Nathan’s Mac Workshops 1: iMovie

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iMovie Workshop from Nathan Lott on Vimeo.

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U+4G iPhone-Tripod Holder

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I have been wanting a tripod holder for my iPhone 4 camera for photographing my record collection in order to catalog them with Delicious Library. At first I was going to buy one from Thoughtout.Biz who makes some really nice iPhone and iPod holders and accessories. They wanted about $35 for their iPhone tripod mount. Then the other day I was looking at my Mac|Life magazine and saw a short blurb about this U+4G iPhone-Tripod Holder and it only cost $9.95 so I ordered one from their website. I am going to attach a few pictures of it in this blog so you can take a look. It does exactly what I wanted it to do and with the Joby GorillaCam app (Free) I can get through a lot of records by just placing the record under the phone, tapping the screen one time (anywhere on the screen) to take a picture and move on to the next record. One drawback to this holder is that the iPhone won’t fit unless it is out of its case; the iPhone has to be naked.

Finally, here is a picture of my records now cataloged in Delicious Library with the cover photos taken with the iPhone:

MacApple Users meeting

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There will be a MacApple Users meeting tomorrow October 9 from 2-4 pm at Enchanted Village Condos. 631 Strings. The topic is: How to Build a Website Workshop. I will go over some free web based solutions for building a web presence through WordPress and Posterous, then proceed to paid site hosts (who I used to use and who I use now), buying domains, and how to use FTP. I will also talk about some shareware Web building programs such as RapidWeaver, Espresso, and iWeb. I don’t have or use Mobile Me so if someone would like to talk about that experience, you are welcome to.

Comparison of video editing apps on the iPhone 4

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In this post I wanted to talk about editing video taken on the iPhone 4 with iPhone apps.  Apple came out with iMovie for iPhone 4 and at $4.99 it is a little bit pricey.  It is also very limited in my and several other’s opinions.  iMovie only has two transitions, titles last throughout an entire clip and there are no stand alone titles, you can’t split a clip when editing (inserting one clip in the middle of another), and you can’t trim the audio from your iPod to fit the movie.  Movies don’t look bad in iMovie, but I don’t know if the app is worth $5 the way it is.

This past week I got another app called Splice which is only $1.99.  This one can do a little more. You have stand alone titles although you can’t overlay titles over the video. You have 5 different transitions and some borders.  Again you can’t split clips, but the trimming seems faster and less clunky than iMovie.  You also have more ability to edit and trim audio as well as add sound effects and voice over.  The one thing iMovie has over Splice is the ability to export 720p video.  Splice resolution is 680 X 540.

I basically made the same movie twice in iMovie and Splice and would to share those here.  The music is by Scott Goldstone off his NYC Bodily album and the song is The Gymnopedist Sings.

This is the iMovie version.

This is the Splice version

MacApple Meeting August 14th

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We will be meeting Saturday August 14th  at 2:00 pm at the Enchanted Springs Condo Association at 631 Strings.  The topic is iPhone 4.  We will also be talking about officer nominations for September elections.

Web Browsers Part II: Firefox

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Even though Safari is my default browser, I still like having Firefox on my Mac in case something doesn’t work in Safari.  There are also some useful add-ons and extensions in Firefox that are not available in Safari and I’m going to make them the center point of this blog posting.  Firefox was one of the first web browsers to feature add-ons and extensions and has had that capability for at least the last 5 years.  The add-ons for Firefox are a selling point for most people, but they can also be a downside in that if you have a lot of them, they can bog the browser down and make it run sluggishly.

The first thing I want to talk about with Firefox is themes.  Themes allow you to customize the look of the toolbar section of the browser with background pictures or designs.  One of the negatives about themes is that, depending on the design, some will make bookmarks or other text in the toolbar area hard to read.  There is a nice one that I found with an LP record and some music notes that doesn’t hinder the readability of the text and I like the way it looks. This particular theme is called Retro Notes and it is by a developer named Listig.

In order to access themes, add-ons or extensions, you go to the Tools menu and select Add-ons.  There will be a Tab for Themes and a link at the bottom for get more themes.

Clicking the Get Themes link will take you to a website called Personas for Firefox.  Persona is merely another name given to themes.  Now if you mouse over a theme or persona you will get a preview of what it will look like and you can either click “Wear it” to activate it or get more details about it.

Now let us move on to add-ons and extensions.  I’m going to talk about some of my favorites.  The first is Stumbleupon which comes in the form of a toolbar on your browser.

Stumbleupon is a service where you can select topics that you are interested in and when you click on the Stumble button it will take you to random Websites chosen by other users that correspond with those topics.  It is a great way to discover really interesting Web content that you may have never come across during casual surfing.  It can also be a big time sink or time waster.  If you come across a site that you like you can click the thumbs up button and it will save the site to your Favorites on which you can access from the Favorites button.  If you don’t like something you can click the thumbs down button.  You have the choice to Stumble through a particular topic or category of topic. You can also search, stumble just photos or videos, or just the other Stumbleupon members that you subscribe to.  This can be activated from the All menu.

Finally here is a partial topic list of some of the topics Stumbleupon offers for you to browse:

Another really slick add-on for picture sites like Flickr.com is Cooliris.  Cooliris lets you zoom through pictures almost in a 3D like setting.  You can do slideshows that look fantastic and it can even access photos that are stored locally on your computer. If you are not on a site the icon will grayed out, but if you are on a site like Flickr where Cooliris is supported the icon will turn blue.  This is what Cooliris looks like in action.

