iPhone App of the Week – Sportacular

Admittedly I’m not a huge sports fan. In other words unless it’s something special, I don’t plan to watch sports on TV. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have favorite teams and like to engage in conversations with friends about who’s winning and who’s losing. Speaking of losing, no cracks about the Detroit Lions. Enough said.

Sportacular gets it right

Sportacular is a FREE app for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows you to keep track of your favorite teams. The interface is brilliant. You simply select your favorite teams across national and college leagues and Sportactular will give you up to the minute scores, schedules of upcoming games, and stats.

Just last weekend I was in a workshop and someone mentioned that the Lions were playing. So I pulled out my iPhone and tapped Sportacular and in a few seconds I had the score (they were winning by the way at the point). Scores are updated every 30 seconds as long as the app is running. Every year my buddy who graduated from Ohio State likes to come over and watch the Ohio vs. Michigan game. I have no vested interest in either team, but it’s fun watching him get all worked up. With Sportacular I can keep track of Michigan’s college games too including the schedule of upcoming games.

Sportacular is another example of a well thought out app that just works! That’s why it’s my pick for the iPhone App of the Week. It’s free and has minimal ads. Download it from the App Store.

 

Congratulations to the winners of the iPhone Photo Contest

I want to take a moment to congratulate and thank the Winners of the iPhone Photo Contest. Lot’s of great entries and it was certainly hard to pick winners. Luckily the public helped out in a big way by voting!


My 2008 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide is here!

It’s that time of year already! I’ve just completed my annual “Terry White’s 2008 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide”. That’s right it’s my guide to help you with you holiday shopping for the gadget lover (freak) on your list. The way this thing started was last year towards the holiday season all my friends started asking me and emailing about what my picks were in various categories and of course the answers were the same. So I decided to compile a list and just email it to the folks that asked. This year I start the guide off with a (humorous) look at gifts WE DON’T WANT!

The guide is broken out by product category and lists my picks from the lowest dollar amount to the highest. So there are products in just about every price range. The guide is interactive with links to each of the products (just click on the price) on sites that I trust to make online purchases from and have dealt with in the past. Each of the products are either products that I use or products that come highly recommended by friends whose opinions I trust.

So check it out today!

 

PS. As you might have guessed the entire guide was built in Adobe InDesign CS4 and Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional.


Adobe CS4 Wallpapers and Screen Saver

Back by popular demand!

You’ve asked for them and now they’re here. Adobe has made available Creative Suite 4 themed wallpapers and screen savers and you can download them here. Adobe CS4 Wallpapers Adobe CS4 Screen Saver – Mac Adobe CS4 Screen Saver – Windows



Get out and VOTE TODAY!

If you are a US citizen, registered voter and haven’t participated in early voting, TODAY is the the day that you need to GET OUT AND VOTE! This is by far the most important election in our history. Be a part of it. If you don’t go vote, then don’t complain about what happens!

Undecided?

If you’re still undecided, then perhaps these videos will push you over the edge:



Netflix Streaming Coming to a TiVo HD Near You!

My TiVo HD seems to be the gadget that just keeps on giving. The newness hasn’t even worn off my New LG BD300 Blu-ray player that streams Netflix, and bam TiVo announces a partnership with Netflix to bring streaming to the boxes I already own. Am I mad? No. I simply returned the LG to Bestbuy and bought another Sony instead. The LG does cost about $100 more than the Sony BDP-S350 (which has dropped down to $253.99) that I like so much, so It was a no-brainer to return it and just wait for the TiVo software update.

I’m very happy to see Netflix expand their service to more players. They also announced that they will be streaming HD movies to the Xbox 360. While I’m not in the market for an Xbox, I’m hoping that that HD streaming also makes its way to the TiVo HD as well! 

As soon as the TiVo gets updated with Netflix streaming I’ll report back on how it works. If you have a TiVo Series 3, TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL there is nothing you have to do. You’ll get this new feature via a software update that will automatically download to your TiVo. Also there will be no additional cost to your TiVo or Netflix service. Stay tuned for more…

 

In the meantime…

Netflix has finally made it’s movie streaming service compatible with Macs. Check it out here.


iPhone App of the Week – SuperBall 2

Time to have some fun! 

While I certainly love picking from the hundreds if not thousands of iPhone apps (there are now over 5,000 apps on the App Store) that increase my productivity, I do like to have fun every now and then. That leads me to my new addiction: SuperBall 2! This game is like crack. Once you start playing it, you just won’t be able to stop. This game is like a mix between the old pong games and Breakout. You control it using the built-in iPhone (or iPod touch) accelerometer. So you move the paddle side-to-side by tilting the device.

