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Kibbles & Bytes | News, commentary and tips & tricks for the Mac community | SmallDog.com | 800-511-MACS
 
#640: Mac Treat #101, Site of the Week, Griffin PowerDock 2 Review, Don's Soapbox: Health Care

 
     
 

Dear Friends,

We have reached full peak foliage season here in Vermont with an amazing display of colors and just a hint of snowflakes on the mountain tops last night (Kerry pointed out that makes for snow on June 1st and October 1st this year). It is the time of year to take the back roads and go slowly to enjoy the change of the seasons.

Way back in the old days when I would cut my own firewood, I would complain about the poplar (cottonwood) trees as they are not quite hardwood for heat but not softwood either. A friend reminded me that the poplar is the first tree with green leaves in the spring and the last with green leaves in the fall. The poplars are a beautiful contrast to the reds, yellows and multiple shades of brown that mark the hills now.

We closed our retails stores on Wednesday and part of Thursday this week as we transition the company to a fiscal year that ends September 30th each year. This allows us to get more and less expensive attention from our accountants and it makes a world of sense given the importance of the October to December quarter (now our first quarter) to retail sales. Hapy, Lucie, Art, Katie, Tim, Jaime and Cindy are all working hard to count the inventory, make adjustments and close out our short year.

A couple of customers scolded me for being so harsh on Mark last week. It was all in good humor—you see, Mark is a friend first and employee second; it is my duty as a friend to bust his chops from time to time. I have known Mark for over 20 years and he has worked with Small Dog Electronics for nearly its entire existence. I worked with Mark before that, too, as he sold me CDs when they were the new way to distribute databases and applications. Mark is one of the members of Small Dog’s senior management team and his messy desk is legendary here at Small Dog Electronics.

We were able to pick up a few of the recently discontinued 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.66GHz with the larger ExpressCard slot. These are a great buy while supplies last at $1899.99 and if you buy AppleCare with the MacBook Pro you can save an additional $10, too.

I downloaded some new apps for my iPhone in anticipation of my trip to Asia. I grabbed Skype so I can call home when I have a Wi-Fi connection and also some localized utilities like a hot spot finder for Hong Kong and a translator program. I also downloaded a couple of books to my Kindle account so I have them on my iPhone for the long trip.

This will be my last intro to Kibbles for a few weeks as I travel first to Taiwan and then to China and finally, to Las Vegas for the Apple Specialist Owner’s Retreat on the way back. Kali and Ed will keep you informed and entertained while I am away and I’ll try to get them some reports along the way.

 
     
  MAC TREAT #101: Get Smart  
   
 

Using Apple Mail? Want to get your emails organized? Ditch regular folders in favor of using Smart Mailboxes. Smart Mailboxes are essentially saved searches, and used correctly, can be an incredibly efficient way to manage your inbox.

Here are some ways to utilize Smart Mailboxes:

  • Flag your messages that you can’t get to right away and then make a Smart Mailbox with only your flagged messages.
  • Make a Smart Mailbox for any weekly or schedule email you receive.
  • Create a Smart Mailbox that makes it easy to exclude what you don’t want. For example, I manage several shared inboxes that happen to get a lot of spam. I’ve created a Smart Mailbox for the emails I need to see, so I mark them as read, and then when I go back to the inbox, I sort by status (read or unread) and then delete all that have not been read as a group.

Smart Mailboxes do not move the emails from your inbox; they still exist there, but are organized such that you can view them according to your rules. If you delete an email in a Smart Mailbox, it will be deleted in your inbox because it is not a copy.

To create a new Smart Mailbox, click the + at the bottom left hand part of your Mail window and select “New Smart Mailbox…”. It will then prompt you to apply rules. To create a Smart Mailbox from a selection, click an email that you want to be part of the Mailbox and click the +.

 
     
  Site of the Week: CreativeTechs.com  
   
 

Mac tips are plentiful around the internet, and as far as I’m concerned, I can’t get enough. The folks over at CreativeTechs.com have a great tips blog dedicated to Mac, Adobe and photography tips in particular.

They also offer classes and seminars in all of the major Adobe products: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Lightroom, etc. in the Seattle area. Anyone from around the world can join in, though, and portions of each class are posted after a live event.

Check them out!

