Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Let Others See the Colors You Imagine

The feature wall draws the eye into the room
and creates an inspiration for fabric choices.
As an Interior Designer, part of my job is to offer my recommendation about what colors to choose for paint (both interior and exterior), as well as furniture and window treatment fabrics, tile, and carpeting. Being able to do this well and with confidence is a skill that’s been honed and refined over the years with lots of experience to support my choices.

Over the same years, technology that once existed only for design professional has evolved and now is available to anyone capable of using a computer, smartphone, or tablet device.

Included in this category is colorizing software that lets you use a picture of any room and change the colors so you can see on a screen what you visualized in your imagination. This lets you contemplate your choice, lets anyone see it, and helps avoid potentially costly mistakes.

Benjamin Moore, a paint industry leader, has developed a downloadable desktop application that lets you import a photograph and “paint” the space with their colors. Once you’ve made your decision, it gives you the information about the color(s) you’ve selected so you can either give the specs to your painting contractor or go to the paint store yourself with your shopping list.  It’s called “Personal Color Viewer ®.” 

Benjamin Moore's Personal Color View screen contains helpful pop-up guides and libraries of images to inspire.

Their website has a useful video demonstration that shows you how to use color swatches. You can save both work-in-progress and completed images to project notebooks, share them via email, and export them to your desktop. It’s available for both PC and Mac users, and best of all, it’s free! You just need to register and follow their instructions to download the software. For a link to their site, click HERE.

My Perfect Color (an app shown below) also has an excellent web site that helps you find a color by name, brand, and more. Their color tool is a great way to do a reverse search for a color you know the name of but can't remember the brand. For a link to their site, click HERE.


BENJAMIN MOORE also has an app that lets you choose a color from a photograph and find the corresponding color in their paints. This is an excellent way to translate your favorite flower, for example, into a wall paint color.

BENJAMIN MOORE’s PRO CONNECT is another app from this company but it’s designed specifically for the painting contractor. It’s organized differently than the above app in that it lists the different products offered so you’re sure to use the right paint for the job, has complete color decks organized by the different product lines offered by the company, and a support link that lets you email questions to the company, Tweet to the company, and find retail locations. As a designer, I find it useful to make sure I’m specifying the right paint type for the contractor to procure.

All these apps are also available Android and Blackberry, so go to the app store that’s right for your device for more information.

My wish would be for the Benjamin Moore’s iPad app to do many of the same functions that are available in the desktop version. Perhaps it’s in the works.

COLOR CHANGE is an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch app that lets you import a photograph from your library or camera roll or take a picture and then change the color from what’s in the image to whatever you want from the color chooser and saturation/brightness function in the app. You can save the image and email it. In my opinion, I found the app to be easy to use, but wasn’t able to keep the colors “inside the lines,” much like when I was using coloring books as a kid, but nonetheless, you’ll get the general idea about whether a color works for you or not.

ANY PAINT COLOR is an app that’s collected over 130,00 paint colors from over 100 paint brands. It lets you capture or choose an image and then lets you point to sections of the image to tell you what the colors would translate to in different paint brands. This is a good idea if you’re in a room and love the colors but can’t ask what the colors are or would like the throw pillow’s color on a wall; simply take a picture and this app will tell you how to replicate that color in different paint brands. It costs $2.99, and is available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

An article I wrote a few weeks ago, "There's an App For That - Featuring Color in Black and White Images," also includes useful apps for the designer to change the color in images, so check it out.

Now that you're inspired, go forth and cover the world in wonderful colors; you're limited only by your imagination!

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of iTunes, Beryn Hammil Designs, Benjamin Moore, Inc.

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Disaster Proof Your Data By Storing it Off Site

Off site data storage
can save your files.
So much has been in the news lately about earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and fires in which people have lost everything they own that your heart breaks for those who’ve suffered these loses.

With more and more people having their businesses in their homes, in addition to losing all their personal possessions, they’ve also lost all their business files and documents.

If a thief gets your computer are
you sufficiently backed up?
Natural disasters aren’t the only way computer files can be lost: if a theft in your home or business steals your computer(s), it's another way you can lose all your data, photographs, family videos, and music library. That is, unless this valuable information is backed up and stored off site.

While “cloud computing” is all the buzz, data storage isn’t necessarily about cloud computing, but more about plain old, vanilla storage, just like those boxes of papers that are kept in a warehouse for a potential tax audit is about storage.

Like storing boxes of paper, on-line backup companies can store your data.
On-line storage companies provide safe data storage for your business documents, personal data files, photographs, videos of the kids as babies, even your music files. Like physical warehouses, you can have as much storage space as you want; it’s just a matter of how much you want to pay for it.

