Archive

reviews

YouTube Video Editor

YouTube recently added a video editing function for users to combine videos, trip clips, rotate clips, add music, insert transitions and stabilize clips. There’s also color filters like Black and White or Cartoon, just to name two.

One small caveat though. Videos which have more than 1000 views will have to be saved as a new video after editing. It’s probably to keep the popular video unaltered.

Personally I haven’t tried it, but it looks like a great thing for those who want to make small changes after they have uploaded their video; I mean, there really isn’t a reason to use it when there’s other free video editors out there right?

In case you are not sure, there’s always Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. For photo slideshows, there’s always Animoto and MixBook.

Link to YouTube’s blog post about the editor in header.

Social media during its puberty days

Social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter didn’t use to look like what it does today. Like all pretty grown-ups (sort of), they also went through an awkward puberty. Kottke put together the first sites of FaceBook, Tumblr and Twitter, and as a bonus, threw in Google and Yahoo.

Link in header for a good laugh! Thanks to Gizmodo for sharing.

Quickly add events in iCal

David W. Martin did a short post about how one can quickly add events in iCal using simple human speech. It’s a nifty little tip that’s worth your few minutes to check out, especially if you are a heavy iCal user.

As an aside, you don’t have to click on the + sign. Instead, you can just hit Apple (Command) + N.

Link to post in header.

Wired’s short update on Canon’s S100

Frankly, when I saw that Canon has released a new camera (S100), I didn’t pay much attention to it until I saw Wired’s article, and realized that it was a successor to the S95, which is a successor to S90, which, is one of my favorite compact cameras. Basically, the 100 didn’t hit me; after all, 90 and 95 are double digits.

Anyhow, the S100 looks to be really good, so check it out if you are looking for a compact this holiday season.

Link in header.

Advertisements

Thoughts management using Thoughtboxes

Web.AppStorm ran a review about Thoughtboxes, a Web app that allows you to capture your thoughts on a free-form canvas. It’s pretty similar to Popplet, another Web app that I love, but this one is a little different in that they allow you to mark thoughts and classify them linearly within different thought boxes, instead of the concept-map approach of Popplet. I haven’t tried it myself but it looks pretty good.

Train-example

How Thoughtboxes look like. Credit: Thoughtboxes

Link to Thoughtboxes in header; review by Web.AppStorm can be found here.

Plain text and Simplenote

Simplenote was one of the first few iOS apps I ever had, and it has stayed with me ever since. And I don’t think I’m pushing it if I said that it was the app that made plain text (note: rich text refers to text with formatting, like bold and italics; plain text are just words and spacings) popular again.

In short, Simplenote is a note-taking app but the true power of it (to me) is how it syncs across devices and apps that support it. For such a great service, Web.AppStorm did a review of it and if you haven’t tried Simplenote at all, you really should.

Link to Simplenote in header; review by Web.AppStorm here.

Password management with Mitto

Web.AppStorm very timely ran an timely article about Mitto, a Web based app that helps you manage all your online login credentials. Why did I say it was timely? Well, it happened after we finished our three-parter on password security over here at TOOZE, and while I mentioned the benefits of a password manager, it’s a habit that many are not prone to undertake, unless compromised (which I hope will never happen!)

To do a quick recap, here’s what we haven been talking about:

  • Part 1 covers the need for a unique password for each site that you go to, and highlights the computing power of modern hardware in hacking.
  • Part 2 covers the difficult choice of choosing a good yet usable password.
  • Part 3 covers the usage of a password manager to well, manage all those pesky individual passwords.

So check out Mitto if you don’t already have a password manager, and be safe!

Link to Mitto in header; review by Web.AppStorm here. Link to the first part of our post on password security can be found here.

Kirk Tuck with the Olympus PEN E-P3

Kirk Tuck, a well-known photographer spent some time with the Olympus EP3 and did a very extensive usage review of it. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system as it felt like a weird hybrid between a compact and a dSLR; then again, it is that mix which has created many loyalists. The other thing is that being in its relative infancy, MFT systems are rather expensive, and have a limited range of lenses available. However, let me quote from Tuck’s article:

People on the forums have taken Olympus to task for the price of the camera and me to task for daring to mention how much the EP3’s other branded predecessors cost… You pay a premium for design but then you get to use a camera that’s beautifully designed. Very few people will buy an EP3 with the intention of making it their sole business camera. That’s just not its role. It is an artists camera and while there are many camera choices on the market people gravitate to cameras that make them feel productive and make them feel creative. If you are a person with a spreadsheet mindset and must quantify every camera purchase with a series of metrics and check off lists then the Pen is very much not for you. Stop reading and buy the Rebel T3i. It was made for the check list people. But you can’t really put a hard price on good design and good ergonomics… But the important thing to understand is that different attributes have different values to different people and artists don’t have to justify their tool purchases to engineers.

