Archive for Apple (Mac)

Fun with Augmented Reality

Following up to yesterday’s post on Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iPhone users:
Moosejaw 2012 X-Ray Catalog

Moosejaw’s AR Campaign

The Moosejaw clothing company has created a “Moosejaw X-Ray” app to go with their latest catalog. Download the app to your Android or iOS device, and scan the models in the catalog. On certain pages the clothed models will have their underwear exposed by the app. I tried it out (how could I resist) and found the x-ray images went from serious to funny. The male models in particular were ridiculous. One was revealed to have squid or octopus taped to their side, while another had bullet holes in his undershirt. You can install the app and then scan the image at left. Or you can try it on Moosejaw’s online catalog. The model images are 2D so there will be no peering around the back or the edges for the inquisitive or the infatuated. The next augmented reality app is fully 3D. For better or worse it kept me far too entertained.
Chestburster

Chestburster

This app from Fingerfunk kept me busy. There is an image you have to download and print (shown left or download hi-res image). Print the picture and attached it to a t-shirt, then view it using the Chestburster app for Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad). You’ll hear some alarm bells, and then the famous baby alien chestburster appears to burst through the image with the appropriate R rated gore. The image is fully three dimensional, so depending on the angle of view you can view the top, bottom, or sides of the alien’s head. You can even see into the open cavity behind it. I’d print on a white t-shirt for the best effect. I had fun taking shots of the baby alien bursting out of my refrigerator. Oh, yes, there is a screenshot feature so you can save the image seen on your screen. Some samples to follow shortly.

Burster Samples

 

Augmented Reality (AR) Apps

QR Code
QR Code

This is one of those one-thing-leads-to-another stories.

Yesterday, I received an email newsletter with a headline “Are QR Codes an Outdated Technology?” Since I create and track QR (quick response) codes as one of my business services, I was interested and took a look. The story linked a YouTube video titled “Image recognition that triggers augmented reality” from the TEDTalks series. The video was demonstrating an app called “Aurasma” which can be installed on Android and iPhone smartphones.

Robert Burns

Scan me with Aurasma on your smartphone

In my opinion, the video and lecture boiled down to “Why use QR codes as tags when the object can be a tag?” That is: If the image or object has a unique appearance, then it could be used a link to more information when scanned or photographed with a smartphone. So if you’re an artist, you don’t need a QR (quick response)  code on your publicity materials; just use your photo or one of your works, and when people scan it, they will be given more information via the Internet or other medium. In the demo, they used a painting of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which when viewed with the Aurasma app, a video would take its place with an actor reciting one of Burns’ poems.

I tried out Aurasma on my Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone, and — while it worked — I found that there was a very very small number of companies making use of it. Furthermore, the company behind Aurasma was really providing customized apps for the companies that wanted it so they could create their own social media campaigns and games. These companies included Marvel and DC Comics, Document magazine, and a clothing company called Moosejaw.

Marvel ARMarvel and DC Comics are using augmented reality apps in major cities around the world. Instead of scanning a QR Code with your phone, you could scan architectural landmarks and posters, and then be presented with a video of a superhero or villain in action superimposed over the landmark standing before you. In the example at right, an Avengers X-Men poster is scanned with an app that superimposes a 3D image of Iron Man when viewed through the phone.

This is a good time to answer the question: What is augmented reality? According to Wikipedia:

With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

Think of it as similar to a HUD (heads up display) on a fighter jet or high-end automobile. You see the world in front of your, but computers project additional relevant information into your field of vision.

You can get the Marvel AR app for Android or iPhone from Marvel’s Mobile App page. Come back tomorrow when I show you what Moosejaw did with AR. I’ll also talk about a app that I got a lot of mileage out of yesterday. I’ll give you a clue, its called “Chestburster”. Think sci-fi.

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Updated Posts: AntiVirus for Mac; Sneak Peek Sale

Back in Dec. 2008 I wrote a post titled Apple Encourages AntiVirus Use for Macs?! I updated the article today to include links to the latest AntiVirus and AntiSpyware applications for the Mac. If you still believe that Macs are invulnerable to viruses and spyware, then you may be interested in knowing that Apple has added anti-malware features to their latest Mac Snow Leopard operating system. See Dan Moren’s report at PCWorld on the Hidden Malware Features of Snow Leopard. I mentioned some risks to Mac users in recent weeks.

