Protect your lap from the heat of your laptop

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If you’re using a laptop/notebook computer and it gets warm on the bottom, then you’re probably going to want one of these ThermaPAK cooling pads. My buddy Dave Gales showed me his at Photoshop World last week in Boston and after a few minutes of playing with it, I had to have one.

Unlike USB solutions that have fans built-in, the ThermaPAK requires no power. You simply unroll it and place your laptop on it. It dispates the heat and lowers the temparature by up to 6 degrees celsius. I was using a Podium CoolPad to go between my MacBook Pro and my lap. From now on I’ll be using the ThermaPAK.

ThermaPAK Heatshift Cooling Pads come in three popular sizes for most laptops. Amazon has them in 13″, 15.4″ and 17″ formats and in various colors, they go for $27.50, $30, & $35 respectively.

Photoshop World Boston 2009 – recap

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I had a blast at last week’s Photoshop World Conference in Boston! It was great to see so many of you there and it was a real treat to see and meet so many of the readers of this blog. The entire week was upbeat and people were really jazzed about all the sessions and of course the after hour events, parties and the insanely fun Midnight Madness event. If you’ve never been to Photoshop World, you owe it to yourself to try and make it at least once in your career/life. The conference was so good that even the folks over at Macworld couldn’t help but say so.

The Game Is On!

Once again I was at the Adobe Photoshop World Keynote address. In honor of this year’s Photoshop World theme “The Game Is On!”, Adobe’ SVP Johnny L was on hand and playing right along with the theme along with Photoshop Product Manager John Nack and Adobe’s Creative Director Russell Brown. Russell did a fantastic demo on several of the new features in Photsohop CS4 and Photoshop CS4 Extended. As a special treat, you can see the Adobe portion of the keynote here on my Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast. See the cool things that Russell showed including a new Watermarking Panel exclusively for NAPP members. Although I’d love to show you the entire keynote with all the cool videos by the Photoshop Guys, it would spoil it for the attendees of the upcoming Photoshop World Las Vegas in October.

Although I don’t teach any of the Photoshop classes at Photoshop World, I do usually have a couple of InDesign classes on the conference track as well as Creative Suite presentations in the Adobe Theater. Both my classes and theater presentations were PACKED! This puts a smile on my face because the classes run concurrently with other classes taught by some of the best Photoshop instructors in the world. So it’s really an honor to have so many people choose my classes over others they could have attended. Thank you!

The clock is ticking for Photoshop World Las Vegas and I can’t wait until October! Hope to see you then…

iPhone App of the Week – Shazam

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By no means is Shazam a new app. I’ve had it for months (released in July 2008). However, this week my buddy Dave was looking at my iPhone apps and he said, “what’s Shazam?” Sometimes I take for granted that everyone already has the older cool apps. He had never heard of it. So I decided to make it my iPhone app of the week.

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Have you ever wondered: What’s the name of that song?

You hear a song playing and you really like it or it’s one that you know and you’ve heard before, but you just can’t place it. It happens to me all the time. Maybe it’s a song playing on the radio or a song playing at a party or gathering you’re at. That’s where Shazam comes in for your iPhone. When you launch the app there’s a simple button that says “Tag Now.” You tap the Tag Now button and your Shazam will “listen” to a few seconds of the song that’s playing. After it hears enough of the song, it uploads that information to the Shazam servers and then it analyzes it. After a few seconds, it will then come back with the results. If it recognized the song, you’ll get the song name, artist, album and even a link to go preview or buy it on the iTunes store! Pretty slick.

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Your tagged songs are kept in the app so that you can tag as many songs as you want and then buy them if you like when you get back to your computer or directly on your iPhone.

The Bottom Line

Shazam is great, but it’s not perfect. While it gets most songs for me, it doesn’t always get the songs I try. However, it does work for me more times than not. Shazam works on the iPhone and the 2nd generation touch (the first generation doesn’t have a microphone capability/option). The best part is Shazam is a FREE app and you can download it from the App Store here.

Wacom introduces the Intuos 4!

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Right out of the gate, Wacom introduced the Intuos 4 line of tablets here at the Photoshop World show today! I couldn’t be happier. Although I love my Cintiq 12W, I probably use my Intuos 3 4×6 more than any other tablet I’ve owned. Also I’m so hooked on using a tablet now I couldn’t imagine doing retouching in Photoshop without one.

