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.

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.

Who needs newspapers? Just use Flipboard

In case you don’t know, Flipboard is a newsreader app. I’ve had it on my iPhone for some time now, loving the way that it pools together stories from a range of well-known media outlets and presents them to me using a “flip” interface that’s both intuitive and satisfying to use.

When you first run Flipboard, it asks you for your interests. My personal choices include news, UK news, technology, food, and travel but there’s plenty more to choose from including celebrity news, sport, TV and fashion. Flipboard can also link to Facebook, Twitter and various other social sites, presenting friends’ updates alongside the other content.


After several months of use, Flipboard became one of those apps guaranteed to survive every one of my occasional iPhone app clear-outs. So when I recently purchased my first iPad, it was a given that it would be one of the first apps I would install and check out on the new device.

Flipboard on iPad


It turns out that the difference between brilliant and perfect is an increase in screen real estate. While Flipboard was great when it showed me one story at a time, it now spreads out mixed media (including video) across iPad “pages,” making the experience just like reading a futuristic newspaper. I’m able to scan the headlines, and then drill down into the stories that interest me.

Creating a Flipboard account is free and very easy. In my case I simply linked it to Facebook – a true “one tap” signup. Once you have an account you can “favourite” stories that interest you and create your own Flipboard magazines. I’m not sure I will find a need for this feature but it’s good to know it’s there.

For me, it’s quite enough to have access to all the news stories in a format that is so much like a newspaper. Picking up my iPad and “reading Flipboard” at the end of a working day now brings me that familiar sense of “it’s time to relax and read the paper.” In fact, I often read far enough back to meet the feed of stories that I finished the previous day.


There’s really very little I can find to criticize about Flipboard, it being one of those apps that’s just slotted neatly into my existence. However, one thing I have noticed is that my chosen subject areas tend to feature a lot of stories from The Economist, which requires a subscription if you wish to read a lot of articles on a regular basis. As such, I often find myself tantalised by interesting features that I’m unable to read as I’ve “hit my limit.”

Still, given that Flipboard itself is completely free (a wonder in itself), perhaps I should just pay out for a subscription. After all, with Flipboard in my life, I can’t imagine a time when I’m ever again going to feel the need to pay for a newspaper.

5 do’s and don’ts for traveling with technology on vacation

2120417193_7a7c5928e3If you frequent this site, you probably are a tech fan and travels with gadgets on vacation. Here are some suggestions you may or may not already be doing that will make the tech portion of your trip a success.

1. Chargers

It should go without say that you should bring every charger you need for your devices when you travel. If you have several different chargers you might want to look into a multiple-device charger. These chargers have one base with several connections for different devices, meaning you need to carry less chargers with you.

I also highly suggest charging all devices before leaving home. This way if you forget your charges you’ll have some power already stored up.

2. More is better

Speaking of charging and power: If you’re using a digital camera, it’s a good idea to travel with a spare battery. I always have a battery on hand if the one in the camera dies, so I can just swap it right out and continue shooting.

I also highly recommend getting a second power source for your phone. This could be in the form of a battery, a phone case with a built-in extra battery, or a separate battery that connects to the phone via cable and can also be used as backup for your tablet. A case with a built-in battery is probably the most expensive, and once you get a new phone it will probably be obsolete. You’ll get more for your money with a spare battery.

3. Bring a camera arsenal

I always travel with my phone and at least two cameras. One camera is my compact DSLR and the other is an inexpensive lighter weight pocket camera. I like the DSLR for when I know I need a fast shutter. The other camera is for when I don’t want the heavier DSLR, although the compact DSLR isn’t that heavy. Plus, my wife hates the compact DSLR.

I also travel with a waterproof video camera that can also take stills. They can be found for under $100 and great for trips to the beach or other wet destinations. I love not having to worry about my camera getting wet in the pool or ocean.

Smartphones have great cameras, but they still are not good enough to be an everyday camera, especially for vacations. They are too slow to capture that one quick moment you don’t want to miss and they don’t have a true optical zoom for getting close to your subject. You also don’t want your smartphone falling into the pool or getting splashed by a wave. It drives me crazy when I see people using an iPhone at the edge of the ocean without a case, and don’t even get me started on tablets!

4. Don’t forget the memory cards

If you do take a camera, make sure you have at least two memory cards with at least 8 GB of memory each. Memory cards are cheap these days and you want plenty of space to store photos and video and it is always good to have a backup card.

I also have the camera connection kit for my iPad. I can take the memory card out of the camera at night and load the pictures onto my iPad to preview, edit, and share pictures before getting home.

5. What you don’t need

If you are taking a camera, you probably don’t need a traditional video camera. Modern cameras take great video and a video cams is just one more thing to drag along, even if it is a small and light weight one. It also means another charger to pack.

