Skip Forward & Backward (Gestures In iTunes)

I have been using iTunes (on the Mac) and Podcasts (on the iPhone and iPad) to play my podcasts now that it actually syncs correctly. Side Note: I don’t know what they finally did to make it work , but thank you! On the iOS app you are given a convenient 15 second forward and back button to use when you are listening to podcasts, and it’s a very nice feature that you find in most podcast players. The problem is that when listening to podcasts using iTunes on the Mac, you only have the skip buttons, and that takes you to the next track (or podcast). This is not ideal at all for listening to podcasts, so I needed a way to add the 15 second, or any length for that matter, skip forward and backward functionality. I figured that AppleScript was my best bet for solving this problem so I did some searching around before diving in and reinventing the wheel, and came out with a couple good starting points. I found a couple different AppleScripts that did what I needed for the most part, so it was time to figure out how best to implement them for me. Check out the scripts and modify as needed to suit your needs.

I first started down the path of simply assigning scripts to fire when certain keyboard shortcuts were pressed using Keyboard Maestro. This absolutely worked, but it didn’t quite seem as fast or elegant as I would like. Then it dawned on me, I should use mouse gestures! I switched over to using an Apple Magic Trackpad about a month or so back and LOVE IT! Using BetterTouchTool, you can pretty much make up whatever you want with almost any input device to fire off all kinds of actions. The setup I chose is pretty simple. I decided to go with a fairly simple four finger swipe to the left or to the right. With this gesture I can now skip forward or backward with a simple gesture and it’s great! Also because this gesture is global, it can be done regardless of what application I am using.

There you have it, if you have been looking for a convenient way to skip forward and backward a predefined amount of time in iTunes, this could be the answer for you!

How Do I Backup My Stuff?

I have been a backup junky for quite a while. I have lost my fair share of data in the past due to poor backup practices, and that just sucks. Backup is generally not on the top of everyone’s mind, but it really should be. Keeping a solid backup of your data is easier than ever, and the cost is trivial in comparison to what your personal data is worth. I was thinking about how all my stuff is getting managed and eventually sent to some kind of backup, and thought it may be helpful for some to see what I am doing to keep my stuff safe. This setup is kind of elaborate, and won’t fit your needs 100%, but parts of it I am sure can, at the very least, give you ideas of better ways to protect your data. Below is an overview of how various devices are moving data around to protect it, and then you will see a nice visual diagram of how all the parts are interconnected.

I would love to hear about cool ways you are backing stuff up and keeping it safe, or perhaps you have suggestions on ways to improve my system. Either way, let me know!

 iPhone– Nightly iCloud backup- Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iPad– Nightly iCloud backup- Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iMac Internal Drive– Locally connected Time Machine drive- Network mounted Time Machine (Mac Mini Server connected to 4 Bay Drobo)- Weekly image backup to external drive with SuperDuperArq backup of Home Folder to Amazon S3

iMac External 4TB Thunderbolt DriveChronosync mirror to Mac Mini Drobo

Mac Mini Server w/ 4 bay 8TB Drobo– Internal Mac Mini drive weekly image backup to Drobo- Drobo real time backup to Crashplan

 

 

How do I backup - October 2014 Click Image To View Larger

 

From Gmail to Google Apps. #push

I signed up for a gmail account quite some time ago, 2004 to be exact. I don’t really need to go into the background of Gmail, you all know the history. I have not used Gmail exclusively since that time, but I have used it exclusively for about the last 2-3 years. Everything was pretty peachy until the great “Push Apocalypse”! I am referring to the the announcement Google made regarding removing Push (Exchange) support for Gmail users.

I feel there are 2 main reasons why this happened.
 – Use push as a “bonus” feature of using Android over other platforms.
 – Google must have been paying a fortune in licensing fees to Microsoft for Exchange Activesync.

So. Push. No big deal right? Completely Wrong! Push email is just the way it has to be, at least it is for me. Push is a little service that just happens without anyone bothering to thank it, or wonder how it even works. That is, until it stops and you wonder why you only get your emails in batches every 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

Now; try going out and looking for services, paid or free, that offer push and are a solid email service. Best of luck finding them! Valerie and I looked high and low. The general consensus was, if you want Push Email, getting a hosted Exchange account with some company was the way to go. I am by no means a “fan” of Exchange, or Microsoft’s offerings in general, but their Activesync offering works, and it works really well.