 
     
  QUICK REVIEW: Griffin PowerDock 2  
   
 

Have more than one iPod? Chances are you do. The Griffin PowerDock 2 Charging Cradle for iPod and iPhone will let you charge two iPhones, two iPods or an iPod and an iPhone at once. It’s a nice solution not only for the compact all-in-one design, but I know the thought of placing my iPod and iPhone properly in the dock is more calming than just leaving them on my desk.

The PowerDock 2 won’t hook up to your Mac—it has no ports other than the AC on the back—but that makes sense since you can’t sync both devices simultaneously anyway. I like the fact that you don’t have to have your devices plugged into your Mac at all times to charge them. One note, however: iPhones will charge slightly slower than their maximum allowed capacity in this device (than if charged by themselves). I did not notice this to be a problem—it’s easy enough to put my iPod and iPhone in there and charge overnight.

It’s also made out of brushed aluminum, which matches the MacBook Pros and iMacs very nicely. There are two black Universal Docks next to one another in the center of the charging station. You’ll get adapters for all current iPods and iPhone, though there’s only one of each kind. (If you have two of the same model, you’ll need to pick a similarly-sized one for the second.)

Formerly $49.99, the Griffin PowerDock 2 is now $39.99, a fair price to charge more than one device!

View the Griffin PowerDock 2 Charging Cradle for iPod and iPhone.

 
     
  Write a Review, Win a T-shirt!  
   
 

Have you recently purchased a product from Small Dog? If so, tell us about it. We’re looking for you to write a review of the products you receive.

For the month of October, we’re going to reward two lucky reviewers a week with a t-shirt and frisbee bundle. We’re looking for solid, honest and helpful reviews, whether you liked the product or not; we just want you to give us some feedback and tell us why!

To get started, find you product on our website and click the Reviews tab. There, you’ll be prompted to write a review. Be sure to provide your accurate email address so that we can contact you if you’ve won!

We’re basing our winning selections on the quality of the review—either it’s informative, makes us laugh or both, so go start writing!

 
     
  SOAPBOX: Get Greed Out of Legislation  
   
 

START SOAPBOX

As I watch the battle over health care reform play out in Congress and on the airways, I am struck with how much of this debate is driven by greed. In this case, it is the greed of the health insurance companies that are fighting tooth and nail to protect the 30% of our health care dollars that go to the insurance companies. If you look at the voting records on health insurance reform, the lines are clear. Those that get lots of campaign contributions from the insurance companies tend to vote against the “public option” and those that get smaller contributions see the value if keeping those same insurance companies honest with a competitive public option.

Then there are the battling commercials, the surreptitious funding of protests by insurance company groups and literally hundreds of lobbyists trying to influence policy. None of our legislators is willing to stand up and say “I oppose the public option because the insurance companies have given me the huge bucks and I need the money” but the obfuscation of the true issues is apparent to anyone who looks closely.

According to analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, the 15 lawmakers to vote against the public option amendment offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller received $69,137 more, on average, from the insurance industry since 1989 than the eight who voted for it. The 13 lawmakers who voted against another public option amendment offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer received $93,177 more, on average, from insurers since 1989 than the 10 who voted for it.

Even those who oppose the public option will grant that there is a pressing need for health insurance reform. The train is coming in the tunnel, so the option of doing nothing doesn’t work; the current thing we call a health care system is failing. With annual double-digit increases in premiums, well over the rate of inflation or wages, it is simply unsustainable to stand pat.

At Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, we have annually polled our members about health care and one of the most compelling signs of decay in the current “system” is that 75% of our members (generally businesses that DO provide health insurance to their employees) have made changes to their policies in the past year that have either increased the cost to the employees, dropped coverage, moved to high-deductible plans or otherwise made changes to reduce the employer’s contribution to health insurance. The payer of last resort for health insurance now is employer-funded health insurance. When the uninsured are provided care, the cost is shifted onto the big pool of private insurance and with that cost increasing and the pool decreasing we are facing a fiscal and a health-care time bomb.

The opposition is not pulling any punches. I got involved in a discussion on Facebook based upon a friend’s post about health care and all I had to say was that I was an advocate of a publicly-funded universal health care system and you would not believe the names I got called from people who didn’t even know me. I was called a socialist (I had to remind everyone that in fact, I am a capitalist entrepreneur), a communist and a nazi. The polarization has made dialog and compromise almost meaningless. I think this polarization is dangerous not only to civil dialog and good lawmaking but it is polarizing beyond the legislature.

