Category Archives: News

iWork for iCloud Beta Preview

While this is only the developer’s beta, I can still give you a sneak peak of what iWork for iCloud looks and feels like, and what you can expect when it is released.

What Was Announced at WWDC 2013

This video is a little late, but let’s talk about what Apple announced at WWDC

App of the Week: Kickoff (Beta)

One of the great things about the Internet is the ability to get work done and communicate with each other faster and over greater differences than ever before.  If you’re working with a team on a project, whether it be developing your own app, a new business plan, or a school project, you may need an app for those times when you can’t meet your teammates face to face.  Kickoff wants to help your team get work done.

After you make a free account with Kickoff, you sign into the app and start making teams.  You create different teams for different project.  For example, I’m working on a podcast with Reagan on one team, while I have another team for learning to code something, etc.  Then the team maker can invite other users to their team.

Kickoff looks like a modified version of the Messages app introduced with OS 10.8 Mountain Lion.  This is actually a good thing as it’s very clean and straightforward.  On the left is a sidebar that serves as your chat window, with the default chat open being the Meeting Room; this is where you talk to all of your team.  You’ll notice just above the chat window is a tabbed section where you can choose to chat with individual team members.  This is especially useful when you need to talk about something private with them, but also so you don’t bother your other teammates with unnecessary chatter.  You can also tag someone in the Meeting Room chat, so that when you use their name, the chat bubble turns yellow for them to see (and only them).  You cannot delete messages in a chat though.

On the right hand side is the tasks and lists view.  Tasks are assigned to a list made by the team for things that need to be accomplished.  A task maker can assign these tasks as general or to individuals in each list.  Each user then has the option of viewing all task the team needs to complete, or limiting it only their tasks than need to be complete.  Once a task is done, the team member(s) can check it off the list and the task fades away.  The nice thing about this setup is that you’ll only see the tasks for that team and not the other teams.  It would be cool to have an integrated view of tasks, where you could see all of your own open tasks at once sorted by team.  You can, however, drag lists up to the favorites bar next to the “All Tasks” button, so that you have quick access to the ones that are most important to you for that team.  Scheduled tasks are also not available in Kickoff, meaning you can’t assign a teammate a task and a specific due date all within the app.

Kickoff app's main window

Kickoff app’s main window

Kickoff only communicates via chat, though you can drag and drop pictures, videos, documents, and links into the chat window for all to see and access.  Other collaboration tools, such as Citrix Go-To Meeting have video and audio chat built in, as well as screen sharing built in, and Skype has the features of Kickoff built in except for the task manager and assignment features.  I think if the developers can add these features in the future, Kickoff really stand out even more as a collaboration tool.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do an excellent job as it stands now.  Kickoff isn’t trying to be a Skype competitor and be solely a communication tool, rather it wants to be a tool for teams to quickly and effectively communicate with each other and get things done.

Currently, the app is free for the Mac while in beta (OS 10.6 and higher), but the developers say it will be a one time pay app and released in the Mac App Store once it is complete.  An iOS client is also in the works, but as of this writing it has not been released.  We will hopefully give another review of this app when it has been released as a final version, and its iOS companion app.  You can download the free beta in the meantime from http://kickoffapp.com/.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email us at easyosx@live.com.  You can check out more on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  And check out our Google Plus.  Thanks!

Where Have We Been?

It’s been several months since I’ve last posted, July 31st according to my last post.  While I’ve been still posting, especially to Twitter, the number of posts, articles, and other such fun stuff has dramatically declined.  So the question is, where have we been.

Just before the posting drought, if I may call it so, I announced the addition of Reagan to the team.  About that same time, however, he also began assisting with the campaign of his father into their state senate (note, his father won that election).  As such, he has been essentially out of commission as that campaign committee has kept him quite busy, and understandably so.  Reagan has not lost his enthusiasm, as he still love talking about tech and is hoping to set up a podcast soon. You can still follow his own tech blog at The Experiment.

As for myself, (Stuart), I have had other business.  Because I am a college student, and am now getting into my major courses (surprise, it’s programming and computer science) this has kept me exceptionally busy, not to mention my new relationship with my now girlfriend, and my addition of several jobs in the past few months.  My Macbook, while making a video on how to add a new hard drive, had it’s logic board die.  I also had to replace my own iPhone when the lock button failed. Needless to say the blog has unfortunately fell by the wayside, much to my dismay.  And the web stats seem to agree with me.

So where does that leave us and the website?  First, the website isn’t going down; I still am going to write on this website, and will bring in more writers in the future if it will benefit our readers and the website.  I want to double down and stick to a better writing schedule, bringing back even videos, App of the Week, and such.  The YouTube channel has grown dramatically while we’ve been away and I do not plan to abandon that.  While other events may force me to limit my writing again, hopefully this website will not experience the drought that it has had before.

