At the end of the week, creative people often wonder how much they actually accomplished. They tell their friends they only spent 40–50 hours on the computer working when, in reality, it’s more like 60–70 hours. Staring at a screen most of the day isn’t great for your eyes, so why not lessen the amount of time you spend using a computer? That’s not as easy as it sounds, because you first have to find out how much you are spending on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube each day.
There’s now a different type of time tracker available. It’s called RescueTime. Rather than requiring that you manually clock in and out, it monitors everything you do and sends you a report at an interval you choose. When I first heard about the service, I was cautious about the privacy implications and whether it even did a good job. After using it for nearly two months, I have a bit more to say about it. (more…)
As our lives become more digital, we are always on the lookout for something to enhance the way we organize tasks, wishes, and many other thoughts. Thankfully, there are a lot of apps for this. The problem with having a lot of apps is you have to sort through them to find the one you’re willing to use daily. That’s why we’ve gathered the ten best apps for the job. In this roundup, we’ll detail the pros and cons of each app and give you a chance to decide which is best for your personal needs. (more…)
Intelligent recognition software, whether it be voice- or picture-based, is continuing to improve. Google Googles is a great example of this. It recognizes patterns in an image and uses them to search for related data. You can use the service to translate a sign in a foreign country or help you distinguish a piece of art. Google is definitely on top of the image recognition software, but smaller competitors are beginning to develop their own versions of the software.
Picatext is a new Mac app that hopes to bring text recognition to the desktop. It supports over 40 languages, claiming that it can take text from an image and copy it to your clipboard in a matter of seconds. Let’s find out if it works.
Logic and MainStage just got sizable updates back in July, bringing them to version 10 and 3 respectively. Now it’s time for GarageBand, Apple’s free DAW (digital audio workstation), to get an overhaul. At the Apple event this month, the company gave its iLife suite a facelift, with the exception of iPhoto. iMovie and GarageBand now resemble their iOS counterparts, and GarageBand X (it’s version 10) has been modeled after Logic Pro X.
GarageBand X is sporting lots of new features, from Drummer to iCloud sync. We just hope it hasn’t lost anything special. (more…)
Microsoft Word has long been the word processor for the masses. Whether people like it or not, they have to use the .doc format to submit things to their superiors. Slowly, however, a new generation of apps is arising. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are leading the way in open source word processors, and there are lots of great Markdown tools out there for the pseudo-coder. For the average user, though, the best way to write an essay or report for work is using Pages.
Unfortunately, Apple’s small app doesn’t get much recognition, since it’s not available outside their ecosystem. It also didn’t appeal to some people because of the cost. Well, that’s all about to change in Pages 5. During the special event this week, Apple unveiled a new version of its word processor, making it more powerful and attractive than ever. Best of all, people who buy new Macs get it for free. So just how good is this essential piece of the new iWork suite? (more…)
Private journals are a much better way of venting your frustration than Twitter. Studies have proven this. (Okay not really.) This explains Day One’s success. The thing is, there aren’t that many quality journaling options available on the Mac. I reviewed Capture 365 Journal — a nice-looking alternative — about a year ago and found it to be less than satisfactory compared to Day One. Is there no hope for a Day One stand-in? I think I’ve found one, actually.
Its name is Bits, developed by the people who brought you Numi. It lives up to its very short name, and I’d go so far as to call it the smallest journaling app available on the Mac. It’s very minimal in appearance, but the developers have given it a unique strength: blog integration. Could this tiny app be the basic digital journal we’ve always wanted? (more…)
Not every device prefers to use M4A as its main audio format. Some situations call for an MP3 file, and sometimes even something outlandish like OGG. The App Store is full of “free” music converters that either don’t work or have an abundance of ads. After researching things a bit, I discovered a quality alternative to anything available in the App Store. It’s MediaHuman’s Audio Converter, one of the few freeware apps with an appealing user interface. The question is, does it perform as well as the paid apps? Let’s find out. (more…)
Trey Ratcliff is one of the most respected people in professional photography today. He pioneered the use of HDR (high dynamic range) to capture scenes in a lifelike way; he also writes one of the most detailed and well-composed tutorials for HDR on the Internet. Ratcliff is also known for some other side projects, like Stuck On Earth, a previously iPad-only app for exploring the world through photographs.
Apple’s Notes app is fine if you’re quickly jotting things down, but after a while you may start to want something more powerful. That’s when services like Evernote and Simplenote. The former has had a native Mac app for a while now, but the latter has relied on third-party solutions like the newer Justnotes and Brett Terpstra’s fantastic nvALT.
But now there’s something new on the market. It’s an official app developed by Automattic, the team behind WordPress which now owns Simplenote itself as well. The free Simplenote for Mac promises to bring the whole experience to your computer without a Web browser, and kicks off an entire new wave of Simplenote apps across all their supported platforms. Is the long-awaited client everything we’ve dreamed of? (more…)