(You're reading all posts by Charlie Sorrel)

About Charlie Sorrel

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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Escape Amazon’s evil Kindle empire with the cheeky Kobo Aura

Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Kobo’s ebook reader trumps even the best Kindle on several fronts. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I just switched from Kindle to Kobo. Why? Amazon. It’s currently extorting publishing house Hachette by delaying orders and refusing to allow pre-orders for certain titles. The exact machinations are secret, but many people agree that Amazon is demanding discounts on ebooks.

I don’t want to see authors forced to get a second job to survive, so I switched. No more Kindle ebooks. I switched to Kobo, which has a great e-ink reader, a deep book catalog, and – most importantly – breakable DRM.

The results are mixed, with ups and downs for both the service and the hardware.

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Highly specialized Booqpad is either perfect or pointless

Highly specialized Booqpad is either perfect or pointless

Getting work done. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I started German language school a few weeks back, and I was looking forward to testing out the Booqpad. The combination iPad case and paper notepad seemed ideal for using in class. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not only is the case oddly tacky – especially weird given the build quality of Booq’s other gear – but it is awkward to use.

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iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will change the way you do photography

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will change the way you do photography

Apple finally fixed photography on iOS. Or rather, it’s fixed organizing your photos, wherever they might be. The iPhone is already a great camera. The problem was everything that happened after you tapped the shutter.

Now, in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll never have to worry about organizing your photos again — they’ll be everywhere, all the time. And best of all? It looks like you’re never going to need iPhoto again, on the Mac or on your iPad.

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Boa Flow backpack is like having your own personal Sherpa

Boa Flow backpack is like having your own personal Sherpa

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When I opened the (huge) shipping box that brought the new Boa Flow to Cult of Mac’s German HQ, I thought I’d hate it (the bag, not the box). But it turned out to be one of my favorite bags for lugging a lot of gear with me.

The Boa Flow is made for “creative professionals.” That is, it’s for anyone who needs to carry computers, cameras, headphones and other accessories, and to this end it had zillions of pockets and storage sections. The best part is that there are many options for every kind of item. You can put your MacBook in the separate slot by your back, for example, or you can slip it into a pocket in the main chamber.

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How to set up a foolproof note-taking system for writers and other nerds (Part 2)

How to set up a foolproof note-taking system for writers and other nerds (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of our series on note-taking for writers (or anyone who takes lots of notes). In three posts we’re looking at ways to take notes on paper, on your iPhone or Mac, and collected from the web, and combine them all (optionally) into Evernote for easy browsing and retrieval. In theory you can do all of this just by launching Evernote, but that app is pretty terrible at capturing notes.

Part 1 dealt with paper notes. This part is all about grabbing quick text notes on your iPhone and Mac, and then using Hazel to send them to Evernote. Have fun!

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Gadget watch: Camping, cycling, cars and cameras

Film or digital? Campfire or BBQ? Car or bike? Cable or wireless?

No matter which way you swing, this week’s gadgets have you covered. iPhoneographers can enjoy the Shoulderpod hand grip or slip the new iPad Olloclip onto their Mini or Air, and film nuts can get instant satisfaction with the new Lomo Instant Camera.

Camping? Take it easy in the giant Meriwether tent or go survivalist with the Blastmatch fire-starter. You can even choose how to arrive at the site, with accessories for your car or your bike. Happy traveling!

Moshi’s VersaKeyboard is a fantastic case (and a pretty good keyboard)

This Moshi keyboard is great even without the keyboard. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This Moshi keyboard is great even without the keyboard. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I’m writing this review on a regular, full-size USB keyboard plugged into the Mac. That should be a warning sign right there — after all, this is a review of an iPad keyboard case. But that’s not the whole story. For instance, the case part of the Moshi VersaKeyboard is fantastic — so good that I’ve been using it as my main iPad case since it turned up for testing.

They keyboard is good, too, with keys as responsive as those on Logitech’s Ultrathin keyboard covers. So what’s the problem? Why am I not typing this review on the Moshi? Size.

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Practical, portable, single-minded, beautiful — Opinel is the Apple of knives

This might be the best knife you'll ever own.

These might be the best knives you’ll ever own. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Opinel No8 is hardly a new gadget, but when something is this good, why change it? I’ve been using the wood-handled French pocket knives for around 12 years since I was given a carbon steel No8 as a gift. That knife is still in daily use, and has since been joined by several others, including one made for children (more on that in a bit). I even have a tiny No3 that I use for sharpening pencils.

Why am I writing about a 120-year-old knife on the Cult of Mac? Because age doesn’t matter when something is this well-designed. Also, I figure if you’re a fan of Apple gear you will appreciate good design wherever you find it.

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How to set up a foolproof note-taking system for writers and other nerds (Part 1)

How to set up a foolproof note-taking system for writers and other nerds (Part 1)

I started writing stories this year – short fiction and a couple of novellas so far – and I’ve found I need to make a lot of notes. The iPhone is pretty great for this, as you’d expect, but not always: Sometimes it’s just not appropriate to tap away on a cellphone, and sometimes you might want to make little drawings, or maybe you just find it easier and faster to pull out a paper notebook or index card.

The biggest advantage of iPhone notes is that they are sync-able and searchable. Paper is neither. But using a combo of apps, old-school paper hacks and an easy-to-maintain “workflow”, I came up with a simple note-taking system that keeps paper and pixels together, both equally searchable, sync-able and usable.

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Gadget roundup: The week’s best gear for travelers, campers and chefs

Cooking, charging, camera-ing and generally staying out-of-doors are the themes this week. But if you are stuck inside out of the sun, don’t worry – we have you covered too.

This week we get cooking with a gadget-charging camping stove and a slick, iPhone-friendly food thermometer. We also do DIY projects (without tenderizing our thumbs) with the German Latthammer, charge our flagging phones with a purse that packs a built-in battery, and record everything using the super-dorky Lifelogger camera. Is the sun shining? Yes it is!