Friday, July 30, 2010

Is Facebook getting too big to be useful?

According to one writer Facebook's social network can't mirror the actual social networks, or social groups, that people have. Because of that, users are beginning to notice a curious effect: The more you use Facebook, the less usable it becomes. See what you think of Mike Elgan's article. More generally, this excellent NY Times Magazine article "The Web Means the End of Forgetting" by Jeffrey Rosen is a fascinating look at the endless archive of everything we say to everyone. Here's a quote that should get your attention.
"It’s often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances — no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you".
And according to this article the privacy policy of Facebook is longer than the US Constitution!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is DC culture changing with the times?

According to a recent article in the Washington Post "To do business with the feds, BlackBerrys are not preferred; they are often required. To my knowledge, I don't have contracts that require I get an iPhone for an employee," said Frank Smith, chief information officer for McLean consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton. "I do have contracts that stipulate BlackBerrys." ... But people [including] app developers, telecommunications companies and even the chief technology officer of the United States -- think change is coming..." Read the complete story.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Photo Book software

Photo books have existed for several years but there's always room for something new. The complexity of photography and publication design means there are still opportunities for improving the design process as well as the user interface. Picaboo is a recent entry into the field and is worth considering. PC and Mac versions are available for download free. In my early but incomplete experiments it appears powerful and easy to use.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Favorite iPad, iPhone Apps Identified

My recent post identified app categories but did not name names. There are so many in each category I didn't want to play favorites. But, that is exactly what makes app selection so difficult - there are so many to choose from. So here are the names of the ones I use most frequently - you can search for them at the app store. Remember iPhone apps are usable on the iPod Touch and iPad.

I am also interested in starting a discussion of apps on other devices and would be grateful for comments from Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft and other smartphone and tablet users to kick it off.

Comments are always welcome (go to the end of this post to leave a message).

  • The built in apps
  • GPS Drive
  • Inrix - One click display of current traffic - don't leave home without it - I've avoided countless traffic delays
Voice Input
  • Dragon Search - I use this for Google searches even when I'm at my computer
  • Google Search - similar to Dragon search but more limited
  • Dragon Dictate - tiny keyboards be gone! it's time to talk
  • Vlingo is the current alternative but I have not used it
Photo Editing
  • Filterstorm - I used this for the lighthouse photo but I've barely touched the surface of this one
  • Photogene
  • Framed
  • Imikimi
  • Fingerdesign
  • iFlashReady - compensates for the lack of flash on "old" iPhones (before version 4)
News and Weather
  • Fluent News - aggregates news from a variety of sources
  • SkyGrid - similar to Fluent News but more organized
  • Dozens of other general, technical and political news sites
  • The Weather Channel
Calendar, Contacts, Etc.
  • The built in Calendar and Contact apps are integrated across platforms and the web
  • Bento - this easy to use Filemaker lite database greatly improves on the standard contact app and integrates with it
  • Whitepages - long a standard for address look up
  • Keynote - the only presentation program currently available - but probably not for long
Flight Tracking
  • FlightAware
Stock Market
  • Stocks - Built in iPhone app
  • QFolio HD - A powerful iPad app
The BestAppSite is always a good source for app reviews.