Thoughts on productivity,
communication and tech.
 

June 7, 2012  

As smartphones and tablets become more popular it becomes increasingly important that apps are available and work well across different devices.

An app that is used to create and manage content should, ideally, be available on the computer, on the smartphone and on the tablet. That way, the user can use and benefit from the app in different situations.

The computer may be most effective to use in the office while the tablet could be more convenient to use at a meeting. And while on the go, it’s hard to beat the smartphone.

Since different devices may be used in different situations, the content of an app should automatically be made available on the computer, the tablet and the smartphone.

This can be achieve by means of syncing content across devices.

Syncing is not available in all apps, but there are some apps that in my opinion handle syncing well. Here are four of those:

    • Dropbox
      Dropbox lets you sync files across devices. This means, for example, that it’s possible to download a file to a smartphone and then open the file on a computer without manually transferring the file yourself. Dropbox is available for a number of different platforms.
    • Evernote
      As the name implies, Evernote is a note-taking application. Since Evernote syncs the notes across devices, one can start making a note on a computer and then continue writing on the same note by using a smartphone or a tablet. Like Dropbox, Evernote is available for a number of different platforms.
    • OmniFocus
      This is a very powerful task manager which fits well with David Allen’s method Getting Things Done. By using the Omni Sync Server (which is free), the to-do-lists can be synced across the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad.
    • MindMeisterI think that mind mapping is a great way to visualize one’s thinking. MindMeister makes it possible to create maps by using a web browser, a smartphone (such as the iPhone) or a tablet (such as the iPad). MindMeister also syncs the mind maps across devices.
 

June 5, 2012  

The world is moving fast. In the tech industry for example, things are changing so rapidly in such short time that it’s necessary to constantly learn new things in order to stay competitive.

Luckily, the Internet and related technologies have made constant learning far easier than it used to be.

There are many tools that make it easy to constantly access new information. Here are six ways of staying on top:

  1. Subscribe to RSS feeds.
    An RSS feed saves time by delivering new web site content automatically. If you subscribe to a web site’s RSS feed, you do not need to surf to the web site to discover what’s new. As new content is delivered it shows up in your RSS Reader.If you subscribe to a few active and relevant web sites through RSS, you will have a constant stream of content. If you want to learn more about RSS, you can for example check out my previous post on the subject or read more at Wikipedia.
  2. Follow interesting people on Twitter.
    Twitter can be a very valuable tool even if you never write a single tweet. The reason is that there are a lot of Twitter users who regularly share valuable content.By choosing to follow a person or an organization on Twitter, you get to see their tweets automatically. By following industry professionals you can get relevant information and stay in the loop.
  3. Listen to podcasts.
    A podcast is kind of like a web-based radio show that one can subscribe to. When a new podcast episode is released, it is automatically made available to the subscribers. Podcasts can also be downloaded to computers and mobile devices and then be listened to offline.I regularly listen to podcasts such as Mac Power Users, Build and Analyze and Hypercritical. They provide information as well as interesting discussions and ideas.There are many apps that can be used to listen to podcasts, including iTunes. I use the iPhone app Instacast which makes it possible to find, subscribe to, download and listen to podcasts.The fact that podcasts can easily be listened to while on the go is one of their great benefits, in my opinion. Situations that could otherwise be dull can be made into learning opportunities by listening to podcasts.
  4. Subscribe to e-mail newsletters
    Many web sites make it possible to subscribe to e-mail newsletters. This can be a convenient way of getting new and useful information automatically.
  5. Read e-books.
    One of the great things about e-books is that it’s so easy and convenient to buy them. Instead of having to go to the bookstore or the library, or ordering a book and waiting for it to be delivered, e-books can be bought conveniently online and be delivered directly.Today, there are also very capable tablets (such as the iPad) that can be used to read digital books.E-books can be bought from Apple’s iBookstore and from Amazon.com, to name a couple of examples.
  6. Listen to digital audio books.
    Like e-books, digital audio books are convenient to buy. And like podcasts, they can be listened to while on the go.Digital audio books can be purchased and downloaded from places such as iTunes and Audible.com.
 

June 2, 2012  

If you surf the web a lot, chances are that you have a lot of bookmarks for web pages that you find interesting.

But if you use more than one computer (and/or more than one web browser) to surf the web, then your bookmarks may be spread out in different places.

One way of solving this problem is to use a web-based service such as Delicious. By storing bookmarks on the web, the same bookmarks can be accessed from different computers and from different web browsers.

Another way of solving the problem is to use Apple’s service iCloud which makes it possible to access the same bookmarks on iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) as well as on Mac and Windows. You can find instructions and read about requirements for iCloud on Apple’s web site.

 

May 28, 2012  

“Things you own end up owning you.”

Those words were said by Tyler Durden, the famous character that Brad Pitt played in the movie Fight Club.

I think that there’s some truth in that quote. In my experience, a lot of people in industrial societies tend to accumulate far more stuff than they would really need. The excess stuff demands attention, energy and time.

The mountain of stuff really becomes apparent at inconvenient times, such as when one needs to pack up and move to a new home or when one really needs to find a specific useful thing which – of course – is buried under a pile of less than useful stuff.

And this brings us to the problems with having loads of stuff:

  • It becomes harder to move to a new home if you need to pack and carry a lot of stuff.
  • It’s harder to find the stuff that you actually use.
  • Things require space. The more things you have, the more space you need.
  • Things get dusty. More stuff, more to clean.
  • It’s hard to keep track of everything one owns.

On the other hand, getting rid of unnecessary stuff can lead to several benefits, including:

  • It’s easier to move to a new home.
  • It’s easier to find stuff.
  • Less space is required.
  • Less things mean less things to clean.
  • It’s easier to keep track of everything one owns.
  • It frees up time – the less time one needs to spend managing unnecessary stuff,
    the more time can be spent on more productive tasks.
  • In addition to the above benefits, I personally think that getting rid of stuff contributes to peace of mind.

One reason that people keep a lot of stuff is the idea that the excess stuff will become useful one day. Because of that, it can be hard to sell, give away or throw away stuff.

But it is far from certain that excess stuff will ever become useful enough to warrant keeping. For example, if something hasn’t been used for two years, chances are that it won’t be used during the coming two years either.

The question of what to keep and what to get rid of is personal. Different individuals have different needs and the law may even require one to keep certain stuff. Therefore, I’m not going to give any specific guidelines regarding what one should or should not keep. I think that one needs to think this through properly and it may even be a good idea to ask professionals in some situations.

 


 
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