kind t-shirts, scarves, pillows. Very easy to use. They have kits if you want to just get to work! Sold in stores around the country (including AI Friedman in NYC) or buy online. Kits start at $25; a bottle of ink is $30.
DIY Tesla coil kits. Check out the TinyTesla kit, the “little singing Tesla coil anyone can build” – it “shoots sparks, plays MIDI tracks, and exercises your soldering skills.” Starts at $149.
DIY Map Quilt Kit
Make your own quilt that’s a map of Manhattan or Brooklyn (or Boston, Chicago, Paris, New Orleans, or other cities). There’s also a constellation kit. Prices start at $38.
All images are from company websites.
Best of CES Roundup (2014)
September 19, 2014
Yes, iOS 8 is now available for the iPhone and iPad! You can upgrade if you’re on an iPhone 4S and up. The reviews have been very positive. Here is a selection of the best reviews we have read.
Ars Technica: iOS 8, Thoroughly Reviewed by Andrew Cunningham
“iOS 8 is transformative on a functional level…. The new OS is all about adding flexibility, and it’s no longer a given that all iPhones and iPads will have to look and work exactly the same way.”
Wall Street Journal: A New Phone Without Buying One by Joanna Stern
“It isn’t the size of the screen but what’s on it that is pushing the iPhone ahead…. iOS 8 pulls out ahead of the competition by leveraging the greatest strengths of the iPhone: its apps and ecosystem.”
New York Times: With Big New iPhones, the iOS 8 Software Inside Shines by Molly Wood
“The iOS 8 software doesn’t look greatly different, but many refinements make it more powerful and flexible.”
Mashable: Widgets, Keyboards and Notifications Make a Good OS Great by Christina Warren
“iOS 8 is something that should enthuse all iPhone and iPad owners….A lot of the real magic with iOS 8 is going to come from third-party developers….As a result, even though iOS 8 is fantastic today, it’s bound to get even better tomorrow.”
TechCrunch: Refinements and Relaxed Limitations Add Up for a Better Experience by Darrell Etherington
“Using it on the new iPhone 6 hardware revealed lots to love in the new mobile OS from Apple, some easing of restrictions that could lead to big advantages for third-party apps, and a lot of potential to change the basic mechanics of the iOS ecosystem.”
September 16, 2014
Is your iPhone set to back up automatically to iCloud?
If your phone is lost or stolen, or you drop it in the toilet (I haven’t done that yet but I know it will happen one day), wouldn’t it be great to just go to the Apple Store, buy a new iPhone, enter your iCloud account, and boom! You are back in business!
Here’s how to check your iPhone is backing up:
- On your iPhone, go to Settings > iCloud.
- Scroll down to Storage & Backup, and click it.
- At the bottom, see if iCloud Backup is turned on. If it’s not, turn it on! (It will warn you if you need more storage space.)
Don’t forget your device needs to be on a wifi network, and plugged in, and locked for it to back up. So make sure this happens regularly.
September 12, 2014
If you are a Dropbox Pro or Dropbox for Business (paid) customer, did you know you can now use Remote Wipe to remove your Dropbox folder from your computer or device, the next time it goes online? So if your computer is lost or stolen, even if someone can get onto your system, all your Dropbox files will be deleted.
Another new Dropbox Pro and Business feature is that you can set an expiration date for a link you share with someone else. So he/she will only be able to get to that file for a certain period of time, that you can specify.
Unfortunately if you’re using a free Dropbox account, you won’t be able to use these features. This might be a reason to consider upgrading! You now get a massive 1TB of space for $99/year.
Here are the instructions on how to do the remote wipe.
September 2, 2014
The science and technology correspondent for FoxNews.com called me to get my take on the current state of security:
The cyberattack that targeted stars such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton may be just the tip of the iceberg, predicts a security expert, warning that hackers are becoming more sophisticated.
“We’re clearly in a moment where the hackers have momentum,” Ivan Drucker, CEO and founder of New York City-based security firm IvanExpert told FoxNews.com. “In the next few years, I think we’re going to see more and more security breaches of all sorts, including celebrity photos; it occurs to me that the next era of security to deter the hackers has not been developed yet.”
Well, security is just one of the many things we focus on to help keep your Mac safe and happy, and we really do want you to start using a password manager if you aren’t already. Read the full article here: Hackers hitting celebrity targets only getting started, expert warns
Here is Apple’s official response, which says their servers weren’t compromised.
