Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the best-selling Take Control ebooks.

 

 

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Type Faster by Competing in Races

A fun way to improve your typing speed and accuracy is to join an online typing competition at typrX. This typing competition keeps track of your typing speed, while allowing you to compete against other people, either around the world in public races or with friends in private races. To set up a private race with your friends, follow these simple steps.

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  • You can click the Delay Countdown button to add 10 seconds to the clock if you are waiting on your friend to join the race.

Visit typrX

 
 

While all the articles in each mailed edition of TidBITS are available as individual articles, we also archive each edition in three forms (substitute an issue number for number):

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TidBITS #1119 on 2012-03-26

Apple’s third-generation iPad features strongly this week, as Adam reports on its impressive first-weekend sales, Sharon Zardetto explores selling her old iPad 2 to Amazon, and Matt Neuburg solves the mystery of why his books failed to transfer to iBooks on his new iPad. Matt also explains how you should hold your iPhone 4 or 4S for best performance with different types of calls, based on which of the phone’s two microphones will be used. For those who wish it were possible to sketch on paper and have the drawing automatically transferred to the Mac, Steve McCabe contributes a review of Wacom’s Inkling, an interesting device that is neither a graphics tablet nor a digital note-taker. And if you’re looking for an app to store your Inkling sketches, consider DEVONthink, coupled with Joe Kissell’s just-updated “Take Control of Getting Started with DEVONthink 2, Second Edition.” Notable software releases this week include CrashPlan and CrashPlan PRO 3.2, Skype 5.6.0.143, Keyboard Maestro 5.1, Fantastical 1.2.2, and Apple Software Installer Update 1.0.

TidBITS #1118 on 2012-03-19

We don’t focus on financial news much, but Adam found some fascinating details in Apple’s announcement that it would start using some of its cash to pay quarterly dividends and to repurchase stock. Other articles in this wide-ranging issue include Jeff Carlson’s explanation of how to use iTunes Match to get higher-quality, DRM-free copies of your music; Adam’s review of the CloudPull utility for backing up your Google Docs, Gmail, and other Google data locally; and Glenn Fleishman’s analysis of a recent Elcomsoft white paper criticizing the security of iOS password-keeping apps. Finally, we’re pleased to welcome as a long-term sponsor Fujitsu, makers of the ScanSnap family of document scanners. Notable software releases this week include Aperture 3.2.3, Sandvox 2.5.3, and Firefox 11.0.

TidBITS #1117 on 2012-03-12

Apple news once again drives our coverage, with Apple’s announcement last week of the third-generation iPad, the third-generation Apple TV, iOS 5.1, iPhoto for iOS, and various updated iOS apps. Less emphasized was Apple’s cancellation of iWork.com, a stillborn collaboration service that never made it out of beta. In other news, Intuit has released Quicken Mac 2007 Lion Compatible, and we’re pleased to bring you our latest ebook, “Take Control of BBEdit.” Finally, Adam takes you on a hypertextual tour of some delightfully interconnected blog posts about how big media companies suffer from unauthorized copying largely because they’re not meeting the needs of their customers. Notable software releases this week include Safari 5.1.4; iTunes 10.6; iBooks Author 1.1; GarageBand ’11 6.0.5; iPhoto ’11 9.2.2; DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.1.2; Adobe Lightroom 4.0; and Parallels Desktop 7.0.15055.

TidBITS #1116 on 2012-03-05

We’re busy preparing for Apple’s iPad announcement on Wednesday, but we have some great articles for you to read in the meantime. Adam leads with a look at how AT&T is now throttling unlimited plan users (their bandwidth, not them personally) when they hit 3 GB of usage and how affected users might be able to fight back. Then Jeff Carlson reviews Reflection, a Mac OS X application that acts as an AirPlay receiver, so you can mirror your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S display on the Mac, which is a boon to speakers, educators, and anyone who needs to demo iOS apps to a group. Finally, we look into Apple’s twice-delayed requirement that apps in the Mac App Store be sandboxed to see how it impacts developers and users alike. Notable software releases this week include Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update; Hazel 3.0; GraphicConverter 7.6.2; DEVONthink Personal, Pro, and Pro Office 2.3.3; Firmware Update for MacBook Pro (15-inch, late 2008 models); HandBrake 0.9.6; Fetch 5.7.1; TextExpander 3.4.1; and iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0.

