Technology

The Case for RSS

David Sparks:

If you are thinking about using RSS, I have a little advice. Be wary feed inflation. RSS is so easy to implement that it's a slippery slope between having RSS feeds for just a few websites and instead of having RSS feeds for hundreds of websites. If you’re not careful, every time you open your RSS reader, there will be 1,000 unread articles waiting for you, which completely defeats the purpose of using RSS. The trick to using RSS is to be brutal with your subscriptions. I think the key is looking for websites with high signal and low noise. Sites that publish one or two articles a day (or even one to two articles a week) but make them good articles are much more valuable and RSS feed than sites that published 30 articles a day.

I love RSS, but David is right—things can quickly get out of hand if you aren't careful. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some unsubscribing to do.

 

iOS and Mac App Deals for August 6, 2014

There are a lot of great iOS and Mac app deals out there today. Here are some of my favorites:

iOS Apps

Fantastical 2 for iPad ($9.99 —> $7.99)

Fantastical 2 for iPhone ($9.99 —> $4.99)

Writer Pro: Note, Write, Edit, Read ($19.99 —> $4.99)

Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists ($4.99 —> $1.99)

Notifyr - Receive iOS notifications on your Mac ($3.99 —> Free)

WriteRight: enjoy writing ($2.99 —> Free)

Timeless: The Multiple Countdown Timer & Stopwatch with Style ($0.99 —> Free)

Tydlig - Calculator Reimagined ($2.99 —> $0.99)

Due — super fast reminders, reusable egg timers ($4.99 -> $1.99)

Notability ($4.99 —> $1.99)

PDF Expert 5 - Fill forms, annotate PDFs, sign documents ($9.99 —> $4.99)

Launch Center Pro for iPad ($4.99 —> $1.99)

Launch Center Pro ($4.99 —> $1.99)

PCalc - The Best Calculator ($9.99 —> $4.99)

MindNode ($9.99 —> $4.99)

Scanbot - PDF & QR Code Scanner, Cloud Upload, Multi-Page Scan ($1.99 --> $0.99)

Mac Apps

Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists ($9.99 —> $4.99)

Pasting Plain Text with TextExpander

David Sparks explains how he pastes plain text with the help of TextExpander:

I just invoke the clipboard formatted as plaint text. My snippet is xpt (X-Plain-Text). This works everywhere on the Mac. (Even Microsoft Word.)

I use the same snippet with a different abbreviation: ‘,,clip’ instead of ‘xpt.’[1]

This is probably my most-used TextExpander snippet. I rarely do a simple ⌘-C, ⌘-V when I’m working with text—you just never know what you’re going to get.

When working on the Sunday worship guide for 2 Pillars Church, for example, it’s not uncommon for me to use bits of text from a number of different sources. One person might send me text in the body of an email while another uses a Word document. I might also use text copied from our website or pull in our various liturgy elements from Planning Center Online. This snippet gives me a clean formatting slate to work with regardless of the source of the text.

If you work with formatted text, then you should give this a try. Not ready to invest in TextExpander?[2] There are a number of apps and clipboard managers that offer similar plain text pasting features.


  1. I’ve thought about shortening the abbreviation, but my muscle memory is too deeply ingrained at this point.  ↩

  2. The $35 price tag might seem steep, but I can’t recommend this application enough. Well worth the price.  ↩

Project Naptha Chrome Extension

Project Naptha Here's an impressive Chrome Extension:

Project Naptha automatically applies state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms on every image you see while browsing the web. The result is a seamless and intuitive experience, where you can highlight as well as copy and paste and even edit and translate the text formerly trapped within an image.

I could see this coming in handy in the future.

Roll Your Own Podcast Feed with Huffduffer

Huffduff it I'm a big fan of podcasts. Big fan.

In any given week I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do music. In Downcast, my preferred podcatcher app for the Mac and iPhone, you'll find a rather long list of subscriptions to a wide variety of podcasts.

Now, most of the audio content I consume comes from these podcasts. Every now and again, however, I run across something that I want to listen to outside of these feeds. It might be an episode of a podcast that I'm not subscribed to or a stand-alone audio file. Regardless, this causes problems since Downcast is central to my audio-listening workflow. Simply put, if it isn't in Downcast, then I'm probably not going to listen to it.

Enter Huffduffer.

