All posts by Donny Yankellow

In the real world Donny Yankellow is a full time art teacher, freelance artist/illustrator, and is a father. He has written for and and is the author/illustrator of the best selling childrens iBook/eBook "Looking for a Dinosaur." Donny's degree is in Visual Communications and he holds his certification in K-12 Art Education. His hobbies (besides Mac and Apple stuff) include soccer, animation, and reading anything written by Stephen King.

What to do when an AppleTV update goes bad

Apple TVRecently, Apple released an update to the Apple TV bringing that OS to version 6.0. Included in the update was iTunes Radio, the ability to play purchased music, new AirPlay features, and more.

The sign that something has gone wrong

Updating the Apple TV is usually pretty easy, but what if something goes wrong? It did for me when I updated an Apple TV 2. The screen was black on the TV and the light on my Apple TV was blinking at a nonstop rapid pace. My first thought was, “I now have a brick instead of an Apple TV.” After that I calmed down tried to fix it.

The solution

I started by unplugging the Apple TV and plugging it back in. Unfortunately, that didn’t do much except give me directions on how to fix it. The connect to iTunes symbol appeared on the screen (a cable going to the iTunes logo), and that is what I did.

I disconnected the unit from the TV, and beneath the HDMI plug is a little micro-USB port. That is how you connect to a computer running iTunes (Mac or Windows). Obviously, you need a micro-USB cable. If you don’t have one they are easily available at office supply stores and electronic stores and everywhere online.

With a USB cable in hand, I took the Apple TV to a Mac running iTunes and connected the two. I don’t know if this is required, but I kept the Apple TV plugged in to the electric outlet. The computer saw the Apple TV like it would see an iPod or iPad and it walked me through restoring it in iTunes.

After about ten minutes, the AppleTV was restored with the latest OS running on it. iTunes said to disconnect it and hook it up the TV. I did and all was well again.

So now you know what to do if your AppleTV update ever goes wrong. Don’t panic, just grab that micro-USB cable and a computer running iTunes.

Free or paid online services: which should you choose?

flickr logoThere are a bunch of free services on the internet. There are services like Google Drive (formerly Docs) which is basically a free online word processor, spreadsheet app, and presentation app. There is Flickr which is a free photo sharing service. There’s Tumblr which is used for many types of sharing, but is most similar to a free blogging service.

All of these services (and many more) are great, and who doesn’t want free? Well, free isn’t always the best option.

Free support = no support

First, free usually means you are on your own if you need help. There is no 1-800 number to call for tech support. There might be an email address, but you may not get a response. If you are lucky there is a forum where other users go online to help other users who need it.

If you are paying for a service, you should be getting customer service also. There is usually an email address and/or a phone number to help when you need it. Now some place might have tiered service and give quicker responses based on your membership, but you should be getting some type of support if you are paying. For example, I use SmugMug for sharing photos and videos. This is a paid service. Not only do I love the site, but the customer service is fantastic. I usually get a response to my emails within an hour.

Lack of features

In addition to not having support free services usually come at a price of features. Many free services will offer the basics for free and when you want more you have to start paying. Some services might be thought of as a free demo or “lite” version and the full version comes with a fee. For example, you might be using a free online word processor that lets you type and save all of your documents. However, when you want to share or print a document or save in another format you have to pay. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but make sure you are aware of limitation before you start using a service and get hooked into it.

Free is still good

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use free services on the internet. There are a bunch of great ones out there, and I use several. For example, I use Dropbox and iCloud. Both are fantastic services and both are free. However, if I want more storage out of both services I have to start paying an annual fee (yes, there are ways to get more storage in Dropbox for free, but at some point that runs out too). If I needed to I would be happy to pay, but I know the limitations and make sure I don’t get to that point.

In the end, it is a good rule of thumb to do some research before jumping into a free service. Make sure it meets your needs. What are the limitations? Are you willing to pay a membership fee if you have to? Just remember, you get what you pay for and don’t start complaining when that free service isn’t enough.

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: The Digital Artist Edition

Every year companies push the limits of digital art and in some cases it gets harder and harder to distinguish digital art from hand made. Here are some of this year’s best products that you might consider getting for the digital artist in your family.

