Convert videos for your Mac or favorite iDevice with MacX Video Converter Pro

Convert videos for your Mac or favorite iDevice with MacX Video Converter Pro

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One of the greatest things about modern computing is that the tools to create, transport and convert video – the kind that are of the quality that used to be available only to professionals – are now available to just about everyone. This is largely due to the fact that most of the hardware that common computer users now have access to, is professional grade. With that being the case, tools like MacX Video Converter Pro are a huge asset, as it provides professional processing with consumer level ease of use.

MacX Video Converter Pro is a general purpose Mac video converter that can convert video to any format. It supports MP4, H.264, MPEG, AVI, FLV, MOV, WMV, MP3, AAC, among others. It can also transfer supported HD video formats (AVCHD, M2TS, MKV) with flawless video quality. The app will also download YouTube videos. It will also record your screen, edit videos and allow you to make photo slideshows

The app supports a wide variety of formats and devices. You can convert video to and from iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air 2/Air, iPad Mini 3/Mini with Retina, and Apple TV 3. The app supports files from iTunes and iMovie; and it will also support conversions to and from the HTC Desire 816, Galaxy S5 mini/S5, Galaxy Note 4/Edge, Galaxy Tab S, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX8.9, Google new Nexus 7, Surface Pro 3 as well as the Xperia Z1/ Z2/ Z3, and PS4.

MacX video Converter Pro is a decent desktop converter. Its interface is a bit disappointing to be honest, but its more than made of by the file formats and the the mobile devices it supports. The app works well with consumer based hardware, but is even better with high end hardware. The price is a bit on the high side for today’s desktop app market, but its performance is top notch. If you’re looking for a decent app that will not only download and convert YouTube video, but will also convert video to and from most of the popular mobile devices and video formats, you really will have a hard time finding a better app.

 

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Microsoft Borks OneDrive in Windows 10 Preview Update

Sometimes when it ain’t broke, you have to fix it…or not.

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I saw an interesting article on ITWorld by fellow technology journalist Gregg Keizer and it confirmed what I had suspected had happened in the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879 – Microsoft changed the way OneDrive works.

With services like Dropbox and Google Drive – as well as OneDrive – files that you upload that you place in the service’s home folder on your PC, upload to the service. This is how everyone expects the service to work.

Files that you upload to the service via the website, are uploaded to the service; but may not be downloaded to every computer you have OneDrive installed. Believe it or not, this is how the service was originally designed to work, even in Windows 8.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft used placeholders on your PC to represent files that you have stored in OneDrive. These files weren’t actually on your PC, but were effectively shortcuts to them, on OneDrive. When you searched your PC for a file, you found either the actual file because it was on the drive, or you found a place holder. Double clicking the file, obviously opened the file. Double clicking the placeholder downloaded the file to your PC, opened it in the default program and then kept the file on your PC. Users had to learn the difference between a place holder and a file, but it really only mattered when they were off line. When online, you may have noticed a small delay in opening the file because you had to download it; but depending on your broadband connection, it may not have been noticeable.

Users really didn’t notice the difference between a place holder and the actual file. The place holder looked like a file, had a thumb nail like a file and got you the data you were looking for when you double clicked it (if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…). While slightly different than Dropbox and Google Drive, it did save local storage space; and the whole thing was largely transparent to users.

In Windows 10, things are a bit different. OneDrive now uses Selective Sync, by default and has killed the place holders. Now…to be fair, nearly ALL cloud file storage services can use selective sync, or the process of ONLY synching the files that you actually want on your local PC, while everything else stays up in the cloud. The problem with this is that if you want to work on a file that isn’t on your PC, you first have to search your PC (to confirm that you do or do not have the data you want or need) and then go online and search your cloud based file store for the file you want.

All the other services have this Selective Sync as an advanced setup option. Microsoft has it turned on by default, doesn’t tell you, and then makes you search your online file store a second time for the data you’re looking for.

Microsoft also totally failed to tell anyone they were making this kind of drastic change to the way OneDrive works.

As you might suspect, users are a bit ticked off.

When users search for files in Windows 10 Build 9879 they may not find the file they are looking for and may not understand that the file is ON OneDrive, but just not ON their PC.

In response to the outcry, Microsoft’s Ning Jin-Grisaffi has responded to these concerns with both an explanation of the problem and a small description of the solution.

