Introducing a New Feature: App o’ the Mornin’

Back in ye olden days, I had a semi-popular gaming blog with daily feature called the App o’ the Mornin’.

It was called that because I 1) reviewed an app and 2) posted it in the morning.

“App o’ the Mornin’? If’n yer makin’ funna ta way I talk, I’ll boost yer feckin’ nose.”

Since it was a gaming blog, I stuck to games, but I’ve decided to bring the feature over here, expanding it to all applications on all platforms, not just mobile.

There will be some religious software, but most of the applications will be secular. Nevertheless, I’ll include a Catholic perspective where applicable, and include content warnings where necessary.

Yes, I know “app” is shorthand for mobile application now because that’s what Apple named their application store, but an app is anything that runs on hardware, yet isn’t an operating system. So, expect PC and console items to be mixed in with the mobile apps. I won’t cover Mac apps because Mac is of the devil, and must be shunned.

For the next few months, I’m going to run App O’ The Mornin’ every weekday at 6am. If there’s sufficient interest, I’ll keep it going.

If not, we shall never speak of it again.

Feedback is welcome.

But wait! There’s more!

Another regular feature starts running this Wednesday. I’m calling it Beautiful Machines, and it’s a photo feature posted once a week and featuring tech or machinery with some aesthetically appealing element.

Machinery can be quite beautiful, as anyone who has ever looked inside an old clock can attest. The rise of steampunk is, in part, a witness to the beauty found in old machines. I’ll try to share some of that with you, but without the cosplay.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • Barb S

    Yes, please!

  • victor

    I for one cannot wait for both of these features to start!

  • Elizabeth McD

    Someday, somehow I’ll have to break your hatred of the Mac! And, you know, you could review Mac apps on my MacBook! ;)

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Oh, I really don’t hate Macs. I think they’re cute, and I may even wind up using one one day. But as a columnist at a PC magazine, I have an image to maintain…

  • Roki

    I, for one, would be interested in your take on Windows 8, esp. in relation to the development of Apple’s OS-X and iOS. It looks to me like it’s the first time Microsoft has really gone in a new direction where the ground had not already been broken in significant ways by Apple.

    This is not to say that Apple was always better. But Apple till now was the one pushing the envelope with MS following (and sometimes refining or improving).

    That said, I’m only a casual observer of the OS wars, so I expect I’m overlooking a great deal.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I spent very little time on W8, and have not installed it. It was a progression of their ideas from Windows Media, which I never liked. Windows 7 is more or less what Windows always should have been, and now they finally got it right, they decided to break it again.

  • Roki

    I use Windows 7 at work, and a Mac at home. I was thinking about maybe getting a PC for my next home machine, but everyone I talk to (except MS employees) gives the same negative review of Windows 8.

    I’m vaguely intrigued by the Chromebook, but there’s no version of Scrivener for it – at least not yet. I’m highly dependent on Scrivener.

    Well, we shall see. My MacBook Pro has a couple more years of life in her yet, I think. A lot can change in a couple years.

  • waddlesplash

    Will there be any Linux apps? Or only Windows/Android/iOS ones?

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I switched to Scrivener last year and like it. There’s just a Dropbox syncing bug they need to fix. We have a MacPro in the house, but I don’t really use it. I’ll never get past the lack of a right mouse button.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Windows, iOS, and consoles. Probably no Linux. My experience with it is limited and wouldn’t be useful in a review.

  • Linebyline

    8 is really just 7 with a few tweaks and improvements, but for two things.

    First, there’s Metro. (Yeah, it’s not actually called that, but the “code name” stuck, so…) It helps if you just think of the Start Screen as the new version of the Start Menu. Nobody’s forcing you to use full-screen apps if you don’t want them. Sure, the default photo and PDF viewers are Metro apps, but you can easily choose a different default program.

    Second, there’s the way that Microsoft decided to hide half your usual functions in bizarre places. Honestly, that’s just about the only legitimate complaint I’ve heard about 8 that doesn’t boil down to “I don’t like it,” and while it’s infuriating, it’s also usually pretty easy to work around. For instance, I added a toolbar to my taskbar with buttons for the shutdown functions.

    If it really bothers you, just get Classic Shell, and you’ll have a range of Start Menus to choose from going all the way back to the Windows 95 version and you’ll never have to look at Metro again.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I don’t doubt that some people like it, but that’s kind of a rosy assessment of W8. Trying to create a hybrid desktop/tab OS was novel, but ignores basic issues of function that are still pressing during a technology transition phase from controller to touch-based interaction.

    Shrouding a functional OS in a baffling, poorly thought-out overlay may help the tab/hybrid market (although I doubt it), but does nothing at all for the desktop market. It was a desperate act in an attempt to regain high ground for the PC in the face of Android and iOS encroachment, and it bears all the hallmarks of Microsoft’s marketing-ahead-of-design corporate culture.

    There’s evidence it actually damaged PC sales, and at a time when PCs were starting to show an improvement, particularly with gamers. The reaction was so negative, that it’s wholly possible Microsoft will loose a huge sector of the market to the new Steam OS, which does what I’ve been urging for years in Maximum PC: merge the desktop and living room experience to bring PC gaming to the masses at an affordable price. Even with “Blue” (8.1) W8 is an OS to work around, not with.

    Again, if you use a hybrid laptop or tab, your mileage may vary.

  • Linebyline

    “Shrouding” is taking things a bit too far, though. If you don’t use full-screen apps, Metro is just the Start Menu and a few other menus.

    I have no beef with anyone who wants to complain about Microsoft’s decision to hide important settings in stupid places, but in most cases you can come up with a workaround that requires a little extra effort to set up, but allows you to go back to a normal workflow. It’s not like you have to spend most of your time and energy working around 8′s annoyances.

    I’m using it, without the 8.1 update (much less the 8.2 update that brings back an old-style Start Menu), on a desktop computer with no touch-screen capabilities whatsoever, and all I had to do was unpin the bloatware from the Start Screen, pin the (desktop) apps I actually use, and add a few Shutdown shortcuts to a shortcut on the desktop. It works beautifully.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    But bloatware is the central problem with all MS products. I haven’t upgraded office since 2003 (I tried the later editions and they were larger and slower), and then last year moved to Scrivener and OpenOffice and PostBox and ditched all MS product entirely. They get larger and larger, without really getting better. The intent is to create an endless hardware/software upgrade loop in which you need new hardware to run the software, and new software to run on the new hardware.

    All new tech needs to answer two basic questions: What does it do that wasn’t done well before, and at what cost?