I’ve been looking around for a todo list app that I could just list random things without necessarily attaching dates to. Simple lists like business ideas, restaurants in Cape Town I want to visit, cool names for bands, gadget wish list etc.
I use Things on my Mac and iPhone for important work related to do’s that have due dates, but it doesn’t really fit the bill for those random lists I mentioned above. There is also Teudeux which has a great web and iPhone app, but is also attached to a specific date or someday list. Remember The Milk is another, but has way too many features for my liking.
Remember 37 Signals Ta-da lists? It’s integrated into Basecamp, but also has a stand alone version, which is actually free! It’s one of the most simple to-do list apps with no dates or reminders, just simple name that list and add items. It works great on the web, but has an even better mobile version that works great on the iPhone, which is where I actually want to keep all these lists.
Here are some of the lists I’ve just started:
RestaurantsÂ to visit in Cape Town
Gadget wish list
Movies to watch
Series to watch
Books to read
Cities to visit
My bucket list (You know, things I want to do before I’m 30)
Firstly, what is Netflix? Netflix is a video streaming service in the US that for a monthly fee, allows you to watch unlimited movies and tv series. The service costs $7.99 which is around R60 a month. That’s 3 DVD’s from your local video store.
The problem we have with Netflix is you have to be located in the US to use the service. In order to get Netflix to work here in South Africa, we need to actually browse and use Netflix via a server that is physically located in the US. Sound complicated? Not really. Enter the VPN (Virtual Private Network).
One thing about all of this is both Netflix and the VPN you are going to use have trial accounts. Netflix offers a 1 month free trial and the VPN has a 7 day money back guarantee. So try it out and if it doesn’t work properly or you can’t see yourself using it, cancel it all without spending any money.
How to setup a Netflix account from South Africa
To set this up, you’ll need a valid US mailing address and a Credit Card. They run automatic checks on the address to make sure its a deliverable address. Use Fake Name Generator to grab a Zip Code and State, then find the exact address of a post office in the US using USPS. Post being delivered to a post office is definitely going to work. :)
Enter your Credit Card details and your Netflix account should be good to go! (There is a Paypal option, but you most probably have a South African Paypal account, which won’t work.)
Using a VPN to access Netflix from South Africa
You going to need to sign up for a StrongVPN account. They have a number of packages and payment plans, so choose the one that suits you best. (Choose the cheapest!) I signed up for the Lite PPTP 3 month account ($21). Once you have your account setup, read StrongVPN’s How-to guide to getting your different machines or devices setup. If you having problems with setting up the VPN connection, use their live chat feature. They available for support 24 hours a day!
Download the Netflix app (iTunes link) for your iPhone and iPad in order to browse and watch movies from these devices. To connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV to watch movies, either get yourself a set of AVI or HDMi cables to connect to your TV or if you plan on getting an Apple TV, Airplay will allow you to tap a button and start watching the movie on your TV!
You can also watch movies via your web browser that has Microsoft Silverlight support. (For Mac, only Firefox and Safari has Silverlight support. Windows has support for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome.)
Some tips and observations
1: I’ve managed to watch movies via my Macbook and iPhone. With iOS 4.3 coming out, Airplay will be available to 3rd party apps. What this means is with an Apple TV (mine is on its way from the UK) I’ll be able to just tap a button on the Netflix iPhone app (if they implement the new feature) and stream movies on my TV!
2: Apple TV and my XBox 360 have Netflix integrated into them, the problem is you cannot setup a VPN connection directly on these devices. So other than hacking your router to use the VPN directly, I can’t see any other way to get the native Netflix app on the Apple TV or XBox 360 to work here in SA. But with an iPhone, you’ll be able to use Airplay to view movies on your Apple TV via Netflix!
