Category: Macworld

Dan Frakes: New features you may have missed in iOS 8

Dan Frakes compiled a list of his favorite new features in iOS 8. You may already know most of these, but having them all together in one place is very helpful, and some features may have slipped your notice.

I completely agree with Dan about the usefulness of the new “Hey, Siri” feature. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I use it in my car all the time — it’s turned my car into a voice-activated command center.

Dan’s article is available on his website.

Chuck La Tournous and Chris Breen to speak at NJMUG’s 30th Anniversary

I was honored to be invited to speak at the New Jersey Macintosh User Group’s (NJMUG) 30th Anniversary on Tuesday, October 21st. Macworld Senior Editor Chris Breen will be the featured speaker for the event.

My presentation will explore digital device security in the “new normal” of the post-Snowden era. Chris will take a look at the “Future of Apple.”

NJMUG has been helping people get the most out of their Apple devices since the age of the Macintosh 128K through the iPhone 6. The group will celebrate its 30th anniversary at a special meeting at the Meadowlands Quality Inn in Lyndhurst, NJ from 7-10 p.m. NJMUG organizers promise a “great night of eating, celebrating and reminiscing.” The group will also be raffling off “some goodies to those in attendance.”

The meeting is free to all NJMUG members; non-members may attend for a $5 admission fee, space permitting. More information is available on the group’s website.

The way we were: A look back at RandomMaccess’ first Macworld

With the announcement that Macworld Expo is going on an indefinite hiatus (more on that later), I thought I’d wax a little nostalgic and take a look back at my first Macworld — “The Show” — back in 1999. Although RandomMaccess had gotten press credentials before, this was the first time the show’s location made it practical for our little publication to attend.

This piece is undated, but was first published around July 27, 1999. –Ed.

Somewhere between Faith Healing Revival and Grateful Dead Concert you get Macworld Expo NY ’99: a rollicking joyride of new product intros, gee-whiz technology demos and the legendary Jobs “Reality Distortion Field.”

by Chuck La Tournous

I’ve said it before: although I’d never been to a Macworld Expo before, I’m an old hand at conferences and exhibits at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. But the sight of would-be attendees lined up around a New York City block stopped me dead in my tracks.

Something’s wrong, was my first thought; they haven’t opened the doors yet. But closer inspection revealed that the doors were indeed opened. They were opened because that’s where the line around the block snaked its way into the center. And across the entrance hall. And through the registration queue.

I’ve seen crowded shows and long lines at Javits, but I’ve never seen anything like this. What was even stranger was the fact that no one seemed to mind standing in a line that must surely still be winding through the hall as I write this — some 10 hours later.

Thank goodness for press credentials, I think, as I pass them all and follow the signs to the Keynote speech.

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Where to find me at Macworld/iWorld 2013

I’ll be making a few appearances at this year’s Macworld/iWorld Conference in San Francisco next week. I always love meeting readers/listeners, so if you spot me, please take a minute to say hi.

Here’s where I’ll be:

  • Thursday, Jan. 31st, 1-1:45: TT803: Tech vs. Wild: Surviving Your Next Campout (and Other Natural Disasters) with High Tech Gear
  • Friday, February 1st, 3-3:45: TT843: iTravel Well: Troubleshooting Your Tech Travel
  • Friday, February 1st, 9PM-?: Cirque du Mac featuring the Macworld All-Star Band (If you see me on the show floor, ask — I may have a ticket or two.)

Psst — want a free ‘golden ticket’ to Macworld?

Going to Macworld/iWorld? I’ve got one Free iFan Pass to give away (a $100 value), courtesy of the kind folks at IDG. First reader to claim it, gets it. Send a DM to me on Twitter: @ChuckLaTournous.

[Update: The pass has been claimed; thanks to all for your interest. For those who didn’t get the free iFan pass, I’ll have a link for 1/2 price iFan passes and free Expo Only passes soon. Stay tuned.]

[Update 2: Use the link below a free Expo Only Pass or a $50.00 iFan pass (that’s 1/2 off):]

iRig HD wins ‘Best of Show’ award at CES

irig_hd_connect_iphone5_gui_335I don’t usually publish CES news, but I’m pretty excited about IK Multimedia’s “iRig HD,” the next generation of its iOS (and now Mac) interface for guitars and basses. I use the original iRig all the time (currently to practice for the upcoming Macworld All-Stars appearance at Cirque du Mac.)

IK Multimedia unveiled the “HD” version of its popular guitar interface at CES, and today announced it earned an iLounge Best of Show award.

The original iRig connected to iOS devices through their microphone/headphone jack. The iRig HD connects in a variety of ways: through the 30-pin or Lightning connector on iOS devices and now through USB on your Mac. Going through the dock connector promises a higher quality digital signal — a promise I look forward to testing. It also adds a pre-amp gain control, which should alleviate one of the very few shortcomings of the original version. Like its predecessor, the iRig HD uses a free companion app to act as a virtual amplifier. Additional amps, stomp boxes and other effects can be added as in-app purchases.

Here’s how IK Multimedia describes it the iRig HD:

iRig HD is a high-quality digital guitar/bass/instrument interface that allows users to plug their guitar or bass into their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac. It can be used with the AmpliTube range of guitar amps/effects apps and software or any other real-time processing app/software, like GarageBand and more. Using AmpliTube, users can play with the sound of their favorite amplifiers and effects, record their performance and compose entire songs, everywhere. iRig HD features crystal clear digital signal thanks to its superior 24 bit converter, an onboard gain control for perfect level setting, a low power consumption circuit for longer device battery life, plus an ultra-slim design and interchangeable adapter cables for maximum portability and universal compatibility.

The iRig HD is scheduled to be available in the spring; pricing has not yet been announced, but according to reports from CES it will carry a $99 price tag. Look for a full review on The Mac Observer as soon as I’m able to test it.

Chuck La Tournous Previews Macworld | iWorld Session: ‘The Geek Outdoors’

It’s a rare opportunity when my love of technology and my love of the great outdoors align, so I was thrilled when I was asked to deliver a seminar on “High Tech Camping” at next week’s Macworld | iWorld event in San Francisco.

If you’re coming to the event, I certainly hope you’ll consider attending my session. Camping geeks are as enthusiastic about their gadgets as technology geeks, and the two fields are converging in some pretty interesting ways, mostly thanks to the portability and versatility of the iPhone and iPad. Here’s a taste of what I mean.

Let’s start with navigation. Sure, the iPhone has a built-in compass, but I’m not here to try to sell you on using it — let’s face it; it’s pretty flaky. I’ll opt for a “real” compass any day, liquid filled, mind you, and if I’m expressing a preference, I’ll take a mirror compass; they allow you to see your bearing and line up your target at the same time. The mirrored top also acts as a lid to protect your compass and it’s compact enough that there’s no real advantage to leaving it behind in favor of the app on your iPhone.

If we’re talking GPS receiver, though, I’ll choose the iPhone over a dedicated unit — at least for casual camping. Sure, a dedicated GPSr’s battery will probably last longer, but the some of the offerings on the app store so good I actually prefer them to a standalone device. My favorite, hands down, is MotionX GPS. It was one of the early arrivals on the app store and it’s been improving ever since. In addition to the usual features like being able to set waypoints and record tracks, it lets you choose from a variety of maps, track your altitude, add photos, share waypoints on your favorite social media network and more. And while a decent GPSr will set you back $300 or more, MotionX GPS is sale-priced at a ridiculously low $1.99 — and it’s a universal app.

The SPOT Connect device can be a life saver — literally. It allows you to use your iPhone to communicate to rescue teams or the folks back home using satellites when there’s no cell coverage. It’s pricey, but for serious outdoor adventurers who frequent remote locations, it could be the best investment they ever made.

There are dozens — maybe hundreds of apps that can be tremendously useful in the great outdoors — everything from apps that help you identify birds to apps that help you identify poisonous plants. There are even apps that will help you with first aid in case you didn’t do so well identifying the poisonous plants. And if you’re a star gazer, you already know how many more stars shine on a dark backcountry night; and you can name every one of them if you have an app for that. (I like Star Walk; $2.99 on the App Store.)

So what’s a gadget-loving camper to do when your iPhone battery barely lasts through the day, let alone a busy weekend of star charting and bird watching? A good solar panel and an external battery can ensure your iDevice has enough juice to do it all. My favorite combination is from a company called GoalZero: their monocrystalline solar panels are much more efficient than panels of old, and their Guide10 battery pack uses rechargeable AA batteries, meaning you can bring multiple sets of batteries to power your device even if there’s not enough sun.

Finally, on the non-Apple front, here’s one of the coolest ways I’ve seen to purify water yet. Traditionally, there have been three ways to ensure water is safe to drink: boil it, treat it chemically or filter it. All have their downsides: boiling water takes a long time and leaves you with hot, often flat-tasting water; iodine pills and other chemical treatments leave a bad taste; and pumping can be slow, labor-intensive and subject to clogging.

A company called SteriPEN added a fourth method: purifying by ultraviolet light. It looks like something straight out of Star Trek: a small device about the size of a travel tube of toothpaste, with a glass rod on the end. Immerse the rod in water and it lights up. Less than a minute later, you have water that’s safe to drink, with over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa eliminated, seemingly by magic. (Depending on the condition of the water, you might want to remove sediment or other particles by filtering them through a bandana or coffee filter first.) What’s even cooler is that SteriPEN’s newest model features a USB-rechargeable battery, so you can use your solar panel to charge it too.

I’ll be talking about a lot more at my seminar, so I hope lots of TMO readers will be able to join me. It’s a session that probably wouldn’t have been possible without the new direction of Macworld | iWorld, so I’m very eager to see how it’s received.

Oh, and one more thing: Go to this article on The Mac Observer and you can get $15 off an iFan pass.

I hope to see you there!

“The Great (Geek) Outdoors: Using your high-tech gear to get more out of your high adventure outings”
Friday, January 27th
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

‘High-tech camping’ session slated for Macworld|iWorld

I’ll be speaking at Macworld|iWorld again this year, with a session I’m very excited about. “Camping Tech: The Great Geek Outdoors” will feature ways to use your high tech devices to get more out of your next camping trip.

From the session description:

Can high adventure and high tech coincide? This fun and lively session will show you how to integrate technology to make camping easier, safer, more convenient and even more fun. You’ll learn about useful iOS apps that can be even better than the traditional ones they replace (or enhance); how to find and stay on the trail; how to show the outside world what a great time you’re having; how to identify all those extra stars you see in the country; impress friends with your knot-tying skills; find a Geocache; perform First Aid; call for help even when reception is poor; make sure your iPhone lasts throughout your whole adventure and more.

I’ve written about the subject from the opposite side, but I do a lot more camping with my gadgets than without, and it’s a subject near and dear to my heart. The session will on Friday, January 27th from 10:00-10:45 Pacific Time in the “Tech Talks” track. You can register on the Macworld|iWorld site, and if get any discount offers, I’ll be sure to post them here.

Macworld appearances at MWSF11

It’s that time of year again, but with some interesting differences. Last year’s Macworld Conference & Expo proved IDG could host a successful show without Apple’s presence; this year we’ll see if exhibitors and attendees got the word. This year’s conference also makes a break with the past by using a new venue — or more accurately — leaving an old one. The entire show — including conferences, feature presentations and exhibit hall — will be held within Moscone West with no elements of the show using the familiar North and South halls.

I’ll be at the show as usual. For those interested in catching up with me, here are your best shots:

  • I’ll be delivering a User Conference Session called “Tell Me What I Didn’t Already Know About Safari” on Thursday, January 27th from 10:30-11:45 in Room US907.
  • I’ll be appearing in the Macworld All-Star Band at Cirque du Mac 8.0. The time and location are undisclosed and the event is strictly invitation only, but if you’re nice to me, I may have an extra ticket or two.
  • On Friday, January 28th, I’ll be participating in a panel called “Parenting in the Digital Age,” hosted by Chuck Joiner. It will be held in Macworld LIVE stage at noon. In addition (and perhaps contrast) to me, the panel will include smart folks like Tonya Engst, Omaha Sternberg and Christopher Breen.
  • Chances are excellent that I’ll also be Tweeting about interesting sessions, discoveries and sessions, so if you’re at the show, follow me at And if you see me, please make a point of saying hello. It’s the opportunity for real-world, face-to-face interaction that makes Macworld such an important aspect of the Mac (and technology) community.