Mar 28

Netflix has arrived. So What!

yawning-puppyThe trade papers and the popular press are awash with articles about Netflix and its arrival in Australia. It is supposed to “change the entertainment landscape of Australian television”, Foxtel is “deeply concerned” and we are now (Australians) no longer “an after thought.”

It seems this is what we have all been waiting for and now that it is here we can all relax and life will be forever enriched.

The thing is Netflix has been available in this country for years via the shady practice of VPN services (at a monthly cost) along with a fake US Netflix account (at a monthly cost). I have known people to do this and so I first saw Netflix on Australian TV about 5 years ago. I cannot in all honesty recall the process he went through to get the Netflix logo on the screen because I was deeply disinterested but I do recall it took a little while and a bit of faffing about. When it was all over and my hair was a little longer I asked this chimp like creature what this gave him that Apple TV and iTunes did not. With that he picked up the remote and showed me a laundry list of TV shows and movies that frankly belonged in the “Rent for $1 a week” bin at that building we used to call a Video Shop. In other words, movies I saw years ago or avoided in the first place for a very good reason.

Needless to say I left that night with the same enthusiasm for a Netflix account as I had for doing my own dentistry with a garden fork.

But over the past 5 years Netflix has continued to get customers in the US, dominate the trade papers from the US and, as I said earlier, arrived in this country to much hoopla on March 24. So clearly things have changed. Right?

Well, no.

With my experience 5 years ago still fresh in my mind I ignored the announcement that Netflix was coming to Australia. I treated it the same way  I do when a Justin Bieber tour is announced. (well actually my reaction to that is far more visceral, but you get the idea)

But when it was announced that they were offering a free 30 day trial I decided to take the plunge and have a look. But it didn’t get off to a good start because literally hours after I signed up there was a report in the press that the Australian catalog was actually 4000 titles short of the US catalog. (so much for Australia not being an after thought) and the CEO fired back claiming that the catalog would “grow over time”

My guess is a day after my trial ends.

However, concentrating on what we do have I noticed three things.

1. The catalog is very very limited if you are interested in watching anything current or wasn’t a “direct to video” release in the US. My Apple TV has a wish list that I have been adding to for a few years and as I write this it has 131 titles – some old movies, some new movies and some documentaries. Looking up this list  on Netflix revealed only 13 of these titles were available

2. The genre classifications make the catalog look way bigger than it actually is. Looking at the classifications you get the impression that there are hundreds of titles in each section but soon you discover that the same movie pops up in Horror, sci-fi and action. Presumably because A) Action because blood is spilt, B) sci-fi because it’s set in space and C) Action because someone stands up at some point.

3. If you decide to watch a TV series its a good idea to check an episode guide on wikipedia because Netflix don’t list the episodes in the order in which they aired.

But maybe this is just me? Maybe because I am not into The Arrow or Lost or Arrested development their listing in Netflix doesn’t excite me at all. If your are interested in old or cancelled TV shows that aren’t already being flogged ad nauseam on commercial TV or the thought of watching a new release movie in the comfort of your own home is in no way attractive then this subscription based service might be what you have been waiting for. They are, after all, commercial free. Just don’t expect anything new anytime soon.

As for me, I will stick with the “anything for  $1 a week” bin at the video store, if I can find one.

Or I might try the Australian streaming service Stan. I know what you are thinking… how could that ever be as good as the mighty Netflix? Well if the little know drink Karma Cola is anything to go by; name isn’t everything.
The Stan website calls their service “world class” and shockingly I am forced to agree.
Their range is better and more up to date and there are less of the content  filling titles like “Honey I shrunk the Kids VI” that you’ll find on Netflix. You’ll find British comedy you’ve actually heard of and U.S. TV that is actually worth watching as well as classics like Star Trek and a full James Bond catalog. I will admit my findings weren’t scientific but no matter what sprung into my head to look for I found something interesting or on the money. 

I am trailing both for a month but I think I know which subscription I am going to keep. 

Happy watching. 

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Mar 23

Installing Flash


A lot of people have issues installing Flash.

This is partly because halfway through the process Adobe use the word “install” – which it doesn’t and partly because  Adobe require you to use a web browser to do the installing – which will make the installer fail.

To their credit they do flash instructions up on the screen but really, when it comes down to it, they have just made the process a lot hard than it needs to be.

So here is the best way to install Flash.

1. If you have already installed Flash in the past, go to System Preferences and click on the Flash icon and click on Check Now.

NOTE: If you haven’t got it installed you can always get it from here.

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2. If there is indeed a new version to be had then it will ask you if you want to download it.

3. Then you’ll be directed to the website and offered to “install‘ it. However this only downloads it. Click on Install Now.

