Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to bobby-travis.com.

Easy Access to US, UK Streaming Services From Anywhere

Netflix Canada, Hulu Canada, iPlayer Canada, iPlayer US, Spotify Canada | UnoDNS

I love being from Canada — but due to licensing issues and the imaginary line I live on the wrong side of, I’m blocked from or limited in using streaming media services that my global neighbours rave about. Fortunately for those of us so geographically challenged (or those of you travelling outside the US or UK and missing your favourite music and video streams), there are services out there that try to solve this problem.

The best one I’ve come across so far, in terms of ease of use and quality of delivery, is UnoDNS. READ MORE

5 Fresh Android Games Released in 2012

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40Tech is pleased to present a guest post from Amelia Hunter!

If you own an Android phone and love playing games on it, you’ve most likely already played all versions of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. Wanna try something new? Here are some fresh Android games released this year! They’re free, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy playing them.

 

1) Pocket Clothier

We’re all well aware of the type of management simulation games that Kairosoft produce and Pocket Clothier is the latest release. This game involves you running a clothing store, hiring employees, buying new stock and setting up displays. In fact, anything that is involved with running a clothing store is included here. Beware though; Pocket Clothier can take over your life.

 

2) Oscura

This game by MTV Networks in collaboration with The Chocolate Liberation Front is one of the slicks games in terms of visuals to appear on Android for some time. Evil creatures are taking over the strange land and it is your job to use your skills to restore the light – excellent 2D fun to be had for all.

 

3) Commander Pixman

Who doesn’t love a retro platform game? That’s right no one! Commander Pixman is as old-school as they come and involves the usual avoidance of traps and killing of enemies over a whopping 135 levels. One of many games recently released by Noodlcake Studios recently, but probably the best. You can play it on any phone of course, but for the best experience it would be great to try it on a new smartphone with high-end features.

 

4) Tapadoo

Brain exercise games are great fun for all the family and Tapadoo is one of these games. This puzzle games takes scribbles and turns them into puzzles that must be solved by you. These puzzles range from the very easy to the mind-boggling – a great game from Nevosoft.

 

5) Aqua Story

Fish can be great pets and they are even better when they are kept in a virtual tank on your smartphone. This game from Com2uS lets you raise different varieties of fish, playing with them and feeding them as you would in real-life. If you’re into your virtual pets, you will love this game. And the best thing is – it can run on almost any Android phone, even on those old ones.

Amelia Hunter is from Rightmobilephone.co.uk, which offers the best mobile phone deals in the UK. She’s interested in smartphones, tablets, apps and PC games, and she loves sports.

Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket

Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket | 40Tech

If you hadn’t already heard, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad was released this week — and it promptly became the #1 free app on the app store. This is something that we’ve been waiting for with baited breath, and something that I, personally, was never sure would happen properly due to the rivalry between Apple and Google.

Have no doubt, though, it’s here — and it takes the best of Google Chrome’s desktop browser and jams it neatly and prettily into your pocket.

Google Chrome for iPhone | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPad | 40Tech

One of the best features of Google Chrome for iOS is the integration of Chrome’s sync technology. If you have ever wanted the ability to open up any device — iPhone, iPad, Android, any computer that you’ve signed in to Google Chrome on — and pick up browsing from where you left off (again, on any of them), then you have reason enough to love Chrome for iOS app as the final piece in that puzzle.

It syncs your browsing history, open tabs, omnibar searches (yep, all that omnibar instant search power is in there, too), passwords, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc. Chrome was always great for being able to hop from computer to computer, but now you can hop from computer to computer to mobile and back again — and seamlessly, at that.

Chrome for iOS | Request Desktop Site | 40TechChrome for iOS | Bookmark Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iOS | Sync Across All DevicesGoogle Chrome iPad App | 40Tech

That’s just the tip of it, though. Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad is blazingly fast, has an intuitive interface, and comes with niceties like easy, swipe-based tab switching, tracking of recently closed and most-visited web pages, voice-based search capability (Google’s not Siri’s),  search within web pages, and the ability to request a switch to desktop mode for entire sites at the touch of a button.

Google Chrome for iOS also includes Incognito Mode, and allows you to have as many open tabs in the browser as you damned well please. Chrome for iPhone is beautifully designed and extremely intuitive, and Chrome for iPad is the closest thing to a desktop browser that you will find on any tablet.

