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Jacob Penderworth

Jacob is a freelance writer at his own blog and a few others across the Internet. In his free time, he listens to a lot of music, plays music, and takes photographs of amazing places. You can email him with inquiries, should you have any.

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Last month, I was loafing round the house with my phone wondering how cold it was outside. Being the ridiculously technology-glued person I am, I started searching for a weather station that integrates with the Web, tablets, and smartphones. (Obviously, stepping into the sun was out of the question, because I’m a vampire [they’re real]). After a few clicks, I found the Netatmo, a very slick looking solution to checking the weather when you’re not in a walking mood.

The very idea of this may sound ridiculous, I know. However, there is a purpose for everything and I decided to give Netatmo a try. After all, Wired and Time wouldn’t feature it unless there is something more than the basic weather station. Or so I thought. (more…)

Blogging is popular nowadays. People take to Tumblr , WordPress, Squarespace and more to share their thoughts with the digital world. Then there are the hipsters who use Dustin Curtis’ Svbtle and Medium. There are, of course, many other platforms out there, but each group has its own preferred way of posting things. My favorite has always been Scriptogr.am because it’s effortless to set up using Dropbox, looks nice, and supports Markdown.

Now there’s a new contender in the Markdown-powered blogging world: Dropplets. When I first saw the mockups of it a few months back, I immediately added it to my list of things to review later. Now it’s at version 1.6, so let’s have a look at things and see if they’re ready to compete with the big boys. (more…)

Well look at that! Just after announcing it would discontinue Reader, Google has decided to release a simple note-taking service, one with the name Keep. When I first heard about it, I thought the service was aiming to compete with Pocket and Instapaper to be an official Google project that allowed you to save anything for viewing later. Something like this would have been fantastic after seeing Reader leave, but that wasn’t Google’s aim for this basic notes service.

When I say basic, I mean it, but there might be more to this little Web and Android app than meets the eye, and the mere icon invites creativity. I investigate after the break. (more…)

When I first heard of App.net, the idea didn’t appeal to me. I’m not the kind of person who pays for a social network because I’m not that serious about chatting with people online. Sometimes Twitter is very useful, though. I use it to chat with a few people each day and even though I’ve taken breaks from it time to time, I always end up going back because I like the simplicity. That’s what App.net promised, along with a third-party API, so why wouldn’t I like it?

Since I didn’t want to pay for the service, I simply dismissed the thought of trying it out. Then a way to get free access was officially added. You have to be asked to the network by a current member, and there are limitations to storage and following counts. All in all, it sounded like a fair way for me to get a taste of this fresh site.

I was invited to this free tier by Andrew Kunesh, one of our other writers here at AppStorm. I’ve been using the service since the day its “freemium” version was announced, but I actually don’t use it every day. I’m going to explain what I like about App.net, followed by what’s holding me back from visiting the site every day. (more…)

Facebook today announced that it has prepared a fresh and more focused News Feed for its users. The updated design will include the usual timelines, along with four new ones: All Friends, Photos, Music, and Following. With this upcoming redesign, the social network hopes to make your online experience much simpler — it wants to be the social nucleus that you’ve been waiting for.

With that promise, it has a chance to win back users who left over the privacy complications and overall clutter the site has gathered over time. Is this audacious overhaul enough? (more…)

Photos are for memories, moments you cannot bear to ever forget. They can also be a way that people express themselves: through composition and careful artistic thought. Sometimes the best photographs are just a mistake. Other times, the photographer happens to be in the right place just when the beautiful fill moon begins to rise behind clouds of rain and storms that are headed elsewhere. Whatever the case is, what’s the point of capturing a scene if no one sees it? That’s why I joined 500px just over a year ago.

There’s not a community like it, nor will you find images equal to that of its contributors. You could call it the Dribbble of photography. In fact, even if the site were rundown, as Flickr now is, the photos would still keep it up at the top. But that’s not the case. In fact, Flickr has some major competition over at 500px. The question is, how much better is it? (more…)

When Google Voice was first introduced in 2009, many weren’t sure what to make of it. I, and others I’m sure, saw something exciting. Instead of using those ridiculous “free texting” apps for my iPhone, why not get a number with Google Voice and start using the service for all SMS? It worked perfectly, and didn’t cost me a penny.

Things have changed since the original days of Google Voice, though. Getting a personal phone number at the service has become harder, even though it’s still free, because so many people are using it. There’s also the fact that the free calling feature is scheduled to leave at the end of this year, which may drive away some users. What about an alternative? CallingVault looked nice back in May when it first started accepting beta invitations, and the service has finally granted me entrance. It’s only free while in beta, but looks promising enough to be worth switching to. Shall we take a look?

(more…)

The digital world is full of cloud storage and other related services. It’s definitely not a new idea — Dropbox has been on the task for years, and it wasn’t even the first — but ever since Apple decided to go iCloud, other corporations and entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to grab the market. There’s really nothing wrong with Dropbox, though. It’s been a solid service since its inception in 2008 and it’s been constantly improving, trying to develop the best user experience possible.

Then, in all the glory of this cloud giant, a new threat surfaced. Its name is SugarSync, the simple, yet efficient alternative to Dropbox. Interestingly enough, it too was launched in 2008, but it didn’t take off like Dropbox. Now, the developers have begun a new version — 2.0 — of the service and released it in the form of a public beta. The company says it “merges power and simplicity” becoming “the simplest cloud to use”. Can this bring a new wave of competition to such a longstanding foe as Dropbox? (more…)

When it comes to writing, the hardest part for me is getting new ideas for articles. I used to just hope I’d remember them long enough to either start writing about them when I had the chance or write down the idea itself in a list. That’s when I started using Wunderlist to manage my writing ideas, but I soon stopped using it since the developers didn’t update the apps with the bug fixes that it needed so badly.

Then one day I had nothing to do and I stumbled upon Simplenote, a note-taking service that’s name pretty much explains itself. You’ve definitely heard of it before, so I’m not going to give you a tour of what it’s able to do, but rather tell you why I like it. In addition, I use Wunderkit (developed by the same people as Wunderlist, but far better) to manage my tasks. I’ll also be giving some thoughts on that in this article, so keep reading for some reasons why you should use these two services to organize your ideas. (more…)

Google+ has been going pretty strong since its launch back in June of 2011. In just a year, it amassed 170 million users — Google is obviously not going to give out the numbers of those who actually use the service, but they like to say 170 million do, so we’ll go with that. Today, Google announced that they are expanding the social network even more with lots of extra customization, a major redesign, better Hangouts, and more.

Not that Google+’s layout was terrible before, but Google thinks they can really enhance it by giving users some customization all around. For instance, with the redesign, you can now customize the new navigation bar on the left by simply dragging the apps around. If you don’t want to see one anymore, then just drag it to the animated “More” button to remove them. Read on for the other notable changes in Google’s redesign along with some opinion on the subject. (more…)

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