By Garrick Chow | Tuesday, May 11, 2010
For some reason, I’m the guy people are always asking for directions. Whether it’s because of my seemingly non-threatening demeanor, or my confident stride down the sidewalk, I seem to attract all the lost and desperate drivers, trying to get wherever they’re going. Because of this, I’ve developed an inflated sense of pride in my ability to get people un-lost, and I hate to be stumped or reveal that I don’t know how to get to a particular location from wherever I happen to be. Admittedly, this sometimes results in me just making something up, yet delivering these fictitious directions with such a confident tone that the driver will cheerfully drive off in whatever random direction I’ve suggested, leaving me standing there with the awkward contentment of having made a stranger temporarily happy.
If your phone can send and receive text messages, it can almost instantaneously receive driving directions from Google.
At least, that used to happen. These days when I’m approached and stumped by the rarer and rarer breed of driver who dares to take a road trip without a GPS device or smartphone, I simply ask if they can send and receive text messages. (So far, I haven’t come across anyone who does not have a mobile phone.) When they say yes, I instruct them to send a text to GOOGLE (466453), formatted as “A to B” with “A” and “B” as their origin and destination. These can be exact street addresses, the names of towns, zip codes, or any combination of the three. Within seconds, Google will text back with the same set of directions they would have received by visiting google.com/maps in a web browser.
Even if you have a GPS or phone with GPS capabilities, you still might want to use this tip just so you have a backup set of directions should your GPS lose reception or run out of power. Bear in mind that your normal charges for text message will apply, depending on what your contract stipulates, but it’s probably a small price to pay for getting a reliable set of directions. Well, at least they’ll be more reliable than what you might get if you asked me.
For more info on Google’s wide array of text-based services, including movie times, flight schedules, translations, currency conversion, and more, visit google.com/mobile/products/sms.html.
By Joe Randeen | Thursday, January 07, 2010
Judging by the sales numbers I’ve read about all over the web, quite a few of you got iPhones this Christmas. There are a ton of ‘fun’ things you can do with your iPhone; there are apps galore and more coming every day.
Here’s the part I have to remind myself not to forget: It’s a PHONE.
One of the first things I did when I got mine last year was to create some custom ringtones. By creating different ringtones for individuals and groups of people, I can easily identify who is calling without having to look at the display screen. This is especially helpful when driving or when I am just too lazy to get off the couch to get the phone.
You can purchase ringtones via iTunes, but creating them is not all that difficult. In theiTunes 9 Essential Training tutorial above, Garrick Chow shows us how to create our own custom ringtones. After you watch this video, go back and watch the entire course and get to know the power within iTunes 9. Let us know what you think.
By Megan O. Read | Monday, December 21, 2009
Last week at lynda.com, all of our off-site staff authors, acquisitions managers, content managers, and the like were in town for the company holiday party and to take part in week-long think-tank meetings to plan the content for the lynda.com Online Training Library® in the coming months. It’s always inspiring to get everyone together, and admittedly, a bit exhausting to generate so many great ideas!
Clockwise from lower left: Laurie Burruss (in checked shirt), George Maestri, Jan Kabili, Samara Iodice, Auriga Martin, Jim Heid, Toby Malina, Max Smith, Cynthia Scott, Joel Fugazzotto, Bonnie Bills, Kirk Werner, Garrick Chow, Joe Randeen, Tanya Staples, Megan O. Read.
To let off a little steam and relax, the entire content development team went to dinner and a movie. Not just any movie, though! One of our very own cinematographer/directors here at lynda.com, Jacob K. Cunningham, screened his first film Thy Will Be Done in downtown Ventura. It was great to see so many people at the screening, and to support one of our own talented people in their creative endeavors.
Jacob K. Cunningham at his film screening.
By Megan O. Read | Friday, November 06, 2009
This week, eight lynda.com authors and other talented industry speakers gathered in Washington DC for the MOGO Media conferences Photoshop Live (November 2nd & 3rd) and The InDesign Conference (November 4th & 6th).
Mordy Golding, Jan Kabili, Lesa Snider, Ted LoCascio, Michael Ninness, Derrick Story, Anne-Marie Concepcion, and Michael Murphy were all in fine form teaching an eager audience at the U.S. Naval Heritage Center, located just off the Mall in downtown DC. If you were in attendance, you know this was an excellent opportunity to get to sit and listen to some inspiring instruction, go on an evening Photo Walk with Derrick Story, and eat pizza while Michael Ninness gave an awesome three and a half hour (by demand!) session on InDesign. If you missed this show, be sure to check out other MOGO conferences and seminars.
Left column: Photoshop Live poster, Michael Ninness. Middle column: Mordy Golding, Derrick Story, Jan Kabili, Anne-Marie Concepcion, Michael Murphy, Right column: Washington Monument, White House, Author Dinner featuring Lesa Snider, Jay Nelson, Garrick Chow, Jan Kabili, Derrick Story, Ed and Megan Read, Michael Ninness, and Mordy Golding.
