Blog posts tagged "review"

In an article arrogantly entitled "If you see a UI walkthrough, they blew it," Max Rudberg argues that new-age apps such as Clear pander to the college-aged hipster "intellectual" who likes to have the snazziest apps. His contention is that these simplistic designs, which require a tutorial on how to use them, detract from the user experience rather than enhancing it. My opinion, however, is that Rudberg is confusing gimmickry with innovation.

Clear's UI, while unfamiliar, feels rather intuitive to me. For the unfamiliar, Clear is a to-do app with a very minimal interface (an example to-do list is pictured). To a new user, it is not obvious at all how to get around the app, because instead of buttons and switches, you use a bunch of gestures to achieve things, which are explained upon first launching the app. Now, not all of these gestures are entirely intuitive, for instance, swiping downward to create a to-do is a bit confusing, but this app is attempting to change the way people think about UIs.

Hatkirby on January 4th, 2013 at 12:00:00am
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As a potentially insane individual, I obsess quite a bit over music. I'm sure others can empathize, right? Well, aside from the need to scrobble absolutely EVERYTHING I listen to, one thing that annoys me is the decision "Where should I listen to my music? With iTunes or on my iPhone?" There are advantages in both directions: on iTunes, my Adium buddies get bombarded with my "listening to"s and I can easily open the lyrics for a playing song by going up to in the menu bar and clicking "Lyrics". However, the iPhone has the advantage of allowing you to get up and dance like an idiot while listening to music. Also, what if you started listening to a song and then saw a sock on the floor? MUST. PUT. IN LAUNDRY. Except, you just started listening to a song! Now you've got to either wait until it's over or pause it! Inconceivable! Plus, with iTunes, I sometimes get halfway through ะœะฐะปัŒั‡ะธะบ ะณะตะน before I remember that sucks with Unicode and the scream of scrobble-denial is heard down the street.


There is a solution, though, and it randomly appeared in my news feed about an hour ago! An iPhone/Mac app pair called "Seamless"! Seamless allows you to seamless transition from listening to a song on your iPhone to listening to it on your Mac, or vice versa. LOLOMGIWANT. The Mac app is free and the iPhone app costs $0.99, so it won't break the bank, and if you are crazy/have experienced the delusional problems listed above, this app is a must! "It saved my life!" claims random testimonial zombie one. "I won't listen to another song without it!" barks random testimonial zombie two. You've heard the people, this app pair is awesome!

You set it up by downloading both apps and then launching the Mac app. Then, you go to the iPhone app and tap "Add a Mac". It'll detect your Mac (as long as the iPhone and Mac are in the same network) and once you tap on it, your Mac will ask you if it's okay to associate with the iPhone. Click "Allow", and you're done! Now, the next time you start listening to Russian music with iTunes and you realize your mistake before the song finishes, you can just open up Seamless on your iPhone and tap "Transition Music from Mac"! HORRAY, SCROBBLING.

Image Image

Okay, I understand that my warped ideals do not necessarily reflect those of everyone else (ะฏ ัะพัˆะปะฐ ั ัƒะผะฐ!) but there are uses of this app for other people too! The aforementioned ones, or the ones on the app's website! Oh, just go to the website and watch the author's video. Trust me, this is awesome. :D

Seamless | Five Details

Hatkirby on April 20th, 2011 at 8:32:35pm
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Thumbnail2Dear God, it's me. I haven't posted in quite a while. Sorry, I've been busy with stuff and not busy with stuff and this apology is going nowhere because it isn't happening. Well. First of all, I've failed an annual goal and haven't posted in more than a month. I think that I have a ton of stuff going on right now and I'll try to post when I can, but it won't always be possible. Second, I'm doing a musical review! I haven't done one of these in a while and I usually sucked at it, but hopefully this time is different. Today, I'm reviewing the album Far by Regina Spektor, who just recently became my official favorite artist. :D Nowai.

