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Archive for October, 2009

I frequently take screen shots of error messages, dialog boxes, informational messages, web page receipts and more. I use OS X’s built-in <Apple-Shift-4> to initiate it. I then choose the area I want to take a picture of. At this point, Sharpshooter intervenes and lets me rename the picture, send it to the trash or move it to a directory other than my user-defined screen shot output directory. I’ve been doing this since… well, my screen shots go back to 28 August 2007.

Enter Dropbox
The latest wrinkle is that I decided it would be convenient to have these screen shots available on any of the machines I use (or even via a web site, in a pinch) so I recently changed my default screen shot output directory to a directory under the control of Dropbox. Now my screenshots are available virtually anywhere for me.

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Some blog entry led me to this review of Eucalyptus by Things Made out of Other Things last night.

Eucalyptus is the best ebook reader for iPhone I’ve seen. Worth it for little more than the cost of a paperback (ten bucks). The pinching to zoom out is priceless and the comfort of the book management beats Kindle for iPhone hands down. The page turning beats Stanza. (And I don’t miss Stanza’s annoying, fake page turning sound.) And the book selection beats Classics, though I think Classics is still a pretty nice and unique offering.

The Eucalyptus developers got my ten bucks on the strength of the above review alone and I consider it money well spent. As implied above, I already use Kindle for iPhone, Stanza, Classics and, now, Eucalyptus.

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Innocent persistence

This went down about thirty minutes ago:

Mother: “I’m going outside and you’re not coming with me, okay?”

Child: “Okay. Can I come?”

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Short version: NewsRack/Newsstand for iPhone and iPod touch is the best mobile newsreader I have ever laid hands or eyes on. It is the best money I’ve ever spent on iPhone software.

When NewsGator announced that their difficult-to-use web feed service was going down, I was inspired to move to Google Reader and find an iPhone client that would sync with Google Reader. I followed their instructions and moved my feeds with an OPML file.

But what client to buy? I posted about that on 7 August 2009.

I’ve used NewsRack/Newsstand probably every single day since I got it. The days I don’t use it are those rare days where I don’t touch my iPhone for anything. On average, I load NewsRack/Newsstand an estimated ten times on a weekday and less on each weekend day. When I first bought it, it had some forgivable and completely minor rough edges — but it still spanked the competition. And it didn’t yet sync with Google Reader — it just downloaded from it. Syncing hadn’t arrived yet.

Then a new version of NewsRack/Newsstand (2.0) came out which fixed perhaps every single rough edge and, gloriously, added Google Reader syncing. This new version fixed things I’d reported, things I’d seen but hadn’t reported, improved things I didn’t even consider could be improved and added wonderful new features. Some of the improvements include

  • In-app email sending. No more need to close NewsRack/Newsstand to email a message to someone.
  • Google Reader syncing (not just downloading of posts)
  • Awesome GUI cleanup, including things I didn’t know could be spruced up
  • Google Mobilizer support. Works but I have a problem with the links that makes it unsuitable for use by me. Logged with developer via email, no reply.
  • Something changed about the web browser. Was there no integral web browser before? I just don’t recall.
  • Messages are now starred, not flagged. And the stars behave as I’d expect, whereas flags didn’t.
  • Delicious.com (del.icio.us) support is now folded into NewsRack/Newsstand, not an external Safari process. Awesome!

Now I’ve been using NewsRack/Newsstand version 2.0 (now 2.1) since August, so I don’t recall all the little details that were obvious to me when I had freshly moved from version 1.x to 2.0. So I hope the author forgives my surely incomplete list if he reads this.

The German developer mostly ignores my emails suggesting enhancements. But version 2.0 included so many of my requests, I can hardly complain. I have a few open (reported, largely without any reply) suggestions but they’re not a big deal. I will admit, however, that I when I get something which is as close to perfection as NewsRack/Newsstand 2.1 is, it pains me to see it linger at 99pct. Perhaps I’ll post these improvement suggestions in the future.

I presently follow 133 Google Reader feeds per the NetNewsWire OS X client that syncs with my Google Reader account and which I have used for actually reading feeds exactly twice. I currently have 10,000+ unread posts, according to NewsRack/Newsstand’s badge. I don’t even try to keep up with them all. NewsRack/Newsstand has been rock solid since I bought version 1.0. It opens very quickly and simply never dies. And, boy, it is fast.

The version 2.0 introduced a crash on adding a feed in a certain way. I believe a minor upgrade fixed that. I don’t recall if I had reported it.

There is no question that this is the best five dollars I’ve spent on iPhone software. I spent $80 on OmniFocus (mostly out of dislike of the competing products) and $20 on their iPhone client. And I hardly use either piece of software. But that five bucks I spent on NewsRack/Newsstand keeps on paying me back. Every single day.

If you want a feed reader for the iPhone or iPod touch, you can’t possibly go wrong with NewsRack/Newsstand from omz:software in Germany.

Update 26 January 2010: As a result of this omz:software blog article, I’ve changed instances of “Newsstand” to “NewsRack/Newsstand” in this article.

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Algorithmic problems

Reading this Coding Horror article tonight, I was inspired to look for algorithmic problems to solve.

For example, even the Segway is an algorithmic solution, albeit to a questionably monetizable problem. But maybe Segway is highly profitable and I’m just not its target market.

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