Monday, October 7, 2013

Geo-tagging Pictures in iPhoto

One of the features of iPhoto is the ability to identify where a picture was taken. Once you have tagged your photos with the geographic location, the "Places" tab under "Library", selectable from the left panel in iPhoto, provides a world-wide map of where your pictures were taken. This map can be displayed in three different modes by choosing a button in the upper right corner of the map display. One shows the geographic boundaries and a topographical display in "Terrain" mode, one is a satellite display in "Satellite" mode, or finally a "hybrid" of the two which takes the satellite display and imposes country boundaries on it.

Places

A pin identifies the location where you have taken any pictures that have been tagged with the geographic information about where they were taken. When you hoover your cursor over a pin, a label appears with the name of the place. If you click on the arrowhead to the right of the label, all of the tagged pictures taken at that location appear in the main window. You get back to the map by clicking the "Map" button in the upper left corner of that window.

You can focus on a particular part of the world by clicking on the drop-down lists that appear in the upper left corner of the map window. The drop-down that appears lists alphabetically all of the countries, states, cities, and places that you have identified when tagging your pictures.

When you focus on a location, such as a country, the number of pins displayed can increase because locations can be identified in more detail. If you were to select a country in which you only visited one city, the map will automatically zoom in to that city and display all the places in the city where you took a picture that has been tagged.

So How Do Your Pictures Get Tagged?


Pictures taken with your portable Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, that have Location Services turned on, are automatically tagged with the GPS coordinates when the picture is taken. Many new cameras have GPS built in. It is also possible to get SSD memory cards for cameras that have GPS built-in so photos are automatically tagged when they are saved to the card.

If you don't have that capability, or if you accidentally had Location Services turned off on your Apple device, or your camera, for whatever reason, was not able to communicate with a GPS satellite when your picture was taken, you may have to tag your photos with the GPS information manually. To do this you make use of Google Maps.

Create a Bookmarklet For Your Browser


The first thing you should do is create a bookmarklet which you will use when identifying a location in Google Maps.

In your favorite browser, choose to add a bookmark. You will want to locate this bookmark so it appears along with the others that appear above your main browser window. In Apple Safari and in Google Chrome, that location is called the "Bookmarks Bar". When adding the bookmark, type a short name for it such as "GPS". Then for the address, where you ordinarily add a URL, enter the following javascript:

javascript:void(prompt('',gApplication.getMap().getCenter()));

Make sure you have saved this bookmark and that it appears with the name you gave it along with your other favorite bookmarks above the main browser window.

Bookmarklet

In iPhoto, select the picture you want to tag. Then click on the "Info" button along the bottom right of the iPhoto window. One of the items that appears at the bottom of the Info panel is a map. If the picture hasn't been tagged with a location, the map is a grey map of the world with a field above the map in which appear the words, "Assign a Place . . ."

Assign a Place

You can just type in that field the name of the place where the picture was taken. If you have other pictures with that name assigned, the name will appear at the top of a list from which you can select. Otherwise, a Google search for the place is performed. If the place you are looking for appears on the list that is displayed, you can simply select it. A map will be displayed with a pin suggesting a location where the picture was taken.

If you hoover your cursor over the map, a plus and minus sign will appear at the bottom which you can click to zoom in or out of the map. Also you are able to choose "Terrain", Satellite" or "Hybrid" for the type of map you want to display. There is also an icon to the right of the plus and minus signs, which when clicked, will cause the pin on the map to be centered in the window.

Sandfiddler

You may find that by zooming in, and moving the map around, you are able to locate where you were when the picture was taken. You can move the pin to the location on the map by grabbing the pin by clicking on the pin, holding the mouse button down until the cursor turns into a clenched hand, and dragging the pin to the location.

When performing the Google search for the location, if you type in an address for the name of a prominent structure such as the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore, the pin will land on the structure. You may be satisfied with identifying the location of the picture to be that landmark. However, when taking a picture with a camera with GPS or an Apple devise, the location tagged is the location of the camera, not the location of the subject of the picture. For consistency and accuracy, the location of the camera is the location I prefer to use when tagging my pictures.

Again, you may be satisfied with simply moving the pin on the map in iPhoto to the approximate location where you were standing when you took the picture.

However, if, for example, you are doing genealogy research and are taking pictures of markers in a graveyard, exact location is very important. With GPS these days, accuracy can be within a few feet, depending on conditions.

This is where our bookmarklet comes into play.

Using the Bookmarklet


The first thing to do is to bring up your browser and, using Google Maps, find the location where you were when you took the picture. Take advantage of Street View and the photos that have been uploaded to Google Maps to determine that location with as much accuracy as you desire.

Center map Once you have identified the location, with the cursor pointing to that location, right-click or control-click your mouse. A contextual menu will appear, and one of the items on the menu is "Center Map Here". Select that item. You will see the map shift so the location you are interested in is centered in the browser window.

Now click on the bookmarklet you created above the browser window. A small window will appear which contains the GPS coordinates of the location in the center of the map.

Copy those coordinates. Go over to iPhoto and paste them in the "Assign a Place . . ." field above the map in the Info panel. iPhoto will place a pin on the map at those coordinates.

You can leave the GPS coordinates as the name of the place if you wish. Otherwise, you can type over the GPS coordinates with a place name of your choice. You will then be able to use this same place name for all other photos you took at that location.

It takes time and some work to get your photos geo-tagged. I am happy that I was able to take the time to make the effort. It is rewarding to be able to choose a location on the map in iPhoto and see all the photos you took when you were there.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Solution to a Scanning Problem

From previous blogs (See: Scanning problem with new HP Officejet) you know that I have an HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus All-in-One Printer. One day when I was scanning something that was very dark I noticed that there was a new vertical line about ¼” wide that was lighter than the rest of the background in my scan.

I immediately went to the Hewlett-Packard website to find out what solutions might be available for this problem. The web page to start from is here. It easier to enter your product number than try to wend your way through the model names and numbers to get to your particular printer.

Troubleshooting


Officejet Pro 8600 Once there, I clicked on the link indicating that I wanted to Solve a Problem. Then I clicked on the link for scanning. Finally, I clicked on the link pertaining to vertical bands, lines, or streaks in copies, faxes, or scans. Some of the things that were recommended were to clean the glass, clean the cover, and also unplug the printer and plug it back in.