The problem as he describes it was that “[Microsoft was] not happy with how [they had] built placeholders, and [they] got clear feedback that some customers were confused (for example, with files not being available when offline), and that some applications didn’t work well with placeholders and that sync reliability was not where we needed it to be.”

(Frankly, the first part of this, I consider BS. That last part, where apps didn’t work right with place holders, might carry a bit of weight though…”

The solution is a bit more complicated than just reimplementing or turning place holders back on. Microsoft is making a serious business change to OneDrive. They are combining the backend consumer service engine with the OneDrive for Business service engine, in part to insure that it can handle everyone’s unlimited storage from both sides of the service (consumer and business).

Microsoft is also adding in additional capabilities. In order to do that, they had to remake the service and had to basically tear it down to build it back up. According to Jin-Grisaffi, the OneDrive experience in Windows 10 Build 9879 is the first iteration of this redesign. Microsoft may not bring back place holders, but it he says they WILL “bring back the key features of place holders.” Eventually, you will be able to search your files and find both those that are and are not physically on your local hard drive. It’s just going to take time.

So, let me say this – hold your horses.

Apple did a similar thing with iWork when it totally killed all of its advanced features. If you recall, that caused a huge outcry, too. Like Apple, Microsoft WILL make sure that all of the capabilities that everyone was happy with will come back to OneDrive. Apparently, it’s going to take a few iterations.

If you want to see the improvements to the service faster during the Technical Preview, you can always choose to receive preview builds faster. To do so, follow these steps:

Open PC Settings
In the list on the left hand side of the screen choose, Update and recovery
In the Update and recovery section, choose Preview builds
In the drop down, choose Fast as your delivery method
Click the Check Now button.

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If a new build is available on the Fast track, you can download and install it. The build will download in the back ground, so you don’t need to baby sit it. You can go on about your work. When it finishes, you can come back to the Preview builds PC Settings page and tap the install button. Just make certain that your PC is plugged in during the install so that it doesn’t sleep or die during the update.

What do you think about the whole OneDrive system change? What would you tell Microsoft do to do change or improve the service? Why not sound off in the Discussion area below and let me know your thoughts?

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iPhone 6 Day is Upon Us! Thoughts from Yesterday

Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 6…

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My diary thoughts from yesterday at :

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“As I sit here, I’m watching the countdown at Apple’s Live Event page. There’s about an hour and a half left until the start of the event. Today, is supposed to be a very big day.

My wife asked me what all the hub-bub was about and how did I know that “something magical” was going to happen today. I told her because “all of this was fabulous.”

She didn’t buy it.

I then told her that today was the biggest Apple announcement day since 2007 (the announcement of the original iPhone) because the event is purported to launch not only two different iPhone 6 models, but the iWatch as well.

Also on tap are update to iPad, though these aren’t supposed to be as big a deal as the iPhone and iWatch announcements.

Of all the days in history, Apple Day is the biggest day, ever…well at least according to @zackwhittaker

I’ll have more on this in the days that follow the announcement.”

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Quickly and permanently uninstall apps from your Mac with AppCleaner

AppCleanerEvery computer user has the exact same problem. You install apps that you want to try, decide you don’t like for one reason or another, and then uninstall them. Unfortunately, regardless of what desktop OS you use, not all the files that the app installed or created while using it are always deleted. If you’re on a Mac, you can solve this kind of problem with App Cleaner. It’s an uninstall utility, and its small, and very easy to use.

AppCleaner allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. AppCleaner finds not only the app file itself, but all of the extra support and configuration files that may normally be left behind with an app’s uninstall routine.

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You can uninstall apps in one of two ways – via drag and drop or you can have the app search your Mac for installed apps and uninstall those with 2 clicks. If you know the app you want to remove, you can open the app folder in a Finder window, locate the app, and then drag and drop its icon on to the AppCleaner window. From there, AppCleaner will search for all related files, display them for you, and total up the amount of space that would be freed up after the app is deleted.

AppCleaner is an awesome app. It finds all of the related preference and associated files with any app you want to install, and then removes them. The app is small, quick and easy to use and removes Widgets and other files (like plug-ins and app extensions) as well. The app is donationware and free to use on any and all Macs you have in the house. This is a must have for everyone.

download AppCleaner

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Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with TextWrangler

Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with this industry leading text editor for Mac.