I really didn’t have any other reason to want to look elsewhere from Gmail, but I had to get Push back. After the previously mentioned searching, the idea of Google’s Apps for Business came up. When Google made the announcement concerning the cutoff for Push to Gmail, they did specifically mention that Google Apps for Business, Government, and Education would continue to enjoy this feature. Looking back now, this makes a little more sense to offer services that are costing you money to paying customers. I get that. In fact, I would have been more than happy to pay Google a little extra to upgrade my Gmail account to Activesync, but that unfortunately (at least at this time) is not an option. You also cannot migrate your “@gmail” account to a Google Apps Account. So began the process.

Since we were starting over effectively, we did get the option to have a unique domain name to use with Google Apps. After picking the domain, the setup of Google Apps is amazingly simple. Using the domain registrar that I used, I didn’t even have to setup MX records, Google Apps did it all for me! That is really all there is to say about the process, it was super fast and easy to setup and all our devices have push again!

I migrated all my email, calendars, and contacts from “@gmail” to the new email and everything was ready to go. I haven’t 100% made the full switch over, as it takes some time to get everything set and swapped over. I forward all email from “@gmail” to new email and handle all email in the new inbox and will slowly be getting everything tied to the old address to the new one.

Now comes the part that most people on the internet will scoff at, you have to pay for Google Apps for Business! “OMG what!? Everything in the world is free, how can this be. I am entitled to get everything I want for free. Period"  -Many Internet Users. Well, things in life are not free, and Google Apps for Business is no different, but it is super reasonably priced and I am fine with paying for services I really want. 

I still don’t think moving email addresses is anywhere near as easy as it should be, but we will get there. 

Feel free to ask me any questions about the process or leave comments about it.

The Internet! (prop)

You may or may not know about a show called “The IT Crowd”. If you do, then you already know what this is about, if you do not, go watch every single episode on Netflix right now! 🙂

I guess this is a spoiler if you have not seen the series, but it doesn’t really matter. Have you started watching yet? 🙂

I wanted to make a smaller scale version of the prop they used in the TV show in Season 3 Episode 4.

Behold!!

I am working on getting a parts list and wiring diagram put together to share!

Goodbye AT&T Voicemail, Hello Google Voicemail!

I have been using Google Voice for a couple days, and I think it is time to step it up! I have been looking into ways to more tightly integrate my new Google Voice service in with my phone. There are a couple of key areas to focus on when trying to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your cell phone. Phone calls, Voicemails, and Text messages. As you of course know, I use an iPhone; more specifically an iPhone 3G (at time of writing), so I will be working to integrate with that. In time I suspect an Android phone will integrate with Google Voice seamlessly. Hell, they might even just give you a Google Voice phone number when you buy a Google Android Phone.

Stage I – Voicemail
I really like the voicemail in Google Voice, with its ease of use, ability to listen anywhere, and the transcribing features. Before today, if someone were to call my iPhone and I didn’t answer, they would get my AT&T Voicemail. Now don’t get me wrong, Visual Voicemail on the iPhone is great, but nowhere near as powerful as Google Voicemail. Now you may ask why not just give everyone my Google Voice number and problem solved right? Well, yes and no. It is going to take a while to get my new number circulated to everyone, and in the meantime it would be nice if I could start receiving all my voicemail in one place. There is also the problem of relaying text messages between my cell phone and Google Voice, but there will be more on that in blog posts to come. Anyway, back to the matter at hand: voicemail. I needed my iPhone number to go to my Google Voicemail when I don’t answer, and that is precisely what I have done. Here is how I did it.

Some of you iPhone users may know about things like Field Mode Testing which is a diagnostic tool that you can get to by typing *3001#12345#* on the dial pad in the phone app followed by pressing the call button. Nothing too special there, but a similar method to this is used to change where callers are sent when you do not answer your iPhone. Now, if you type *#61# followed by the call button, you will see a screen like the screenshot below, which shows you where your phone is currently forwarded to for voicemail. This is an AT&T central receiving center for AT&T voicemail from what I can tell. In case the regular number isn’t the same for everyone it would probably be a good idea to write this number down, just in case you need to revert back for some reason. The next step is for making the switch. Go ahead and fireup your dial pad again and enter the following:

*61*1<your google voice number>*11*<voicemail delay in seconds>#

If your Google Voice number was 555-555-1212 and you wanted your phone to ring for 20 seconds before going to voicemail it would look like the following:

*61*15555551212*11*20#

That’s it! Your iPhone will now fwd to your Google Voice number and subsequently your Google Voicemail when you don’t answer your iPhone.

Hope this helps you. Check back for additions to integrate the rest of the services more tightly.

As always leave comments, questions, and feedback in the comments below or send me an email twothirtyam@me.com