Category Archives: Technology

Random thoughts on subjects of technology.

Everpix Shuts Down

This bums me out.

We were unable to secure sufficient funding in order to properly scale the business, and our endeavors to find a new home for Everpix did not come to pass.

We are heartbroken to discontinue Everpix. It’s a project that is very close to each and every one of us on the team. We cannot be more thankful to all of our customers who supported us over the >years. We hope you’ve enjoyed Everpix. We will miss it dearly.

I, like many nerds, discovered this service recently. I really enjoyed the flashback feature and was contemplating signing up for a paid account when they announced the shutdown.

Photo management is one of those things people struggle with. I’m perfectly fine with using Dropbox camera upload and since signing up with Everpix I’ve been thinking that Dropbox might be one or two releases away from creating exactly what Everpix offered. Now that they’re shutting down, I hope I’m right.

If you want more information on what happened, The Verge has a rather timely article from the same day Everpix announced their shutdown. I don’t know what to think of that.

Review: Magpul Industries Field Case

I generally don’t carry my phone in a case but when the phone is brand new, I get a little paranoid of dropping it. My iPhone 4S spent some time in a case after I bought it but as time passed, I relaxed and it went naked for most of its life. With the 5s being lighter, thinner, and perhaps a little more beautiful, it pains me to hide it in a case but the fear of dropping it seems more powerful.

After a bit of research, I ordered a Magpul Field Case in Olive Drab from Amazon for $12.95. The reviews seemed positive and the price was hard to beat. Some of you may be familiar with Magpul as the company that makes AR-15 accessories. In fact, the pattern on the back of the case is modeled after their PMAG magazines.

Magpul Field Case

I’m not sure what made Magpul get into phone cases but they seem to know what they were doing. The Magpul Field Case is a semi-rigid slip on case that wraps tightly over the back and sides of the phone. The sides provide a raised lip around the screen so you can set the phone on its face without hurting the glass if that’s your kind of thing. It’s a little difficult to get the phone out of the case but I don’t think you’d want it any other way.

The power and volume buttons are molded into the case, likely because they’d be hard to activate if they were simply cutouts. The mute switch however is a cutout as is the headphone jack, microphone, speakers, and Lightning port. The Apple Lightning cable fits the case with ease while the slightly larger Monoprice Lightning cables are a tight fit. I should note the headphone jack opening works fine for the Apple Earpods and other headphones with similar sized mini-plugs but my Audio Technica M50s have a larger diameter plug that won’t plug in with the case on. I have to peel the phone out of the case when I want to use my headphones which is annoying but I’m searching for a suitable 3.5mm adapter to solve this problem.

The case material is textured enough to give assure a good grip but not so textured that it’s hard to get in and out of a pocket. When the phone isn’t inside, the case is fairly flexible but slide your phone into it and it feels like hard plastic. It probably won’t outperform an Otterbox but it seems to provide plenty of protection. The rear of the case has a large cutout for the camera/flash and sports the Magpul logo and company name.

I’ve been carrying my phone in this case for the past week and while I can’t say I prefer it to a naked phone, the Magpul is as close to the perfect case as I’ve found and it looks great as well. From time to time I pull the phone out and try to carry it that way but it always seems to end up back in the Magpul. For just under $13, I don’t think this case can be beat.

Following up on Control Center

Now that iOS 7 is out, let’s revisit my expectations for Control Center. I don’t use everything available but here’s my thoughts on the ones I’ve used so far.

Flashlight

Love it. I use it several times a day and it’s way faster than any of the 3rd party apps were on iOS 6.

WiFi/Bluetooth

I don’t know why I put LTE in the original article but let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Having WiFi and Bluetooth easily accessible is incredibly handy and I’ve used it more times than I can count in the past week.

Music Controls

I don’t use these much since most of my interaction with the music controls happens on the lock screen. Still, it’s quite handy and I find myself using it randomly. What I use most often is the volume control as I like to keep my phone volume very low unless I’m watching something.