Once I had done the troubleshooting that the website recommended, my next solution was to use the form on the website to send an email to Hewlett-Packard’s support. To get there I clicked on the Support link. On this page you are given four choices: self-help, e-mail HP, Call HP, and Interact online with HP. I selected the "e-mail HP" choice.

A short while later I got an email in my inbox indicating that the email I had sent to Hewlett-Packard has been bounced. Apparently, there were problems with the address to which it was sent or something. So HP’s web-based email for problem solving did not work for me.

So the next day I used the telephone and called Hewlett-Packard support. I got a very nice person who understood when I told him that I had gone through the troubleshooting steps. He took me to the next troubleshooting step which was not presented on the website. He wanted to know if the printer was plugged directly into a wall outlet. I said no. So he asked me to do that. This meant I had to move the printer off its normal location and carry it across the room to a wall outlet.

Once I had done that and the printer was warmed up, he asked me to just simply copy something. I found something dark to lay on the glass and copy it. When I looked at the results, the light bar was gone!

I didn’t understand why plugging it into the wall would make any difference. He explained that there are surge protectors inside the printer and therefore, you do not need to have it plugged into a power surge protector. In fact, doing so can rob the printer of sufficient power, which can result in a bad scan.

Problem Solved?


So after hanging up, I moved my printer back to its normal location and after some manipulation had unplugged it from the power strip and plugged it into an extension cord instead.

The next day when I had something dark to scan the light streak was back!

I called Hewlett Packard support back and got someone else, but they were able to pull up my records and see what the history was on this printer.

I told him that I had plugged the printer into an extension cord since the regular cord that comes with the printer would not reach the wall. He asked me if anything else was plugged into the extension cord and I said yes. So he asked me to unplug the other items from the extension cord. That did the trick. The bottom line is, you have to have the power coming directly into the printer with nothing else there. It has to have the full power coming out of the wall. Now that I’ve had it pounded into my head what I needed to do, I haven’t had any more problems with light streaks in my scans.

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Overview of Genealogy Programs for the Mac

What programs are available if you want to do genealogy using your Mac or other Apple devices?

In this post to AppleSider, I list all of the genealogy programs I am aware of that are currently available. They are listed in alphabetical order. I have provided links to the web site for each program.

The first thing you need to be concerned about when you start looking for genealogy software is, Does the software support the GEDCOM format? This format was developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the early days of computer-supported genealogy. If the program supports the GEDCOM format you can rest assured that you can share your data, or at least the most important data, with other people doing genealogy no matter what the platform. Just be aware that if the software that you decide to use has special features, the data entered using those features may not be transferable to other software programs. In particular, the way different programs store information concerning sources may not permit the transfer of this information from one program to another.

Family Tree

Family Tree is a relatively new genealogy program for the Mac. It is available from the App Store and costs $12 to download. It has the ability to import or export GEDCOM files. But it does not have the ability to generate HTML files for displaying your results on the web. There are three main views available from the toolbar the Time view, the Chart view, and the Map view. The chart created is in the form of a circle graph with the target person in the center and ancestors radiating out from the center. The map view is where locations of events are entered as either text or geo coordinates.

Family Tree

Family Tree Maker

The largest genealogy company in the world is Ancestry.com. You may have seen a television program sponsored by Ancestry.com called "Who Do You Think You Are?" They have their own software called Family Tree Maker for Mac 2. It runs on Max OS X 10.5 or later. It regularly sells for $70, but you may at times be able to find it on sale. Upgrades are $49. You also need a subscription to Ancestry.com. These start at $8 a month for the "U.S. Essentials Membership", $23 a month for their "U.S. Discovery Membership", and $35 per month for their "World Explorer Membership", which you will really need if you want to follow your family tree back beyond the time your ancestors came to the United States. Ancestry.com has recently added a feature called TreeSync to Family Tree Maker. This allows you to synchronize your tree in Family Tree Maker with an online family tree which you maintain on the Ancestry.com web site. You can give permission for this online family tree to be viewed by family members or the public, which will allow those folks to assist you in maintaining your family tree. Ancestry.com also publishes Apps for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. The apps are free. But it appears that data entry capabilities are limited. They would mostly be used for reading or reviewing the information you stored on the Ancestry.com site. Other features of Family Tree Maker include templates which allow you to create family trees or design your own to be printed out; you can create books to share with friends and family which include your family trees; there are sourcing tools to document your research and discoveries. There is a place authority database to ensure that you enter place names consistently and in the standard format. There are a variety of reports to gather information and export them in many formats. You can view multiple generations, navigate to any individual in your tree with the click of the mouse and add or edit life events. And of course you can import data from other genealogy programs that you may have used or are using.

Family Tree Maker

GEDitCOM II

GEDitCOM II is the program I use. I have used it since it was GEDitCOM I. It sells for $65. Upgrades cost $20. There is a fully functional demo that will run for 15 days. GEDitCOM pays very close attention to the GEDCOM standard with 100% support for GEDCOM 5.5 files. GEDitCOM provides many different interfaces for entering your information. The entire user interface is totally customizable. So basically, you can probably use the interface that you are most familiar with or that you find easiest to work with. Besides the standard data entry capabilities, GEDitCOM II is fully capable of entering multimedia including pictures, sounds, movies, PDF files, etc. This means that you can build links to the original source material stored on your computer. You can document your research and tie your research log to people or events. You can organize your records into albums. GEDitCOM can create an HTML file which can be used to display your family tree in a web browser. The best feature in my opinion is the place advisor for identifying a location where an event occurred. (See my previous blog: Places in GEDitCOM II). Rather than identifying the location as a point on a map as many other genealogy programs do, GEDitCOM identifies the location as an area on the map. So, for example, if an event took place in Denver, Colorado, the map that you will see does not have a pin at a particular location in Denver, Colorado. Rather you see a box which encloses Denver, Colorado, on the map. At this time GEDitCOM has no mobile applications available.

GEDitCOM

Genealogy Pro 2.2

Genealogy Pro 2.2 by Genealogy Pro Software Services is a bare-bones genealogy program that runs on either an Intel Macintosh or a PowerPC Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.4 or better. It costs $20 to buy it online using PayPal. It is available as a free download for an evaluation period of 30 days. Genealogy Pro Software Services also provides the capability of uploading your family tree to their Web server where you can share the family tree with friends and relatives over the Internet. There are only four charts you can produce, an horizontal or a vertical descendant chart and an horizontal or a vertical ancestor chart. There are only two reports that can be run, a family report or an Ahnentafel report.

