iOS Games

Some really nice games out for iOS at the moment. A couple that I’m really enjoying are:

Alto’s Adventure
It’s not like iOS gaming needs another endless runner but if it looks and plays well who can complain? It costs £1.49 and is very addictive and although I thought it was quite shallow there is a lot of subtle tricks and techniques to learn. You can find out more at the Alto’s Adventure website.

AG Drive
F-Zero and Wipeout are two of my favourite games of all times. AG drive gets pretty close to the feel of each of them but with no weapons. It’s fast paced and looks really good on the iPhone…not so sure on the music though. Lots of tracks, customisable ships and some good challenges as you start to rank up. £2.99 and it could be yours. I’d love a second version that had weapons and allowed custom soundtracks…or maybe a future update?

What’s nice is that both games are ad free and have no in-app purchasing. How refreshing.

Winter Skies

The recent cold snaps and snow have seen some amazing skies around Glasgow. Early morning runs are far more entertaining when the weather is putting on a show. More impressive is that these are all from an iPhone.

Mac Apps 2015

A recent post from Gordon on his current Mac App’s spurred me to look back at my last post on this in 2012. Has much changed?

Well Safari is now my browser of choice, iTunes still where my music is but podcasts are now in Instacast. A couple of smaller app’s have been eaten by Mavericks and Yosemite but I still look to third party app’s for most of my day to day needs. When Yosemite came out I nuked the iMac and dropped a few app’s so there are a few changes in the list. Hopefully there are one or two gems in the list that are new to you.

Alfred
http://www.alfredapp.com/
Free, PowerPack for £15

For a longtime I used Quicksilver and then Launchbar as a keyboard launcher but around three years ago I moved to Alfred and I just can’t let it go despite Spotlight catching up in Yosemite. Alfred allows you to drive your Mac fully from the keyboard – launch app’s, search the web etc. Buy the PowerPack and you can extend via scripts from the Alfred community or ones you write yourself, control iTunes and access a full clipboard history and also snippet library. A lovely app that will become your most used app if you let it. With Alfred Remote now out for iOS you can launch apps, scripts, URL’s etc from your iPad or iPhone. Already I have a podcast tab setup in remote so I can quickly setup or jump to app’s I need while podcasting. Despite having two screens, launching app’s quickly via touch is very useful.

Dropbox
http://www.dropbox.com
Free with paid options

I think everyone has a Dropbox account so there’s not too much to say with this one. I store all my documents in Dropbox so I can get them anywhere – Mac, iOS or on the web. Its great for sharing podcasts and files with the folk I work remotely with. Although there is only 2GB free, you can earn up to 18GB free and with so many app’s plugged into Dropbox via it’s API’s it’s a great way of sharing between desktop and mobile. It’s also reliable unlike iCloud.

SuperDuper!
http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper
$27.95

Still my goto app for backups. What do you mean you don’t backup? Criminal. SuperDuper! creates a fully bootable backup on a drive of your choosing that should your drive or computer fail allows you to fully restore from that point in time. As it’s a bootable backup you can also boot from it should you find yourself in trouble. I’ve certainly needed it a couple of times and it’s never let me down. Backups can be scheduled and once the first backup is complete daily/weekly incrementals take no time at all.

backblazeBackblaze
https://www.backblaze.com
$5 a month

I use Backblaze for online backup of my computers. Unlike the other online services I tried, Backblaze is quick and reliable to upload data and supports unlimited amount of data. You can easily retrieve individual files and if the worst happens and you need everything you can download it all slowly or send of a disk to get your data more quickly.

evernoteEvernote
http://evernote.com/
Free, Premium account £35 per year

Evernote is my digital filing cabinet. Notes, images, pdf’s, web pages, receipts, bills, contacts, recipes, lists etc etc etc all go into Evernote. The client allows for rich enough text editing, images are OCR’d to allow for some great searching and there are good options for notebooks and folders. The web clipper works really well too. I upgraded to Premium which allows for 1GB of uploads per month, secure notes, collaborative notes and also a history of changes. One niggle – exporting from Evernote still not great so I’m tied into the service more than I’d like. The iOS apps are excellent too so my digital stuff is available everywhere.
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Apple has lost the functional high ground

Great post from Marco Arment on the quality of Apple software:

We don’t need major OS releases every year. We don’t need each OS release to have a huge list of new features. We need our computers, phones, and tablets to work well first so we can enjoy new features released at a healthy, gradual, sustainable pace.

Apple’s OS X and iOS releases have become quite unreliable over the last couple of years and the issues that I still have with iTunes, iTunes Match and iCloud give me no confidence that they will ever work without an issue at some point. For music it’s making me look seriously at Google Play and Spotify. Apple are lucky in that their major competitor on the desktop is Windows 8.

Apple’s hardware is hard to beat from a design and function perspective but their software has got disappointing. It wasn’t always the case and I hope they can get of the treadmill and focus on quality and reliability.

*Update* – it’s a year to the day since I posted about Apple’s poor software quality and hoped for a change in 2014. I didn’t realise when I read Marco’s post tonight and it was only when looking at today’s Timehop that I saw a link to the post. A year on and many of the issues are still present. Apple really needs to address this.

2015

One year on and this still stands. The only person that can change things is me.

onwards

I made no resolutions last year so 2014 was a great success! This year I’ve set some goals and also thought about the longer term. In five years what do I want to have accomplished? Where do I want to be? To do that, what do I need to do now? I’ve no intention of sharing them apart from one – get less stressed! I’ve had three weeks off from work which has allowed me to look back on the last year, particularly the last three months. Back to back illnesses and a root cause for many of them could be stress. It might not have been, but I’ve been illness free over the break so I’m putting 2 + 2 together. I fell back into the habit of working most weekends as well as the usual through the working week leaving not much me time or chance to relax and prepare for the week ahead. That will change this year.

The festive break was great as it allowed me to fix a lot around the house. I say fix, it was really organise and clear out a lot of junk. Both physically and digitally. Office, attic and garage all cleaned out with lots of trips to the local dump. Feel so much better with that all organised. Digitally it was chance to catch up on Pocket and podcasts that I’d fell behind on. Hopefully in 2015 podcasters with nothing to say in December will take a break like we do! The podcast site also got a new lick of paint with a new logo in the works too.

I’ve maintained the running and the weight is static too (81-83kg throughout the year) so no major fitness changes this year apart from maintain. Sunny mornings in Glasgow really make up for the rain the rest of the time!

Happy New Year and all the best for 2015.