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4. Once finished it will drop an installer in your Downloads folder. it should launch this so all you have to do is double click on the installer, but if not you’ll find it in your Downloads folder.

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5. At this point you might want to quit your browser and, if its open, System Preferences as well. If you don’t the installer will fail.

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6. Double click on the installer and Flash will being to download the full version and install it as well.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 7.31.59 pm

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Mar 01

This might be why email is not sending.

seal-approval-stamp-21954193Because we are bombarded every day with scams and cons via email, its not surprising that a dialog box claiming “your identity cannot be verified” would scare most people.

The natural thing to do is click Cancel and thank your lucky stars that you avoided yet another attack on your wallet or identity. Thing is though, this message is perfectly legit and by clicking on Cancel you might very well stop email from working altogether.

When you are faced with this message…

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… the best thing to do is click the Connect button.

Then, click on Always trust… and then click Connect.

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When prompted, enter your Mac ,log on password and click OK. The certificate will be renewed, your email provider will be happy, your Mail program will be happy and email will start flowing once again.

But remember, even after you have done this you may be asked to do it again sometime in the future as your email provider renews its certificates.


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Feb 06

Get to know Reminders

729159_44616766reminderIt is no secret that Apple have been pushing to blur the lines between using your iPhone and your Mac. Flagship products like Pages, Numbers and Safari have all been designed to look and feel the same no matter which Apple product you might be using.

One such example is the Reminders app and if used correctly, and in conjunction with iCloud, can save your bacon when it comes to paying bills or remembering your anniversary. It is also a gem if all you have is a desktop computer.

And even if you’ve already starting using this app I am willing to bet you’ve never used it like this. Try the following and I bet you’ll agree.

First the basics. Open your Reminders application on your Mac. (By default it is in the dock but if you have moved it, you’ll find it in the Applications folder.



Once opened it should look something like this.


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As you can see I have a few different reminders and I created these with the Add List button. But for the purposes of this exercise lets pretend I only have one; Things to do this weekend.

Now its time to create your first reminder and you have two ways this can be done but only one of them is awesome!

The first way is to click on the + button and type the reminder.

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From there it’s another click on the mouse in the info field to set when you want to be reminded.

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And once all of that has been done, click Done and well, you’re done.

But there is another way and it uses plain english to get the job done with a fraction of the effort.

As before, launch the Reminders application and click on the + button (or click on the File menu and choose New Reminder or Command+N but the important thing is getting a fresh reminder)

Now, type at 9.00am tomorrow build a space station


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Instantly the correct day and time or embedded into the reminder and the job is done.

Similarly you could type: 4pm on Wednesday write the great Australian novel and you’d get this:

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But it gets better if you decide to delve into the Get Info button.
Here you can set a reminder that activates when you arrive or depart a certain place. This is especially useful if you are syncing your reminders with your iPhone or iPad via iCloud.

For example let’s suppose you want to be reminded to buy flowers for your wife when you leave work.
Lets further pretend you work for Universal Exports. (James Bond fans will know what I am getting at there)

In the reminders application create your reminder:

Buy the Minister for war and finance flowers.


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Now click on the info icon and change it to a location based reminder, type in your work address (or just type work if it’s already in your address book) and change it to Departing.

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Click Done.
So now, when you walk away from the office your iPhone will remind you to buy flowers- no doubt saving your life and the fate of the civilised world taboot.


One final trick for reminders when using it on your iPhone is to use Siri.

Simply say to Siri “When I leave here remind me to buy flowers” or “When I get home remind me to feed the cat”

So when to pull up in the drive way your phone will ping and remind you in the nick of time.

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Feb 01

One of the best apps you can get for your iPhone

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s nothing glamorous. It’s not even a technological breakthrough but this little app will transform the way you pay for parking and banish that little box of lose change in your car to the annals of history.

My app of the moment is parkmobile and it is freely available from the Appstore. And I love it!!

Once downloaded all you have to do is create an account and link a credit card to it along with the details of your car. Then, go park somewhere!

Most, certainly not all, parking meters in Canberra now support this technology and each of these smart stations will have a 6 digit zone code proudly emblazoned across its front panel.

Instead of fishing for change and standing behind the guy who is paying for a days worth of parking with 5 cent pieces, just pull out your iPhone and fire up parkmobile. Enter the 6 digit code, tell it how long you want to park for and walk away. No change, no ticket, nothing.

If you haven’t under estimated the time you need all you need to do, when finished, is jump in your car and drive away. But the beauty, the genius, the joy of this app is if you are stuck in that shop or enjoying your fourth cup of coffee you don’t need to jump up and feed the meter. The app will warn you when you are getting close to running out of time and all you do is click on the Extend button and buy another hour or so.

For more information have a look at the parkmobile website.


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