Though Amazon's amazing slice-and-dice gadget has understandably earned the majority of media coverage, the Kindle isn't just a state-of-the-art e-book reader; it's also an ecosystem of e-book applications for your computer or your iPhone. Designed for times when you don't have the actual Kindle device around-or for people who don't have a Kindle but still want to give Amazon money-the free apps would have been a great opportunity for Amazon to extend its e-book empire into Canada before the launch of the real thing. But strangely, even though you can finally purchase a Kindle here, you still can't download the Kindle app for your iPhone.
Free e-book reading app by Indigo Books and Music for iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre
Indigo, the massive Canadian book retailer, has spent the past few months trying to grab as much of the national digital reading market as possible before Amazon came calling. The result is Shortcovers, an ecosystem of applications that allows you to read e-books on a wider variety of devices than is currently possible in the Kindle-sphere-besides the iPhone, Shortcovers apps are available for Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre phones. Shortcovers books can also be transferred to a variety of third-party e-book readers like the IREX and several models of the Sony Reader.
Shortcovers offers about as seamless a purchasing experience as you can get on a smartphone. Initial setup is best done on a computer, but once you've set up an account and added a credit card, you just tap a book and type in your password to purchase it. The reading portion of the app is similar to other readers like Stanza, which is to say it's very good. But the ease with which you can browse and purchase books gives Shortcovers the edge-especially if you feel like you've already got enough expensive electronic gadgets and don't want to buy another.
Mobile internet radio ($1.99 ) by Synsion Radio Technologies for iPhone/iPod Touch
For anyone whose musical tastes aren't covered by a conveniently vague format like Urban or Classic Rock, listening to the radio is often a frustrating experience. There's only space for so many stations on the dial, and they seem less and less willing to stray from a specific format as the years pass. Meanwhile, internet radio stations are far more diverse and play more eclectic setlists, which is great-if you're at a computer. Otherwise, you had two options: take along your own music on an MP3 player or listen to normal AM/FM radio.
Thankfully, options are expanding rapidly; Sirius just released a radio app for the iPhone that gives you much of the satellite radio network they provide (though there are crucial omissions like Howard Stern). And then there's RadioIn, an internet radio app. RadioIn can replace your AM/FM radio set if you want; using your own location data, the app can automatically find all your local radio stations. A surprising number of Toronto stations have online streams, for example. But the real draw is listening to stuff you can't get without an internet connection.
Foreign stations are easy to pick up. Fancy some Radio 1? All the BBC you could ever want is available. How about internet radio? RadioIn even has an Internet Only section containing the likes of Soma.fm and Ministry of Sound. The app is relatively full-featured, allowing you to change the stream quality (great for staying under your bandwidth cap) and buy songs you like off iTunes. Two minor issues: it won't show you a list of previous tracks (unlike the wonderful Soma.fm app), and due to iPhone constraints, it won't continue playing music if you switch to another app. But there's very little wrong with RadioIn, and so much that's right.
Free regular expressions tester by developer Edi Weitz for Windows (unsupported 0.8.5 release also available for Linux)
Outside of the programming world, regular expressions are hardly a household name. Used to search for complicated strings of text in a document, regular expressions are far more powerful than the basic find/replace tool you'll find in word processors and spreadsheets. But this power comes at a great cost: the arcane art of putting a regex pattern together is known mostly to programmers and few else.
The big reason why regular expressions have remained the domain of programmers is because of how obtuse they can appear. Regex patterns are strings of letters, numbers and symbols that can look completely arbitrary and random to the untrained eye. The Regex Coach is a great tool for programmers and geeks who know a little bit about regular expressions but don't quite feel comfortable using them yet. It's also useful for troubleshooting a particularly complicated pattern, making it handy for programmers of all levels.
The power of the Regex Coach lies in its ability to demonstrate the effect of a regex pattern. You type in a regex pattern in the top pane and the target text in the bottom, and the Regex Coach highlights all the places in the target text where the pattern can be found. The utility will also adjust the results of the search as you change the pattern, making it great not only for troubleshooting, but also for learning what specific commands or wildcard characters do. Though it can't explain regular expressions to laypeople like a proper tutorial can, the Regex Coach is perfect for experimenting with and learning how to craft regex patterns.