Help! I Forgot My Apple Password

December 15, 2014 at 9:09 am (1Password, Apple, Applications, How-to, iPhone/iPod Touch, security) (, , )

Back in the old days when I worked at Apple, there was hardly a day that went by when we didn’t get at least one person at the Genius Bar who had forgotten their Apple ID or Password.  They would frequently swear up one side and down the other that they knew what it was, it had always been that, and Apple was just wrong.  Uh-huh.  Right.  But, things happen, and sometimes it happens to the best of us.  Like my dad.  He is a pharmacist, one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever known.  But, bless his heart, he is not the most tech-savvy guy around.  Don’t get me wrong, he tries.  Oh, how he tries.  But, as much as I’ve tried to gently guide him and help him, I still end up going over about once a week to provide a little tech support (usually just to reset the router).

Not long ago, I was doing some routine upgrades when the box popped up for the Apple ID and Password.  I entered it, and immediately was informed that I was mistaken.  Frowning, I thought I must have entered it wrong.  I re-entered it, and got the ‘no dice’ message again.  “Dad”, I called out over the balcony, “have you changed your Apple Password without telling me?”.  He responded that he had not, so I opened my all-around favorite app, 1Password (I know, you’re shocked). I pulled up Pop’s info, only to find that the password listed was the same one I’d tried without success.  So, at this point, what to do?

There are a couple of things that one can do in this instance.  You can always contact Apple support.  This might be best for folks who are not tech-savvy.  Had I not been around and available, I would have sent Pop this route.  To get in touch with Apple’s support team for Apple ID issues, you can use this link:  https://getsupport.apple.com/Issues.do
You click a selection to let them know if your issue with your Apple ID is related to iTunes, iCloud, or “other”, where “other” includes Apple ID and password issues, as well as issues related to your security questions, game center, face time, messages, and more. When you select your issue, you’ll then be given a choice to schedule a call with Apple support.  You can call them or they will call you.  This cuts down on a long hold time for you.  A schedule is displayed, and you choose your preferred time, in fifteen minute intervals.  For instance, if I wanted to call this morning, it shows me that there are 6 appointments available between 9:45am and 11:15am.  I select the one I want, enter my contact information, then sit back and wait for them to call me.  You can call them as well, but during times of high call volume, you might have to hold for a bit.  Letting them call you is definitely the easier option.

If you have an iDevice (iPhone or iPad), you can easily recover or reset your account information.  Simply open the Settings app, then scroll to iCloud and tap it. At the top of the iCloud settings, you’ll see your name and email address.  Tap on the email address.  A box will appear for you to enter your password.  Underneath the box, tap on the blue text that says “Forgot Apple ID or Password?”  You will then have two choices:  If you don’t remember your Apple ID, tap the blue text that says “Forgot your Apple ID?”  Boxes will pop up for you to enter your name and email address to recover your Apple ID.  If you know your Apple ID but don’t remember your password, enter your email address then click “Next”. Then tap whether you want to reset your password by email or by answering your security questions. After that, you should be able to reset your password and log in to your account as usual. 

My Apple ID

You can reset your password from the “My Apple ID” site using your web browser.  Under the blue “Manage Your Apple ID” link on the right side of the page, click on the option to “Reset Your Password”.  You will have to enter your email address and correctly answer the security questions to complete the process and have your password reset. 

There is a little-known secret that allows you use your web browser to search multiple email addresses to try to find an Apple ID that you may have forgotten after changing your email from one account to another. Go to Apple’s iForgot site, enter your name, your current email address, and up to three former email addresses.  Answer the security questions to verify that you are really you. This should be enough to find your Apple ID.  You can follow the other steps to reset your password if needed.  Now you can log in as usual. 

