Technology: Tools of the Trade


Ever get so busy, you thought to yourself, “I wish there were some computer programs to help me sort this all out.”? There are. Maybe too many of them! This newest guest post by art writer, Dorothy Santos, is fantastic because she locates for us top options among the millions of available iPhone and desktop applications. Relief awaits you – whether you’re an artist or an entrepreneur, a director or a manager. Read on and regain ownership of your to-do list!

Technology: Tools of the Trade

Journalism, news writing, blogging, and art criticism have changed significantly over the years. People disseminate information as quickly as they consume it. The communication overload can be rather daunting and unruly if the end user does not harness creative and efficient ways to use all of these tools. Serious bloggers, for instance, rely heavily on technology that makes curating and publishing content easy. Yet, how do you do this in a streamline fashion? In addition, how does an avid blogger reflect back experiences and news instantly while keeping grammar, diction, and syntax together? It can be very challenging and with many of the frustrations I hear from fellow writers, bloggers, and artists, mass media, social networking, and tech culture can be overwrought with useless information. However, there are solutions. The bottom line: As writers and bloggers, we have to work with the tools we have. Here are some that I use.

Productivity

Springpad (Free) – Springpad has a fantastic interface. On the home page of the application, you can organize your pad in stacks. From the stacks, you are taken to a directory of your projects or blog ideas, which you are able to configure as a post-it or task. The ability to categorize and add tags makes sorting through your stacks easy. You can even add photos, additional notes, audio, and a reminder for your tasks and projects. Another functionality, which many may benefit from, especially if you rely on a crowd-sourcing technique to gather and/or curate information are the Facebook and Twitter Quicklinks available on each pad page! Overall, it’s an attractive app.

Evernote (Free; Upgrade available for a fee) – Evernote is very similar to Springpad but the key difference is the to have offline and shared notebooks. You can also link your Evernote account to Pulse News, which is a great asset to a blogger to quickly reference saved media or clippings. Unlike Springpad, there is an option to have a ‘Premium’ account which enables you to have 1GB monthly uploads, ability to search within PDFs from your mobile devices amongst other things. However, you will find yourself paying $4.99 a month or a one year flat fee of $44.99.

Awesome Note (aka aNote – Purchase) – Personal Favorite – I have to admit, I’m such a sucker for colorful and creative design. While Springpad turns the idea of a hum drum yellow pad into a dynamic application, Awesome Note gives the ability to change and customize the aesthetics. Upon opening up Awesome Note, you are brought to file folders that you can organize any way you like. You’re able to create the following type of entries: Normal (Standard Note), To-Do (Equipped with due dates, tags, and status, and alarm), Anniversary (Countdown to a special event), and Diary (ability to note weather and mood). aNote has a primary home screen that looks very similar to an actual desktop! You can also sync with the following platforms: Evernote, iTunes File Sharing, Bluetooth Note Transfer, and Google Docs.

Creativity

Mindjet (Free) – Mind mapping at the tip of your finger tips, literally and you’re able to send a PDF of your mind map to yourself! Considering that it’s a smart phone app it’s relatively dynamic and allows you to create some really amazing flow charts and maps that you can’t possibly get in a white board session, even if you’re the only one in the white board session

IDEO Method Cards (Purchase) – Fantastic way to think and see things differently.

Whack Pack (Purchase)- Similar to IDEO, it’s a bit more old school BUT still relevant in 2012.

SimpleMind+ (Free) – The ultimate in brainstorming and bubble mapping. This is perfect for just getting thoughts out there and can easily be sent via e-mail!!

Office Management

Podio (Free) – Personal Favorite – I use Podio to create deliverables and manage my projects because you can be as detailed and granular as you would like, which suits my personality. It’s one of those project management systems that provides an intranet to small businesses and non-profits looking for a way to organize. It’s also a great alternative to e-mail since much of the project management, brainstorming, and financial tracking can actually be done in Podio. The mobile device application also also you to enter into tasks and projects and assign to people and/or groups. At moment, I’m using it to clock my time when working on freelance writing projects.

Dropbox (Free) – All I have to say, “Don’t e-mail files when you can dropbox them”. Dropbox makes it easy and the application allows you to have share your favorite files. It’s ridiculously easy to use and the fastest way to send and receive files.

JotNot Pro (Purchase) – This was completely worth the money. You pay a small fee to have a fax, jpg and PDF converter at your fingertips. Quite frankly, people do use faxes but they are electronic faxes and this handy application has completely saved me the times I had to show proof of a wet signature on a contract or important paperwork! This is an invaluable tool for freelance writers and bloggers. I highly recommend it!!

Hackpad (Free) – As the homepage to Hackpad states, “Hackpad is the best Wiki ever”. It really is. Recently, I’ve used this platform collaboratively with artists and friends. Every time there are edits to a shared document, you are able to see who made the edits and you will receive an e-mail message summarizing the changes. It’s free and there is absolutely no learning curve. If you crave something simple, Hackpad is an amazing tool.

Dorothy Santos is a freelance art writer, blogger, and photojournalist based in San Francisco. She is a contributing writer for Asterisk SF magazine, guest blogger for zero1, and holds bachelor degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco.

Did we miss any apps? What do you recommend? Please use the comment box to tell us about some of your favorites. Pass on these great tips using any of the easy-to-use share buttons below.


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