AppMiner 2.0

AppMiner2.0AppMiner 2.0, by Bitrino, monitors the App Store for apps which have been discounted or become available for free. With a layout very similar to the App Store, you can easily view all newly released apps, all on sale apps and all top rated apps. Each of these options can viewed by sub-categories or you can view the top 100 in each section.

The most useful section is of course, the Sale section. Here, you can view the on sale apps in specific categories. My most viewed category is Top 100. Apps in each category are displayed chronologically which really helps to see all the newest apps that have just come on sale. Each category can be changed to display just the paid apps, just the free apps or all apps..

My favourite feature however, is the Watch list. Here you can add a watch for any apps that you would like to purchase but can’t afford or don’t want to pay the current price. You can select a target price and if/when the app becomes available at or below your target price, it will be highlighted next time you launch AppMiner. This makes it really easy to keep a tab on your potential purchases without having to go to the App Store and individually searching for the apps to check their current price.

PS3 friendly videos with mkv2vob

The best tool I have found for converting your high-definition mkv files with x264 video and AC3 sound, to a PS3 friendly format is mkv2vob.
Previously I’d have had to transcode or convert the mkv file to an avi or other PS3 compatible video format, which would take ages and I’d lose the AC3 sound.
Mkv2vob simply muxes the x264/AC3 streams in the mkv file to a vob file, which is readable by the PS3. There is no transcoding or re-compression involved so there is no loss in quality. If the mkv includes DTS sound, then there is an option to transcode that to AC3, but my system can handle DTS so I leave it as it is.
The whole process takes literally minutes. Occasionally I have a file which does need to be transcoded and this does take longer than the regular process, but it happens so rarely that it’s not an issue for me. The good thing is that the user does not have to do anything, the program detects the type of the video source and automatically determines if any conversion is required.
Once the process has completed, an mpeg file is produced which can be played on your PS3, complete with HD video and surround sound – awesomes!

Parachute Panic

The iPhone has no shortage of great simple games. To stand out a game has to do something different or quirky while at the same time keeping the controls simple. Parachute Panic is very, very simple but due to it’s quirky graphics and sound offers something that will appeal to all iPhone owners. This video shows of the game well:

The aim is to land your parachutists safely on the boat. Helicopters, UFO’s and lightning clouds get in the way and using only your finger to control the wind you need to guide your guys to safety. The game plays really well but the hand drawn graphics and funny audio (think Flight of the Conchords) add so much to it that it’s hard to resist. A bargain at only 59p!

We Choose The Moon

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, We Choose The Moon has been set-up to remember, commemorate and also educate the current generation in what it took to get man to the moon.

I’m not usually a fan of flash based websites but this is a rich and informative site that pulls together animations, video, radio and audio interviews to give a flavour of what took place 40 years ago. A great site if you are interested in space or for educating kids.

DigitalOutbox Episode 7

DigitalOutbox Episode 7
In this episode the team discuss Windows 7, Virgin Media, naughty Amazon, Apple news and app’s and Console streaming. Blimey.

Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

– Windows 7
– On sale
– Euro website crashes
– Surprised at how many people are buying…the OS that will replace XP.
– Was £50 at PC World at one point. Bit of a rush on getting the best deals.

– MS Spotify rival
– Microsoft to launch a music streaming service
– no clear info yet, could be free with ads, but could be paid for service, nothing confirmed

– Virgin Media
– DOCSIS 3.0 rollout almost complete
– 50Meg drops to £38 without phone line, £28 with a phone line, still no throttling or bandwidth caps
– Trailing 10mb upload, 200mb download services
– Change to target hardcore downloaders
– Will contact those that abuse between 9 and 21

– Amazon pulls books from Kindle
– Orwell books too – Irony
– 1984, Animal Farm remotely wiped
– People who bought it had it wiped from their Kindle, money refunded
– Say they won’t do it again
– So much for owning the media….
– These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.

– Apple
– Apple apparently called MS asking them to stop running Laptop Hunter ads …
– iTunes 8.2.1 blocks Palm Pre – get out
– Palm Pre sdk released, weak compared to iPhone but out very quickly compared to Apple
– My Location now enabled on iPhone safari browser
– iTunes D45
– new D45 section launched, discounted price for 2x songs: a hit song and a less common or previously unreleased song – App Store – 1.5 billion downloads
– Slow 3.0 for 3G and older?
– Tunewiki for iPhone
– Free app
– Music streaming, lyrics database, youtube charts
– Purchase music from stream your listening too
– Tweet the current track your listening too
– Music maps – who’ listening to this track around the globe
– User interface – nasty

– Twitbit: another Twitter app,
– £2.99, includes Push notifications, all or nothing though, future updates will allow customisation
– Resident Evil Degeneration on iPhone/iPod – £3.99, rather good apparently
– DropBox iPhone app almost complete: view, modify and download your files + sync iPhone photos
– SweetFM now open source (was $29)
– client with iTunes integration
– Great design
– Rips the stream – 128kbps copies to iTunes with tags and album art

– Games
– Activision – Modern Warfare 2 – £54.99 in the UK. Fuckers. EA won’t raise prices of holiday titles…this year.
– Battlefield 1943 – Glorious now that it works
– Wipeout HD Fury – Expansion pack, July 23rd, 3 new modes, 12 new tracks, thirteen new ships. More than original game?

– Console Streaming
– PS3 – bluetooth remote
– Xbox 360 – noisy
– Streaming from Mac – Connect 360, Medialink, Rivet
– Quality
– Issues?

– Parachute Panic – .59p, hand drawn graphics, really simple, really addictive – nice music too
– AppMiner – FREE – bargain hunter

Geek it up with GeekTool

Something I’ve not done in a long time, especially after switching to Macs, is customise my desktop. I remember when I had a PC, I used to love tweaking the UI with apps such as WindowBlinds, IconPackager and ObjectDock. I’m reasonably happy with the Mac UI so haven’t had the desire to change much other than a slight tweak to the dock and the menubar icons. But this has all been done without resorting to any drastic changes or 3rd party apps.
Recently I came across GeekTool which is a system preferences module for OS X and can display system logs, unix command outputs and images on your desktop. This information can appear as embedded in your desktop or in front of other windows.
It’s a light-weight app and if used creatively, can allow you to enhance the already elegant OS X visual look. Once installed, it appears at the bottom of your System Preferences. It’s reasonably straight forward to use and you need to be familiar with unix commands.
Groups are listed in a dropdown on the left. You create a group of as many elements as you like and only one group can be active at any one time. An element can be the output of a file, a unix/shell command or an image. Text output (from a file or command) can be formatted to any font, size and colour. When you add a new element, a semi-transparent placeholder for it appears on the desktop, which can be dragged around or resized with the mouse. You can also enter the precise size and coordinates in the window. There is also an option to always display this element on top of other windows.
That is basically, all there is to it. The rest is up to the imagination of the user, how creative they want to get with it. Some examples I have seen display really nice weather output, including graphics. Whereas other examples are so geeked up, with massive file outputs covering the entire desktop, that it looks like a complete mess. I didn’t want to do anything drastic and followed the example from a LifeHacker article to create a nice desktop displaying basic information.