Fix a stuck broken-off Apple Lightning cable connector tip!

Somehow the Lightning cable connector tip snapped off inside my girlfriend’s iPad. At first, it seemed impossible to get the broken piece out of the slot since there is nothing to grab onto and the opening is terribly small.

A Google search came up with several possible solutions, some of which suggested super-gluing the broken piece to a cut ziptie or wires. I tried the ziptie+glue, but just couldn’t get a strong enough bond to yank the piece out. (On a side note, I didn’t have the same issue gluing my fingers together! ;-) Of course, you also have to be very careful not to get the glue elsewhere and ruin the connector. I do not recommend using glue. What worked for me involved something much more simple: a baby diaper safety pin. Read more

My thoughts on the iPad Pro

I thought I’d share my thoughts on the newly announced iPad Pro. I like the option of using a stylus…errr pencil. This positions the Pro as a laptop-replacement device; however, iOS just doesn’t handle massive amounts of files efficiently. You need to be able to natively connect a 2TB portable USB drive or at least an SD card and have the iPad read directly from the storage without requiring you to first copy the files to the device. For that, iOS needs a real file system. Read more

51 days later…my lost iPad Mini was found!

On June 23rd, I stupidly forgot my 64GB WiFi+Cellular iPad Mini 2 in the seat-back pocket on a United Airlines flight to Colorado. I was really bummed and dutifully filed a lost item report. I got a little hopeful on June 29th when I got a Find-My-iPhone email telling me that “Mini Me,” my cleverly named iPad Mini, was found near Chicago O’Hare International Airport. As the weeks passed without a word from the airline, however, I gave up. After a month, I got an automated email saying that the item was never recovered and they were no longer searching. “Oh well,” I thought. Read more

Bluetooth adapter for Apple 30-pin speaker docks

If you are a long-time user of Apple products, their switch to the Lightening connector probably left you with orphaned 30-pin connector devices, like iPhone/iPad powered speaker docks. Well, this handy $15 adapter will turn those into useful Bluetooth speakers! (Even if you still live in the 30-pin world, this would be a great thing to get.)

I just got one and it works great. The only caveat is that the dock must be one that charged your iPhone/iPad, since the adapter requires a power source.

Mpow® Bluetooth A2DP Music Audio Receiver Adapter for Bose Sounddock and 30-Pin iPod iPhone Dock

Repurposing an old iPad as a picture frame/media player/digital mirror

In the past, I usually sell my devices when I upgrade. I’ve done this with phones, iPod touches, iPads, etc. Unfortunately, I inevitably regret that decision, feeling that I could have used the device I sold and really didn’t get that much money out of it (particularly after eBay and Paypal take their cut). So when I upgraded to the new iPad Air, I kept my iPad 3 and decided to make it a picture frame and media center.

As an AppleTV owner, its pretty easy to get spoiled by its awesome screensaver and not be very content with the boring built-in iPad slideshow. As such, I tried several iPad picture frame apps. I settled on Picmatic. It was the closest I could find to the AppleTV screensaver and even displays date and time. A feature to have it sleep (nice, if you use 24/7) was added recently which is very welcome. (However, it does this by reducing the screen brightness. If you try to use the iPad during the “off” hours, the display does not automatically return to normal brightness.) I did upgrade to the Pro version ($1.99) which unlocks more layouts and supports the developer. Read more

Syncing Nextgen gallery with Flicker and iPad

I used to love Flickr but got tired of their heavy-handedness and a while back decided to bring all of my photos under my own control using the NextGEN Gallery plug-in here on SeriouslyTrivial.com. However, Flickr is somewhat ubiquitous and supported by various things, including AppleTV and some iPad photoframe apps, and I didn’t want to give that up.

At first I tried to manually keep the same photos on SeriouslyTrivial, Flickr and iPad. It didn’t take long for this to become an exercise in futility. If only NextGEN and Flickr could sync to each other… Well, I figured out an automated way to do it by putting my PC in the middle. Basically, the flow is as follows:

NextGEN ==> PC ==> Flickr/iPad

PC Programs

I’m using two PC programs to automate the process: AllwaysSync (free) to automatically do the FTP download and PhotoSync (paid version suggested) to sync with Flickr. Obviously, I’ll use iTunes to sync the photos with the iPad.

