Budget supermarket Lidl’s own brand single malt whisky “nearing perfection”

The Daily Mail (I know, I’m sorry) reports on Lidl’s own brand 33 year old single malt whisky that has drawn praise from whisky connoisseurs:

A packet of nice honey-glazed ham here, a block of rather tasty Stilton there: everyone knows there are surprisingly good deals to be found in discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi.

But sometimes these deals are less surprising, more jaw-dropping.

A whisky being sold in Lidl for under £40 a bottle has become the latest food and drink sensation, after experts claimed it is a ‘superstar’ spirit worth at least £100.

Whisky buffs are set to clear the 33-year-old Maxwell Single Malt Scotch Whisky off shelves of the budget chain, after reviews described it as ‘nearing perfection’ and ‘a whiskey that gives us all a reason to live’.

The little-known liquor, launched in the chain’s UK stores today, is set to become a collector’s item, according to reports.

If, like me, you’re wanting to find your nearest Lidl – here’s their store locator.

How to Increase the Performance of Your Wireless Network

MacTuts+:

Wireless networks are so ubiquitous that many of us rarely pay any attention to their setup. For a lot of us, as long as we can get on the Internet, then that’s all we need. However, it’s likely that your wireless network isn’t anywhere near as good as it can be. With some simple tweaking, and some great utilities from the Mac App Store, we can make sure it’s the best in the neighborhood!

Not long after my last article for Mactuts+ comes one on managing wireless networks and getting the most from yours.

No news doesn’t necessarily mean bad news

Paul Thurrott is worried about the lack of any Windows Phone 7.8 information:

Today, almost exactly one month after the Windows Phone 8 release and over 5 months after it was announced, Microsoft has never really publicly discussed Windows Phone 7.8 again nor has it hinted at when it might be released.

Microsoft, silence is no way to treat early adopters, the people who are your most loyal customers. It is the most disrespectful thing you can do, in fact. Combined with the weird and continued holes in your ecosystem strategy—the inability to get Xbox Video content on Windows Phone 8 as only one obvious example—it’s unclear to me why you think anyone should support you or your mobile platform.

Welcome to the world of Apple, where you’re told precisely nothing about upcoming releases. Apple occasionally announces new product updates but hasn’t exactly been stellar with their self-imposed deadlines.

However, the folks over at Windows Phone Central have been posting plenty of updates:

I’m sure Thurrott knows about these (it’s what he does) so his article’s focus is more on the lack of official updates from Microsoft. Microsoft haven’t officially discussed any updates to WP7.8 since June so it’s been a few months since it was last mentioned.

There’s a number of reasons why this is and I suspect Microsoft is playing it safe. WP7 was a very touchy subject when they announced that it couldn’t be upgraded to WP8 so they want to be sure any news or updates they release are rock solid. I don’t see that as a problem. Sometimes it’s just better to keep your mouth shut and that’s exactly what Microsoft are doing. If we’re to trust the rumour that WP7.8 has gone RTM then they’ll no doubt be waiting until they are ready to push the update. Apple, a company famed for it’s secrecy, has dropped the ball in the few times they’ve made commitments recently. Remember the Push Notifications delay? That took months to materialise. iTunes 11 has been pushed back as well as the shipping dates of the latest iMac.

It’s most likely they haven’t released any updates simply because there isn’t one. I do agree a time scale would’ve been useful but from a business standpoint, I wouldn’t announce one either. That way, those early adopters who are always keen to get the new tech first will probably just end up upgrading their device. The more people who upgrade, the less who’ll need the update and notice if it falls short of expectations. (For an incremental update, I suspect a number of folks are imagining it’ll bring all the features of WP8 – it won’t). Is this a bit underhanded? Of course it is – but that’s business. It’s in Microsoft’s interest to make money, just like any other company.

If Thurrott really wants to know how it feels to be screwed by being an early adopter, he should buy a Motorola. Those guys (don’t forget Motorola is owned by Google) really know how to screw their early adopters.

Send and Receive Faxes With Your Mac

Unbelievably, millions of faxes are still sent and received all over the world each year. Unlike obsolete formats such as cassettes, VHS tapes and floppy discs – the fax machine refuses to go away and remains a service that some businesses still need to have. In this tutorial, we’ll look at ways you can use your Mac to send and receive faxes as well as finding some suitable alternatives!

In this tutorial I wrote for Mactuts+, I go back in time to look at faxing on the Mac. Seriously.

(Ironically, the country with the highest use of the fax machine as well as considering it crucial is Japan).

Doxie One available for preorder on Amazon UK

Doxie One makes scanning simple – just turn it on and insert your paper. Doxie automatically pulls your sheet through and makes a digital copy – no computer required.

Doxie isn’t tied down to your computer like other scanners. Use it wherever you find most convenient in your home or office. Scans are stored on an SD card (included), just like a digital camera.

I’ve preordered mine.

Build and Analyze ending December 17

Marco Arment is calling it a day with his podcast:

Recently, I’ve felt my current podcast, Build and Analyze, getting stale and repetitive. We’ve had a great run, and I’ve greatly enjoyed doing it, but it has run its course. I’d rather end it now than slide into mediocrity — imagine if The Wire ended after season 4, Six Feet Under ended after season 3, or Arrested Development ended right before Michael met Rita.

