Friday, December 23, 2011

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Link to Envato Notes

Freebie Friday: Freebies on AppStorm

Posted: 22 Dec 2011 10:00 PM PST

The AppStorm team have been hard at work again. Here is a huge bunch of great free apps and web services they covered.


Select Your Next Vacation Destination with KAYAK ExploreSelect Your Next Vacation Destination with KAYAK Explore

Haven't you ever dreamed about one day just out of nowhere pointing your finger at the globe and taking the next plane to the location that is selected? It's a crazy idea, but we all have that adventurous side deep down that tells us to just go out and do it.

The app that we are reviewing today does that, sort of. It's called KAYAK Explore and it uses the engine to help you find and book your next destination for a vacation. Let's try it out!
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Create Navigable Site Mockups With ClickDummyCreate Navigable Site Mockups With ClickDummy

One of the most important aspects of website and app design is flow – how a user navigates and goes through the process that the site/app is built for. It's very important to properly close the loops on all navigation and actions. For example, if you're building an online store, there should be a simple path for a shopper to get from your homepage to the checkout completion page, without getting lost or confused along the way. And when you're working in a team with clients to report to, it's crucial that everyone knows where each step takes a user, how one can move back and forth in the site/app and how processes (like placing orders or filling out forms) start and end.

ClickDummy can help you with that. This app allows you to share screenshots of each page/step of your project and link them together as intended in its final form. So if you need to show your clients how their upcoming web store ordering process will work, or you need to demonstrate to a designer how you intend for people to go through your site, ClickDummy can help you put together a clickable demo in minutes.
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Read Better With ReadingsRead Better With Readings

There is little innovation happening in the online news reader space. I am so jealous at the awesome apps like Google Currents, Flipboard, Pulse, and more that push the envelop for reading on a tablet. After mercilessly slaughtering the usability of the Google Reader web app, Google came up with the elegant Currents. Unbelievable.

These days lot of my reading time is spent on my iPad and with the choices out there on the web, I don't see things changing anytime soon. That doesn't stop me from scouting for new web apps that help consume news better. Like Readings. I took some time off to put the app to test and you can find out if is a promising contender after the break.
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Lemon: An Easy Way to Track Your ExpensesLemon: An Easy Way to Track Your Expenses

For those of you that run a small business, you know that keeping track of your finances is very important. You want to make sure that every penny is accounted for that goes out and that comes in. As someone that does the finances for my wife's photography business, I am always searching for a way to keep track of receipts.

Over the past couple of years, I have tried to scan them in with a scanner and kept them in an envelope, but have found both methods to be average at best. There is nothing great about them, but something was still missing. I think I found what I was looking for when I started using Lemon, a web app that helps you keep track of receipts.
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Collaborate and Organize Your Team with AndBangCollaborate and Organize Your Team with AndBang

Anybody who's tried to lead a team to work on one or several projects knows how much of a nightmare it can be to get everything under control – Who does what? When? Who helps who? Who makes decisions and how can significant progress be made?

There are various programs and online tools out there that attempt to make the job of organization and collaboration less daunting. While the majority of these tools are complicated and have tons of features and capabilities, &! (pronounced andbang) goes the opposite direction. Let's take a look and see if its reduced feature set is what your team needs.
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Asana: Free Project Management for TeamsAsana: Free Project Management for Teams

Project management can be the hardest part of executing on your goals. Sometimes it's easy to dream up the next big idea, but without the discipline to get things done, you are going to be left sitting around telling everyone that you meet about how you could have created the internet. For many, project management is at once personal (pick up flowers, take out the trash, etc.) and professional (file that invoice, draft new ideas).

Asana, the next big project from one of the team members at Facebook, is a free solution to managing your tasks as a team. Is it worth using, or is it a dud? Read on to find out.
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Gmail Finally Gets a Native iOS appGmail Finally Gets a Native iOS app

Gmail is one of the best web mail apps around and I have been using it for a few years now. When the iPhone came out, there was a lot of talk about a native Gmail application; but, because of Apple's stringent rules, that talk was pretty much quieted as soon as it was spoken. Apple was completely satisfied with the way that Mail on the iPhone worked and wanted you to use that instead.

