MonthOctober 2013

Skitch

When Skitch first came out, I was a huge fan. It was an extremely useful app for quick editing and sharing images. You could resize, point things out, draw, etc on images.

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Shortly after Skitch got taken over by Evernote, Skitch Version 2 came out. Version 2 was a huge step backwards. Numerous features got removed, the UI completely changed. It was a big fuckup of a release.

It seems that Evernote may have finally fixed and replaced most of the problems. On the 24th, version 2.7 was released, and is an improvement over the prior version.

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It finally works like the original Skitch worked. It doesn’t beg you to sign up for Evernote every time you use it. It just works how it should.

I was extremely disappointed when version 2 was announced. So many important features gone. I’ve actually been using the original since version 2 came out because it was so useless. With the new v2.7, I’ve finally upgraded to the new app.

*Just a tip, moving an App Store application to the Desktop does not make it a safe storage place if you don’t want to upgrade it. I moved my verion 1.x copy of Skitch to the Desktop so it wouldn’t get overwritten when I downloaded the new version. It got overwritten anyways. Glad I made an archive of it before I clicked that download button.

The Artifactory

I found the Mixture of Life’s Elixir at the Artifactory.

Magic Hat Brewing Company

Highly recommend visiting the Magic Hat brewery if you get the chance. It has a very unique atmosphere. The brewery tour, while short, allows you to look out over the entire production line. And it being a brewery, there’s plenty of beer to try!

Mavericks, OS X 10.9

Apple announced the release of their latest version of OS X today, version 10.9 Mavericks. There are plenty of new features, including Maps and iBooks for the desktop. I’m not going to bore myself writing a review, there are plenty of those across the internet. What surprised me most about Mavericks was the price.

When Snow Leopard was released in 2009 it was $29. The version prior, 10.5 Leopard was $129. Lion followed Snow Leopard and was released originally digital only for $29. With Mountain Lion, it dropped to $19.

Today’s OS X version is $0. It’s a free upgrade. If you are running Snow Leopard, you can download and install Mavericks for free, no need to purchase Lion or Mountain Lion. I’m really wondering what Microsoft thinks about this, considering they sell their OSes for a much higher price, and aren’t usually improvements.

Heady Topper, Vermont’s Rarest Commodity

Craft beers are booming in popularity. Living in central New York, I’m lucky enough to live close to Saranac and Brewery Ommegang. Game of Thrones fans should know about Brewery Ommegang, as they produce the Game of Thrones beers to go with the TV show. Yes I was able to get some of their most recent offering, Take the Black Stout, before the majority of the public had access to it.

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Unfortunately, some breweries are so popular they can’t keep anything on their shelves. This is good for them, but bad for us beer lovers. The Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont, is one of those breweries. I’m pretty sure I first heard about their Heady Topper beer on Uncrate.

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I started reading about Heady Topper. Everything I read about it was praise. I didn’t find a single negative review about it. I knew I wanted some, but that seemed to be a difficult thing to do. The Alchemist brews Heady Topper all week, it is all they brew. By Friday it’s already sold out. The locals can’t even get their hands on it at times.

I managed to get a can when we went out to dinner Friday night. It lived up to the hype I had for it. It was a delicious nectar of hoppy goodness. Before I came home, I wanted more! The brewery of course was sold out, but we did manage to find some at Stowe Beverage. The store was limiting sales to one 4-pack per customer, so I managed to come home with two 4-packs.

It’s awesome to see a brewery this successful, and I hope The Alchemist continues to do well and grow. I would love to be able to get my hands on their beer locally instead of having to take a weekend trip. If you travel to Vermont, I highly suggest you try to get your hands on this delicious IPA, it really may be Vermont’s rarest commodity. It at least is a very hard to find beverage.

eBooks, Or Damn I Wish This Shit Just Worked

When I was a kid, the local library hated me and loved me at the same time. I read. I read a lot. I’d go in weekly and come home with 12-20 books. Every week. Even when I was a teenager, I’d still read numerous quantities of books a week. The local library couldn’t keep books on the shelf for me. I was requesting books from neighboring libraries because our library didn’t have enough books for me.