And another:

If you think the Olympus is overpriced then it is. For you. I am a veteran buyer of many Leicas and, for what they were able to accomplish, I didn’t think they were over priced. You just can’t over estimate how important the feel of a camera in your hand is until you spend hours each day with it.

It’s a brilliant article, even if you are not interested in the PEN; for there is a lot to learn from it about how to judge a camera, and how to evaluate a tool (hopefully) more objectively.

Link to article in header.

Here’s the third and last part to this installment, and here’s the list of recommended sites that I subscribe to (well, almost all — this is the curated list). The ones with an * are highly recommended.

For technology news

For reviews

Other technology blogs*

  • Daring Fireball by John Gruber. This is one of the most definitive technology blogs out there, with a slight skew towards Apple stuff.
  • Fraser Speirs is best known as the guy who rolled out a 1:1 iPad deployment in a school. His blog is a great resource for schools and educators looking at tablet deployment and other technologies in education.
  • Paris Lemon by MG Siegler. Hailed as a über Apple fanboy by some, Siegler writes with force and clarity that few rival.
  • Shawn Blanc is a (relatively new) full-time writer and his blog is clean and a joy to read. His reviews on the HP TouchPad and OS X Lion were some of the best I’ve seen.
  • SimplicityIsBliss by Sven Fechner is a great resource for Getting Things Done (GTD) systems, or just productivity in general.
  • The Brooks Review by Ben Brooks has been a great resource to me in my own writings and learning of technology. Has a slight skew towards Apple stuff.
  • Macalope. The Macalope is a mythical creature that is totally crazy when it comes to defending the (you guessed it) Mac (meaning Apple stuff), and while it’s easy to dismiss it as yet another fanboy writing, the Macalope is witty and full of fun. Doesn’t hurt that the specific people he poke fun of are really rather bad, at least in terms of factual information and writing. So suspend your judgement for a while and enjoy some laughs checking out his writings.

Funnies

  • The Oatmeal. Be warned: it is über crude, but otherwise entirely true and witty.
  • XKCD is a unique webcomic using stick figures. Brilliant stuff.

What do I do with all these links?

All you need to do is to click on them, and you’d be redirected to the feed page. If you have a RSS reader app installed, and has chosen it to be the default reader, the feed will open in the app and you can choose to subscribe to it.

Or you could sign up with Google Reader (recommended, if you haven’t done so), and add the subscriptions by copying in the link. A simplified tutorial on how to do so can be found in Part 1 (link at the end of post).

———-

Well, that marks the end of the this series of three posts. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and are able to navigate better in the new information explosion! If you have any questions, just drop a comment, mail or tweet. Do that too for any feeds that you’d like to recommend to the readers!

———-

Part 1 on Google Reader and a primer on RSS can be found here.

Part 2 on reading RSS, and read-it-later services can be found here.

Alright, here’s the very first (though brief) hardware review on TOOZE, and the new shiny baby that I’m looking at here is the new Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth Edition Gaming Keyboard (now that is really a mouthful!) that was released on 30 August 2011.

Updated: See Update section at the bottom.

So… my trusty old Copperhead’s scrollwheel was dying and I was looking to order a new mouse when I saw this new baby on Razer Asia Pacific’s website. Seeing that there was not much info on this new product, I decided to order it after testing out its predecessor, the Blackwidow Ultimate at Comex over the last weekend.

Marketing fluff

Here’s the obligatory poster and marketing fluff.

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth EditionImage Source: Razerzone

“Where the first Razer BlackWidow can be likened to a barbarian ploughing through enemies with ease, the Stealth Edition of this mechanical keyboard is the ninja who sneaks up on opponents unexpectedly to take them down in a quick blur,” said Robert “RazerGuy” Krakoff, President, Razer USA. “Quieter feedback on the keys, lighter actuation force, extreme anti-ghosting on the Ultimate version, and a new matte black finish make the Stealth Edition of the Razer BlackWidow keyboards the best choice for the unassuming but extremely deadly gamer.”