Thanks to PC World (March 17, 2011), here’s a list they compiled of the top data storage services along with their reviews:


 Carbonite is a mature online backup service, but it lacks many desirable features you'll find in the competition.

CrashPlan 3.0

 CrashPlan offers unique capabilities, like multiple backup sets and backing up to friends' computers. We like its unlimited storage in the $50-a-year plan, the ability to back up attached devices, and multiplatform compatibility. Multiple computer accounts are expensive, however, and you don't get file sharing or mobile clients.

IDrive (2011)

 $4.95/month per PC with 150GB
IDrive offers generous storage plans and a powerful Web interface, but it still doesn't let you mix Macs and PCs in one account, the mobile app doesn't give access to your backed up files, and there's no sharing via secure download links.

Jungle Disk 3.1

 $3/month plus storage fee
 Jungle Disk offers a lot, with scheduled online backups, folder syncing, and a shared drive, but it's a bit more confusing and complicated than it needs to be.


KineticD offers most of what to look for in an online backup product, including constant monitoring for changed or added files, version saving, open-file backup, and multiple PC support. For its relatively high price, however, one should expect a slicker, more capable interface.


 $10/month for 50GB on unlimited PCs 
Already-impressive beta service MiMedia offers hands-off, automated backup, the ability to play media files online, and a cloud-based disk drive. For more control over the upload process and backup set, SOS has it beat, and for simple syncing, DropBox is a better bet. But if you want anywhere access to your digital media, you could do a lot worse than the reasonably priced and well-designed MiMedia.

MozyHome 2.0

 Mozy improves ease of use and setup, but still supports just one computer per account and doesn't let you back up network or removable drives. That keeps it a step behind the competition.

Nomadesk 4.0

Nomadesk goes beyond other syncing and file-sharing services, creating a complete virtual disk. But it doesn't automate the process or automatically save versions the way "traditional" online backup services do. If you just want a virtual drive synced to your PCs and the cloud, Nomadesk is worth a look.

Norton Online Backup 2.0

 $50 for 25GB on up to 5 PCs 
With this release, Norton has brought its online backup service's features into the mainstream. Support for multiple PCs, including Macs, in one account and a slick Web-based user interface make this a Norton Online Backup 2.0 a real contender.

SOS Online Backup Home Edition 4.7.4
$9.95 a month for five PCs and up to 50GB 
SOS still offers more than other online backup providers: multiple PC coverage, external and network drive backup, a local backup app, and an excellent iPhone app. Its Live Protect that watches folders for file changes and backs up immediately. In sum, SOS delivers more than any other online backup service.

Here’s a handy chart, also from PC World, that compares the pricing of these services. Pricing can change, so check with the company for the latest information. The criteria for comparison purposes is how much it would cost to back up 50GB of data on three machines for a year.

Online Backup Service
Stated Price
Price for 3 PCs and 50GB Data for 1 Year
Free Plan
$54.95/year/1 PC
15-day trial
$49.99/yr/1 PC unlimited
30 day, and free local, friend
$99.50/year/50GB/5 PCs
5GB free account
Jungle Disk
$3/month plus storage fees
$2/GB/unlimited PCs
14-day trial
$99/year/100GB/Unlimited PCs
30-day trial
$4.95/mo/1 PC
2GB free account
$50 (subject to fair use policy)
30-day free trial
Norton Online Backup
$49.99/25GB/5 PCs
30-day 5GB trial
SOS Online Backup
$79.95/year/5 PCs
14-day trial

Having said all of the above, of course, there's also Apple's iCloud service that provides some content and complete media storage. It replaces MobileMe which replaced iDisk, both gone effective June 30th, 2012. iCloud's a good solution for your media storage as well as syncing calendars, address books, emails, and notes, but it's not a solution for complete computer backup.

As with anything else, do your homework and comparison shop before you commit.

UPDATE:  June 30, 2011
If you're wondering which service I'm using for my computers' backup service, I just started with BackBlaze (shown in the chart that's linked below). I tested a few and for the price this is the service that suits my needs best. 

One thing to know in advance, the more data you have to back up, the longer it takes, meaning that it could take several days for it all to transfer. But it happens in the background so you can go about your business without worrying.

UPDATE: June 27, 2011
For another, longer list of offsite backup services, including a comparison chart with reviews, please click here.

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of, cisco-eagle

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

iWeb and MobileMe's Going Away: What This Means to Your Website.

MobileMe's going away!

As sure as Christmas comes once a year, and on the same date every year, you can be sure that because Apple’s MobileMe is changing to iCloud, iWeb will also change, if not go away entirely. They’ve done it before; they’re likely to do it again. And just like Christmas, since you know it’s coming, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. For those who procrastinate about their holiday shopping, you can’t say that you weren’t warned about iWeb and MobileMe ahead of time. You were, you are. Right here.

