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Time Saving Tips

SquareSpace a Great Alternative to iWeb and MobileMe

Over the last couple of years, Apple has been pulling back its efforts of making website creation easy. Namely, iWeb has not been updated in over a year, and new Macs don't even come with it, nor is it available on the Mac App Store. iWeb was a super simple tool that many consumers and businesses could use to create a simple website, fast. In fact, many businesses (including us!) would use iWeb to create their first site after incorporating, until they designed and published a more capable website. Unfortunately it's not so easy anymore.
The nail in the coffin for Apple's web creation efforts was the discontinuation of its MobileMe service, which allowed your iWeb-created website to be published to the web in one click. Many of our customers have not only had to jump through hoops to install iWeb on their new Macs, but are now having to publish their iWeb-created websites to a traditional hosting provider. Although this is a working solution, the writing on the wall indicates that if you want to continue updating and editing your website, it's time to find a new tool to design your website. Better yet, if you can find a total package that makes design and publishing a snap, like iWeb and MobileMe used to, then you'd be set.

There are a few options out there, but none that I've felt proud enough of to recommend to our friends and customers as a complete alternative to iWeb. The criteria I am looking for are as follows:

  1. Easy and quick to add content and publish to a host.
  2. Customizable to a point where you can still show your own brand and personality.
For example, Godaddy.com's Website Tonight doesn't make the cut. It's fast and simple, but the tools encourage in-the-box thinking, and the end result is often sterile. Bludomain.com is neat, but isn't too customizable, and is primarily geared toward creative professionals.

For those of you who are looking for a more advanced alternative to iWeb, and lets you have more customizable control with HTML and CSS, check out RapidWeaver. It's not quite as easy to use as iWeb, but I want to mention it if iWeb was beginning to hold you back from your website goals.

However, if you want to hit both of these goals above for simplicity and customizability, then I would highly recommend checking out SquareSpace. SquareSpace has been around since 2004, and they seem to be constantly updating their templates and capabilities with new services. Here are few things I like about them:

  • Drag and drop images to upload to your site.
  • Mobile versions for your website are created automatically.
  • The designs reflect the look and feel of today, and you can further customize them with your own layout and your brands colors.
There are two pricing options, $8/mo and $16/mo, and you can also start with a 14-day free trial.

Every business and website has different goals, so it's hard to make a recommendation for everyone. However if you're using iWeb now, and are looking for a newer alternative, SquareSpace will be the best replacement for overall simplicity in designing and publishing your website.

- Lucas

Leaving Clear 4G for the iPhone's Personal Hotspot

hostspot

A good amount of our business is done on the road. Whether we're between cross-town projects, or in dark attics we need to have an Internet connection to use many our our tools. For example, we use many of 37signals.com's products, as well as Onsip.com for our phone service (both highly-recommended), which all require an Internet connection.

Until recently, we've relied on Clear's 4G service. For the most part, we loved it. It's fast, and has decent coverage around ATL, albeit not as good as our AT&T iPhones. We decided last month to try the new Personal Hotspot feature from AT&T to see how it compares. Keep in mind the Personal Hotspot feature requires the iPhone 4, not any of the previous iPhones.

We just cancelled our Clear accounts today and I'll tell you why:

  1. The AT&T 3G connection has surprisingly decent speed. Not as fast as 4G, but decent.
  2. It's actually cheaper. Clear's services are around $40/mo per user, whereas the Personal Hotspot only adds $15/mo to a typical iPhone plan.
  3. Less devices. No more USB dongle that sticks out of our laptops, getting Internet is built into the iPhone.
  4. We can share the connection. Yes Clear has a hotspot service as well, but not for the $15/mo you'd be paying for AT&T. BTW, AT&T allows 3 devices to be connected to your phone simultaneously.

Of course, your city may vary on connectivity, and your iPhone plan may not be just like ours, so I'd call AT&T to get your specific rundown (Dial 611 from your AT&T iPhone). One downside to "upgrading" to the Personal Hotspot service is that we lost our unlimited data plan. We're now capped at 4GB per month per user. It turns out, I was only using about 1GB/month on average on my iPhone, and I've yet to get near the new 4GB limit. (Your online AT&T account can show your monthly data usage on a graph.)

What are you currently using? Do you like it? We'd love to know.

Switch to the Mac. Use O2M to convert Outlook.

One of the biggest hurdles keeping people from moving to the Mac is the idea of having to move all of their emails, all of their calendars, and all of their contacts over to the equivalent Apple applications of Mail, iCal, and Address Book, respectively. We have yet to run into a situation where we couldn't do this, but some circumstances are more difficult than others. If you're using Outlook for Windows, chances are you'll benefit from this $10 piece of software called O2M (Outlook 2 Mac). There are many alternatives, including the Belkin Switch-to-Mac cable, and using an IMAP mail service as a conduit (for your emails anyway), but if I could recommend only one method to convert your Outlook to your Mac, it would be O2M.

