There’s only a couple of weeks left before Google turns off Reader for good and I’ve yet to make a decision about what service I will use as a replacement. There is a site listing the most popular alternatives as mentioned by hashtag on Twitter called ReplaceReader.
Feedly is topping the list at present but I am still on the fence about it. I set it up but I found the interface a little too “jazzy”. I don’t want my RSS to recommend other content, allow my “friends” to see what I’m reading or any other social integration. Am I the only one who is a total curmudgeon about this?
Feedbin seems popular but because its a paid service entirely, I don’t think very many people have experimented with it yet. I love Reeder for Mac and iPad so I’m leaning towards Feedbin as they are promising integration but, at present, they have only updated the iPhone app which is the one place I don’t usually attempt to read RSS.
I’ve also tried The Old Reader and Blog Lovin’ but did not favor either. While The Old Reader is free, I suspect there will not be a lot of mobile app support for it. And Blog Lovin’… let’s just say I feel a little old to be hanging out in that crowd.
Have you found a replacement for Reader or have you moved away from RSS altogether and found another system for keeping up with your favorite sites?
I thought I would share a favorite app today. I discovered PicFrame for iOS awhile back which is a great way to do a grid of photos to post on Instagram, Flickr or Facebook. The app costs $0.99 and works on iPhone or iPad. Its quite flexible with an assortment of grids to choose from and then you can pull the frames to reshape them as needed. You can round corners, add filters and change the width and color or pattern of the borders too. The iOS app also includes the ability to add labels — there are default looks or you can get in there and choose font, font color and label color. Its a pretty powerful app for under a $1.
What I like even better is the Mac version of the app that let’s you drag a photo from iPhoto, right into a frame and then export at various sizes for blogs, Flickr, Facebook, etc. The Mac app is also $0.99. There are no image editing options or labels in the desktop version of the app. Since you can import photos from iPhoto or other image editing software, you won’t need the image editing features but I do wish they’d add the labels to the Mac version.
This is a PicFrame collage I made with the desktop version of the app. I used the default borders and the photos were straight from my iPhone via iPhoto. The images are some of the goodies my friends bought while traveling in Japan. I must go office supply foraging there SOON!
Damn You, Art School is a web site organized by art school disciplines like architecture, fashion, illustration and others that will give you a list of recommended digital tools for a given discipline. The recommendations range from note-taking and sketching apps to business management tools like faxing and time accounting (in the Illustration tab). There are lots of good recommendations for people in all sorts of professional fields or to help you plan out your next creative project. Snoop around, you may find a tool or app you didn’t know you’d need. I do notice a notable absence of the best tools for all creatives: paper and pencil.
Oh, and on the topic of digital tools you didn’t know you needed, I wholeheartedly endorse a drawing app for the iPad called Procreate ($4.99 from the iTunes app store). Even if you do not consider yourself artistically inclined, this app may change your mind. The brush tools are the most realistic I’ve used since the Mac app Painter and there are additional brush sets available for purchase ($0.99 per set and most are totally worth the upgrade). This app is incredibly powerful and includes layers which can have different blending modes and transparency, easy to use undo options, you can rotate the canvas and so much more. There is a whole community of users that share new brushes and techniques. File can be exported to a PSD file and the layers remain intact. I’ve been using the app to create original wallpaper for my iPad. I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. Who lately so I painted a personal nebula. Not as awe-inspiring as the sample images included with the app but I made them with my finger and a few spare minutes. I’m so proud of my wallpaper, you can download it and use it too on your favorite mobile device.
Click image to access attachment. Then save it to you computer.
I’ve reviewed, purchased and drooled over hundreds of products in 2012 so I thought I’d share with you my favorites of the year, in no specific order:
- Tie for Favorite Fountain Pen: Kaweco Guilloch 1930 EF Fountain Pen
- Tie for Favorite Fountain Pen: TWSBI Diamond 540 EF Demonstrator
- Favorite Highlighter: Pilot Preppy Highlighter
- Favorite Lefty-centric Tool: Lefty Sharpener
- Favorite Notebook: Quo Vadis Habana Notebook
- Most Useful Tools: Gel Multi-Pens (UniBall Style Fit, Zebra Sarasa Pre-Fill, Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto Me)
- Biggest Surprise: UniBall Jetstream Ballpoint Pens (Jetstream F*Series Multi-Pen and the 0.5 Ash Green
- Best Mac Utility: Alfred App
- Favorite Ink: Scribal Workshop Cryptid series, especially Nessie and Leviathan
- Favorite Vintage Find: Arrow Plier-Style Hand Stapler
There are a few items I love but never got a review posted and a few things I’ve wanted to try but haven’t gotten yet so there will be more to love in 2013, I’m sure!
