We’ve all been there. You’ve got a hot date/reunion/court hearing and you’ve dusted the old suit off for a rare outing. But (the horror!) you can’t remember how to tie a knot in your tie and you’re too old to phone mum up and ask her to assist you in your darkest hour of need. If only there was a computer aided knot simulator for the Mac which could come to your rescue.
But wait, what’s this, there is a computer aided tie knot simulator for the Mac? Well hurrah! TieSight can help you tie ten knots in your Argyle-patterened neck-mounted strip of cloth, including the Pratt, the Windsor and the Balthus. It will guide you through the whole process, proceeding to the next step at a whistle from you. All this for a mere $0.99c? Bargain.
Everyone has their own unique preferences for the image they choose to adorn their desktop with – some like amazing landscapes, some prefer minimalistic designs, some think hardcore porn is the way to go. Personally my moods change all the time and in fact I have a different wallpaper on all seven of my Mac’s Mission Control desktops. Anyway – here’s a great design by KINGMANI100, available in a huge range of colours. You can get it, here.
Amazon’s Fire tablet has caused a few ripples online due, primarily, to the pricepoint. TechRader have a an article comparing Kindle Fire vs iPad 2 vs Galaxy Tab 7.7 vs HTC Flyer – a lot of this stuff comes down to whichever operating system you’ve invested your cash in (in terms of apps), but it’s still interesting to compare the specs of the different machines. Amazon have now put their Kindle Fire online for pre-order, incidentally. Meanwhile Ars have a hands-on review of the Galaxy Tab 8.9.
MetaFilter picked up an interesting story about a body suit that promises full mobility for the disabled. Digital Trends have an article on a very funky looking wireless steampunk styled mouse. DPreview have given the new Sony Nex-5N a typically thorough review – looks like an amazing camera thanks partially to the new mirror-less technology inside it. Uncrate cover Kodak’s Playful Waterproof Camera (and yes, that’s its name) which is good to 10ft and costs just $100.
BetaNews have an article on getting that funky Metro style Windows look and feel on your existing Windows 7 OS. NT Compatible report on-going development of Windows 8 via the official developers blog. CNN are reporting that Microsoft are keen to make Hotmail hot again. WinBeta report that an update coming down the pipe next week contains 23 new bug fixes including several ‘critical’ ones.
Web developing Mac users might be interesting in the thorough review of Espresso 2.0 over at Mac Appstorm- one of the big new features is integration of the excellent CSSEdit’s visual tools. That other trusted coding tool for a generation of Mac-based coders has recently had a major update too – BBEdit 10.1 is available now. iCreate have an interesting article on monetising your iWeb site.
With the impending arrival of the iPhone 4S, Macworld have some great information on what to do with your old iPhone. MacTrast have an intriguing report on attempts to get Android apps running under iOS which references this press release. Finally, TechCrunch have a possible sighting of the massively hyped Nexus Prime from Samsung, which has had fandroids frothing at the mouth lately.
Not the biggest fan of the folks on DeviantArt who spend their weekends looking for good photos on free stock library sxc.hu and then upload them as wallpapers with their name on them having simply resized them and run a filter or two over them. Irving’s created a neat montage from three stock images though, so I’ll cut him some slack. Dream within a Dream is a sweet monochrome wallpaper, download includes standard, widescreen and iPad resolutions. You can get it, here.
If you’re a coder, you’re spoilt for choice with editors these days. While BBEdit remains the high water mark for coding apps, it suffers somewhat from feature bloat and takes nearly as long as Dreamweaver to open. If you find yourself crowded in by BBEdit’s mass of features and its free stablemate Text Wrangler isn’t doing it for you, then check out Kod a great little open source coding app.
Kod loads up in seconds and utilises a Chrome style tabbed environment and comes with support for more than 65 different languages/syntaxes which can easily be edited or extended. It also enables you to editing remote files accessible over HTTP or HTTPS. It’s a great little app free of bloat and well worth a look if TextEdit’s not doing it for you.
