Get Your Motor Running

typeEngineLogo-200Are you all inspired and want to make your own iPad magazine after hearing Jocelyn Gonzales’s most excellent report on this week’s episode? Be sure to check out TypeEngine and I Care If You Listen — both the main blog and the magazine site. (And if any of the music featured in the segment perked up your ears, be sure and hit up the sites of BrangMary Kouyoumdjian and Spoken Folks to  find out more.) The other magazine apps mentioned — Lab Journal, The Loop Magazine and Bright Wall, Dark Room — are worth a look, too. Yo, the magazine business just got a lot easier to get into.

Episode 61: Twerk the Pain Away

Roving correspondent Jocelyn Gonzales is back with a report on do-it-yourself iPad magazines and the online service that helps put them together while Pedro barely keeps his inner-Miley at bay as J.D. explains how a user can get a complete archive of their Twitter posts. In the news, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces his retirement; Nokia gets set to launch a Lumia tablet; Samsung and Apple plan big September announcements; Apple TV gets more channels; and Kevin Spacey lays the truth down on the television industry.

Episode 61 News: Content Is King

In case you were on vacation last week like we were, you may have missed the non-Batman news from the West Coast…Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would be retiring within the next 12 months and with no obvious successor in view, it seems like it might be a bit of a PopeWatch thing there in Redmond. Windows 8.1, thought to be the corrected version of Windows 8, is due for release on October 17th for current users who wish to upgrade.

Nokia, the company that makes the Lumia smartphone for Microsoft’s Windows Phone system is also said to be working on its own tablet that will run the much-mocked Windows RT software. According to the Verge tech site, the Nokia Sirius will have a 10.1-inch screen, look like a big Lumia phone and be price around $500. If it’s real, let’s see how they do with that.

Summer’s pretty much in the archive now anyway, and September is shaping up to be a big month for the announcements aside from Nokia. Samsung has confirmed it will be introducing its Galaxy Gear Smartwatch at the IFA Consumer Electronics show in Berlin on September 4th. Apple has not officially confirmed it, but major media sources are reporting the company will introduce its next round of iPhone at a press event on September 10th, with the new models possibly being available on September 20th.

All Things D and 9to5Mac are among the sites reporting that Apple is prepping the program will allow customers to trade in their old iPhones for credit toward a new model. While Apple had no comment on that, the company issued an update for Apple TV this week that brings the Disney Channel, the Weather Channel, Vevo Music Videos and the Smithsonian Channel all to the main screen’s channel lineup. And one more bite of Apple news here — the company’s legal team has responded to the Department of Justice’s proposed punishment in that e-book case this summer. (Hint: Apple is not happy.)

The Federal government has been looking into other tech business as well, and just released a memo on mobile malware findings. According to the report, 0.7% of all mobile malware affected Apple’s iOS system, while 79% was aimed at Android and 12% was targeting the Symbian OS.

While we’re talking about national security, it seems US fugitive Edward Snowden did not need to have a sophisticated scheme to steal all those 20,000 leak-worthy documents from the National Security Agency. The investigations team over at NBC News did some digging and reports that multiple intelligence community sources told them all Snowden needed was a few USB thumb drives and the willingness to exploit a gaping hole in an antiquated security system — all without leaving a trace. (Hint: The NSA is not happy, nosireee.)

In other product news, Facebook is starting to roll out shared photo albums this week. Feedly has just announced the general availability of Feedly Pro. Feedly Pro offers Evernote integration, but if you really like Evernote — and writing in journals by hand — check out the Evernote Smart Notebook from Moleskine.

zombiesIn the casual gaming world, the sequel to the popular PopCap Games title Plants vs. Zombies arrived this month for iOS. The new game, Plants vs. Zombie 2: It’s About Time had 16 million downloads during its opening week. The game itself is free but has many in-app purchase opportunities for coin packs and additional plants. No word on when the game will be available for Android.

Actor and producer Kevin Spacey had some words of warning for TV executives at the Edinburgh Television Festival in Scotland last week. (Hint: Content and story make people happy — while schedules and devices don’t matter.)

And finally, the old ways do work well for some people. Instead of going all digital video that some of the franchise’s previous installments, Star Wars VII will be shot on good old-fashioned 35mm film stock to recapture the feel of movies from the 1970s. The news comes in the same month that Gilbert Taylor, the cinematographer for the original Star Wars, passed away at the age of 99. In addition to Star Wars and many other films, Mr. Taylor shot Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night and some episodes of The Avengers TV series. Before his film career took off, rhe spent six years with the Royal Air Force Force during World War II and filmed night raids after a request from Winston Churchill. Rest in peace, Mr. Taylor — and thanks for all the amazing work.

