Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Are Macs Really More Secure Than PCs?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

For years, Apple has claimed that Macs are unassailable to attack, while rebuking Windows as being filled with security holes. Now not only has a Trojan been able to infect Macs and create a botnet, but many famous researchers caution that the Mac’s Operating System is more vulnerable than both Windows or Linux.

There has been a lot of media hype recently about the detection of the world’s first Mac botnet. On downloading a pirated copy of iLife, Mac users found that their machines were corrupted by a Trojan which opens a port on the local connection hosts by acting as a back door.

While addressing the Trojan, Apple claimed that the chances of being infected by this virus is negligible. But the very fact of its existence, and a botnet run by it, proves that Apple’s declaration that Macs are impenetrable to attacks is simply false.

Hackers say that they find Macs less secure than their present Windows equivalent. They say the code quality, in terms of security, is superior in Windows. Apple has fallen behind as far as security is concerned in the last several years.  This is largely because the spotlight has been on Window’s OS but not as much on Mac’s.

The general perception that Macs are invulnerable to attacks is fast changing. On the contrary, more people these days assert that Macs are far easier to exploit than Windows. The steps taken by Windows to ensure that it is harder for an exploit to work are not followed by Mac. This makes hacking into Macs so much easier as one does not have to jump hoops and deal with all the anti-exploit measures that can be found in Windows.

The security aspect also has to do more with the operating system than with the target program. Firefox on Mac is very easy to hack into. The underlying OS does not have built-in anti-exploit patches. Firefox on Windows is another matter altogether, rated one of the most secure browsers across all platforms.

There is another simple explanation as to why Macs are easier to hack into than Windows.  Bugs that pop up on all platforms are mostly the same, but it is very difficult to write an application for Windows. Hence, it is equally difficult to write an exploit for Windows, making hacking Macs comparatively easier.

From the start, Mac has had a UNIX foundation. This is why several years ago Mac was more secure than Windows. But the latest kinds of Trojans can override all the UNIX protections and hence the edge that Mac has held over Windows has been nullified and Macs are now inherently less secure than the latest versions of Windows.

There is also the belief that Apple’s polished reputation has little to do with its hardware, but is all because of excellent marketing. It may be that the legend of the Mac’s superior security is more about marketing genius and less about actual facts.

So for those in the Mac community who are still under the impression that the Mac is invincible: Sorry to break it to you but that is a thing of the past.

You can find more great articles, resources and free downloads for the Mac at Macintosh Tools.

Macintosh Tools has the latest articles, resources, software and tools for your Mac.

Understanding the Apple MacBook and Bluetooth Connectivity

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

You should know whether your MacBook supports Bluetooth connections. However, latest Apple laptops have internal Bluetooth component. If you’re using an earlier Mac laptop without built in Bluetooth, though, you’re certainly out of the Bluetooth loop. Even so, you don’t have to pitch your faithful Mac if it doesn’t yet communicate to other Bluetooth-enabled devices! You can add Bluetooth feature to your Macbook with a widely available USB Bluetooth adapter. A regular Bluetooth adapter sells online for approximately $30.

Your external Bluetooth adapter should have automatic data encryption capability, which can protect your Macbook if there’s a Bluetooth cracker within about thirty to sixty feet of your Macbook. The adaptor may link with up to eight other Bluetooth devices as the same time. (Come to think of it, if there are a lot of people within 60 feet of your MacBook Pro during a LAN party bash, you’ll guess this feature really is important!) You’d expect any modern and high-tech operating systems like Mac OS X should come with basic Bluetooth supports. You’d be right; however Apple goes one step further.

Your Macbook comes with System Preferences and utility software to help you get your Macbook connected with nearby Bluetooth devices.

Choose the System Preferences icon located in the Dock. With the Bluetooth pane, you can

* Create new Bluetooth devices. Just click the ‘Set Up New Device’ to open the Bluetooth Setup Assistant utility, which sets up other Bluetooth devices for connection with Leopard. Read the onscreen instructions to configure a number of common Bluetooth gadgets (including mice, cellphones, keyboards, and printers), or you can also choose Other, Setup Assistant will looks for other Bluetooth devices and adjust the settings so that those devices are ready to party with your MacBook. Be sure that Bluetooth devices are discoverable and in range (available for connection with your Macbook) before you open the Bluetooth Setup Assistant utility. Read your user manual to understand how to set a Bluetooth device as “discoverable”, the device should be about twenty feet away (or less) from your laptop.
* Set up Bluetooth connections. Choose the Advanced button to establish, remove, enable, or disable a Bluetooth connection, using a Bluetooth connection as virtual serial port (for the simple file transfer) or as virtual modem (for bidirectional transfer, including using Internet connection through a Bluetooth cellphone).