August 21, 2014
Frankly, I thought Quicken for Mac had been abandoned by Intuit. It’s long been a second-class citizen compared with its Windows versions, with longstanding complaints of bugs, slow updates, poor support, and file format incompatibilities. Still, it was Quicken, the name brand of personal finance software.
While Intuit did release Quicken Essentials 2010 for Mac, it had a very stripped down feature set, and everyone hated it. So users either used Quicken for Windows in Parallels Desktop, or quit Quicken in favor of iBank or even easier-to-use online services like Mint (which I’m a fan of, despite it now being owned by Intuit). Or some kept using Quicken 2007 for Mac, despite it taking nine months for Intuit to retrofit it to run on OS X 10.7 and later.
Which is why I was surprised to read that there is now Quicken 2015 for Mac, which Intuit released today. Is it any good? I’m skeptical but hopeful. It’s the first software I’ve seen released with a “vote for your favorite new feature” list in lieu of those features actually being included; notably online bill pay is missing, and there is no mention of whether you’ll be able to send your backup file to your accountant who uses the Windows version.
Undoubtedly there will soon be reviews, but if you’re a Quicken fan, you’ll probably want to check it out. It’s a substantial rewrite for modern Macs and offers mobile device integration. There’s no free trial, but Intuit offers a 60-day money back guarantee (at least if you buy it from Intuit, not sure about the Mac App Store). It can import your Quicken 2007 and Essentials 2010 files, as well as Windows Quicken files.
August 4, 2014
Last week I checked out Tonality, the new software from Macphun that makes it easy to edit black-and-white photos. Whether you’re an amateur photographer (like me) or a seasoned pro, if you’re interested in b&w images, check it out.
There’s a free trial, cost is $20 for the basic version (through the Mac App Store) or $70 for the pro version.
For more info, check out my article on Tonality in TidBITS.
July 24, 2014
By now we all know it’s important to move around during the workday, not just sit in the same spot for hours at a time.
I’ve been using the free Time Out software on my Mac for years. I can set it to ask me to take a break after X minutes, and I can set the break itself to X minutes. It’s been very useful and I recommend it. However I’ve used the software for so long that I’m now habitually clicking the “Skip Break” button regularly.
Note that there are lots of apps named Stand Up in the iOS App Store; look for the one with the white arrow on the yellow background, made by a company called Raised Square. (Or use my link above.)
Now that I’ve been using it for a few days, here’s why I like it (and a few things I think could be improved).
- Very easy to use.
- Lets you change the color, if you’re not into super bright yellow.
- You can set the hours and the days you want alerts. So mine is set for Mon-Fri only, from 9 to 6 only.
- You can set it to only alert you when you’re at one location. So it won’t bother you when you’re at a movie, at a restaurant, anywhere other than the location you’ve designated.
- The regular alert sound is fine; if you want other alerts you can pay $1 in-app.
- It doesn’t force you to take a break, it just reminds you to do so. And if you say you can’t take a break at that minute, it doesn’t re-remind you a few minutes later.
- It does have “don’t bug me for X minutes” buttons, but the only options are 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 90 minutes. I wish I could set this for some other options.
- I wish I could set 2 locations — my work and my home — since I work in both places. Right now I have to update the app when I move between the two.
I like the simplicity of Stand Up! — it does one thing very well. I can see them adding some more features and functionality while still keeping it easy to use.
July 21, 2014
Some of us have older MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros, and some have newer ones. And unfortunately the power cords aren’t the same! So we have a lot of Apple MagSafe converters, to let us use the old power cords with the new Macs.
However we keep losing them, because they are so tiny. To solve that issue, we just purchased a bunch of these MagCozy rubber holders, at $7 for a pack of 2. They attach to any cable, so that your little MagSafe converter is never far from your old power cord.
Ivan also has one on his keychain, so he’s always got a MagSafe 2 converter with him!
Highly recommended. And they come in 7 colors (including glow-in-the-dark). Plus the company also makes a LightningCozy, a DisplayCozy, an EtherCozy, and some others. Check out the Cozy Industries website.
Thanks to TidBITS for turning us on to these. Check out their article on Six Useful Apple Accessories.
Photos from the Cozy Industries website.