I started with the FREE version: SuperBall 2 Lite. This free version has 10 levels. Not bad at all for a free game. I must say that I absolutely SUCKED at this game at first. It took me a long time to even get pass the first level. Then I finally got the hang of it. After I got the hang of it, I wanted MORE! So I didn’t hesitate to head over to the App Store and buy the full version which sports 300 LEVELS plus a dozen two player levels! I was also pleased to see it on sale for only $1.99. Game play is good and the variety of activities/levels is also good. The sound effects are well done. Also no crashes. 

With an iPhone, you never have any reason to be bored. Now I won’t mind waiting in long lines on November 4th to cast my vote in the general election. I’ll have something make the time fly. I better start reviewing some of those external batteries :)

You can download the FREE version of SuperBall 2 Lite or the full version of SuperBall 2 for $1.99. These work on the iPhone or the iPod touch.


Last day to vote!

No, I’m not talking about the election for those two guys (although you should be getting ready to vote for one of them too!), I’m talking about the finalists in the iPhone Photo Contest.

We received an overwhelming number of entries and Scott and I have made our picks for the finalists. It’s now up to you to cast your vote for the winner in each category and from those winners Scott and I will pick the grand prize winner! Today is the last day to vote, so head over to the iPhone Photo Contest page and cast your vote right now! We will announce the grand prize winner on November 3rd! Also if you haven’t gotten your copy of The iPhone Book 2nd Edition you can order that today as well.

 

AT&T Now offers FREE Wi-Fi to iPhone Users

In other iPhone news, AT&T now offers FREE Wi-Fi internet access in thousands of locations such as Starbucks, Airports, Hotels, Convention Centers, Bookstores, etc. See details here.


Synchrotech Firewire 800 to 400 adapter

Apple has certainly made a couple of controversial moves in the latest MacBook line up. The New MacBook drops Firewire altogether and both the New MacBook and MacBook Pro come with a glossy screen behind a piece of glass. Luckily, the 15″ MacBook Pro does still include a single Firewire 800 port.

While I’m waiting to receive my new MacBook Pro before passing judgement on the glossy display, I am getting ready for the loss of the Firewire 400 port (the older MacBook Pro had both a Firewire 800 AND Firewire 400 port). Although I do have some Firewire 800 to 400 cables, sometimes you may have cables that are just the right length and rather than go out have to buy all new cables, there’s a simpler option…

 

The Synchrotech Firewire 800 to 400 adapter

This simple adapter lets you keep using your existing Firewire 400 cables. All you do is plug this adapter into your Firewire 800 port and it converts it to a Firewire 400 port. That’s it! No muss, no fuss.

The Synchrotech Firewire 800 to 400 adapter goes for a mere $9. You can order it here.


Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M Review

If you’ve been following my blog over the past few months, you know I have had an interest in portable document scanners. The first one that I took a look at was the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M. I’m still using it and VERY HAPPY with it. Then I wanted something smaller and more portable for scanning receipts. So I took a look at the latest one from Neat Receipts. It fit the bill for the size that I was looking for and has a great app that drives it (especially for scanning receipts), but the hardware pales by comparison to the ScanSnap S510M. So that brings me to the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M. This scanner is smaller than the S510M, but larger than the Neat Receipts scanner. It’s not as fast as the S510M, but much faster than the Neat Receipts model. So it clearly fits right in the middle of the two in just about every way.

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Neat Receipts

ScanSnap S300M

ScanSnap S510M

Speed 4 rpm-receipts per minute (single sided) 8 ppm (double sided) 18 ppm (double sided)
Two Sided Scanning No Yes Yes
Color & B&W Scanning Yes Yes Yes
Size 10.8″Wx1.6″Dx1.3″H 11.18″Wx3.74″Dx3.03″H 11.2″Wx6.2″Dx6.2″H
USB Powered Yes Yes (either USB or AC) No
Scan to PDF Yes Yes Yes
OCR Capability/Searchable PDF Yes No Yes
Auto Document Feader None 10 sheets 50 sheets
Comes with full Acrobat No No Yes
Price $161.85 $266.79 $433.89

How fast is the ScanSnap 300M?