Wacom Intuos

intuosEarlier this year Wacom rebranded its product line and made the consumer line the new Intuos line. With the new name comes a new design and one of the best drawing tablets I have ever used. It comes in two sizes and any digital artist would love one of these.

Corel Painter X3

logopainterFor years Corel Painter has been the best natural media paint program on the market and this year Corel has updated it to version X3. With X3 comes new features like perspective drawing, easier photo painting, and a ton of new brushes. It is also faster than previous versions. It isn’t cheap, but if you can afford it this is a great gift. In my opinion it is the best version of Painter yet.

Adonit Jot Touch

jotThere are several Bluetooth styluses for the iPad on the market today that claim pressure sensitivity. I have tried several and the Jot Touch by Adonit is the only way that does what it says. It has pressure sensitivity that works through several iPad apps that have built-in compatibility. For any artist working on the iPad this is a fantastic gift.

Sketchbook Pro for iOS

sketchbookIf you are going to get the aforementioned Jot Touch for a gift, the recipient is going to need an app to use it with. Sketchbook Pro is one of them. The Jot Touch works great with it and the app is great even without the stylus. It is one mod my favorite drawing apps on my iPad.

Griffin’s Crayola Line


For the young digital artist in your family there is a collection of fantastic digital tools/pens available by Crayola through the company Griffin Technology. There are many different Crayola tools from drawing to airbrush to painting. They come in the form of pens/styluses and work with Crayola apps that are available for the iPad. Many of these apps are free and work without the pens, but the pens are needed to unlock extra features. This is a great way to support the young digital artist.

With this guide, whether you are shopping for a pro artist, hobbyist, or a young artist in your family, there are plenty of options at different price points to choose from this holiday season.

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: iPad Mini for Kids Edition

This holiday season, a lot of children will be getting iPads or iPad minis for presents. I suspect iPad minis will be the more popular of the two. For those that do get an iPad mini here are a few accessories you might want to get with the mini.

Black Blue V2 Double Layer Kickstand Hard Hybrid Gel Case Cover for iPad Mini

mini case

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of cases. I think they bulk up a phone or tablet, so I don’t have one on my iPhone or iPad. However, in the case of a young child, I highly recommend a case. You want one that can handle a good drop or bump.

My recommendation is to purchase a “hybrid” case. It isn’t fancy or expensive, but it has a plastic shell on the inside and a rubber outer case. There is ample space between the screen and case from to protect of from a screen first fall. Plus all of the buttons are protected, but easily accessible.

Screen Protectors

Screen protectors are another protection gift you want on a child’s iPad. There are plenty of them out there. Like the case, this does not need anything fancy. If you want to spend $25 on a screen protector go ahead. However, there are plenty of protects for under ten dollars and you can usually get them in a three pack.

iTunes Gift Card


Every child is going to want to dive right into the App Store. An iTunes gift card would be good for this. You can either apply it to your account or make an account for the child and let him or her know the password. Set the account to a minimum limit using parental controls and only allow the child to make purchases with money in the account. If they burn the card on Smurfberries it is their loss, but no charges are made to your credit card.

IPEVO Pad Pillow Stand for the iPad Mini


Another great accessory is the IPEVO Pad Pillow Stand for the iPad Mini. I recommended the larger model last year and this one is just as good. It is made for the iPad Mini, but it even holds a full iPad. It is basically a pillow that holds your iPad. It works great on a lap or the floor or almost any surface. It has multiple configurations and I love it.

Griffin CinemaSeat headrest mount for the iPad Mini


Finally, and following in the footsteps of my previous suggestion, is the CinemaSeat for the iPad Mini, which is a case that straps to almost any headrest in a car. (Last year, I suggested the full sized version of the CinemaSeat). The child sitting behind that headrest now has a screen in front of them to watch shows on as if it was a built-in DVD player, for a lot less money (not counting the iPad). By using the CinemaSeat they aren’t falling asleep while watching the iPad Mini on a long trip and dropping it to the floor as the do so. This works great and couldn’t be easier to use.

Overall, an iPad mini is a great gift. It can be educational and fun at the same time. These gift can help that fun and help make the fun last a little longer by protecting your investment.

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Apple iOS Edition

Every year there are more and more products for the iOS market, and this year is no different. Here are some of the best products I tried this year that would make great gifts for any iOS user in your family.

