Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Bartender for the Mac

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2013

Below in the first photo you will see how my menu bar usually looks. As you can tell it is getting a little out of control. A lot of what is up there are applications that I use occasionally, and I want them in my menu bar. However I really don’t need to see them, including  default menu applications like the Airport icon, the eject button and the Time Machine indicator. I was looking for an application that could organize my menu items better and I found that application in Bartender. There is a four-week trial period for Bartender, but I suspect if you are like me you will buy it long before the four weeks are up. It cost $19.00 to license Bartender.

Once you install Bartender. It will show up with the preference open and all the apps that are in your menu bar on the left hand side of the box. On the right hand side of the box it will give you three options:

  • nothing Bartender doesn’t do anything (item remains in default menu bar)
  • show in Bartender bar, but not in menu bar
  • completely hide menu bar item

Now you can go through each of your menu items and decide where you want them. When you want to see an item that is in the Bartender bar you can either click on the Bartender icon or if you go into advance options under the Bartender preferences you can create a hot key. You can also create a hot key to show all menu bar items including hidden ones. The default icon for Bartenders is two dots, however you can change to icon by going Preferences and then General. There are some icons available, but you can also use your own image.

Bartender is one of those applications that does one thing and it does it well. It is not available through the Mac app store, you can download the application at the Bartender website. With the four-week trial there is no reason not to try it.

Dispatch for iOs versus Mailbox for iOs

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2013

Dispatch I wish someone would make an iOs email application that would combine both Mailbox and Dispatch. Currently I am using a combination of both. I like Mailbox because it allows me to easily sweep emails I want to look at more closely later into three boxes Read, Buy or Watch. The rests are quickly archived or deleted.  I can also label an email to do later in the day, tomorrow, on the weekend, next week, in a month or a specific date. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters from websites like MacWorld, Fast Company, and TechDirt Daily and I like to quickly go through them and send the links I want to read later to Pocket . To do this in Mailbox I have to click on the link and then click share and then the email icon and then put in the Pocket email address and then re click the email icon and then hit send. The fact that I have to click the email icon twice doesn’t make sense to me and it is a constant source of irritation.

Then I saw a lot of people recommending  Dispatch, so I decided to take a look at it.   Unfortunately  I immediately ran into a problem, Dispatch doesn’t have labels or tags or folders, so when I first go through the email I can not organize my email into the various categories. My only option without opening the individual is to either leave it in the in box , delete or archive. I like to have the ability to label or tag them for later processing. However when you pull up an individual email, then the power of Dispatch comes through. You can quickly send the email to your favorite Getting Things Done GTD application like Omnifocus, or Things. You can also send an email to Evernote, Draft, or Create a Reminder, If you click on a link in an email you are then given the option of adding it to the Safari Reading List, opening the link in a browser, copying the link or sending it to your favorite read later application including Pocket and Instapaper. If it is an event link you can create a Calendar Event or a Reminder. If there is a phone number you can make a call, pull up Skype or FaceTime directly from the application.

As you can tell I really like Dispatch, but I miss the ability to use folders, tags or labels that Mailbox offers me. So I end up doing my initial process in Mailbox and once I am finished the initial processing I then move all the emails I haven’t archived back into the inbox. When I am ready to process those emails I open up Dispatch and go through the individual emails and send the links to what ever application makes sense: news links go to Pocket, receipts or things I’ve cancelled to Evernote, things I want or need to do in the future go to Omnifocus and those items that are due today go into the Reminder’s application. If I had to choose between Mailbox and Dispatch, I think I would choose Dispatch I really like how it is integrated with other applications, still though I would miss the folders in Mailbox.

Apple Offers iTunes Credits to Parents after Litigation

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:01 PM on June 24, 2013

Apple LogoThere are so many apps out there that are intended to attract children. It is easy to see why parents are hesitant to let their children go ahead and buy whatever apps they like – especially if those apps allow for in-game purchases (using real money). What if your child does it without your permission?

A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011 against Apple by 5 parents. The parents were upset because their children were able to purchase and download apps from Apple’s online store on the parent’s accounts without the parent’s knowledge or permission.

