WordPress iOS App Now Has WYSIWIG Visual Editor

Writing blog posts for a WordPress site on an iPad or iPhone just got a whole lot easier! Or... at least, a whole lot prettier! With the new version 4.8 out this week, Automattic included a new visual editor that can give the "what you see is what you get (WYSIWIG)" experience:

Wordpress 4 8 wysiwig

Here is what it looked like before the change on my iPad - basically, it was just a raw HTML editor:

WordPress ios app before upgrade

There was a preview mode that would let you see what it was going to look like, but all the writing was in HTML. No big deal if you are a long-time HTML coder like me... but probably not the most fun for newer writers - and the HTML markup is also distracting.

Here is what the new post-upgrade view is:

WP iOS app after upgrade

A much nicer view - and also some of the commonly-used features are more accessible. There's also the "HTML" button for those who want to get into the actual HTML code.

The WordPress.com blog post about the new iOS version gets into a few of the other features that the new app has. I do like the updates to the navigation. I haven't yet worked with the new image settings, but look forward to doing so.

Anyway, if you haven't yet upgraded the WordPress app on your iOS device, you may want to do so... and if you haven't tried the app in a while you may want to give it a new try.


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How To Turn Off Sounds In The Facebook iPhone / iPad App

Do you want to turn off / disable the sounds that Facebook just added to the latest version of their iOS app for iPhone and iPad? If you are like me and find these kind of sounds associated with actions (such as "keyboard clicks") annoying, here's what you need to do.

1. Go Into The Settings Inside The App - First you need to tap on "More" in the lower right corner of the app and then tap on "Settings":

Facebook ios settings

2. Go Into "Sounds" - Next tap on "Sounds":

Facebook ios sounds setting

3. Turn Off "In-App Sound" - Finally, just tap the slider to turn off the sounds.

Facebook in app sound

Now, maybe you like these kind of sounds... but I personally don't. I'm the guy who turns off "keyboard clicks" because I do NOT want to hear a sound whenever I tap a key.

I don't want aural feedback.

Some of you may... and that's fine. I don't.

Someone at Facebook seemed to think that we all wanted this and so they added it in to one of the recent releases and... ta da... as soon as we updated the Facebook app on our iPhone or iPad we started getting clicks and swishes and other sounds.

This points to one of the larger issues with our new world of mobile "apps":

We are at the mercy of whatever the app developer wants to do.

If this were a browser-based "app" (a set of web pages), we could typically configure the browser to not play any sounds - and then all web pages would be subject to the settings in the web browser.

But we've left that land where the web browser serves as our window to content. Instead we have custom-designed apps where we have to figure out where the settings are in each of the different apps.

For instance, when the sounds first started in the Facebook app, I went into the generic "Settings" app in iOS to try to find out how to turn them off. I looked under:

  • Facebook
  • Sounds
  • Notifications

and couldn't any settings in any of those places to turn it off. Only then did I tap on the "More" inside the Facebook app to see if there were any settings there.

Now... the good news is that at least Facebook gave us a control to turn the sounds off! They didn't have to and could have just made that a mandated part of the app.

But that's back to the point... for the convenience and simplicity of using a mobile app, we've surrendered control to the whims of the application developers.

I'm personally not really thrilled about that evolution of the mobile Internet, but it's hard to see how we walk back to a different path...


An audio commentary on this topic is also available:


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What Is The Future Of The Levelator? (The Podcaster's Ultimate Quick-Fix Audio Tool)

LevalatorWhat does the future hold for the awesome "Levelator®" tool, now that The Conversations Network is shutting down all of its websites at the end of 2012?

That's certainly the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the word that Doug Kaye was declaring "Mission Accomplished" and shutting down the TCN websites and moving their content to other locations.

The "Levelator," in case you aren't aware, is a truly awesome piece of software for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux that can take an interview recorded with varying audio levels and turn it into something great for listening. As the bottom of the Levelator page says:

Do you believe in magic? You will after using The Levelator® to enhance your podcast. And you'll be amazed that it's free, now even for commercial use.

So what is The Levelator®? It's software that runs on Windows, OS X (universal binary), or Linux (Ubuntu) that adjusts the audio levels within your podcast or other audio file for variations from one speaker to the next, for example. It's not a compressor, normalizer or limiter although it contains all three. It's much more than those tools, and it's much simpler to use. The UI is dirt-simple: Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler's application window, and a few moments later you'll find a new version which just sounds better.