Genealogy Pro 2.2

GenScribe

GenScribe is a family history research tracking and record keeping program, designed to help you plan and manage your genealogy research. It is not a genealogy data entry program. It only runs on older PowerPC Macs. The cost is $12. Quoting from their web site,
Here are some of the things you can do using GenScribe:
  • Create research "to do" lists for any given venue.
  • Record the actual research data that you find (GenScribe includes standard text entry fields as well as templates for the 1790-1880 and 1900-1920 U.S. censuses).
  • Manage genealogy projects, including linked subprojects.
  • Review research that you've done in any given source, or on any given project.
  • Review research that you may wish to incorporate into a lineage-linked database.
  • Keep track of your genealogy correspondence, including dates of correspondence and money that you've paid for research or to cover costs.
  • Keep track of page-by-page searches for specific references in unindexed materials.
  • Assign file numbers to specific research items and print cover sheets that can help you quickly locate hard copies.
GenScribe is designed to support the process of evaluating research by giving you easy access to the evidence you have gathered, as well as to help you plan where and what to look for next.

GenScribe


Gramps

Gramps is a FREE open-source genealogy program that supports GEDCOM 5.5. It runs on Linux, both PPC and Intel Macintosh computers, and Windows computers. It is primarily developed for the Linux environment, so installation on other platforms ranges in difficulty. There are only a few mobile platforms that can install Gramps. Gramps has all the features you would ordinarily expect and demand in a quality genealogy program. Most views of the data appear as lists. So you will see a list of people, you'll see list of the families, you'll see list of the events, you'll see the list of sources, and only in some views can you see, for example, the event tied to the person. There are seven types of reports. It also has the built-in capability of creating web pages that can be uploaded to the World Wide Web.

Gramps


GWintree

GWintree was developed to run on Windows and is a port to Linux. The GWintree version runs on Mac OSX 10.5 and above and is freeware. The interface is very bare bones, providing all the fields necessary to create your family tree. Because it is a port, the windows have two sizes, large or small. There are also other interface quirks brought over from the Windows environment like having to exit the window rather than quitting the program. In the brief time I took to explore the program, it crashed twice. The help file opens in your default browser and is context sensitive. It provides individual, family, and pedigree views of GEDCOM data. It has full support for sources, source citations, and repositories. There are descendent, ancestor, or complete reports. You can save your family tree in many different formats, including HTML, PDF, and RTF.

GWintree


Heredis

Heredis is a very strong genealogy program. It runs on most platforms including Windows, Mac OSX (Snow Leopard or 10.6 or later) and iOS. One of its major features is synchronization among all your devices. It advertises high-speed data entry because one screen can be used to enter all the information about an individual or a family. You can customize the format so that you can enter only the data that is important to you. Another feature is the ability to enter witnesses as sources associated with an event. There are a wide variety of tree charts that you can print out or display with several themes and designs to choose from. Maps are a part of Heredis, but like most programs that use maps, Heredis pinpoints a location with the use of a point rather than describing an area. A 30-day trial version is available with limited capabilities. With the trial version you can create up to 50 individuals in a single file. But you can import GEDCOM or Heredis files of any size. You can also export files created by Heredis. There are sample files provided to play with. The regular commercial version costs $60 and is available from the Heredis web site or the Apple App store.

Heredis


iFamily for Leopard

iFamily for Leopard is genealogy program that runs on the Mac with OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later. Even though the title says "iFamily for Leopard" it will run on Macs with later operating systems. They have said that the name has to stay what it is because somebody else has the name "iFamily". The main feature of this application is that it is designed to focus on the individual person rather than on the family unit. Plus you can see at a glance whether an individual has more than two parents, more than one spouse, or the number of siblings that they have. It allows you to display parent-child relationships such as the natural relationship which is the default, step relationships, adopted, or foster relationships. So you can display multiple spouses and stepchildren. One nice feature of the program is that every action taken is saved immediately so no data is ever lost. It also remembers the navigational route the user has followed so you can go from where you are currently working to where you were previously working. You can get a fully working demo version which lasts for 16 days. The only function that is unavailable is export to GEDCOM. If you like you can import a GEDCOM file containing more than 100,000 people into the demo version. It costs $29.95 to purchase, and upgrades are free.

iFamily for Leopard


MacFamilyTree

MacFamilyTree is one of the programs written by Synium Software. It runs on Macintosh OS X 10.5 and later. It costs $60. MobileFamilyTree Pro is a full-featured genealogy program that runs on iOS. It costs $15. You can sync your data to all your devices running MobileFamilyTree Pro or MacFamilyTree. MacFamilyTree's user interface received a major overhaul for Version 6. There are four distinct categories when working with MacFamilyTree edit, views, reports, and export. It features integration with new.familysearch.org, an external database maintained by the LDS Church that is one of the leading resources for genealogy research. You must be a member to use the service, however. MacFamilyTree offers access to other external websites from within the program to do genealogical research. Such services as Ancestry.com, EllisIsland, FindAGrave, Footnotes, WorldVitalRecords, or Google search can all be accessed from within MacFamilyTree. MacFamilyTree allows you to do your to-do list management right within the program. It provides for many print-ready charts and new and improved reports. A research assistant analyzes your database and helps you identify missing information in your family tree by asking easy questions about your relatives.

MacFamilyTree


Myblood-line

In Myblood-line there are several ways to look at data. e.g. People, Ancestors, TimeMaps, Chronology... From each view you can easily navigate to the information and modify it. For example, the Ancestors View shows the Timeline of 5 generations, and highlights the Person the cursor is moving over. Myblood-line includes a very powerful web publishing capability. It includes a set of templates, making an up-to-date family tree website only a couple of clicks away. For the more advanced users there is also the possibility of creating or importing your own template (using straight-forward .css files). Myblood-line also features integration with Google Maps to display the exact location of places stored within the program's database. Time maps are also available, tracing the location of events over time. It also integrates with social network sites. Pictures and documents stored in the MyBlood media section can now be shared by using the Picasa online service. It is possible to use group photos in Myblood-line because you can attach people to a photo and identify the person in the photo. You can also attach events to a photo, such as a wedding. Translation to several languages is supported within the program. The program also links to Translation services provided through Google-Translate. Mac OS X 10.4 or higher is required (Intel). Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 are all supported. A free trial version of Myblood-line can be downloaded directly from the program's website. The full program can be purchased for $60. If you purchase both the Windows version and the Macintosh version, your cost is $90.

