I was fortunate enough to record a new “ChitChat Across the Pond” segment with my dear friend Allison Sheridan from for the NosillaCast podcast last night. The live show will be recorded on Sunday, and, unless I’m mistaken, it will Allison’s 400th episode. Congrats to her and may she record many, many more. We talked [...]
I’ve been playing with the beta of a new Mac app called Found. I first found out about it on Twitter a few weeks ago and placed my name on the waiting list as soon as I could. Now that I have it on my Macs, I can say it wasn’t soon enough. Let me explain.
First, Found is in beta and not all the features are working yet, but the feedback I received from my first bug report impressed me and told me that this was an application that had a solid team behind it.
In case you have not heard about the application, let me do a quick explanation of what it does. It lives in the background of your desktop and with a double control key tap it pops out from the left side of your screen. You can set up your Google Docs and your Gmail accounts to be searches along with your Mac and your Dropbox folder. As of this beta, the Mac search is only setup for the main folders, or primary folders such as applications, documents, photos, music, movies, desktop and downloads. The edit button is already in place and ready for you to add more folders for searching in the later beta stages. In other words, you get search results from all four places at one time, broken down into categories so you know where the results are coming from and you can launch any of the results rights from the application and you can preview the results in a preview window if you desire.
I’ve been a Path Finder user and fan for many years now. It’s the most powerful finder replacement on the Mac. There is very little that Path Finder cannot do with your files. I use their dual browser window to easily move, copy, delete, collect, compress, burn and preview all my files. I am now [...]
For many years I’ve heard friends and colleagues in the Mac community talk in wonder about how far along speech recognition software has come on the Mac. It was years ago since I last tried it and after spending hours of training the software to recognize my voice, it still did a fair job at best. But when I was approached by Nuance software and asked to do a sponsored review of their Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac, I decided it was time to give speech recognition software another try.
I’ve been using Nuance’s great iOS apps, Dragon Dictation and Dragon Go! on my iPhone and loved them, so it was not surprising to me that Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.5 was amazingly simple to install, setup and begin using.
We all know how speech recognition software works, but Dragon Dictate 2.5 had a few tricks up it’s sleeve. First, I found that it came with a USB headset that made it fast and simple to begin using the software, but then I found that Nuance had free iPhone and iPad software that allowed you to dictate into your iOS device instead of being tethered to you Mac. You can also use any Bluetooth wireless mics that you can pair to your Mac. This made the dictation much more natural and convenient to use.
Needless to say, Dragon Dictate impressed me with it’s fast learning curve and besides the voice training, they also allowed me to enter in many of the text documents I’ve authored over the years so that it could learn my vocabulary along with my voice. Very smart. This combination of understanding your voice along with you vocabulary made Dragon Dictate almost perfect with my dictation tests, a huge leap over the last time I tried speech recognition software.
I’ve only played with Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.5 for a few days, but I am already shocked at the number of commands that this software understands. When you go into command mode, you can open applications on your Mac and work right off their menus to create, save and edit documents. You can use commands to press buttons that appear on your screen, and you can use commands to format you documents. It will take me weeks in order to fully realize the power behind the command mode.
Nuance has a Numbers mode built into Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.5 also. Entering long strings of numbers, such as inputting figures or product codes into a database can be accomplished more efficiently and more accurately using Numbers Mode. In this recognition mode, Dragon interprets your voice only as numbers or commands. I also have yet to try the Facebook and Twitter commands. This allows you to post status updates to Facebook or Twitter with a simple voice command, no matter what application is currently active on your screen.
There is just a lot to love about this new version of Dragon Dictate for Mac from Nuance. For owners of version 2.0, the update to 2.5 is free. There are also inexpensive update prices from older versions. The retail price of the full package including USB headset is $199, but Nuance is having a fall sale that cuts the price to $149. Between the integration with the iOS devices and the high-end output I’m seeing on my Mac, I can really recommend this software to anyone.
