EventBox is a nice new piece of software for OS X from Cosmic Machine LLP that allows aggregation of several social networks into a single “box” or window.
It’s a native piece of software so it is fast and really well integrated into OS X. It supports spell checking, grammar checking, copy/paste undo etc… All of the things you would expect in a normal OS X application. It supports Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Flickr, and Rss for now. I’m primarily using it for Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. I configured Reddit but the fact that Reddit shows in the overall unread count makes the unread items pretty useless on the dock icon so I had to unconfigure Reddit for now.
The Twitter container offers a good bit of functionality with ad hoc searches and profile viewing. You can enter an arbitrary user name to check on their timeline and then follow them or just read the past timeline. I like to keep a search for @vkoser going as well as a few other searches that allow me to keep up with specific things on twitter that I’m interested in and these stay persistent in the sidebar as individual containers under twitter that allow them to refresh periodically. All of the standard things are supported, direct messages, replies, retweets, a built in url shorten-er with several service choices and more.
There is an overall unread container at the top of the left pane that will display unread items in all of your configured services in chronological order. The development build I’m using right now has a HUD also that will pop up displaying new items. The HUD overall seems good but I think it needs some further tweaking to be great. Below is a screenshot of the HUD as it exists now in the development build I’m running.
EventBox is still in beta and there is a lot of work being done to it every day as they enhance it. They are working on RSS syncing and support for del.icio.us, Last.fm and Orkut and many other things.
I listed a few dislikes below that I’ve been seeing after using EventBox heavily for a week and I have gotten some feedback from the developers that they are looking into them. The development build I’m using now has solved a few issues that I was having. Overall I love it and can’t imagine not using it now that It’s become part of my regular routine. EventBox is currently on sale for $15.00 until the stable release comes out. If your an OS X user I’d suggesting picking up a copy while It’s on sale.
The restrictions on the iPhone SDK really make for some idiotic things hitting the app store. Because a developer can’t alter his Application title or icon on the fly I saw about 100 applications hit today that were all just different *Call Name* names so you could speed dial someone. It’s things like this that are making the AppStore an utter nightmare.
There are already so many duplicated apps and no really good way to weed out the junk that this kind of thing really just makes it so much worse.
I’d like to see some changes to the SDK to allow developers to alter the text under an icon on the fly as well as alter the icon graphic on the fly. This would prevent what I saw today hitting the store. I’ve seen this exact same thing for other applications so It’s not an isolated incident.
Apple also needs to improve searching somehow so I can search for utilities with higher than 3 star rating and more than 100 downloads or use some form of criteria like that that would give me some better results back from the store searching. As it is now I’m pretty much 100% reliant on external sites to tell me what is worth buying / installing. Right now on the iPhone you can’t even search by rating you pretty much have to know the applications name to find it and even then it’s a crap shoot.
Take the above search for instance. I’m trying to find applications with Things in the title and the AppStore did a nice job on my first returned item but Powerboat Challenge is a total miss and down the list is 43 Things and a page or so down was another application with Things in the title. Apple, at least make the search work if thats my only method of finding applications.
I’ve been asked a few times over the last several days to recommend software for newly purchased iPod Touches or iPhones and I thought it would be nice to just be able to refer to a list of my currently installed software with a quick bit of information and a link to each application.
I have quite a few things installed and I do use most of them though some get used pretty sparingly. This list will probably also serve as a motivator to keep my phone a little slimmer on the software side. I setup the list as a Page so it will always be available in the left column of links. I’m going to try and update this list weekly and also include a current screenshot of my home screen with each update. You can also find the page linked [here].
I read a nice post from Alex Payne [link] on software he purchased but no longer uses and was inspired to highlight the software that I’ve used the most this year. I think it might be interesting to some as I’ve made the leap from windows to OS X this year and am also currently using an iPhone as my full time phone. I use software outside of this list but these are my heavy hitters that I am using on a daily basis.
I’ve been thinking about better ways to view and keep up with my timeline on Twitter. One of the things I do when mobile or busy is skip most of the linked content and just watch and participate in the conversations. This usually leaves me with a bunch of links everyday that I missed. I had the idea to write something to filter out and display only tweets from my friends that had URLs in them. I spent an evening coming up with a prototype that ended up working pretty well and over the last few days I’ve evolved it into what is now UrlTweets
I wanted to just use Twitter search but there is no way to limit that to only your friends so it’s pretty worthless for a task like this. I started off with twitter.class.php as a base and ended up heavily modifying it to do https access as well as support several new methods and paging. If anyone wants a copy of the new modified class let me know.
I struggled a bit with how to do the authentication for twitter since they have no OAuth schema or anything other than a username/password combo. I ended up storing the username/password on the client browser encrypted with a key that is only on the server side. This makes for a secure situation as no user information is stored server. I hope Twitter will soon roll out a better authentication setup because I know there are people that do not wish to use this type of setup due to trust issues with the developer and disclosing their username/password.
The end result is a simple form you can login to and get a list of your tweets from the past few hours that had links in them. The script attempts to explode tinyurl links so you can see the original page address as well as display TwitPic pictures inline.
Future plans are for an automated process to run and collect URL’s as well as offering an RSS feed and digested email of the days links. I am also toying with the idea of showing all tweets that didn’t contain a link so you can view only conversational tweets.
It’s an interesting way to categorize things and I’m enjoying working on it. I know a few people are getting some good use out of it so it’s been fun getting some feedback on the project.
I’ve been catching up on a few podcasts lately at bedtime and also listening to some music on my iPhone. One thing I used pretty frequently on my iPod nano was the sleep timer and I couldn’t quite figure out how to do this on my iPhone so unless I picked a play list the music would keep going all night.
Sometimes the oh so easy to use iPhone leaves me baffled….
A quick online search this morning on Google brought up some tips that turned out to work pretty nice.
If you want to do a type of sleep timer for music or quit an application after a certain amount of time you need to go into the clock application. The lower right icon is Timer as seen in the included image. This screen will let you choose an option to perform when the timer ends. This option can be to play an alert, handy for knowing when your load of laundry in the basement is done, or select Sleep iPod. If you select Sleep iPod this will close down the currently running applications be it the iPod application playing music or 3rd party applications. This is pretty much an all or nothing choice as it seems to end everything running and put my phone back to the state of just periodically picking up email or ready to answer calls.
I just started using this but it’s a nice feature and one of those things I wish I knew about 3 months ago.
The iPhone comes with a YouTube player. On the surface I think that’s pretty great. It does allow searching and playing YouTube videos and emailing someone a link to a video. The part I dislike is that that’s pretty much where the functionality ends. It has no association with your account or other things that actually make YouTube awesome.
I’m really missing the ability to share a video or mark a video as a favorite or play through my play lists. I would also like to see a change to all video applications on the iPhone that allow you to play video’s in portrait mode. It seems podcast videos can do this but iTunes synced movies and YouTube can’t play in portrait mode which is a drag since I want to watch them in a cradle sometimes.
I think a refresh on the YouTube player is needed and adding the following features would make it amazing instead of just a token feature to say the iPhone has YouTube support.
These initial changes would go a long way to improving the iPhone YouTube experience. I’m hoping for an update in future releases.