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Desktop Clutter: How Hazel can clean things up automatically

Posted on by Mike Evans

I've been using Hazel's automated features for years but I am the first to admit that I merely scratch the surface of this deeply capable application. So I was all eyes when I saw that Harry Guinness at Tutsplus has produced a detailed guide to getting Hazel to tidy up my the desktop of my Mac. As he says:

Hazel is a great app for automating file management in OS X. You can assign certain folders for Hazel to watch and then perform specific actions if the files within meet set criteria. Hazel can automatically put videos in the Movies folder and audio tracks in the Music folder. It can also, as you’ll see, do a whole lot more. In this tutorial I’ll demonstrate how to create the ultimate workflow for keeping a Mac clutter free—or at the very least, keeping the clutter organised—using Hazel and a dedicated Inbox.

Armed with Harry's step-by-step instructions I shall be commanding Hazel over the Christmas holidays and hope to start 2015 with a pristine, uncluttered desktop. I plan to make just one tweak to Harry's sage advice. Instead of putting the Inbox in my computer's user folder I will place it in Dropbox. I keep all my current data on Dropbox so that it is available wherever I am and on either of my two Macs (MacBook Pro and MacBook Air). 

Read the full guide to uncluttering your desktop here

If you are not already familiar with Hazel, try this guide first

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FaceTime Audio best app for Apple users

Posted on by Mike Evans

A few years ago I used to spend a fortune on calls to other European countries and further afield. All that changed with the arrival of VoIP apps such Skype. WhatsApp, Google Voice and Fring all have their followers and all have had their moment in the sun. But I do have some concerns over security. In the past I have given several of these apps permission to access my contacts book and I now sort of regret that. In order to use them efficiently you do need to allow them to get inside Contacts but none of us has control of what other use is made of the information. 

I have come to the conclusion that I can trust Apple, probably alone, with the information since it is already sitting on their server farms dotted around the world. All my stuff is up there in the iCloud whether I like it or not.

This is not the only reason I have come to rely exclusively on Apple's FaceTime. It so happens that almost all my regular contacts use an iPhone and many also have Macs or iPads. Up to now, thought, the snag with FaceTime was that it offered only video communication―leading often to broken calls and constant "redialling". Last week, with the must-have update to Mavericks 10.9.2 we can now use FaceTime Audio. I've been giving it a run over the past few days and can report that voice clarity is exceptional most of the time, especially on my fast home network, and the reliability of calls is much improved over the more bandwidth-hungry video. If you haven't already tried FaceTime Audio, Jonny Evans at Computerworld has put together a mini guide to get you started.

With all these advances in communication, the poor old landline is nearing extinction. Mine seldom rings and when it does I get something of a shock. I confess to some irritation at having to pick up the phone and the first question that pops into my mind is why the caller didn't use the more convenient cellphone number. This is especially annoying when I am out and messages are left on the landline when I could have been contacted at any time on the iPhone. There is now no overriding need for landlines in the home and I expect them to be extinct within ten years. If I were to move home in the near future I would have to think hard about the need for a landline¹ and thousands must be in the same position. 

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¹ I acknowledge that a landline is still essential for many as a means of accessing the internet, so it will have a purpose until other means are found to deliver broadband services. In my case I am lucky enough to have Virgin cable broadband running at 120Mbps, shortly to be boosted at no extra cost to 152Mbps. So I could cut the landline and live happily.

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Choosing a replacement for Finder

Posted on by Mike Evans

Most of us are perfectly happy with the built-in Finder app in OS X, particularly with the Mavericks enhancements which include tabs. But there are several enhancement apps to add to Finder's functionality and, even, one complete replacement for Finder in Path Finder. I've used Path Finder off an on for some years.  While Finder is dumbed down for the majority of users and does not allow diving into dangerous waters, Path Finder needs to be approached with caution.