Chrome iPhone App | Omnibox Search | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Drag To Open, Close Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Swipe to Change Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Sign in to Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPhone, Google Chrome for iPad | Incognito Mode | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Collapse, Expand, Swipe Tabs | 40TechGoogle Chrome iOS App Settings | 40TechGoogle Chrome iPad App | Drag Tabs, Scroll Tabs | 40Tech

As with anything, though, Chrome for iOS is not perfect. There is no read later functionality, which you may miss if you love it in Safari, and heartbreakingly, there is a fairly consistent lag issue. Don’t get me wrong… when it works, it’s stupidly fast — but there are times, especially on pages with Javascript, that you will be typing or touching a button and nothing will happen for a few seconds. This can be an extreme pain in the ass, and may even be a deal-breaker for some. There may not even be much Google can do about it, because it could be related to Apple not giving other browsers on iOS access to their Nitro Javascript engine.

If you can get past the occasional (if persistent) few seconds of waiting, though, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad could be your go-to web browser replacement for mobile Safari (it’s certainly more stable than Safari for iPad). The possibilities excite me to no end. I’m thinking some version of Chrome extensions would be a logical next step! Either way, Chrome for iOS gives me yet another reason to jailbreak my iPhone and iPad: to cull Safari out of default browser status, once and for all.

Get Google Chrome for iOS (iOS 4.3+)

Springpad’s Still Going Strong, Introduces Facebook Like Integration

Springpad's Still Going Strong, Introduces Facebook Like Integration | 40Tech

The Springpad overhaul that dropped in April led to some strong reactions from a significant portion of its userbase — but don’t count them out! I have it on good authority that they are still experiencing significant growth, and are still working toward bringing you the smartest, most actionable notebook app around. Their latest venture? Facebook integration — don’t worry, haters, it’s optional! –  that allows you to turn the movies, TV shows, books, music, and places you “like” into searchable, organized notebooks. The information is then enhanced by services like Rotten Tomatoes, OpenTable, etc., and you can even showcase your favourites by sharing them back to your Facebook Timeline.

Add Springpad to Your Facebook Timeline | 40Tech  Add Facebook Likes, Check-ins to Srpingpad | 40Tech

Facebook Likes on Springpad   Facebook Like as Springpad Enhanced Note

The new integration is a good move for Springpad (and much more focused than their last attempt at Facebook integration), as it makes an effort to enhance the experience of the social network juggernaut, as opposed to trying to compete against it. Twitter integration like this could be in the pipeline for Springpad, as well.

Springpad Facebook integration highlights:

  • New users who sign-up for Springpad through Facebook can choose to have “likes” automatically imported and categorized into Springpad notebooks
  • Springpad enhances “likes” with actionable information such as Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews and trailers, price comparisons, maps, product availability alerts, OpenTable reservation links, Foursquare tips and more
  • Springpad users can choose to share notebooks or individual items to their Facebook timeline
  • Posts to your Facebook timeline (either individual items or entire notebooks) are organized under the Springpad header
  • Facebook likes are now discoverable and actionable
  • Springpad is now available in the Facebook App Center

Springpad Facebook Integration

Currently, all items that you share back to your Facebook Timeline are public. This is in keeping with how Facebook does things, as well as with Springpad’s current “if you share it, it’s public” way of doing things. However, there is the possibility that options for selective sharing may come later, which I would like.

I would also love to see Springpad integrate with Facebook comments, to keep conversations surrounding the likes/notes streamlined — and some sort of automatic like/spring option for users of both platforms would be nice, too. For example, if I like something on someone else’s Facebook/Springpad timeline post, I would like it to spring on Springpad, or add it to my own notebook and my Facebook likes. Also, I would love it if things I add to my new Facebook-generated notebooks would appear as new likes on my Facebook timeline, as well. So far, this doesn’t seem to happen.

The new Springpad Facebook integration takes them one step further away from a standard notebook app, and forward in their evolution as an “inspirational life management” platform.

I like it. What do you think?

What Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? [Reader Feedback]

What Google Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? | 40Tech

I like Google Chrome. Love it, in fact. I love the extensions, I love the OS-style feel of it, and I love the apps integration that makes that feel possible. It long ago took over Firefox for me, and, while I love the foxy Fox, I’ve never been able to go back to it full time.