The analog photo craze that was kick-started by Hipstamatic and has since been ripped off honoured by the likes of Lo-Mob, Camera+, Instagram and Pixlr-o-matic has finally made it to the Mac. Sure there have been some fairly flakey analog style photo filter apps around, but this is the first proper treatment we’ve seen and it comes from Mac stalwarts RealMac.
Analog ($7.99 introductory price in the App Store) is designed to bring a bit of retro film-like glamour to your pixel-perfect digital snaps. All the styles pioneered by Hipstamatic are here, including the lomo-with-light-leak filter, bleach, polaroid and golden hour. All you need to do is import your photo, click on one of the built-in filters and viola, your bland photo has been magically transformed into an ironic 60s pastiche.
Like Grooveshark? Like listening to music offline? If only there was a cool downloader for the great music you heard on Grooveshark. Entrace stage-left – Swingfish, which enables you to save any track you’re listening to on Grooveshark locally. Songs are saved in MP3 format and include all the right tags to enable you to put them in iTunes without re-tagging. If you’re a Windows user then check out the similar Groovedown service.
An amazing bit of graphic design for you this week, courtesy of a Mercedes advertising campagin. There are several images in the collection, created by Gil Aviyam and Lena Guberman at Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive Tel Aviv, Israel. I’ve seen this wall knocking about with the Mercedes logo removed but I always prefer to credit the original artists for their hard work. You can get it and two other versions, here.
The Adobe Muse project is a hugely contentious one. For starters, it has been lambasted by the web development community for producing non-standards complaint, bloated code that isn’t SEO friendly. When it gets released some time in 2012 it will also be a subscription based product that relies heavily on embedded code on the Adobe Business Analyst website. And finally, it has been coded using the Adobe Air framework which itself has been criticised for memory bloat. There has been huge resistance to Muse by web developers who see it as undermining skills they have developed over many hard years of sweating the code.
The fact remains however, that there will always be a market for this sort of application. Whether it’s creating small scale websites for personal or small business use or for prototyping purposes, the ability to create a website using visual metaphors is a hugely compelling one. No doubt stung by the volume of criticism that came their way after the first two betas of Muse, Adobe are back with a sizeable updated in Beta 3.
Lots of different resolutions for you, in this week’s wallpaper pack. A Nice View is by Mohamed Daoui and sports a great nightsky design. I reckon the colours on this one are spot-on and work really well on the desktop, whether that’s PC, tablet or phone. You can get it here.
So, I’ll let you in on a well kept secret today – a treasure-trove of high quality modern fonts, most of which are completely free. I first visited the Maniackers Design library about 10 years ago, when I was heavily into desktop customization and looking for cool fonts to dress up my desktop with. When I first encountered this library it was all completely in Japanese, but over the years they’ve added some basic English navigation to the site.
There’s some truly excellent fonts here, including some great trendy modern ones. Pretty much all the fonts are available in Windows and Mac flavours in both TrueType and Postscript flavours. If you’re into design, be sure to check out the excellent logo library too, which might just afford you the inspiration you’ve been searching for.
The idea of text expanders, if you’re new to the concept, is that you set up abbreviations for commonly used long-form text. So for instance, instead of adding your signature, email address and phone number to the bottom of your documents, you can set up an abbreviation such as #sig and when you type that, it gets replaced with the long-form text. Simple, and very useful.
There are quite a few apps like DashExpander in the App Store, but not many of them are free and not many of them are as flexible. Unlike other text expanders, it enables you to create text-based forms which you can rapidly fill with text. It syncs with Dropbox too, if required and builds up its own tag cloud based on what you type most often. An innovative little app, then, that’s definitely worth a look.
