About Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong is the founder of Ubercool Inc. and a trend-tracking inspirational speaker who helps transform audiences worldwide. As the founder of five start-ups, he helped pioneer such sweeping changes as desktop publishing, personal information management, Internet research and online marketing. Michael is authoring an e-book, called Social Engagement Marketing, that will shine a bright spotlight on this market. His uncanny ability to decode the future, lead the U.K. Telegraph to label Michael “America’s most influential trendspotter.”

Michael is the founder of MacWEEK and ICONOCAST, which produced multi-million-dollar conferences, including one starring basketball legend Dennis Rodman and another featuring a Broadway musical. Michael strongly believes that the successful organizations of tomorrow will address the changing consumer lifestyles of today.


Latest Posts by Michael Tchong

The Home May Become Connected, But What’s Useful & What’s Not?

December 17, 2014 by  

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When Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in January 2014, it loudly signaled that the Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Home trends had arrived. But it also caused more market confusion, as many now question Google’s motivations in the smart home market.

Connected devices are proliferating at a rapid clip. Besides the connected thermostat, we now have connected beds, connected toothbrushes, lightbulbs and light switches. Any device that is connected to the internet is considered a member of the Internet of Things.

Market Forecasts

It’s clear that 2015 is going to be a pivotal year, when the pixie dust starts to settle in the connected home market:

    • Market growth – According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Parks Associates, shipments of both smart-home devices and controllers will grow by 20%, or more, annually in coming years.
    • Smart home devices – In 2015, U.S. smart-home device shipments will reach 25 million. By 2017, Parks estimates, total shipments of such devices as smart thermostats and smart door locks will reach 36 million:
    • Smart home controllers – Smart-home controller or “hub” shipments are predicted to increase 36% in 2015 to nearly 2 million. A 32% growth rate in 2016 and 24% in 2017 will boost controller shipments to 3 million by 2018.
    • IoT forecast – The installed base of active wireless connected devices, of which Nest is a prime example, will top 16 billion in 2014, and is expected to jump to 41 billion by 2020, according to ABI Research. Gartner is slightly less enthusiastic, predicting an installed base of IoT devices of reach 26 billion by 2020. Both forecasts are higher than the previous one because IoT forecasts include industrial connected devices.
    • Market demand – A study by Lowe’s (PDF) found that 70% of Americans want to control something in their home from their mobile device without getting out of bed, a shocking finding! And 62% find smart home controls most beneficial for monitoring safety and security, yet, equally unsurprising, 50% prefer prefer a home monitoring solution without a monthly fee.

Platforms

No discussion about the connected home would be complete without an overview of major competing platforms that are wrestling for control of the smart home market:

    • Apple HomeKit – On June 2, 2014, Apple launched HomeKit, a platform that lets iOS users control locks, lights, video cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs and switches with their iPhones. The platform offers secure pairing and is able to control gadgets separately or set automations for device groups. HomeKit can be operated by Siri voice commands, so just saying “time for bed” will turn off lights and lock the front door.
    • Wink – On June 23, 2014, New York-based Quirky announced a standalone business for its open technology platform Wink software platform. Wink has two platform partners: GE and The Home Depot. Wink is compatible with Quirky+GE, Nest, Philips and Schlage products.
    • Thread Group – On July 15, 2014, Google’s Nest launched the Thread Group, which includes chip companies ARM Holdings, Freescale Semiconductor, Samsung and Silicon Labs. Big Ass Fans and lock maker Yale are also members of the group, which will certify Thread-compatible products in 2015. Thread offers a networking protocol with security and low-power features that connects household devices via Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi or ZigBee. Nest already uses a version of Thread but Thread-compatible radio chips are already found in existing smart devices that use ZigBee, such as Philips hue smart lightbulbs.

Big Ass Fans HaikuLexington, KY-based Big Ass Fans has introduced the first room fan with SenseME technology, the Haiku with SenseME ($1,045), the first connected home product to be compatible with Thread Group specifications.

  • SmartThings – On August 14, 2014, Samsung acquired the SmartThings platform, which utilizes what the company dubs the “Open Physical Graph.” SmartThings requires its SmartThings hub ($100) to be online and connected to the SmartThings Cloud. The company claims that its architecture abstracts the details of a specific device and is compatible with Wi-Fi/IP/UPnP, ZigBee and Z-Wave.

Products

But there are far more proprietary platforms than these four major ones, as the following roundup of individual product lines vividly shows. Because the connected home market is very much evolving and most hubs are not selling all that well, we’ve added some review comments, so you can use this list as a connected home buying guide:

    • August – August has finally shipped its August Smart Lock ($250). Wired’s verdict: “Works Like Magic—When It Works.” The New York Times was even less enthusiastic: “The August Smart Lock Shows Why You Should Stick With Dumb Keys.” August is facing entrenched players Schlage and Yale that both offer Z-Wave connected locks.
    • Belkin WeMo – Los Angeles-based Belkin debuted its WeMo line of smart light switches in 2013, and even showed a WeMo-based Crock-Pot at CES 2014. Amazon.com buyer verdicts: “Worked well for ~2 months” and “Firmware and app needs a lot of work.” Despite those comments, the Belkin WeMo Switch ($38) is Amazon’s best-selling smart switch. Belkin sells a WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set, which contains two WeMo Smart Light Bulbs and WeMo Link to control the bulbs from anywhere via Wi-Fi for $100, which is kinda steep for this type of functionality.

WeMo Crock-PotAt CES 2014, Belkin proudly showed off the WeMo-based Crock-Pot ($130), which lets you control your slow cooker from afar.

    • Ecobee – This Toronto, Canada-based player launched the first Wi-Fi-connected thermostat three years ago. Its newest product is the Ecobee3, a $249 smart thermostat that features a striking interface designed by San Francisco-based Lunar Design. Ecobee3’s differentiating feature is a companion sensor that measures other rooms, instead of only sensing where the thermostat is located. On Amazon.com, Ecobee3 receives better reviews than Nest.

Ecobee3Toronto, Ontario-based Ecobee has launched a third-generation smart thermostat, the Ecobee3 ($249), that features an identical interface in both thermostat and smartphone app, a big plus.