Once you recover your Apple ID and password, please put the information into your 1Password app.  If you aren’t using it yet, there’s no better time to start.  Check it out at their 1Password website. Start using 1Password and have all your user names, passwords, login info, secure notes, and more right at your fingertips.  Best of all, you only have to remember one password (you know you wondered where the name came from) from now on.  The app remembers the rest. It’s accessible anywhere, and syncs across all your devices. Get it now, and never have to fill out another form to recover ID and password information.  Think of all the time you’ll save! 

If you have any trouble, you can always refer back to the link to get in touch with Apple’s support team.  They will help get you back on track in no time. 

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1Password App Extension Coming in iOS 8

August 6, 2014 at 9:48 am (1Password, Apple, Applications, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity) (, , , )

One of the really cool things announced at Apple’s WWCD this year was the addition of app extensions for iOS 8 (iOS is the operating system that runs our iDevices).  When you log in to an app on an iDevice, you have to do the copy and paste dance of going to 1Password (or your notes or wherever you have your login info), go back and forth between the screens a couple of times, until you submit the info and successfully log in to the app…unless you use the same password for everything, but you don’t do that, right?  Because that’s just wrong, and setting yourself up for a world of hurt.  So, the announcement about app extensions was fantastic!  Because now, you won’t have to do that do-si-do anymore.  There is a short video at 1Password’s blog where you can get a look at the coolness of it.  More info will be coming soon, but I can’t wait for this feature.  Be sure to let your favorite app developers know that you want them to use the 1Password extension with their apps. 

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Where do you keep your Passwords? No More Sticky Notes!

June 8, 2014 at 11:31 am (1Password, Apple, Applications, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity, Products, shareware) (, , , , )

I realize I’ve been hyping the fantastic 1Password app quite a bit lately.  There’s a good reason for that.  It’s the best.  If you care anything about your data, you owe it to yourself to protect it.  That means using 1Password. 

 

Friends frequently ask me what 1Password is, what it does, why they need it, and many other questions.  I’d gotten my “elevator spiel” down to about a minute or so, but I was afraid of being inconsistent, or leaving out something important, (especially with all the new features added recently), or just freezing up (it happens sometimes). But, now there is something even better. 


Now there is a real video, complete with snazzy soundtrack, that can be clicked and watched again and again. Keep watching until you realize that you cannot go another minute without the muscle that 1Password provides.   

 

Enjoy this brief video, then head on over to 1Password and pick up a copy today.  


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Apple iDevices Held for Ransom Down Under: Don’t Reuse Those Passwords, Mate

May 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm (1Password, Apple, Applications, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch) (, , , )

Something interesting happened in Australia recently when Mac, iPhone, and iPad users were hacked using Apple’s Find My iPhone feature to lock devices and send ransom messages to the owners. They demanded a $50 “unlock fee” to be paid via PayPal payment from the owners. 

 

While it wasn’t immediately evident how these hackers gained access to the devices, it was soon ascertained that they obtained the information from a data breach. Because many people reuse passwords, it is likely that the hackers found people who used the same passwords for the accounts from the data breach and their Apple ID, which then allowed them control of  the iDevices. 

 

Apple made a brief statement to let people know that iCloud was not compromised.  They also advised those affected to change their passwords. They can also go to their local Apple store or call Apple Care if they need additional assistance. 

 

This reinforces the sensibility of utilizing two-step authentication whenever possible, and reminds users to never reuse the same password across accounts. It also reiterates the need to use a good password manager such as 1Password to create strong passwords for all your accounts. Until next time, be safe with those passwords folks. Friends don’t let friends reuse passwords.  


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Cool Stuff that Siri can do for You

June 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm (Apple, How-to, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity) (, , , , )

You may already be a seasoned professional when it comes to using Siri, but there are always more goodies you can add to your bag of tricks. When Siri first became available on the iPhone, one of the first things I asked was “What can you do for me?” and Siri tossed up a handful of suggestions. Back then, they were fairly simple things like calling people, sending texts, and setting reminders. Siri has evolved in the nearly two years that we have been using her assistance. There are a lot more things you can outsource Siri to do for you now. 