Here are the specs and features of the keyboard.

Product Features:

  • Full mechanical keys with 45g actuation force
  • Extreme anti-ghosting
  • Individually backlit keys with 5 levels of lighting
  • 1000Hz Ultrapolling/1ms response time
  • Programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
  • Gaming mode option for deactivation of the Windows key
  • 10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching
  • 5 additional macro keys
  • Multi-media control keys
  • Braided cable
  • Audio-Out/Mic-In jack
  • USB-passthrough
  • Approx size (mm): 475(l) x 171(w) x 30(h)
  • Weight: 1.5kg

Took only 2 days for it to be shipped out of Razer’s warehouse straight to my home.

Razer goodie bag

Shot of the box

The box packaging comes with the text in black to highlight the “Stealth” image, with a cutout for people to press on the keys in the case of a display unit on store shelves. The first impression is that this is really a hefty keyboard. It could probably allow you to win a fight in a LAN shop by simply bashing the unit against the other opponent’s head.

Package contents

The contents were packed neatly in typical Razer style and inside you will find (from left to right), a user guide, complimentary Razer stickers, and a certificate of authenticity.

Cable connectors

Braided cable

The keyboard cable consists of a heavy braided cable which contains 2 gold plated USB cables (one for the actual keyboard and the other which acts as a pass-through for the USB port by the side), and audio and mic pass-through cables for the mic-in and audio out ports.

Individually backlit keys with 5 levels of lighting

Upon plugging in, the unit’s keys came alive with the blue LEDs, which are actually individually backlit (for a total of 100+ LEDs).

Shiny lights

The above shot is with the keyboard on the dimmest level, which is actually pretty glaring in even in light, and more so in the dark.

5 additional macro keys

As you can see in the above shot, there is a vertical column of 5 keys to the left which are the programmable macro keys.

Multi-media control keys / Gaming mode option for deactivation of the Windows key

Keys

The right windows key is replaced by a Fn key, and this allows control of the special functions over the F-keys for volume, cycling of backlight, and the gaming mode, which disables the windows key to prevent accidental tabbing out of games at a crucial moment. Personally I’d prefer dedicated keys for my media control, instead of Razer’s approach of hitting the Fn Key and then hunting for the media keys on the other parts of the keyboard — much like how a normal Fn key works on a normal laptop. Then again, I guess this is a matter of preference and of getting used to the keyboard.

Audio-Out/Mic-In jack and USB pass-throughs

USB and Audio/Mic

The USB and Audio/Mic pass-throughs are located to the right side of the keyboard. It’s not immediately visible from the shot but the there is sort of a recess by the side so your cable connectors do not stick out as much. I question the inputs being on the right side, seeing that the additional cables may interfere with mousing (though lefties may differ). Then again, I believe this is a cost-saving measure as the circuit board is probably located above the numpad. However, it does help plugging a mouse here if yours has a short cable, or if you detach your mouse often.

Programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording / 10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching

Razer

The software that comes with the keyboard has an easy-to-use layout that allows you to map a single key to anything you want, and the keys could be saved to different profiles. Macros which can be anything from a single keypress to a long combination of keys and mouse clicks (including specific timed delays) can also be saved. So you could have one profile for Photoshop where each individual keyboard key is mapped to a different shortcut, and one for Microsoft Word where only the macro keys are bound to common functions like copy and paste.

The software also allows you to set it in such a way that those profiles automatically launch when the associated program is run, or when you tab into it. Macros can be set to repeat once; repeat while pressed; or repeated for n times.

If you are unsure of what commands to bind, there is also the option of “on-the-fly” macro recording. Simply press the Fn+right Alt key and the keyboard enters macro recording mode. From here, just execute the commands normally, then hit Fn+right Alt again and then another key to bind those commands to that key. This can be particularly useful where you realize the need to record certain complicated commands while working on a project, but don’t want to exit the program.

1000Hz Ultrapolling/1ms response time and Extreme anti-ghosting

1000Hz Ultrapolling here means that the USB port the keyboard is plugged into is scanned 1000 times per second for any key press so that you can instant response. Not something I can readily test, but it’s probably good to have. No complains here.