    • Honeywell – Honeywell debuted its new Lyric smart thermostat ($279) in August. This is Honeywell’s attempt to take on Nest, the company that jumpstarted the smart thermostat trend. At ReadWrite, Adriana Lee wrote an excellent overview of Honeywell’s closed architecture, although Honeywell has said it will support Apple’s HomeKit. The company has already reduced Lyric’s price to $249 “for a limited time.”
    • Insteon – At $39, Irvine, Calif.-based Insteon offers one of the lowest priced smart home hubs, indicative of the cutthroat aspect of this industry but also underscoring the fact that smart home hubs are slow sellers. Besides hubs, Insteon markets a host of gear, including light switches, Wi-Fi cameras, LED bulbs, thermostats, sprinkler controllers, etc.
    • Logitech – Logitech offers two remotes, the new touchscreen-equipped Harmony Ultimate Home ($350) and the button-only Harmony Home Control ($150); Harmony Home Hub ($100), plus an app to manage the system. The Harmony Home Hub is compatible with devices from August, Honeywell, Lutron, Nest, Philips hue, SmartThings. Amazon.com reviews for Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate Home remote are middling at best, largely influenced by its excessive cost.
    • Lowe’s Iris – Contradicting its own research that suggests that half of Americans don’s want to pay monthly fees, Lowe’s charges $10 per month for full Iris system functionality, which, CNET says, makes Iris “difficult to recommend over fee-free competitors.”
    • Lutron – This stalwart of the home automation market offers the Caséta Smart Bridge ($120), which allows Caséta dimmers and switches, and Lutron Shades to be programmed via Lutron’s iPhone or iPad app.
    • Nest – Nest is the best known brand among all connected home players and, by being first to market, the thermostat maker is estimated to be shipping more than 110,000 units of the Nest Thermostat ($249) each month.
    • Peq – Peq, pronounced “peek,” is Best Buy’s entry into the connected home market. The retailer offers a basic starter kit, including a ZigBee hub plus a single door and window sensor for $120. Peq is a division of Kansas City-based Smart Home Ventures. Unfortunately, like the now discontinued Revolv system, Peq requires a $10 monthly service charge in order to work. Peq’s Zigbee hub conforms to iControl’s OpenHome specification.
    • Philips hue – Philips launched its hue connected LED lighting system in October 2012 and, at first, sold its $199 system only at the Apple Store.
    • Revolv – We were struck by this line on the Revolv site: “Revolv data will remain subject to the Revolv Privacy Statement and, like Nest data, will be separate from Google.” Revolv was acquired by Google’s Nest, and its products discontinued, after reports emerged that Revolv was selling slowly at The Home Depot.
    • Staples Connect – The market has gotten so hot that even office supplies seller Staples is jumping into the connected home business with its proprietary Staples Connect platform. The Staples Connect Hub sells for $80 and is based on the Zonoff software platform.
    • Vera Control – This five-year-old Hong Kong-based company changed its name in 2013 from Mi Casa Verde and offers the VeraEdge Home Controller for $150, which it claims is compatible with 1,200+ devices from most major brands, including those with Wi-Fi and Z-Wave wireless connections.
    • Wink/GE/Quirky – With the launch of the Wink home hub platform at The Home Depot, the retailing giant could exert a huge influence on how consumers buy and choose connected devices. The hardware store now has more than 600 smart devices in stock and is pushing Wink as its smart home platform. Wink relies heavily on Wi-Fi, a boon for Electric Imp, whose Wi-Fi modules form the basis of the Wink system, although Electric Imp is not in the hub. More importantly, GE has announced its new GE Link LED lightbulb ($15) that can be controlled by Quirky’s Wink app, which makes it the most cost-competitive smart LED lightbulb.

Wink hub

New York-based Quirky has launched the Wink Hub that works with GE’s Link LED smart lightbulbs. A hub with two GE lights retails for just $50 at The Home Depot.

  • Zuli – This Kickstarter funded startup is offering the Zuli Smartplug for a pre-order price of $50. Zuli uses Apple’s new iBeacon technology to control its devices via Bluetooth.

The home may become connected but the industry itself appears to be disconnected from reality.

Awareness Alert for Travelers: Cyber Security & What You Need To Know

December 13, 2014 by  

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The startling cyber intrusion of Sony is rattling America. It’s one thing to have the credit card accounts of 55 million customers hacked, it’s another to have salaries, strategy presentations and confidential communication between your top executives and Hollywood stars spilled all over the internet.
Well, World War III is already here — And we’re losing.

Think that’s an exaggeration? If indeed tiny North Korea is responsible for the Sony intrusion, just imagine what would happen if Russia or China would engage in that sort of cyber terrorism, if they already haven’t that is.

And the toll this warfare is exacting from society is truly stunning:

    • Security spending – Gartner expects worldwide information security spending to reach $71 billion in 2014, a 7.9% year-over-year increase. The researcher predicts security spending in 2015 will increase 8.2% to $77 billion.
    • Cyber attacks growth – The GAO reports that the number of cyber incidents affecting computer systems and networks continues to rise. Between 2006 and 2012, the number of cyber incidents reported by federal agencies to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has grown 782% (PDF):
    • Information security incidents – Meanwhile, the number of information security incidents involving personally identifiable information (PII) increased 244% (PDF), between 2009 and 2013. In the past year, 519 million financial records have been stolen, with nearly 439 million records stolen in the past six months alone, says the FBI.
    • Average loss – And financial losses are rising sharply too. According to PWC, the reported average financial loss from cybersecurity incidents was $2.7 million, a 34% year-over-year increase. The number of organizations that reported financial losses in excess of $20 million rose even faster at 92%.
    • Cross-organization cyberteams – Despite the surge in cyber attacks, fewer than half of companies, 49%, have a cross-organization team that regularly meets to discuss, coordinate and communicate information security issues.

Security companies are starting to educate the market with innovative, storytelling videos, like this Kaspersky branded message.

  • Passwords – That such formidable marketing organizations as Home Depot or Target did not take adequate security precautions leading to credit-card data theft, underscores the need for more education, starting at home. But here the picture is equally dire. A survey by Splashdata found that the two most popular passwords in 2013 were “123456” followed by “password.” It’s that kind of casual disregard that likely lead the Sony IT department to store all company passwords in an unprotected file, called Master_Password_Sheet.

Some industry watchers believe that the unprecedented nature of the Sony attack plus hundreds of millions of credit card hacks, will reinforce the mission-critical nature of cybersecurity.

The U.S. government realizes the urgency of cybersecurity. A bill expected to be voted on later this week will boost cybersecurity spending. The U.S. Cyber Command, which manages military cyberspace operations and ensures the security of Department of Defense information networks, would receive $447 million, more than double its 2013 funding of $191 million, while the Department of Energy (DOE) would get a notable cybersecurity bump, up $25 million from 2014 to $304 for fiscal 2015.

Venture capitalists have also gotten the message. In 2013, they invested $1.7 billion in cybersecurity companies, up 70% from the approximately $1 billion invested in 2011.

With the reputation of more blue-chip companies and Hollywood celebrities smeared all over the web, perhaps 2015 will indeed be the year that cybersecurity gets a big dose of positive reinforcement.

Photo credit: www.iti.illinois.edu.

Your Digital Devices or Travel? Some Startling Statistics

December 9, 2014 by  

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Here’s a startling statistic: 49% of Americans have reduced spending on travel, food and healthcare in order to afford their technology. Welcome to the Digital Lifestyle Ubertrend — the marriage of man and machine.

As technology become more tightly interwoven with the fabric of life, humankind is rapidly evolving along with it. The computer is becoming us and we’re becoming the computer.

Unconvinced? When we get tired, we “crash.” We now multitask by necessity. And we tend to forget more, so we are in urgent need of “memory protection.” Those are three core attributes of microprocessors, or the brains of computers.

That our digital lifestyle is shaking up society is overwhelmingly evident:

    • Digital natives – Today’s kids, appropriately named “Digital Natives,” are more proficient with technology than any generation before. The British communication authority Ofcom found that six-year-olds understand digital technology better than adults. Another example of their proficiency: 69% of children aged 2-5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces.

Fisher Price

Fisher Price has introduced the “Apptivity Seat for iPad” to keep our digital offspring duly occupied.

    • More important than life – In 2011, a 16-year-old Tampa teen jumped in front of a truck to save her iPod. Luckily she only broke a leg. But imagine her thought process: “My iPod or my life.”
    • Robots – Robots are taking over. The robot industry is now generating $25 billion in annual revenue, and 1.6 million robots are expected to be produced in 2015. That figure is limited to industrial robots — the home robot market is certain to explode by the 20s.
    • Laptop wheelies – A status symbol of bygone days, slim attaché cases, have all but disappeared, only to be replaced by big cases on wheels with retractable handles, gear much better suited for lugging around iPhones, iPads, laptops and all their respective chargers.
    • Social media – The fear of missing out, a phenomenon dubbed “FOMO,” is the driving force behind Facebook’s 1.35 billion active users, the mobile ones checking Facebook as many as 14 times a day.

Big Bang Theory

  • Photoshopping – You may not know what “Gaussian blur” means but you’ve seen this Photoshop effect on television, where it’s frequently used to blur out sensitive details. The editing of real-life details is now popularly known as “photoshopping,” today’s equivalent of “xeroxing.”
  • Driving – The percentage of 19-year-olds in the U.S. who have driver’s licenses dropped from 87.3% in 1983 to 69.5% in 2010, underscoring the significant impact social media, video games and other digital pursuits are having on the population.

Would you jump in front of a truck to save your iPhone? And if not, how long could you live without it? Talk about crimping your digital lifestyle.

Top photo social.eyeforpharma. com.

The Growth of Indian Culture, Trends & Style

August 27, 2014 by  

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They’re everywhere on American television, to the surprise of their compatriots. People of Indian origin have rapidly vaulted to the second largest ethnic minority on U.S. television, trailing only Spanish-speaking actors. With its influence rising, like the Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi pictured above, India is poised to become a culture and style trendsetter.

This trend can be traced all the way back the 60s, when The Beatles journeyed to India and became one of the first trendsetters to propagate such style influences as the sitar, nehru jackets and yoga, now practiced by more than 100 million people worldwide.

An analysis of 106 popular TV shows, including a list provided by TV.com, suggests that 25 Indian and one Pakistani TV actor, rank only second to the 49 Hispanic- or Spanish-surnamed actors employed by this sample of TV shows.

Parminder NagraParminder Nagra was one of the first British Indian actors to invade American television, starring in the medical drama ER for six years until the series ended in April 2009. She rose to international prominence in 2002 after starring in Bend It Like Beckham.

Parminder Nagra who starred in the medical drama ER for six years, represents the global diaspora of Indian actors in America, where American-born Indian actors lead with 38%, followed by British-ancestry Indians (35%), and Canadian and native Indians (both 12%).

NBC has an entire show, Outsourced, dedicated to India’s most high-profile industry, which employs four Indian actors. In fact, there are now nearly twice as many Indians employed on U.S. television as there are Asian characters. Margaret Cho once commented with irony to CNN that “there are like two more Asian people on television now then there was 10 years ago, and that’s pretty impressive.”

It’s not surprising that Latino and Spanish heritage actors represent America’s largest constituency of ethnic actors. What is a surprise is the explosion of Indian actors, a figure that has already surpassed Asians, a much larger U.S. demographic segment

That more Indians are employed on American television than Asians is in stark contrast to U.S. demographics. Asians make up 4.4% of the U.S. population, or about 14 million, while Indians in the U.S. have an estimated population of 2.7 million.

And unlike the earliest groups of Indians who entered the U.S. workforce as taxi drivers, laborers, farmers or small business owners, newer arrivals include professionals or recent graduates. The largest wave of immigration occurred in the late 90s and early 00s during the Internet boom. According to the U.S. census, the overall growth rate for Indians from 1990 to 2000 was 106%.

Indians now own 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the U.S., with a combined market value of nearly $40 billion, reports Little India Magazine. And one in every nine Indians in the U.S. is a millionaire, comprising about 10% of all U.S. millionaires, a 2003 study by Merrill Lynch found.

The influence of India can also be seen in movies. First came Bend it Like Beckham (2002), followed by Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004) and Slumdog Millionnaire (2008). The latter garnered three Academy Awards for India, boosting that country’s Oscar total to five, a figure that is sure to grow materially, if “Bollywood is any indication.

Then there’s food. While only the U.K. now considers Indian food a non-native national cuisine, we predict that Indian food will become the cocktail party circuit food in the very near future. Two confluent trends propel this phenomenon. One is complexity. The world appears to prefer complexity and there’s nothing more complex than the spice of curry.

“We predict that Indian food will become the cocktail party circuit food in the very near future.”Michael Tchong

Another major trend influencing taste is our growing fondness for spicy food. The American Spice Trade Association’s 2000 Spice Statistics Reports found a significant increase in the consumption of spices in the 20 preceding years, with overall spice consumption doubling.

Hottest trend: Hot spices such as mustard seeds, black and white peppers, ginger and red pepper, which have grown 72% in sales volume since the late 80s. Vindaloo anyone?

 

Behind the Scenes of Yoga Culture & Where It’s Heading

August 26, 2014 by  

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Propelled by the vagaries of the Time Compression Ubertrend — the acceleration of life, yoga is now practiced by 200 million people worldwide, including over 100 million in India and 20 million in the U.S.

In a time-compressed world, the meditative powers of yoga are now celebrated by an estimated 20 million Americans who practice this 5,000-year-old art, nearly triple the 6 million identified by a 1994 Roper poll.

lululemonVancouver-based lululemon athletica, whose wares have been featured on “Desperate Housewives,” opened its first store in Vancouver in 2000, Today, the chain has 120 stores in North America, 75 of them in the U.S., and 10 stores in Australia. Shown above are the company’s popular “Groove Pants.”

Here are some yoga market facts:

  • Market size – The economy has impacted the yoga market. A 2008 poll commissioned by Yoga Journal magazine found that the number of people practicing yoga had declined from 16.5 million in 2004 to 15.8 million almost four years later.
  • Expenditures – Yoga’s mainstreaming has fueled demand for fashionable apparel, similar in character to the “athleisure” trend identified with the hip-hop set. Women are realizing that yoga apparel, known for sleek design and comfortable fit, can easily be worn from studio to street. Spending on yoga classes, equipment, clothing, vacations, videos, etc., almost doubled between 2004 and 2008, rising from $3 billion to $5.7 billion, says Yoga Journal. More than $1 billion of that figure is spent on apparel.
  • Competition – Title Nine, VF Corp.’s Lucy and Lululemon belong to group of retailers focused on designing, making and selling women’s athletic wear – a $15 billion market.
  • Yoga retreats – Yoga retreats have become big business. Many resorts around the globe, like Mexico’s Maya Tulum, or the COMO Shambala retreats in Parrot Cay, Bahamas or Ubud, Bali, offer yoga getaways for those who like to practice in exotic locales. In New York, the Dream Hotel became the first U.S. hotel to feature a Deepak Chopra yoga studio directly attached to a hotel. The New York Standard recently joined the yoga party, with its own yoga offerings (see slide above). Another portion of the $5.7 billion spent on yoga goes to “rock star” yoga masters who offer similar retreats, like Baron Baptiste.
  • Investment trends – A lot of investors are being attracted to the yoga trend, particularly Boston-based venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners. Highland has stakes in lululemon and Yoga Works, a growing chain of studios that now boasts 14 locations in southern California and New York. Rob Wrubel and George Lichter, best known as the men behind the Internet site Ask Jeeves, provided refinancing for Yoga Works, which was founded in the late 80s.
  • New concepts – Exhale, markets itself as a “mindbodyspa,” with locations in Los Angeles, New York and other urban areas, that combines yoga classes with facials, massage and alternative treatments such as acupuncture.

There are signs that a backlash resembling the anti-Starbucks sentiment is building in the yoga community, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, only a quarter of lululemon gear is actually used for yoga and Pilates classes. The rest is shows up at gyms, road races and even social events.

With the western world’s 450 million baby boomers looking eastward for contemplative inner peace, and Generation X and Y joining the flow, yoga is destined to become the antidote to civilization.

 

Why American Homes Are Shrinking

June 15, 2014 by  

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Could you live in an 800-square-foot home? You may soon. The days of outsize American homes are coming to an end, judging by the surging chatter about smaller homes. While you may not be able to tell from the 2,400-2,800-square-feet palaces being built around you, several trends point to a very different real estate future.

That the lesson has been lost on mega-home developers is clear. The nation’s average home size is expected to shrink to 2,152 square feet by 2015, after peaking above 2,500 square feet in 2007. And there are fewer Americans living in homes these days too. In 2011, an average of 2.6 people lived in each American home, down sharply from 3.4 people in 1950.
But the big picture is finances, or the lack thereof. In the nearly five years since the recession “ended,” the U.S. economy has been stuck in the slow lane. Entering 2014, many economists predicted growth would top 3% for the first time since 2005.

But more now believe that the U.S. economy might be in a semi-permanent funk. And if we’re not in a funk yet, the Congressional Budget Office believes that could come in four years. That’s when the impact of retiring baby boomers restraining growth will really be felt. The CBO estimates the economy will expand at the same lackluster rate of 3% until 2017, and then decline to an average of 2.2% through 2024.
Then there’s our environmental footprint, which is hindering growth in other ways. That’s why we see a major upside for the “small home trend.” By 2017, there will be a significant market for homes that cost, at the top end, $90,000-$150,000 and that range in size from 600 to 1,000 square feet.

  • CBS covered the “new mobile home” in its May 18, 2014 Sunday Morning program, which even included a report on a $3 million mobile home recently sold in Malibu.
  • Key stats: 8.5 million mobile homes in the U.S. and 97% are never moved.
    CBS featured mobile home designer Jennifer Siegal who articulated a home future that lies at the convergence of an increasing desire, or need, to downsize and rising environmental consciousness.
  • Siegal is but one in a growing group of architects and home designers who are sharply attuned to a changing America, including Eugene, Ore.-based architect Nir Pearlson and San Francisco studio nottoscale, the latter specializing in pre-fab homes, another growing trend.
  • Then there are the emerging media, including Small House Bliss and Tiny House Talk. Lest you think that small homes need to be devoid of nice touches, allow us to dispel that myth with these galleries of small home bliss.

Nir Pearlson’s River Road House

Nir Pearlson River Road HouseNir Pearlson River Road House bedroomNir Pearlson River Road House kitchen/living roomNir Pearlson River Road House living room/kitchen

Stanford Start.Home

Stanford Start.Home 2013Nir Stanford Start.Home officeStanford Start.Home kitchenStanford Start.Home deck

Even Zillow jumped on the trend with an email this week featuring a classic Betteridge subject line: “Could You Live in 84 Square Feet?”; with a link to a story about Dee Williams’ 84-square-foot home.

As Dorothy so aptly put it, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

100 Top Mac Apps We Happen to Love

June 7, 2014 by  

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Despite all the great reviews Macintosh computers have garnered over the years, we rarely see it stated that Apple’s groundbreaking platform has attracted some of the best designed software on the market today. In fact, we would venture to say that with few exceptions the Mac offers the best possible software for the task at hand.

And that’s from a former Windows user. This bias is partly due to the fact that Apple was first on the market with an integrated smartphone design, pointing the way for Mac developers to create seamless synchronization solutions. But the real story is that the innovation the Macintosh GUI ushered in will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. Here are our picks for the coolest Mac software:

Adobe Creative Studio 6

Adobe’s Creative Suite includes four useful applications: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat X Pro. If you’re a designer, you can’t get by without these famous tools. Now that Adobe has gone Creative Cloud, CS6 is your last opportunity to own Adobe tools outright.

Publisher: Adobe Systems
Website: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/designstandard.html
Version: CS6
Category: Design
Price: $1,299.00

1Password

1Password can create strong passwords, organize them, and insert them in web pages with a handy browser button. Mavericks made me switch to 4.0, which is still in beta. Usability has been improved and the interface is slicker. But, for $18, the iPhone version also needs to be upgraded.

Publisher: Agile Bits
Website: https://agilebits.com/onepassword/mac/
Version: 4.0.9
Category: Utility
Price: $49.99

Aperture

This latest version of Aperture now shares your iPhoto library for greater simplicity of use. However, this program’s tabbed sidebar interface is daunting.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/aperture/
Version: 3.4.4
Category: Photography
Price: $79.99

AppDelete

AppDelete is a great uninstaller utility that removes applications and any other associated files that reside anywhere on your Mac.

Publisher: Reggie Ashworth
Website: http://www.reggieashworth.com/
Version: 4.1.1
Category: Utility
Price: $7.99

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamic Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is a cross-platform rapid software prototyping tool that lets a UX designer quickly create a mockup of software screens. One minor quibble: No ready-made icons for folders or documents.

Publisher: Balsamiq
Website: http://www.balsamiq.com/
Version: 2.2.3
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $79.00

Batch Image Resizer

Batch Image Resizer resizes multiple pictures by percent or a fixed size while offering the ability to add watermarks or borders. You can also do some limited renaming, although the program is not as flexible in that regard as our favorite utility, Renamer 4.

Publisher: GOTOES.ORG
Website: http://www.fotosizer.com
Version: 1.5.7
Category: Utility
Price: $14.00

Botanicula

Bontanicula is a beautiful game that places you in a wonderland of a garden to venture through and explore. Particularly beautiful on Retina MacBook Pros.

Publisher: Amanita Design
Website: http://amanita-design.net/games/botanicula.html
Version: 1.1.0
Category: Entertainment
Price: $10.00

Breeze

Breeze is a window management application that is designed for people who want to quickly split-screen a window, or people like us who need to quickly replicate a standard windows size for screenshots.

Publisher: Autumn Apps LLC
Website: http://autumnapps.com/breeze/index.html
Version: 1.5.7
Category: Utility
Price: $8.00

BusyCal

BusyCal is far better than the Mountain Lion or Mavericks calendar because it works just like the Leopard calendar. It also can can be shared easily via iCloud or Google. And it shows weather icons for an instant update.

Publisher: BusyCal LLC
Website: http://www.busymac.com/
Version: 2.5.3
Category: Calendar
Price: $49.99

ChronoSync

Here’s a great solution for backing up and synchronizing files with an external hard disk or other storage device. Econ Technologies should also be lauded for offering perpetually free upgrades.

Publisher: Econ Technologies
Website: http://www.econtechnologies.com/
Version: 4.4.2
Category: Utility
Price: $40.00

Cinch

Gives Mac users a nice Windows 7 feature: Drag a window until the mouse cursor touches either left or right edges of the screen, and the window “cinches”s able to send a clippingsto your iPhone. You can specifiy how many clippings are kept, either 10, 20 or 50. A Pro version ($XX) sends unlimited clippings to your phone.

Publisher: Irradiated Software
Website: http://www.irradiatedsoftware.com/
Version: 1.1.2
Category: Utility
Price: $7.00

Cinematica

Need a central place to organize your videos? Cinematica is the iTunes for music or iPhoto for photos, only it can search your collection by technical properties like resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate or video codec.

Publisher: Xeric Design Ltd.
Website: http://www.xericdesign.com/cinematica.php
Version: 1.0.6
Category: Video
Price: $24.95

Clean Text

Emails, Windows, and, yes, even some sloppy publishers produce files that are filled with funny characters. Use Clean Text to remove unwanted paragraph breaks, tabs, the quote marks in e-mails, etc.

Publisher: Apimac
Website: http://www.apimac.com/mac/cleantext/
Version: 6.8.2
Category: Utility
Price: $14.99

Clipr

Clipr does two things really well. It remembers your clipboard history and it’s able to send a clippings to your iPhone. You can specify how many clippings are kept, either 10, 20 or 50. A Pro version ($0.99) sends unlimited clippings to your phone.

Publisher: Eric Mann
Website: http://www.cliprapp.com
Version: 2.1
Category: Utility
Price: Free

Cobook

Cobook resides in your Mac menu bar and can be called up any time to search, add or edit entries in your Mac Contacts. Indispensable.

Publisher: Cobook
Website: http://www.cobookapp.com/
Version: 1.3.1
Category: CRM
Price: Free

coconutBattery

Right now, Apple’s menubar battery status reports that there’s a 95% charge left. But coconutBattery tells the truth reporting that 90% is left. This handy utility monitors battery health, by showing how often the battery was charged and contrasting its current maximum capacity with its original capacity.

Publisher: Chris
Website: http://www.coconut-flavour.com/coconutbattery/
Version: 2.8
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

Coda

Edit HTML code simply and quickly with this nice web development tool. Besides HTML, Coda also handles CSS, Java, PHP and many other development file types. For a limited time, Coda is offering a $75 upgrade price for everyone.

Publisher: Panic
Website: http://www.panic.com/coda/
Version: 2.0.12
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $99.00

Daylite

Daylite

Daylite used to be my favorite Mac CRM program, but it has been replaced by Base. The problem: Daylite is so feature-rich, everything becomes harder to use. We’re leaving Daylite on this list for now for people who need a Mac-based CRM recommendation, because it’s definitely nicely designed.

Publisher: Marketcircle Inc.
Website: http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/
Version: 4.2.2
Category: CRM
Price: $280.00

Decipher TextMessage

Decipher TextMessage saves your iPhone text messages, including image attachments, to your computer, so you have a permanent backup.

Publisher: Decipher Media LLC
Website: http://deciphertools.com/tm-mac.html
Version: 5.5.25
Category: Utility
Price: $19.99

Direct Mail

Direct Mail is a freemium program that lets you create email messages and send them to lists using either your email account or Direct Mail’s pre-paid e3 delivery service, which starts at $15 per month for up to 500 email recipients.

Publisher: e3 Software
Website: http://www.directmailmac.com/
Version: 3.5.3
Category: E-mail
Price: Freemium

DiskWave

DiskWave is a utility that scans your hard disk to determine what files and folders consume most of your disk space. A necessity for SSD users who want to free up disk space.

Publisher: Aymeric Barthe
Website: http://www.diskwave.barthe.ph
Version: 0.3.0
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

Drive Genius

Drive Genius reportedly is used by Apple to check storage devices, and can perform a number of functions, including defragging, permission repair and other optimization tasks.

Publisher: Prosoft Engineering Inc
Website: http://www.prosofteng.com/products/drive_genius_features.php
Version: 3.2.3
Category: Utility
Price: $99.00

Dropbox

Dropbox lets you save documents and pictures to the cloud, so you can instantly access them on other computers, your iPhone or your iPad. A must have. A free tier saves from 2GB to 16GB. A Pro plan stores 100GB for $9.99 per month.

Publisher: Dropbox
Website: http://www.dropbox.com/
Version: 2.4.6
Category: Cloud
Price: Freemium

eMail Extractor

eMail Extractor extracts email addresses from text files, which is a great way to build a customer contact list using mailbox data.

Publisher: Maxprog
Website: http://maxprog.com/
Version: 3.5.1
Category: Utility
Price: $20.00

eMail Verifier

eMail Verifier actually connects to your mail server and checks whether an email address exists or not, and disconnects without sending.

Publisher: Maxprog
Website: http://maxprog.com/
Version: 3.6
Category: Utility
Price: $30.00

Evernote

Evernote saves notes, images, PDFs or web clippings and lets you access them from any platform. Indispensable for people who do a lot of research, like us here at Social Revolution.

Publisher: Evernote
Website: http://www.evernote.com/
Version: 5.4.2
Category: Cloud
Price: Freemium

Export Address Book

Apple’s Address Book does not let you export contacts by group. Export Address Book does that and a lot more. Totally worth $4, don’t you agree?

Publisher: Stefan Keller
Website: http://www.subclassed.com/
Version: 1.8.2
Category: CRM
Price: $3.99

ExpressScribe

Need software to transcribe your Sony or Olympus digital voice recordings? Download the freemium ExpressScribe software and you have a good solution.

Publisher: NCH Software
Website: http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html
Version: 5.50
Category: Writing
Price: Free

Fantastical

Fantastical has become our go-to calendar program. Sure, we use BusyCal too, but Fantastical can be called up from the menu bar when one needs it, and its scheduling intelligence is great. It looks beautiful and there is an iPhone app.

Publisher: Flexibits
Website: http://flexibits.com/fantastical/
Version: 1.3.10
Category: Calendar
Price: $19.99

FileMaker Pro 12

FileMaker Pro is a fully programmable database design tool that can be used to create custom relational databases and deployed on all platforms; Mac, iPhone and iPad. This product listing is maintained in FileMaker.

Publisher: Filemaker
Website: http://www.filemaker.com/
Version: 12.0v4
Category: Database
Price: $299.00

FinalDraft

Want to write a screenplay or Broadway book? FinalDraft lets you approach it the right way, seamlessly formatting your script as you type.

Publisher: Final Draft Inc.
Website: http://www.finaldraft.com/
Version: 8.0
Category: Writing
Price: $249.00

FontDoctor

Need to organize and repair your fonts? FontDoctor does this very well.

Publisher: FontGear Inc.
Website: http://fontgear.net/fontdoctor.html
Version: 8.1.3
Category: Utility
Price: $69.99

ForkLift 2

ForkLift is now our favorite FTP program, superseding Fetch, which still has not been optimized for Retina displays. ForkLift is fast and features two main windows that can either display your server files or your local disk files, so you can simply drag and drop between the two. You can, of course, also drag and drop between desktop and any window. The program does have a few interface idiosyncrasies, like finding your Favorites, but it’s the best FTP file transfer program today.

Publisher: Binary Nights
Website: http://binarynights.com/forklift/
Version: 2.5.6
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $29.95

Free Ruler

Free Ruler is a floating horizontal and vertical ruler that measures on-screen items in pixels, inches, picas,or centimeters. A must-have for web designers.

Publisher: Pascal
Website: http://www.pascal.com/software/freeruler/
Version: 1.7b5
Category: Utility
Price: Free

GarageBand

As Apple puts it, GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac — complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely redesigned sound library, and virtual session drummers. Now nothing is holding you back from becoming the next Daft Punk.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/mac/garageband/
Version: 10.0.1
Category: Creative
Price: Free With New Macs

GarageSale

GarageSale

Here’s a tool for today’s economy. GarageSale is basically an eBay management tool. Use pre-designed templates to make your stuff look good; GarageSale manages uploading of the content and seller communication. Slick.

Publisher: iwascoding GmbH
Website: http://www.iwascoding.com/GarageSale/
Version: 6.6.5
Category: E-commerce
Price: $39.99

GitHub

If you use GitHub, and what technocrat doesn’t, you already know about this app.

Publisher: GitHub
Website: http://mac.github.com/
Version: Drum ‘n’ Rebase (150)
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $0.00

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has become the most popular browser because it’s frequently updated in the background, lightning fast and easily extensible.

Publisher: Google
Website: http://www.google.com/mac/
Version: 30.0
Category: Browser
Price: $0.00

Google Earth

Put the world at your fingertips. Fly to any place around the globe and see maps with 3D buildings and street-view terrains. Mindbendingly fun.

Publisher: Google
Website: http://www.google.com/earth/index.html
Version: 7.0.3
Category: Mapping
Price: $0.00

GoToMeeting

If you produce or attend webinars or online presentations, GoToMeeting is definitely one of the gold standards of the online meeting world. Work with anyone, anywhere, as long as you can afford the monthly $49 entrance fee. A cheaper monthly service is Join.me, which starts at $13/mo.

Publisher: Citrix Online LLC
Website: http://www.gotomeeting.com/
Version: 5.4
Category: Online Meeting
Price: $49.00

GrandTotal

Create invoices and estimates using a customized design. Automatically attaches a PDF invoice to email for quick sending. Great for consultants.

Publisher: Stefan Fürst
Website: http://mediaatelier.com/GrandTotal/
Version: 2.1
Category: Finance
Price: $90.00

iBooks Author

iBooks Author

iBooks Author lets you create sophisticated e-books with video, photo gallery widgets and more. Download your free copy now.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/
Version: 2.1.1
Category: E-books
Price: $0.00

Icon Slate

Do you need to design a favicon for your website? Then you must use Icon Slate, which is an easy-to-use tool that generates favicons, including Retina versions.

Publisher: Jeremy Marchand
Website: http://www.kodlian.com/apps/icon-slate/
Version: 3.51
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $4.99

iDraw

We’ve been happy campers since we began using iDraw a few months ago. iDraw is the first truly viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This vector design and illustration program reads both Illustrator and Photoshop files and can export in a host of formats. If you frequently need to create buttons or logos for websites, iDraw should be your first choice. And, best of all, it’s Retina compatible.

Publisher: Indeeo Inc.
Website: http://www.indeeo.com/idraw/
Version: 2.3.1
Category: Design
Price: $24.99

iMovie

iMovie lets you edit camcorder and iPhone movies and organizes them for easy browsing and watching. Totally Apple, totally ubercool.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/
Version: 10.0
Category: Video
Price: $14.99

iPhoto

iPhoto grabs photos from your digicam, organizes them by event or import date, lets you retouch photos and sends them to your friend’s inbox or mailbox.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/
Version: 9.5
Category: Photography
Price: $14.99

Kaleidoscope

If you code, you know how often you have to compare two pieces of code to see the differences. Kaleidoscope makes this easy and sports a beautiful interface too. Unfortunately, Black Pixel decided to nearly double its price to $70. Not totally ubercool but worth it if you compare files a lot.

Publisher: Black Pixel
Website: http://www.kaleidoscopeapp.com/
Version: 2.0
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $69.99

Keynote

Keynote was the program that made us switch back to the Mac. It’s that good. Outstanding ease of use and power makes PowerPoint fans green with envy.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 6.0
Category: Presentation
Price: $19.99

Kindle for Mac

Want to read Kindle books on your MacBook? No problem with the free Kindle for Mac app makes, which can now be downloaded from the App Store.

Publisher: Amazon.com
Website: http://kindle-for-mac.en.softonic.com/mac/
Version: 1.10.1
Category: E-books
Price: $0.00

Launchbar

Do you dislike having to plow through your application folder or endlessly scrolling the toolbar with 72 app icons that, after a while, all start looking alike? LaunchBar lets you hit Command-Spacebar and enter one or two letters to quickly summon an application.The only thing not to like about Launchbar is that it’s bit expensive for what it does.

Publisher: Objective Development Software GmbH
Website: http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/index.html
Version: 5.6.1
Category: Utility
Price: $35.00

LittleSnapper

Need to take screenshots of entire web pages, i.e. more than is shown on your screen? LittleSnapper not only takes these screenshots but organizes them too.

Publisher: Realmac Software
Website: http://www.realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/
Version: 1.8.3
Category: Design
Price: $39.99

Mail

What can I add about Apple’s built-in email program that you don’t already know? It’s flexible and fast and, with a few exceptions, it does just about everything well. We live in it.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/osx/
Version: 6.6
Category: Email
Price: $0.00

MailSteward

MailSteward archives huge volumes of email by storing them in a database that offers sophisticated searches plus the ability to extract mail addresses.

Publisher: Publog.com
Website: http://www.mailsteward.com/
Version: 9.2
Category: Database
Price: $49.95

Mint QuickView

This Macintosh application is a companion program to the Mint website. It brings the same beautiful graphics to the desktop but adds another nicety: a menu icon that tells you when a bank transaction has occurred. Great tool for organizing your financial life.

Publisher: Intuit Inc.
Website: http://www.mint.com/
Version: 2.0.1
Category: Finance
Price: $0.00

Mountain Tweaks

Mountain Tweaks (and Lion Tweaks) lets you customize and correct certain features in Mac OS X 10.7, many of which are undoubtedly annoying. After you download this free app, donate to developer Fredrik Wiker, so he can get a college education. Mountain Tweaks will probably lose its relevance once you upgrade Mavericks, but we’ll see if Wiker releases a Mavericks Tweaks. ;)

Publisher: Fredrik Wiker
Website: http://tweaksapp.com/
Version: 1.1
Category: Utility
Price: $0.00

Name Mangler

Need to rename a large set of files, like for instance add a file’s pixel dimensions and/or file size to the file name? Name Mangler will do this chore. It can also remove characters from file names starting at a certain position, or add suffixes and prefixes to file names. It will “dumb down” file names for Windows, trim white space, convert AM to am, and add a time-stamp to file names.

Publisher: Many Tricks
Website: http://manytricks.com/namemangler/
Version: 3.3
Category: Utility
Price: $19.00

Numbers

Numbers is the Excel of the Mac. It offers much of its power, but some might think that’s not enough. Now that Apple has finally upgraded the suite, a new Numbers has appeared that has fewer features than its predecessor. Still we like its new skin a lot and will transition over.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 3.0
Category: Finance
Price: $19.99 (Free with new Macs)

OmniOutliner

OmniOutliner is our favorite tool for creating to-do lists, data lists, or any task that requires outlining. The good news is that The Omni Group is betatesting version 4, which has a much cleaner interface.

Publisher: The Omni Group
Website: http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnioutliner/
Version: 3.10.6
Category: Writing
Price: $39.99

OnyX

How about a versatile utility with a nice interface that handles system maintenance tasks and is shareware? That is OnyX, and it’s only available on the Mac. We don’t know if it’s compatible with Mavericks…will let you know.

Publisher: Titanium Software
Website: http://www.onyxmac.com/
Version: 2.7.1
Category: Utility
Price: Free

OpenOffice

Need a free tool that can open Microsoft Office documents? Look no further, OpenOffice is your master key for access to word processing documents spreadsheets, and presentations.

Publisher: Apache Software Foundation
Website: http://www.openoffice.org/
Version: 3.4.1
Category: Productivity
Price: Free

Pacifist

Pacifist is a shareware application with a suggested donation that opens Mac OS X .pkg package files, .dmg disk images, and .zip, .tar, .tar.gz and .xar archives and allows you to extract individual files and folders. This is useful if an application installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling all of Mac OS X.

Publisher: Charles Soft
Website: http://www.charlessoft.com
Version: 3.2.2
Category: Utility
Price: $20.00

Pages

Pages is the Microsoft Word of the Mac. Like Numbers, Pages has outstanding layout capabilities, as exemplified by its built-in templates. Well worth $20 or getting it free with every new Mac you help sell. Was updated to a 2013 version. See our review of Numbers.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 5.0
Category: Writing
Price: $19.99 (free with new Macs)

Panorama Sheets

Need to manipulate data? Like join two fields or clean up a database marred by sloppy data entry? Panorama Sheets parses your data fast by doing all its work in RAM. If you don’t need to manipulate more than a few hundred records, you can keep using the demo version, since Panorama Sheets works for free on small databases.

Publisher: ProVUE Development
Website: http://www.provue.com/
Version: 6.0.0
Category: Database
Price: $39.95

Paparazzi

Paparazzi captures screenshots of websites but goes beyond the call of duty by grabbing the entire page, as far as the eye cannot see.

Publisher: Nate Weaver
Website: http://derailer.org/paparazzi/
Version: 0.6.7
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

Paprika

Manage all your recipes on the Mac and then sync the recipe and shopping list to your iPhone. Paprika is one of the best recipe managers out there today.

Publisher: Hindsight Labs LLC
Website: http://www.paprikaapp.com/
Version: 1.4.2
Category: Food
Price: $19.99

Parallels Desktop

Run Windows apps on your Mac in a separate window. Drag and drop text between Mac and Windows applications, all feats made possible by Parallels. The progress in the field of virtualization is remarkable. Parallels 8.0 is so much easier to use than previous versions. We are planning to update to 9.0 soon.

Publisher: Parallels IP Holdings GmbH
Website: http://www.parallels.com/products/desktop/
Version: 8.0
Category: Virtualization
Price: $79.99

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

Need Photoshop but don’t want to pay Adobe any more money? Pixelmator does what you absolutely need: resizing, retouching, layering and more. We have totally fallen in love with the latest version Pixelmator 3.2. Its ease of use, clean interface and very attractive price make Pixelmator a viable alternative to Photoshop.

Publisher: Pixelmator Team Ltd.
Website: http://www.pixelmator.com/
Version: 3.0
Category: Creative
Price: $14.99

Presentation Prompter

Presentation Prompter turns your Mac into a teleprompter, offering full control over display preferences, including scrolling speed and character size.

Publisher: NextForce Software
Website: http://www.nextforcesw.com/presentationprompter.html
Version: 4.3.1
Category: Video
Price: $65.00

QuarkXPress

We created the weekly publication, MacWEEK, using Quark. It would not have been possible to publish a 50,000-circulation weekly in 1987 on the Mac without it. Enough said.

Publisher: Quark
Website: http://www.quark.com/
Version: 10.0
Category: Design
Price: $799.00

Quicken Essentials

Here’s one case where a Windows program still outshines the Mac. But if you want to balance your checkbook the Mac way, Quicken Essentials is good enough.

Publisher: Intuit
Website: http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/mac-personal-financial-software.jsp
Version: 1.7.4
Category: Finance
Price: $39.99

Reeder

Silvio Rizzi has written the most gorgeous RSS reader bar none. Reeder syncs with Google Reader feeds but showcases articles beautifully and simply. UPDATE: We’re still waiting for an update from Rizzi for this great app. He has updated the iPhone and iPad Reeder and promises to update this one too, someday.

Publisher: Silvio Rizzi
Website: http://reederapp.com/
Version: 1.2
Category: RSS
Price: $9.99

Renamer 4

Renamer lets you batch rename many files and folders at once. Renamer can even combine multiple operations in one single task. You can batch change file extensions, like changing JPEG to .jpg or change names of pictures from IMG_0051.jpg to something that is easier to recognize.

Publisher: Incredible Bee
Website: http://renamer.com
Version: 4.2.5
Category: Utility
Price: $19.99

Safari

For those who need to create screenshots of websites on a regular basis, Safari is the only way to go. Chrome has no setting to get rid of its toolbar, which explains why all advertising screenshots are taken in Safari.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/safari/
Version: 6.0.4
Category: Browser
Price: Free

Scrivener

Scrivener

Scrivener is perhaps the most amazing writing organizer and thought outliner. Designed for book authors, Scrivener lets you organize your writing and thoughts by folder or sub-folder. It can even attach a document to a document. We have started moving all of our writing — whether for book, site, collateral or anything else — into Scrivener. Highly recommended for anyone who does any writing, from business plans or brochures to novels.

Publisher: Literature & Latte
Website: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/
Version: 2.5
Category: Writing
Price: $45.00

Search & Replace

Search & Replace is a powerful batch-processing utility that replaces content in text files, renames or trims file names, adds prefixes or suffixes, or changes text to upper and lower case with just one click. It will also provide you with a count of changes, if you like to keep track of things.

Publisher: Dorian Chapeau
Website: http://search-and-replace.en.softonic.com/mac/
Version: 1.8
Category: Utility
Price: $9.14

Skype

Since its launch in August 2003, Skype has reshaped the chat and internet calling market. The Mac version, while radically different from its Windows counterpart, is pretty nifty.

Publisher: Microsoft
Website: http://www.skype.com/
Version: 6.9
Category: Chat
Price: Free

Smultron

I have yet to find a simple text editor that does what Smultron does, which is quick-and-dirty CSS or text editing. I really like its search and replace facility. It also has a great uppercase to lowercase to title case, etc. feature. Glad to see that Smultron is now compatible with Mavericks.

Publisher: Peter Borg Apps AB
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smultron-6/id692204913?mt=12
Version: 6.0.2
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $4.99

Snapz Pro X

Mac designers create a lot of user manuals, so taking great screenshots is key. Snapz Pro X works the same way as Apple’s Grab but offers more options, like saving directly to a PNG or PSD file.

Publisher: Ambrosia Software Inc.
Website: http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/
Version: 2.5.4
Category: Utility
Price: $69.00

Sol Basics Solitaire

If you’re addicted to Solitaire, specifically Spider Solitaire, you will like Sol Basics. For 10 bucks, you get Sol Basics Solitaire, Spider, Free Cell and Klondike.

Publisher: Smallware LLC
Website: http://www.solbasics.com/
Version: 1.2
Category: Entertainment
Price: $9.99

SplashID Safe

We have two password keepers in this list. That’s because SplashID does a better job of organizing, while 1Password is better at inserting. Both could be far easier to use. UPDATE: Splash has taken a lot of heat for its latest update, which forces people to hand over their password to enable its new cloud synch feature. We do not recommend upgrading either the desktop app or the iPhone app until we can find an alternative. Unfortunately, Mavericks’ built-in solution is not great either.

Publisher: Splash
Website: http://www.splashdata.com/splashid/desktop/
Version: 6.2
Category: Utility
Price: $19.95

Suitcase Fusion 5.0

The bane of dealing with a lot of fonts is that the one you need is not always available. Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to manage a huge font library by turning fonts on and off when needed. Not cheap but definitely worth it.

Publisher: Extensis
Website: http://www.extensis.com/suitcase-fusion-4/
Version: 16.0.5
Category: Utility
Price: $99.95

Text Expander

Here is another program that we wished we had acquired earlier. Text Expander saves so much time typing repetitive things like URLs and return addresses, simply amazing. It even handles embedded terms that require further input when you type. Highly recommended.

Publisher: SmileOnMyMac LLC
Website: http://www.smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/index.html
Version: 4.1.1
Category: Utility
Price: $34.95

Things

Things is a well-executed to-do list manager and was one of the first apps that allowed users to synch between Mac and its iPhone app ($10), perfect for list checkers. What we really like about Things is that it has a Helper app that lets you add tasks from any program (as long as Things is running).

Publisher: Cultured Code GmbH
Website: http://www.culturedcode.com/
Version: 2.2.3
Category: Task Management
Price: $49.99

TimeMachineEditor

While Time Machine is a great backup solution, it has one annoying habit; it backs up all the time, slowing down your Mac. TimeMachineEditor solves that.

Publisher: Time Software
Website: http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/
Version: 3.0.3
Category: Utility
Price: Free

TorBrowser

Would you like to surf the new Silk Road 2? The TorBrowser is a secure web browser that allows you to access web sites completely incognito. Take that NSA!

Publisher: Tor Project
Website: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
Version: 1.0
Category: Browser
Price: Free

TuneUp Gold

TuneUp will parse your iTunes music library and find song duplicates, cover art and correct information, including artist, track name, album name, etc. While it is not Retina-optimized — particularly galling given its $50 price — it does work well.

Publisher: TuneUp Media Inc.
Website: http://tuneupmedia.com/
Version: 2.4.8
Category: Utility
Price: $49.95

TurboTax Home Business

Intuit makes great tax preparation software. While you can choose between filing taxes online or the software version, the software offers more features.

Publisher: Intuit
Website: http://turbotax.intuit.com/
Version: 2013
Category: Finance
Price: $74.95

TweetDeck

Heard the bad news? After taking Facebook out of Tweetdeck, Twitter has announced the end of the road for TweetDeck, a very popular preferred Twitter client. So get it while you still can. Perhaps we will make the older version available here, so you can still download what was once the best social media client.

Publisher: Twitter
Website: http://www.tweetdeck.com/
Version: 3.3.3
Category: Social Media
Price: Free

UnRarX

Some online repositories like compressing files in a weird format called rar. UnRarX lets you expand these rare rar archives. ;)

Publisher: Alexander Roshal
Website: http://www.unrarx.com/
Version: 2.2
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

VLC Media Player

VLC lets you watch videos encoded in formats QuickTime player cannot handle, including MKV, WMC and AVI. As CNET puts it: If you want a player that can be totally customized and configured to suit — and is not only updated frequently but also regularly offers new features and options created by a huge community of programmers and users — the answer is VLC Media Player.

Publisher: Twoflower
Website: http://download.cnet.com/VLC-Media-Player/3000-13632_4-10267151.html
Version: 2.0.9
Category: Video
Price: Free

Webbla

One area where the Mac suffers in comparison to the PC is bookmark management. Webbla organizes bookmarks the way iTunes does, either visually or as lists.

Publisher: Celmaro Ltd.
Website: http://www.celmaro.com/
Version: 1.5.6
Category:
Price: $22.99

White List

White List will parse your Apple Mail folders and provide stats on email addresses you have communicated with and ranks them in order of number of emails sent. An invaluable tool for making sure your email lists contain the people you correspond with frequently.

Publisher: Patrick Stein
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whitelist/id412034673/
Version: 1.14
Category: CRM
Price: $0.99

Wondershare AllMyTube

There are many utilities that claim to be able to download videos from YouTube, but most don’t work very well. Even iLivid, which we recommended last, stopped working. Wondershare AllMyTube downloads the highest resolution videos available from YouTube, and even Vimeo. A welcome tool for presenters.

Publisher: Wondershare
Website: http://www.wondershare.com/pro/mac-allmytube.html
Version: 4.5.0
Category: Utility
Price: $29.00

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate

Despite the fact that Macs are hugely popular among video pros, you rarely find good info on the best video converter utility. Search no more, we think Wondershare is it.

Publisher: Wondershare
Website: http://www.wondershare.com/mac-video-converter-ultimate/
Version: 3.0.1
Category: Video
Price: $69.00

WriteRoom

If you need to write without distractions, WriteRoom is a full-screen writing environment that eliminates clutter. WriteRoom even lets you mimic those word processors of yore. Fun!

Publisher: Hogbay Software
Website: http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/writeroom
Version: 3.0
Category: Writing
Price: $9.99

Xee

Xee is an image browser that lets you turn any folder into a slide show. It will open any format Preview can open, plus a few esoteric ones, like PCX.

Publisher: Dag Agren
Website: http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/xee
Version: 3.3
Category: Photography
Price: $4.99

XMind

XMind is a brainstorming and mind-mapping software program that lets you diagram website structures or org charts. It’s priced using the freemium model, so no arguments here.

Publisher: XMind Ltd.
Website: http://www.xmind.net/download/mac/
Version: 3.4.0
Category: Design
Price: Freemium

Note Regarding Pricing

  • Price – All prices are list but promotions are frequently available, as are Amazon.com discounts.
  • Free – Means the product is free.
  • Freemium – There is a more capable version available or you can avail yourself of paid premium services.
  • Shareware – The author would like you to donate money so he/she can survive. Make sure you do if you find the app useful.

Sony XBR-X950B, The Vivid Plasma With Vivid Colors

January 18, 2014 by  

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The battles fought over display IQ, or image quality, are legend. Plasma claimed better blacks. LCD offered vivid colors. But if ever there was a 4K TV panel that impressed observers at CES 2014, it was the Sony Reference Standard, Sony XBR-X950B.

The Sony XBR-X950B offers deep blacks and vivid colors, boosted by what Sony calls X-tended Dynamic Range technology, which it says leads to “unprecedented brightness” and a “truly brilliant picture quality.” We definitely saw the higher peak white and deeper blacks Sony claims its technology delivers. That red dress in the picture above literally jumped off the screen.

Available this Spring, the 85-inch XBR-85X950B and 65-inch XBR-65X950B 4K Ultra HD TVs feature full-array local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting, Triluminous quantum-dot illumination technology, HDMI 2.0 with 2160p/60 capabilities, with decoding via the HEVC codec. The Sony XBR-X950B series also offers active 3D technology, Wi-Fi, screen mirroring with NFC OneTouch, and comes equipped with MHL 3.0.

Pricing was not announced but is sure to seriously tax your wallet but then again, what price glory?

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