Category Archives: Technology

Helpful Free Mac Apps for Beginners and Essential Productivity Utilities for OS X

As a relatively new user of Apple Mac OS X, I thought it might be useful to share what I think are must have Mac apps that everybody should consider using.

For Mac beginners, you’ll be glad to know that OS X has a lot of really nice built in features. My personal favorite is Spotlight. I highly recommend you browse through the official Mac Basics guides if you haven’t already; you might find an even better feature that you weren’t aware of.

For seasoned Mac users, hopefully you’ll discover a new gem from my short list!

Unlike other lists online that have 20, 50 sometimes 100 Mac apps, many of which you must pay for, I’ve really boiled things down to apps that I think beginners and long time users can appreciate. Paid apps can be great but, my hope is that, like me, you find these free apps help you start to become more productive with OS X and let you enjoy using your Mac even more than before.

So, first off is RescueTime. It’s a free app with a free service tier that will enlighten you on how you use your Mac. It’s a great way to see how much time you spend reading, writing, watching, listening, playing games, etc. You can see breakdowns by app and app category (which you can customize). RescueTime isn’t just for tracking “work” although it’s really good for that too.

★★★★★

Next up, Cheatsheet. “If you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin'” ☺ You should know, “a keyboard shortcut is a combination of keys that, when pressed simultaneously, perform some task that ordinarily requires use of a mouse or other input device and may take longer to do”. With Cheatsheet, as their website says, “Just hold the ⌘-Key a bit longer to get a list of all active short cuts of the current application. It’s as simple as that.” Keyboard shortcuts can be big time savers but often there are so many to choose from and multiple menus to pick from; it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. Just Cheat with Cheatsheet!

★★★★★

My next recommendation, Spectacle, takes advantage of keyboard shortcuts to make the apps on your screen fit neatly together side-by-side. So, if you like having 2 apps view-able at the same time, perhaps your browser and word processor, you can neatly organize them without needing to clumsily drag and stretch them across your screen. You can even go wild, maybe you want 4 separate apps open at the same time; heck maybe 9! Whatever works for you; that’s the point.

★★★★★

Finally, as much as we love using our Macs, sometimes we over-do it. We stay up too late on our Macs and mess up our sleep schedule. There’s nothing good about not getting proper sleep. Check out f.lux and have sweet dreams.

★★★★★

Again, I hope you found at least 1 gem here to make you Mac experience even better than it was before. Adios.

How To Copy a File or Folder in Google Drive & Create a Symbolic Link (symlink)

Google Drive’s pricing is hard to beat and in fact nobody is doing it. However, the user interface could be a bit better. For my sake, and yours, after googling with little success for this rather easy but elusive set of instructions, I decided to document and publish them myself after I finally discovered the steps.

Without further ado, here’s how to copy files and folders in Google Drive and create symlinks (symbolic links).

[UPDATED 03/07/2016]

  1. Click to highlight the file(s) and folder(s) you want to copy
  2. Press Shift-Z to open a dialog with the “Add here” button
  3. Navigate to the destination folder
  4. Press “Add here”

Grocery Delivery for 10% or Less

tl;dr For the masses, having groceries delivered will continue to cost more than the market will bear until labor and transportation costs vaporize. Grocery delivery might work in some concentrated areas, but will remain a small niche, utilized mostly by the affluent. Grocery pick-up service can be profitable and satisfy consumer demand. Someday, drones might spare us from needing to travel for pick-up.

For about 15 years we’ve heard of all the failed startups and all the current ones struggling to make grocery delivery a viable service. So, what’s the big holdup? Why must I still go into the grocery store on a regular basis, when I enjoy it so rarely? Why hasn’t anybody solved this for me?!

During the September 2013 Austin Lean Startup Machine workshop, at Capital Factory, a few of us grouped around the very common idea that grocery shopping needs to be fixed. Along with applying Lean Startup principles to ‘some’ idea, I was also intrigued by diving head first into this huge opportunity that is seemingly impossible to resolve.

It almost goes without saying, I highly recommend The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. When you’re ready to test Lean Startup theory, look for a Lean Startup Machine workshop, you’l really learn a lot and meet some awesome people.

