Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The technology, aps & websites currently garnering my attention

Don't say you weren't forewarned about the lack of pattern or relationship between my posts.  Leaping from social media to gardening back to technology and over to random musings is... well, a typical day for me.

Today I'm going to leap upon my soapbox to tout the wonders of some recent websites and related discoveries.  I'm truly enthused and amazed at the fantastic arsenal of tools that are released and finessed every day.  While I don't claim my list of favorites (below) to be the most cutting-edge in tech reporting, I do feel compelled to share my adulation of each:

My new favorite site allows me to grab favorite websites without the hassle of Del.ici.ous (which torments me with logging in every time when I just want to quickly bookmark a site across multiple access points).  Evernote's web clipper is a stroke of genius.  Even better, when reading magazines I can grab images and articles for future reference and save to Evernote while still passing on and/or recycling the magazine.  In fact, this recent article in Fortune by Josh Quittner titled "The Future of Reading" basically quantified my love of reading a magazine while simultaneously bookmarking via iphone or laptop: http://bit.ly/cefurl.  Just read the first five or so short paragraphs if you suffer from a short attention span.  Then, be sure to visit http://www.evernote.com/ and download it to your desktop to have access to the web clipper and an enhanced version.  You'll want the iPhone ap too, I suspect.

I love Google everything - truly, I do.  From Google Aps to the calendar, reader, Google for Nonprofits, checkout and a gazillion other lovely open source products, I'm smitten.  However, I need to calmly state that Dropbox is so my new favorite, and it really outperforms Google Docs in one major way: it automatically syncs documents across mediums (say, my home and work laptops and my iPhone) without the need for an external hard drive.  More importantly, it does this all automatically, making it far more intuitive than Docs, where I had to remember to save documents and upload them to the site.  Breaking the immediate save-to-My-Documents habit is hard, which is why I love that Dropbox places a nifty folder right in My Docs and automatically opens it for saves.  No more lugging even a laptop home, since I can access everything no matter where I'm working.  Even better, it's all backed-up online due to the likelihood (for me, anyway) that I will crash every computer to which I have access.  In short: LOVE.

There's a nap for that
My Dad has taken to making fun of the iPhone tagline by slurring the words (he's also prone to placing the em-FA-sis on the wrong sy-LAH-bles).  And I, as firstborn, feel compelled to laugh (just don't tell him I actually find it funny... every time).  Regardless, I need to extol some new favorite aps: Dropbox and Evernote, obviously, followed by Opera (the new speedy browser and much better favorite site bookmarking option as compared to Safari on the iPhone) and Kindle for iPhone. 

For social media management via iPhone: I like the LinkedIn ap and Twitterific rather than Twitter, and Facebook really seems to function far better through the browser than as an ap.

For reading/entertainment: Again, Kindle for iPhone, but I also can't part with Mashable (the best for tech/social media news), Huff Post and Treehugger (see below).  My poorly-behaved alter-ego enjoys Epic Fail and ifmylife (foul language alert!), and GoodReads has a lovely new ap for logging books read, to read and opinions of others - I keep the list to a short one of those whose book opinions I truly admire vs. friending everyone on the planet.

Best green aps: Again, Treehugger takes the cake followed by the GoodGuide (for checking and comparing products in the grocery store and elsewhere), CO2 Tracker, EcoSnoop and iRecycle (via Earth911.com), although the latter is not well developed in non-urban areas as yet.  Kiva Alerts is also very cool, for reviewing microloan projects around the world and supporting them through $25 investments - you can also check repayment and reinvestment schedules.  Learn more about them at http://www.kiva.org/.

Lazy Humanitarian Outreach
Speaking of Kiva and doing good, I've been absolutely intrigued by a recent article in Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/) about IBM's World Community Grid: bit.ly/alR5Ri.  The gist of it is this: you sign up for the program and install "dumb" software on your computer (i.e. it does what it is supposed to do but leaves you alone, and doesn't affect your use or track your activities).  WCGrid "harnesses" your idle computer time to run computations related to research to fight cancer, end world hunger and dozens of other humanitarian causes.  By idle time, it means when you pause to think, get up for a cup of coffee or take a phone call.  You don't have to leave your computer on all the time or change your habits.  This basically turns all of our computers into a group supercomputer.  It's truly fascinating.  If you read it and feel comfortable enough to enroll (I would think you would, it's a thorough article), feel free to join my team at http://www.worldcommunitygrid.com/ - Team NWA.  I think it will be fun to see what can happen.

That's the list of the things making me tick this month.  Hope it turns out to be of interest or use!

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