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Dr. Mac – Mac Productivity Miracles “Sandbox Session” – This Thursday, May 25th

I’m launching a new bi-monthly (every other Thursday) series of live video webinar conversations that I’m calling “Social Video Sandbox Sessions.” It will start this Thursday, May 25th at 11am PT / 2pm ET with a very special guest. This session is called:

Mac Productivity Miracles – A Jon Leland Social Video Sandbox Session with “Dr. Mac” Bob Levitus

A Mac computer is supposed to make things simple and easy, right? Not necessarily. For one thing, we are human beings. A computer can only do so much.

Whether you are a brand new user or a seasoned veteran, Dr. Mac has insights to help you use your Mac more effectively and to be more productive.

“It’s no coincidence that the day after I read this book I started working on my next book. I’ll finish my book because of Bob’s book!”
— Guy Kawasaki, Chief evangelist of Canva and Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador
In this lively, interactive session, here’s what you will learn from Dr. Mac, the author of more than 80 Mac books including his latest “Working Smarter for Mac Users”:
  • How to use your Mac better, faster, and more elegantly.
  • How to banish procrastination forever.
  • How to more work in less time so you have more time for things you love.

So if you’re having trouble getting stuff done in a timely fashion, this Sandbox Session will offer dozens of tips and techniques guaranteed to help.

Your Mac is meant to be a tool to make your work easier. Isn’t it about time it did?

Click here to join Jon Leland and his good friend Bob Levitus and learn how to change your relationship with your Mac. You’ll be glad you did.

Register here, and this will allow you to become part of this video conversation if you wish and it will also ensure that you will receive the link to the recording.

 

The App Year in Review: My Favorite Apps from 2011

“Hello, my name is Jon, and…

I’m an App-aholic.”

Apps is me. I love ’em and I love to share ’em. And, just for the record, I consider my obsessive behavior with apps of all kinds, especially iPhone apps, iPad apps and small business productivity-oriented web apps to be a healthy addiction. Well mostly healthy. At least I’m learning about the future of mobile computing… and I’m definitely having fun.

Here are my mini-reviews of my favorite apps from 2011 (more to come in 2012). I look forward to your comments and to hearing your recommendations via the comments below.

Note Taker HD: Hand-Written Notes Come to the iPad
This is the app that changed my life. It’s a powerful tool for writing on the iPad in a totally hand-written natural way. I used to prefer using yellow-lined paper writing pads for meetings, and would journal in notebooks, but Note Taker HD has shown me that I can write almost as fast on my iPad tablet (using a stylus) and I’m eliminating the clutter of scraps of paper all over the place.  I use it now for meeting notes, journal entries and brainstorming sessions; and I just love the natural feel, especially the way that Note Taker HD’s window system lets me write nice and big while my writing is automatically resized into a page-sized virtual sheet. This app is so easy and just plain fun that I find myself swiftly moving into the promised land of an (almost) paperless and less cluttered office.

The Hit List: To-Do List Nirvana
In the incessant quest for the holy grail of an Organized Life, I’ve taken more than a few laps around the track with various to-do list programs. Now, I think I’ve finally found the one I’ll stick with forever because, for me at least, this to-do list offers the right balance between features and simplicity. It’s snappy name is The Hit List.  It’s Mac-only (via the Mac App Store), but I also use it on my iPhone and iPad. I can organize lists into categories by client, by project, or by any number of other categories. It’s very intuitive with due dates and priority settings as well as a space for notes on each item. I also like the way that it synchs between platforms and the few dollars I pay per year for that service is well worth it. I’m really pleased I’ve found something that works for me, and I highly recommend that you check it out.

Zite: The Future of News Reading
My new favorite news reader is an iPad app that trumps Flipboard. Zite is personalized news at its finest. It’s infinitely customizable in a very effortless and seamless way. Zite filters what I like according to my initial preferences, and then I continue to let it know what I like and why as I go along. As I interact with it, the app gets smarter and gives me an increasingly better fit for my interests and sensibilities in a clear, interactive, easy-to-read format. The results in terms of valuable articles is the ultimate value, but it’s also easy to share what I read, which is certainly a requirement for me in this social media world of ours.

Google Docs: My New Standard in Groupware
More and more of my clients and team members are now collaborating with me via Google Docs. I gotta believe that that’s because it works. One previous concern of mine was the lack of change-tracking features that are frequently required and available in MS Word. Now I’m enthralled with the newish “See revision history” feature in Google Docs which I like even better than the “Track Changes” equivalent in Word. I am also surprised by the ease of the collaboration process. If you haven’t seen this, you need to try it: When I’m working with someone and we’re both updating a document at the same time, it’s just seamless. You can even see what the other person is doing, in a distinct color, while you are also editing—all via the Web, of course. All the value of sharing and online collaboration is built in. Google Docs is now a standard part of my workflow.

