Category Archives: How To’s

Tips, tricks and do-it-yourself guides.

Trim your videos in iPhoto!

Did you know that you can edit a video clip in iPhoto? This is pretty slick! In iPhoto ’11 you can trim (cut) a video clip, so that the movie will stop when you want it to end. This is a quick and easy way to get rid of unnecessary fluff in your videos, without having to work in iMovie. You can quickly shorten a video of your recent trip and start a slideshow to show your friends.

Another great thing about this is that your edits don’t have to be permanent. Trimming a video clip doesn’t delete footage; it just divides the footage into two clips. To cancel the cut, choose Reset Trim from the Action pop-up menu.

Follow these few steps or watch the video below to see how to trim your clips.

To trim a video clip:

1. Do one of the following:
▪ Double-click the video clip.
▪ Select the video clip, and then press the Space bar.
2. Play the movie until you reach the point at which you want to insert a cut.
You can drag the slider at the bottom of the movie controls panel (shown below) to go to a specific point in the movie.

Choose Trim from the Action pop-up menu.

 

 

 

Enjoy the ease of editing!

How to sign a document using Preview!

From time to time we have to sign documents we receive digitally, and it can be a real pain to have to print the document out, sign it, and scan it back in. Instead of having to go through all that trouble, any Lion user can use Preview to create a signature and store it for future use. (This is a really cool feature.)

In order to create your signature, open Preview, and in Preview in the menu bar (at the top.) Navigate down to “Preferences.”

Select “Signatures” and hit the button that says “Create Signature”

This will instruct you to sign a clear white sheet of paper with your John Hancock (or your Herbie Hancock,) and hold it up in front of your iSight camera. Align it in the window and hit “Accept” when it looks good.

You can access your signatures in the “Annotate” toolbar in Preview when you select the signature button. It will give you a drop down menu of saved signatures. You can then resize and position it as needed on your document, and then all you have to do is go find something to do with all of the time you’ll be saving with this cool trick!

Organizing your iPhoto Library

Last week in our iPhoto class, I got a lot of questions about what the best ways to organize your iPhoto Library are. When you import photos, they are automatically organized by date into Events, such as a birthday party or a picnic, and placed in the iPhoto library, which is visible at the top of your Source list (at the top left of the iPhoto window). But if you want to organize your pictures into more of a filing system, you will want to work with albums and folders.

A photo album in iPhoto is just like one you create with paper and print photos: It’s a collection of photos you select from your library and arrange in the order you want.

Creating an Album is simple. On the Menu bar in iPhoto, choose File > New Album. Or click the “Create” button on the bottom right corner and select Album (see photo). Type a name for your album where it appears on the Source list under “Albums” and press Return.

You can make as many albums as you like using any images from your photo library. You can also include the same photo in several albums without making multiple copies of it. Just drag and drop the photos into your album.

As you create more albums, you may find it helpful to group them into folders. For instance, you could put all albums about birthday celebrations into a single folder named “Birthdays,” which would then appear in your Source list. You can add folders to the iPhoto Source list to better organize your albums. You cannot add individual photos directly to a folder.

In the video below, I create a folder called “2012″ and add albums that were already in my source list in the folder. So here’s how the filing system works: Photos go into Albums. Albums go into Folders. Now your iPhoto Library can be beautifully and conveniently organized!

How to print from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch

With the explosion of iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches, we often get asked, “How do I print from my iPad?” Granted, we don’t print as often as we used to. E-mail and PDF have made printing more rare, but occasionally we still need – or want – to have a hard copy.

AirPrint is Apple’s solution for printing from any iOS device. It’s an elegant solution. There is no software to download, no drivers to install, and no cables to connect. With just a few taps, you can go from viewing something on the screen to holding a printed copy.

To use AirPrint, you need to have one of the following, and you need to have your iOS up to date.
iPad (all models)
iPhone (3GS or later)
iPod touch (3rd generation or later)

You’ll also need a printer that supports AirPrint. Many new wireless printers now support AirPrint. You can see if your printer supports AirPrint here.

Now you’re ready to go. When you are viewing something that you want to print, tap the action icon, select your printer, and tap Print. Pretty easy, huh?

Here’s an online setup guide for AirPrint if you need help setting it up.