You may also specify if a Bluetooth port should be encrypted.

It is recommended that you activate the Show Bluetooth Status located in the Menu Bar check box. Luckily, the Bluetooth menu allows you to conserve power by disabling your Bluetooth feature until you need it. It is quite convenient to toggle your Macbook’s discovery status and also configure a device or send a file. It’s also easy to know which devices are connected to your Macbook.

If you won’t be connected with Bluetooth devices while you are on the road, disactivating a Bluetooth service on a Macbook will help save battery power. There is another handy Bluetooth resource, the Bluetooth File Exchange. You have to launch Bluetooth File Exchange the old-fashioned way; just go to your Utilities folder, inside the Applications folder. It’s quite similar to a traditional file transfer protocol (FTP) application, choose the Bluetooth File Exchange icon to go to the file selection dialog; then browse the file you want to send to a connected Bluetooth device. You can also choose to browse the file in other networked Bluetooth device so that you know what the user of that device is offering.

You may also configure your default settings for file exchange in the Sharing pane, which is located in the System Preferences. Just click the Sharing icon and then choose the Bluetooth Sharing check-box to display the setting parameters. Here you can manage what Leopard does when you get files or PIM (Personal Information Manager) data with Bluetooth File Exchange. For example, with this setting, Leopard can

Ask you for permission to receive a file or Personal Information Manager item

* Accept any files and PIM items without any prompting or restriction
* Keep all incoming items and files to a specified folder
* Restrict file-sharing only for the items and files in the specified folder when other Bluetooth devices browse your MacBook.

It is recommended that you use these default setting in Leopard for file exchange:

* You know when someone’s sending you something.
* Anything you receive will be saved in your Downloads folder.
* If you turn on the File Transfer, you can allow others to see the content of your Public folder.

Even so, feel free to enable, disable, and adjust the setting to your heart’s content.

Buy Used Macbooks online from the Used Macbook Store.

Find Macbook Bluetooth Devices at the Used MacBook store.

Fix Mac Disk Errors

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

In this article we teach you how to fix MAC disk errors for the Apple Macbook using the operating system OS X10.4.x. If your MAC computer is no longer working as quickly, efficiently or effectively as it used to when you had just purchased it, chances are that there is some malfunctioning of the disks of the computer systems. Such problems are known as disk errors and need to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage and to restore the computer to its optimal condition.

Customers of Apple using the Apple Macbook are provided with a disk known as the Apple Software Restore disk which is to be used for such times where an emergency arises and the disk needs to be cleaned of unwanted applications and kinks need to be smoothened out.

Getting started!

The first step is to place the disk into the disk drive and then choose the ‘restart’ option to begin loading the computer up again. Once the start up process begins again you will be alerted to it by the startup sound. After you hear this sound press the C key down and hold it so until the screen displays the Apple logo. The logo display is in tones of gray.

Once the computer has started up the disk will automatically begin to initiate the OS installation process. Be careful not to begin to reinstall the operating system yourself manually.

You might be presented with the option of choosing another language. To work with English, which is the default language, click on the Next tab.

What next?

A window with the option Utilities will pop up. Click on the window and then choose the Disk Utility button. This will start up the Disk Utility function which will pop up as a new window. Towards the left hand side of the window will be a list of the disks out of which you need to select the one which you wish to heal. For the present time being, you will select the option listing Macintosh HD. There will be a bar running horizontal near the upper end of the window with the option First Aid. It is imperative to select this option as well. At the lower end of the Disk Utility window, towards the right hand side, you will be a tab with the label Repair Disk. To start the repairing process click on this tab.

And lastly…..

This action will initiate a scan in which the system will go through the drive that you have chosen to repair and will check to see if there are any problems in the drive. If the drive is safe and free of problems a message stating the same will be displayed. If there are errors in the drive a window detailing the same will pop up. After reading through the list of problems detected by the scan you only need to click on Repair Disk and the computer will start to fix the problems within the drive on its own.

Disk Software

Another highly recommended option for the Mac is to use some type of disk management and backup software such as Disk Tools. Read the full review of Disk Tools here.

For more Mac articles, tools, resources and downloads visit Macintosh Tools

Safari 4

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Apple has released the next version of its web browser – Safari 4 for Mac and Windows users.

