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#826: AirPrint, Backing Up Your Contacts, iPhoto Cleanup


Hello All,

As Independence Day nears each year, I think about America and its place in the world and I usually end up coming away with some kind of vaguely meaningful (to me) conclusion. This year’s mental ramblings have led me down the path that begins “no thought is an island…” We all, as the expression goes, stand on the shoulders of giants. Be it political systems, technology, social values, exploration, or any other field of human endeavor, we all build on the work of those who went before. There would be no Radiohead without the Beatles, and no Beatles without Buddy Holly and Elvis.

Our founding fathers were well-educated men who built the Constitution from what they saw as the best of what history had to offer—a serious consideration of what had and had not worked in systems of self-government. The Declaration of Independence among other things was a product of a philosophical era called the Enlightenment that placed humanity and reason above superstition and the absolute power of government and church.

Sometimes when I compliment a colleague on a Tech Tails article, I get the response, “I am just rehashing a bunch of stuff that I knew/read somewhere.” My response is that all any of us really do is experience the world around us and synthesize this data. It still takes consideration and effort to glean insight from the data and communicate it clearly to someone else. Enjoy your 4th, and see you next time.


  Printing From Your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch  

A question we often get from customers about their new iDevice is, “Can I print from it?” This comes up so often because people are looking for a replacement for their old computer or laptop and they want to be able to replace it with something thin and light. The answer to this question is…yes.

There are two ways you can print from your iPad (all models), iPhone (3GS or later) and/or iPod touch (3rd generation or later): the Apple way (via AirPrint) and the AirPrint Activator way.

The Apple way is very simple and usually means getting a new printer (but not always). AirPrint is the wireless printing standard that Apple has created for people to be able to print wirelessly from their iDevice to an AirPrint-capable printer. No driver to install, no apps to manage it—just attach your printer to your home wireless network and like magic, you are able to print from within your apps on your device over the air to your printer. A list of all AirPrint-capable printers can be found here.

The AirPrint Activator way is a little harder and requires that you use your current computer, but doesn’t involve purchasing any new printers. First, you must download a program from the internet called AirPrint Activator. (Note that this is the Mac version; the PC version can be found here.) Install the program and make sure your printer in your System Preferences is set to “Shared.” The printer will appear in the list and then be available to use as an AirPrint-capable printer on your iDevice.

Those are the two ways you can print from an iDevice; I personally use the AirPrint Activator method because I found it easy and quick to set up, plus I get to use my own printer which I wasn’t planning on replacing any time soon. Both ways work just as well, so have fun getting the most out of your iDevice!

  Backing Up Your Contacts  

We often have to have customers wipe and restore their phones, iPads and iPods due to some software issue that is causing problems. Often the first phrase out of their mouths is, “will I lose all my contacts?” You’d be surprised at how many people neither sync their devices, nor make use of iCloud for backups.

The easiest way to back up is to use iTunes. When your device is connected to your computer and you are running iTunes, just select the device on the lefthand side of your window. Now click on the Info tab on the righthand side of the window. Make sure that the check box next to Sync Contacts has a check mark in it. The next step is to force a manual backup through iTunes. Just right-click on the phone’s entry in the device list and choose “back up.” iTunes will then back up the phone and store the backup on your computer.

Another way is to use iCloud; you’ll need to be running the most current version of iOS in order to have access to iCloud. If your Mac isn’t running 10.7 (Lion), your computer won’t have access to this backup option. If you go into the settings app on your device and tap on iCloud you’ll either be presented with a list of the things that are backing up (or not backing up), or you’ll be asked to set up iCloud. So set it up if you need to and then verify that Contacts backup is on. If it’s on, scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap on “Back Up Now.” As with the iTunes method, this forces a manual backup of your contacts.

The final way to back up your contacts assumes you have all of your contacts on your iDevice synced with the Address Book on your Mac. Launch Address Book, go to the File menu and choose the line called “Address Book Archive.” Store the file that it will create in a safe place (i.e. burn it to a disc or store it on an external hard drive).

