Blog Much On Your Mac? Try A Real Blogging App

Blogging hasn’t gone away, despite the massive use of social media sites and applications from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter. Many, if not most, Mac users who blog do so with an internet connection and an open browser window connected to their blog. Offline blogging requires a different tool, and one of the more popular options for the Mac is Blogo.

Think of Blogo as an offline mini word processor which lets you write an article or blog post, then upload to your WordPress blog when you connect to the internet. As an offline tool that also works online, Blogo comes with a handful of very useful options.

For example, you can manage multiple blogs in Blogo, all from a single dashboard. For blogs which display photos or graphics, Blogo features a built-in image editor that gives you tools to crop, add filters, change brightness and contrast, and even adjust the size.

Blogo Screen

Blogo can display a preview of your blog post before you post it.

If all is good, one click will publish your post. WordPress blogs are home to comments which need to be viewed, managed, approved, deleted, and that’s built in to Blogo, too.

More Blogo

Blogo also has an option to sync up drafts of blog posts in Evernote. That’s a handy feature if you use Evernote to store notes, links, blog post ideas, and rough drafts. Evernote runs on all major devices– PCs, smartphones, tablets.

By far the most useful option is the Blogo offline mode where you can can write an article and get it ready to publish even when there’s no internet connection. Blogo works in fullscreen mode in OS X, works with Macs that have multiple displays, and brings in new posts and comments to Notification Center on your Mac.

Blogo isn’t for every blogger, and the offline mode is worth a look, but for now the app is for WordPress blogs only, and there is no try-before-you-buy option. To try it, you have to buy it first.

What Google Employees Get

Brad Reed:

Why do people love working at Google so much? There seem to be many reasons and one of them is without a doubt the fact that Google showers its employees with perks when they come into the office every day

How do Google employee’s perks differ from the rest of the world?

Of course we’ve learned from other reports that free meals are just one of the killer perks that Google employees get. Other reported Google employee amenities include subsidized massages and a massive seven-acre sports complex that includes a roller hockey rink, basketball courts and horseshoe pits, among other things.

Google often seems to be the ‘angel of light’ described in the Bible. That’s not a good thing.

New Island, Volcano, Collapse, Tsunami

Where I live we get more than our fair share of tsunami warnings from Japan. Here’s a story worth watching:

The small, but growing, island appeared last year and quickly engulfed the already-existing island of Nishinoshima, around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) south of Tokyo… The island’s craters are currently spewing out 200,000 cubic metres (7 million cubic feet) of lava every day — enough to fill 80 Olympic swimming pools…

It gets worse. Professor Fukashi Maeno:

If lava continues to mount on the eastern area, part of the island’s slopes could collapse and cause a tsunami.

At least we’ll get a warning.

The Clock Is Ticking

How long before Radio Shack bites the dust, kicks the can, buys the farm? Elizabeth Harris on Radio Shack.

Its stock price is so low — it closed at 63 cents on Tuesday — that it may face delisting within the next few months by the New York Stock Exchange. When it tried this spring to stop the hemorrhaging with plans to close 1,100 of its stores, its lenders balked. Some analysts predict the company could run out of cash as early as next year.

There was a time when I loved shopping at those stores. Amazon should buy Radio Shack.

Not Exactly Life Changing

10 Keyboard tricks for your Mac from Answers. They’re useful, but not life changing, and not really worth the 20 plus clicks it takes to get the list of items like this:

If you’re looking to take control of the volume coming from your speakers, rocking out to your favorite iTunes radio station, the Option + Shift + F11 will take you to the sound system’s preferences panel.

Wanted: A Replacement For The Two Best Mac Word Processor Apps Ever

Confession time. I remember MacWrite. And, no, it was not one of the best Mac word processors ever. It was the first and came with the Mac when it was launched in early 1984. I cut my word processing teeth on CP/M systems using WordStart so my switch to the venerable WriteNow was like a fresh, cool breeze and a cold drink on a hot summer day.

Elderly Mac users have fond memories of WriteNow, despite the prominence of Microsoft’s Word, Word Perfect, and others back in the day which sold more and were used by many. WriteNow was fast, stable, easy to master, but with enough features to be useful for many Mac users. Alas, WriteNow died in the mid-1990s and nothing quite like it existed on the Mac until Bean was released over a decade later; another welterweight word processor; lean, elegant, fast, and updated with a list of 21st century features but without the weight of Word.