I also updated the links in my Jan. 2009 post about sale items on Buy.com. I’ve crossed out the items that are not available. I’ve updated the links and proces on the items that are available. It’s a useful link because many of the items have become very affordable.

When is an iPhone 4 not a phone?

A: When you’re left handed.

Surprisingly there is one big complaint about the new iPhone 4. If you make a call with the phone in your left hand you might not receive a cellular signal.

The redesign of the iPhone 4 moved the antenna to an external stainless steel band that wraps around the phone. A significant portion of this antenna band is on the left hand side of the phone. So when you hold the phone in your left hand, the flashy part of your palm below the thumb can significantly reduce or block the cellular signal needed to make a call.

How not to hold an iPhone 4

How not to hold an iPhone 4 (Credit: Apple / Screenshot by Scott Ard/CNET)

Interestingly, at June’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs praised this antenna redesign as “brilliant engineering” and commented that it has never been done before. In a report on iPhone 4 signal issuesby cnet news’s Scott Ard mentions “some other companies may have considered a similar solution but backed off due to the attenuation caused when a person’s hand ‘covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band,’ as Apple put it”

He also points out that during Jobs’s demonstration he used WiFi instead of the AT&T cellular network. The Wifi signal portion of the antenna is higher up on the band, and less likely to be covered by your hand or fingers. Steve Jobs, himself, has a tendency to hold the iPhone in his left hand, so he may very well have been aware of the reception issue that would cause.

Now that word of the reception problem is spreading, word has it Apple suggests “not holding the phone in your left hand to make a call”. Or to use a case or bumpers that lift your hand off the edge of the phone. The bumpers from Apple cost $29. maybe Apple should send them out for free to iPhone 4 owners.

For more information on the signal reception problem with the iPhone 4see this report at AppleInsider.com.

Transferring iTunes videos to another computer

At least once a week I get asked about transferring iTunes music from one computer to another, but recently someone said to me:

“My sister bought a bunch of episodes of Gossip Girl and some other shows on iTunes. I’d like to watch them on my computer, too, but I don’t want to buy them again. How can I get them onto my computer and iPod?”

I told them they’ll be able to watch them on a computer, but they won’t be able to watch them on an iPod.

“Why not?”

“Because the iPod is linked to a specific user or account. And the music and video files are linked to a specific user or account. So once iTunes sees the account attached to the video file doesn’t match the account attached for the iPod, it will refuse to transfer the file.”

“How does it know?”

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

“There’s no easy way to explain that, but, trust me, it won’t work.”

“Well, how do I copy them to my computer?”

Find the files on your sister’s computer. Typically the videos will be in the “My Music” folder on the hard drive. In that folder there is an “iTunes” folder, then a “iTunes Media” folder, and lastly a “TV Shows” folder. Inside that folder you’ll find folders for all the shows your sister bought. You can just copy these folder onto a CD, DVD, or external drive, and then copy them onto another computer. You can copy them to the same location on your own computer. Or you can have iTunes import them.

When you try to play them, iTunes will tell you that you’re not authorized to play them on your computer. At which point you will need to enter your sister’s iTunes account information.

“And, no, you still won’t be able to play them on your iPod.”

HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 conflicts with iPod

Hello, folks! Hope you had a great weekend. I’m getting better, too.

So last week I mentioned I had been helping a client with a HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 printericon that was causing trouble with his iPods. The client had just replaced a printer in their home office, but now when they attached their iPods to synchronize their music they were alerted that the device was not recognized. They suspected they had done something wrong when installing the printer, so they reinstalled it, updated their iTunes software, but still no luck with their iPods.

After a little research and double-checking I had learned that there were other reported cases of an iPod not being recognized after a HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 printericon had been added to the computer system. So I unplugged the printer, connected the iPod, and lo and behold the iPod was recognized once more.

No one wants to have to remember to unplug their printer to access their iPods. And no one wants to have to rememeber they disconnected their printer before they go to print something.

What to do?

Fortunately, the HP Photosmart C309 printericon comes equipped with WIFI (wireless capability). Furthermore, the client had a wireless router in their office as well. The HP C309 also works with a wired network connection, which I would preferred to use, but they didn’t have a spare network cable.

