At the end of the week, creative people often wonder how much they actually accomplished. They tell their friends they only spent 40–50 hours on the computer working when, in reality, it’s more like 60–70 hours. Staring at a screen most of the day isn’t great for your eyes, so why not lessen the amount of time you spend using a computer? That’s not as easy as it sounds, because you first have to find out how much you are spending on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube each day.
There’s now a different type of time tracker available. It’s called RescueTime. Rather than requiring that you manually clock in and out, it monitors everything you do and sends you a report at an interval you choose. When I first heard about the service, I was cautious about the privacy implications and whether it even did a good job. After using it for nearly two months, I have a bit more to say about it. (more…)
I’ve written this review twice now. The first time was in the heat of the moment. I was excited about Knock — a new app that was getting a lot of hype from the usual tech pundits, and I was enjoying it after just a few minutes of use. I was typing wildly like I was on a bender.
But then I told myself to calm down. Knock was cool, yes. But did it deserve my excessive praise? I figured I should let it soak in for a few days and see how it goes; analyze the app and see what solution it solves. And now that I’ve cooled off a bit, what’s the verdict? Well … (more…)
Intelligent recognition software, whether it be voice- or picture-based, is continuing to improve. Google Googles is a great example of this. It recognizes patterns in an image and uses them to search for related data. You can use the service to translate a sign in a foreign country or help you distinguish a piece of art. Google is definitely on top of the image recognition software, but smaller competitors are beginning to develop their own versions of the software.
Picatext is a new Mac app that hopes to bring text recognition to the desktop. It supports over 40 languages, claiming that it can take text from an image and copy it to your clipboard in a matter of seconds. Let’s find out if it works.
Private journals are a much better way of venting your frustration than Twitter. Studies have proven this. (Okay not really.) This explains Day One’s success. The thing is, there aren’t that many quality journaling options available on the Mac. I reviewed Capture 365 Journal — a nice-looking alternative — about a year ago and found it to be less than satisfactory compared to Day One. Is there no hope for a Day One stand-in? I think I’ve found one, actually.
Its name is Bits, developed by the people who brought you Numi. It lives up to its very short name, and I’d go so far as to call it the smallest journaling app available on the Mac. It’s very minimal in appearance, but the developers have given it a unique strength: blog integration. Could this tiny app be the basic digital journal we’ve always wanted? (more…)
Not every device prefers to use M4A as its main audio format. Some situations call for an MP3 file, and sometimes even something outlandish like OGG. The App Store is full of “free” music converters that either don’t work or have an abundance of ads. After researching things a bit, I discovered a quality alternative to anything available in the App Store. It’s MediaHuman’s Audio Converter, one of the few freeware apps with an appealing user interface. The question is, does it perform as well as the paid apps? Let’s find out. (more…)
Trey Ratcliff is one of the most respected people in professional photography today. He pioneered the use of HDR (high dynamic range) to capture scenes in a lifelike way; he also writes one of the most detailed and well-composed tutorials for HDR on the Internet. Ratcliff is also known for some other side projects, like Stuck On Earth, a previously iPad-only app for exploring the world through photographs.
The epitome of a businessperson always used to be an employee of a Venture Capital company on Wall Street. When someone spoke about this sort of individual, you’d imagine them with short hair, always wearing a suit and tie, typically taking a taxi to the workplace each day, and maybe going out for nightly cocktails with equally important people at the karaoke bar a few blocks from work. This would be the typical stockbroker.
In his set of tools, the aforementioned person would typically have two displays at his desk always keeping an eye on the industries he’s responsible for. In the movie version of his life, at least, the stock app would look beautiful — but in real life, they usually look more like the LED ticker boards in use on Wall Street. There’s never really been a native Mac app dedicated to making stock market monitoring an effortless — and may we say, tastefully designed — task. At least, that used to be the issue. Visible Market, the developer of StockTouch for iPad, has recently brought its popular iOS Stocks app alternative to the Mac. It’s pretty, yes, but does it do the job?
I first heard about The Settlers of Catan in CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, and I was surprised to never have played such a popular title. The board game, if you don’t already know, was invented in Germany and became extremely popular outside Europe, selling over 15 million copies in the U.S. by 2009. It’s also available as a video game on common platforms like the Nintendo DS, PC, and the Mac.
While the game has been available on iOS since late 2009, there hasn’t been an official Mac app until this July saw the release of Catan. I’ve been playing it for the past few days to get a hang of things. The board game is great, but will the legend live on in a Mac world? (more…)