Wacom makes the best even better

I didn’t really have any complaints with my Intuos 3 tablets. However, that didn’t stop Wacom from taking an already great product and making it even better. This new tablet is a complete redesign from the ground up! It’s like they looked at every single feature and asked “how can we make it better?”

The first thing you’ll notice is LED readouts. This is so cool! Like most Intuos users, I have programmed the ExpressKeys to do various tasks in different applications. However, after a while I start to forget which key does what in which app? Now there is an LED readout next to each key that labels what the key does and how you have it setup! That will be huge for me! Although the new “Small” tablet doesn’t have these LEDs, it does the next best thing by popping up a quick onscreen reference chart whenever you need while you’re actually in the app.

The touch strips have been replaced by a much more functional 4 Function Touch Ring. This thing is really really cool! Like most functions, you can program it to do exactly what you want in each of your apps.

Lastly more levels of pressure! Wacom has basically doubled the levels of pressure senstivity to 2,048! It’s amazingly accurate and can really detect the slightest nuances of how you use the pen (which has also been completely redesigned and engineered). Even the pen holder now functions as a nib holder and extractor. Wacom has really thought this new tablet through!

They don’t reference the tablets by their dimensions anymore. Now they are simply Small, Medium, Large and XL.

If you’ve been putting off getting a professional level tablet, wait no longer! This is the one!

Check out this cool promo video for more visuals

[flv:http://terrywhite.com/videos/intuos4.flv 480 368]

Photoshop World Boston: The Game Is On!

Hi everyone! I’m here at Photoshop World getting ready for the big keynote by Adobe’s Senior VP, Johnny L. This year’s event is a sports theme and everyone is getting into it. I’m looking forward to the updates by Adobe as well as new product introductions here at the show. Of course I’ll be on the prowl for new gadgets too!

I’ll post as many updates throughout the week as time and excitement allow 🙂

For more up to the minute “what’s Terry doing now?” blurbs, follow me on Twitter.

iTunes HD or Blu-ray?

ituneshd

In case you missed it, Apple just recently started selling movies via iTunes in HD. I’m not sure why it took so long for this to happen, but I would bet money that it had more to do with Hollywood than Apple. When you look at the severely limited number of HD titles for sale, we can only look to Hollywood and their relentless need to control everything to blame for this. Nonetheless, HD movies are now available not only for Rental (which Apple has been doing for over a year), but also for purchase. Like most things on iTunes, the number of titles will ramp up quickly. So this now leads me to my question:

iTunes HD or Blu-ray?

Let me remind you that I no longer just buy movies just because. One day I noticed I had a few movies in my collection that were still in the shrinkwrap. It hit me that I just rarely have the time or desire to watch movies that I’ve already seen. So whereas before I was buying just about every movie that I liked, today I would have to really really really really really like a movie to actually buy it. I have to weigh the cost of the movie vs. the number of times I’m likely to watch it again. Even if I want to watch a movie again, I have to ask: is it cheaper just to rent it again than to buy it?

Any recent movies I’ve purchased (and it’s only been a few) have been in Blu-ray format. I figure that if it’s good enough to buy, then I want it in the best possible format. Owning a movie in Blu-ray though does present a couple of challenges. For one, it can only be played in a Blu-ray player. So that limits me to watching the movie at home and not on the road on my laptop. That also limits the number of friends I could loan the movie too. A few of the movies I’ve purchased came with Digital Copies. So that at least takes care of the “take it on the road” problem, but due to copy protection/DRM I still can’t loan the movie out to friends.

I had a chance over the weekend to buy my first HD movie via iTunes and the process was as simple as buying any other item on iTunes. I was pleasantly surprised/reminded that when you buy HD content on iTunes, they automatically include a smaller standard def version for your portable devices (iPhones/iPods) and to take on the road with you. While this does make the download bigger (you’re downloading two movies instead of one) and take up more hard drive space, I welcome this. I purchased Transporter 3 (not because it’s all that great of a movie, it was just that the number of available titles in HD for purchase right now is severly limited). The iTunes HD version is $19.99. The Blu-ray price is $25.99 and does include a Digital Copy.

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The iTunes HD version weighs in at 3GBs of drive space plus 1.1GBs for the standard def version that’s included.

transporter3

Which is better?