Now, usually what I do is I create a list of the tracks on the album and review them individually. Well, that's what I'm going to do this time as well. Hopefully it works. :P Here goes:

  1. The Calculation - One of the most upbeat songs on the album. It's really quite catchy, especially the chorus (Hey, this fire, it's burnin', burnin' us up), but you get a little tired of it after a while. 3 stars
  2. Eet - A really quite beautiful song about comparing a breakup to forgetting the words to your favorite song. It's quite piano-y, but it's not really a ballad; it's more of a pop song in that it's also really catchy, and not just beautiful. 4 stars
  3. Blue Lips - A similar type of song as Eet, but even more beautiful. The verses are powerful and dance-y, and then the piano comes crashing and into introduces us into the quiet, simple chorus, before jumping back into verse. The best part is the bridge, which is pretty fast-paced and awesome. 5 stars
  4. Folding Chair - Another upbeat song, but this one is catchier than The Calculation and doesn't get too boring. There's not too much else to say about it. 4 stars
  5. Machine - This is fantastic. A song about a futuristic world where people and machines have merged. The verses are metered and beautiful and then Spektor dives into the chorus which sounds like nothing you'd expect from her, with her practically yelling "HOOKED INTO MACHINE." I also quite love the verse/outro after the final chorus (Everything's provided / Consummate consumer / Part of worldly takings / Apart from worldly troubles...). It's just such an unexpected song and I love it so. My favorite on the album. 5 stars
  6. Laughing With - A slow, piano-y song about God and peoples' interpretations of God, like those who say that he "hates us" and those who expect God to just do stuff for them "like a genie who does magic like Houdini." It's quite a beautiful song and it does eventually get stuck in your head. 4 stars
  7. Human Of The Year - This a weird song about someone who receives an award "that obviously doesn't exist," according to Spektor. It's quite slow, with the chorus randomly bursting in with an enthusiastic "You've won!" The best part, however, is the bridge, which is perfectly metered and upbeat (Outside, the cars are beeping out a song just in your honor...). The rest of the song isn't too difficult to bear and I think it's worth it because of the great bridge. 4 stars
  8. Two Birds - An incredibly upbeat song that nevertheless actually has a sad meaning, as it's (probably) about two people who are in a relationship, with one having commitment issues or something. The verses are fast and upbeat, and the choruses are slow and beautiful (I'll believe it all / There's nothing I won't understand / I'll believe it all / I won't let go of your hand). 5 stars
  9. Dance Anthem of the 80's - Yes, I'm fully aware that should be "80s", without an apostrophe, but that's just how the song is titled, okay? It's an incredibly upbeat song about more sad stuff, which apparently includes prostitution, heroin and physical abuse. The bridge is just so beautiful, though, as it takes a break from the fast beat of the rest of the song and switches to a softer, quieter melody (I went walking through the city, like a drunk but not) before exploding into a passionate mixture of intense piano, quick lyrics and the harmonization with a vocoder. It's incredibly intense. My other favorite song on the album. 5 stars
  10. Genius Next Door - A song about masturbating in a lake and then committing suicide. Not even joking. It's really quite a sad song and it's actually just too slow for my taste. 1 star
  11. Wallet - A song about finding a lost wallet and then returning it. It's kind of catchy, but sounds a bit too thrown together for my taste. 2 stars
  12. One More Time With Feeling - A slow song with a moderately catchy chorus that's sadly not catchy enough for me to want to endure the verses for it. 2 stars
  13. Man Of A Thousand Faces - Spektor ends off the album with a really beautiful piano piece about a man with multiple personality disorder. The unwavering piano melody in the background is just great and the entire song, really, is singable. 4 stars

I don't think that was too horrible, now, was it? Totaling the scores together, however, reveals a 3.7 out of 5 stars. Ooooh, that's not too good. I think the disappointing few songs after Dance Anthem of the 80's really killed the average. Well, that's Regina Spektor. A very awesome artist. I may eventually do another Regina Spektor review, of her album "Begin To Hope", which is actually one of my favorite albums of all time from any artist. Also, if anyone reads this and then listens to Far (or listened to Far before reading this), comment and tell me if you agree with my opinions of the songs! Starla, away! flies away

Hatkirby on March 13th, 2011 at 12:31:50pm
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Sorry for the Smiley-worthy pun in the title, but it's here! Another music review by meee! :D And it's coming from basically nowhere: We Are Born by Sia! Let me explain a bit. I am obsessed with because I am insane and one day, it suggested that I listen to Sia because I liked Imogen Heap. Well, I mentally noted that, but didn't do anything about it. A few days/weeks later, I was on my iPod when I saw an album called "We Are Born" by "Sia" in the new releases list and I remembered what had said. A few days later, while in Australia, I walked into a Borders and heard a couple of songs from the album playing and quickly changed my tact (I had walked in to buy a book and to get a plastic bag) and purchased the album.