If you wish to follow our writers, you can do that.  On Twitter, you can follow Reagan at:  @rwknopp, and you can follow me (Stuart) at @frenchstuart

We look forward to an exciting new year ahead of us.

Apple to Release Mountain Lion Wednesday (and how to prepare):

Mountain Lion is about to be uncaged (Image from apple.com)

In their earnings call today, Apple announced that they will be releasing the next version of OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion, on Wednesday July 25th.  OS 10.8 will be sold in the Mac App Store for $20 (American), though people who have bought Mac’s since June 11th will be given a free update upon request.

In order to run Mountain Lion, your Mac will need to meet the system requirements.  According to Apple, and borrowed from Macworld, these Mac models will support mountain Lion:

  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Apple says you will need at least 2 gigs of RAM (though I advise at least 4 gigs), at least 8 gigs of free hard drive space (again, I recommend more, maybe 20 to be safe), and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  Your Mac also needs to be running Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or any version of Lion, though it is advised you have the latest version of Lion to be safe.  To check if you have all of the requirements, go to the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner of your Mac, and select about this Mac.  This will tell you how much RAM you have, what version of OS X you are using, and what processor you have.  If you want to see what model or year number your Mac is, download the free Mactracker and find out.

There are some things you can do to prepare your Mac for the upgrade, so here’s a rundown.

RUN YOUR UPDATES:

This goes both for your Mac and your apps.  First go to the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner and select “Software Update”.  This will give you any updates needed for your Mac’s OS, plugins, and a few other apps.  Keep running this until there is nothing left for Software Update to install.   If you have purchased anything from the Mac App Store, go to the Updates section and make sure

Update your stuff (image from apple.com)

all of your apps are up to date, as most of them should have already been upgraded for Mountain Lion compatibility.

For any apps you bought outside the Mac App Store, for example Chrome, Firefox, Adobe Flash, etc.  Most should have built-in update processes that should at least notify or let you check for updates.  Make sure you run all of them.  You could also use a third party tool to check for updates, like Cnet Techtracker or AppFresh.

BACKUP:

Apple’s upgrades usually go smoothly, but it’s not uncommon for some people to have problems.  That’s why it’s best to have a backup of all your personal stuff so that you don’t risk losing it.  Even better is a bootable backup to restore from, which you can create with a tool like SuperDuper or Carbon  Copy Cloner.  The key part of this is to make sure that your backup works as well.  So if you’re using an external hard drive, for example, make sure you can access the files by plugging it into your Mac or another Mac and opening some of the files.  If you’re using a bootable backup solution, make sure you can boot off of your Mac; you can do this by plugging in your external hard drive, restarting your Mac, and holding the “Option” key when the Mac starts up.  Then select the external hard drive and if all is well, then your Mac shoot boot up from the external hard drive.

CHECK FOR ERRORS:

Your hard drive may or may not have errors on it.  To test this, open Disk Utility in your Utilities folder (you can also do a Spotlight search for it).  Select your Mac’s hard drive in the left sidebar, the select the “First Aid” tab (which should be selected by default) and then hit “Verify Disk Permissions” followed by “Repair Disk Permissions” when the Mac has finished the verification process.  Once you have finished

This is Disk Utility.

with permissions, run the “Verify Disk” protocol.  It should return with an “OK” message, but should it not then hit “Repair Disk”.

If the repair function cannot fix any problems with the disk, you will need to boot into the recovery partition (Lion user, hold the Option key down at boot) or run your recovery disks that came with your Mac (Snow Leopard and earlier, insert the discs, restart the Mac and hold down the Option key at boot).  From here, you will need to run the disc’s/partition’s Disk Utility or reinstall the OS.

REMOVE ENCRYPTION:

If you are using any form of an encryption tool on your Mac’s hard drive, such as the built-in FileVault, TrueCrypt, or any other similar program, you will need to remove this.  Encryption can cause problems for the update process when the Mac needs to reboot.  Encryption can be re-enabled when the update is done, but for the actual update process it needs to be removed.

 

Some of you may just want to wait a few weeks before upgrading, especially those who run servers or high end apps like Adobe, etc.  This will give others a chance to find bugs between the new OS and any other major apps and you won’t get bitten.  Likewise it means these bugs will be taken care of by the time you do decide to upgrade.  For the average user, however, as long as you follow the above steps then you should be fine.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email us at easyosx@live.com  You can also check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  And be sure to check us out on Google Plus.  Thanks!

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