Twitter Back in Time

As mentioned on a previous episode, you can download a copy of everything you’ve posted on Facebook and Google+ for archival reasons, because you’re-mad-and-you’re-leaving or just to see how you’ve matured online over the years.

You can do the same thing with Twitter.

Be warned, though — some of those early tweets may be a little cringeworthy if you were still getting used to the 140-character limit or hadn’t quite found your online voice.

To grab a copy of your personal Twitter history:

  1. Log into your Twitter account on the Web and click on the gear-shaped settings icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. On the Account settings page, scroll down to the line that says Your Twitter Archive.
  3. Click the Request Your Archive button.


When your archive is rounded up and ready, Twitter sends an e-mail message to the address associated with your account. Click the link included int he message to download the archive file.

When you unzip the tweets file, click on the index.html file inside the folder. Your Web browser opens up the page locally and displays a long list of your past tweets, along with a clickable graphic you can use to pinpoint tweets from a certain year and month. This can be handy, say, if you wanted to reread your thoughts during a Presidential debate or when you were waiting in line for that midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The graphic also shows in bar-chart form (below), how many tweets you posted a month and you can quickly see if you’re a binge tweeter or more of a random poster. You can also use keywords to search through your tweets from the page.


For spreadsheet jockeys, the Tweets archive folder also comes with a .CSV (comma-separated values file) you can open in Excel or another spreadsheet program. Developers can also check out the JavaScript Object Notation file that’s included in the package. According to Twitter’s notes, “The JSON export contains a full representation of your Tweets as returned by v1.1 of the Twitter API.” That same JSON export file is also the one that’s powering the index.html, in case you were wondering.

So that’s how you can relieve you’re Twitter history — all without having to scroll backwards in time. The official Twitter blog has more information here.

Episode 60: Hyperloop Like Nobody’s Watching

On a double-stuffed episode J.D. takes a look at movie apps and Pedro reviews the 2013 version of the Google Nexus 7 Android tablet. In the news, Elon Musk unveils plans for futuristic transport system; Facebook adds restaurant reservations and listings for movies and TV; NBC News goes shopping for user-generated content; Windows 8.1 coming soon; an LG Electronics publicity goes all “WKRP In Cincinnati”; a Bitcoin security flaw threatens Android users; and Apple rumors heat up…yet again.

Episode 60 News: Boo-Dah-Ling!

California traffic can be a bear, and this week Elon Musk showed off the design for his “Hyperloop” transport system, a futuristic solar-powered network of crash-proof capsules that would zip people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour. Mr. Musk outlined the Hyperloop vision in a blog post and has described the system as a cross between the Concorde supersonic turbojet, rail gun and air-hockey table. Critics have said the price tag is underestimated, the Hyperloop would face serious regularity measures and also be vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks. Then again, it’s just an idea — but one that has a lot of people chittering about this new sort of tube travel.

Facebook, which upgraded its mobile app this week, has added restaurant reservations through Open Table and listings for movies and television show pages. The Social Network also just bought Mobile Technologies, a speech interpretation and translation company.

NBC News also went shopping this week and came home with Stringwire. Instead of buying new technology or acquiring another company, though, BlackBerry maker is looking to get bought, or perhaps find a business partner.

Dick Cheney did not want Google Maps to show satellite images of the vice presidential residence when he was living there and now the government of Norway is telling Apple to step off. The Norwegian government recently denied a request from Apple to do a 3D mapping of the capital city of Oslo.

Windows 8.1 is said to be arriving in just a few months. The almost-final beta version of 8.1 includes smaller Live Tiles, built-in tutorials to help confused users, and an integrated Bing-powered search engine. Could be a good time to upgrade — Microsoft will stop patching Windows XP then and security experts are saying it will be hacker heaven next April. (In other Microsoft news, the list of requirements for using the upcoming Xbox One console seems to be getting more reasonable. (If you want people to be watching you, though, Microsoft did release a new version of Skype for the latest iPhone and iPad models that now includes HD video.)

Well, a PR stunt in Seoul, Korea, didn’t turn out as planned for LG Electronics. What LG didn’t count on was hopeful contenders showing up with BB guns, knives and pointed sticks. (But really, who plans for pointed sticks except for Monty Python and Games of Thrones fans?) On a much calmer note, camera sites are leaking that Sony Electronics is working on a Lens Camera attachment for smartphones.

If you like smart tech podcasts, check out “The Digital Human,” a BBC Radio 4 series. The show is hosted by a Jammer friend and Guardian/BBC writer, Aleks Krotoski, and all 20 episodes are now available for your listening pleasure.


Bitcoin developers are warning of an security flaw with the Android wallet feature that could lead to theft of your digital currency. An upgrade to patch the hole is on the way. And if you liked the idea of the Google Chromecast but can’t get one yet, consider the Cheapcast. Although it’s still in beta, the free Cheapcast app promises to turn your Android phone or tablet into a target screen for streaming.

