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As many of the Mac AppStorm writers will tell you, backup is important! It is the single thing that is protecting you from massive data loss, hours of frustration and lots of hair pulling.

With the advent of Leopard, Apple released a built-in backup utility that makes backup a breeze, called Time Machine. However, Time Machine was developed for local use only. It will backup to a Firewire or USB hard drive plugged directly into your computer as well as a Time Capsule device on your local Wifi network. While that is a very good thing, natural disasters do occur, as does theft and simple hard drive failure that can put your backup at risk. What if you could use Time Machine to backup to the cloud?

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Thanks to the advent of point and shoot digital cameras and megapixel rich smartphones, many among us have collections with as many pictures, or even more, than a professional photographer’s. It’s true that digital photography makes freezing those wonderful moments in life with so much ease, but handling, categorizing and archiving them has become a daunting task.

Apps that help organize photos come in all kinds and sizes. Great apps like Picasa are available for free. However, if you are someone who take your image collection seriously, a full blown organizer is the right way to go. ACDSee Pro has been around for a long time and has carved its own niche in the photo organizer vertical. After the break, we’ll check out how the app can put your photography workflow into overdrive.

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Remember how useful those kitchen timers where, the ones that you had to spin around to get them counting? They could be used for a lot of things outside the kitchen, and they were very fast and easy to setup. It seems like we haven’t been able to get the same thing working for a computer app, where you can just quickly set an alarm in a few seconds without a million options or setup steps to get in the way.

Today we’re reviewing an app that wants to your go to fast timer and alarm app. It’s called ChronoSlider. Does it deliver?

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The basic concept behind SwitRing isn’t exactly new, mouse-activated gestures have been around for ages. In fact, I used to be quite fond of using the gestures feature in Quicksilver. It’s nice to be able to whirl your mouse around as if it were a magic wand and have that interpreted as a command to carry out a specific action.

Typically though, gesture apps work basically the same way: you draw a basic shape with your mouse, then associate that with an action. The problem of course with this method is that three weeks later you can never remember all those silly shapes that made so much sense when you set them up. The alternative is something like BetterTouchTool, which adds more multitouch features to your Magic Mouse or trackpad.

SwiftRing is an app still in its infancy stages that seeks to rethink how mouse gestures work. Instead of forcing you to memorize various acrobatic cursor actions, all you do is press a hotkey and move your mouse in a given direction. Let’s take a closer look and see how this works.

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Desktop clutter is a popular discussion topic for many computer users, and our AppStorm community here is no different. We’ve had a lot of discussion on the merits of keeping an organized digital workspace, as well as tools that will help you do it. OS X has built-in functionality to help you hide desktop files that you don’t need to see all the time, but that can lead to some confusing organization, since you’ll need to constantly be aware of the files you have hidden. So what’s a Mac lover to do?

Skedaddle is an app exclusively for hiding desktop content, and it is one of the most lightweight and efficient apps that does so.

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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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Our Macs are capable of so much: we can play games, design graphics, record music, the list is near endless. So why is it still so awkward and time consuming to convert video and audio file formats? The answer lies with both the various proprietary licenses which each format brings to the table and the significant processing power needed to perform such tasks.

As a musician I know all too well how difficult it can be to convert your AIFF files to lossy formats such as MP3, and videos are a whole headache in of themselves, requiring the correct encoding per device. What I need is to be able to bounce my media into whichever format I desire, whether a song from the studio, an audiobook on my iPod, or a movie for iPad, and I want all of this without worrying about codecs, DRM, or screen resolution settings.

Smart Converter promises to help out with all the above, read on after the break to see if it delivers.

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Macs these days span the extremes, from 11-inch MacBook Airs to 27-inch iMacs. It’s a prevalent first-world problem: there’s not enough space on your laptop, but everything’s too far away on the big screen. When you’re working on a large screen monitor (or two), especially when you work in design, you lose focus when you go searching through menu bar items way off in the arctic circle of your monitor.

MenuPop by Binary Bakery is an attempt to remedy this by making menu bar items available anywhere on your screen. Read on to find out if this little utility can save you from getting lost in a sea of pixels!

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There are a few new features in Lion that you might not have heard about or used yet: Versions, Autosave and Resume. Versions aims to bring the functionality of Time Machine to your documents. This means that you can view several versions of your documents with the changes that happen over time even if you have deleted or added new things to the document.

Autosave is a feature that makes certain apps save your documents automatically after a certain period of time, to avoid losing important changes that you may have made after your previous save. Additionally, Resume, is a feature that allows you to open apps and find them to be in the state that they were in before you closed them. Want to learn more about them?

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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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