Friday, March 16, 2012

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Link to Envato Notes

Freebie Friday: Freebies on AppStorm

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 04:59 AM PDT

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


Wunderkit Finally Hits the MacWunderkit Finally Hits the Mac

If you spend any time at all with your nose in the realm of productivity software (and you know we do), then you're probably aware of the splash that 6Wunderkinder made when they finally opened their super-secret new web app, Wunderkit, to public beta just a mere few weeks ago. By building on the success of Wunderlist (which many would agree is one of the most refined task-list managers on the market thus far), 6Wunderkinder designed a highly anticipated platform that has the potential to change the way we organize our life.

In a not entirely unexpected move, 6Wunderkinder released a Wunderkit client for both Mac and iPhone on the same day that the beta of the service went public, and those of us who utilize those platforms got a taste of what's to come from 6Wunderkinder's almost certain multi-platform roadmap. Today, I'm going to take a look at attempt number one at the Wunderkit client for Mac. Hit the jump to find out more.
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NotesTab: Instant Note-Taking on the Menu BarNotesTab: Instant Note-Taking on the Menu Bar

While it is true that note-taking apps are a common sight these days, there are only a handful that are specifically made to stay on the menu bar such as Soho Notes, Rapid Note, and Scribblet 2. These menu bar note-taking apps are normally built with minimal features, an easy-to-navigate interface, and run silently in the background.

For today's review, I'll be taking a look at a relatively new menu bar notes app called NotesTab by FLIPLAB Ltd., the makers of popular menu bar apps MailTab and MenuTab for Facebook. With the latest update to version 1.2, let's see if this new member of the family stands and delivers just as well.
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Itsy: A Less Is More Twitter ClientItsy: A Less Is More Twitter Client

One of the reasons Twitter is popular is for its simplistic take on social networks. Instead of encouraging users to post as much content as they can, Twitter limits the amount of information a user can put out by limiting the characters in each tweet to 140 characters.

You probably knew this already, but I'm telling you this because the app that we are reviewing today intends to bring the simplicity of the original idea of Twitter, to the Mac. It's called Itsy, want to check it out?
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A Fresh Look at Clean Cloud Sharing with DroplrA Fresh Look at Clean Cloud Sharing with Droplr

Last time we did a feature on the lightweight, cloud-based content-sharing app Droplr, it was in an early development phase. Since then, we haven't looked very closely at it, despite the raging rivalry between fans of Droplr and it's main competitor (which I'll talk more about later). Well I aim to remedy that, and since Droplr has recently been upgraded to Version 2, what better time than today?

If you're not familiar with the app, Droplr is a lightwight file-sharing service. Put simply, it works like this: you choose some content, and a method of uploading it, and then Droplr generates a shortened URL that you can then use to direct your friends, family, or colleagues to that content. But that's only the beginning. Any old app can share content, but it's the details that give an app the upper hand. Read on to find out more about the new Droplr for Mac.
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Stash Your Files in the Cloud with CXStash Your Files in the Cloud with CX

The cloud storage market is really heating up right now. Previously we relied on these services to have all our files up-to-date on our home and office computers. Now, smartphones and tablets have drastically increased the need for ways to store and sync files between all our devices. And it's not just for work anymore – all our music, videos and photos travel with us wherever we go, by the awesome power of the cloud. So where are you keeping your data?

CX might be a choice worth looking into. The service has been around for a while, known previously as Cloud Experience. Having undergone a drastic rebranding and redesign, it now pegs itself as a great place for casual and professional users to store their data in the cloud with a host of features for sharing and collaboration and apps for several desktop/mobile platforms. The redesign and the new offer of lots of free space seemed enticing, so I decided to try it out.
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Quick Look: TwusicQuick Look: Twusic

In this Quick Look, we're highlighting Twusic. The developer describes Twusic as a Belgian project developed in Brussels by the company LemonLab, born of two young entrepreneurs' mind, both passionate about music and social media, Amaury Lesplingart and Alexis Lecomte. Twusic is a music platform that allows users to compose their own music station from a simple tweet using the hashtag #nowplaying.
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Uniiverse: Marketplace for Collaborative LivingUniiverse: Marketplace for Collaborative Living

However hard one tries, it is almost impossible to live without interacting with other human beings. Today, our online selves are more social than our real world versions. And this could not be a healthy trend. Mingling with the crowd often has its benefits. Uniiverse is an app that tries to unlock the potential of crowd sourcing.

