Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Link to Envato Notes

Best of AppStorm in August

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:00 AM PDT

We’ve collected the top four reviews, roundups and how-to articles from across the AppStorm network in August. Whether you’re interested in Mac, iPhone, iPad, Web, or Android 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!

Best of iPad.AppStorm

The iPad: A Student's New Computer?

The iPad: A Student's New Computer?

The newly refreshed Macbook Air is the best laptop Apple has ever devised for students. Even the lowest end model, with its paltry (by current standards) 2GB of RAM, would be fine for most students I know. Add the Air's ridiculously fast SSD into the mix, and you've got a seriously slick machine.

But wait, what other Apple product is impossibly thin, has flash-based storage, and is super fast? The iPad, of course.

15 Essential iPad Apps for Students

15 Essential iPad Apps for Students

Student life can be daunting; assessments, deadlines, classes, exams and maybe even a social life. It doesn't have to be this difficult though. The iPad is naturally a great productivity tool and, loaded with the right apps, it can be your best weapon for surviving education.

Most of these apps cost less than a pint of your favourite beer and will increase your productivity leaps and bounds, saving you countless hours of otherwise wasted time. Start reading now and learn how to ensure you never miss a deadline again!

WriteRoom: Getting iPad Writing Right

WriteRoom: Getting iPad Writing Right

The iPad is a great platform for consuming various kinds of media, from books and films, to news and games. But working on the iPad, and for me that mostly means writing, has been something less than a stellar experience.

Read on to find out how WriteRoom manages to overcome the iPad's operating quirks in clever and thoughtful ways that make it much more attractive as a serious writer's tool.

Making a Podcast With GarageBand for iPad

Making a Podcast With GarageBand for iPad

With GarageBand installed, an iPad is a powerful and portable tool for musicians. However, just like its desktop version, GarageBand for iPad can also be employed by non-musicians too, as I'll highlight with a step by step guide to making a podcast on your iPad, complete with accompanying music.

This How-To will be aimed towards those who have a basic understanding of GarageBand, or at least the principles behind music software in general, but I will endeavour to keep each step as beginner friendly as possible. If you have any questions or problems, please let us know in the comments and I'll attempt to help you through it.

Best of Android.AppStorm

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review: It's Out of This World

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review: It's Out of This World

It may surprise you to learn that I'm a big tech nerd. I love my devices and I like to upgrade when I can. Back in October, I picked up an iPad (first gen), admittedly knowing it was probably poor timing. While it was the best on the market at the time, I figured that in 4-6 months time some new ones would hit the market. I used it for a while but wasn't really impressed with it. Aside from some nice apps, it was pretty heavy, and generic as far as UI goes. I couldn't find a great use for it. When the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was announced in May I knew that it was my next tablet. I went out and bought it last week and was excited to see how it would measure up compared to my personal hype.

Smart Tools: Your Portable Toolbox

Smart Tools: Your Portable Toolbox

How often have come you across a situation where a scale or compass was a necessity? Not often, I know. But at times, there might be an odd job and you might have to measure the length of something or check if the angle of a furniture is right. A scale and a protractor are not the tools one would carry in his pocket these days — but almost all of us carry a mobile phone.

12 Great Sources for Your Coffee Time Puzzle Break

12 Great Sources for Your Coffee Time Puzzle Break

Remember the time when crossword puzzles and sudoku mornings meant newspapers? In fact, remember newspapers? Like most good things, these puzzles have also made their way to the smartphones and are in many ways better than their printed counterparts. When was the last time you kept score of your timing on the kakuro sprints? Let's look at a few notable tree savers that give you just one more reason to get your Android out in the morning.

Credit to MiniSQUL for the crossword photo.

HTC Sensation: A Review of HTC's New Beast

HTC Sensation: A Review of HTC's New Beast

HTC were actually late comers to the Dual-Core game, which is unusual for the company that has a reputation for being first to everything (Android and 4G in USA to name a few), but will their entry, the HTC Sensation, be worth the wait, or have they too entered the market purely for publicity? Read on for the review.

