Category: Technology (page 1 of 7)

Fantastical 2 — iPhone calendar and reminders done right

If you can lay your hands on any Apple iPhone — from the first generation iPhone 2G to the current iPhone 6S — you will immediately notice that the device has always come bundled with a Calendar app.

As a statement of our paperless lives and the forefront of technology, the fact that calendars still come bundled with our smartphones is proof enough of the key role they play in our lives. Consider further the fact that a digital calendar is merely a faithful replica of our offline paper planner. A calendar is the best tool to plan your day and your week with, and coupled with a reminders app, it is the only time management solution you will ever need. And they are simple enough to use, yet some use them ineffectively.

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The Joy of Missing Out

I had never really made the connection before this, but Sherlock Holmes practices a form of the so–called Joy of Missing Out. I’ll come to that in a moment; first we need to understand what JoMO is and, parenthetically, what FoMO is.

The Fear of Missing Out, or FoMO, was added to the Oxford English dictionary in August of 2013. It is defined as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. I think we can do away with that last clause: FoMO is not restricted to social media alone and is as rampant offline as it is on the web.

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Bad move, Amazon

Amazon is, first of all, a retail marketplace. Market equality dictates that the platform selling products does not align itself with any of its sellers so as not to cause a bias in sales and unfavourably impact other sellers. This, at the least, is an ethical question.

The same has rarely been spoken about platforms taking a stance against its selling clientele. What if the platform itself wishes to sell a product that would compete with its sellers? Is it right to intentionally harm, or even block, sellers? What happens to market competition and antitrust laws?

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Ad-blockers are a good thing

The concept of the web being free comes with strings attached. Although most websites are free to read, their owners need to pay for storage space and servers (besides various licenses), and storages and servers and networks run on electricity. In order to keep website content free to read, these expenditures are met indirectly.

Broadly, there are mainly two things that pay for the web: advertisements and paywalls. Bots track your usage via your browser and tell advertisors what you like so they can show you ads you are most likely to click on. Websites act as platforms to show these ads, possibly coax you into clicking on them and exploring advertised products or content, and make money in turn.

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iPad is more than just a consumption device

Ever since the first iPad came out in 2010, people have hailed it as a stellar consumption device: something you use to watch videos, browse the web, occasionally read etc. To some of us, the folly in this argument is immediately apparent.

The iPad has the potential to be so much more than a device you just stare at all day; you can do things with it. And Apple’s tablet apps store is second to none, so why do more of us not use the iPad to do things as opposed to just consume information?
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An e-mail reply from Tim Cook

Steve Jobs was known to reply to every e-mail he got, often tersely, but reply nonetheless; or at least he would direct it to concerned employees to handle issues immediately.

The practice has stuck with Tim Cook taking over the company as CEO. I, for one, have come to look at Tim in the same light as Jobs, as a capable leader, a dedicated worker and an analytical mind seeing whose decisions and lifestyle we can all take home something. And a couple of days back, he replied to an e-mail I sent.

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Review: OmmWriter Dāna II

As writers, there are essentially three things we need for our craft: a place to sit, a calm environment, tools with which to put down our thoughts. Some of us prefer silence while working, while most listen to some sort of music — it is not an inspiration so much as an encouraging environment to write in, to let our thoughts flow and to spark newer thoughts.

Music, like silence, is not a necessity, merely an advantage. In the 21st century, we all too often take down our longer thoughts on electronic devices: we may blog it, write it to showcase, or publish it, or whatever else it may be. And we turn to word processors all along to note and save and retrieve and edit and store again. Enter OmmWriter, the zen master of notepads.

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Britain is not a smartphone society

Earlier this week The Telegraph’s technology briefing newsletter (as well as their website) carried an article asking if Ofcom’s recent survey suggests Britain is a smartphone society.

Although the figures do point to great smartphone usage, I would argue that it takes more than just usage numbers to make a true smartphone society.