Yeah, by the end of two weeks, Sia had entered my top eight on and actually, as of today, she is now number three with 215 listens. Yes, I'm insane, but I'm not the only one because after not being able to prevent myself from singing a few of the songs while around my friends, two of my friends also became obsessed with it and I lent them the CD. :P SHARING IS CARING- shot

Anyway, this is one of the best albums I have listened to in quite a while and I'm really expecting it to get a good score on my review. Let's do it, then, okay? :P

  1. The Fight - The album starts with a chorus of children chanting the album's title and cheering. Sia enters with her distinctive vocals and everything flows very nicely to the glowingly bright chorus. It's a bit difficult to sing in the car (We made it through the darkness to the liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!), but it will doubtless stay in your head all day. 5 stars
  2. Clap Your Hands - This song is Sia's only official radio single so far from We Are Born and originally, I didn't like it so much. My favorite part, though short, is definitely the pre-chorus, where the mood of the song darkens a bit and Sia's bright vocals dip into a short ballad on misery. Soon, however, the song lights up again with the chorus, which really has grown on me. 4 stars
  3. Stop Trying - One of my favorite songs on the album (and one of the songs that snagged my friends as well), Stop Trying immediately hooks you in by starting out with a dampened version of the unforgettable chorus. It comes back later with spirit later and after hearing it 6 times, you won't be able to stop singing it. I see the song as a plea to stop trying to be someone else because people love you already. 5 stars
  4. You've Changed - What's interesting about this song is that is appears to be sending a message that completely contradicts the previous song. Regardless, Sia's bright vocals and a toe-tapping background track will keep you coming back to listen. 5 stars
  5. Be Good To Me - I won't hide it, nearly every album (except Speak For Yourself by Imogen Heap and It's Not Me, It's You by Lily Allen) has a dud track. Granted, it's not horrible, and in fact, just listening to it now is making me like it a bit more. Anyway, it's a slow ballad fueled by an almost angry, yet broken Sia. It starts out pretty well with a soothing, yet captivating background track, however, as you get into the song, Sia starts yelling a bit more which just doesn't sound that great from her. 3 stars
  6. Bring Night - Like nearly every album has a dud track, nearly every album has a standout and Bring Night is the clear winner of Best Song Of The Album. It begins dark and low with Sia almost muttering the easily to memorize verses and, before you know it, EXPLODES into the chorus which are as cheery and as beautiful as they are thankfully easy to remember (Chase your shadow 'til the sun goes down!). Then, Sia finishes the chorus off with a warbling cry before sinking back into the next verse. But don't worry, the chorus comes back again twice. Bring the night on. You could dance to this song just as easily as you could to any Lady GaGa song. My favorite song on the album, and most certainly the one that hooked my friends. 5 stars
  7. Hurting Me Now - An upbeat song with doubtlessly darker undertones, Hurting Me Now is a song about someone who hurts you without even knowing it. Like pretty much every other song so far, the chorus really stays with you. 5 stars
  8. Never Gonna Leave Me - Another of my favorite songs from the album. Never Gonna Leave Me starts with more of Sia's upbeat vocals and music before launching into the fast-paced chorus (Now that I've taken your love from above, you're here and you're never gonna leave me!) which, dare I say it again, is bound to get stuck in your head. Oh, what else can I say? LISTEN TO IT. :P 5 stars
  9. Cloud - This song starts out very dark and gloomy, like the title of the song. However, Sia soon breaks out into the sun with the beautiful, meaningful chorus (I am a dark cloud swelling with raiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!). You know what I'm going to say. Sing it in the car, folks. 5 stars
  10. I'm In Here - We Are Born is mainly upbeat; though that is not without exceptions. I'm In Here is inherently depression, yet beautiful and though it may make you feel sad, it's quite singable. There's also a Piano Vocal version on the CD version of the album, so if you like to play the piano, it may be worth trying to learn this song. 5 stars
  11. The Co-Dependant - Returning to the land of upbeat songs, The Co-Dependant is about someone who is so deeply in love that they ignore their partner's faults. It's quite good. Oh, just listen to it, I'm turning into a broken record. :P 4 stars
  12. Big Girl Little Girl - Okay, the first time I listened to We Are Born, I was on an airplane. To Australia. Yeah, and it was long and painful and I listened to the album because I thought it would be awesome. It was, but by the end of the album, I was sort of falling asleep and I sort of missed out on the last few songs. Because of this, I didn't really appreciate Big Girl Little Girl (or Oh Father) that much until I started listening to the songs with my friends and I realized that this song is really quite awesome. I'm not going to go rant about the yummy upbeat chorus and all because you can see it coming; let's skip to the end of the song. There's a beautiful, slow repeated block of song that you really have to listen to (You know with every cruel word that you utter / That you bury yourself even deeper every time...). 5 stars
  13. Oh Father - This song is the only unoriginal song on Sia's album as it is actually a cover of an old Madonna song. After listening to Sia's beautiful rendition of the song a few times, I decided to listen to the original for comparison and I'm sorry but it doesn't hold up in the least compared to Sia's version. It's so beautifully done and Madonna's is so.... fake? I don't know, it just feels fake in the wake of Sia's heartfelt version. Okay, just.... just listen to the whole album, okay? :P 4 stars