Extreme anti-ghosting is just a Razer-speak to mean that it has 6-Key Rollover (or 6KRO) over the entire keyboard which is the limit of USB. What this means is that you can have a combination of up to 6 keys on the keyboard pressed down without jamming up the keys, with a combination of modifier keys like Ctrl, Shift, Alt or Win. So this is effectively 6+4KRO.

To get full n-key roll over (NKRO) would require the connection to be via the legacy PS/2 connector, but we would lose some of USB’s benefits such as for drivers and such.

I find this is kind of enough since I don’t really find the need to strafe run (W+A), cast a spell (another key), hit my PTT to talk in Ventrilo, open up my map and jump, and more.

Do note that only the stealth edition (for now) offers 6KRO while the previous Blackwidow only has 6KRO around the gaming clusters of WSAD.

Here is a small link to test your keyboard’s roll-over. Hit a combination of keys all at once and it should report the number of keys detected.

http://rollover.geekhack.org/

So, how does the keyboard feel?

For starters, the difference between the Stealth edition and the previous non-Stealth edition is that the Stealth edition uses the Cherry MX Brown keys as opposed to the Cherry MX Blue keys in its predecessor.

For the un-initiated, the Blackwidow is a mechanical keyboard which uses the Cherry MX switches. Where normal keyboards have a rubber membrane below the keys, a mechanical keyboard has an actual switch below each individual key. There are various designs of mechanical keyboard switches and this particular keyboard uses the Brown keys from the Cherry Corporation of Germany.

Most mass market keyboards nowadays uses a dome-switch. They bring two circuit board traces together under a rubber “dome” or bubble. The inside of the top of the bubble is coated in some conductive substance. When a key is pressed, it collapses the dome, which shorts out the two circuit traces and completes the connection to enter the character. The figure below shows how this circuit would look like. You can actually see a dome when you remove a key on the keyboard, which looks like a circular rubber ring. The springiness of the rubber dome then forces the key back up to its default position after it is released.

Dome switch keyboard layers

Image Source: Wikipedia

While these rubber domes are cheap to produce, a disadvantage is that the keys often feel mushy as you need to depress them over a rubber dome. You would also need to fully “bottom-out” the full travel distance of the key (typically 3.5 – 4.0mm) for it to activate and register a keystroke. In addition, the rubber does wear down over time and that leads to the keys either being harder to press down or becoming sticky and not as bouncy as before.

Source: Overclock.net

The above image shows the Cherry MX Brown key used in this keyboard. The advantage of this is that it provides a combination of low actuation force (of 45g) and tactility. This means that you require less force to actually activate the key, which leads to lower fatigue and less stress on our fingers. The plastic piece which clicks as the key is depressed also allows you to feel a tactile “bump” when each key is actuated (which is roughly at the halfway point). This allows you to actually feel when a key is registered without requiring to “bottom-out” the key. While the keys have the same travel distance of 4mm, the actual actuation position is at the halfway mark.

In addition, the slight clicks when the key actuates does has the sound of a muted typewriiter. While the keyboard says its “Stealth”, there is still the sound of the mechanical keys actually springing back up and if you hit too hard, the sound of the key hitting the base plate of the keyboard. However, it is an improvement against the Cherry MX Blue key which is designed to provide an additional “click” each time a key is actuated. As such, the Brown keys used in this keyboard provide a nice compromise between tactility and sound.

Closing Comments

After typing for a couple of minutes on the Blackwidow, I can safely say that it is really a joy to type on, and the lighter keytouch does increase typing speed and minimizes errors as you are sure that a key has been registered.

Upgrading to a mechanical keyboard from a normal one is like upgrading from a normal sedan to a luxury sports car. While it might seem an overkill or frivolous, I personally feel that a good keyboard is really a great investment for both our personal typing pleasure and gaming goodness.

After all, the keyboard and mouse are the primary ways in which we interact with our computers. Why cripple your experience with a $10 keyboard after spending $1,000-$2,000 on our systems?

The Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth Edition is currently available only exclusively on Razer’s website for US$139.99. Those who find it too expensive but would still like to have one can opt for the regular non-Ultimate version for US$79.99. What you miss out are only the LED lighting and the USB and audio/mic pass-thoughs. Also, as a reader Garrett pointed out, the regular one is similar to the predecessor Blackwidows in that it only has the anti-ghosting on the WASD gaming cluster. So if the full 6KRO is a consideration for you, the Ultimate Stealth Edition would be your only choice.