Here are just a few:

Say/Ask This:                                          To Do This:

Call (Mike / my brother)               Call a person (by name or relationship)

Launch ‘Facebook’                        Launch (app of choice)

Tell Malissa I’m on my way           Sends text to (person) with your message

Set up a meeting at 9am              Adds a meeting onto your schedule

Did the Broncos win today?         Checks and reports team scores 

Give me directions to Selmer       Gives directions to any named place

Tweet a message                          Tweets a message to post to Twitte

What movies are playing?            Tells what movies are playing nearby

Play brandi carlile                          Plays (singer) or (playlist) that you request

Remind me to pay bills                 Sets a reminder based on your request

Email Nik about the trip                 Sends email to (person) about (subject)

What’s today’s weather?                Tells you the weather forecast 

What’s apple’s stock price             Tells you company’s stock price

Wake me tomorrow at 9am           Sets an alarm for 9am 

What’s Nancy’s address?               Gets (person’s) address

Note that i need to buy milk          Adds a note to buy milk

Search the web for xxx                  Searches web for (chosen topic)

Define (word)                                  Looks up and gives definition of (word)

Find a good Sushi place                Lists nearby Sushi (or other) restaurants

In addition to the above commands, you can also have Siri help with punctuation and a few emoticons (oh, come on. You knew it was only a matter of time). 😉  Speaking punctuation such as “new paragraph”,  “new line”, “cap”, “period”, “full stop”,  or “(other desired punctuation mark)”,  will get the desired results most of the time.  Some emoticons  work, such as “smiley” or “smiley face”, “frowny” or “frowny face”,  and “wink face”. 

There is occasionally a glitch if Siri doesn’t understand you.  Get some practice by speaking normally, being sure to enunciate your words properly.  The more you use it, the more accurate your results will be.

Most of those listed above are, believe it or not, fairly basic uses of Siri.  She has evolved quite a bit in the past couple of years.  Some of the even more impressive tasks Siri can help you manage now include the following:  search other web browsers (Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia) for information; update your social network status on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ via SMS (must set up ahead of time);  see and set calendar appointments for a certain day;  tell you what actors were in a particular movie; set or delete alarms; list flight times;  restart springboard/finder;  and more.  Calculations and other “fact-type” questions are searched using Wolfram Alpha. It is also integrated with Remember the Milk and other applications, to make those apps even easier to use. 

Many folks are aware that Siri also has some nifty little Easter Eggs, as well as a rather wicked (programmed) sense of humor.  There are at least a few blogs dedicated to these chuckle-inducing experiences, along with some dedicated to funny “oops” moments when a word is misspelled or misunderstood, yielding some unpredictable and often hilarious results. 

I tried a few questions early on, several of them the same that many others have also tossed at our able silicon-based assistant. Just a few samples:

Siri StarWars 2

Q:  “What can you tell me about ‘Star Wars (1977)’?”  
A:   “It’s about a couple of really nice robots who get mixed up in a silly intergalactic war”.  

Q:  “Define supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”  
A:   “The sound of that is something quite atrocious”.

Q:  “Who is on first?”
A:   “Correct. Who is on first.”  

 Q:  “What is the meaning of life?” 
 A:  “All evidence to date points to chocolate” (“42” is another hilarious answer).

These are just the tip of the iceberg regarding things that Siri can help you do these days.  I suspect that with iOS 7, that list will increase exponentially. I love having Siri help me make quick work of my tasks.  That gives me that much more time to spend on things that are really important.  Those are just a few that I’ve asked, and I’ve heard of or read many dozens more.  I’m glad the programmers made it a bit humorous. It makes me think they thought even more of their end user. 

What are your favorite things about Siri?  Have you had any humorous interactions with her? What would you like to see in iOS 7?  Let me know in the comments.   