Myblood-line


ohmiGene

The help integrated into ohmiGene is exclusively in French, which is a shame for English-speakers because this is a very powerful and complete package. ohmiGene is compatible with MacOS X from Tiger (10.4) and later. The main windows include the Main Page, the Individual Card, the Family Card, the Union Card (marriages), a Relation card, an Avatar card, and an Event card. Most of these support an unlimited number of associated files for notes, texts, sources, and "sakouveux" (witness, epoch, etc. an open format not defined by the GEDCOM format which allows you to record what you want). There are many high-quality report formats output as PDF files. Reports include a fan chart, an ancestry notebook, a family tree, individual and family sheets, and some diagrams of descent. It tries to strictly conform to the GEDCOM standard for both importing and exporting. A free trial allows the input of 509 individuals. The regular version costs $40.

ohmiGene


Personal Ancestry Writer II

Personal Ancestry Writer II is freeware. There are two versions. Version 100 runs on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) through 10.7 (Lion). Version 102 runs on Mac OS X 10.6.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.8 (Mountain Lion). Version 100 is no longer being updated. Quoting from their website, "It combines most of the features of the LDS Personal Ancestral File program (PAF) for the Macintosh (for which all development stopped a few years ago after release 2.3.1), with additional features that generate web pages (in HTML), word processing files (in RTF for, e.g., AppleWorks) and desktop publishing files (in MML for FrameMaker)." The program was written especially for people who were using the old LDS genealogy PAF format genealogy databases. In addition to the capabilities provided by these older programs, Personal Ancestry Writer II added the ability to add an unlimited number of people and the ability to add notes of any size, it doubled the length of person and place names, tags permitted in the new GEDCOM standard, the ability to create books with an automatically generated index, and the ability to export to HTML format. Notes are allowed to carry most of the weight of evidence with complete footnote capability. New events included in GEDCOM 5.5 standard are not supported. Same-sex marriages are not supported. The inclusion of audio and video files is not supported. The author considers the merging of two genealogies to be largely impractical because of all the errors and inconsistencies generally brought in by such a merger. So he does not include that capability, either.

PA Writer


Reunion

Reunion by Leister Productions is now up to version 10. It is available on Macs running Mac OS X 10.5 or newer. It is also available on iOS devices. iPhone and iPod Touch must be running iOS 4.3 or newer. iPad must be running iOS 5.1 or newer. A demo version is available for the Mac that permits the entry of up to 50 people in a family file. A download of Reunion can be purchased for $99 from the Reunion Web Store. An upgrade to Reunion 10 costs $50 or more depending on your location. You can get the software on a CD by paying the additional shipping costs. Reunion is a full-featured genealogy program for storing all of your information including names, dates, places, facts, attributes, plenty of room for notes, free-form text, memos, custom fields, contact information, marital status, and research logs. It has plenty of capability for storing media of all types including movies and sound recordings. You can link them to people, families, and source records. You can link multiple multimedia items to a single record, or one multimedia item to multiple records. It even has the built-in capability to search the web from within the program. Pedigree and descendant charts can be created for up to 99 generations. Reunion integrates with Google maps and allows you to draw maps with pin points for locations of births and deaths, etc.

Reunion


Summary

I hope this brief overview has been helpful to you. If you are going to get serious about doing genealogy on your Apple machines, you need to be serious about the software that you pick to work with. Though the GEDCOM standard lets you export your data from one software package to one that imports GEDCOM data, as I said in the beginning there may be some data that does not transfer completely, especially information about the sources you used to document your findings and possibly links to the photos or documents you were able to include. So if you start out with a program that you become unhappy with, it may take hours to transfer your information from one program to another. So consider your choice of software carefully. If a demo version is available, grab it and play with it for awhile. Is it easy to understand and use? What kind of support comes along with the software? A pretty interface may hide flaws and/or omissions underneath. Free software is always nice, but to get what you want you may have to spend some money up-front. How important is the ability to use your portable devices while recording your information? How meticulous do you want to be in your research? How important is it that the genealogy program does everything? Maybe you will find a program outside of the genealogy program that would be much better to use for keeping a research log. How important are the family stories? Does the software provide a good way to include them? Does the software permit tying together people in non-standard families? Of course, one thing that is almost impossible to predict is whether the software is going to be around a few years from now.

Good luck in finding something that really does a good job of helping you to record your family and its history.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Great news! We've increased your internet speed."

Comcast has been upgrading their services and rolling out a new, faster internet gradually to their customers. I was notified by email that I'm now part of the elite group. The email said,
"Great news! We've increased your internet speed.
"Now the download speed on your Performance Internet service is up to 33% faster with speeds up to 20 Mbps and we have doubled your upload speeds up to 4 Mbps."

But also included in this email was a side note:
"Ensure your modem is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem and can take advantage of this speed increase"
My modem was too old. I would have to upgrade it to take advantage of the new speed.

Time For a New Cable Modem


So I headed to Radio Shack and picked up a new cable-modem. The one I picked out was the Motorola SURFboard SB6121. I thought I should be able to unplug the old modem and substitute the new one. But after fiddling with it for awhile and even reading the sparce directions that came with it, I couldn't get it to work. So I called Comcast.

I learned that they have to register the modem in their system before it will work. In the meantime, I was able to use my neighbor's wi-fi. I'm sure glad there is someone besides me in the neighborhood who keeps their wi-fi open for others to use. I've been able to solve several problems over the past few years by using their wi-fi.

The first call to Comcast was placed around 5 pm EST on a Saturday. By the accent of the person I spoke with, I may have been speaking with someone in Europe or Africa. He had me go through a series of steps to diagnose the problem, and then said he would take the necessary steps to get the modem registered. When things still were not working around 11 pm, I called again. This time the technician identified herself as someone in Indonesia. I, of course, had to go through the same diagnostics with her. She then said she would make sure the modem got registered.