Sandisk Connect Wireless Media Drive

mediaFor the person that is constantly running out of storage space on their iOS device the Sandisk Connect Wireless Media Drive is great. It wirelessly adds 32 or 64GB to your device for storing anything from videos to photos to documents. You can play music and video right through the device through its free app available in iTunes. It even will store and play iTunes DRM protected content. The Sandisc Connect drive even creates a wireless network of its own to transfer data to your device.

My favorite feature is the SD card reader, which lets you download and transfer photos to your device through the Sandisk without storing all of them on your iOS device. It’s a great product.

Sandisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive

flashFor those needing a little less storage than the Sandisk Connect Wireless Media Drive mentioned above, check out the Wireless Flash Drive by Sandisk. This device comes in 16 and 32GB models and does the same thing as the Media Drive without the card reader feature. Either of these would be great gifts.

Adonit Jot Pro

jotproAdonit makes some of the best styluses on the market. I love the Jot Touch, but for those who just want a nice stylus without extra features, like pressure sensitivity, the Jot Pro is a great choice. It looks like great and magnetically attaches to your iPad or iPad mini for easy transport.

iPhone 5C


The iPhone 5C seems to get a bad rap, but I think it is a great phone. It is slightly better than the iPhone 5 and it not only looks great, but it feels great in the hand too. If anyone in your family is looking for a new phone as an upgrade or is switching from a standard to smart phone this is a great choice at a great price. If you look hard enough you can even find these for about $40 in the 16gb version.

iTunes card

If you have an iOS device, you most likely use iTunes and the App Store in some fashion. An iTunes card is a great gift that comes n a variety of amounts for your budget. These days you can get them almost anywhere. You can even send one straight through iTunes.

There you have it: a variety of options for the iOS user in your family. From the iPhone to iPod to iPad, you can be covered with something on this list.

The iPad Air is faster, lighter, and thinner, but I’m not getting one yet

iPad Air from

When Tim Cook and company unveiled the new iPad Air a few weeks ago, I wanted one. The new A7 chip and the processing boost the Air was getting made it a very tempting device. Who wouldn’t want a faster iPad? I currently have the third generation iPad, so I figured this new model would leave mine in the dust. Imagine how great it would be in the art programs I have on the iPad (that I never use). I would be able to do so much more with it.

Not only is the iPad Air faster, but it is light and smaller too. Two more tempting features. While my iPad is light when compared to a laptop, lighter would really be nicer.

As much as I wanted the iPad Air I did not order one on launch day. If I had the extra money to get one, I might have made the purchase. However, the extra money is not lying around right now, and I am actually glad I didn’t order one after making a trip to the Apple Store earlier today and having the opportunity to try one out.

Was it thinner and lighter? Definitely. I could not believe how light it felt. It was almost as light a an iPad mini. It reminded me of how amazed I was at picking up the original iPad for the first time. The difference in size and weight is huge.

Next came the real question – how much faster is the new iPad? I was expecting to be blown away. To be honest, I wasn’t. Was it faster? Definitely, but it was not so much faster that I had to have it. Apps did not launch much faster than they do on my iPad. In fact, for basic use like email, browsing the Internet, typing notes, and even playing games I did not see much of a difference. I would have liked to have been able to test those art programs I mentioned, but they were not installed. Even if they were, I don’t know how much faster they would have been. I suspect they would have been more responsive, but I don’t know.

Part of my observations on the speed of the device are most likely due to many applications not being built to take advantage of the new processor. The other part has to do with the fact that email can only go so fast. By next year I suspect there will be plenty of apps made to run faster on the iPad Air, but by then it will be time for a new iPad that is even faster!

So, for me it is the third generation iPad for now. Will I get a new iPad in the future? Most likely. When? I don’t know. As long as my iPad does what I need it to I’ll probably stick with it.

Should you upgrade your iPad? That depends: If you have an original iPad, it probably would not be a bad idea. If you have an iPad 2 or later I would suggest doing what I did. Go out and try one. See if you notice a difference and if it is worth the money to upgrade for you.