When you install PhotoSync, do not sign it into your Flickr account yet.

You don’t have to use AllwaysSync , it just automates the FTP download process. You could download manually or find another program that does the same thing.

Clearing out Flickr

This tutorial assumes your NextGEN gallery is the absolute source. Make sure all photos have been uploaded to NextGEN before proceeding. 

You’ll need to delete all Flickr photos so its totally empty. I deleted all mine by doing the following:

  1. Choose You > Organize
  2. Click Select all. This is at the bottom.
  3. Drag the selected photos to the edit area
  4. Choose Edit photos > Delete and follow the prompts

I suppose, alternatively, you could just create a new Flickr account. I would recommend this just in case something goes wrong.

NOTE: If you want to archive Flickr first, you should be able to use PhotoSync using the Full Synchronization mode. After it syncs and downloads all of the photos, move them out of the photoSync folder. In theory, it should then sync and delete everything in Flickr. Do this at your own risk, however. 

FTP Photos to your PC

As luck would have it, NextGEN puts the photos in folders that use the gallery name. Just what we need! Note that AllwaysSync’s interface is a little odd, but works and is free.

Now to accommodate iTunes, create a folder called iPod Photo Cache in the wp-content/gallery directory on your server (with all the gallery folders). This will be excluded from the FTP download (below) and, thus, prevent any changes from being made on the corresponding PC folder. Do not skip this step if you will be syncing with iTunes.

Here’s how to set up AllwaysSync:

  1. Click the Change link located on the double-headed arrow in the center.
  2. Click the radio button to the left of the double-headed arrow. The arrow should now be pointing to the right. We want everything going from the server to the PC only, not a two-way sync. Also enable the Proprogate deletions options so that photos deleted in NextGEN are also deleted on the PC.
  3. Choose FTP Server from the dropdown menu on the left side.
  4. Click the Configure button
  5. In the Path field, you need to enter the full path to the photo files including the protocol and server name. Something like ftp://<servername>/wp-content/gallery. This may vary depending on your installation of NextGEN.
  6. Complete the login information and click the OK button. (You may have to expand the window to make the OK button visible. It is in the lower-right corner of the panel.)
  7. On the menu go to View > Options. If you want AllwaysSync to start when Windows starts, enable the Start application in system notification area on system start-up option.
  8. Select the job profile you are working on in the left pane. It should be called something like New Job 1. Expand the options by clicking on the + to the left of the name. Then click on Inclusion  and Exclusion filters.
  9. NextGEN adds some files that you do not want. They are stored in thumbs and dynamic subdirectories under each gallery name. So in the Exclusion filters area, click the Add New button. Enter \*\thumbs\*.* in the File Name Filter box. Add three more filters for \*\dynamic\*.*,  \cache\*.*, and \iPod Photo Cache\*.*.  If there are any specific galleries or photos you don’t want synced, add exclusion filters for them as well. Click Ok when done. (NOTE: If you don’t exclude iPod Photo Cache, iTunes will always sync all photos and not just changes!)
  10. If you want to automate the upload, click Automatic Synchronization. Here I have set it to sync once a day.
  11. Click OK when you’re done setting options.
  12. Next, click on the Browse button and navigate to your photoSync folder. You’ll want to browse to get the exact path you need as it will vary depending on your version of Windows. It should be in your Windows Documents folder.
  13. Next, click the Analyze button near the lower-left corner. This will give you some information about what will be downloaded, but won’t actually download anything. Since this is the first time, you should get an See important message warning. (NOTE: You shouldn’t have to use Analyze in the future unless you want to.)
  14. The important message will appear at the top. It should tell you that there is a substantial difference… Just click the Ignore button.
  15. Scan through the list to see if it looks like the files you want will be downloaded.
  16. If everything looks ok, click the Synchronize button. This may take a while depending on how many photos you have.

That’s it! Let the job run once before proceeding.

NOTE: As I precaution, I would temporarily copy the photoSync folder somewhere. Just in case. It may save you from downloading everything all over again if something isn’t set right.