That’s the real question isn’t it? That’s also probably why you’re reading this. Unfortunately “better” depends on what you want. So let me give you the pros and cons and you decide for yourself:

Blu-ray

Pros:

Full HD quality 1080p, extra content (outakes, bloopers, commentary, etc.), BD Live – access to online content from within the movie including games, online communities, extra scenes, etc. Can share with friends/family who have Blu-ray players.

Cons:

Costs more per movie, requires a Blu-ray player, most laptops don’t have Blu-ray drives for watching on the go and not all titles include a Digital Copy. Takes up physical shelf space to store the discs. You have to either go out and purchase or order online and wait for the disc to arrive. Discs can become scratched and unplayable.

iTunes HD Movies

Pros:

Costs less than movies on Blu-ray, can purchase and download right in your own home, comes with a copy for your other devices (iPod or iPhone).

Cons:

Not the highest quality HD (only 720p), takes up hard drive space to store the movies (3GB for the HD version, 1.xGB for the standard def version), not sharable with others outside of your home due to DRM copy protection (when will Hollywood learn the same lessons that the music industy learned and do away with DRM?). Not burnable to optical media a video DVD/Blu-ray disc (again because of DRM protection).

The Bottom Line

Things just keep getting better as iTunes, TiVo, Netflix, Cable/Satellite companies continue to compete for our business. Having the ability to buy and download an HD movie right from my TV with Apple TV or from my computer is pretty sweet. Although iTunes HD movies are not full 1080p, I love the fact that they don’t take up any physical shelf space in my home. This also means that they are instantly available to all of my TV’s (via Apple TV streaming) because they are stored on a central media server (an iMac). Also keep in mind that 720p is still better than standard DVD quaility. So on those rare occassions when I think a movie good enough to actually own, I’ll probably look first to buying it via iTunes in HD format before going to Blu-ray now. If it’s a movie with the ultimate in visual effects and would really pop in all of its 1080p glory then I might consider owning it on Blu-ray. For right now my plan is to continue with Netflix and renting on Blu-ray for most of the movies I watch and renting on iTunes for those spontaneous moments when I just want to watch a movie that’s not physically sitting in my house/library. If iTunes ever offered a subscription rental service for movies my love for Netflix would be in serious jeopardy. I’ve recently cut my plan back to have less movies at home because they sometimes just sit here for weeks at a time when I’m too busy to watch them. This is one good thing about the pay as you go iTunes Rental model. You only pay for a rental when you’re ready to watch it!

I’m just glad to be living in a time where we have so many options for in home entertainment. I can see the day coming in the not too distant future that my DVD racks become a fond memory. I’ll either have all of my favorite movies streaming from my media server or available for instant renting/viewing over the internet. Hard drive space is cheap! I’m almost there today,  building my home media center with Netflix/TiVo HD and Apple TV. Life is good!

iPhone App of the Week – Twittelator

twittelator

I like to keep up with my friends, families and colleagues online. One of the easiest ways of doing that is via social networking sites. I’m a fan of Facebook and now Twitter. Twitter is cool because it’s all about status updates and that’s it! Short, sweet and to the point. What are you doing right now? PERIOD. You can even include a picture of what you’re doing right now. Each “Tweet” (post) is limited to 140 characters.

The iPhone is great for this

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Since I’m not sitting in front of my computer 24 hours a day (contrary to popular belief), it’s great being able to send Tweets while I’m on the go directly from my iPhone. As you might imagine there are multiple apps available for posting to Twitter. I counted a half dozen without trying to count. Without knowing anything about these apps, I settled on Twittelator. It was free and ad free and seemed to have a straight forward interface.

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It wasn’t the highest rated, but again it just seemed to do everything I would need in an easy way. I was right. Twittelator is very easy to use. Once you setup your free account at Twitter.com, you input your account info right into Twittelator. From that point on each time you launch the app you’re taken to your Friend’s Tweets, which will also include your Tweets. Tap the little voice bubble icon at the bottom and key in your status update (Tweet). Want to add a photo? Tap the camera icon to either choose one or take one on the spot. Hit the send button and away it goes.

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You can view your Tweets, Replies, Friend’s Tweets, Top Tweets, etc.

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Again, I don’t know what else I could want. I will eventually try out some of the other higher ranked apps, but for right now this is the one. It works perfectly for me, no problems to date.

