A big part of design is inspiration. Graphic and web designers don’t work in a vacuum, they browse around to see what’s come before, and use other designs as references and starting points. Collecting these little pieces of inspiration and reference can quickly crowd your browser’s bookmark folder or your computer’s pictures folder, so the developers of Sparkbox sought to create an easy tool for capturing and organizing these images. Let’s find out if Sparkbox can really help organize your digital inspiration!
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Welcome to part one of Mac 101, a series of articles helping you get to grips with everything you need to know about using a Mac. In due time we’re going to cover pretty much everything you need to know, but naturally this opening piece will focus on the very basics and introduce new users to some of the great applications and features that come pre-installed with a new Mac and OS X Lion.

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the fundamentals of Mac OS X Lion and become more acquainted with Apple’s unique method of making computing easy for all.

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Ever since the release of the iPhone 4 and its beautiful 326ppi screen, we’ve been dreaming about Apple expanding its use of this impressive technology.

Are Ive and the Apple engineering team on the same page as consumers? Will we begin to see retina displays in other devices and perhaps even a Mac? More importantly, what hurdles will this transition present?

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Great news! We’ve selected our twenty winners. Each of the entrants listed below will be receiving an email with further instructions on how to claim their prize.

A huge thanks to the folks at FIPLAB Ltd for sponsoring this giveaway and to all of you that entered. We’ll be back with another competition soon and next time your name could be on that list of winners!

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In what could be described as an extremely fitting venue for an education announcement, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Apple announced today a range of tools designed to help people in education with their studies, namely an updated version of iBooks, iBooks 2, which is designed to integrate more closely with textbooks, iBooks Author, allowing users to create their own textbooks for the iPad and a new iTunes U app for the iPhone and iPad, allowing professors to communicate more easily with their students in the classroom.

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As more of our digital lives are transferred from our computers to the cloud, many have claimed that there is a declining need for local storage. As netbooks gained in popularity, manufacturers found that consumers were willing to sacrifice gigabytes for portability. As high performance ultra-portables like the MacBook Air have shown, high performance Solid-State Drives are ready for consumers and have begun to slowly replace the once ubiquitous Hard-Disk Drives in consumer machines.

However, we still love to pack our computers with music, movies, photos, and other space-hogging files. Unless mobile carriers suddenly reverse the current trend of limiting data consumption, cell phone subscribers will not be able to comfortably stream all the content to their mobile devices that they would like. That means that smartphones will need to continue to carry enough on-board storage for average users to conveniently pack enough entertainment until the next time they plug their phone into their computer. The same principle holds true for our desktops and laptops: While the idea of streaming all of your content from the cloud seems quite appealing, it isn’t feasible for many people. Until ISPs stop limiting bandwidth and the cost of renting space in the cloud for huge media libraries and miscellaneous documents becomes cheaper, most users will have to rely on local storage.

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Its products are ubiquitous around the world and each announcement from the company generates huge press attention, frantic tweeting and unparalleled excitement. But up till now, hardly anything is known about what actually goes on inside Apple’s core and how the company functions. The company is known for being one of the most secretive on the planet and even employes an internal security service – or Worldwide Loyalty Team (dubbed the Apple Gestapo by some employees) to investigate internal leaks.

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For those of us who have trouble finding the proper motivation to make difficult changes in our lives, New Year’s represents a perfect opportunity to start fresh with some resolutions. There are dozens of great Mac apps that can help us to lead happier, healthier, and more organized lives.

This list covers some of my favorite apps for managing your workflow, organizing your Mac, and keeping your mind sharp and your body fit.

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In the world of screenshot utilities, SnapNDrag Pro stands out as a lightweight, yet versatile and powerful tool for grabbing screen images. Its simple user-interface and flexible method for taking screenshots earns it high marks for getting the job done quickly and easily.

Join us as we take a closer look to see why this app from Yellow Mug Software could be just the screenshot utility you’ve been looking for.

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This week at AppStorm we’ve looked at not one, but two interesting iTunes companion apps. Notice that I used the term “companion” and not “replacement.” This is because these apps are meant to supplement your iTunes use, not get rid of it.

The two apps that I’m discussing are Ecoute and Sonora, both of which have the same basic goal: to provide you with a simpler, faster way to listen to your iTunes music library.

iTunes is a powerhouse of functionality and serves as the go-to hub for your syncing music, movies, books and apps to various iOS devices. But as great as iTunes is, the increasing popularity of apps like Ecoute and Sonora bring to mind interesting questions about whether or not iTunes has become bloated over the years. In iTunes you’ll find everything from half-baked social networks to ringtones, which is admittedly a lot of extra functionality when you just want to listen to your favorite tunes without all the distractions.

On the other hand, maybe the features aren’t the problem. Perhaps Apple just needs to rethink the interface entirely. The final possibility is of course that we’re all over thinking this. iTunes is exactly what we need and requires very few, if any changes.

What do you think? If you could change one thing about iTunes, what would it be? Vote in our poll and then leave a comment below with your thoughts. Have you tried Sonora or Ecoute yet? Do you think there’s a legitimate market for these types of apps? We want to hear your thoughts.

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