The New MacBook

by Kristen Abell

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be ooh-ing and ah-ing over the Applie iWatch, but I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of wearable tech. I have a Pebble, and after being buzzed every time I got a text or a Facebook message or a Twitter mention, I turned off all the notifications so I could just have a watch again. I now only use the Misfit app on it to count my steps. That’s the limit of my desire in wearable tech.

What I’m really drooling over is the new MacBook – and not because it’s gold (maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never been a fan of the whole gold thing. Give me silver over gold any day). But dang, that is one sleek-looking new computer. Thinner than the MacBook Air, it weighs in at a mere half a pound more than the original iPad. It features a 12-inch screen and new keyboard technology to fit into that smaller space. It also, of course, features Retina display with a resolution of 2304×1440. For those not versed in tech, that means “purty.”

In addition, it features a new type of trackpad – the Force Touch. Instead of a hinge trackpad, as is traditionally featured on laptops, the Force Touch uses sensors to “detect how much pressure you’re applying and give you new ways to interact with your Mac. You can now use a Force click to enable new capabilities, like quickly looking up the definition of a word or previewing a file just by clicking and continuing to press on the trackpad” (from the Apple website).

Because of the unique new design of the processor, no fan is required for the new MacBook. This means that your computer will also be silent. What does that even sound like? I can’t remember.

 

The battery life on wifi is 9 hours. Compared to the battery life of my current MacBook Air (a 5-year-old model, to be sure), this is just phenomenal. Although my partner is doing his best to convince me that that is not a justification for buying a new laptop, I’m having a hard time seeing it (or maybe it’s all the other features that have me swayed).

The only drawback I see to the new laptop is the single port – you will now have to carry a cord with you wherever you go just to plug in a USB device.

Yeah, I’m totally fanwomaning (no, not fangirling – do I really need to explain why I hate that term?) over this laptop, but show me one that is this sleek and powerful.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to front me the $1299 starting price, just let me know.

The New MacBook

My love affair with my new Macbook Pro.

by Jennifer Keegin

This semester I had an epic decision to make. A new office laptop was needed for new duties I’m taking on at the University. Traveling from meeting to meeting, I could take an iPad, but I was using more than Evernote, I was having to access websites and show my screen to attendees to help them visualize projects. I wanted something light and portable yet powerful.

When I headed to Best Buy to look at options, I noticed the array of touch screen versions on the market. The thing was, I had purchased just months before a Sony Vaio for the AV closet in the University Union and had purchased it for the small size, “foldable” style and touch screen. For the purposes I bought it for – it worked. However, for an every day laptop – touch screen wasn’t necessary. I mean, there’s the iPad if I really need to touch something. I have also had a touch screen computer screen (all in one unit) and it was totally unnecessary.

I’m a 13″ laptop type of gal and while I was appreciating the large screens, I like a smaller frame. As I was browsing, I hit upon the Macs and just sighed. I haven’t used a Mac since I was in college and I’ve been a little hesitant to work with one. Using an iPhone or an iPad (or an iPod for that matter) are all different than using a Macbook. Different iOS, different way of saving things – but I’ve always wanted to jump back in.

The sales guy showed me how the newest iOS for Macbook allows you to utilize the Pages and Numbers programs and yet save them in other formats, which I didn’t realize you could do. I’ve always heard about conversion issues and things like, “Well I have a Mac so it just doesn’t work the same.” I was wary of getting into something that wouldn’t be compatible with PCs since that’s what all of my colleagues in the Dean of Student use. It’s just my new colleagues in the Marketing & Communications that brandish the Macs.

I also got a student discount with my University email address. So that settled it and I purchased the best laptop I’ve ever owned. (Ok, the University owns it but you know what I mean).

I have never brought home a laptop, opened it up, turned it on and just used it. There’s always programs to be loaded, security programs to be run, different browsers to download, files to be transferred. I feel spoiled with this Macbook. For me it was definitely an iPad killer. I really adore it. I take it everywhere and love being able to open it and pretty much have it just come on and it’s ready to go.

I’m sure many of the younger readers today probably had a Macbook in college, most of the Binghamton students do – but – I’m old and in college I had a word processor, than used computer lab computers, and didn’t own my own laptop until graduate school and that one only did word processing. Owning a laptop has always been a big deal to me and finding the best one for me has been a sort of obsession. I’ve purchased lots of laptops for my office and etc. and this one, hands down is my favorite.