TidBITS #1115 on 2012-02-27

In the category of articles we hate to have to write, Adam leads off this week’s issue with a detailed look at the Flashback malware, which has morphed from masquerading as a Flash Player installer to exploiting Java vulnerabilities and suckering users with a fake self-signed certificate prompt. For the rest of the issue, put your feet up and read along with Michael Cohen as he shares his story of getting Find My Mac to work, and with Steve McCabe as he ponders how best to replace a dying iMac — it’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine how you might solve a similar problem. Notable software releases this week include iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0; Firmware Updates for iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro; ScreenFlow 3.0.5; Camino 2.1.1; and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 5.7.2.

TidBITS #1114 on 2012-02-20

The big news this week — and nearly our entire issue — revolves around OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which Apple has released in developer preview form. Rich Mogull, who was briefed early by Apple due to his position in the Macintosh security world, explains what’s new and interesting about Mountain Lion and then goes into more depth about Gatekeeper, the new security technology in Mountain Lion that promises to eliminate the possibility of a malware epidemic. For those still living in the present, Adam explains how he tracked down and eliminated a troubling performance problem in 10.7 Lion. Notable software releases this week include Default Folder X 4.4.9, VLC 2.0, Bookle 1.0.4, and Airfoil 4.6.5.

TidBITS #1113 on 2012-02-13

Finally, a breather from non-stop breaking news! This week we step back a bit to share some useful evergreen content from a variety of contributors. Glenn Fleishman leads with a short article pointing to a 15-minute screencast he has created to walk users through the new AirPort Utility 6.0, and Marshall Clow joins us with a review of the improbably named iSesamo (it’s a spudger, and if that doesn’t help, you’ll really have to read the article). While trudging through an hour-long installation process to get a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner working, Michael Cohen points out that hardware companies need to devote just as much attention to their software. Steve McCabe contributes a look at FileMaker Go for the iPhone, which lets you use FileMaker Pro databases while out and about. Finally, Tonya anchors the issue with a detailed look at some of the real-world strategies she has developed for switching from Microsoft Word to Apple’s Pages. Notable software releases this week include Bookle 1.0.3; Piezo 1.1.2; Firmware Updates for iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air; Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.4; and ChronoSync 4.3 and ChronoAgent 1.3.

TidBITS #1112 on 2012-02-06

We have two big pieces of our own news this week: the release of the Bookle EPUB reader for Mac OS X and a 50-percent-off Take Control sale to celebrate. Apple’s news isn’t as good — last week’s release of Mac OS X 10.7.3 and Security Update 2012-001 for Snow Leopard were both marred by significant problems; Apple had to update the security update and pull the delta updater for 10.7.3. More interesting was the release of AirPort Utility 6.0, which provides a whizzy new graphical view of your wireless network, but removes advanced features from the previous version — wireless expert Glenn Fleishman has all the details. Glenn also continues our Macworld | iWorld coverage with a piece about using Find My Friends and a list of our video appearances at the show. Notable software releases this week include Audio Hijack Pro 2.10.1, Sandvox 2.5, Firefox 10.0, and Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3.

TidBITS #1111 on 2012-01-30

We’re back from Macworld | iWorld with oodles of coverage for your enjoyment. Adam provides an overview of what the show was like, Jeff Carlson focuses on iOS-related photo and video highlights, Glenn ponders the preponderance of booth babes, and we all contribute to a lengthy list of cool products we saw at the show. Also this week, Michael Cohen reports on Apple’s Q1 2012 financial results, which were surprisingly strong, even for Apple. Notable software releases this week include firmware updates for the Mac mini, MacBook, and 13-inch MacBook Pro; PDFpen and PDFpenPro 5.7; Fantastical 1.2; Yojimbo 3.0.3; and BusyCal 1.6.2.