My next call was Sunday morning. This time I got someone in the U.S. So we went through the diagnostic steps again. When we were again unsuccessful in getting it to work, he said they would send a technician out Monday morning.

Comcast logo

The technician from Comcast came to my house about 10:30. It turned out Comcast had still not done what the folks I'd spoken with on the phone said they were going to do. Which meant that my new cable modem was still not registered with Comcast. So I was blocked from getting onto the internet.

The technician finally got the modem registered. I now had access to the internet as long as I was plugged directly into the cable modem with an ethernet cable. However, we still couldn't get the Airport Extreme wireless router to work. Since the connection between the Airport Extreme and my laptop was not a Comcast problem, he left me to work on a solution for that. So after lunch I worked with the Airport and Network utilities to try to get the wireless connection to work. After trying various tactics to isolate the problem, it came down to the fact that the Airport Extreme was not talking to the new cable modem.

So I made an appointment with one of the Apple stores that is close to me so I could talk to the people behind the Genius Bar to see what they could tell me.

When I got there, the young lady came to the same result I'd gotten at home. They had high-speed internet coming into their store. My Airport Extreme, which had been working brilliantly until I started this upgrade, would not connect to their internet. I had bought my Airport when they first came out. The Genius lady said her computer listed it as a "vintage" model, no longer supported. Which meant another dip into the bank account to get a new Airport Extreme.

Time For a New Airport Extreme


When I got home I installed the new Airport Extreme in place of the old one, connecting it to the new cable modem with an ethernet cable. I then plugged an ethernet cable directly from the Airport Extreme into the ethernet port in my laptop. Using the Network Preferences under System Preferences, I said I was connected using ethernet. I was able to access the internet. I was immediately informed that the new Airport Extreme needed a firmware update. So I went through that procedure. But at least now I knew that the new Airport Extreme was talking to the new cable modem.

I then unplugged the ethernet cable from the Airport Extreme to my laptop and chose "Wi-Fi" in the Network Preferences. Network Utility indicated that I was still connected using the ethernet cable even though I was using the Airport wirelessly. This really puzzled me, and I continued to try to get the Wi-fi setup to work. I was playing with the Airport Utility, Network Preferences, and Network Utility making sure that everything was configured correctly. Finally, when I went to identify whether or not I was on the internet, all of a sudden the green light came on on the Airport Extreme and I heard a pretty loud click, and from that point on I had wireless Internet connection. I was connected! Finally!

I've had it for about a week now. It has seemed to make a difference on how quickly pages display coming from the internet. It definitely makes a difference as to how quickly apps are updated on my iPad and iPod Touch.

The one problem I've been having is that I seem to drop the connection frequently. That never happened with the old set-up. In other words, things will slow down and I'll check, and I'll be connected to my neighbor's wi-fi network instead of mine. So that means I need to go into Network Settings and switch back to my wi-fi network. Sometimes I'll be updating an app on my iPod Touch and I'll get a message saying that I can not currently connect with the iTunes store. I have to go into Network Settings on the iPod Touch and turn wi-fi off. When I turn it back on and reconnect to my wi-fi network, everything works fine again. I'm thinking that if these anomalies continue, I may take the Airport Extreme back and try another one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Songza is my new favorite music streaming app

I have found a new favorite music streaming App for my iPod. It is called Songza. The great thing about listening to music on Songza is that rather than being restricted to listening to the music you happen to own in iTunes, or listening to music based on genre, artist, or album, you are given the opportunity to listen to music chosen by "Music Experts" based on the time of day and the mood you are in. I have found that when listening to Pandora or Last.fm, for example, I begin to hear the same songs over and over. With Songza, I am listening to new artists and new songs that I have never heard before.

Songza is available for the iOS Apple devices such as iPhone, iPod, and iPad. It is also available on Android and on the Kindle Fire. It will also work from within any browser at http://Songza.com. I was surprised when I searched for Songza on Google, I was able to go to http://Songza.com/ and it recognized that I was Brian Mason. It obviously used my Facebook sign-in because my Facebook profile picture appeared next to my name.

Songza

The title screen on an iPod Touch

When you open Songza in your browser there are three tabs: Music Concierge, Popular, and Browse All. There is also a search box.

The Music Concierge


The Concierge is the most exciting part about Songza. Based on the day of the week and the time of day you are presented with a major environment to start with. For example, on Saturday night the choices were: Bedtime, Entertaining Cool Friends, a House Party, Getting Lucky, Sweaty Dance Party, and Coming Down.

Based on what is going on in your life at the time, you select one. Then you are presented with sub-environments to choose from. For example, under Bedtime the selections were: Acoustic Bedtime, Soothing Voices, Hypnotic Electric, New and Old Bedtime Favorites, Sleepy Indie, and Dreaming Indie.

If you chose Soothing Voices from that list, there were two selections to choose from: Ladies Singing You to Sleep, and Men Singer-Songwriters.

Concierge

The Music Concierge screen on an iPod Touch

When I pulled out the application on Sunday late night I had six choices: Bedtime, Studying (no lyrics), Unwinding, Popular Genres, Reading, and Brand-new Music.

When I chose Bedtime from that list, the sub-choices were: Acoustic Bedtime, Soothing Voices, Hypnotic Electric, New and Old Bedtime Favorites, Nature Sounds, and Quiet Jazz. So you can see that the choices under Bedtime were similar, but they were not all the same as they were for Bedtime on Saturday night.

If I would have chosen Unwinding instead of Bedtime, the choices were: Mellow Indie, Sophisticated Art Pop, Great Singer-Songwriters, Relaxing and Eclectic Mixes, Atmospheric Indie, and An Evening At the Beach.

Other Ways to Find Music


If you select the Popular tab from the home page, you will see playlists that are trending with users of Songza listed from the most popular on down. There is also a list of playlists that are the most popular for all time listed starting with the most popular.

Popular

The Popular tab selected on an iPad

Under the Browse All tab you have six other tabs, Genres, Activities, Moods, Decades, Culture and Record-store Clerk.

If you decide you want to listen to music based on the genre, there are plenty to choose from all the way from "Blues & Blues Rock" to "Showtunes".

