Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!


Recently I had an oppor­tun­ity to put one of the new Broth­er multi-func­tion print­er devices through it’s paces, and over­all, I liked what I saw.

Priced as an entry level unit, the Broth­er MFC-J615W (that’s a mouth­ful, why can’t they just use names) is a sol­id home and light-duty small busi­ness doc­u­ment centre.

The first thing that impressed me was the pack­aging — no styro­foam. Now I know that’s minor, but I appre­ci­ate it when com­pan­ies make the effort to design their pack­aging with the envir­on­ment­al impact in mind.

Judge me by my size, do you.
This is a fairly small unit, and very well designed. Once it’s set up and ready to use, the unit is smal­ler than most toast­er ovens. Unlike my cur­rent print­er, which when in print mode has a huge paper ream sup­port rising out of the back and anoth­er fin­ish­er sup­port out the front, the Broth­er has an intern­al paper tray and feed sys­tem that keeps the foot­print small — great for small home-office situ­ations.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!”

Reinventing the Walkie Talkie

walkie.jpgBack in the day, this kind of thing was what people used to talk to each oth­er over dis­tances, using radio waves. You were lim­ited by the power of the unit and the type and num­ber of obstacles between you and the per­son you were talk­ing with.

And gen­er­ally, your con­ver­sa­tion could be over­heard by any­one else using a sim­il­ar device.

Fast for­ward to this cen­tury and the digit­al data­phone. And this nifty Android & iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app called Hey­Tell, brings the Walk­ie Talk­ie concept up to date.

Simple, but it works
Hey­Tell is a simple app. On an iOS device (I assume it’s sim­il­ar for Android), Hey­Tell uses your con­tact list to man­age con­tacts and invite oth­ers to the app.

Using Hey­Tell is drop-dead simple:

1) Select the con­tact to speak with

2) Push the ‘Hold and Speak’ but­ton
That’s it. The voice mes­sage is beamed to their device. They can talk back to you imme­di­ately.
And that’s the way it works. It’s not real-time two-way com­mu­nic­a­tion, rather staged deliv­ery of voice mes­sages… a great way to check in, update someone, when it’s not con­veni­ent or prac­tic­al to send out an email.

And it’s free (exclud­ing Inter­net charges).

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, pro­pos­als, reports, reviews, email…you get the pic­ture. Often times I end up cre­at­ing new doc­u­ments that share sim­il­ar format or con­tent, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into new­er ones. But I’m lazy, and always look­ing for easi­er ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learn­ing how to save time and key­strokes by using text expan­sion soft­ware. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basic­ally, what you do is cre­ate a data­base of com­monly typed words, phrases or lay­outs and assign unique key trig­gers to each snip­pet of text. For example, I usu­ally sign my email thusly:

Brad Gri­er

Brad Gri­er Con­sult­ing
Life­style Tech­no­logy & Com­munity Media

Lots of char­ac­ters and format­ting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email sig­na­ture was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The soft­ware did the rest.

Anoth­er example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be email­ing me to say that most com­mon email pro­grams have a place for a sig­na­ture, and it’s auto­mated whenev­er you com­pose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s anoth­er.

Let’s say you’re a web design­er, and you use com­mon CSS or HTML snip­pets. It’s a simple mat­ter to add this code to the data­base, and call it with a few key­strokes. This Lor­em Ipsum lay­out text block, for example:

Lor­em ipsum dol­or sit amet, con­sect­etur adip­is­cing elit. Nunc mat­tis arcu sed quam tin­cidunt et lobortis nunc volut­pat. Phasel­lus lacin­ia nulla quis lect­us molestie in com­modo maur­is blan­d­it. Nul­lam in ves­ti­bu­lum velit. Donec libero est, volut­pat non accum­san ac, rutrum vitae odio. Cur­abit­ur pre­tium maur­is non nisi ves­ti­bu­lum tin­cidunt. Aenean tri­stique quam sapi­en, vel dapibus ligula. Mae­cen­as com­modo faucibus pulvin­ar. Donec eleifend ante eget pur­us luc­tus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feu­giat dui. Ves­ti­bu­lum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luc­tus et ultrices posuere cubil­ia Cur­ae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adip­is­cing ipsum id massa luc­tus vel sus­cip­it metus ele­mentum. Morbi ven­enatis maur­is eget metus tin­cidunt luc­tus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam phare­tra luc­tus vel ut tortor.

That was gen­er­ated by me typ­ing ‘.lor­em’ and hit­ting the Tab key. Much easi­er than past­ing it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snip­pets dir­ect­ory.

As well, text replace­ment soft­ware can eas­ily auto­ma­gic­ally enter oth­er dynam­ic data such as the cur­rent date (.d) [ Thursday, Octo­ber 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Soft­ware
On win­dows, I’d recom­mend the free Tex­ter pro­gram, cre­ated by Life­Hack­er edit­or Adam Pash. And look­ie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use Tex­tEx­pander Touch. Same fea­tures, with a few extra bells and whistles such as applic­a­tion integ­ra­tion.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writ­ing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s com­puter :smileyhappy: But Tex­tEx­pander Touch has a coun­ter­part (called Tex­tEx­pander, of course) that runs on OSX and oth­ers con­sider it the ‘bench­mark’ for Mac text expan­sion and script­ing tools.

texter.jpgSav­ing time?
One oth­er thing, Tex­ter actu­ally tracks the key­strokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report show­ing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy print­able chart of all your replace­ment mac­ros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replace­ment applic­a­tion? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or per­haps a favour­ite replace­ment macro you use often.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Best Skins Ever — Perhaps

I’m a bit prissy when it comes to my dis­play screens on my mobile devices and tech­no­logy. I like put­ting screen scratch pro­tect­ors on them. To pro­tect them. To give me the peace-of-mind that they’ll sur­vive the harsh treat­ment they get in my vari­ous bags and packs, and that the pro­tect­or, not the screen, will absorb any harsh treat­ment.

