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A few months ago, I got in on the MacHeist Nano Bundle.  With it came a free app called Shove Box.  To be honest, I really didn’t think much of it and I kind of dismissed it after playing with it for about a half hour.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through my applications folder for an app to review and for some reason ShoveBox caught my eye.  I decided to give it another try and to actually use it for a significant amount of time this time around.  I am kind of glad that I did.

ShoveBox is an application that lets you basically “shove” documents, texts, url’s, music, and images into the application and gives you a space where you can save things.  Think of it as a virtual locker where you can compartmentalize and save things in.   The app rests in the top menu bar and you drag and drop whatever you want into it.  There are many other ways you can get “stuff” into your ShoveBox as well.  You can take notes, capture images through your iSight, jot down a quick note (something they call “quick jot”)  and import from your clipboard and put it all the ShoveBox as well.  I like that they give you so many options to get what you want into ShoveBox.

When you get into the app itself, it is pretty basic in design.  ShoveBox has an “InBox” where everything that you put into ShoveBox goes into here.  From here you can move whatever you put into ShoveBox into folders, if you like.  Within the app you are also given the option to use the capture feature you get when you use the menu bar.  So, if you would rather not use the menu bar, you can feel free to open up the app and do the same things you could in the menu bar.  Within the app you have the ability to flag and label your “stuff” that comes into the app.  Also within the app you can edit documents with limited formatting options.  But it gets the job done if you are doing simple notes.   You can also export anything that you put into the app itself.  This is a nice feature to have, but I notice that when I put a Word Document into ShoveBox and then try to export it, I lose some of the formatting.

One of the great things that ShoveBox did is that they created an iPhone app to compliment the Mac app.  This is not as full featured as the Mac app is, but it gets the job done.  You can capture images with your camera and create notes and save them into your folders or inbox within ShoveBox.  The Mac App and the iPhone app do sync together, but they have to be on the same WIFI network in order to sync.  They cannot just sync over the air.  This is kind of a pain because I have to remember that if I capture anything on the iPhone app that when I go home I need to sync it with the Mac app.  This may not be a huge deal to some, but to me, it would be nice to have something that syncs over the air so you don’t have to worry about this.



Overall, this is a pretty decent application.  The Mac App costs $25 and the iPhone app is free.  Not bad for what the app can do.  For those of you that are familiar with Evernote, I would say ShoveBox is a few steps below.  ShoveBox is for the person that is looking for a simple application that they can put small notes, receipts, pictures, etc into.  The one nice thing about ShoveBox as compared to Evernote, is that there is no storage limit or yearly fee, it is just a one time payment.  If you are looking to purchase ShoveBox, you can get it here.  Let me know if you have any questions, looking forward to hearing your comments.  Catch me on Twitter @shaun_27.  Here is a video below of ShoveBox.

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A week ago I stumbled along a Twitter post from a mac blogger about the upcoming application called Thoughts that was coming out for the Mac.  So my curiosity got the best of me and figured I had to see what this app was about.  The first thing I noticed about the application is how clean and well done the interface looked.  It is a note taking application at its core, but the best thing about it, is that it is fully integrated into the Mac and looks like it was put together very nicely.

Books and Pages

Thoughts starts out with “books”.  You create a book and you can have as many pages as you desire in that book.  The book even opens up like a book would and every time you start a new note, the pages turn, again like a book would.  This is kind of a nice visual feature to have.   You can add pictures from iphoto or from the web, web links, text, and documents that you have.  Each note has it’s own formatting palette, which  has the basic functions of any word processing application.   The formatting palette is enough that I could write my post in here and didn’t have to sacrifice on any formatting that I wanted to use.

Exporting

There are three ways that you can export your pages.  You can export your notes as a Word document, PDF, RTF, or an Open Document.  You can also email and print pages.


This is pretty much it as far as features of the application.  So, why do I like this app so much??  Well, first of all the UI is so well done.  It just looks good and with the pages turning like a real book, it is those little things that make this so visually attractive.  I love that I can capture everything in here and the guys who built Thoughts made it so easy to add content from other places.  Can we compare this to Evernote, the popular note taking application?  Not really, because I don’t think they are in the same class.  Thoughts doesn’t have a web application or an iphone app like Evernote does, but for me that is not a deal breaker.  I like Thoughts for the dead simpleness of being able to write things down and capture text, links, or images from other places and being able to organize them in a neat way.  Right now Thoughts is in private beta, but if you purchase the app you can get into the private beta as well as score two more pieces of software in their PreOrder Bundle.  The cost is $34, which is not bad, but may be a little high for some.  For those of you that are looking for an application like this, but don’t want to pay the yearly fees of Evernote, and are willing to sacrifice an iphone and web app, this may be the best app out there for what it is trying to accomplish.