The one thing I find with Google Chrome, however, is that — like my computer and my mobile devices — I have a tendency to collect apps that seem useful, and then rarely use them. I tell myself that they might come in handy one day (and therefore should be kept), but that’s probably just an excuse — an excuse that got me wondering: do you have the same problem?

I organize my apps into different pages, and I’ve listed them below, only detailing the Quick Apps page, which are the ones I like to keep available and (in theory) use the most. I’ve uncluttered recently, but I still find that I barely use many of the apps within.

Google Chrome Apps For Business, Life and Getting Things Done | 40Tech

Evernote Web - I never open this. Well, very rarely. I use the desktop app or my mobile apps instead. I keep it, though, on the off-chance that I’ll load up Chrome OS or install Linux and sync my profile. Or something.

SpringpadI like Springpad and I do use this, as the app is strictly web-based at this time. I also enjoy some of the integration into the context menu, though I don’t actually use it that often.

Producteev - I use this one, too. Producteev has a desktop app, and that’s great, but it needs work. I also prefer to have my task manager in the browser, as I do most of my work while online, and the browser makes it quickly accessible.

Wunderlist - I love Wunderlist. It’s probably the sexiest task/list manager out there. I rarely use it, though, as my workflow is based around Producteev. Occasionally, I might use it to quickly make a pretty list that I want with me on my iPhone and iPad, but I have no real need for it. But it’s pretty!

Wunderkit - I know what you’re thinking… If I don’t use Wunderlist, what do I need the whole Wunderkit for? Short answer — I don’t, even though it’s awesome. But I keep thinking I might employ it as an alternative for Producteev or something. That will likely never happen, though — and shouldn’t I put it in my App testing folder, instead? Yeah, you’re probably right. And yet…

Mint - Now this, I use. I don’t use it enough or to its full potential, but I do use it. Mint is an awesome money managing app, and it has been working up in Canada for a while now. I’m not letting this one go.

Timer - This is a simple button that fires the Timer site/app (formerly TimerTab, which we covered here) — which allows you oddly enough, to time stuff. You can even set a YouTube video as an alarm. I chose Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War.

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Gmail | Offline Google Mail - I live in Gmail, so this is a no brainer. I set it to open in its own window and roll out. I don’t usually use Offline Google Mail, and I think it may be totally useless now that Google is doing better offline mail within the regular Gmail app, but I haven’t tossed it yet. Just in case…

Google Calendar - There are a number of ways I can get at Google Calendar, but I use this when I want it to easily open in its own window. Which is a rare thing… but I do still use it.

Google Docs - This is my web portal to Google Drive – which is an awesome 5GB of free storage space with a 10GB file size limit, plus more — and it could be an Evernote alternative in its own right.

TweetDeck | Hootsuite - I have no idea why I keep these here. I find that I manage multiple Twitter accounts more effectively on my phone, or by using LastPass to sign in to the account I choose. For work accounts, I have a whole other browser profile that I tend to use, so there is never any real conflict. If I consolidate, though, one of them could be useful, I suppose. Who needs to have so much social information thrown at you at one time, though? Keep it simple and lower your stress level, says I.

Box | Dropbox - I use both of these, but if the two, Box is the only one I ever open, because it is a web-only interface. I use my OS for Dropbox. I keep it there for the Google OS potential, though. I used to have SugarSync there, as well, but that app seems to have disappeared for the Chrome Web Store.

My other pages are separated by Design, Fun Stuff, and App Testing.

In Design I have several Aviary image editing and creation apps, Picnik, and Audiotool. Again, I think I keep these for when I’m on a computer that isn’t Adobe-friendly, as I never use them otherwise. Design also has Zootool (a visual bookmarking app I never use), jsFiddle (code-testing sandbox that I rarely use), Pinterest (more for my wife, than me – and why under design…?), Summify, and Revisu (helps with design iterations when using Google Drive).

Google Chrome Apps for Photo Editing, Autio Editing, and Design | 40Tech

Fun Stuff (which is woefully bare, unfortunately) has Kid Mode for Chrome, which is the Zoodles app for my daughter. Zoodles is awesome, but the app hasn’t worked properly in Chrome for a while, leading me to use Firefox for this particular function. This page also has YouTube (which I mostly get to via search), Full Screen Weather (which I usually check on my phone), Graphicly Comics (which I never use), and Planetarium (used rarely). Netflix used to be here, but it is nowhere to be found on the Web Store now.