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15 iPad Apps to Boost Productivity

April 25, 2013 at 4:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Like many people these days, my friends and I are spending more and more time using mobile devices for work and play. I’ve done a little bit of investigating, and have come up with fifteen of the best iPad apps for boosting productivity:

IOS App Icons 2

1. Evernote (Free) How would you like it if you could remember everything? With Evernote, you’ll never forget anything again…but, if you do, you can skim back thru your index and find it. Evernote for iPad lets you create new text, audio, and photo notes. With its gesture control, you can view existing Evernote content just by swiping or tapping your finger. It lets you create multiple types of notes, organize them in notebooks, and syncs automatically and flawlessly. You can also share with others. There is also a Premium account with more great features, including their amazing text recognition. It’s cross-platform and cross-device, so you’ll never be without your information again. It’s truly become my peripheral brain. If I could only have one app, this would be it.

2. 1Password ($17.99) This hall of fame app is easily the best password manager for the iPad, iOS and Mac (also for Windows and Android). It uses industry standard security, has a user-friendly (and gorgeous) interface, has desktop partner apps for Mac and Windows, and automagically syncs with Dropbox to keep everything at your fingertips. Use it to store log-ins, software registrations, secure notes, account information, and more. Generate strong passwords to protect your digital information. Use the in-app browser to log in to places like online banking sites securely from within the app. There were previously separate apps for iPhone and iPad, but now there is one universal app. This is a great standalone app, but it’s really powerful when you use it in conjunction with its desktop counterpart.

3. Dropbox (Free) This service lets you take your photos, documents, and videos anywhere and easily share them. You can keep files in a central location accessible to all devices, and share with other users. It is integrated with many iOS apps and has become the standard app to which many apps sync to safely store information.

4. TextExpander ($4.99) – This is an invaluable app on your Mac, and now it has come to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Use short abbreviations that expand to words, snippets of text, or entire paragraphs to increase productivity and save lots of typing. Set your abbreviation then watch it expand to fill information such as addresses, URL’s, standard responses, and more. Every day, more apps are integrated with it…over 100 already. Sync your TextExpander snippets with your Mac via Dropbox.

5. Notability ($1.99) This was Apple’s best selling note-taker of 2012. Taking notes is an essential part of important work meetings, but everyone has their own style and preferred method of capturing and transcribing information. Notability rolls all those styles into one handy app. You can type, doodle notes by hand, record snippets of audio, pull images from the web or add them from your photo library, annotate PDFs, and index everything in one place. Once you have your notes, you can sync to your favorite cloud service. You can also import Microsoft Office files (.doc, .ppt, and .xls) as PDFs using Google Drive.

6. JotNot Scanner Pro ($.99) When you need to scan docs, this is the app to use. Take a picture of your document (or batch scan multiple docs), adjust the corners where you want them, then send it to yourself via Evernote, email, uploading to Dropbox, etc. Scan your docs, receipts, (and anything else you can snap with your camera) into PDFs. Take advantage of in-app faxing to U.S. numbers via fax credits (99¢ for up to 5 pages). You can adjust file size and resolution within the app. Tag, search, and sort your documents. It automatically detects standard paper sizes, or you can set custom sizes. View PDF docs or export them to other iOS apps such as iBooks. Some folks prefer Scanner Pro ($6.99). Both do essentially the same things. I’ve always used JotNot, and never had an issue. I have some friends who use Scanner Pro who say the same thing. Get whichever looks better to you. You can’t go wrong with either one, although there’s a $6 price difference at the moment.

7. Wunderlist (Free) After trying over a dozen planners, to-do lists, and reminder-type apps, this has become my favorite of the bunch. It might not have all the bells and whistles (or price tag!) of OmniFocus or Things, but by the same token, I don’t get all bogged down in it, and I can just concentrate on getting things done. Wunderlist has won multiple awards from Lifehacker, Mashable, and others. You can create and manage multiple lists in one place, set reminders, and add recurring tasks and subtasks. It is easy to collaborate with others by inviting friends or colleagues to share lists. In addition to using this for basic to-do lists, I have a media list that a group of us share and a shopping list that I share with my partner. We can both add to it from our respective iDevices, and it stays in sync between us. Never forget the ice cream again 🙂

8. Log Me In (Free) This app gives you direct access to your computer at home or work with just one click. Remotely access your computer or access and edit files from your iPad as if you were sitting at your computer. Never be away from important files again. The Pro version has premium features.