Harry Guinness's excellent Tuts+ tutorial guides you through all the options:

Path Finder allows you to totally customise the interface. It is built around a series of six modular panels that you can configure as needed. In addition to standard file browsing panels, you can display a number of panels showing information about your files. Path Finder also features the ability to create new files, perform basic image edits or connect to Git and Subversion. On top of all this, you can even include a Terminal window directly into the interface. And I have barely scratched the surface of its features!

But he reckons most people will go for one of the two alternatives, XtraFinder or TotalFinder. If you find your Mac's built-in finder lacking in features, read more here.

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Jack of All Apps: Master a few and benefit

Posted on by Mike Evans

Joe Kissell:

Every time I read about a new Mac or iOS app in a category I use, I think to myself, “Oh, cool. That could save me some time and effort.” I download the app and try it out, but more often than not, I quickly conclude that my previous solution was just as good, and leave the new app sitting unused. From then on, whenever I see the app, I feel a vague, low-level anxiety. But still I accumulate more apps, and the cycle repeats.

I regularly fall into this trap, especially when it comes to new productivity or writing apps. Rumour of one new killer feature and I'm there, pressing the BUY button even though I know I have a dozen similar programs that have served me well. Most times I am disappointed although, very occasionally, a real gem slips through and I am rather glad to have been tempted. Eventually, though, most of these newcomers get shunted off into a purgatorial folder which will never again be visited. 

The best bet is the nuclear option: Ruthlessly delete unused apps from devices so you are no longer presented with a choice. This cathartisis is good for the soul. It allows us to focus on what needs to be done rather than on how we do it. For me, the telling moment comes when I remember a particular app and want to try it again. It doesn't happen often but, fortunately, the App Store is kind: Deleting an app from the device does not delete it from your store account. At any time you can go back and reinstall a discarded app if you have second thoughts.

Meanwhile, I have kept my desk clutter-free and focused on getting things done in the most efficient way. Along the way I became master of the few apps that have my blessing rather than a Jack of all apps.

Via Macworld

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Command Logic: The rightness of the original Macintosh

Posted on by Mike Evans

John Gruber on the rightness of the original Macintosh design:

The greatest testimony to their genius is just how much of that original design is recognizable in today’s Mac OS X 10.9. A Mac user from 1984 could sit down in front of an iMac or MacBook today and recognize it as a successor to that original machine. That’s simply amazing.

He goes on to analyse the original keyboard shortcut commands and show how these logical and intuitive combinations have stood the test of time. Required reading for all Mac users, especially those of us who are relatively late to the party.

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Ladies who iPad: The new knitting circle at the Apple Store

Posted on by Mike Evans

An arresting sight in the Apple Store at White City this morning: An octet of elderly ladies sitting on stools around a trade-mark table, each with a shiny new iPad Air in front of her. Not one was under 65, by my reckoning, and all were in it for the duration. With their pencils and notebooks at the ready, their glasses cases open like so many expectant clams, these are the baby boomers after the babies have long gone, ready for a new challenge and flush with the cash to buy Apple's new toy.

In charge of this coterie was a 20-something blueshirt with a neatly trimmed beard, grandson material at best, ready to impart all the wonders of modern technology. This little vignette neatly encapsulates the popularity of tablet computing among all age groups but, particularly, among so-called senior surfers. It also speaks for the genius of the Apple Store concept, part world-beating retail experience and part night school for ladies who iPad.

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Missing recovery partition on mid-2011 Macs

Posted on by Mike Evans

After setting up my new one-size-fits-all MacBook Air/Cinema Display desktop, I turned my mind to clearing out the iMac for sale.

This machine has been running very successfully from an external Thunderbolt SSD for the past six months. The speed increase over the standard internal 7,200rpm hard disk drive was dramatic and well worth the upgrade.

First step was to disconnect the LaCie drive, but only after setting the iMac to boot in future from its internal disk. Do this from System Preferences/Startup Disk.

