December 16, 2013
I’ve just started learning how to paint watercolors, so I’ve gone in search of apps that give my photos the watercolor effect. Here are 3 good ones.
1. Popsicolor, $3
Allows you to pick 2 colors, and different kinds of washes, and then produces a watercolor with one color blending into the other. Effects include duotones, gradients, and dark and light spots.
2. Waterlogue, $4
Gives you multicolors, based on your original photo. Styles range from “luminous” to “soaked” to “blotted” (about a dozen in all) and also allow you to lighten or darken your image.
3. Glaze, free with in-app purchases to add styles
This is more a general painting app than specifically watercolor; however it does let you give your photos dozens of different painterly techniques or “glazes.”
November 25, 2013
I have a 4-digit lock on my iPhone and my iPad, because I don’t want my personal info falling into somebody else’s hands if I lose my devices or they get stolen.
But I realized that it means nobody can get in to see the phone numbers I call regularly, or the emails I send regularly. Which means if I lose my iPhone or iPad, and a nice person finds it, he/she may not be able to figure out who it belongs to.
Improve the possibility of getting your iPhone or iPad returned to you, by adding contact info to your lock screen image. Here are 3 apps that can do it.
Contact Lockscreen Info, free but in-app cost of $0.99 to add text to photo of your choice (not just the default photo)
Puts text in a very specific location, at a specific size, on your image. Then saves the image to your Camera Roll. Probably the easiest to use, of the ones I’ve tried.
Wallpaper Lockscreen Text, $0.99
This app allows you to select any picture from your photos, overlay text on it, and choose the color, size, and location of that text. It then saves that image to your Camera Roll.
If Found Lock Screen, $0.99
Also allows you to adjust font size, color, opacity.
Once the picture is in your Camera Roll, you can select it as your lock screen by going to Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper. Remember you are changing your lock screen.
You can also do this with any photo editing software like Photoshop, but these apps make it super easy.
November 19, 2013
If you have an iPhone, and you have websites you visit regularly, did you know you can create a shortcut that looks just like an app? Just click the app, and you go immediately to that web page.
For example, I see the Empire State Building a lot and it’s always a different color. I like to go to whatcoloristheempirestatebuilding.com from my phone, and see what the ESB is honoring! So I made myself a shortcut to that site, on my iPhone home screen.
Here’s how to set up an iPhone shortcut to a website:
- Open up Safari on the iPhone and go to the web page you want to be your shortcut.
- At the bottom of the page, click on the box with the up arrow in it. (If you’re not running iOS 7, it will instead look like a rectangle with an arrow pointing to the right.)
- Choose “Add to home screen.”
- Name your “app” shortcut whatever you want.
That’s it! You should get an app on your iPhone that’s a shortcut to the web page you chose.
Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to change the image of the “app” shortcut. Unless the website has created a special icon for this, you’ll just get a mini version of the page design.
November 14, 2013
How long do hard drives last?
A post on the company site of cloud backup service Backblaze discusses the life cycle of hard drives. (They are using about 25,000 hard drives at a time.)
They have found that about 5% of the hard drives fail in the first 18 months. They call this “infant mortality” and think it stems from factory defects.
If a drive makes it past 18 months, then it tends to work fine for another 18 months. Annual failure rate in this time frame is only 1.4%.
After 3 years, a drive starts to wear out from overuse. Then the annual failure rate goes up to 11.8%.
About 80% of their drives last 4 years.
Remember, Apple doesn’t manufacture the drives in their computers. Apple buys the drives from the same manufacturers that Backblaze does — Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba are the only companies making hard drives now.
So you could look at these statistics, and say, there’s an 80% chance that my new Mac will be fine for 4 years! I don’t need to back up! (But you will regret it!)
Or you could say, wow, 1 out of every 5 drives doesn’t even last 4 years. So there’s a pretty big chance that my drive will die before I’m ready to buy a new computer.
Conclusion: BACK UP. Make sure you are set up for redundant automatic and regular backups of your Mac. We recommend Time Machine for onsite backup and CrashPlan for cloud backup.
Chart is from the Blackblaze website.
November 11, 2013
It’s almost 2014 — have you thought about giving a customized wall calendar, with your own pictures, as a gift for a family member or friend? There are lots of options in style, design, size, and ability to customize.
Here are the top 5 services for making a custom calendar with your Mac.
Their wall calendar is 13 x 10.4″ and costs $20. It allows you to put specific pictures and text on dates (which is new). Themes and designs are limited. Probably the easiest to do from a Mac, as you do it directly in iPhoto, so you don’t need to upload all your pictures before you can start.
Wall calendars are 8 x 11″ for $22 or 12 x 12″ for $18, and allow you to put specific pictures and text on dates. Lots of different layouts available for the top half, and you can put multiple pictures up there as well.
They also have desk calendars at size 5 x 11″ for $18.
Wall calendar is 8.5 x 11″ for $16 and allows you to put specific text on dates, but no pictures. They have different number styles, offering more or less space for writing.
Their desk calendar is 8.25 x 3.75″ and cost is $10.
Wall calendars are 8.5 x 11″ for $20 or 12 x 12″ for $10-$15. They allow you to put specific pictures and text on dates. However there aren’t a lot of options for putting multiple photos on the picture half of the page.
They also have small desk calendars, size 10×5″, for $10-$15.
Sizes are 6 x 6″ for $10, 8 x 8″ for $17, or 10 x 10″ for $20. Lots of themes to choose from. Printing quality is high, as they use special paper. Unfortunately no pictures or text on specific dates.
November 1, 2013
The iPad Air came out today from Apple, and is available in their stores and on the website (if it hasn’t sold out already).