AirDrop

I really didn’t give this much thought in the original article and once I upgraded my 4S I still didn’t care because it doesn’t seem to be available on that device. Now that I have a 5s and my wife has a 5c, we’ve used it several times to transfer pictures to each other. It’s incredibly handy although a bit slow in finding phones to share with.

Camera

I use to keep the stock camera on my home screen but this lets me keep it hidden in a folder. I generally activate the camera from the lock screen but for those times where I’m already doing something, quick access to the camera is delightful.

I wish Apple had allowed the bottom 4 buttons of the Control Center to be customized, I don’t find myself reaching for the calculator or timer all that often and I’d love to swap those out. But all in all, I feel the Control Center was a much needed addition that has a lot of potential for future changes. Maybe one day I’ll get my wish and some or all of the actions will be configurable.

My Task Manager Wishlist

I spend an embarrassing amount of time researching how people get things done. It’s almost as if I expect their habits to wear off on me and of course, they don’t. Lately I’ve been using Wunderlist and while it’s close to what I need, it’s not quite perfect. Here’s what I’m looking for in a task management product:

Projects

This is super important. Anything that requires more than one step is a project and I have a lot of things that fit this description. If a task manager doesn’t allow you to define a project and set the tasks to complete the project, it’s pretty much useless.

Tasks

Tasks can be standalone or part of a project but this is something no checklist app misses. Of all the apps I have installed on my phone and Macbook, none of them are missing the task element. The one area that is lacking in a lot of apps is reoccurring tasks. I use this function to remind me to change my oil, cut my hair, or replace my furnace filter. If an app is missing standalone tasks, sub-tasks (for projects), or reoccurring tasks, I have no use for it.

Start Dates

A project should have a start date. If I need to start a project on Jan 1st 2014, I don’t want to see it until then. I don’t own OmniFocus but from what I hear, this is pretty much the only app that handles start dates in this manner.

Due Dates

Anything worth doing needs a due date right? OK that’s a bit of a stretch but if this task manager is going to handle my personal and work life, it must have due dates.

Notifications/Reminders

The things I listed earlier as reoccurring tasks section are prime examples of items I want reminders for. What I really want in an app is the ability to set the reminder for any interval. The Reminders app allows for monthly or yearly reminders but nothing in between. This means my reminder to check the furnace filter needs to be ignored 2 months out of 3 because I can’t set it for a more useful interval.

Quick Capture

If I can’t capture a task quickly, what’s the point? I don’t care if this involves using Drafts with an x-callback-url or if the app itself opens to the entry box, I need a way to get tasks into the system easily.

Good Sync

Syncing is key these days and I’d rather it be something I control. If I had my way, the perfect app would use Dropbox to sync but the few that use this method lack push notifications. I’ll settle on a syncing solution that is reliable which it seems Wunderlist hasn’t figured out yet.

Filters/Views

I want to be able to filter my tasks in a few ways. Maybe I want to see today’s tasks, maybe I want to see this month. Either way, the filters need to be configurable and flexible.

Calendar Integration

Not everything ends up in my calendar but items that fall on a specific date and require a specific action should. Whether this means integration with the existing system calendar, or using a built-in calendar, it’s a must.

Future/Someday

We all have tasks that won’t be starting any time soon and you need a place to file those. These could be standalone tasks, or full blown projects so this area needs to be flexible. These tasks and projects won’t have dates so they won’t show up in filters or views unless I specifically want them to.

I don’t practice Getting Things Done but this list has a pretty obviously slant in that direction. I’ve been slowly melding the ideas from GTD into a system that fits my life and this is the system I feel will help me actually accomplish my tasks.

I’m fairly certain OmniFocus meets almost every one of these needs but they seem to lack a trial version for OS X so I have no way of knowing before forking out a pretty substantial wad of cash. One of these days I’ll grow tired of waiting and drop the $$ on the OS X and iOS clients and maybe then I’ll be happy.