Archive for October, 2011

Podcast #17: Record Traffic, “What is a Computer?”, Notes Apps

2011-10-31 by Podcast. 3 comments

This is the seventeenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

  • Starting with some site news, Ask Different has seen record traffic lately. On the heels of iOS 5, iCloud, and the iPhone 4S, visits have gone way up! We hope to see similar increases after future Apple updates. We encourage our users to ‘seed’ the site with questions that people are likely to have after a major software or hardware release.
  • As we get more traffic, there is a noted increase of ‘help desk’ questions that specify a vague problem with few details. The Stack Exchange system works best with long, detailed questions, and detailed answers. Back-and-forth troubleshooting is not a good fit for SE. We encourage our users to edit the question (if possible), vote to close, or flag these questions.
  • Concerning flagging, note that the moderators can’t review every question on the site, but we do review every flag. If you see something bad, please flag it! And if we decline your flag, don’t take that to mean that you should stop flagging. Kyle and Nathan always try to explain why a flag has been declined.
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App Review: iTrivia: All about Apple

2011-10-24 by James Faile. 4 comments

According to iTrivia: All About Apple, I probably love Windows Vista.

Interestingly enough, I do love Windows Vista and use it as my primary operating system at home.  My next computer will be a Macbook, but until the budget allows it I’m stuck with what I have.  Fact is, I got Windows Vista with my computer and have never had any issues with it.

Anyway, iTrivia: All about Apple is a multiple choice trivia game for iOS  from the developer ‘the binary family GmbH’.

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AppleScript: Workspace-based App Launcher

2011-10-21 by Nathan Greenstein. 5 comments

Welcome back to AppleScripting! To see what we’ve done so far, take a look at the AppleScript category. We’re jumping ahead a bit, but you should be able to catch on fine. As always, if you have questions you can ask in the comments and on Ask Different.

Today we’ll be making a workspace-based app launcher. Once we’re done, you’ll be able to choose a workspace (e.g., “Programming”) from a list and automatically have AppleScript launch the apps you use in that workspace.
The scirpt will use many different parts of AppleScript; including loops, lists of records, and tell blocks.

To begin, create a new script in AppleScript editor. See the Introduction to AppleScript post if you need a reminder of how to do that.
Let’s get right into the code.

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Podcast #16: iOS 5, Advertising and Culture, Mou

2011-10-18 by Podcast. 2 comments

This is the sixteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

  • We begin by asking Siri to introduce herself. She tells us who she is, and what she can be used for. We demo some of Siri’s core productivity functionality, as well as some more… playful things. For instance, we get Siri to call Nathan, Shirley.

  • On the less playful side of Siri, we show how Siri can, by default, accessed from a locked phone without entering a passcode. That means that you can make calls, send texts, and send emails from a ‘locked’ phone. Nathan demonstrates how this could be a very effective way to mess with someone.

  • Just as we’re finishing demonstrating what Siri can do, she decides to stop working! As it turns out, the day we chose to record was the same day that Apple’s Siri servers began experiencing difficulty. It seems that the issue has been resolved by now, but this is an important reminder of Siri’s complete dependence on the cloud.

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App Review: Electromaster

2011-10-14 by James Faile. 2 comments

ElectroMaster Icon

ElectroMaster is a universal iOS game that is simple to play but becomes more difficult as the game progresses.

The basic idea is this: You’re a girl that’s a terrible cook and can never wake up on time. Fruit isn’t a food source (sometimes) and there’s another girl that either runs away or is kidnapped every morning while you sleep in. All of this is explained between levels with cryptic dialog that is reminiscent of a 1980’s early arcade game or home port translation.

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2011-10-12 by Kyle Cronin. 9 comments

John Gruber is on a roll countering the notion that the iPhone 4S is disappointing by citing record-breaking preorder numbers. And yes, by sales, the iPhone 4S is doing extremely well, and many people are speaking with their wallets in approval of the new device.

However, a device can be both a commercial success and still be a bit of a disappointment. Being disappointed in a product update doesn’t mean that the update makes the product worse, or that you won’t buy it, it just means that it’s below your expectations of what the update would improve.

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Podcast #15: More iPhone 4S, Growl, Remembering Steve

2011-10-10 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the fifteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

Now that we’ve had time to digest Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event, we share our thoughts about the announcements and how they fit into the bigger Apple picture.

  • We begin this show with some site news. Ask Different is now a member of Blog Overflow. You can visit our blog at We have some posts up already, but we’re searching for more contributors! If you’re interested in contributing, either regularly or on occasion, please leave an answer to this meta post or send us an email at We’re looking forward to seeing what members of our community can come up with!
  • Additionally, Ask Different was given a refreshed navigation bar in honor of Steve Job’s death.
  • There is disagreement among pundits about the significance of Apple’s iPhone 4S announcement. We agree that the keynote felt disappointing, but we acknowledge that there have been some hardware improvements. Jason’s guess is that, since most of the software improvements (iOS 5) have already been announced, the focus on hardware made the announcements feel underwhelming. Nathan’s guess is that people are mainly disappointed because they waited a long time for such a seemingly small change.
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Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

2011-10-06 by Dori Smith. 0 comments


Steve Jobs, RIP

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. — Remembering Steve Jobs

Podcast #14: iPhone 4S, Apple’s October 4th Announcements

2011-10-05 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the fourteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

Today, we cover Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event:

  • Apple announced Cards, an iPhone app for sending cards via snail mail. We talk about what the app is, but we can’t help but ask “Why?”
  • Apple gave a recap today of some of the key features of iOS 5. There was very little new info today, but we do have one thing: a release date, October 12th. The iPhone 4S will ship with iOS 5 two days later.
  • Also recapped today was iCloud. We learned that Apple will be expanding its Find My iPhone service to OS X, and will release Find My Friends. Find My Friends is a location-based service that tells you where your friends are at a given time, provided that they have chosen to share their location. Apple also confirmed a detail we were previously uncertain about for its iTunes Match service: music can be streamed, or downloaded to the device. iCloud ships October 12.
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AppleScript sales-tax calculator: Variables, operations, and comments

2011-10-03 by Nathan Greenstein. 1 comments

Welcome back to AppleScripting! So far, we’ve learned about what AppleScript is for, and said hello. Today we’ll really be diving into the language. We will talk about variables, datatypes, operations, comments, and some basic debugging. First I’ll introduce you to the concepts, and then we’ll look at a small example application: a sales-tax calculator. Let’s begin.

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