A bag of Jedi-hurt

Steve Jobs has called Blu-ray a “bag of hurt” because of licensing disagreements, so Apple hasn’t made any computers with a Blu-ray drive. But, Steve, please, for the love of Obi-Wan…

Amazon is now listing these for pre-order (and you might as well use my links when you buy them):

Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy (Episodes I – III) [Blu-ray] – $44.99. (Worth it? Meh.)

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV – VI) [Blu-ray] – $44.99. (Worth it? Really? Is that a real question? Isn’t this a must-have for Blu-ray player owners?)

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray] – $89.99.

Do the math and you’ll find that you save a penny by ordering the two trilogies separately. You’ll save a full $45 if you avoid the first three episodes – Hayden Christiansen might be the biggest bag of hurt.

Though the biggest pain might be that these won’t actually be released until September. Just more time to save your pennies.


iPaddio Daddio

John Saddington, purveyor of the fabulous ChurchCrunch, posted the question – “Is there any practical and realistic use for the new Apple iPad in a ministry context and environment?” – and the followup question – “Are you going to get one and why?”.

First, here is the response I gave in his post’s comments:

1. I can give my pastor one and repurpose his woefully underused MacBook Pro.
2. The PCO and ProPresenter Remote iPhone apps will rock, especially when optimized for the iPad.
3. The welcome center idea from Alex Tillman is right on – how cool would that be?
4. POS at ministry counter for book and CD sales; registration signups; online giving help.
5. Another iPhone app that will be immeasurably easier and fantastic on the iPad – LogMeIn.
6. I agree that this is not a device to help creatives create – but this will be perfect for presenters to present.
7. Preaching and teaching directly from this while controlling my presentation video? Absolutely!

But I don’t plan on buying one for me – I’m desperate for a new MacBook Pro to replace my obsolete Powerbook, because I picture myself as one of those creative types. But for 90% of my computing tasks and 90% of my users, this will be perfect.

Having said that I don’t plan on buying one for me, let me qualify that: I don’t plan on it now. Or exactly for me. Although I hope to enjoy one.

The iPad is going to be a phenomenal device, I hope. No one really knows. Except that the iPhone is already changed many things for me, and I expect that the iPad will do something quite similiar.

My 13-year-old daughter – who was previously saving for a laptop – is completely thinking iPad now. Laptop is overkill for her, but iPad is right in the sweet spot. My wife is also contemplating selling her MacBook and moving to an iPad. I can’t think of anything she does on her laptop that she couldn’t do on an the new iDevice. One of the biggest things is that for $499 or even $599, this is a great entry-level computer that does everything they could think of.

I was one of the ones who paid $599 for the original iPhone (which has since moved to the possession of Trudi). $499 for something that is multiple times faster and more powerful, with twice the storage of that original iPhone?

Easy decision. I believe it will be equally easy for many people – and the church needs to be there.


Useful, but not used [Gator]

Back to my iPhone.

No, that’s not a movie with Justin Long reprising the role of Marty McFly. (Though, presumably, Steve Jobs would be Doc.)

Neither is it the mythical Back to My Mac application that somehow never gets me all the way back to mine.

No, you see, a few posts ago I began a look at all the applications that are on my iPhone. Apple was approaching the one billionth iPhone app sold through the App Store, and I’d like to think I was a part of that.

Much has happened since then. The billionth app was sold. My iPhone died. It was my third, so iPhone #4 had to be reloaded and resynced. I traveled a lot. The Celtics beat the Bulls in 7 games. I listened to many podcasts. I found a need for flatulence applications.

But I’m back on topic, and ready to show you Page 8, and the 10 apps that are currently there.

See, that’s the thing right there. Four weeks ago, when I began this series of reviews, I only had 8 apps on page 8. That’s what happens with the App Store. There are so many interesting and useful apps, so many of which are free, it’s easy to go into app-overload. In the meantime, some that were originally on the back 40 that is page 8 got moved up, and other apps got moved to the back. So, before any more apps get shuffled around, here is…

Page Eight
As the post title says, these apps might be useful, they’re just not being used by me often enough for them to be nearer the front page. But, like an old belt, they might come in handy sometime, so I’m not ready to put them in the Trash just yet.

YouNote is a neat little utility that allows you to capture notes, pictures, recordings, doodles, or web pages inside this app. These can then be backup and/or restored to/from your computer using a desktop app. Both apps are free.

Scrooge & Cratchit is a free e-book from author Matt McHugh that is written as a sequel to Christmas Carol. I thought it was a very interesting way to follow-up the original story, exploring what the natural progression would look like if Scrooge had really had as much of a change of heart as it first appeared.

Stitcher is a free app that bills itself as “personalized audio” and tries to pass itself off as a radio station aggregator, ala AOL Radio. It is actually nothing more than a podcast aggregator. Once upon a time, that was cool, but since podcasts can now be downloaded directly through iTunes, it is no longer necessary. (I really should go ahead and delete it.)

Wanted is one of many silly, specialized apps that are one gag. The gag with this app is that you can make your own wanted posters from pictures on your phone. You can then save them to your photo library, which you can then sync back to iPhoto to do whatever you like.

The tools and little things you can add to your pictures are surprisingly good. As you can see from this picture of Summer, the finalized pictures are sepia-toned images, which look like the old time wanted posters. You have the option to customize your poster with names, wanted amounts and other choices. Wanted is a free app.

HandDBase is one of the few apps I’ve paid for, and, at $9.99 is tied for the most expensive app I’ve purchased so far. This relational database manager from DDH Software has its roots in the Windows world, so there are some limitations on the Mac. The biggest limitation is that syncronization is mostly on the PC side. I purchased this app because of limited choices at the time and a desire to begin some inventory management at the church. However, data entry via the app isn’t as intuitive or easy as I had hoped, and the inability to store pictures in a field is very disappointing. Overall, if I lived in the PC world exclusively, I would really like this app. But I don’t.

[Okay, at this point, I’ve got to confess…you might even be interested in all this, but I’m losing interest. I’ve worked on this piece several different days, for a couple hours at a time, and it seems like I’ll never finish. This is it. I’ve got the rest of this page of apps and seven more besides, but I don’t want to write about it anymore. Since this is my blog, I won’t. If you have a question about any of these apps, I’ll be happy to answer. Otherwise…let’s go on to something else.]


Doing my part [Gator]

[Warning: for those that are bored by computer-talk, especially as pertains to software and the iPhone, this post…and the ones to follow…are not for you. You’ve been warned.]

Apple is currently counting towards the billionth download from their iPhone app store. I know I’ve done my part. Ever since the update of the iPhone last summer, when the App Store opened, there have been an ever-increasing variety of cool and useful apps. Most of the ones I choose are free.

Currently we are restricted to nine pages of apps. At 16 per page, plus the four on the bottom bar, that means you can have a total of 148 apps on your iPhone at any one time. I don’t have that many, but I do have 102.

So, as a public service…um, okay, whatever…here are all 102 of my apps, why I have them, why I do or don’t use them, and anything else that might help you decide to add them to your phone or not.

I’ve organized my nine pages from most important to least important, mostly. And the four most critical apps are on my home row – the row at the bottom that appears on every page.

We start with the least important, on…

Page Nine
The apps on this page made it here for one very important reason – I don’t use them. It doesn’t mean they’re bad or useless…necessarily. But I don’t use them. Ever. So why are they here at all? Why haven’t I deleted them? Well…I MIGHT use them. Maybe. Sometime. Okay, I know I won’t, but I can’t bring myself to delete them.

There are some apps I have deleted. Some good ones, too. Probably the best one I’ve deleted is the Masters app. But the Masters is over, so I won’t need it. There were a couple NCAA Basketball Tournament apps I deleted, too.

As for these apps, the top row contains four Twitter apps that all have some great features and work quite well, though somewhat differently from each other. In fact, at one time I was using all four of them, in order to manage my different Twitter accounts (follow me at Probably my favorite of the four was Twitterific. All four of them are free.

UReport is a free Fox News app, that allows you to submit news stories to Fox. Never used it.

SmileDialLite is a neat little free app that does one thing – it allows you to store the photo of one of your contacts with their contact information. Then, when you start the program, you see your contact’s photo full-screen, and when you tap the bottom half of the picture, it dials their phone number. If you tap the top half, it will send them a text. Of course, this has limited appeal, since you can only store one person. SmileDial Pro allows multiple people for $3.99. Nice gimmick, but I don’t need it.

Lightsaber is the official Star Wars app. Cool, but I don’t use it. (It’s free.)

Air Sharing is probably the most useful app I never use. It allows you to wirelessly move files from your computer to your iPhone and vice-versa. It works. It’s easy. Why don’t I use it? Um…I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually need to. But it’s there in case I do.

I got Air Sharing for free, during an introductory offer. Now it costs $4.99 through the App Store.

You’ll notice that at the bottom of my screen, in my home row, are my four most critical apps, and they’re not the four that Apple pre-determined should be my four most critical apps.

Okay, three out of four are. The Phone, Safari, and iPod apps are far and away the most important things about the iPhone, because, well, it IS a phone, the internet is always important, and, as much as it’s a phone, it’s also an iPod.

The fourth app in my home row is one of the few apps I’ve paid for. It’s also the reason the other four Twitter apps ended up on the ninth page. Tweetie is $2.99, and it takes the place of the other apps mainly because it handles multiple accounts. I update my Twitter status – and also my Facebook status via Twitter – many times a day. I also have Twitter accounts for the church (, my BibleQuizPodcast (, and a couple of others, so this has become an important app.

Next: The 8 on page 8.


That criminal software thing [Mc]

Trudi said something the other day about “that criminal software thing you posted about.” She was talking about a status update I had on Facebook concerning the latest MacHeist.

If you don’t know, MacHeist is a promotion involving a number of Mac software developers who are offering there software at a greatly reduced price as part of the MacHeist 3 Bundle. This version of the Bundle includes a wide variety of utility and specialty applications. Some of them are very useful, such as photo editor Acorn and recording utility Wire Tap Studio. I was really excited about Kinemac, a professional 3D animation app, which regularly sells for $299.

At present there are nine applications with a total value of $601.80, available in the Bundle for only $39. That’s the price for all nine together, not the price for each one. That’s an incredible value, especially if you have a need for a few of these applications.

And the catch? Actually, I wouldn’t call it a catch – just a bonus. As I said, at present there are nine applications in the Bundle. When the Bundle was released (a few days ago) there were only eight. The catch is that when total sales of the Bundle reach a certain pre-determined point, they unlock more apps. Currently, we are waiting for the next unlock point, which is $400k. When sales hit that point, BoinxTV will be released.

That’s why I’m writing this post, because I really would like that program. It’s actually something I looked at for the church, but at $199, it was a little too much. But it looks great. So, if you have a Mac, and you like really good software at insanely cheap prices, go take a look.

The other thing about MacHeist is that 25% of every sale is donated to charity. You get to pick, from a list of 10 charities, where your donation will go.

Of course, if you’ve never heard of MacHeist, then you probably have never heard of the MacHeist controversy. In a nutshell, the people don’t like MacHeist think it’s unfair to the developers, that they are being robbed, and by purchasing the Bundle, consumers are being mean and dirty and cheap and favoring the big, bad marketer over the innocent, pure developer.

One blogger actually said, “Put it this way: would you rather pay $10 to Universal Music Group for a music album, or $15 directly to the band in question?”

This might not be obvious to you – as it wasn’t to me – but his answer is that we should spend more because the creator would get more.


So…I’m not going to link to that blogger, because he offered that piece of advice to me for free. Instead I’ll link to Apple, since his blog is hosted on their servers and they paid a lot of money for those servers so that he would have the ability to post idiotic, link-bait, gibberish like that. (And I’ll also link to John Gruber, where I got the link to the blogger’s blog.)

In the meantime, I’m going to download SousChef and see how Trudi likes it.

[Update: I should also mention that the applications in the Bundle aren’t trial, demo, or previous versions of the software. They are full, up-to-date versions. In fact, SousChef is a new version as of the release of the Bundle, as are a couple of others.]


The Nines – iLife and iWork

I’ve been using iWork ’09 for the past couple of weeks and iLife ’09 for the past couple of days. Here are my first impressions on the two suites. Keep in mind that I have used every version of both programs since their beginnings. (And these are not exhaustive reviews.)

iWork ’09 adds some nice features in this iteration. It includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, the Apple counterparts to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The Apple suite still doesn’t have the depth of features that the Microsoft offering does…but who cares? Not me.

The basics of each program remain unchanged. Pages still is basic word processing and page layout with a Mac feel. Numbers still does its spreadsheet thing. And Keynote still outclasses PP with its cool transitions.

I work on a Powerbook G4, which Apple recently reclassified as obsolete, so performance for me is sluggish in every application.

But what’s great and new that would make you want to upgrade if you already have an earlier version of iWork? I’ll take it one app at a time…

Pages – For me the biggest addition is Outlining. I usually use OmniOutliner Professional for my outlining needs, and I’ll may continue to do so. But it’s nice to have it in Pages.

The other two big features – being able to view your document in full screen view and being able to use – are irrelevant to me. Additionally, there are several new templates that are pretty cool, but I don’t know if I’ll ever use them.

Numbers – There are a couple of nice changes here. The ability for categorization – actually, a second-level sort – is nice. Numbers also adds a quick view of all the formulas you are using in your worksheet.

Keynote – The star of iWork is Keynote. The incremental changes in this version of Keynote are apparent right from the beginning, in the theme chooser, where a mouse-over of a theme shows you the different options available within the theme.

I like the new Keynote, but my biggest frustration with the entire suite comes here. They took out a feature, one I actually used! The feature is Webview. It allowed you to insert a live web page into your presentation. And they took it out….aargh.

They did put a few new transitions and effects in, though. That’s good. And they upgraded the presenter’s view to give you more control. Very nice.

The best thing, however, is the integration between the three apps and the ability for a Numbers chart to be updated with a Keynote presentation or a Pages document.

I purchased the iWork ’09 Family Pack, since I have several computers to upgrade. (The link takes you to Amazon, where you can get it for $10 less than from Apple.)

iLife ’09 was the more anticipated of the two suites. It contains Garageband, iMovie, iWeb, iDVD, and iPhoto. And I’ll just tell you right up front…it rocks.

The bad – I can’t use the new iMovie on my computer. Of course, I couldn’t use iMovie ’08 either. My Powerbook just doesn’t have the horsepower. But that was okay with ’08, because a lot of people stayed with ’06, so much did they hate the new ’08 interface.

That won’t be the case with ’09. I have used it on the church’s 24-inch iMac, and it is much nicer than ’08. iMovie now includes a Precision Editor that makes editing much better. It also has a stabilization feature which – although it takes a long time, even on a 3.06ghz iMac – will be very useful.

There are also some added transitions, themes and effects that will dress up your vidoes. Spiffy.

iDVD – well, it is what it is. Unchanged. I didn’t even see any new themes.

Garageband – although some learning abilities have been added, functionally nothing else has changed for ’09. Cosmetically, the look has changed, to a nicer, darker feel. Not important, but nice.

iWeb – probably the biggest thing here is the ability to publish to your own domain. There are some nice little bits of this and that, but nothing else substantial has changed for my use.

iPhoto – THE app. The new Faces feature alone could sell this entire suite by itself. If you don’t know, Faces allows you to tag your pictures with the names of people in the picture. Faces will then search your library for similiar faces and let you tag them. This makes organizing and searching your photo library very easy. And fun.

Places allows you to add location information to your photos. This lets you organize your photos by the places you’ve been. Very nice.

I would highly recommend iLife ’09 Family Pack. (Again, this link let’s you get it from Amazon for $10 less.)


Live and Learn [Rev]

[Warning: The following post is technology-filled and totally about me. I mean, even more about me than normal. Really. You’ve been warned.]

The beginning of 2009 has been almost completely about software for me. I am in the middle of editing the video for last month’s Gospel According to Scrooge. This is a time-consuming project for a couple of reasons.

We shot video from four cameras on two different nights (Sunday and Monday). That means there was 16 hours of video to import and work with.[1] On top of that, I’m not experienced with video editing, nor with the editing software. Most of my video editing experience has come from the last few years of editing the Scrooge video.

During that experience I have been using Apple’s Final Cut software. Because of some software and operating system issues, I was forced to upgrade[2] to the latest version, Final Cut Studio 2
. It’s very powerful software with many cool and wonderful features. That’s what makes software powerful – cool, easy-to-use features, that give great depth and complexity to what you can accomplish. It also means there is a lot to learn. So, I’m learning.

One of our choices[3] this year in Scrooge was to use some pre-recorded video as part of the production. We used four different video segments this year: the opening montage, taking us from the opening titles to the opening song; the bedroom sequence, which shows Scrooge entering the bedroom, undressing, hearing the voice, then encountering Angel #1; the graveyard, with the Cratchit Family; and the final bedroom scene, where Scrooge discovers he is still alive. In order to accomplish some of the effects used in these segments, I used a trial version of Adobe After Effects CS4. After Effects is widely used by video professionals, but I had never used it. I quickly had to learn some key features in order to have the video ready for Scrooge. But, as I said, it was a trial version, so I had to purchase the full version in order to finish the edit of the DVD.

I ended up ordering Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium, which includes After Effects. Again, it’s another powerful program with many wonderful features. More learning.

Both of these programs are more than one program. They are suites that include several programs, each with many parts and pieces.

With so much to learn, I’ve turned to a some internet sources for instruction and help. The first is MacBreak Studio, a podcast from Pixel Corps. These are short video podcasts that cover one specific feature for video producers in each show. Usually these are features specific to Final Cut Studio. Some of these shows originated in Pixel Corps’ original podcast, MacBreak.

Another great podcast is ChurchMediaDesign, or CMD, from the media guys at Watermark church from Grand Haven, Michigan. This is a phenomenal show that gives a lot of great how-to’s. (They also give some free resources to use in your own ministry.)

A third informative podcast (can you tell I love podcasts? It’s because they’re free!) is Creative Cow’s Creative Cow for Photoshop Video podcast. As the title says, it’s video help for Photoshop users.

After I wrote the previous paragraph, it got me thinking, so I searched iTunes and – duh – it turns out that Creative Cow has a range of podcasts covering the range of both Adobe and Apple products. I’ll have to check them out when I’m done posting this.

I’m also exploring It has a tremendous amount of video tutorials on all of this software and more. Unfortunately, it’s not free. However, it’s not that expensive, and they have a trial period.

Although it’s not theologically correct, it does bring to mind something I often quote from my dad…

Live and learn.

Die and forget it all.

I hope to work on the first part…and delay the second part for awhile.
[1] Okay, not exactly 16 hours. One camera didn’t film the first act on Sunday. Very disappointing. But the import of the video was only the beginning. Two cameras shot in LP mode, which our JVC was unable to replay. I didn’t discover why until after I spent most of one day trying to use the JVC. Editing will mean going through all of the captured video frame-by-frame.
[2] When I say “upgrade” or “bought”, I mean that I did it on behalf of Faith Assembly. This software is more than I can personally afford. Although the upgrade to FC is cheaper than the full version, and, since I’m a homeschool dad, I can get the education version of CS4.
[3] And when I say “our choice”, I mean “my choice.” Yes, I asked the opinion of everyone in the leadership team of Scrooge, including Pastor Goss. Those that liked the result can thank them for their decision. But those that didn’t can blame me, since it really came down to me pushing this through. More on that later.


Another Mac vs. PC Battle [Gator]

Saw this YouTube clip over on Josh Griffin’s blog (which he saw on someone else’s blog, who, I think, saw it somewhere on Facebook…) Really creative, but I wasn’t sure what the ending was supposed to mean.

And – just to save you a minute, if you’ve been trained like my children to wait to the end of the credits before you leave the theater – the last minute of this video is all credits, nothing else. Feel free to leave.

Me and Verizon

John Gruber’s blog, Daring Fireball, points out that is kind of linked to Apple. There is much speculation that Apple’s dot Mac will become Me.

I’m new to this DNS tracking stuff, but it’s interesting that was bought on May 25th….by Verizon.

Is this a possible sign that the iPhone might become available through Verizon? Hmmm.

99 Cents for something I already have? I don’t think so.

If you have an iPhone – and I know more of you are getting one everyday – make your own ringtones, without paying Apple for the “privilege”. Read this article and use this program from Rogue Amoeba. Have fun!

Blogs on Fire

Procrastination gets me every time.

Back in December I purchased the MacHeist – a collection of software offered through MacZot that was only $49 for 10 applications. However, I didn’t download or install any of them. I was waiting for the new iMac to come out since I thought I would be buying one for the house and I would install these applications on it.

Of course, the iMac wasn’t upgraded in January like I thought it would, and when they finally were upgraded a few weeks ago, I didn’t have the money to buy one.

So this week I’ve been downloaded and installing these ten apps for my Powerbook and I wish I done it sooner. My favorite app has been NewsFire. It’s a great app for reading blogs and I could have mentioned it to my workshop class.

I guess I’m mentioning it now.


Yesterday was a good day. Today might be even better.

Sam and I went with our friend, Gene, to Miami last night to see the Braves and Marlins. Sam and I are big Braves fans. Gene is a Yankees fan, but loves baseball. We had GREAT seats. (Section 142, Row 1, Seats 5-7). Gene gets the tickets, I drive and buy dinner.

The only drawback was that we had planned this months ago. As it turned out, this was also the day of the big iPhone release, I was seriously considered getting one, but then June 29th ended up being the release day, and I was going to a baseball game.

Oh, well. Baseball first.

The Braves hammered the Marlins, 12-3. We had a great time, getting back home just after midnight.

So, this morning I went out to see if there were iPhones left. At minimum I wanted to hold one in the store and try it out.

First stop – the AT&T store in Cape Coral. It is the closest to home. They were out. So, I crossed the bridge into Fort Myers and headed to the Fort Myers AT&T store.

Again, no luck.

I called Trudi (with an in-store iPhone, because I had inadvertently left my phone at home) and she offered to call the Apple Store in Coconut Point to see if they had any left.

While I was waiting, I was listening to a VERY disgruntled new iPhone customer complaining about not being able to sync to iTunes like he was supposed to, and the AT&T manager trying to explain that iTunes is Apple software and she has no way to help him with that.

I stood there remembering some of the negative posts I read before leaving the house, and wondered if it was even a good idea to get one yet.

But, in the end, I ended up going to the Apple Store, where the phones must have been plentiful. And, yes, I ended up purchasing this very expensive phone.

And, yes, it is very cool. The picture was taken with the phone’s camera. Not a great camera, but I wish I had had it at the ball game last night.