Friday, January 23, 2009

Too many long, rambling podcasts

I started listening to the This Week in Photography (TWiP) podcast (episode 65) on my way in to work this morning. Over seven minutes into a one hour and 20 minute episode, and they hadn't really started talking about photography. So I skipped ahead to the next podcast in my playlist.

I much prefer the Tack Sharp podcast. The average length of the episodes is about 20 minutes, and each episode focuses on one subject only. I've learned something from every one of the six episodes so far.

Alex Lindsay and Scott Bourne, the founders and two of the regulars on TWiP are also regulars on MacBreak Weekly (MBW). So it's understandable that the style and format of their podcast is very similar. (They even have "picks of the week".) But what makes MBW (and TWiT) worth listening to (even when they rat-hole or ramble--although I'm often tempted to skip them when they're particularly long--the last MBW was just sort of two hours) is that I feel like I've gotten to know the personalities so each week feels like listening to old friends. (And Leo Laporte does a great job of keeping both podcasts interesting.) Perhaps if I kept listening to TWiP I'd get that same comfortable familiarity with it, but I only have so much time.

The TWIPPHOTO.COM blog has excellent show notes for the episodes, and there's plenty of other material there worth reading. So I'll probably favor their blog over their podcast. (But I find it harder to make time for blog reading than podcasts.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I use two iPhone Twitter apps

Twitter has plenty of meta-discussion. (TODO: It would be interesting to approximate the percentage of tweets that are about Twitter.) Very frequently (at least among the people I follow) the discussion is about iPhone apps for Twitter. More often than any other, I see people recommend Tweetie. Though Twitterrific is mentioned frequently, and I see TwitterFon come up increasingly often.

I use Tweetie and Twitterrific Premium. The contrast between the two is interesting. They're both excellent, well-polished apps that illustrate two different approaches to designing a quality iPhone application.

I use Tweetie often enough that it gets a spot on my main launcher screen (reserved for the apps I use more frequently). It's full-featured. In fact, it seems like I can do just about anything in Tweetie that I can do from

But I use Twitterrific more often than any other iPhone app, so it gets the privileged spot on the bottom left (on the strip on the bottom that appears on all launcher screens). Twitterrfic is a good example of the "do one thing only and do it well" school. Twitterrific's one thing is reading tweets. It does that so well that I prefer it to on my MacBook Pro (though I haven't tried any desktop Twitter apps).

Twitterrific Premium's killer feature (which I haven't seen or heard of in any other iPhone Twitter app) is how it "maintain[s] a reading position between launches of the application". (I think this feature is not in the free version of Twitterrific.) This is why Twitterrific is my most used iPhone app. I can very quickly launch is and scan through all the new tweets since the last time I checked.

As I'm reading in Twitterrific, if I see a tweet with a URL that looks interesting that I want to take the time to look at later (especially if I don't want to take the time to wait on EDGE), I'll mark it as a favorite.

Then later (when I'm on WiFi on my iPhone or my MBP), I'll use Tweetie (or to scan through my favorites and un-mark them after I read them.

I also use Tweetie occasionally to check for replies.

And Tweetie is better for writing tweets, especially if I want to include someone's name or a URL. And the new version 1.2 has an optional landscape keyboard.

Loren Brichter updates Tweetie much more frequently than Craig Hockenberry updates Twitterrific. But that is expected when you think about it, since there is always plenty of opportunities for new features and improvements to a full-featured app like Tweetie, whereas Twitterrific is so specialized and so polished that @chockenberry should be very careful not to fix something that isn't broken. But if @atebits adds a "maintain reading position" feature to Tweetie that works reasonable well, I may give up using Twitterrific and give Tweetie the place of honor on my iPhone.

But when/if that happens, I won't regret the $10 I spent on Twitterrific Premium. I use both often enough and both are so pleasant to use that the $10 and the $3 for Tweetie was money well spent. I recommend both.

Update: I remembered one more situation where Tweetie comes in handy. Twitterrific has a limit on the number of tweets it will hold, so if I can't make time to check it for a while, or if the number of tweets is much greater than usual for some reason (such as the inauguration), then when I come back to Twitterrific I'll notice that the "last read" tweet is at the bottom of the list and I won't remember reading it. In Tweetie's advanced settings I've changed the "Initial Load" to 100 (from the default of 20), so I can catch up on missed tweets often by just opening Tweetie and scrolling down (or maybe touching "Load more..." a single time). Yes, I know that Twitter isn't email, and I don't feel the need to read every single tweet that goes by, but if I've just missed an hour or two's worth, Tweetie makes it easy to read them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Can I wait to upgrade iLife & iWork?

I'm quite eager to try the new iLife '09, especially the Faces feature of iPhoto.  I think I'll also enjoy using the Places feature, and the Facebook & Flickr integration.  If I ever get time to use it, iMovie '09 also sounds like a big improvement.  And I'd like to play with the "learn to play piano" feature of GarageBand.  I don't use iWork often, but I've paid for the previous version and I expect it's worth upgrading.

But ironically the "Mac Box Set" may keep me from upgrading.  Or I suppose more accurately, the lack of an iLife/iWork bundle may keep me from upgrading.  iLife '09 costs $79, as does iWork '09.  (There's no discount for people who have previously purchased iLife '08 or iWork '08.)  The "Mac Box Set" is a bundle of iLife '09, iWork '09, and Mac OS X 10.5.6  Leopard, for $169.  But the new MacBook Pro I got in August came with Leopard, and I've already bought Leopard for my old PowerBook G4.  So that bundle doesn't save me any money.  But knowing the bundle exists makes me think I should wait for when Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) is released (probably this summer) and buy the inevitable update of the "Mac Box Set" then.