If your printer doesn’t support AirPrint, we sell AirPrint printers starting at just $79.

There is also a way you can make your existing printer support AirPrint. There are a couple of software programs that install on your Mac and use your Mac as a print server. So when you tap Print on your iPad, the print job goes to your Mac, and then to your printer. One is called AirPrint Activator. It’s free, but not incredibly reliable in our tests. We like Printopia. It’s 20 bucks, but it is a very polished piece of software that has easy setup and some cool features.

Cool, useful calculator

I’ve recently been using a very cool calculator that can be accessed in Terminal.

To open the calculator, open Terminal and type “bc”, then hit “return.”

When in bc, +, -, *, and / all act as you would expect. ^ is used to raise something to a power.

The thing I love here is that you can assign variables. just use an = in between the two values.

I just tried a making up quick interest calculator (as pictured.) We’d love to see what you come up with. Let us know if you find any cool ways to use this command line calculator!

What is Spoken Tracks?

If any of you blog lovers out there are like me, it seems there’s just much more content than there is time to read it. It would be really nice to have it read to me on the go. Well, Lion has some built in tools that make it oh so easy to do. I’ve also used this tool to convert old classics in English literature into audio books!

With the new voice personality built in to Lion, “Alex,” the Mac is easier to listen to than ever. With just two clicks you can add your favorite text to iTunes and listen to it later.

1) Go up to the Application menu in your menu bar. (if you’re in Safari, you’d go up to the Safari menu.)

2) Drop down to “Services,” and select “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.” It will ask you to give the track a name.

3) Go in to iTunes and check in the playlist “Spoken Text” to find your new audio track!

Non Lion users can also create spoken word tracks. Automator has some easy scripts for building applications to do exactly the same thing, it will just take some more steps, and will have to be saved for another blog post.

Does your case charge? Mophie Juice Pack

So I have to travel for business next week. When I travel, I worry that my iPhone battery won’t last all day. The iPhone (I have a 4S) has great battery life; on a normal day I never worry about my battery; I’m usually on Wi Fi at work and home so I can go all day and into the night before I need to charge my phone.

But when I travel, I have longer days without access to Wi Fi (using 3G or 4G uses more power than Wi Fi). Plus, I’m using my phone more: to check flight status, keep up with what’s going on at work, and entertain me on the flight. True road warriors are probably worried about battery life all the time.

I have a great product that saves my bacon on long travel days. The Mophie Juice Pack. It’s a case for my iPhone that has a rechargeable battery in the case! I slip my phone in this case, and I basically double my battery life. I don’t have to worry about running out of battery on the flight, or finding a place to charge up during a layover. You’d think that this would be a big, bulky case.

My favorite feature is that it can charge up the battery in my iPhone; so when I get to my destination and head off to a meeting, I can pop my iPhone out of the Juice Pack and my phone is fully charged.

They have two versions. A Juice Pack Air with a 1500 mAh battery for $79, or the Juice Pack Plus with a 2000 mAh battery for $99.

Check out this video for more on the Juice Pack Plus and Juice Pack Air:

Handy Data Transfer Method!

Do you have an old Mac you’ve been meaning to get the data off of?

Using Target disk mode is probably the easiest way to get this done. For this, you’ll need a firewire cable (or Thunderbolt cable if you have a 2011 Mac or later) and a new mac to transfer the info to. These cables can be purchased at Expercom. Here’s how it works:

1) Boot up the old computer holding the “T” key. Let go of the “T” key once you see either the Firewire or Thunderbolt symbol (as pictured.)

2) Connect the Firewire (or Thunderbolt) cable to both computers.

3) Open the Finder and browse your connected Devices. You can find your devices on the side bar of the Finder or in the “Go” menu up at the top of Finder under “Computer.” (Shift+Command+C). You’ll see your old Macintosh HD show up in that list, probably showing up as an orange disc.

4) Utilize the drag-and-drop method over to your desktop or somewhere else on your drive and let the data transfer fiesta begin!

Safely eject your old drive before disconnecting and powering down your old machine.

