It used to be that we’d drop in and let our neighbor’s know when we were planning to go out of town — and perhaps that’s still common for many of you. But we never used to grab a megaphone and announce to the whole world that our house was going to be vacant for a week.

Now, of course, one can’t possibly embark on a journey without saying as much on Twitter. And then, you’ll faithfully track the journey online, documenting coffee breaks with Instagram photos and sharing gift opening videos with your world of Facebook friends who are already bored of giftwrap and escaped to Facebook only to see more of it. And each time, you’re likely tagging your locations or at least subtly including geolocation data that makes it all too obvious exactly where you are.

Or then, perhaps you don’t. For there’s others — often, older than the first set — who are terrified to announce their travels to the world. Pictures can always be shared next week, but while traveling, there’s to be no mention at all of the fact they’re not at home. Of course, their absence from social networks is equally conspicuous, but at least they have a bit of comfort thinking others don’t know where they are.

We’ve hit an odd point in the eternal pull between public and private. We’re reeled by the revelations of the NSA’s spying, and yet love to share the locations we’re at. I used to never share location data, and felt somewhat odd publishing almost anything personal in pubic, and then decided to embrace location sharing. And yet, announcing vacations still somehow feels like a tad much — but I’d still be as apt as anyone to Instagram airport architecture shots, a tell-tell giveaway of travel.

How about you? Will the whole world know of your holiday travels, or are you going to keep your peppermint mocha and gift unwrapping and travel memories for yourself?

Another day, another file sharing app, or so it seems. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to services for sending files big and small over the web, and while it may seem like overkill, the truth is that today’s users are diverse in their usage habits and requirements, and a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work in this context. So who is Shared good for?

Shared doesn’t bother with apps for multiple platforms or syncing files across devices: instead, it offers a cheap, easy-to-use web-based file sharing solution that works on desktops and mobile devices and is perfect for novice users and advanced file sharers who are tired of bloated apps with features they don’t use. Plus, you can get started with 100GB of space for free! Sound too good to be true? Let’s send some files across the interwebs and see if Shared is indeed all it’s cracked up to be.

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WordPress has grown and changed over the years, from a simple blog system into a full-fledged CMS. In that time, it’s gone from a basic white theme to a bright blue and then a more subdued grey and tan that we all know and love today. Along the way, it’s picked up a ton of features, and the world of computing has shifted from desktops to mobile and tablets. It’s time for some changes.

WordPress 3.8 is finally here today, and along with the extra new features and bug fixes you’d expect, it also includes a surprisingly nice new redesign that, while largely the same as before, makes the WordPress dashboard look far more modern and at home on any of your devices.

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Cryptocurrencies, the most famous of all being Bitcoin, turned geeks and normal people with a bit of tech interest into virtual millionaires, overnight. In recent months they’ve hit the headlines for facilitating the sale of drugs and firearms by concealing the identities of those involved. They even accentuated the capital outflows from Cyprus during the country’s financial collapse and subsequent EU bailout earlier this year.

In 2011, those buying into cryptocurrencies were laughed at by investors and economists. Now, BitCoin is regularly the feature of two page spreads in the Financial Times and is rumoured to be a serious headache for regulators of the traditional banking system. Since the high profile take-down of The Silk Road (a shady, Deep Web marketplace mainly used for drug sales), the FBI have backed off.

In a further vote of confidence, the Chinese government recently indicated that they have no real issues with cryptocurrencies and have allowed a Chinese exchange to grow into the world’s largest, surpassing MtGox a few weeks ago. However, they’ve also eliminated the possibility of it ever becoming part of their official national finance framework.

In spite of its recent successes, BitCoin remains rouge. Personified, it’s a surly teenager protesting against “the system”. Big Business has given it nothing more than an amused smirk because BitCoin doesn’t wear a suit to work nor have Terms & Conditions attached. Ripple’s ‘XRP’, a new kid on the cryptocurrency block, does.

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Video calling is definitely the next step in communication, but for business, it’s a step too far. Or, at least in some instances. When I’m at home, the last thing I want is a complete stranger having a live video stream of my living room. Google see things differently and want to bring yoga lessons, home improvement advice and customer service right to your laptop with their new web app.

Its name? ‘Helpouts from Google‘.

The idea seems so revolutionary to Google that they think the service could rival ‘How To’ videos on YouTube or text based guides. Unfortunately, their shiny new offering has some fundamental flaws that could be off setting to many users. Lets take a look.

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I can’t say that the sudden rise of web-delivered digital magazines is a trend I foresaw. It was initially a by-product magazine renaissance that came with the mass ownership of touchscreen devices, but webzine publishing is now a niche in which many startups are willing to specialize.

This year, alone, I have personally reviewed the likes of Creatavist and Readymag, and been hugely impressed, whilst other platforms such as TypeEngine and Origami Engine — despite their names, both are more suited to talk than torque — are making significant headway, too.

My latest encounter with the format comes in the form of Beacon. With a simple approach to creation, publication and selling — even Beacon’s website is a one-pager — it should be the ideal platform for those who want to concentrate on content rather than configuration. But can it deliver the required quality to capture the attention of the reading public?

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Got a MacBook, iPad, or iPhone that you’re worried about getting lost or stolen? Worry no more. With Hidden, you’ve got the theft protection all your devices need.

Hidden is a brilliant theft protection system that’ll keep all of your Apple devices protected. If your device gets stolen, Hidden will track its location, take pictures of the thief and screenshots of what they’re currently doing on your computer, and log processes and keystrokes on your Mac so you can see exactly what apps the thief is using and what he’s typing. On an iOS device, Hidden will show a fake alarm that, when the thief tries to turn off, will launch the app to snap a picture and send it to you just like it would on the Mac, so you’ve got the same protection everywhere.

 

You can then login to your Hidden account online and see exactly where your device is on a map, complete with all the other data Hidden has collected about the thief. That gives you the info you need to inform law enforcement and hopefully get your device back. It’s the full-fledged protection your devices need that will give you the peace of mind to not worry about your devices disappearing.

We loved Hidden when we tried it out, and are certain you’ll love it as well. It’s an ingenious way to keep your devices protected.

Get Hidden 50% Off!

Hidden usually costs $15/year to protect one device, or $30/year to protect up to 3 devices, but we’ve got something even better. This month, if you signup for Hidden with our coupon code WASL50, you can get 50% off your Hidden subscription. That’d make it cost only $0.63 per month to keep your MacBook, iPhone, or iPad protected! It’s the perfect chance to buy yourself the perfect holiday gift of security for your devices

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

Time tracking apps are among the most predictable apps. They’re all designed to keep track of the time you’ve worked on your projects so you’re fair to both your clients and yourself. Then, the apps typically let you turn your timesheets into invoices, and perhaps track time on the go. Boring, but necessary.

And then there’s the new Timely. I’m pretty certain you’ve never seen a time tracking app like this. It’s the one time tracking app that you’ll actually want to use, it looks so nice. Plus, it’s simpler than most to use, thanks to its drag-and-drop calendar (apparently a popular new trend).

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It’s gift buying season again — that time of the year when you’ve got to rack your brain to figure out what would be a good gift for everyone. But one gift idea that keeps popping up from a number of web apps is the gift of a subscription.

That sounds like a great idea at first. Who wouldn’t love a few free months of Netflix or Spotify or Evernote Pro? Or, for those a bit geekier, a free domain name or hosting might sound nice. You could even make sure your family’s data stays safe by giving them a year of CrashPlan. There’s even the more traditional gift subscriptions — Amazon, for instance, has every newspaper and magazine you could think of ready for gifting in paper or digital. Even newer web apps are getting in on it, with Draft offering gift subscriptions as well this year.

And yet, something seems a bit odd about gifting a subscription. It’s great while you’re using the gift subscription for free, but what about next year? It’s almost like you’re giving your family and friends more work — they’ll have to upgrade to their own subscription next year, or cancel their gift subscription when it runs out. That makes it a bit less nice of a gift than, oh, just about any other physical product.

So how do you feel about gifting subscriptions? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Christmas Tree icon via Eighty8four

WordPress may not be the cool new blogging platform these days, but it is the serious CMS that powers so many sites (AppStorm included). And it’s still a pretty nice platform, one that for the most part works great and — thanks to the huge ecosystem of themes and plugins — can be almost anything you want it to be. But at the end of the day, WordPress is most often used for blogging. And to blog effectively, you’re usually scheduling posts and social media messages quite a bit.

But WordPress is pretty bad at scheduling, and even worse at social media integration. Almost daily I have to click the Quick Edit link on scheduled posts to double-check what time they’re scheduled for, and then use a combination of IFTTT and Buffer to take care of social media posts.

CoSchedule, though, is the one app that could change that. It’s a WordPress plugin that makes post scheduling as simple as a drag-and-drop, and then makes it just as easy to share post on your social networks.

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