MobileMe's home screen will disappear next year.
What’s iWeb and MobileMe?
iWeb is Apple software that’s used to create web pages and is part of the former iLife software package. MobileMe is where Apple hosts these pages in cyberspace. If you didn’t use iWeb to create your web pages or don’t use MobileMe to host any of them, then you can stop reading now. This doesn’t pertain to you. Of course, don’t start using them now because then this would be important information for you to know.

But for those who do use iWeb and MobileMe to host your pages, the following information could be really important to you, so keep reading, and perhaps even bookmark this page so you can easily refer back to it later.

iCloud's coming!
The impact of iCloud on MobileMe website hosting        
When Apple’s new service, iCloud was announced in early June, there was no information released about how websites hosted on MobileMe would be able to migrate to the new cloud computing environment. This had one user so concerned that he wrote to Steve Jobs (iconic Apple CEO) with his question, "Will I need to find an alternative website builder and someone to host my sites?" Mr. Job’s one word answer was “Yep,” and as a result, the whole Apple blog universe went on alert. Even this article is the result of that one word response.

OMG! What should I do?
Since this won’t happen until June, 2012, you have a whole year to prepare. (You also had a whole year to prepare for Christmas, but did you?) If your site comes down when MobileMe goes dark, it will have a much greater impact on you than not bringing Uncle Harry a gift last year. Ergo, start preparing now.

iWeb software is a “WYSIWYG” type of app. This translates to “What You See Is What You Get,” and what this means is that you can easily design and format your web pages without needing to know complicated software code to create it. Nifty! And just as nifty is that you could seamlessly launch it on MobileMe and have a functioning website in no time at all.

Losing iWeb means that first you’ll need to find new WYSIWYG software with which to recreate your web pages. Rapidweaver and Sandvox are two that deliver many of the same functions that you already know how to use from iWeb, and they’ll launch on non-MobileMe sites. If you’ve been using iWeb 3, below is information about transporting your pages intact to another website host. 

(UPDATE: Here's a link to a chart that compares the top 5 (ignore iWeb since we know it's going away) Mac web software building programs. To see it, click here.)

The new software might even provide you with a good opportunity to redesign your site to make it more effective, attractive, and interesting.

If your pages were designed using iWeb 3, you’ll be able to use iWeb software to move them in their present format via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to another traditional host. Most of them accept FTP, but you should know that some of the standard iWeb features including password protection, blog and photo comments, blog search, and the hit counter won’t work when you use FTP for publishing. Also, this should be considered only a “temporary” long-term solution since it’s inevitable that iWeb won’t be supported in future releases of OS X.

If you don’t want to pay for a web hosting service, and your site isn’t that large or frequently visited, consider using Dropbox to host the pages. You’ll need to download their software and set up an account. Detailed instructions and a helpful video can be found on their web site. In lieu of that, here’s a helpful blog that will walk you through the steps:Here’s How to Use Dropbox as Your Host.”

Another free site is Posterous. You’ll need an email account with them because you’ll be able do a lot of your posting just by sending emails to a special Posterous address. They have many cool features, including iPhone and iPad apps so you can post to your site while on the go including uploading your photos and even videos into the post. This is an especially good service to use if your website is more personal than professional.

Needless to say, there are many other ways to put your web pages and blogs on the Internet for free. WordPress (which has two very different versions, so caveat emptor), Blogger, and Tumblr, are just a few of the most popular.

If your site is large with frequent visitors you’ll need a different kind of host as a replacement for MobileMe. Like Christmas shopping, this can be challenging or easy, it just depends on how you approach it.

There are hundreds of website hosts, and may even come bundled as part of your TV cable / internet / phone service, like Comcast (aka Xfinity). Check with your local cable provider to see what they offer. Top 10 Website Host is a website that gives you an excellent comparison chart of the top 10 website hosts (duh) with links to each of the sites as well as descriptions and reviews. The prices vary considerably, as does how easy they are to use, so browse around, and do your homework.

While time is still on your side, doing this is a task like all others, so it makes sense to assess your needs, do your homework, and then take action. Don’t wait! Christmas will be here before you know it, and just a few short months later MobileMe will pull the plug on web hosting, and your website with it if you don’t migrate it to another website host.

Having said all of the above, here's a link to my next article that has to do with data storage which is different than website hosting. This is useful information if you're using iDisk as your data backup location because this service is going away too.  This article includes descriptions, reviews, and a comparison chart: "Disaster Proof Your Data by Storing it Off Site." 

UPDATE: June 24, 2011
Apple's definitive answer about what will and will not be available on iCloud (formerly MobileMe) after June, 2012. Read and prepare yourself. Read it here.

