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Matt Reich

I'm a freelance writer and web developer and Mac nerd (obviously). I enjoy technology, bicycles, writing, good beer, music, and baseball. Killer combo, right?

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A lot of us are stuck in a world of multiple means of connecting with people, but one of the core methods that will remain for the foreseeable future is the telephone. Granted, this devices is a far cry from what it was even a few years ago, but nonetheless, it is something that will be around for a while. We’ll need to make phone calls. We’ll need to receive phone calls.

The underlying function has remained the same, but the technology surrounding hasn’t and has been changing so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up with. More intelligent management of you phones is a great area to explore if you’re juggling multiple phones. Phone Amego aims to be your friend and help you to better manage your calling and call receiving.

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You’ve just moved to a new apartment and you’ve set up your wireless router. You think you’ve done everything correctly, but you’re just not getting the coverage and rates that you should be. Maybe there is some interference from some other WiFi hotspots nearby? But how do you know?

Enter NetSpot. It’s the WiFi network survey tool for anyone. It claims to be dead simple to set up with the reports generated being super helpful. And all of this for free. It sounds pretty great, but does it actually work? I took it for a spin and here’s what I found out.

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The latest iteration of the Macbook Air was released this year and it caught my attention immediately. It was such a beautiful device. I found myself going to the Apple Store website over and over to look at pictures and mull over the specs.

I felt like this version of the Air covered almost all of the shortcomings I saw with previous versions. In fact, it was a more powerful machine than my current Macbook. The one factor that kept making me hesitate was the hard drive size. Would it be enough for me and for future growth? Can I work around the limitation? Should I work around that limitation? These were the questions bouncing around in my head. I decided the constraint would be a good thing and I’d figure out ways to work around it as needed. Enter TuneSpan.

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While we have all of this information and inspiration at our fingertips, it’s often a little difficult to pull quantitative data from what we’re seeing. Mac OS X has some built-in measuring abilities, but they’re fairly limited and stuck inside the screenshot function. Fortunately, there are some third party tools available in the form of browser plugins and stand alone applications that aide in acquiring some actual data that can be useful when working on your own project or just to quench your curiosity.

Many solutions are often a little odd to use or just not there when you need them. PixFit aims to remedy that situation. PixFit is a very quick and simple menubar application that lets you measure anything that is displayed on your screen.

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Apple released their large overhaul to their Mac operating system with Mac OS X Snow Leopard in June of 2009. This update seemed fairly basic to the naked eye as there weren’t many end-user feature updates, but under the hood the OS took strides in performance, efficiency and memory consumption. It was essentially laying the groundwork for the future. While I think Mac OS X users were happy with this update, I can say from personal experience that there was certainly some anticipation for what was next.

Mac OS X Lion launched barely two months ago and I was quick to give this new operating system a try. Developers had been working with versions of the operating system for some time prior and were talking about some of the features that were being played with by the Apple team. It appeared that this would be that major update that we’d been waiting for, bringing along with it many new end-user features.

I’m the type of person that is always looking for ways to be more efficient with my work. This is essentially a never ending journey, but the quest always continues on nonetheless. I grabbed a copy of Lion soon after it was released, anxious to see how the new features I had read about could possibly improve my productivity and efficiency.

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An explanation for a task in an online world can be a tricky thing to pull off. It’s just difficult to explain how to do something on your computer without actually showing how to do it. Wouldn’t a screenshot with some notes be helpful? Or maybe a screencast to really offer a complete explanation? Jing is a piece of software that is able to accomplish the basics of these tasks in an elegant and completely functional way.

Jing takes screencast recording and screenshot taking down to its nuts and bolts. There are certainly more robust options out there (in fact, the company that develops Jing is also the developer of the insanely robust Camtasia), but Jing has found a sweet spot in my regular workflow and has been my go to tool for snapping a quick screenshot or recording a short screencast for a couple years now and I’m not sure I could do without it.

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Learning a foreign language is never an easy task. Especially for someone that has grown up speaking English his entire life (with the exception of a few Spanish classes in high school). Besides taking classes in school there are some other ways to learn another language. Books and software are the most common methods now days.

Human Japanese is one of those software methods. It is, however, much more immersive than the standard memorization method you may find in some books and other software applications. It does teach you terms and phrases but really aims to help you actually understand the language. For a language like Japanese this is no easy task, but it is essential.

I’ve taken Human Japanese for a spin to see how this application works.

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If you’re a web or graphic designer, you know how useful a desktop color picking application can be. There’s nothing more ridiculous than loading up Photoshop just to identify a particular color value. Although OS X does have a native app for this in the form of DigitalColor Meter (in Applications/Utilities), it’s a fairly simple app.

ColorSnapper bills itself as the missing color picker for Mac OS X. Although this is a little bit of an overstatement (OS X does have one, after all), this doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty neat app.

I know a color picker is something that I use on a regular basis, so let’s see whether ColorSnapper really can offer an advantage over DigitalColor Meter…

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably long forgotten about iTunes Visualizers. Right now you’re trying to remember what they are aren’t you? For whatever reason they were something that we thought were great at one point, but they have since lost their luster.

They aren’t directly useful but can be a great addition to a party, or just something cool to look at while listening to some tunes!

There aren’t many folks out there dabbling with Quartz Composer churning out new visualizers so they are a little tough to come by these days. They aren’t the most popular feature of iTunes by any stretch, but it is a pretty fun feature and there are some amazing ones out there. I went searching for some of the best.

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The iPhone 4 was released this past June, and with that came a major iOS release. This new hardware and software presented some new possibilities and thus some new applications. The added front-facing camera was begging to be used in a video calling situation and Apple – being the innovators that they are – created FaceTime to utilize this new functionality.

A limiting factor for FaceTime was the fact that it was only functional for calling another iPhone 4 (or the latest iteration of the iPod touch). Last October, Apple released a beta version of FaceTime for Mac, utilising the iSight camera built into most of their notebook and desktop computers.

FaceTime for Mac recently hit the Mac App Store as a full 1.0 release, and today we’ll be taking the final version for a spin!

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