August 27, 2011
Ye Olden Days: My Adobe Magazine Articles
Back when I first started as a full-time freelance writer, I was fortunate enough to begin publishing articles in Adobe Magazine. It was a great gig, and eventually turned into a column before Adobe pulled the plug. I was a Web designer as well as a writer back then, and covered the early days of HTML and the World Wide Web. Thanks to a pointer from my friend Glenn Fleishman, I see that those articles are archived and available for reading as PDF files.
For example, here's an article I wrote in 2000 about using mobile devices to work in areas outside the office such as coffee shops, which was also the first time I was ever the subject of a photo shoot. The photographer, my editor, and I took the Seattle—Bainbridge ferry probably three times while getting various shots of me working.
March 16, 2011
Keep Up with My Articles at uFollow
I've had great intentions in the past for posting new articles that I write here on my blog, but often when something appears, I'm busy working on something else, and I forget. Today I received an email from a free service called uFollow that tracks articles and blog posts from authors. Go to the page about me to see what I've published recently. It doesn't appear that you can follow an RSS feed of the page, which would be nice, but I'm guessing the point of their business is for people to set up tracking lists on their service. I don't have any relationship with the company other than suggesting a rewrite of my bio, but I wish them well and hope the service is useful for readers.
March 11, 2011
My book, Meet the iPad 2, now at the iBookstore!
I'm ecstatic to announce that the first ebook about the iPad 2 on Apple's iBookstore is my book, "Meet the iPad 2"! It contains 48 pages of essential iPad 2 information, and costs just $1.99. Follow this link to view more information, or, go to iBooks on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, tap the Store button, and do a search for "iPad 2" or "Meet the iPad 2". (You can also download a free sample to check out before you decide to purchase the book.)
(Note that this link takes you to a Web page about the book; you need to find it in the iBookstore via iBooks on your iOS device. However, as of March 18, Apple was promoting the book on the front page of the iBookstore; scroll down and click the button.)
Honestly, I'm amazed it was available on the launch day of the iPad 2. I expected it would take longer to work through the iBookstore process of submission and approval. (The iBookstore isn't exactly known for being responsive sometimes.)
However, in this case I give a huge amount of credit to my publisher, Peachpit Press. They have a great working relationship with Apple and the iBookstore team. Apple was eager to have an iPad 2 title available quickly, and my editors at Peachpit and I were able to make it happen.
As a result, I submitted the final book to Peachpit yesterday afternoon as Adobe InDesign CS5 files; their in-house team did the EPUB conversion quickly and submitted it to Apple; and the iBookstore folks made the book available.
The ebook is based on material from my iPad 2 Pocket Guide, which I'm working night and day to finish to get into bookstores and e-bookstores as soon as possible. The larger book contains a lot more information about using the iPad 2, from using Mail and Safari to playing media, streaming via AirPlay, being productive with the iWork suite, and much, much more.
(Update: The book is now available for preorder through Amazon; I'll add a link to it at Barnes & Noble when it appears.)
If you're waiting for your iPad 2 to ship, or if you're waiting in line at an Apple Store today to buy one in person, tap over to the iBookstore and buy the book for just $1.99. Thanks!
August 09, 2010
My Favorite Paragraph This Week
Software developer and teacher Fraser Speirs writing about transitioning his classroom of iMacs to iPads:
"It's the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. A new era in which computers serve the needs of children and teachers. An era in which computers are not special artifacts sequestered in a purpose-built chamber into which children are ushered in hushed tones to have their weekly audience with The Computers."
I never enjoyed being in computer labs (as a student; I've never taught in one), so I like that "computing" in all its forms can happen anywhere.
May 25, 2010
It's a Book! First Copy of My "iPad Pocket Guide"!
My prolific friend David Blatner started a tradition in the office we once shared. Whenever he published a new book (which is still pretty often) and received his first author copy, he'd bring it around to someone else's desk and say, "It's a book!"
Now that I've published dozens of books myself, I still do the same thing when that first copy arrives—like today's delivery of my iPad Pocket Guide! It's really quite satisfying to have the fruit of a lot of hard work arrive as a tangible thing.
(I'm not contrasting that with digital books, by the way. Receiving the first final PDF of my Take Control of Your iPhone Apps book made me giddy, too.)
May 19, 2010
My review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2010)
I've been pretty singularly focused on the iPad since its release, having finished my iPad Pocket Guide (due in stores likely in the next week or so!) and now working on a Take Control ebook about the iPad.
But while I was writing the Pocket Guide, Apple sent me a new 15-inch MacBook Pro review unit, which I used for several weeks while finishing the book. The switch from my 2006 MacBook Pro was painless: I used Migration Assistant on the new laptop to set up my working environment, copied from an external hard drive that had a backup of my hard disk. The fact that I was able to do this easily in the midst of a tight deadline says a lot.
The improved speed and increased memory was much appreciated: I package my print books, which means I do all the writing and layout, so I write directly within InDesign and use Photoshop for processing screen shots. Although the new setup didn't make me write faster (I'm still looking for that particular magic button), it did eliminate some of the little pauses and annoyances I was seeing on my old machine.
I'm happy to report that the new MacBook Pro is nice and speedy: I ended up buying one to replace my 2006 model. I figured I would be buying a new main Mac this year anyway, so the timing worked out nicely. My thoughts on its performance, and particularly how the new graphics-switching technology works, is now online in my latest Seattle Times column: "MacBook Pro makes another jump into the future".
