“Photos” Software From Apple – First Impressions

Before I even start talking about Photos you need to have OS 10.10 (Yosemite) installed. Photos is suppose to replace iPhoto. However, I still can run both pieces of software on my Macbook Pro. I have only used the new software for about an hour. Here are my first impressions.

  • The interface is easier and more intuitive.
  • Retouching has been added to the editing tools.
  • The slideshow tool is easier and I love the new music
  • I think it more than fits the needs of the novice and advanced beginner
  • Does not fulfill the power of Aperture which will be discontinued from Apple.

Walt Mossberg reviews the software here 

Look for an updated review when I have more experience with Photos

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂

 

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Got 3 Minutes?

We can all agree that Apple creates fantastic videos. The video below is the entire 2 hour 2014 Keynote that introduced the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. The first 3 minute  is a fantastic use of perspective. Without any dialog Apple said volumes of commentary on our world of technology. Of course you can watch the entire keynote but for me the first 3 minutes were the best.

 

Apple Fanboy Alert!

September 9, 2014 has two meanings for me. The most important is that I get to celebrate my 21st Wedding Anniversary with my best friend. The other event is what every Apple Fanboy has been waiting for and that is the announcement of the iPhone 6.

A lot will be riding on this announcement.  In my opinion the iPhone 6 will be the first product completely under the reins of the Tim Cook, the Apple CEO.  This will either end the speculation that Apple could not produce a quality product or establish his credibility as Steve Job’s rightful heir apparent. I think the iPhone 6 will be a magnificent product.

Here are my predictions.

  •  A no brainer- A bigger screen. The rumor mill ave both a 4.7 inch and a 5.5 inch phablet coming tomorrow.
  • At least one of the models will have a sapphire screen. Making the glass indestructible
  • Amazing new camera – probably 13 megapixel
  • The iPhone will be your wallet with a ubiquitous  payment app
  • The new iPhone will be more expensive.

You can watch the streaming  keynote tomorrow in Ecuador on The Verge at 10::00 am pacific time. or like me you can wait until it appears later in the day on Apple TV under “Apple Keynotes”.

I’ll look forward to watching the amazing new technology but I happily just purchased a Nexus 5 smartphone for $349 contract free.

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End Of The Year Goodies

Attention Apple Products Users .  Apple through the Itunes Store is offering  12 days of gifts until Jan 6th. Today is a download of the Martin Scorcese Film  Hugo.

It´s a download with a value of $19.99. You can find the app in the App store under ¨12 Days¨.  You may need a VPN if you´re in Ecuador but certainly worth a try if you don´t have one.

12_Days_of_Gifts_on_the_App_Store_on_iTunes

Researchbuzz is one of my favorite tech news sources. Tara Calishain has been researching the Net for 20 years.  Today’s post has some real gems

ResearchBuzz

Finally, my good friend Alan from Mississippi sent me a great video link tutorial on how to better search Google. Well worth a look.

Power_Searching_with_GoogleLastly to my friends and subscribers – Happy New Year – Feliz Año Nuevo

Apple TV Updates

As many of you know I’m a big fan of Apple TV. I use it every day for news, tech updates, movies and TV programs.  As of 5/8 there has not been automatic updates on many of the podcasts(i.e. NBC, CBS News, TED Talks etc).  There been much discussion on the Apple Forums but as of 5/12/12 at 1:30 pm Quito Time nothing has been done.   My guess is our only alternative is to raise a stink with Apple and be patient.

 

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What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador (Part 3)

Now that I’ve lived in Cuenca, Ecuador for 19 months and have experienced some of the opportunities and limitation of  High Tech I thought I would revise my list. These are just my recommendations based on my needs and prejudices.  Your mileage may vary. Keep in mind that I worked for Apple.  There are great windows machines out there but the windows operating system is too vulnerable to bloatware, malware and viruses.

Computers:  Initially I came down with a desktop and a notebook computer. I’ve since sold the desktop. I highly recommend coming down with a notebook computer. The latest engines on the notebooks make them as or more powerful than desktops and you have the added advantage of mobility.  My wife has a MacBook Air and I have the MacBook Pro with Retina screen.