My love affair with my new Macbook Pro.

Is Zero Inbox Achievable? With Mailbox App it is!

by Jess Samuels

Screen shot 2014-05-18 at 11.13.04 PM
No matter how hard we try, at some point we all end up using our email inbox as a to do list.  Of course, the folly in this system is that our “list” keeps getting longer and longer every day, making it harder to manage.

Enter the Mailbox App.  A new mail management app from Dropbox that allows you to manage your email from your phone or tablet.

Mailbox works by linking your gmail accounts (up to 10), icloud, and google apps.  To manage your inbox you will swipe to label, snooze, archive or delete.

By setting up messages to “snooze” you are able to get them out of your inbox and have them come back to you at a time or date that you are better able to manage them.

With a bit of ongoing dedication, this quick organization method allows you to get zero inbox (and stay there!) by allowing you to quickly label messages or bring them back later.

While I wouldn’t personally use mailbox as a day to day option for responding to all of my emails (regular gmail is too rich with tools to not use), it is great for it’s primary function – getting you on top of your overwhelming inbox.

So give it a try and see if you can achieve everyone’s dream goal: zero inbox!

Currently available for ios and Android.

Is Zero Inbox Achievable? With Mailbox App it is!

Highlight An App: Office for iPad

By Brenda Bethman

If you follow tech news at all, you likely know that in late March Microsoft (finally!) released a version of Office for the iPad — and also made the iPhone version free. The iPad apps (Word, Excel, and Power Point) are also free, as are versions of OneNote for the Mac and iOS.

Well, technically free. With the free versions of the iPad apps, you can view and read files, but not edit them. Editing requires an Office 365 subscription, the cost of which varies depending on the type of plan purchased. For folks working in higher education, it’s not a bad deal. If you don’t already have a subscription through your university (which many do), you can purchase Office 365 University. The cost is $79.99 for 4 years, and includes 2 installations of Office on Macs or PCs, access to the tablet apps, 20GB of storage on OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and 60 Skype minutes per month.

Even if you don’t buy the subscription, I recommend downloading the apps for anyone who works with a lot of Office documents and uses their iPad in meetings. Unlike former solutions where formatting would be a hot mess, these apps preserve the formatting, meaning your documents look basically the same on your iPad (first photo below) as on your laptop (second photo below):

Word document on iPad

 

Word document on Mac laptop

While Microsoft obviously couldn’t include all the functionality of the computer apps, the important things are there, including document review and the ability to add/read comments. If you use and love (or even like) Office a lot and want to be able to work on Office documents on your iPad, you will love these apps.

What you will not love — the price (especially if you don’t qualify for a University subscription), the inability to print (which Microsoft says is coming), the lack of cloud options other than Microsoft’s OneDrive (no saving to Dropbox or iCloud), and the inability to work offline. Nonetheless, these are solid, well-built apps, and a vast improvement over previous options for the iPad.

 

Highlight An App: Office for iPad

Blogger’s Choice: How Often Do You Upgrade?

By Brenda Bethman

If you’re an Apple lover (or even not), you might have noticed that they had a little event today at which they unveiled a new “iPad Air” and an iPad Mini retina. Prior to the event, I had sworn that nothing would tempt me to upgrade as I just purchased my iPad Mini last December and it sill works just fine (a little laggy on iOS 7, but otherwise fine).

Of course, I said the same thing prior to the event in September, when the new iPhones were announced, but nonetheless found myself getting up in the middle of the night to order a new iPhone 5S. Normally, I upgrade every two years, but in this case, I was able to sell my old phone for enough to cover the new one — and I had such horrible battery problems with the 5 that I wanted to get on the S-upgrade cycle. I’m glad I did it, but don’t see myself doing an upgrade after only one year again.

Nonetheless, the lure of the retina iPad Mini is strong considering that I use it almost exclusively for reading. The state of my bank account, however, says that I will probably end up waiting for a while on this one.

What about you? How often do you upgrade your technology?

Blogger’s Choice: How Often Do You Upgrade?

Blogger’s Choice: iOS7

by Valerie Heruska

So, you’ve got the new Apple iOS7 and if you’re like me you’re probably like: did Apple have an 8th grader work on the colors?