Boot not

The trouble was, the iMac just wouldn’t boot. Repeated attempts resulted in worrying system code appearing in the top left of the screen. I suspect that the update to Mountain Lion had left the system on the iMac in an unstable condition. It had not been booted from the internal disk since the update.

No problem, I thought. Boot from the recovery partition (which has taken over from boxed disks) and I can wipe the main drive and reinstall a clean copy of Mountain Lion. There was a problem, though. I could not find the recovery partition, despite holing down ⌘R during the boot process.

Fortunately I had a cloned backup in the form of the LaCie SSD which had been used for months as the main drive. I rebooted to the LaCie (holding down to Alt (⌥) key when switching on; this allows a choice of boot drive). I was then able to clone the disk back to the iMac, using Carbon Copy Cloner. Once this had completed I could boot the iMac independently.

Recovery Partition

My ultimate objective in all this was to use the iMac’s recovery partition (introduced with Lion in mid–2011) to wipe the main volume and install a clean version of Mountain Lion.

Because the Mountain Lion installation file is deleted after use, I re-downloaded Mountain Lion to the iMac from the App Store in the hope that a fresh installation would re-create the recovery partition. It didn’t, but for the very good reason read on.

Next thought was to use the new Internet Recovery system to download the original OS and perform a clean install. But while researching this I came across an interesting paper on mid–2011 computers without a recovery partition. It seems that some machines, capable of hosting the recovery partition but lacking one, were produced in the period leading up to the introduction of Lion. Among them was my iMac.

Secret: Firmware update

This was worth a try, so I found the specific firmware update for the mid–2011 iMac. As soon as this was installed the recovery partition miraculously appeared. It was then a simple task to wipe the main volume and install a clean copy of Mountain Lion.

Then it struck me, while thinking about the time last year when I bought the computer. I suddenly remembered that the new iMacs had been introduced just before the launch of Lion and mine had in fact been supplied with Snow Leopard. I remembered I had purchased and installed Lion a week or so after the buying the machine. Pity I hadn’t remembered this a few hours before.

This explains the absence of the recovery partition, although the ability to install the enabling firmware update retrospectively was a welcome lifesaver.

I still have not dragged the big box out of the loft. If I am true to habit I should find the Snow Leopard disk in that box. That would have avoided hours of work and research. I could have reinstalled Snow Leopard and handed over the iMac in its original state.

Back to basics

It turns out that this is what Apple expects, indeed mandates. If you have updated the OS you must (legally speaking) downgrade it to the original before sale. In the old days this was simple: Just use the original disks to reinstall the old OS. Now it isn’t so easy and, I suspect most people do not bother. They just sell the machine with the currently installed OS. No doubt some sell with all their data still on board, including difficult-to-guess passwords such as 12345. As you gather, I am made of sterner stuff.

In my case, I am selling the iMac to a friend who has an Apple ID and also owns a copy of Mountain Lion. So, to keep Apple happy and avoid future ID problems, I used his credentials to download and install my friend’s legal copy of Mountain Lion.

All’s well that ends well, but this hitch in proceedings took several hours and much research. The moral of the story is to check the status of your computer and sort out that recovery partition, if possible, well before sale time. If you bought around the middle of 2011 and have no recovery partition you can install the enabling firmware update.

Installation drives and backups

It is also wise to create an external bootable OS X installation disk. Use a spare external hard drive or, even a USB flash drive. But go for at least 6GB to be on the safe side. If your internal hard disk fails catastrophically you may not have access even to the recovery partition. In such a case an external boot drive is a lifesaver.

In the event of a complete failure of the internal disk, though, the best recovery option is a regularly updated bootable clone of the entire contents of your disk. I would recommend this in addition to Time Machine, which can be also be used for restore purposes but is less satisfactory. As ever, belt and braces is a good plan. You can never have enough backups.