The security fixes come as part of a larger update for Safari. Many of the major enhancements, such as faster Javascript execution and new ‘cover flow’ history browsing feature, were unveiled by the company yesterday at its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Apple said Safari 4 is the first browser to pass the Web Standards Project’s Acid3 test, which examines how well a browser adheres to CSS, JavaScript, XML, and SVG standards that are specifically designed for dynamic Web applications.

10 Cool AppleScripts You Should Try

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The scripting language built in to the Mac’s OS is referred to as AppleScript. It uses an English-based language to automate tasks on the Mac. AppleScripts are located in your Library/Scripts folder and the Script Editor can be launched by double-clicking a script where it describes what the script does and you can run it by clicking Run.

Here is a list of 10 cool AppleScripts that you should try.

1. Add to Folder Names

With Add To Folder Names you can add something at the beginning or end of all folder names on the front-most Finder window. Items on the desktop will be used by the script, if no Finder windows are open. This saves a lot of time as you don’t have to go through a large group of folders one by one just to add something to the folder name.

2. Add to File Names

Similarly, Add To File Names changes files in the front Finder window, instead of folders.

3. Trim Folder Names

The next two scripts are the opposite of the two mentioned above. Trim Folder Names lets one trim the text from the beginning or the end of a folder. This helps in altering the folder names that you want to change or shorten.

4. Trim File Names

Trim File Names is similar to Trim Folder Names, except that instead of folder names, this can cut the start or end of file names.

5. Finder Windows- Hide All

All the Finder windows that are open can be minimized into the dock by using the Finder Windows – Hide All script.

6. Finder Windows-Show All

Finder Windows – Show All will do the exact opposite, and bring all Finder windows that are in the Dock back out onto the Desktop.

7. Crazy Message Text

On running Crazy Message Text, a dialog asks the user to type the text to create the “crazy” mail message with. After entering text and on hitting OK, a Mail message is created, on which the text is pasted with each letter in a different size, font and colour.

8. Create New Message

The Create New Message Script is useful to browse the Web or RSS feeds. It lets you make a Mail message from whatever application you’re in at the moment. A small dialog asks the receiver’s name, address, the subject, content, signature, and the “from” address. After clicking OK, Mail opens and the message that you entered can be sent.

9. iTunes Remote Control

The iTunes Remote Control is the perfect substitute for an iTunes controller. On running the script, a dialog pops up and you can make iTunes “pause”, “play,” or “stop” among other commands.

10. Clipboard Viewer

The Clipboard Viewer script shows a dialog with whatever is on the clipboard. If you have a file copied, the filename will be displayed.

The Scripts folder contains tons of other cool Applescripts. And what’s more, You can even customize or even write your own AppleScripts!

For more Macintosh articles, resources, tools and downloads visit Macintosh Tools

Quick Tips to Secure Your Mac

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

The Mac is a series of Personal Computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. One of the features of the Mac that gives it an edge over other computers is its safety and security, which far outstrips any of its competitors. Here are a few easy tips for the security of your Mac.

Update the OS with Security Patches

The simplest way to ensure the safety of your Mac is to update the Operating System with the latest Security Patches on the net by going to the Apple option on the menu bar and then selecting the Software Update option. The Mac can also be set to check for Software Updates automatically and it will check for these updates daily, weekly or monthly, as per the user’s preference. The URI Antivirus website gives free McAfee VirusScan downloads which can be updated regularly and automatically.

Password-protect your Mac

Password-protecting is another way of securing your Mac. Under the Apple option on the menu bar, in System Preferences there is an Account Preferences pane. Here the password can be changed and you can also generate one, if you can’t think of a strong one yourself, by clicking on the icon key. It is essential to have a strong password to prevent brute force attacks.

Customize the Physical security settings

In addition to all this, the user can further enhance the security of the Mac by availing of the physical security settings. Automatic login can be disabled and after sixty minutes of inactivity, the Mac can be set to log off automatically. Also, once the Mac is on sleep or screen saver mode, it can be set to ask for the password to log back in. All these features can be activated by going to the Apple option on the menu bar, and then selecting System Preferences and then clicking on the Security Preferences pane.

Activate your Firewall

Keeping the Mac’s Firewall turned on 24X7 also helps to keep it secure. This can be done by clicking on the System Preferences on the Apple option in the menu bar. In System Preferences, click on the Firewall tab and click Start to activate it.

Keep a backup of all data

Keeping a back up of all the data on the Mac is also advisable. This can be done in two ways. One is to copy all the files into a USB or a Firewire external storage device and the other way is to burn CD or DVD back ups of all the data on the Mac.

