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Diana Nyad

Congratulations Diana Nyad!

64 years young Diana Nyad has completed her quest to swim from Cuba to Florida today. What an amazing feat. Despite 4 previous attempts that were thrwarted by weather, jellyfish and a number of hurtles, she regrouped and at each new try, brought with her new strategies, pros, and re-newed drive.

110 miles, 52 hrs-54 mins-18.6 sec after entering the Cuban waters, with tremendous support both actual and virtual, Diana walked on the Florida shore this morning September 2, 2013.

While standing on shore she had three things to say, “Never, ever give up”, “you’re never too old to chase your dreams”, and “it looks like a solitary sport but it’s a team”.

Good on ya – thank you Diana for the inspiration to chase!

 

Disney does it again!

Well…I should say Disney ‘has been doing’ it.

Known for it’s parks and animation, not many realize that it takes a small army to run the machines of The Mouse House. Like many large businesses in California, Disney is required to comply with various environmental regulations. They do that in spades.

I recently visited their Glendale campus for Earth Day 2013. I was directed to park in a parking structure – or should I call it a power-generating facility? On the roof of the structure what I thought it was a nice touch, awnings for cars to park in the shade, was actually an array of solar panels.

The Disney company has been a leader in environmental considerations for a very long time.

Now if I can just find Push the Talking Trash Can…

Well done Disney, Walt would be proud.

Info panel next to the elevator

Info panel next to the elevator

Solar panels on the parking structure roof

Solar panels on the parking structure roof

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Styli – Styluses – Which Style?

Happy New Year to all!

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a pen fetish – I’ve love pens that feel good in my hand, write nicely, need tinkering with (fountain pens!). Nothing too fancy, just well engineered.

I’m not an artist so I don’t use the fancy brush-tip styluses, or really even use a stylus much at all. I like having one around for the occasional sketch and also to give to clients when they sign on my iOS device for a credit card payment.

Since the advent of the iPad my fetish as grown to include styli (or styluses). I’ve purchased a few on Kickstarter.com that seem promising. The first stylus I ever used was the Pogo by TenOneDesign.com – it seemed to work the best out of the several stylus pioneers out there. It’s foam tip was functional but not ‘pretty’ or very precise. I was always afraid it would get ripped off in my computer bag (never happened!). Still a reliable go-to to this day. One of the most popular is the Jot line by Adonit ($15-$99). I got one of the first batch, then later purchased the Jot Mini at Macworld|iWorld. It promised precision with it’s pointy metal tip, covered by a clear plastic disc. Sadly in real life it just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s particular about what angle you hold the pen, the plastic disc has fallen off many times, and the cap unscrews regularly in my bag. I just noticed that they also have a bluetooth enabled stylus for a pressure-sensitivity feature.

Not that long ago I saw the Lunatik online ($20 in plastic) and was intrigued by it’s retractable ball point pen/rubber tip combo. Still a good one that often finds it’s way in my bag but I’m always afraid the pen tip will accidentally poke out when using it with the iPad.

Cosmonaut ($25) was another Kickstarter.com stylus that I bought at yet another Macworld|iWorld and it’s probably my favorite so far. It’s wide/thick like a toddlers crayon and simply a smooth rubber tip at the end. The shaft of the stylus is grippy while the tip is not at all. The tip is blunt but it’s very effective.

I recently purchased the Pogo Connect by TenOneDesign.com – recently released, this stylus is unique in that it connects (to and within certain apps) via bluetooth in order to add stroke width sensitivity via pressure. The harder your press down, the wider your ‘pen’ stroke. While the pen works great with any app, the special pressure sensitive feature is particular to a handful of apps including; Paper by 53, SketchClub, SketchBook Pro, Procreate, PDFPen for iPad, Zen Brush, Noteshelf, and FlipBook HD.

There is a free Pogo Connect app that adds another very cool feature – it will help you find your Pogo Connect stylus if you lose it! It provides an approximate distance with a sonar-like interface. It’s not precise but at least you’ll know if you’re getting warmer! Additionally the app provides a (presumably) up-to-date list of apps that will pair with the Pogo Connect.

Physically this pen feels great in my (small) hands – It’s now competing for the top spot with the Cosmonaut. It has the same smooth rubber tip as the Cosmonaut – held in place by a magnet and easy to replace. The body is a smooth aluminum but not too slippery with a small cap at the end that unscrews to insert the single AAA battery needed to power the pen. Not the cheapest at around $70 retail.