Google Chrome Apps for Kids, Fun, and Entertainment | 40Tech

App Testing tends to change, by its nature, but there are a few things in there that are persistent for some reason. I’ve left Jolicloud in there, as well as Memonic, and SlideRocket (which is cool, but I don’t generally use due to the pricing). I’ve also got HelloFax in there (it works with Google Drive and I use it sometimes, but had nowhere else to put it), Summify (it will stop working eventually, as it’s been bought by Twitter, but I keep it here in the meantime) and Thinkery (possible Evernote alternative I need to get around to testing more). This is also where I keep the Web Store link.

Google Chrome Apps I'm Testing | 40Tech

So there you have it. Even after going through every app in my Chrome set up, I still don’t know what ones to get rid of, but I only use about a third of what I have with any regularity. It’s a conundrum, I tell you!

How about you? Do you have any Chrome apps that you keep around, but never use? What are the apps that you do use, and couldn’t live without?

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative?

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative? | 40Tech

So let’s talk. There’s been a lot of conversation around the web — and on this site — about possible alternatives for Evernote. Springpad was the goto app for many, though the most recent update has pulled them further away from that comparison, and drawn the ire of many users in the process. If you look at Springpad, though, as well as several other apps that offer services that are considered comparable to Evernote (Shelfster, Thinkery, OneNote and Catch, for example), you can define a general criteria for a note taking application that I think — no matter how odd it may sound — could also be met by Google’s latest cloud offering and the new face of Google Docs: Google Drive.

Stick with me. I’d love to have a conversation with you all about this.

 

First: What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is the latest cloud drive offering to hit the web jungle. It came out just this past week and has already been cited as a direct threat to Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, and all the rest. On the flip-side, it’s also received the standard Ahhhhh, Their Stealing My Private Information!!!!! treatment by the web media, as well — in this case, somewhat unfairly (more below).

Google Drive Features

Once you start using drive, you can say goodbye to the docs.google.com url. Your docs shall forever become a part of Google Drive. You’ll still be able to revert to the old Google Docs interface, for a limited time, but the default new dashboard is where you will start, and eventually end up.

Google Drive | New Google Docs Dashboard | 40Tech

 

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Here’s the feature-set, in a nutshell:

Storage is low cost and in abundance. And it can take crazy large files, and allows you to view files most other services don’t. Sync with your computers and mobile devices (iOS coming soon) in the same manner as Dropbox.

  • 5GB of free storage space — and Gmail goes up to 10GB
  • Additional space starting at $2.49/month for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB — all the way up to 16TB (these also up your Gmail to 25GB)
  • Google Docs don’t count against your storage
  • 10GB filesize limit per file
  • Upload up to 30 types of files –this includes Photoshop, Illustrator, movies, photos and more, as well as viewing of those files (graphic designers, rejoice! — and yes, this means movie and music playback, too)
  • Add and manage files from your desktop environment
  • Google Docs files (.gdoc, .gsheet, etc.) are actually shortcuts to their respective web editors, so don’t take up additional hard drive space on your PC
  • Offline viewing (offline editing is in the works, too)

Sharing, sharing, sharing! Collaborate! Individual files, folders, or your entire Drive…

  • Add a person, go public, or share a link — you can even give people without Google accounts editing capability
  • Send Drive links in Gmail to make sure everyone always has the updated version — no attachment worries
  • Or send Drive files as attachments, or even in the body of the email (classic Google Docs features)
  • Share photos and videos right from Google+
  • Easily view and manage files and folder shared with you
  • Collaborate on any type of file — comment and chat on any of your files, in real time
  • 30 days of revision history

Google Drive Sharing Settings | 40Tech

Search — including including OCR and Google Goggles

  • Filter by keyword, file type, file owner, and more
  • Search text in scanned documents
  • Find a photo using the search bar — Goggles can recognise objects in your images

Third-party apps. There are already several available on the Chrome Web Store, many of them free or freemium services. These apps will plug right in to your Google Drive allowing you to do all kinds of fun things. Some examples:

  • HelloFax lets you send free faxes right from Google Drive — it also has signature signing capability, as do a couple of other Google Drive apps like DocuSign
  • Pixlr and Aviary for Google Drive let you edit uploaded photos
  • SlideRocket can be set up to be your default presentation app
  • Revisu lets you share designs for feedback and track version history
  • Lots more available and lots more coming via Google Drive > Settings > Manage apps > Get more apps

Third Party Google Drive Apps | 40Tech

Any of you starting to see why I couldn’t help but compare it to Evernote? More on that, below.

