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Come to the Ear Monsters Ball
July 29, 2013
When I stumble upon a fresh and creative app, particularly an app that pushes humanity forward in cold dark universe, I take a closer look. One such app is Ear Monsters: A 3D Audio Game. Monsters from a parallel dimension have created wormholes to invade our universe. They quickly become invisible in our world, but luckily for us, they don't realize we can still hear them.
Eternal Storms: A Little Flotsam and Jetsam With the Cool Stuff
July 23, 2013
Independent software makers are the backbone of any platform's ecosystem. They've made Apple's app stores exciting places. "There's an app for that," as Will Sonnett used to say, isn't brag -- just fact. One independent code warrior who recently caught our eye is Matthias Gansrigler, the principal of Eternal Storms Software. Gansrigler's apps for the Mac are narrowly focused but inventive.
Briefly Transforms Images of Your Life Into an Ecstatic Blur
July 22, 2013
Before now, it never even occurred to me to try to show 500 photos in under a minute -- or thousands of photos in just a few minutes. Briefly lets you do that. How? By quickly and easily converting gobs of photos into a "still motion video." Oh, and the per-photo slide duration is fast. Really fast. Sub-second fast. The feeling was all amped-up anticipation, but then boom, it was over.
You, Mixtab, Are No Google Reader
July 16, 2013
With Google Reader's demise, makers of software to subscribe to RSS feeds have hustled to fill the void. The biggest winner in the RSS sweepstakes so far has been Feedly, which attracted a large portion of Google Reader's orphans. Feedly has been so successful, in fact, that some RSS makers, like Reeder, are connecting to it, much as they plugged into Google Reader.
Limbo Is Dark, Moody, Gory - and Irresistible
July 15, 2013
Some games on iOS are original creations -- designed for the touch interface and ready for fun -- while others are ports from previously released PC or console games, giving these popular-yet-obscure titles a whole new audience and life on iPads and iPhones. Enter Limbo, first released in 2010 exclusively for the Xbox Live Arcade. Playdead later ported it to PS3, Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Portrait+ Makes Everyone Beautiful People
July 9, 2013
ArcSoft may strike a dissonant note among PC users. It has been a prime contributor to the bloatware libraries found on many new Windows laptops and desktops. Nevertheless, its professional and prosumer product lines have proven to be quality alternatives to the higher-priced offerings of its competitors. That's true of one of its recent offerings, Portrait+.
The AOL: Mail, News, Weather & Video App Is Like High Fructose Corn Syrup
July 8, 2013
There's been a lot going on in the content aggregation world this summer, mostly due to Google turning off the power to its Google Reader. I've been following the action with half an eye open, not particularly invested in the outcome, mostly because I prefer to get my news, articles, reviews and columns directly from the original source.
Ulysses III Banishes Word-Processing Bloat
July 2, 2013
During the fledgling era of word processing, developers divided into two camps over formatting documents. Software makers like Xywrite believed formatting and composition should be distinct. They designed their word crunchers to have two modes -- one for writing, another for formatting a document. Other programming outfits, like Microsoft, favored the "what you see is what you get" approach.
The Human Face of Big Data Is a Mind-Expanding Adventure
July 1, 2013
"Big Data" is one of the most apt -- and annoying -- new terms to describe a gazillion points of information all used to understand and predict things the human mind can't parse on its own. The term has been exploited by large technology corporations to sell software and hardware that promises business executives answers that are more accurate and useful than anything coming from a gut feeling.
Opera Mail Sings but It's Sometimes Off-Key
June 25, 2013
At one time, all the major browsers had email programs cooked into them. The practice was largely discontinued as webmail became more robust. One holdout -- until recently -- was Opera. With the introduction of Opera Next, its next-generation browser based on Chromium, the Norwegian browser maker has stripped its email program from its Web navigator and given it legs of its own.
