Author: Erik Bernskiold

Erik Bernskiold is a web designer and technology geek who spends his days building websites for clients at XLD Studios and training people in web design and other media creation at Bernskiold Media. Follow his blog here.
BudgetBook

BudgetBook: Helping You Keep Track of Your Money

BudgetBook

BudgetBook is an iPad-only app made by the same developers as my favorite iPhone finance application, MoneyBook (you could have guessed from the name right?). The app is very well designed and has a lovely user interface which is a joy to use. The goal of BudgetBook is to let you keep track of your transactions in relation to a monthly budget you set, for total spending as well as category-specific budgets. In my view, this is the best way to keep track of your transactions and the only real reason you need a separate app compared to your internet bank. What makes the app as good as it is, is that it is simply and easy to use. Adding a new transaction doesn’t take you long, nor does setting up your budget (if you know what budget you wish to give yourself that is). You are able to set up several different accounts, each with their own transactions, however an overall budget for all the accounts.

What I would like to see!

The budgets feature, although really good, has one major flaw in my eyes. When adding income as part of the category budget (salary) it will say “100%” when you haven’t added a salary transaction. While this is the desired effect on expenses, income should be the other way around. With zero transactions for income, you have reached 0% of the budget. This may seem small, but for an application called “BudgetBook” it should be a non-issue. Since the same developer also makes MoneyBook with a My.MoneyBook cloud service, I would like to see some integration between these two applications. Being able to enter transactions on one device is fine, but both with syncing would be the killer feature.

Conclusion

As with MoneyBook, what I like about BudgetBook is that it is indeed so simple. Aside from the fact that it has got a gorgeous user interface, the app is very fast to use. It does not take you long at all to get your transactions into the app which is a big deal if you are going to use this on a daily basis. As our internet banks get more sophisticated, I like that the app just helps me find out how I am doing in relation to my budget. For these reasons, I would definitely recommend you getting BudgetBook if you want a solid finance app for the iPad that helps you keep track of where your money is going. Download BudgetBook for iPad here for $2.99 iTunes

tweetbot

Tweetbot: A New Twitter Application

TweetbotThere is a new Twitter client on the block. It is called Tweetbot and comes from Tapbots, the makers of apps Convertbot and Weightbot, two apps which have been reviewed here before and gotten high scores. So, why am I taking a look at this new Twitter client at all then?

Well, first and foremost the official Twitter for iOS application is starting to shorten its links using the t.co shortener by default, allowing little control over how to display links at all. I fear this might just be the beginning of a series of bad choices for the app, the second being the #dickbar, making the rounds just a month or so ago. In addition, I do feel that it  doesn’t hurt trying new things once in a while.

The first thing you notice when even looking up Tweetbot in the App Store, is that it has a rather cute icon. When downloading the app, you’ll notice that the entire interface looks very good. Clearly clean and simple have been keywords during the design processes, as with the other Tapbots apps.

You do not get a Tapbots app for the unified iOS experience (that I am known to love) but for the innovative, well-designed user experience that resembles the iOS default, but is just slightly different. This is by far something negative. On the contrary, the app is very easy to use and does explore alternative ways of interacting with tweets in a timeline. To reply, retweet or perform other actions, you just click on a tweet to get access to a little options bar. To check for new tweets, you drag upwards past the top, as debuted in the first version of Tweetie for iPhone.

In terms of features, Tweetbot has what you expect. The entire twitter feature-set is there, including a clever implementation of lists. If you have different lists created in your Twitter account, Tweetbot lets you see a timeline specifically to these people. This way you can still follow a lot of people without having to see them all in your timeline.

One big negative I have with this app is perhaps not as much about the app itself, as with the devices it is available on. While it is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it isn’t (at the time of this writing) available for the iPad, which I am not particularly fond of. I must say I prefer having the same user experience on both my iOS devices when it comes to Twitter clients.

Conclusion

To be honest, the only real reason for wanting to switch to Tweetbot is the lists implementation, however this does not have to be a small feature. In fact, if you are following over 300 people and don’t mind creating a few lists (unless you already have them), go ahead and give Tweetbot a go. At $1.99 it isn’t too bad and it offers a nice interface, all the features that you have become used to in other Twitter clients, and a few more!