What About My Privacy?

Google Drive’s privacy policy and terms of use came under fire almost the moment it launched. I have this picture in my mind of writers hearing about the launch and rubbing their hands together with glee as they consider all the readers they will be able to draw in with negative Google headlines. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Google may be the sweet face of Evil, and many of the concerns were and are valid — they’re just out of context.

Google’s Terms of Service states:

“You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”

This is a good thing. But here’s where the confusion comes in:

“…you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”

At first glance, this is freaky — but the reality is that this is used so that Google can integrate Drive with its other services — for you, of course — and to provide the other functions of the service, such as OCR and image recognition. Of course, this also means they can use the content to better provide you with more accurate advertising, but this is something they do with their services already.

Bear in mind that they can also be compelled to give up your information to government bodies or law enforcement agencies if required to by law. This is a standard thing that applies to every online service that houses its servers in the United States.

All of these things can be found in similar fashion in the Dropbox terms of service — and even the Evernote terms of service, though some may find Google to be a bit more ambiguous. Personally, I find the Amazon Cloud Drive terms of service much more frightening.

What does this all mean? Only this: Google’s scary privacy points are, in this instance, not so different than any other online drive’s terms of service. Does this mean there aren’t potentially frightening possibilities; that it’s all really candy and roses? No. Not unless you consider that the candy and roses could be laced with Rohypnol, that is. But these privacy issues are simply the risk you take when you put your files and personal information online. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned, just that you need to make the same decision, no matter what cloud service you use.

 

Next: Google Docs vs Evernote

Evernote Google Drive
Sync between devices (including mobile) Yes
Offline viewing Yes
Offline editing Not Yet
Collaboration Yes
Sharing Yes
Keyboard shortcuts for quick launch With tweaks (custom shortcuts)
Rich text editing Yes
Easy organization by notebooks and tags Yes, but with folders (no more tags)
Powerful search Yes
OCR Yes
Add attachments Yes
Search within attachments Yes
Third party integrations Yes, with more on the way
Add content by email Not at the moment
Web clipping Only manual copy and paste works at the moment
Low cost Yes
Upgradeable storage Yes

 

NOTE: You can create desktop shortcuts to open new Google Docs files, and then add custom hotkeys to those shortcuts to easily open new “notes”. The same urls used for the shortcuts can be used to create a dropdown in your browser’s bookmarks bar, although one bookmark, loaded in the browser sidebar is a great option for Firefox. The URLs you need are in this Google Document: http://bit.ly/IIiHAo. I’ve also added the shortcuts I decided to use, while testing. If there’s interest, I’ll do a full how-to on this.

New Google Document Shortcut with Keyboard Shortcut | 40Tech

NOTE: You can also add Google Drive to the Windows Send To context menu by typing %APPDATA%/Microsoft/Windows/SendTo to a Windows Explorer window – press enter. Then open another Explorer window, create a shortcut of your Google Drive, then drag it to the Send To folder you just opened. Now, when you right click on a file, you will be able to send it right to your Google Drive (this is based on the Windows 7 OS and also works for Skydrive and Dropbox).

 

Where Google Drive Wins

Google Drive allows you access to a full office suite, from full document and spreadsheet creation to presentations. It will also allow you to handle files more easily, as well as have real-time, collaborative conversations within the files/notes themselves. For people who want to have a powerful suite that they can leverage in nearly the same way as Evernote, then Google Drive could be a very good option. The same goes for people who don’t like the new Springpad, but find that Evernote just isn’t enough for them.

 

Where Google Drive Lacks

The lack of speedy clipping is an issue for me. This can be overcome with some simple copy and paste, or with extensions like Send to Google Docs (turns a whole web page into a PDF and sends it to Google Docs), and will likely no longer be an issue once some enterprising person or business creates an app for just that, but for the moment it is a bit of an annoyance. Not a deal breaker, though.