Uniiverse is the world's local platform for collaborative living. The web app allows you to find unique experiences and activities: learn a new language, join a sushi class, go scuba diving or something that's far more exciting. Meet new people or reconnect with your friends. Could this app help us become adventurous in our day to day activities?
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Small Demons: Enter the StoryverseSmall Demons: Enter the Storyverse

I'm a sucker for anything Adam Lisagor is commissioned to make a video for, and Small Demons is no exception. While I was originally drawn in by the internet-celebrity video endorsement, I signed up for the service and have continued to use it because of how awesome Small Demons actually is.

I can't give too much away right here in the intro–that's not what AppStorm pays me for–but rest assured that once you enter the Storyverse, you won't want to leave.
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Doxo: Getting Rid of the File CabinetDoxo: Getting Rid of the File Cabinet

Each year around tax time, I always go through the ritual of cleaning out the file cabinet of the receipts, bills, and other paperwork that I have kept that I no longer need for the following year. My parents always told me to keep two years worth of documents, so I have it down to a science now where each year I am shredding documents from three years ago and always keeping the past two years worth. To be honest, I hate doing this and I have always thought that there has to be a better way.

In my article, I reviewed the Doxie scanner, a tool which I believe will help solve half of the problem. The other half of the problem is that I needed a place to store all of these digitized receipts and documents. Doxo seemed like the right place to do it. The easiest way to explain Doxo in a nutshell is as your digital file cabinet. Let me show you what I am talking about.
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Quick Look: Hike Video AppQuick Look: Hike Video App

In this Quick Look, we're highlighting Hike Video App. The developer describes Hike Video App as an app that offers more than the average Facebook Video App: It's the very first Video App for Facebook to support both YouTube and Vimeo. Installed in less than 30 seconds.

Display your complete video channel in a super sleek video gallery slider – not just 6 or 9. Lock your videos to non-fans. Show your videos in their true dimensions – without any black bars. Get started for free, and pro features start at $9.99/yr.
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Market Yourself Visually With VisualCVMarket Yourself Visually With VisualCV

For the modern career seeker, having a visually compelling résumé is important. This importance is magnified for anyone with a career involving multimedia in any form. Whether you are a graphic designer, video editor, or writer, having a simple way to provide a resume and basic portfolio in one simple package is a great way to stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of potential employers. VisualCV is a new service that provides users with a free way to create a multimedia résumé so you can spend more time finding work than making your résumé.

VisualCV allows users to integrate standard resume sections such as employment history with non-traditional components such as video and document attachments. The service has partnered with a number of well-known businesses to allow users opportunities to share their new, dynamic resume with a variety of potential employers. Read on to learn more about the specific features and how it compares to other online résumé services.
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FanMix: Your Social InboxFanMix: Your Social Inbox

Until I discovered Tweetbot for iPad, I was at my wits end not being able catch up with my Twitter feed completely. I'm following about 50 people, which is far less a number when compared to the rest of the Twitter universe. Yet, I couldn't find a perfect app that could archive all the tweets and show even the tweets that showed when I didn't refresh my feed by opening the app. Conversation management sucks a lot too.

That's only about Twitter. Facebook is a lost cause altogether. I never know where I left off and from where to catch up. While everyone is hating email to the core, I wouldn't mind if I could manage all my social conversations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, comment threads, and everywhere else from one dead-simple inbox, just like email. That's when I found FanMix.
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Rid Yourself of Junk Mail With PaperKarmaRid Yourself of Junk Mail With PaperKarma

Junk mail. For some of you, these two words may bring about a feeling of unease or outright aggression. In the digital age, spam email is simple enough to get rid of, but junk paper mail remains an elusive arch nemesis, continually plaguing your mailbox. It's simple enough to throw away mail that you don't need or want, but wouldn't it be nice if you didn't receive that mail at all?

