iPhone 4s buying adventures

I was really hoping for an easy transition to a new iPhone 4s. Somehow, it did not work quite as I had planned!

First, there were new phone orders. When I went to bed on Thursday, October 6, I contemplated setting an alarm for 3:00 a.m., but I decided to let nature be in charge. I was awake by 3:10 and Safari was reporting that the Apple Store was off-line. I tried again in a few minutes, and I was able to get to the iPhone ordering page. Although I could choose my phone, choose my carrier, and enter my account information, things rapidly went downhill after that. I just could not seem to get through! Since I actually needed to order 2 iPhones, a white one for me and a black one for my husband, I opened two Safari windows. Then I decided to open a few more. Finally, the black iPhone page progressed and I was able to place an order. So, I closed that window and kept trying in the other windows…and that compounded my problems.

I thought I had both phones ordered, and I thought I had ordered for two different phone numbers--but I hadn’t and Apple cancelled my second black iPhone order. Of course, by the time that happened, all pre-orders were sold out, so I had a bigger problem.

In our home, I typically get the first device, and my husband gets the leftovers. I am acutely aware that this is not really that fair and so I try to make sure that he gets at least some things on the day they are released. Since the black iPhone was meant for him, I could not justify taking it as my own. Besides, I wanted a white iPhone.

I placed an order for a white iPhone from Apple, realizing it would come when we would be away from home for a few days. But I really wanted an iPhone of my own on day one, so I would have to wait in line for it. I am proud to say I almost ALWAYS wait in line for new Apple devices, but this time there would be a few problems. I live in the metropolitan Washington DC area. Stores were slated to open a 8:00 a.m. That would mean I would be traveling in the thick of rush hour and if lines were long, it could take me all morning and perhaps most of the afternoon.

There was only one other choice, an AT&T store. There is an outlet mall just a few miles south of me (against rush hour traffic). They just opened a new, larger store there. It look to be my best chance of getting an iPhone without waiting all day. It wasn’t an Apple store, so there should be shorter lines, but the ambiance of waiting in line at the Apple store would be missing. I decided time was important, so I headed south in time to be at the store at 8:00 am when it opened.

It worked! I was able to be home with my new white iPhone in about 2 hours. I missed the camaraderie of the Apple Store, but I had my new iPhone on Day One.

Buying an iPhone at AT&T turned out to be a great experience, They were able to cancel my online order with Apple, The salesman was very helpful and it was fast!

I’ve had my iPhone 4s for a few days now. I really love it. I can’t decide what feature I like best. I videoed my grandson’s Ankle-biter football game, took photos of our family as we gathered for a large formal portrait at a local park, and I have had lots of fun with Siri. Phone calls sound great, I have lots of room for apps, movies, podcasts and photos. The videos and photos are wonderful. And did I mention the iPhone 4s is fast?


Too many photos on your iPhone?

I have carried a camera in my purse or pocket for years! As a young mother, I quickly learned that the cutest/best moments occurred when I was away from home and away from my “good” camera.

Since the iPhone acquired the ability to take good photos, I have slowly abandoned my pocket camera and I have taken most of my photos with it instead.

Since I got my iPhone 4 last summer, I have taken over a thousand photos with it. Right now I have over 7 GB of photos and movies stored on it. Of course, all those photos have been synched with my Mac.

It’s time to take a look at photo management! I usually do that in iPhoto, but there is a slight problem! I have learned through some painful photo losses that I do not erase photos, either on my camera or on my iPhone, until they are located in at least two other places. (In fact, I would prefer having them in three places.)

Because I leave the photos on my iPhone, the camera roll looks like this. There are so many photos that seem to be the same that I am often embarrassed to show my photos to family and friends!

If I delete them from iPhoto, they are just added back the next time I sync my iPhone.

The only obvious way to delete photos from the iPhone is to do it one at a time here:

Have you tried this method? It is so slow and tedious! There has to be a better way--and there is!

First, attach your iPhone to your computer and make sure all photos have been synched. Now, back up the photos on your computer. The easiest way is to force an immediate sync in Time Machine.

If you use another method of backing up, do it now.

On every Macintosh, there is an app in your Applications folder called Image Capture.

When you launch or start it, you will see a window similar to this:

Notice that my iPhone is listed in the left column. In the right column are the photos stored on my camera. in the lower right corner is a slider to enlarge the photo thumbnails.