I periodically do all three methods just to be safe, but I’ve borne witness to many drive failures where customers have lost all their data. It’s given me a healthy sense of paranoia when it comes to my data.

  iPhoto Cleanup Options  

How do you clean up your iPhoto library duplicates easily?

In the service area, we are often asked to consolidate User accounts and entire machines onto a single drive when computers fail or customers purchase new units. One of the big pitfalls of this action—consolidation—is the duplication of a significant number of files in an iPhoto library or on the machine as a whole.

I’ve alternately used three applications in the past to resolve this issue: Tidy Up, Duplicate Annihilator and PhotoSweeper ($9.99 in the Mac App Store, but well worth it).

Tidy Up is not specifically designed to remove duplicates from an iPhoto Library, but can be used for that task. It scans the entire hard drive, distinct directories and/or databases. It is a hefty program—the download was a 12MB .zip file. After opening the decompressing the resulting .dmg, the application was 17MB in size. The interface was elegant, in my estimation, and easy to navigate through. The choices presented from the start were entire drive scans or directory scan; more specifically, a look at your iPhoto library. For testing purposes, I chose to have it scan my iPhoto Library. The application was processor intensive. It scanned my library, finding 128 duplicates in just over 9 minutes (with over 80,000 files scanned, and not just images). The applications did have my fan running on high as Activity Monitor registered it using 117% of my CPU (Core 2 Duo 2GHz MacBook).

PhotoSweeper was just as effective, but used far less processing power, barely registering that it was active in Activity Monitor as I scanned a few directories in my iPhoto Library. The .dmg file was 14MB and the application itself took up 15.4MB. You could manually drag and drop directories of image files into it or use the Media Browser function. I methodically searched directories in my iPhoto Library after opening up the iPhoto Library by using ‘Show Package Contents.’ When complete, after about an hour of playing around, Photo Sweeper found over 100 duplicates in my iPhoto library. (I did not delete any files with each application as I wanted to see what they’d find for comparison sake.) There is a PhotoSweeper Lite version for $4.99, which allows a limited number of scans at a time. In addition, you can try the demo here.

Duplicate Annihilator was the smallest of the three applications I looked at. It took up 2.4MB of HD space when downloaded. I did not purchase this app, but tested the demo first. In demo mode, the app was limited to scan of 500 images (out of 7456). The application found a few duplicate images (in the first 500) and took a little over 10 minutes to scan that amount. It ran usage a modest amount of CPU, spiking upwards of 80% on occasion. I would have to say that my testing, in light of the restrictions, was inconclusive. It may be worth a try for the full version.

What do you use to remove duplicate files from your iPhoto library?

  But I Still Have My eWaste!  

Our eWaste Recycling Events have come and gone for this year, but what does that mean if you couldn’t make it to any of them? While you may have missed out on seeing the giant pile of rubble, you didn’t miss your only chance to get rid of your old electronics the environmentally-friendly day. One of the services offered at our retail stores is free ewaste recycling, year round.

If you are local to Vermont or Manchester, NH, bring your goods down and we will send them so that they may be turned back into the precious bits and pieces that go into the makings of all the great devices that we offer. If you aren’t close to any of our locations, there is still hope—the National Recycling Coalition’s website has lists of upcoming recycling events in your state!

  SPECIAL: HP LaserJet Wireless Laser Printer w/AirPrint | Save $20  

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This HP laser printer can connect to your computer via Wi-Fi, eliminating the need to plug it in. It is also AirPrint capable, so you can print wirelessly from from your iPad (all models), iPhone (3GS or later) and/or iPod touch (3rd generation or later).

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  SPECIAL: MacBook Air 13in 1.8GHz i7 4GB/256GB + Sleeve | Save $160  

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This week we’re offering the 13-inch closeout MacBook Air (circa 7/2011) plus a Hammerhead neoprene sleeve at an extra $160 off—1.8GHz i7 processor with a 256GB solid state hard drive and 4GB of RAM for $1359.99!

This is a discontinued model, so make sure to take advantage of this great deal now! When they are gone, they are gone for good.


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