Earlier this year, Apple agreed to a settlement of this class-action lawsuit. It will end up costing Apple around $100 million. Apple has agreed to provide around 23 million affected customers with a $5.00 iTunes store credit.

Have your kids been downloading things from Apple that you didn’t give them permission to? You might want to read over the details of the settlement to see if you are eligible.

The settlement is specifically about apps or in-app purchases of game currency that were purchased by a minor without the parent’s knowledge or permission in the 45 days prior to May 2, 2013. If you qualify, you must file an online claim by January 13, 2014.

The settlement is only including qualified apps This means all apps from the App Store in the games category with an age rating of 4+, 9+, or 12+ that offer in-app purchases of consumable game currency.

Ten Must Have Applications for a Mac

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2013

Macbook Air I have just received my new 11 inch Macbook Air with 8GB of memory, 1.3 GHz Intel Core iS and 250 GB of storage. I have only had it for a day now and so I have been spending most of my time getting it set up the way I want. This will be my secondary machine as I already have a Mac Mini as my main machine. I was therefore setting it up as a new machine. One of my primary goals while setting the machine up was to be selective when adding applications to it. These are the ten applications that I chose to add at this time.

  1. Dropbox
  2. 1password
  3. Omnifocus
  4. Nvalt
  5. Textexpander
  6. Hazel
  7. Quicksilver, or Alfred
  8. Evernote
  9. Fantastical
  10. MultiMarkdown Composer

The following is why I chose these ten applications. The first application I would install on any computer is Dropbox. Many of the applications I use store their data in Dropbox. The next application I would install is 1password. I have 1password installed on all my computers and it is great for generating and securely storing passwords, notes, credit card, and other personal information. The third application I would install would Omnifocus.  It is currently my task management or GTD application of choice . I don’t know about you but I am constantly coming up with idea that I need to write down quickly before I forget them. I use Nvalt for this purpose it is both simple and powerful at the same time. It allows me to write thoughts down quickly and easily search for them later. If you are constantly writing the same thing, over and over again then TextExpander will become your best friend. Once you create a snippet and add it to TextExpander you can invoke that snippet at anytime with a simple keyboard shortcut. I try to keep my files organized and I like a clean desktop.  However like most people when I find something I want to keep, I have a tendency to throw it on to the Desktop. Hazel is the solution to this problem. You can set Hazel up to automatically move files or folders from one location to another. For example I have Hazel set up to move any image file from my desktop to a folder on Dropbox an hour after it was added. I am a big believer in app launchers such as Alfred or Quicksilver. Currently I am using Alfred on my main machine, but am trying out the new version of Quicksilver on my Macbook Air. Both of these applications can be used to quickly launch any application, but they can be customized to do so much more. I use Evernote as my catch-all for receipts, emails and other things I want to save and access everywhere. Fantastical allows me to quickly enter an event without having to open up iCal. Finally I wanted a text editor that works with MultiMarkdown and MultiMarkdown Composer fills that niche.

These are the ten applications that I installed automatically on my new Macbook Air. If you just brought a new Mac and you could only install ten new applications, what would they be?

Barnes & Noble Retires Nook Apps for PC and Mac

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:09 PM on June 11, 2013

Barnes & Noble logo Avid readers who have been enjoying the Nook app on their PC or Mac are in for some disappointment. According to The Digital Reader Barnes & Noble has officially ended its support for the Nook app for PC and the Nook app for Mac.

More specifically, this is in regards to the Nook for PC for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. It also is in regards to at least some Mac versions of the app. The Digital Reader got an email from Barnes & Noble that suggests that people use Nook for Web instead (whether they are on a PC or Mac).

The eBook Reader notes that Nook for Web doesn’t allow you to save the book you are reading offline. You have to go online to access it. Another problem is that not all of the Nook books are available through Nook for Web. Some people are going to lose access to at least some of the Nook books that they had access to through the apps that have now disappeared.

Personally, I am an avid reader. I love to read and I have more books than I have shelf space for. I am one of the people who has a pile of books that I am dying to read… as soon as I get through the ones I bought before them. Despite my love of reading, I’ve never been interested in owning an eBook Reader. To me, paper books are a whole lot safer than digital ones. I won’t lose them if an app disappears.

