Quickly swap between your PC and your smartphone with Omnipaste

One of the biggest features of OSX 10.10 Yosemite is Continuity.  With it, your Mac and your iPhone are connected via BT-LE and you can stop and start working with documents and data on one of your devices and then the other. The big problem with this, however, is that that feature only works between a Mac running Yosemite and an iPhone running iOS 8.  While most Apple users may have this combination, Windows users using Android smartphones will be left out in the cold – until now.  Thanks to Omnipaste, Android Phone users will have the same type of opportunity with their devices on Windows machines.

Omnipaste allows you to share copied text between your Windows PC and your Android phone.  The app works in nearly the same way as the connection between a Mac and an iPhone.  Information is automatically and immediately passed between your Windows PC and your Android phone as soon as you copy the information to one of the device’s clipboards.

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With Omnipaste’s Smart Clippings, you can search for information on your PC and then copy the data to your clipboard.  When it syncs to your Android phone, you can call (if you copied a phone number) or navigate to a destination (if you copied a street address).  Smart Clippings makes integrating your total computing experience more complete.

One of the coolest things about Omnipaste is its ability to pass notifications from your Android device to your Windows PC. If your devices are connected, you’ll know when your phone rings or when you get a text message.  Both will display on your PC.

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There’s a great deal of potential here. This is a totally awesome app.  While there are some opportunities for improvement here, if you’re an Android user, then you really need to check this out.  I think this is going to be one of the biggest apps of the year.

While the app doesn’t support Windows Phone as yet, it is on the company’s development road map.  Other planned features include the ability to use your Windows PC as a speaker phone instead of just a caller ID station.  The only feature that didn’t work for me was navigation integration when copying over a street address. I’m not sure if that’s because Google Maps put line feed/ carriage returns in the address I copied, or if it was something else.  However, if you have a Windows PC and an Android Phone, this is a must, MUST have.

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OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Mac and iOS Integration

Here is the status of the other issues I’ve been speaking to over the past few beta releases.

Installation and Startup

Yosemite DP6 was delivered as an UPDATE to DP5. There isn’t a full download, and I don’t know why. When I went to redeem the install code that I got with my Developer Program Membership, the App Store told me it was already redeemed.

The update appeared in the App Store and installed without issue.  Restart was quicker than with DP5. Performance since then has been better than with previous versions of Yosemite.

Mac and iOS Integration

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Yosemite and iOS 8 when paired together truly provide a remarkable Apple experience.  The only problem I’ve encountered so far is that the reality isn’t measuring up to the vision.  I’m hopeful that future releases of the OS fulfill the vision before its ready for the public release of the new desktop OS.

Phone Calls
This is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen in Yosemite so far. Continuity might be cool, but iOS integration is the bomb. I love the fact that I can use my Mac as a speaker phone. However, this is the part of the vision that isn’t really quite there yet. Perhaps is the fan issue that I mentioned earlier (partially, I think), perhaps is the Bluetooth audio quality between my Mac and my iPhone 5 (more likely).  Whatever the issue and cause might be, there’s still a lot of work that needs to get done in order to have this feature working correctly.

If there’s one feature that Apple can really work on more than any other, this is what I would prefer they spend their time working on.  More than any other Yosemite feature I think this is the one that I will personally get the most use out of. I can actually see me using this one a lot.  I’m all over my iPhone and there’s no reason why my Mac and iPhone 5 shouldn’t be able to handle the full load required to make this feature truly rock.

Messages
In previous versions of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, messages didn’t quite live up to the vision that Craig Federighi outlined at the WWDC Keynote.  Messages has always handled iOS messaging well. (Honestly, it should…it was designed to do just that.)  Where it fell short was non-iOS messaging – sending and receiving messages between a Mac or iOS device and a non-Mac or non-iOS device.

In Yosemite DP6, this appears to be working as designed.  Not only are non-iOS messages received correctly (as they were in previous betas), but you can now send messages to that non-iOS or non-Apple device without any issues.  I really have to hand it to Apple. They make communicating with non-Apple-centric devices on your Mac, very easy now.  This is the way that Messages should have worked from the beginning.

