How I Used Mac Addresses to Identify All the Smart Devices On My Network

Like many tech-savvy thirty-somethings my household has acquired quite a few Wi-Fi-connected devices over the past few years: Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi scale Wireless printer Smart thermostat Apple TV/Roku Smart HDTV Wi-Fi baby monitor Wi-Fi security cameras Smart phones, tablets, computers etc. Our network had gradually become highly populated with devices, and I didn’t even notice. When I upgraded our router […]

Rotate Videos that were Recorded Sideways

Screenshot of HandBrake video tab.

Ever since smartphones started adding video recording capabilities, I’ve seen a lot more videos recorded in “portrait” mode. This happens when you record a video while holding your phone upright instead of sideways. Depending on the phone, the video recording app you used, and how you are playing it back, the video may end up […]

Auto-dial Teleconference Codes using iPhone

So I just discovered this handy tip and thought I’d pass it along. iPhone will auto-dial conference codes for you if the number is written in a particular format in the location or description fields of a calendar event. The phone number and conference code will be colored to show they are a telephone hyperlink. […]

Share One iTunes Library on Multiple PCs Over a Network

Update (2013-06-16): A while ago I signed up for iTunes Match, and I have found it to be a great solution for viewing my iTunes library on multiple PCs, whether they are on my home network or not (I have my entire library available on my MacBook at work as well as my PCs at home and my iPhone). The solution below should still work if you don’t want to sign up for iTunes Match, but I no longer use the solution below.

A few years ago I built a PC to function as a semi-dedicated file server. It’s running Windows 7, so it’s still a fully-functional PC, but it’s not my primary workstation. Among other things, I use it to store all of my music, photos, videos, and documents in a central location that is backed up regularly. My primary desktop, my HTPC, and my laptop can access all of these files over the network via a Windows Homegroup.

Until recently the only copy of iTunes I used was on the server PC to sync my iPod classic. On my primary desktop I preferred to use MediaMonkey for music playback because of its speed and excellent library organization features. The only downside was that my play counts and ratings in MediaMonkey didn’t sync with my iTunes library on the server. It was a limitation I’d been content to live with up to this point. (more…)

A Great Example of Integrating Mobile Apps with Video Games: Galaxy at War in Mass Effect 3

I’m a huge Mass Effect fan, and I was excited to learn that the final installment in the  Mass Effect trilogy was going to include a meta-game system that would influence the outcome of the game. I’ve always thought it would be cool to be able to somehow interact with a game even when I wasn’t actually playing it. This has already been done to some degree with other games, but with Mass Effect 3 I think Bioware and EA have set a new standard.

Mass Effect 3 screenshot
Screenshot of Mass Effect 3

The meta-game system is called “Galaxy at War” and includes the multiplayer co-operative mode in Mass Effect 3 (included with the game), the Mass Effect Infiltrator iOS game (paid app), and the Mass Effect 3 Datapad iOS app (free). Each allows a player to add to his/her “galactic readiness” in the single player game. By increasing the readiness level, the player can achieve a more favorable outcome in the game. (more…)

Why I Don’t Miss my Android Phone after Switching to the iPhone 4s

I’ve never been an early adopter of cell phones; I don’t want to be a beta-tester and I really can’t afford to get the latest and greatest phone every few months. It took me a long time to make the decision to get my first Android smartphone, and I spent several months considering my latest smartphone purchase—the iPhone 4s.

My first mobile phone was a prepaid Nokia TracFone back in 2002. It was a solid phone that had good battery life and excellent signal. I mainly used it for impulse plan-making while I was out with friends. At the time it was pretty cool. I swapped out the front cover and even the buttons with different colors to personalize it, and it had the game where you “steer” a snake to eat numbers and it keeps getting longer and moving faster until you run into the edge of the screen.

Eventually, I broke the TracFone and upgraded to a “real” cell phone plan and a basic Motorola flip-phone about a year later. This was another great phone with solid build quality, good battery life, and great signal. I kept it for about another year, until I switched over to a family plan when my mom and sister got cell phones; in the process I upgraded to a new Audiovox flip-phone.

The Audiovox phone was a pretty nice upgrade. It had a color LCD screen on the outside of the phone! Battery life was around 5 or 6 days if I didn’t use it much, and signal strength was excellent. I kept that phone until it was barely usable after a trip through the washing machine in 2007.

For my next phone, I went with the Motorola Razr. The original Razr had been out for a while, so it was relatively inexpensive by the time I got one. Even so, that was a cool phone! It was super-thin, had good signal strength, and I could put mp3s on a micro-SD card and listen to them on my phone! The battery life wasn’t as great as my previous phones, and I could only get a couple of days out of a full charge (remember when standby time was measure in weeks, not hours?). I kept that phone until 2010, when I finally made the leap to a smartphone. (more…)

Transfer iTunes Library and iPhone Data from Mac to PC

I recently built a PC for a friend of mine using some old parts I had lying around along with a few new components. She’s had an older Mac notebook running OS X v10.4 for a few years, but it’s just too slow and too old to run a lot of newer software or games, including the latest version of iTunes (which means she can’t update her iPhone to the latest iOS version).

Her new PC is running Windows 7 x64 Home Premium and the latest iTunes so it’s fully capable of keeping her iPhone updated. However, she can’t just plug her iPhone into the new computer without making sure that iTunes is set up properly and all of her purchased music/apps/etc. are on the PC to avoid losing those purchases. There are numerous tutorials on the web that cover transferring your iTunes music and iPhone data from PC to Mac. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any tutorials about transferring from Mac to PC, so I decided to write up a simple tutorial documenting the process we used.

Transfer Mac to PC
Transfer iTunes from OS X to Windows 7

There were a few steps involved in transferring the iTunes library from Mac to PC, but overall the process was fairly simple because all of her music was organized by iTunes (rather than being scattered across multiple folders on the hard drive). This article has instructions on organizing and consolidating music into the iTunes folder if your library is not already organized by iTunes (e.g. if you have music downloaded from amazon’s mp3 service or another music download service). (more…)