I’m not entirely sure whether or not Runscope’s excellently useful Hurl.it is still operational, but if not, then Rigor has a great alternative lined up in the form of the aptly (but not quite as cleverly) named API Tester.
So basically a quick way of building a multi-step test to validate an endpoint or even a suite of tests to traipse through all your back end services. Well made, useful little tool then.
The slickest, easiest way to currently get the answer to when will you be load shed on a particular day is by downloading the quite frankly well written local load shedding schedule app, EskomSePush. (We will all agree to look past the juvenile joke name, okay?)
Written by Dan Wells and Herman Maritz a handful of years ago, EskomSePush is an extremely user friendly tool that does little more than ask you to download and install the app on your phone, click on the plus button to bring up the location search, and then select the location that you are interested in. The resulting screen then gives you a nice concise view of what your load shedding schedule looks like (across any of Eskom’s seemingly limitless stages) for any particular upcoming day.
The app is easy to read, sends warning push notifications when needed, and is simple enough that most people should get the hang of it. For my part, it works like a charm and its load shedding reporting has yet to fail me, meaning that our rolling blackouts by another name still hasn’t caught me with my pants around my ankles and no torch in sight.
In other words, a good option to shuttle a whole lot of key/value data between AJAX web services. The JSONLint tool itself validates JSON text, and also acts as a reformatter, making it much easier to debug a big chunk of JSON text.
Using the online JSON validator is as simple as copying your JSON text string into the big text area and hitting the “Validate JSON” button.
Useful little tool indeed.
Related Link: JSONLint
At the end of every year, Instagram users all tend to start releasing their “Best Nine” post for that year, essentially a collage image featuring the top nine posts (in terms of likes) for that account.
Strangely enough, Instagram doesn’t actually offer this fun little feature as a native function within their app – meaning that you need to turn to other apps or websites to do the dirty work for you.
Now bear in mind, there are a few websites/apps that require you to authenticate or at least link your Instagram account in order to proceed (essential if you operate a private Instagram feed), but seeing as I don’t really want to trust any third party site unless I absolutely have to, I skipped all of those and headed straight over to the 2018 Best Nine website.
A quick enter of my Instagram handle (craiglotter), a little twiddling of the thumbs, and out popped a nice square collage, ready for sharing. Simple stuff.
(Bonus: If you are looking for an alternative, then Top Nine also does a pretty good job.)
These days I try to almost always use photos that I myself took when writing posts for this blog, and seeing as Instagram has very much become my social media network of choice over the last year or two, I essentially always have a picture on hand when I need it.
That said, grabbing a high quality image off of Instagram is much harder than what it should be, which is then exactly where the exceedingly useful DownloadGram steps in.
First, grab the Instagram post that you want to get the image from (easiest is to click on the share icon and select the Share URL/Copy Link option), next, fire up the DownloadGram website, paste the link into the first big textbox, and hit the “Download” button.
If DownloadGram successfully identifies the source of the image, it presents to you a big green “Download Image button”. Click on that and you have your better than low-res image.
(Bonus: If you are looking for an alternative to DownloadGram, then 10insta also does a great job of locating the higher quality versions of Instragram post images.)
Related Link: DownloadGram
With the weekend looming large, are you still scratching your head trying to come up with some ideas on what to do with your precious free time this coming Saturday and Sunday? Sure, Netflix or DSTV is always a fallback, but come on, Summer is here!
Which is exactly the point at which Vibescout saunters into the conversation!
Vibescout is a cool local startup that brings to life the local events guide concept, packaging it in a clever, slick, mobile optimized website containing well… loads of categorized and geographically tagged events.
With a wide selection of events listed, the obvious cool trick is the ability to narrow down the list of events to either a specified place or your current surrounds – I mean, just check this perfect events list for my current location (with each event’s distance from me noted) when I ran a check from home!
The site is clear and well laid out, simple to use, well formatted and super pleasingly, not in an app form. (Seriously this is a plus – not everything needs to be a standalone app on your phone!)
As I mentioned, this is a completely homegrown South African project, meaning that there is plenty of friendly, local help if needed, all of which then basically means that you should definitely be checking out and adding Vibescout to your brower’s bookmarks as soon as possible! ;)
After all, what’s on in Cape Town? Well Vibescout should know…
Penguin Random House contacted me and asked me to sit down with Jessica and have a go at the very nice Sasol Young Explorer Apps – of which there are currently two, namely Mammals and Frogs.
The apps are multilingual, allowing you to switch between English, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa and IsiZulu on the fly, which opens up their use to quite a wide audience.
Each app is split into two main ‘sections’, a play area which includes a number of animal-themed mini games (for example, different sized puzzles and memory games), and a learning section, which is chock-a-block full of beautifully illustrated animals, each with their own info page, sound bite, and even video footage!
The apps are well designed and very easy to use, and before long I found Jessica (with an observing Emily in tight next to her) quite independently sitting on the couch, giggling as she systematically made her way through all the animals and games.
This is a pretty good animal resource for kids, and I can’t wait to have the Mammals edition along the next time we enter a game reserve with the girls – I suspect that they may finally have some use as useful game spotters! :P
Created by Stellenbosch-based app development house Tribage App Studio, Xander Apps are educational mobile apps aimed at promoting mother-tongue learning for young children – with apps built in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili, and Tswana!
Fronted by the cute dinosaur mascot Xander, there are currently 3 main apps available:
(Oh, because my girls are English, and I mainly use Android, I’ll be referencing those versions in particular…)
Xander English 123 (Google Play)
“English 123 is an English educational app for young children that teaches numeracy using child-friendly counting beads and characters from the animal kingdom. Xander, the lovable narrator, guides your child through four learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them how to count to 10 in English.”
Xander English Shapes & Colours (Google Play)
“English Shapes and Colours is an English educational app for your children that teaches six basic shapes and the primary and secondary colours using age appropriate games. Here Xander guides your child through six learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them to identify shapes and colours.”
Xander English Wardrobe (Google Play)
“English Wardrobe is an English educational app for young children that teaches them the names (and pronunciation) for different body parts, clothing and weather.”
In general, the Xander apps are aimed at a younger target audience, though it is interesting to watch both Jessica and Emily get something quite different out of each app.
Anyway, check out their website for more on the team, what they do and how your children can benefit from their work!
Related Link: Xander Apps
Software development tools are often quite large and clunky, meaning that software developers often face the prospect of running out of hard drive disk space on their work machines.
I’m particularly fond of applications that use “treemaps” to visualize disk space usage, and have in the past mentioned how great Uderzo Software’s SpaceSniffer works when trying to figure out where and what to delete on a Windows machine. (If you are on Linux, then either KDirStat or QDirStat will do the trick!)
Having to now publish Appcelerator apps to the Apple App Store for use on an iPad, I’ve been handed a MacBook Air (pretty little thing, but can’t say I’m a fan of the interface), and almost instantaneously ran into a space issue triggered by my installing of some development tools.
Naturally, completely new to the Apple environment, I had no idea where to even start looking for the most likely space hogging culprits!
Pleasingly, following a little time spent with good friend Mr. Google, I stumbled across Disk Inventory X, which bills itself as a disk usage utility for Mac OS X 10.3 (and later) and which uses treemaps to show the sizes of files and folders – in other words, exactly what I was looking for!
I downloaded and ran the software, and wouldn’t you know it – turns out that Android SDK had already pulled down more than 30GB of SDK related files.
Sigh, at least I now know where to start chopping…
Related Link: Disk Inventory X