Bean remains available but is no longer under active development. Is there a replacement word processor available that brings back the flavors or WriteNow and Bean?

No.

At least, no, not yet, despite the growing number of minimalist writing and note taking tools for the Mac. Minimalist? That’s a euphemism for ‘few features.’ Here’s a good example. It’s called Write; billed as a note taking and markdown writing app which mixes a bit of everything into a single app– lightweight word processor, note taking app, markdown editor, text editor.

Write performs with all the modern 21st century buzzwords, too. Syntax highlighting, typewriter scrolling, custom themes, distraction free interface, iCloud sync (plus Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive and others). It also features word, sentence, paragraph count, and a nice feature which estimates reading time.

Write

Write also supports MultiMarkdown 4, customized CSS export, file exports as PDF, HTML, or Rich Text Format (RTF). And, of course, you can share content via Email, Twitter, Facebook, Messages, or OS X’s AirDrop.

Write comes with multiple handpicked fonts (though you can use any installed Mac font), tags to organize notes, and a unified library, which I consider to be one of the best available (until OS X Yosemite arrives).

Write

Write makes it easy to copy and edit plain text as well as HTML. Full document statistics are available with a click, and tags are viewable in the Mac’s Finder. The typewriter mode seems outdated (when was the last time you used a typewriter), but is handy to focus on what you’re writing. Images and links can be dropped into Write, too.

Important in the age of mobile devices, there’s a version of Write for iPhone and iPad for just a couple of dollars.

So, what’s not to like?

The price? The iPhone and iPad version is a bargain, but the Mac version of Write costs more. Much more. Even worse, there’s no try-before-you-buy trial option for Write. You pay the price to try Write. If you like it, great. If not, too bad.

5 Easy Ways To Boost A Wi-Fi Signal

Everyone experiences a slow Wi-Fi connection from time to time. Here’s how to get good signals. Kim Lachance Shandrow:

Beer: an unlikely antidote to sluggish Wi-Fi. (We bet you didn’t see that coming.) If you’re tempted to tip one back when you’re on the bum end of an infuriatingly slow signal, you may be onto something. When you’re finished, you might be able to turn that empty beer can into a Wi-Fi extending DIY parabolic (alcoholic?) antenna.

Spoiler Alert:

  • Wi-Fi Route Location
  • Switch Channels
  • High Gain Antenna
  • Repeater
  • Stop Sharing

Marvel Is The New Apple

All it takes is a little success to signal a doomed future. Apple’s success was followed by ‘gloom and doom’ which never materialized. Marvel has never had it so go so now it’s about to get bad. Brian Lowry:

As credits rolled on “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a thought came to mind: Everybody at Marvel slapping high-fives should be forced to watch the movie with someone who is unfamiliar with the comics, then quiz them regarding what happened — or who exactly Thanos is.

The movie’s stronger-than-anticipated opening will no doubt leave the Disney-owned studio feeling invincible, adding another hit to its notably flop-free honor roll. Moreover, “Guardians” achieved those results with a second-tier property, possessing minimal name recognition.

All good signs, right? No.

Yet within the stratospheric liftoff for “Guardians” lie the seeds of failure, and the sort of ostentatious big-budget misfire that Marvel has thus far, impressively, avoided.

Even before the release, “Guardians” looked like a double-edged sword — a title that threatened to disappoint at the box office, or perhaps worse, embolden Marvel to plunge ahead with more relatively obscure titles, until the law of averages (and Hollywood’s version of gravity) inevitably catches up.

In other words, just like Apple, things are looking up; until they’re not.

Toyota FT-1: So Real It Hurts

It looks fast standing still. Lots of pictures on Autos:

Most concept cars are one-and-done: after their debut on the auto-show circuit, their shelf life is measured in weeks before they’re rolled off in favor of whatever’s next. That Toyota has taken the trouble of building a second version of the surprising FT-1 concept it unveiled in January at this year’s Detroit auto show.

Is something like the FT-1 coming for real?

Toyota FT-1

How To Record The Audio From Any Mac App

My history and experience with audio dates back to the days of Ampex reel-to-reel recorders, and using a razor blade to edit tape on an aluminum editing block. Thankfully, those days are gone, but my love for audio tools lives on, including a simple app that does basically one thing very well.

It’s called Piezo, and all it does is record the audio stream from almost any Mac app.

