All posts by J.D. Biersdorfer

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: PDF Files on Hand

Want to stash those important documents, receipts, confirmation numbers or other files on your phone before you go someplace? Here’s how.

Step One: Convert File to PDF 

On the Mac, you can quickly make a PDF out of a Web page, email message or other document just by pressing Command-P. Yes, this is the Print box, but in the bottom corner is a button marked PDF. Click on that to se a menu of options, including Save as PDF.

On Windows, there several options that let you make PDFs out of Web pages and other documents. Cute PDF Writer, the browser add-on Web2PDF or even with the Google Chrome browser.

Step Two: Move the PDF File to Your Phone

There are a number of ways to transfer the PDF files from the computer to the phone. You can email the PDFs as attachments and open them on the handset. (Just make sure you don’t have personal information in the documents that you may not want to email openly.)

Just open the message, select the attachment icon and save it in a PDF-ready app like iBooks  or the mobile version of Adobe Reader X for iOS or Android. There are a ton of third-party PDF apps out there, like EverNote, GoodReader or PDF Expert.

If you want to avoid emailing, you can also sync PDF files to an iPhone through iTunes. You can also copy files from the computer to an Android phone with a file manager app (Kaiser Pedro likes Astro File Manager).

So the next time you need to refer to these documents you’ve saved, you don’t need to dig through your email app or struggle with one bar of signal strength. The files are right there — ready and waiting on your phone.

Episode 02 News: Time to Drink the Donuts

The Electronic Entertainment Expo brought its usual flurry of gamed-related news this year. Sony’s new Wonderbook peripheral for interactive storybooks on the PlayStation 3 looks especially interesting, especially since J.K. Rowling (She of Harry Potter Fame) has created the first title, The Book of Spells, to let Hogwarts wannabes practice heir wizarding lessons on the big screen. Nintendo also announced 23 titles that will ship when its fancy new Wii U game system hits stores later this year, including Batman: Arkham City, Super Mario Brothers U. and Pikmin 3.

Microsoft isn’t just sitting still. Representatives showed off the company’s new SmartGlass technology that links all your screens — Xbox, tablet, computer, smartphone, etc. — together to share movies and games on whatever device you happened to be using at the time. Oh, and Microsoft officially buried the Zune brand (2006-2016) for good with the move to “Xbox Music and Windows Phone Marketplace just passed the 100,000 apps mark.

In non-gaming news, Google bought QuickOffice, the productivity suite of apps that lets users create and edit files in Microsoft Office formats on iOS, Android and Symbian-based mobile devices.

Is Facebook losing its mojo? While it hasn’t slid into AOL Oblivion quite yet, a new online poll out from Reuters and research firm Ipsos has found that four out of five Facebook users surveyed have never brought a product or service because they saw an ad or a comment about it on Facebook. The poll also found that 34 percent of Facebook users surveyed were spending less time on the site than they were six months ago. 20 percent of users, however, were spending more time on the site. A poll from the Associated Press and CNBC last month also found that 57 percent of Facebook users polled said they never click on ads or other sponsored content when they use the site.

And finally, vodka that tastes like glazed donuts? Who knew? I doubt we’ll partake of 360 Glazed Donut, but we’ll definitely be celebrating National Donut Day next year.

Oh, Snap! Photo Apps and Other Things in Episode 01

For a holiday-shortened week, there sure is a lot of tech news out there to discuss. For instance: Is Facebook making its own smartphone? We’ve heard this rumor before and we’re hearing it again.

GameStop is making a mobile move, too, selling Android tablets in its stores, even with a few pre-loaded games. Tablet screen sizes are turning out to be popular with gamers, but what about a 1080p HD screen on a 5-inch phone? LG is working on it, so we’ll probably see it soon.

Flame, Flamer, SkyWiper — no matter what you call it, it’s a worm with a mission and its snatching sensitive data off computers around the Middle East and making a lot of people very unhappy. Check out the Kaspersky Labs blog post that covers it all.