The Bottom Line

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Being that this is the first iPhone Twitter app I’ve tried, I don’t know if it’s the best or not. Certainly, it does what I need it to do and so far haven’t once wished for something it doesn’t do. However, I wanted to see why it only had a 3 star rating (out of 5) on the App Store and I read some of the customer reviews. I don’t usually pay that much attention to star ratings unless they are only 1 or 2 stars. The one thing I saw that I hadn’t considered, again because I was using it to do one simple task was that it doesn’t seem to support Twitter’s direct message feature. A direct message on Twitter is basically a way of sending one of your Twitter friends a private message. I could certainly see why you would want that in your iPhone version of Twitter if you used it a lot. I don’t, so that’s why I never even thought about it not being there. Others have complained about slow scrolling in the past versions. Seems like they’ve address scrolling in general in the latest rev.

Twittelator is a Free download from the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch. There is also a professional version, Twittelator Pro for $4.99. Although the paid version does a lot more, I’ll probably stick with the free version because it seems to do all that I need.

Here’s a tip! If you use Twitter and Facebook, check out the Twitter application for Facebook. Once you install it on your Facebook Profile, any Tweets you make on Twitter will automatically update Facebook status. This is great because I only have to post in one spot – Twitter (or Twittelator).

Follow me on Twitter

Thanks for Attending!

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I want to give out a thanks to those of you who attended my online Photoshop Essentials session last night. We had attendees from as far away as Norway (midnight their time) As promised for those that couldn't make it, here's the URL for the recording to watch at your leisure. I will definitely work on better audio (using a better mic) for the next one. Thanks again! Look for more of these in the future.

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iPhone 3.0 – What’s my take on it?

I always welcome any update to my hardware that’s going to give me more capabilities. I especially look forward to those updates when they are FREE! So Apple’s iPhone 3.0 announcement yesterday was welcomed news. Granted, we still have to wait a few months before the new 3.0 OS ships this summer, but I’m excited with the new features that they are promising. Now keep in mind that I think that many of the new features are in the “catch up” or “about time” category. However, they are welcomed nonetheless.

Whenever Apple releases a major update to the iPhone, the first thing I do is go back to my “iPhone Wish List” and check off the wishes that have been met.

My friends are already asking me “what do you think of the 3.0 announcement?”

Here’s what I know so far (in no particular order)?

  • Create Meeting Invites in Calendar
  • Shake to Shuffle
  • Encrypted Profiles
  • Anti-Phishing
  • Wi-Fi Auto Login
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • YouTube Accounts
  • Safari – Auto Fill
  • Notes Sync
  • Search from a single location ala Spotlight
  • Search in Mail, Calendars, iPod and Notes
  • CalDAV and .ics Calendar support (subscribe to iCals)
  • Voice Memos
  • MMS messaging
  • Forward SMS Msgs.
  • Landscape Mail, SMS, Notes
  • Cut, Copy and Paste (both built-in and 3rd party apps)
  • Streaming Video APIs
  • Push Notification
  • Turn by Turn Directions (now possible by 3rd parties)
  • Google Maps Directly in Apps
  • Accessories – APIs to talk directly to accessories (Bluetooth and Wired)
  • Peer to Peer Connectivity –  Bluetooth (Bonjour, No Pairing Required)
  • New App Store Purchase Models:

Subscriptions
Additional Levels (like for games)
New Content (like for news stories, books, etc.)

* API = Application Programmer Interface

Here’s my old wish list

The items crossed off in Red are coming in 3.0. The other crossed off items came in 2.x or before.

