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New Apps, Twitter clients, Dropbox+Truecrypt

A run down of the things I’m testing, trying, and liking…

Recently Discovered iPhone apps I’m loving

Garmin onDemand – $0.99 Requires active data connection. Terrific navigation app. Instantly became my go to map app.

Twittelator Neue – $1.99 Best Twitter iPhone app I’ve ever used. Inline photos, intuitive controls and just plain awesome.

AutoMD.com App – Free. I’m good a geek but an Auto Dunce. This site and mobile app has been a great resource for me.

Cloud Encryption

I finally decided to test syncing a Truecrypt volume via Dropbox and I’m very pleased with the result. It allows me to keep an encyrpted set of files synced across several computers.

Create a truecrypt volume within your local dropbox folder, when you unmount it then Dropbox will detect the change and sync it. I’m only a week in but really liking the solution. I’m using a 150Mb volume without any issues.

If you need details leave a comment.

Minimalist Twitter Client

Sometimes I don’t want my full blown Tweetdeck open on the computer. Just something light that will let me know if I have a mention.

I found the Destroy Twitter client thanks to @akula and I’m liking it. Don’t expect all the bells and whistles but it is simple and small. Worth a look.

Now can someone explain why it’s named Destroy Twitter?

Your Turn

Found anything interesting or useful lately? New apps or tips?

I’d love to hear from you.

An intro to Favorite Tweets

What is that star thing? and What does it do?Favorites-256

There seems to be a lot of folks that haven’t really explored favoriting tweets or at least don’t see value of starring tweets of others so here’s a quick intro to one of the most overlooked little gems of Twitter.

What is a Favorite?

There is a small star under each tweet that allows you to favorite a tweet.

Everything else is open for interpretation and therein lies the problem. It isn’t readily apparent why someone would use this. Is this a bookmark or a high five?

The answer is yes.

How to use Favorite tweets

The standard disclaimer applies: There isn’t a wrong way and this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Method 1: Save a tweet for later.

You see a link in your tweet stream that you’d like to read but you don’t have time at that exact moment to digest the entire article. You can favorite the tweet so you can easily find it later and read it when it’s more convenient.

To see your favorited tweets just visit your Twitter profile and click on the Favorites tab.

This is Twitter’s official recommendation for how to use favorites, (See the Twitter help article on “What are Favorites?”).

Method 2: Show appreciation (give a little Twitter high five)

This is the method I prefer because it allows me to show appreciation to someone for their tweet without retweeting it. In my view, a retweet is for others whereas a favorite is for me and the author of the tweet. But I’ll give you a peek at tweets that I favorite.

To give me this freedom I use a service called instapaper to mark any links I want to use later. Every twitter app supports instapaper (usually a paper clip icon) and its an incredible system for creating a reading list. If you have an iPhone or iPad you’ll find the instapaper apps making for great reading. So by using instapaper it allows me to favorite whatever I like.

Method 3: Create a “Reviews” archive

This is a great tip for brands- Favorite a tweet when someone says something nice about your product or customer service. You can use these tweets in the future on promotional displays, real and digital, and it’s a quick way to show your CEO or a potential investor positive user feedback.

Method 4: Create an archive of tweets

Twitter search is atrocious so if you want to create a searchable archive of tweets you can get the rss feed of your favorited tweets and plug it into Google Reader. Nifty huh? Hattip to @TheFireTracker2 for this idea. (PS: To create a searchable archive of your own tweets create a Friendfeed account, but of course Facebook may pull the plug any day on FF)

Monitoring who favorites your tweets

There are a couple of ways to see when someone favorites your tweets. The first 2 are the most common and the last 2 are my favorite.

1) Twitter.com now includes mentions in the tab formally known as mentions. Just make sure to uncheck the “Show mentions only” checkbox.

2) Tweetdeck will also display favorites in your replies tab.

tweetdeck_favorite_tweets

3) Boxcar iPhone App – This app is how I get push notifications for everything Twitter. In my experience its faster and more reliable, supports many services and comes with settings to set quiet times, sound notifications, and much more. Part of that more is the ability to get a push notification when someone favorites your tweet. It’s free and awesome. Visit Boxcar.io for more info.

4) Favstar.fm – A quirky but very useful service built completely around favorite Tweets. Authorize your twitter account to see who favorites your tweets. My friend @eric_andersen showed me a new feature tonight that shows the people I favorite the most.

Your Turn

Do you favorite tweets? How do you use them?

If this post encourages you to give them a try let me hear from you. Or tweet this post and I might just favorite it.

Travel Tech

Perhaps no other area has the mobile revolution so drastically improved as the world of travel. From where you eat to finding the nearest bathroom your smartphone (and tablet) may be the most valuable travel guides the world has ever created.

