I am a technology enthusiast and love to learn from others. So I thought I would share a list of the programs I launch when my computer starts. This might help you discover a few interesting programs. Hopefully, you will share some you use in the comments below.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I use a Mac, so all my recommendations are Mac related. If you use Windows you can usually find an equivalent program.
It is no secret that I am a big fan of Evernote. It is one of those amazing tools that can radically boost your productivity. I use it probably more than any other program other than Mac Mail. It has enabled me to realize my dream of a paperless office.
But Evernote can also be initially intimidating. The program is so deep and feature-rich that new users hardly know where to start. It is like buying a Swiss Army Knife. I personally used it for two years for little more than typing meeting notes into it.
I have written before about SoChurch, a new Web-based communications tool for churches. I serve on the Advisory Board. It has been a delight to watch the SoChurch team turn their dream and into reality. The product officially launches on Monday, January 10th. In a moment, I will tell you how to sign-up before then and get a 25% discount.
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What is SoChurch? As they say in their marketing copy.
Amazon has finally released the long awaited Kindle for Mac. I was eagerly anticipating this. However, it is really bare bones. It also says you can highlight text, but I couldn’t figure out how. If Amazon.com is going to compete with Apple, they are going to have to do better than this.
ReadItLater is a plugin for FireFox, iPhone, and other browsers. It enables you to mark a page to read later. This avoids having to keep a bunch of tabs open in your browser, hoping to come back to them later. I have been wanting something like this for a long time!
I have Apple Airport Express routers in several rooms in my house. This enables me to shoot a music stream from my computer to the speakers in whatever rooms I choose. It is very cool. This is built into iTunes, but it will not work with other applications. For example, if you are watching a video in YouTube or want to listen to Pandora.com, you have to directly connect to an external speaker. Unless you have Airfoil. This simple application allows you to stream any audio wirelessly to your Airport speakers. It’s very cool. I only wish it were less expensive: It’s $25 for a single-user and $46 for a five-user “family pack.”
If you use TweetDeck on your Mac or Windows machine to manage your Twitter account, and you have an iPhone, you will love this little application. It is the first Twitter app that I have found for the iPhone that allows me to manage groups. (Yes, I did try TweetStack, but it kept crashing on me.) It will even sync groups between your desktop and your iPhone, provided that you sign up for a free online account. Even the application is free. The only reason I didn’t give it a five-star rating is that it is still a little buggy. I’m sure the developers will get this worked out shortly.
Scrivener (Mac only) is a word processor specifically designed for writers. It doesn’t do some things that a major word processor like Microsoft Word does. Instead, it focuses on the tasks that writers need and takes them to the next level. It provides a “corkboard” where you can “storyboard” your book using virtual index cards. If you want a more traditional approach, it provides a fully-featured outliner. My favorite aspect of the program is full-screen editing. You can eliminate all the distractions of other programs and windows and focus on the single document you are working right now. You can try the program free for 30-days. The purchase price is only $39.95. I would start by watching this video.
Multiple windows on the screen are wonderful when you want to multi-task. But they can quickly become a distraction. That’s where Think (Mac only) comes in. This clever little program covers all of your open windows and desktop with a blank, colored backdrop. You then choose one application you want to “illuminate.” That application stays above the backdrop and creates a distraction-free environment for you to get some actual work done. This is a must-have program for writers. Best of all, it’s free!
Skim (Mac only) is a PDF reader and note-taker for Mac OS X. In my view it is much better than Adobe Reader and easier to use. You can highlight text, add and edit notes, create bookmarks, and read your documents in full-screen mode. Best of all: it’s free!
If you have a Web site or a blog, you will inevitably have to upload pictures, text files, or scripts. You will need a FTP (file transfer protocol) program to do so. I use Transmit (Mac only). It is very, very simple, and easy to use.