Battery Tips: iPad 2 Edition

I was asked by the nice folks at iPhoneGlance to write up something on battery life for the iPad 2 release. It’s posted on their site, have a look. It includes tips on maximizing all battery life, not just for the iPad2, but also iPhones, iPods and Macbooks (all Apple laptops, really).


HTML Signature in Apple Mail

Working with web designs all day, I finally decided to get an HTML signature inside of Apple’s Mail program. It’s a little more complex than it might be, and there are some pitfalls and things you don’t want to do. I’ll list them out for you. There are good examples of this practice, and bad ones. Be SURE to read the Good example here before starting, it’s more relevant to know also what NOT to do with your signature. I actually scaled back my email signature bonanza after reading it.

The Results:


The Templates

First, you’ll need some ideas of how to start. Download the three different templates
here, here and here.

The Code

First of all, should you dispense with my templates and just work on your own, you should know that you can’t use Body or Head tags. ALL the code must be inline CSS, as you can see from the examples.

Take A Look

You can open each inside Safari (you need to use Safari instead of any other web browser) to look at them- File -> Open File...

Then you can open them up inside a text editor like BBEdit or even Dreamweaver if you have that. Even TextEdit will do it, though. Just be sure not to use something like MS Word because that application adds things to the HTML that you don’t want during exports.

Modify Away

This is the point where you can modify my code (or insert your own- being sure to NOT include Body or Head tags) to put in your specific information. When I am editing these, I keep Safari open, with all three examples open in different tabs (File -> Open tends to open the files in a separate window, but you can copy and paste the URL from each window into tabs instead, if you like). Switching between your text editor and Safari (reload after each save of the text editor) until your signature looks like you want it to. A helpful tag is:
to add a carriage return.
Look here if you need help with inline CSS.

Go Into Apple Mail

Now that you’ve got your HTML all set up there are two things to know in Apple Mail:
  1. You need to create a blank signature(s) in the Apple Mail preferences: Mail -> Preferences -> Signatures. Hit + to add them, but leave them blank and don’t name it(them) now.
  2. When you create these blank signatures, what happens is that some mysteriously-named files are put into the ~/Library/Mail/Signatures folder. This step is critical and later these blank signatures will be overwritten.

+Please ignore the tabs in the Finder window above. I use TotalFinder.+

Now since you’ve been editing and viewing your example.html files, you should still have the up inside Safari. Using Safari- as opposed to Firefox or Google Chrome (my current browser), is also critical, as I mentioned above, for this second-to-last step.

For each of your signatures, you want to Save As... inside Safari, and make sure that you’re selected Web Archive:

And you’ll see something like this:


Returning to your Mail Preferences, you should see your signatures. Don’t worry about the Question marks inside the image references.

The FINAL step is to BE SURE you drag and drop your signatures onto your various accounts. IT WILL NOT WORK WITHOUT IT.
Notice in the above MobileMe account, I have 3 signatures showing up there, because it’s ready to go. You can tell when an account is ready because you will be able to switch between the signatures you’ve dragged and dropped onto that account, like below:

Do this for each of your accounts, as appropriate for the signature you set up.

Please comment if you have issues.

The Internet Just Became Richer

This is a great article on the evolution of the internet, spearheaded by Google:
Yes, I know it SOUNDS like it’s just about recipes, but it’s not.
It’s about Rich Snippets:

Currently I am designing a Web site for a woman who will be sharing recipes, and I am excited to know that once we implement the hRecipe aspects in her design, then we’ll really be capable of getting her a lot of traffic.


Computer Skills #1: Back Up Your Data

There is a maxim in the computer support business:
"There are only three main habits you want to develop with your computer:
#1 Back Up Your Data
#2 Back Up Your Data
#3 Back Up Your Data"

Most importantly, data backups are the user's responsibility. This is because it's the user who suffers the consequences of data loss. This is especially important for businesses, even small ones.

"You hear terrifying stats all the time: Up to 10 percent of the world's 700 million computers crash every day; Fifty percent of businesses that lose their data never open their doors again; only 6 percent of Internet users back up daily; 43 percent have lost files at some point. People: there's no good reason for this—especially given the many excellent backup options out there. Online backup services like the excellent SOS Online Backup, Mozy, IDrive, and Norton Online Backup stand ready to protect your data."