Some have seen this as an opportunity to push other agendas as well. I was shocked to learn that there was a coordinated attack on women’s reproductive freedom with a move to restrict even private insurance policies from providing funding for abortions. Women’s health including reproductive freedom as established by the constitution and the supreme court should not be the issue as we discuss how to create a more intelligent health insurance system.

There is a parallel with climate change legislation. Stay with me on this one. In both cases, we have experts who can see dire consequences if we do not take action. With health care, it is a system on the verge of collapse; with climate change, it is global warming and all the negative impacts on our planet and economy. In both cases, it is powerful special interests with huge war chests that prevent comprehensive and effective action. In both cases, we must break through this partisan gridlock and find common ground.

While you do not have to guess my position on either of these critical issues, I think that the key to breaking the gridlock on a long term basis is true campaign finance reform. We must get the big bucks out of our elections so that large special interests do not control the agenda but that the will of the people does.

END SOAPBOX

Have comments? Weigh in on this subject here.



Image source: Will Blog For Food

 
     
  Apple Adds iWork.com Enhancements  
   
 

Apple sent out a note to iWork.com beta users this week about some new features and improvements they’ve made to the iWork.com service.

From Apple:

Automatic email notification.
Now the iWork.com beta lets you stay up to date whenever viewers add new comments or notes to your posted documents. You can choose to be notified immediately, hourly, or daily.

Enhanced security.
Automatic 128-bit SSL encryption now safeguards communication between you and your viewers via iWork.com. You can also password-protect documents you share on iWork.com—so even if someone has a link to your document, they won’t be able to view it without the password you supply.

Refined user interface.
The redesigned Shared Documents page includes thumbnail previews so you can more easily identify your shared iWork files. You can also organize your shared documents by date, name, size, or comments received. And you can now access all your shared documents by signing in at www.iwork.com.

To get started: Under the Apple menu, click Software Update and install any updates for iWork ’09. Select “Share via iWork.com” from the Share menu to share a document from Pages, Numbers or Keynote.

iWork.com

 
     
  FEATURED SPECIAL | 10/02/09 - 10/09/09  
   
 

According to Internet research firm Net Applications, 18 percent of Mac users have upgraded to Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard. That’s good news to us—Snow Leopard lives up to the hype of being a faster, more polished OS than Leopard, with a sprinkling of welcome, useful new features. To help encourage those who still haven’t upgraded, we’re putting Snow Leopard on sale for the next couple of weeks:

Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Free Shipping – Just $29.99!

Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Family Pack (install on 5 computers) – Free shipping – Just $49.99!

Apple Mac Box Set (Snow Leopard, iWork ’09, iLife ’09), Save $10 plus Free Shipping!, Just $159.99!

Mac Box Set Family Pack (Snow Leopard, iWork ’09, iLife ’09, install on 5 Macs) Save $20, Free Shipping – Just $209.99

 
     
  SPECIALS | 10/03/08 - 10/10/08  
   
   
   Chill Pill Audio CAR Tune FM Transmitter/Charger for iPod , Save $5!
34.99
View  
   Altec Lansing VS2621 3 Piece Gaming Stereo 2.1 Speaker system - Save $15!
34.99
View  
   MacBook Pro 15in 2.66GHz 4GB/320/SuperDrive Unibody, FREE Sleeve, FREE Shipping!
1,899.99
View  
   iPod nano 16GB - Green (5G, latest version), Free RapCap mic (green), Free FM transmitter!
179.99
View  
   iPod classic 160GB - Black (Latest version), AppleCare (Save $15), Free RapCap iPod microphone!
289.99
View  
   MacBook Pro 13in 2.26GHz 4GB RAM, 160GB, 3-Year AppleCare Plan, Free Sleeve, Free Shipping!
1,479.99
View  
   Final Cut Studio - Instant Rebate, Save $100 plus FREE shipping!
899.99
View  
   MacBook 2.13GHz 4GB RAM, 160GB HD, White (mid-2009), AppleCare, Free Sleeve, Free Shipping!
1,279.99
View  
 

Grace is meeting me in Las Vegas my way back from Asia and while we are at the Owner’s Retreat, Hapy is taking us out for our 42nd anniversary dinner. We have this tradition of toasting each year of our marriage, so it will be good to have a designated driver!

Thank you for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes. We know it is you, our loyal customers, who pay our wages and we all appreciate the support for Small Dog Electronics. We promise to return that support with over-the-top customer service!

Your Kibbles & Bytes Team
Don, Kali & Ed