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Productivity

Almost all of our favorite to-do list apps these days have cloud components, either in the form of a free or pay-to-use browser-access service, or Mac/iOS apps that sync over the air with a pay-per-year plan (not to mention the future implications of iCloud). But what about a free-to-use system with Mac, iOS, and web browser access?

Enter NotifyMe, a cloud based to-do app for Mac and iOS from the folks over at PoweryBase. Once the apps for each device are purchased, the syncing service is free to use, and data is stored in the cloud for easy access from any computer via a browser portal. So how does NotifyMe stack up?

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Most people have started to cringe at the idea of installing yet another text editor on their computer, especially one that promises distraction-free writing environments and Markdown support. It starts sounding familiar to apps like iA Writer, WriteRoom and Byword.

You must keep in mind that the word processor isn’t the tool keeping you from being able to crank out that perfect novel, blog post or tweet. The writing is still ultimately up to you. These are tools and should be respected as such. Getting a better text editor isn’t going to make you a better writer- no more than a nicer hammer, guitar or paint-brush set is going to make you a better handyman, musician or artist.

With those warnings in mind, let me show you around Macchiato, a Markdown-centric text editor.

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There are plenty of ways to open and switch apps. There are app launchers, the dock, Spotlight, Mission Control, the Launchpad, and the Cmd+Tab app switcher. We all use a different method, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. For the most part, I simply use the dock, but one thing that I’ve never liked about it is that it’s very difficult to organize.

What if the dock could get some sort of feature that would make it more organized? Say, something like tabs that divide your apps into categories? Well, today we’re reviewing an app called Tab Launcher that does just that. Let’s take a look.

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Kickoff certainly had a bumpy launch a few weeks ago. The app got so many downloads that their server broke within a few hours of launching, and, as a result, many users where seeing problems with the app, such as crashing or no syncing between accounts. Then they got some unfortunate news that no developer would ever want to hear: Apple rejected the app when they tried to update it. The reason? It was a subscription service and was therefore not allowed in the App Store, despite being approved twice before.

This was surely an unfortunate time for Kickoff. Still, those guys wouldn’t take no for an answer. They have taken it all on the chin, as seen on their blog, and they now offer it as a direct download from their site.

So, has the team learned from their mistakes? Have they made the app more solid and robust to handle all of their traffic? Most importantly, should you invest your well earned money into their service? Read on after the break to find out.

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This is something different for Mac.AppStorm: not a review of an app, but of a book about an app. The book is Kourosh Dini’s Creating Flow with Omnifocus. Dr Dini, a psychiatrist, musician, and author, has written regular blog posts about using OmniFocus, the Omni Group’s brilliant, but often daunting, task management app. Creating Flow… brings together a number of his previous posts, and builds them into a thorough overview of working with the app, as well as offering suggestions for a comprehensive system for approaching task management using OmniFocus.

I’ve read many blog posts and essays on using the app, and watched various screencasts, each of which has had some influence on the system that I have come to use. I became aware of Creating Flow… several months ago, and finally decided I wanted to read it and see if it could teach me anything new about OmniFocus. Join me after the jump for an overview of the book.

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When I first started writing for Appstorm, I immediately grabbed a copy of MarsEdit, since I had read such great things (on AppStorm) and finally had a reason to use it. I know HTML, but I hate looking at all those tags when I’m writing, so I did most of my work in Rich Text mode, then switched it to HTML, and copied into WordPress. It wasn’t a bad workflow, but it wasn’t ideal. When I reviewed ByWord, I got hooked on the minimal writing environment, and searched for a way to integrate it into my workflow.

From ByWord documentation, I learned about the infinitely useful Markdown syntax, which I’d previously dismissed as something too geeky-sounding to try. Markdown is two things: a standardized plain-text writing syntax, and a tool for converting plain text into HTML. With limited knowledge of HTML, writers can type out content in a natural markup-free environment, then easily convert their text into properly encoded HTML. Marked is a lightweight, inexpensive app that lets you preview the HTML output of your document as you’re writing. In this article, I’m going to go over some of the basics of Markdown, and demonstrate how Marked can contribute to an efficient blogging workflow.

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Organization is crucial for greater productivity and we all know the famous saying, “A failure to prepare is a preperation to fail.” On Macs, you’ve got a whole range of programs designed to help you become more productive and improve your organizational skills. You can use the traditional option of iCal, which has been given a much-needed rework in Lion, or if you prefer to have your calendar synced across all platforms, you can use Google Calendar. Facebook also comes in handy for keeping track of those house parties as well as your friends’ birthdays.

But there are times where you want to see exactly what’s happening across all your calendars without having to look all over the place. Enter CalendarBar. It’s a lightweight application available exclusively from the Mac App Store that runs quietly and nonchalantly in your menu bar and lets you view all your appointments from all your synchronized calendars with one click. The developers, Clean Cut Code, state on CalendarBar’s website that it’s a “unique way to keep track of your events”. Let’s take a closer look at CalendarBar and see whether this claim holds up.

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It seems like there’s been an influx of RSS reader reviews here on AppStorm recently.  With great new (and sometimes novel) readers like Pulp or Reeder, we can’t help but get excited about them.  However, every now and then an RSS app comes out that doesn’t dabble with novel formats or unique interfaces.  They set out to achieve the simple goal of utility, and do it well.

MobileRSS is a Google Reader client that has long been popular on iOS devices, and now comes to Mac.  How does the desktop version hold up?

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One thing that the latest version of Windows does well is managing application windows. With easy keyboard shortcuts you can flip through visual representations of each of your open programs and instantly resize or move windows. There are several Mac applications available that emulate some of these features, a number of which we’ve reviewed in the past.

Moom is an interesting new option, offered by Many Tricks, a small independent company that produces several very good Mac apps. I’ve long relied on their Witch to improve OS X’s built-in app switching, and I use Desktop Curtain whenever I need to cover up my messy desktop to take screenshots. Moom takes its name from the conjoining of “Move” and “Zoom”, as these are the two main things you can do with the app.

Join us after the jump to see how Moom works.

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Producteev has long been one of my favorite web-based task management solutions. Before Producteev, there were fully-featured GTD solutions and there were free solutions, and the two almost never overlapped.

Then Producteev came along providing free web and iPhone apps, automatic task syncing, multiple workspaces, due dates, labels, and a lot more. The one thing that it has always lacked is a native Mac app. That problem was remedied earlier this week. Let’s take a look.

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