At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: MobileMe

At Home with Tech – The Year in Review

How about 50 Tech Tips for my 50th post to kick off the New Year? Let’s begin!

How about 50 Tech Tips for my 50th post to kick off the New Year? Let’s begin!

We’ve covered a lot of ground this year!
And what have we learned in our quest to keep our digital gears spinning at home?
The trek is never over.
But the journey doesn’t have to be so confusing.

That said, it’s time for my year in review!
Here are my 50 tech tips to take with you into the New Year:

50 At Home with Tech Tips

What’s Your Backup Plan?
#1 – Technology is a Tool That Will Eventually Turn on You
That T-800 with your name is never far away.
So don’t get complacent.

It Got Cloudy
#2 – Happily, There’s Life After MobileMe
If you want to share your photos online, use Flickr.
For your home videos, use YouTube or Vimeo.
If you need to share some files, then go with Dropbox.

Date Night and the 42” Plasma
#3 – Without Planning, You Can’t Guarantee a Good Date Night Movie at Home
(Even with full access to Cable TV, Netflix DVDs/Streaming, Apple TV, Roku, and Blockbuster!)

My Mission for the Perfect Picture
#4 – Taking an Amazing Photo Is Often Just an Accident
Embrace your accidents! And keep taking lots of pictures. It’s free.
Statistics are in your favor.

The IT Guy is in the Doghouse
#5 – Don’t Try to Win the Battle with Older Tech
Your tech is only as strong as its weakest link.
Enough said.

Your Shoebox Vs. the Cloud
#6 – Print an Annual Photo Book of Your Life
Otherwise, your best photos will get lost in the quagmire of your photo glut.
Time is your enemy.

I Am a Road Warrior
#7 – When a Tech Door Closes, Look for a Window to Open
My cable company locked down its box, which shut off my mobile media viewing on my portable DVD player. Then, streaming cable content on my iPhone became available through services like HGO Go.
Go figure.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
#8 – Just Because You Know How to Make Someone Younger in a Photo Doesn’t Mean You Should
My digital moral code says don’t mess with someone’s CDI.
(The Core Digital Integrity of a person’s image).

Please Rate This Product…or Else
#9 – No Product Ever Gets a Perfect Score Online
You’ve got no choice but to rely on Tech Group Think.

Is it Time to Stockpile Light Bulbs?
#10 – New Tech Light Bulbs Cost $50!
Thank The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
It says incandescent bulbs aren’t cutting it anymore and need to be 25% more efficient or else.
The solution? Pricey LED Bulbs.
The new darling ‘A Bulb’ by Philips launched with a steep $50 price tag.

The Art of Inaction, Part 1
#11 – The Tao of Total Tech Caution Says Don’t Upgrade Unless You Absolutely Have To
That also means never buy the first of anything.

The Art of Inaction, Part 2
#12 – Remember the Software Update Button
When you finally upgrade to a new operating system months after the rest of the world, don’t forget to immediately check Software Update.
Otherwise, gremlins will show up!

Parental Omniscience for only $24.95
#13 – You Can Have X-ray Vision Through Your Smart Phone
An Eye-Fi wireless memory card + a Flickr Pro account, + Flickr’s iPhone app = The power to almost instantly see photos of my lad’s adventures wherever I am.

Loving the Loser Light Bulb
#14 – Don’t Spend $50 on the Lexus of New LED Bulbs
Go with the runner up bulb for $15- Philips’ AmbientLED!

Joe and the End of Your World
#15 – If Your Coffee Mug Spills Near Your Computer, Game Over
Buy the HotJo Stoneware Wide Base Travel Mug.
(It’s pear-shaped!)

Living in the Amazon and Loving It
#16 – Amazon Prime Is the Best $79 You Will Ever Spend
Amazon to the rescue…
Every day!

Taming the Evil Work BlackBerry
#17 – It’s Okay to Turn Into a Pumpkin
Choose a time to stop responding to work emails on nights and weekends.
Everyone is supposed to catch some Z’s at some point.

Cancel the Cable TV Mutiny
#18 – 50,000 Free Hot Spots Coast to Coast
The cable industry announced it will share metro Wi-Fi services throughout the nation.
Now we’re talking!

Saying “Sleep Tight from 5,000 Miles Away
#19 – When Traveling Internationally, Keep Your Smartphone Connected on the Cheap with Skype
Buy a Skype Online Number plus a $2.99/month Unlimited US and Canada plan.

