Tag Archives: Software

Pixelpumper – a Windows Live Writer / Marsedit alternative offline WordPress editor for Mac

I’ve been loath to invest in Marsedit when my blogging is so intermittent and patch but have been enjoying my attempts with Pixelpumper – a super clean, super simple offline blog editor for OSX. It has a clean, modern UI and thus far seems fairly idiot proof.

It is pretty light on options in its free mode (it has a ‘nerd mode’ for the keen, for premium purchase), but thus far is doing a reasonable job at helping me get back into it. It is annoying that ‘CMD-K’ does strikethrough instead of hyperlink, though, will need to figure that one out.

Evernote sync issues

Evernote CEO The brain to become the second userArgh! I’ve begun to notice a fatal shortfall in Evernote’s capabilities. When used offline, it’s fine. When used online, it’s fine. When used in that grey area of theoretical connectivity or fuzzy mobile reception, it often blanks the notes you’ve written as you’re making amends, making it very, very easy to upload a ‘blank’ note over your other work. And the only way to retrieve other versions of notes you’ve synced is to cough up the $5 a month Evernote asks for the premium version (for which I have no other use).

Damnit, Evernote. You were so close to perfect.

Ultimate Guitar Tabs iPhone app

ultimateguitartabs@patrickyiu introduced me to the Ultimate Guitar Tabs app for iPhone (£1.99, Appstore), and it may help me get my routine on with the guttering I mentioned a few weeks back. If I’m honest, my promised practice routine hasn’t quite materialised but I’m blaming this on my inability to get a new playlist configured on my iPhone as my Media Centre/music library has been in the shop (bring on iCloud).

The app lets you access thousands of tabs from UG’s website ‘in-app’, complete with automated key-changes and auto-scrolling through the tab, so you don’t have to pause to flick down and see what chords/tabs come next.

It’s a lovely bit of code. I’ve also downloaded the iPad app, but mysteriously this app was free with in-app subscription modes, and I can’t quite bring myself to pay for the same service twice – so will see how I get on with the iPhone app in the weeks to come.

Lion upgrade

Lion InstallerI upgraded the Macbook Air to OSX Lion this morning. Not much to say yet; it took a long time to download the 3.49GB upgrade, but it installed in 30 minutes during the course of which I had to unplug the Macbook – I would never dare do this on a Windows machine, but it worked fine here.

The first thing I did was disable the new reverse touchpad scrolling thing – that is, what Apple did to bring OSX in line with iOS from a scroll usability perspective. To me, it was just counterintuitive – I am sufficiently used to computers (as opposed to tablets) that I don’t find it unnatural to switch between gesture modes.

I do have some other new touchpad gestures to learn, and it generally seems shiny. Will post further impressions if I notice anything significantly different in the days ahead.

I’m trying not to be upset that they upgraded the Macbook Air I just got four months ago.

iPhone app to find nearest pool table #apprequest

moment of impact

I was wandering Islington two weekends ago trying to find somewhere to play pool after discovering that the Elbow Room there has closed down, and despite the abundance of useful data on sites like Beerintheevening.com, no-one seems to have mashed up an app that tells you where the nearest pool table is. C’mon, devs and/or marketing folk for beer companies – that’s a free idea for you. Build it, give it away, and people will use it and buy your beer.

I promise.

Pokki – Appstore for Windows

pokkiOne of the things I’ve grown to prefer on the Macbook over my normal Windows experience is the Appstore; the process of keeping Windows up to date by manual means is unspeakably tedious, as anyone who’s had to click ‘yes’ to a dozen updates and manually hunt down another dozen will tell you.

It was with some delight that I saw that a new app was bringing a comparable (although FAR more limited) version of the experience to Windows. The apps appear in your start bar and pop up and down as you use them.

Unfortunately, despite the slick look of the app, the usability isn’t quite there. Keyboard shortcuts don’t work in Gmail, the mouse scrollwheel does random things like minimise the application instead of scrolling, the Facebook app often ends up non-responsive and… well, there are only 8 apps. However the principle is sound and I’m hoping that MS catch up to this when it rolls Windows 8 off the conveyor belt next year. Either that, or people get Pokki working properly… for now, it’s no Sparrow for Windows

Does the name remind anyone else of Garfield’s stuffed toy friend?

The cracks in the cloud

crack in the cloudsOn a recent enterprise software concern:

Me: "What browsers does your app support?"
Them: "IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6."
Me: "So, no current browser?"
Them: "No. But we’ve no reported issues in Chrome!"
Me: "But you don’t officially support Chrome?"
Them: "No, but we’ve never had an issue with it?"
Me: "Is that a question? What would you recommend?"
Them: "We support IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6."
Me: "But Microsoft and Mozilla are both forcing updates to IE9 and FF5 respectively?"
Them:"We support IE7, IE8 and Firefox 3.6. Oh, and we have an iPhone app."