I’ve been a listener to Build and Analyze for a while and am sad to hear that it’ll no longer continue. I do agree with his reasoning though, podcasts do have a tendency to cling on to their existing formula. Diggnation was a classic example of a podcast that lived on longer than it should have. Both Kevin and Alex had already moved on to new projects and neither really had the energy or drive that they once did. Kevin had left Digg and was focusing in VC, Alex was already doing successfully with TRS.

I’d much rather remember Build and Analyze for what it was than end up unsubscribing out of boredom just as I did with Diggnation.

Twitter’s Bullshit

As you probably remember, Twitter published some questionable API changes a few months ago. Twitter apps can request up to 100,000 user tokens before they’re cut off. If they need more, developers are asked to contact Twitter:

Requiring developers to work with us directly if you need a large amount of user tokens

One of the key things we’ve learned over the past few years is that when developers begin to demand an increasingly high volume of API calls, we can guide them toward areas of value for users and their businesses. To that end, and similar to some other companies, we will require you to work with us directly if you believe your application will need more than one million individual user tokens.

Additionally, if you are building a Twitter client application that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens.

Ok, Twitter’s getting strict about the apps they allow. But if an app becomes so popular it needs over 100,000 tokens then surely it’s in Twitter’s best interest to support the developer, right?

Wrong.

Windows Observer reports that Tweetro, the first Windows 8 Twitter client by Lazyworm Applications, just got thrown under the bus by Twitter. They’ve published the response from Twitter that Atta Elayyan, the developer of Tweetro got when asking to work on more API tokens.

“Thank you for reaching out to get clarification on our developer policies. As you know, we discourage developers from building apps that replicate our core user experience (aka “Twitter clients”). We know that there are developers that want to take their passion for Twitter and its ecosystem to unique underserved situations. As such, we have built some flexibility into our policy with regard to user tokens – which went into effect September 5th, 2012.”

“…Unfortunately, It does not appear that your service addresses an area that our current or future products do not already serve. As such, it does not qualify for an exemption.”

So, a developer who reached 100,000 tokens followed the Twitter API. They reached out to Twitter to work through the token limit only for Twitter to say their app doesn’t qualify because it doesn’t serve a purpose that Twitter’s own apps don’t already serve.

Tweetro operates on Windows 8. Twitter has no Windows client at all, let alone for Windows 8. Blocking an app because Twitter might release one is a poor reason.

Tweetro operates in the same way as Twitter’s own apps, but that’s the point. That’s why many 3rd party apps are out there. Have you ever tried to use Twitter for iPhone? It’s total crap. It doesn’t even resemble Tweetie any more after they lobotomised it. I use TweetBot because it’s by far the best iOS app. it’s quick, slick and works like a Twitter app should.

Twitter’s popularity soared because of the plethora of 3rd party apps that came about to support it. They owe their success to them. I can understand that they want to focus the attention on 1st party apps and they easily do this by simply not including links to 3rd party apps. They already pulled the source details from tweets that detail which app posted it. Seasoned Twitter users are going to look for better apps regardless, there’s no way to stop them. If they pull one app, they’ll find another.

I’d wager the majority of Twitter users don’t know or don’t care about 3rd party apps, they’re casual users and Twitter doesn’t need to worry about losing them. If a single app becomes hugely popular, that’s not a cause for concern. They’re still Twitter users.

My one question I have is if Twitter won’t allow more than 100,000 tokens, then why suggest that they’ll work with developers to work on a solution?

Griffin Twenty

Griffin:

Griffin’s Twenty audio amplifier lets you play audio from iTunes and AirPlay-enabled apps to an existing set of speakers using your Airport Express and Apple’s AirPlay wireless protocol. The result is a solution that is an easy to setup streaming audio system powering your speakers via a low-profile, all-digital amplifier.

An awesome gadget with only one drawback: it’s designed around the old Airport Express.

Griffin announced this product at CES back in January (almost a year ago) when the previous generation Airport Express was around. Since then, Apple revised the Express into a new form factor.

It’ll still work and and Griffin even have a video on YouTube on setting it up but a lot of the elegance that it aims to provide is lost.

Camera+ 3.6

Taptaptap:

Are you that person who never takes a straight photo? Well, with this new level, you’ll never have to feel the frustration of taking a crooked shot again. And where levels in other cameras look like something out of a flight simulator, we went for a much different approach. We channeled the ghost of Jonathan Ive(s), said the magic phrase, “AL-LU-MIN-I-UM” three times, and this incredibly simple, elegant, and nonintrusive Horizon Level was the result.

The Horizon feature is extremely useful to keep photo taking level. I’m constantly wanting to straighten photos and sending them out to the Photos app, straightening and reimporting them back into Camera+ is tedious to say the least.

On a side-note, I really dislike the writing style of John Casasanta’s blog posts. “We channeled the ghost of Jonathan Ive(s)”? Seriously?

Nokia Maps to launch for free on iOS

Nokia press release:

To further extend its location services, Nokia is launching a maps application for iOS under the HERE brand. Based on HTML5, it will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions. The application is scheduled to be available for free download from Apple’s App Store in the coming weeks.

Great news. However, I’m concerned about basing the app on HTML5. Some have tried and failed.