FaceTime
I think this is the area where most of the Mac and iOS integration issues are stemming from, but I could be wrong.  It seems that Apple is wanting FaceTime to be the PC based hub for all non-written communications integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  All of your call history from your iPhone is synchronized with FaceTime when the phone is physically connected to your Mac.  This includes not only your cellular calls, but FaceTime audio and video calls as well.

When you want to make a cellular call from your Mac, you can use either FaceTime or you can use Contacts to find the number. I’ve noticed that regardless of what desktop app you use, searching for a number is delayed as the app tries to search through your contacts for the search string you’re actively typing.  The more contacts you have, the longer the delay.  While this was more pronounced in earlier beta’s, this is still an issue here in DP6.

The audio quality here is still very, VERY bad.  For personal or casual calls, its not that big of a deal.  For business calls, I would not use this feature yet.  You’re just going to have to hang up and call them from your iPhone or a land line.

One of the biggest problems that I have with this particular feature is that the integration at times seems a bit too tight.  Its still very difficult to get my Mac to actually answer the call.  It takes a bit to get the call to really connect/answer.  If you try to answer a call from your iPhone, the call has issues reverting back to the handset… and your Mac continues to ring, even after you’ve gotten the call to answer on the  iPhone.   There needs to be a better hand off between the iPhone and the Mac in this situation.  Apple needs to lock in the hook a bit better and then allow for easy – or better yet – easier unhooking as well.  Right now, the integration between the two needs some strengthening and needs a better, more reliable way of – uh-hem, consciously uncoupling – when you need it to.

Personally, I think there’s a problem relying on FaceTime on the desktop to drive desktop communications and integration between your Mac and your iPhone.  Don’t get me wrong. It makes sense.  However, Apple is totally rewriting FaceTime and its exposing and creating a lot of holes.

The biggest issue right now is that all of the changes are effecting the FaceTime service.  This may be part of what is causing the spike in my fan RPM’s.  There’s likely some kind of FaceTime Stub that runs when your Mac starts, but for some reason isn’t properly activating when needed.

For example, FaceTime video calls don’t always ring on my Mac, even when FaceTime is running on my Mac. I can’t tell you have aggravating that is. When I’m home, I’d much rather take ALL communications – FaceTime Audio/Video as well as cellular calls – through my Mac than on my iPhone.  It should just be a connected, unused accessory when recognized by your Mac, especially if its physically cabled to your Mac.  This is yet another weak integration link that needs to be tightened up quickly.  We’re running out of time in the DP/ Beta time period.

Conclusion

In true Apple fashion, OS X Yosemite 10.10 Developer Preview 6/ Public Beta 2 is an evolutionary update to Developer Preview 5/ Public Beta 1.  Its clear that progress is being made, but at this point, Apple’s standard incremental BS has got to stop. They need to step on the gas and really tighten up their code between their two-week sprints.  Otherwise, I’m not entirely convinced that they’re going to realize the vision that Craig Federighi outlined for us about three or so months ago.  I would hate for the realization of this vision to not be fulfilled until 10.10.2 or 10.10.3.  That would be a bit too late, don’t you think?

When its all said and done, Yosemite should be a really cool OS release. This is some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen on a PC since the introduction of the original iPAQ 3600 back in the day.  The integration is unprecedented, and some of the most innovative work that has been completed since the introduction of the mouse back in 1984.  I’d like to see Microsoft introduce cutting edge features like this that enhance the feature set in Windows (rather than completely remaking the face of it, as MetroUI did).

And speaking of YOUR opinion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. I’ve really tried not to rah-rah too much in Apple’s direction. I don’t want to come off as a fan boy too much.  Yes, there’s a lot to like here; but I hope I’m being critical enough to provide as well rounded an opinion as possible.

