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Matthew Guay

Writer. Former Tuts+, Mac and Web AppStorm Editor. Brainstormer-in-chief. @maguay | Techinch.com

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Penflip Reinvents Git for Writers

Collaborative writing has been one of the many things the web was supposed to simplify, and yet it’s still as broken as it’s ever been. Live co-editing like Google Docs offers only works for a very few niche scenarios, and newer tools like Draft and Editorially only work great for one writer and one editor giving feedback on a finished work. And the old style of emailing documents back and forth — or the slightly updated version of saving them to a shared Dropbox — is still far from ideal.

There’s one tech tool that’s seemed promising recently, though: git. The geeky version control system used most famously by GitHub is designed to let software developers collaborate on code, and is the very reason people around the globe can contribute to open source projects. Code is just text, of course, so earlier this year two dozen mathematicians wrote The HoTT Book collaboratively using GitHub. That was quite an undertaking, both for its unprecedented collaboration and for using git for writing even when it wasn’t exactly designed for it.

But what if GitHub was reinvented around writing? That’s what Penflip, a new git-powered writing app, aims to find out.

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Thanks to Our Sponsor: Xehon

Our sponsor this week, Xehon, is a new app for keeping up with almost everything in your digital life in a totally new way. It’s got an incredibly basic interface that lets you add in the modules you want to turn it into your own web app. You can make your own file storage system, design basic graphics and flowcharts, organize pictures, write online documents in specific sections that can be moved around as you want, keep track of your appointments on the calendar, and even blog or run a forum, all from one Xehon account.

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You’ll be able to work on any web browser, or natively on your Mac or PC with its Adobe Air-powered app. You can even easily use Xehon from your Android phone thanks to its free app in the Google Play store. And you can try it for free, then pay just for the amount of data storage that you use in the app.

Xehon is a bare-bones attempt to rethink how a number of the most popular web apps should work, and it’ll be exciting to see the new modules they add to the app going forward.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.
Thanks to Our Sponsor: Atmail

Email’s still the main way most of us privately communicate and collaborate online. That’s why your business’ email service is crucially important. You can manage your own local Exchange server, but then you risk downtime if anything breaks locally. And both Google Apps and Microsoft’s hosted Exchange can get expensive, and have their own differences you’ll have to work around.

Or, you could get an hosted email service that’s just $2/user/month and is fully standard compliant with IMAP, CardDAV, CalDAV, vCard, and even ActiveSync push: Atmail Cloud. It works with all the apps your team already uses, and has a beautifully designed web app that your team will actually want to use. It’s easy to manage, lets your team share contacts and calendars across accounts, and supports SPF and DKIM checks to keep your email secure.

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Atmail lets you import your emails and more from your other services, so moving over won’t be a hassle. It’s the same power of Atmail that you can run on your own servers — a great option if your team can’t move to the cloud — but with the simplicity of a hosted service that’ll take zero work to maintain. We loved Atmail Cloud when we reviewed it earlier this year — it’s easily one of the nicest Google Apps and Exchange alternates for your business today.

Move Your Business Email to Atmail

If you’ve wanted to move your business to a new email service, one that looks great and has all the features your team needs, look no further than Atmail Cloud. For just $2/user/month, you can get the email, calendar, and contacts sync you need for your whole team.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.
Goodbye, PC. Hello, Cloud.

The PC isn’t dead — far from it, really — but it’s far from the most exciting thing these days. The best selling deices are mobile, and when they’re not tablets and smartphones they’re ultra-thin laptops that put the priority on battery life and portability over power. There’s apps for almost everything, and even if all you’ve got is a browser, there’s a web app for almost everything as well. It’s been a long time since it was an absolute necessity to buy a copy of Office to write a document or throw together a simple spreadsheet.

And yet, there’s still plenty of things that you’re apt to need a traditional computer for. Yes, you still might need a full copy of Office from time to time, and rendering a video might be rather slow from your tablet. Perhaps you’ll want to compile software, or crunch some numbers in Mathematica. For that and more — well, actually, all you need is the cloud.

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Hermit: The Simplest Way to Journal

Keeping a diary is a great way to make sure you remember all the things that are going on in your life for years to come — and yet, it’s incredibly hard to make yourself regularly journal. It’s easier to write something funny on Facebook or Twitter and watch the comments and likes roll in. That’s somehow more rewarding right now. And yet, a private journal where you keep track of your deepest thoughts and fears, hopes and dreams — or just the mundane stuff that happens every day — can be far more rewarding in the long run.

You just need a private space to write that makes it easy to jot your daily thoughts down — and that’s exactly what the new web app Hermit is designed for. It’s just about your daily writing, and that’s it.

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Thanks to our Sponsor: Nutcache

Staying up late duplicating invoices, estimates and expenses? If you’re going to go nuts, at least do it in the right way! Hand over the work to a team of furry friends waiting to organize your small business financial needs, with Nutcache — the squirrelly company bringing you free, fast, and reliable online invoicing app.

There are so many different invoicing apps out there, but you’d be nuts to miss out on Nutcache’s online invoicing app. It’s free, which counts for a lot – especially if you are self-employed. Times are hard, and accounts are harder, which is why working with Nutcache can make your life a whole lot simpler and brighter – our diligent blue squirrels are certainly more appealing than fraying ring binders and paper cuts.

Nutcache’s free multilingual online application allows you to create unlimited personalized invoices and estimates. With insta-click client approval, your clients can review and approve estimates online, which means fast payments for you and simple approval for your clients.

Nutcache lets you make estimates for your clients, track the time you’ve spent on the projects, and invoice accurately and quickly, all for free. Your clients will be able to pay online securely with credit card or Paypal, and you’ll be able to quit worrying about making your invoices work nice and getting paid on time and be able to focus on your work — and still catch your favorite television show at night during the busy season.

Try NutCache Out This Week!

You’ve got to try NutCache out to see how easy it makes invoicing. It’s 100% free, so you’ve got nothing to lose — and once you see how much it simplifies life for you and your clients, you’ll want to keep using it forever. We loved it in our review, and are sure you’ll love it, too.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.
Weekly Poll: What’s Your Preferred Way to Privately Message?

Twitter’s IPO yesterday gave the company an eye-watering market cap of over $24 billion, all for a company that got us to share our thoughts in 140 character public messages. Twitter has private messages, sure, but the value to advertisers is in those public messages. But not all communications is meant for public, and LINE — the hugely popular Asian private messaging app — is reportedly eying a $10 billion IPO for its decidedly not-public messaging service.

It’s insanely easy to share your thoughts with the world these days thanks to Twitter and Facebook, but it seems like it’s increasingly hard to privately message everyone. You’ll have some friends you need to email, some to private message on Facebook, others to WhatsApp or Line message, not to mention old-fashioned email, SMS, Skype, and traditional IM. You might even need to thrown Snapchat and BBM into the mix, and perhaps a few more obscure messaging apps to cover everyone. It’s quite the mess.

There’s simple ways to cross-post to multiple social networks at once (hello, IFTTT, Buffer, and the awesome Draft for iOS among others). But when it comes to private messaging, everything’s separate, which is quite the pain unless all of your friends, family, and colleagues prefer the same app for communications.

So: if you could pick one way to private message, and had to get rid of the rest, which would you pick? I’d personally pick email, old though it is, since it’s far richer than the other messaging tools. But there’s something to say for short and simple newer services — so how about you?

ZURB’s Ink Makes Responsive, Modern Email Templates Simple

Email’s the original online communications tool, but it hasn’t aged as gracefully as it counterpart HTML in browsers. There’s so many different email clients and oddities in email rendering — not to mention the fact that email should be mobile first these days, with over 40% of messages opened on a mobile device — it’s terribly difficult to make a rich email message that looks great everywhere.

On the web, you could hand-code a responsive site, or you could just use a framework like Bootstrap or Foundation as the base for your site so you can focus on your design and forget about the complexities of making it work great everywhere. And now, you can do the same thing for HTML emails with ZURB’s new Ink responsive email framework.

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Peak: A New Way to See What Your Team’s Doing

Working together with your team in the same room can be noisy and chaotic, and odds are you’ll get a lot less done thanks to constant distractions. People will stop in to tell you what they’re working on, or ask for help, or your manager will want updates on what you’re doing. That’s one of the many things that make remote work so enticing: it lets you find your own quiet zone to do your best work, and shut out all the distractions. Of course, then it’s tough to know what everyone’s working on.

That’s why the MetaLab Design team built the new Peak app. It’s the automated way to keep up with what everyone’s working on, and more, without taking up any of your team’s time for needless questions.

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JellyReader Brings RSS Reading to Your Dropbox or Google Drive

Self-hosted web apps are a great option if you’re worried about your favorite service going offline. Google Reader’s shutdown has made that potential painfully obvious, and yet, most of the best alternate RSS services are still hosted apps that could be shutdown on a whim. Or, if they’re hosted on Amazon S3 like so many services are these days, they’ll go offline along with a significant portion of your apps if Amazon has a bad day.

JellyReader is a new, simple RSS reader app that, while not self-hosted yet, is designed to make sure you can never lose your RSS reader data. Instead of trusting someone else’s cloud with your data, it stores your feeds and saved articles in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.

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