Web Clip of 40Tech Article to Google Drive by Shortcut, Then Copy Paste | 40Tech

The other thing is that it is just not as straightforward as Evernote. The workarounds I put together make it easier to get going, but I find that the keyboard shortcuts I created sometimes fail until I remake them in the shortcut’s properties. And as I’ve mentioned in posts before, Evernote is really good at the simple things it does: taking and organizing notes. Once you add all the extra power and options of Google Drive, then you run into the potential of it becoming unwieldy, unless you manage it really well.

 

So there it is, my curiosity and thought process laid out before you. Your turn now! I want to know what you think – feasibility, practicality of application, pure ridiculousness, et al. Let’s chat about it and see what we can come up with as a group!

Read It Later Gets a Facelift and a Brand New Name: Pocket (Web, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire)

Read it Later Gets a Facelift and a Brand New Name: Pocket (Web, iOS, Android) | 40Tech

Read It Later has been one of the most popular tools of its ilk for years now, starting way back in the dark ages of 2007. Along the way, it’s found itself up against some stiff competition with apps like Instapaper, Readability and, more recently, Evernote’s Clearly, but has remained a fan favourite with over 300 connected apps and services. It’s possible that the competition was getting a bit stiff, however, because Wednesday brought about a major change: a complete re-do of the look and feel of all apps, along with a total rebrand.

Meet Pocket, Read It Later fans.

There must be something in the air or water — or maybe it’s was Big Update Month or something. Facebook pushed all of its Pages over to the new timeline feature, confusing many a marketing guru and causing some frantic thinking as to how to force people to keep liking their pages; Google continued its Google+ focused design rollout, changing the design and navigation of their social network into something more icon-driven; and Springpad dropped a bomb of a new design on its (mostly) unsuspecting userbase.

The main difference with the new Read It Later is that, while the other services have been met with responses that vary from meh to ARRRRRRGH!!!!, from what I’ve read, Pocket has been received with almost universal positivity. This is not without reason, however, as everything about Pocket is an improvement.

 

Look and Feel

The new look and feel is easier to navigate, and visually appealing. It kind of reminds me of the new Springpad, in some ways — but don’t worry, new Springpad haters, the icon view isn’t too huge for the design, and the list view is still there, if you don’t like it. The colors are nice, the new branding is pretty and simple, and the icons in the mobile versions are pretty much self-explanatory. It also helps that, while some views are obviously going to be different depending on the device you’re on (no grid view for iPhone for example), the interface is consistent throughout. The end result is that it is a lot easier to find your way to and through the content you’ve saved, as well as to mange it (read, unread, tags, delete).

Pocket - Formerly Read It Later - for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

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Functionality

Pocket did the smart thing and didn’t remove functionality it’s users we’re used to. Instead, they added features that make the service even more useful! Pocket gets that the web is more than just words and that you want to bookmark more than just articles for later viewing. Now you can bookmark and view images and videos from all over the web right in your Pocket apps. On your computer or iPad, you the video pops up in an overlay, and on the iPhone, they open in the native video player — and in all services, you can launch them right from the little play button that appears on thy our bookmark’s thumbnail.

Info: Videos need an active internet connection, but articles and images still download for offline viewing.

Note: If you had a favourite app, extension, or bookmarklet for Read It Later, they should all still work with Pocket. You can also send to Pocket by email, and they’ve redesigned the official Google Chrome extension to get things into your list with a single click.

Pocket has some quick filters to aid in navigation (All Items, Articles Videos, and Images), as well as Home, Favorites, and Archives in the main menu. You can also use the search functionality, or navigate by tags, if you like.

You can still toggle between the pretty read view and the native web view for an article, and it’s now a lot easier to change the look of an article. There are only two fonts to choose from (FF Yoga for serif, and Proxima Nova for sans serif), but getting to that change, as well as changing the font size, screen brightness, or from and to night reading mode now takes no more than the touch of an obvious button. No more double-tapping on your mobile screen or any other such nonsense. The menu bar is always on and doesn’t get in the way of the reading experience.