Turn off Bluetooth/Wireless Systems

Bluetooth and Wireless Systems are easy targets for local hackers. Hence, it is very important for the security of the Mac to turn off these features when they are not in use. This is a very simple procedure. By clicking in the Bluetooth or wireless logo on the top menu bar, the user can turn it on or off. So every time he/she wants to use the Bluetooth, it can be turned on and when he/she is finished with it, it can be turned off.

You can find many more security articles and resources at Macintosh Tools. We update daily and bring you everything related to Macs.

How To Recover From The Top 10 Crucial Mac Disasters

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

1. Mac Keyboard Gets Liquid Exposure

Immediately disconnect the power cord and remove the battery from your Mac. Turn your Mac upside down at an angle to allow the moisture to drain out. Do not lay the machine flat because we want to separate the machine from the moisture. Be sure to have a towel or cloth underneath the Mac to collect the dry liquid. Be sure to allow at least 3 days to pass before you reinstall the battery and power up the Mac. This will allow the moisture to dry completely.

DO NOT USE A HAIRDRYER! Hairdryers can burn the liquid onto important Mac components which can cause a application or software malfunction. If you are desperate and money isn’t a concern, you can contact a data recovery company such as Techserve or DriveSavers after you pull the plug from your Mac. Another option is to take your Mac in to an Apple Store but remember food and liquid damage is not covered by Apple Care.

If you computer starts up, and you are a self sufficient type of guy, you may be able to do the next step by yourself. You will have to disassemble your Mac and swab down the affected area with distilled water or denature alcohol which is available at hardware stores. If you aren’t confident in dissembling your Mac, take it to a local Apple Store for cleaning. Be sure to clean the affected area because if left, the liquid may corrode the Mac’s inwards overtime.

2. Mac Stuck in StartUp Mode

What do you do when your Mac stays stuck on the start up screen? First step is to reboot the Mac and hold down the Command and S key as the Mac is starting up. This will allow you to boot in single user mode and you will see white text appear on your screen. Once you see the # command prompt, type /sbin/fsck/-fy and hit return. The Mac will go into file system consistency check.

Be patient this process may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the problem that is plaguing the Mac. Don’t be alarmed when you see the message “File System was modified”. Repeat the command prompt step again and again until you see a message stating “no problems were found”. Once this message appears, type in reboot.

If this doesn’t work and your computer is still stuck in start up mode, insert your OS X install disc into the disc drive and reboot. As the Mac is starting up, hold down the C key. If you are running 10.4 or later go to ApplicationsUtilitiesDisk Utility, select your hard drive and click Repair Disk on the First Aid tab. If there aren’t any disk errors, click Repair Disk Permissions. When this process is complete, restart your Mac.

If you are running OS 10.2 you can do the same steps except you will go to the InstallerOpen Disk Utility. If all the above fails, you will probably need to take your Mac to the Apple Store for professional repairing.

3. Mac Will Not Power On

If you attempt to power up your Mac and there is no start up chime, sound from the hard drive or Mac’s fan, and the light on the power indicator isn’t on, unplug you power cord and remove your battery. Also remove any other peripherals that may be connected such as printers, displays, etc. Now after waiting about 2 minutes, reconnect the battery and power cord to check if your Mac will start up normally. If it does, you are safe and can plug back in all peripherals.

If this doesn’t work, unplug the power cord and disconnect the battery again. Now try to reset the System Management Controller. If the System Management Controller’s file has been corrupted the Mac may not recognize it’s power supply. If you have a Mac Book or Mac Book Pro, hold the power button down for 5 seconds, then reconnect the adapter and press power to hopefully start up the Mac.

If you have a Mac Book Air you will need to hold Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the keyboard and press power. If you use another model, check with Apple Support, or Google the model name of your Mac + SMC to learn how to reset the System Management Controller.

4. Mac is Running Slow

One reason your Mac may tend to run slow is because a lot of applications and toolbars we may not use may be utilizing a lot of the Mac processing memory. Its time to erase / consolidate some of those resources you do not need. Create a new folder and put all the icons and folders into the newly created folder.

We do this because desktop icons and folders also use processing memory. If you want to consolidate even more, turn off some of the features you don’t need like animations, effects, and scrolling bars. The simplest way to do this is to use TinkerTool a free app that lets you customize OS X.

