In case you’ve missed it before (here and here), my ever-so-giving and super-smart brother Kevin does “Tech Friday” on my blog once in a while. Why? Sometimes you ask me tech-related questions. I’m not a tech expert. Kevin is. Kevin’s very generous with his time and loves to help others understand technology.
Here is the latest round of tech Q+A. He’s answering the questions you asked on facebook + twitter. Feel free to leave more questions here and he can add them to the cue for the next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you Kevin. Isn’t he just super?
Q: @MotherWifeWoods asks, What’s the best & least expensive way to get my screen to match what I print? My pictures come out too warm.
A: If you are comfortable with using the built-in calibration tools in OS X (sorry Windows users, no built-in tools), you can go here and run a quick calibration. It’s free and works pretty good.
If you’re looking for something a little more complete, you will want to check out the Spyder calibration tools. Prices range depending on the version you purchase, but they start under $100.
Once you have calibrated your screen, you will want to download the appropriate ICC profile for your printer. For example, if I were using an Epson inkjet printer, I would go to www.epson.com and locate/download the ICC profile for your printer. By doing this, the computer and printer will now be fully in sync, and colors should match exactly.
Q: Donna asks, I have recently had a lot of trouble with the storage devices I have used to backup the almost 50,000 pictures I have. I would like to know if you could tell me the best and safest type of storage out there so I can stop worrying about losing all of my pictures.
A: One of the problems with backing up a LOT of large files is the time it takes to transfer from media to media (i.e.: hard drive to cloud storage or even hard drive to hard drive). The easiest form of backing up your data is by using a service like Carbonite. It’s a no-brainer solution because it handles everything automatically. It’s still a valid solution if you have a lot of data, but it will take longer and eat up your bandwidth.
My personal backup solution involves a high-capacity Drobo storage device that I have at home. In addition, I have a copy of that same set of data made each week, and leave that copy at the office (in case something happens to my house). It’s not as convenient as a cloud back-up solution, but definitely faster. You may also want to consider an occasional dump to a series of DVD to store at a friend’s house.
Q: Karen says, Yay for Kevin!! My question is that with my “time machine” on the Mac. How can I make it only save certain files I want to be backed up such as pictures instead of everything on the Mac?
A: Although you can’t be selective with Time Machine when it comes to file types, you CAN be selective when it comes to selection. Open your Time Machine preferences (System Preferences | Time Machine), and you will see an “Options…” button. From here, you can choose which directories to exclude from your backups. That’s all the control you have in Time Machine, for now.
Q: Nanci asks, I would love to know how Kevin keeps track of his commitments? What software or online system does he use to track his to-do’s, promises, misc info?
A: Life is crazy! And my life/schedule is no different. I usually have a lot going on all the time. Before I tell you how I manage MY time, I need to remind you that everyone is different, and this is a very personal question. My answer may be unique.
Having said that, I use … iCal and Mail. Yup. That’s it. It’s simple and effective for me. I’ve tried several other task management solutions like ToDo. TaskPad and Task ToDo. The problem I found with all of these is they attempt to do more than I wanted them to do. Between using iCal for calendar items and tasks, and Mail for email, it’s the perfect solution … for me. As an added bonus, I’m a big fan of “Zero Inbox”. Google it to learn more.
*** Added note from Becky: Same here, Nanci. It’s iCal for our family. ***
Q: Brittany asks, I’m wondering how I can email groups from my iPhone. I love to send pics to grandparents but there’s got to be a better way to do it than adding each off their email addresses separately.
A: Unfortunately, sending to a group you already have established isn’t a native feature … at least not yet. I am hoping that when iOS 5 comes out later this year, this will be a feature that is slipped in, because I want it just as bad as everyone else.
For the time being, there are two ways around this. The first option is to manually choose your recipients. Rather than having to filter through your entire contacts list, however, you can filter to just the group you want to send to. This isn’t bad if you only have a small handful of recipients to send to (less than 10).
The second option is to download a utility app from the iTunes store to do the job for you. One that I use occasionally is called “GroupEmail”. It costs $0.99, and gives you the ability to send to groups. This is one of many that are available.
Q: Stephani asks, I’m looking for decent priced video editing software that is compatible with iTunes to edit our home movies. Just to make it even more confusing, I have a PC.
A: Video editing on a PC?? Noooo!!!! Just kidding. Not only is it possible to do this, but a lot of people still do. You’re not alone.
There used to be two solutions to check out: 1) Avid and 2) Pinnacle Systems. However, if you visit the two sites, you will realize they are both now owned by Avid. So, just to make it easier, there is one real option to consider … Avid.
Q: Melissa says, I would love some iPhoto basic info to go along with the time machine questions below on how you organize photos, sort them, tag them, back them up, etc.