I’ve done this with my digit­al cam­er­as, my hand­held GPS units, my PDAs, and now my iPad.

While there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent screen pro­tect­or and skin vendors, for my Apple devices, I’ve chosen skins from Best Skins Ever (yes, that really is their name).
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Best Skins Ever — Per­haps”

Remote control your computer from your iPad

Some say that the iPad is a magic­al device. I won’t go that far, but it is kinda cool, though it does have its short­com­ings — espe­cially when you com­pare it to a desktop or laptop com­puter. There are just many things done much bet­ter on a com­puter than on an iPad, which is why it’s neat that there’s com­puter remote con­trol soft­ware for the iPad.

One of the easi­est I’ve found to use is Log­MeIn Igni­tion. Part of the Log­MeIn fam­ily, Igni­tion lives on your iPad (or iPhone, or iPod Touch, or Android) and allows you to con­trol any com­puter you’ve registered with the Log­MeIn ser­vice.

Here’s how the pro­cess works:
1. Get a free Log­MeIn account
2. Install Log­MeIn Free cli­ent soft­ware on every PC/Mac you want to con­trol
3. Register those com­puters with your Log­MeIn account inform­a­tion

If you stop here, you now have the abil­ity to con­trol any of your registered com­puters from any oth­er registered com­puter (that’s run­ning the cli­ent soft­ware), or through the Log­MeIn web inter­face (which is very slick!).

4. Install the LogMeIn:Ignition cli­ent on your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad

And you’re done. You can now con­trol any of your com­puters via your iPad.


Con­tin­ue read­ing “Remote con­trol your com­puter from your iPad”

Free and good? It’s for the birds!

Actu­ally it’s for you and me, and I’m refer­ring to the free online suite of tools that flies under the Avi­ary ban­ner. Actu­ally, it’s more than a suite of tools, Avi­ary is also a com­munity by and for con­tent cre­at­ors:

At Avi­ary, we believe that every­one in the world should have access to power­ful cre­ation tools. We there­fore chose our com­pany mis­sion to be We make cre­ation access­ible to every­one. Our power­ful set of tools helps ful­fill this mis­sion by enabling small busi­nesses, stu­dents, artists & cre­at­ors across dif­fer­ent genres.

What this means for us is that there’s now an awe­some set of media cre­ation tools avail­able for you to use, for the cost of your inter­net con­nec­tion — yes, the Avi­ary tools are free (though they ori­gin­ally had a sub­scrip­tion busi­ness mod­el).

My most recent for­ray into the bird­house had me using the Myna audio edit­or to trim down a mix I’d cre­ated for anoth­er blog post review­ing Seline HD (a cool iPad instru­ment).


My mix had too much dead space at the head and tale of the selec­tion. A few quick tweaks in Myna, and the mix is much as you see above.


Then, with a few clicks of your mouse, you can mix it down, and down­load it or copy some pub­lish code to embed it in your web­site or blog post (as I did here).

bard1.egg by bgrier on Aviarybard1.egg by bgri­er on Avi­ary

But this is just one of the Avi­ary suite of bird-themed tools. Oth­ers include:

  • Phoenix — Image Edit­or
    An image edit­or has lay­ers, masks, effects, undo his­tory, and all that oth­er good stuff.
  • Talon — Screen Cap­ture
    Use Talon to cap­ture screen­shots web pages from your browser or desktop and crop, res­ize or mark them up.
  • Raven — Vec­tor Edit­or
    The world’s first online vec­tor edit­or.
  • Pea­cock — Effects Edit­or
    It does so many won­der­ful and amaz­ing things, we decided to call it our visu­al labor­at­ory.
  • Roc — Music Cre­at­or
    Use Roc to cre­ate music and loops for use in Myna and ring­tones.
  • Fal­con — Image Markup
    Use Fal­con to quickly cap­ture images and web pages from your browser or desktop and crop, res­ize or mark them up.
  • Tou­can — Swatch Edit­or
    A col­or swatches and palettes tool will help you find col­ors you didn’t even know exist.

And as I men­tioned above, there’s a whole set of Avi­ary com­munit­ies focused on the tools, and on cre­at­ing, dis­cov­er­ing, mash­ing up and pub­lish­ing con­tent.

It’s free — so can you afford not to take a peek into the bird house?

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Making music on the iPad

In the pre­vi­ous item I men­tioned that I’d not yet tested out Seline HD, an iPad app. Well, I have now, and yes, it really is quite cool.

After fid­dling about with the inter­face for a bit, I was able to pull this little bit togeth­er.

I must have been inspired by the few hours of The Pil­lars of the Earth we were watch­ing — seems to have a medi­ev­al theme.

One neat thing I loved; you can record and over­dub, so with a bit of patience, you are the orches­tra!
bard1.egg by bgrier on Aviarybard1.egg by bgri­er on Avi­ary

Addi­tion­al note: I used the awe­some free online clip / audio edit­or Myna (an Avi­ary tool) to trim the head and tail of the clip so there was no dead space. Cloud audio editing…how cool!
Check out this video / tutori­al of Selene HD for a bit more detail.