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App Pick: AnyList

AnyList

I heard about the AnyList app on the Daily Tech News Show podcast during the Today’s Pick section. I’d been looking for an updated app for syncing shopping lists for a while. I was skeptical, but AnyList’s features and its freemium model won me over. We’ve been using it for a while, and it’s working well.

Note: Currently, there are no Android or Windows Phone versions of AnyList.

Free Features

The basic features of AnyList should work for most. You can create and edit lists and synchronize them among your own devices. You can also share individual lists among other user accounts. This allows you to share with your partner without having to also share your account. Meanwhile, your partner can maintain her or his own separate lists.

The same list on two devices

The built-in database contains most grocery items, and you can add items if you prefer specific brands or product types (like Vanilla Oreos). As you type, autocomplete offers quick, tappable suggestions.

AnyList manages categories in groups. So Dairy, Meat, and Product are in the Grocery Category Group. And you can add categories and sort them as you see fit. For example, I added Coffee and then sorted it so it would appear after Breakfast & Cereal. And this edit is available to anyone with whom I share the list.

Thoughtful convenience features are also available. You can keep your device from powering off while AnyList is open. You can set to double-tap to cross off a list item which can prevent accidental cross-offs when your finger mindlessly touches the edge of your screen. And you can tweak the colors of individual lists to help visually differentiate them.

AnyList Complete: The Premium Features

The premium features are not overpriced. Individual accounts are $7.99 per year and Family accounts are just $11.99 per year for everyone. And the renewal is not automatic, so you stay in full control.

The cost entitles you AnyList for the Web (a nice web-based app) and a Mac app. You can use the iOS mobile app and desktop browser extensions to import recipes from popular websites. This allows you to manage the ingredients in your lists including recipe photos. There’s also recipe scaling and meal planning.

In case you just gotta have the exact item, you can add item photos to remove potential confusion.

Your lists, recipes, and associated photos are all backed up to the cloud. This helps get the premium elements onto new devices by just logging into your AnyList account.

You can configure badge counts and protect lists with passcodes. And if you’re wild about themes, you have more options with the premium services.

More Than Groceries

While I’ve gone on and on about the features for groceries and recipes, AnyList can manage, well, any list that you can think of.

Find out more at www.anylistapp.com.

Airtable for Lists and Reference

AirtableApp: Airtable – Cost: Free

Sometimes you want to track a certain type of thing (perhaps ratings of your favorite coffees or brews). There are probably apps for that, but maybe they’re too socially connected or just downright confusing. Personally, I’ve been wanting to track favorite beers, but the apps I’ve found stink for one or more reasons. And using the iOS Reminders or Microsoft OneNote never really worked well. Then I heard of Airtable.

Airtable provides a fairly intuitive interface for creating simple or complex lists called Bases. It’s like creating a spreadsheet but Airtable makes it work like a charm in a tappable interface like your phone. For those who understand database concepts like tables and views, Airtable can become that much more powerful.

If you’re interested in this kind of app but databases sound intimidating, the folks at Airtable have you covered. The support section is thorough and surprisingly easy to grasp. The sample Bases have a refreshingly short learning curve, and once you take a close look, the concepts will just click for you.

Hey, I’m dense, and I figured it out.

Airtable Bases can be created and edited in app or online, and they’re always in sync. There’s collaboration tools and connectivity to online services like Dropbox, Evernote, and many more. If you keep your Bases under 1,200 rows (aka, records), then the service remains free. If you need more, then there are reasonable levels of service.

Airtable.com

Airtable App [iTunes] – Android coming soon

Office 365 Becomes Even No-Brainer-er

OneDrive Logo on Several Device TypesOn Monday, October 27, Microsoft announced that all Office 365 subscriber accounts would receive unlimited OneDrive storage.

A month ago, the software giant increased the maximum allowable files size from 2 GB  to 10 GB.This removed a major gripe many users had against the cloud storage service.

Meanwhile, this puts a lot of pressure on services like DropBox and BitCasa. It also further diminishes the value of Google Docs, which offers relatively lackluster productivity applications.