Get ready for the next flurry of actual non-rumor Apple posts this month! The keynote speech at the World Wide Developer’s Conference is scheduled for June 11 at 10 a.m. Pacific time. While you’re waking, you can always watch some Amazon Instant Video on your Xbox, mourn the loss of the Nextel network next year or watch the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man.

Summer vacation season is now officially here, so what mobile camera apps and photo editors do you favor? Facebook hopes you’ll go with its new Facebook Camera app for iOS, but I still favor Camera+ for its ease of use, ability to upload to multiple sharing sites and rockin’ Clarity filter. Pedro likes the similarly named Camera Plus Pro for firing off quick snaps with the 5 megapixel camera on his latest iPad. (He also has a thing or two to say about HDR photography and why it looks so nice.)

As for editing photos on tablets, although it’s possible to do quick edits like cropping and red-eye removal with the Photos app tools in iOS 5, there are a ton of other options, including Adobe’s free Photoshop Express and Photoshop Touch apps for iOS and Android. Apple’s own iPhoto for iPad is another option for iOS users who prefer the iPhoto take on photos and Snapseed has its fans as well. Pedro also likes the Photoforge 2 and Photogene apps. As for the photo-friendly accessories, we both get a lot of use out of the iPad Camera Connector Kit and the Digital AV Adapter for iPad.

Now, if only some of these apps would run on this phone….

Recipe for Dessert Casserole

This delicious dish is good for group snacking activities like gaming parties, Marvel movie marathons, card or board games, and so on.

A big Pyrex or CorningWare baking dish
Oven mitts (these are nice)

1 bag each:

Chips Ahoy
Nutter Butters
Pecan Sandies
Fudge Stripes
or other cookies of your choice

1. Line the baking dish with foil.

2. Open the cookie bags and set down a layer of Oreos, then Chips Ahoy and so on until you have a layer of all the cookies filling up the baking dish. Use which ever order you want or mix up the different types of cookies within the layers.

3. Cover the finished casserole with foil over the top of the dish.

When it comes time to bring your contribution to the party, put on the oven mitts and march in holding the dish carefully. Peel back the foil and let the hunger games begin. (May the Oreos be ever in your favor!)

Additional suggestions: For healthier options, use Snackwells or other reduced-fat cookies. Before the party, check to see if anyone has for nut allergies.

Consume responsibly.

Resuming the Conversation

Well, after a five-month hiatus (and one book deadline), the Kaiser and I are back yapping in front of live microphones. Welcome to Pop Tech Jam, our new independently produced audio magazine where we discuss the current state of both popular technology and popular culture — and other fun stuff. We wouldn’t be here without help, so here’s a big shout to Christian and Mario of BROS, for hosting the show and getting us back online.

On this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, Pedro and I catch up on some of the big things that have happened while we were away, including the looming Windows 8 Release Candidate Preview expected next month and anticipation for Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference in mid-June. (And on the topic of Apple, how about that sudden name change for the 4G iPad?) But at least they finally put out a software update that turns off the “reopen all windows” checkbox when you shut down — because that was driving me nuts having to remember to uncheck the box every time so my Mac didn’t take forever to start up the eight programs I’d been using the last time.

The Facebook initial public offering of stock last week continues to make headlines, but not in a good way. At least we have some geekworthy summer movies (After The Avengers) to take our minds off such things, including Men In Black 3 this weekend, Prometheus, and The Dark Knight Rises. And let’s not forget The Amazing Spider-Man.

We are also sad to note the passing of engineer Eugene Polley this week. The man who invented the wireless TV remote control died this week at the age of 96. Couch potatoes everywhere are forever in his debt.

This week’s podcast is just a quick preview of what we’ll be up to. In future episodes of Pop Tech Jam, Pedro and I will share our favorite tips, tricks and techniques for happier computing, keep up with current events, rant when necessary, discuss apps and games and hopefully wrangle some guests onto the show for a chat as well. Let’s jam!