For the ultimate in diagnostic boot disks, read this article by Jordan Merrick in Mactuts+. Creating one of these essential tools takes up around 90 minutes of your time. It is definitely time worth spending and creating one is top of my task list.

by Mike Evans, 3 October 2012

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How to create the most secure password

Posted on by Mike Evans

Password creation and hacking is a science. Sometimes what we think is a strong password is ridiculously easy to crack. On the other hand a few random words strung together (such as snakeflowercordialmeetsironsunbed) is easy to remember but can be surprisingly effective, despite being satisfyingly long.

This MacTuts tutorial on password lore is something you have to read. I learned a lot just now.

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Mac.Tuts Plus: The place for tutorials

Posted on by Mike Evans

  Photo: Mac.tutsplus

Photo: Mac.tutsplus

by Mike Evans, 18 August 2012

Three days ago I referred to a mac.tutsplus tutorial on setting up a new Mac. I hadn't discovered mac.tutsplus before and have already squirreled away several articles for future reference.

Resulting from this good experience I set up a subscription and have been reading the latest posts. Another great tutorial appeared today, a complete beginner's guide to Disk Utility. This is an invaluable work of reference and I've already learned stuff I didn't know.

How often, for instance, do you run Repair Permissions? The article points out it isn't a panacea that should be taken daily. Rare to never is the conclusion. According to the article, some experts claim that repairing disc permissions is useless 99.9 percent of the time.

This is straightforward, step-by-step good advice for any Mac user and I think you should sign up for the RSS feed now.

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Setting up a new Mac: Tips and tricks

Posted on by Mike Evans

How to set up a new Mac and deal with Migration Assistant is something I am asked several times a year. Often, I get friends to bring their new Mac and I set it up for them. Today I came across this really wonderful step-by-step guide written last month by Josh Johnson of mac.tutsplus.

It is so good I thought I would share it with you. Josh covers all aspects of setup, including disk cloning with Carbon Copy Cloner; using Apple's Migration Assistant; cloud solutions; syncing application data; dealing with the Applications Support folder and the hidden user Library; Mail accounts and calendars and multimedia applications. I've learned a few things from Josh and I would recommend putting this article somewhere safe for when you buy your next Mac.

  Image Josh Johnson

Image Josh Johnson

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Heritage titbits for newly converted Macistas

Posted on by Mike Evans

I’ve said it before. I’m a johnny-come-lately and completely missed out on the early days of Apple and the Macintosh. My conversion came in 2005 after years of looking down my nose at Apple and all its works. It is refreshing, therefore, to look back into the beginnings and find out what it was like to use a Mac in those days.

Thomas Brand’s new site, Mac Floppy, is the place to go if you want to wallow in nostalgia or to see what you were missing in all those years with Windows.

(Via Macsparky and Stephen Hackett)

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Senior Moments: How an elderly man was denied an internet service

Posted on by Mike Evans

This is the story of an elderly gentleman who suffered a stroke and was then defecated upon from a great height by a well-known internet service provider. It illustrates the helplessness of many old people who absolutely rely on their internet connection and who could have limited abilities to stand up for themselves.

My old colleague John is a month or two short of his 80th birthday. He is a former journalist and has been a keen computer user for over 30 years. He writes witty, informative emails. Since a stroke in 2010 he has gradually lost his speech, despite being quite active in general. As a result, he cannot use the telephone and has had to make even greater use of his email service. For nearly 20 years he had been a customer of AOL and was using their broadband service.

AOL pulls the plug

Seven months ago he noticed what he considered to be unauthorised debits on his bank account. He stopped payment while negotiating. However, AOL cut him off and, what was worse, they withheld the codes necessary for him to sign up with another service.

Only last month, after John’s son had had a protracted correspondence, did AOL release the codes. My friend was forced to pay up in full to AOL, plus collection charges, even though he disputed the amount.

With this agreed, he went ahead and installed a new broadband service from PlusNet. Unfortunately, the flow of emails did not restart, as I had expected, and yesterday I drove the 35 miles out of London to sort out the problem.