I think iOS7 is nifty, despite the way the graphics look on my phone. I think the people at Apple were looking to get away from the simpleness of the way the apps functioned and looked to this new brightness and more diversified way to use your apps and the phone. A friend passed along this article to me: The Best Hidden Features of iOS7 and I have to admit, it was pretty darn cool to figure out this new operating system.

First, I would suggest turning down the brightness of the phone so your eyes don’t bleed. Also, this helps maintain some good battery life if you’re rocking the iPhone 4/4s/5. I haven’t had the opportunity to tinker with the new iPhone 5S and 5C (c as in cheap – it’s all plastic) and so I don’t know about the battery life. If anyone out there has a new iPhone 5s/5c, can you please share your thoughts here. I’ve had this operating system for a few days and I have to say it will drain your battery, so be sure to keep a charger with you.

For me, two of the best new features: Male Siri voice and the fact that all my apps update automatically.  I remember the last time I upgraded that everything took forever and a day to update, but now, it just does it automatically. Facebook, Nike Running, Twitter, Newsstand, are just a few that have some pretty rad updates to go along with iOS7. Oh and make Siri voice sounds a lot less harsh than female Siri voice.

All in all, iOS7 is something that you should not be afraid of, rather you should embrace the change that Apple has bestowed upon us Apple nerds. If you have any fun tips or want to share any of your favorite features, share them here!

Blogger’s Choice: iOS7

Blogger Choice: A family that Macs together, stays together.

by Colleen Riggle

Apples

We are officially a full Apple family. MacBook Pro(s), iPads, iPhones, Apple TV and recently a 27 inch iMac was added to the family of glowing screens. We are the family that needs to have a special router to accommodate all the technology running in our home.  And I’m pretty sure my husband would buy our youngest (17 months) some type of Apple device if she wouldn’t attempt to chew on it.

Although she’s too young for a Macbook Pro, she loves to use my iPhone.  However, I must admit I’m thrifty when it comes to apps. I really don’t like to pay for them, so I usually find something that is free in place of one that is .99 – yes I know that’s way less than a Starbucks but it’s besides the point.  Fisher Price has definitely won my vote.  They have over 20 children’s educational apps.  Everything from learning the alphabet, numbers, to singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat to even a small piano!  All for free! I’ve gone through and bought almost all of them.  They are in a special folder for just for Catherine.

And on the other end of the spectrum, my 18 yo son just bought a MacBook Pro.  He’s a big gamer and had been using a 5 year old Dell – it’s quite the difference now.  We had a little down time the other night and were all found sitting at our pub table with the glow of the screen on our faces.

Some families bond over sports, some food, and others television.  We definitely love food, and a good show during prime time, but we will definitely always have the bond of technology.

A family that Macs together, stays together.

Blogger Choice: A family that Macs together, stays together.

Life in the Clouds

By Valerie Heruska

Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, Nimbus. Clouds.

When it comes to technology terms, cloud computing is one of those things that I wish was around since the beginning of time because it is just such a useful tool that has helped me in both professional work and personal fun.

Evernote and Dropbox have been my two biggest loves.

Evernote

For those of you who don’t know and have always been curious about Evernote, here’s a quick snapshot of what it is:

Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including OS XiOSChrome OSAndroidMicrosoft WindowsWindows Phone, and WebOS) and also offers online synchronisation and backup services. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evernote)

Evernote is simple to use and I know many people who use it for research papers or just about anything they need. Evernote can be used to hold recipes, ideas, notes, research, etc. And there’s a cute elephant involved.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storagefile synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronises so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dropbox_(service)

I love Dropbox because it’s simple and user-friendly. I like to use Dropbox with my Senior RA, because it’s so easy to share files (RA Evaluations) so we can both do them and it will automatically update any changes (in the similar way to Google Docs Drive). I used to “share” my music and pictures with friends. The downside is that there is only so much storage on their server, unless you connect with a billion people, then you should be fine.

Apple iCloud

Like a delightful nimbus cloud, the Apple iCloud is great for anyone who is an Apple hoarder (me). I only have to download my music on one device and bam, it’s on all of them. Pictures can be transferred via the cloud, as well as all my apps. I love you Apple iCloud!

 

So there ya have it… life in the clouds is pretty spectacular and hopefully it will make life a little easier for you!