9. Dragon Dictation (Free) This is by far the best voice-to-text tool that I’ve ever used. It works from the moment you install it with no configuration or setting up, and no ‘training’ period. It is the embodiment of the phrase ‘it just works.’ If fast typing isn’t your thing, this is a great solution for hands-free transcription. This helpful and accurate dictation app turns your speech into text, then lets you send it easily to social networking apps, email, or other programs. Once you get a feel for it, using this app is a breeze.

10. iXpenseIt ($4.99) – This one has taken multiple awards for favorite app from different sites. It helps with expense tracking, budgeting, and bill reminders for personal or business use. There’s an export feature using email or wi-fi, or use .CSV importing into either Numbers or Excel spreadsheets. Access your data via any web browser using the wi-fi option, or email expense reports, with photos if desired. The lite version has limit of 200 records, including recurring expenses, so you can give it a try.

11. OfficeTime ($7.99, Universal) Accurately tracking time spent working across multiple projects in a day can feel like a tedious juggling act that completely saps your focus. This easy-to-use time tracker app handles that task for you. All you do is set a project and tap a button. Switching between different tasks auto pauses your current project when you swap. Export to Numbers or Excel, Mac or PC. Designed for Freelancers and small teams. There is also a free version with limited functionality, but it should be enough to let you see that you would like the paid version so you can track unlimited projects and categories and sync to your Mac or PC.

12. Camera+ for iPad ($.99) Since the day it was released, Camera+ has been the best iPhone app for taking and editing photos. It runs circles around Apple’s own Camera app, largely due to the “Clarity” filter that improves almost any photo in any circumstances. I rarely take photos with my iPad, but I do a lot of minor editing and enhancing, and that is where this app shines. There are oodles of filters, effects, and treatments that have been created by figure skater turned model turned professional photographer, Lisa Bettany, and she has worked some serious magic with this app. Use one effect, or stack them for even more unique results. Then add borders and captions for a little extra punch. Keep your photos in sync between your iDevices using their iCloud Lightbox feature, then share your photos via popular social media apps.

13. Flipboard (Free) This flagship iPad app is still the standard for news apps on the iPad, or as they say, “your personal magazine”. Completely customizable to suit your tastes, it is a great aggregator of all your favorite sources, from Twitter and Facebook to your favorite ‘read later’ app, with a gorgeous magazine style layout. A cool new feature includes the ability to literally save content into your own magazines, for example to make a “Dream Trip” planning guide, or set up your very own magazine for all things geocaching. Did I mention the gorgeous layout? 😉

14. Pocket (Free) Save long articles, web pages, or videos to view later, when you have time, on your computer, iPhone, or iPad. It syncs automatically across devices. Save virtually anything from your browser or from over 300 apps. This is another app that has been a repeat award winner over the past year or so. This is a great app for when I’m stuck somewhere without online access and a weak or non-existent cell signal. Thanks to Pocket, I can still access prime content. Some new features include sharing content and sending to friends.

15. Spotify (Free) When I’m working or relaxing or pretty much any time in between, I’ve got to be listening to music. It just makes me more productive. This excellent music streaming service is now a universal iOS app and it’s a great one. You can listen to your own music for free or get full offline access to all your favorite synced playlists with a Spotify premium account. U.S. users can listen to free radio as well. Share your favorite music with friends and send it to Facebook. Listening to music just got a whole lot better.