The Price of Staying Connected
#20 – Skype Video Can Work on 3G (4G) If the Signal Is Strong Enough

At Home without Tech
#21 – The Digital Sisyphus Always Looms
Do you fear being at home without tech?
Fear is a great motivator. And so is a deadline.
Do your Apple software upgrades or suffer the consequences.

Laptop Time Machine
#22 – Your Laptop Really Is a Time Portal!
The tether of your social media connections remains long after you’ve moved on.
Today’s younger generation will never experience completely losing touch with old friends for decades.

Remembering MobileMe
#23 – Life Isn’t Easy. Why Should Your Virtual Existence Be Any Different?
The marketing gurus say moving your email to iCloud is so easy even a child can do it.
I say you’d better have a child around to show you how.

I Sold My Soul to the Digital Devil
#24 – Final Cut Pro X Claims to End the Era of Pesky Transcoding
Yes, FCP X will grudgingly edit your camera’s native H.264 MOV files without you first having to transcode them.

High Tide at Grand Central
#25 – My Favorite New York Minute of the Day!

Singing the Blu-ray Blues
#26 – It’s Painful, but Stick with Blu-ray Disks
Here are five reasons:
-The downloadable copy
-The extras come with extra extras
-DVD Player, Say hello to VHS Player in the attic
-Owning atoms instead of bytes

The Joy of Shopping at Midnight in your Underwear
#27 – Unless You’re Out of Toilet Paper,
Online Shopping Is the Way to Go!

Who’s got time to waste traveling to the mall, hoping they’ll have what you need and then waiting in a long line?

GPS Jane
#28 – Garmin Nuvi Loses to My iPhone During Their GPS Smackdown
(Probably still holds true even after Apple’s ‘Map-Gate’ debacle)

Going Batty Buying Movie Music
#29 – It’s Almost Impossible to Purchase the Complete Soundtrack for
“The Dark Knight Rises”
I found at least five bonus tracks available across two sales channels.
Holy Complex Marketing Scam, Batman!

Five Tips to Rescue your Best Summer Family Photos
#30 – Brutally Choose Your Best Photos and Leave the Rest Behind
The more vacation pictures you bring home to clog up your computer, the smaller the odds are you’ll actually share any of your best photos with family and friends.
Your only chance is to quickly find the few gems and forget the rest.

My iPad Doesn’t Brake for Flash
#31 – Apple’s Mobile Devices Don’t Use Adobe Flash Player
Now, Adobe has removed its Flash Player from the Google Play store, which is the beginning of the end for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook owners.

My New Area Code Twists My Tech-Dentity
#32 – Skype Online Numbers Let You Choose Your Area Code!
Now, you too can be a New Yorker without moving out of the ‘burbs…

My Laptop Battery Got Pregnant
#33 – Don’t be Surprised If the Lithium-Ion Battery In Your Old Apple Laptop Turns Into the Hulk
Mine did. After some research in the X-Files, I realized I was not alone.

I Don’t Know How to Install my Wireless IP Camera, Part 1
#34 – This Journey Can Break Anyone’s Tech Zen
I had no choice but to continue on and risk ‘tech-tastrophe.’

I Don’t Know How to Install my Wireless IP Camera, Part 2
#35 – My Winning Tech Death Match Against the Foscam
Wireless IP Camera

(model FI8910W)

Ode to iPhone 5
#36 – My 4S Contract Says It’s Not Yet Time to Upgrade
Instead, write a poem!

Epson Multifunction Printer Vs. Multi-Talented Toddler
#37 – In the Hands of Baby McGyver, the Evil Power of the Penny Will Destroy Your Printer
Time to look for a new one on sale.

All I Want is to Have my Peace of Mind and Cloud Storage
#38 – You Need a Backup Cloud Solution
For total peace of mind you should create a copy of your precious home media offsite.
I went with the CrashPlan+ Unlimited one-year plan.

How to Rescue your iPhone Voicemail
#39 – Use an Old Analog Mini Audio Plug and Audacity Software
Rerecord your messages and save your visual voicemail onto your computer as AIFF audio files.

My Cable Box Blurred my Political View
#40 – Don’t Press the “#” on Your Cablevision DVR Remote Control. Ever.
Don’t lean on it. Don’t point at it. Don’t look at it.
You’re welcome.

How to Fix Your Broken Email
#41 – Use Connection Doctor
It will tell you if you’ve got the right incoming and outgoing mail server settings.
Then listen for the happy ‘Whoosh’ or ‘Ping!’

