Tag Archives: CapMac

Product Review of the “ParcSlope”


Product Reviews – I had been thinking about getting some kind of a stand for my MacBook for a few months. I mostly wanted to provide a cooler operating environment. Luckily, I won a ParcSlope from Twelve South as a door prize at the July CapMac meeting.


The ParcSlope is a heavy duty aluminum stand that will work with just about any tablet or laptop. I am using it with my 2010 MacBook Pro and it works perfectly. It isn’t something I would carry around with me to a coffee shop as it weighs 2 lbs. and measures 2.8″ x 8.3″ x 9.6″. It is great though setting on the table in my apartment while I create my Blog posts.

I have been using it for a few weeks and I not only like the fact that it keeps my Mac running cooler, but I also find that the sloped (18 degrees) keyboard is more comfortable and easier to use.  The elevated screen is also more comfortable to view. It is advertised on the Twelve South website for $49.99 and can be found on Amazon currently for the same price.

While a little pricey, I think this is a great accessory for your MacBook or iPad.



  • Solidly made
  • Works with almost any tablet or laptop
  • Cooler laptop operation
  • More comfortable keyboard access
  • Higher screen for easier viewing



  • Heavy and cumbersome, not something to carry in your computer bag
  • Price


See my other Mac and macOS articles


Product Review – Pluto TV

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 5.13.52 PM

Product ReviewWeb Tools – I categorized this as a ‘web tool’ as it has a web component, but it is really more than simply that. I have known about Pluto TV for a while, but I was reminded of it at the July CapMac meeting where it was mentioned in the presentation on “Streaming TV” services. Many people are ‘cutting the cord’ and doing away with cable services and choosing a streaming option. Pluto TV is one of those options.

Pluto is a free streaming service that has been around since 2013. At the time of this article, it has more than 75 content partners, with over 100 free channels to choose from. Estimates are that more than 6 million use it every month. Pluto TV generates revenue through advertisements displayed to viewers.

A few of the current channels are shown in the image above. Channels are grouped into categories such as News, Sports, Movies, Entertainment, Comedy, Chill Out, Life + Style, and Geek + Gaming. There are also several internet radio stations offered. Some, mostly movie, on-demand content is available in addition to the scheduled programs. You can check out what is currently playing here.  The programming available through Pluto TV is included in the listings within the Apple TV App in the US.

You can view programs from Pluto TV through your web browser, or by downloading the Pluto TV App to your Apple TV or iOS device. Pluto TV can also be viewed via several other devices: Roku, Visio, Samsung, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Playstation, and Chromecast.

I do recommend this service/App – I have the App installed on my iPad and Apple TV. Since it is free, I think it is a good option to add.


  1. Free
  2. 100+ channels
  3. Available on many different platforms
  4. Has on-demand content


  1. Limited current content
  2. Content partners are, for the most part, not mainstream

Review of “Working Smarter for Mac Users”


Book Reviews – “Working Smarter for Mac Users” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Bob Levitus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_LeVitus). Mr. Levitus has published more than 75 non-fiction books.

I purchased this book from Bob when he spoke to the Capital Macintosh Users Group (https://www.capmac.org) last spring. He gave a short overview of his book that night and it intrigued me.

As the name of this book implies, it focuses on techniques and software to enable Mac Users to work more effectively. Some of the tips are very Mac-specific, but there are other tips that anyone can use.

I have been a Mac user since shortly after it was introduced. I have also read and posted about Mac software for several years. That said, I learned a lot from Bob’s book. It is not something I will read once and set on the shelf. I know I will be looking back through it for his recommendations as an on-going reference.

Bob has set up a website (https://www.workingsmarterformacusers.com) and offers a newsletter as well as a full course on how to “work smarter”. If you use a Mac or procrastinate, you might want to take a look at this book. I thought it was well worth the $25 price. The book is available in both print and eBook format from Amazon. I personally chose the eBook version. With this version, all of the photos in the book can be blown up to study in detail. The eBook also contains videos that cannot be included in the print version. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Happy “Ada Lovelace Day”


It is the second Tuesday of October and that means that it is again Ada Lovelace Day. The day has been identified (per The Guardian) to:

. . . celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations.