Wow. This is just amazing. If we average my ratings together, We Are Born gets a 4.2 out of 5 stars. That's much higher than the ratings for my other albums. Yeah, this album is good. Go listen to it. Lol, sorry I'm so braindead in this post but I'm a bit busy and a bit insane about other things. LISTEN TO WE ARE BORN! Now. :P

Hatkirby on July 23rd, 2010 at 9:37:52pm
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iOS 4 came out! About two hours after yesterday's post was posted, I believe. Yes. It took another half an hour to download and install the update, but it was pretty much worth it. Check out it's awesomeness!

Home Screen Wallpapers These look REALLY NICE. Seriously! The default ones look really boring in the options menu, but when you put them on, most of them look really nice! I chose the fifth row, second column. The one with the shades of blue. It looks nice!

Multitasking As I ranted about yesterday, this has been a bit of a disappointment because apps have to be updated to support it, but I have seen some of its capability because Wordpress has been updated to support fast app switching! I just switched out and then back in and IT WAS IN THE SAME PLACE!!!! :P Anyway, I just really hope that Byline and Palringo get updated for iOS 4 because that would be awesome :P.

Omg Problems Speaking of Byline, I think the current version conflicts with iOS 4 or something because it now crashes randomly, which is really annoying. Meh!

iBooks OMG! iBooks is awesome and I never thought I would say that because I'm really a "real book" kind of person, just like I'd rather purchase CDs in the store than online, but iBooks is cool because there is a fairly nice selection of free books that you can get that you can just read when you're bored and you don't have a book on you! As we all know, Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne (but not the sequel) is available for free (and I'm a huge Winnie The Pooh fan, seriously :D), but there are also some other good books like Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol and The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm having fun! :P (Though I do like to make fun of the large number of names I recognize in the free list from Social Studies class like Adam Smith and Karl Marx and John Locke, lol :P)

Orientation Lock This is very useful. If you're laying down and you want to read your iPod, but it keeps changing orientation, what do you do? Double press the home button, swipe to the left and tap the lock button! Now it's locked in portrait mode! :D It's very useful, but one thing that annoys me a bit is that you can only lock in portrait mode, not landscape. Meh.

Folders Folders are pretty cool. I have so much more space now! :P And it's pretty cool, if you put two apps that have a number on them (like notifications) in one folder, the folder will have a number that is the sum of the numbers inside it! WOW I COULD HAVE WORDED THAT BETTER! :P One thing that annoys me, though, is that the icons for the folders are a bit ugly. It's just a black square with smaller versions of the contained icons. It could've looked better, that's all I'm saying.

Anyway, enough about iOS 4. It's quite awesome and I look forward to my favorite apps coming out with multitasking ability, but there's something else I have to rant about. Remember yesterday when I told a story about how I had to maintain an old version of iTunes on my virtual machine so I could sync my iPod? And how I thought that iOS 4 was out because iTunes 9.2 was out? Yeah, I have come to realize exactly what iTunes 9.2 does, and the thought did cross my mind sometime yesterday, but I dismissed it, hoping that it wasn't true.

It was true. You need iTunes 9.2 to be able to sync with iOS 4. Ouch. Anyway, I have been spending a horribly long time converting my VirtualBox virtual machine to a VMWare one and IT WORKED. iTunes 9.2 worked! I don't know exactly what's wrong with VirtualBox (and I did like it better, VMWare seems a bit slow to me), but I am happy that I can now sync my iPod.