Audio Evolution Mobile App

Posted by tomwiles at 3:36 PM on May 28, 2013

Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 is a powerful multitrack audio recorder for Android that is somewhat reminiscent of Adobe Audition 1.5 in both form and function. Priced at $7.45 US, the app is a real bargain for anyone looking to do serious multitrack audio recording and editing on an Android tablet or smartphone.

Back a few years ago I switched from Windows to Mac, and Adobe Audition 1.5 is one of the pieces of software I had to let go of on a day-to-day basis in order to end the endless frustration of dealing with Windows. Newer versions of Adobe Audition have never struck me as having the same appeal of Adobe Audition 1.5.

It might be just me and the way I relate to software interfaces, but I’ve never had much use for Garageband on either the Mac or on my iPad. I was able to make use of Apple’s Soundtrack app, but it was just never as quick or as easy as Adobe Audition 1.5 was in quickly cranking out a tightly-edited piece of audio.

Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 was easy for me to instantly make use of. The software maker suggests that you download the trial version to try on your particular Android hardware before you buy it, to make sure it will work for you. I downloaded the trial version onto my Galaxy S3 smartphone, and quickly determined that it would not only work but that I really liked the software and the way it worked. I uninstalled the trial version and purchased the full paid version and was able to crank out an hour-long edited recording quite easily with a minimum of confusion.

The software vendor makes it very clear that Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 cannot directly output into the MP3 audio file format because of MP3 file format licensing issues. The app can output mixdown files to WAV, AIFF, FLAC or OGG file formats.

Of course the podcast file format standard is MP3, so in order to be able to convert the mixdown files to the MP3 file format, I downloaded the free MediaConverter app that converts files using the open-source FFMPEG libraries from many different file formats to MP3.

To add ID3 tags to the converted MP3 files, I installed the free MP3dit app that is able to edit ID3 tags for many different audio file formats.

To upload the MP3 file to my podcast server, I use the free ANDftp FTP client for Android.

Finally, to make the WordPress post I simply go to a browser such as Firefox for Android to the regular full browser view, log in and make the post as I would on a regular desktop or laptop computer.

To be honest, the last step is the hardest to accomplish on a tablet device. WordPress just isn’t laid out in a very touchscreen-friendly manner, but it can be made to work in a pinch.

From a podcaster standpoint, the mobile device recording, editing and posting software is slowly getting there.

Voxer Walkie-Talkie App

Posted by tomwiles at 9:40 AM on May 20, 2013

For several years, I’ve made heavy use of the Heytell walkie-talkie app on both iOS and Android devices. Heytell is functional, but it has its problems from time to time. I have continued to my eye out for worthy walkie-talkie app alternatives.

I originally tried out the Voxer app upwards of two years ago. At that time, I found that Voxer just wasn’t a worthy replacement for Heytell. For one thing, I found the Voxer audio quality to be fairly poor compared to Heytell’s audio quality. I left Voxer installed on my devices, but contined to make use of Heytell.

Recently my youngest brother contacted me via Voxer and I started noticing the app once again. I noticed that not only had the audio quality improved, but other useful features had been added and the overall performance of the app is now quite robust.

One of the key features that makes Voxer extremely useful to me is that I can easily pass through poor and changing mobile data performance areas, and Voxer is able to robustly adapt to the changing data connectivity conditions. Even in marginal connectivity areas all outgoing Voxer messages are eventually transmitted to the recipient as connectivity permits. All incoming Voxer messages likewise come in as connectivity permits.

Another really nice feature of Voxer is that it allows unlimited message length. It’s possible to talk and not arbitrarily get cut off after 20 seconds. Also, unlike Heytell there are never any “full” inboxes to contend with. It’s possible to leave plenty of messages for your recipient and they will be waiting for them on their device when they get time to listen to them. This is really a great feature if you are trying to give someone how-to instructions.

Voxer also has the ability to text chat as well as transmit photos back and forth. Additonally, Voxer puts a GPS stamp on each transmitted message, so it is possible to see a map of exactly where either you or your recipient was when a particular message was transmitted.

