Author Archive: Nick

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By October 6, 2011 Read More →

App applause – Simplenote

Simplenote-logo Cloud addict that I am my search for an online text editor had produced many options but few winners. I had always disliked MS Word and was glad to be able to switch to Writely on the web which was subsequently purchased by Google and transformed into Google Docs. GDocs do what they do very well but personally I don’t like the feature-creep as they battle with MS Office Live. To much of what I don’t need. Mobile access and editing was non-existent to poor so I started to look for an iPhone app that had a web interface.

Hello Simplenote from Simperium. Currently available specifically on the web, iPhone and iPad, Simplenote is pretty much what the name suggests. A basic notes app that syncs seamlessly between devices and the web. The free version features the most unobtrusive ads I’ve never seen and the paid version ($19 a year) removes the ads you don’t notice and features Dropbox sync, email note creation, extended version history and RSS.

Notes can be markdown formatted, printed, shared publicly or privately on the web and tagged for easy searching and retrieval. The native iPhone and iPad apps have superb interfaces which, quite literally, disappear so you can get on with what you’re doing and not be bothered by how you’re doing it.

There are a whole host of third-party apps for Windows, Android, Mac OS X and well as a multitude of browser extensions.

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Posted in: Reviews
By September 30, 2011 Read More →

Twitter does it differently

twitter_newbird_boxed_whiteonblue Ever since Google+ emerged, commentators have been trying to work out who is competing with who in the realtime social world. For my money Facebook and Google+ are locking antlers in the identity/ social fight while Twitter has one eye on both in it’s rear view mirror as it happily gets on with developing the news/ information space.

On both Facebook and Google+ it really matters that you are who you say you are. Real identities are at the core of how both companies are monetising or plan to monetise us. Facebook and Google have set themselves up as the arbiters of identity. Twitter on the other hand couldn’t care less who we are. After all, as I’ve always said and, as Kevin Thau Twitter VP for corporate and business development said the other day: "Twitter is for news. Twitter is for content. Twitter is for information." It’s not for ‘socialising’.

Of course both Facebook and Google+ update in realtime like Twitter, and Facebook’s new Ticker is effectively Facebook’s own Twitter but so what? The whole web is going realtime.

Posted in: Editorial
By September 29, 2011 Read More →

Amazon is doing an Apple

kindle_fire,jpg Jeff Bezos is smart. He’s no Steve Jobs but who is? However, Amazon’s Kindle strategy has, and continues to, successfully ape what Apple did with its first iPod and iTunes.

Apple decided to focus on selling people on music. Initially their own music on CDs and then ultimately through the iTunes store. They released a low specification but simple way to listen to your music on the go. Nothing more. They iterated and evolved this one basic thing – portable music – into the Apple behemoth we have today.

Amazon are repeating the idea but they started in reverse with their core strength – selling books. They made a basic ebook reader to serve those books and have been iterating on that simple idea ever since.

Posted in: Editorial
By September 28, 2011 Read More →

Online storage to go mainstream with Apple’s iCloud

iCloud Apple’s iCloud is a big deal. A very big deal. As with iTunes before it (which will be tightly integrated with iCloud) where Apple goes the industry usually follows.

That’s not to say Apple invented the online audio business or the online data storage business or even the graphical user interface or portable mp3 players. No, Apple’s iCloud is just the latest example of them taking an existing ‘niche’ technology and bringing it to the masses – one of their core skills just as much as the more often quoted industrial design. You can look at almost all Apple’s most successful products and find many antecedents. What Apple does is simplify and make them better.

Online data storage has been around as long as the web itself and there have been many attempts to bring it to the mainstream. Believe me, I’ve tried all of them including Xdrive, Elephant Drive, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Sky Drive and latterly and currently the best of the bunch by a long chalk, Dropbox.

Posted in: Phones
By September 21, 2011 Read More →

Posterous’ last hurrah?

`Posterous-logo Simple (cough) blogging service Posterous has relaunched itself for what may well be the last time. Now called Posterous Spaces the the revamped offering has been given a complete redesign.

The old adage "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" clearly holds no truck at Posterous as the UI on the web and both iPhone and Android apps has been completely redesigned to the point of self-destruction.

Far from making the service easier to use for newbie bloggers they have managed to complicate the UI so much even I can’t figure it out, and I’m an experienced user. By comparison Tumblr goes from strength to strength precisely because they keep it simple. Features are removed rather than added. The new Posterous Spaces seems to have been designed by a committee of Word engineers. Ironic since the founders launched the product with the aim of making blogging simple for ordinary folks who only knew how to use email.

Posted in: News
By September 20, 2011 Read More →

Shortmail reinvents email and then breaks it

`Shortmail-1 Many of us have a love hate relationship with email but like it or loathe it email is still ubiquitous. One company trying to make email a little less painful is Shortmail.

Shortmail is a web service whose aim is to simplify email. Not only do they restrict messages to only 500 characters but they don’t allow attachments or any kind of folder or label management. On the face of it that all sounds great. As they say: "Just communication – with any email user, anywhere. All emails are limited to 500 characters. Messages are always short and to the point."

Great, I’m in. And then I used it. The reality of Shortmail is somewhat less interesting. If someone sends you an email longer than 500 characters it gets put into a Quarantine area which I didn’t even know existed. The sender gets sent email saying their message was too long which they don’t understand as there is an expectation with email which Shortmail breaks. It all gets very messy very quickly and I found myself managing my emails even more than before.

Read on for more.

Posted in: Reviews
By September 19, 2011 Read More →

App applause – Summify

Summify_logo If you’re anything like me (god help you) you get most of your news via Twitter, Facebook and/ or an RSS reader and not direct from the original source. OK, if you’re not then move along. There’s nothing to see here.

In fact I gave up on RSS last year and depend totally on Twitter and Facebook for news. The one downside of getting rid of the tyranny of the unread item count in RSS is that it’s easy to miss stories as they fly by on Twitter.

Posted in: News