Shipping for Razer Asia-Pacific is US$6.95 per shipment (regardless of number of items).

For more information on mechanical keyboards and the various types of switches, head over to The Mechanical Keyboard Guide over at Overclock.net.

Update

Noticed that this post got much more views than I originally expected. Here are some of the common questions that I had received.

Firstly, there were some issues with the old Blackwidow where the space key would activate the alt keys beside it due to some improperly cut plastic. I’m not sure if this was fixed in the Stealth but I did not encounter this.

Second, the keycaps for the ultimate are coated in some sort of rubber like material similar to its mice. In fact the whole keyboard seems to be coated in the same material. It does feel nice to the touch, but I’m not sure how well it will stand up to humidity and sweat over a prolonged time. I know I had my old Razer mouse’s coating on the mouse buttons peel off and it was not pleasant. Only time will tell.

Third, was tinkering around with the profiles. In addition to the auto and manual profile switching via the software, you are also able to switch profiles on the fly just by pressing the Fn+number keys. E.g. presseng Fn+1 would switch to Profile 1 and Fn+2 would switch to Profile 2. The on screen display would pop up with the Profile’s name which you have saved.

Finally, I got an email that you get a free Razer Beanie for orders above US$50 now. Too bad I got mine earlier and am not eligible for it. Anyway, I managed to get a hold of some discount coupons for US$5 off for any return purchase. Since I won’t be buying anything anytime soon. I’ll share these codes with our readers.

North America: RZH1GHF1V3
Europe: RZEUH1GHF1V3
Asia-Pacific: RZAPH1GHF1V3
Australia: RZAUH1GHF1V3

Previously in Part 1* we looked at how RSS and Google Reader might help us put all the new information in a place for quick access. Today, let’s look at how we might be able to access the information on the go.

RSS reader apps and Reeder

I used to just use Google Reader in my browser, but I don’t have my laptop all the time; in fact, I read usually on the go when I only have my phone and iPad with me. Enter the need for a RSS reader app. Basically it’s an app that allows you to log in your Google Reader credentials so all the feeds that you have amassed will be found in the app. A good app should do the following:

  • Syncs with Google Reader (meaning it mirrors the feeds from Google Reader, and if I mark a feed as read in my app, it should be marked in Google Reader as well)
  • Allows for Read It Later/Instapaper integration – more on that later
  • Allows for sharing on FaceBook, Twitter and others
  • Allows me to mark a whole category as read (trust me, it’s useful when you are dealing with over a 100 feeds)
  • Allows me to read from oldest feed, or newest feed.

Previously I used NewsRack and it has worked fine for me. There’s also Pulse and Flipboard, but they work best for a small amount of feeds and leisure browsing (I’d admit they really look good); they are not built for fast skimming of 200+ feeds a day.

Then there’s Feedly, which I have been using for a while, and really loved. Except that there were several things I didn’t like about it, and switched.

I didn’t want to go back to Newsrack because it felt really dated. To be fair to it, it works really well and it actually allows you to manage feeds without logging onto Google Reader, meaning it is not a prerequisite to have a Google Reader account before using it.

Personally, I like to have my feeds managed on a Google Reader account and synced to the app, because when I change a reader app, all my changes stay; this will not be the case if I don’t use Google Reader. Nevertheless, it’s great for those who want an alternative.

So, what am I using now?

Say hello to Reeder.

The thing about Reeder is that beside being one of the prettiest RSS reader app out there, it’s very intuitive in the way it handles feeds: sort feeds by favorites, unread and feed sources; pinch in and out of categories; swipe to mark as read and to perform a special function (which I use to send to Instapaper). It also fulfills all I ask for in a good app.

There’s only one catch, and that is the inability to manage feeds subscriptions within the iOS app itself. Actually there’s two catches, with the second one being more expensive than NewsRack, because the iPad and iPhone apps are different, while the NewsRack app is universal. To overcome this, I bought the iPad app and read on my iPad solely (anyway I have my iPad with me almost all the time). Incidentally, I own the Mac app as well, and it’s equally gorgeous, and it can manage feed subscriptions.