For those wanting the gory details, the site contains a detailed description of the "Levelator Loudness Algorithms" that explains how it does its magic. The FAQ, also, includes some helpful information.

Normally, when I'm recording podcasts in my home office with my podcasting rig, I'm able to control all the audio levels, even if I'm interviewing someone over Skype. So in those cases I don't need the power of the Levelator.

But... if I'm recording an interview with multiple people over Skype, I only have one feed for Skype into my mixer and so I can't control the varying audio levels for the different speakers.

Similarly, if I am recording a panel session typically speakers are sitting at different distances from their microphones and they naturally have different levels of their voices.

In either of those cases, the Levelator has been a HUGE help in making my recordings sound that much better.

It's also insanely easy to use - just drag a file onto the interface and drop it. That's it.

Now it's now always on target. A time or two I've actually liked the original better, but that's often because I've got noisy backgrounds or other issues. But probably 95% of the time it does a truly wonderful job making the audio sound better.

So what is its future?

I don't know.

Doug Kaye's post about the future of TCN says only that they intend to continue to make the existing content available. It's not clear from reading that what will happen to the Levelator. Will it be updated? Will someone continue to maintain the software? Will it be open-sourced so that the community could maintain it? Or will it just fade away?

The @levelator Twitter account did provide some hope in an October 3 tweet saying plans are still being discussed:

Levelator future

I do hope Doug and his team are able to find a way to keep the Levelator around. It truly is an awesome tool and it is and was a tremendously generous gift to the Internet community to make it available for free.

I look forward to learning its future... and meanwhile, I've made sure I've downloaded the most recent version so that I'll have my own copy around for a while.

Have you used the Levelator before? Has it helped you? What would you like to see the TCN team do with the Levelator?


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Facebook FINALLY Adds Sharing To iOS/Android Apps And Mobile Web

Facebook5 2One of the strangest things about using Facebook on a mobile device, either through Facebook's mobile website or directly through the mobile phone apps has been this - there has been no way to "share" links!

It has seemed a very odd piece to leave out, given that much of what goes on within Facebook is the sharing of links and other information.

This week, though, Facebook finally got around to fixing that. First, they updated their mobile website (m.facebook.com), as noted on Mashable and other news sites.

Second, they rolled out a new version of the iOS and Android Facebook apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Facebook noted all this in a brief news article on their site.

As a user of the iOS apps, I'm pleased to see this, and look forward to now being more easily able to share links and other posts in my Facebook NewsFeed. It's nice to see the "Share" link in my iPhone's feed:

Facebook share

Have you upgraded already? If not, look in your AppStore (on iOS) and get ready to finally start sharing...


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The Apple Maps Fiasco Finally Hits Me - Tiffin St, Not Giffin St

Until last night I had been blissfully unaffected by the whole Apple Maps fiasco. I upgraded both my iPhone and iPad to iOS 6.0 and have generally had no problems whatsoever. I've gotten to where I needed to go when using "Maps" and in fact I like the better driving directions.

And then last night I read an article in our local paper about a building to be demolished and wondered where that was in Keene, as I'd not heard of "Tiffin Street". So I popped the street name into Maps on my iPhone and was suprised...

Photo Nov 13 7 14 23 PM

I tried a couple of times at different zoom levels and settings but Apple Maps would not show me a "Tiffin St" anywhere in Keene.

So I flipped over to Google Maps, still on my iPhone, and of course there it was:

Googlemaps

And indeed I went by the street on my lunchtime run today and can confirm to Apple with my own eyes that Tiffin Street does indeed exist in Keene!

Tiffinst

Hopefully Apple will continue to improve their data, because this is really quite silly!

P.S. I guess the good news is that I now know where "Giffin St" is in Keene... but that's not what I wanted! :-)


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Why I Will NOT Be Rushing To Upgrade To Evernote 5 For Mac

Evernote5formacThe team at Evernote is making a big push right now to let users know about the upcoming new Evernote 5 for Mac. They have even released a beta version for users to try.

I won't be trying it. I'll wait for others to take the chance.

Why not?

Primarily because...