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Today, many people write their own apps. Finding the right editor or tool to write the code in, can be a challenge. Some times you just want to code and not bring up the how IDE or you have an idea and just want to quickly jot it down without running a huge program. Its for this reason I really like TextWrangler. It’s a professional, but budget featured, HTML and text editor for Mac.

TextWrangler is a general-purpose text editor for light-duty composition, text file editing and manipulation of other text-oriented data. TextWrangler supports working with both plain-text and Unicode files. However, TextWrangler does not support files written using right-to-left writing systems, such as Hebrew or Arabic.

TextWrangler has some pretty cool features. It can do single and multi-file search and replace functions, with file filtering options. It has flexible grep-style pattern-based searching capabilities, based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression). You can also use the app to do a DIFF between two files and then merge the differences into a single file.

If you’re coding, then you need to take a look at TextWrangler. Aside from being free, the app has a number of programming functions that coders of all experience levels will appreciate. It has support for unlimited undo/redo as well as multiple clipboards so you can copy and paste a number of different code snippets from one or more files into others that you may be working on. The app also supports splittable editing windows so that you can view two different locations in a file at the same time. Again, this is an awesome app and one that I will likely be using as I learn to code.

 

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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.

download Omnipaste

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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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OS X Yosemite Beta 4/ Public Preview Beta 1: Mac and iOS integration

Beta 4 of Yosemite was recently released to the public as a Beta 1 public preview. In part 2 of this 3 part series, I’m going to talk about Mac and iOS integration.

If you remember last time, I talked about Yosemite Installation and Setup. Here, I’m going to talk about integration between a Yosemite enabled Mac and your iOS 8 enabled iDevice.

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 Mac and iOS integration

There is some pretty cool stuff going on with Apple’s Mac + iDevice pairings under Yosemite. However, please note that in order to get some of this stuff to work, especially when everything is released, you’re going to have to run not only Yosemite on your Mac (these features simply will NOT exist under Windows…), but iOS 8 on your iDevice. If your iDevice gets left behind at iOS 7, I don’t care what kind of Mac you have Yosemite install on, this kind of integration won’t exist. Be aware both new operating systems will be required on both ends.

FYI – Please note that these features will always require at least matching beta versions during the Beta Period. For example, Yosemite Beta 4 and iOS 8 Beta 4. They’re both going to be revved at the same time (though the public won’t get newer beta versions of Yosemite, but WILL receive some minor OS updates via the AppStore; and the only way to get iOS 8 is via the iOS Developer Program), so the versions will have to match. You won’t be able to have Yosemite Beta 4 and iOS 8 Beta 3 or vice versa on your gear and have this stuff work right now.