To rid yourself of such junk mail, you'd need to contact the supplier of said mail and request that they refrain for sending additional junk. That is until the release of PaperKarma, an extremely simple-to-use tool that does this dirty work for you. Find out how after the jump.
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Wunderkit Beta: Virtual Workspaces RedefinedWunderkit Beta: Virtual Workspaces Redefined

Crowded space. A comment on other task management systems. Something about Getting Things Done, or Pomodoro or Zen or discipline. You know how these sorts of reviews generally go: we want to get more things done, you want to get more things done, and developers want to make some money. While I enjoy reviewing productivity apps, a part of me has grown a bit bored with keeping a task list.

Luckily, that's not all Wunderkit does. The new product from 6Wunderkinder, the evil masterminds that have released and updated the task-keeping Wunderlist for some time now, Wunderkit is collaborative working redefined.
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Karma: Buy and Send Gifts On Your iPhoneKarma: Buy and Send Gifts On Your iPhone

If there is one thing that I dislike, it's shopping — I absolutely hate going to a mall to get something. I hate having to deal with crowds, no parking and all the other things that come with it. But, I do love to shop online; in fact, I will do about 95% of my Christmas shopping and gift shopping online if I can. It is so much easier to do and I will gladly pay for shipping to avoid the mall.

That's why I got excited when I came across Karma, an application that you can use to send gifts to someone else. They make it very easy to pick out a gift and send it to someone, and best of all, you can do it all straight from your iPhone.
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500px: The Best Photography on Your Tablet500px: The Best Photography on Your Tablet

If you're a lover of beautiful photography like I am, then you often visit the great photo sharing site 500px (If you've never visited the place, then by all means do!). I really love the community there, much preferring it to that of Flickr, and have been an avid user of the site for almost a month now. One day I thought to myself "I wish this community had a native iPad app" but I forgot to search the App Store until about two weeks ago.

When I did get a chance to discover the free iPad app, I instantly fell in love with the design and unique feel of it. So, today I'm going to give you a tour of the app and hopefully show you some features that you never knew existed…
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Flixster: A Movie Watcher's CompanionFlixster: A Movie Watcher's Companion

I'm the type of person that enjoys watching movies. I'm no movie buff, but I enjoy a trip to the theater or a night on the couch as the next person. One problem I do have is deciding what movie to watch whether at home or the theater. Going to the theater is more of an issue dealing with multiple theaters showing different movies at different times. Deciding what to see and where to see it have always been tough choices in my mind.

Flixster aims to be the movie watcher's perfect companion. It can assist you in deciding what movie to watch either at a theater or at home and it can help you figure out what movies are showing at what theaters. Let's be honest, this isn't an incredibly tough problem to surpass in the grand scheme of things, but a free app that I can turn to when I need a little help? Sounds good to me. Let's check it out.
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iTunes U: Free Education for the MassesiTunes U: Free Education for the Masses

It's amazing what people are willing to give away for free. Some of the most talented writers in our industry are devoting their time for little more than recognition or the plain joy of flexing their muscles. Where some workers require monetary reward for everything that they do, others are more than willing to devote their time for free. This is why well-known bloggers will give away their writing for free and then charge large sums for an hour's worth of talking.

When you cross this free-sometimes-crazy-expensive-the-rest-of-the-time approach with education you end up with iTunes U, the free service and app that puts you into some of the world's greatest classrooms that would cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to normally attend.
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Storify: Curate Your Life StoriesStorify: Curate Your Life Stories

Many of the popular services that we use and love today were created to help us share our stories. Whether it's in the form of a 140-character tweet or a photo cross-posted from Instagram to Facebook, all of these social apps are doing their best to allow us to share our stories with others. Unfortunately, while each of these services excel at creation, none of them are particularly good at curation.