3: When you are connected via the VPN, your browsing experience is slower (Speeds seem to vary though). You literally only need the VPN to bypass the location checking of Netflix, so once a movie gets past connecting to the Netflix server and is checking your connection speed, turn off the VPN. You’ll be watching movies in the same time as it takes Youtube to load on your connection. I also found that I only had to do this once and every subsequent movie I tried, I never had to be on the VPN to get it to work.
4: I’m still learning all the tricks of how to get all my devices working. Initially I couldn’t get any movie playing on my iPad (it would just say loading and never play), but I tried it again this morning and it’s working!
5: You can’t really start watching a movie on your iPad and then turn off the VPN. The app doesn’t have proper multi-tasking, so it cuts out and starts the movie from the beginning and does their location checks again. I did however find that once I started watching a movie on my iPhone, turned off the VPN and then started browsing other movies, the movies just worked!
The Mac App Store is designed to help you find, buy and download applications for your Apple Macbook much the same as the original App store works for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch!
How to download and install the Mac App Store
The Mac App Store is an OS update, not a downloadable program that you can install.
Click on the Apple logo (top left of your screen) > Software Update. There should be an OS update waiting for you to download and install.
To check if the Mac App Store has been installed, it will appear in the menu when you click on the Apple logo. (App Store…)
Once the Mac App Store has been installed, its time to start downloading apps! In order to download apps, you will need an iTunes account that allows you to download the free apps or purchase paid-for apps. Each country has their own App Store as different rules regarding content apply to different territories. For example all games in South Africa need to go through the Film & Publications Board for approval before being available for purchase. This means the SA store has very few games and applications!
The best thing to do is to setup a U.S. iTunes account as the U.S. app store has all the applications, games and utilities.
How to setup a U.S. iTunes account to download apps from the Mac App Store
Step 1: Open the Mac App Store, by clicking the Apple logo (top left) > App Store, or clicking on the Mac App store icon in your dock.
Step 2: Make sure you are logged out of any iTunes account. You should see “Sign in” under Quick Links, which means you aren’t logged in.
Step 3: Try to download a FREE app from the Free apps section. (Very important step!)
Step 4: The Mac App Store will ask you to sign in with your Apple ID, or create new Apple ID. Click “Create Apple ID”.
Step 5: Make sure you see the U.S. flag in the bottom right corner. You need to be in the U.S. Store in order to create the account. If not, click the flag and select the United States and repeat the process from Step 3.
Step 6: Fill in your email address (which will become your Apple ID. This needs to be YOUR email address, not a bogus email address) and the rest of the details and click Next.
Step 7: If you have followed all the steps correctly, you should be able to select “None” as a payment method. When filling in your billing address, you will need a valid US address. The easiest way to find a valid address is to search for aÂ Mcdonalds, KFC, Walmart, Holiday Inn or any US business using Google maps and then use the address, zip code and state to enter as your address.
Step 8: You’ll then get an email from Apple to verify your account. Click on the link in the email, login with your Apple ID (email address) and password. Your account is now verified!
That’s it! Now that you have a U.S. account, you can now load your account with iTunes vouchers to purchase any apps from the Mac App Store!
Where to buy iTunes gift cards
Buy your iTunes gift cards from these websites. I have bought a number of vouchers from these stores before so they come recommended.
To load the gift card into your account, click “Redeem” under Quick Links and enter the voucher number. That’s it!
The iTunes vouchers also work in the iTunes store, so you can also purchase music, TV series and movies as well apps for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch! Open iTunes and browse the store. Just login with your newly created U.S. account and you good to go!
So there you have it. Enjoy downloading apps for your Mac instantly and also have the benefits of buying music, movies and iPhone games from iTunes!
I wrote a post well over 2 years ago about how us South African’s couldn’t buy music on iTunes and that the alternatives we do have are well below par. Well, I thought I’d write a follow up post on how easy it is to actually buy music (and iPhone / iPod Touch applications) on iTunes.
So here is a quick guide on how to buy music, movies and apps from iTunes in South Africa.
