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.

Games4Mac: Diablo III Beta

This seems like a wonderful time to get back into Games4Mac, and why not start with the Diablo 3 Beta.  Free for this weekend from Blizzard, the guys that bring you Starcraft and World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 is the third title in the Diablo franchise.  You need a Mac running 10.6.8 or higher and a free Battle.net account:

Download the game here: https://us.battle.net/account/download/index.xml

Sign up for Battle.net here: http://www.battle.net

App of the Week: Opera

When we talk about web browsers, we generally talk about the Big Five: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera.  Haven’t heard of Opera?  You should.  Opera is the smallest of the big five browsers, but one of the most innovative and platform diverse browsers out there.  It was the first with tabbed browsing and a Speed Dial homepage, which is like Chrome’s “Most Visited Sites” tab page or Safari’s “Top Sites”.  It is also available on the most diverse of platforms.  Whereas Apple’s Safari is available to Windows, Mac, and iOS users, Opera runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android phones, iOS (iPad and iPhone), Windows Mobile, and the Nintendo Wii and DS, among other platforms. It is also the default browser on many weaker mobile systems.

What is surprising about Opera is the number of built in features it has without being bloated.  It uses the least amount of resources of the Big Five and takes up the least amount of hard drive space, making this a wonderful browser for older or weaker Macs (or computers in general).  Inside it comes a browser that is lightning fast and was only beaten by Chrome in tests for speed.  But while the tests pointed to Chrome as being faster, Opera to my eyes seemed just as faster, and in some cases faster.  In the browser, you’ll

Opera Speed Dial

find a plethora of features including a mail client, RSS reader, an IRC chat client, a built in Torrent downloader, and more.  While I preferred to keep my mail and RSS feeds in Apple Mail, having this feature was incredibly useful.  I found it to be a little slow on occasions importing mail, but otherwise pleasant.  If any browser was posed to be an all-in-one experience, Opera is probably at the top.

Opera also has Opera Link, which is similar to, and practically inspired, Firefox Sync and Chrome syncing.  After making a free My Opera account, you can use the account to sync bookmarks, passwords, Speed Dial sites and more between your Mac and other Opera enabled devices.  I found this experience to work very seamlessly after logging in.

There are a wide variety of user features.  Opera was designed to let every user’s experience fit their own needs.  You can operate Opera with the standard combo of keyboard and mouse, but Opera’s not fit to just limit you to that.  Opera provides both mouse/trackpad gestures and.or keyboard shortcuts to control nearly every aspect of how the browser works.  And while Opera has a nice and creative variety of themes, Opera’s layout is set to allow those with visual and motor impairments to easily control the browser.  One example, the browser is capable of zooming in on everything on a page, whether it’s text, Adobe Flash, Java, and more.  Users can easily customize fonts and colors as need be.  IBM even partnered with Opera to allow the browser to easily read webpages and be voice controlled.

One other feature that is amazing, but I didn’t have a chance to try, is Opera Unite.  Opera Unite allows you to use any computer running the Opera browser into a web server.  You can stream media from your computer over a network or Internet, whether it be pictures, music, or videos.  You can also set up file

Opera Unite sidebar

sharing, allowing you to use any computer as a network drive, or even host your own website.  Unite also lets you create your own chat room.  All of this works so long as you have a My Opera account, and both your computer and Opera are turned on and running.

Opera users can take advantage of a couple of other neat features.  Tab stacking, which allows you to group tabs or a similar (or not so similar) nature together, is one of them.  So if I have a bunch of articles relating to a topic, I can put them in a tab group, which essentially hides them into one tab that can be opened.  Opera also can utilize what it calls “Turbo”; if Opera detects you have a slow Internet connection, Turbo can activate automatically.  When enabled, any web traffic you receive will be sent to Opera’s servers to be compressed and then sent to you in a smaller package.  This generally speeds up browsing experience, but if it is enabled all the time, it can actually slow your browsing experience.  Turbo can also break some more advanced web functions or plugins because of the compression process. This is why Opera allows you to set Turbo to only run when a slow connection is active.  The few times it did activate for me, I never noticed anything too bad with how it presented compressed pages, minus a few formatting issues.

