MagicJack Review

Last week I did a review/update on my continued success using Vonage for my phone service. However, like most things I write about there were some that suggested other products. One of the suggestions was MagicJack. The funny thing about MagicJack is that my 60 year old aunt (who is very non-technical) told me about it a couple of months back. She came up for a visit from Georgia and I received a couple of calls from her from a number that I didn't recognize. When I asked her about the number, she replied "oh that's our MagicJack number. We use it to make all of our long distance calls." Honestly, I kinda blew it off at the time until one of my blog readers mentioned it again. So I decided to check it out.


Unlimited outgoing/incoming calls in the US or Canada for only $40/year!

That's what MagicJack allows you to do. If you have a computer connected to the internet (guess that's how you're reading this now), then you can plug the MagicJack dongle into your computer (Mac or PC) and make unlimited calls for only $40/year. 

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The Creative Suite Podcast is now on TiVo!


Although I knew that you could subscribe to your favorite video podcast right on your TiVo by inputing the RSS feed for the show, I didn’t realize that TiVo actually features shows. Yesterday, Rod Harlan pointed out to me that my Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast is now featured on TiVo. Not sure how long it’s been there, but I was very pleased to see it right at the top of the list of technology shows. 

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Create an Animated Slideshow on the Web with Animoto

 The next time you want to show your pictures with a little pizzaz, you might want to create an animated slideshow complete with soundtrack over at The process is very simple and requires zero knowledge of video editing or animation apps.


Upload your photos

After you create a free account, you can immediately get started on your first animated slideshow. Your show will be limited to 12-15 images if you go with the free option.


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The making of my last video

Yesterday, I did a video review of the HyperMac external battery and some of you have been asking me what software did I use to produce it? So I thought I would give you a quick run down on my workflow for that particular video. So here goes:


The Animated Intro


The Animated Intro was done using Adobe After Effects CS4. While I’d like to take credit for all that creativity, I took the easy route and bought a template. The template was delivered as an After Effects CS4 project that I was able to modify (as I do actually know how to use After Effects) and craft to my liking. The template was already in HD format.

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HyperMac External MacBook Battery Review


Now that Apple has increased the number of MacBook models where the user is not able to change the battery, external battery options are more important than ever. No matter how long the battery lasts inside your MacBook Pro, chances are you’re going to encounter a situation where it’s not long enough. This is where the HyperMac External Batteries come in.

I’m planning a trip later this month that will involve a 6 hour flight and I want the option of using my MacBook Pro as much as possible. I don’t have the most current model with the sealed battery, but even with two batteries, it won’t be enough for this trip. So I was intrigued by the HyperMac offerings.

Rather than trying to put this review into words, I recorded this video explaining how the product works along with the results of my "worse case scenario test":



The Bottom Line

The HyperMac solution is definitely worth it if you need to get longer than a few hours of portable use out of your MacBook. If you have one of the newer MacBook products with a sealed battery, then this solution can be even more of a must have for frequent or long haul travelers.

HyperMac Batteries are priced starting at $199.95 and go up to $499.95 for the largest capacity/longest life model. Learn more about the HyperMac batteries here


Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe Softbox Review


I got a chance to try out the Lastolite Ezybox for Hotshoe Flashes over the weekend and I’m quite pleased with the results. The Ezybox is  designed to be a light modifier for your hotshoe flash. Basically a softbox for your speedlight. The kit comes with everything you need to setup a softbox for your speedlight in about 2 minutes. Once you take it out of the bag, it pops right up to it’s full size in one easy motion. You then place the hotshoe bracket/ring on the back of it and you’re ready to mount it on a light stand or pole for hand held use. Of course the only thing missing at this point is your speedlight.

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Are you a sports photographer? If so…

Sadly, of all the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the years, not a single one is of a sporting event. However, if you have a great sports shot or two you might want to enter Scott Kelby’s New Contest:


 “Shoot on the Sidelines With Scott & Mike"


Scott Kelby is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to shoot with him and Mike Olivella on the sidelines of the Florida State Seminoles and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. 

Here’s a short video Scott recorded about the contest.


See his site for details on entering. Good luck!



Vonage is still my choice


I’ve been a Vonage customer now for several years for my home office line and for VoIP on the go. Lately I’ve been getting a barrage of ads from Comcast trying to get me to go to their Digital Voice service on my home line. Even if I were going to switch this line over, I would probably go with Vonage instead. 


What is Vonage?

Vonage is a service provider for Voice over IP (VoIP). This means that you can get telephone service over your high speed internet connection instead of standard phone service from the phone company. The advantage is typically around price! Vonage offers unlimited calling for a flat rate of $24.99/month. This is unlimited local and long distance calling to anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, plus unlimited calling to landlines in Italy, France, Spain, UK and Ireland. I also get the vast majority of calling features (25+) offered by the phone company (AT&T) including: Call Waiting, Caller ID with Name, 3-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, etc. 


How does it work?


Once I signed up for Vonage they handled the phone number switch as well as shipping the Vonage router/phone adapter I needed to connect up to my network to actually have something to plug my standard telephone into. The router can either be used as a router for your network or simply plug it into your existing router. On the back there are two RJ-11 jacks for (for two line compatibility). Plug any standard landline/cordless phone in you want to use. It’s amazing, when someone calls your number, your phone rings. When you want to make a call, you pick up the phone you’ve always used and dial the number. 🙂

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iPhone App of the Week – MobileMe iDisk


When Apple introduced the iPhone OS 3.0 update they also updated MobileMe to include the new Find My iPhone feature. One of the other things that wasn’t widely publicized was that they also introduced a new iPhone App to allow you to access your MobileMe iDisk from your iPhone or iPod touch running the 3.0 update. Well Apple delivered the app this week as a free download from the App Store.


How does it work?

The App itself is very basic in operation and easy to use. Once you launch it you enter your MobileMe username and password. After that you’re presented with 4 tabs: IDisk, Recents Shared Files and Public Folders.

The iDisk tab will show you all of your folders on your iDisk and let view any document that is viewable on your iPhone/iPod touch such as PDFs,  MS Office docs (.DOC, .XLS. PPT), images such as .JPG files and iWork documents such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers. 

idisk-folders     idisk-viewimage

Yes, it does work in Landscape mode too.

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