Fighting the Digital Darkness after Hurricane Sandy
#42 – MiFi Can Repair Your Broken Tech Bubble
If your smartphone has a signal, and you’ve got some power at home,
a MiFi mobile hotspot generator will get the rest of your tech back in business.

How to Lose Your Email while Upgrading from Entourage to Outlook
#43 – Moving to Outlook for Mac 2011 Shouldn’t Be Hands-Off
After loading it, you’ve then got to copy all your email over from Entourage!
And if you’re not careful, you’ll create unwanted duplicates from your mail server and then accidentally purge your entire email archive. (like me)
Check the settings first!

I Got Lost While on Safari 6.0.2
#44 – Safari Has Received Some Significant ‘Upgrades’
Get used to the Google URL OMNIBAR.

Best Digital Cameras to Capture Your Speedy Toddler
#45 – Buy Last Year’s Canon PowerShot S100 at a Great Discount
I also got the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens to upgrade my old Canon T1i DSLR.

The Beginner’s Guide to Editing Your Camera’s Video Clips
#46 – There’s Nothing Like a Deadline to Push Your Video to Completion!
Shoot some video. Edit it. And distribute the magic. All in one day!
I took the challenge and quickly created a little finished flick from my father-and-son outing to Stepping Stones Museum.

Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech
#47 – Nine Winning Tech Gifts for Anytime of Year!

Blinded by the UltraViolet Promise in Your New Blu-ray Movie
#48 – UltraViolet Streaming Has Replaced Free iTunes Downloads on
Blu-ray Disks

This bait-and-switch has only further destabilized my commitment to physical discs.

What Photomosaic Software is Best?
#49 – Download cf/x Photo Mosaic v 2.0 for $29.99 From the Mac App Store
Become the new family Picasso!

#50 – Keep Blog Posts Short.
(I’m working on it!)

Happy New Year!
(And I wish you much ‘Tech Clarity’ in 2013!)

Remembering MobileMe

Can we have a moment of silence, please? Okay, now why doesn’t my email work anymore?

This morning I woke up to the cold fact that MobileMe had finally expired.

I’ve been going through the seven stages of grief, because for the past year I knew this day was coming.

Lots of worrying about it for months.
And not doing anything about it since last summer. (Yes, I was in denial.)

My digital life was healthy just the way it was. I had no reason to change.

And for those who have been following my ongoing crisis, you can finally relax.
My family’s computing affairs are in order.

I’ve prepared four family computers for three family members, crossing two generations. I’ve taken down all our MobileMe photo and movie galleries. Not that I had to pull the plug myself, but I didn’t want any of my terminal MobileMe files accidentally locked away in some faraway data prison.

Supposedly deleted back in 2012, but then somehow found and released to the galactic Facebook Federation in 2212. Don’t want my family beach vacation photos to become an exhibit at the Guggenheim 2 on Mars.

All Quiet on the Computer Front?
So after a couple weeks of deleting with purpose, (nothing like a deadline to get you motivated) I erased my final MobileMe media gallery.
With just hours to spare.

Last night, iCloud was hovering over the Lester household and prepared to take over.

But my eyes popped open this morning, and I immediately felt a disturbance in the Force.

I sat down with my cup of Joe in its perfectly balanced coffee mug and checked my email on my iMac using my old Entourage email program.
(Yes, I’m intending to upgrade to Outlook with Office for Mac 2011, but I’ve been a little busy lately trying to beat the iCloud storm in a Prometheus-inspired hurry. Please cut me some slack.)

Instead of hearing the familiar PING of a happily received email, a message popped up on my screen.

It couldn’t be a coincidence.

“Don’t panic,” I told myself as I began looking for a paper bag.
Maybe iCloud simply requires different email preferences in Entourage.

So I checked out Apple’s page on iCloud’s Mail Server tips.
It revealed a slightly different IMAP name than the one I was using for the incoming mail server.

I updated the field with and pressed ENTER.

Immediately something started to happen.
A new message popped up that said,
And a number started counting upwards to reflect each of my emails.

This can’t be good.
The little progress bar proceeded quickly.
And when it was all done updating…


But I didn’t panic, because I knew they also now existed in my iCloud account.
((really small joy))

I just had to figure out a way to get my email back into Entourage.
So I looked a little closer at the Apple article.

I came across this-
SSL Required: Yes
And Port: 993

My Entourage preferences didn’t have SSL checked and was using Port 143.
(Don’t worry. I don’t know what this really means either.)

So I made the adjustments…
And just as fast as my communications purge began, I was quickly back in business.