Tablets: No surprise that I would recommend the iPad or iPad Mini.  Again the recommendation comes from the >700,000 apps that are available in the App store. We also have an active iPad Users Group that meets twice a month on Thursdays. Samsung, Asus, Acer and Amazon manufacture excellent tablets but the key is the number of free and paid available apps. Plus the Kindle Fire has a some difficulty receiving Amazon Prime media without a VPN. If you’re purchasing an iPad make sure you pick up a bluetooth keyboard.  Except for photo editing and video editing I think the iPad replaces a computer.

Printers: What worked for me was bring down my Brother Wireless Laser Printer from Oregon.  The cost was $90 and the printer works all over the house and prints from the two notebook computers and the iPad.  I know that several expats have purchased ink jet printers but I have heard several complaints about the quality of ink in Cuenca.

Phones: Duh, again no surprise that I have an iPhone 4s.  I purchased the phone from Claro for $480 and my plan runs about $55 per month. Samsung’s Galaxy is a great rival to the iPhone and I have several Cuencano friends who really like that phone. If you’re not in the market for a smartphone I would still bring an unlocked phone from the U.S. In addition to the iPhone I have purchased a used Motorola Razr for $30 in Oregon and brought that with me.  The cheap phones ($30 – 60) in Cuenca have terrible reception.

Camera: Digital cameras are super cheap in the United States.  I have two cameras in Cuenca.  I have a Samsung ultra compact that I purchased in Costco for $130 two years ago . I take 80% of my photos with that camera. Why?  Good to Very good results and it doesn’t draw attention in the middle of a busy street.  The other camera is a Canon T4i (looks expensive) DSLR.  I only use this camera when I am with another person or I am on a trip with a lot of other people.  I just think it’s good street smarts not to draw attention to yourself and your vunerable when changing lenses.  Another advantage to the iPhone 4s is that if you’re not an experienced photographer then the iPhone takes exceptional photos and video.

Hard Drives: They are smaller and super cheap.  If you’re shooting HD video then it’s a must to have one.  I just purchased a 1 TB Seagate Drive for $79.  Higher densities are available at similar prices.

Wi Fi Extender: An absolute must purchase if your apartment/ house is on two levels or you need to obtain a Wifi signal that is more than 30 ft from your router. I purchased the Diamon Wifi extender for $70 on my last trip to Oregon.

TV & Blu-Ray Players: I purchased both of these in Cuenca.  I purchased a 40 inch Samsung 1080p HDTV and paid a 30% premium. The LG Blu-Ray player only cost my $15 more than a similar one in the U.S.  If you have the opportunity to share a container and bring a big screen TV –  Do It!

Apple TV:  OK, The last Apple Product I will recommend on this list. However, this is a must have device if you want to watch Netflix, Free Podcasts from Network TV or subscribe to the NBA, NHL or MLB subscriptions and display them on your big screen TV.  The hockey puck sized hardware is $99 and requires an HDMI cable. There are alternatives such as Google TV and RoKu but I am not familiar enough with these devices to recommend them.

Slingbox: If you have a source for good American/Canadian TV programming in North America then you should consider bringing a SlingBox.  This device attaches to your your TV and you can view the same programming on your TV in Ecuador.  The source is usually a friend or relative in North America that has a Slingbox attached to their TV.

Magic Jack/Plus: This is a device that is sold in North America.  It is similar to Skype in that it uses the Internet to make and receive calls. Magic Jack is only voice but the advantage is that you can make and receive unlimited calls to cell/land lines for about $39 per year.  Less if you purchase a multi -year contract.

Miscellaneous: Cables, SD Cards, Surge Protectors etc. Bring them . A 4 ft HDMI cable (connection from your device to a HDTV) cost $18 compared to about $6 in the U.S.  The same is true of of memory cards and surge protectors.

I welcome discussion and suggestions on this topic.  Yes, I said in the beginning that I have a prejudice for Apple products and yes these products are more expensive. For me the Apple products work.

ipad mba

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