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Recently I’ve gotten interested in time management techniques and apps, and I’ve gotten to review a few Pomodoro Technique apps and even had an interview with the developer of one of them. If you’re easily distracted and have a tendency to procrastinate, there’s nothing better than a little pull on the ears to keep you on track and away from distractions, and those tools are great for that.

But what about when those tools become more distracting and harder to use than they are helpful? Having all those great features and animations can actually slow you down, as I have found. So the question is, are these tools actually necessary, and to what extent? Let’s explore a few of the ins and outs of the problem.
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Living in a diverse world comes with consequences. It’s great to see people who are not stereotypical and actually go above and beyond what others consider normal behavior, but when it comes to languages, you can’t learn them all. It’s estimated that there are nearly 7000 different spoken languages in the world.

Since there are many perusers of the Internet who know only their native tongue, reading a bit of international writing on the Web can become tedious. People that often find themselves browsing foreign websites typically use Google Chrome for its integrated translation functionality. But why doesn’t OS X have that built-in? (more…)

I wasn’t one of those people who hated iTunes 11 right off the line, and was even fairly generous to it in my review. After a while, I just got used to the idea of a new — and improved, from Apple’s perspective — iTunes. All seemed well, until I started paying attention.

A few days ago I downloaded a new album from the iTunes Store on my iPhone: Daniel Bashta’s “The Invisible”. Since he’s one of my favorite artists, I purchased the album on the release date while on lunch break and listened to half of it. When I got home that night, I went to my Mac to transfer the music purchase so all my devices would be in sync. Of course, when I opened iTunes it wanted to download the LP and the entire album, but I paused it to shorten the process. To my surprise, the album did not transfer. My iPhone synced “successfully” and the album didn’t appear in my library. I then headed to the artist on my iPhone to find out what happened. The whole new album thing was gone.

But that was just the beginning. (more…)

Remember Dashboard? That area where you keep these tiny, simple widgets for converting measurements, checking sport scores and stock prices, and more? It happens to still be alive, even if you’ve likely quit paying much attention to it these days.

Is there any reason you should still use the Dashboard? Turns out, it’s still a plenty useful little Mac tool, and I’ll likely still be using it until Apple finally drops it entirely. Here’s why.
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It’s really easy to get out of control with your menu bar apps. There are just so many cool apps out there that make it really hard to decide on just a few apps to use so that your status bar stays uncluttered. If I could, I would have my menu bar filled with dozens of handy utilities, but that’s clearly not an option.

That’s why I recently started up on the task of getting rid of as much clutter as I could in my menu bar. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to do it with a simple and free app called Broomstick that allows you to hide menu bar apps that you wouldn’t normally be able to. How about we get to it?
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In 2012, the Mac community lost one of the Mac OS X mail clients that many considered to be the best on the market: Sparrow. Development has stopped (which doesn’t mean you can’t still use this app, though, at least for now) since the team has been acquired by Google.

Some claim that the whole email concept needs a refresh and solutions are offered, and the previously reviewed Mail Pilot and its upcoming Mac client, or the upcoming .Mail app are proof of that. Others still prefer to use web-based apps like the popular Gmail.

I, for one, still think that Mail.app, since its OS X Lion revision, is the best. It’s built-in, offered at no cost, and is completely integrated with OS X. I’ve customized it to fit my needs and developed my own workflow to deal with emails.

In my humble opinion, you should be able to jump into your emails, process them quickly, and then get back to work. A mail client, for me, is just a way to send and receive emails, not a big messy, clunky, filing cabinet with hundreds of manually created and sorted folders. Read on to find out why, in that case, Mail.app is the best for me, even when processing hundreds of incoming messages per day.

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We reviewed an app called Characters back in August. It gives you quick access to a large number of special characters, making it an indispensable tool for web developers, technical writers, and anyone else who needs to go beyond the standard ASCII fare on a regular basis.

But I think the best tool for the job is PopChar X, not Characters, nor OS X’s built-in character viewer (and not any of the many web-based alternatives, either). It nestles itself in the top-left (or right) corner of your menubar, and it has everything you could need. Allow me to explain.
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When you bought your Mac, or perhaps another smart device, chances are you didn’t plan on just using the bundles apps that were already installed on it. There’s dozens of apps we all use every day that make our machines vastly more useful than they’d be on their own. When we don’t know what to use for a job, a quick visit to the App Store is usually all that’s required to find an app that’ll fit the bill.

Problem is, there’s too many apps for any of us to ever use, much less master. And there’s always that nagging suspicion that there’s a better app that could let you do what you’re doing faster.

If only you had the best app. (more…)

In recent iterations of iOS — Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad — and in recent versions of OS X on the desktop, you will undoubtedly have noticed a move towards visual elements that mimic real-life objects. The ruled, yellow notepaper for the Notes app, the torn-paper effect at the top of the stitched, leather-bound Calendar app, and more are examples of this.

These software design elements mimicking real world objects have introduced a new word into our vocabularies: skeuomorphism. Such effects have, however, divided opinion, and it is just possible that we will see Apple shift away from these elements in future.

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On October 30th, as Hurricane Sandy was hounding the East Coast of the United States, Apple announced one of the biggest corporate reshuffles in their history, which some dubbed as the company’s biggest shake-up since Steve Jobs resigned from Apple in August 2011, shortly before his death from cancer in October. Soon after the announcement, however, it transpired that this was no ordinary reshuffle and the reasons for it were a lot more deep-rooted than we ever actually thought.

As an economist, this announcement caught my eye, not only because it’s Apple but really because I wanted to know exactly what actually happened and also how this restructuring will affect the company as a whole. Read on for my in-depth analysis.

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