One last thing. While I am happy that I can now sync with iTunes, I did mention yesterday that I would be very happy if I could sync with Banshee. Well, guess what! Someone spent a week hacking Banshee and apparently got libgpod to work, which includes iPhone/iPod touch support! WOOT! It's not out yet, but you can read about it here: I hope it comes out soon and that it's as awesome as possible! :)

Hatkirby on June 22nd, 2010 at 12:30:16pm
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Oh my goodness! So, yesterday, it was my birthday, and I was sitting around feeling sad and stuff and then I logged on to my diary to write a depressing post or something and I saw "UPGRADE TO WORDPRESS 3.0". Ignoring that run-on sentence, WORDPRESS 3.0 IS OUT!!!! On my birthday! Yes, yesterday was my birthday, everyone hug me. But, seriously, this was like a present or something. :P

So, I upgraded my diary to Wordpress 3.0 (which wasn't too difficult, just a standard Wordpress upgrade) and immediately noticed a difference in the administration panel. "What? Everything's gray now! What happened to my color scheme?" Well, as I just figured out, you can easily change your admin panel color scheme back to blue if you like by going to "Your Profile". In fact, I'm not sure I ever set my diary's admin panel to blue, so I may just be insane! lol O_O

Anyway, one of the more exciting things I was waiting for in Wordpress 3.0 was the unveiling of the new default theme, Twenty Ten! And is it a looker! whistles :P It is actually quite a pretty theme, with a nice header image (which you can change; there are some pretty presets there! Or you can upload one :P) and a nice sidebar (for once, the calendar widget looks GOOD :D). My only problem with the theme is that the text of the posts is a bit big, but I'm sure that I can change that by tweaking the stylesheet. :)

Do you know what is exciting? Apparently, you can now set your admin login/password DURING installation. How fancy! I can't wait to set up another Wordpress blog (which I seem to do all the time because I have no life) and not have to create a new user! :P Speaking of cool new features that I haven't used yet, have you heard? Wordpress MU and Wordpress have merged! Omg! Now you can host thousands of Wordpress blogs from one single Wordpress installation! How choclatey! :P I don't see how I'm possibly going to abuse that anytime soon! :P

Isn't this fun? There are many other new things that you can play with in Wordpress 3.0, SO GO CHECK THEM OUT :P. Anyway, Wordpress 3.0 is quite fun and I can't wait to see the various ways that I'm going to abuse all of the new power it holds by creating some god-awful Frankenwebsite. The last one tried to eat my children! Well, if I had any children. Imma... Imma post this now, okay? :P

Hatkirby on June 18th, 2010 at 12:30:17pm
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On the third day of Kirby Week, Four Island gave to me: An article about using IntenseDebate.

Welcome back! Yesterday, I promised I'd show you how to add a commenting system to your blog. And I will! But, being the lazy person I am, I'm not going to show you how to write one. Instead, we'll be using Automattic's IntenseDebate.

IntenseDebate is a good commenting system by the makers of Wordpress. Yes. Ok. Anyway, it has lots of prettiful features that it enumerates all over its site so you should go read it.

IntenseDebate is pretty easy to get started with. Simply go to its website, register for an account, and add a blog. When it asks you what type of blog you have, choose "Custom" or "Generic". It'll provide you with two Javascript snippets.

We're nearly done! Already! Take the first snippet and paste it in read.php, after the call to displayPost() but before the inclusion of footer.php. There! You're done! That was easy!

If you want to change your settings, moderate comments or anything, simply log in at the IntenseDebate website and you're dashboard is your friend!

Tomorrow, we'll be adding RSS support to your blog so people can receive notification and other fun stuffses.

Hatkirby on December 16th, 2008 at 12:31:02pm
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I dreamed up a new Four Island project a couple of days ago called InstaDisc. It's amazing, I think. I'm going insane over it, I need to do it.

Basically, it's a way to find out about things on the internet like new posts on a blog, new comments on a blog, new posts on a fourm, in a quick and easy manner.

For more information, please visit its project site. Please especially visit the description of the conception of the idea, and most importantly, the Specification.

Please feel free to comment here about InstaDisc. In fact, I encourage you to. Please, do. I'm really excited about InstaDisc and I want to know what other people think about it. For instance, if you have any ideas on how I could improve the specification, please comment. If you want any features in InstaDisc, comment and add a ticket. Please give me feedback as I'm, as stated previously, very excited about this project.

And please, dear goodness, don't let me procrastinate.

Hatkirby on June 23rd, 2008 at 10:30:04pm
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