How to send your Android device’s photos to Apple iPhoto with Dropbox

android-logoA friend of mine recently got his first smartphone, and it happens to be an Android phone. He asked me how he could get his photos and video off of the phone and into iPhoto on his Mac. I had no idea, so I told him to try to connect the phone to the Mac via USB and see if it shows up in iPhoto like a camera. Unfortunately, that would be too easy and did not work.

The Dropbox solution

After researching the problem on the Internet I determined that the easiest method would be to use Dropbox and its automatic photo upload feature.

Step 1: Install Dropbox on your Mac

Before getting started you need to have a Dropbox account, if you don’t have one already. An account is free and comes with 2GB of storage (with ways to get more free storage through referrals and more). You then need to download and install Dropbox onto your Mac. The application will download automatically when you set up an account. You will need you login information when you install Dropbox on the computer.

Step 2: Install Dropbox on your Android phone and enable automatic photo uploads

Once the account is set up and Dropbox is installed on your Mac, you will want to install the Dropbox app from Google Play on your phone. Once installed on your phone, open the app and follow the steps to set it up using your account information. At one point in the setup you will be given the option to turn on the ability to automatically upload photos from your phone to Dropbox. You want to do this. There will also be an option to only enable this feature over WiFi. If you are on a limited data plan you will want to use the WiFi only option. Uploading photos uses data and you do not want to burn up your plan sending photos to Dropbox. Let the phone do this when you are connected to WiFi instead. If your plan is unlimited the choice is up to you, since you don’t have to worry about a data limit.

Once you complete this step, the phone will begin uploading the images already on your phone to your Dropbox account to a folder called Camera Uploads. It will also automatically upload any photo and video you take to Dropbox from this point forward.

Now you want to go back to your Mac and open your Dropbox folder . The easiest way to do this is to go to the Dropbox icon in your menu bar and click “Dropbox Folder.” The folder will open and you should notice a folder called Camera Uploads. This is the same folder that the phone is not loading your photos and videos into. If you open it you should see all of you content appearing.


Step 3: Add your photos to iPhoto

Now you have to get those photos into iPhoto. To do this make sure you are in the Dropbox folder. Drag and drop the Camera Uploads folder to iPhoto in your dock. All of the content in the folder will be placed into an event in iPhoto and you are free to edit and share from iPhoto.

Step 4: Manage your limited Dropbox space

There is one final and important step. Your Dropbox account is not unlimited storage. You want to empty the Camera Uploads folder each time you import into iPhoto and free up that space. To do this open your Camera Uploads folder and choose “Select All” from the Edit menu. Next choose “Move to Trash” from the File menu. At some point you will want to empty the trash, but that is not required right now. This will empty the folder and free up that space. Keep in mind that this only deletes the photos from your Dropbox account. It does not delete them off the phone.

If you followed these steps correctly you are set and able to take photos and video off your Android phone and import them into iPhoto thanks to some help from Dropbox.

Is Firefox the new Internet Explorer for Mac users?

firefox-logoIf you have been using Mac for as long as I have, you remember the days when they came with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer pre-installed. Even if it wasn’t installed, there was a time when it was available for download on the Mac. It was the must have-browser, even if you used a different one like Netscape, Firefox or Safari.

Why would you still need Internet Explorer on your computer? At the time there were many websites that would not work in any other browser. In fact, many websites, especially banking sites, demanded you have IE installed; they wouldn’t even let you proceed without using it. There were other sites that would not load properly unless you were using Explorer. You would access a website, realize it wasn’t working right, try it in Explorer and everything would be fine.

Well, those days are long gone, or are they? Microsoft doesn’t even make a Mac compatible version of Internet Explorer anymore. However, there are still sites that do not run properly in all browsers. I encountered one this morning. I was in Safari and a specific website would not function properly. I tried over and over again and got nowhere. What did I do? I opened Firefox and tried it there. It worked perfectly.

In fact, there are many sites that, just like in the past with Internet Explorer, will state that they run best in Firefox. At my previous employer, we had a site we accessed constantly, but it would only work in Firefox.

While I choose to use Safari as my default browser on my Mac, I still have Firefox installed for those times that I encounter those sites that require it to work properly. Does this mean that Firefox is the new Internet Explorer for Mac users? I’d say it is — not only for Mac users, but for Windows users as well.

iOS 7 Home Sharing is now fixed

ios7One of my favorite features in iTunes and my iOS devices is called Home Sharing . Home Sharing  allows you to view/listen to content on any iOS devices by streaming it from iTunes. For example, if I have a movie on my computer in iTunes, I can watch that movie on my Apple TV by using Home Sharing .