5. Mac Application Crashes

One cause of application failures could be because of system updates, downloading or installing a new piece of software or editing or changing the preferences on your Mac. If you have did none of the above the problem may be the application’s preferences. Go to ACCOUNTS create a new account and log in as the new user. If the application works with the new user account, the problem may be with the application preferences.

If this is the case you could either reset application preferences by holding down command+option+shift keys when starting the application or you could go to Users/Library/Preferences folder and removing the crashed application’s preferences. If you still can’t figure out how to reset the application default preferences, you could go to the manufacturer’s website.

6. Mac Makes a Mysterious Buzz Noise

If you hear a high pitched noise or weird buzz coming from your Mac’s hard drive that may be a warning sign it may be time to replace it. Another sign may be frequent application freezes or start up freezes. Also if files are starting up slowly or closing slowly that is another sign it may be time to replace the hard drive. Your Mac’s monitoring system may say the hard drive is o.k. but don’t take any chances! Back up the drive asap!

7. Macbook Gets a Scratch

Some people have tried the DIY approach to repairing scratches. I have heard stories of people taking their MAC in to jewelers to have the scratches buffed out. Other people have used put Vaseline into the scratch to mask it. You can try Apple Care but usually they won’t cover this.

One solution is TechRestore. TechRestore can replace a MacBook display anywhere from $350 to $500 depending on the display size of your MacBook’s screen. If you are handy and want to do it yourself, PowerBookMedic is a good source to purchase a new display.

8. Your Mac’s Fonts Are Going Exorcist

Small font files and corrupt files can cause application crashes and display issues. If you are running OS X (Tiger or Leopard) you can avoid by going into applications and launching Font Book. Once Font Book is open command click a group of fonts to check if they are corrupt and then select validate fonts. Bad files and corrupt fonts can enter your system from being downloaded from bad websites.

If a particular file is corrupt, you will see a round icon with an X on it. Click the box next to the bad font and then select Remove Checked to remove the file from your system. If there is a yellow warning sign next to the font, remove the font file from the Font folder, restart the system and hopefully this will resolve your issue.

If you are running an older OS system on your Mac I would suggest a font manager like Extensis Suitcase Fusion. This app is highly recommended and offer many ways to organize and work with your fonts.

9. SAFARI IS RUNNING SLOW ON YOUR MAC

If Safari is having performance issues try Resetting Safari (go to Safari>Reset Safari). Doing this will give you the option to delete stored login information, cache, favicons, history, and cookies. Before you delete everything try only deleting cache, favicons, and history first.

10. REMOVING SCRATCHES FROM YOUR IPOD OR IPHONE

Many people use toothpaste! Yes toothpastes can be used to remove the blemishes and scratches on your screen but I wouldn’t recommend it because certain brands of toothpaste may be more abrasive and could possibly add more scratches.

One solution I would suggest is Applesauce polish. Applesauce is simple to use, just follow the self explanatory directions.

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11 Ways to Market Your iPhone and iPod Touch App

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

While there is no magic formula or single marketing action that may do the trick for you, these strategies can provide you with a framework to help you increase company exposure, sales and profit. Marketing your iPhone/Touch app is definitely a process that can take time.

I will let you know that we have not found price reductions to be the best strategy. We initially thought this might be very effective as the App store structure is set up to rank applications by the number of total downloads. Higher total sales and total downloads by price category are not currently recognized with Apple’s system.

Keep in mind for instance that if your app was $5 and you decided to lower it to $0.99, you’d have tell sell five times as many just to break even. Now you might temporarily increase exposure this way, but at the expense of maximizing your profit margins when you are most apt to do well at the beginning of your product life cycle. Customer support issues may increase by a factor of five as well.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with adjusting your app’s price in the beginning to find its best market price (which might change over time).

There are 24,455 apps and counting, so let’s jump in and get started!

1. The World (iTunes App Store) Is Flat

Consider your potential international market right from the moment of conceptualization. There are people all over the planet eager to use and benefit from quality applications. Initially we intended to include the metric system and local currency in our app, but decided to push it back until version 1.1. We were so eager to start the submission process with Apple and this ended up negatively affected our sales without question. I recommend taking that extra time to make your app useful to the international community, or even a few key markets (China, Russia, Central and South America, Japan, and Germany come to mind).

What does this mean? If currencies are used, auto-detect the user’s local currency under their device’s general settings; and if applicable handle currency conversions. Make your website, instructions, and sales pages easy to understand and use images to support your text. Consider that for many people, English may be their second or third language. Make your software more intuitive by choosing symbols over text wherever possible. Reach out to bloggers for your niche market in Europe and Asia. Include a complimentary promo code in your correspondence. It can’t hurt.