Bonus app: Bento for iPad ($9.99) For an all-around organizational tool for your life, check out Bento. This app has 25 different database templates designed for a variety of subjects, including recipes, event planning, inventory tracking, billable hours and expenses, vehicle maintenance, and contacts. All the templates are customizable, so you can tweak them to suit your specific needs, or design your own from scratch. Organize virtually any type of information. This can be used as a standalone app, or in conjunction with the iPhone ($4.99) version or Mac ($49.99) version. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but there are some great tutorials available online.

There you have it. Those are my fifteen top apps for boosting productivity using just your iPad and a few well-placed taps and swipes. Let me know what apps you can’t live without.

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Wednesday Sucker Punch, or RIP Steve Jobs

October 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm (Apple) (, , , , , )

IMG 0466

 

I feel like I’ve just been sucker-punched.  You know the feeling. Someone hits you in that space in your gut where it knocks the wind out of you and it takes a few seconds to catch your breath. 

 

That’s how I felt a few minutes ago when I got a text from my partner’s son, Kelly. He was offering condolences regarding the passing of Steve.  He knew I was a huge fan of Mr. Jobs, and he thought, rightly so, that I would be upset about Steve’s death. 

 

My first thoughts: Kelly was mistaken, he was just messing with me, he was drunk. Besides, I’d just been online the past hour or so, and there wasn’t a word about it. Believe me, in my circle of mostly techies, geeks, and developers, someone would know! 

 

I opened my iPad to Facebook. Bam! The first entry I saw, reading “just now”, was from Lisa Bettany, aka Mostly Lisa. Then Macgenie. Then Nik. Well, damn. Then a little snowball turned into the proverbial avalanche, and within moments , that’s all anyone was posting. I had that feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t breathe. We all knew this day was coming, but so soon? I mean, he just resigned, surely he’s got a little more time left for walks with his family. Surely. 

 

I thought back to the first Mac I’d ever seen, a Mac Plus, in 1986. It was in the newsroom of a small rag, a weekly newspaper in small-town Mississippi. Before long, I was an editor at that paper. Fast forward a few years, and I was working for Apple. Fast forward a few years later, and I’ve fulfilled a dream by attending a couple of Macworld Expos, meeting and working with some great people, and we all have something in common…the house that Steve built. 

 

A lot of folks talk about the best product Steve invented. I don’t think Steve’s greatest accomplishment was a particular product. I think it was Apple. He started something as a dream, then had the great vision to go out and make it happen. People didn’t think he could do it, or they tried to prevent it, but he succeeded. All this in just two acts at Apple. Wouldn’t there be an Act 3, when Steve was cured, when he’d defeated Cancer like he took down all his other detractors? Surely they were wrong, this was just a goof, like the other time his obit was mistakenly published. But, deep down I knew it was over. Deep down, I knew Steve had lost this fight, the most important one. Steve was gone. 

 

Rest in peace, Steve. And thank you for everything.

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You’ve Purchased HOW Many Apps???

June 18, 2011 at 1:45 am (Apple, Applications, Humor, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, shareware) (, , , , , )

I stumbled across this Mac application recently after seeing one of my friends, @chartier, tweet about it and thought I’d share it with you so we can all be staggering around in disbelief at the sheer number of apps that we have purchased (and how much we’ve spent on them!). I’d been trying to find a program like this after a friend and I were discussing how many apps we’d purchased for our iDevices. After seeing David’s tweet, I decided to download it and give it a go.

The application, by WetFish Software, is called App Store Expense Monitor. It’s a free app (donations accepted).  It’s just a straightforward zip file for your Mac. Run it, and the program finds all the apps in your iTunes Mobile Applications folder. It tells you the App, Developer, Category, and Price of the apps you’ve downloaded.

AppStoreExpensesInfo

It shows the current price of the app, although you can edit the price to reflect what you actually paid for it — good for those that might have been free or that even (gasp!) cost more when you purchased it than they do now.

It can be exported as a CSV or XML file.  I did have to change the path so my Mobile Apps folder could be located, as it wasn’t quite in the standard spot. However, this was easy enough to do, as it just involved choosing the desired path and selecting it in the options.