Ada Lovelace Day was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, and part of her reason for doing this was a worry that women in tech were invisible. The idea was a positive one – rather than highlighting the problem, highlight the unseen women and shout from the rooftops about all the amazing things they’ve achieved. Ada Lovelace was an obvious choice of mascot for such an endeavour.

Take this opportunity and join in some activity to recognize the contributions of women in technology. This would also be a good time to introduce or encourage a girl you know in STEM careers.

CapMac – In Austin, our local Capital Macintosh User Group is having a special program this evening. The featured speaker will be Rhonda Childress, the only Female IBM Fellow in Austin, the CTO of Security Services, a Sr. Certified I/T Architect, and an IBM Master Inventor.

Documentary – While not available today, there will soon be a documentary series, the Chasing Grace Project, about women in Tech.

The Chasing Grace Project is a documentary series about women in tech. It includes six episodes, each focused on a different topic within the women in tech narrative. From the pay gap, online harassment and female entrepreneurship to access to the best jobs, the decision to leave or stay in tech and the role of male allies, the series illustrate how we pave the way forward. Through story we can call out the adversities women face and illustrate how they’re navigating their own paths. The result? A series of blueprints for other women to find their paths, their way.

This may be something you will want to stay aware of

FOSS Software for macOS


I came across this and had to share it with my fellow macOS users. AppleUsers.org, is a volunteer organization  in Australia that “acts as a central location for the Committees, Editors, Web Masters and other Leaders of Australian Apple User Groups to find useful resources.

Rather than try to put it in my own words, let me quote their press release:

As part of the celebrations of Software Freedom Day 2016, AppleUsers.org has compiled a selection of some of the best, yet totally free, software that’s available for the Mac, collected together on a single DVD, called “Spotlight on FOSS 2016” plus a bonus video and a copy of The AppleUsers Spotlight “Software Freedom Day 2016” Special Edition are included.

Apple User Group Leaders and Organizers of Software Freedom Day events can download the Golden Master (and support files including a DVD Label and Promo Flyer) free of charge from AppleUsers.org. Copies of the DVD can then be burnt and distributed to Apple User Group members and to attendees of Software Freedom Day 2016 events – again free of charge.

A five page flyer, supplied as a PDF, which details the DVDs content is also available for printing out and displaying at Apple User Group Meetings and SFD Events. Feel free to expand it to A3 and use it as posters to promote the DVD contents.

The “Spotlight on FOSS 2016” DVD contains:

Audio: Audacity

eBooks: Calibre, Jomic

Education: Celestia, Moodle, Stellarium

Games: Aleph One – Marathon, Armagetron Advanced, BZFlag, Cube 2: Sauerbraten, PrBoom, PySol Fan Club Edition, Scorched 3D, Wesnoth

Graphics: Blender, GIMP, Seashore

Internet: Adium, Cyberduck, Firefox, Kompozer, RSS Owl, SeaMonkey, Thunderbird, Transmission, Vienna

Office Productivity: Apache OpenOffice, FormulatePro, FreeMind, LibreOffice, Skim

Utilities: Burn, ClamXav, MAMP (Macintosh, Apache, Mysql and PHP), Quicksilver,, SheepShaver, The Unarchiver, VirtualBox

Video: HandBrake, Miro Video Converter, Miro, Plex, Video Lan Client (VLC)

Bonus Video: Happy Birthday to GNU, by Stephen Fry

I am a big advocate of using FOSS on the Mac. Check the list here to find the Mac User group near you that is distributing the DVD. Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac – http://capmac.org) in Austin, TX will be among the distributors.

National Volunteers Week

I just saw that this is National Volunteers Week. I work with many volunteers and have tried to send them some thanks for  efforts. All of the volunteers in leadership positions within the IEEE (particularly in the Central Texas Section (http://sites.ieee.org/CTX); volunteers with Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac – http://capmac.org); volunteers with Discover Engineering (http://engineerintheclass.org); and Neighborhood Sports (http://www.neighborhoodsports.us/).

Take a few minutes this week and recognize the volunteers in your life. 