Evernote completely burned me with their "upgrade" of Skitch!

This "redesigned" Skitch took away pretty much everything that I loved about the application. Now I realize that the Skitch development team is different from the developers behind the main Evernote app, but still...

they have lost my trust.

Further, I have been so burned in the past by other software companies that whenever I hear (as I do in the Evernote 5 video) the words "we've completely redesigned the application", I immediately think:

NOOOOOO!!!! THEY ARE GOING TO TAKE AWAY ALL THE POWERFUL FEATURES I LIKE!

Evernote did it with Skitch. Skype did it with their Skype 5 for the Mac that left behind so much of the Skype 2.8 that we all loved. Apple's done it too many different applications to count (ex. iMovie, Final Cut).

So I cringe whenever I hear the words "completely redesigned"!

Now, granted, I do appreciate it when companies take in user feedback and make new versions of their applications. I love it when companies are responsive and make applications better. I just don't like it when they remove powerful functionality (even as I do understand that sometimes they need to do this to re-do the application).

For me, Evernote is a critical part of my daily workflow. I am a paying Evernote customer and use it across my multiple systems and mobile devices.

I don't want that workflow screwed up!

So I will wait for a bit and see what others who are more daring than I say about the new version. I am pleased to see that the initial comments to the beta release post seem to be positive. I'll continue to monitor the flow of comments for a while before I even think about upgrading.

What about you? Are you going to take the plunge?

FYI, here's their video about Evernote 5:


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Yea! Facebook's iPhone/iPad App Finally Stops Sucking!

Hooray! With an update today Facebook's iOS app for the iPhone and iPad finally stops being so terrible! Lately using the application on my iPad was an exercise in futility outside of just simple likes or comments. If I ever tried to follow a link, this was what usually greeted me:

Facebook ipad before

It would sit there and sit there and sit there... and often what I would do was hit the arrow in the upper right to open the link up in Safari on the iPad. The link would typically load almost immediately in Safari and I'd be reading the page. Then when I flipped back to the Facebook app I would just hit the back arrow to go back to reading the stream.

The ONLY reason I really continued to use the Facebook app at all was because it was easier to use than the straight Facebook website when it came to liking posts. In using the website on the iPad I often found I had to tap the "Like" link twice to make it work - or not. It was inconsistent, where the app generally always worked.

I just dreaded having to open a link in the app.

And then today with little fanfare outside of an update from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook released version "5.0" of the iOS app through the AppStore:

Facebook update

Upon learning about the new release from my own Facebook stream of updates (thanks, Dameon!), I updated the app on both my iPhone and iPad and was immediately pleased by the performance improvement.

MUCH faster! Kudos to the Facebook team for making the application actually pleasant to use!

In a quick bit of usage there seem to be many other tweaks to the UI. One I found particularly pleasing was a numerical notification of new updates since the last time you refreshed the feed:

Facebook ipad new stories

I haven't yet used it enough to find new changes I dislike... I'm sure there may be a few... but at least the application now is much faster and more responsive.

Thanks, Facebook team, for getting this new release out!

And if you have the FB app installed on your iOS device, head on over to the AppStore to get the update!

What do you think? Are there still parts of the mobile experience that are broken? Will this new release make you want to use the app again? Or will you stick to the website?


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Oops! Google's GMail iPhone/iPad/iOS App Pulled From AppStore

Well, Google's iPhone/iPad/iOS app was there for a little bit in Apple's AppStore... but now it's been pulled down because of "a bug that broke notifications". I did download the app a few hours ago to my iPhone and iPad and saw the errors mentioned in the blog post on both the iPhone:

Gmail iphone error

and the iPad:

Gmail ipad error

It's too bad, because in my initial usage, the app seems to work very well. Here's a shot of my inbox that looks like, well, pretty much any other email inbox:

Gmail ipad inbox

As Google's blog post indicates, the app has some cool features and use of gestures. I'll be using it for the next few days to see how it works.

Meanwhile, Google's team is obviously going off to make the notifications work!


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My FIR Report for October 3, 2011

Shel and Neville were recording Monday's "For Immediate Release" podcast episode over the weekend, so my report has already been sent in. This week I covered:

Of course, to hear all of that, you'll need to tune into Monday's edition of the FIR podcast after Shel or Neville posts it. Enjoy!