If you have a tablet like an iPad or a smartphone, you’ll have to decide if you need a laptop. For me, the iPad is enough. I don’t even have a laptop. Plus, like the video camera, it means more bulk and another charger to pack.


In the end, it is up to you what tech you need on your vacation. It boils down to how much you want to take and how much you want to spend on what you don’t already have. Either way, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the trip! The tech is just a tool to help make that trip more comfortable and to help preserve those memories.

Image credit: John Mueller

10 great iOS apps to grow and manage a business

As apps become more prevalent and more powerful, businesses are relying on these savvy tools to help their businesses grow and run more smoothly.



This free app handily shows Powerpoint presentations and it displays your notes when you run your slideshow. It’s also a breeze to get your presentations into SlideShark; you can upload them to the SlideShark site, which the app syncs with; or you can grab them from Dropbox or Box. The one thing you cannot do is create presentations directly in the app itself. However, you can reorder slides and hide individual slides, but SlideShark is not an editing program. It’s geared toward users who create their presentations on a Mac or PC.



Clear is quick, simple, intuitive, and perfect for busy people who need a list to juggle a million tasks a day. Clear’s interface is understandable at a glance and streamlined for quick use. Items are sorted by priority from top to bottom, and color-coded according to urgency. Clear looks like a great app because it emulates the best to-do list most of us have ever had: a piece of paper. Clear is available for $1.99 and is worth the price.



Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Entrepreneurs can easily keep track of all of their brilliant ideas. See my previous post on the Evernote 5 upgrade to learn more about the app’s new features.

Onlive Desktop

Credit: Onlivedesktop.com
Credit: Onlivedesktop.com

OnLive Desktop is a service that provides a seamless, no-compromise, instant-response cloud-based PC desktop, wherever and whenever you want it. OnLive brings to your iPad a high-performance PC experience, regardless of the content, even when interacting with fast-action media.


• Instantly view, edit and create documents using actual Microsoft® Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint

• Easily transfer files between OnLive Desktop and other devices• Experience high-performance, instant-response PC applications

• Interact with lag-free animation and video

With each free account comes 2GB of storage on OnLive’s servers. You can also purchase the  Plus plan, which lets you use IE to browse the Web from within the OnLive Desktop app. Tabbed browsing is supported, as is Flash, which might be reason alone to use IE instead of Safari at times.


Credit: bump.com
Credit: bump.com

Bump is a revolutionary networking app that allows users to ditch traditional business cards in favor of virtual ones. Users can trade contact information, photos, and files by simply “bumping” two smartphones together.The new update allows you to share more than just photo using Bump. Now, you can send any file that is stored on your device. You can send videos, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more goodies from your device to that of any other Bump users. For sharing files this is about as quick as it gets. Bump works cross-platform, so even if you have friend with an iPad or iPhone, you can use the app to send them files.



If you travel for business, you want to keep your receipts. You can do it the old-fashioned way, but why give yourself extra work? Your smart phone can keep track for you. Using your phone’s camera, you can snap pictures of your receipts to retain a digital record in chronological order. The app also allows you to log mileage, meal expenses and other business-related travel costs.



Billed as a “collaborative information manager,” Asana is a free simple and intuitive alternative to complicated work management software. Asana allows users to manage not only work projects, but personal projects and events in one easy-to-navigate interface.It has many features, including Workspaces, Projects, Personal Projects, Tasks, Tags, Notes, Comments and an Inbox that organizes and updates information in real-time. The product is designed to enable individuals and teams to plan and manage their projects and tasks. Each team gets a Workspace. Workspaces contain Projects, and Projects contain Tasks.


Credit: squareup.com
Credit: squareup.com

This on-the-go mobile-payment device plugs right into your smartphone to accept credit card payments. And you don’t need to set up a merchant account at your bank. Just order the card reader for $9.95 and set up an account. Square charges 2.75% per transaction, and funds deposit in your account the next day—with no transaction or amount limits.



TripIt is an easy way to keep up with multiple flights, car rentals, and hotel reservations. Just forward all travel confirmation e-mails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt delivers a master itinerary to your phone. The basic app is free, but added features (like tracking frequent-flier miles) cost $49 a year.


Credit: rightsignature.com
Credit: rightsignature.com

RightSignature is an easy-to-use, all-in-one e-signature solution. It sends documents for e-signature with a few clicks. Your customers fill out and sign documents online in any web browser, or even on an iPad or iPhone. No printing, no faxing, no hassle. The RightSignature integration empowers you to send documents for e-signature directly from your Box account or send Box documents for e-signature from inside RightSignature. Either way, once your document has been signed, RightSignature automatically places a signed copy back in your Box folder.