TidBITS #1110 on 2012-01-23

Apple’s special event last week may have been targeted at the education market, but the new iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U apps — and how they’re being seen by both those who create books and those who read them — dominate this week’s issue of TidBITS. Adam covers the basics of Apple’s announcements, and also looks at why much of the consternation is happening because people are missing that Apple is aiming everything at the education market. Michael Cohen also weighs in with commentary about why iBooks Author will be a big deal in education, but taking the opposite view is physics teacher Steve McCabe, who argues that iBooks textbooks offer a warmed-up take on twenty-year-old ideas. In our own publishing news, it may not be an enhanced iBooks textbook, but Glenn Fleishman’s new “Take Control of Screen Sharing in Lion” still has all the help you need to choose and use the right method of screen sharing for your needs. And speaking of Glenn, he also runs down the latest changes in AT&T’s data plans for iPhones and iPads. Notable software releases this week include iTunes 10.5.3, Typinator 5, QuarkXPress 9.2, and Default Folder X 4.4.8.

TidBITS #1109 on 2012-01-16

We’re getting ready for next week’s Macworld Expo, er… Macworld | iWorld, so if you’re going, be sure to check out the TidBITS Events list for where we’ll be. In other news this week, Adam weighs in on the SOPA/PIPA issue with a perspective that hasn’t seen much play — that of what it’s like to be a small publisher whose work is used without permission. Adam also reviews Third Rail Mobility’s Slim Case System (a battery-powered case for the iPhone 4 and 4S), and Glenn Fleishman proposes some fixes for preventing unexpected sounds from iPhones during performances. Also, our latest ebook is Kirk McElhearn’s “Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ, Second Edition!” Notable software releases this week include GraphicConverter X 7.6, BBEdit 10.1.1, and the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Public Beta.

TidBITS #1108 on 2012-01-09

With little happening in the way of actual news this week, we focus on the practical, leading off with Adam’s examination of Lumin, a simple iOS app that turns your iPhone into an illuminated magnifier. Then Michael Cohen looks at Snapseed, a photo-enhancement app that displays some innovative interface techniques. Moving into the Mac and networking worlds, guest contributor Marshall Clow explains how to set up a simple blog with the Markdown- and Dropbox-driven service Calepin, and Matt Neuburg shares how he used iTunes Match to gain access to a subset of his music on all his devices.

TidBITS #1107 on 2012-01-02

Happy New Year! There was a surprising amount of news over the holiday break, and Glenn Fleishman was quick off the mark to cover Intuit’s plans to release a Lion-compatible version of Quicken 2007, GadgetTrak’s new CameraTrace service for tracing stolen cameras, LogMeIn’s new remote-access app for iOS, GoDaddy’s dropping of support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and Apple’s addition of a “Complete My Season” option for iTunes Store-purchased TV shows. Glenn also collected the top 10 most-read TidBITS stories of 2011, Adam followed up on the success of our TidBITS membership program and wrote the most popular story of the year about Google’s “Let It Snow” Easter egg, and Michael Cohen tracked down how iCloud’s Photo Stream interacts with multiple iPhoto libraries. Notable software releases since our last issue include Piezo 1.1 and iTunes 10.5.2.

TidBITS #1106 on 2011-12-12

We need your help! Become a TidBITS member today and help keep TidBITS going! Details about our new TidBITS membership program are in this issue, along with Adam’s instructions for getting Snow Leopard’s iCal to talk with iCloud and his review of Rogue Amoeba’s new Piezo audio recording app for the Mac. You’ll also find Tonya’s look at what’s new in iBooks 1.5 for iOS and Mark Anbinder’s coverage of the new version of the TweetDeck Twitter client, which no longer relies on Adobe AIR. Notable software releases this week include SOHO Labels 6, Aperture 3.2.2, TextExpander 3.4, and Keynote 5.1.1. Finally, note that this is our final email issue of TidBITS for 2011; look for your next issue on 2 January 2012, and in the meantime, our best wishes for a relaxing holiday break!

