Tools We Love

toolbench1We love tools that enable us to do our work – effectively, efficiently, with some flair, with enough extra features to reward exploration.  The kind of tools that become even more valuable the more you use them.  Since we all work with concepts, their connections, and how to communicate them impactfully with other people we do business with, we think you might find some of them useful, novel,  and perhaps a fresh way to get better work done.

 

ipad31Apple iPad.  Guilty.  Not of being an Apple fanboy, but of being a sucker for a glimpse of the computing future.  And, for us, the future of computing will be more about carrying a lightweight, responsive dashboard for services and content that reside in “the cloud,” than it will be for lugging around a computing device that requires applications to be loaded onto it, secured, fed, milked, updated, plugged-into, etc.   We’ve all got our favorite shortcomings when discussing the first generation iPad, but in our experience so far the whole is much greater than just the sum of its specs.   We’ve used tablets for 7 years, from HP, from Motion Computing (twice), from Nokia (twice), even the original CrossPad, and the iPad is a new high water mark in that line of companionable computing devices.  And as the cloud gets richer with services and content, the iPad gets more useful.  It’s not the immovable rock of the next thunder-PC; it’s the lever that mortals use to move rocks.  Highly recommended.   (This note comes from excess enthusiasm only – I am completely unaffiliated with Apple or its partners.)

voice-logo1Google Voice is the terrific new service from Google that really brings telephony within your electronic embrace for managing your work, your life, your interests.  At the moment, only people who had accounts with Grand Central (the company Google purchased to form the core of this integration) can avail themselves of the service, but you can sign up to be notified when general availability begins.  Click here for the full feature list and be prepared to be stupefied.  Calls that can ring specific phones depending on who calls (or ring all your phones, if you wish), voicemails that are transcribed and emailed or text-messaged to you (!), downloadable voicemails, conference calling, free US calls, even the ability to listen in on voicemails as they’re being left, widgets for use on websites and blogs, and much more. A new high-water mark in coordinating your e-life with your meat-life.  (This note comes from excess enthusiasm only – I am completely unaffiliated with Google or its partners.)

livescribe21Livescribe Pulse is the latest “electronic capture” device that let you take notes in pen and ink while capturing the notes electronically to upload to your PC and further manipulate digitally.  Being indefatigable note-takers, we’ve tried all such devices, stretching all the way back to the Crosspad (yes, both sizes) that AT Cross and IBM sold in the late 90′s.  Likewise the”special-paper” variations  like Fly Fusion, and Logitech’s IO pen. BUT LIVESCRIBE ALSO LISTENS!!  Captures not just your writing, but also all sounds in the room, which it synchronizes to your notes.  No frantic need to capture verbatims, let the pen do it, and save the notepad for your internal musings about what’s being said.   1 gig and 2 gig models available.  If anything you do involves listening and talking, just go get one.  (This note comes from excess enthusiasm only – I am completely unaffiliated with LiveScribe or its distribution partners.)

onenotecompositeMicrosoft Office OneNote.  The strongest, most useful, fullest-featured software I have ever discovered in 30+ years of using software.  Takes the metaphor of a notebook  to the highest imaginable power without forcing the user to be aware of features he doesn’t need.  Accommodates almost every data type, can be used from a server for teams, or from an individual’s laptop, outputs to pdf or office documents, makes snipping sections from web pages brain-dead simple, accommodates stylus input but does not require it, plugs into the browser to let you send whole webpages to your notebook with one click, then annotate, and share in a variety of ways.   I thought there would never be a software that made more than minor refinements in my established work habits, but then I discovered OneNote.  If your work involves mashing up concepts, research, websites, files, images, your own musings, recordings, writing, doodling, and/or if you are using email as a poor man’s workflow tool (you know you are!), you must try OneNote.  Roughly $80 street price.   (This note comes from excess enthusiasm only – I receive no compensation or consideration from Microsoft or its distribution partners.)

joomla1Joomla – Really a content management system (CMS) for the rest of us.  Can accommodate newbie website creation, or the most advanced dynamically-generated website anyone could conceive.  Extremely mature and increasingly available from hosting companies with a few clicks.  Extremely powerful management dashboard requiring no HTML coding skills, though able to accommodate whatever level of such skills you may have.  Extensive templates available (many free) and exhaustive documentation.  Impressive publishing scheduling to enable time-sensitive content to be staged, published, and removed without further intervention.  Also enables multiple levels of permission to accommodate decentralized publishing assignments.  If anything you do requires a website, be it a campaign squeeze page or a full-featured company presence, Joomla must be on your short list of alternatives to evaluate.

WordPress plugin for Joomla– Bringing the best of WordPress features to the Joomla framework, this recently released plugin enables WordPress jockeys to feel right at home publishing content in WordPress while enjoying Joomla’s broader content management features.

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