Validation comes easy, for some things. It was extremely clear that a lot of people don’t want to go into a grocery store and shop. There were a lot of folks who do, don’t get me wrong, some people enjoy the experience. However, you can be certain that there is a massive market for those who don’t. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those who don’t want to go into a grocery store are willing to pay for such a luxury.

Some ideas are simply invalid. People want it and they’ll pay for it, so what’s the problem? The problem, as we discovered, was the value customers price the service at. It seemed reasonable, and substantial that the general consensus of a 10% “delivery” fee was acceptable. Hold up. We really felt that we needed at least an 18% premium to break even. We had hoped that 20% would be acceptable and we’d have a little extra cheese to work with. Nope. Sorry. Not gonna happen. Our data showed pretty clearly that very few people, all affluent, would even begin to entertain the idea of paying that much of a premium. I’m guessing this is were all those failed and failing grocery delivery startups arrive. They must figure out how to deliver at an impossible margin or convince unwilling customers to pay more.

The Resolution: Don’t Deliver. Umm, OK, but that hasn’t solved anything, or has it? We felt pretty deep down the rabbit hole. How could we turn our backs on a service we want, a service so many others want and simply say it just won’t work. So, we concentrated on why it’s more expensive to “deliver” the goods than what people will gladly pay. We thought about the overhead costs. Paying somebody, minimum wage, to actually “deliver” the groceries plus transportation expenses is greater than 10% of the typical bill of groceries.

We validated that the premium they would pay was for the benefit of not having to park, and actually shop in the store, “delivery” is not a show-stopper, whereas needing to go into the store is. So, our solution was to build a service that allows consumers to shop online or call it in, but then actually arrive at a pick-up center to receive their groceries. This way, the customers incur the transportation costs and a 10% service fee might allow for a viable business.

Amazon’s Resolution: Drone Delivery. Two months after our LSM workshop Bezos, on 60 Minutes, announced that Amazon would someday deliver groceries by drone. Aha; it seems that Amazon’s R&D must have concluded similar findings, namely:

Paying somebody, minimum wage, to actually “deliver” the groceries plus transportation expenses is greater than 10% of the typical bill of groceries.

Google Plus Social Network Invites – WordPress Killer?

I really like Google Plus, compared to Facebook, but I’ll use both and it will take forever for G+ to get close to having the same number of users as FB. Anyhow, if you’re looking for an invite to Google Plus here you go: https://plus.google.com/i/VoUTzfrQwwM:bejfOlAcxD8

I just want to say, with some time and continuous updates I can see Google Plus replacing my WordPress blog. Especially since I don’t blog very often anymore :) Seriously though, if I could CNAME over to my G+ and customize the theme and CSS I’d be in business. In the meantime I’m sticking with the awesome WP, but hear me now.. G+ isn’t an FB killer, but perhaps it’s the WordPress killer!

Tesla Motors is not bad, Better Place is real good

tesla motors has some slick vehicles and post IPO investors have made some bank. however, as much as i’d like to have one of their rides, the prices aren’t yet practical. that is very likely to change for all electric car manufacturers if Better Place succeeds.

foreign oil independence for the USA might be closer than imagined before, but don’t be surprised if the Chinese beat us to it. in the meantime Shai Agassi is working to make our lives a better place. not by simply making the world ‘greener’ but by making automobiles BETTER, FASTER, CHEAPER and AS CONVENIENT AS PETRO BASED CARS TODAY.

his approach is to use batteries the same way we use fuel (petro). this might not unique, but actually tesla and most other electric car makers take the approach of using batteries the way we currently use “fuel tanks” which is not better, faster, cheaper or as convenient as petro based cars today.

here’s a good Charlie Rose interview with Shai Agassi of Better Place

Better Than an XBox Wireless Adapter

last week i finally decided to shell out and buy a wireless adapter for my xbox, so i could play on xbox live and stream netflix. the price for the various xbox wifi adapters has as always seemed too high for me. afterall, i might decide that xbox live isn’t for me; sure i cancel that account, but i’m left with an adapter that i can’t use for anything else.

