Digital Tool Bench – Stuff I Use
- Blog, Productivity
- adobe creative suite, evernote, fetch, final cut pro x, flickr, grooveshark, klout, logmein, notepad, productivity, skype, spotify, tools, tweetdeck, vlc player, wordpress
- December 19, 2012
Cost: Free or Premium ($5.99 per month)
Evernote is a desktop/mobile note taking app. Quite simply, you open Evernote, write/record a note or attach an image – click sync – and your note appears on every device you have it installed on. Capture anything, accesss anywhere. I use this several times a day for personal reminders, passwords, blog post ideas and everything else. Great app that I highly recommended. The free version offers 60MB of storage, which is quite a lot for text/audio notes but adds up if you add lots of images (which I do not). Premium version offers 1 GB monthly uploads, top priority support, search within PDFs, view notebooks while offline and more.
LogMeIn is a mobile/desktop app that allows you to log into and remotely control any computer you own from your smartphone. You download the LogMeIn app for your mobile device and for each device you want to be able to remotely log in to. I just started using LogMeIn, but I cursed this person who turned me onto it for not turning me onto it sooner. There are premium (paid) options as well, but I haven’t explored it enough to explain.
Design & Production
Adobe Creative Suite
Cost: Visit Adobe.com pricing dependent upon package
Adobe Creative Suite includes: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Flash, Fireworks, Acrobat, Bridge and Media Encoder. I am a every day user of Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Acrobat. The Creative Suite is sliced-and-diced a few ways depending on your needs (Web Premium, Design Premium, Production Premium) – as my daily work includes a bit of design and a bit of production, I have the full suite. A true powerhouse of a software package.
Final Cut Pro X
Cost: $299 in the Apple App Store
There has been a lot of negative press about Apple’s completely re-built version of their popular Final Cut software, Final Cut Pro X. I learned to edit on Final Cut Pro 7 and while it’s a fine tool, FCP X blows it out of the water. My editing and exporting process has sped up in a significant way. Not only are simple timeline edits much more intuitive and quick, but the number of built-in, non-cheesy text effects, backgrounds and transitions has me banging through basic edits much faster, without needing to render graphics in After Effects nearly as often. HUGE fan.
If you have a website of any kind and you are not utilizing Google Analytics you are not doing it right. Once you sign up and set up your website within Analytics (5 minutes, tops) it’s as simple as copying and pasting a line of code into the header of your website. Google Analytics starts capturing data immediately and gives you extremely useful real-time stats and data from your site that include: site visits, content breakdown (what people are viewing), how they are getting to your site, which search terms are leading users to your site and much, much more. Incredible tool.
VLC Player is a free download for both Mac and PC platforms. It plays virtually every video format imaginable. No need for separate players for .mpeg, .avi, or .wmv. VLC does it all, baby.
Social & Mobile
Klout measures your social media influence. It gives you a combined score based on your influence on the social networks you link to your account. Your options are: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and Last.fm. One drawback is that your score is only based on the last 90 days of activity, so you will see your score fluctuate if you’re an inconsistent social media presence.
Klout determines which topics you’re influential about (only semi-reliably), who you influence as well as who you’re influenced by. Recently, it added ‘Moments’ which highlights your actions and the engagement they garner. Over time, Klout will offer you ‘perks,’ or special offers from their advertisers that they claim are based on your influence – for instance, I was offered a free 8 page Shutterfly album. Not bad.
WhatsApp is a mobile app available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Nokia. It allows you to send text messages without accumulating any carrier-related charges. I use this application to send text messages to international friends or while traveling. It is free-of-cost when abroad as long as you’re connected to WiFi. I’ve found it very useful and a good buy at .99.
Cost: Free / Pre-Paid for International VoIP
Google Voice is a direct competitor of Skype for VoIP calling from desktop and mobile devices. Through Google Voice you are assigned a phone number that includes online voicemail that you can make free local calls with. Furthermore, you can add funds to your account and make international calls for dirt cheap. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio but have a Toledo area code. Google Voice allowed me to select a Cincinnati area code for my number that I include on my business card.
Honorable mention: Grooveshark (Desktop / Jailbreak music app), Spotify (Desktop/Mobile music app), Skype (SMS/VoIP Desktop/Mobile app), imTOO Video Converter Free (Freeware Video Converter), Waze (Social Traffic Mobile App)