So, what do you think?  Are you using any of the Apple Beta’s?  Are you a registered developer and have DP6 installed?  Were you able to download a full release of DP6, or did you get it as an update as I did? Do you have a Thunderbolt Display?  Are you having fan issues on your Mac when the Display is connected?  I know I’m using it as a docking station (I’ve got all of the ports filled on the back of the Display); but I didn’t think that would be an issue that would cause the Mac’s fan RPM’s to spike and remain high as they have.

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and let me know what you think of these new developments.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this, as I’d like to be able to focus some of my comments and attention on your issues as the DP and Beta periods come to a close.

back to OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Introduction

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OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Introduction

I’ve been working with Yosemite DP6.  Let’s see where we are…

Introduction

yosemiteAbout a week ago, Apple released a few new bits and bobbles to not only its development network, but to its public beta team as well.  I’ve been working with

  • Yosemite DP 6/ Yosemite Public Beta 2
  • iTunes 12 Beta 2

And I’ve got an update for everyone.  Please note that iOS 8 Beta 6 was only released to Apple’s Carrier Partners, and not to its regular developer network.  I’m not certain if that means that they feel that Beta 6 is in a good spot, or if they simply want AT&T, Verizon and the Gang to check on specific compatibility issues.  We should know somewhere after 2014-09-02, as the next release in Apple’s beta cycle should be on or about that day.

So, without further delay, here’s the update on the issues and features that I’ve been reporting on over the past few of months.  I’m going to give  a general update on the two bullets, above.

iTunes 12 Beta 2
Oy.

I’m very concerned here.  Again, Apple seems to have a habit of rewriting everything from the ground up when it makes full revisions as opposed to updates during point revisions.  Generally speaking, Beta 2 is a bit of an improvement over Beta 1, but the app messed the bed when it comes to updating an iDevice.

I tried to restore my iPhone 5 to a clean version of Beta 5.  After choosing the appropriate update file, iTunes unpacked the file and put my iPhone 5 in update mode…and then promptly force quit. Restarting iTunes immediately caused the app to force quit.  Pulling the iPhone off the cable allowed iTunes to run normally. Connecting my iPhone in update mode caused iTunes to immediately force quit; and created a vicious circle of issues when trying to update my iPhone. Every time the device was connected to my Mac while in update mode, it caused iTunes to force quit. It could not, would not update my phone.

I’ve reported the bug to Apple, but I don’t know when it will be addressed.  Officially, its been tagged as a duplicate, even though it was filed BEFORE the issue that is being worked.  I don’t know why; and I find it very interesting and very frustrating. My bug should be the unique bug.

OS X Yosemite DP 6
The OS shows signs of maturing, and generally, I’m pleased with the way things are going However, my one unique bug of the fans ramping up with a Thunderbolt Display and staying ramped up for hours.  I’ve had my MBP connected for more than 24 hours at a time, and shortly after it boots,  the fans ramp up to 5000-6000 RPM’s and stay there…the entire time the notebook is on and connected.

This bug has also been filed with Apple and I’ve not seen any response to it at this point. I find this very frustrating, as I prefer to use my Mac with the 27″ display as opposed to the notebook screen.  When I’m remote, the notebook screen is fine, of course, but if I have a chance to work with it with desktop components, I’d prefer to do that.  Having a desktop experience when I’m stationary is preferable for my type of work.

go to OS X Yosemite Developer Preview 6: Mac and iOS Integration

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Keep track of local and remote weather conditions with The Weather Channel Desktop

Keep track of local and remote weather conditions with this must have Windows Utility

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Having local and remote weather at your fingertips is part of what makes the internet the internet. I mean, how good would the internet be if you couldn’t find out if it was gonna rain today either at the places you live and work, or where you were going to travel to? Its actually kinda silly… Its for this reason that I find tools like the Weather Channel Desktop so important, and a must have on your Windows desktop.

The Weather Channel Desktop provides one-click access to current weather conditions, local temperature, severe weather alerts, hurricane updates, maps – including radar and other precipitation tracking tools – ad well as hourly and10-day forecasts. Your local temperature is placed in the system tray, and many functions are accessible via this tray icon. An always-on connection keeps you informed of weather changes and allows you to plan ahead.