Google and Dish Network: A potential new era in wireless

google-signGoogle and Dish Network have been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason: it seems as though Google is very interested in becoming a wireless carrier, potentially partnering with Dish and its wireless spectrum that was purchased back in 2008.

This matters. And I think it matters a lot. Let’s talk hypothetically: imagine Google enters the wireless carrier space, whether through Dish or some other path. What does that mean for other networks like Verizon and AT&T, or even Sprint? Both Verizon and AT&T have completely embraced Android up to this point, with both carrying the best-selling Samsung Galaxy S3, which is currently outselling the iPhone 5. Most devices being sold on these networks are Android, which is owned by Google.

If Google entered the space, why would Verizon and AT&T want to fund and sell their competitor’s system? This is a serious consideration for Google. Entering this market will definitely anger the likes of the Red and Blue.

Here’s my prediction, and it’s a stretch. I believe that if Google enters the market as a wireless carrier, this move will be so earth-shattering that Verizon and other wireless carriers will be forced to stop supporting Android devices. If this is the case, my second prediction is that the mobile device and wireless carrier battles will overlap. I believe that there would be serious considerations by all wireless carriers to look into supporting only one mobile operating system.

For example, Google would only run Android devices on its network, giving them complete control of their entire mobile ecosystem. This could lead to better services, better devices, and potentially better prices. Verizon would then choose a platform. My prediction for the Big Red would be that it will choose to go with Windows Phone 8. AT&T would take the obvious choice of going with iOS. Apple would love to have complete control over its ecosystem, and going with only one wireless carrier in the U.S. would give them that. Sprint would feel a little left out, as it does now, and be forced to choose a poor performing platform like Blackberry or some other variation.

After all that, the real war over our mobile lives would begin. This would be the biggest shift in the wireless industry in years, but I think it is entirely possible.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Image credit: Shawn Collins

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: iOS Edition

Some  of the most popular gifts this holiday season will be the iPad, iPad mini, iPod Touch, and the iPhone 5. What if you want to get a cool accessory to go with that iOS device you are giving? Or what if you are giving a gift to someone who already has one of these devices? Sure, you can get them a case, or a screen protector, but what about something different?

Here are a few items you might want to consider ranging from the inexpensive to the not-so-inexpensive.

Toddy Gear Smart Cloth

The Toddy Gear Smart Cloth is one of the best – no, scratch that – the best screen wipe for an iOS device I have tried. I have two of them. iOS screens are constantly being covered in fingerprints and other “gunk” and these cloths are great for cleaning that off the screen.

They are basically a wipe that has one side for cleaning and one side for polishing. No cleaners are needed (I will occasionally dampen mine for a better cleaning). If they get dirty you can throw them in the wash. They start at $9.99 and come in various patterns and sizes. These are well worth the money.

IPEVO PadPillow

Another great gift for the iPad user is the IPEVO PadPillow. What is a Pad Pillow? It is a wedge shape pillow that lets you prop up your iPad like an easel. It can be used on your lap, on the floor, or on a table. I love this pillow and it has changes the way I use my iPad. It comes in a variety of colors and at well worth the $34 it retails for.


If you are like me you are not a fan of cases unless they have a purpose (for example a case that doubles as an easel). I hate the bulk and weight they add to a device, especially my iPad. As a result my current iPad and iPhone do not have cases. Instead of a case they have a Gelaskin on the back to protect it from scratches and give it some decoration at the same time.

Gelaskins are heavy-duty adhesive skins that go on the back of your device (and front in the case of the iPhone, although I only covered the back). You can choose from numerous designs on the website or you can upload a photo and really personalize your skin. The phone version is $14.95 and the price goes up from their as the device gets larger. The iPad version is $29.95. Non-Apple devices are supported also. You even get a wallpaper file emailed to you for your device.


Do you know someone who has a full iPad or iPod and can’t afford to upgrade to the next sized device? You might want to consider getting that person the AirStash (starts at $149.99) by Maxell. The AirStash looks like a USB flash drive and comes with an 8 or 16GB memory card. On the memory card you can store movies, photos, documents, etc that can stream to your iOS device and back through its own wireless network. This works great for streaming video. You use the free AirStash app, and it is compatible with other apps also. It can also stream to multiple devices (think road trip with kids in the back seat and multiple iPods!).

Griffin Cinemaseat

Speaking of road trips, if you know someone who travels with kids in the backseat the Griffin Cinemaseat is a must. It works with the iPad and an iPad mini model is also available now too. It is simply a case with a velcro strap that straps around the headrest of the car seat letting the person behind it watch video on the iPad. This system is less permanent than other headrest systems, is easier to install, and costs less money at $39.99 ($24.99 on Griffin’s website as of this writing).

So there you have it. Five gifts for the iOS user that aren’t something you may have thought of (like that new iPhone case). Happy Holidays!