Home Sharing on the Apple TV has always worked great. The Apple TV will occasionally need to be reconnected to the computer it is streaming from, but streaming and viewing content in iTunes has always worked fine. Home Sharing on an iPad, iPod, or iPhone has been another story.

Those devices have always seen the content from iTunes, however the way the device has listed that content is another story. Album Art could be wrong even though it is right in iTunes (for example, the movie The Lion King might show album art for National Treasure). Another big problem was that TV shows and seasons where displayed incorrectly. One show might have the name of an episode displayed as the name of the show itself. It might even have the wrong show listed for every episode altogether.

I have tried finding a solution in Apple’s discussion forums and other websites, as well as emailing people I know who are knowledgable about this stuff. I have even tried software to fix the metadata of the files in iTunes. No luck.

One of the biggest annoyances had been that only a certain number of listings could be displayed. If I had a TV show that started with the letter “W” and I had a certain number of shows listed before that series, that series would not appear in the list. I found myself trying to combine and delete certain shows so I could see what I wanted.

However, I am happy to report this seems to have been fixed in iOS 7. Artwork is now displayed correctly and seasons and show names are listed properly. The biggest fix is that my entire library now shows up when Home Sharing is enabled. No longer will it cut off after a certain number of items.

I don’t know why Apple took so long to fix this issue. Of course, if your device is not iOS 7-compatible, this problem still exists. I have a fourth-generation iPod touch that my son uses regularly with Home Sharing, so I guess that will never be fixed. However, for those iOS devices that are compatible, this is just another reason to update to iOS 7.

The colorful iPhone 5C is not just for kids

5cOn September 10, Apple introduced the iPhone 5C. This new line of iPhones strays from the metal/glass design of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 and now 5S and brings a colored shell to the iPhone.

Many people keep writing about how this line is made for kids. While I do think these will be popular with the teenage crowd, I disagree that these phones are just for kids.


When my contract is up next fall on my current iPhone 5, I plan on buying a “C” phone (presumable a 6C). Why? The price is right, for one thing. For $100 less, I can get a 32GB iPhone that is very powerful and has a fantastic camera. The original iPhone 5 works great for me. The camera is fantastic and the phone does everything I need it to. Yes, the camera in the 5S is better and the processor is faster. However, I would expect the next “C” model to be faster and have a better camera then the current one, giving it a boost over my current phone. After trading in my iPhone 5 a new “C” phone might even be free!

The price is not only attractive to me, it will be attractive to many. For those, like my wife, who bought a 16GB iPhone 5 because the iPhone 4 was too heavy and boxy, this phone is perfect. She is a very light user, but wants a new-model iPhone with a great camera. She doesn’t need to spend an extra $100 for features that she doesn’t use. For $99, she can get a great phone that is modern and suits her needs. It isn’t just last year’s model in a new case. (Kudos to Apple for making slight improvements so it isn’t just that.)

Fingerprint Scanning

As for the fingerprint sensor: I could care less. I don’t mind typing in my password to purchase content on the phone and I don’t use a passcode. Sure it makes the phone more secure, but my guess is I would turn it off after a few weeks. I suspect there are many people out there who would not use it either.


I have been saying for years that I am not a fan of the iPhone design. I thought the iPhone 4 was one of the ugliest phones available (not to mention the fact that it was uncomfortable in the hand). I kept hoping for the return of the curved back of the original iPhone and iPod Touch. When the 5 came out the design was improved, but it still had that boxy iPhone 4 look. I bought it because I wanted an iPhone, but I thought there were better looking phones out there.

While the 5C maintains the boxy iPhone look, it has the curved edges that, in my opinion, look nicer. The colors, while a little too much on the pastel side, aren’t bad. I’d probably cover it up with Gelaskin anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 5S is a great phone. The camera sounds fantastic and the processor sounds very impressive for those that need it (now put that processor in the next iPad and we can talk). However, there is a group of people out there who don’t need those features and the iPhone 5C is going to be perfect for them. It will be a huge hit and is not “just for kids.”