The Targus Versavu Keyboard and Case is specifically designed for the iPad 2. The styling of the case features a unique mechanism that frames the Apple logo and allows the iPad to rotate 360｡ from landscape to portrait mode. The form-fitted design securely holds the iPad in place while the hard-sided exterior provides a sturdy, protective cover. The Versavu Keyboard and Case includes a QWERTY, low-profile Bluetooth keyboard that provides tactile feedback to the user to improve typing accuracy and speed while maintaining a quiet typing experience. The keyboard is Bluetooth and can be charged inside of the case for an easy-to-sync, cable-free user experience. The Versavu case includes a scratch-resistant frame around the keyboard to prevent the iPad from touching the keys when the case is closed and ready for transport.
The Versavu Keyboard and Case also includes an easy to locate, built-in holster for a pen or stylus. Featuring a soft interior lining to protect the iPad, Versavu provides full access to all iPad functions so the device is fully operational inside of the case. The Versavu Keyboard and Case for the iPadｨ 2 provides an attractive and functional way to carry and use the iPad.
It’s no secret that I’ve used and have been a big fan of BBEdit from day one of my move to the Mac. Text editors have always occupied a lot of my hard drive space, to this day I have at least 6 different text edit apps installed at any time. You can find my [...]
Here is the script from episode number one of the new Mac and Cheese Podcast. You can find the podcast for listening or downloading here: http://macreviewcast.com/?p=703
Hi, This is Tim Verpoorten and this is not the MacReviewCast.
What exactly is this podcast, Macs and Cheese? And what happened to my MacReviewCast.
To give you the short version, besides my love for all things Macintosh, I love to cook. I always had in mind doing a podcast about cooking and my theory of shopping for food and cooking that food. SO this is what I’ve done.
I recorded this first Macs and Cheese and who knows, if you don’t care for it, it’s my last podcast on food. I added it to my MacReviewCast feed and I wanted to see what type of reception it received. If it’s enjoyed by enough of you, I’ll continue doing it and maybe even give it it’s own feed. If you tell me to keep my day job, well then I had a lot of fun sharing my second passion with you today.
The MacReviewCast will be back next week with a new episode, but until then, please do me a favor and give this a listen and more importantly, give me your feedback. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you thought.
I’m also going to be doing something different then most podcasters with this Mac and Cheese series. I’ll be posting the entire script to my blog so that after you listen or instead of listening, you can read about what I have to say, word for word. It may sound a bit foreign but we’re going to give it a try.
As some of you may know, I had a gastric bypass surgery a few years ago and since have lost 185 pounds. I am finally at a normal weight according to the Dr with a BMI of under 25.
I had a mess of medical problems ranging from heart disease, high cholesterol, gout, high blood pressure and borderline diabetes. I was taking handfuls of meds a day and had a bad back that made me sit down after only 30 minutes or so on my feet. So as you can see, the time had come to do something about it.
When I left the hospital after the surgery, I never took another med again. Blood pressure normal, cholesterol levels went down to 105 and I can walk for miles without a backache again.
The surgery was a major reason for the weight loss and the good health, but I had to learn to eat differently then I’d been eating my entire life. I always loved to cook, in fact, I used to have a restaurant when I was younger. And the one thing that was really hard for me to handle was that after the bypass surgery, I just couldn’t eat the types of foods I ate before. I became violently ill when I ate too much sugary foods, fatty foods and dairy. As hard as I tried to eat my beloved ice cream, the sicker I got. Soon I understood what food was bad for me. My taste buds had to find other foods that they could appreciate.
I realized that vegetables were perfect for my new plumbing, so were proteins, complex carbs and fiber. My cooking began to take on a different look and feel then before. I threw out my deep fryer, heavy creams, and sugars. Now I can make a great tasting meal that’s under 600 calories and anyone that has dined with us will attest to that fact.
But more importantly, my cooking isn’t just about being healthy, it’s about cooking with what you’ve got in your fridge and pantry. I cook with what needs to be used up, whether it’s leftovers of just something that needs to be used up before you have to toss it. I guess you can say that I’m a frugal cook. You see, there’s a thin line between being frugal and being cheap, I cross it at times, but I’d never admit it.
You’ll understand more as I get into the podcast, so let”s get started.
What Can You Expect from this Podcast?
