October 1st, 2011 Meeting

ByMUG Meeting Information for Saturday the 1st of October, 2011

October’s meeting took place a day early due to conflicts of interest happening on its regular Sunday of the month.

This month’s meeting dealt about Internet privacy, a review of Amplitude and iRig, as well as a preview of the October 4th’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” Apple event.

Internet Privacy

First up, Tom discussed Internet privacy via the Safari web browser and its web extensions

For those who don’t know whenever you get on the Internet, you are automatically tracked by dozens, if not hundreds of web sites, some of which are more nefarious than others.  Whether it’s Google, AdSense, or any other organization, if you don’t like people knowing where you browse, how you browse, or who you are online, there are certain ways to prevent “them” from knowing this information.

Tom started by going to the Electronista news site and showed what was being called up, such as ads, photos, plugins, videos, etc.

For those wishing to protect yourselves, here are the key ones which were covered:

ClickToFlash.  Blocks Flash from the web sites you visit.  It is fully customizable, meaning you can exempt sites.

AdBlock For Safari.  Blocks all ads from the web sites you visit.  It is also fully customizable.

Ghostery.  Stops hidden traffic from the sites you visit.  It too is fully customizable.

JavaScript Blocklist.  Blocks all unwanted JavaScript scripts.  It is also fully customizable.

Mindful Browsing (editor’s addition).  Allows you to block unwanted web sites from popping up.  Places like Party Poker.  A page will pop up with a warning that you have blocked the site, and you will have the option to view it this one time, or close the window.

Recommended Sites:

Panopticlick.  This site will tell you how unique and identifiable are you on the Internet, based on your privacy settings in your web browser.

How Big Is Your Haystack?”.  This site will help you identify how likely your desired password will be to figure out.

Segue to 1Password, a utility that remembers all your passwords for you.  The utility has been reviewed at our meeting in the past.  With the use of one password, 1Password will remember what user name and password to use on what site.  Whether it’s bank account information, credit cards, names.  If there’s a password involved, it will remember it.  Just make sure to not forget your one password for 1Password, because if you do, and you don’t remember what 1Password is storing for you, you’re 100% out of luck.

Upon installation, a Safari extension will be added for 1Password, fully integrating it into the Safari web browser.

Honourable mention goes to DropBox which can also be used with 1Password to allow you to safely store your database of passwords.

October 2011 Apple Event

Jonathan followed up the privacy talk with a few words about the “Let’s Talk iPhone” Apple event that takes place on Tuesday the 4th of October, 2011.  Nothing concrete as nobody on the outside truly knows what Apple is going to announce, but based on the murmurs on the Internet, there are a lot of possibilities.  Things like the A5 chip.  An 8 megapixel camera.  A thinner iPhone.  More RAM.  More storage space.  iOS 5 which is slated for autumn release.  Siri-based audio assistant.  None of these are 100% certain.  They’re just murmurs.  You can read about the iOS 5 features at http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5

AmpliTube and iRig

Mark Bell closed the meeting with a demonstration of AmpliTube

Available for all iOS devices, AmpliTube is a full-featured music studio that allows you, with the addition of the iRig hardware, to connect headphones, microphones, and even musical instruments, and create music.  Mark says that the iRig microphone is of excellent quality, and can be set up for anyone.

Individually, AmpliTube is available for #19.99 CDN for the iPad and iPhone, but there is a free version available as well.  The hardware is sold separately, and if you check out their web site, ever once in a while, the company has a package deal going which includes both hardware and software for under $100.  If you’re serious about music, this is a good way to go, and based on what I (the editor) got to hear, it’s very impressive.

AmpliTube is from IK Multimedia.

And that wrapped up the October meeting.

May 1st, 2011 Meeting

Pre-Meeting Notes:

A big thanks goes out to the Patty Bolands staff for the cool new tables they got us for our monthly meetings, as well as to Fujitsu Canada for generously lending us one of their Fujitsu SnapScan 1500M.

Also, Tom’s talk on how to give good bug and request reports has been moved to next month to allow for more time demonstrating the Fujitsu SnapScan S1500M.

Tom Talks About iStat Menus.

iStat Menu is a comprehensive system monitoring utility that allows you to keep a very close eye on practically every aspect of your system’s performance.  Whether it’s the CPU, the hard drives, memory, processors, tasks, etc., you will know what’s happening with your system.