Then I started college and just stopped reading. I was too busy studing (yes, I did study, just in case mom or dad end up reading this) or playing video games with my friends. In other words, I had better things to do than read books.

When ebooks were first introduced, I thought they were awesome. I could start reading again. I could quickly and easily get any book I wanted on my ebook reader. I managed to get the Barnes and Noble Nook when it was first released. Wow, was it a piece of shit. The unit that I managed to aquire went back to the store in 24 hours. It had hardware issues galore. Nothing worked right on it. After the Nook, I didn’t bother with any more ebook readers until I got an iPad.

I read some books on my original iPad, until I got tired of the weight. The original iPad is surprisingly heavy. It wasn’t comfortable to use for long periods. When I upgraded to an iPad 2 I read a few more. But I still found shortcomings. It always seemed to come down to the same thing. Ebooks. They are fundamentally broken by design.

Ebooks should be universal. It shouldn’t matter what device I own or use. If I buy, rent or borrow an ebook, I should be able to read it on any ereader. MP3s play on any MP3 player. Ebooks should be readable on any ereader. But instead publishers and distributors have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t figure that out. Hell, some authors can’t even figure out that people want their ebooks.

J.K. Rowlings, the author of the Harry Potter series, didn’t have ebooks until May of 2012. Just as a reminder, the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007.

But what really promted this post is the recent arrival of Oyster Books into the ebook world.

Oyster offers unlimited access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month, with new titles added all the time.

We created Oyster to evolve the way people read and to create more of the special moments that only books can offer. From anywhere a mobile device can go—a bustling subway car, a quiet coffee shop, or lost at sea with a Bengal tiger—our mission is to build the best reading experience, one that is both communal and personal, anytime, anywhere.

$10 a month with the first month free. Netflix for ebooks. I figured I’d at least try it out. I’m lazy, so I’ll pay for the convenience. Maybe it would get me reading more. I registered and downloaded the app on my iPad. It is a beautiful interface, and browsing books was nice. But a quick search revealed (Oh, you wanted to check for books before you sign up, too bad. Not currently possible.) that my favorite author wasn’t in their lineup. So I checked out a few other authors that I like and loaded up a book. I’m not sure who made the usability decisions on this app, but they should definitely be fired. To turn the page you have to swipe up. Really? Up? Not side to side, but up? Who thought that was a good idea?

I think this was the easiest decision to make. I canceled my account and deleted the app within 5 minutes of signing up. (Yes, I did check the settings for a different swipe option but didn’t find one.) Maybe this will push me to visit my local library more often with my iPad.

It’s 2013. How much longer do we have to deal with ebook bullshit before they become usable?

Early 2011 MacBook Pro GPUs

Remember the Nvidia GeForce 8600MT graphics cards in the 2007-08 MacBook Pros? It may be happening again. It seems that many people with early 2011 MacBook Pros with the AMD Radeon 6490M, 6750M, and 6970M GPUs are having issues while using the discrete graphics. There are a few threads on the Apple Discussion forums about the issue. It seems that the majority of the problem is the discrete graphics and that the problem appears after switching to the descrete graphics.

This is bad because my main machine is an early 2011 MBP with a Radeon 6490M. I haven’t had any issues. Yet. I hope it stays that way also. If this becomes a widespread issue, I hope it becomes big enough so that history repeats itself and the warranty gets extended. I didn’t purchase AppleCare when I got this machine. (Truthfully, I haven’t bought AppleCare for any of the Macs I’ve bought because I usually end up voiding the warranty shortly after I get them.)

After hearing about this, I’m actually quite surprised I haven’t had any issues yet. I switch between the integrated and discrete graphics frequently. I do game some on this machine and the 6490M does get used a decent amount. Plus, some apps aren’t coded well and “need” the descrete graphics even though they don’t do any fancy graphical artwork. Seriously Adobe, why the fuck does Brackets require the discrete graphics? It’s a text editor.

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