How to manage a bunch of iOS Devices

Okay, your school, church, or business has just bought a bunch of iPads. How do you manage all these devices? That’s a common question that we get asked here at Expercom. In the old days, we would have to connect each iPad one at a time to a computer, sync over the settings we wanted through iTunes, and then move on to the next iOS device. Thats a real pain when we are dealing with 10, 20, or 30 iPads or iPods.

Now we have a great App called Apple Configurator. It’s a free App from the Mac App Store that lets us manage a bunch of iOS devices.

 

Apple Configurator is perfect for the classroom or student lab where devices need to bequickly refreshed and kept up to date with the correct settings, approved policies, apps and data. Apple Configurator can also be used to personalize devices with data and documents for specific users. There are even some home users that have a bunch of iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches in the house that are using Apple Configurator to manage all of the iOS devices.

There are basically three ways this App lets you manage devices:

Prepare devices
• Configure up to 30 devices at a time
• Update devices to the latest version of iOS
• Create and restore a backup of settings and app data from one device to other devices
• Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to new devices*
• Use the built-in editor to create and install iOS configuration profiles
• Enroll devices with your Mobile Device Management solution for remote management

Supervise devices
• Automatically apply common configurations to supervised devices
• Quickly reapply a configuration to a device and remove the previous user’s data
• Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to supervised devices*
• Define and apply common or sequential names to all devices
• Restrict supervised devices from syncing with other computers

Assign devices
• Add users and groups
• Check out a device to a user and restore the user’s settings and data on that device
• Check in a device from a user and and back up the data for later use, possibly on a different device
• Apply custom text, wallpaper, or the user’s picture to a device’s Lock screen
• Import and export documents between your Mac and Apple Configurator
• Sync documents between assigned devices and Apple Configurator

* Installing paid apps from the App Store requires redemption codes from the Volume Purchase Program for Education or Business.

 

You can read more about the features of Apple Configurator here.

Price:
FREE, in the Mac App Store.

Flashback malware: How can I keep my Mac secure?

We have had several customers ask us about the Flashback malware that has been getting a lot of publicity lately. One thing that we love about our Macs is how secure they are, especially when compared to Windows, Android, or other OSes out there. But with the increased popularity of Macs, we’ll probably see more attempts to go after Mac users.

We don’t want to take a casual attitude towards any security issue, and we are glad that Apple doesn’t either. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We have not seen any customers that actually have been infected with Flashback (as of this writing). So although there is a lot of publicity, we hope that the actual problem is not as large as the press is making it out to be.
  • Apple patched this particular security issue in Java a while ago. So if you keep your Mac OS up to date, that is the best way to stay secure. If you haven’t run software update recently, do it!

Am I at risk?
Probably not, but if you would like to check and see if your Mac has the Flashback malware on it, you can download a free utility on github from programmer Juan Leon. This utility will check for the Flashback, but not remove it. If you have Flashback on your Mac, you can find some instructions at F-secure to remove it, or you can bring it in to one of our retail stores and we can help you out.

Beyond Flashback, what else can I do to keep my Mac secure?
The most important, and an easy step, is to make sure that Software Update is running regularly (you can check in your Apple Menu, System Preferences, under Software Update). We would recommend letting it check once a week. When it finds an update, make sure and install it.

You can get some security software for your Mac. Many ISPs (like Comcast) will provide you with security software, or here are a few good programs you can download:
Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition (Free)
Virus Barrier Express (Free)

Also, this issue was caused by a vulnerable version of Java. Java has seen other security issues in the past. If you don’t need Java anymore, you can disable it. The Java Preferences utility is in /Applications/Utilities; uncheck the boxes next to the versions listed in the General tab. Some programs still need Java, so be careful with this step.

Gatekeeper
We are looking forward to Mac OS X Mountain Lion, coming out this summer. Mountain Lion will include Gatekeeper, which will make Mac OS X, the most secure OS in the world, even more secure. Read more about Gatekeeper and what it will mean for security on the Mac here.

Update (4/11/12)

Apple has a new knowledge base article about Flashback, and it looks like they will provide a tool to remove it soon.

For now, security company Kaspersky Lab has a free removal tool that is easier to use than the instructions provided above.

Update (4/12/12)

Apple has a new item in Software Update that not only patches the Flashback vulnerability but also deletes all known variants. More information can be found by clicking here.

In short, make sure you run your software updates!