Cut Calculator Lets You Rip Away Without Sweating Bullets
June 24, 2013
Back when I was paying for ramen noodles and graduate school by working as a framer for a small construction outfit, the most stressful event I faced was when I had to cut the support beams for a set of stairs going into a new restaurant. One wrong cut and I would have wasted hundreds of dollars on a suddenly useless beam. It's even more stressful if the job is your own.
Airmail Flies Into Sparrow's Email Space
June 18, 2013
Two schools of thought have begun to emerge about email. One says the technology has passed its prime and needs to be replaced by some kind of social networking technology along the lines of Facebook. The other maintains that email can be saved by better software, like Airmail. Airmail is being compared to Sparrow, a popular email client that became too popular for its own survival.
Opera Tantalizes With Its Next Browser
June 12, 2013
In the browser wars, Opera is hardly noticed. In can barely be seen on a battlefield dominated by the likes of Microsoft, Google, Mozilla and Apple. Yet the little browser that could keeps chugging on. It recently released a beta version of what will be the next version of the browser. A distinctive feature about this version of Opera is something you can't see because it's under the hood.
All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Car Apps
June 12, 2013
Cars -- we love them. We're hooked on their looks, their shine, the freedom they represent. The insurance, the payments and the smog checks, maybe less so -- but cars are still a good example of a genre of app that fits well with the smartphone. This week, All Things Appy takes a look at key, free must-have apps in this area, including one for drooling and one for speeding, gambling and swearing.
Radar Cast Pro Puts a Meteorologist in Your Pocket
June 10, 2013
I'm not a weather junkie, but when it's time to get up and go -- a wintertime road trip or a fishing or hiking expedition -- I usually take a peek into the mountains with a weather app that I've now replaced with an even better version. The new app? Radar Cast Pro - NOAA Hi-Def FutureCast, Push Notifications, Lightning Strikes & Weather by WeatherSphere.
Make Your Kids Stars With a Little Disney Movie Magic
June 3, 2013
If you're a parent, there's a great chance that your iPhone will house a whole series of photos and videos featuring your kids following a road trip, a visit to the beach, a hike or a soccer game. Enter Story, a free app from Disney for the iPhone. Story accesses the photos and video stored on your iPhone and -- using the metadata -- combines them into a story. There are some limited editing options, but not enough to overwhelm.
Nothing Nutty About Acorn 4's Powerful, Affordable Image Editor
May 28, 2013
Acorn 4's tagline says all you need to know about the app. It's "The Image Editor for Humans." Image editors are like a new pair of shoes. You have to walk in them awhile before they get comfortable. With this latest version of Acorn -- the first major overhaul since 2011 -- author Gus Mueller keeps that comfort period short and sweet.
Stay and StatsBar Worthy Additions to a Mac's Utility Belt
May 21, 2013
Designers of operating systems can't think of everything that should be in their programs. Utilities are a testament to that. Utilities are software programs that do things that should have been included in an operating system, but weren't. They can help you keep your system performing at top speed or solve irritating problems.
The Clock Is Ticking on 30/30's Simple, Powerful Task Manager
May 20, 2013
I'm a sucker for productivity management -- too much to do, never enough time, and there is always, it seems, some sort of flashing distraction. There are plenty of people out there with similar problems: Even if they survived a round of layoffs, there's usually a business need to get more done with fewer resources and people.
WebStart's a Snore-Worthy Substitute for iGoogle's Snappy Style
May 14, 2013
With iGoogle scheduled to be axed in November, orphans of that offering will be looking at alternatives like uStart, Protopage, Netvibes and Myfav.es. While those alternatives will meet the needs of many iGoogle users set adrift by the search company, some souls may want to create their own homepage substitutes for the versatile portal.
