The Collections. A set of things I thought were interesting enough to comment on, share or otherwise make note of – And why.

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Wednesday
Apr252012

Sparrow for iPhone

Sparrow for Mac and iPhone

Short version:

Mail.app for iPhone and iPod touch sucks. Sparrow is a flawed gem, but still much better. Worth using.

Long version:

The bad:

Sparrow only works with iMap, doesn't use Push notification (Apparently Apple declined to allow it), doesn't have a native iPad version and suffers from the normal iOS foibles like not being able to access any files except the Camera Roll, and can't be set as the default mail client.

The Good:

That said it's really lovely to use, works with any IMAP based mail service, integrates tightly with Google and does almost everything that mail.app should do, including letting you swipe mail to reveal common tasks (Like reply, or send to a folder), an easy way to flip between inbox, unread, and Gmail's 'Priority' inbox if you enabled it, user avatars to show you who's sent you mail, a unified inbox, and a rather stylish way of marking your Gmail based emails with colours that match the 'label' (AKA folder) that they've been assigned to.

It also handles threaded conversations and simple batch operations like  "mark all as read" or "Move" and so on.

At there moment the lack of Push seems a major obstacle, but it's set up to let Mail.app handle all the push notifications and Notification Center things, and then you can just open Sparrow to actually deal with your mail

The killer App

Sparrow allows you to add Aliases to your accounts so you can send your e-mail form a different address to the one you receive it at, or if you need to, switch to sending from any other accounts you added to Sparrow.

It's tight integration with Gmail means that you get all the benefits of your Gmail account - storage, address list, user icons, folders, colour tagging, threaded conversations and snappy IMAP integration.

You can also configure your accounts to only sync specific folders, define Signatures and tweak Sparrow to get a nice experience.

The user experience is what makes Sparrow worth using, despite it's flaws. It's flaws do not in any way outweigh it's good features, and over time it will improve.

Thursday
Apr192012

Podcasts

I like podcasts. They're free, and I get through a lot of background media while I'm otherwise engaged in walking or drawing, or waiting for things to happen. I chew through a lot of tech news this way, absorbing it by osmosis...

This Week in Technology (TWiT), both as a producer and a show, are one of the best, supplying good quality professional audio or video, as well as professional pundits, including John C. Dvorak, Jeff Jarvis and Paul Thurrot (Who wrote the book on Windows). TWiT is hosted by the genial, velvet voiced, Léo Laporte on most of the large number of programmes, though not all. TWiT also produces themed episodes covering most topics.

For people who say "Fuck!" and talk about their dicks, Smodcast is worth a listen. Run by Kevin Smith, writer, director and fat guy (Also known as Silent Bob, the best misnomer in show biz, because this fucker will not shut up), Smodcasts offerings run the geek gamut of Hollywood gossip, movie making (Kevin acted in, wrote and directed a lot of films), comics (Kevin owns a comic book store, the staff of which had their own TV show), and Jason Mewes.

Jason, actor, ex junkie, fucked by life before birth, possible village idiot, deserves a category all of his own, because he's such a strange affable guy, and so much fun to hear bantering with Kevin on their shared podcast, "Jay and Silent Bob get old" - A comedy that's recorded on stage and popular enough to be on tour.

Finally, in my picks, Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap - An amateur podcast by fandom darling Ursula Vernon and Man Friday, Kevin. Every week they taste test and rate cheap food so you can listen to them suffer and get drunk while MST3King the food.

All KUEC episodes are recorded in front of a live beagle to ensure quality.

Saturday
Apr142012

French Onion Soup

Personally I hate the stuff, but that's merely a shrieking terror of food that has onions in. I was attacked by an onion as a youngster of a mere 29 years old and it's scarred me for life, metaphorically.

Anyway - There's several (hundred (thousand)) recipes you can get by googling but since the topic came up, here's a couple that caught my eye.

 

  1. The Food Network (UK)
    http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/french-onion-soup-1440.html 
    First - The food network lets you easily print the recipe in a printer friendly format, including index cards.
    Second - Their mobile apps let you one-click add the ingredients to a shopping list
    Third - Feedback - You can check to see what other people say about these recipes.
  2. About.com
    http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/soupsandsalads/r/glutenfreefrenchonionsouprecipe.htm 
    A rather plainer site but this one offeres a gluten free version because not everyone can, or wants to eat bread. The advantage being that you can use both recipes and just substitute the gluten/gluten free parts as you will.

After mentioning French Onion Soup, there were a couple of comments made - Derecho, a frequent commenter and regular on this column since the very first post, says:

"I love French onion soup, though I'm of the opinion that a sheet of a cheese that doesn't get stringy when melted should be laid across the top."

The classic recipe calls for Gruyere, but if that's not available you could try Emmenthal or even Edam (which does get string). That said, if you're willing to use Edam there's nothing stopping you using Babybel cheese – Or even mixing your own blend of grated or sliced cheese. Stilton and Brie anyone?

 

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