Genres

The Genres tab selected on the Songza web site in a web browser

Or you can select the music you want to listen to based on activity, from "Ballroom Dancing" to "Yoga". If you want to listen to music based on your mood, you can choose moods from "Aggressive" to "Warm". Music by decade goes back to the 1930's, but the 60's, 70's, 80's, and later are broken up into two to four sub-groups. Cultural classifications include, for example, "Today's hits", "iTunes charts","Award Shows", "Best of lists", various holidays, television, and video games.

The Record-store Clerk is something like the Concierge, but provides you with a long list of activities in alphabetical order unlike the Music Concierge, which restricts the list of activities based on the time or day of the week.

The search box will help you find playlists based on your search term. For example, I entered "Enya" and was presented with playlists "that prominently feature Enya" such as "New Age Yoga", "Gilmore Girls", and "Music from Martin Scorsese Movies".

You can contribute your own playlists to Songza. This will allow people to listen to music that you created in your playlist. However there's a note that says, "Due to licensing restrictions, playlist contributors cannot listen to their own playlist, but everyone else can."

I do not know how often the songs within playlists change, but Songza will provide you with lots of opportunities to explore music and find music you will enjoy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Brutal Deluxe Releases DeluxeWare CD As Free Download

An announcement was recently made that is of importance to anyone who is still interested in the Apple IIGS computer. Brutal Deluxe Software, producers in the past of many wonderful software titles for the Apple IIGS, has recently made freely available their DeluxeWare CD-ROM that they originally released in 1996.

This CD-ROM contains 650 MB of public domain software for the Apple IIGS. It can be downloaded from http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/apple2gs/deluxeware/ and is available as a .DMG image which can be directly used on an Apple IIGS Computer or an Apple IIGS emulator, and may be translated to .ISO for other platforms.

When you download the software from the Brutal Deluxe website, it is received as a .ZIP file. When you un-zip the compressed file, the resultant file is a .dmg, or disk image, file. I run Sweet16 as my Apple IIGS emulator of choice on my MacBook Pro. This .dmg file can be directly mounted by running Sweet16, and then from within the program, mounting the disk image.

DeluxeWare mounted

A screen shot of the DeluxeWare disk open on the Apple IIGS Desktop running in emulation using Sweet16

I was surprised when I opened the disk to discover that everything is in French, but it is easily translated. When you open up the disk you are presented with 10 folders. The first one is an empty folder called ".Trashes", but after that there are folders called "Apple", "Demos", "Documentations", "Graphique", "HyperMedia", "Icons", "Jeux" (games), "Musique", the "System" folder, and "Utilitaires". Here is a brief look at what is inside.

A Look Around


Inside the "Apple" folder appear folders for various Apple IIGS ProDOS systems. System 4.0, 5.02, 5.04, and 6.01 are all included. In addition there's a folder for HyperCard IIGS. So if you want to see what it was like to run previous systems on the Apple IIGS you can play around with the systems in these folders.

In the "Demos" folder there are two folders, "Fun", and "Logiciels" (Software). Inside the "Logiciels" folder are such gems as ANSITERM 2.0, a communications program, DBMaster Demo, a premiere database program, Deluxe Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, and ProTerm 3.1, a premiere communications program.

The "Documentations" folder has four folders inside: "Informations", "Magazines", "Programmation" (programming), and "Sources". Inside the "Magazines" folder are eight folders: "Apple.II", "GS.on.the.Rock", "PongLife", "PowerGS.3", "PowerGS.4", "PowerGS.5", "Stack.Central.0", "ToolBox.Mag". "Stack.Central" is the HyperStudio magazine. Inside the "Programmation" folder there's even a tutorial for programming in the C-language.

The graphics folder has four folders: "Animations", "Images", "Logiciels" (Software), and "Slideshow". Inside the software folder are all kinds of picture converters including SHRConverter, a super high-resolution converter, PS.Convert, the PrintShop graphics converter, and others as well. There are also Mandelbrot programs.

The "Hypermedia" folder has two folders: one for programs and one for stacks.

The games folder has 174 items. So there are a lot of games that you can play.

The music folder has two folders, one for programs and one for music. The programs folder has many different music programs including NoiseTracker, SoniqTracker, ModZap, etc.

If you dig down through the "System" folder to the "Fonts" folder, you will find you have access to 170 TrueType fonts.

In the "Utilitaires" folder there are nine folders including "Archivers", "Communication", "Editeur.Texte" (text editors), "Programmation" (programming), "Resource", and "Utils". In the text editors folder there are such famous text editors for the IIGS as CoolWriter, Emacs, GS.Write.2.0, Teach, and WordWorks. Inside the "Utils" folder is "DBMaster.V5" containing DBMaster. If you are not familiar with it, this is a very powerful database program. Also you will find Diversi.Cache.3, DOS.3.3, GS.Font.Editor, IconEd.2.0, and Sneeze.2.2

The programs will only run under ProDOS. To use them, you need to copy them to another disk image that has been formatted under ProDOS so that you can run it from that disk. They will not run from the DeluxeWare disc, which is an HFS format disk.

I have barely scratched the surface listing the treasures found on this disk image. The bottom line is you can enjoy hours and hours of time with your Apple IIGS when you get this monstrous collection of software from Brutal Deluxe. And it is all free!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The National Geographic Interactive Magazine for the iPad

A while back I ran across a promotion for the National Geographic magazine on the iPad. You could buy individual issues for $5, or a year's subscription for $20.  I got the year's subscription, and I am so glad I did.  The iPad version of the magazine is incredible!  

It is like exploring an adventure video game.  The cover of the June 2012 magazine is a picture of a solar flare, except it isn't a picture, it's a video.  The story inside the magazine has a whole bunch of other videos of the sun.  

sun
Another article in that issue talks about climbing Mount Everest.  There are pictures, interactive maps, videos, links to other sources, even shots of stories about Mt. Everest taken from earlier editions of National Geographic.  There is one picture inside an ice cave that allows you to look 360ยบ all around you.

interactive map
The July issue has an article on languages that are disappearing as their speakers die off and their children don't learn the languages. The article has audio of people speaking the language.

You can't go through the magazine page by page.  Rather you go to a page and then have two or three different directions you can go from there depending on what you are most interested in.  It is a lot of fun and it's dazzling to look at and read. If other magazines can match this high standard set by the National Geographic, we are in for some delightful adventures just by reading magazines on our iPads.

