Sail

App Review: Sail for Mac

Sail is a new App.net OS X client from indie developer Keith Smiley. Let’s take a moment to highlight the fact that this developer is not from the hot bed of innovation in California, but South Carolina. +1 for home state geeks!

While the directory for App.net clients continues to grow, Smiley took a different approach and created an app just for posting. We can all agree that even with the best intentions the timeline has a sneaky way of sucking you in. Goodbye productivity. Now I know Sail is not totally unique in its approach – Snabb – but I have only used Sail. So taking inspiration from a wonderful Twitter client, Wren, Smiley set out to achieve distraction free posting to App.net. He has accomplished that with Sail.

Sail is simple and straight forward. Compose, post and you are done. The app’s small window only has the character counter and a post button. You do not get more minimalistic than that. With specialized features hidden or removed completely, Sail allows you to focus on your post and get back to your work. And for those times when your muse stops by you can open numerous compose windows to capture every clever thought. Sail also allows you to post to multiple App.net accounts and crosspost to Twitter. See, I told you it is the little app that can.

With Sail only being version 1.0.4 at the time of this review it has just started to find itself. So this means there will surely be lots of new features added as users share feedback. Not to mention the constantly evolving App.net platform. Some things that would add to my experience with Sail would be a larger compose window, or at least the ability to adjust the size. App.net’s (awesome) character limit of 256 characters really allows for your thoughts to breath. Sail’s compose window should as well. Another way to better sync with the App.net network is auto completion of usernames. Either pulling from a list of recent interactions or at least those you follow.

Now my next group of feature requests are a little tougher to ask for because they directly conflict with the simplistic interface I already love. Sail offers the ability to add inline URLs through markdown formatting. Chalk it up my rudimentary knowledge of markdown, but a button to attach a link would be nice. I also blame the iOS app Felix for spoiling me on the feature and how it handles input. Inline links not only save on the character count, but they look so much cleaner. Wrapping up my wish list would be the ability to attach photos via App.net’s file hosting, a “save draft” button or a prompt to save when closing the window. Currently in Sail you save a draft via key command or a menu option.

Drafts are a driving force on how a social app stacks up for me. As an avid user of the Wren Twitter client, I really found the draft drawer helpful for capturing my thoughts in the moment, but holding them for the right time to post. Rate of interactions prove time and time again that my 3A.M. ramblings fall on deaf ears. If I want answers or feedback to a post best to save it for when my network is awake.

Sail is a welcomed addition the App.net family of third party clients. For me it fits perfectly into my daily workflow. I can keep sharing gems of the interwebs during my breaks in work. Instead of taking breaks from the App.net timeline for some work.

Sail is available in the Mac App Store for $2.99. Requires 10.8 or later and a 64-bit processor.

UPDATE: Damn this kid works fast! Sail has already pushed out version 1.1.1 and it addresses some of the requests I had. A new easier option for adding inline URLs and a “save to drafts” prompt when closing a window. Updates on the roadmap: image attachments, an adjustable window and auto completing usernames (That one is harder than you would think).

 

Disclosure: I received a beta version of Sail to review. I have since purchased the retail version.

Art of creating buzz

Creating New Product Buzz

New app/service: Want early access to try out our new product? Share this link!

 

Me: So you want me to tell friends about your new app by sharing a link that only gets them far enough to tease and then ask the same of them?

 

New app/service: Yes, it will create lots of buzz!

 

Me: Won’t that squash excitement? “Please blast your social networks with links to a service no one can actually use yet.” Yeah, that creates fans.

 

New app/service: …

 

Me: How about just asking for an email and then granting instant access?
Oh look, people get to actually use your new app/service. Love it. Share it with their friends. Cycle repeats itself.
Photo Credit - LifeHacker.com

Want to Quit GoDaddy? Start Here.

I am not going to lie. A part of me smiled while reading the news about GoDaddy’s hosting services going down today. Do I feel bad for the customers effected? Of course. Do I feel that GoDaddy had this coming to them as payback for being scum of the internet? Hell yeah.

“So if you are still hosting/dealing with GoDaddy after SOPA, you pretty much got another reason to leave today.”

Chip Oglesby

Like anyone who has a digital life, I have done business with GoDaddy. I like to tell myself it was back when I was young and did not know any better. Thankfully I can refer to that experience in the past tense. Are you fed up with the poor customer service, threat of SOPA or the last straw… today’s hack by Anonymous? Ready to take the Red Pill and break free of GoDaddy? Take a look at the comments below for real customer testimonials.

The dynamic duo that I rely on for web services is A Small Orange (hosting) and NameCheap (domains).

A Small Orange started in Atlanta but now call Durham, NC home. They offer big league support with a startup feel. Outstanding customer service with quick turn around. Their hosting servers are just about as open as they come. Ready to run any platform of your choosing with full admin access for customers – shared and dedicated servers. I have been a customer for about four years with multiple WordPress sites running on ASO servers. Inc Magazine loves them too.

My time with NameCheap as only been a few months, but I could not ask for simpler domain management. Most important for me was that they are upfront about their pricing. Also when I first tried to transfer my domains from GoDaddy over to NameCheap it was NameCheap would helped me understand a loophole GoDaddy was using to keep me locked in as a customer. They offered to refund my pre-payment on the transfer and hoped that I would remember them when I was free to transfer – three months later. I sure did! All my domains are now with NameCheap. Another bonus, they will honor the expiration date you have with your current domain registrar and extend it for another year.

So those are my two recommendations. Feel free to ask any particular questions you might have about A Small Orange or NameCheap. Happy customers can be great salesmen :)

Today consumers have a multitude of companies they can turn to the help with their web needs. Have a favorite? Plug away in the comments!

 

 

Branch

So what is Branch.com?

Like any new social platform, the first thing I am asked when talking to friends about Branch is “what is it?” According to parent company Obvious Corporation, Branch is looking to do what Facebook, Twitter and Google+ haven’t been able to do: foster real conversations. Ok. Everyone clear on that? Good.

Maybe describing its features will help better illustrate the idea behind it. You read an article, watch a video or have an interesting thought. What do you do in today’s uber social world? Share it. The only problem with that single post is that it is quickly buried in newsfeeds and timelines. Not to mention the small window of time your network has to comment back.

Enter Branch. You start with a link to your inspiration or just your thought in text and you invite a couple of friends to add their insights. They add their two cents which causes the conversation to grow with new perspectives. One of your friends has a buddy that is really into this particular topic and invites them to weigh in. Maybe the thread sparks another idea. That offshoot is branched off to be its own topic.

Now we are getting somewhere. The conversation has a quiet place to slowly grow. No flash-in-the-pan window of opportunity to worry about. Gone are the distractions – retweets, @ replies, likes, pluses, up vote/down vote, etc - that can derail a quality discussion. Branch displays a single inline thread. Pivot points become their own discussions. All the while giving each person 750 characters to stretch their brian muscles for more long form entries. As one friend described his first invite to a Branch topic -

I lurked a little; haven’t had time to really write-up an intelligent reply to anything yet though.

My thought upon hearing this feedback – well done Branch. Well done.

 

If you are a more visual person, maybe this video or this ad will help explain Branch. I have also embedded (very cool feature!) a recent Branch I started with some gadget geeks friends.

 

Giant Comet

Giant Comet saves a pixel pusher’s sanity

Are you a digital craftsman? Want tools that quickly help you and then fade back into the background? Do yourself a favor and checkout Giant Comet‘s lifesavers, Crosshairs and Hues. Whether you are giving an old site a much-needed refresh, resizing photos for a post or just customizing a social profile; these apps will make things go a little smoother. Both of these apps live in the menu bar by default, but you can set key commands to speed things up.

Crosshairs

“Screen dimensions made simple”

 

Hues

“Easiest way to get and convert colors”

 

Giant Comet is a [very good] side project by Zach Waugh. Be sure to tweet your love for these slick apps to @GiantComet and @ZachWaugh. Will make his day (maybe).

What are some of your favorite apps that you constantly use?

thinker. tinkerer.