Can’t All This Technology Work Together?

I know I’ve been horrible with updates to the blog… bad blogger, bad BAD blogger. That’s an issue for another time. This evening I’m throwing out a quick rant, and maybe a little stream of consciousness for you my dear readers.

Picked up an iPhone two months back when my Windows Mobile phone finally kicked the bucket. The timing was good because my Sprint contract had finally ended, and the only thing I do on a PC anymore is Outlook. Many readers know I have been trying to cut my PC ties for a while now, and this moment seemed to press the issue. So after much debate, I took the plunge and made the complete jump to the darkside.

I’ve been limping along ever since…

Let me be clear, I am happy using a Mac. I switched because I got tired of being my own Geek Squad whenever I needed to do something on the computer. Frankly, my Mac does what I need it to do, no more, no less. When I’m finished with it, I can power it off. Yes, it does crash, but the geek in me isn’t constantly on duty, fixing stuff.


Like any relationship, things are not always perfect, and my relationship with my Mac could use some improvements. Specifically, contact management, calendar & email. I asked before about a good Outlook replacement, and received a few suggestions. After looking at several items, I settled on using Contacts & iCal, and use Entourage for email. The switch to iCal has been okay, I didn’t like losing all the categories I used in Outlook, but iCal is the best fit for the iPhone (surprise).

Which brings us to my rant…

I realized this afternoon that I could subscribe to many of the Meetup calendars I support, reducing the need to manually enter events. I spent about 30 minutes loading the various calendars into iCal only to discover they don’t sync via MobileMe to the iPhone. A quick Google search led me to Jeff Croft who posted on the MobileMe Sync shortcoming. His suggested work around maybe an option, or I could use the suggestion to sync with Google calendars. Johnny Sewell was nice enough to give me a coupon for Spanning Sync.

Which brings us to the second part of my rant…

I want ONE system to track calendar info, not a collection of programs that will “collaborate” if they’re in the right mood. I shouldn’t have to take my Google calendar subscribe it to my Meetup calendars then sync that to iCal on my desktop computer so it uploads nicely to MobileMe which can then “push” it down to my iPhone. Blech… it was bad enough when I had to do a USB connection with my Window Mobile phone and wait 2 hours each day for syncing, but at least it was one app. What’s annoying is according to Jeff Croft’s post on the topic the .MAC service had proper syncing to the iPhone, which was broken with MobileMe. At least Apple knows there’s a problem (TS1213 article), so we can hope it might be addressed.

Back in September Tech Savvy Mama posted on “Paper vs Online Calendars.” At the time I didn’t think about it, but today’s events made me realize something… technology puts us on a path of continual migration. The communications technology that has stayed current throughout all our 21st century accomplishments is pencil & paper. Say what you will about saving trees, but the fact remains some of us have migrated our computer data from tape to floppy disk to bernoulli drive to jazz drive to zip disk to CDs to DVDs to Blue-Ray.

As of this moment, I haven’t found an answer to my current calendar dilema. I’ll be rooting through searches I’ve made online, but certainly welcome any suggestions.

Photoshop World 2008 Recap

Recovering today from the event that was Photoshop World 2008. Arrived home in the late evening (due to time change), and a week of no sleep has finally caught up to me. This was my fourth time out to PSW, and it never fails to be a worthwhile experience. Some highlights from my trip:

  1. Just met a ton of people, including Twitter peeps Nancy, LeAnn, Dorothy & Jeff. This was really the best part of the trip for me. Not only did I make new business contacts, I had a great time with folks sharing our interests in photography and Photoshop.
  2. I won a copy of the CS3 Master Collection my first day at the pre-conference. (This would ultimately doom me the next day)
  3. I was a Photoshop Guru Award top three finalist in the Photo Restoration category. (I would have gladly traded out my CS3 prize for the Guru award)
  4. I had a chance to chat with Scott Kelby, and had him sign his book for a friend back here in Dallas.
  5. Afterparty at the House of Blues. Probably the largest showing I have seen this particular event. The club was packed, standing room only. I posted a Flickr photostream of Scott Kelby and the band.
  6. Tweeting live from the event. I didn’t get as much posting done as I had planned, but a few folks commented on tweets. I’ll have a better plan of attack for next time.

You can click the thumbnails to see the TwitPics.
Photoshop Guru Award Finalist





NAPP reminds me of the employee culture at Southwest Airlines. I’ve yet to meet a NAPP member or employee who doesn’t think the world of the organization. That’s truly a testament to the company that Scott Kelby has built. Twice a year they put on this conference, and it only gets better. If I would have changed anything it would have been some cooler announcements from Adobe, Canon or Nikon. Really, with a captive audience of 3000+, I expected some insider info, not confirmation of rumors learned two months ago.

The only regret I have is I didn’t take any pictures after the House of Blues event. There I was with my new iPhone, twitpicking away, and not once did I grab a photo of the cool peeps I met at the conference. Oh well, next time…

Have You ICEd Your Cellphone?

“Always be prepared.” is an idea so easily set aside in today’s hurried society. It seems in this age of technology, the cycles of change are only coming faster. Consumers are faced with a decision to either keep up with the each new wave of gadgetry or ignore new tech altogether. I was surprised to learn roughly 20% of American households were not so tech savvy.

In terms of preparedness, if you’re reading this blog, then I assume you’re tech savvy enough to backup your computer. Whether you’re a photographer, graphic artist, music lover, or just “Joe Consumer” you probably have at least one piece of data you’ve copied someplace for safe keeping.