This is where Storify comes in. Put simply, Storify is a way to make sense of the stories that are already being shared across all of your social services. While the web-app has been around for a while, the iPad app is next-to-new and we have a full review.
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Is OneNote Mobile the New Home for Your Thoughts?Is OneNote Mobile the New Home for Your Thoughts?

To complement the heavy hitters like Word, Excel and Powerpoint, in 2003 Microsoft created an app for the Office Suite called OneNote. It was designed to help students make lecture notes, create class schedules and organize study material. The app was updated in 2007 and 2010 and got a ton of features added to it such as handwriting and sketching, screenshot capture and autosave, making it a solid notetaking tool for all kinds of users. Now it's available for use on the go, as an Android app known as OneNote Mobile.

So how does the latest version look and feel? Can it compete with the mighty Evernote? And will it fit into your mobile workflow? Let's find out by taking a closer look at Microsoft's latest productivity app.
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Shoot and Share Photos Easily With LightboxShoot and Share Photos Easily With Lightbox

One of the major draws to iOS devices is Instagram, the wildly popular free photo app that allows you to snap a picture, apply a retro filter, and share it on social networks. iPhone users have enjoyed this platform-exclusive luxury for a long time while Android fans haven't had anything with quite the same usability, charm or community.

Most app makers' attempts to create something similar have been met with lukewarm responses, but there's now a strong contender that could be just what Android users have been waiting for. It's called Lightbox.
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Easy Virtual Hotspots with ConnectifyEasy Virtual Hotspots with Connectify

Stuck in your dorm with a solitary port to spare? Your favorite coffee shop is ripping you off for every device you connect? Tired of carrying your own wireless router everywhere share your Internet connection?

What if I tell you that there is an easy way, an easy way that lets you turn laptop into a Wi-fi hotspot in 3 simple steps?

No, I'm not kidding.
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Meet ReadCube: The Free Reference ManagerMeet ReadCube: The Free Reference Manager

Researching needs hardwork and patience. And most importantly, the ability to read a lot of related subject matter to make better observations and inferences. Even when your research is 100% original, you will need a bunch of documents to quote and to support your hypothesis. Since most of the academic and research materials are now digitized into PDF files, your efforts are actually cut in half.

PDFs make sifting through tens of thousands of pages of documents easier and they are easy to carry around too. But, grouping together a bunch of PDF files into a library that can be searched and annotated is no easy task. That's where ReadCube comes to the rescue. The goal of this app is simple – to let you create an article library instantly. Come, let's take a peek!
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Smart Video Conversion with HamsterSmart Video Conversion with Hamster

We often turn to some video converter for help and more often than not we walk away disappointed. Either your converter doesn't support your favorite device or the right product is just too expensive for use.

Tired of looking for the perfect app that can make movie watching fun again? Well it's your lucky day. Today we've a product in hand which can alleviate you of all the pain if it works as promised. Let's find out if it lives up to our expectations.
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Ease Your Eyes at Night With F.luxEase Your Eyes at Night With F.lux

It's not at all a secret that if you live your digital life within the clouds of technology and the internet that you spend a significant amount of time transfixed to your computer screen.

Though with lesser fears of the age old 'square-eyes' myth, a common symptom of late-night hours-long continuous gazing at your computer monitor is eye-strain. It happens to everyone, but what if not using your computer as much for extended periods of time at night is not an option?

Well, this is where F.lux comes in.
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Make Awesome How-To Videos

Posted: 15 Mar 2012 11:30 PM PDT

If you have been keeping up to date with recent posts such as 5 tips to give your buyers a great experience you may be interested in making an awesome how-to video for your items.

How-to videos are simply awesome and when done well, can increase sales and minimize your support requests. We’ve asked around and compiled 5 great tips to make sure your how-to videos live up to expectations.

5 tips to making awesome how-to videos:

1) Get started:

The most important part of your video is getting your message across. To do this you need an attractive and easy to follow video as well as clear and easy to understand instructions.