And here's another link to Apple that teaches you how to migrate your MobileMe pages to another host. Read it here.

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Apple,, buildingwebsites,
Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

OMG! You’ve Lost Your Smartphone or Tablet! Now What?

Is your iPhone MIA?
I hope you never have that heart stopping feeling that you’ve lost your smartphone or tablet device. First there’s that frantic rummaging around in the bottomless pit of your handbag, tote bag, or briefcase, or tapping on every single pocket on all your clothing. Then you stop in your tracks to recall the last time you had it. Bewildered, you stand there as if in a trance, straining your brain to remember the last moment it was in your possession. And then there’s the realization that it’s gone. Truly gone.

But then you remember that you’re not doomed to never seeing it again or to knowing that if someone less than honest has it that they also have all the information in it. Why? Because you turned on the “Find My Phone” feature when you set up your device. You did do that, didn’t you? Whaaaat? You didn’t? ACK!

Well, before it’s too late, let me teach you how to turn on this amazing feature that lets you track its whereabouts, send a message to your device, and if all else fails, wipe out all the precious and sensitive information that it contains.

Of course, that information would have been protected if you had turned on the pass code feature. Don’t know how to do that either? Read my article to learn how, and do this first: “You Lock Your House, Lock Your Smartphone Too.” It’s your first line of defense to protect the information in your iPhone, iPod Touch (4th generation), iPad, Android, and Blackberry smartphones and tablets.

Now, back to finding that lost device. It’s really quite simple to do, and once it’s done, it’s like having homeowners’ insurance: you have it and hope you never need to use it.

Forgive me in advance for going into the details of how to set this up on Apple devices, but reading the article’s details will tell you what this function is capable of doing and since similar procedures and capabilities exist for other types of devices, I’ve included links for them below.

iPHONE, iPod Touch (4th generation) and iPads
If you already have a MobileMe account *, you’ll want to sign in from your device. Here’s how; Go to the “settings” section of your device. Click on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”  

It's the slider for "Find my iPad" on the bottom.
There you’ll see the “Find My iPad” slider (if you're doing this on an iPhone, it will say "Find my iPhone", etc.), and the name of that specific device shows up. Slide it to the “on” position.  You’ll be notified that this allows your device to be located on a map, so you’ll want to click “Allow” and then tap the “Done” button. There! It’s that simple!

Now that it’s turned on it’s a good idea to test the service and get familiar with what’s possible. You have two choices  for how to do this: (1) Go to a computer and access on the Internet, or (2) If you have another Apple device, go to the “Find iPhone” app. Don’t have the app? Click the link to download it.

Find Phone app
If you’re doing this from a computer, sign in with the name and password that you set up earlier (if you have a full MobileMe account, you want to click on the “Find iPhone” icon on the far right of the screen). You’ll see a map of the world along with a list of the device(s) you registered with Find My Phone. The system will take a moment to scan for your device(s) somewhere in the whole world. A green dot next to its name indicates that the device has been located. If a red dot appears it means that the device either can’t be located, its power is turned off, or it’s in airplane mode.

After you click on the device’s name you’ll be given several options that you can choose to do remotely from the computer or device you’re on:

Send a text message to your
device's home screen.
(a) send a text message with a sound
This message will appear on the home screen, locked or not. It will also make a sound to attract attention to the device. In the message you’ll send you can ask the reader to call you (if it's the cell phone that's lost, use a phone number other than your cell number). This way you can make arrangements to get your device back. Go ahead, try it and send a message.

Or remote lock your device
(b) remotely lock your device
If you haven’t already, you can lock the device with a pass code. This will prevent anyone from accessing the valuable information the device contains.

Or, wipe the device's content
(c) wipe all the information off the device
This option can’t be reversed, which is another good reason why you want to back up your address book and calendars regularly.

If the Karmic wheel is turning in your direction, someone who reads the message you sent to the device will call and you can make arrangements to get it back (FYI: DO NOT arrange to meet at your house – you don’t know this person nor do you know what their intentions might be).  If it’s irretrievably gone, at least you know you can protect or wipe the contents so no one else can have access to it.

If you’re an Android device user there are apps that have these same functions, so visit your Android app store and download the one that does this best for your device and needs.

The same applies for Blackberry users: visit their app store and find the one that’s right for your device and needs.

Now that you know how to do this, you no longer have any excuses for leaving information vulnerable on your device, so go forth and be safe.

* If you don’t already have a MobileMe account it’s too late to add one now; since the announcement in early June of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service in September they’ve discontinued adding new members to the MobileMe service. Don’t worry though, when it goes live you can be sure that I’ll be reporting on what it is, how it works, and what it can do for you.

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Apple,
Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011