Today, I want to talk about another kind of disaster recovery. If Katrina (and the threat of Gustav) have taught us anything, it’s that there are more important plans to consider than just backing up your computer data. Here are some quick thoughts for building your own disaster recovery plan:

1. What do you absolutely need?
In the event you have to evacuate your home immediately (fire, tornado, etc.), you don’t have time to gather up everything. Make the decision ahead of time about the necessary items, your family, pets, clothes, money, water, food, etc. Build a disaster kit, and make sure household members know where the kit is located. I use clear plastic storage bins purchased from WalMart for our home. Easy to see stuff without opening everything.

2. Keep valuables offsite.
Items of value rarely used should be kept offsite if possible. Jewelry, art, photo albums, items that you only pull out on occasion, but would be devastating if lost. Consider public storage or safe deposit if an affordable option. How about an offsite backup of your computer data? I have external drives I physically rotate to offsite storage, and I just started using Google & MobileMe for redundancy.

3. Weather proof storage.
If there are items you choose to keep in the home, consider a weather proof safe or filing cabinet. I say weather proof because “fire proof” does not mean the unit won’t suffer water damage. We have several Sentry safes & cabinets in our home.

4. ICE your cell phone.
My ICE CredentialsDisaster planning is not limited to large scale catastrophic events. What happens if you’re in a car wreck? If you have a personal accident in the home? Will the paramedics find identifiable information on your person to assist you? ICE is an initiative creating awareness by making emergency contact info readily available on your cell phone, and a free ICE website also provides laminated wallet emergency contact cards (cause what happens if your cell phone is broken). Click the image thumbnail to see an example of the ICE wallpaper I use on my iPhone. The image displays when the iPhone powers up until my passcode is entered. (That’s right I passcode protect my cell phone. Don’t you?)

5. Know your escape plan.
Having everything in place doesn’t mean anything if you panic during a catastrophe. One way to reduce panic is by practicing your escape plan. Fire drills and the like sound silly, but in a real emergency you’ll spend less time thinking (panicking), and quickly get out safe.

The items I’ve mentioned were mostly in the context of disaster planning, but they can also be applied to home/personal safety. I use something similar to the ICE card for my credit info. I have designated disaster kits in case of a home robbery. The escape plan for a fire is not the same one used for a tornado.

UPDATE 01/20/2010Terry White reviewed the quick & easy ICE application Close Call for the iPhone.

Bottom line, preparing for disaster is time well spent, and if you think you’re rushed now…

Everyone Can Use My Credit Except Me

If you followed me on Twitter yesterday, you know I was at the Apple store trying to purchase an iPhone. I bounced in about 1PM, and after talking to a couple of store reps decided to take the plunge. What followed next was the longest 2.5 hours of my day.

I’m going to link you to the back story, which I hope you will DIGG because that post has worthwhile information on credit fraud (more prevalent in the United States).

Continuing with this story, let’s just say I forgot that all my accounts are locked due to “credit fraud protection”. Ryan the Apple store rep had just walked me through most of the “interview” process for my purchase when he received some sort of flag on his point-of-sale unit. He had to call AT&T to port over my number from Sprint, and next thing you know my phone rang.

At the time, I ignored the call as Caller ID was “unknown”, and I was in the middle of this store purchase. Ryan proceeds to tell me that it was the AT&T rep, and she needed to speak with me. No problem I thought, until she called back AND MY PHONE DIED. Twitter followers know that I have been holding off on getting an iPhone, but my Sprint phone had been on its last leg for a few weeks. So there I was in the Apple store, trying to make my purchase, and I couldn’t because AT&T had no way to contact me.

It was then that I realized I had been possessed by the Cult of Mac. I was not leaving the store without a working phone, an iPhone specifically. I scrambled to get a USB cable from another store rep so we could get power to the phone. Got it. Asked the AT&T rep to call back, and when I picked up we got disconnected. Ryan asked the rep to call again, and she stated she had exceeded the number of courtesy calls she could make on an account. Holy crabcakes! Say it wasn’t so.

Ryan patiently spent the next 2 hours calling AT&T talking to a different account exec each time in an effort to get my service ported from Sprint. If my phone wasn’t sending the calls directly to voicemail, I was wrestling with the inordinate number of questions to prove my identity. Remember a few paragraphs back when I said I forgot about the credit hold on my accounts? Those holds are supposed to make it difficult for other people to assume my identity. Didn’t seem to matter much last week when someone attempted to buy a car in my name, but there I was making a legitimate purchase, and I couldn’t answer half the questions.

Finally, after the 6th call to yet another AT&T rep, my Sprint phone stayed connected on the call, AND I got five questions I could directly answer. Weathered & weary, I paid my dues to the Apple rep, shook his hand, and headed out the door.

I’ll be sharing my experiences with the iPhone in an upcoming post. Be sure to tune in as this adventure has only just begun.

Dallas Photo Walk Winner

I’m sure many of the city leaders will blog the same opinion, but to say choosing a city photo walk winner was difficult is an understatement.

I hope to NEVER choose a winning photo ALL BY MYSELF ever again. There were a number of excellent photos, and it was not an easy decision to pick just one. Truly, it was not. Picking winner = Not fun. There were over 450 total photos that I went through, and I could have easily made a tie between several (if that were a choice).

At exactly 11:55PM after spending most of my day, and all evening wrestling with a decision, the winning photo came from Bradley Atchison.

JFK Lives

© Bradley Atchison

If you’re looking for a great way to view a lot of photos on Flickr or any photo site, I highly recommend Cool Iris, a web browser plugin for Firefox. Not only does it render images beautifully (the upsizing of small photos is amazing), it has an image search function. I was able to pull in all 450 photos, without needing to navigate 20+ web pages.

UPDATE Aug 31, 2008Scott Kelby posted his choice for the Grand Prize Winner. You can also view all the city winners on the Photo Walk site.