Walkie-talkie apps on mobile devices can be extremely useful. When you don’t have the time or the inclination to make a phone call, yet have need to communicate with someone, a walkie-talkie app is extremely useful. With both Android and iOS versions, Voxer is the best free walkie-talkie currently app available.

Copy: Cloud Storage for All Your Files

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:49 PM on May 17, 2013

CopyCopy a competitor to Dropbox became available to the public today. It allows you to upload your files to the Barracuda Network cloud, where you can access them from any device that you have installed the Copy application on. It will work on most platforms including Macs, Windows, Linux, iOs and Android. According to their press release Windows Mobile is coming soon. Files can either be shared publicly or privately thru an invite. The person sharing the files controls what the person receiving the shared file can do with them, whether they can just view them or actually edit to the files.

Currently you receive fifteen GB of free storage by signing up and another five GB when you down load a desktop version of the application. You can also get another two GB by sharing on Twitter. For $9.99/month or $14.99 a month you can buy two hundred and fifty GB or five hundred GB of cloud storage. They also have options specifically created for businesses. You can upload any type of file you want, text, audio and even 1080 videos. You simply drag the file or folder into the Copy of Folder or any of it’s subfolders you create. On my iPad and Android phone Copy organizes your recently modified files into different categories, so you can view just image files,  just text files or just video files. If you share a file publicly from Copy and it is in violation of the DCMA, Barracuda Network will respond to any DCMA takedown.

On an Android device I was able to upload any file, however on the iPad I could only upload images . I expect this was because of Apple’s sandboxing policy. I was able to upload a text file from the application Draft by using the open with option. Other applications do not have this option and they will have to allow Copy to have access to them like they do Dropbox. Copy does have API documentation available for developer who want to build applications that integrate with the Copy platform, it is currently in beta. Another problem is the only way to lockdown Copy is to log out of the account. There needs to be a pin to lock it down without having to log out. This addition would be especially important if Copy is to be used to store sensitive information.  Despite these complaints I do recommend trying Copy, especially if you are looking for some more free cloud storage.

 

Twitch Releases App for Xbox 360

Posted by JenThorpe at 12:04 AM on May 16, 2013

TwitchTwitch has announced that they have a brand new app that can be used on your Xbox 360. As you may have guessed, it is called the Twitch App for Xbox 360.

It will allow you to watch (at least some) of the content from Twitch on your big screen TV. This may appeal to Xbox 360 users who would prefer to watch gaming related streaming, shows, and other content on the same big screen that they play games on. Perhaps the intent of this app is so that Twitch can make more of a connection with the users who play games on Xbox 360, and expand their audience. They already have a lot of people using computers to check out Twitch.

The app will have 300 live channels. Users can browse through the directory either by games, featured content, or top channels. The app is Kinect-enabled, so you can use voice or motion commands to tell your Xbox 360 what Twitch channel you want to watch. Right now, the Twitch App for Xbox 360 is available for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who live in the United States, only.

Umano an Audio News Reader

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:42 PM on May 8, 2013

Umano I have a curious mind, so I am interested in a lot of different topics and my Feedly list can get quite long and there are times when I am tired of reading articles and would love to have someone else read them to me. That is when I turn to Umano.  Umano does not replace Feedly, however it is a great addition to it. Umano is an application that is available for both iOs and Android. Umano takes articles that the editors have curated from the web and reads them back to you. I have tried applications like this before, but often they use a computer generated voice to read the article. These articles are read by voice actors, making them much more enjoyable to listen to. The articles are broken down into several categories including technology, lifestyle, entrepreneurship, science, education, news and politics, business and inspirational. You can create a playlist with up to fifteen articles. In settings you can make it so after an article is finished the next one will start.

You can personalize Umano by clicking on the profile and moving the slider up and down under each category. You can also have it read back to you at two times normal speed. It will also play in the background as you’re working in other apps. You can also read the article itself while listening to it if you want to. You can also connect the application to Facebook and share your likes. Umano is available in both the iOs app store and the Google Play Store for free.