Well, being patient and letting things play out, we finally have ourselves a native Gmail application for the iPhone. Since I mainly use it as my main email client, I figured I would give it a test drive and see how it actually works and whether or not it would take the place of Mail.
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TripIt: Your Professional Travel OrganizerTripIt: Your Professional Travel Organizer

As the holidays get under way and traveling becomes hectic, TripIt allows you to keep your sanity with an organized view of all your travel plans. Itineraries are available at your fingertips and are easily shareable with friends, family and co-workers.

And now, TripIt has an iPhone app to make your life that much easier. If you are ready to spare yourself from the nightmare of holiday travel, follow the jump.
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Batch: Sharing a Bunch of your PhotosBatch: Sharing a Bunch of your Photos

Uploading a bunch of photos for your friends to view is a pain. First you'll probably want to connect your iPhone to your computer (or, if you're using iCloud, fire your computer up and revel in the glory of Photo Stream), then you'll choose which photos to upload, and then you'll tag your friends and label the album.

This is a pain. Luckily, Batch is here to the rescue, allowing you to upload a bunch of photos (you might even say, a batch of photos) to the service and then share them on Facebook or Twitter.
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Rate the Things You Love With OinkRate the Things You Love With Oink

There are two varieties of social networks: the all-in-one and the niche. The obvious king of the all-in-one social network is Facebook (status updates, messaging, groups, apps, events, etc.), while the king of the niche social network is Twitter (all you do is tweet). At the moment there are only a few all-in-one social networks, but the list of niche social networks is vast and ever growing, over indulging iPhone users with apps that are geared towards socializing in a specific manner.

Our own Kevin Whipps recently reviewed Stamped, a niche social networking app that let's you share the things you love with friends. Much along the same lines, Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) and his new company (Milk, Inc.) recently released Oink, a social network that allows you to rate and rank the things around you. The twist? You don't rate the places you love, but the items inside them. So, does Oink deserve a spot on your iPhone? Find out after the jump.
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Keep Your Readers Up To Date With TumblrKeep Your Readers Up To Date With Tumblr

Tumblr has been a very renowned service since its launch in 2007, and even the huge downtime they had last year didn't seem to affect their popularity. Two years after launching, in 2009, Tumblr acquired Tumblerette, a very popular iPhone app for the blogging service. Today it's simply called Tumblr and it's available in the App Store for free.

In this article I'll be talking about this app's functionality, what you can do with it and why it's so great to keep your blog updated on the go.
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Timeli: Project Management for the Rest of UsTimeli: Project Management for the Rest of Us

Managing a project can be an exhausting and tedious task. Keeping track of various assignments and the current status of team members can be overwhelming, especially if you are doing it the analog way or using a very complicated piece of software, which requires you to study the handbook for every simple step along the way. Before long, you'll be frustrated and find the project spiraling out of control, because you can't bear to look at the project schedule (sound familiar?).

That's where Timeli comes to rescue. The iPad app allows you to input your important data quickly, manage it visually and rely on many gestures you already know from iOS. Believe it or not, project management can actually be fun. We'll show you how after the break…
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MoboPlayer: The Most Robust Android Video PlayerMoboPlayer: The Most Robust Android Video Player

As phone screens get bigger and more content becomes available online, people aren't just watching short YouTube videos on their handsets, but moving towards full two hour long movies.

Android has a fair share of video apps, but after testing them all, only one withstood almost all of the formats I threw at it: MoboPlayer.
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Google Currents Beautifully Displays Content on Your TabletGoogle Currents Beautifully Displays Content on Your Tablet

Back when I had an iPad, one of my favorite features was an app called Flipboard, which displays your RSS feeds in a great-looking newspaper style. It's a really beautiful app and one of the only ones I actually miss now that I am using the Galaxy Tab. A few days ago, Google Currents launched in the Android Market, claiming to be a fast, clean way to read publications on your tablet and phone. Curiosity (and hope) got to me and I downloaded the app. Let's see what I found.
Continue Reading Mobile Keeps Your Internet Speed In Mobile Keeps Your Internet Speed In Check

So you've subscribed to your mobile carrier's unlimited data plan and can now use your phone's Internet apps 24/7. Congratulations! For heavy Internet users, this is more of a necessity than a luxury. Having unlimited mobile Internet access is part of the lifestyle you'll lead as a power Android user – one that is not dependent on Wi-Fi hotspots wherever it may be available.