It's this way because of the complexity of modern computers. There are simply so many things that can go wrong, and so many different ways to use computers than every computer user has entirely different sets of expectations.

Here are some reasons why people don't back up. PLEASE don't let yourself be one of them. Here is the best article on backing up I have ever read-
The Pirate Backup System: ARR

Backing up your data using the following principles will help you understand what we're doing here:
1) Near-Term- includes: external hard disks, small USB drives, floppy disks/diskettes (less popular now than they once were), NAS (network storage), sometimes including a 'mapped' (a Windows network term) or shared workgroup drive on corporate networks.
2) Archival- used to be a tape drive, but now hard disks are so inexpensive that they are being though of (erroneously) in this way. Archival storage is better thought now to be either 'in the cloud', or on CD/DVD media.
3) Offsite- Not in your physical location. Some shared corporate assets could be considered this way, but most 'in the cloud' services these days are sufficient, as
long as your data needs are less than 60-100GB. These solutions (Sugarsync, Dropbox, Carbonite, Mozy, among others; click here for a 2010 comparison; NOTE: most online backup services have ended unlimited storage plans)
4) Data Portability (also serves as a VERY near term backup, in a sense)

Most modern email clients can be synched very simply to your mobile phone/smartphone. Since most people are using web-based email clients like Yahoo and Gmail (and if you're still using your ISP's email, change quickly; there are too many advantages when using web-based email clients for data portability and many other reasons) then that part is easy.

Using other web-based clients like Dropbox, Instapaper, Evernote and so on provide similar benefits and they will usually have native applications to your platform, be it iPhone/iPod Touch-based, Android-based or even Windows Phone-based.

So backing up and data portability are converging, as with so many other things- into "the cloud". Take advantage of it!

Computer Skills #2: Stay Up-To-Date

Checking that your computer has everything as up-to-date as possible is very recommended. Here are some services that can help:

There is a mythology among many computer users that sounds like one of two things:
1) I don't have time to update, I'm busy doing something else.
2) Something bad will happen to my computer if I update. (This IS possible, but unlikely)

By staying up to date (this is
particularly true of Windows computers), one eliminates MANY holes used by hackers to make your computer into a zombie. There are literally MILLIONS of zombie computers (called botnets) used by organized crime to blackmail businesses and other nefarious deeds.

These organizations take advantage of 4 things:
1) The
Ignorance of most computer users.
2) The Popularity of buggy Windows operating system PCs.
3) The Reluctance of WIndows users to update their OS and other software.
4) A Continuous, High-Speed Broadband Internet connection

Not updating your computer gives these people
even more holes to enter your computer with than they already possess.

Many people will think I am being alarmist when I say such things, as the concept of computer crime is beyond their understanding, much less beyond an idea of what would motivate something like this.

"That may be because Torpig botnet> is designed to avoid detection so people won’t fix up their machines. Indeed, the researchers say the creators of this botnet lived off poorly maintained computers. “Many compromised [PCs] had ancient versions of vulnerable software. If the victims would have updated their systems on a regular basis, they probably would not have been compromised in the first place,” says the lead researcher, Prof. Giovanni Vigna."

Please read the links I provided, if you're not already convinced. If that doesn't convince you, this should.

There are many ways in which computer viruses can get into Windows systems, less if you own a Mac. I have a friend who works in a local Apple Store selling Macs, and he says that many people who buy a new Mac from using Windows previously (known as
Switchers) do so because of virus issues. fficial&client=firefox-a">Google Mac OS X and Viruses and see for yourself.

If you hire me to do computer work for you, I will likely want to put you immediately through a regimen of doing EVERY possible software update.

Do it yourself. It's free, and if you're a Windows user that's ignored software updates for a long time, then you have hours and hours of downloading and installations to do. Save yourself the hourly wage of me doing it, and do it yourself.

Update Applications & Phones, too.
Almost every piece of software will have an update of some kind of another soon enough.

For example, if you own an iPhone, your iOS will need to be update periodically (you can set this in iTunes), as will iTunes itself. Updates to the iOS running on your device, say to upgrade from
version 3 to version 4 is done by having the latest version of iTunes.

"Apps" or the software that runs inside modern smartphones are also updated REALLY regularly. Checking for app updates inside iTunes or other software updaters used for Blackberry/Android platforms once a week should do it. Then synch your device with that software and you'll be all set.