This past Saturday was the first Saturday of the month which means it's time for MPU Live.This week Mark Metzger joins David and me to chat about File Maker, we also talk about cleaning up iOS, follow-up on Office 365 accounts and Google Docs, discuss Mac/PC hybrid setups, hear from a virtual assistant, share listener tips and tricks and I share my recent experience with the iPad Air 2. The jury is still out.
I had the pleasure this week of speaking with Laura McClellan of The Productive Woman Podcast about productivity and how I juggle the many tasks in my life. I must say this interview with Laura was perhaps one of my favorite I've given in a long time. I thought Laura did an especially good job of boiling down some of the essential talking points from our discussion in the shownotes. While the podcast is obviously geared towards busy women, I'm sure many men in the audience will find this discussion helpful as well.
This week on Mac Power Users David and I revisit the topic of Dictation and Siri. There have been a number of improvements on this front since our past episode and we tackle the best options for using your voice to dictate text and perform tasks on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan was released this week and Apple announced (again) that this year’s first weekend of iPhone sales and pre-orders were record setting. Here are some links of interest for the week ending October 4, 2015
- Writing for Macworld, Jason Snell reviews OS X El Capitan, he says it’s solid as a rock. Also from Jason this week, over at Six Colors he talks about What’s new in Photos for Mac 1.1, along with the El Capitan update Apple has some nice improvements for its Photos.app
- NPR sat down with Apple CEO Tim Cook who argues that ‘Privacy is a Fundamental Human Right’ and discussed Apple’s policies on sharing data and encryption. (Note: full interview is about 6 minutes and player requires flash - ugh!)
- Horace Dediu writing on his site Asymco authored a piece on What it means to be great in the context of the iPhone 6S. It’s a great read.
- A new feature in iOS 9 is Wi-Fi assist which uses acellular data to boost browsing speed and performance when an iPhone is connected to a poor quality wireless network. However, some users are complaining that this feature is burning through data. I’ve seen a lot of buzz building about this online, but not many actual examples of it happening to people. Personally, I haven’t noticed any increase in my data use or the data use on any of the devices of my friends and family that I monitor. It may be that there’s more buzz over this issue than actual substance. Something to keep an eye on and be aware of.
- This week saw several updates to some of my favorite Mac and iOS Apps. TweetBot 4 was finally released. Chris Gonzales writing for the Sweet Setup says it’s a huge update to their favorite Twitter App. Federico Viticci at MacStories also has a review.
- Fantastical 2.1 was released for Mac. Glenn Fleishman writing for Macworld calls it an even better calendar replacement, I agree.
- Bartender 2, the App that brings order to a menu bar of chaos was released. David Sparks has a writeup. The release brings full El Capitan compatibility as well as keyboard commands and more.
- Finally this week, The Truth Is Still Out There. One of my favorite series of all time, the X-Files is coming back to Fox on January 24th. Here’s the preview:
This month’s issue of ScreenCasts Online Monthly Magazine is now available in Apple’s Newsstand App. In the October issue you’ll find an article from me about my workflows for managing my school work on Mac and iOS.
The monthly magazine is packed with streamable versions of Don’s excellent video tutorials as well as articles, reviews and tips from authors including David Sparks, Allison Sheridan, Wally Cherwinski and more. The magazine is free for ScreenCasts online Premium Members or available as a separate subscription or you can pickup individual issues. You can download it in the AppStore or find more info at http://www.screencastsonline.com/magazine/
Today TiVo announced the new Bolt DVR. I’ve a big fan of TiVo, having used their DVRs since the early 2000s. I recently upgraded to the TiVo Roamio earlier this summer and wrote about that experience on this site. Given the great deal I was given as an enticement to upgrade to the Roamio, I suspected a new model TiVo might be on the way.
To Bolt is similar to the Roamio line of DVRs but features a few new features including a redesigned case, ability to skip all commercials in many prime-time television shows with the press of a single button and the ability to speed up play back of recorded shows to 1.3x. It also brings significant speed improvements and the ability to support 4k video. Bolt is shipping next month, and I have not had an opportunity to see or use one. If you’d like to read a few of the early reviews, here are some form David Pogue and Walt Mossberg. But here are my quick takes as a long -time TiVo user:
What’s to Like:
- The premier feature of the Bolt is the ability to skip ads with the press of a single button. Though there’s more to this story. To make this work, TiVo has people manually marking the start and end time of ads in recording. So it only is available on shows recorded from 4pm to midnight, on the top 20 national channels and it’s not typically available on local programing or sports. There’s a new skip icon in the user interface that indicated when a show has the ability to skip is available. Because the information has to be coded in by people, it can take some time for the skip feature to become available. Other companies have tried similar features in the past and litigation put an end to it. TiVo’s implementation is a different, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is a feature that creates some concern from the networks and content producers. I’m curious to see what happens here.
