Alex Arena

Beamer 2 Released

My friends over at Tupil just released a very nice update to their already great app, Beamer and I was lucky enough to receive an early review copy.

Beamer lets you stream any movie file from your Mac to your Apple TV. While you could definitely accomplish this for free with AirPlay mirroring, I’ve found a few main advantages to using a dedicated app like Beamer:

1. Not having to futz around with mirroring settings.

2. The ability to keep using your Mac as usual.

3. An uncanny support for just about any video file I throw at it.

4. Integration with the Apple TV remote.

If you’re interested, there’s some sort of a limited trial available —when that’s over it’s fifteen bucks and well worth it.

Paper for Reminders

The result of a Saturday morning messing around with AppleScript. I hope you like it! 



The other day I received my official acceptance letter to my dream school in the heart of Rome. I can’t believe it, but this could actually happen.

Four years. In Rome.

I haven’t committed yet, but I’ll be visiting in February and I’ll probably make my final decision sometime after that….

In other news, I now have a travel blog.

Saying Goodbye to AppStorm

As of December 31st, the AppStorm network of sites will no longer be updated. This is the end to around four years of publishing across six network sites. The decision was made after unsuccessful attempts to sell the network, despite its combined subscribership of around 160,000 people. While parent company Envato hasn’t yet confirmed this publicly, the email announcing this change was sent to the network’s writers yesterday.

I don’t usually post “breaking” news here, but I felt this story was worthy of an exception. Although I haven’t written for AppStorm since August, it was my first online paid writing gig as well as one of my favorite sites for app news.

As to why its shutting down, that’s a matter of speculation. My guess is this was just the result of Envato trying to trim the fat. Mac.AppStorm was great, but splitting resources between six different sites no doubt had an effect on the quality of them all. In the end - a few great things are always better than a bunch of okay ones and I think that’s a lesson Envato will be taking to heart with it’s Tuts+ and marketplace sites.

It’s been a great run for AppStorm and I wish their contributors nothing but the best in their future endeavors.

A Listmaking Trifecta

I’ve never been satisfied with any single to do list/note taking application. Every tool I try is either too much, too little, too ugly, or just plain bad. In the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve accidentally developed a “system” for managing my notes and to do lists - here’s what it looks like.

  • Reminders takes care of anything with a hard-and-fast due date or time.
  • The new Simplenote is something of a junk drawer with lists of ideas, places to go, recipies to try, and basically everything else. It’s also where I draft longer articles, but that’s for a different post.
  • Begin is the incoming star of my setup. I won’t go into too much detail on how it works, except to say that I use it exactly how the developer intended, which is rare.

All these apps are stored in a folder in my dock called “Do” and thanks to iOS 7, it feels incredibly smooth and natural to add a task in any of these apps.

In a poor attempt to minimize the apps on my phone, I used to try to consolidate these things into a single app. The reality is that it’s better to have three apps that each do one thing great than one app that does three alright.



Noun: the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements

In business, the thought goes that if you aren’t growing, you’re shrinking. I think this principle applies to the rest of life, as well - especially in the things we own. We’ve got a hard time reaching a homeostasis for stuff.

While 95% of the time we’re rapidly accumulating this stuff, the rest is spent trying to purge ourself of it with the help of yard sales, Craigslist, and curbs. Although I’m something of an aspiring minimalist, it’s becoming to seem like little more than an equal and opposite reaction to all this stuff.

So rather than trying to add or remove all the time, I’m taking an honest inventory of what I’ve got and attempting to get it to a point of homeostasis. Through this, my hope is that instead of a 95/5 split of adding and purging that I’ll reach an more manageable middle point, only adding new things where old ones no longer do the job.

About this inventory, as it’s a pretty huge undertaking I’ve developed a system for creating it, only including things that:

  • Are worth more than five bucks
  • Have some sentimental value
  • Take up a meaningful amount of space

The one thing I’m not yet certain about is just how I should record everything. Bento seems like it would’ve been a great tool, but since it’s been discontinued, I’m considering everything from a simple spreadsheet to FileMaker. Your suggestions and recommendations are welcome.

The End of Oval Office Speeches

It’s all just speculation, but from the point of view of a casual observer, this seems pretty spot on. We’ll just have to wait for the tell-alll in a few years to know for certain, though.

The 102-Year-Old Honorary President of Ford Trucks

After purchasing his 16th consecutive Ford, 102 year-old, Floyd Pullin was named the honorary president of Ford Trucks.

Happy Birthday, Floyd.

And, in other heartwarming news.

Miniot Wood iPad Cover

This is the first iPad case I’ve ever wanted.

The Ultimate Cable Box

After reading Nilay Patel’s glowing review of the TiVo Roamio Pro, I was struck by a few things:

  1. TiVo is still making actual products?

  2. They’re really good, too?

At $600, I’ll pass, but it’s exciting to see an honest effort at making a decent STB pay off.