All you need to do is install Piezo, select the app whose audio you want to record, and press the big red Record button. It’s that easy. If you’re streaming audio from a DVD, a music website, a movie, Spotify, Skype, or mostly whatever, Piezo captures the audio and saves it to your Mac as an audio file.

Piezo Controls

Piezo comes with basic audio recording presets so you won’t have to fumble around to figure out how to record what. Plug in a microphone and Piezo acts as an audio recorder. Need to record the audio from a Skype call? Piezo can do.

Piezo records audio from QuickTime Player, VLC Player, and pretty much any Mac app that can play audio, including Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Each audio recording can be saved. Just add a title, select the audio quality from a drop down menu, and Piezo does the rest when you press the red Record button. The audio file can be played back in almost any Mac audio app, mixed in Garageband, sweetened in Amadeus Pro, or shared with a friend online.

If you want it to do more, say, for example, edit the audio file, you’ll need a different app (for Mac users on a budget, try the free Ocenaudio app). But no other app I know makes it easier to capture audio from another Mac app than Piezo.

17 Vehicles That Will Disappear After 2015

Justin Lloyd-Miller has a list of cars and trucks that won’t live beyond 2015:

Cars come and cars go. Most of the time, it’s exciting to see new arrivals, replacements, and the steady progression and evolution of the automobile industry. On the other side of the coin, though, it’s also a bit sad (usually) to see vehicles leave. While some production runs come to end and bring sweet relief, others mark the passing of an iconic vehicle that had the magic that just can’t be replicated.

Spoiler Alert:

  • Acura TL and TSX
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Fit EV and FCX Clarity
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Jaguar XK
  • Chrysler 200 Convertible
  • Dodge Durango
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Nissan Cube
  • Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
  • Scion xD
  • Toyota RAV4 EV
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Volkswagen Routan

18 Tattoo Fails

See ‘em to believe ‘em. From Answers (18 click slideshow). My favorite:

Tattoo

Spellcheck fail.

25 Google Search Tricks

Zach Epstein:

Hundreds of millions of people around the world use Google Search more than any other Web service as they seek out information on anything and everything. It’s pretty amazing, though, how little people really know about the world’s top search service considering how many of us use it each and every day.

Among my favorites, geographic search, wildcard asterisk, and wiki.

Pro Level Portrait Photos For The Mac

What does it take to create a professional quality portrait photo? Depending upon the quality you want, the list of basic requirements can be extensive; ranging from an expensive DSLR, to lighting equipment, to Photoshop (with the requisite background in learning Photoshop). Or, you can add Portrait Plus to your Mac and enhance almost any portrait photo to near professional level.

They say it’s best to have the right tool for the job and if you want better portrait photos then a portrait retoucher app gives you results that compete with Photoshop but without the expense or the extensive learning curve.

Portrait Plus, as the name implies, does portraits. That means the app is almost automated. It can detect a couple of dozen facial features and improve the face with just a few clicks.

Improve? Skin blemishes, discoloration, scars, and wrinkles are easily removed with basic presets, while it restores skin smoothness, texture, and color. The user interface is straightforward and uncluttered.

Portrait Plus

Portrait Plus facial recognition means faces can be adjusted in shape to appear more symmetrical. Smiles can be enhanced, freckles removed or subdued, eye color adjusted, wrinkles removed, and eyebrows enhanced. All with a few clicks.

Presets and focus make the difference here. The learning curve is mild because every tool is there to enhance the face; eyes, nose, skin, smile, shape, color, texture. Batch processing is built in and helps to reduce the time to enhance a portrait to near Photoshop-like levels.

There’s a lot of sophisticated photo processing power here, but it’s gently applied, non-destructive to the original photo, and improved results are really truly merely a few clicks. If there’s a negative at all, it’s the price tag, though Portrait Plus goes on sale often, and there’s a try-before-you-buy version.

The app’s actual name is Portrait+ rather than Portrait Plus. Either way, the name is lame and does not do the app justice. Any application or product name that incorporates “plus” or “+” is lame and lacks imagination. Yes, Google+ included.

Even with the anemic product name, Portrait+ is worth a try, especially if you love taking portraits but can’t afford Photoshop or all the equipment you need to do it like the professionals.

