Path spams a user’s phonebook even after the app was deleted

Branded3:

When I rolled out of bed this morning the first I knew about what had happened was when my dad told me he’d received two text messages (one on his mobile, one on his work phone – neither of which are smartphones) about some pictures I wanted to share with him. While telling him that I’m not exactly sure what he was talking about my house phone rang – my mum uttered the usual exclamation of: “who could be ringing at this time?” as I answered.

Stephen Kenwright writes about his experience with Path. Having tested the app and deciding it wasn’t for him, he removed it. However, it seems that Path scraped his address book and sent texts and even called contacts from his phone book without his consent.

This probably explains why Dave Morin has two iPhones.

Feed Wrangler RSS service officially launches along with iOS apps

Feed Wrangler, a service that’s been created as a response to the shutting down of Google Reader, is now available. It’s $18.99 per year and works in conjunction with Feed Wrangler’s iOS apps. There’s an API launching in May for 3rd-party apps to use which should mean Feed Wrangler’s usage will skyrocket once apps such as Newsify and Reeder add support1.

The closer we get to the July 1st deadline, the more services we’re starting to see. I’m still sticking with Google Reader for as long as possible whilst others migrate to (and therefore, test) alternative RSS platforms. We’re still yet to see an RSS platform from Betaworks / Digg so I’m sticking it out as long as possible.

MacStories has a detailed review of the Feed Wrangler service and iOS apps. It’s got room for improvement but its business model is obvious and has been built to be sustainable so expect regular updates and improvements.

  1. For me, I’d rather use a service that lets me continue to use my preferred RSS app than have to change. 

How to Use a Game Controller With Your Mac

MacTuts+:

We’ve previously covered a number of ways in which you can play games on your Mac but if, like me, you prefer to use a controller than the keyboard and mouse, help is at hand. In this tutorial we show you how you can set up and use a game controller with your Mac.

If you’ve wanted to know how to use a game controller or joystick with your Mac, help is at hand in my latest tutorial over at Mactuts+.

Pelican 3.2 released

A bunch of great improvements and features to my blogging platform of choice, the following being my favourite:

Instead of blog or a site with dated articles, some people want to use Pelican to publish sites with non-chronological content. Pelican 3.2 enables this by providing a way to override the save-to location from within a page’s meta-data, so for example, you can have a pages/index.md file that will replace your site root’s index.html.

This essentially turns Pelican into a fully-fledge CMS rather than a blog engine. Before I set up Sparsebundle, I ran my blog over at my personal site (which has since reverted to static HTML) but wanted to keep the main index page separate. To do this, I had to hack around with the template I’d created and modify Pelican’s config file so that it would manually copy the index page I wanted, not the most elegant solution. The new version of Pelican makes it much easier to create a new index page without having to do all that.

Game Dev Tycoon forces those who pirate the game to unwittingly fail from piracy

The developers of the indie game Game Dev Tycoon share a unique way of dealing with piracy… they use piracy:

Pre-empting the game’s eventual appearance on file-sharing sites, Patrick and Daniel Klug uploaded their own cracked copy of the full game. But within the code lay a few extra lines.

Those who play the pirated version are warned that their own attempts at creating games are being hampered by piracy. Profits for each project will be less than those who own and paid for the full game.

Players will eventually see their careers end in bankruptcy.

This is a fantastic twist of irony. For those that pirated the game, their experience in-game is hampered by pirates which meant their career would end in bankruptcy.

It’s similar to the method Rocksteady adopted with Arkham Asylum where the game was rigged to prevent pirated users from being able to pass a certain of the game that meant they couldn’t progress.

However, unlike Arkham Asylum, the problems that pirated users faced in-game were the very problems that actual developers experienced with piracy. Very smart, indeed.

Review: Divoom Bluetune Pop Bluetooth Speaker

I hate mornings. I’m more of a night owl and much prefer to stay up late than get up early, so I’m never keen on having to stop my slumber. Even as a child on Christmas Day, I’d rather spend an extra couple of hours in bed than get up early and start unwrapping presents. Bah humbug, indeed.

In fact, I hate the whole morning routine. I just find the whole process quite tedious so if there’s any way I can somehow make it more interesting, I’m all for it. One method I’ve been attempting to use, with mixed results, is listening to podcasts. I’d use my iPhone’s speaker (which on the iPhone 5 is quite loud) but since I don’t want it anywhere near a source of water then it sits just outside the bathroom door on the dresser.

This is all well and good when I’m not actually in the bathroom but when the door is closed I only get to hear muffled conversations, as though I’m listening to the neighbours discussing the latest in Apple tech, broken by the occasional, unmistakable laugh of Jim Dalrymple.

That’s where the Divoom Bluetune Pop Bluetooth Speaker (£20-£25) comes in (for the remainder of this review, I’m calling it the Bluetune, no way am I writing all that repeatedly or bother to set up a TextExpander snippet). It’s cheap enough that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if the speaker craps out after a few months or if it accidentally finds its way into the bath. After reading the reviews over at Amazon, I decided to purchase it and give it a try.

The Bluetune Wireless Speaker

I had previously looked at the Jawbone Jambox (£116) that a lot of people highly recommend but for something I’d only use in the mornings and when on holiday, it’s just way too expensive for what I need. I’d be terrified about taking a Jambox near any kind of water source. I worked on a Genius Bar, I’ve seen what happens to electronics that spend a lot of time in a room full of steam.