Setup a U.S. based iTunes account
In order to do this, you need to download any free iPhone app from the U.S. iTunes app store, create a new account, select None when they ask for your payment method and fill in the rest of the information.
Click on “iTunes Store” in the left sidebar of iTunes.
Make sure you are in the U.S. store, by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the circle icon located bottom right and selecting United States.
Once you are in the US iTunes store, find the Free Apps section in the right sidebar of the page.
Hover over any of the free apps and click on the free button to try and download it. A popup window will appear where you must click the Create New Account button. Follow the next few steps until they ask for payment. Make sure you use a valid email address, as you going to need it to validate your account.
On the Provide a Payment Method screen, make sure you select NONE. (If you do not see NONE as an option, start again and make sure you try to download a FREE app)
The most important step here is to select None as the payment method when asked to provide billing details. When filling in your billing address, you will need a valid US address. The easiest way to find a valid address is to search for a Mcdonalds, KFC, Walmart, Holiday Inn or any US business using Google maps and then use the address, zip code and state to enter as your address.
Once that step is complete, iTunes will send you a confirmation email. You need to click the link in that email to verify the account. Once you have done that, you are now the proud owner of an U.S. iTunes account!
If you get the message “please contact itunes support to complete this transaction”, email iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com and explain to them you need to update your address. Try not use one of the more popular business addresses I’ve listed above.
Click on the Sign In link in the top right corner to login.
Buying music from iTunes
Once you have your U.S. iTunes account setup, you are going to need to buy iTunes gift cards that you can load into your account to spend. There are 4 websites that come recommended:
Buy from Wildtwig ***** (South African based, PayPal approved, instant code delivery)
Once you have purchased the gift card, you’ll receive an email from them with a code. Click on the Redeem link under the Quick Links section (top right of iTunes Store), enter the Gift Card code and off you go!
You should now see your email address next to the value of your gift card loaded in the status bar like the image below:
You can now buy music, apps and movies from the US iTunes store from South Africa!
I thought I’d share some tips on how I run my business, Beanbag Media, online. I hate paperwork and love my iPhone, so having everything available online makes it easy to manage, not only from my Mac, but also when I am on the road.
From the money side of things, I use make use of 2 different web apps. One for invoicing & time management and another for keeping record of my income and expenses.
Harvest is a really simple, yet feature-rich (if you need it) application that manages the creating of invoices and tracking of time. For the most part, I use it to invoice and keep record of invoices. There is a pretty slick Dashboard widget for both PC and Mac for time and project management which I do use from time to time, but mostly I use it for sending invoices and creating statements for clients. There is a free plan, but I pay $12 a month for the Solo account which allows to me to make full use of all the features I need.
Pulse is a basic cash flow management tool for small businesses. I use it to track all income and expenses I incur relating to Beanbag Media. So every few weeks, I go through all my slips I’ve collected, from parking slips to coffee shop receipts to stationery I’ve bought and enter it into Pulse. I’ve also setup recurring expenses for ADSL and other monthly expenses that I know are constant (the $12 I pay for Harvest App as another example). I quickly go through my business bank account to record any income I’ve received and when my accountant knocks on my door to tell me its tax season, I hit the export button and that’s it! Everything is categorised too, so my accountant knows where to assign the different expenses and incomes to. Another $9 a month well spent.
As a small business, most of the projects I undertake are collaborations with other freelancers or small businesses. For managing all the interactions with them, I use Basecamp by 37Signals. It’s a no brainer in terms of project collaboration as well as a place to keep record and update others on the status of projects and ideas. It’s slightly pricey at $24 a month, but I feel its well worth the expense, considering how it keeps all the projects I am working on in order. You can’t properly manage a project with multiple people in different locations over email.
So that’s a basic insight into how I run Beanbag Media from a day to day perspective. There are apps online that are free that do the same job as the products I’ve mentioned, I just found these apps to be easy to use as well as well-designed, which most of the free alternatives seem to lack.