So to wrap it up, the stylus attributes that I like the best include the soft rubber tip,  an overall size that is larger in diameter than a pen, and not too slippery.

2012-12-31 at 13-49-51 - Version 3

From top to bottom: Lunatik, Adonit Jot Pro, Pogo Connect, Cosmonaut, Pogo Sketch, Adonit Jot Mini.

It’s taken a few years since the release of the first iPad in April of 2010 but I think I’ve finally found a stylus (or two) that I can enjoy using and I will always carry with me!

Skype – Good news, bad new.

Skype is a great tool for communicating with others either via audio or video chat or any phone line. I’ve used it for several years and have been very happy. Here’s what happened recently and how you can avoid the hassle I had to go through.

Bad news: a few weeks ago, my Skype account was suspended because Skype determined that it was probably hacked. They were right. Someone had gained access and was making calls to Indonesia. They ate through the $11 dollars of credit I had in the account. I had to go through an online chat (and a couple other hoops) with a very nice and helpful Skype customer service agent to get it back up and running.

Here’s the good news: I only lost $11 thanks to Allison Sheridan/Nosillacast podcast (check her out at at http://www.podfeet.com)
A while back she had her Skype account hacked and lost a few hundred dollars – because she had a setting (the default setting btw) ON to reload her Skype account via her payment method when the balance falls below a certain amount ($2 by default). The lesson she passed on was to turn OFF that setting. I took heed, checked my account and turned the auto load setting off at that time. Her bad experience saved me from losing much more money. According to Allison, Paypal eventually credited her account.
If you just have a Skype account to chat with other Skype users (and have never given them any payment method), you have nothing to worry about. If you have ever paid to make calls to landlines, for example, with Skype – take heed, log in, check that your setting is NOT to automatically reload.
Note – when you add credit to Skype, there is a little check box indicating that you want to auto-recharge. I even unchecked, left the page and it was rechecked when I came back to it. Watch out for those pesky little check boxes!

Be safe: uncheck the box!

I use Skype regularly to call my relatives in France – keeping a $10 balance is more than enough. My 30 minute calls never come close to using up the amount I have deposited.

Much Ado about Maps aka Mapsgate

Nice clear, easy to read text

There are lots of articles, blog posts, news stories, etc about what a terrible job Apple did with it’s new Maps application in iOS 6. Enough to elicit an apology from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

Previously, Apple’s Maps application used Google information to find a location, show traffic, generate directions…the agreement between these companies is set to expire next year. Apple choose to create their own version instead of agreeing to new terms with Google.

New and improved? One feature I like is the audible turn-by-turn directions that didn’t exist in the old Google/Apple Maps app. I never really used it much since I found Waze, a third party app, over a year ago. It’s reliable, flexible and satisfies my needs. I purchased Navigon (waited for the rare sale) for those times I need the maps preloaded – like traveling out of the country or in an area with poor cellular coverage.

I haven’t experienced a problem with Maps so far – to the contrary, I really like this new app. It’s much cleaner, more Apple-like and works just fine for me. I have heard from several users (both previous gen iPhones and iPhone 5) that they have also not any problems with the new Maps app.

The old app wasn’t perfect and led me down the wrong way on aone-way street more than once. Sounds to me like the media needed to invent something to complain about…last time it was antennagate, this time it’s Mapsgate.

Happy birthday Mac OS X

11 years ago Apple released their very ambitious new Operating System, it’s first cat, Cheetah.

Today the talk is about the new iPhone 5. If hindsight is a good measure, this new phone will continue Apple’s dominance in the tech industry.

20120913-170330.jpg

iSpeculation?

Is it worth speculating about new Apple products? We have learned by now that the only trusted source for new Apple stuff is from Apple itself. Everything else is just a guess (or from someone who is about to lose their job).

Apple historically announces a date for their announcement. Then they give us all the details we need to know about a new product. Maybe that product is available right away, generally with hardware we are given a release date for a few weeks down the road.

It’s possible to create an accurate prediction of Apple product timelines because Apple’s been fairly consistent over the last 10 years or so about when/how they release new hardware. iPod before the holidays, computer news is generally release around when the WWDC is held. Some pundits pay attention to supplier inventory – if a company known to create Apple hardware suddenly ramps up orders for the parts for those devices it makes sense that perhaps something is coming up. While many of those clues can be accurate – I’m not going to bet any money on it. Apple has surprised me before.

So…if someone tells you they heard from someone who is well connected that the new iWidget is coming out – take it with a grain of salt…and don’t bet the house.

Hello world!

First post on WordPress…we’ll see how this goes…