So I configured the HP C309 to access the wireless network using the instruction provided in the owners manual for the printer. The C309 supports WEP and encryption tools for a secure wireless link. Furthermore their router accepts MAC filtering (the unique identifier tag associated with any wireless capable device) to restrict which devices are allowed to access the network. Their PC is wired to the router, otherwise I could have set the PC to connect wirelessly to the printer without goin g through the router.

A few minutes later the printer was wirelessly online with the network, and the iPods could be relied upon to be recognized once more when attached via USB.

I know there are more people out there experiencing this problem. I hope this article helps you out. If anyone has discovered other solutions to this problem, let me know.

If you’re interested in learning more about the products in this article, click the images and text links for more information.

What is Twitter all about?

tour_1

A few weeks ago, someone asked, “Twitter. I don’t get it. How does it work? And what’s the point?”

I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of expert here but here’s what I had to tell them at the time. Perhaps I’ll elaborate more later, but I’d be happy if those of you who use Twitter would post your thoughts and answers to this question in the comments area below.

Anyhow, on to my answer.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck

There are many ways to use Twitter. One great thing is it is free to use. You can use it to keep in touch with friends or you can use it as a simple business communication tool. You can SEND and RECEIVE short messages either with your cell phone (SMS Text), from the Twitter web site, or from stand alone tools such as TweetDeck.

Twidroid

Twidroid

The mobile phone option is great if you’re on the go and can’t get to a computer. Some people worry that they’ll get too many text messages, but Twitter allows you to control who can contact you, what sort of messages get through, what time of day they are sent, and what’s the most messages you want in a day. Personally, I find SMS aspect to be too slow, so I use the Twidroid app for Android on my T-Mobile G1 smartphone. On the iPhone, Twitterific is a popular choice.

Twitterrific

Twitterrific

Plus Twitter allows you to receive messages through an email account in addition to or as an alternative to your cell phone.

Another advantage is there’s no address book to manage with Twitter and no need to update addresses. Twitter coordinates the connections between you and your followers for you. And people can opt in or out whenever they like. And your contact info is private.

Services like TweetLater.com allow you to have a summary of your daily messages and replies emailed to you.

Using the friends and cell phone option, let’s imagines you’ve registered your cell phone with your Twitter account. Then your friends could choose to “follow” your Twitter account. So let’s say you’re meeting a group of friends one day, and you have a change of plans, you could send one text message to your Twitter account, and then Twitter would forward a copy of that message to all your friends.

Or let’s say you’re producing a play, and you want to create some “buzz” about your latest production. You could tell people to “follow” your Twitter account to receive updates about the show on their cell phone or by email. So let’s say 300 people are following your Twitter account, you send out one message to Twitter and it forwards it to all 300 people. And if all goes well some of them will forward or “Retweet” to their friends and followers.

There’s more to it. You can send messages to everyone or to specific people.

But you can only communicate with people who chose to follow you, and whom you permit to follow you.

So if you want to talk to strangers, you can, but all they know about you is your user name and what you say in your messages. Even if you are sending messages from your phone, no one sees your phone number.

Some celebrities use Twitter to let their fans hear what they are up to. Many of them setup their accounts so their fans can receive messages from them, but can’t send messages to them.

So readers and Tweeters, what have you to say on the subject?  Please comment below or send me Tweet. List your Twitter address, if you like.




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17 inch MacBook Pro shipping late January

`17 inch MacBook pro

`17 inch MacBook pro

At last week’s MacWorld Expo, Apple announced they would be shipping a new 17-inch MacBook Pro laptop near the end of January. Rumors had been circulating prior to the announcement that Apple would be announcing a quad core processor laptop, but this was not it. The new MacBook Pro is built around a “unibody chassis”, that is, it is carved from a single block of aluminum. Pricing will start around $2,800.

Battery Life

Apple Online Store

The big news was its battery life. Apple states its battery is rated to last “up to” 7 or 8 hours on a single charge, and that it may be recharged up to 1,000 times.  (Compare this to other laptops which may only hold a 3 or 4 hour charge with a recharge life of 200 to 300 charges.) You can watch Apple’s video regarding its battery design below.

Apple rates the battery for 200 charges per year, so at 1,000 charges the battery will need replacing in 5 years.  Of course users who frequently save to the hard drive will have to charge the battery more frequently.  If you use your laptop on weekends, you may find yourself recharging the battery for than 200 times per year, too.

