Traditionally, the perceived role of the written-word journalist is to depict an event, a place, or a scene, in eloquent prose. In most respects, this traditional perception still holds true, even in today’s multimedia-rich publishing climate.
There has, however, been one seismic change in the industry, which has completely altered how stories are written: data. Big data. Data so huge that it has only entered the mainstream in tandem with the recent advent of powerful home computers. Now, stories are told as much in numbers, averages and probabilities as they are in expressive paragraphs. But, bizarrely, the internet has yet to catch up; ever tried to include graphs or infographics in your blog? If you have, you’ll be well aware of the stilted nature of the task, and the unappealing bitmap-based finished product. In other words, it isn’t pretty.
That’s why I’m excited about the concept behind Silk, a new hosted CMS which has information, graphs and infographics at its heart. But is it the platform to start a data-driven trend in citizen web publishing?
When you want to make a quick flyer to advertise your yard sale or pull together a quick birthday card for your Mom, what app do you open first? Odds are, Word or PowerPoint. The former’s ubiquitous for page layout designs, even though its not really meant for it, and the latter was the app I used to reach for simply because it’s easy to use for basic graphics-heavy layouts. Either way, you could always get something basic whipped up in 5 minutes, flat, and it’d look ok.
Don’t settle for ok anymore, and don’t worry about needing more than 5 minutes. Canva, a brand-new online design tool, makes quick graphics design simpler than ever — and its results actually look great.
Consider broadband’s contribution to music. Without it, we’d all be stuck in our pre-Napster bubbles, unable to hear any harmonies on demand other than those we owned; no wonder music TV shows did so well back then. Without broadband, “iTunes” would just be a weird way of describing your CD collection. And without broadband, we’d still be sharing our playlists on tape. Nowadays, we can access virtually any piece of music ever recorded, and instantaneously share our latest audio discoveries with our friends. Thank you, broadband.
However, despite being spoilt for listening choice, we now have 2013 problems to deal with. Streamed music is a highly fragmented marketplace, and if you are trying to build a cloud-based library, it is unlikely that every track you’ll ever want will be on Spotify, or Rdio, alone. As a result, playing your internet-derived library may require a haphazard tour around the likes of YouTube and SoundCloud, just to get the sounds you’re after. That’s just silly.
The makers of the beta, music curation platform, Cumulus.fm, want to make the musical site-hopping game a thing of the past. But is a slick, cross-service, music library really achievable?
If you’re a programmer, or if you spend a significant amount of your day working with plain text for any reason, you’ll surely have at least heard of Sublime Text. The one paid text editor that’s won over both Emacs and VI fans, Sublime Text is the gold standard in text editors. And, it’s cross platform, so you can run in on your Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.
There’s only one place it won’t run — Chrome OS. And, of course, it won’t run on any Mac or PC if you don’t have a copy — plus, keeping your settings synced can be a pain at best. That’s why Caret is so exciting. It’s a full-featured code editor in an offline Chrome web app that can run anywhere Chrome runs, for free, and it’ll keep your settings synced along with the rest of your Chrome data.
As a longtime user and huge fan of Rdio, I was thrilled to hear about its new free service to combat iTunes Radio and Pandora (along with many other services). But I had a lot of questions about the new service, and nobody was answering them for me in a clear or concise way.
A lot of us at AppStorm are fans of the service too, so pitching the idea seemed natural. For us, Rdio is a way we find new music all the time. Understanding how it works for new users with an unpaid subscription is important to us, because we really want our friends on the service. (Say what you will, but I think its social features are top-notch.) Read on to find out what you need to know about Rdio’s free subscription tier.
When WordPress gets too complex and you want something more personal than Medium, what are you going to use to blog? There’s Svbtle, but it’s invite-only, and most of the cool new Markdown blogging platforms are self-hosted apps, which is more trouble to manage than many want to take on.
Silvrback is a new project that’s trying to bring simple Markdown-powered blogging to everyone. It’s got a bit of Svbtle and Medium’s style and the simplicity of pure Markdown blogging, without having to worry about invites and uploads and servers.
Remote working definitely has its advantages. That’s an assertion I can back up with my own experience, not least in terms of my writing for AppStorm. The opportunity to work anywhere within range of a Wi-Fi signal provides wonderful freedom, and the lack of workplace distractions can make a significant, positive difference to productivity.
Not that it’s perfect, by any means. One of the key challenges of employment-by-broadband is trying to work with a team. An on-site employee or employer needs only to get up and walk a few steps to give or receive feedback, share ideas, or simply have a chat at the water-cooler. Of course, those of us who work from afar do not have that luxury. It’s not surprising, then, that there are plenty of video-calling and instant messaging options aimed at suiting the needs of geographically spread business teams.
Whilst no online platform can replace the instantaneous, spontaneous communication available in person, the next best thing, in my view, is a chat platform which works swiftly and efficiently. New beta collaboration service Fleep is aiming to provide just that, together with productivity aids such as file sharing. Fleep is up against some tough competition though (we’re all very impressed with Slack here at AppStorm, for example), but can it shine through?