Reddit speaks – online community names best productivity apps

This isn’t an award show. There isn’t a single winner nor even a short list, really. Actually, as lists go it’s rubbish from the sense that to get on the list you just had to be named. But it’s also therefore comprehensive and you know that every app on Reddit’s selection is there through passion.

Maybe sometimes the passion of the manufacturers but usually the passion of a genuine Reddit user.

Take a look at the whole list – and yes, OmniFocus is right there.

Reddit buys Alien Blue

Given that Reddit is where Ask Me Anything are held and that’s been in the news for when President Obama took part in an AMA, I know what it is. So in fact I know what each word in the headline means yet when you string it all together like that…

Reddit is a hugely popular online discussion area – at least, it’s hugely popular in a cult kind of secret way. It’s unfair of me but also quicker if I say that the more techie you are, the more you like Reddit. Except that was a coup getting President Obama on and Reddit’s influence and widespread popularity is growing. Yet it still remains a bit of a mess. It reminds me of the old CompuServe where you kind of got used to how it worked, its foibles became a little endearing. But they are foibles nonetheless and non-Reddit people have been trying to fix it.

Perhaps the most successful is Jase Morrissey, maker of an independent Reddit app called Alien Blue. I don’t know why it’s called that. But as of today, Alien Blue is no longer independent. Reddit has bought Alien Blue.


If you’re even kind of active on reddit, you probably know of Alien Blue. As far as perusing reddit on iOS goes, it’s pretty much the undisputed champ.

It seems reddit would agree. The company has just taken Alien Blue under its wing, acquiring the project assets and hiring its sole developer.

“Our whole philosphy has been to give our users choice. We’ve got the reddit AMA app, and alienblue coming out… but we really want users to use whatever they want.” says Ellen Pao, reddit’s head of Strategic Partnerships. “We think Alienblue is great, and it’s the most popular reddit app on iOS. We wanted to be able to offer it as a reddit app, and we wanted to help Jase with additional resources to do everything he wanted to do with it.”

Reddit Acquires Alien Blue, The Most Popular Unofficial Reddit App – Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch (16 October 2014)

It’s a free app but it used to come with paid-for in-app purchases and for a reportedly brief time, those purchases are free too. Read the full piece and then go grab yourself the iOS app if you fancy it.

If you get fired, don’t do this

Just don’t. I have no way to know if this is as genuine as it seems – though it’s a pointless thing to fake – and one always likes to think that there are faults on both sides.

But that doesn’t matter.

When you’re fired or you are made redundant, let it go. Because it’s gone.

And we might all bitch to our friends about how unfair it is – spoiler alert: your friends are never fooled – and okay, maybe, if you must.

But read this to see what happens when you bitch about your employer and in particular when you employer runs a website and you bitch about them on their own site.

Prepare to wince as you read the full feature.

Ask Me Anything – and now be able to read the answers

Previously… Reddit’s Ask Me Anything interview platform has become the place to go because the most amazing people pop up on it. There’s no interviewer, there’s just you and this person. Plus maybe someone typing, if they’re not hot on the keys.

President Obama did an AMA. Do you need anything more?

Yes. You need to be able to read these things. If you happen to be on the site when the AMA session is live then you can follow it fine, I imagine. I’ve never used it live. It won’t be exactly as cut and thrust as a verbal discussion so it’ll be a bit boring while you wait for text answers to appear. But it will surely work and you will surely understand what’s happening.

You don’t when the interview is over. It is a mess. Rabbit holes’ worth of comments and sort-of questions and discussions and threads and sporadically an answer from the interviewee. It’s just unreadable. There have been attempts to fix this before but they’ve been by third-party websites that cull the interviews and curate the results. There’s nothing essentially wrong with that, but if you need someone else’s website to make your interview with the President of United States comprehensible, there is a lot wrong with your service.

Now Reddit has released an Ask Me Anything for iOS. Android will follow soon. It’s free and it works well: give it a go and find out just what a gorgeously astonishing range of people have answered questions on AMA.

Google Reader: I’m not mollified

Previously… Google took over the world of RSS – an idea that lets websites send their news stories to you instead of you traipsing to them – and when the competition had gone, and all around was peaceful, they dropped it. The same week they dropped this Google Reader service I relied on, they announced a new one called Google Keep: nothing to do with Reader or RSS, it was an Evernote clone that was promoted as the great way to keep all your information for ever.

Or until Google switches it off.

I’m not bitter.

This week, Google’s Jon Wiley did a Reddit Ask Me Anything and the topic of Google dropping features came up. He said:

One thing that’s almost always guaranteed with product design: when you add a feature, no one complains about it outright; if they don’t love it they mostly just ignore it. Whereas if you take something away, you’ll hear about it if people relied upon it… loudly and often. With something like Google Search, even if just a small fraction of people miss a feature and an even smaller fraction says so, that can still be tens of thousands of people. It can seem like a tidal wave of opposition to the removal: “look at all these people who want it back!”

So it would be much easier to leave in everything that’s ever launched. But then you end up with bloatware: an unwieldy array of ill-fitting modules that don’t work well with newer technologies (e.g., the shift to smartphones, or upgraded security, or touchscreens, etc.) and don’t really serve most of your users well either. And nothing comes for free – every feature must be maintained, supported in multiple languages, on multiple devices, and the additional complexity must be accounted for in testing so that the entire service remains reliable. And that cost gets balanced against the impact: is this feature solving an important problem for lots of people?

There are many, many such features that you always have to make tough choices about. We’ve actually cut features that I love. This is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward. Sometimes you over-trim – we work to measure the impact and aim to strike the right balance. Sometimes we get it wrong, so it is important that people speak up. We really do listen, and we prioritize according to what seems to satisfy the widest needs given our capabilities.

Google’s Jon Wiley on Ask Me Anything, (24 July 2014)

Makes sense to me. Now, explain why Google didn’t just get rid of a feature, it got rid of an entire service.