I just went back up to the National Geographic web site, and they have reduced the subscription costs. It appears that U.S. and Canadian subscribers can now get a one-year subscription for $15. This also gives you the ability to access all of their archived magazines clear back to 1888. I have never enjoyed reading a magazine so much.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Use Google Maps to Get a Preview of Where You Are Going

When you are driving, do you rely on landmarks rather than street signs to tell you where to go?

This is fine as long as you are in your hometown and you are familiar with the route. However, if you are in a strange town or in a part of your hometown you have never been in before, you have to rely on street names to get where you're going. But I have discovered that with Google Maps you can actually do both. If you want to see what an intersection looks like before you get there, you can use your web browser on your Mac or your iPad.

Go to Google Maps


First you need to go to Google maps. You can do this in your web browser on your Mac or on your iPad by typing maps.google.com in the location box in your browser.

Next you need to find the location you want to view. Do this by searching for the location in the Google search box.

Map with pin
You will be presented with a street map of the location that you searched for with a pin at that location if you were specific enough in your search.

On the Mac, you will see a small picture of the location in the left panel with a small icon of a little person in the picture. If you are using the iPad you will see the map with the little icon of the person in the lower right-hand corner. Click or tap on that little person icon.

Little man icon
That will bring up a big picture of the location. By clicking and dragging your mouse on the computer or by dragging your finger on the iPad you can rotate the picture to see a 180° view of this location, viewing it from all angles.

Picture of intersection
On the Mac, you can also move the little person icon around on the Map View to see different views of the location. You will see a small green platform under the person with a pointer pointing in the direction the person will be viewing the scene. There are not an infinite number of choices here. It will only settle down when it is pointing in a direction for which there is an image.

Another thing you can do on the Mac (but not on the iPad) is split the screen so that both the Map View and the Street View are on the screen at the same time. There is a small icon, barely visible in the lower right corner of the map. If you click on that when you are in the Street View, you will see a small square appear with a bit of the map inside. Now you have two choices, to make the map bigger or hide it again. You will click on the arrow icon in the upper left corner of the square if you want to make it bigger. You will click on the arrow icon in the lower right corner of the square to make it disappear.

If you make it bigger, you will see both the Street View and the Map View. The Map View will have the little man icon with the green platform indicating which way he is looking in order to see the Street View that is on the screen.

both views
There are a couple more icons I want to point out. They are sitting in the upper right hand corner of the Street View. The one on the right is an "X". That closes Street View and takes you back to Map View. The one on the left makes the Street View take up the entire screen.

one-way signs
In this instance when I was looking at the intersection of Georgia Ave., NW and Quincy St., NW in Washington DC, I could see that if I were heading south on Georgia, I could not turn left into Quincy Street because it was a one-way street. Without this information I would have had problems if I drove directly to this intersection before consulting Google Maps.

Google Maps has certainly presented us with a fun way to view our surroundings or even preview places before we get there.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Places in GEDitCOM II

I have been using GEDitCOM II for doing my genealogy. I have really grown to like it and respect it as a good genealogy program. For me the interface is very intuitive, and it provides a lot of functionality. Furthermore, it provides the ability to compile very complete information about your ancestors and relatives.

In this article, I want to share my enthusiasm for the way GEDitCOM has implemented a great way to identify those locations where events pertaining to a person's genealogy occurred, such as births, deaths, marriages, etc.

Place Advisor


GEDitCOM's most recent innovation is the Place Advisor. This part of the program allows you to identify a location by drilling down from the country to the state, to the county, to the city, and even to a suburb if that is appropriate. GEDitCOM identifies that location through a boundary box which includes the place that you're trying to identify. It also ties in to Google Maps, so it gives you a map and the geographical coordinates to identify the location. You can also see within the map places of interest which can be identified such as churches and cemeteries.

United States Utah
United States Utah
Uintah County Vernal
Uintah County Vernal


This contrasts with every other genealogy program I've looked at that give you the ability to enter a location tied to a map. They all identify the location as a point on a map. Well, for me, Seattle, Washington, for example, is not a point on a map. It is an area which is better described as lying within a boundary.

It is very easy in GEDitCOM to find a location because all you have to do is drill down from the biggest container to the smallest container. It is also very easy to do a search. For example, if you know the city and the state, but you don't know the county, call up the state, and then do a search on the city name. It will search for the city within the state. The results will include the name of the county.

Vernal search
When entering place names, you no longer need to worry about correctly formatting the name of the location since everything is selected from a drop-down list and the formatting is taken care of for you automatically. There is very little typing involved so the possibility of making a typo error is eliminated. When genealogists have to type place names into their genealogy, they often end up with a mess like this (the numbers in parentheses are the numbers of entries that use the name shown):

Buckingham House (8)
Buckingham House, London, England (3)
Buckingham House, St. James Park, London, England (1)
Buckingham Palac, England (1)
Buckingham, Palace, England (3)
Buckingham, Palace, London, England (18)
Buckingham, Palace, Music Room, England (2)


In fact, in the above list of seven names, there are really only two places that are being identified, assuming Buckingham House and Buckingham Palace are two different places. I just went through all the place names in my genealogy and eliminated almost 200 names out of an original list of around 750 by cleaning the data. GEDitCOM made this process very easy.

Use of Current Name or Historical Name


Genealogists have been confounded by the problem of identifying historical locations. This has become more problematic recently because of the ability to identify locations with GPS coordinates. But when you're using geolocation, the current names of a location do not always correspond with the historical names. So the quandary has arisen whether to use the current location name or the historical, and there have been all kinds of workarounds proposed. (See, for example, this blog post by Randy Seaver discussing how he is handling historical names for places: Geneamusings.com)

With GEDitCOM II this problem is solved because once you have identified the current location you can then add the historical record of the names of that location or place. This is accomplished by the software creating custom fields which are available to the user.

The standard format for genealogy data is called GEDCOM. Because the place information is created within the GEDitCOM program, the information will not transfer intact to any other genealogy program. GEDitCOM does not provide an app for mobile devices. This means that if you want to use your iDevice on the road, you can use an application built for the iDevice which can export GEDCOM data. This will allow you to only enter basic genealogy information and export the GEDCOM file into GEDitCOM. However, the place information will have to be entered once you get back to your Mac.