Well, that is it for now on Thoughts.  I am sure it is only going to get better and I will make sure to keep you all updated.  Below is a walkthrough video of the application to give you a better idea of the application.  Feel free to leave comments, thanks again.  You can also follow me on Twitter @shaun_27 or on Facebook at The Easy Mac

So a month ago, I wrote one of my first reviews for this blog on Chronicle.  Here is the link to that post http://wp.me/pHKo8-E Chronicle is a bill minder application for the Mac made by a small company called Little Fin.  It is a great simple app to keep track of your monthly bills and to give you a visual on how you are doing with your bills or credit card payments.  It also lets you set goals for each bill or credit card, which comes in very handy if you are wanting to pay down that loan or credit card.  Well, Little Fin just came out with a new version of Chronicle, which I have had the privilege of beta testing.

The biggest change in Chronicle 3.0 is in the design.  There has been an overhaul in the design of Chronicle icons and backgrounds.  They have added a couple more backgrounds for you to choose from as well as a bigger and better selection of icons for all your bills.  Little Fin also added the option to archive a bil, which is nice to have.   The rest of the changes are behind the scenes that you won’t really notice.

Features of Chronicle 3.0

  1. Setting Reminders for bills:  You can set a reminder each month for each bill that you input that will put reminders on ical for you.  Which then, in turn, will set reminders to your iphone.  This, for me is the best feature, as I tend to forget about some bills some times.
  2. Setting Goals For Your Debt:  This is probably my 2nd best feature about the app.  If you have a loan or a credit card that you are trying to pay down, you can enter in the amount and the amount you want to pay each month and set goals for yourself to pay it down.  This is great for loans, not the best for credit cards that you continue to use as the amount you owe always changes.  So, this feature is really good for bills that the amount you owe will not fluctuate.
  3. Payment History: Every month you log a payment Chronicle logs each payment onto a bar graph to show you how much you are paying over time.
  4. Import from Chronicle 2.0: If you were using Chronicle 2, you can have the option to import your data over the Chronicle 3.  I did this and all my info imported over flawlessly.

These are the main features of Chronicle.  Below are screenshots of the new Chronicle.  I personally love this application for a couple of reasons.  One, it does exactly what I want it to do, remind me about my bills and help me keep track of where my money goes for my monthly bills each month.  Secondly, the customer service is second to none.  When I first bought Chronicle 2.0 I had questions and I emailed Little Fin, and they were great at getting back to me right away and have always been responsive to my questions and respond quickly.  I have also had the chance to beta test Chronicle 3.0 and so I know that Mike and the team at Little Fin have definitely worked hard on this new app and have definitely listened to people’s feedback.  I continue to look forward to what Little Fin plans to do with Chronicle.  There are also whispers that an iphone app could come out next.  That would be awesome!!

Thanks again for reading.  Feel free to comment, and follow me on Twitter @theeasymac or see the Facebook Fan Page at The Easy Mac.

We all know that the weather can be unpredictable, especially here in the Northwest US.  We have come to realize that no matter what we need to always be prepared for what is out there.  Well, along comes an app that does just that.  Outside, an iphone app, by the guys at Robo Cat, just made it into the App Store last night.  It is a beautiful looking app with a lot of potential.

There are a couple of main objectives the app aims to achieve.  The first is to give you a visual of what the weather is like outside now and what it is going to be like over the next couple of days.

The second objective is to keep you notified on different conditions so that you can be prepared for the weather outside.  For example, you can set the app to notify you if it is rainy outside, or if it is cold, or if it gets warm enough to wear a t-shirt.

Overall, this is a pretty cool app.  The first thing that stands out is the graphics.  They are very well done and very easy on the eyes.  To me, this will be their selling point.  I know for me, once I saw screenshots of the app, it looked so well done that it made me want to buy it when it came out. I like the additions of notifications as well.  I don’t know how much I will use them, but they are a nice addition to have.