Huffduffer is a service that allows you to turn those mp3 files that you run across on the internet into a customized podcast feed. When you find audio that you want to mark for later listening, simply "huffduff it" using the handy Huffduffer bookmarklet or Chrome extension. This adds the audio to your podcast feed as its own episode. Subscribe to your podcast feed and you're set.

Huffduffer also allows you to tag audio, follow other Huffduffer users, and discover content using search and tags.

Give it a try.

Christmas Time App Deals

There are some great app deals out there this Christmas season. Here is a running list of my favorites:

Mac Apps

Fantastical ($19.99 –> $9.99)
ReadKit ($6.99 –> $2.99)
1Password ($49.99 –> $34.99 for the rest of 2013)
Forklift ($19.99 –> $1.99)
PopClip ($4.99 –> $1.99) 
Day One ($9.99 –> $7.99)
Boom ($6.99 –> $4.99)
Due ($9.99 –> $3.99)
Cobook ($9.99 –> Free)
Chatology ($19.99 –> $9.99)
Marked 2 (20% off until December 26)

iOS Apps

Dispatch: Action-Based Email ($4.99 –> $1.99)
Fantastical 2 ($3.99 –> $1.99)
Bugshot ($0.99 –> Free)
Weather Line ($2.99 –> $1.99)
Agile Tortoise Holiday Sale

App Santa

1Password ($17.99 –> $9.99)
Tweetbot 3 ($4.99 –> $1.99)
Delivery Status ($4.99 –> $2.99)
Day One ($4.99 –> $2.99)
Launch Center Pro ($6.99 –> $2.99)
Calendars 5 ($6.99 –> $2.99)

Jump on these soon—who knows how long the discounts will last.

The Sweet Setup

A new project by Shawn Blanc:

The Sweet Setup exists because I wanted a site that highlights the software that has proven to be the best, not necessarily the newest.

Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new.

There is never a lack of new apps and shiny objects for my Apple devices. Websites and blogs that write about these new apps are a dime a dozen as well. I really like the idea of a site dedicated to identifying the best. That's really what I'm interested in—the best, not the newest.

I definitely plan to follow The Sweet Setup. If you use a Mac, iPad or iPhone, you might consider doing the same.

5 Apps for Evernote

Brett Kelly, Evernote genius and author of Evernote Essentials, wrote about 5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better yesterday. You should definitely check out this list if you’re an Evernote user. Drafts is the only app on the list that I currently use. I was most interested in Powerbot, however. Brett highlighted Powerbot for Gmail specifically, but their service also integrates with Google Calendar—a combo that could prove to be extremely useful for organizing and maintaining meeting notes and support materials. I’m planning to give it a test drive over the next couple of weeks and follow up here with my conclusions.

Nest Protect

Wow, the folks at Nest have done it again:

Safety shouldn’t be annoying.

We all know why smoke alarms are torn off the ceiling or missing batteries: because every time you make stir-fry, the smoke alarm cries wolf. Or just as you’re falling asleep, you hear a low-battery chirp. They’ve become annoying. And that’s a safety issue.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost two-thirds of US home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.

So we made something new. Meet the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.

Nest Protect in a sentence:

We made a smoke and CO alarm you’ll love, because hating it is dangerous.

Until seeing this, I never imaged someone would utter the words, "I love my smoke alarm."

It'll cost you though. They aren't giving these things away.

Giving Voicemail the Boot

Jamie Todd Rubin:

I find voicemail to be a cumbersome, awkward tool that is no longer particularly convenient either for me, or the person trying to reach me. These days, a text message or email message is likely to get a much faster response.

Leaving a voicemail is easily the least effective way to get in touch with me. Many of those who call me often have caught on to this and typically shoot a text message my way if I don't answer.

Unfortunately, getting rid of voicemail completely isn't a viable option for me. Maybe someday...

Link List for July 8, 2013

App Deals Edition

 

Over for iOS Free (normally $1.99) Why not add text or artwork to that picture of food that you’re about to post to Instagram?

Day One for iOS Free (normally $4.99) This is the best journaling app out there. Also available for the Mac. Syncs via iCloud or Dropbox.

Knots 3D for iOS Free (normally $1.99) Learn how to tie 87 different knots. This could come in handy someday.

Traktor DJ for iPad and iPhone Free (normally $19.99) DJ tools for your iPad and iPhone.

BusyCal 2 for OS X $19.99 (normally $29.99) A powerful replacement for the native Calendar app on the Mac.

And More



¯\_(ツ)_/¯ © 2017 Adam Stahr