By Garrick Chow | Sunday, September 20, 2009
When Apple first announced at their 2008 World Wide Developers Conference that the new version of OS X would be called Snow Leopard, they included the surprising statement that Snow Leopard would have “zero new features.” Now of course, this was a bit of an exaggeration—there are enough new features to warrant my recording Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard New Features (available now!), but the point was that Snow Leopard’s main focus was under the hood, with the goal of making OS X faster, more efficient, and less bulky. Hence the the name Snow Leopard, which references the similarities of the new OS to the previous OS, Leopard.
Although the cosmetic changes are few, Snow Leopard features several enhancements to the Finder, the Dock, and to most of the built-in applications like QuickTime, iChat, Mail, and so on, but my favorite new feature so far is Snow Leopard’s greatly improved support for scanners connected directly to your Mac or on your local network.
Prior to Snow Leopard, I was locked in a never-ending battle with my moody and unpredictable network printer/scanner, which never seemed to be able to communicate consistently with my Mac. Some days it would work, some days it wouldn’t (I won’t name the brand, but let’s just say it rhymes with Pewlett Hackard). I was constantly updating and reinstalling drivers, restarting both the scanner and my Mac, and it would still only function properly occasionally.
But once I installed Snow Leopard, I was able to leave all the third-party software and drivers behind. Using Preview, which comes as part of OS X, I chose File > Import from Scanner and instantly my Mac found my scanner, installed drivers, and opened the scanning interface, from which I could select my scanning options and preferences. It just worked, and I’ve since tried it with my scanner in my home office as well with identical results. That alone was worth the $30 upgrade price to me.
And even if you don’t use scanners much these days, you’ll be happy to know that setting up a printer in Snow Leopard is just as easy. Again, you no longer have to manually install any drivers. As long as you have an internet connection, choosing File > Print will cause OS X to find your your printer and automatically install the proper drivers from the collection of pre-installed drivers included with the OS, or failing that, it will find the necessary software on the internet, download it, and install it. There’s nothing else you need to do. Of course, I haven’t personally tested every scanner/printer out there, but I’ve already experienced the ease and advantage of this feature several times when I’ve found myself in someone else’s office connected to a printer I hadn’t previously installed on my MacBook.
So if you’ve been considering upgrading to Snow Leopard and you rely on multiple scanners and printers as much as I do, I definitely recommend you make the switch. And be sure to check out my Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard New Features course in the Online Training Library®. I go into much more detail demonstrating how Snow Leopard recognizes and installs scanners and printers, and I cover lots more of what you’ll find in the latest version of Mac OS X.
By Garrick Chow | Tuesday, May 26, 2009
My favorite new feature of iPhoto ’09 is Faces–a combination of face detection and face recognition technology that lets you sort and organize your iPhoto collection by the people who appear in your pictures. Faces also provides behind the scenes improvements in activities like slideshows, making sure your subjects’ faces stay onscreen if you’re using effects that incorporate zooming and panning. If you’ve used previous versions of iPhoto and have been frustrated when your slideshows zoom in on people’s feet instead of their faces, you know what I’m talking about.
Using Faces is a simple matter of letting iPhoto detect the people in your pictures and typing in their names. iPhoto then goes through the rest of your library, finding other pictures of those people and tagging names to them. And for the most part, it does this incredibly well. You do have to coach iPhoto by letting it know when it’s put the correct or incorrect name to people, but in my testing and real-world use, iPhoto has surprised me with its accuracy. It can tell the difference between twins, and recognize people wearing sunglasses or with other parts of their faces partially obscured.
But if you’ve been using Faces, you also know there are times when iPhoto sees faces that aren’t really there, and those instances can range from making you scratch your head in wonderment at iPhoto’s tendency to find faces in hubcaps and rock formations, or laugh out loud when iPhoto sees a face in a ball of cookie dough or offers a photo of a baseball as a match to one of your friend’s faces.
I was so amused by these quirks in Faces, that I started a flickr group called “Things iPhoto Thinks Are Faces.” I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share the times when Faces misfires, but it seems to have struck a nerve among iPhoto users and the group now has hundreds of members and submissions. You can check it out here:http://www.flickr.com/groups/977532@N24/
When iPhoto finds faces where none exist, I see it as a reflection of how we as humans are pattern seekers–seeing faces and formations where none may have been intended. As you check out the photos in the gallery, you might be surprised at how many of iPhoto’s finds actually look like faces if you squint or stare at them for a while. In much the same manner as we look to other applications to speed up our work by performing repetitive tasks faster than we’re able to do on our own, iPhoto has become an efficient pattern finder–locating things that look like faces that we might not have noticed on our own.
If you’re a Mac user and haven’t checked out Faces in iPhoto ’09 yet, be sure to give it a spin. It’s surprisingly addictive to go through your library tagging names to faces. And be sure to check out Derrick Story’s “10 Things to Know about iPhoto: Faces” to learn more about how to take advantage of this awesome feature of iPhoto.
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