- Another landmark feature is the ability to playback shows at 1.3x speed. If you listen to podcasts at faster than real time you may already be familiar with this feature. TiVo says this will allow you to get through a 60 minute show in about 45 minutes, faster if you also skip ads. The reviewers say this works fairly well for slower-moving programs without distorting speech. I really like listening to podcasts at faster than normal speed so I’m intrigued, though it’s probably something you’ll have to try to see if you like it.
- This new TiVo is faster than ever sporting 3 times the memory, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and has completely banished the former flash interface in favor of HTML5. * Both models of the Bolt include support for HD antennas, which is a sign that TiVo is accepting the fact that many of their users are cord cutters. Previously TiVo only had support for antennas on their low end boxes. It’s great to see TiVo supporting cord cutters on their high end products.
- The new remote is RF rather than infrared which means if you don’t like the new design, you can hide it inside a cabinet and never see it again. Though the remote is bright white which makes it a bit of an eye sore.
What’s Not to Like:
- TiVo’s subscription service has always been a touchy issue. They’re trying to hide the subscription fees in the cost of the device this time. The cost of the box comes with 1 year of service that by default renews annually for $150. If you want product lifetime service, you have to pay $600 at the end of the first year.
- The hard drive options in the new TiVo are fairly small. 500GB in the entry model and 1TB in the larger capacity model. If you’re someone who likes to save TV shows up to binge watch you’ll find the 500GB model inadequate. With the new TiVo bringing support for 4K, you may find that even 1TB is inadequate in the future. Though for now, most 4K sources are streaming.
- The design of the new unit is awkward. Some people may love it, but most don’t. It’s a white plastic box that’s bent in the middle. It will absolutely stand out in your home media system and will make stacking units on top of it difficult.
I’ve seen lots of questions from long-time TiVo users, notably users of the most recent Roamio units, as to whether they’ll see these new commercial skipping features come to their DVRs. My guess is, sadly no. While I suspect there’s no technical reason preventing ad skipping and possibly 1.3x playback from working on recently released hardware, TiVo is going to want some leverage to entice users to upgrade. As we’ve seen in the past, once TiVo releases new models we rarely see old hardware get significant updates. As a Roamio user, I hope I’m wrong.
Given my recent purchase of a Roamio, I won’t be upgrading anytime soon. I’m excited about the new features of the Bolt and while I have come concerns about the pricing and if the ad-skipping feature will stick around, it’s a big upgrade for anyone who is using a Series 3 or older TiVo hardware.
El Capitan releases tomorrow. David and I discuss what to expect with Apple's latest operating system, El Capitan, our favorite new features, and tips for upgrading. You can find the show over on Relay.fm
This week on Mac Power Users David and I discussed Apple’s new Operating System El Capitan as well as our tips for making the upgrade. These days, my default recommendation is that most people just use the default upgrade offered through the Mac App store. However, you still should take a few precautions if you’re planning to upgrade tomorrow or in the near future.
- If you use your Mac to make your living or for any mission-critical tasks you may want to consider waiting a bit before a major system upgrade to make sure all the kinks are worked out of the system. Let all of us crazy early adopters take that hit for you.
- If you plan to upgrade, do your research and make sure that your applications and devices are ready to go. This is especially true if you're using older versions of software. Roaring Apps does a fairly good job of keeping a list of apps compatible with the new operating systems. However, it’s always a good bet to check with your software and hardware developers directly.
- Make sure that your Mac and all your devices are fully backed up immediately before you upgrade. In fact, when doing a major OS update, I recommend making one additional clone backup of you computer that I call the “shelf backup.” This is a backup that you can keep on a shelf (or a drawer, whatever) for several weeks or a month while you use the new operating system. This way if you find a mission-critical problem later down the line, you know you have a good backup you can revert back to.
- Especially if you’re upgrading multiple Macs, in order to save the time and bandwidth, consider making your own flash installer for use on multiple machines or for ease of installing.
- While it’s probably not necessary these days, if you decide to take this opportunity to completely erase and rebuild your Mac form scratch, I have a guide for that too.