I want to visit with you on a regular basis about my whole theory on food from start to finish. I want to talk about how to be a smart shopper how to buy the right food, then how to decide what to make with that food. I’ll talk basic food prep and general recipes. (More on that later)
In other words, we’ll talk about how to buy, and prepare healthy, good tasting, inexpensive meals. With a twist on the recipes. What twist? Well, I plan on giving you at least one recipe each podcast, but for those of you looking to see a list of exact ingredients or specific size of products to purchase, you’ll be disappointed. You see, I like to call my cooking freestyle. You use general cooking techniques with products you have in your house. The idea of making a menu and then going shopping for the exact ingredients on that menu is just not what I believe in. It’s expensive for one thing, and time consuming for another.
My Theory on Shopping for Food:
Let’s start this initial podcast at the beginning. How to be a smart shopper.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m cheap, or, I mean frugal. Never pay retail and always cherry pick. So what does that mean?
Locally we have a chain of food stores here in Wisconsin called Aldis. They are dumpy little stores that normally don’t carry many name brands and has narrow little aisles where you purchase what they have that week on the shelves and you stand in long lines to checkout and you pack your own groceries. But the prices are great. The same cart full of food at Aldis and a local major chain in our area cost $80 compared to $120. You won’t get any free samples at the discount stores, but you’ll save money.
Now granted, Aldis was an example that I use here locally, it may be Tesco’s, Sam’s clubs, Wal-Mart, Costco or some other name, but almost everyone listening to this podcast can find a discount grocery store in driving distance.
As for cherry picking, we all understand that a discount grocery will not have everything you need or maybe not have the quality you want. I’m the same way. I go to the other grocery chains to shop, but I only cherry pick them. That means I only buy whats on sale, nothing retail. So this means that my menu at home is not solidified until I know what I’m getting at the store. This is backwards according to many cooking shows and cookbooks that would have you shop for the items you needed after creating a specific menu.
But again, my thought process has a strong money saving thread throughout. It’s just against my religion to overpay for something if I can avoid it.
Back to buying on sale. When you do find the store’s sale items, know the general price of the products at other stores or at least know the regular price at the store your in. If cantaloupes are on sale for $.99 you buy it, if fresh Asparagus is at $3.99 a pound you pass on it. The season, of course, will dictate pricing the majority of the time, but I’m in the produce business so I can tell you that corporate decisions are not always made by knowledgable people, in other words, sometimes you can buy food on sale even when it’s not plentiful in the supply chain. Watch for surprise sales on food items at your favorite stores.
Next you need to understand that if you can freeze food, or can food, or buy frozen food to begin with on sale, you can double or triple the amount of the item you buy and store it for up to a year. Canned goods even longer. Therefore, when you find fresh strawberries or Blueberries on sale for $.99, you buy a years supply and freeze them. When you find frozen shrimp or scallops or salmon, any seafood on sale, buy several more packages of it them you’ll use in a month. We’ll discuss freezing and freezers shortly.
There are two main points I want to make here, other then staples like milk, eggs, bread, things that you’ll purchase all the time or you need it fresh, never buy an item that’s not on sale at a retail chain. Buy it at your wholesale market or wait until it’s on sale. I walk into my major chain market and I sometimes walk out with limited items, but I always buy as much of them as I can afford or I can use. It’s not a crime to fill up your grocery cart with $1.99 a pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or $3.99 a pound large frozen shrimp. Cherry pick them only.
The other main point we touched on is that you never let your menu dictate your shopping list, you make your shopping dictate your menu. I plan my meals or at least my main dishes by what I have available in my house. If it’s not there, it does not get used in the menu. That an important concept to understand and one that will save you a bunch of bucks each week.
You Need Another Freezer:
Freezer space in a home is like garage space, you’ll always end up filling it full and needing more. So my first words of wisdom is that to save money and be a smart shopper you’ll need more freezer space.
I have a $200 chest freezer in my garage to supplement my side by side in the kitchen. Why on earth does a family need all that freezer space you ask? How many ice cubes and popsicles do you need? Well my friend, let me splain-it-to-you.
Next to fresh, you’ll never find better vegetables in a store then in their freezer case. Frozen fresh veggies beat canned veggies hands down. Not the kind of frozen with sauces already added that you throw in the microwave and serve, I’m talking plain, fresh frozen vegetables. The same can be said for much of the seafood I use in my cooking. It’s not anywhere near fresh seafood but if you know what you’re buying, frozen can be good.