Best of iPhone.AppStorm

The Hit List for iPhone: Worth the Wait?

In my never ending search for the ideal GTD system, I've tried out dozens of apps for both the Mac and iPhone. Early in my search, I came across The Hit List, and found myself very impressed with its stylish but casual interface and its complete, customizable feature set. Like many other users, I patiently waited for the promised iPhone companion app, only to realize that development on the whole project had apparently come to a halt.

Now, over two years later, developer Andy Kim has finally released version 1.0 of The Hit List for Mac, and the much anticipated iPhone app. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out!

45 Unique iPhone Home Screens Explained

Last week we asked you to show us your iPhone's home screens, and the response was overwhelming. So much so that we decided to show off as many home screens as possible by packing it into one big roundup.

Now, of course, there are a few duplicates here and there, but we did our best to trim it down and make the list a bit more manageable. Thanks to all of you who submitted your home screens, and hit the jump the check them out!

HQ: the Stunning Way to Manage Tasks

To-do lists are inherently boring. They're really nothing more than a bunch of items that you want to get done at some later point, be it three hours from now or next week.

HQ, the inaugural app from Sleeping Giant Apps, aims to change that. It tackles the issue of list keeping with one goal: to provide excellent functionality within a stunning, easy-to-use interface.

Steve Jobs: A Thank You

It's always hard when a member of your family moves on, and today, that's how we here at AppStorm feel about Steve Jobs. No, we've never technically worked alongside the legend, but because we've written about him for the past few years, most of us feel this personal connection to the man that's been the driving force behind Apple. And it's hard not to, because he's been in our lives for so long now.

And now, it's time that we say goodbye to Steve, as he's stepped down from the CEO position at Apple, to his new position as Chairman of the Board. But this isn't Steve's eulogy — no, he's got too much life in him for that. This is a celebration of all things Steve, and our own way of saying thanks to the man who helped us do what we love to do.

Best of Web.AppStorm

Read Your Kindle Books Online With Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon blazed the trail for eBooks with their Kindle platform, starting with the original Kindle device and the Kindle store. Even if you didn’t own a Kindle, you could read Kindle books on most platforms with native apps. However, if you used a Chromebook, Linux computer, or other device without a Kindle app, you were out of luck.

That's all over now. Amazon just released their new Kindle Cloud Reader, a full-featured Kindle web app so you can read your Kindle books right in your browser. It's got all the features you'd expect, lets you save your books for offline reading, and even works great on the iPad. After the break, we've got screenshots and more info about the newest Kindle app, the app that just might be the main future of the Kindle platform.

SmartQ: Visual Project Management That Conforms to You

When it comes to project management, most web apps offer the same basic features: a group of to-do lists, some kind of messaging board, a few gigs of file storage, shared document-editing, a calendar of some sort, and if you're lucky, a set of reports.

But what most don't offer is the ability to develop a project-management workflow that conforms to the way your team already works, and without this customization, you lose precious time trying to get everybody up to speed on the new way of doing things. In my experience, that ramp-up time usually results in project members abandoning the app and reverting to project management by email.

Enter SmartQ.

Stay Sane Managing Multiple Accounts of the Same App

Remember waiting to get a Gmail invite, or thinking carefully about what Twitter handle you wanted? These days, it seems like most of us manage too many different accounts to keep track of. I personally have nearly a dozen active email accounts, from my college and work emails to a personal Google Apps account and a standard Gmail account I mostly use for Google+. Depending on the day, I manage 3 or more Twitter accounts, 2 Facebook fan pages, and a half dozen various WordPress accounts on different sites.

Some of these aren't so hard to manage. For example, all of my WordPress accounts are on different domains, so they're all unique accounts that can be logged in at once. Others, such as Gmail and Twitter accounts, can be much more tricky. Here's some of the best ways to keep track all of your accounts without spending half of your day logging in and out of various services.

Zerply: A Professional Network Based on Skills and Passions

With over 120 million members (as of 8/4/2011) and a new-member sign-up rate of two per second, LinkedIn is the undisputed leader of the "professional" social-networking scene. Still, some people have a problem with LinkedIn's conservative design scheme. They want something that represents the excitement and passion that comes from loving what you do.