Email restored.
Disaster averted.

I looked at my half empty cup of coffee and reflected on the past fifteen minutes.
I didn’t know how to feel.
Relieved? Victorious? Clever? Lucky?

Yes, I had just made it through the slow moving hurricane of a technological seachange, and I still had all my clothes on.

And yes, I dodged a last minute bullet that could have really ruined my Sunday.

Time to celebrate? Not really.
I actually felt rather drained.

Black Eye? You Should See the other Guy.
I am not bristling with accomplishment at my herculean digital spring-cleaning and my unexpected Entourage curve-ball dodge.

I am tired and cranky.
And a little sad and angry, too.

Sad that my friend MobileMe is gone.

Angry that I’ve had to start all over again and find other digital choices to share my life online.

Yes, I’ve already got perfectly good solutions lined up like Flickr, Vimeo, and Dropbox, but I’m still feeling like a ‘pissy poo.’ (Toddler talk creeping into the vocab. Need to watch out for that at work.)

I’ve run a hard race and crossed the finish line just in time to avoid elimination.
And I’ve got nothing to show for it other than a crappy T-shirt that says everything on my computer still works.

Stiff Headwinds
And that’s a problem with technology. It keeps moving forward, even when you don’t want to.

Last week, Facebook changed everyone’s default email addresses on their accounts to a newly-created Facebook email.
I was happy with my old email address, thank you very much.

And as for hardware, forget-about-it.
Today, you’re lucky to hold onto any kind of computer gear for more than three years before numerous software upgrades render it obsolete. (iPad 1 anyone?)

It’s always great to try the next best thing, but then you can’t settle down and get comfortable.

Like it or not, you’ve got to keep up if you’ve decided to play in the digital sandbox.

If next year someone told you that the English language was being rewritten, and replaced with something better, you’d be pretty cross, wouldn’t you?

And then you’d learn English 2.0.
(But not before screaming in potty mouth 3.0.)

Computer technologies are the de facto tools to help you define who you are in today’s 21st century world. They can represent your voice more than your spoken words.

And the more you use them, the more you rely on their smooth functionality.

The Kool Aid is so Refreshing
Is my life better with iCloud?
Today, my address book and calendar on my computer still sync with my iPhone.
But I had that yesterday.

Look, I know that technology offers us huge steps forward on a regular basis.
I’m just cranky that these transitions require so much effort…

The actual iCloud data transfer was a snap. Kudos to Apple.
It was all the necessary prep (OS upgrades/media deleting) that was such a headache.

And I don’t think this is about being a Transitional. This dynamic has got to cut across all the generations…

Cupertino, We have a Problem…
I think the truth is new technology is never as easy to use as the public wants to believe.

Sure Apple makes it easy as long as you’re using one of their new devices.
Google is magic as long as the search results you need show up on the first page.
Facebook brings the world together until it annoys millions with their newest interface tweak.

The marketing gurus have convinced us it’s all so easy even a child can do it.
More and more today, you’d better have a child around to show you how.

iCloud Forever?
My story today is a cautionary tale.

So keep these words of wisdom in mind-
(Movie advice can be very soothing.)

“Everything that has a beginning has an end.”
“You’re your problem, and you’re also your solution.”
“Wax on. Wax off.”

More importantly,
Don’t listen to the marketing sirens out there.
It’s not always a snap.

Life isn’t easy. Why should your virtual life be any different?
Just don’t take technology for granted, and at least it won’t make things worse.

Sometimes your favorite hang out shuts down.
Mourn and move on. That’s life too.

Goodbye, MobileMe.
I really enjoyed our time together.

Think I’ll go have a sandwich now.

The Art of Inaction, Part 1

Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard have finally been shown the door by Apple. Lion rules. Losers get to stick out their tongues.

Some people just absolutely have to have the newest gadget. And for many of them, they go through great effort to wait on line to be among the first to own it.
(Apple products tend to generate this level of enthusiasm.)

It is a badge of honor for these new tech adopters to be on the bleeding edge of consumer tech. (if only for a few days)

Remember when your friend or colleague came in with that first iPhone a few years back? It didn’t matter that it cost $500 for the entry-level 4-gig model, or how slow it was by today’s standards.
These consumer tech trailblazers flaunted their status as near demigods, and for anyone slightly interested in technology, we marveled at their status. And we all drooled with envy. (Well, at least I did.)

Hedge Your Bets
There is an irony with this approach to buying consumer technology, because common tech wisdom says to never buy the first of anything. And you should also wait a while till new software or updates are proven to operate properly. Who really wants to be a guinea pig?