There are a few things that I would like to see improve over future versions of this app.  The first is, I would like to view more than one city’s weather.  Right now you can only look at one city.  You don’t have the option to switch between more than one city.  Secondly, it would be nice to see an option for a 5 day forecast instead of having to scroll between each day.  And lastly, I am not the hugest fan of having to pay for notifications.  If you want notifications, you have to pay $.99 for them every 3 months.  So when you do the math, you have $2..99 for the app, then every 3 months you are paying $.99 for the app, so after about the first year, you are looking to pay about $7.  That may be a turn off for people, but I can understand why the guys who made the app needed to do this.  You can always choose to run the app without the notifications and not pay for it.  Outside gives you a month free of notifications.  If anything, would love to see a yearly subscription that maybe would be a little cheaper so that way you could entice more people to subscribe to notifications and you don’t have to resubscribe every 3 months.  I would possibly do a yearly subscription if this was an option.  Below are some more screenshots.

So there you have it.  Outside is a pretty good app and it is cool to look at.  Go get it on the App Store for $2.99.  Feel free to leave comments on the post or the app itself.  Also would love for you to connect with me on Twitter @theeasymac or on Facebook  at The Easy Mac.

On Sunday night, Droplr finally went to 1.0. and there has been some anticiation about it coming out of beta. Droplr is basically a file sharing app. It gives you the option to share files such as images, web links, and screnshots as a link versus trying to email these to others. The nice thing about this is that it takes away from worrying about emailing large files and it makes it easier to share a file with a large amount of people.

Droplr Features

One of the key features of Droplr is the ease of use as far as making a file into a link. For a document or image all you really have to do is drag and drop the file onto the droplr icon in the menu bar and droplr creates a link to the file that you can tweet, email or save for later use.  Droplr also links to several Twitter clients so that when you drop something into droplr you can automatically tweet it from your favorite Twitter application. It is a nice feature to have if you have the following Twitter clients (Twit, Echofon, Bluebird, or Tweetie, or Twitter.com).

Droplr also gives you the opportunity to write a note and then save it into droplr as well.  This is especially nice for those that want to save code as a link.

The other nice feature is that droplr has a website that you can log into that shows everything that you dropped into droplr.  It also shows the short link as well as the number of views your link has had.

This is basically about it for droplr.  It is a nice app to have as it makes sharing a whole lot easier.  They will have some competition from Cloud App which is in current beta and looks pretty sweet.  Droplr gives you a free account with 1GB of storage and will give you another 1 GB of storage if you tweet their message that you think droplr is awesome.  Some people have been complaining about this tweet message that droplr asks you to do, but hey, it gives you another gig of storage so I tweeted it.  Overall, great app, I think they are on the right track, would love to see droplr integrate their service with more apps as it continues to grow.

I am always looking out for a great Twitter and Facebook Client. There are a handful out there with Tweetdeck being the most famous of them all. For me, there is something about being able to look at my Twitter accounts as well as look at Facebook within the same application. It is just nice not having to switch between apps to update and check tweets and Facebook statuses. So in my quest for this Twitter and Facebook integration application, I came across Hoot Suite.

Features

1.  Twitter and Facebook Integration

Hoot Suite does a great job of integrating both Twitter and Facebook into their app.  You can have multiple Twitter accounts as well as multiple Facebook accounts as well as Facebook pages.  It is so nice that I can integrate everything from both Twitter and Facebook into the app.  Hoot Suite also doesn’t skimp on features of Twitter and Facebook within their app as well.  For Twitter I can do the main functions (mentions, dm, retweet, favorite/unfavorite) as well as groups, searches, and lists.  For Facebook, I can see my news feeds as well as comment and “like” comments as well.  Hoot Suite has really done a good job of making the transition seamless from using both Twitter and Facebook separately into one client with all of its features.

2.  Message Area

This to me is one of the nicest features of Hoot Suite.  When you are ready to tweet or update your status on Facebook, all you do is type in your message and click on the accounts or Facebook pages you would like the message to show up on.  This is a feature that is also on TweetDeck, if you are familiar with their interface.  Hoot Suite also provides its own URL shrinker.  So, if you have a url you would like to insert it will shrink it for you.  But it doesn’t stop there, if you have a file or image you would like to upload, you can upload the image or file to Hoot Suite and they will automatically upload the file and create a url for it.  This is very handy if I want to send a file or image to someone and it is too big to email.  The other nice feature of the Hoot Suite url shrinker is that Hoot Suite keeps stats on the url.  So you can see how many people clicked the link, where they are from and from what site they clicked it on.  This is a really nice feature to have if you are wanting to keep track of traffic to your site.  The last thing about the message area is that there is a button called “Send Later”.  So you can type a message and schedule a time when you want that message to go out and Hoot Suite will make sure the message gets sent out when you want it to.

3.  Miscellaneous features

Hoot Suite also connects to LinkdIn, as well as Ping.fm.  I have not tried to connect to these services as I don’t use them so I cannot speak to how well Hoot Suite does with them. You can also have multiple editors for a single Twitter account if you so choose.  HootSuite is also working on an Iphone app, which I am definitely looking forward to.