A number of web apps have cropped up to satisfy these more design-oriented folks (see our roundup of six of them), and each creates a stylish personal-splash page that you can attach to your email signature, print on your business card, or whatever.

Zerply, a new web app that launched last month, is both the same as these "personal-splash page" apps and different from them. Let's find out how.

Best of Mac.AppStorm

jobs

5 Industries That Steve Jobs Helped Change Forever

For the second time since its inception in 1976, Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO of Apple Inc. According to Jobs, the day has come when he can no longer fulfill his duties. He passed the reigns to Tim Cook while staying on as Chairman of the Board and Apple employee.

Today we honor our favorite turtleneck wearing tech guru with a brief look back at his amazing career and five industries that will never be the same.

windowsappstore

The Windows App Store: Serious Threat or Business As Usual?

Windows 8 will be chock full of shiny new features, among which is of course a centralized app store. Let's put aside our feigned shock and awe at this announcement and discuss whether or not this represents a potential threat to OS X or if it's merely the technology industry doing what it does best: following wherever Apple leads.

utilities

30+ Awesome Utilities to Boost Your Mac's Functionality

The Mac App Store has brought about a whole mess of new utilities that make your Mac more functional than ever.
Today we're going to dive and find thirty particularly useful utilities that you'll definitely want to check out and consider downloading.

uipatterns

New UI Patterns in App Design: A Blessing or a Curse?

Software design has made some interesting strides lately. It's possible that we're beginning to see Apple's role in setting UI standards give way to the innovation of third party developers.

Unfortunately, this shift makes for a much more complicated scenario for developers and designers. Tempers rise, fingers are pointed and even users begin arguing about the difference between inspiration and theft. When trends are set by third party designers, is it acceptable to follow them?

Share Your Ideas

Is there something in particular you’d like to see on the site next month? We’d absolutely love to hear your suggestions for articles, topics and giveaways. Just let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading AppStorm!


Getting Your File Approved on GraphicRiver – Part 2

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 11:00 PM PDT

We're excited to bring you Part Two of our tips and tricks for authors to Getting Your File Approved! If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part One, where we covered common technical problems and rejections. This week, we'll be looking at design and licensing issues! These tips come right from the hard-working team members who review your files, written by the fantastic bgm, Ben Gibbin. Lets pick up where we left off!

This post originally appeared on the GraphicRiver blog in 2009. Most of Ben's points are still applicable today.

Design

If you feel that a file your uploading to the site isn't your best work, then consider improving it before doing so. You can ask your friends and colleagues for opinions on the file. Always make sure your files are typographically sound. That means that the layout and the way the text relates to itself is aesthetically pleasing and carried out with a understanding of typography.

The overall design of the file should also be aesthetically pleasing and well carried out. If the file isn't up to GraphicRiver standards, reviewers will typically provide comments on areas they believe need improvement, as time allows.

Licensing Confusion

Be very careful with any assets you include in your file. One of the biggest non-design reasons for rejection is licensing of assets! To play it safe, you can use the assets from the Envato Asset Library in your items, and check out the Envato wiki page on assets.

Tip: If your creating a file with any sort of web screenshot, don't include screenshots any Envato site in the final download. Rather, just use a placeholder image. You can, however, use screenshots of an Envato network site in your preview images.

If your in doubt of whether or not you can use a file, email the original creator, and seek their permission. You can include this info in the Notes to Reviewer box. The Notes to the Reviewer area is one of the most important things to fill in when submitting! Provide as much information as you can on your file and how it was made.

Tip: If you've had previous correspondence about a file–for example, a soft rejection–please paste in any information you can in the Notes to Reviewers so we know what has already been discussed!

Finally, be sure to check out the Envato wiki page all about licensing and assets which will help you considerably on the matter.

Copyright & brand names

Creating mock-ups of well-known products is fun, but unfortunately we cannot accept files that are deemed to be copies or too closely related to a copyright / trademarked product. Computers, mobile phones and other gadgets need to be generic in design – don't ever trace or vectorize a branded product directly.

