serioustiger - personal productivity, apps, and random cool stuff

TextExpander Tutorials

Added on by serioustiger.

If you're using a Mac or, to a lesser extent, an iPad or iPhone, you should definitely be using TextExpander for automating commonly-typed phrases. If you're not, check it out first.

This week the excellent people at Asian Efficiency have posted a short, concise series of tutorials for TextExpander to help you get the most from it. Unless you work for Smile or are already a TextExpander ninja, I challenge you not to learn something.

Overcast - Your New Podcast App

Added on by serioustiger.

Overcast, the long-awaited podcast app from Instapaper developer Marco Arment, is finally on the App Store.

Firstly, I love the look and feel of the app. The UI is absolutely gorgeous. This alone might have been enough for me to switch from my app of choice (recently, Pocket Casts).

There are two tiers - the free version is ok if basic, and allows a time-limited trial of the premium features. It was enough to quickly persuade me that the premium features are definitely worth the £2.99 upgrade (I've paid more for several apps that don't even offer a free version).

This is an app that has clearly been developed with love and consideration to what podcast listeners actually want. It has some great features in the premium version:

  • "Smart Speed" allows not just customisable increase to the playback speed, it suppresses silences for slightly faster playback. This works surprisingly well, and the playback speed range has detailed increments in the range you actually want to use (I never understood why developers put in anything much above 2x - I definitely want to speed up my playback in the interests of efficiency, but I don't want them all read by Pinky and Perky).
  • Voice Boost is nice - a one-button hit to get full volume, voice EQ...never been quite sure exactly what is going on under the hood there, but it just sounds better.
  • "Seek acceleration" - in addition to customisable increments to seek forward/back during playback (which most podcasts apps have), Overcast also offers "seek acceleration" which dynamically increases the seek increment during rapid seeks; this is, frankly, as cool as the other side of the pillow - I love thoughtful little things like this.
  • There are several other small touches - for example "Allow cellular downloads" is where it should be - in the Downloads section, not squirrelled away in Settings; or instant AirPlay access from the Playback view, for throwing to your Apple TV or whatever; or the really easy links to the Show Notes for each podcast, with a "I" button for each.

There is also great social integration - which is of little consequence to me personally, but I suspect will be a hit with most users.

Anything not to like? Well, I'm not sure why I have to sign up for an account for this app - but I really don't mind, if it's going to sync all my casts across devices.

So yeah...Overcast is, on release day, my new favourite podcast app. I recommend you try it out.

Hope for the Future

Added on by serioustiger.

OK, this time I'm asking for 18 minutes of your life, to watch a new Harvard MBA graduate give a commencement address that rivals that of Steve Jobs.

A remarkable performance from an obviously remarkable young man. Just perhaps, the future is in good hands after all?

If the video doesn't load, click here.

Will this Twitter Account Save You A Click?

Added on by serioustiger.

Something a little frivolous this week - the excellent Twitter account @SavedYouAClick, which takes a swipe at blatantly "clickbait" headlines by just summarising the story for you and... saving you a click. Daft but frequently funny:

Florence. (It's just a user poll). RT @mashable: What is the best summer vacation spot in the world?
- @SavedYouAClick

Repeats them 18 times. RT @EliteDaily: The secret behind how Jay Z remembers all his rap lyrics:
- @SavedYouAClick

It's a scooter. RT @BBCWorld: Pack your suitcase, then ride it to the airport. Will this Chinese farmer's invention revolutionise travel?
- @SavedYouAClick

Because scientists are scientists. RT @MotherJones: Dear Jenny McCarthy: This is why you have no business challenging scientific experts.
- @SavedYouAClick

And my current favourite...

Charisma. RT @Inc: What makes someone charismatic?
- @SavedYouAClick

In other news, the CIA joined Twitter this week. Now we can all follow them! Ah, irony...