And while Microsoft officially charges $99 for Home (5 users) and $69 for Personal (1 user) subscriptions annually, you can easily find discounts in the form of Key Cards. Currently, I found them on Amazon for under $70 for Office 365 Home. The Key Cards are usually mailed to you as a credit card-sized card with a code printed on it. You enter the code in the Office 365 Web site to initiate your subscription. And you can renew the same way.

And this is legitimate. It’s how I got my family’s subscription.

 

Work Around OneDrive’s 2 GB File Limit [UPDATED x 3]

OneDrive's 2 GB File Limit

Update #3: THIS TOPIC IS NOW MOOT. Microsoft has lifted the 2 GB file limit.

OneDrive is a terrific service, and it only got better when Office 365 began offering 1 TB of OneDrive storage to each of its subscribers. But if you work with very large files, then you’re going to get a nasty surprise: OneDrive has a 2 GB file limit.

I have a workaround that has limited appeal, but might work for you. It allows you to store those large files in OneDrive, but sharing them with others might not be all that convenient.

My workaround? 7-Zip.

It is a free file archive utility with a solid reputation, and it offers the ability to break (or split) large files into several smaller ones. When you double-click the first of a multiple-part archive, 7-Zip will reassemble everything for you.

For me, I want to store some CD disc images (ISO files) of some older Microsoft software. A few are well over 2 gigabytes. So 7-Zip to the rescue!

  1. Install 7-Zip.
  2. Open 7-Zip File Manager.
  3. Navigate to the folder in which the large file resides.
  4. Click once to highlight that large file.Select File and Add to Archive in 7-Zip
  5. Click the Add button on the top toolbar. The Add to Archive dialog box will appear.
  6. You’re probably fine to keep the default settings, but change Split to volumes, bytes: setting. 7-Zip allows you to choose from a few volume size. I went with 700MB – CD.Splitting the Volume
  7. Click OK.

The archive and volume splitting process will probably take a few minutes. After the process completes, be sure to store all the files together that make up the volume, and be sure they are in a place where OneDrive will sync them to the cloud. When you double-click the first file (with the .7z.001 extension), 7-Zip will expect all files to be in the same folder.

Note: If the file is already an archive file (Zip, 7z, RAR, etc.), then you might need to unarchive the archive and rearchive it using 7-Zip (if that makes sense).

Happy OneDriving!

UPDATE: If you’d like to share your opinion of OneDrive’s file size limit to Microsoft, then visit the Feedback site.

UPDATE #2 (Sept 2, 2014): Very good news! According to a couple of tweets from Paul Thurrott, Microsoft is increasing the file size limit and rolling it out in phases to OneDrive users.

Flash, Safari & Mavericks

OS X Mavericks

 

One of my favorite features of OS X Mavericks on my MacBook Air is its power saver. During the Mavericks keynote, Apple showed how animations ceased when they were obscured by other windows. Inarguably a great feature to save a laptop’s battery.

But I found another great feature related to this power saver: It prevents Adobe Flash advertisements from playing automatically. Hallelujah!

Suspended Flash Element

 

When Steve Jobs initiated his assault on Flash by flat-out ignoring it in iOS, I saw his point. Seeing how Apple has continued their drive to kill Flash, it kinda makes smile and chuckle. If a day comes when I don’t get prompted to update Flash, it won’t come too soon. Oh, and let’s not forget that Adobe “shared” my username and password with hackers. Good on ya, Apple.

Safari on the Mac: Show Status Bar for Better Security

By default, Apple’s Safari Web browser on the Mac does not show the Status Bar. While this makes the interface simpler and arguably more aesthetically pleasing, it also removes a key tool for browsing the Web more securely.

MacBook Laptop with Safari Open

How does the Status Bar offer better security? Well, when you hover over a link with the Status Bar is visible, you can see the URL for that link. This is helpful when you get an “urgent” email from your bank about a possible breach in their username and password database. You can hover your cursor over the “See if you are affected” link in the message and see where it will take you before you actually click it. So if it shows “https://wellsfargo.com/login”, you have some confidence that the link is ligitimate. If you see “http://wellsfargo.r9dzz.co.rr/”, you know there’s a real reason to be suspicious.

Show Status Bar

To show the Status Bar:

  1. Click View on the menu bar across the top of your screen.
  2. Click Show Status Bar.

Pretty easy, eh?