April 28th, 2011, 6 Comments »
The Internet has made me a compulsive self-documenter. Obviously.
It occurs to me, though, that in the past few years I’ve added a lot of what we might call data streams to the usual bloggy, Twittery, Deliciously (soon to change hands, apparently) morass that is my web presence. I collect this data, automatically and manually, through my interactions in the real world.
Most of these data streams aren’t public, for reasons which will become obvious, but at one time or another I’ve depended on a handy app to capture them. I wanted to share some of the apps I’ve used, and ask others what they use for the same purpose. Some of the links below point to the iTunes app store:
Money – Occasionally I want to keep track of every penny I spend, just to see how it gets distributed over a couple of months. The results are usually shocking. Unlike most money management users, I don’t want an app that interacts with my bank accounts–I just want to track outgoing dollars. I use the simple, non-web-dependent Expense Tracker – Spending. It does what I need it to. You can export your data to a CSV file, which is handy for obsessively making charts in Excel.
Calories – Much like money, sometimes I want to track every single grape or Grape-Nut that goes in my mouth. Most recently, I’ve used a website and app called MyNetDiary. 1998 called and wants its name back, right? The app is great, though, with a reliable bar code scanner and has over 100,000 food items in their database to make use of. You can even track the number of glasses of water you drink every day.
Exercise – I’ve written (and talked) about RunKeeper before, and I still use it. Bonus tip for going running or cycling in foreign countries: your phone probably doesn’t rely on your data connection for collecting GPS data, so you can still use it while on holidays. Before RunKeeper, I relied on Couch to 5k to get me off the settee.
Time-tracking – We sometimes need to track the number of hours we spend on client work. For that we rely upon Harvest, which does the job with a clean interface in its desktop, web and mobile apps.
What are your favourite apps for documenting your offline experiences?
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February 3rd, 2009, 6 Comments »
I was fortunate to get a bunch more recommendations for OS X apps from Twitter and my previous post. I’ve included most of them below. I skipped a few that seemed particularly specialized, or specific to a particular profession (for example, software developer, web designer, and so forth). Here they are:
AppTrap – Ensures that all files are removed when you uninstall software.
Boxee – From what I gather, a kind of free, open source media centre.
Calaboration – For syncing Google Calendar with iCal. I’ve tried three solutions, and this is the only one that’s worked without serious agony.
CrossOver Games – Apparently a ‘seamless’ tool for playing PC games on OS X.
DoubleCommand – A utility for remapping your keyboard. Apparently useful for using a non-Apple keyboard with OS X. I’m going to give this a try, as I want to use my big old Windows keyboard instead of the dainty one that came with my iMac.
DropBox – Storage app and syncing service for storing and sharing files. For what it’s worth, I tried this tool on OS X 10.4 and had a difficult time uninstalling it.
Evernote – Very handy research, note-taking and forget-me-not tool. I’ve never used their software, but have lately used their Firefox add-ons for research on our book.
Freedom – Turns off your network connection for eight hours, enabling you to temporarily defeat your Internet addiction so you can do actual work.
iAlertU – A car alarm for your laptop. It uses your Mac’s built-in motion sensor to trigger an alarm and snap a photo of the apparent thief with the iSite camera.
iTunes Alarm – Predictably, turns iTunes into an alarm clock.
Jumpcut – Access your clipboard’s history, and edit the contents on the fly.
LittleSnapper – Yet another screen capture app.
Little Snitch – A firewall app that can tell you what’s coming in and out of your computer’s network connection.
MacTheRipper – Extracts DVDs to video files. I used this app about a year ago, and it worked like a charm.
Mojo – Looks like a modern-day Napster or Kazza.
Popcorn – Another tool for extracting your DVDs to your computer.
Scrivener – Another app specifically built for the writer. Looks quite cool, though I wonder how a tool like this influences the kind of work you might create.
TextExpander – Saves you time by enabling you to create customized keyboard shortcuts for commonly-used phrases.
Transmission – A pretty terrific BitTorrent client that I’ve used on occasion.
TrueCrypt – “Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.”
Thanks to Aaron, Masey, Newley, Rebecca, Darren, Chris, Mike, Ross, Kerry, Peter and Brian for the suggestions.
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March 31st, 2008, 1 Comment »
Earlier in the month I asked you, dear readers, how you were syncing Apple’s iCal and your Google Calendar. You offered several solutions, but the one I ended up trying was BusySync. It lasted about three weeks before doing this to my calendar:
As you may have guessed, there’s only one luncheon. Julie and I are speaking at it, so the event should appear twice, not five times.
I don’t think I did anything peculiar to the app–I just installed it and expected it to work. And, sadly, it didn’t. At least the uninstall process was relatively straightforward and didn’t permanently screw up my Google Calendar.
I’d consider Spanning Sync, but this issue isn’t really worth 65 of my hard-earned dollars. Back to a web calendar-only universe, I guess.
UPDATE: The folks at BusySync are on the ball, and already emailed with a detailed explanation of the issue. It’s not worth my time to troubleshoot it at the moment, but I appreciate their prompt and thorough response.
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