Apple Online Store

Still, this is a pretty big boost in battery life, but, once the battery’s lifetime ends, you won’t be able to change the battery yourself.  You will have to take it to an Apple store or authorized reseller for replacement. This might be difficult for owners who live in remote areas. The battery costs about $160.

Admittedly, not everyone runs on their batteries every day. Deskbound MacBooks will find themselves plugged into a wall outlet.

Weight

The 17 inch MacBook Pro is also one of the heaviest MacBooks on the market. With its battery being 40% larger than previous batteries, and its block of aluminum chassis, it weighs a full pound more than the 15 inch MacBook Pro, but is still within the same weight range as other laptops in its class.

Blu-ray?

MacBook fans who were hoping for a Blu-ray DVD drive for high def video or data storage will have to wait a little bit longer. There is no Blu-ray in this MacBook, and there is no option available for one as at upgrade at time of purchase either (at this time).

Solid State Drive

The $2,800 model has a standard 320 GB (gigabyte) Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, but two solid state drive upgrade options are available for $500 (128 GB) and $900 (256 GB). Though smaller in capacity, the solid state drives (SSD) provide greater durability and shock resistance over the standard SATA drives. Standard drives have moving parts, but sold state drives have no moving parts. Solid state drives are similar to the flash memory chips found in the digital cameras, or to the drives found in some iPods.

Memory (RAM)

The Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch model comes with a full 4 GB of RAM, and can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM for an additional $1,200. So if you add the large solid state drive and the full 8 GB of RAM your new MacBook will cost about $5,000.

Most people will find the 4 GB of RAM sufficient, but for the frequent traveller I would recommend adding the solid state drive for its sheer durability.  More on the 17-inch MacBook Pro below:

17-inch Tech Specs
Height: 0.98 inch (2.50 cm)
Width: 15.47 inches (39.3 cm)
Depth: 10.51 inches (26.7 cm)
Weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)Display: 17-inch (viewable)
LED-backlit glossy widescreen
1920 by 1200 pixelsBattery: Built-in lithium-polymer
Up to 8 hours of wireless productivityConnections and Expansion:
MagSafe power port
Gigabit Ethernet port
One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
Three USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
Mini DisplayPort
Audio line in
Audio line out
ExpressCard/34 slot
Security cable lock slot
Included Software:
Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard
Time Machine
Mail
iChat
Safari
Photo Booth
Front Row
Boot Camp

iLife ’09

  • iPhoto
  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • iDVD
  • iWeb
Apple Online Store

News Stories I Passed On This Week


How’s that for a headline?  There were a few stories that popped up the past few days that I could have written about, but, ultimately, I decided not to write about them …. until now.

Two stories were Apple related:

Mac Sales Slow (Tuesday, Dec. 16)

macThe Wall Street Journal and various other news sources reported a drop in sales of Mac computers in November 2008.  According to the NPD Group, computer sales overall increased by 2 to 7% over the previous year, but Mac sales dropped by 1%. Though they did note that it desktop Mac sales dropped by 35% its sales of laptops compensated for it.
Other companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard saw a growth in sales due to the rising popularity of the ultra-portable, ultra-mobile netbooks. Mac, on the other hand, did not have a comparable product on the market.

Apple Announces Its Last Year at Macworld (Tuesday, Dec. 16)

Steve Jobs, "not to be", at MacWorld

Steve Jobs, "not to be", at MacWorld

macworld-logoApple announced that 2009 is the last year the company will exhibit at the Macworld Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. In the past the big speaker has been Steve Jobs, but he has cancelled his appearance at the Jan. 5-9, 2009 event. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote instead.
Apple is scaling back appearances at trade shows overall, but they plan on hosting their own events instead. This isn’t so surprising as other Apple products have greater popularity these days than their computers. Most notable are the iPhone and the iPod.