Other smaller add-ons and extensions that I like include one called Download helper.  If you are on a media site like YouTube this extension will start to move around in the toolbar meaning that it is active.  You can click the little arrow next to it, it shows the active files such as a flash movie in YouTube (which has the extension .flv by the way) and you can download that video to your computer.  Once it’s on your computer you can view it with a program called VLC (http://www.videolan.org/vlc) or convert it with a $15 app from Tastyapps.com called Videobox.  If you buy Videobox it is also a plugin for Safari.  The Download helper extension for Firefox can convert .flv files if you are technically savvy enough to install ffmpeg from the Terminal which apparently I am not.

Speaking of YouTube the last extension I want to talk about is called YouTube Comment Snob.  A lot of comments that you see on YouTube are either juvenile, mean-spirited, or generally undesirable.  YouTube Comment Snob will block those comments based on pre-defined rules such as lack of capitalization, grammatical errors, etc.

As you can see, you can still show the comment if you want to, but it will be hidden until you want it to be shown.

Finally,  for those of you that have iPhones or iPod Touches there is now a free app called Firefox Home which shows all of the tabs you have open in Firefox and can sync all of your Firefox bookmarks.  This app requires an extension called Firefox Sync in order for it to work.  So if you are a Firefox user and want to basically take it with you, this app could be useful for you.

That will be it for this posting.  Soon I will complete the series with part III: Google Chrome.

Web Browsers Part 1: Safari 5

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Yesterday we had our meeting at La Taza Coffee House. The place was a little crowded, but we also had a fair number of attendees for our meeting which was nice. So, as a refresher for those who were there and for information for those who were not, I’m going to do a series of three blog posts going over what I presented at the meeting. I talked about web browsers for the Mac, specifically Safari 5, Firefox and Google Chrome. This first blog post is going to give an introduction and discuss the features and other information about Safari 5. The other two will discuss Firefox and Google Chrome respectively.

First of all, I believe that it is important to have at least 2 browsers on your computer. I would recommend Safari and Firefox. There are sites that work in Firefox that don’t work in Safari and vice versa. For example, streaming Netflix movies seems to work better for me in Firefox because Safari produces a beach ball and freezes up half way through the movie. If you have a Macbook and want to use your built in iSight within the browser for YouTube or Facebook, Safari works better, most likely because Apple products work better within an Apple designed browser. I had it happen where buttons for online commerce did not work in Safari I would get up to the point where my credit card info is in and hit the submit button and the browser freezes. I’ve done the same thing in Firefox and it works.

Safari 5

One of the nicest new features in Safari 5 is the Reader. If you are on a blog that has a font size that is too small or you are on a busy commercial newspaper site with a lot of ads, Reader will cut through all of that, black out the background and give you the text in an easily readable format. In order to activate Reader you need to be looking a single post or article. If you are looking at the whole blog you will see RSS in the address bar. If you click on the the title of the post you want to read, generally you will be taken to just that post and the Reader button will show up in the address bar. You click the Reader button to enter Reader and you can click it again to exit back into the regular posting.

That brings us to RSS. Safari is the only browser with RSS built within the browser.  In Facebook or Chrome, if you click an RSS button it will ask you to add it to Google Reader.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way to subscribe to and read articles from a blog or newspaper that has support for it.  If you do want to read RSS feeds through Google Reader there is an extension for that which I will discuss later.  Speaking of reading within the browser, one more thing I want to mention is that if you come across a link to a PDF file in Google, Safari is the only browser where you can read that PDF from within the browser.  The other browsers automatically download that file.

Now for the fun part of Safari 5, support for extensions.  Apple has just now started taking applications from developers for an extension gallery that they will host on their website, but there is a way to get in on extensions early.  First you can head over to http://safariextensions.tumblr.com to get extensions that you can download.  There is one thing you need to do in Safari, however, before you can activate them.  In Safari’s preferences under the Advanced tab is a check box for Show Develop in the menu bar. Make sure that is checked.

Now in the Menu bar you will see a Develop menu and there you can check Enable Extensions

When you find an extension you want to install you download it from Tumblr blog I mentioned above .  Double click on the file from your Download folder or where ever you downloaded it to. The file will look like a white Lego block and have a .safariextz extension.  Then Safari will ask if you are all right with installing it, you click OK and then you have an extension in your tool bar.

Some extensions I’ve downloaded and like include one called delicious 1.0  that will add a web page to my Delicious bookmarks, one called Instafari 0.2 that I can send an article to Instapaper which is an iPhone app which lets you read web content later without an Internet connection, one called GmailThis 1.0 that lets me send a link to the current web site that I’m on to someone through Gmail.  Another one that I like is called GReader and this is the one that I alluded to earlier.  Instead of RSS feeds opening up in Safari when I click the RSS button, now with this extension they will open up in Google Reader.  It also gives me a button in my toolbar where I can go instantly to Google Reader and read my RSS feeds if I want to.  It will also display the number of unread articles with a little badge on the toolbar button.

Briefly before I end this post I would like to discuss three more plugins or add-ons for Safari.  First is SAFT which can be found at http://haoli.dnsalias.com/.  With SAFT you can alphabetize bookmarks, block ads and banners, block images and plugins, and many other little improvements.  Another one I really like is LastPass which can be found at lastpass.com.   LastPass is a password manager where it becomes very easy to store passwords and log into sites.  You can even configure it to automatically log you in to site if you want.  I think it is just as feature rich as 1PassWord and for only $12 a year compared to the one time price of $36 of 1Password.  Finally there is Evernote a cloud-based notetaking application where you can save a website to Evernote thanks to a little elephant button in Safari.

That will be it for today’s post on Safari 5.  Shortly I will publish my next post which will be on Firefox.

Update: Today Apple released Safari 5.0.1 and their extensions gallery at http://extensions.apple.com which should make the process a whole lot easier. You can now install extensions with a click of the mouse from the extensions.apple.com website.

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