The Weather Channel Desktop is one of my most favorite applications. I often have a long commute to work and knowing what weather conditions I will encounter during that commute is very important in preparing for the day. While I really like what the app does, its graphs and maps, the fact that its adware supported and comes with some apps that I didn’t necessarily want installed when I installed the Weather Channel Desktop is a bit frustrating. However, these apps are easily removed via the Programs and Features Control Panel App. This is the only real blemish on what otherwise is one of the best system tray apps I’ve ever used.

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Recover lost data, drives and partitions with this must have 321Soft Data Recovery for Mac

Recover lost data, drives and partitions with this must have Mac utility.

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Keeping your data safe is important. I’ve had times when not only the source file, but the backups of the source data is corrupted and the only way to get anything back is to try to recover the data from a bad drive. I’ve been there, and its been painful. When you find yourself in a situation like this, its good to have tools like 321Soft Data Recovery for Mac. It just might be able to save your bacon.

321Soft Data Recovery is a full-featured data recovery solution for OS X that’s designed to recover lost, formatted and deleted files from hard drives, flash drives, Memory Cards, mobile devices, or any other type portable storage devices. Flexible parameter settings give you absolute control over data recovery. Regardless of how the data was lost 321Soft Data Recovery can still recover the data.

The app is VERY easy to use. You don’t need to have any previous data recovery experience in order to use the app effectively. The app’s File Preview will allow you to preview files before you recover or attempt to recover them.

In addition to being a full-featured recovery utility, 321Soft Data Recovery also includes a powerful RAID reconstruction utility that can repair lost or damaged RAID volumes. The tool also has a feature-rich hex editor, and a disk clone/imaging module that allows you to create disk image files to recover data from drives that have bad sectors.

Every computer owner should have an app like this around for emergencies. The biggest problem with it, however, is its price. Its expensive, and in normal use cases, you’re likely not going to use it very often. You’re going to have to really think about the importance of the lost data before you purchase. However, from a recovery and usability perspective, this is a must have, no brainer.

 

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Convert audio and video to any format you need with iDealshare VideoGo

Convert audio and video to any format you need with this multi-platform tool.

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If there’s one thing that I know, its that more and more of what people are doing on the internet today involves video. More than anything else (for most people… I’m a still-photo nut as I have an elaborate DSLR rig), people are taking video on their cellphones and posting it to Facebook, YouTube, Picasa and other social network sites.

Unfortunately, not every video is created equally and getting the video – or even audio – you want in the format you need it in, isn’t always easy. Its for this reason that tools like iDealshare VideoGo are so important. The app is a cross-platform tool and if you don’t have it, you really should give it a long hard look.

iDealshare VideoGo is an easy to use professional video converter. It helps you convert all kinds of audio and video formats with little to no loss in quality. You can use it to covert HD, 3D or SD video in any number of formats, including, but not limited to, WMV, ASF, ASX, AVI, DV, DivX, MKV, FLV, F4V, SWF, MXF, MVI, and OGM. It also supports mobile formats such as 3GP, 3G2, 3GPP, 3GPP2 and MP4. It also supports standard formats such as MPG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MJPEG, MJPG, H.263, H.264, MOV, M4V, QT as well as many others. The app also supports conversion of audio formats such as MP3, WAV, WMA, M4A, Apple Lossless OGG, AAC, AC3, as well as many, many others.

If downloading video from any website is what does it for you, then you’re going to love iDealshare VideoGo. The app is an all-in-one video downloader and converter. It enables you to download videos instantly in HD 720p, HD 1080p, HD 2k, including ultra high definition (4K) and 3D video with a single click from popular video sharing websites like YouTube, Facebook, Google Videos, Metacafe, eHow, Vimeo, MTV, BBC, and Dailymotion. You can also convert the downloaded videos to almost all popular video or audio formats.