The Bluetune is less than a fifth of the cost of the Jambox, somewhat reminiscent of the old Apple “hockey puck” USB mouse, and is available in a variety of colours. I chose white simply because it wouldn’t stand out in the bathroom and, on the surface at least, looks quite good. It’s not garish, it doesn’t have logos emblazoned throughout and, truth be told, it wouldn’t look out of place in an Apple Store.

Its main feature is Bluetooth 3.0 and A2DP connectivity and has a micro USB port for charging as well as connecting a 3.5mm device to it (using the included cable) should you want to use it with something that doesn’t have Bluetooth.

In the box you’ll find the speaker, along with a USB charging/audio cable and small booklet guiding you through the setup process.

The power switch is located on the underside of the speaker which does feel really cheap and, although sturdy, gives the impression it’ll snap off at any moment. To the side of the switch is the power light that glows red to charge and flashes blue when it’s awaiting a connection, turning off once a connection is made. Three small feet with anti-slip pads attached keep the speaker in place and work surprisingly well.

The Bluetune speaker’s base pops out when it’s pressed down, dramatically increasing the quality and volume of the audio

Pushing down the speaker raises the speaker’s base (as well as increasing the volume and quality of the audio), revealing the USB port and gives it the appearance of a flying saucer that you’d see on the cover of a 50s sci-fi comic. Just like the power switch, the build quality isn’t exactly stellar when it comes to the base’s mechanism. There’s an odd feeling when pushing the stand in though as the spring feels quite stiff and it doesn’t always pop back up again, so you have to press it a few times to before it will work.

So the build quality isn’t fantastic but what does it sound like? In a word, phenomenal. I primarily use it for podcasts and am overjoyed at how good it sounds, with voices sounding rich and crisp. The sound will fill the room at 50% volume and you can push it all the way up to about 75% before there’s any noticeable distortion to audio. Just make sure you pop out the base of the speaker, the quality of the speaker when closed isn’t very good at all.

Music is handled really well and, depending on your taste, will be the best portable speaker you’ll ever own. Something like We’re In This Together – Nine Inch Nails sounds exceptional. Quieter music lacking any sort of bass, however, such as Welcome to Lunar Industries – Clint Mansell will sound very tinny with noticeable distortion, even at lower volumes.

The battery life is impressive, clocking in at just over 6 hours of usage before being completely depleted. It’s rated at 8 hours of battery life so it does miss the mark slightly but it can be run off any USB power source whilst it charges.

As portable speakers goes, this little hockey puck is fantastic and the volume and quality of the audio is genuinely comparable to the Jambox. It’s not going to stand up next to something like a B&W Zeppelin but why would it? It’s a portable speaker. It’s certainly streets ahead of the iPhone 5’s built-in speaker and is a heck of a lot more convenient to take travelling or use in the bathroom.

If you’re in the market for a portable wireless speaker and are looking to spend up to £120, I would be disheartened if you didn’t make this your first choice. Seriously, I don’t think an extra £100 is going to get you that much better a speaker so why not save that and get one of these little guys?

Instapaper sold to Betaworks

Marco Arment:

I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.

This is great news for Marco, Instapaper has been my “read later” service of choice for years but I’ve been wondering, maybe even a little concerned, about the future of Instapaper (and indeed, how long it would take before Marco would want to move away from it). With competition from the likes of Pocket, which is continually adding new features and sharing options, I feel that it’s been harder to recommend Instapaper over the other services available today and not a lot of the service has changed all that much in recent times1.

Marco has a lot going on at the moment, The Magazine is incredibly (and ever increasingly) popular, he co-hosts both Accidental Tech Podcast and the currently on haitus Neutral and he’s no doubt working on other things in the pipeline.

Matt Alexander makes some interesting points about the acquisition:

As a further note, it’s odd to witness the outpouring of enthusiasm and excitement for this acquisition from a community well-known for its apprehension toward such deals. Obviously this deal doesn’t have all the hallmarks of a Silicon Valley acquisition (or acqui-hire), but it is irrevocably an acquisition by a large firm with no focus upon revenue. That’s not to say that Instapaper won’t live on successfully, but there’s an unmistakable double-standard on display today that’s worth keeping in mind for the future.

It’s an interesting observation and one I partly agree with, but Instapaper’s businss model is revenue generating with an optional subscription. Unlike previous acquisitions such as Digg which had no business model as such, Instapaper isn’t in a whole and, with Marco remaining independent, certainly isn’t a talent acquisition. As a paid Instapaper subscriber, it will be interesting to see what Instapaper’s revenue stream becomes now it’s under the wing of Betaworks.

  1. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? 

Nokia offers a two-week free trial of a Lumia handset

A little known service that Nokia have been offering for a short while now is the ability to request a two-week free trial of one of their Lumia handsets.

It’s a very interesting way to try and build up interest in Windows Phone and what better way to try a new mobile platform than to be able to use it however you want for a decent period of time?

I’ve used iOS, Android and Blackberry before as they’ve all been devices I’ve owned but Windows Phone is something I’ve never even seen in the flesh, let alone used, but would certainly be interested in testing.

Lost Photos: Find Treasured Photos Buried in Your Email

Mac.AppStorm:

Despite the prevalence of services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Photo Stream, email is still the most popular way of sending photos to friends and family. It’s something we take for granted, yet many of us don’t tend to save the photos once we’ve seen them in our mail app.

Lost Photos is a rather unique utility that searches through every single email you’ve sent or received and extracts any photos it finds, ready for you to archive and preserve. Does it work? Read on to find out.

I review Lost Photos for Mac OS X on Mac.AppStorm to see if this app can really find some buried photographic treasure in my email archive.