TidBITS #1105 on 2011-12-05

We find ourselves in the middle of a pair of controversies this week. First, an iPhone app that promises (and delivers) tethering for a one-time $14.99 fee is approved in the App Store and becomes an instant hit, but Apple quickly pulls it, citing a weak excuse. And then there’s the hullabaloo about Siri supposedly toeing an anti-abortion line with responses to particular queries; Adam explains why it’s unreasonable to attribute Apple corporate policy to anything Siri says. Also this week, Jeff Carlson looks at several iOS apps that work by listening to the world outside, and Adam shares his surprisingly smooth experience getting his iCloud calendars to sync with Macs that can’t run Lion, thanks to BusyCal. Finally, we’re pleased to announce not one, but two new ebooks covering iOS 5: Tonya Engst’s “Take Control of Your iPad” and Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, Third Edition.” Notable software releases this week include Cyberduck 4.2, MarsEdit 3.4.1, Camino 2.1, and Safari 5.1.2.

TidBITS #1104 on 2011-11-28

If you’re worrying about what will happen to your photos in MobileMe Gallery come June 2012, there’s a new migration option — to the photo sharing site ZangZing that Adam has been using heavily. Also this week, Matt Neuburg explains Appalicious’s morphing into Appcuity in time for finding Mac App Store deals during the holiday shopping season, and Glenn Fleishman looks at how Amazon’s Kindle Fire provides a more coherent interface for finding and playing purchased media than Apple’s iOS apps. Finally, Adam explains how the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 is teaching children to lie about their ages online, often with the help of their parents. Notable software releases this week include Nisus Writer Pro 2.0.2 and Nisus Writer Express 3.4.1, VMware Fusion 4.1.1, SpamSieve 2.8.8, and MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard).

TidBITS #1103 on 2011-11-14

It’s the week of small but important updates from Apple. Adam looks at iOS 5.0.1, which aims — only somewhat successfully — to address battery life problems created in iOS 5, and he also covers the release of iTunes 10.5.1 and the squirrelly iTunes Match, along with a firmware update to 802.11n AirPort base stations that is proving troublesome for some users. Jeff Carlson joins in with a look at the 2.0 version of the Apple Store iOS app, which lets U.S. users pay for products without interacting with a salesperson. In other news, Adam looks at Adobe’s halting of development of Flash for mobile platforms, Glenn Fleishman walks us through a recalcitrant upgrade to Lion, and guest contributor Dennis Wurster explains how Square makes it possible for anyone to take credit cards for large and small payments alike. Notable software releases this week include Postbox 3, DEVONthink Personal, Pro, and Pro Office 2.3.1, Java for Mac OS X 10.7 Update 1 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 6, Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.9, and MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5. Lastly, we’re taking next week’s email issue off for the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States; look for our next issue on 28 November 2011!

TidBITS #1102 on 2011-11-07

Looking to write a novel during November’s National Novel Writing Month event? Try Scrivener’s free NaNoWriMo trial, and get more help from our heavily discounted “Take Control of Scrivener 2.” Also this week, Matt Neuburg reminds Lion users that TinkerTool can reverse some of Apple’s annoying changes, Rich Mogull shares the story of how he accidentally deleted all his iCloud data and was forced to figure out a non-trivial restoration method, and we have a DealBITS drawing for Tom Bihn’s latest Apple-focused laptop bag. Finally, Adam pores through release dates to determine just how long Apple supports Macs and iOS devices with new system software — you might be surprised at the results. Notable software releases this week include Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Editor, Premiere Elements 10 Editor, Sandvox 2.2, and Aperture 3.2.1.

TidBITS #1101 on 2011-10-31

We’re dancing around updates from Apple this week, with coverage of the speed-bumped MacBook Pro models and a variety of lightly described firmware updates. Then Michael Cohen explains the confusion surrounding the recent Apple TV software updates, and Jeff Carlson points out how Lion’s new Auto Save makes duplicating documents harder and potentially troublesome. Finally, Michael anchors the issue with a lengthy look at how we make our Take Control EPUB files in Pages. Notable software releases this week include iPhoto ’11 9.2.1, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 5.6, TextExpander 3.3.4, and KeyCue 6.0.