Last month I tried a little experiment and posted my Easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken recipe. Surprisingly became one of the more popular posts on the site. (Perhaps that says something about my technology writing.) So keeping with my occasional lifestyle posts, here’s another easy Crockpot dish, Mojo Pork. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Boneless pork loin (2.5 - 5.5 pounds)
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup mojo sauce (typically found in the marinade aisle)
- salt and pepper to taste
I usually cook about 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) of pork at a time as this generally yields about 5–7 servings of pork. (Plenty for an individual to eat off for a week.) If you’re feeding more people or want additional leftovers, you can cook more and may need to adjust this recipe slightly. The night before you cook, start with a boneless pork loin and poke a few holes in it to allow the marinade and seasoning to soak into the meat. Place the pork loin in a ziplock bag with the onion, garlic cloves, mojo sauce and seasonings. Stick it in the refrigerator and let it marinade at least several hours, but I prefer to let it set overnight.
The next day, spray the inside of the Crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Place the pork in the Crockpot and pour the entire contents of your marinade bag into the cooker. You may want to add some additional water to cooker, but be careful not to water things down. Cook on low for 8–10 hours. I typically prepare the pork the night before and then throw it in before I go to work and let it cook all day. Cooking it a little longer won’t hurt you. Since Crockpots vary in temperature and cooking times, the first time you make this recipe you’ll want to check the pork with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s fully cooked.
When you’re ready to serve, pull the pork out and place it on a cutting board and start shredding with two forks. The pork will really start to fall apart. If you like onions, you can serve it with the onions, or discard. You can serve the pork with a side dish like black bans and rice, make sandwiches, tacos or just about anything. I will usually make a batch and then eat off it all week.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are out this week and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Watch OS2 also released a bit late this week. Here’s a list of notable reads around the web for the week ending September 27, 2015.
- The big news this week was the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus started shipping which means the reviews are out. Among my favorites, Jason Snell wrote a First Look for Macworld and John Gruber’s at Daring Fireball. My pals David Sparks and Stephen Hackett have also posted their initial thoughts. The reviews all seem to agree that 3D touch is a game-changer for the user experience. I did not upgrade to the iPhone 6S this year as I’m still in a 2-year contract with my 6. Though with carriers doing away with contracts I suspect starting next year I may start becoming a yearly upgrader.
- Speaking of which, Shawn Blanc put together some Thoughts on Annual iPhone Upgrades. According to Shawn’s piece, when you crunch the numbers, if you’re holding on for an iPhone (like me) for 2 years you’re really not saving that much money over an annual upgrade compared to just buying a new model and selling your old phone each year. I guess I’ll need to pull out my bill and a spreadsheet.
- If you’re upgrading to a new iPhone and you also have an Apple Watch you’ll want to make sure that you go through the proper sequence to make sure that you preserve your health and activity data. Serenity Caldwell writing for iMore has a post that explains How to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.
- Better late than never, watchOS 2 released this week. Writing for 9to5 Mac, Zach Hall has a walkthrough of all the new features now available on Apple Watch. We’re still waiting for many developers to update their apps but so far I’m really enjoying the OmniFocus update to include a new complication. Serenity Caldwell at iMore has given us her list of the best third-party Apple Watch complications and the the 10 watchOS 2 features she’s still using.
- On the subject of the Apple Watch, have you ever wished you could use it as sleep tracker? David Smith released a new App Sleep++ that allows you to do just that. It uses the motion tracking capabilities of your Apple Watch to monitor how well you’re sleeping at night. But, the problem is if you wear your watch at night it might not have the battery life to make it through the day. Well - David has a strategy for that too. While it may not work for everyone, David has written a post explaining How to wear your Apple Watch 24/7. I tend to end my day with about 40% or more battery life left, so this technique may work for me.
- Last week in the Week in Review post I mentioned the Xcode Ghost Malware. Apple has now posted an official xCodeGhost Q&A on their site that includes a list of apps that were compromised and what users and developers need to do now.
- Most of my readers and listeners know that I’m a heavy user of Evernote, but the App does still have quite a bit of room for growth. This week Evernote published a blog post on The Future of Writing in Evernote and invited customers to join their beta program. Among a few nuggets dropped was that Markdown support is in the works. I can only hope this is one step closer to solving my biggest complaint about Evernote, that it’s very easy to get information in, but no so easy to get information out. Now if only we could do something about Work Chat.
- Finally, several listeners have sent me the video of this VR tour of the Enterprise-D that is Oculus Rift ready. While it’s not quite a Holodeck, it may be the closet we get in my lifetime.