Mac Geek Gab, a Tech Podcast for the Mac User


Back in August of 2015 the Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) had Bryan Chaffin from the Mac Observer as the guest speaker. During his presentation he mentioned a couple of podcasts that the Mac Observer produces. His presentation was interesting and I have long listened to tech podcasts so I subscribed to their “Apple Context Machine Podcast” and “Mac Geek Gab Podcast.” I have since enjoyed listening to these two weekly

As the Mac Observer promotion explains:

  • The Apple Context Machine is Mac, iPhone, and iPod news and
    analysis that puts the facts in perspective, brought to you
    with a sense of humor. Hosts Jeff Gamet and Bryan Chaffin put
    the Apple world into context.
    to the RSS Feed
  • Mac Geek Gab – Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun come
    together weekly to discuss things of interest to Mac geeks,
    yet present them in a way that’s both entertaining and
    informative for the average listener.
    Subscribe to
    the RSS Feed

As I mentioned, I have found both of these podcasts interesting, but Mac Geek Gab I like in particular because it covers more technical issues with the Mac, OS X, and iOS. One of the slogans they are always using is ‘learn three new things from each podcast.” I have to say that I find myself learning at least that many new things. It is one of those podcasts that I can’t just have playing while I am doing other things. I find that I have to often stop the podcast to make notes for future reference.

If you like podcasts and are into the technical side of things OS X and iOS, you will find the Mac Geek Gab podcast very informative.

See my other OS X and iOS articles

CapMac Hosts PayFinders Developer


This month the Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) will host Brian Roemmele at their monthly meeting. Brian is the developer of the PayFinders iPhone App which allows users to find nearby merchants that accept Apple Pay. Even better, this App allows you to recommend new locations that accept Apple Pay as you discover them. I used the App this morning when I visited a local coffee house, Lamppost Coffee, and submitted the information for it to be added.

Join CapMac on Tuesday March 8 for the meeting. CapMac meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill located near the intersection of Highway 183 and Burnett Rd.

If you make the meeting please stop by and say hello.

Review of Slack

Updated 3/11/16


What is Slack? Slack is a collaboration tool for groups that was developed under the leadership of Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield. It allows for synchronous communications from a variety of devices. Messages can be sent to groups or individuals
on a Slack Team. The groups are collected in ‘Channels’ and any message posted to the Channel is readable by any member of the Channel. The Channel members can also scroll back to see what messages have been exchanged in the past.

Channels are organized into both public and private categories, with the private Channels restricting members to be added by invitation only. One-on-one communications between individual Slack Team members are private. The tool allows messages, files,
images, links . . . a variety of information to be shared. Messages are searchable so past posts can easily be found.

Every Slack Team has a ‘general’ channel which all Team members are automatically a member of. Additional channels can be created as needed by the Team. The @ character can be used when writing a message to alert an individual, or all of the members of a given channel of the new message.

Multi Device Group

Slack is a cross platform solution:

  • Web interface from any browser
  • Apps for mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Apps for OS X (10.9+), Windows (7+) and Linux

Pricing of the service is available at three levels:

  • Free
  • Standard $8/mo. – unlimited integrations, unlimited searches
  • Plus $12/mo.  – more features above Standard

I have been using the Free account for a few months now and find it to be extremely useful. The Free account is limited to browsing and searching only the last 10,000 most recent messages, but that is more than enough for my use cases. I particularly like that I receive notifications on my Apple Watch when a new post has been made. It is much quicker and easier to glance at my watch instead of getting my iPhone out.

Several of us within the IEEE Central Texas Section have been using the tool and it has been very helpful in planning events. The Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) has recently begun using it as well. Even though I was out of town last weekend, Slack let me interact with other on the CapMac board to plan our last meeting. Once you begin to use Slack you may want to reach out to other established, public Teams. You can visit Slofile and there search their database of public Slack communities.

Slack has good information for new users on how they can get started including a brief video tour. Slack can be set up to allow any to join, allow any from a give set of email URLs to join, or join by invitation only.


  • Has a Free level of service
  • Supports multiple Slack Teams
  • Cross platform
  • Use of ‘channels’ to voluntarily collect similar posts
  • Good ‘Getting Started’ resources
  • Flexibility in controlling participation
  • Large and growing list of public Slack Teams
  • Works with Apple Watch


  • Wish more integrations were available for the Free level
  • no conversation ‘threads’

I highly recommend this App and service. Whether you choose to use it for your business, club or just your extended family, it is a great and easy way to communicate.


  1. What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds – added 3/11/16

See my other iOS, OS X and Web Tools articles