You can get Tweetbot from the App Store here: iTunes

Pages

5 Apps For Writing Better on the iPad

When the first iPad was released, Steve Jobs went up on stage and touted that the iPad would be great for productivity, in many ways replacing a computer. Now a year later, Apple turned the focus from productivity onto games, an area that has been exploding with new apps. The iPad, however, is still a magnificent device to write on, especially using a bluetooth keyboard. In this post, I want to share with you five of my favorite apps for writing on the iPad.

Simplenote

SimplenoteFirst of the apps is Simplenote, my newly found note taking app. The beauty of this app, apart from that it syncs with the cloud and desktop, is that it is not just limited to notes. Because it has such an extensive way of searching and finding notes, I use it for most writing on the iPad when I just want a blank screen to fill with my words.

Price: Free

Simplenote - Codality

Pages

PagesAlong with the first iPad, Apple released the iWork suite for iPad. In here we find Pages, the mobile version of the great word processor found on the Mac. If formatting is important for you when you are writing on the iPad, definitely try out Pages, since it offers much of the functionality found on the Mac. The downside is that you need to setup your documents first and it doesn’t do many of them stored and sorting is a nightmare.

Price: $9.95

Pages - Apple®

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worldofgoo-icon

World of Goo: Perfect iPad Gaming Experience

World of Goo

Sure it is right in the middle of the week but I think it is time for a little fun. World of Goo is a game that I used to enjoy on the Mac a year or two ago when I got it as part of a bundle. A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find that it is also available on the iPad.

In short, World of Goo consists of a number of different levels where you are building structures from different species of “Goo-balls” to guide as many of these balls into a pipe. It may not sound very difficult but consider the laws of physics and you have a challenging game, that is also truly fun to play.

Normally, games in the app store are of varying quality. World of Goo as I wrote, debuted on the Mac and PC platforms first and the game is essentially ported over to the iPad. Interestingly enough, having played it on both my Mac and my iPad, I would without hesitation say that the iPad experience is far superior. It is one of these games that are made for the touch interface. Building the structures with your finger just magically works.

The game offers a solid challenge. Some levels are naturally easier than others and some are very tough. The game developers have taken an interesting approach to levels however, giving you the option of skipping any level at any time, with no restriction on the amount of skipped levels. Should you get stuck, you can always move on and go back later. Personally, I applaud this approach as you may just have a harder time with a certain type of level.

To sum this up, I very much like World of Goo in many ways. The graphics are stellar along with perfect matching audio that rises to the occasion (grandeur, sadness) of the game. If you would like to spend some time having fun and challenging yourself just enough, World of Goo is the game to look at, and at $4.99, it is a no-brainer.

World of Goo HD - 2D BOY

Simplenote

Simplenote Makes Note-Taking Simple Indeed!

Simplenote

Finding a good system for notes has been very hard for me in that most systems have been too obtrusive, requiring me to go through a process of organizing and sorting, each time I just wanted to jot down a simple reminder note.

This one requirement has ruled out solutions like Evernote, who have a superb note system in place but just take too long for me to work with. Enter Simplenote, a much quicker option.
Simplenote is a text based solution, with no RTF in it by default, it is just plain text. For many, this might be a downside, but I find it to be just what you need most of the time. If you, however, require the features to be able to style your text using a simple editor as well as insert images, Simplenote is not going to be for you.

What Simplenote does best however, is give you the clean way for creating notes. The app is available for free both on the iPhone, iPodTouch and iPad and works in a very simple way. Just launch it and tap the plus sign to begin editing a note. Even though the app and service has support for basic tagging, I find it much easier to implement this as part of the file name. For example, instead of adding a tag, I just prefix my note with say: “bas:review”. When I start searching, I can filter down as far as I want, first to bas, which will show me all notes containing that keyword, then if I want the sub-group. Finally, I get the title of the note. Simple!

Simplenote - Codality

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