Crazy Résumé Lies

Christine DiGangi on the lies job hunters put on their résumés that don’t get them the job:

The magnitude of the lie doesn’t matter, because any form of intentionally misleading a prospective employer is sure to hurt your chances of getting the job

My favorites:

  • Daddy Deception: An applicant listed his father’s work experience as his own, because the two shared a name. Junior didn’t get away with it.
  • Doghouse: An applicant said he had previously been a construction supervisor, but his experience consisted solely of building a doghouse a few years before.
  • Math Genius: A 32-year-old applicant claimed to have 25 years of work experience

iPhone 6 Specifications Confirmed

Evan Niu grabbed the latest rumors about Apple’s iPhone 6 and made a list:

We now have a likely date in hand for Apple’s iPhone 6 event. The iPhone maker is reportedly set to unveil the latest model on September 9.

What’s on the list of features?

  • 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen
  • Apple’s A8 CPU
  • Sapphire laminate screen
  • 5G Wi-Fi (802.11ac)
  • NFC

Clear Thinking Comes Cheap With Shapes On A Mac

Many years ago I had the pleasure of going to work for an company full of engineers. That experience taught me to think in a different way. Most of the engineers relied on two things each day. A white board with markers, and a spiral bound notebook. White boards are a good way to flesh out ideas, describe basic processes, highlight problems, develop solutions. A spiral bound notebook is good to keep track of everything that takes place in a meeting, especially action items and who said what.

The world is far more digital these days, but I keep track of the day’s details– engineering style– by using a couple of basic applications on my Mac– a diagramming app, and a notes app. For simple white board-like layout and thinking, there’s Shapes, a digital diagramming app. For notes, I use Evernote, among others.

If you’re new to digital diagramming but understand the benefits of white board thinking, Shapes is a good choice. It’s elegant, almost simple, but has enough symbols and functions to be useful in almost any environment.

Shapes is easy to pickup and has almost no learning curve. Pages and Symbols are displayed in the left sidebar, while individual shape or object details are available in the right sidebar.

Shapes for Mac

Shapes makes easy work of wireframes, organizational charts, processes and flowcharts. Drag a shape to the main workspace, add a caption, link it to other shapes. All the basic OS X tools are built in, too, including fullscreen mode, autosave, and versions.

Do a quick search on “diagrams” on the Mac App Store and you’ll end up with a dozen options, each with functionality similar to Shapes. My favorite is Diagrammix, which is more full featured, but also priced much higher. Likewise, Scapple has more features than Shapes, but is priced higher, too.

That’s why it’s wise to start off with an app like Shapes; if anything, to see if you can adapt your thinking and organizing process to a digital diagram app. If it works well for you, then the more feature-laden apps may work better.

Stoplight Showdown

Video of McLaren P1 vs. Nissan GT-R Nismo at a southern California stoplight: Zach Doell in BoldRide:

Filmed from behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, this cameraman captured a striking yellow McLaren P1 open the throttle against a white Nissan GT-R in Southern California. After chatting for a bit, the lights turn from amber to green and both drivers give it the beans, sort of.

Spoiler Alert!

The GT-R sprints away into the distance while the P1 – the world’s biggest traffic cop magnet – lets off the juice after a short run. And honestly, we’d probably do the same. There’s no sense in owning a $1.15 million hypercar if you no longer have a license.

Using GPS Could Be Illegal

File this one under the “I didn’t know that” category. Mike Gikas writing for Consumer Reports:

GPS devices are covered under distracted-driving laws. Whether you’re in compliance depends on how you use them, even how you install them. And failing to follow the rules is not only expensive in terms of tickets, points against your license, and higher insurance premiums, it can also be dangerous.

The key seems to be whether you’re holding a GPS device or not; which includes a smartphone with GPS.

The ‘Smart’ Flood

Tero Kuittinen on the coming flood of weird but smart devices:

Semiconductor Industry Association threw a curve ball by announcing that chip sales actually increased by a surprisingly robust 11% in the first half of 2014 compared the same period in 2013. SIA is actually hiking its annual growth estimate to 6.5% from earlier projection of 4.1% growth. How can chip sales growth be accelerating if phone and tablet markets are mediocre?

New ‘smart’ devices.

As cars and medical devices grow smarter and demand more and pricier semiconductor components, some rudimentary intelligence is starting to pop up in a startling range of formerly dumb objects, from lightbulbs to coffee makers.

My favorite is Vessyl, a smart cup that tells you what you’re drinking.