Me: <sigh>.

This post was inspired by this Macworld article and real life experiences.

@Flipboard – a @gilesfraser recommendation

 flipboard

My boss is always pleased to educate me – a self-professed, archetypal earlius adopterus – with his technical insight and technology trendsetting. He didn’t quite beat me to Spotify (although he was very early to that service), but he has stolen the march by introducing me to Flipboard, a ‘social magazine.’ I’d read about it but a combination of iPad apathy and happiness with my methods of absorbing media meant I didn’t investigate further.

Having now tried it, I can tell you that it is an awesome app that is making me fall in love with the iPad again. Essentially, it draws on any feeds you put into it – including a number of useful preset social accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader – and delivers them to you in a magazine style format. You flip through pages in which the content on links people have shared on Facebook and Twitter have been pre-fetched – and you can then tap through to the full article – or watch the video etc.

It’s a wonderful media engagement experience – you can download loads of stories over wifi and then mess around reading offline (for the most part, although the pre-fetch isn’t perfect), commenting on Facebook et al works when you’re online (would like a pre-caching service for when offline so you could maybe queue comments for publication when you came back into wifi range). You can also add any individual blog or feed you like as a separate magazine – all your subscriptions and services appear as a grid of tiles, Windows Phone 7 style.

Really beautifully executed and a very good use of the touch interface of the iPad. Recommended for all you iPad lovers out there – and division6.co.uk looks awesome on it!

My only issue is that I’m not sure it’s very good at ‘getting through’ a magazine or set of updates on Google Reader. Unlike the handy ‘unread post’ notifications you get with the web app, there’s a seemingly endless, jumbled set of updates displayed through the interface. My Google Reader subscriptions include about 40 feeds I read regularly – and about 200 I just dip into – so might well find it frustrating to deal with that much (less relevant) content. Whether I should just flip through it (it is effortless after all) or finally get around to dealing with my mess of subscriptions, who can say…?

Definitely a big thanks to Giles for the pointer!

Mealsnap iPhone app impressions

mzl.pmpdnall.320x480-75The diet hasn’t gotten off to the best start – perhaps starting it the day ahead of the weekend was a bad idea – but I did try out my diet-tracking website’s new £1.79 iPhone app – Mealsnap – which takes a photo of your meal and tells you the calorie count from – I assume – some kind of clever algorithmic photo-analysis and by referencing the food database from Dailyburn.

First impressions, from three or four photographed meals:

  1. It does sometimes work quite well – correctly (near as damn) recognizing what’s on your plate, and giving sensible caloric estimates
  2. There is quite a range for the estimates – as I’m not sure it has any meaningful way of working out how big a piece of bread, for instance, is.
  3. It doesn’t integrate into Dailyburn, so whatever calorie records you make stay in the app .This renders it completely pointless for me.
  4. It takes an age to ‘process’ the photos – so long that it’s easy to imagine that the photos are being uploaded, and being manually viewed and assessed by a warehouse full of monkeys somewhere.

So I think I’ll leave it alone for now. Anyone worked out any other positives?

Macifying Windows

Mac sous Windows Seven : Soirée présentation Windows Seven{sigh}. Despite promising myself never to go over too far to the dark side, there are some aspects of OSX I’m loving and missing very much on the Windows machines I use. Some things I definitely am not happy about (the lack of a proper blogging client, for one), but here’s a few things I’ve twisted Windows into doing (or tried to) to mimic the capabilities of my Macbook. There was a recent Lifehacker post that inspired this one…

  1. Switcher / Expose clone. Much more practical than ALT-TAB, simple, small third party app.
  2. Two finger scrolling. The simple app doesn’t work on 64bit Windows 7 but I’m trying to mess around with this Synaptics touchpad hack – apparently despite the fact that most new PC touchpads are capable of multitouch gestures they are frequently locked out of using them!

Things I’d like to bring over….

  1. App store. I have to go through a manual FIlehippo trawl to keep my PC software up to date.
  2. Pinch to zoom etc., (which, infuriatingly, doesn’t work with Microsoft Mac applications)
  3. Sparrow!!! One of the most popular search terms on this blog is “Sparrow for Windows” so I know I’m not the only one. C’mon you guys!
  4. The instant sleep / wake and long battery life of OSX, and near instant boot time on the SSD

Things I’m not a fan of:

  1. Network settings on OSX. Feels too fiddly, locked down.
  2. New shortcuts. I’m starting to muddle Windows and Mac shortcuts, forgetting which is which
  3. Lack of decent, affordable blogging clients
  4. Resizing windows from any side. We had to wait through 7 iterations of OSX for that?

If you could create the bastard love child of Windows and OSX, what would you put in it?