I also freeze all the extra fruit I buy when they’re in season at their best prices. For example, when fresh strawberries are locally in season, we pick enough to take up through the year and freeze them. The same for Blueberries. I freeze bananas when they get too ripe, just peel and freeze and use them for making banana bread and for my protein smoothies. Before most food gets too old to use, I freeze it.
You also need a freezer to take advantage of the cherry picking specials and big size discounts on meat like hamburger or chicken that comes in five pound packs. Sausages that come 20 in a package can be broken down when you get home and frozen in single use sizes with quart freezer bags. How many times have you seen meat on sale and you just didn’t want to buy it because the package size was too big for you to use? Take it home, break it down, freeze it.
If you’re serious about saving money on your food budget and cooking good healthy meals instead of fast food or instant food that will kill you, then get yourself as much freezer space as you can. Think of it as hard drive space, buy as much as you can afford, you’ll use it up.
We’re going to talk about a food and how I go about cooking it that’s really a perfect example of what I call freestyle. Eggs, and specifically for todays recipe, Omelets are a great food for several reasons. First they’re quite healthy for you. They have only 90 calories a piece and they contain about 6 grams of protein per egg. No matter what the cholesterol scare many years ago with eggs, they are now considered to be a staple in a healthy diet. But, as with all foods, even good foods, the key is moderation.
We’ll discuss that another day in more depth. Today we want to talk about making an Omelet for your family that’s a meal. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just my lovely wife Alice and I eating breakfast, or if I’m cooking for more, I always love to use my deep sided 12 inch cast iron skillet to cook omelets. I use about 4 or 5 eggs depending on their size, and then I use a container of “Fake eggs” I like to call them, the egg beaters or egg substitute product. I by the generic from the discount store or Ill even buy egg whites if they’re on sale instead.
I crack and dump the real eggs in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of water and then beat them until they’re a consistent, yellow color. I then heat up the pan and add a little vegetable oil or canola oil so the omelets will not stick. If you use a non-stick pan, then a light spray of cooking oil is all you need.
Next is the real fun part of the recipe and the cooking. I decide what I want in my omelets. Actually, I’ve scouted out the refrigerator earlier and I have a good idea of whats going in my omelets. Thats why omelets are such a great example of how I cook. Just about anything that passes for food can go into an omelet. Think about it, I’ve made omelets with all sorts of meats, and just about every vegetable you can think of, well, not cabbage, but tons of fresh veggies. You can use shrimp, salmon, and of course cheeses.
Look in your refrigerator and find leftovers, the mashed potatoes from last night, the piece of chicken left over, the vegetable that weren’t all eaten. Then look in your pantry and find the onions getting a bit old, or maybe the potatoes starting to sprout. Add some fresh veggies you have in your fridge drawers, I love to use fresh baby spinach leaves, I also use frozen asparagus. With an omelet, it’s all fair game.
The key is putting the ingredients in the pan at the right time. If something needs to cook a bit like Onions, peppers, fresh potatoes, frozen veggies or raw meat, make sure you get that in the pan first, stir it around and when it’s almost ready, add the pre-cooked or ready to eat foods like your spinach, leftovers from supper, you get the idea. Finally, after they’re warmed up, pour in the real eggs and then slowly add the egg substitutes and then season with salt and pepper.
I like to lift the omelet up off the pan and allow the uncooked eggs to replace it until I have a good layer of cooked omelet on the bottom of the pan. Now I know my limitations, I’m not flipping a 12 inch, deep sided caste iron pan full of eggs and goodies. So I like to take a large turning utensil and flip over the eggs a little at a time and then even them out across the top. I re-season this side of the omelet and then I like to use a little low-fat cheese like a mozzarella and sprinkle it on the top of the omelet. Then as the final touch, I’l turn on the oven broiler and slide the pan in the oven near the broiler until the cheese is melted and a bubbly brown.
I cut the omelet in large squares in the pan and dish out portions of omelets that resemble servings of quiche more then a normal omelet. I like to slice up some fresh tomatoes and serve them on the side with the omelet, but you can serve it with whatever your family enjoys. Maybe a little of that salsa that was opened up this week and put in the fridge, maybe a dollop of sour cream, go ahead and wing it. Thats what make cooking freestyle like this so much fun.