Here’s some shots of how it looks like on the iPad.

IMG 0259

Reeder on the iPad

IMG 0260

List of feeds in Reeder on the iPad

Instapaper and Read It Later

Often we’d come across a great article that we want to keep for future reference, or simply further reading as we are kinda occupied at the moment. This is especially true when I skim through my feeds in the morning on the commute to sieve out things that interest me.

Here’s where Instapaper and Read It Later (RIL) come in. By the way, I was an RIL user but found instapaper to be much better with text, and switched.

As a care in point, here’s an example of how it all works out for me in a day.

As mentioned, I’d scan through my feeds in Reeder in the morning, and send those interesting-looking ones to Instapaper. When I get a reprieve in the day, I’d make a cup of coffee and sit down with Instapaper, reading through the articles that I have saved previously. This pretty much sums up my news reading for the day.

Here’s a primer on some nice touches in Instapaper; note that this is not a full review.

First, saved sites are formatted for reading (though sometimes it screws up because the page renders wrongly, but in that case I can just view the original site in a built-in browser). This is something RIL does as well.

IMG 0265

The original site in the in-built browser in Instapaper

IMG 0264

The same text as above formatted for reading in Instapaper

Second, Instapaper has quite a fair bit of options for customizing the reading experience, including a auto dark-mode (white text on black background) in accordance to your time-zone (it auto-switches at 7)

IMG 0266

Reading options in Instapaper

Also, In the main screen, there’s little dots at the bottom-right of each article to signify the length of the post: more dots, longer post. If I read the post halfway, the dots will be colored accordingly.

IMG 0267

Subtle dots to signify the length of a post in Instapaper

There’s also folders to organize your readings, and a “like” button which you can customize to send to services like Evernote or Twitter (note that if you send to Evernote, the URL will not be the original one but an Instapaper one. If you need the URL, save the article from Reeder or any RSS reader app and not from Instapaper).

Incidentally, Apple’s Reading List in the Safari 5 works pretty much the same (and coming soon to iOS 5), except that it cannot save out to external services yet. Also, unlike Instapaper or RIL which supports offline reading after loading, Reading List requires you to be connected as it’s just a list of sites.

A note about RSS

Recently, Jacqui Cheng wrote an article on Ars Technica about the problem with RSS**, and Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper chipped in***.  Ben Brooks then responded to both posts****.

All posts are worth a read, but in summary, Cheng’s argument is that RSS creates too much clutter for us, and having to (note the words) keep up is driving us insane. Arment takes a more balanced view, saying that

RSS is a great tool that’s very easy to misuse. And if you’re subscribing to any feeds that post more than about 10 items per day, you’re probably misusing it. I don’t mean that you’re using it in a way it wasn’t intended — rather, you’re using it in a way that’s not good for you.

Then Brooks made what I felt was the most important statement:

If you don’t like RSS don’t use it. If you want to use it but don’t want to have thousands of items, then use it like Marco does. Or use it like I do and check the feeds more often…

But don’t blame RSS.

My personal journey with RSS is somewhat like Cheng’s. Initially, I subscribed to news sites like Channel News Asia, The Straits Times, Reuters, CNN etc, but was quickly overwhelmed with the number of feeds a day (almost a thousand). Then I realized I don’t even read the papers; what makes me think I’d appreciate a boatload of feeds?

Then I killed the news feeds totally (apologies to my teachers who always told me to read the paper), relying on friends and the occasional news on TV to stay updated. One good thing about this is that if it’s a big enough news, sooner or later I’d know it. As a case in point, I knew about Michael Jackson’s death not from the news but from a friend’s Facebook feed.

I then subscribed to major tech news sources like CNET and PCWorld etc as I was well, a geek. Soon, I noticed that there’s a wealth of independent tech writers out there like John Gruber (Daring Fireball) and Ben Brooks (The Brooks Review), and added them to my RSS subscriptions.

Over time, I realized that the major tech news sources were duplicating each others’ news and similarly, when it was a big enough story, all independent writers would be writing about it, so I killed most of my major news feeds, and relied on independent writers more.

To make my skimming better, I created a few folders (you could create a ‘when I am free’ folder to the same effect) where I’d file RSS feeds which I could just mark all as read if I didn’t have the time, and hence focused on those I needed to read to get the best updates.