A: Tagging photos is a great way to keep your library organized, but it’s time-consuming. If you love your photos enough to keep them “OCD organized”, definitely get in the habit of tagging. If you haven’t tagged before, start now. Albums and Smart Albums are good to, but tagging is awesome, and those tags are also backed up to Time Machine (as part of your overall library). iPhoto also has a really cool facial recognition engine built-in, and it actually works pretty good.
Q: Jennifer says, Would love to know his thoughts on a good point & shoot camera. iPhone is not an option … initial cost is OK but not willing to pay more monthly to have one so need a one time cost point and shoot camera worth the $$$.
A: I’ve always been a big fan of Canon, and still use nothing but Canon. My point & shoot is the SD900, but it’s showing it’s age now (I use it less and less, and my iPhone 4 more and more). If I were to get one today, it would probably be the Canon ELPH 300 HS. Price ranges from $300-400.
Q: Joanne asks, Should my first Apple computer be an iPad or a MacBook Pro? I’m leaning towards an iPad 2 because of its portability.
A: If you plan on using it for just basic tasks (email, web, games, etc), the iPad is awesome. One thing to watch out for is that the iPad is still somewhat limited in what you can do with it. It’s a GREAT companion to a laptop. When you want to do light lifting on the go with great battery life, the iPad is where you go. When you want to do some heavy lifting (photo editing, video, etc), the laptop is the place to go. If you can only have one or the other, I would strongly consider picking up a MacBook Pro now, and adding the iPad when you can later.
Q: Sabrina asks, I’m thinking about jailbreaking my iPhone. Besides losing the support from Apple, do you know of any drawbacks? Have you heard horror stories about the phone locking up or losing functionality?
A: I’m personally opposed to jailbreaking because once you hack away at Apple’s software, you can no longer guarantee that things will run smoothly. I jailbroke my iPhone 3G back in the day, and after 3 or 4 days, reversed it because it was too unstable. Having said that, I know plenty of people who have done it and are happy. Those people are usually tech geeks though (just to give you an idea).
Q: Melaina asks, Why can’t I delete just one individual phone call on my iPhone? It either all or none.
A: Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you on that one. “It is what it is”, as I am finding myself say more and more often these days. I’m not sure why Apple doesn’t allow you to do that, but I can’t think of what it could be. Try again when iOS 5 comes out later this year to see if they sneak that feature in.
Q: Jennifer Wells asks, Sometimes when I am reading a blog or website, in the place where the photo is supposed to be, a blue box with a question mark shows up. What gives??
A: Usually, that is because the one updating the web site hasn’t done all the clean-up they needed to, and left some unfinished business. Short of refreshing the page to force a reload, there isn’t a lot that can be done on your end. I would be interested to know if it happens on some computers and not others, though.
Q: Margie asks, I would like to move all of my photos from iPhoto to Lightroom without losing my most important metadata (mostly keywords & ratings). Do you know the easiest way? The latest idea I’m considering is trying out the 30 Day free trial of Aperture and using Aperture as the go between, i.e., iPhoto>Aperture>Lightroom. Any thoughts or experience about this? I know this is a rather specific question so no worries if it is too “out there”. Thank you.
A: You’re actually on the right track by considering the iPhoto -> Aperture -> Lightroom approach. That’s valid and should get you where you want to be. If you end up going this route, be sure to clean up after yourself so you don’t have 2 or 3 copies of everything scattered all over the place.
Another option to consider is an app called Picture Sync. The idea is that it syncs your metadata. Two things to be aware of: 1) it’s no longer supported, so you may get mixed results and 2) it’s no longer updated, so it may be a good one-time approach.
Q: Michelle asks, Just purchased a new Macbook. What would be the best software to use for photo editing that includes adding text. iPhoto is great for everything else apart from that.
A: When you say “adding text”, are you talking about adding text on top of an image? If so, you are correct in that iPhoto doesn’t allow for that. Primarily, iPhoto is a photo management tool, and secondarily, an editing system. PhotoShop is the opposite. You can look at using Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe PhotoShop Elements, or Pixelmator. These apps can be relatively expensive, but remember … you aren’t just getting the ability to add text. A whole new photo-editing world will be opened up to you.
Q: Dawn asks, How can I find the date that I took a picture on my iPhone?
A: It would be nice if you can do this right on the iPhone (and maybe you can with a 3rd-party app somewhere), but right now, that’s not the case (as with other iOS features, check on this after iOS 5 is released later this year). What I do is import my photos into iPhoto (or any other photo management app), and then expose the metadata that way.
Q: Sandy asks, How do you add a playlist to your blog? So many people have that, it’s so cool!
A: I actually have never seen that before, but after doing a quick Google, it looks like a lot of people are doing this (wow, the wording of that makes me sound like an old fart!). It depends on where your blog is hosted as to whether it will even work, and then how you add it. Do a Google on “add playlist blog”, and you should get some good answers out there.