Enlarge the images and then select the ones you want to delete. Click on the first image, then hold down the Command (or Apple) key on your keyboard. It is located next to the spacebar. When you hold the Command key down, you can select multiple images, even if they are not contiguous (next to each other).

When you have selected some images, press the Delete icon (the circle with the line through it.)

You can select and delete images multiple times. When you are finished, close the Image Capture window and quit it. Do not use the “Import” or “Import All” button since they are already in your iPhoto Library

The photos you selected will be gone from your iPhone and you will be left with only those images that you want to keep.

I plan to begin using this method of keeping only the best photos and movies!

There is just so much to learn about the iPhone and iPhoto. One of the services we offer at Dr. Mac Consulting is tutoring and projects like this make great learning opportunities. Tutorials cost only $60.00 per hour. We use special software to see your computer and we can show you how to do this project and lots more! Give us a call give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.



Traveling With Technology: Internet Access

Times change--and the connected world just gets more expensive!

I am in Texas this week. We will be in San Antonio until Thursday afternoon when we will drive to Austin to spend the weekend with Bob LeVitus and his family. My husband is attending a technology conference and we are staying at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

I find it odd that while a stay in a top-level American hotel does not include free WiFi access or a free breakfast buffet, most tier two hotels such as a Marriott Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Suite, etc. include those items in the cost of the room.

Here at the Hyatt, there are two levels of Internet access costing $9.95 or $12.95 per day. A continental breakfast bar cost $11.00 and the full breakfast bar is $18.00.

Even more problematic is the rules for Internet access. Have a computer, an iPad and an iPhone? That counts as three separate devices. Staying with your spouse who has similar equipment? Now you potentially have 6 devices to pay for! Each of these devices has a different MAC address, so they count as separate items.

If you are willing to attach one of the computers to the Ethernet cable, then you can use Internet sharing to set up an ad hoc network, but this is not allowed in the terms of service.

Since I bought the Virgin Mobile MiFi2200, I activated it for the month and I am using it to provide Internet access to our other device when thy are not connected by a different data plan.

I purchased the $60.00, 30 day, 5 GB plan for the MiFi. I suspect I could have gotten by with the $40.00 plan, but I wanted to make sure I have adequate data for any activity we wanted to try.

Because I have not modified our existing contracts, both my husband and I have unlimited data plans on our iPhones. If I would modify our contracts, we could add iPhone tethering which would allow us to use the iPhone to provide WiFi Internet service to one computer at a time. I do not think there is a way to provide WiFi to our iPads from the iPhone, unless we jailbreak them. I do not plan to do that.

While my husband’s iPad is WiFi only, mine is the 3G model. I purchased the data plan before AT&T changed the plans, so for the moment, I have the unlimited data plan.

As you can see, I have several overlapping data plans in place. Therefore, I have turned off the WiFi on my 3G iPad and on my iPhone while I am in range of the MiFi. Since there is a Starbuck’s Coffee with free AT&T WiFi in a nearby mall food court, I used it yesterday morning and went back to upload a large audio file yesterday evening when the upload speeds on the MiFi were too slow to easily upload a 125 MB file.

My Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go MiFi does not require a monthly contract and I can change the plan each time I buy more data. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile probably offer similar devices (or they will soon). The important part of this device is its lack of a contract. If I plan to be home for a month, I can simply tuck it away until I need to activate it for another trip.

While I had planned to remove the data plan from my iPad 3G, we have found it to be very useful in day-to-day life around town. I often tuck my iPad into my purse when we are away from home. Being able to surf the web anywhere, at any time on the larger screen is a big improvement over the iPhone screen. I also hand it to my husband if he is going to be away from home, waiting for a car repair or something else.

Eventually, I will need to trim our costs and I will need to cut some of the overlapping Internet services. However, for the moment it is very convenient to be able to be online on any device at any time. It’s too bad that money doesn’t grow on trees!

If you need help choosing the best sources of Internet connectivity for you and your family, give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com. Our service for this costs $60.00 per hour.

-- Pat


A FaceTime Wedding

Our daughter, Courtney and Andy were engaged last summer. The wedding was set for late July 2010. We have a large family and Courtney wanted to include her brother and sisters, nieces and nephews in the wedding party.

Our daughter, Monique, is the mother of three young sons. She was to be a bridesmaid and her sons were to be the ring bearers. During the year, Monique announced that we would have a new grandchild this fall. The pregnancy has been a difficult one and she was hospitalized in June until our new grandson is born. Not only would Monique not be able to participate in the wedding, she would also miss seeing her sister and her sons in it.

Being the techie that I am, I bought the new iPhone 4 on the day it was introduced. My sister, Sandy, also bought an iPhone 4. We could use FaceTime to stream the wedding to Monique!

Unfortunately, while the idea was a good one, there were lots of problems to overcome.

A few days after getting my iPhone 4, I attempted to use FaceTime while at the hospital to place a call to Sandy at her home in Las Vegas NM. Although we could talk by voice, we could not make a FaceTime connection. The hospital network connection was too slow--or perhaps they block streaming, but using the hospital patient network was not an option.

I also knew that neither the church nor the reception hall had an open WI-FI network. While I might have been able to find a way to set up a network at our church, I knew there was no way I would be able to set up a network at the reception site, located at the Washington Navy Yard.

Mi-Fi cards allow you to set up your own Wi-Fi network wherever you go, as long as there is a mobile phone 3G network available. There was one big catch--a contract! If we would sign a one to two year contract, we could get or buy one of these devices for $0 to $200.00. Contracts cost $30 to $60 per month for up to 5 GB of data. Canceling the contract would also be very costly. That was a lot of money to expend to stream the wedding to Monique!

Sandy called. She saw a press release for a new Mi-Fi service from Virgin Mobile. We could buy a VirginMobile Mi-Fi device at any Best Buy for $149.00. Then we could buy data from Virgin Mobile without a contract! Of course, it would require TWO Mi-Fi devices, one for the hospital, and one for the wedding sites.

Sandy had purchased a Wi-Fi iPad. She often wished she had a way to connect it to the Internet using her own Wi-Fi. She decided to by the first Mi-Fi device.

Since I have lots of techie friends, I was certain that I could find a Mi-Fi device to borrow--or perhaps a mobile phone that we could use to set up a Wi-Fi network. While several friends have Mi-Fis, they were paid for by their employers, so using one for a the wedding was not an option.

Although several friends had phones that could be used to set up a Wi-Fi network, no one had actually done it! No one knew exactly what they needed to do! FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!

After a bit more thought, I decided that this was too important an event for Monique to miss. I bought the second MiFi and we quickly tested it out.

FaceTime over the Mi-Fi devices was not perfect, but it was more than acceptable. Now, Monique could “be” at the wedding and at the reception! She would see everyone get ready, see the preparations at the church, see, the ceremony and the reception. Not only would she see it, she could also visit with family and friends throughout the day and evening.

I delivered my iPhone and the MiFi to the hospital. I did a bit of testing and configuring to make sure the iPhone would default to the MiFi instead of the hospital wireless. Now we were ready for the big day.

We made many FaceTime calls throughout the day. Monique was able to visit with friends and family, add her approval to Courtney’s hairstyle, be a part of the group in the wedding room at church, make a final check of her boys in their suits, watch her sons walk down the aisle, see Courtney and Andy exchange their vows, listen to Fr. DeCelle’s homily, suggest yet another picture to be taken after the ceremony. She visited with friends at the reception, saw the table decorations she had helped to make, watched her sons be introduced, listened to her dad’s toast, and watch her sons dance and dance.

While Monique was not able to be physically present, she was able to be a part of our wonderful day. FaceTime and the iPhone 4 allowed it to happen, along with family and friends who took a few minutes to be a part of the stream.

Courtney and Andy provided the fitting end to the day. When they left the reception, they headed to the hospital so that Monique could see them in their wedding attire.



Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: Notes in Mail

While adding notes to calendar events and people in your address book are good for many purposes, there are other notes that need to be somewhere else.

Until the release of iPhone OS 3 I used several different note apps on my iPhone. Each had some method of syncing, most involved having another application on my computer. That was one more thing to add to my dock and often one more web site to pay money to each year.

Now that the Notes Application on my iPhone

…can sync with the Notes in Mail

…I am pretty happy.

Let’s review how this works.

When you open the Notes app on the iPhone, you will see one of the two screens below. If you see this screen, you either have no notes or you are looking at notes you have previously made. To add a note, click the plus icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

If you see this screen, you are looking at the note you were last using. Click the plus icon in the upper right to add another note. Click the arrow icons at the bottom of the screen to navigate to your other notes. The envelope icon attaches the note to an email so that you can send it to someone. The Trash can icon deletes the note.

