If you have seen the movie Up you know that the dogs that are in it are well-disciplined except when they see a squirrel. Unfortunately like a lot of people I have a lot of squirrels in my life: email, Facebook, and Twitter just to name some. I have been trying to become more disciplined and more productive by ignoring the squirrels. One of the applications that I have been using lately to help me in this effort is the 30/30 app by Binary Hammer. If you are familiar with the Pomodoro Technique the 30/30 app is built around this technique.
The 30/30 is a very nicely designed application. There is a time indicator at the top and then below a list of task for the day. Once you finish with a task, there is a sound and then the next task begins. You can schedule your whole day, even when it is time for coffee breaks, social media and email. Each Task is divided into 30 minute sections by default, however you can go into the settings and change the time period for any task. You can also adjust the alert sound and change the icon for each task. You can also set up more than one schedule if you need to. You can also have it show you the duration of each task and the time of day. The 30/30 app also sync with iCloud.
I like the 30/30 app, however I think it works best in conjunction with other apps or methods, like full screen mode. I am also still trying to figure out how to stop it from looping automatically back to the start. The biggest problem with an app like 30/30 is that you must have the discipline to use it. I think that a lot of people download it with good intentions, use it for a short period of time and then stop. If you are disciplined and use it I think that the 30/30 app can boost a person’s productivity. It is a free and available in the iTunes store.
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.
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.
Twitch 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.
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.
The Technovation Challenge began in 2009. It is run by Iridescent, which is a 501c3 non-profit company. The purpose of the Technovation Challenge is to give girls the opportunity to learn how to start a company and become high-tech entrepreneurs.
Teams of five (or more) high school girls can enter. All they need is “a safe place to meet, a laptop with internet and a smart phone”. It doesn’t cost any money to enter the Challenge. A curriculum is provided to the teams to help them through the process. Every year, a theme is selected for the Technovation Challenge. For 2013, girls needed to develop an app that solves a problem in their local community. They can focus on a health problem, a social problem, or a lack of resource.
This year, there were 115 submissions. You can check out a complete list of the finalists. One that caught my attention is a team from The Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City. The team of high school girls have created an app called “Arrive”.
The purpose of the app is to allow girls to use their smart phones to check into school. Administrators can use the app to view student attendance by class and last name. Parents can opt-in to having the app send them a text message when their daughter arrives at school.
This would replace the school’s current check in system, which uses plastic ID cards and countless paper attendance sheets. Instead of having students gather around one check in point, “Arrive” would let them scan a QR code (which can be placed in many locations). The video below shows the girls as they explain more about what “Arrive” will do.
If you use a Mac and want to increase your productivity one of the applications I recommend taking a look at is PopClip. PopClip is like cut and paste on steroid. PopClip is available in the Mac app store and on-line. Once you download and install the application it will appear in your menu bar as a black and white rectangle. Now when you highlight a piece of text a small menu bar will pop up above the selected text. By default it shows copy or paste, correct spelling on misspelled words, and define selected words. PopClip will also detect links and email addresses and let you open or copy them, and can start a web search for anything you’ve selected.
In default mode PopClip isn’t that exciting its real power are the extensions that are available for it. Some of the extensions that are available are add a note various application including Evernote, Nvalt or Notepad. Send tweet to not only thru Twitter but also thru other applications such as Tweetbot or Buffer. You can also use it to the send a piece of text to various getting thing done apps like Omnifocus, Things and the Reminder App. PopClip also has other capabilities you can use it to search for a product on Amazon, find a piece of music in Spotify, or search for a video on YouTube. These are just some of the things that you can do using PopClip, the whole list of extensions are available on the PopClip Extension Page. Normally you use the mouse to activate PopClip however there is an Apple Script you can install to activate it using a keyboard shortcut. PopClip is available in the Mac App store for $4.99. If you want to try it out there is a free trial version available through the website.