Consider this: we received nearly $1,000 in sales from Italy because of a single online post written in Italian! Now you could go further with this and have your sales page and help instructions translated into major languages like Spanish or Chinese. Prices for quality work vary and you’ll need to get someone fluent in the language to double check their work.

Remember there are 65 different versions of iTunes around the world and counting. Single apps can be developed for use on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. How big is the market for both? Apple does not breakdown sales of individual product lines. A conservative estimate with 4.4 million iPhone sales and 22.7 million iPod sales for last quarter would be about 7 million in three months. That’s an average of 78,000 new devices coming online daily. Incredible and almost scary. It can’t last forever, but wow!

2. Create a Lite or Demo Version

Apple lets developers offer both a free and paid version of the same app, and a free sample is probably the most successful marketing strategy ever. People want to try things. There are plenty of CrApps (crappy apps) out there, so why should people risk money on an app they know nothing about from a company they know even less about? If you can give people a taste that is just enough, they’ll buy the whole meal from you! This way you take away much of the risk.

There are numerous strategies for this, but make sure the lite version sales page is clear in its limitations vs. the paid or full version. If you truncate the app too much, people may think it’s a complete dud and see no value in paying you anything for the premium release. Give people a clear idea of what they’re getting into and this strategy could make you rich. Developer Ethan Nicholas offers motivation to go this route in a recent Wired piece:

When iShoot launched in October, business was slow for a while. And then Nicholas found some spare time to code a free version of the app – iShoot Lite, which he released January. Here’s how that helped: Inside iShoot Lite he advertised the $3, full version of iShoot. Users downloaded the free version 2.4 million times. And that led 320,000 satisfied iShoot Lite players to pay for iShoot.

3. Go Free

Now this is something that can be considered for different reasons. Right now “in app” advertising lacks sophistication. When I say that, I mean we don’t have Google AdSense yet. I’m sure it’s coming, but embedded advertising that does not relate to the content in any manner is really intrusive in my personal opinion. I still read about certain developers making tons of money with embedded app advertising, but it’s hard enough to get people to click on ads if they’re relevant. When they’re not, the click-through rate is pretty low. If your app is something that people use again and again, advertising can still work. We personally did not find it successful as it’s much easier to make about 70 cents off of a 99 cent app than to earn the same amount with ads. You could also add a PayPal donation button as AppCubby did, but this probably won’t work for you unless you have a large pre-existing customer or fan base.

You could also introduce your app for free. Get people using it, talking about it, and receive positive feedback. Then start charging people. Perfectly acceptable with Apple.

Looking at it from a long-term perspective, you might completely give away the first app to get people talking, create a base and build your brand. After all, nothing spreads like free (especially good free). You can use this to gather contact info and feedback from your initial users and turn them into customers for your next app or product. Be sure to include a “share” feature inside your free app (inside all of your apps!). Make sharing as easy as possible.

4. Send Out a Press Release

PRMac, a free (or almost free) press release distribution service, and the MacNN (Macintosh News Network) syndicate (free to submit) are definitely worth the price of submission. Competing services can charge over $600 for distribution within the United States alone, so these are valuable and less costly alternatives. They say the press release is dead, but these offerings directly targeted your potential customers. You never know who you might reach; and it’s vital to provide a press release when soliciting all forms of media.

5. Contact the Top 100 Blogs

Technorati can provide you with the current list. Use a conversational style, get right to the point and include a promo code. Figure out what could sell them on your company. If there’s an interesting angle or story around your app, this could increase your chances. Ask them if you could do a guest post. Who knows? When you have sites like Gizmodo that get 3 million page views per day, this can absolutely turbocharge sales!

6. Constantly Improve Your Sales Page

This one is pretty basic, but often overlooked. Look at the sales pages of other top apps. What are they doing? Emulate what works and keep researching to spark ideas. You can display up to five images as of this writing, so use them! Use the images that sell your product best. Ask other people what grabs their attention. Use quotes from reviewers; share benefits first and foremost. Customers are not always logical, so don’t bore them with statistics. How will your application make their lives better?

7. Use Customer Feedback to Build a Better Product

This is two parts. First, timely respond to customer emails and realize that every interaction with customers, whether good or bad, is a marketing opportunity. When you get feedback via email or through your customer reviews, consider and incorporate these improvements. You can’t please everyone all of the time, and you may have limited resources, so you won’t be able to add everything. Some great ideas are bound to come your way. First-time users can also let you see how your software is being used from a beginner’s perspective.

