We all have technologies that are absolutely essential to our day-to-day lives. Here is a baker’s dozen of mine…
- Google Reader. It took me a while, but I’ve now organized all of my feeds into category folders in Google Reader. I now can simply click on a folder name, scan the post titles for anything that grabs me (I keep Google Reader in List view, not Expanded view), star anything that I want to read and/or blog later, and then click on Mark All as Read to clear the list. I’m currently staying on top of 434 feeds and it takes no more than 30 to 45 minutes per day. If I get behind, no worries. I just clear it all out and figure that topics will come back around if they’re really important.
- Google Chrome. Chrome is quite simply the fastest Internet browser out there, both in terms of page loading and initial startup. Google Chrome feeds my need for speed. Firefox seems to drag in comparison. Chrome’s new ability to handle extensions is rapidly eroding Firefox’s plugin advantage.
- MiFi. I replaced my wireless broadband USB modem with a Verizon MiFi wireless hotspot. Now, rather than only one computer having Internet access through Verizon’s cell phone network, my family can connect up to five devices, including laptops, cameras, iPod Touches, etc. The coolness of this struck me when we were driving East this winter as my wife checked her e-mail on her laptop, one of my sons played an Internet game on my laptop, and my daughter downloaded new apps for the iPod Touch, all at the same time. Nice!
- BlogJet. I don’t always have Internet connectivity when I want to work on a blog post. BlogJet is a powerful desktop blogging client that allows me to work on posts whenever I want. I like that it allows me to post to multiple blogs and it is much easier to use than TypePad, WordPress, or Movable Type. I also use BlogJet occasionally as a HTML editor.
- iPod Touch. We have two iPod Touches in our family. When I can pry one of them out of my kids’ hands, I’m increasingly using the Touch instead of my laptop. My two favorite apps are MobileRSS (an awesome RSS reader) and Kindle for iPhone. Although I’m still buying nonfiction books, I’m purchasing and reading more fiction on the Touch rather than buying paperbacks. I don’t have an iPhone because AT&T’s coverage in Iowa is abysmal; I often pair the Touch with the MiFi if I need Web access.
- SnagIt. There are lots of different screen capture programs out there, many of which are free. I have yet to find one with the functionality of SnagIt. I use it to capture images from the Web, Adobe Acrobat, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio, and so on.
- PhraseExpress. If you haven’t yet used text-expanding software, I promise it will make your life easier. Once you have it set up, you simply type in an abbreviation or short phrase and – presto! – an entire sentence or paragraph appears! I use PhraseExpress for all sorts of things, including customizing my e-mail signature and replying to all of the Did You Know? (Shift Happens) inquiries that Karl Fisch and I get.
- EverNote. I’m using EverNote more and more to take notes, capture snippets from the Web, etc. I’m sure that I’m only using a small portion of its functionality. I like that I can access my content from my laptop, the Web, and/or my Blackberry.
- LastPass. This is a password manager and form-filler for my Internet browser. I like that LastPass keeps its files on the Web, meaning that my wife and I no longer need separate files on our respective hard drives.
- Readability. If you haven’t yet tried the Readability bookmarklet for your Internet browser, give it a shot. I use it far more than I expected to. It’s been a godsend to one of my older relatives whose vision is not what it used to be.
- Notepad++. Notepad++ is my favorite Notepad replacement software. I use it to get rid of unwanted text formatting, do basic HTML editing, etc.
- Readtwit. I stumbled upon Readtwit because of a tweet from Will Richardson. Readtwit turns your Twitter stream into a clean RSS feed. If there’s a hyperlink in the tweet, it also shows you the first 2000 characters of the target web page; this is incredibly useful. Try Readtwit for a week in your favorite RSS reader. You’ll be hooked too.
- Launchy. I’m much faster on the keyboard than on the mouse. Launchy allows me to launch programs, files, etc. with a few keystrokes. My wife: “How did you open that program so fast?” Me: “I can’t tell you all my computer secrets. Then you won’t need me any more!”
I use every one of these technologies nearly every day. They make my life easier, more efficient, and more effective. What are you using that improves your day-to-day productivity and well-being?
I have a similar list: email, Evernote, iGoogle, Google Reader, Engrade, Sugarsync, Blogger, Google Sites, TwitterGadget. I use these every day for everything from staying organized, to keeping up with new things, to communicating and collaborating with other educators, to lessons and lesson planning.
I talk more about these here – http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-technology-i-use-on-daily-basis.html
I’d love to see what other tech people say they can’t live without.
My list is remarkably similar though I don’t have iPod Touch/MiFi and haven’t looked at BlogJet yet. A couple that I couldn’t do without now are Diigo for bookmarking and Lazyfeed for following topics.
Instead of Lastpass, I prefer Mitto (http://mitto.com)
Have you tired FireFox 3.6 Beta yet? Speed is coming back even with all my add-ons which is what seems to slow it down. I love Chrome but on my Mac I just don’t have the add-ons I need from FireFox including ScribeFire my blogging app. Although I’ll have to look at BlogJet.
My Kindle is rapidly becoming my favorite technology tool. I’ve started to get much better at adding notes and marks to my content and at searching for the content that I need. I’ve also started sending PDFs to myself—think about the Kaiser Family or Pew Internet reports—making them a lot easier to read and portable times ten.
And I’m at the point where I have over 200 books on my Kindle, which keeps me out of trouble with the Mrs.! No more heaping stacks of books laying in the living room. It’s been a blessing for both of us.
Enjoyed your list, Scott…Thanks for sharing…
My wife: “How did you open that program so fast?” Me: “I can’t tell you all my computer secrets. Then you won’t need me any more!”
You sound just like a teacher, Scott!
The mifi is a great technology tool. We use it both at home and on the road. The only thing about the mifi is that you want to pay close attention to your usage. The fees for going over your usage are quite high. Also, I find my IPod Touch to be very useful.
Nice list, Scott. I’m also using Evernote with great pleasure–it contributes to a near-paperless office for me (that’s my goal, anyway!). I posted a brief list of tools I recommend people use to facilitate sharing and collaborating.
I use 5 of them.
Did you find an easy way to save Snagit into Evernote?