Summify: Socially Aggregated News Delivered Daily
Facebook coined the term “social graph” to describe the mapping of social relationships online. There are clear advantages to extending these virtual relationships via other websites in order to create new kinds of information collections. Summify is just this kind of real time source of aggregated news and blog posts. What I read, pretty much every day at some point, is being sourced by Summify from my own social graph (my online relationships) via their neato web app (a web browser-based app). Summify leverages my network by sending me daily emails containing a linked list of news articles that have been referenced (linked to via Facebook or Twitter) by multiple people from within my social graph. When multiple people from my networks share the same information, that clearly increases the likelihood that I’ll find it interesting. And it works. The consistent quality of what Summify delivers has been impressive. And I like that it can be delivered by email too. I don’t have to go to the app or website to see what they’ve found for me. This is a useful and, to me at least, a valuable preview of the growing power of our social media matrix.

Nimble: Cross Social Network Messaging Power
This start-up company is a recent investment of Mark Cuban and a definite app to watch. Nimble is a new breed of virtual CRM software that connects your contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail and Twitter into a single interface. From within Nimble’s web-based interface, I can message people on different social networks from within one platform and that message, along with all the others that may have been sent from other sites, is available in one place. Note, these aren’t post or status updates, but the embedded messages from within the particular sites themselves. This is very convenient because you don’t have to go to LinkedIn, for example, to send a LinkedIn message to someone whose regular email address you may not have otherwise. Thus, Nimble is also a great way to keep track of the increasing number of online conversations, all in one place.

Scrivener: Larger Written Documents at Another Level
I want to give an “honorable mention” to Scrivener, a marvelous and powerful writing/document management program. I’ve used it to organize references and new resources by subject area for the social media workshops that I’ve been developing and delivering. But I’m only scratching the surface of this feature rich program. It’s powerfully sophisticated, so there’s a real learning curve involved. However, I’ve heard from multiple, reliable sources that this program has been enthusiastically received by authors and others who work with king-sized pieces of content and/or research. If you’re one of them, I think Scrivener is definitely worth checking out.

iPhone Photography
My app review of the year would not be complete without talking about iPhone photography apps. Taking photographs and playing with the images on the iPhone is a source of great pleasure and fun to me. My favorite app so far is Camera+ by Lisa Bettany. I can crop and I can process with a very creative set of presets. It’s got some great filters and I can also put all kinds of artsy frames on my images, plus it easily posts to the social networks (although I’ve recently started using Instagram for that because it also connects to Tumblr). I’m just starting to explore Camera+’s actual camera features…

ProHDR makes a big improvement over the built-in HDR on my  iPhone. If you haven’t checked out HDR (Higher Dynamic Range) photography via the apps, you must do.  It just makes a huge difference and I can’t imagine doing iPhoneography without it.

Finally, I’m a fan of Auto Painter, which I use on both my iPad and iPhone to create very cool painterly effects on my photos. It’s been a big source of creative delight. And recently I’ve had some fun with SketchMee which turned a picture of my newly-wed son and his bride into a lovely pencil sketch, if I do say so myself.

Bonus List
I had the pleasure of catching up with my favorite uber-geek, Brett Terpstra (@ttscoff) at MacWorld and noticed he posted an awesome 2011 Favorite Mac Apps list. Click to discover more cool stuff.

Thanks for app-ing with me – I’m really happy to share all of this with you. Like I said, more to come (subscribe to this blog above if you want to be notified). I wish you happy app-ing in the year ahead, and I hope you have as much fun checking out these recommendations as I have had exploring them. Please let me know what you think.

Obama iPhone Application Leverages Your Swing State Contacts

Once again (OK, I’m biased), Barak Obama has proven himself as a visionary leader who gets it. (OK, that was a bit over the top.) Bringing 21st century technology to the virtual campaign trail, the Obama campaign has launched it’s own iPhone application; and, it does more than you might think. For example, it supports you to call contacts in your address book who live is swing states (but without violating their privacy). Pretty impressive stuff.

Details are here in this excellent NY Times write-up, “It’s Obama on the iPhone”

iPhone is Now a Light Sabre

I’m forced, due to time constraints, to wait for the lines to die down at my local Apple Store to get my first smartphone. Yes, me, your virtually favorite techno-dweeb has never owned a smartphone. That’s right, no Treo, no Crackberry… But, just in case your confidence in my geeky authority is waning; and to underscore the sincere message that the iPhone is now the ultimate–at least for now–mobile computing platform (thanks to the amazing resources now available via the iTunes iPhone Apps Store)… not to mention just for the giggles… I wanted to make sure that you all know that the iPhone (even the old, slow ones) is now a StarWars-reminiscent light sabre!