The second way to receive customer feedback is to embed analytics code in your application. Flurry Analytics and Pinch Media both offer tracking software that will provide insight into how customers are interacting with your application, including real-time download information, all for free. This can be especially useful if 90% of your customers are not using a particular feature. Maybe they don’t know it’s even there!

8. Continually Update Your Application

Here’s a great feature of the App Store. New versions move back to the top of what’s new in your category. Incorporating features your customers want, thereby making your product better, coupled with maintaining visibility, can help increase or at least maintain steady sales. Don’t abuse this by changing a few words in your help section and then resubmitting or you could ruin this for everybody. If you are working hard to make your product better, the distribution channel can reward you with increased exposure, because you are renewing.

9. Advertise

Google AdWords and AdMob are possible options. I believe we’re not there yet, but we’re pretty close. AdWords does offer the ability to advertise on mobile devices with a full internet browser, but that doesn’t just include the iPhone and Touch. You’ll get Androids and more depending on which territory you advertise. Right now they haven’t developed conversion tracking for apps either, and without this you can just burn through cash with little results to show for your efforts. You won’t know which keywords are working or aren’t working. There is one way to track sales using this method: become an iTunes affiliate by joining LinkShare. You can create a link to your sales page in the App store and receive a 5% commission on qualifying purchases.

AdMob has app advertising down better than Google so far. You are able to track your conversions and target relevant Apple devices. You can even target those that are either on or off the WiFi network, which is pretty cool. The downside to this is that you are paying at least 10 cents a click to send someone to your App store sales page. No guarantee of sales here and depending on the price of your application, this leaves very little margin to spend on advertising. It can take a hundred clicks just to get an actual sale, so keep that in mind. Also, since AdMob doesn’t target your ads very well, the people clicking are not actually seeking what you’re offering as they would on a Google search.

Here are a few examples of Google AdWords ads below from companies with money to burn; this luxury is not something everyone can afford and it may not be worthwhile anyway.

GOOGLE ADWORDS ADS:

EXAMPLE #1

Kraft iPhone Application

No-Hassle Cooking w/Recipes And

Shopping Lists At Your Fingertips.

www.Apple.com/Kraft

EXAMPLE #2

Free iPhone Download

Get Local Search Power On Your

iPhone Today! Find. Map. Save. Go.

YellowPages.com/iPhone

One last consideration: even if you break even from your advertising, you could increase your ranking in the store, and thereby receive more sales from the increased exposure. If you are popular, sales can feed off themselves. iTunes is a distribution channel, but so is Walmart. If you are featured next to the register, you’re gonna get more sales. If you’re at the bottom of the shelf on aisle 34, good luck!

10. Use Social Networks

Facebook Fan pages, online forums, and quality comments on top blogs and news sites can help you get conversations started about your company. Comments are even crawled and tracked by the major search engines. Be part of the discussion and actually share something relevant or this could work against you. You could quickly end up being considered spam (and despised or banished by your fellow netizens). Subtlety here will carry you far. Also create profiles to further your cause.

11. Get Featured in the App Store

This one is tricky obviously because how do you make it a part of your marketing plan? You do not choose, but are chosen. I will say this for what it’s worth. I contacted iTunes about a month ago and asked to be featured Today we are. It never hurts to ask and it can be worth quite a bundle! You never know who you’re going to reach. Someone may say something to someone else. That’s how it happens.

Thus far, we’ve increased our average daily sales almost tenfold. We are currently (2/23/09-3/9/09) featured on the front page of the App Store in iTunes under “New And Noteworthy” and #7 in “What’s New” on the iPhone/Touch.

Every time I contact media, even if nothing comes of it, I’m sharing my company and my product with powerful people (or people in contact with powerful people) and I never know directly or indirectly where this can lead.

Keep plugging away and please share your ideas and experiences with me. I’d love to hear about them. I wish you the greatest success!

John R. Haigh recently collaborated on the interior design book, “What Would You Do With This Room? My 10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design” by Mark Lewison and written by Sherri Houtz. He also co-developed the iPhone and iPod Touch virtual interior designer app, “Mark On Call”. He shares the latest beneficial and intriguing information from a variety of sectors (i.e. arts & entertainment, business, science and technology to name a few) on his personal “Friends With Strangers” blog.

PC Or Mac – Take the Plunge!

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I am sure we have all been overwhelmed with the PC-Mac wars, but what is all the fuss about? Let me tell you, I have been an avid PC user for the past 10 years or so, and have even started to make a little money on the side using all the knowledge I have retained from all those Microsoft classes. Computer repair is something that I enjoy, and something that I will continue to enjoy, but the thought of me giving the Mac a whirl never dawned on me.