As I suspected, John had been apprehensive at the prospect of a new service and a new webmail interface. He had been thinking up all sorts of excuses not to turn on the computer. One of his major worries was that he had lost all his old emails and all his contacts to AOL.

Getting your stuff out of AOL

I was able to reassure him that this was not so. From my past experience, I know that former AOL internet customers can continue to use their webmail indefinitely. This he did not know. It is a common myth, particularly among older people, that you must use the email service of your current internet provider.

In my view, you should never use the email services of your internet service provider, except as a back up. It is invariably better to sign up to a universal, independent service such as Gmail, GMX, iCloud, Hotmail or Yahoo. Then, if you fall out with your company or get a better deal elsewhere, you have no transitional problems.

Within minutes I had accessed John’s old AOL webmail account. I then spent $24.95 on a small utility called ePreserver which does one thing and one thing only: It sucks up emails and contact addresses from AOL (which is otherwise very much a closed shop) and saves them in a file that can be read by other services.

Note that ePreserver does not run on a Mac. But since it is a one-off operation, use a Windows PC to create the text file and then transfer it to your Mac.

New service provider

I then had a look at PlusNet’s webmail and was seriously unimpressed. This is the sort of UI that has had very little TLC and is probably simply a means to an end. I was also unimpressed by the ridiculous email address they had foisted on John. It was something like mustermanj@johnmusterman1234.plus.com. I ask you: would you want an email address like that, especially at 79 years old?

PlusNet is an excellent internet service provider by all accounts. It regularly wins the prizes, but I suspect it would not win any prizes for the email interface.

GMX to the rescue

Fortunately, rescue was at hand. Over the years I have used GMX but not as my main email address. The webmail interface is second to none. GMX is free, responsive and responsible and a delight to use. What’s more, my old friend now has the snappy address john.musterman@gmx.com.

The next step was to import the comma separated text file that I had downloaded from AOL using ePreserver. Absolutely straightforward, and John’s new GMX account is now populated with all his contacts and all his old emails (1,560 of them, no less). I went through this massive inbox and narrowed it down to 15 messages that might need attention. Finally, I sent a round-robin message (using BCC and not CC, as is good netiquette) to all his old contacts to advise them that he had been resurrected and would love to hear from them.

Within minutes the GMX inbox was filling up with good wishes from old friends. John’s face lit up with delight, as you can understand. I cannot imagine the frustration he must have felt over the past seven months. Not only did he have no email, he was unable to make telephone calls.

Window on the world

I now have to hope that John will get back into a routine of checking and dealing with his mail every day. After such a long break his keyboard skills have withered alarmingly. He was once a fast typist, but even a seven-month break has taken its toll. Practice will be therapeutic, I am sure, and I now have a responsibility to offer as much encouragement as I can.

For older people, particularly those who are housebound or who have disabilities, an internet-connected computer provides an essential window on the world. Access to the internet can transform a person’s existence. Contact with old friends, gaining information, access to cheaper deals and offers, not to mention the sheer delight of being in touch: all these things are essential. It is a great pity that it took seven months to untangle John from the clutches of AOL.

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Sending OmniFocus done tasks to DayOne

Posted on by Mike Evans

What tasks did you complete on February 27, 2012? If you are an OmniFocus nut, as many of us are, wouldn’t it be nice to keep a list, day by day, of everything we complete? And where better to store this list than in the much-appreciated journalling app, DayOne?

When I heard from Brett Terpstra that his TaskPaper-to-DayOne script had been converted to work with DayOne, I was immediately intrigued. Jered Benoit at github:gist is the author of this version of Brett’s original script. If you, like me, are sold on keeping records, you will love it.