Try it and see what you think.  You can download from their website here:  http://wetfish.de/software/osx/app-store-expense-monitor/ . I have 342 apps totaling $593.57.  Leave me a comment below and let’s compare purchases.

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Time Winding Down for Software Deals

November 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm (MacHeist, shareware) (, , , , )

OneFingerDiscount.png-1.jpgTime is winding down on a couple of great software deals. MacHeist, as previously noted, has tried an interesting bit of marketing to bring new users into its fold, by bundling six applications together and offering them up for free (well, in exchange for the all-important contact information). That bundle, dubbed the “nanobundle” by MacHeist, officially ends tonight. According to the counter on their website, there are twelve hours left.

In response to the Macheist deal, one independent Mac software developer, Daniel Jalkut, came up with an idea to have a promotion of his own, called the One Finger Discount. As he noted, “Everybody loves a deal. We’re banding together to give customers a price break, and to spread the word about Mac software they may not have heard about.” I asked him last night on Twitter if he’d had much feedback regarding sales from others. He said, “Every dev I’ve heard from has been “stoked” by the response.”

The One Finger Discount officially ends the same time as the MacHeist bundle, but Jalkut says he’s recommended everybody keep running thru Friday or later. Show your support for Mac software. There are over 100 developers on the list, and many have more than one app listed. Therefore, there are potentially several hundred apps listed from which to choose. Now that sounds like a great shopping spree!

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Get More Done with Jott

June 29, 2008 at 7:45 am (shareware) (, , , , , , , , , )

jott_logo.jpgIf you are not using Jott, you are missing out on some serious chances to be more productive when those little random thoughts, that I call ‘popcorn thoughts’, jump in and out of your head before you can make notes.  Enter Jott. The premise is deceptively simple. It is a program that uses voice recognition software, and a few humans, to transcribe what you say to text. The uses have grown almost exponentially as the application has matured. It is still in beta, but it is quite stable and has a very long list of features. This review will just scratch the surface, but I hope it will interest you enough to head over to Jott.com and check it out for yourself.

We’ll start off with the most basic function: sending yourself an email message. This is affectionately known as “Jott to Self”. First, you pop over to Jott.com, cell phone in hand, and set up an account, which takes about 30 seconds. Now you’re ready to start Jotting. Enter Jott’s phone number, 866-JOTT-123, in your cell phone directory (mine is in my iPhone favorites, so it’s right there on the front screen so I don’t have to search for it). Call Jott. You will be asked, “Who do you want to Jott?”. You can say “me” or “myself”, or press 1. When you hear the beep, leave your message; for example, “Add more contacts to Jott”. Jott will confirm by saying, “Got it”. You may then hang up, or stay on the line to Jott again. You will then receive an email message (and also a text message if you set it up to receive confirmation texts) of your Jotted message.

That’s how you get started. You can leave a Jott to remind you about meetings, birthdays, special events, or anything else for which you need a reminder. You will get an email and a text message approximately fifteen minutes prior to the date and time you specified. You can set up lists for things to do, movies to see, places to go, etc. Those lists can be printed as well. When you set up your friends as contacts, you can choose to send their Jott as an email, text message, or both. The accuracy is quite good, but if for some reason the message they get is unclear or doesn’t sound right, there is a link that will also let them listen to your spoken Jott.

In addition to setting up friends as contacts, you can also set up groups. Let’s say you need to let the members of your softball team know that the time of your game was moved up an hour. Rather than call a dozen people, you only need to make one call to Jott. You’ll Jott the message to your team (group contact), then the whole team will get the text and/or email, and everyone will be on time for the game. How’s that for efficiency?