What are the best tools you found this year?
RealMac has created a desktop and iOS to-do list app called Clear that is simple and easy to use. I have tried just about every to-do app I can find and this one seems simple and not too annoying. I have had a couple to-do apps I had to delete because I couldn’t get them to stop yelling at me.This app never seems to yell or alert so you’ll have to open the app to see your list.
I downloaded the iOS version and it works really well. The quick tutorial makes most of the gestures intuitive before you know it. The only difficulty I had was squeezing a list closed to reveal the group list view if a list only had two items in it. If you intend to just use one big laundry list, then there should be no issues. Its very quick and easy to add, move, delete or check-off items. If you need timed alerts or repeating alerts you’ll need to use a different app.
The NORAD color view is nice: things at the top of the list are marked in red and then they fade to orange and yellow but it doesn’t seem to ever fade to green or blue. I guess its always at a state of alert.
It appears that by using iCloud you can sync lists between the desktop Clear app and your iOS device. At $9.99 for the desktop app though, I am a bit hesitant.
Currently, I use SimpleNote on my iOS devices with Notational Velocity on my laptop which is a free list/text solution but slightly limited. A full “premium” version of SimpleNote is $19.99/year. SimpleNote and Notational Velocity act as more of a text receptacle than a list-maker and I would say the same thing about Evernote as well. Clear is definitely a DO THIS task list-maker rather than a great big catch-all.
The iOS version of Clear is $1.99 and the desktop app is $9.99.
Noisy Typer – a typewriter for your laptop. from Theo Watson on Vimeo.
Ever wished your emails could sounds like your vintage Royal at home? Noisy Typer is a free app for OS X that will let you clang, ding and thunk even when your favorite typewriter is still packed in its case. Would also make a lovely prank as well. FREE.
Lifehacker has rounded up the best FREE Mac apps and a great collection of iPad apps (not all those are free). Don’t forget the recent round-ups they did on iPhone apps and Linux apps, Windows apps and Android apps. Pretty much just bookmark Lifehacker. You’ll thank me for it.
Lifehacker asked their readers to post photos of their workspace on Flickr in the Lifehacker Workspace Show and Tell Pool. There are dozens of images of massive monitor stacks but their are also a few gems in the group too. If you’re looking for real-world workspace inspiration, this is a great resource.
(image above by MattsMacintosh found in the pool)
Four months ago, I mentioned a new app discovery called Alfred. I thought I would follow-up to let you know, I cannot live without it now. The simple act of clicking Option+Spacebar and keying in the first few letters of anything has shaved so many seconds of clicking around on my computer that I think I’ve added at least a day of productivity to my life. Really.
Add to the free app with the PowerPack (£15 or $24) and you can do even more than just locate files, calculate, spell and shutdown (favorite feature!). With the PowerPack, once you’ve located an image or file, you can immediately email it or open it with a specific application. There is an iTunes mini player controller, ability to find a contact in your Address Book quickly and access clipboard hisories. There are opportunities for even more functionality with scripts and more but that’s outside my realm of expertise.
So, try out the app and see if you find it useful. If you do find it useful, try out the PowerPack and really blow your mind! My fingers hardly ever leave the keyboard now.
Step number one in Safety Week. If you have a portable computer (or really any computer for that matter) go into your preferences right now and set your computer to require a user name and password upon restart, waking from sleep or waking from screen saver. It is your first line of defense for identity theft. It makes it harder for someone to get your data (be it your email address, credit card number or baby photos) and they will be more likely to just wipe the drive than try to hack it. It sucks either way but it’ll suck a whole lot less knowing thieves cannot access your data.