Sync the Photos to Flickr

Sign PhotoSync into your Flickr account. You should start to see it uploading all of your photos to Flickr when everything is set properly. I would recommend you start with Up synchronization only. (Later you can change it to Full Synchronization, if that suits you. The menu is accessed by right-clicking the icon in the system tray and choosing Options.)

Depending on the size of your library, this could take a really long time.

NOTE: With version photoSync Version 1.2.13, I noticed that if you delete a photo, when it syncs, it only removes it from the set. It does not actually delete the photo on Flickr. On the PC, it ends up in photoSync’s not_in_a_set folder. Until this gets fixed, you’ll need to delete them manually using the Manage ‘Not In a Set’ option accessed by right-clicking on PhotoSync’s system tray icon. This seems to only work in Full Synchronization mode for some unknown reason.  :-(

I suggest you upgrade to the paid version (only $5.95) of photoSync which allows you to set a default permission for newly uploaded photos.

Just right-click the system tray icon and choose Default Permissions.

Below I am setting all new uploads to be Public.

Sync the Photos with your iPad

Select your iPad in iTunes. Go to Photos and check the Sync Photos from option. In the pop-up menu to the right, select Choose Folder and navigate to the photoSync folder. Now just sync your iPad.

Well, there you have it. A totally automated way to sync NextGEN to Flickr and and iPad!

Cannot connect to iTunes Store on iPad

I started encountering the “Cannot connect to iTunes Store” error this weekend. There are lots of “remedies” on the Net, but this is the one that worked for me:

1. Open App Store
2. Go to Featured and scroll down to the very bottom. Your Apple ID will be displayed.
3. Tap your Apple ID and then tap Sign Out.
4. Open the Settings App
5. Scroll down to Store.
6. Tap Sign-in and then login with your Apple ID and password.

You should now be able to update apps. I also did a hard reset before I did all this, but I’m thinking it didn’t matter.

I got this from an Apple forum post though I tweak and simplified the procedure.

Bought a Macbook Air to replace my…iPad?

As much as I love my iPad, it had become too much of a constant source of frustration. After much thought and agonizing, I drove to the Apple store and walked out with a brand-new Macbook Air.

iPad Frustrations

Mostly, its the lack of Flash support on the iPad and the way content providers treat it differently than a regular laptop. These two things keep me from being able to watch a lot of streaming content, and many websites still haven’t yet build mobile versions or embraced HTML5.

The second big issue I have with the iPad is just the limitation of inputting *and* editing text. It’s basically a pain in the rear. If you write a lot like I do, I know you feel my pain. I considered getting one of the iPad keyboards, but it just seemed to kludgy and unbalanced.

Another issue I’ve been having with the iPad as of late, is apps constantly crashing and disappearing, particularly Evernote. It’s been really sluggish too and rebooting seems to do nothing. I’m wondering if the CPU and RAM just aren’t up to multitasking of iOS 4, remember that was the biggest upgrade in the iPad 2.

Waiting for the new Airs

I’ve been eyeing the 11″ Macbook Air for some time and waited patiently for the new models to appear. I ended up upgrading all the way to 4GB RAM, 256GB HD and Core i7 CPU. I really only wanted the larger hard drive, but the physical Apple store doesn’t carry the version with the i5 CPU. Oh well, a little speed can’t hurt.

This is the first Mac I’ve ever owned and it’s a bit of a learning curve for a long-time Windows guy. Many things are similar and many things are not. Overall, however, I’d say I like it a lot. The cross-platform nature of Chrome really makes the transition easy for browser stuff.

Transitioning from Windows

I haven’t run into any showstoppers yet. I found Mac versions or equivalents for most of the programs I truly depend on. Here are some of my positives and negatives:

Positives:

  • Small size and well-balanced. The iPad in its case is actually BIGGER than the Air! Seems heavier too. Weird.
  • I love the trackpad gestures. Very smooth.
  • It is VERY fast. A coldboot takes a little over 20 seconds and that includes typing in my lengthy password! No sluggishness like you normally encounter with standard hard drives.
  • I normally don’t shutdown and just close the lid so it sleeps. Doesn’t noticably impact battery life.
  • Chrome installed with all extensions, bookmarks, etc. Incredible!
  • Magic Mouse (optional) is awesome
  • Magnetic charger connector, compact AC adapter, and extension cord are cool. This is just indicative of how far Apple thinks a product through. The AC adapter is an after-thought for all other PC manufacturers. They just use what’s already in their inventory or what the lowest bidder will give them.
  • Keyboard is useable size and keys are well-spaced. Back-lighting is great.
  • Not a huge learning curve from Windows for me.
  • Generally there are few OK buttons. You change a settings and it’s changed. Takes some getting used to, but saves a click.
  • The Microsoft Remote Desktop client works great. Lets me have a Windows machine without going through the hassle of Bootcamp.
  • Full web experience–compared to iPad’s limited one, at least in eyes of content providers :-(
  • The Windows system tray stuff is on the top-right of the screen and there is nothing at the bottom. I think I like it better.
  • I don’t miss the sluggishness and constant crashing of iPad apps.
  • Glad I waited for new Air models =)

Negatives:

  • Delete key acts like a Windows Backspace key. You have to hold Fn key to get equivalent of Windows Delete key.
  • I miss the middle click mouse button
  • I tried swapping the Command and Control keys in the System Prefs to make it more Windows-like, but it just made it more confusing. (Not sure why there is even a Control key.)
  • It took me a while to figure out that the menu for only the application in focus appears at the top of the screen. In Windows, each application has it’s menus at the top of it’s own window. I guess it makes sense since you can only interact with the program that’s in focus.
  • It’s weird having the close/min/max window buttons in the top-left of windows.
  • Generally everything runs in a window by default, as opposed to full screen.
  • Still getting used to switching between applications
  • Scrolling gesture is opposite direction of scrollbar drag. (I heard this was a change in Lion.)
  • Battery life isn’t even close to iPad. I probably get 2-3 hours
  • Runs a little hot, but not uncomfortably so
  • No physical button to toggle trackpad on/off, like on my HP laptop
  • Application install seems kinda kludgy. Having to sometimes manually drag the files to the Applications folder seems weird. Too easy to delete an entire application by accident.
  • Lack of VGA connector. Had to by an adapter.
  • A few utilities missing, but nothing major.

Not an Apple Fanboy!

Ok, I KNOW there is huge potential (likelihood?) of me being accused of being an Apple Fan Boy, as I sit here with my Air, iPad and iPhone 4. Does the mere ownership automatically cause me to be tarred and feathered with that label? I think not. I appreciate, understand, and continue to own several Windows machines. It’s just that right now, at this moment in time, Apple is making the best products for what I need. If the pendulum swings a different way, I’ll switch.

Not Abandoning Windows

I’ll probably continue to use my Windows desktop as a server and run some special Windows-only programs on it, but I can see that the MB Air is now my go-to portable computer. I’m going to sell my Windows 7 laptop that I bought not too long ago because I’m just not going to use it. Comparing the two is like comparing one of those early cell phones with today’s smartphones. Really.

I am waiting with interest for the Windows Ultraportable laptops (e.g., Asus X21) due out later this year. Supposedly, they are (finally) Windows’ answer to the Air (C’mon! It’s been two years!). However, you just won’t see the tight OS integration you get with the Air–there is something to say about controlling the hardware and software from A to Z. Windows will get it eventually, but I think it’s years away.

A Nice Case

I bought the perfect case for the Air at eBags.com. The Air fits nice and snug in the zippered pouch. The zipper goes around one corner so it’s easy to slip it in and out. There is another zippered pocket that easily holds my Magic Mouse, AC cord extension and the VGA adapter. It has both a handle, which appears very sturdy, and a removable strap. I really couldn’t ask for more.

My iPad’s Fate

What will happen to my iPad? Well, I found that I still reached for it on my nightstand for those mid-sleep computer tasks. I’m just not awake enough to use a keyboard. (Yeah, I know this is probably not a good thing to have at my fingertips at night :-) I ended up upgrading to an iPad 2 for the faster processor and memory. My original iPad is going to be used for mostly music I think. I could sell it, but it will be nice to have an extra one to just leave around an not worry about.

So Far So Good

Well, I’ve been using the Air for a solid week now and I have no regrets nor buyers remorse. I’m positive I made the right decision. I even have my Windows 7 laptop up on eBay.