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#816: Multi-Touch Gestures, iLife Updates in Lion, The Great Rice Debate


Welcome to another issue of Tech Tails! The rainy season has set in, taking us from 80 degree temperatures back down to the damp, cold 40s and 50s. This is New England though, so we’ll be back to the warm sunny days soon enough.

For the first time in a while, the Apple newsfront is kinda quiet. Sure, we still get the occasional call about “is my Mac infected?” because they saw it on the news, but for the most part that crisis has passed now that Apple has patched the Java exploit. In the aftermath, we’re seeing discussions about “who’s fault is it?” and “who is responsible for security?” In the absence of a real cause, it’s always fun to assign blame. It doesn’t help, but it makes people feel better.

I feel that a Mac is still the safest way to surf the net, provided you’re smart about what kind of information you give out. Ultimately, it’s up to everyone—all of us—to make sure our computers and our personal information remain secure.

This week we talk about how using gestures on the new iPad can speed up your navigation, updating iLife on Lion, and whether or not one of those Internet rumors really…er…holds water.

Stay dry!


  Multi-Touching Your iPad  
  finger swipe

Interacting with your device by touching it is the way of the future. We’re only a few steps away from having a portable or desktop Mac that is touch sensitive. If the rumor mills are right, we’ll have a new version of the desktop OS by the end of the summer that will have even more integration of iOS-like features than Lion has.

The iPad is a natural fit for the Multi-Touch universe. I’ve become so accustomed to just using gestures to navigate that I rarely use the home button anymore. I’ve even caught myself reaching up to touch the screen of my iMac rather than grabbing my mouse.

I wanted to give a quick rundown of the various gestures within iOS 5 that you may not be aware of. The most common one I use is the four-finger (or five-finger if your thumb wants to play, too) upward swipe. This will bring up the task bar from the bottom of your screen. This shows all the recently used applications that have their last state saved. Swiping down will make that bar disappear.

If you use the same amount of fingers to swipe to the left, your currently running app will switch to the last one you used. It essentially cycles through the apps in that task bar we just saw. This function will not work from the home screen.

If you’re in an app and you want to get back to the home screen, you do a four or five finger pinch. So put all your fingers on the screen and pull them all inwards like you’re one of those claw machines trying to get the elusive kewpie doll.

The speed at which the effects happen is dependent on how fast you pinch—graphical candy.

Image source

  The Great Rice Debate  

In today’s episode of Mythbusters, we find out whether putting your phone in a bag of rice will bring it back to life after it’s taken a swim! (Wait, what? What do you mean no one is willing to volunteer their phone for the cause? Argh…)

But seriously…we occasionally get customers who have spilled liquid on/dropped their iPhone, then bring it to us to see if it can be fixed. Many say that they’ve put the phone in a bag of rice, but alas, it did not “fix” the device. While this “solution” may have worked in some cases, most of the time, it’s already too late. The damage was done once the liquid hit the components inside the device.

It’s a well known fact that water and electronics don’t mix. Water is a conductor, so any power flowing through the logic board will short through the liquid, causing power to go places it was not meant to. This damages the components almost immediately, which is why simply drying out the device is not going to magically repair it.

A quick check of Google brings up several pages that say that if your device gets wet, immediately take out the battery. Unfortunately you can’t easily do that on an iPhone, which requires a special screwdriver to remove the back plate. One article I found suggests using a can of compressed air to blow out the water—again, a bad idea, since all you’re doing is spreading the liquid to more exposed (live) circuitry. Then you’re supposed to stick the device in a bowl of rice overnight to “wick away” any remaining moisture.

Liquid is a funny thing when it comes to electronics. Depending on how much liquid was spilled, where it landed, and what type of liquid it was, your phone may die on contact, or it may come out just fine. The other thing is that the damage is not always instantaneous; water tends to flow over components quickly, so if the device was off when it happened in some cases it may be fine. Soda or juice that contains sugar, however, tends to stick around. The sugar will not only make things sticky, but will slowly corrode the internals. Your device may work today, but in a few days it could start to show signs of failure, such as a battery that will no longer charge. It could also just quit entirely.

Another suggestion I have heard is to douse the affected device in alcohol, since alcohol will help dissipate the liquid inside. This is a BAD idea. Alcohol will dissolve trace connections between internal components, causing more damage than the initial liquid spill did.

Of course, the best thing is not to let it get wet in the first place. Check pants pockets before you do laundry, don’t use your phone near the pool, etc. Accidents happen, however; the important thing to remember is if you bring it in for service, be honest about it. For one thing, there are liquid sensors inside that change color when exposed to liquid, so Apple CAN tell if it has gotten wet.

I can think of at least one repair where we were asked to replace a screen that “mysteriously” died, only to find a grain of rice stuck inside the dock connector. Your warranty does not cover liquid spills, and Apple will charge you for the replacement phone if you try to pass it off by saying, “it just died one day.”

  Updating iLife on Lion  

If you bought a Mac with OS X 10.7, Lion, preinstalled, it also came with iLife ’11. You’re probably used to updating your applications through Software Updates, however on your new system, you’re not getting updates for your iLife apps. Software Updates tells you that you have to update iPhoto from the App Store, but the App Store tells you there are no updates available.

The preinstalled version of iLife ’11 is the beginning of Apple’s gradual move toward using the App Store for all software updates. If you click on the App Store, then look under the Purchases tab, you will see iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand listed, along with a note that says you have to activate them with your Apple ID. Follow the prompts, log into the App Store using your Apple ID (or create one if you didn’t set one up earlier) and you will now be able to download iLife updates via the App Store.

The App Store doesn’t really make it all that obvious that you need to do that, so most people click on Updates, see nothing listed, then close the App Store. They don’t think to click on Purchases, since they haven’t purchased anything, but in fact that’s where they need to look.

Anything you download from the App Store, whether free or a paid app, is recorded on Apple’s servers. If you ever have to reload your operating system from scratch using the Recovery Partition, this only downloads Lion. The next step is to go to the App Store and get anything you have previously downloaded, including iLife ’11. However, if you hadn’t previously registered iLife, you may not be able to download it. Make sure you register it now so you don’t run into trouble later.

When Mac OS 10.8, Mountain Lion, comes out this summer, all Mac OS updates will be downloaded via the App Store, including drivers for printers and scanners. It makes sense to unify the update method—why have one way for applications and a different way for the operating system? This new “one stop shopping” will make things quicker and easier.

  TT SPECIAL: Original iPads Under $300!  
  ipad 1

Don’t have the $$ to splash on a new iPad? An original iPad might be just what you’re looking for…

You may know that we currently offer a Trade-In Program for both Macs and mobile devices (iPods and iPads), and right now, we still have some of the original iPads in stock at great prices.

You’ll have to call or come in to one of our stores to take advantage, but you can see all models in stock here.

We currently have stock starting at just $259.99 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model! While supplies last.

  TT SPECIAL: Save $50(!) off 1TB 2.5in SATA Drive  

TT: Save $50 off 1TB 2.5in SATA Drive


At $79.99, you’re saving an extra $20 off of our lowest sale price on the 1TB 2.5in SATA Drive. It’s a great drive at a great price.

Keep in mind that it does not work on older machines—it’s 12.5mm, for those keeping track—so if you have a current model machine (or want to use it as an external), grab one while supplies last!