One was about a favorite monkey…

Monkey Tales Plagiarism Exposed

Monkey Fables and Tales

Monkey Fables and Tales

Charlie Hatton

Charlie Hatton

Well, this isn’t really news, but you may recall I reviewed a blog entitled Monkey Fables and Tales back in Sept. 2008. I hadn’t looked at this blog in a few weeks recently, and when I went to read it earlier this week, I found it was gone without a trace. It turns out that the blog had been copied almost word for word from Bosten stand-up comic Charlie Hatton’s web site “Where the Hell Was I?” Charlie’s little known site had been idle for some time as he was involved in other projects. Meanwhile, Monkey Tales had become a favorite of the Entrecard link circuit which was the site of a conversation on just what became of the monkey.  Charlie Hatton was a participant in the conversation.
I often wondered about Monkey Tales silence amidst so much commentary from fans. The charade may explain it all.  Bloggers are now wondering if Charlie Hatton will write again. For now, you can read Charlie’s retelling of how he found out about Monkey Tales. Other stories can be found at My Dear Hard Drive, and at Lainy’s Musings and there are others. Bad, monkey, bad!

Internet Explorer Emergency Patch Released (Wed., Dec. 17)

Okay, I did write about this one. If you didn’t read it, here’s your chance to read about the Internet explorer patch and why you should get it now. And check up on your antivirus software while you’re at it.


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Apple Encourages AntiVirus Use for Macs?!

[Links in this article were updated 12/2010] This was an article I had started on Dec. 1, but never finished. I publish it now because an interesting twist came along later.

Apple updated an article on its knowledge base site to encourage “the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities” on Mac computers:

On November 21, 2008, article HT2550 as follows:

Summary
Learn about antivirus utilities available for the Mac OS.

Products Affected
Consumer Software, Mac OS

Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult. Here are some available antivirus utilities:

  • Intego VirusBarrier X5, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • McAfee VirusScan for Mac
    License: commercial

I’ve encouraged the use of anti-virus software on Macs for a long time now. Mainly due to the possibility that Macs could become carriers of PC viruses. A Mac user could unknowingly receive an infected document and then forward it to someone else; not knowing they had just passed on an infected file.

As I said, I never published the post, but several other blogs and news outlets reported on it, most notable Brian Krebs of the Washington Post. Then came the twist, Apple pulled the report from its Knowledge Base.

I still endorse the use of antivirus software on Macs. Sure, there are few Mac viruses out there, but the number will likely grow along with their popularity; and, sure, Macs need not worry about being affected by PC viruses, but there is still the risk that a Mac user will unknowingly receive and forward an infected file.  Restated, a person using a Mac might receive an infected article, and not know it was infected, and then forward it to someone else, perhaps to a PC using friend.

Don’t let your Mac be a “Typhoid Mary”. (Mary Mallon (1869-1938) was a cook who was found to be a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. She never succombed to the illness, but many people around her did).

Look into a quality antivirus program for your Mac, particularly if you share file with PC using friends. After all, not all of them are using an antivirus utility either.

Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus for Mac is available from these online retailers:


Norton AntiVirus 11 for Mac

is the world s most trusted antivirus solution for Mac systems.* It removes
viruses automatically, cleans infected Internet and email downloads, and
protects against advanced online threats and attacks that target software
vulnerabilities. It s also compatible with Mac OS X v10.5 and takes full
advantage of the new operating system s advanced features to help you protect
your Mac even better. Powerful, built-in vulnerability protection helps
prevent identity thieves from exploiting newly discovered application and
operating system weaknesses. And as always, LiveUpdate makes it easy to
keep your virus and vulnerability protection updates current against new
threats. Includes Norton AntiVirus 2009 for Windows to protect those who
use their Intel based Mac to run Mac OS X and Windows operating systems.

Symantec Norton Internet Security v.4.0 for Mac Internet Security – Complete
Product – 1 User – Mac, Intel-based Mac
Integrated,
nonintrusive security suite with a simple, easy-to-use interface that includes
protection found in Norton AntiVirus v.11.0 for Mac, Norton Confidential,
and two-way firewall functionality and automatically detects and removes
spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, malware, and Internet worms.

Intego NetBarrier X5 – Complete Product – Standard – 1 User – Retail – Mac
:
Intego VirusBarrier X5 is the simple, fast and non-intrusive antivirus solution
for Macintosh computers. It offers thorough protection against viruses and
malware of all types, coming from infected files or applications, whether
on CD-ROMs, DVDs or other removable media, or in files downloaded over the
Internet or other types of networks.

BitDefender Antivirus Antivirus – 2 User – Intel-based Mac

pro-actively protects 2 Macs for 2 years against the new breed of Mac viruses.
Plus, it destroys Windows viruses (which don’t affect Macs) so that you
don’t accidentally pass them on to your family, friends and colleagues using
PCs.