Tom demonstrated various aspects of the utility, showing us its window and menu systems.

Question Asked: Can it tell you the ideal temperatures for the various devices and parts?
Answer: No, but it would be a great feature request.

Version 3.16 of IStat Menu is available for MacOS 10.5 or newer, and iOS devices.

Price: $16 US for the desktop edition; 0.99 CDN for the iPhone app which does work on an iPad.

Tom also quickly mentioned several other system monitoring utilities, including iStat Server, and an iStat Pro widget.  There are many others, but the were the only ones covered at the meeting.

Honourable App Mention

Mobile Mouse is an iOS app which turns your device into a wireless remote for your desktop, acting as a remote trackpad and mouse, allowing you to “… surf the web, browse your photo library, or control your music player, …”

There is a Pro edition which gives you many extra features, but will cost you $1.99 for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and $2.99 for the iPad. Check them out in the iOS App Store.

Podcaster for iPhone (works on iPod Touches and iPads as well) is an app that allows you to manage the way you work with podcasts. Comes as a free app, as well as a $1.99 app.

The Mac Bundles: A new Mac software bundle.

For the low price of $39.95 US, The Mac Bundles bring you ten pieces of software, as well as a possibility of building your own bundle.  Check the site out for more details. Deal ends around the 22nd of May, 2011.

The Fujitsu SnapScan S1500M is a Snap for Scanning

The Fujitsu SnapScan S1500M is an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) duplex scanner.  This means that you can not only place up to 50 pages of 14 – 34 lb paper in the automatic feeder, but it will scan both sides of each and every page, one at a time, discarding blank pages from its final product on your computer.

It should be noted that before going further into the demonstration of the SnapScan S1500M, that there are a lot of scanners out there which have plenty of bells and whistles, but when you go about putting them to use, you find yourself disappointed with the price you pay for these bonuses.  Sometimes it’s a reduction in speed.  Other times it’s a reduction in the quality of the end-product.

It should also be noted that while Tom did a wonderful job demonstrating the product, the end-results of this demonstration should not be considered a full review.  A more thorough review would be needed, as did Macworld Magazine.

Its scan speed and resolution are 20 ppm (pages per minute) in five modes (Automatic, Normal, Better, Best, and Excellent) which will give you between 150 – 600 dpi for colour and greyscale, and 300 – 1,200 dpi for monochrome.

Test #1: Three black and white photos were scanned.  Three seconds later, the software was attempting to OCR the text which was located on the backsides.

Test #2: Three letter-sized pages of text were scanned in.  It took a total of thirteen (13) seconds to scan and OCR all three pages.  This includes identifying for duplex.

There was a notice that with the black and white photos, there looked to be tiny amount of artifacts, but we could not at the time deduce whether it was because the photos were old, or because the scanner has issues.  The Macworld article does point out as a con, that artifacts were found in their scans.  But they also mention that the OCR documents require editing.  It should be noted that there is no OCR software out there at this date that is 100% perfect.  [Editor’s Note: Whether you’re using OmniPage, ReadIris, or even FineReader, out-of-the-box, no OCR software is perfect.  I have used all three of these over the course of my 16 year tenure with the Federal Government, and we settled with FineReader for one reason: it was simply a lot better, albeit not perfect either.  So if you’re looking for a good piece of OCR software, and you are looking for perfection, you’d be better off just typing it up yourself.]

Here’s what we discovered about the SnapScan S1500M:

  • Has an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF).
  • Does simplex and duplex scanning.
  • Scanning speed was 13 seconds for three pages with OCR test (specifications indicate 20 ppm (pages per minute) one- and two-sided).
  • Quality test showed a minuscule amount of artifacts which may or may not have been caused by the old photos.
  • Scanning resolution: 600 x 600 dpi optical; 150 – 600 dpi for colour and grayscale; 300 – 600 dpi for monochrome.
  • Handles photos and letter-sized paper easily (specifications also include A4, A5, A6, B5, B6, Business Cards, Legal, and Custom Sizes).
  • Interface is USB 2.0 (specifications state it’s also USB 1.1 compatible).
  • It will scan to Evernote, Word, Google Docs, Word, Excel and PDF by default.
  • Saves to JPG, PDF, and PDF Searchable.
  • Can identify if a page being scanned is folded, and will warn you.
  • Software automatically adds “_” for spaces in your default file names.
  • Scanning software provided: CardIris and Adobe Acrobat 8 (both for Mac only).
  • OCR software provided: ABBYY FineReader 4.0 (for Mac only).

