With the new year coming up, Mac AppStorm wants to make sure you get introduced to apps that will make you more productive in 2013. Mind mapping apps just may be the type of tool you need to boost your productivity in the upcoming year. From project management to presentations to brainstorming, mind mapping apps are flexible tools that assist users in storing and processing information of all types.

This review includes two apps that take a more minimalist, simplistic approach to mind mapping—MindNode and SimpleMind—and two apps that take a more power user approach—XMind and NovaMind. Read on to find out which app may best fit your needs.

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There are tons of reasons you might need to make a photo collage. Maybe it’s for a work project, a presentation at school or you simply want a good way to cherish some special photos. You can always choose to print out the photos and glue them to a surface, but that’s so old-fashioned (and who even has a glue stick anymore?) If you’re looking for a digital alternative to sticky fingers and glue smudges, Choco is a newer collage making program that is perfect for a variety of uses.

In Choco you have a lot of options to choose from. You can take the easy way, importing your photos automatically into one of the more than 100 existing templates. You can work a bit more, adding images yourself and editing the basic template. For the most ambitious among us, you can even choose to make your own collage, entirely from scratch. I took Choco for a test-drive, so stick with me after the jump to learn more about the program and what kind of collages I was able to produce.

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Good evening, folks. It’s Thursday, the 13th of December, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s release is just one day away. (Unless you have the luxury of a 10 p.m. or midnight showing near you.) I’ve been listening to the soundtrack, and in fact it’s been with me during the composition of this entire deals article. So, if you see some old-English, remember why it’s there. Now, on to the deals of post boxes, healing things with a snap, and so many languages, evening an translator can’t help you. Don’t worry though, Elvish is not among them. Let’s be off! (more…)

Looking for a new indie game to try out? Released this September, Subset Games’ FTL: Faster Than Light is an indie spaceship simulator/RPG that has garnered a lot of praise among the indie game community. FTL’s fresh take on old strategy games is finishing out the year at the top of several Best Of lists. Does the gameplay stand up to the hype? (more…)

We’ve collected the top four reviews, roundups and how-to articles from across the AppStorm network in November. Whether you’re interested in Mac, iPhone, Web, Android, Windows, or iPad apps, there’s bound to be something you didn’t spot over the course of the month. Now would be a good time to explore a part of the AppStorm Network you’ve never seen before!

Thanks for reading AppStorm, and I hope you enjoy looking over some of our favourite posts from last month!

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“I didn’t think Macs got viruses.”

A friend told me that as I helped her clean off a spyware program from her Mac computer last year. While the Mac user has less to fear than a PC user when it comes to the dark side of the Internet, the days when a Mac user could just assume they had nothing to worry about from malware are over. It’s not just viruses causing damage and data loss to be concerned about, but also programs that want to steal your data or personal information. These applications send your info to someone with malicious intent, track what you do and where you go notifying you, and otherwise invade your privacy. Being careful about what you install can do a lot to protect you. Even then, security flaws in software can let software such as the Flashback Trojan that took advantage of a bug in Java to silently install and begin sending your personal information back to remote servers.

It’s just good to see for yourself what’s running on your computer and connecting out. Overall a program that shows you what your computer is doing will help you better understand what’s running and notice when something is amiss. Private Eye from Radio Silence is a free network monitor for the Mac that gives you a real time view into the network connections to and from your computer. Let’s see how well it works and if it can help keep you safe online. (more…)

Editing pictures can be such a hassle, especially if you rely on a professional image editing app. While applications like Photoshop are great, they can be overkill when I just want to share my weekend photos from the beach. Still, I want those pictures to look good, or better than they do now, so I need an image editor that’s just enough for social sharing.

Polarfox may be that app. With some great presets and fun filters, image editing is easy while still making some great pictures. Integrated sharing lets me put all those pictures on display, too. But is this tiny image editor enough or will I end up wanting more? (more…)

Last year, one of the newest features Apple announced for the iOS and iPhoto was Photo Stream, a simple way to get the pictures you take on the go on your Mac. If you have an iPhone and take pictures all the time, but want to keep them on your Mac, it’s a great service … provided you don’t take more than 1000 pictures before syncing with your Mac.

It’s an interesting way to keep your pictures synced along with the rest of your files with iCloud, but most of us have many different ways we sync data already. From Dropbox and other online storage apps to social networks where we usually share photos directly already, there’s a ton of ways to get your pictures off your phone without syncing or using Photo Stream.

More interesting, though, is that Photo Stream could work just between two Macs, or a Mac and a PC with iCloud installed. That way, your most recently imported photos are on all of your devices, even if you don’t have an iPhone.

So do you use Photo Stream on your Mac? Do you find it very useful, or could you just as easily use something else? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

In 2002, a book entitled Getting Things Done was published by author David Allen, to widespread critical acclaim and quickly began to amass an almost cult following. In it, the author set forth a method for improving the efficiency of work processes by employing time management techniques, task prioritisation, and concentration on the most important tasks. Ten years, and many improved work-flows later, Allen’s theory remains as prevalent as ever, but not necessarily in the state he first imagined.

Despite being the title of Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, or GTD, has since become the byword for any method of improving productivity, regardless of relevance to the author’s original. Allen’s paper-based method has become outdated in the ten years since its publication, and, largely in response to technological advance and the Internet, other more relevant GTD theories have emerged, such as David Sparks’ Paperless.

With the myriad of electronic devices that now dominate many work flows and work places, making distractions easier to come by—ahem, Twitter—new ways of boosting productivity have come about. However, not everybody has time to read, implement, and stick to a special system. So, how do we bridge this impasse? It’s simple: take away the Internet, or at least part of it. Intrigued? Find out more after the break.

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I work at home and can go days at a time only seeing my cats and my husband (occasionally confusing the two in my otherwise solitary existence), so social media lets me keep in touch with my friends and keep my sanity, such that it is. Besides being a fan of social media, I’m also a big fan of the Mac menubar, and I have lots of little apps up there that put me in contact with my friends. I’ve got Messages and an instant messaging app, I’ve got an email app, and I’ve got all my social network apps.

That’s a lot of apps, and only today my husband (or was it my cat?) asked what’s going to happen when I run out of room on my menubar. It’s time I consolidate, and SocialButterfly is going to help me do that. Four social networks in one, SocialButterfly is a menubar app that can replace at least a few of my icons up there. Does SocialButterfly have the features to replace the apps, though? (more…)

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