Google replacing Google Talk with Hangouts

I loved the bare bones simplicity of Google Talk (Gchat?) as it appeared the sidebar of Gmail. Don’t recall why I turned it off. Seeing stories today that Google forcing the switch from Talk to Hangouts. I preferred the spartan UI of Talk but like Hangouts well enough for this.

I only use it with a handful of online buddies who don’t have an iOS device. 90% of my IM’ing happens Messages on my iPhone. But I’ve added Hangouts to the Gmail sidebar and will leave it for a bit.

Renaming files when exporting from iPhoto

Once upon a time file names could only be a certain length. Was 7 characters for he name and 3 or the extension? 8 characters for the name? I can’t recall but somewhere along the way this limitation was lifted and we can name a file something useful. But I never developed the discipline to take advantage of this and have some old files with names like 4777959349_o.jpg . In my OCD moments this bugs me and I might take a few minutes (or a few days) and rename offending files.

I rarely see file names in iPhoto (I refuse to call it Apple Photos), just the Title I enter when adding photo. But my buddy George Kopp pointed out I can change the file name to the Title when exporting images for backup. This short screencast (4 min) shows this feature.

AirPods: First hundred days

I am not an audiophile. I thought the AM radio (WLS) music coming out of the dash speaker on my Ford Falcon sounded pretty damn good. During the 70s I wore headphones four hours a day. I lived through the refrigerator sized speaker era. It all sounded good to me.

But the music never sounded as good as it does coming from the tiny Apple AirPods. Is that perceptual? Maybe. But all music is perceptual unless you have a spectrum analyzer implanted in your head.

I’ve never heard better, more natural, separation. I was listening to CSN&Y (on the highway) this morning and could hear acoustic guitars in my left ear (for lack of a more scientific description). Even that little raspy sounds made when the fingers are dragged along one of the base strings (?). I could shift my awareness to the base in my right ear. (Channel is a better word, isn’t it?) And the vocals were somewhere in the rear-center of my noggin.

It feels like I’m hearing these songs for the first time. I know, I know… this is old news to you pros with the big cans clamped to your head. And good for you.

I’m seeing more AirPods here in the coffee shop every week. If I’m familiar with the person I ask how they like them and why they decided to give them a try. Usually some variation of the story above.

There are probably a lot of good reason NOT to try AirPods. That they’re made by Apple is not one of them.

ACT! and Reflex

In the late 80’s I was doing affiliate relations for about 120 radio stations (in Missouri and Iowa). I had a card for each station in a Rolodex on my desk. Using a typewriter, I packed as much information on each card as possible. Station manager, program director, news director, address, phone, fax (few if any email addresses in ’87). By my right knee was a file drawer containing manila file folders for each station. This would contain copies of all correspondence; notes from phone calls and f2f visits. It was a paper world. The portable version of the Rolodex was a page with as much of the info as could be crammed on a sheet of paper. (Columns: City, GM, PD, ND, Address, Phone, Fax, etc)

I had a computer on my desk but I don’t recall when I moved from DOS to Windows. But somewhere in here I was using Borland Reflex, a flat-file database management system for DOS. It was the first commercial PC database to use the mouse and graphics mode, and drag-and-drop capability in the report formatting module.

I used Reflex as a ‘customer relationship management’ program before there was such a thing (that I knew of). I was in heaven. I sorted and searched and generated reports. I used one field for notes (every phone call, letter and in-person visit).

Sometime around 1987 I was visiting Bill Weaver, the GM of KFRU in Columbia, MO, and I must have mentioned my little database. Bill showed me the program he used to manage all of his contacts: ACT! I was smitten! Did all the things I hacked out of Reflex but so much more. I immediately bought a copy and became insufferable to my co-workers.

While attending COMDEX in 1992 (Chicago), I saw what I believe was the first Windows version of ACT! $500 but I had to have it. Bought it on the convention floor.

I lived in ACT! for many years after. Probably well after Outlook took over the company network. Grown men were reduced to tears when they were forced to give up ACT!

Echo Look: Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant

“Using just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur. See yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos. Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists. Over time, these decisions get smarter through your feedback and input from our team of experienced fashion specialists.”

Echo Look from Amazon »

Calculator Vault

Apps like this have been around for several years but I wasn’t aware of them until this morning when a friend told me about Calculator Vault. Looks just like the Calculator app that comes with iOS but when you put in a secret sequence of numbers and symbols, it takes you to hidden folders where you can safely store those naughty photos. Apps like these became popular, I’m told, when teens started Snapchatting.

The Fake PIN features creates “a second PIN that opens a decoy KeepSafe for times when someone pressures you to open your KeepSafe. You can even put photos in your fake KeepSafe that are ok for others to see.”

The Secret Door feature will “masquerade your KeepSafe as another app. With Secret Door enabled, others will see what appears like another app when they open KeepSafe, but you will know the secret to reveal the PIN pad and open your KeepSafe.”

I’m told the only way you’d see these hidden folders — assuming you were looking — is from within the app. Yes, the NSA probably knows about these but your mom might not. You should tell her before she gets busted.