Jott has links that you can add for integration with other sites such as Remember the Milk, 30 Boxes, and many others. They even give instructions for developing your own link! If you use Google Calendar, by all means, link to it. You can set up events and reminders thru Jott that will sync to your Google Calendar. If you use iCal, you can still use it by using a third party shareware application such as BusySync or SpanningSync. For example, if I Jott a reminder for “Karen’s Birthday Party” Saturday at 3pm, it will post to Google Calendar, then BusySync will sync with iCal. When I connect my iPhone, I will have the notation for the party in iCal and on my iPhone. How cool is that?!

If you like to Tweet, add Twitter as a link, and you can Jott your tweets (you just have to keep up with those 140 characters in your head!). You can also blog to WordPress and other popular blogs using Jott. I even Jotted part of this review (see the brief post below this one)! You have to keep in mind that Jotts are limited to thirty seconds. If you want to add a lot of content, just edit several Jotts together.

Jott Feeds was recently added to the growing list of features. You call Jott, and say “Jott Feeds”. Then you tell Jott which feed you want to hear (they have a few there by default, but you can add more to your account). If I say, “Lifehacker”, it will read the latest Lifehacker updates to me. Score another point for safety. It’s kind of funny to hear the relatively pleasant, but still quite mechanical voice reading this to me. There are a lot of run-on sentences and a lot of it is really hard to understand. I’m sure this will likely be refined over time.

Jott is now integrated with the incredibly popular Evernote application. Evernote is cross-platform, and also has a desktop client. It recently went public (it had been in private beta). Evernote generates a special email address for members. I made a contact named Ever Note and listed the Evernote email address. Then I called Jott, and Jotted to Evernote. It sent the text of my Jott to Evernote via the Evernote-specific email address. Nice.

There are a few important guidelines to remember when Jotting. Speaking clearly is paramount. Pronounce the words clearly, and you can even spell out proper names or difficult words if you want. The voice recognition software can be a little tricky sometimes, but for the most part, it just works, and works very well. The accuracy is amazing. I have a little bit of a southern accent, but I haven’t run into any major problems so far. I looked over the longest paragraph that I Jotted to my blog, and it was spot-on, 100% accurate.

I have to give a shout out to the very responsive staff at Jott. There was one feature that I wanted desperately, and that was the ability to send myself text messages separately, not associated with emailing a Jott. Kevin over at Lifehacker had come up with a way to do this several months ago, but the application had undergone a few revisions since then and it was no longer possible to do it. I tried to implement a few workaround hacks, but I just could not get it to work. I emailed support a few times and talked to Brooke about it. That’s when I got the bad news that I couldn’t send myself just a text message.

I pleaded for her to work on it. A couple of weeks went by, and just the other day I got a message from Brooke saying that, because of my emails, they changed some things and re-introduced that bit of functionality. Yay! For anyone else wanting to do this, here is what you do. First, I only have my email address listed for my contact information (to Jott myself). I did not list my cell phone number with my main contact info. I added a contact called “Text Me” and added my phone number to it, but not my email address. Inidentally, I tried saying both ‘my phone’ and ‘phone’, but it had voice recognition conflicts with those, so I had to get a little more creative. However, Brooke told me she used “phone” and it worked fine for her…probably my southern accent! Now, when I call Jott, and I am asked, “Who do you want to Jott?”, I say “Text Me”. I leave my message, and a few minutes later, it sends it to my iPhone as a text message. Perfect!

So, if there is a feature you would like to see, just let them know. They have implemented so many new features in the past several weeks and there are even more to come. This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what you can do with Jott. There are many more suggestions and examples at their website.

Another very important point to bring up is the safety aspect. By using Jott, you can use a bluetooth headset with your cell phone, BlackBerry, or iPhone. This makes it much safer for you to be productive while on the road. You don’t have to try to scroll through a list of contacts or rummage around to find pen and paper.

Jott is free while in beta. No word yet on pricing when it comes out of beta, although the free application will remain. According to posts at their forums, they will be implementing a premium service that will allow longer Jotts, possibly including transcription services, and more features. It’s practically impossible not to get hooked on it. Give Jott a try.

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