For more information please go to Fujitsu’s ScanSnap S1500M product page.

Price: Roughly $500 CDN.

[Editor’s Note: Mariner Software produces a piece of software called Paperless which fully supports the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M.

Your Monthly Shortcuts

  • Cmd + Shift + 3 to save a snapshot of your desktop to a file.
  • Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 3 to save a snapshot to your clipboard.
  • Cmd + Shift + 4 + click & drag to save a selection to a file.
  • Cmd + Shift + 4 then hold Control to save screen selection to the clipboard.
  • Cmd + Shift + 4 then Space to save selection to desktop.

And that’s it for May’s meeting.  Stay tuned shortly for June’s meeting schedule.

April 3, 2011 Meeting

Meeting Notes

Greetings and welcome to the special 5th Anniversary ByMUG meeting. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since our first meeting which took place on the 1st of April, 2006.

This month’s meeting included three demonstrations.  Glenda demonstrated some quick runarounds in Microsoft Excel, Rock demonstrated how he used his Apple devices to learn French, and Jonathan talked about his new iPad 2.

Glenda’s Excel-lent Adventure

Glenda walked us through some quick Excel runarounds which she uses to create and generate forms in Excel.

Context, Locked Cells, Protected Sheets, Freezing Panes, Conditional Formatting, and Formulas, to name a few.

Question asked: Can Conditional Formatting be done in Apple Numbers?

Answer: Yes.

Rock Learns French

Rock recently learned French and he wanted to share his tips and tricks to go beyond the course.

Hint #1: On the devices you use, be it a computer or a mobile device, switch your operating system’s language to the desired language you wish to learn.  Warning: Realize that the further away from your own known languages you go, the greater the chance of you getting lost.  (i.e. English to Japanese.)

Hint #2: Change the date and time on your device accordingly.

Rock explained various items he used to learn French.

  • Oxford-Hachette Dictionary for iPad and iPhone goes for $24.99;
  • Bescherelle – Le dictionnaire des synonymes for iPad and iPhone goes for $3.99;
  • Dictionnaire Littré for iPhone is free;
  • French Gender for iPad and iPhone goes for $4.99. There is a free version available for both devices.  Shows you the gender of the word you’re using and which article to use with it;
  • La Radio de Radio-Canada for iPhone is free.  Allows you to listen to French radio;
  • Flashcards Deluxe for iPad and iPhone goes for $3.99;
  • Google Translate for iPad and iPhone is free [Editor: also available at http://translate.google.ca);
  • iTranslate for iPad is free;
  • Word Lens for iPad and iPhone is free.

Various web sites and podcasts are also available and recommended.

  • Quizlet on the web contains flash cards, vocabulary memorization, and study games.  It’s free;
  • Radio Lingua’s Coffee Break French;
  • Annenberg Learner;
  • Check out the Ottawa Public Library;
  • Les verbes is a wonderful place for French verb conjugations as well.

iPad: The Sequel

On the 25th of March, 2011, the iPad 2 came to Canada.  Fellow ByMUG member Jonathan Fingas and I got in line to get ours at the Rideau Centre.  Getting in line at 10:30 a.m., we were numbers 60 and 61.  Water and cookies were handed out for free several times by the Apple Store staff.  Morale was mostly pretty good.  Except for those who were standing further down the line, located outside in -15 Celsius temperatures.  Ever hear someone say “I don’t want to stand in line outside in these temperatures, only to find out at 5:00 p.m. that they’ve run out of iPads.”  The line-up, by the time it began to move around 4:45 p.m., spanned to Daly Street and then veered right a bit.  5:00 p.m. came and we got our iPads.

At the ByMUG meeting, Jonathan talked about his iPad 2 experience for about half an hour before the meeting came to an end. Having owned the previous version of the iPad, Jonathan was able to compare them to each other.

And that was it for the April 2011 meeting.