Overall HootSuite is a great web app.  It does just about everything I want it to do for Twitter and Facebook, with the exception of being able to play Facebook games 😉  I love it so much that I have even made it a Fluid app.  If you don’t know what Fluid is, go check out my previous review on it.  I would even contend to say that Hoot Suite is better than TweetDeck.  Yes, TweetDeck can do most or all of the things Hoot Suite can do, but Hoot Suite just seems to work well and gets the job done.  TweetDeck, seems too flashy for me and doesn’t always work correctly.

So there you have it.  My review of Hoot Suite.  For you visual people, I have set up a video to give you a visual tour of Hoot Suite.  Hit the link for the video.  http://cld.ly/4bp88 As always, please leave your comments and feedback.  Hit me up on Twitter (@theeasymac) or on Facebook (The Easy Mac).  Would love to hear from you!

To preface this post, I subscribe to other Mac blogs to see what they are writing about and to discover what other applications other avid Mac users are testing out.  I love doing this because there is a lot of people who know a lot about the Mac and, what I like to call the “hidden gems” of Mac applications.  It is a great way to be in the know what is the latest and greatest when it comes to the Mac.  So last week, I was reading a blog post from Mac Stories (which by the way, is an amazing blog and I love reading his stuff!) titled “30 Web Apps You Should Turn into Mac Apps Using Fluid”.   But as I saw the title it caught my eye.  I have been reading a lot about Fluid, but I really didn’t know a whole lot about it.  But as I read this blog post, I started to realize that Fluid was an app that was going to essentially declutter my web experience.  I don’t know about you, but before I started to use Fluid, I would have about 6 or 7 different tabs going on my web browser (email, facebook, Pandora, calendar, work email, Twitter,  ESPN, etc).  Now with Fluid, life is so much easier, let me tell you how.

Fluid is an app that takes just about any website and turns it into its own standalone application that you can start up from your desktop on your computer.  For example, take Facebook, I use it all the time, but if I want to use it I have to open my web browser and if something is already open, I need to create a new tab and then get to Facebook.  Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just have a Facebook application right on my desktop that I can just click onto and wham, Facebook opens up as it’s own application. This is what Fluid does for you!  So now, instead of opening up several different pages or tabs to get everything I need, I just made Fluid apps for websites that I use frequently.  Below is a snapshot of just some of the ones that I have made.

As you can see I made a Fluid app for Jott, which I just previously blogged about, Gmail, Pandora, Facebook, Brizzly (a Twitter and Facebook Client), and Google Calendar.  Now, the nice thing about this is that I don’t have to always open up a web browser to open one of these web apps, I can just click on the icon and that site will load.  Let me show you how this is done.  You will see that it is very easy and in no time you will hopefully love it!

The first thing you need to do is download the free fluid app, you can get it here (http://fluidapp.com).   After you download the app, click on it and you will get a screen that looks like this.

Pick a website that you would like to use as a Fluid app.  In this example I will use Jott.  So in the “URL” box, I type in http://www.jott.com.  Then in the “Name” box, I can put something like “Jott” or “My To Do List”, then select a location for the application and an icon.  Now as far as the icon is concerned, you can leave it as it is and Jott will have an icon you can use, but I have noticed that most times when you do this, the icon is very blurred and doesn’t look good.  So I went online to Google and just searched for “Jott Icon” and there are a myriad of choices for icons out there.  Pick the one you like, right click on it, then select “Save Image As” and then pick a location as to where to download it.  Then go back to the Fluid app screen and now you can pick your icon by letting it know where it is.  Here is a short demo video to explain all of this.

So there you have it!  Fluid is an amazing app that, in my opinion goes a long way to declutter your web browsing experience.  I love the fact that now when I need to go to my Google Calendar, I can just click on the Fluid app I made for it and not have to open a browser or another tab within a web browser.  If you like Fluid, again go and check out the Mac Stories blog about the 30 apps that you should have as Fluid apps; they are great ideas and I have a lot of them.  Feel free to comment below about any apps that you have created into Fluid apps; I am always looking for more ideas for Fluid apps.