I found myself in a local AAFES (yes I am in the military) looking at their various laptops. I skipped the Mac’s like always and began to look at the Vista based PC’s. I am not sure what I was thinking, but I decided to see what the Mac had to offer (I quickly skipped the PC’s – unusual for me). Mac’s can be a little pricey, but I was ready to give them a shot. The lowest priced Mac book (that is a Mac laptop of course) came in at a whopping $999. This is fairly expensive compared to the lower end Laptops that HP and Acer manufacture. In the end I found myself sitting in my room with a Mac book that I have never used before or knew very little about. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Up until this point, I have always been pro Microsoft. To this day I don’t find anything wrong with Microsoft, it’s just that I am wondering why I waited so long to experience something new. I think this is society’s problem. We are all too worried about change. If you know something, why learn something else? That is the methodology that many American’s live by, but every American should know that the incentives could potentially outweigh living as a person refusing change. The truth of the matter is that a Macintosh is very simple to use (very user friendly), easy to learn, and in my opinion runs much smoother than previous Microsoft platforms. The Mac runs on the Leopard Operating System, and does not demand the resources that Microsoft’s Vista requires (if you own a Mac you probably have no more than 2 GB’s of RAM and are happy with it). I remember asking the clerk why the Mac book only came with 2 GB of RAM. Now I know why. This type of computer does not run inane services in the background thus giving the user a clean and smooth experience. The applications are a whole other story that I will save for another time. To be short, applications will give you the ability to turn your Mac into a personal assistant. There are thousands of applications that are available, and to me these help simplify life.

The overall feel of a Mac is something that I would have never imagined. I took pride in being pro Microsoft/anti Apple in the past, but now I feel as though I am one in a thousand that will actually take the plunge. Do yourself a favor and experience something new. I am not endorsing Apple in any way shape or form; I am simply stating my opinion. I look forward to exploring deeper into the Mac realm, so that I will someday be able to understand the operating system the way I understand Microsoft’s. So far so good for Mac; two thumbs up!

shawn.kowalczyk@yahoo.com

Transferring Music From IPod to PC

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Did your computer crash and all your music is only on your iPod? Do you want to transfer all of your MP3’s from your iPod to a new PC, or use your iPod to transfer some songs to your work computer? You don’t need to purchase special software as some people will lead you to believe. If you have Microsoft Windows, iTunes, and an iPod (set to show up as a removable drive); That’s all you need! I’m going to walk you through the steps needed to do this.

Set Windows to show hidden files

Right click on your [START] button and select “explore”. Click on [Tools] at the top, then “Folder Options…”. This will bring you to a windows with customizable folder options. At the top, click the “View” Tab then scroll down halfway. Click on “Show hidden files and folders” and uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types”.

Find songs hidden on your iPod

Plug your iPod into your PC via the USB cable. The iPod should show up as a removable drive (for example purposes, we’ll call it the E: drive). Go to “My Computer” and then press your F3 key to pull up a search sub-window. Choose “All files and folders” if a little dog asks you any questions. Then, fill out the form as shown in Figure3 and click “Search”… This will show you all the MP3’s that are on your iPod. Yes, they have weird names, but the song tags (Title, Artist, Genre, etc) are all still there. iTunes will rename them with their tag information when you import them.

When it is done searching, select them all by pressing “CTRL %2B A” and copy them (right click -> copy) all into a new folder on your desktop (right click on your desktop and select New -> Folder). Copying may take a while depending on how many songs you are moving around. Once they are done copying, go to the next step.

Import the songs using iTunes

Install the latest iTunes if you don’t already have it (refer to the apple documentation), then open iTunes. Immediately, click on [Edit] at the top, then click on Preferences. Once the window pops up, click on the Advanced tab and make sure “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” are selected (VERY IMPORTANT). Then click Ok.

Now you will import all the music you copied. Click on [File] at the top and select “Add Folder to Library”. It will ask you which folder to add. Navigate to your desktop and select the New Folder you created that contains all your music, then click OK.

Relax and let iTunes work

Thats it! As it imports, iTunes will use the tags to rename the songs to the correct information. Don’t forget to delete the New Folder on your desktop when you are done. You no longer need these because iTunes copied them all to its own internal folder in your My Documents -> My Music folder.

Sincerely,
Chris Tolson
CTOLSON1978@tGMAIL.COM


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