  • Phone Calls
    This is probably the neatest thing I’ve seen yet when pairing a Mac and an iPhone running iOS 8. If you have iOS 8 on your iPhone and Yosemite on your Mac, you can use your Mac as a speakerphone. Calls coming into your iPhone will cause your Mac to ring and a notification of the call to display in the upper right corner of your default monitor. You can answer the call, decline the call or reply with an iMessage if needed.You can also place a call from your Mac. Open Contacts, Calendar, Messages or Safari and click a phone number you see displayed. Your iPhone will place the call and your Mac will act as a speaker phone. Dialing into conference calls is super easy now, and totally hands free. Where was this a year ago? I really could have used it then, as conference calls were my life…The cool deal here, though is that you do NOT need to have your iPhone physically tethered to your Mac for this all to work. Through the magic of Wi-Fi, there’s nothing to setup. As long as your iPhone and Mac are connected to the same network, you’re good to go. This means you get this feature at home, at work or at Starbucks…which is cool. Wi-Fi is the magic sauce.
  • Messages
    When you have Yosemite and iOS 8, you can also send and receive text messages with individuals running not only iOS, but Android and Windows Phone – or any other OS that can send and receive SMS/MMS messages – all from your Mac. All messages that appear on your iPhone, appear on your Mac, and vice-versa. You can also begin a text message conversation on your Mac by clicking a phone number in either Safari, Contacts, or Calendar.Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble with this. I’ve tried this with a couple Android users over the past couple of days, and they never got any of the messages I sent from my Mac. None of those messages ever synchronized with my iPhone. Messages sent from my iPhone got to the user I was texting with, and eventually synchronized to my Mac; but none of the messages that I typed on my Mac in the Message conversation actually sent or were received by the users I was communicating with. There’s obviously still work to do here, as it appears the “send” functionality for non-iMessage users is broken in Yosemite.I have a lot of hope for this feature, as it makes Messages and iMessage a universal way to communicate via text with anyone, on any device, with any mobile OS, at any time. This is a natural progression for the iMessage service, and I’m very excited – or I will be – to be able to use this feature.
  • FaceTime
    While I am on contract with a state government agency and out of town, I use FaceTime as a major communications tool with my family. We speak via cell during the day; but we visit with each other via FaceTime at night. Everyone either has a Mac, iPhone or iPad to communicate with, provided they can get the target iDevice away from my 22 month old granddaughter, that is. She likes to talk to papa, too; but unfortunately, she doesn’t like to share, or can’t necessarily remember where she put her mother’s or grandmother’s iDevice. It makes for an interesting time…I’ve noticed that the new version of FaceTime for Mac has issues searching through large Contact lists. There’s always a huge delay – 30 seconds or more – when typing in a contact name, address or number in FaceTime. It improves slightly after the first search is completed, but there are still lags, especially with larger Contact lists like mine (I have nearly 3000 contacts in my Contacts list).
  • Instant Hot Spot
    One of the coolest features of iOS 6.x and later is the ability to use your iPhone as a mobile hot spot. You turn on the feature, set a password, and then turn on Wi-Fi on your phone and on your Mac. The feature was supported in Lion, Mountain Lion and is supported in Mavericks. Further, if you physically connected your iPhone to your Mac, with the hot spot feature turned on, your Mac connected to the internet automatically without the need to have Wi-Fi on or to configure any password.Apple has taken the feature a bit further now with Yosemite. Now, your Mac can use the personal hot spot feature on your iPhone via Wi-Fi just like it did via USB cable – no setup is required. Your Mac will also display the signal strength and battery life of your iPhone as well. You don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket, bag or anything else. The feature…just works; and now, you don’t even have to turn on the feature on your iPhone beforehand. Your Mac will list your iPhone in the network list of the Wi-Fi menu on your Mac. Selecting your iPhone will turn on the hot spot feature and you’re on the internet.I’m still experimenting with this feature. I haven’t played with it too much yet. However, I would suspect that the bridging technology is not necessarily accomplished not by Wi-Fi, but by BT-LE. You’ll also need to make certain that you’re logged into your iCloud account on your iDevice in order to make all of this work. So here, you need to mix both BT-LE and your iCloud account in order to create the secret sauce. Your cellular carrier will also need to allow the hot spot feature on their network, but that’s really a given…In the end, this looks like a much better implementation of the instant hot spot feature than in previous versions of OS X and iOS. In the end, it’s just on, click, connect and surf.
  • Handoff
    I know when I get home after a long day at the office, the last thing I want to do is get behind the desk in my home office because I HAVE to. Having a laptop makes it easier to compute in places other than an office, but having a hot laptop on your lap for a few hours is neither good for you NOR the laptop. Thankfully, Handoff allows you to use another device.Again, when you pair an Apple iDevice and a Mac running OS X Yosemite, your Mac and iDevices will automatically pass whatever you’re working on between them. You can start working on one device – say your Mac at the office (but it could be the other way around…) – and when you’re ready to go home you save your work to iCloud. When you get home, you can pick up what you were working on at the office on your iPad, at the exact spot where you left off… the availability of the file and the spot where you left off is instantaneous (or as soon as the information get saved to iCloud)…And that’s the secret sauce here – iCloud. As long as your iDevices and Mac share the same iCloud account, the information is traded back and forth with every save. Now you can go to meetings with confidence that the latest information you put in your presentation will show up on the iPad you’re presenting from; and you don’t’ have to do anything else other than save the file. This… is TOTALLY cool; and something that is WAY overdue as a feature not only in OS X, but in Windows AND Linux. Something like this should be available on every platform and computing device; but that’s just me, and probably way too Star Trek for everyone…Currently, Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. What is even more important, is that app developers can easily build Handoff into their apps. This is a feature of the OS and not necessarily just Apple’s Core Apps.

Do you have any questions about OS X Yosemite’ integration between your Mac and an iOS 8 enabled iDevice? Let me know in the Discussion area below, and I’ll do my best to give you a hand.

Come back next time, and I’ll talk about changes to Apple’s Core Apps and I’ll wrap everything up.

Go back to First Impressions | Go to Apple Core Apps

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