 

Sharing content from Pocket is easier than ever, as well. Just hit the little share arrow-button that has become the universal app symbol to pass it on, and touch to share on Twitter, Facebook, or send to Evernote. Not enough? Hit the more button and you can copy the entire article in a single click, email the link or the entire article, open it in Safari, or send it to a multitude of services (Box.com, Buffer, Google Reader, Diigo, Delicious, Pinboard, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and all of the major social networks). Still not enough? Scroll a bit lower on iOS and you can send it on to EchoFon,Twitter for iPhone, Twittelator Pro, and even Omnifocus and Things.

That last — Omnifocus and Things — as well as the email capability, can make the things you save into actionable tasks, which is handy. And, as a nice little add on, the share services that you used most recently are the ones that will show up before the More button the next time you open it.

 

Downsides?

No app is perfect, and Pocket still has a few things it needs to be the best Read It Later type app out there. For one, it needs Google+ sharing and +1 capability. That was a glaring omission from the share list — though it may not be entirely their fault, as the Google+ API is still being extended. It would also be great if Pocket had the time of day activated night mode that Instapaper has, as well Instapaper’s ability to dim images as well as text. Oh — and the ability to apply night mode to the entire app would be peachy, as well. It would save more than a few eyes when users switch from an article back to the interface when reading in the dark.

Finally, I wish Pocket had some sort of reminder feature that could be applied to articles. One of the reasons I stopped using the original Read It Later — even though I loved the idea — was that the things I saved in it would never get read. They would get clipped with the bookmarklet, apps, or the Chrome extension (the new one makes this even easier), and then I would never look at them again. I actually started using Springpad to clip my articles for exactly this reason. Yes, I can send an article to my task manager to take action on, later, but only after I’ve read it — and when you see a lot of shiny things on the web or in your reader apps, your reading list can get intimidating, fast. So, yeah… Pocket, do me a solid and add a reminder function, eh?

What do you guys think of Pocket as the new Read It Later? Success? Fail? Does it trump Instapaper for you?

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Springpad vs Pinterest vs Evernote vs… Nobody?

Springpad 3.0 vs Pinterest vs Evernote vs... Nobody? | 40Tech

It used to be that the biggest comparison Springpad had to contend with was is it better than Evernote? Not anymore. With the newly realized vision of Springpad 3.0, the powerful and flexible digital notebook service now finds itself facing off against the hottest web service du jour: Pinterest.

The folks at Springpad have taken something their software has always been able to do — namely, the ability to collect, organize, and share stuff you find online — prettified it and opened up the social pipelines in a big way. It’s easier to explore for new and interesting content. It’s easier to connect with people who have similar interests. But it’s also easier do something that neither Evernote nor Pinterest can provide without help: make the things that you save actionable.

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Explore and Follow Interesting Public Notebooks in Springpad 3.0Use Nearly Any Smartphone, Tablet, or Computer for SpringpadNew Notebook Layout in Springpad 3.0Home Ideas Notebook in Springpad 3.0Task Management in Springpad 3.0

 

Jack of All Trades vs Focused Expertise

The greatest strength of Springpad is the same thing that has held it back over the years: there’s just so much — maybe too much — that you can do with it. Evernote and Pinterest, no matter how you use them or how many other services integrate them, each really do just one thing.

  • Evernote makes it easy to take notes and to search for and find them later.
  • Pinterest does visual bookmarking. End of story.

They don’t sound all that glamorous when you boil them down to their base elements, but they don’t need to. Each service does its one thing extremely well — better than everyone else, in fact. There’s power in that. Simplicity engenders trust, niche marketing, yadda yadda.

Springpad, on the other hand, can do all of the following (and more):

  • Take notes and make it easy to find them
  • Visual bookmarking (socially-focused now, just like Pinterest)
  • Personal shopping assistant (finds deals for you and such)
  • Task management (including reminders and integration with Google Calendar)
  • Collaborative planning (including corkboard-style planning for the visually inclined)
  • Etc, etc, etc

To top it off, there are several tools in Springpad that make it easy to classify and organize the various types of information you might want to collect — everything from recipes, to bookmarks, to wine and product wish lists, tasks, notes, files, and more. You can do all of these things quickly and easily from almost any smartphone or computer. They even help you to find new things that you’re interested in, use HTML 5 to give you offline access, and allow you to work with multiple people on private or public notebooks — and they do it all for free!

