Alfred for Mac

Alfred for Mac has been available for nearly a year but I only recently tried it via the Mac App Store. It’s a productivity tool in the mould of the much loved Quicksilver and more recently Launchbar. Alfred can be used to quickly launch any application, find documents on your computer or quickly launch web shortcuts plus a whole lot more.

Alfred is still called a beta but it’s been rock solid so far in my usage. Downloading the free version from the App Store brings with it a host of functionality. Alfred is called via a keyboard shortcut which can be chosen by the user. I always use cmd+space for my launcher applications. So typing cmd+space opens the Alfred window and from there I can search for applications and files on my local machine or on the web. For example, type 1p and Alfred will start to list files matching the text 1p. As I’ve launched 1Password before, Alfred will present that as my favourite result.

If I don’t want to launch 1Password I can tap down through the returned results via he arrow keys or I can use cmd+number to open another file, contact etc. This allows for very quick searching and launching of applications and files. On a file or contact returned in Alfred I can press the right arrow key to conduct a series of actions – launch file, mail file, delete file etc. Alfred will never replace the finder for me but for seeking out a file to edit or mail on to a friend it’s far quicker than the default Mac tools. The free tool also comes with a calculator and spell checker as well as a variety of built in web searches. Type google searchterm and a Google search will be run for the given searchterm, opening in a new tab in your default browser. Custom searches can also be added so it’s easy to add a shortcut for Bing Images for example. As a free tool it’s great but there’s also a paid option for Alfred – the Alfred Powerpack.

The powerpack isn’t available via the App store as in app purchasing isn’t supported yet. Instead, buy the powerpack from the Alfred website for £12 and you unlock a far more feature rich tool. Fallback searching (if nothing is found then search via Google) is added plus the ability to e-mail form Alfred. However the bigger additions are iTunes and Clipboard extensions.

An iTunes mini player allows you to search and control iTunes not only selecting music and the usual play/pause controls but also rate music as well. A more useful feature is Clipboard History and Snippets. Launched via a separate shortcut or by typing snip within Alfred, the snippets extension will show you your clipboard history allowing you to easily copy old clipboard entries to application. Snippets allow you to setup a library of snippets for commonly entered text. I find that really useful for the podcast – I have path entries, twitter text, iTunes boilerplate text entered as snippets so I can paste them in when required.

Alfred is not only a very functional app but looks good with it as well. The original Quicksilver always looked great and although Launchbar is functionally more rich that both Quicksilver and Alfred, I find the performance of Alfred coupled with the better design to be much better (might be due to size of Launchbar index over time). If you already have Launchbar then the extra cost of paying for Alfred can’t be justified but if you’ve not tried a keyboard driven launcher before then fire up the App Store and try the free version of Alfred. I’m pretty confident that after a few days you’ll be paying for the powerpack version as the time saved over a few weeks is worth far more than £12.

Episode 74 Updates

Quick post to update you on a couple of points. Firstly, the App Store did hit 10 Billion downloads before we got the podcast published – oops.

What was great about the winner of the competition though was that she was from the UK…and the app she downloaded was from a small UK developer – double woo-hoo. Gail Davis downloaded the app Paper Glider from Neon Play. Just a shame that she can’t use the $10,000 to buy Apple hardware. I also wonder what conversion rate Apple will use when awarding the prize. Using todays exchange rate, $10,000 works out at just under £6,250. However Apple’s exchange rate used when calculating the price of an Apple TV ($99 in America against £101 in the UK) would mean the prize works out to be £10,202. I think I know which route Apple will be taking. And before any fanboys drop by, yes, I need to educate myself.

One last podcast update – this was the view for the last 20 minutes of the podcast. Henry’s chair proved just as insightful as the good man himself but not as funny. Henry’s mid podcasts escapes are proving legendary 🙂

DigitalOutbox Episode 39

DigitalOutbox Episode 39
In this episode the team discuss BBC cuts, broadband…plus our best pick ever!