Life in the Clouds

The iPad Mini: the iPad I’d Been Waiting For

By Brenda Bethman

 

Credit: CNET

Thanks to Kristen’s bad (or good, depending on your perspective) influence, I was an early adopter of the original iPad (and eventually complete Apple convert). When the iPad 3 with retina display came out, I thought iPad perfection had been reached. I was wrong — it turned out that the iPad mini was the iPad I’d been waiting for.

Why? Well, the reason I wanted an iPad in the first place (besides wanting to be like Kristen) was due to its potential as an e-reader (I’m not alone there — it was this Salon piece that convinced me). Sure I could have bought a Kindle, but I liked the idea of being able to keep up with RSS feeds, check email, etc., as well — Kindles and other dedicated e-readers are great, but their single function can be limiting at times (at other times, not so much — I have a Kindle for reading in bed, on the beach, and in other places where I don’t want the distraction an iPad provides). While reading on the iPad was for the most part an enjoyable experience, it was heavy after a while and awkward to hold when lying on one’s back on the sofa (my preferred Sunday afternoon reading position). The iPad mini takes care of that — weighing in at less than a pound (0.69 for the LTE version, to be precise) and small enough to hold with one hand, I can happily read for hours.

The smaller size and weight also make the mini much more portable than its larger sibling. I picked up the cellular version and bring it everywhere — it’s even small enough to fit in a large purse and will come in handy this summer when we are vacation and my husband is navigating (his hands are too large to use the iPhone comfortably). Earlier this month, I traveled to a conference the found the mini to be the perfect size for live-tweeting sessions — and having LTE meant that I was not dependent on overly-burdened hotel wifi. In short, as my title indicates, the mini really is the iPad I was waiting for (even if I didn’t know it). At first I thought I would keep my office-issued iPad 3 in addition to the mini, but after a few days, I realized I no longer needed it and handed it off to a colleague.

One last thing — while many reviews (see Ars Techinica’s for example or the reviews listed in Mashable’s roundup) bemoan the lack of a retina display on the mini, it hasn’t bothered me — I notice it occasionally when I’m holding the device too close, but overall it hasn’t been a problem. Certainly not enough of one to overcome my love of the form factor.

The iPad Mini: the iPad I’d Been Waiting For

Robin Williams: The Designer for Non-Designers

by Valerie Heruska

I recently picked up some fabulous books on graphic design. They are:  The Non-Designer’s InDesign Book, The Non-Designer’s Photoshop Book, and  The Non-Designer’s Illustrator Book. What I like about them is that they explain the basics of each program and really act as a springboard for any person looking to get into graphic design.

These three books are written by Robin Williams. Born in California in the 50s, Robin was a free spirit: she traveled Europe and hitchhiked across the country. A friend introduced her to graphic design during her time at Santa Rosa Community College.

On her website she writes:

In 1984, of course, the Macintosh was invented. I was very resistant to computers. “I’m going to let computers pass me by. By the time they can do what I do in graphic design, I will be ninety years old and won’t care.” Well, was that stupid, of course. One of my students, Brad Mager insisted I could not be computer-illiterate. He brought over his Mac Plus and plopped it on my kitchen table, which was the only flat surface in the house clear enough to set anything on. We clicked. The Mac made perfect sense to me. Even the Font/DA Mover made sense. I was teaching 8 hours a week but running the entire graphic design program, which took about 30 hours a week. I got paid for 8. So I quit the design program and asked to teach a HyperCard class. Oh my that was fun. I asked if I could teach any other Macintosh classes. They said, “Can you teach spreadsheets and databases?” “Oh sure,” I said. I ran home and looked up “spreadsheet” and “database.” I discovered that I love spreadsheets and databases–such clear, logical, and oh so useful programs. Taught Microsoft Works, Intro to Macintosh, PageMaker. (http://www.ratz.com/robin/realbio.html)

Robin’s books are very user-friendly, and I can tell that she really enjoys writing and teaching graphic design. If you are interested in wanting to know more about how to use these programs, I suggest that you pick up some of her books. I think that Robin’s passion for teaching us about graphic design really puts her at the forefront of the graphic design world.

You can pick up Robin’s books at  Peach Pit Press.

Robin Williams: The Designer for Non-Designers