The basic concept is you purchase O2M which is Windows software and install it on your PC. After a few prompts, O2M will then convert every email, contact, and calendar in your Outlook. (Note Outlook Express is not compatible with O2M). This might take several hours depending on the amount of information you have.

After converting, it places your files in a folder of your choice on the PC. You'll then need to move the folder O2M created over to your Mac. Depending on the size of your converted files you can use a USB flash drive, USB External hard drive, or even a network between the two computers.

Once the files are on your Mac, you then go into the equivalent Outlook applications on the Mac to import the data. For example, in Apple Mail you can choose File -> Import and choose to import the mbox files O2M created. Both iCal and Address Book have the same File -> Import menu. You'll point iCal to the .ics file, and you'll point Address Book to the .vcf file.

In some instances, data may not come over completely perfect, however when converting from one data type to another it's tough to avoid some inconsistencies. One great thing about O2M is it leaves your Outlook files completely intact on the PC, so if something goes wrong, you can just start back from the beginning.

We'd love to hear any other methods you've used to convert Outlook files to Mac-readable formats. There are other things to consider before making the move to the Mac. They can vary widely from your business workflow all the way down to the printers you use, but if Outlook is any type of hurdle, we hope this helps.

Happy switching.

Business App Review: Dragon Dictation

I remember using Dragon NaturallySpeaking many many years ago on my old Windows (that's right, I said it) machine. I recall it being a pain to use and it didn't work very well. Well, it looks like they've really improved the software and have made a nifty little iOS app called DragonDictation.  It's a free app available in the App Store that allows you to speak anything and it transcribes this speech to text for you. It does a surprisingly good job. When you've said everything you want to say just hit the e-mail, text, copy, Facebook or Twitter button to send the transcription to the corresponding app. The only cons about the app that I find are that it doesn't do punctuation so well and that it's not already integrated into the iOS. 

I would for sure recommend this to anyone who types emails on the iPhone, or likes to make voice memos. At the very least, it's a fun app to try and it's definitely going to stay on my iPhone. In fact, this entire blog article was written by using DragonDictation for iPhone!

Safari Reader

I didn’t really understand what Safari’s new “Reader” feature was until I really used it.

Foojee + Coffee = Delicious + Educational Fun

We’re teaming up with Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House in Roswell over the next couple weeks to do some FREE classes!  Come enjoy some of the best coffee in the city while we teach you some of the best Mac Tips in the world.  Each class starts at 10am and last for 1 hour. We'll be hanging out for an additional hour to answer any Mac related questions you may have too.  All you have to do is purchase a cup of coffee (delicious if you haven't tried it!) and the workshop is FREE. Info and their story via a YouTube video below. See you there!

May 1, 2010 (This Saturday) - Sharing memories with iPhoto - Trainer: Lucas May 8, 2010 - Mac Essentials - Trainer: Gene

Address: 352 South Atlanta Street  Roswell, GA 30075

More info here.

The story behind Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Jamie's Top 10 Apple Keyboard Shortcuts

I don’t know about you but I get really tired of having to move my mouse all over the screen to click on things.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just think about what we wanted to happen and it would just happen?  Well, we can’t do that (yet).  BUT we can relieve some of that right arm strain by learning some keyboard shortcuts.  I find the more I use the mouse the slower I work with my computer.  Using keyboard shortcuts greatly speeds up my interaction with the computer and improves my productivity.  There are too many useful shortcuts out there to list, but I will list my top 10 here. Most application specific shortcuts can also be found in the Help menu of each application.

1.  Command + Tab (⌘Tab) This is probably the one most commonly used by me.  Instead of clicking on the dock to switch between applications, just use this shortcut.  Pushing Command + Tab cycles through all currently open applications, when you release the buttons it opens the application you stopped on.

2.  Command + Spacebar (⌘Spacebar) This is my second most commonly used shortcut.  Pushing Command + Spacebar opens up the Spotlight search.  Try pushing Command + Spacebar, type “itunes”, then press return.  This is a very quick way of opening iTunes.  Try using this when launching all of your applications instead of using the dock or opening the applications folder.

3.  Command + Delete (⌘⌫) To use this one you must be within the Finder. Instead of dragging a file/folder to the trash try selecting it and pushing Command + Delete. This will move it to the trashcan immediately.

4.  Shift + Command + Delete (⇧⌘⌫) You must also be within the Finder to use this one. After you’ve moved things to the trash with the previous keyboard shortcut, why not empty the trash with another keyboard shortcut?  Shift + Command + Delete will empty the trash.

