Netatmo: Monitor the Weather While You’re Not Home

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…)

Formbakery: Simple Forms Made Easy

Of all the major forms of digital communication, email is, perhaps, the most flexible. Yet, for the website owner, it still can’t be relied on, in its purest form, as the sole method of communication. Visitors still like the reassuring guidance of specified text fields, and in some cases, pre-defined options can make for a better user experience, not to mention more streamlined correspondence.

It is for this reason that form builders are as popular now as they’ve ever been. Veteran Wufoo has held the top spot for many years, thanks to its drag-and-drop design suite and elegant output. Other platforms — Gravity Forms (WordPress only), for example — carve out their own market share by providing special features, such as payments and multiple-input guards.

However, one new form-building service, named Formbakery, wants to keep things simple. It, too, offers drag-and-drop design, as well as a form-by-form price. But can it match up to the long-established giants of form creation?

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Dashsell Shops: Flawed Mobile Commerce

Retail is a seriously competitive game. Even the giants need to make use of every possible marketing advantage and every possible route to a sale. Nowadays, that includes mobile e-commerce, which is, by some distance, the platform that is seeing the fastest growth in sales and revenue.

As with all cutting-edge technologies, however, it is the big boys that have been making the most of this new retail territory, which is a shame, given the struggles many small businesses are having to cope with.

But, finally, help appears to be at hand. Dashsell, a company that has thus far concentrated on providing a simple way to list items for sale online, has now launched Shops — a beta, self-service, mobile store app builder. With plans starting from free, and with web, iOS and Android versions available, it looks ideal for the small retailer. But is this the killer platform that will open a new frontier? Or is it just another cookie-cutter app studio?

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Thanks to Our Sponsor: Bluetrait

Did support take up more time of your year than you’d like to admit? Then perhaps it’s time for something better. Bluetrait, our sponsor this week, is the simple help desk tool you need — and if you happen to be a seller on Envato’s marketplaces, it’s the support tool designed specifically for you.

Bluetrait’s a simple online help desk tool that has all the features you need to give your customers the best support possible. You can create canned responses, email notificaitons, custom priorities and statuses, and more to help you keep on top of your support requests, and can tie it into your email account to it’ll automatically turn emails into suppor tickets. You’ll be able to reply with a rich email editor in the app that has full HTML support, and can easily file away tickets or find them again later. Then, as mentioned before, it integrates with Envato’s marketplaces so you can easily see what products your customer has purchased from you and can give them personalized support. It even makes it simple to keep up with your team, with custom graphs that’ll show who’s logging the most tickets.

But then, perhaps you won’t have to do quite as much support as you’re thinking you’ll need to, since Bluetrait lets you create a Knowledge Base that’ll help your customers support themselves. Right in your same support interface, you can write articles about all of your app or theme’s features and show your users how to get the most out of them. They’ll be able to find out what they need, and save you the hassle of replying to every single request. But even if you do need to reply, Bluetrait makes it easy to reply anywhere with its responsive theme that’ll work on any device.

There’s more, too. Bluetrait recently added a WordPress extension, so you can import your WordPress accounts into Bluetrait easily. And early next year, Bluetrait’s adding an option for domain mapping, so you can use your company’s domain name with Bluetrait’s support app for no extra cost.

Get 50% off Bluetrait This Week!

Best of all, you can give your customers the support the need in the new year and save money at the same time. Bluetrait normally costs $14AUD/user/month, but this week, Bluetrait is running a special 50% off discount. Just signup for a new Bluetrait account for your company with the coupon code BLU50P, and you’ll get 50% off your account for life. You can even add new employees in the future, and still get the same 50% discount for every new employee you add. And you’ll still get the full 30 day trial to make sure it works for you. That’s a great way to get your company on the right start for offering better support next year!

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.
Need Gift Ideas? Check Out AppStorm’s Best Gifts Roundup!

Christmas time is here, and with that comes traffic jams in mall parking lots and the never-ending decisions over what gifts would be great for everyone on your Nice list. But playing Santa can be a rather hard job, especially if you’re trying to find something that’s special and unique.

It’s nearly impossible to buy gifts that are web app centric, unless you’re buying a Chromebook or perhaps a Firefox phone for a special someone, so we didn’t do a roundup of gifts just for web app fans. Instead, we’ve included a ton of geeky gifts in our roundup of gifts on Mac.AppStorm, and there’s a ton of stuff for everyone on your list. You’ll find the latest Doxies (great for scanning documents and saving them to your favorite web apps), the awesome Raspberry Pi (the $25 way to get online), and much much more.

If you’ve got some holiday shopping left to do for geeky folks, this is the list for you. Go check it out!

Continue Reading at Mac.AppStorm…

Weekly Poll: Will You Announce Holiday Travels Online?

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?

Shared: The Tool to Save and Share Your Files Without Fuss

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 3.8 Brings a Modern Facelift to the Most Popular CMS

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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Ripple: BitCoin in Business Atire

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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Google Helpouts: An Unwanted Human Touch?

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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