Likewise including brand names in general is a no-no. With the exception of select social media logos which are licensed for open use (Twitter is the most prominent example), trying to include logos into your file just creates problems. Even proprietary file format icons, such as the Microsoft Word file symbol or the Adobe family icons, are copyright protected.

Note: As a related policy, recognizable architecture, skylines, and art works are also covered to varying degrees under copyright law. Unfortunately, GraphicRiver can't accept illustrations of famous works (e.g., The Statue of Liberty, or Eiffel Tower).

Held files

We thought it worth mentioning exactly what a "held file" is. Often times in the Queue, you will note your file has been held. This means a reviewer has checked the file over, but wants to clarify something with the review team. It's a standard process so don't worry if it is delayed a day or two. Having a held file doesn't mean your file will always be rejected! Don't go rushing off to the forums to tell everyone your file has been held – because its part of the service we provide to review files in an organized and as timely a manner as possible.

Researching into your file

Before you actually start making your file, research into what is actually selling, what type of items are over saturated (i.e too many similar files). Think outside the box rather than making another download button pack. You'll be surprised at how many more sales you make with a unique and different file.

Add your own style to your work. Don't just use default Photoshop styles or follow trends. Whatever you do, your file must reflect the work and effort you have put into it. Making a rectangle, and applying a default Photoshop gel style to it will not meet quality guidelines.

One at a time, please!

Out of respect for the community, and to keep the review queue moving, try to upload as few files at once as possible. If you have a set of 15 files, consider uploading one (or combining the 15 into 1 set if its just a color variation e.t.c) in order to garner some feedback on your file. You'll be pretty upset if all 15 files were rejected because you had neglected the guidelines somewhere.

If everyone on the GraphicRiver site uploaded several files at once, the review team would be overwhelmed, so out of respect for the community keeping your uploads low allows us to keep on top of the queue and provided a speedy and efficient service.

And finally, if you are rejected…

Finally, if you are rejected, and you believe you have followed all the guidelines and requirements of the site, try to remain calm and read the reviewers feedback. It may be you have slipped up and missed something, or the reviewer feels your file could be tweaked to improve its scaleability.

Take into account what reviewers have said, and work on it. If you really disagree with them, then open a support ticket and explain your thoughts in a calm, professional manner. Please do not be rude or threatening. Reviewers will be glad to provide more feedback or information on a file decision if you ask nicely!

Tip: If a reviewer offers feedback, make sure you actually do it. For example, if they suggest you alter your thumbnail size or something within your file, do it before trying again! Resubmitting your file without making changes can result in a warning from Support.

We hope this guide has given you a little insight  into how we work and also how to increase the likelihood of having your item approved. We look forward to your next awesome creation!


Introducing Flowtorch, a Web App Built from Marketplace Items!

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 07:00 PM PDT

Introducing Flowtorch.co.uk! It’s 100% free!

Quite recently, I've stepped up my online business a little, increasing my sales on here, increasing my eBay sales, and really increasing my client work – not to mention my day job too. The problem I became faced with was having multiple streams of finance and losing track of what cash came from where.

I didn't want to sign up to paid financial management services, and I didn't want to sign up to services like Mint, who'd have the banks sending me offers and such like.

I also wanted something simple, without all these options to manage investments and crap like that.

So I thought I'd see how well I could do it myself, using items from the Marketplaces to help me out. So what can you do with Flowtorch?

  • Manage multiple sources of finance
  • Add scheduled & recurring transactions
  • Manage multiple accounts e.g Business account, Personal Account
  • Categorise Transactions
  • Upload & attach files to transactions (up to 100mb currently)
  • Add unlimited users
  • Download monthly statements (XML form currently)

Here is the credits list as promised to authors (a lot of whom helped out)

In no particular order

You won't see all of them working on the site right now, some are obviously in the background.

One of the reasons I post this is I think it makes a great case study of how the Envato Marketplaces can help you scratchbuild something quite useful, in next to no time at all!

I hope you enjoy using, if so, a friendly blog post wouldn't go amiss ;)


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