April 26, 2010
Increase Your iPad Media Storage for Just $49
[This post also appears at TidBITS.]
Here's a cool iPad tip suggested by one of our awesome TidBITS readers. Commenter "Mikey" asks:
Can you use the SD Card Adapter to watch or import h.264 movies?
The idea is that if you watch many movies or other video content, you'd want a lot of storage on your iPad. The base model, $500 Wi-Fi only iPad with 16 GB of storage isn't too roomy once you start throwing media files onto it. But paying $100 more for the 32 GB model, or $200 more for the 64 GB model, may not be in your price range.
What if you could increase that storage for just $49 instead?
Using Apple's $29 iPad Camera Connection Kit and a $20 8 GB SD memory card (or several), you can take an iPad on vacation without lugging a laptop, and still carry more movies than would fit on the iPad by itself. You could also repurpose older, lower-capacity SD cards you may not be using anymore.
The iPad camera kit is designed primarily to import digital photos directly from an SD card or a camera, but because most digital cameras now shoot video as well as still images, incoming video files are supported on the iPad, too. (Although not all formats will run; I discovered I could import clips from a Flip MinoHD video recorder to the iPad using the USB connector module of the kit, but couldn't play them on the iPad. Movies purchased from the iTunes Store, which are wrapped in Apple's FairPlay digital rights management scheme, won't play using the following method.)
To take advantage of this capability, load up the memory card with movies. Let's say you'll be gone for a couple of weeks and want to take just the iPad. Before you leave, encode titles from your DVD collection using a tool such as HandBrake, which offers a convenient Apple TV encoding preset. When a file is created, copy it to the DCIM folder on the SD card. I also successfully tested a short 720p HD video, exported from iMovie at the HD setting.
Eject the card from the computer and insert it into the SD camera connector, which opens the Photos app in the Camera pane. You can't watch a movie directly from the memory card, but you can copy it to the iPad's photo library. Tap to select the movie you want to watch, tap the Import button, and then tap the Import Selected option that appears.
After the movie copies, you'll find it in the Last Import collection under the Albums pane (as well as the Events pane if you normally sync the iPad's photos with iPhoto). The movie stays within the Photos app, not in the Videos app. Tap its icon to start playing it.
After you've watched that movie, you can delete it from the iPad's memory by tapping the Trash button at the far right edge of the toolbar. Then load another movie from the SD memory card and watch it at your leisure.
People are looking at the iPad as a laptop replacement, and although this trick doesn't tackle other issues such as effectively working with business documents or printing, it can be good for travelers with long stretches of time that needs to be filled. Instead of bringing a laptop, with its capacious hard drive, you can bring just the iPad and a pocket full of inexpensive SD memory cards.
April 07, 2010
Talking about G10/G11 Book on MacVoices
On a recent MacVoices podcast, I joined Chuck Joiner to talk about the making of my (almost ridiculously long-titled) book "Canon PowerShot G10/G11: From Snapshots to Great Shots." What's great about this episode is that we were joined by photographers Jeff Lynch and Justin Van Leeuwen, who contributed photos for the book through an experimental crowd-sourcing process using Flickr.
From Chuck's description: "The team talk about how the project came together, the decision to publclly solicit photographs, and why so many shooters decided to get involved. The project took on a life of its own, and the conversation covers it all, from the social networking aspects of digital photography to an explanation of what makes this book different than other instructional and coffee table books, to some good old photographer geek talk."
Listen to the podcast here.
Free Sample Chapter of My iPad Pocket Guide
The iPad was released last weekend, and to celebrate I've made an excerpt from my book The iPad Pocket Guide available as a free download from Peachpit.com. (You need to click the "Sample Content" tab toward the bottom of the page to access the download link.)
As I mentioned previously, I've been working on the book without an iPad in hand, which only goes so far. I was not one of the fortunate early reviewers, so I received my iPad on Saturday along with a few hundred thousand other people.
In fact, I wasn't leaving anything to chance. In addition to preparing the first chapter for the excerpt, I ended up writing the Seattle Times review of the iPad (assigned at the last minute). So, to make sure UPS didn't have trouble finding my house, I printed and made some signs pointing the right direction and hung them a block away. I also set up a lawn chair and waited.
It's funny that I chose to have the iPad delivered when I ordered, versus picking it up at an Apple retail store, because I didn't want to potentially spend hours in line (as I did during the iPhone 3G launch). And so, I ended up outside in the cold anyway.
Fortunately, the UPS driver arrived fairly early (cackling all the way down the street seeing me waiting for him) and I finally got my own iPad. Good thing, too! I ended up making a few structural changes to the chapter based on hands-on use.
(I also made an error. When discussing Multi-Touch gestures, I used the iPod app as an example of shaking the iPod to do something - in that case, it was to shuffle the song playback, a feature that did not, in fact, migrate from the iPhone to the iPad. I've sent an updated PDF to my editor, so hopefully the error will be fixed by the time you read this.)
The iPad is a very cool product, and, I believe, represents major changes for Apple and for computing. I'm excited to be working on this book (even on a speedy timeline) and having fun exploring and writing about the iPad.
March 26, 2010
Love This Photo of Coffee and Tylenol
Marco Arment (developer of Tumblr and Instapaper) has a cold. And a really great photo illustrating how he's fighting it: