Federico Viticci reviews Drafts 3


In just a little more than a year, Agile Tortoise’s Drafts has gone from being a quick notepad for small bits of text to a full-featured solution for launching apps, using web services, and chaining multiple apps together – always with a focus on text. With version 2.5, released in January, developer Greg Pierce expanded upon Drafts’ existing support for URL schemes to let users build their own actions and share them with others; in the process, he also updated Drafts to handle advanced operations such as customizable Dropbox write access, strftime timestamps, and deeper x-callback-url support.

The only review of Drafts 3 for iOS that you’ll need to read. Federico includes photos, videos and examples in this extremely detailed write up that gives you a comprehensive look at Drafts. By the end of it you’ll feel like you’ve been using the app for weeks.

BitTorrent Sync


BitTorrent Inc. has opened up its Sync app to the public today. The new application is free of charge and allows people to securely sync folders to multiple devices using the BitTorrent protocol. Complete control over the storage location of the files and the absence of limits is what sets BitTorrent’s solution apart from traditional cloud based synchronization services.

The key difference between this service and alternatives like Dropbox is that BitTorrent Sync is completely decentralised, there’s no server in the cloud that is storing any of your files. It’s essentially the same method as is currently used for standard BitTorrent file sharing except it uses secret keys to keep your data safe and secure.

The app is still in alpha testing so I wouldn’t rely upon it too much for now but it’s a very interesting take on personal file syncing.

WiFi Explorer: The Wireless Swiss Army Knife


WiFi Explorer, by Adrián Granados, aims to make the process of tweaking your wireless network as straightforward as possible by providing you with detailed information about all the wireless networks your Mac can detect. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.

I review WiFi Explorer over at Mac.AppStorm to see just how useful a tool it can be to gather information and troubleshoot wireless networks.

How to Install and Start Using OS X Server


OS X Server can turn most Macs into a fully functional server that can not only let you share files but you can even roll your own iCloud with features such as mail, contacts and calendar server features. If you’ve ever been interested in using OS X Server but weren’t sure where to start, this screencast will show you how easy it is to install it and get started. We’ll even show you how to use it as a file server, calendar server and destination for Time Machine!

My latest piece over at Mactuts+ is a screencast on installing and configuring basic services with OS X Server. If you’ve been interested in using a Mac as a server but weren’t too sure exactly was involved, this walks you through the entire setup process.

Reddit reflects on the recent Boston crisis

Reddit blog:

However, though started with noble intentions, some of the activity on reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties. The reddit staff and the millions of people on reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened. We have apologized privately to the family of missing college student Sunil Tripathi, as have various users and moderators. We want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for the pain they have had to endure. We hope that this painful event will be channeled into something positive and the increased awareness will lead to Sunil’s quick and safe return home. We encourage everyone to join and show your support to the Tripathi family and their search.

A very informative post over at Reddit’s official blog regarding the events that occurred and the role Reddit played in providing the latest information, some of it extremely regrettable.

It’s definitely encouraging to see Reddit apologise on behalf of its users for its part in some of the erroneous reporting last week but it continues to show that the more up to date the news is, the less likely it is to be confirmed.

During any major news event, take near-instant news updates with a huge bolder-sized grain of salt. Experiences can be exaggerated due to adrenaline and some information can be second-hand and, until corroborated, can’t be confirmed as true or not.

CSI Internet

Dave Lee at BBC News writes about the Internet hive mind’s failed attempt at piecing together who may have been the suspects for the Boston bombings:

Internet users tried for days to piece together clues about the culprits of the Boston bombings. The result? They got it wrong – and left innocent people fearing for their safety. Many are now asking: should “crowd-sourced investigations” be stopped?

The hive mind culture of sites like Reddit and 4chan have gotten things wrong before. Back in 2011, Reddit users were convinced that a girl who posted that she was shaving her head for charity and looking for donations was a fraud. Well, she wasn’t. But that wasn’t before thousands of users turned on her, to the point her safety was threatened.

That’s bad enough, but imagine that you’re a completely innocent bystander in what was a terrible tragedy and part of the Internet thinks you were responsible for it.