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25 Cydia tweaks to install first on iOS 8.3

The iOS jailbreak scene is pretty active and speedy; this is perhaps because everyone is focusing on one piece of hardware unlike on Android where a thousand developers are focussing on a thousand models. Four days ago, TaiG found an exploit and came out with a jailbreak for the latest iOS version, 8.3, and soon Surik had updated Cydia, TaiG had patched as necessary and several tweaks were brought up to speed.

After iOS7, I had not jailbroken 8.1, being satisfied with the stock OS — in retrospect, I probably should have jailbroken it. In any case, I did so on 8.3 and had a chance to rethink my usual tweaks. I ended up installing around 50 tweaks, out of which I would recommend these 25 to everyone for better usage, look and feel. And maybe a little bit of fun.

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Ello app launched on iOS

Ello is my favourite social network. Having joined Google+ in its beta stage and having loved it once upon a time for its great perks for us photographers (amateur and professional alike), I have come to realise that somewhere along the line, Google messed things up enough for me to dramatically reduce using it.

Ello has been doing things right, however: it is minimal, ad-free, with simply superb people making a humbling community that is growing steadily. And today, after quite a wait, Ello came out as an app on iOS.

Needless to say, I am overjoyed. You can download it right now.

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Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.

The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.

Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.

Update: After this article was published and discussed around the web, Picturelife got in touch with me and offered a generous 20GB of additional free storage for life. Thank you. And here’s to Picturelife for being one of the top cloud storage solutions for all of us.

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There was once a time when Google Reader was the top dog in RSS aggregators. And then Google shut it down, much to the dismay of its million-strong user-base, like it almost habitually shuts down services (Knol, iGoogle, Google Talk, Buzz, Answers etc.) In fact, there exists something called a “Google graveyard”. In any case, while some got replacement services, Reader never did.

That was when a lot of us moved to Feedly, but soon Feedly (which was fully free up to that point) created a pro subscription with all the good stuff. It did not make sense to me to pay monthly fees for the convenience of reading a bunch of articles when the articles themselves were free. And thus began the search for the (near-)perfect RSS reader app on my iPhone and today, it appears, we have an winner.

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Switching to iPhone and iOS

When iPhone 6 Plus came out last year, I bought it without a second thought. I had an iPad, so I had experienced the new iOS 8, and when the phablet-sized device came out, my last complaint against  Apple went out the window (tiny screen sizes). iPhones are extremely capable, user-friendly devices and this means a lot coming from someone who once swore by Android until Google’s ugly material UI took over.

However, there were some things I wish I had known when I first switched to iPhone that I thought would be helpful to other new users. Not all of these may take you by surprise — some might — but all of them are definitely helpful and will improve your already stellar user experience with your shiny new phone.

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Installing gnuplot on Mac

Hardly anyone who has gone through a college mathematics or physics course is unacquainted with gnuplot. However, it turns out that installing gnuplot (or Octave, for that matter — but let us leave that for another day) on a Mac is a pain in the neck; in a time when installing games take a few clicks at best, it simply is not straightforward to install gnuplot.

After scratching my head over it for two days straight, I finally installed gcc, gnuplot, Octave and LaTeX on my new Mac (OS X 10.10.3, Yosemite) and decided to note some points/instructions down here for anyone else looking for a simple solution from start to finish contained in one place.

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Are stock iOS apps more than sufficient? — part 1

These past few weeks I have been increasingly wondering why people complain about stock apps on iPhone. Granted, for some, the apps fall short in some areas; this is particularly true for those who use their iPhones in corporate environments where the tech department has its own apps or possibly where app usage restrictions exist or special use cases are only met by certain third-party apps.

But the practice of hating stock apps just for the sake of hating them has undeniably increased among the self-declared hip crowd. My own anger against bloatware (if you call appeals of bloatware removal “anger” that is) was well-founded because bloatware, by definition, is that which a user would not voluntarily have installed even if he had heard about it.

In this light, let us take a look at my own use of stock apps and examine cases where I use alternatives (and why I do so) as well as where I use the stock apps (and why I do not seek an alternative). The apps I will talk of that I use are Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, Photos, Reminders and Podcasts; and I mention apps like Notes, iTunes and Calculator that I rarely (if ever) use. This is spread out over two articles for length.

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