TidBITS #1100 on 2011-10-24

iCloud, iOS 5, and the iPhone 4S’s Siri feature prominently in this week’s issue. With all the consternation iCloud has caused, we’re particularly pleased to have published Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of iCloud,” already on its way to being one of our most popular books. Kirk McElhearn explains how Wi-Fi syncing and iCloud backups work, once you have the combination of iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5, and Rich Mogull examines how Siri may be the first real competition that Internet search engines have faced so far. Also this week, Jeff Carlson and Michael Cohen report on yet another stellar quarter of financial results for Apple, and Glenn Fleishman writes about the innovative Lytro light-field camera, which goes on sale in 2012. Notable software releases include Fetch 5.7 and Fantastical 1.1.

TidBITS #1099 on 2011-10-17

Last week brought the release of the iPhone 4S, iCloud, iOS 5, Mac OS X 10.7.2, and a slew of smaller releases, and like everyone else we’ve been struggling to wrap our heads around it all. To start, Glenn Fleishman reports on the record sales of the iPhone 4S, Michael Cohen looks at what iCloud means to BusyCal users, and Adam notes that you can buy AppleCare+ for the iPhone after purchase (for a while). But then we bring in the big guns with Jeff Carlson sharing our favorite hidden and overlooked features in iOS 5 and Matt Neuburg running down the major changes in Mac OS X 10.7.2. Matt also contributes a thought-provoking look at what we users can expect from iOS apps once developers start taking advantage of iOS 5’s new capabilities. Notable software releases this week include iPhoto ’11 9.2, Aperture 3.2, Safari 5.1.1 (Snow Leopard), Security Update 2011-006 (Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard Server), Lion Recovery Update, GraphicConverter 7.4, and Sparrow 1.4.

TidBITS #1098 on 2011-10-11

The day before Steve Jobs died last week, Apple held a special media event to unveil the iPhone 4S. Also discussed that day were release dates for iOS 5 and iCloud, minor updates to the iPod touch and iPod nano, and a slew of statistics about the state of Apple’s business. We have all the details for you, along with additional information about Sprint’s unlimited data plan and what the iPhone 4S’s dual-standard GSM/CDMA support means for users (not much), plus a look at the release of BBEdit 10.1.

TidBITS #1097 on 2011-10-10

Apple co-founder, former CEO, and chairman Steve Jobs has passed away at age 56, and although the event was not entirely unexpected, it hit the technology community and the outside world hard. We’re devoting this special issue of TidBITS entirely to Steve Jobs, starting with Jeff Carlson’s news coverage and a large collection of links to other Jobs-related content from around the Internet. We also have thoughts on Jobs’s legacy from TidBITS staffers Mark H. Anbinder and Rich Mogull, and from guest contributor Angus Wong. Finally, TidBITS publisher Adam Engst explores the question of why Steve Jobs’s death has been so unsettling for so many people. Look for your regular issue of TidBITS shortly.

TidBITS #1096 on 2011-10-03

The big news this week is Amazon’s announcement of the new Kindle Fire tablet, which Glenn Fleishman believes is the first viable tablet from a company other than Apple. But is it competition for the iPad? Also this week, Adam reviews the impressive group photo sharing site ZangZing, Tonya tells how the Fujitsu ScanSnap is simplifying her life as the mother of a 7th grader, and we welcome as our latest TidBITS sponsor the Mac and iOS app developer Global Delight. Last, but not least, we’ve published the new “Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac,” Joe Kissell’s definitive guide to backups. Notable software releases this week include Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.5 and Camera Raw 6.5, Firefox 7.0, PopChar X 5.3, and Teleport 1.1.

TidBITS #1095 on 2011-09-26

We range from the theoretical to the practical this week, with Glenn Fleishman floating a proposal for why some otherwise smart people seem incapable of using computers effectively, before we move on to Michael Cohen’s story of helping a friend upgrade to a new iMac — hint, it wasn’t simple, but probably not for the reasons you’d expect. Also this week, Glenn covers the announcement that OverDrive will start making Kindle-format ebooks available for libraries to lend, Joe Kissell looks at the CrashPlan Mobile iOS app that provides access to your backed-up data on CrashPlan Central, and we publish followup information about personal finance programs that could replace Quicken. Notable software releases this week include Thunderbolt Software and Display Updates, and Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1.

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