There are many great programs you can use to make a good how-to video, you’ve just got to find one that works for you. Screenr is a simple and easy program to use if you are starting out and creates a great finished product.

Sound quality is important. You don’t need to spend mega bucks but I suggest against using an inbuilt mic. There are many USB microphone options that produce good sound, we use a Blue Snowball in the Envato office. Remember the quality of your video matters, clear audio and video will help customers learn quickly and keep them happy.

2) Embrace the Possibilities

This is your chance to really show customers how to use your product. Personalise your video, use it as a way to connect with your customers and turn a simple how-to video into an enjoyable and entertaining experience.

3) Be a perfectionist

Make sure you edit your video properly making it as professional as you can. Remember, the quality of everything you produce will reflect on your products and brand. Get a friend to watch your video when you have finished and act on any feedback and criticism they offer.

4) Write a good script

Write a good script for your video. Remember that your customers may not have as much experience as you, so make your instructions clear and easy to follow. Use a clear and concise voice and make sure not to patronise your viewers. (There is nothing worse).

5) Not just a video

If you are making a how-to video the rest of your documents should be perfect. Remember that a video is not a replacement for your help documents. The video should be there to supplement and lend an extra element to your already perfect help documents.

We hope these tips have inspired you to get started on your own how-to video. If you need more information, Jeffrey Way will be releasing a tutorial to help you “screen cast like a pro” in the next few months, so stay tuned!

Thanks to sevenspark for helping me write this post.

My New iPad: The First Two Hours

Posted: 15 Mar 2012 05:41 PM PDT

The whole world knows that last week Apple announced “The new iPad.” Yes, we were all expecting the “iPad 3″, but they surprised us. Well, today is a week later – the day they come out. And I’ve had mine for less than two hours. That’s them in the photo above. (Click the image for the full resolution unedited iPhone photo.)

This update is more evolutionary than revolutionary, with a faster graphics processor and bigger battery. The most revolutionary thing about it is the retina display. And now that I’ve seen it, I can confirm that it’s gorgeous. I always thought my iPad 1 screen looked pretty good – unless I’d been using my iPhone 4 just before, which always left me disappointed. Well, I’ll never feel disappointed again.

I’ve been considering for a while whether I’d upgrade this time. Last year I elected not to, choosing to go another year with the original iPad despite it’s beefier dimensions and slower processor. And even this year, I still feel quite satisfied with the iPad 1. The main difference this year is the kids. My daughter and daughter-in-law have both started university this year, and the iPad is a lean, mean note taking machine!

So here’s our thinking. My wife Sonya and I can pass our original iPads on to the kids, and get new ones for ourselves. It’s a great excuse to upgrade, and we can feel generous at the same time. We purchased two 64 GB 4G models – a black one for me, and a white for Son.

How have I found it? Well, although I’ve had it for almost two hours, most of that time has been spent at the shops and in the car. So no major impressions yet. It’s much lighter and thinner than the original iPad that I’ve been using, but so was the iPad 2. I met someone at the shops with an iPad 2, and we were able to compare size and weight. The new iPad feels a little thicker, and is definitely heavier. But I’m not sure I would have noticed if I wasn’t holding both devices at once.

We’re trying something different this time. Instead of buying the iPads outright, we’re getting them on a mobile data plan. Telstra, a major Australian telecommunications company, are offering them on a two year contract. That gives us two years to pay for the devices (interest free), and we get a $10 discount of our data plans to boot. That sounded like an offer too good to pass up!

I’ve just finished backing up my old iPad (and will wipe it soon ready for my daughter to adopt), and I’ve just run through the initial setup wizard in iTunes after plugging in the new one. I guess that it will take a few hours before everything has transferred. That will be a good excuse to get some work done rather than playing with my new toy. ;)

Are you planning on getting a new iPad? Have you got one already? Have you decided to wait until the next iPad? Or do you just prefer Android? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments. And feel free to ask questions if you want me to check something for you.

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