With the use of the additional fields provided by GEDitCOM, you can list all the names which have been in use for the location and provide the dates during which time those names were used. Then you can decide which of the names to use as the primary name. The primary name is the one used when running reports. Thus you can choose to use the historical name that was in use at the time of the event, or you can choose to use the current name. The decision is yours to make. I personally will be using the historical name.

Bliss Idaho

The GEDCOM standard used by practically all genealogy programs allows for the basic genealogy information to be shared among genealogists and among genealogy programs. Most genealogy programs have deviated from the standard with the use of custom fields. I really like the way GEDitCOM has implemented the identification of places. This by itself is enough to make me stay with this program and use it rather than any other.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Need More Memory!

Once I had Livedrive up and running (see my blog post for January 10, 2013) I noticed that I was getting the "Spinning Beachball" a lot more frequently than I had in the past. My system really slowed down when Time Machine came on. So I was getting very frustrated with the wait times before I could do anything.

I complained to my son, and he suggested that I open up Activity Monitor to see what was going on. Activity Monitor is an application that comes with your operating system and is found in the "Utilities" folder. When you open Activity Monitor there are five tabs: CPU, System Memory, Disk Activity, Disk Image, and Network. if you click the System Memory tab you are presented with a screen that shows all the processes that are running on your computer. There are a number of columns, and you can click on the column heading to sort by that column. If you click on the Real Memory column you can see which tasks are using the most memory. If you look down at the bottom, you see a graphical representation of the memory usage.

What I noticed immediately was that the free memory was very small, often as small as 20 MB. It was no wonder I was getting the Beachball. I didn't have enough memory to do anything.

Getting More Memory


I have a MacBook Pro laptop, and when I bought it I bought it with the most memory available at the time, 4 GB. But my son did some research and discovered that I could now install double that, up to 8 GB.

The next day I went up on the Internet to try to find out where I could get this additional memory. When you are shopping for RAM for your computer you have to be very sure that you get the correct chips for your particular model. In my research the only company that offered the RAM that would work in my laptop was Other World Computing. No other company that I looked at listed my particular laptop as one of the computers for which they sold RAM.

I have always had good service when I've shopped with Other World Computing. This time was no exception. I received the box with my new RAM chips very quickly.

Installing the new RAM chips was very easy. On the bottom of my MacBook Pro there are 10 screws. It is just a matter of simply removing those 10 screws with a small Phillips head screwdriver. You have to be very careful to keep track of which screw came out of which hole. They are not all the same size. The bottom of the laptop fits snugly, and so you will have to gently pry it off to get it to come off.

bottom of laptop
The above picture shows the location of the ten screws.

Once you have the cover removed you can see the RAM chips right in the center of the computer. There is one chipset sitting right on top of the second chipset.

bottom removed

Once you are sure you have no possibility of discharging static electricity from your body, it is simply a matter of spreading the plastic tabs on each side of the RAM chipset apart towards the outside of the computer to allow the chipset to spring up. Once it has done that, it is a simple matter to just pull it out of the slot in which it sits.

top chipset released

With the top chipset out of the way, you do the same thing to remove the bottom one.

one chipset removed

both chipsets removed

The new chipsets go back into the computer the same way the old ones came out. Because of the way the chipsets are slotted, it is impossible to put them in upside down. It also does not matter which one goes in first. Aim the first chipset to go into the bottom slot. While spreading the plastic tabs apart, push the chipset into its slot and allow this chipset to drop down into the computer.

one chipset installed

The second chipset goes into the top slot the same way. The final thing that must be done is to simply place the bottom of the computer back on and reinstall the screws into their proper holes. Some of the screws are very tiny and my fingers have never felt so big as they did when trying to hang onto these tiny screws and put them into their holes.

Running with 8GB of RAM Installed


Now for the final test: to turn the computer on. There were absolutely no problems. It booted right up. So next I went to the Apple menu, clicked on it, and went to the submenu called About This Mac. There in the window that popped up I could see that I now had 8 GB of memory.

about this mac 8gb

When I ran Activity Monitor I could see that I had lots of free memory. This looked very promising.

activity monitor system memory

I soon discovered, however, that now that I have this additional memory, applications are very anxious to use it. You can see from the screenshot below how my browser, iCab, is using almost a gigabyte of real memory and that my free memory is down to a little under 800 MB. In fact I'm using 7.23 GB of memory: 1.17 GB of wired memory, 3.54 GB of active memory, and 2.52 GB of interactive memory. In addition, 448 GB are being used in virtual memory which is the memory stored on the hard drive.

activity monitor 4gb used

I did some more research in the Apple discussion forums to try to learn what's going on here. One of the things that was said is that inactive memory is just the same as free memory. It is available to be used if required. The difference is that when you close an application, some memory used by it has its status changed to inactive. When you load the same application again, it will reload faster. If other applications require memory and there is not more free available, the computer will start using the inactive memory.

One of the participants in the discussions had installed 32 GB in a Mac (obviously not a laptop). He put up a screenshot of the Activity Monitor which showed that he only had 30.9 MB of free memory. 26.77 GB of his memory was tied up as inactive memory.

activity monitor 32gb installed

More RAM Helps


So the solution to memory problems isn't necessarily the installation of more memory. It is more a matter of managing the applications that are running. Everyone on the discussion boards has said that restarting the Mac solves the memory problems. It clears out the used memory, especially the inactive memory.

Since I installed my 8 GB of memory I've had no more frustrating days with the spinning Beachballs driving me crazy. I have also changed the way I work to shut down any application that's not being used and restarting my laptop about once a week. Nevertheless, I feel that installing the additional 4 GB of memory has definitely improved my computer life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ear-horn for the iPhone

I originally saw this on Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (See the posting here.)

You know how you get better sound if you cup your hand around the speaker on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad? Well, this company in Los Angeles has developed a paper horn that you can attach to your iPhone that basically does the same thing, amplifying the sound without the need for any additional electricity or batteries. You also no longer need to hold your device in an awkward position to get the desired increase in volume.

eco-amp

The "eco-amp" is constructed from recycled post-consumer fiber papers and comes in 24 different designs. It costs USD$10. It can be used with the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5. You get two eco-amps with each order. For more information, this is their web site: http://www.eco-made.com/