1 – Ability to use My OWN ringtones (sounds, music, etc.) The iTunes store will NEVER have some of the sounds I want to use.
2 – Sync Notes to the computer
3 – Cut/Copy Paste system wide
4 – Email anything (besides notes, photos URLs) Contacts, maps, directions, voicemail messages as attachments, etc.
5 – MMS (Multimedia Messaging – send pictures/movies directly to another phone)
6 – Consolidated Mail inBox and an easier way to jump between accounts than going back, back, back
7 – Flash support in Safari (this is now my number ONE request).
8 – Video and Voice (Memo) Recording (3rd Party)
9 – Color coded or Separate Calendar views (just like iCal does today)
10 – Searchable Contacts (there but still needs improvement)
11 – To be able to assign ringtones to groups of Contacts (it’s really a pain doing them one-by-one)
12 – Wireless Syncing iPhone to Computer over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (MobileMe Push)
13 – Voice dialing (3rd Party app)
14 – Dial-up Networking/Tethering (use the iPhone as a modem)
15 – iPhones on AT&T corporate plans (discounts or not, I shouldn’t have to setup a personal account to use the iPhone on AT&T)
16 – Landscape Keyboard entry in all the apps
17 – Additional Audio email attachment support for files in Vonage (u-LAW encoded) WAV format
18 – Email to a group of Contacts
19 – iChat/AIM built-in (3rd Party)
20 – Calculator CE (clear entry) key
21 – Native Microsoft Exchange support (MS Direct Push or 3rd party support).
22 – Wireless stereo music playback over Bluetooth and AirTunes
23 – A one button Redial feature (example: triple tap the Home button)
24 – A “Dialed” list in addition to “Recent” and “Missed Calls”
25 – Ability to play music directly from the Slideshow feature
26 – Built in Unit Converter (3rd party app)
27 – To Do’s, sync’d with iCal/Outlook
28 – Password/Pin protected Notes
29 – An option that lets me choose what screen I land on when I wake my iPhone; it can either be (a) whichever I screen I was at last, like it does now, or (b) I can choose to always start at another screen (like the phone favorites, or the Home, etc.).
30 – Being able to rotate Mail 90 degrees
31 – Keynote app (now with TV out, you could use your iPhone for slide presentations without needing your laptop)
32 – Pseudo GPS based on cell towers to tie in with Google Maps feature (iPhone 3g includes a real GPS too)
33 – General file storage like a USB drive (Enable iPhone as a Hard Drive)
34 – Support for Stereo Audio over Bluetooth headphones
35 – Support for a Bluetooth Wireless Remote AND the ability to use the iPhone as a Remote
36 – Sound Profiles (example: I would create a profile that turns off all sounds except incoming calls for traveling)
37 – Auto dialing of a string of numbers/pauses (ie. you dial your company voicemail and tap a button to dial your ext. and pin)
38 – Built in “Movies” widget (show times, buy tickets, trailers) Yes I know there are good web based ones. Having one built-in would be faster to access and could remember your settings. (3rd Party)
39 – Safari password remember/store feature (Keychain for the iPhone)
40 – Multiple email signatures (also the ability to assign default ones per account)
41 – Mail spam filtering
42 – Mail Rules
43 – Full Bluetooth support on the Mac (Browse the device, dial from Address Book, etc.)
44 – Delete multiple items at once such as emails
45 – iPod songs as Alarm sounds
46 – A true RSS reader (the one in Safari desktop would be a good start) (3rd Party)
47 – Call duration display
48 – SMS to multiple Contacts
49 – .Mac Push Email (Now MobileMe)
50 – The ability to direct ALL of the Audio sources over Bluetooth (such as email attachments, audio on web pages)
51 – Built in Dictionary/Thesaurus (3rd Party)
52 – Add a “.com” button on the MAIL keyboard as well.
53 – view PowerPoint attachments and now iWork files too.

See the iPhone 3.0 Presentation Video Here.

Tuesday Tidbits

I have 3 tidbits for today:

Apple is slated to unveil iPhone 3.0 today

Apple is holding a press conference today to unveil their newest iPhone OS. Nothing is for certain and the rumors are sure flying about what’s going to be in it. So far I haven’t heard anything too exciting. Sure, Cut, Copy, and Paste would be welcomed, but that’s hardly worthy of a full dot release and press conference. So I have to imagine that there are going to be some features that no one is thinking/talking about. I’ve give my take on what they announce after they announce it.

Check out Scott Kelby’s Review of the New Elinchrom BXRI-500 Strobes

My buddy Scott Kelby has posted a review of Elinchrom’s new midrange strobes. As an Elinchrom 600RX owner, I’m very interested in these because they have the Skyport Wireless system built-in. Although I’m totally happy with my two 600RXs, I would consider getting one BXRI-500 as a 3rd light. Scott recorded a cool short video showcasing the new system. Check it out here.

Spend “An Evening with Terry White” tonight!

Happy St. Patricks Day! Tonight’s the night that I will be doing a live Photoshop Essentials demo via the web. Check out the details here.

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