iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch Tips & Tricks...

For those of you who may have missed my iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch class last Saturday, here are some resources to help you get the most out of your "iDevice".

Note: make sure to update your device to the latest version of the operating system, if you haven't already. To do that, connect the device to your computer, open iTunes (if it doesn't pop up automatically), and it should notify you that a new software update is available. Follow the prompts to proceed with the install. (Depending on the speed of your internet connection, the whole process could take an hour or more, so I recommend doing the process late at night or very early in the morning.)]

Now, on with the tips!

First, here's a few links to some catch-all articles that cover a lot of the little details found in "iOS 5":


Way at the bottom of the second link above, they mention the keyboard short feature found in iOS 5. I meant to mention this, as it's really one of the most powerful features in the new OS. Here's a link to an article that covers that feature in even more detail: http://safe.mn/3wYU

Next, I mentioned a few apps; here's a fairly comprehensive list of many of my faves:
[The links below should take you to the app's page in the iTunes Store; you can read up on them and decide whether to install them or not. Most are free, but some cost between 99¢ and $20...]

Adobe Ideas
Adobe Ideas (for iPad)
Adobe Photoshop Express
AppAdvice (for finding out about new & popular apps, as well as a daily listing of apps on sale!)
Brushes - iPhone Edition (This has been used to create cover art for the New Yorker!)
Brushes - iPad Edition
Dragon Dictation
Dragon Go!
Dropbox (If you don't know about Dropbox for your computer, check it out! Amazing online-backup/cloud-storage tool! Combined with an iPad or iPhone, you can access your files anywhere...)
GoodReader for iPhone
GoodReader for iPad
iMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Kindle (for reading Kindle ebooks on your iDevice; many can be found for free...)
My-Cast (weather)
Nebulous Notes (Awesome tool for writing on your iPhone or iPad)
Overdrive Media Console (for accessing ebooks/audiobooks from some public libraries, like Montrose or Telluride)
Peaks (incredible "augmented reality" app that you have to see to believe!
Photosynth (amazing panoramic photo tool)
Quick Office Pro (for iPhone)
Quick Office Pro HD (for iPad)
Skype (for iPhone)
Skype (for iPad)
WeatherBug (for iPhone)
WeatherBug (for iPad)
White & Yellow Pages (a phone book for your iPhone/iPad! No need to mess with Google...)

Then, here's the article that covers the trick I mentioned about creating your own ringtones: http://safe.mn/3wYS

And lastly, for those of you with an iPhone 4S (or getting one soon?), this page covers a bunch of Siri-specific tips: http://safe.mn/3wYT


A Couple of Online Safety Tips...

I'm a big believer in not living life in fear, but when we spend so much of our lives in this crazy online world these days, there's certainly a need to practice 'safe-surfing' practices... And since this e-world is evolving so quickly, there are always new things to be aware of. Not necessarily afraid of, but certainly aware of!

First, my friend Karla sent me an email recently warning of a new online scam involving something called "URL Shorteners". You can read the entire article over at Scambusters.org, but the gist of it is this:

URL shorteners are tools that were developed in recent years as URLs (Uniform Resource Locaters, aka web addresses) just kept getting more complicated and thus, longer. As you may have experienced, if you paste a long web address (URL) into an email, and it ends up flowing onto two lines, the entire URL might not work right anymore, as the part on the second line would often get removed from the part on the first line! Messy, messy, messy... Enter URL shorteners. Sites have sprung up all over, with names like tinyurl.com, bitly.com and goo.gl, among many others. I've been a big fan of shorteners for quite awhile now, for making nice short URLs in emails to clients (bitly being my current favorite). They've also gained popularity since they make it easy to post short URLs to services like Facebook and Twitter.

The problem, it seems, is that scammers are starting to use shorteners to direct people to malicious websites. According to the Scambusters.org site linked above, there are "three simple steps"one can take to avoiding URL shortener abuse:

1. Be wary of any link that appears to be the output of a URL shortener. Basically, if the address is very short, comes to you in an email or appears on a website yet doesn't use recognizable words, it has probably been shortened.