In a perfect world, your carrier should deliver the kind of mobile Internet speed they promise: 3G, HSDPA or 4G. If you're an advanced user, or had a lot of experience with mobile Internet, you should know the difference between these speeds, and can instantly recognize when it is present – or not – in your phone's Internet connectivity.

In reality, however, this may not be the case. Your browsing experience may slow down at certain hours of the day. If it comes to a point where you simply cannot get anything done, it's time to check your actual connection speed. That's when an app like Mobile becomes handy.
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Tiny Tower: A Skyscraper in Your PocketTiny Tower: A Skyscraper in Your Pocket

For the last week, I've been building floors and operating an elevator for a tower that houses tiny little people. No, I haven't taken a second job as a contractor; I've been playing Mobage's cute (and addictive) game: Tiny Tower. Let me explain why, after seven days play, I'm still not bored.
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Blast From the Past: Is Yahoo Messenger Still Any Good?Blast From the Past: Is Yahoo Messenger Still Any Good?

The ability to communicate with each other is one of those areas that got revolutionized in the past few decades. Looking past email, instant messaging, or IMing, was definitely one of those things that was cool when I was growing up.

But are the IM clients from the last era any relevant now? Today, I'd like to take a look at Yahoo messenger.
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Reading from Windows with Kindle for PCReading from Windows with Kindle for PC

With the recent introduction of the full color 7″ multi-touch Kindle Fire, Amazon has positioned the Kindle in yet another burgeoning segment of the holiday shopping stratosphere for 2011. It truly appears that Amazon's goal for the Kindle brand of products, by 2012, is to breach every nook and cranny of the shopper subconscious, and then eliminate any and all barriers to a purchase by the end of the holiday season.

Kindle for PC has opened Amazon's doors to millions of new potential customers, and increased the demand for Amazon's eBooks by redefining their strategy and broadening their approach to the sale of their digital media. Within this in depth review, we take a long look at the Windows based variant of Kindle, and attempt to paint a better picture of the competitive advantages that Amazon hopes to gain with the introduction of the product.
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Create a Secure Virtual Private Network with HamachiCreate a Secure Virtual Private Network with Hamachi

It's impossible these days to live a life sans the Internet. Advancements in technology have ensured that one can manage their private life through Internet hardly requiring them to get out of the door. Right from shopping to banking and paying taxes, everything is a couple of clicks away. This is largely true when it comes to our professional lives too.

As we painstakingly point out at Web.AppStorm time and again, there are so many options for a business to move to the cloud. Yet, a lot of them are still wary of the cloud for privacy and security reasons. Still in some cases they might be willing to allow their employees a safe line to access the network, services and data that's behind a corporate firewall.

That's when virtual private networks (VPN) come into play. Follow me after the fold to learn to how to use LogMeIn Hamachi to set up a VPN for your home or office.
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Tweet Elegantly with MetroTwitTweet Elegantly with MetroTwit

Microsoft has been in the news a lot over the past year for having crafted the beautiful Metro design language. Metro lends itself very well to all kinds of apps, as demonstrated by early versions of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7. And they do deserve the credit being showered upon them – Metro is simple, focuses on conveying information and looks great on all types of screens. A number of Microsoft products will likely follow these design principles once Windows 8 is launched – but what if you wanted a taste of Metro right now?

Look no further than MetroTwit, as it presents a brilliant implementation of the Metro UI in its minimalistic Twitter client for Windows. The app layout, fonts and graphic elements all borrow from Metro reducing visual clutter and presenting a lot of dynamic textual information in a pleasing, usable interface. However, not everyone chooses a Twitter client simply on the basis of its looks. Is there to MetroTwit than meets the eye? Let's try it and find out if it's right for you.
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Are You Planning to Combine Work with Travel These Holidays?