5.  Command + N (⌘N) This one will open a new window, document, website, etc... depending on which application you’re working in, including Finder.

6.  Command + Q (⌘Q) Instead of moving your mouse all the way up to the top of the screen and choosing quit from the menu, just use Command + Q to immediately quit the application.

7.  Command + W (⌘W) If you only want to close a window instead of quitting the entire application just press Command + W to close the frontmost open window.

8.  Command + ` (⌘`) This one is similar to Command + Tab but instead of switching between opening applications Command + ` switches between open windows within one application.  (i.e. if you have multiple web pages open in Safari press Command + ` to switch between the windows)

9.  Control + Command + D (⌃⌘D) This is one of my favorites, though you probably won’t use it often.  If you’re ever struggling with the definition of a word, you could copy the word and paste it in the dictionary app or search Google for the definition OR you could place your mouse on top of the word and press Control + Command + D and the built in dictionary will pop up with the definition! Lucas didn’t even know this one.

10.  Option + Command + Eject OR Control + Command + Eject OR Control + Option + Command + Eject (⌥⌘⏏ OR ⌃⌘⏏ OR ⌃⇧⌘⏏) When you’re all done computing it’s time to put the computer away and to sleep.  Option + Command + Eject will immediately put the computer to sleep.  Control + Command + Eject will immediately restart the computer.  Control + Option + Command + Eject will immediately shut the computer all the way down.

11.  If you’re still reading this, I’ll go ahead and add a silly shortcut to show your friends.  Try holding the shift(⇧) key down while minimizing any window.  Or try holding shift and open up the dashboard.  SLOW MOTION!!!!! Pretty cool right?

These are only a few of the shortcuts your computer has built in.  A more complete list can be found at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343 .  These shortcuts are programmed into your computer to help you out, learn them and enjoy them.  They will really help your productivity.

Have fun with these new tools and please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments below!

Foojee's April Workshops

We've been working with the Business Managers at each of the Atlanta-area Apple stores again, and have created a full month of events. If you've missed some of our last workshops, we will be repeating a few of them in April. We'd love to see you there!

  • Running Windows on a Mac - Tuesday 4/6 - 8a-10a - Perimeter
  • Running Windows on a Mac - Thursday 4/8 - 3p-4:30p - North Point
  • Working Faster on your Mac - Thursday 4/8 - 7p-8:30p - North Point
  • Running your Real Estate business on a Mac - Tuesday 4/13 - 6p-7:30p Lenox Square
  • Using Social Media for your Business - Wednesday 4/14 - 6p-7:30p Lenox Square

If you'd like to come, just click on a store link to be taken to the store's website where you can register for the workshop. They like to limit the number of attendees to keep it interactive, so be sure to register soon!

What if there were no mailmen? - An intro to RSS

credit: naturalpatriot.org What would our lives be like without mailmen? We'd have to drive to the People Magazine shop or the Popular Photography stand each time we want to pickup the latest editions. Either that or we could just get the news through the grapevine and wait on our friends update us…

Well if you're still typing in the web addresses to visit your favorite news sites and blogs each time you want to check for new articles, you're basically using this mailman-less system where you're doing all the work.

So is there a mailman of the 21st century that can deliver our favorite news?

Enter RSS.

Heard of it? Stands for "Real Simple Syndication" (not too simple sounding huh?). It's a notification system that can keep you updated on all of your favorite blogs and headlines. How the heck does that work?

Most sites these days now offer what are called RSS feeds. There are applications available called aggregators that can subscribe to these RSS feeds, so you can see all of your feeds from one location. One of my favorite applications that does this is called NetNewsWire for Mac. (There are others for Windows and Google has a great web-based version called Google Reader.)

With NetNewsWire you can type the address of a site you visit often, say www.cnn.com, and NetNewsWire will check if they offer an RSS feed. If so, it subscribes to it and you'll then be notified each time cnn.com (or your favorite blogger) updates their site. Not too bad huh?

RSS Aggregator

NetNewsWire also has free iPhone app so you can stay up to date on the go (Link to iTunes App Store). In order for your computer and iPhone to sync, though, NetNewsWire requires a Google account (same as a Gmail or Picasa if you already have one). If you don't have an account, NetNewsWire will allow you to create one when you first launch the application.

Aggregators like NetNewsWire allow you to consolidate your favorite news into one location. In other words, you now have your personal mailman that can deliver just the mail you want. Better yet, you don't have to give him a Christmas gift.

-lucas

Have questions? Leave 'em in the comments, we'll be glad to assist!

Mailman image credit: naturalpatriot.org