Video courtesy of the wonderful geeks at their totally-hysterical super-estore:

ThinkGeek

Steve Jobs & Bill Gates Together, The Complete Coverage


I don’t think there are two better visionaries on the planet (of course, I’m partial to Steve Jobs), and while their joint appearance with Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg was covered in the news, I just discovered the complete coverage including transcripts and video clips (an edit of video excerpts is included below). Good stuff!

Special thanks to Dr. Mac, Bob LeVitus for this link via his most-excellent Mac e-newsletter. You can subscribe here: http://www.boblevitus.com/

Here’s the video highlight reel:

New Apple TV Ad

Business 2.0 has a new “get-a-Mac” Apple TV ad before it’s release on a day when Apple stock reached new heights, pre-iPhone’s release (for which surveys are showing a strong demand). Seems it’s a mad, mad new Apple world where the superior platform is even gaining market share.

Apple’s Steve Jobs Reopens Free Digital Rights Conversation

Ever since the early days of the Internet and the original Napster MP3 download craze, the issue of digital rights management (DRM) and the security of the intellectual property rights of artists vs the new environment of sharing and collaboration offered by the Internet has been a controversial subject.

For example, I wrote a kind of inflamatory piece in Videography in the year 2000 called “Napster Gets It, Universal Doesn’t” where I called the Universal CEO “Bozo Bronfman” and referenced a classic Flash movie “Napster Bad” which made fun of the band Metallica for being money grubbers.

Bottom line, the bad guys were the record companies, and now (fast forward to 2007), they are among Steve Jobs and Apple’s best friends.

So the latest is that Mr. Jobs, always on the move, and in the face of the huge financial benefits that Apple gains by owning the platform that delivers by far the most “legal” (read digital rights protected) downloads… and in the face of mostly European gripes about Apple’s DRM and its proprietary system (which is not unlike Microsoft’s, Sony’s etc.), Mr. Jobs has now written a lucid web post encouraging record companies to open up their digital rights.

In other words, he’s once again pointing the finger (accurately) at the record companies as the reason that there is a digital rights lock down in the first place; and he’s recommending that the best way forward is for these same record companies to get out of the way, for the benefit of everyone, especially consumers but including the record companies and the tech companies as well.

DailyTech explains in more detail why “Apple’s leader believes that a DRM-free world would be the best one for consumers.”

If you’re interested in this subject (and, frankly, I think that everyone should be), I highly recommend Stanford Law professor and digital rights activist Lawrence Lessig‘s exceptionally well-written, researched and insightful book, Free Culture.

(Addendum: Bronfman responded to Jobs and it still looks like he’s a bozo.)

Whoa! Netflix to Offer Free TV Shows to Members

The battle for the distribution of broadcast programming via the Web is heating up. Apple’s iTunes Store has made big waves by selling TV shows at $1.99 each. Now NetFlix is rolling out what is essentially a perk for membership. Free downloadable TV shows.

Here’s the TechCrunch overview of this announcement and the official NetFlix press release and the NYTimes perspective.

Cisco’s Suit of Apple Over iPhone Name May Be Playing into Steve’s Hand

Many folks are mystified by Cisco’s suit of Apple over the name of Apple’s truly sensational, hot new iPhone. And, by the way, I agree with many that this is a true “leapfrog” product that is literally years ahead of the competition and will have a huge impact on the market like the iPod.

I think I know what’s going on with this lawsuit. It’s just a hunch, but it rings true at least to me. Bottom line, I think Steve is one step ahead of Cisco.

First, think of all the free publicity Apple and Mr. Steve Jobs are getting as a result of the Cisco lawsuit. Second, remember that Apple’s new AppleTV product was originally named “iTV.” Get it yet? Third, remember that Jobs likes consistency in product names. For example, now and only recently, all the Mac portables are MacBooks.

So my educated guess is that Jobs knew he’d get sued. He anticipated the publicity boost. And, they will change the name of their awesome new product to the ApplePhone! It’s got nice alliteration and they’ll use the same Apple logo-included name treatment that they are using on the AppleTV product.

You heard it here first! Anybody else think this is true?

Inspiring: Steve Jobs Commencement Address at Stanford

When I first got an email with this commencement address by college drop-out Steve Jobs at Stanford University, I thought it must be urban legend; but, as this link shows, it’s for real. And, more importantly, it’s quality content. Inspiring even. Jobs speaks of “connecting the dots” in your life, the value of love and loss (using his “devastating” removal from Apple as a powerful positive in his life) and, most profoundly, death as the ultimate motivator, including details of his recent battle with pancreatic cancer. Check out the full text of Steve Jobs’ remarks