With over a billion monthly pageviews, Reddit has rapidly risen in popularity and is now one of the elite top 100 most viewed websites on the Internet. Its rise coincided with the implosion of Digg and the disappearance of Delicious amongst link spam and chronic apathy. While both Digg and Delicious may yet turn things around, Reddit’s currently sitting pretty amongst the link-sharing sites thanks to a great user-administrated culture, simple link voting tools and, amazingly, popular ‘sub-reddits’ such as science and atheism.
As functional as Reddit is, however, the site is certainly not a thing of beauty. It features a sparse text-based layout that eschews all graphic adornment as needless frippery. This means that the site’s quick and efficient, but also very bland to use. Well now Mac users can have the best of both worlds, thanks to the launch of Envelope – the first full-blown Reddit client.
There’s little doubt that Envelope has been heavily influenced by the look of the new Mail client in Lion and by Reeder the RSS feed client. On the left of the screen you get the topic headings in the Reddit section, on the right you get content and/or comments. To change to a different sub-reddit, you just click on the link at the bottom of the topic pane or alternatively you can hot-key back and forth between them.
The main panel can be configured to show a post’s content, its comments or both in either vertical or horizontal modes. Neither of the hybrid modes is perfect,particularly if you’re viewing a picture posting of some kind, because there’s no way to zoom in or out of any pictures. Also, there’s no reflowing of text in the comments panel, so you usually have to scroll horizontally to view all the text in a comment.
While Envelope borrows many design cues from Reeder, it lacks that app’s brutal attention to detail. Text is not rendered in a very attractive way and while you can configure the font size and choose between either Helvetica Neue or Lucida Grande to display text, neither of them look particularly great in this context. It doesn’t help that there’s no gutter around the text so it tends to set right next to the edges, adding to the cluttered feel of the app.
If a post you’ve clicked on references a web page, then Envelope renders that in the main content window, but again, there’s no text reflow so you have to scroll horizontally to read all the text if you’re in vertical display mode. YouTube and Vimeo videos will play happily in the content window, because it uses the WebKit (Safari) browser engine and so will display anything your browser does. This means you don’t have to keep flicking between browser tabs.
Commenting is probably Envelope’s strongest feature. Comments are rendered clearly and you can up or downvote directly from the window. If you want to reply to a post, you can do that too, but you’ll see none of the formatting tips that you’ll find on the website, so unless you know your Reddit shortcodes off by heart, you’ll need to reference the website.
Amongst the other quirks we noticed while testing the app was the fact that the full-screen button for Lion disappears from the button bar once you use it. Also comments when viewed all conform to the same 640pixel wide column, no matter which view mode your in – it would surely make more sense to have this reflow across the width of the screen? Even worse, there’s no indication in the topics panel of which articles you’ve read – formatting does not change once you’ve read something.
This is a promising application, but it feels unfinished and sloppy for a first release. If the developer was aiming for the look and feel or Reeder, Mail or Sparrow then he fell well short of the mark. There are bugs, display issues, inconsistent navigation and strange formatting errors everywhere. With some time and attention to detail I feel that this app could equal the quality of the afore-mentioned apps and over time I’m sure the developer will take care of the issues mentioned in this review, but at the moment I find it hard to recommend this over simply visiting the website in your browser.
Envelope – $4 – App Store
This week we’ve got a cool photo pack for you to adorn your desktop with. iDrops originally created by nyolc8 and subsequently modded by Mikadesign is a superb colourful wall available in a wide variety of formats, including desktop, iPhone and Android formats. Several different colour schemes are included in the pack, all with pleasing pastel hues. You can get it here.
Hunting for domain names is a pretty depressing task. Normally you have a bit of a think, scribble some word ideas down and then search for those domains on your favourite domain registration site. Occasionally you get lucky, but most of the time you spend an hour or two hunting and then inevitably end up doing for the domain you thought of first.
Well fret no more, because the excellent Domain Name Analyser takes all the pain out of domain hunting. It can search for domains based on keywords and templates and can check for the availability of anything it turns up at the same time. It can search on a huge variety of international domains and you can add to the list if required. It’ll also check domains about to expire, past expiry or even newly registered.