If you want to add a note on your computer, it is done in Mail:

Click on the Note icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen to add a new note. Click on the Notes icon in the Mail sidebar to view your notes.

There are many options when making Notes in Mail. It is possible to change fonts and colors, attach files and photos and even to make To Do items in a note:

Syncing notes

While it is possible to sync Mail accounts, Contacts, Calendars and Bookmarks to the iPhone using MobileMe, Notes are not included.

Instead, synching is set up in iTunes:

This means that in order to see the latest changes you have made on the other device (iPhone or Mac), you must connect your iPhone to the Mac and do a sync.

While there are lots of other applications that can be used for notes, I prefer Apple’s Notes application. Since it is an application made by Apple Inc., I can check my notes at any time. For example, when I am talking on the telephone, playing a game, listening to my podcast or music. For me this availability is not to be missed!



Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: iCal

While storing notes about people or companies in the Address book on the Mac (or in Contacts on the iPhone) makes perfect sense, some information just doesn't belong there.

For example, I am taking a Frontier Airline flight to Macworld later this week. I received a confirmation email from Frontier after I booked my flight:

While I might put the telephone number and URL for Frontier in Address Book, information about my flight to San Francisco would be easier to locate in iCal or the iPhone Calendar. I used copy and paste to put the information into iCal:

Then I waited for MobileMe to sync the information to my iPhone:

One of the most interesting things is that although the links from the email do not appear in the iCal event, they are visible and available on my iPhone. The links open to Google maps in Safari. Just think of how convenient it could be to have such easy access for maps to hotels, restaurants etc.

Note that I edited the screenshots to remove personal and identifying information from the images above.

Both Bob LeVitus and I will be at Macworld later this week. Look for blog posts, Twitters and updates as we learn about new products for the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch. I will be traveling with my husband, Ron--if we don’t get snowed in by yet another DC storm.



iPhone and iPod Touch - How to update an application

As a blog writer, I pay attention to Google Analytics. The web site tracks every page of MacMousecalls and lets me know a lot about my readers.

This report tells me that I get lots of visits to an earlier article about updating iPhones and iPod touches. However the article is very out of date, so its time to do a complete update.

Keeping applications up-to-date was a bit buggy when the first article was written, but things have changed.

The iPhone and iPod Touch lets you know, right on App Store icon, when there is a newer version of an application.

Clicking on the icon may tell a slightly different story:

In this case, the updates page shows that I have three updates. This happened because I just used my iPhone for the first time today.

You can also check for updates on your computer by using iTunes.

Click on Applications in the Library area of the upper left column. You will be taken to the iTunes store to a special page that tracks your app updates. You can click on the update button for each individual application, or you can click the Download All button in the upper right corner of the window.

Did you notice that there are 4 applications shown here? That is because TweetDeck is not on my iPhone, but it is in my application collection. I have many more applications than I can display on my iPhone.

In the original article I wrote about having to delete earlier versions of applications through the finder. That is no longer necessary. Apple fixed that bug a long time ago!

Happy App shopping!



New gear for my new iPhone

I have to admit it! For the third summer in a row, I found myself in line last Friday to buy the new iPhone 3GS. Since Apple did not change the form between the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS, and since my husband also bought one, we will be needing another external battery pack at our house! Join me as I explore the different type of battery packs and and their features.
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Taking iPhone Screenshots

There are lots of iPhone screenshots appearing on the web these days! It seems as though everyone wants to know about the changes coming in the iPhone 3.0 software.

Carl, one of our Dr. Mac Consulting clients sent me a tweet :

The ability to make screenshots was added in the iPhone 2.0 software. To make a screenshot: Click here to read more...

iPhone Battery - Getting the most out of a charge

When I got my new iPhone back in July, I was amazed how quickly I could run the battery down! Just talking to a few people, watching a video, playing a game and checking my calendar left a dent in my battery. A day of heavy use meant I had to go running for my charger.

It was time to get energy smart! Although each successive version of the iPhone software has caused the battery to go longer between charges, I quickly found that some power management techniques would go a long way in assuring I had enough battery life to not worry about my iPhone going dead.

Here are some things you can do to increase the battery life of your iPhone. While doing all of these things will give you the longest running time for your iPhone, just implementing one or two will help. For each technique, I will list all the steps, so some pictures, particularly those of the home screen and settings window will be repeated several times.
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