Posted: 22 Dec 2011 05:21 PM PST

Alone: In the Wild by Dave Morrow

A lot of us will be traveling to interesting places over the holiday season. Are you tempted to get a bit of work done while you’re away?

Having a flexible job that is not location-specific can open up a lot of opportunities. Instead of having to take time off work to travel, you can take your work with you.

But how does that work in practice? Well, there are a bunch of people in the Envato community who have already given it a go, and we can learn from their experiences.

Melissa Antonelli spent five weeks this year living and freelancing in Italy

You can read all about it in the FreelanceSwitch article Have Internet, Will Travel: A Freelancer Case Study.

When Melissa lost her marketing job, her boss asked her to continue working for him as a consultant. That extra freedom cut the tether to her desk, and gave her the freedom she has been enjoying ever since.

I was doing the same job without the stressful commute, and I wasn't tethered to my desk all day. It was perfect.

Besides traveling to Europe, Melissa takes advantage of her freedom to travel around the United States. She especially enjoys working in locations where she can go snowboarding in her lunch breaks.

Melissa spent five weeks living and freelancing in Italy

ChristianKragh creates ActiveDen and AudioJungle items while travelling the world

You can read all about it in his Envato Notes Author Interview.

Christian travels a lot. His workspace is basically a MacBook Pro with all the software he needs, and a few guitars. “The actual ‘space’ is anywhere,” he says.

Where has Christian been?

Where I'm from is a complicated story and it's the reason why I'm currently a traveling little troubadour but I'll try to keep it quick: born in Denmark, moved to Rochester, NY immediately, 3 years later moved to Berlin, Germany, 3 years later moved back to Rochester, NY, 7 years later moved to Antwerp, Belgium, 5 years later I left home and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, 1 year later moved close to Birmingham, England, 1 year later I spent half a year in Sydney, Australia and the past year I've spent traveling around, mostly between Rochester, NY and Denmark but also Germany, France, England and other US states.

That’s the beauty of a portable workspace and flexible work.

Christian's portable workspace

A mystery author is working out of a caravan while traveling long-term

We haven’t heard from our mystery author for a while, but you can learn a bit about his story from his Featured Workspace posts – Part 1 and Part 2.

This author makes a living from the Envato marketplaces, which allows a very flexible lifestyle. He just needs his computer, and the Internet from time to time. To power his laptop he sometimes has to use solar panels.

Hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town (and heading away) we reached a high point and our "Internet alarm" went off. Quickly pulled over and whipped out the 6 dB gain omni – got a fairly decent connection for this area (90 kbps) and stopped for an hour catching up on work.

Our mystery author working outside his caraven

Hey, Mystery Author. What about an update?

Japh Thomson traveled Europe while working for Envato

Read all about it in this Meet the Staff post.

Japh is now Envato’s WordPress Evangelist. But last year when he worked for Support, he took his job on the road when he traveled to Europe with his family.

I really pride myself on being mobile. My workspace really consists of my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad, and I can work from pretty well anywhere as long as I can get internet access. (I actually worked from my car for over an hour the other day while I waited for my favourite cafe to open!)

I work from at least three different locations most weeks. Actually, when I worked in Support for Envato, I was travelling around Europe, and liked to tease Drew that I was working from my balcony in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower!

Japh working on a balcony in Paris

Aussie Jordan McNamara took Support on the road while traveling the States

Read all about it in this Meet the Staff post.

Not to be outdone, last year Jordan from support headed from Australia to the States to do some traveling. We caught up with him mid-air to get the story.

At the beginning of this year, I started to think about the fact that we have so many of our staff (at all levels of the business) working remotely – so maybe I could do the same for a bit and do some exploring!

And voila! I'm currently planning on going to the United States (well, I'm already here – I'm writing this on a flight to Chicago!) and Europe. More specifically, I've just visited Los Angeles for two days where I stayed in a hostel in Hollywood.

Well, that’s not the end of the story – there are lots more experiences that I don’t have time to cover here. Like Review Manager Jarel Remick traveling the world while working. Or how he and a bunch of other Americans spent a month working in our Melbourne office.

What about you. Do you have any big or small plans to work while traveling?

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