2. If you have any doubts about the origin, copy and paste the link into one of the URL lengthening sites. For a fuller list than the ones we've provided, just initiate a web search for the words "URL lengthener."

3. Ensure your Internet security software is up-to-date. That way, if you do land on a malicious page, your software should alert you and block any attempts to upload malware.

Their best advice, however, is good general web-surfing advice: pay attention to the web address that shows up in the location bar at the top of your web browser when you're using the Internet! Use common sense to ensure that you're on the site you think you are... In other words, if you think you're on your Chase credit card website, make sure the first part of the address for the page you're about to enter your username and password on is actually 'chase.com', and not just something close, like 'cc.chase.com'. And if you're not sure, try starting over from a known-good link in your bookmarks (or something as simple as 'chase.com')!!

Read more at the Scambusters website, and get in touch if you still have questions.

UPDATE: I Just found this site, with a great round-up of the relative security of 11 popular URL shortening services. All of the ones I know and use didn't fare very well, so I'll be trying these two from now on: cli.gs & safe.mn (probably the latter)!


Secondly, I read an article at arstechnica.com today about a security researcher who did a bunch of research into Facebook's supposed privacy and security tools and found a method whereby "he could "friend" even allegedly more wary Facebook users in less than 24 hours." Even scarier, by taking advantage of Facebook's "Three Trusted Friends" password recovery feature, he found that "a hacker
can change both the password and the contact e-mail address for an account. The hacker could then use that hacked account for social engineering attacks on other accounts." Apparently, a Facebook spokesperson "told Ars Technica by email that Neto's approach is a clear violation of the company's policies, and that Facebook encourages users to report any account they think may be using a false name." Not exactly encouraging, from a security standpoint, eh??

At the very least, I urge any Facebook users reading this to disable the "Three Trusted Friends" feature, if you have it enabled.

I think the major lesson here (in both of these examples of online scams) is to be on your guard when surfing the Internet. Of course, there are lots of places where you probably don't have to be too wary, but unfortunately, Facebook doesn't appear to be one of them!!


Mac classes - December '11

I don't know about you, but I can't believe it's December already. Where did the year go? It's finally looking like we might be getting some snow in the next few days; let's hope!!

On to the details about this month's Mac classes:

First off, due to the busy holiday season, I'm only going to offer one Saturday class, but it's a good one:

  Next Saturday, December 10th, from 10 a.m. to noon, I will again be offering my popular class on the iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch. Just in the last couple of months, the iPhone 4S has arrived on the scene (now available on three carriers: AT&T, Verizon as well as Sprint), a major update to the operating system has come out ("iOS 5") with tons of great new features, and of course the popularity of the iPad 2 (not to mention the "iTouch") has shown no sign of slowing.

Whether you've had one of these game-changers for years, are just now jumping on the "iOS" wagon with a new iPhone 4S, or it's simply time for you to find out what the fuss is all about, this class will teach you everything you need to know about these amazing devices... I'll cover the pros and cons of AT&T vs Verizon, all the new features in iOS 5, as well as the reasons you might want to ask Santa for an iPhone 4S this year... I hope you can join us! Cost is $20.

***The above class is held in the small meeting room at Ridgway Town Hall, and is open to drop-ins, with no sign-up necessary***

Then, don't forget...

 Though the regular FREE "Overview of Mac OS X" class usually takes place on the last Wednesday of the month, for this month I'm going to switch it to  the third Wednesday of the month, December 21st from 5-7 p.m, again due to the holidays.These overview classes are held in the computer lab at the Ridgway Library. There are only eight seats available, and the Library has asked that I handle the sign ups, so give me a call at 970-417-8434 (or drop me an email) if you'd like to attend. (Be aware that first-timers take priority over anyone who has taken the class before, but there are often openings for repeaters).