Here are the most influential and interesting reviews of the iPad Air from around the internet.
New York Times: “Lighter and Faster, It’s iPad Air” by Damon Darlin
“Do you need to plunk down $500 or more for an Air if you already have an earlier version of the iPad? Notice I used the word “need.” Even though I love shiny new objects, I really can’t tell you to replace your old iPad; the improvements on the new one are incremental, not revolutionary.
“If you’ve never had a tablet, though, the answer is different. A tablet, especially this iPad, is a delight to use and will bring you more hours of enjoyment than any other electronic device I know of.”
Wall Street Journal: “Speed and Power Packed Into a Thin iPad Air” by Walt Mossberg
“I’ve been testing the iPad Air for about a week and found it a pleasure to use. This new iPad isn’t a radical rethinking of what a tablet can be, but it’s a major improvement on a successful product. It is the best tablet I’ve ever reviewed.”
Mashable: “Apple iPad Air Raises the Tablet Bar” by Lance Ulanoff
“…It’s still the best consumer tablet on the market.”
“…The new iPad Air is close to everything a consumer tablet should be: Light, fast, fun, beautiful and a little bit like the future.”
USA Today: “Thin iPad Air is most tempting tablet yet” by Edward C Baig
“As it happens, though, this latest full-size Apple tablet is the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best of breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I’ve tested. Apple dominates the tablet apps ecosystem. Its tablet remains the easiest to use.”
Engadget, “iPad Air Review” by Brad Molen
“Surprise: the iPad Air is the best iPad we’ve reviewed. In addition, though, it’s also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever tested. Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it.”
October 31, 2013
Ivan was filmed talking about Mac, iPhone, and iPad topics for the eHow website.
Here’s the link to see all the videos: Ivan talking Apple tech on eHow
Or to see each video:
Check them all out!
October 28, 2013
Backing up your Mac is so important that today we’re giving you our top 7 posts on the hows and whys of Mac backups.
- 5 tips on backing up your Mac These tips are useful for anyone on a Mac, and cover local as well as cloud backup.
- Why Did My Hard Drive Die? The simple facts behind the fragility of the hard drive in your Mac (or any computer, really).
- Is your Time Machine really backing up your Mac? You’ve got Time Machine for local backup. Here’s how to check that it’s doing its job.
- Mac Backup to the Cloud Why we like CrashPlan and CrashPlan Pro for cloud backup (backup to a different location than your computer).
- Why does CrashPlan take so long to back up? Offsite backups, also known as Cloud backups, often take awhile for the initial backup to complete. Why is that? This post tells you.
- How to back up your iPhoto images Photos are often the most irreplaceable of all the things on our Macs. Here’s how to back up just your photos.
- How to Make a Clone of Your Mac Sometimes it’s useful to have a snapshot of your Mac. Here’s one way to do it.
October 21, 2013
Apple doesn’t yet sell an unlocked version of the iPhone 5s. However, if you want one, buy a Verizon model. They’re GSM-unlocked, and you can use them with AT&T or T-Mobile by popping in a SIM. (They won’t ever work on Sprint — but why would you want them to?)
If you’re not into Verizon, and don’t mind paying full price, you can go to an Apple retail store and ask for the Verizon model “device-only” or “without activation.” If they have it — still likely to be a big IF for a few weeks — they’ll sell it to you right off the shelf without enrolling you in anything. You don’t need to be, or become, a Verizon customer.
Alternatively, you could buy the phone at full price, with a month-to-month contract, on Verizon’s web site or in one of their stores, and then immediately cancel service if you don’t want it. (Or you could buy a subsidized plan and pay the contract-breaking fee.)
You can do the same with the iPhone 5c, though that model you can also buy officially unlocked from Apple’s web site or at a retail store. The unlocked model will never work with Verizon or Sprint, but it will work with any GSM carrier.
If you did buy the phone for another carrier:
The AT&T version is sold locked, but AT&T will unlock it if you have completed your subsidized contract, bought the phone at full price (contract-free), or have fully paid off the phone in their “Next” layaway plan. It requires filling out a form, and then erasing and restoring the phone using iTunes.
The T-Mobile version is sold locked, but T-Mobile will unlock it if the phone is fully paid and you have used it for 40 days with them. (If you get the phone from Apple rather than T-Mobile, I think it comes unlocked in the box, but then locks itself for T-Mobile when you activate their SIM card for service.)
The Sprint version is sold locked, and they will unlock it for international carriers only after 90 days. They won’t unlock it for domestic carriers ever. Don’t use Sprint.
October 16, 2013
T-Mobile seems to really want your business, you jetsetting iPhone user (though they’re not the only ones).
For $70/month, you get unlimited data and texting – including while roaming internationally. And international phone calls to many countries, whether originating from the US or while roaming, are only $0.20/minute. If you travel often, it could save you hundreds, or thousands, of dollars.
That same amount also includes 2.5 GB per month of personal hotspot. There are no contracts. You can either bring your own phone, or you can buy T-Mobile’s iPhone, which starts at $649 for the iPhone 5s; you pay $149 up front, and $21/month for two years. If you end early, they just charge you for the remaining amount you owe on the phone; there’s no contract cancellation fee.
For an additional $10/month, after six months you can buy a new phone and trade in your old one without being on the hook for the remainder of what you owe; handset insurance is also included.
The other carriers are keeping competitive and are offering their own easy-upgrade layaway plans, in some cases contract-free. It’s a bit of a headache sorting it all out. T-Mobile appears to be the cheapest of the unlimited data plans.
This article is probably the best summary I’ve seen: