Meerkat

Mar21

A new social app, Meerkat, was introduced at the SXSW (South by South West) conference in Austin TX last week.  I discovered it through a tweet by Mashable who was using it at the conference to give a virtual tour.  Since then, I have checked in occasionally and experienced a live bike tour through the San Francisco water front and  a walk through New York in the recent snow storm.  It is essentially a moving webcam with sound.  It only runs on iOS devices and is one-way video.  That is, the person hosting the video can show what they want, but viewers only participate through text messages that appear on the screen for other viewers to see.

It is works with Twitter for users to post the link to the Meerkat session and uses Twitter account for the viewers to login.  Viewers’ Twitter icons appear in a scrollable horizontal stream at the top of the screen.  Touching an icon shows the Twitter user’s account name and short description that you normally see in Twitter.

Each Meerkat broadcaster has a score which appears to be related to the number of users that follow them in Twitter multiplied by the time they broadcast plus some factor of the number of real-time viewers.  They are displayed on a Leaderboard screen by this score.  At the present moment, the Leaderboard shows Mashable with the lead with jsneedles in hot pursuit, both with scores over 60,000.  Jeff Needles who is a producer at TWIT.tv is on a 24 hour Meerathon to try and become #1.  Notable other high scorers are Jimmy Fallon who shows his daily rehearsal and Guy Kawasaki who is promoting his new book. Jimmy, with his millions of users, does not need to be on very long for a high score, but Jeff with about 800 users needs the time accumulation.  KARE11 was also Meerkatting some of their news broadcasts the last few days but I haven’t seen anything today.  You could see the studio and off-air talk during commercials.

Any Twitter user can setup a Meerkat session which is suggested to be scheduled with a tweet to their followers.  If you fire up the Meerkat app, you will see some of the sessions in progress on the main screen. This seems like a little random or maybe being modified.  When I first connected to Mashable, I saw a list of about 6 more. Recently, I see primarily the ones that I follow.

Meerkat has its own Like list which you select from the Leaderboard and then can edit from your own profile.  When they first started about a month ago, they were using the Twitter “social graph”and were growing very fast.  Twitter recently bought a similar company/product named Periscope and cut Meerkat off.  Meerkat can still use Twitter for login credentials and promotion through tweets and probably will expand their services in future updates.  Expect Twitter to bring Periscope online to compete.

I discovered that when you click on a link like  in Twitter or Tweetbot which I use on my iPhone. you go to a web page showing the Meerkat session.  The screen shows the session apparently without adding you to the list of viewers.  You don’t have to download the Meerkat app.  I am not sure if you have to register through this mode since I found this after I had already registered through my Twitter account.  Meerkat appears in the iOS Settings for Twitter access.  You can also find sessions by searching for #meerkat in Twitter.

There is also a web site http://meerkatroulette.com that will show you a random Meerkat session from which you can switch to other sessions.  This best done on an iPhone since Meerkat is formatted for a portrait display.

Note that Meerkat sessions are not saved on their web site but are saved on the broadcasters device and could be posted somewhere later.  I haven’t tried broadcasting myself but it may have some use for our user group.

jsneedles is closing in on Mashable and may be #1 when you read this.

Please comment if you learn anything more or if I got anything wrong.

Calculators

Feb19
calcbot

Calcbot

Today Tapbots finally released an update to Calcbot on iOS.  I used Calcbot for many years as an alternative to the stock iOS calculator mainly for the expression view and history tape.  Calcbot is also available as a Mac app and can sync your history through iCloud.

When Calcbot wasn’t updated for the iPhone 5/5S, I ditched it in favor of Kalky.  Kalky is gesture-based for the delete, clear, use result and save functions.  It definitely doesn’t look as nice as Calcbot, but it has the features I want and works fast.

kalky

Kalky

Most have agreed that the best calculator on iOS is PCalc, however it is way more than I need on a normal basis.  For now I’ll stick with Kalky but Calcbot certainly is a great alternative.

ViewExif to view exif metadata of photos on iOS

Feb16

viewexif

ViewExif is an iOS extension which allows you to view exif metadata of photos.  Exif metadata is data about the photo like dimensions, taken date, ISO speed, F number, exposure time, focal length and more.  It will add a button to your share sheet in not only the Photos app but any app that displays photos.  Since Apple does not give up this information directly in the Photos app, this is a handy extension to have.

Download ViewExif for free

View current playing iTunes track in the menu bar

Feb13

quicktunesI typically play music while I’m working on my Mac.  I have the ability to keep iTunes open all the time and in the foreground (I have 3 monitors), however it still seems to always get covered up by another window.  I can use the MiniPlayer, but I don’t like it sitting on top of any of my windows and I can never seem to find a good spot for it to sit on my screen.  There are a bunch of iTunes menu bar apps that allow you to see the current playing track, but they require you to first click on the menu bar icon.  I wanted to be able to quickly just glance up to the menu bar without clicking on anything and see the current playing track.

After a bit of searching, I came across an old app called QuickTunes.  It lives in your menu bar and simply displays the current playing track and artist.  If you click on the menu, you can control iTunes functions like Play, Pause, Next, etc.  From the menu you can also select “Play Another By This Artist”, “Play Another In This CD”, and “Play Another In This Genre”.  The app also has a floating window similar to the MiniPlayer, but not as useful or good looking (remember how old this app is).

After a couple weeks of use, it hasn’t crashed on my Yosemite Mac and does exactly what I wanted it to do.  System requirements listed on the site say iTunes 4.7+ and Mac OS 10.3+.  So who knows if it will continue to work with new versions of OS X, but it’s lasted this long so I’m hopeful.

Download QuickTunes for free

Bring back the old window zoom button in Yosemite

Nov18

Yosemite changed the default behavior of the window zoom button (green circle) to bring the window full screen instead of resizing (zooming) to the content. You can of course hold down the option key on your keyboard when clicking the button to toggle between full screen and zoom.  However, if you want to change the green button to always zoom again and not have to hold down option, you can accomplish this with a free app called BetterTouchTool.

Once you have BetterTouchTool installed, go into Preferences and configure a new trigger.

  1. Make sure Global is highlighted in the left sidebar.
  2. Click the Configure New Trigger button.
  3. From the Trigger  drop down select Leftclick Green Window Button
  4. From the Predefined Action drop down select Zoom Window Below Cursor (this can be found under the Window Interaction section).

bettertouchtool-1

From now on the green button will zoom to the content instead of going full screen.

Prior to Yosemite, I had been using RightZoom to have the green button maximize the window to the full area of the screen similar to how the maximize button in Microsoft Windows works.  As of now, RightZoom is not compatible with Yosemite. So instead I can setup BetterTouchTool to do the same thing. Instead of selecting Zoom Window Below Cursor, select Maximize Window.

bettertouchtool-2

I also setup another trigger for Rightclick Green Window Button to Restore Old Window Size.

bettertouchtool-3

And just in case I ever do want to go into full screen mode, I setup a third trigger for Leftclick Green Window Button plus the option key and select Enter Fullscreen.

bettertouchtool-4

BetterTouchTool has many other features besides these, definitely worth checking out.

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