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
1:31 – BBC Cuts
– Websites to half – online budget cut by a quarter
– Six Music and Asian network – six music is great!
– Cut on import spending
– Max spend on sport events of £300m
– Link out to newspapers, pull out of teen market, appease commercial rivals
8:00 – Google Bosses Convicted
– Italian court has convicted three Google executives in a trial over a video showing an autistic teenager being bullied
– The Google employees were accused of breaking Italian law by allowing the video to be posted online.
– Google removed the video within hours of being notified of its existence
– Convicted on privacy violations
– The UK’s former Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said the case gave privacy laws a “bad name”.
– David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google and one of those convicted, said he was “outraged” by the decision.
– “I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent,” he said.
“If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our position at Google, every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability,” he added.
– Ramifications inevitable
– Scan content before allowing viewing? Impossible. (20hrs every minute uploaded? 1200 employees would be needed just to keep up and that wouldn’t cover the privacy issues raised in this case.)
11:57 – Google Streetview Fight
– Europe wants Google to refresh google streetview images every 6 months instead of every 12
– They also want Google to tell people they will be taking pictures ahead of them doing it
– Switzerland is suing Google, asking for images of walled gardens and private streets to be deleted
– http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/04/street_view_eu/
– Google says if EU gets it’s way “it would consider whether we want to drive through Europe again, because it would make the expense so draining”.
16:21 – Facebook News Feed Patent
– The world’s largest social network now own the patent for the news feed.
– Abstract: A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment is described. The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items. The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.
– How can this be patented for something that was launched in 2006
– Flickr – news stream 2004, activity stream Jan 2006
– Twitter – July 2006
22:34 – Google Granted Location Based Advertising Patent
– Google was awarded last Tuesday a patent for location-based advertising, the potential bread and butter of a number of emerging mobile applications.
– covers using location for targeting, setting a minimum price bid for an ad, offering performance analytics, and modifying the content of an ad
– Now, companies like Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla and BrightKite have to be wondering what this means for them, as do some of the established big-time players, like Facebook and Apple.
24:11 – Apple Goes After HTC
– Apple has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the cell phone manufacturer.
– The suit involves “20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware
– We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.
– Why HTC and not Android?
– But that was from press release – actual lawsuit is…
– certain mobile communication devices including cellular phones and smart phones, including at least phones incorporating the Android Operating System (collectively, “the Accused Products”).
– It’s Google and Android and patents mention multi-touch
– Not for money…
– But the fact that the lawsuit was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) as well as in a U.S. District Court in Delaware suggests that Apple is really going for the jugular. “The ITC does not award damages,” says Peter Toren, a patent lawyer with New York City law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman. The only remedy the ITC can award is an order to stop the importation of the infringing product. HTC is based in Taiwan.
– Looks like Google may get involved. This may call Apple’s bluff. HTC getting the money of Google behind this lawsuit could lead to interesting results.
– Minority Report was out before the iPhone right? Seen as nearly all the gestures we use come from this concept (and no doubt other places before) they can go take a jump.
– This modern trend for patenting every single sneeze that happens during development is getting ridiculous – however the fact that US appear willing to grant the patents on those sneezes is even more farcical. It’s a waste of money and time and we end up paying for it by more expensive products and also for a delay in tech innovation.
30:13 – App Store Crackdown
– 5000 app’s and counting removed from AppStore
– Apple has changed policy on app’s, removing an app if its overtly sexual
– Seeing as there is an age rating feature on the iPhone, why do this now?
– 7 new rules
– http://www.tuaw.com/2010/02/21/apples-7-commandments-of-app-sex/
– I have spoken with Apple, and the following are the new rules:
No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)
No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)
No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)
No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs
No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned
Nothing that can be sexually arousing!!
No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)
– From developer of Wobble
– Probably a good move as more adult content could be found in lots of categories
– Phil speaks!
– “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see”
– “When asked about the Sports Illustrated app, Mr. Schiller said Apple took the source and intent of an app into consideration. “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format,” he said.”
– Now wi-fi detectors are being removed
– http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/04/wifi_stumbling_iphone/
– Wi-Fi detection is something of a niche: there were never more than a handful of such applications in iTunes.
– But now even those have vanished as Apple decided they were using a “private framework”, and has pulled them off the shelves without explanation or apology.
– This is complete bullshit
– Why do Playboy and Sports illustrated get a pass but 500 other app’s don’t?
– Why do things like comics and other app’s get a 17 warning and Mobile Safari doesn’t?
– Fix it so that these app’s don’t appear if your parental settings prohibit it
– I don’t care about buying these app’s, it’s the hypocrisy and the app store built on moving sand
– Apple are getting themselves into tricker and tricker waters. Other main platforms all have better solutions.
– Android – free for all
– Win Mo 6.5 = controlled app store but anything goes if you want to install from other locations.
– Soon, they will control the sites you can visit on the internet. Then control the views you’re allowed to have. Exclude people from using the products who aren’t worthy. Where does this stop? They’re as bad as China.
38:50 – iPad News
– April 3rd in US
– Pre-order wi-fi and 3G from March 12th but pick up wi-fi only from 3rd
– Late April in UK
– With sterling crashing, £400+ is expected price now
– WSJ a lock in for iPad
– http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/04/penguins-ipad-formatted-books-shown-off-making-waves/
– Penguin books show options for iPad – future of books?
43:03 – We7
– Another music streaming option for UK
– £4.99 a month for advert free, higher quality streaming of music
– Millions of tracks
– £9.99 – iPhone app support (which is free), Android coming soon
– Similar to Spotify – offline playlists, 192kbps, no adverts
44:08 – Browser Choice
– From 1st March millions of Windows users in Europe will get to choose their default browser
– Choices are: Avant
Chrome
Firefox
Flock
Green Browser
Internet Explorer
K-meleon
Maxthon
Opera
Safari
Sleipnir
Slim
– Only guaranteed to see it if IE is default browser
– Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer browsers are randomly ordered on the first section of this screen.
– Lots of bitching still. Some complaining about sideways scroll to see lesser known browsers. Others complaining that 5 of the browsers use Trident (IE based renderer) 3 use Gecko 1 webkit and one opera based so not as much choice as it appears…
47:43 – Virgin to offer 100Mb in 2010
– Virgin Media to offer 100Mb/s by end of 2010
– No word on pricing
– Virgin currently offers three broadband packages: 10Mb/s, 20Mb/s and 50Mb/s, priced at £20, £30 and £38 per month on a broadband-only subscription.
– Also extending 200mb/s trial to Coventry
– Virgin Media’s chief executive, Neil Berkett, said: “There is nothing we can’t do with our fibre-optic cable network, and the upcoming launch of our flagship 100Mbps service will give our customers the ultimate broadband experience.”
– Ian – got my first BT Infinity Mail Shot – up to 40Mb, 2Mb up, 20GB limit, throttling in place, £50 activation, 18 month contract
50:17 – PS3 – The Fat Death
– We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data.
– One day later…fixed
54:00 – iPhone Competitor from Sony
– Sony set to launch Sony Online Service to take on iTunes and provide games, music, films to PSP, Sony Ericsson phones and they’re also planning a PSP phone and a tablet.
– Hopefully better than the PSP Go, and is it too little too late anyway?

Picks
Henry
Attachment Scanner for Mail.app
– Don’t you just hate it when you send an email referring to an attachment, but forget the attachment?
– That never need happen again with this mail plugin for OS X. It scans your email for words like attach, attachment, attached etc and if there’s no attachment in those emails, it simply pops up a message box asking if you still want to send the message anyway.
– Simple, invisible, free.

Shakeel
Words with Friends
– £1.79 or Free
– turn based Scrabble type word game
– over 500,000 players
– 20 simultaneous games
– Push notifications tell you when it’s your turn
– invite friends through Facebook and Twitter
– very addictive
– some dirty sneaky cheaters cheesing me off though

Ian
Plants vs Zombies
– Superb game for iPhone
– Perfect pick up, play, stop 20 mins later…or 2 hours
– 300,000 copies sold in……………..9 days!
– More than $1 million in sales
– Current fav games