I decided to put all 3 scanners to the test and record it so that you can see for yourself. I took the same 3 documents and scanned them on each scanner. See for yourself in this video:

I like all 3 models

Of course each one has its pluses and minuses. When it comes to eliminating paper on my desk, nothing beats the ScanSnap S510M. I’m still blown away by how FAST this scanner works. I’ve never seen anything like it. I also like its “baby brother” the S300M because it takes up less space and costs less. Also since I already own Acrobat 9 Professional, I don’t need the added expense of having that bundled in (like it is on the S510M). When It comes to scanning on the go and especially scanning receipts, the NeatReceipts scanner is my choice. But what if you only could buy one?

As you can see, the S300M is at least twice the size of the NeatReceipts

Which one is right for you?

Chances are you only need one of these. So it really depends on what you need to scan most and how cost conscious you are. Clearly the NeatReceipts scanner is the smallest and costs less, but it’s also by far the slowest and only handles single-sided documents one page at a time. If you plan to scan a lot of stuff, often, then the S510M would be the way to go. Like I said above, this thing devours stacks of paper without blinking an eye. If you want a happy medium, then I would say go with the S300M. It’s a nice balance between the two. You get double-sided scanning. You get a smaller form factor than the S510M. It can be USB powered for portability and you don’t end up paying for Acrobat if you already have it. The only two downsides to the scanner is that you don’t get OCR (searchable PDF capability built-in), but again if you already own Acrobat, you can do the OCR in Acrobat instead. It’s also a bit bulkier. So you won’t be sliding this one into your laptop bag as easily as the NeatReceipts scanner.

The S300M: Although the S300M doesn’t come with Acrobat or the AbbyFine Reader software like it’s big brother the S510M, it does come with Cardiris for scanning business cards and automatically adding them to your contact manager (such as Address Book on the Mac). The S300M can be USB powered from your computer or powered with the supplied AC adapter. However, I should note that powering it over USB requires TWO USB ports: one for data and one for power. It comes with the necessary cables to either run via USB or AC power.

The Bottom Line

You really can’t go wrong with either one of these 3 scanners. Like I said, I like them all. I do find myself using the NeatReceipts scanner when it comes time to do expense reports at work and the S510M for home/office clean-up and archiving. The NeatReceipts app just can’t be beat for filing receipts and its even improved in a few ways since my initial review.  All of these scanners are available for Mac or Windows PCs. The S510M and S300M are specifically for Mac (that’s what the “M” stands for), but like I said, you can get the Windows version too (the one without the “M”). These 3 scanners are truly a “Good”, “Better”, “Best” scenario. If I could only have ONE of these, it would probably be the S300M. It’s the right balance between performance and features. See the S300M specs here. You can get the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M for $266.79 here at Amazon.com.


iPhone App of the Week – PhotoBuddy

While I didn’t make it the PhotoPlus East tradeshow in NYC this week, I have been spending some time with one of my new iPhone apps. PhotoBuddy aims to be your Photographer Assistant. The main purpose of this app is to help you calculate things like Exposure changes, Flash timing, DOF (Depth of Field) and can even measure the distance of objects (this feature only works on the 1st gen iPhones).

However, it has other useful features too. For example, when I captured the shot below in Spain, the one thing I didn’t know at the time was what time sunrise occurs for the area I was in. The hotel staff looked it for me on the internet.

However, had I had PhotoBuddy back then, I would have simply been able to use the built-in Sunrise calculator. The Sunrise calculator is location based and tells you the sunrise, sunset and next full moon. I used to use a separate “Sunrise” app for this. It even displays your current longitude and latitude which is handy for noting and geotagging your photos later in post production. You can also advance to a date in the future to see what time the Sunrise/Sunset will be on a specific day.

One of the other features I was happy to see is the “grey wedge” to help white balance your shots. Now you have to keep in mind that this feature is not totally accurate because your iPhone’s screen is not color calibrated. So the displayed tones are not neutral. However, they are off by a constant value, so you can use it to color calibrate images.

There are a ton of settings. One of the things that helps you quite a bit is that you start off by telling PhotoBuddy which camera model you have. This gives PhotoBuddy the important information that it needs about your sensor. If your camera is not listed, you can choose an “undefined setting” or choose the film equivalent. 

 

The Bottom Line

There are a few apps with similar features on the App Store. I’ve tried a couple of them so far and I like PhotoBuddy best (a close second would be PhotoCalc, which has a better Sunrise/Sunset calculator). Most of these apps do the same things. However, PhotoBuddy offers a couple of nice little extras and fit and finish. Also PhotoBuddy is only $1.99 so it’s hard to go wrong. You can download PhotoBuddy here for your iPhone or iPod touch.


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