I should mention at this point that some features require a My Opera account to be fully utilized, such as syncing.  While this may be an annoying, I find the account to be quite helpful, and really isn’t much different that what Apple does with iCloud and Safari or what Google does with your Google account and Chrome.  By signing up for the Opera account, you also get access to cool features such as a user customized news page and a free blog creation website (much like the free Blogger or WordPress), along with the syncing capabilities.  You can also sync extensions, which are new to Opera 11.  While some major extensions like LastPass, XMarks, and WOT are available, the selection of extensions is not as large as Chrome or Firefox.  Opera also has Widgets, which basically run as standalone apps to play games, give you the weather, act as translators, etc.  I found this tool, however, to be occasionally buggy, such as not actually running the widgets when I wanted them too.  The premise is cool, but the implementation needs some work.

I like Opera because of the variety of features, and because I love rooting for underdogs.  When I first got a Mac, I used Opera for a long time as my default browser: I found Firefox slow, Safari wasn’t safe, and I never felt completely comfortable with Google.  Things have improved now, and all the browsers have gotten better, Opera included.  But for all of these features, there were just a few things that Opera didn’t do well.

For example, when trying to upload pictures to a webpage, Opera wouldn’t load the window so that I could add pictures to an article.  I also noticed some weird formatting issues with some websites.  On the Yahoo homepage, for example, I noticed that some of the pictures in the news roulette were scrunched up to the

The Peacekeeper Test marks it just below Iron, a version of Google Chrome.

left side, and after a refresh of the page or going over the tab again, the picture would right itself.  One of my friends also tried Opera, and noticed that it would load a JavaScript game for him, whereas the other browser could.  This last one is particularly strange because Opera boasts that it has the fastest JavaScript engine.  Opera would also slow down when opening several tabs, something Chrome or Firefox only did when more tabs were already open.

One last gripe I had about the browser was the way it opened links outside of the browser.  If I open a link from my Mac’s Twitter app or from Apple Mail, the other browsers will make a new tab and open the link.  Opera, however, would take the tab I was currently in and load the link.  This meant that if I had a bunch of news stories I wanted to read, instead of having several tabs to look at, I had to manually open tabs or keep hitting the back button.

Opera is an fast, powerful, and amazingly light browser.  It has the features to stand on its own, but still has some kinks to work out.  If you’re looking for an alternative web browsing experience, or you need a browser that won’t eat into your Mac’s resources, Opera is the way to go.  Opera is a free download from the Mac App Store or from opera.com for OS 10.4 “Tiger” and higher.  It is also available for iPone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Maemo, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, FreeBSD, Windows, & Linux.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!

The Summary of the iPad 3

The iPad 3 has just been announced, and some major changes have been announced.

  • iPhoto for iPad: Apple brought GarageBand and iMovie to the iPad, and now iPhoto joins them.  The entire iLife suite has come to the iPad, and the app looks beautiful.
    iPhoto for iPad

    It allows for more advanced color correct, editing, multitouch edits, and more.  You can buy it for $4.99

  • Camera: The camera has been updated dramatically.  The rear camera is now 5 Megapixels, has improved white balance, automatic face detection, and can shoot 1080p video.  This is not as good as the iPhone 4s, but the same level as the iPhone 4.
  • Retina Display: The iPad 3 has a major update to the display, boating over 3 million pixels on the screen, which Apple says is the highest on any mobile device.  From initial looks, it looks like a fantastic update, and great for playing high quality games or those new 1080p videos you might be shooting.
  • A5X: The new chip is the A5X, which is a dual core CPU, but a quad-core GPU, meaning that your graphics functionality is going to be vastly improved, which goes great with your iLife suite and new cameras, but for high quality gaming, such as N.O.V.A., Infinity Blade, and more.  This could also bring more high intensity games to the iPad, such as what you see on consoles.
  • 4G LTE: AT&T and Verizon will be getting their own 4G LTE enable iPads, starting at $629.  No word on Sprint, though I’ll update the article when I find out.  Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple has formerly made comments about the compromises adding 4G would add to the devices, but it seems those statements are in the past.  This likely means that the next iPhone will also have 4G.  The battery life has only taken down by an hour is 4G is enabled, otherwise it remains at about 10 hours.
  • Dictation:  A lot of people were hoping for Siri on the new iPad, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  The iPad 3 comes will the ability to use speech to text, just tap the microphone button on a keyboard to start.  However, you can’t use the voice dictation like Siri on the iPad to schedule meetings, reminders, etc.  This is something I think will come out in the future, but I’m anxious to get it.

You can preorder the iPad at http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_ipad/family/ipad, and read more at https://www.apple.com/ipad/.  The price scheme hasn’t change, 16-Gig WiFi-only starts at $499, and $829 for a 64 Gig 4G iPad.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319.  Thanks!