A lot of the time, new tech has glitches. And if you’re one of those who must own it immediately, you’re really not more than a canary in a cage deep in a mine.

But if there’s new OS or IOS system software available for your Mac or iPhone/iPad, some folks sprint out the door, or press the download button without thinking.
Who cares if it’s still a little buggy?

The hedge says, wait a few weeks. That’s all.

The Tao of Total Caution
But there’s another tech wisdom that lives on the completely opposite side of the spectrum of caution.
It says, don’t upgrade unless you absolutely have to.

I know some techies who live by this rule, and they do make a compelling argument. If you’re happy with your tech, why mess with a good thing?
So don’t do it.


The web is filled with horror stories from people who failed to get to the finish line with their software upgrade. And if it’s an entire operating system, that means big trouble.

Love and Fear
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no tech slouch when it comes to computing.
I’ve got my 2-year-old iMac and iPhone 4S. My wife has the new Mac Book Pro and an iPad. I feel we’re reasonably current at home with tech.

In an early post, I confessed my inaction towards the necessary iCloud switch over.
Maybe I didn’t use the proper word, but I’ll admit to it now.

It’s fear.
I’m afraid I’m going to destroy my happy home-digital-homeostasis.
This fear has kept me in the camp of total caution.

See, it’s not only about losing MobileMe and my photo/video sharing functionality. It’s something much more critical.
I feel a very real primal threat to my precious iMac and all its contents.

I love Apple, but I don’t feel the stability of the relationship I really want. Apple has always had a focus on the next big thing, and they are a wildly successful company. Part of that success requires them to cut loose products and functionality that don’t fit into that vision.

My Leap of Faith
When MobileMe goes away in June, the only way to sync your data between devices will be through iCloud . And you’ve got to upgrade to Lion to use iCloud. That’s it. Everyone else on Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard- it was nice knowing you.

I’ve been very happy with Snow Leopard as an operating system on my
2.93 GHz Intel Core i7 iMac (That’s what it calls itself.)

There is always a risk when you upgrade to a newer operating system that not all of your software will be compatible. And there is also the risk your computer won’t reboot after the upgrade.
There are a thousand reasons why.
(Again, the web is filled with stories…)

But Lion has been out since last July, and the reviews are all positive. The vast majority of Lion users are seemingly doing just fine.

I knew I really had no choice.
So yesterday, I decided I had procrastinated quite enough.

Beyond the fear of wondering if my iMac would survive the upgrade, I was particularly concerned about one program making the transition. Final Cut Pro.

FCP X’s New Brain and Lost Heart
A few years back, I made the jump from iMovie to Final Cut Express, and then to Final Cut Pro.

My story is hardly unique, but with the new version of Final Cut Pro X, I know I can’t continue to use my current editing projects from Final Cut Pro 7.
FCP 7 is a dead platform that Apple abandoned when FCP X premiered last summer. You can’t up convert your old project files to the new platform.
(See you later, lover, and please leave your keys on the table on your way out.)

There’s been a lot of chatter on the web about how horrible FCP X is.
For now, I’ve decided not to make a decision on that dilemma.
(And no, there was never a FCP 8 or 9.
Apple skipped over those two numbers.)
The real problem I’m stressing about is whether FCP 7 works with Lion.

I know that FCP 6 and Lion don’t play together at all, but the web didn’t offer a unanimous perspective on FCP 7 and Lion. That said, my research suggested it would probably work.


So what’s so important about preserving my ongoing editing projects on FCP 7?  Two family history videos.
I’ve been working on one with my father for the past four years. (It’s amazing stuff. You all should be doing this to bridge family history detail across generations.)
And I’ve been documenting the first years of my wonderful two-year-old son.
Say no more.

How would you feel at the prospect of losing all of that?
I call that fear.

Making the Go/No-Go Decision
But I had everything backed up. As a worse case scenario, I figured I could always throw myself down at the mercy of an Apple Genius and hope my digital world could be restored.

So with the knowledge that I really had no choice, I prepped my iMac in disk utilities by verifying the integrity of my hard drive and disk permissions, did a final Time Machine backup, and then downloaded Lion from the Mac App Store.

$30 and 30 minutes later, it sat there on my desktop.
The Lion icon stared at me. I think it was angry I had waited this long.

I move the cursor with my mouse to hover over the word, ‘Install.’

I hesitated for a moment more.

And then I clicked the bu

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