Conclusion: iDealshare VideoGo is a cool app. I really like that it converts both audio and video, and that it allows you to download video from popular video sharing sites. It also allows you to convert that downloaded video to the supported format you need it in. The only thing that you really have to worry about is copy protection on the source video. The app may be able to download it, but it won’t be able to convert that video to any other format you might need.

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Create animated GIF’s from your life pictures with PicGIF

Create animated GIF’s from your life pictures with this handy Mac tool.

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Some of the simplest movies that you can create are simply made from stills and stitched together with special tools. I’ve done this throughout my computing career for a number of different reasons. However, that’s mostly been on the Windows side of the house. Thankfully, you can do this just as easily on the Mac side of the world, and that’s one of the reasons why I really like PicGIF from PearlMountain Software. It’s an animated GIF tool for your Mac, and its really easy to use.

PicGIF for Mac is an easy to use and intuitive GIF maker that allows you to create animated GIFs from your photos and videos on your Mac. One of its really cool features also lets you edit existing animated GIFs. The program is simple and easy to use, and it makes animating your pictures a lot of fun.

One of the coolest things about PicGIF is that it doesn’t matter what format your source photos are in. If you’re Mac can open them, then Pic GIF can use them to make an animated GIF. The app also works with common video formats, allowing you to quickly and easily string videos together into a longer, larger movie that can be played over the web or by other computers. It’s a great way to quickly and easily share special moments with family members and friends who happen to live far away.

PicGIF is a great application. Not only can you take control of the entire animation process, but you can set the picture size, fill mode, frame delay and playing sequence. Because its on your Mac, you can do most of the things that you would expect you can do with pictures on a Mac. It supports full drag and drop, has a text editor that will allow you to add text to your animations as well as giving you complete font control. You also get a real time preview of the animation. The app is amazing.

 

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In-Flight Cellphone Calls to be Banned?

The US DoT is moving towards banning in-flight calls

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The use of electronic devices on plane flights has been banned for a number of years, not only in the US, but worldwide. Originally, the thought was that the electro-magnetic radiation or EMR from these devices would interfere with onboard aviation equipment. So the FAA banned their use on flights in the US. Recently, that policy has changed.

Last October, the FAA announced that it would permit the use of all electronic devices during all phases of flight. This meant that you didn’t necessarily have to turn off your iPad or iPod when the doors closed and you had your nose reducing headphones plugged in, turned on and pumping music through your ears during take off. No more crying and screaming children for you!

However, this also meant that you could conceivably spend the entire flight next to Chatty Cathy as she gabbed away on her cell phone at 35,000 feet. However, according to the DoT, the agency is preparing some rules that may prevent just that.

While the FAA hasn’t laid down any new rules, and the DoT hasn’t come out with anything definitive as yet, its clear that the airline carriers are considering making some rules of their own. Your time next to Chatty Cathy may be totally cut off if they get their way, so you may be saved from all of the grief.

As of this writing – 2014-08-11 – I am currently sitting in the O’Hare International Airport waiting on a flight to Pittsburgh, PA for a job interview. I’m flying the Friendly Skies, so United has my business on both legs of this trip. In my opinion, United has been one of the more restrictive carriers with passenger privileges and freedoms in Coach. It will be interesting to see how things go after I get on board.

UPDATE:
OK, well, this is already partially implemented…at least on United. They allow use of portable electronic devices at all times on the plane. When the doors close, they tell you smartphones and tablets with cellular have to be put in airplane mode. Wireless headsets are permitted, but no Wi-Fi. The flight I was on didn’t have in-flight Wi-Fi.

I fully expect that despite what the FAA or the DoT implement as rules or guidelines, that the airline carriers will do what they want. They will likely further limit the use of electronic devices on domestic and international flights originating in the US. Despite what the regulatory agencies specify, passengers will be required to follow the rules the carriers lay down. Failure to do so, will get you booted and likely banned (depending on how you behave). Its going to be an interesting time. I will continue to follow the issue and will report back with any new updates.

In the mean time, why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below and let me know what you think the FAA and DoT should outline in any new regulations? I’d also like to hear what you think the airlines will do, too; so jump in and give me your thoughts!

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