Beer Defects iPad App

The Beer Defects iPad app, produced by Applied Sensory, is a guide to the various “off” flavours in beer. Primarily aimed at those who review or taste beer, it is essentially a digital version of Applied Sensory’s Defects Wheel for beer. The app itself is a rough and ready affair, consisting of two main menus, such as the one above, from which the user selects characteristics by sensory experience, or from a list of chemicals. A third ‘general’ menu gives information on such subjects as good sanitation techniques and ‘Diacetyl’. Clicking on a sensory description takes you to a page showing the causes, and possible treatments of a given defect. It is simple, and quite efficient.

On the whole this is a useful app, but it has some drawbacks. For one thing, it forces the iPad into portrait mode, rather than allowing the orientation to switch as the device is rotated. And for another, the formatting of the text is crude. While some attention has been given to the way the app looks, it does not seem very polished. In fact, apart from the convenience of having an app on the home screen, there is nothing this offers that wouldn’t have been possible in an ebook. This feels very much like version 1.0, and doesn’t really take advantage of what the iPad has to offer. For example, a landscape mode might show the menu and the information page side by side, while links within pages might make the information more usable. A further improvement might be to do away with the Back button, so that switching between pages could be done by swiping across the screen, which, on the iPad at least, seems the natural way to do it. Back buttons are for web browsers. I hope there is more development, because a general note taking, scoring, and sharing app for beer reviewers would be extremely useful.

As far as the quality of the information goes, the handful of facts I checked seemed to be accurate, but I am neither a brewer, nor a chemist. I will certainly refer to this during ‘Baron ratings’ and will no doubt learn quite a lot from it.

The Beer Defects app is available for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. There are more screenshots, and links, on the Applied Sensory apps page.


Todo Lists Anywhere

Tasque todo list
It's not pretty, but it works.

I’ve been on the lookout for good todo list software for a while now. My primary machine is a Mac, but I also use Linux and Windows and these days an iPod Touch has taken over most of the duties of a laptop when I’m out and about. Since it’s my main machine I looked first for Mac software and tried Omnifocus (powerful, complicated, expensive) and the Things (simple, brilliant, pretty, great support) but quickly realised that none of the standard solutions were really cross platform. Certainly none of them had the ability to sync from Mac to Linux. I could sync from desktop to iPod/iPhone, and Mac to Mac (sorta, using Dropbox), but Windows and Linux might as well not exist.

Then I discovered Tasque, which is an underdeveloped free application from the Linux-centric Gnome desktop. Tasque is simple and straightforward and runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. It isn’t pretty and isn’t especially Mac-like, but its killer feature is that it syncs with the web-based todo list Remember The Milk. So Tasque, plus a $25 per year Remember The Milk Pro account and free iPhone app (there are apps for other handhelds, including Android and Blackberry) means I can sync my todos across platforms and across computers; there’s always Remember The Milk on the web too. Despite its lack of shiny shiny I find Tasque works very well on my Mac with very little fuss.

Thank God Sylvia Plath Didn't Have Twitter: Merlin Mann on Creativity

Merlin Mann–talker, writer, funny man and former productivity guru–has recently shifted focus onto creativity. This is something I’ve been struggling with recently after two decades of, um, not struggling with it. Call it exhaustion, call it writer’s block, call it turning 40, the answer is simple and it’s one all creative people understand, deep down: “You can become a Ninja, but it’s not going to be easy and you don’t get a beret …”

Original post on 43Folders.