Silk's Cool Art App Lets You Swipe the Light Fantastic
May 13, 2013
Wow. I don't think I've ever started any review with a "wow," much less an italicized wow, but here it is: That one word sums up my first impression of Silk -- Interactive Generative Art, an app for the iPad and iPhone. The app lets you create flowing, mirrored strands of silk-like lines of colored light. You do that simply by swiping and dragging your finger.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Ratings Apps for iOS
May 8, 2013
Whatever you think of the controversy that periodically springs up over some ratings websites, they are undoubtedly useful for gathering information about businesses, products and services. Here we take a look at some of the best specialist ratings and search apps for iOS. At the top of the list is Yelp, which provides crowdsourced localized search for businesses close by.
Easy, Elegant Scapple Brightens Mind Maps
May 7, 2013
Scapple isn't a spelling mistake for that Pennsylvania Dutch concoction made with pork scraps, corn meal, flour and spices. In fact, scapple is actually a word meaning to work roughly, or shape without finishing. It's also the name of a dynamite new mind mapping program from Literature and Latte, the folks who brought the Mac world Scrivner.
Twitter #music Tops the Charts for Song Discovery
May 6, 2013
The new Twitter #music app for iOS is the coolest app I want to love forever. However, it still gives me the nagging feeling that its slick graphics and fast play might leave our relationship just an empty shell of glitz and hope. Like those hot-and-heavy relationships that defy explanation, #music is a hard app to truly love -- or let go.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Android Camera Apps
May 1, 2013
As the geek world drools over the first 13-megapixel smartphone camera -- the Android-driven Samsung Galaxy S4 -- we take a look at the current state-of-play in the must-have camera app genre for Android. Ready, set, go. Occasionally an app comes along that blows everything else away.
CallNote Dials Up Clean, Easy Skype Recordings
April 30, 2013
Recording phone calls has always been a gray area of the law. That's because there are both state and federal wiretapping laws that govern the practice. Federal law allows a conversation to be recorded if one party consents to it. Some states use that rule, too, but others require the consent of everyone on the call. Nevertheless, those uncertainties haven't deterred people from recording calls.
Status Board Gives You a Stylish Dashboard for Your Life
April 29, 2013
Executive dashboards are now common in business environments -- graphical interfaces that show managers key metrics about their enterprises like sales activity, inventory or financials. They tick and update in real time, and they require hooks into business data to work. Panic, Inc., has created a simple dashboard for real people. Status Board lets you create a snazzy widget-based iPad screen.
Reeder's a Comfy Refuge for Google's RSS Orphans
April 23, 2013
When Google announced it was killing its Reader app July 1, it not only annoyed hordes of users, it pulled the rug out from under app developers who built their livelihoods on the web software. One of those app makers is Silvio Rizzi, maker of Reeder. a free RSS program for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Like all the developers that plugged into Reader, Rizzi is facing extinction. However, he's not quite ready to go into that good night.
Cloud Drive May Stoke Amazon Fans - for Others It's 'Meh'
April 22, 2013
When Amazon updated its Cloud Drive earlier this month with file syncing built in -- along with its desktop app for the Mac -- the file storage service suddenly got a lot more interesting. Why? For long-term file storage, syncing isn't that big of a deal. However, if you want a place to dump files that you can access from another computer or via a Web browser, the no-brainer need is for automatic syncing.
aText - Your Friendly Keystroke Slasher
April 16, 2013
Few people like typing. Even fewer like typing the same things over and over again. That dislike is at the root of aText, which lets you create your own abbreviations to speed things along. For example, a typing shortcut, or snippet, such as "jpm" could become "by John P. Mello Jr." While simple text can be used to make substitutions, you can do much more than that, too.
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Should social media sites be held accountable for terrorists' communications?
Yes -- They are providing a platform to facilitate murder and mayhem.
Yes -- Everything must be done to protect society from danger.
Maybe -- I'm not sure they have the technological capability to stop them.
Maybe -- I'm not convinced terrorists are using them for serious plotting.
No -- Authorities should monitor social networks to gather intelligence.
No -- Social networks are no different than phone carriers or mail services.