Tag Archives: reviews

I’m really excited to see Reeder 3 go live tonight in the App Store. Shawn Blanc and Ben Brooks wrote great reviews of it. I just set it up on my iPhone to sync with my Fever install. No more Google Reader. Pretty slick update to an already great app.

I’ve solved my podcast problem

Since I started using Rdio I’ve run into a problem: I never open iTunes. This is mostly okay as Rdio replaced my local iTunes library. The downside is that my podcasts live in iTunes. By not opening the app the podcasts never update and I forget they exist.

A few days ago someone, I have no idea who to credit because Twitter search is a clusterfuck, who I follow on Twitter mentioned Instacast. It’s fantastic.

Instacast gives you a native iOS app that is built around one thing: subscribing and listening to podcasts. It’s a great example of a focused app that does one thing and does it really damn well. Best of all it’s not connected to my iTunes library. My podcasts now update every time I open Instacast. No need to be chained to iTunes.

The player is also tuned specifically for podcasts. The built-in Music app places a volume slider at the bottom, Instacast has a time slider. It still has all the necessary things like AirPlay and local caching.

Overall it’s just a really well-polished app. I’m excited to get back into podcasts now that they’re more easily updated right on my iPhone.

The Hit List Review

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I’m using The Hit List as my task app. Before, I used OmniFocus which was good but was just too much for my needs. I don’t need the flexibility perspectives offer, the sync was pretty slow, and the user interface was just not my style. The Hit List is a wonderful change and a really well done app.

UI Gold

A nice interface doesn’t make up for a sub par app. But, when you start with a well designed app like The Hit List a gorgeous interface really makes the app shine. Those small touches I mentioned in the earlier post are just part of the story though.

For example, task entry in the iPhone app is a thing of brilliance.

Task entry in The Hit List for iPhone

Not only is the adding interface simple but once you start typing one task you get that slick plus button in the bottom right. Want to add another task right away? It’s just a tap away.

This thoughtfulness carries over into the desktop app in more ways than I have time to mention. One of my favorite features though is the ability to view any task as a card.

Any task can be viewed like this and you’ll see the title, tags, date information, and a totally free form note field. I use this view way more than I first thought I would. In some ways it’s replaced how I use Notational Velocity. If I have a quick idea for a blog post I can just create a new task and start writing. It’s a great way to just capture information for later.

These two features allow me to really get the most out of The Hit List. I can get right into the app on my iPhone or on my laptop and start right into inputting information.

The whole point of a task app is to not spend gobs of time with it. You’re supposed to spend all that time on the actual tasks. :) So, it’s crucial for an app to make it easy for me to get in, enter my information, cross things off, and get out. That’s exactly what The Hit List does.

A smart app

Another area where it’s clear Andy Kim spent a lot of time working on is the little things surrounding tasks. The repeating task interface is a great example of this.

Like other task apps The Hit List uses natural language processing to parse what you mean when repeating a task. For example, if I type “1st” it automatically sets the task to repeat every month of the first.

Similarly typing “Mondays” or “Monday, Tuesday” will, respectively, repeat it on every Monday or every Monday and Tuesday. Just another way The Hit List lets me add tasks without thinking about how to use the app.

The task filing I mentioned in the earlier post is another example of this. It’s seriously incredible. With one or two keystrokes I can select a task and file it where it needs to go. Or, with a couple of keystrokes I can go to any list I have created.1

There’s more too

That barely scratches the surface of my love for this app. Almost every day I find myself amazed by how wonderful it is. It takes just a few minutes to learn the basics of the app and not much more time to really master it.

The Hit List certainly isn’t one of the cheapest task apps out there. It’s $49.95 for the desktop app, $9.99 for the iPhone app, and $19.99 a year for cloud syncing.2

Sure, it’s a sizable outlay for software but I can’t think of an app that you’d want to spend more on than a task app. It’s your digital brain, invest in it and you’ll get way, way more than $80 of value out of it.

Andy Kim has done a terrific job with this app. As an early beta tester I can say that the 1.0 desktop app and the long-awaited iPhone app have blown away my expectations from when I started using it a few years ago.

  1. All it takes is pressing “g” and then typing the list you want to go to.
  2. Syncing which is blazing fast by the way.

WaPo tries to seat TBD.com at the kids’ table

The article published today by The Washington Post about TBD.com, is pretty sad. It is rarely a good thing when make your childish attitude clear in the first 8 words. That’s not a lede, it’s a put down.

Also, who the heck decided to put the term community engagement in scare quotes? Perhaps it’s more depressing that The Post does not even know what that idea means. If the company had cared about community maybe they wouldn’t have had to sell Newsweek for a dollar.

End of year reviews and the grading system

This would be ideal:

In my ideal management world, a review is simply a documentation of well-known facts, your performance over the year. It also contains constructive advice and insight regarding how your boss believes you can improve on that performance. My dream is that you already know all of this information because you’ve been getting year-round feedback from your boss.

Minimalism and my ideal news experience

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been using Shaun Inman’s Fever for a while now as my sole RSS reader. The more I use it the more I come to love it and in the last few days I’ve realized why: it does exactly what I want it to and no more.

In my case I want to use my RSS reader for one thing: reading. This is why I felt that it was worth $30 to move away from Google Reader.

As Google has developed Reader over the past years and months I’ve felt that they’ve strayed from the original idea of providing a lightweight and fast way to stay on top of the news that’s important to you. If I want to share an article, save it for later, email it to a friend, or “like” it I have my own ways of doing that and don’t want those features to infringe upon the primary purpose of my RSS reader.

The fact that I was so willing to drop $30 on a product that I couldn’t even use a demo of is a testament to my faith in Shaun Inman as well as my simple frustration with Google. It also got me thinking about news in general and the experiences that most (if not all) major news organizations provide.

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