It must be August because the Apple rumors have started to include mention of a date for the company’s big annual fall announcement. Just a few years ago, the fall date referred to iPods, but with media players pretty much taking a backseat to everything else in the company’s product line these days, it sounds like the iPhone will be the star of this year’s show, which is now rumored for September 10th. Other sources like Bloomberg News are reporting that the next iPad will sport a thinner design, the Mini will get that spiffy Retina display and none of them will be released until the final three months of the year.

And finally, if you’ve been listening to that little tri-tone sound that Apple devices make by default when you get a text message, check out the essay by the creator of that distinctive composition. Former Apple software engineer Kelly Jacklin tells the tale in his essay, “The History of the Boo-Dah-Ling Sound.”  If you drive in California and have an iPhone, you’ve probably heard enough of that Boo-Dah-Ling sound — but its story is quite fascinating.

Movie Magic in Minutes

For many people, making your movies got a lot easier once the smartphones arrived on the scene because all of a sudden, you always had a video camera on hand. Sometimes, though, even after you shoot hours of clips, you only have a few seconds of really interesting stuff. But still, your parents want videos of the kids, your friends want to see the new puppy, and you can’t get out of it. But what can you do to keep a video entertaining even when you don’t have a lot of decent footage to work with?

Do what Hollywood does: Put all the good stuff in the trailer. Or, skip the script and lard it up with special effects. You can find apps for this sort of thing — most mobile stores have plenty of video-editing programs, but a couple here in this category stand out.

Trailers with iMovie for iOS
Thanks to Apple’s $5 iMovie app for iOS, you can take a total of 10 or 15 seconds of video, stick little clips into a template, customize the text in some prefab graphics — and crank out a summer-movie-style trailer in less than half an hour. (The trailer feature is included in the desktop version of iMovie for the Mac as well.)

To get started, pop open iMovie, tap the + icon. Instead of New Project, choose New Trailer. The app then walks you through the steps of making your whiz-bang trailer. To set the tone, you can choose from a variety of genres for the music and title sequence, like a Saul Bass-inspired 60’s spy movie, a love story, a horror film, a superhero-action flick or even a Bollywood-style musical.


Pick a style and tap the Create button. The next screen has two tabs — Outline and Storyboard. On the Outline screen, type in the personalized text you want to use for the titles. The Storyboard screen shows a bunch of rectangles. Here, you drag in video clips from your Camera Roll. The app tells you the type of shot to use so you match the title sequence – like an action shot or a close-up. The iMovie app also tells you how many seconds the clip will last in the sequence. By dragging your finger on the screen, you can select the exact frames from within the clip to appear.


Once you fill in all the text and fill up the rectangles with various clips, tap the Full Screen button to see the trailer play. You can go back and adjust the videos and text as needed. When finished, you can export the finished trailer to your Camera Roll or upload it to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or other video sites. You can see a sample of iMovie Trailers in action here.

Special Effects with FxGuru for Android
Want to add some cool blockbuster action effects to your otherwise bland video clip of the kids standing around trying not to fight in the backyard? Check out FxGuru: Movie FX Director, which is available free in the Google Play Store. This is an app that lets you mix things like robots, explosions and spaceships into your own home video as you shoot it, because nothing jazzes up a scene like an alien spaceship hovering overhead. You get a few special effects for free — like the falling satellite or dancing Android man — and can buy more as inspiration overtakes you. The effects come in six-packs for about $6.50 each and you can add things like mech attacks and dinosaurs to the video.

The app is pretty easy to use. Just select an effect from the menu and FxGuru puts an outline of where that special effect will get overlaid onto your own live-action video. Tap the Record button and hold it for 10 to 20 seconds while you get the kids or the dog to do something related to the effect you picked.


Once you stop recording, FX Guru matches up timing and motion as it blends the effect to create a clip you can then e-mail, save to your Google Drive, post on YouTube or transfer by Bluetooth. You just need the kids to cooperate for less than a minute and then you can share a much more memorable video. Want to see a sample of FxGuru? Click here.

Got the hang of it? Next stop, Los Angeles — or at least to the phone when your mother calls and wants to know why there’s a T-Rex running through the backyard while her grandchildren are out there.

Episode 59: Welcome to SNARK WEEK!

This week J.D. shares tips on how to use the web to get the perfect digital camera then she and Pedro discuss the recent announcement that veteran British actor Peter Capaldi will take a turn as the time travelling Time Lord, Doctor Who. In the news Comcast is working on a new system urging users to download copyrighted material legally; CBS and Time Warner Cable continue their Battle of the Gargantuans; Samsung maybe inching closer to unveiling a smartwatch; the FBI may be targeting Firefox users on the TOR network; and not even your toilet is immune from the hacking scourge.