DayOne update: I am now on Day 233 of working in DayOne. After a lifetime of paper diaries, journals and countless computer programs, this is the first time I have ever managed to keep up a resolution beyond January 10. DayOne is on all my devices, it reminds me to write a few words and it has absolutely no frills or distractions. As a result, I haven’t missed a day. When I get to Day 365 I will write a full review of the year with DayOne.

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Evernote Essentials: Brett Kelly's peerless guide to Evernote

Posted on by Mike Evans

Today alone I have managed to mention Evernote twice in relation to workflow and productivity. This free application, with Mac, iPhone and iPad versions, is the place I store most of the stuff I want to remember and refer back to later. Using the handy webclipping tool, you can send any web page direct to Evernote; you can add pdfs, photos, make notes and import just about any type of information.

As I’ve mentioned, Evernote also lends itself to adaptation as a project manager and task organiser and, as such, can even rival OmniFocus. In fact, in one respect—the ability to store formatted notes—it actually betters OF.

My experience of using Evernote was transformed three months ago when I purchased Brett Kelly’s e-book, Evernote Essentials. It is just about the best hands-on guide to getting the most from Evernote from the pen of a real power user. The book has been so successful that Brett has sold 10,000 copies and expects to go over the 12,000 market within the next few weeks. Says Brett:

My goal in writing this is twofold; take people from Evernote Newbie to Evernote Ninja and take the Evernote Ninjas and show them a few tricks and advanced techniques they never knew existed. A lofty goal, I admit. But, I’m one of the biggest Evernote nerds you’re likely to come across and I think that, if you’re really interested in getting the most out of Evernote, this is the book for you. So, rather than continue prattling on about it, we’re going to get into the nuts and bolts of the application, the web service and the mobile platforms (yes, Evernote is all of these things). We’ll cover how to configure Evernote for the first-timers as well as how experienced Evernoters can make the most out of things like tagging and advanced searching.

If you would like to know more, click here to visit Brett Kelly.

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Set up iOS5 keyboard shortcuts for easier typing

Posted on by Mike Evans

iOS 5 includes a neat feature called keyboard shortcuts which allows you to enter frequently used words and phrases simply by typing an abbreviation. For instance, 3G, which entails a bit of deft finger work, can be invoked by typing ggg. Chris Rawson’s article on TUAW gives you the lowdown on how to do this.

iPhone 101: Set up keyboard shortcuts for easier typing | TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

(Via tuaw.com)

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Silver Surfing: When I ceased to be afraid of computers

Posted on by Mike Evans

Computers used to be very scary. Way back in the days of MS Dos they were a total mystery to the uninitiated. Those of us who didn’t know our software from our hardware felt very disadvantaged. One of those superior beings who actually had some knowledge of this mysterious and secretive world “set up” my first computer, bombarded me with far more information than I could possibly take in during one session and left me to it.

Everything went wrong straight away. I recall lengthy sessions on the telephone, only for everything to go haywire again shortly afterwards.  Trying to install software from CDs invariably led to disaster.

Sometimes vital symbols would disappear from the screen for no apparent reason, causing a torrent of angry frustration. No wonder so many people of my generation lost patience and opted out. Yet things did get better. The advent of the internet helped a lot because surfing the net was one of the more accessible aspects of the computer world.

But I never had enough confidence to delve into the complexities of “settings” and other such technical sounding terms.  Even when I purchased my first laptop, I entrusted someone else to sort it out for me before I dared to begin using it.

I can’t quite remember when I ceased to be afraid of computers. I think the turning point came when I took my wheezing laptop to a genuine firm of IT experts to be completely cleared of all the dross that well-meaning but inept aquaintances had installed for me.  This included illicit copies of Windows software and even a pirated version of Windows XP,  all trying to fight it out with free but legitimate anti-virus and firewall applications.

I came home with legally installed Windows 7, free AVG and free Open Office.  From then on I took charge of my own destiny. Windows 7 was so user-friendly compared with other systems I had struggled with.  Not only was I no longer having snarl-ups all the time, but I overcame my dread of actually fiddling around with settings and making alterations.