The collective nature of users when something like this happened turns into a mob mentality which is why the phrase “put your pitchforks down” can be found now and again when they’ve got it wrong.

I’m sure all the users had the very best of intentions but because of this mob mentality, all it takes is for someone to say “he looks suspicious” and then for someone else to agree and it snowballs into something much bigger.

You don’t need every customer

Marco Arment makes the case for why developers shouldn’t look to try and react to every negative comment or review:

No matter what you make or how much you charge, some people will find things to complain about. If you drop your app’s price all the way down to free, people will still complain — just not about the price. They’ll move on to the features, the implementation, the design, the updates, the way you look, or what kind of dog you have. They’ll complain about every facet of your app, and then they’ll complain about unrelated topics just to pile on.

I previously created a site/service that would allow users to stay up to date about relevant video game information. Out of the hundreds using it, two people wrote to me and complained that they would only use my service if it had email notifications as well.

So what did I do? I implemented the feature. In hindsight, I really wish I hadn’t as it took more time and energy to setup and maintain it than the rest of the project took to create from scratch. It wasn’t a particularly hard service to implement but when you’re dealing with mass emailing, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that has to be done. Things like mailing list user management and unsubscribe options had to be created, not to mention the fact that the server would be sending out thousands of emails a week. Sure, I could’ve used a service such as Mailchimp but this was a free service and that would have cost – the benefits did not outweigh the drawbacks.

In the end, I pulled the email service completely simply because out of all the people using the site, only 6 people in total were using email notifications.

Negative comments are to be expected whenever you’re providing a product, service or app. Expect harsh and unrealistic criticism and as Marco explains, those people are probably best served elsewhere.

Use Status Board to Display Google Calendar in a Table Panel

I just released a custom table panel for Panic’s Status Board that displays the podcast network 5by5’s live broadcast schedule for the next 30 days.

5by5 uses Google Calendar so this table actually just interacts with that. This means it isn’t just limited to 5by5 and you can use it for pretty much any Google Calendar feed. Because of that, I’m putting the source up over on GitHub as I’m sure there’ll be people who might be interested in using it (it’s also embedded below).

The panel works by calling the Google Calendar feed as JSON with a bunch of queries to remove any redundant information as well as specify the date range to use. Once that is loaded, the remaining Javascript parses the even titles, dates and times and generates a table that is compatible with Status Board. If you’ve any experience using Javascript, HTML and have used Google Calendar’s API on any level before, this will all be easy to modify.

The panel is written in Javascript and I’m by no means proficient in it, so there’s likely plenty of rookie mistakes or places where it can be improved upon. I originally wrote the panel in PHP using Zend, but realised this was far more complicated than it needed to be, not to mention that it had to be hosted server-side. I re-wrote it in Javascript which means it can be run anywhere.

I encourage anyone wanting to tweak it to brush up on the Google Calendar API guide on query strings since much of the work can be done before the feed is even loaded. Additionally, check out Panic’s Status Board custom table guide to be sure that any HTML you generate works properly.

5by5 Live Broadcast Schedule Panel for Status Board

I think Panic’s Status Board is a great app and having useful information at a glance on my iPad whilst I’m working means I don’t need to switch between apps as much. I also love the look of the table panel since it reminds me of an airport or train station.

I decided to have a go at making my own table panel but rather than use it as intended, I went about using it as an alternative to the built-in calendar panel.

With that in mind, here’s a neat panel I wrote that will provide you with the next 30 days of the 5by5 broadcast schedule, providing show title, date and time information (date and time adjusts depending on time zone).

On your iPad, tap here to load it directly in Status Board.

I’ve since released the source for the panel on GitHub as it can be used for almost any Google Calendar feed. You can find more information in this post.

The Apple Pop-up Museum

I’ve been looking forward to reading this particular piece by for over a week now, Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels writes about his time spent at the Apple Pop-up Museum. t’s a truly great collection of Apple products spanning the entire company’s history, from the Lisa to the always awe-inspiring Twentieth Anniversary Mac.

This makes my old collection of classic iPods look like crap.