I teach high-school students in a one-room schoolhouse in the state of Vermont. I am not an English teacher, science teacher, home-economics teacher, or history teacher; instead, I am a generalist. I teach my students a little bit of everything, and for the really hard stuff, the students work with outside mentors. But of all the things I don’t teach, the one subject I really don’t teach is math. When it comes to math, my skills and knowledge simply don’t add up.
That’s why I wanted to play a game called DragonBox+. Advertised as a “revolutionary math game” for learning basic algebra, DragonBox (I hoped) would help me brush up my skills while also giving me a tool to use with my students. Of course, with high-school students (especially most of my students), any hint of “math” turns them off. If DragonBox does what it says it can do, then maybe my students can get tricked into learning algebra. That’s something I had to try.
Most of us probably have a strange relationship to Internet memes, those photos that everyone uses to make their own version of a particular joke. While we can be fond of some of the funnier Internet memes that make their way through our Facebook and Twitter feeds — not to mention the Reddit forums — we’re probably annoyed by the majority of them. Unfortunately, the people who have the time on their hands to create Internet memes just aren’t as funny as we want them to be.
Apple’s tagline for the Mac App Store is “Thousands of apps. One simple way to get them,” and for what it’s worth, Apple’s tagline is true. Since its introduction in early 2011, the Mac App Store made finding and purchasing spiffy new applications easier than ever. It also made it easy for indepedent developers to get the same access to customers as the big boys at Adobe, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts.
The problem with the Mac App Store isn’t that apps aren’t easy to get, or that the App Store is difficult to browse and search. The problem is that, every day, developers throughout the industry offer discounts on their apps to help increase their exposure, but the Mac App Store offers no simple way to find these deals. Enter AppyDays from Slappstick, which promises to do what the Mac App Store can’t: give you easy access to all the best discounts.
Let’s see if it lives up to its promise.
About a month ago, the world learned of one of the first malware threats to do real damage to a large swath of Mac users. Known as “Flashback” because it masked itself as an update to Adobe Flash, the trojan reportedly infected over half a million Mac users. Once the trojan successfully installed itself in a user’s system, it harvested user names and passwords from the web browser and sent them back to who knows where. It took Apple about a week to respond to threat, issuing a software update that removed “the most common variants” of the trojan, but that’s still a lot of user names and passwords that got compromised.
Prior to Flashback, Macs had been largely regarded as virtually free from malware. After Flashback, many Mac users might want to start thinking about getting themselves some security protection. With that being said, Mac-directed malware is still a bit of a rarity. Which is why, if you’re going to add third-party protections to your Mac, you might want to start your shopping with a price comparison. That’s where BitDefender Virus Scanner comes in. It’s a virus scanner at the perfect price: free. The question is, will you get what you pay for?
FADE IN on a young writer seated at his desk, his face alight with the joy of inspiration. He scribbles furiously on a notepad, trying to capture the magic of his movie idea. Outside his office window, a full moon prods him on.
Later, with his idea captured in handwritten notes, he decides it’s time to start typing. “If I’m going do this right,” he thinks, “I better buy some screenwriting software.” Research reveals that the leading software, Final Draft, costs a whopping $239. Our hero is not a professional writer though, so there’s no way he can justify dropping $239 to support an inspirational whim. He searches for something else, something reasonable, and — dare he think it? — something better.
His search takes him to The Mac App Store, where he finds, for $29.99, a brand new product called Movie Draft SE, and as he presses the buy button, he wonders to himself, “Will this reasonably priced app help take my script from inspiration to completion or will it frustrate me to the point where I abandon my award-winning idea before it can reach the second act?”
If you scan the features page on the Adobe Photoshop CS5 website, you’ll find descriptions for almost 70 different features, everything from “Automatic lens correction” to “Fluid canvas rotation” to “Puppet warp.” But anyone who’s ever used Photoshop knows that 70 features is just the tip of the iceberg, and when you start to add the various options for each of those features, you’re talking about such a beastly bit of software that it sinks the hopes of any amateur who dares open it.
That’s where the Mac App Store comes in. With the Mac App Store’s democratization of the Mac software market, image-editing amateurs like me have access to a whole new range of “one trick ponies,” niche software that will do the one thing you’re looking for, and not a darn thing else.
Colorize is one such one-trick pony.
I am a fiction writer with a (mostly) completed novel, several novels in progress, dozens of short stories, a couple of screenplays, and a million sketches for future projects. I am also a marketing specialist who writes white papers, brochures, and websites, and an academic who drafts long articles, essays, and reviews. In short, I’m a person who uses advanced writing-software to help me craft and manage complex pieces of writing.
My brother, on the other hand, works as a manager in an advertising agency, which means most of his writing takes the form of email. But like so many other people in this world (about 80% in the U.S., according to the Jenkins Group), my brother wants to write a novel.
The question is whether the same piece of software works just as well for him as it does for me. Can Ulysses 2.0 help both beginning and advanced writers reach their final drafts? Let’s take a look.
With thousands of apps on the Mac App Store, there’s bound to be some hidden treasures. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of apps that are just containers for sales pitches or overly designed slideshows of real estate. There are a lot of apps that, quite simply, don’t belong on the Mac, and the quantity of those apps makes it difficult to uncover the true gems.
For this roundup, I searched the Mac App Store for solid-looking apps that hadn’t received enough ratings for Apple to give it an average score. I didn’t limit myself to one category. I just looked for apps that seemed to know what they were doing, despite not having an audience to do it to. I think I found some real treasures.