With all of that — and for free — Springpad should be at the top of the heap, right? Unfortunately, the reality is that their quest to become the ultimate digital notebook — which I believe they are, all things considered — creates a product that some may find intimidating. The immediate impression is that there is too much to learn, and not enough time to invest in it.

 

But Wait! Springpad Might Have Found the Secret Sauce…

Thankfully, the new, more visual design of Springpad 3.0 takes a lot of that intimidation factor away. The new design introduces a sort of visual simplicity that is easy on the eyes, and makes you want to click through and explore. You can even explore the public notebooks without having your own Springpad account, searching through different interest categories to find everything from great design and gift ideas to awesome places to eat in the city of Boston (or wherever).

If you’re looking for a definitive guide to Springpad, regular 40Tech commenter Daniel Gold has just released his second eBook, Springpad: Smarter Notebooks, Smarter Sharing, A Smarter Way to Get Things Done [affiliate link]. It’s 80+ pages of Springpad ins and outs for just $5.

 

In these different notebooks, you can find images, videos, commentary, and more — and if you get an account of your own you can “Spring” your favourites into your own public or private notebooks, add alerts for price drops, add a task or reminder to make sure you remember to look at it again, and so much more. As I said, the information becomes more than just a note or a bookmark, it becomes something you can act upon, in an ecosystem that facilitates forward movement instead of a vague list of interests or a virtual filing cabinet you may never open again.

Springpad shouldn’t be compared to Evernote or Pinterest. Not directly, anyway. It’s become an entity of its own, a place where users are interacting with trusted sources,  free to save and act on the things that matter most to them. Springpad 3.0 is a platform that can be easily adopted to suit your needs, be they a simple notebook, a place to find ideas, or a GTD task manager. It can even stand alongside of Evernote or Pinterest, should you want it to.

Go check it out. See what you think. We’d love to hear about it!

Felicia Day Has Seen The (Online) Future Of Television With Geek & Sundry

Felicia Day Has Seen The (Online) Future Of Television With Geek & Sundry | 40Tech

We have come one step closer to Nerdvana. Felicia Day — creator of the incredibly funny and successful web-series about gamers, The Guild — has rolled her success and her understanding of the web and television mediums into a brand new online TV channel just for you and me called Geek & Sundry.

I can’t begin to describe what level of awesome this reaches. Geek & Sundry is, essentially, a niche-focused, online television channel that contains all original, independent programming. FGBG — for geeks, by geeks. But these are geeks with an understanding of what makes a TV series work, not to mention how to extend their brand into as many mediums as possible (comics, games, books, music, merchandise, etc., etc., etc.), and create a cultural movement around their passions and products.

Felicia Day has seen the future of TV — and she is not alone. Some of the greatest cultural icons in geekdom are playing too. Wil Wheaton — the ultimate geek celebrity – has his own show on the network (see below), and guest appearances on The Guild run the gambit from Nathan Fillion to Neil Gaiman. Let’s not forget that Felicia is chummy with the Whedon clan, as well – which never hurts when you are into creating a fan-base that is both loyal and passionate. Geek & Sundry promises to be a regular go-to for geeks of all ages and around the world.

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The Guild will be on Geek & Sundry, of course — and if you haven’t watched it and you like giggles, you should get on that — as will six new shows:

The Flog is Felicia Day’s weekly video blog. In the first episode, she talks about many a thing that interests her — and endeavours to become a blacksmith. Or maybe just steal his hammer — you decide.

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Wil Wheaton has a show called Table Top, wherein celebrities do not play poker — they play geeky table top games of yore (and possibly now). The first episode has some prominent online personalities and a Mythbuster in a battle for world domination. Fantasy world domination, that is: Small World.

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The Swords & Laser podcast will also be bringing its sci-fi/fantasy book-clubbiness to Geek & Sundry, along with Dark Horse Motion Comics, Paul & Storm’s Learning Town, and Written By A Kid, which will feature sci-fi/fantasy/horror stories written by 5-10 year old children brought to life as short films by some cool director-types. Good, quirky fun, that!

Geek & Sundry lives on YouTube, so it’s easy to subscribe to what you like and share it with your friends, family, and the world at large. Doo eeeet!!!

Rock Anthem for Nerds

As a parting gift, I leave you with this awesome rock anthem featuring the cast of The Guild — I’m The One That’s Cool, directed by Jed Whedon. Down with asshats! Up with geeks!

Word.

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