thankfully, i googled around for xbox wireless adapter alternatives. i discovered that i could take an old home router and possibly reprogram it to act as a wifi network adapter for my xbox, but that seemed like i could spend a lot more time than i was willing to invest. then i stumbled upon something called ethernet over powerline, power over ethernet, powerline hd, etc. basically, you use the powerlines in your house or office to connect devices like an xbox to a network/internet.

for just a little more than the cost of an xbox wireless adapter i got the Netgear HDXB111 Powerline HD Plus Ethernet Adapter Kit from Frys, who had it on sale for $20 cheaper than Amazon! So, now I can use the adapters for any ethernet capable devices without having to rely on cat 5 cabling and enjoy speeds that aren’t achievable using a distant wireless router and wifi adapter.

Electric Cars – Made in America, thanks Tesla Motors

a couple of years ago i saw “Who Killed the Electric Car“, for some reason i didn’t blog about it but here’s my chance to recommend it. this movie encourages the question “why don’t the oil companies bailout out the auto makers in Detroit”. it’s ironic to see up and comers like Tesla Motors pushing forward something that GM was years ahead of EVERYBODY on. now, GM needs federal bailout cash while they’re years away from a hybrid hybrid that uses 8 or 9 different sources of energy… gas, electric, hydrogen, coal, solar, wind and hamsters. this way if the hamsters union strikes you can flip the switch back to gasoline.

yesterday Tesla finally released some pictures and promotional materials for their sedan the Tesla Model S. looks pretty nice for a sedan.

keep in mind when you’re pricing these electric cars, you’ve got to factor in how much you’ll save in fuel costs.

Garmin Phone, Real iPhone Rival?

google android? no, garmin nuvifone. that’s right garmin, a long time maker of consumer gps products is near releasing their new smartphone, iphone contender called nuvifone. since the 2nd generation iphone was released with true gps capabilities i have been waiting for garmin to release an iphone app specifically to step up the value of the gps feature of the iphone. i guess my wait was in vain as it seems that garmin has chosen to put its efforts in competing head on with the iphone rather than settling for ‘the most useful iphone app ever’. i gotta say, it’s not gonna be an easy battle… the iphone is pretty slick with many many many features. but, i wish garmin the best of luck and i’ll be keeping an eye on their product line.

learn more about garmin phones (G60 & M20) at the official site.

Garmin nuvifone
Garmin Phone
nuviphone
Garmin GPS Phone
Garmin iPhone Rival - nuvifone

iPhone glass repair in Austin Texas

so last week i shattered the glass on my iPhone :( i was not happy. i knew it wasn’t going to be cheap to fix. i could’ve tried the many do it yourself (DIY) iPhone glass repairs available on YouTube and the various forums. i could’ve paid Apple $249 to refurbish it. ultimately i decided as much fun as it might be to crack open my iPhone myself and dink around with it, i really just wanted it back to working condition asap. so i started googling for ‘iPhone glass repair in Austin’ and ‘iPhone glass replacement in Austin’ and there were many unhelpful listings. i mean, there were a lot of iPhone repair listings, but they were all for companies that want you mail your iPhone to them. that is not what i wanted or needed. there was a paid ad for a company that i ended up going to.. All Wireless Repair. i wasn’t thrilled about their price, ended up costing $139 after tax, but i was extremely impressed with the turnaround time. it took less than 2 minutes. i didn’t have to worry about backing up my data and i barely had enough time to browse through the bass boat magazine they had in the lobby. anyhow, the guys working there were cool and if you’re in Austin and looking for iPhone glass repair i totally recommend them.

Blu-Ray VHS Combo, ah yeah it’s 2009 alright

happy new year! it’s 2009 and i just wanted to point out that technology will save us all. well it’ll at least save us from having to advance technologically. i know that doesn’t sound right, but here.. you’ll see what i mean.. just get a look at the new Blu-Ray VHS combo players on display at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. that’s right the VCR is likely to last until the world ends (December 21st 2012.. so say the Mayan-Calendarian-Nostradamu-Al-Goreans)

Blu-Ray VHS