That’s the state of things for me now. In short, I’m mostly following independent writers with more original writings and regular, but not oppressive post schedules.

What it means for you, our reader

Try out RSS if you haven’t to follow even things like Manga updates. Start with Google Reader that is free, and move to dedicated apps when you are totally sold on RSS and need a more seamless and intuitive platform.

For tech news, follow us on Twitter where we repost curated news items from many major tech news sources (yes I still follow them, but only on Twitter). If you would like to stay updated on our posts, you can either subscribe to our RSS, or like us on Facebook (Tech bOOZE) to get our articles in your news feed.

That’s all for Part 2. In the last part to come soon, I’d post a list of (most of) my RSS subscriptions to get you started on RSS.

———-

*Part 1 can be found here, and Part 3 here.

**Why keeping up with RSS is poisonous to productivity, sanity

***Sane RSS Usage

****RSS Usage

Using OmniFocus as a note-taking app

J. Eddie Smith, IV wrote an article about using OmniFocus as his primary note-taking app on his iPhone. Personally, I use Simplenote a lot more and only on occasion OmniFocus as a note-taking app. However, one thing about Smith’s argument stands out to me:

This is really a message about the power of inbox unification. I’ve always been a believer in minimizing the number of inboxes I have to juggle. The inbox in OmniFocus is one of the best all-purpose inboxes I’ve ever had the pleasure of juggling.

And that’s really key, because I have notes in Simplenote and yet another inbox in OmniFocus. Streamlining down to one helps me to not lose materials or juggle between two.

Do check out his article for more arguments and examples of how he use OmniFocus in this aspect. It’s a great read. Link in header.

Even if you don’t use OmniFocus (yes I know it’s pricy but I love it), it’s still a great read because it’d prompt you to think about how you can minimize the number of entry points. In Smith’s words:

It’s become an efficient single point of entry for nearly everything in my electronic information ecosystem that doesn’t come from email. Even if you don’t use OmniFocus, you might want to think about how you can create a common funnel for the mixed bag of information you invite into your ecosystem.

Sony Vaio Z review

Gizmodo posted their review of the laptop, and it looks to be pretty good except for the tiny trackpad and price. I quote:

The Vaio Z is proof that Sony can still do some things very right. But for everything this computer does well (which is a lot!), I just can’t get over the damn trackpad. Maybe if you have hobbit hands it’ll suit you, but I just wanted to cut my fingers off at the end of the day. That said, if you have a couple of money stacks to throw around and want a PC that combines size, speed and utility in a generally well-conceived way, the Vaio Z is a fine machine.

Link in header.

Adults playing online games

Oatmeal published a cartoon about how it’s like to play online games as a grown-up, and man did it resonate with me!

Link in header.

 

Dropbox updates Lion computability

If you’ve upgraded to OS X Lion for your Mac, you’d probably realize that Dropbox doesn’t seem to work very well, in that the iconic green status icons are missing. Well, Dropbox has released an update and it’s a manual download (bummer). Nevertheless go get it!

Dropbox before update

Dropbox folder before update

Dropbox after update

Dropbox folder after 1.1.40 upgrade. Notice that the green ticks have returned

Link in header.

Web.AppStorm writes about the top Web apps that their staff can’t live without

I’m a huge fan of Web apps for the following reasons (there’s more but I’d stick to 3):

  • they are usually free with paid (usually tiered) upgrades to fit my needs
  • they are always updated (no need to download or buy new versions)
  • they are easy to share and allow for great collaboration

And some apps I’ve been using are Instapaper, Dropbox, Popplet and Sliderocket. So check out their list and see if there’s something for you to use and improve your productivity!

Link in header.

Cheap printers are a bad idea

PCWorld published an article about why cheap printers are best to be avoided. A great read for those looking to pick up yet another printer (and trolley) at the upcoming IT fair (or whatever it’s called) in Singapore.

Link in header.

Scott Adams’ phone reviews

Scott Adams was approached by the Windows Phone team to test their phone after he complained about his iPhone 3GS and Android phone. So the challenge was for him to use a Windows Phone and if he didn’t like it, they’d donate $1000 to a charity of his choice.

Link to his review in the header.

It’s a great read, though one must bear in mind its context (which Adams painstakingly tried to remind readers) in judging for one’s self.

Interestingly though, he didn’t explicitly mention if the charity of his choice got the $1000.