My first success with downloading from the internet was a major triumph. Every success led to a better understanding and more confidence. These days I am running an iPad and iPhone alongside my PC and thoroughly enjoying working with Apple and Microsoft, resolving my problems by digging around on the internet and delighting in the intuitive nature of modern software. Now I am the one giving advice to my circle of bemused but grateful senior citizens and have just (dare I say it?) “set up” a friend’s first computer. All legal stuff, of course, and I’ve refrained from drowning the newbie with too much helpful information.

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Jawbone's Live Up system to monitor your exercise and diet

Posted on by Mike Evans

For years I’ve kept a small Omron pedometer in my pocket. It counts my steps, calculates miles, aerobic walking and calories. It seems pretty accurate, but it is low-tech because every few days I have to transfer the readings to a Numbers spreadsheet so I can plot my walking and exercise progress.

For a time I was seduced by the Fitbit which offered to provide an electronic wireless solution, but the device never made it to Europe, despite promises and nearly two years’ waiting. Now comes what appears to be an even better solution of device and app from Jawbone, known for their bluetooth headsets and portable speakers.

The device itself takes the form of a wristband which features “MotionX” technology to tracks your movement and, even, your sleep activity. There is even a vibrator to remind you when you haven’t moved for a time. Just what I need, I suspect. It works in conjunction with an iPhone app which tracks progress and also allows you to enter details of meals. You can even compete with friends to meet targets, such as walking 10,000 steps a day.

The band, which costs £79, looks less obtrusive than most fitness monitors and can be worn all the time, even in the shower. It syncs with the iPhone app by cable.

Regular readers will know that I’m a great fan of Withings scales and blood pressure monitors (available in Apple Stores) which provide a really seamless, synchronised way of checking your statistics. I’m hoping the new Jawbone UP system will add this degree of automation to my regular walking statistics. The device is currently on pre-order and will be released later this month. When I’ve tried it out I will report back on results.

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Instapaper Beyond adds shortcuts, enhances reading experience

Posted on by Mike Evans

Fans of Instapaper—and everyone in the blogging world is a fan, as far as I can see—will love Instapaper Beyond, a new Safari extension produced by Brett Terpstra. the guy responsible for nvAlt, the great enhancement to Notational Velocity, the best way of making quick notes on the Mac.

Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper, has kept the web interface simple—a place to read and enjoy all your news articles in clear, uniform text. Instapaper Beyond adds a range of simple keyboard shortcuts for manipulating the news items as you read them. You can move items to folders, share them by email or send them to other services such as Evernote or Delicious. Brett has included other enhancements under the hood to speed reading, including a choice of three autoscroll speeds, smooth scrolling, sequential paragraph highlighting and auto-loading of the next article when you read the end of the current one.

Instapaper Beyond, like nvAlt, is develped by Brett Terpstra in spare time from his full-time job. He'd welcome a small donation. If a piece of software is worth having, it's worth paying for.

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Training: Learn something new every day

Posted on by Mike Evans

Yesterday, by arrangement, I sat in on a beginner's induction workshop at Apple's Covent Garden store in London. I'd intended to take part in a more advanced gathering but it was cancelled. So I was propelled to the beginner's course. What me? Start from scratch? I vowed I'd keep my mouth shut and not come over as a know-all, but I needn't have worried. I actually learned something. Onetoone_getgoing20091211


The 90-minute introduction to Macs was professionally executed, as you would expect from Apple, and I met a clutch of interesting people who had just switched from Windows to Macs. Several had lots of computer experience while a couple appeared to be new to computers. I really wish I'd done something like this when I bought my first Mac. I might have had a better grounding and avoided some of the teething troubles.


What did I learn? Well, three things, all very basic  But if I mention them you'll laugh. All I can say is try a beginners' workshop even if you think you know it all. You probably don't.

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