Monthly Archives: October 2014

TapCellar for iPhone

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the sad state of beer apps for iOS. Sadly, it hasn’t gotten much better, with one huge exception: The Gravity Well Group released TapCellar for iPhone. For those who aren’t morons like me who created a database for beer from scratch, it’s been done for you, and really well. 

to;dr: It’s awesome and costs less than a pint of good craft beer. Buy it.

TapCellar is for the true beer geek, yet simple and straightforward enough for the simplest of use; the OmniFocus of beer apps. The app’s goal is to track your beers in various ways, and “Never have a bad beer twice.”

The first thing you’ll notice upon opening the app is that it contains every beer from BreweryDB, currently almost 34,000 of them.  The app stays in sync, so its database stays up to date with BreweryDB’s.  You can sort and filter these beers in pretty much any way you like, and save those for later viewing; they get saved to TapCellar’s side bar, which is just a left-to-right swipe away.  Each beer can be rated, bookmarked, added to a shopping list, and to a storage inventory.  You can create multiple Beer Journal entries within each beer, tagging location and adding photos.  The journal entries are pretty much where the social features start and end: you can share “mug shots” of these entries in anything available in the iOS share sheet.  There’s also basic checkin functionality for Untappd.  That’s it.  But it’s great.  TapCellar was never meant to be a social app.

I’ve been beta testing TapCellar pretty much since it’s infancy, and the question on my mind all along has been whether it can replace my own HanDBase database for recording all the beers I have.  The answer is sadly no, simply because I’m just too vested in my own database, now with over 1000 beers.  TapCellar, however, has become the perfect compliment to my own database.  I rely on it to keep a shopping list for beers I won’t remember once I’m actually in a beer store, as well as keeping track of what I have stored at home.  TapCellar’s built-in functionality is just so much better for this than anything I was ever able to come up with. I have happily deleted my database of stored beers.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what TapCellar can do.  For less than the price of a pint of good craft beer these days, go pick up TapCellar and see what it can do for you.  You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers.

One Reminder/Task Manager To Rule Them All

Spoiler / tl;dr: it doesn’t exist.

Damn this is a frustrating topic for me.  Technology is supposed to make our lives easier.  For the most part, of course it does.  But a key part of this for many of us is dealing with reminders and managing tasks.  And most of us carry a device, in my case an iPhone, in our pockets all the time, making them the perfect command center for this.  But this is where it all falls down.

In my case, I have three key apps in this process: OmniFocus, Fantastical, and Checkmark.  They each excel at at least one function, and where each excels, the others are kind of crap.  There are tons of task managers out there, but OmniFocus always worked best for me. OmniFocus for iPhone is a really good app, but it pretty much sucks for entering time and location reminders.  Time-based reminders (and general calendaring) is where Fantastical excels, with its natural language parser.  I can add todos very quickly and efficiently.  These todos also sync with the iOS Reminders, as well as OmniFocus if you enable it.  So they’ll get into OmniFocus by way of Fantastical anyway.  Both OmniFocus and Fantastical suck for location-based reminders.  OmniFocus is decent at it, but it’s extremely limited.  This is where Checkmark comes in.  Checkmark is absolutely fantastic at location-based reminders, but not efficient at time-based.  In Checkmark, you double-tap on one of your pre-set up your locations, and tell it whether you want to be reminded when arriving or leaving, as well as a choice of delays.  So I can have it remind me of something 15 minutes after I get home.  This is brilliant.  OmniFocus requires separate contexts for arriving at home and leaving home.  And no time delays.  And Checkmark is self-contained.

So, there’s a lot of friction when it comes to entering tasks/reminders.  I have to stop and think about which of three apps is best suited to the particular item.  This is bad.

  • Time-based reminders: Fantastical
  • Location-based reminders: Checkmark
  • Project-based tasks/reminders: OmniFocus

I really wish there were one app that could do all of these things well.

Nerds on Draft

My friends Gabe and Jeff have a new podcast: Nerds on Draft.  The two main subjects are near and dear to me, and the two things I usually talk about here: beer and technology.  I really enjoyed the first episode and look forward to more.  And fortunately all of us being from the Northeast, I can get most of the beers they’ll be talking about.