Thanks again for reading, I really appreciate it!  I love doing this and I hope my passion and simplicity shows through my writing.  If you already haven’t done so, please add me on Twitter (theeasymac) and/or become a fan of me on Facebook (The Easy Mac)

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of bills to pay every month.  And for some reason, they all are not due on the same day or even around the same time during the month.  Some are at the beginning, a couple in the middle, and a few toward the end of the month.  I got to the point where I would forget at least a bill or two every couple of months or so.  I hated it.  So I would try to set reminders on my calendar which worked decently fine.  But about 6 months ago, I stumbled across an application called Chronicle.  Needless to say, I wish I had this app a long time before that, would have definitely saved me some embarrassment from sending in late bills.

Chronicle in its basic form is an application to help you keep track of your bills.  But it does so much more than that.  One of the first features it has, is that it helps you keep track of all your bills, how much you owe and reminders each month to pay your bills.  All you need to do is put in some info about your bills, then Chronicle basically takes over.   Chronicle syncs with ICal, with reminders set for each month and you have total control of when to set those reminders.

Screen shot 2009-11-13 at 5.10.42 PM(picture used from Chronicle website)

The next cool feature of this application is that it helps you keep your payments and receipts organized.   After every month when you log your payment, Chronicle keeps track of all of your payments and the average payment you are making.  It is a good way to see how you are paying of something over the long haul.  You can also scan receipts into Chronicle and keep it there for records if you need to see them later on.

Screen shot 2009-11-13 at 5.19.29 PM(Picture from Chronicle Website)

The last cool feature about this app is that you can set goals for each bill that you have and when you want to pay down that debt.  This is great to have, especially if you are trying to pay down credit card debt!!  All you have to do is fill in some info about the debt you are trying to pay off and Chronicle does the rest for you.  This is a great addition to have, and if you are a visual person like me, this gives you a great visual of how you are doing with your debt.

There are a few more things to note about this app.  The first thing is that Chronicle is made by a company called Little Fin http://www.littlefin.com/chronicle.html.  One thing I am big on is customer service and Little Fin goes above and beyond in this department.  When I first started using Chronicle I was having some trouble with it and they were quick and always responsive when I had questions about the app.  Till this day, they always get back to me with a quick response when I have a question about something.  The other thing to note, which is kind of a big thing, is that Chronicle 3.0 is now in beta testing, and I have the privilege of testing out this beta.  There are some cool things coming down the pike with this app.  As I play with it and get to know it more, I get more excited for what is to come with the app.  When Chronicle 3.0 becomes finalized, I will make sure to put out another review on it.  Last and definitely not least,  Chronicle can be had for $20.  It is definitely a great price for such a great app that has helped me tremendously every month on bills.  Go on over to http://www.littlefin.com/chronicle.html and either purchase it, or download it and try it out for yourself.

Please feel free to leave comments and any feedback.  I would love to hear from you as, I am striving to make this a blog that is useful to the average and not so average Mac user.  God bless.

So I have thought long and hard about what is the first thing I should review as I start on this wild adventure of tech blogging!  As I thought about it, I wanted to review something that hasn’t be out there in the mainstream for that long, something that will catch fire as it becomes more exposed to others, and something that doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.  I guess these are the qualities that I hope my blog can strive for 🙂

So, without further fanfare, I give you………..   TINY GRAB!!!

tinygrab-logo

So what is Tiny Grab you ask??  Well, like their website says “Simple. Screenshot. Sharing.”  I couldn’t have put it any more easily.  Have you ever been in those situations where you need to send a picture or a screenshot but either the file is too big or you can’t just copy and paste the screenshot into an email without losing the formatting?  Well this is the app for you.  Basically, what it does is it takes a picture of whatever you want that is on your screen and assigns a url for it.  Then you can copy and paste this url in an email or on a website so that people can see exactly what you are wanting to show them.  The cool thing about this app is now, gone are the days of having to worry about sending pictures that are too big.  Just use Tiny Grab to take a screenshot of the picture then email the link to your hearts content!!!  Here is an example

Screen shot 2009-11-11 at 5.34.58 PM

So here is a screenshot of my logo.  I wanted to email it to my wife to see what she thinks of it.  It is a decently big file.  So instead of trying to email it, I used Tiny Grab to take a screenshot of it and I was given a url http://grab.by/tVb.  Now I can email her the url and she can open it up and see the logo.  No having to wait for it to load in an email attachment or worry if the size was too big to email.  And that is it, simple app that has and will definitely come in handy!!

The other cool thing about this is that for the next 24 hrs Tiny Grab is FREE at MacHeist.com along with 5 other apps.  If you don’t get it free, then don’t worry they have both free and premium versions of it.  They are slowly getting big and better well known thanks to MacHeist, but now that it is out, I think it will grow with huge success on its own.  It is available for both Mac and Windows.

Feel free to leave comments and feedback!!!

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