Here’s how to add some tech to your next trip and ensure a smooth ride.

travel_tech_apps

Travel into the 21st Century

tripitIf you only take one bit of advice from this post, let it be this: Organize all your travel plans with Tripit.com

This site is where travel utopia meets trip utility. Everything you need to know about your hotel confirmation, flight details, or car rental all comes together in one beautiful itinerary.

It’s simple and free. Create an account a Tripit.com, then just forward all your trip confirmations to plans@tripit.com.

That’s it. Tripit sprinkles pixie dust and builds your whole trip.

I can’t begin to cover all the amazing features of this site but here are a few notable highlights:

  • Tripit’s universal app for iPhone/iPad fantastic. You can add and edit plans, click thru for maps and they even provide links to checkin to your flight with prefilled info from your itinerary.
  • Weather – They determine your location for the day and pull the weather for that locale. A simple but brilliant feature that keeps you from watching 4 different forecasts.
  • Social – Family picking you up or want to coordinate with friends. Add them as TripIt contacts to share your plans.

tripit_friendsmzl.unmxpwqd.320x480-75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t say enough about how useful and wonderful Tripit has become. Use it.

Track Flights

ft_iconKeeping track of gates, departure times, and delays can be a hassle but not if you have FlightTrack. The app is $10 but don’t blink at the price it is totally worth it. You can import your Tripit itinerary to see all of your flights and it will show you gatemaps of the airports. It’s an all-in-one Air Travel app that keeps an obsessive type like me breathing easy.

 

On the Road Apps

3 apps for exploring unfamiliar roads:

  1. Waze – See real-time traffic information, hazards, and speed traps submitted by other Wazers in the area. Waze is awful for routing but is the best at real time info.
  2. MapQuest – Yes I know it isn’t 2002 and I’m recommending MapQuest but honestly their app is really well done. I prefer it over the Google Map App in unfamiliar areas because it offers voice navigation. It works really well.
  3. iExit – Need to find a Chick-fil-a or the next Holiday Inn? Which exit should you stop? iExit does a great job of showing what resources are available at upcoming exits. Yes this info can be seen in other ways but iExit does it best and when travelling 70mph on the interstate ease and speed of info are priorities.

Where to Eat?

There is no shortage of apps recommending places to dine but I still default to Urbanspoon. I use a combination of Foodspotting, Foursquare, and Gowalla to give specific tips and dish recommendations at a restaurant but I always start with Urbanspoon.

Stay Informed

You know I couldn’t leave out my beloved Twitter.

Take the time to build a specific Travel Twitter list that includes the airports, airlines, major news outlets from your destination, and look for Fed/State departments relevant to your trip (State Dept, Texas Dept of Transportation, FAA etc..). If you have really done your research find a few tourism accounts or locals to follow. This Twitter should be seen in 2 ways:

  1. Trip information and enrichment
  2. Holy smokes something happened, what’s going on feed. (I was a Boy Scout and I take that “Be Prepared” stuff pretty seriously. Ask my wife about my emergency planning tendencies.)

Parting Advice

Finally don’t forget to setup “Find my iPhone” prior to the trip and set lock password on your phone.

There are many more travel apps that I hold in reserve but these are my essential toolkit. What would you add? How do you geek out your travel?

For more apps see my “21st Century Travel Apps” list on Appolicious.

Getting started with Evernote

Evernote is a vast and powerful system but it takes time to discover its place in your work flow. You’re confident that it solves a problem but you aren’t sure which one. Don’t worry, I think that may be the common experience. I had Evernote installed for months before I really began to use it but it didn’t take long for me to integrate Evernote into most every area of my life.

So let’s focus on where to start using Evernote.

Start with the Muddy Middle

In most projects there are items that aren’t quite tasks nor are they calendar items. They are reference material, research, and notes and often associated with upcoming meeting or a project in the works. These items are what I call the muddy middle. They don’t belong on my calendar or tasklist but its info I need to reference and possibly update at a moments notice.

This extra info belongs in Evernote.

I’ll share a few specific examples:

  1. Meeting Prep: Meeting agenda, notes, ideas, and references all sit in Evernote. Probably in my Work Notebook and I tag them as meeting. (Bonus Tip: Take a photo of the whiteboard and record an audio memo on the way out of the meeting for a more complete record of the conversations.)
  2. Client Projects: Documentation, phone call notes, ideas – all of this sits in Evernote. Begin thinking of Evernote as a brain offload, things you don’t have to remember.

Go Beyond Work

Evernote is more than just for work, its flexible enough to handle personal items as well without clutter or confusion.

You might find it a perfect place for your recipe notebook, travel research, or most anything else. The trick here is to build distinct notebooks that fit you. There isn’t any one way to do it but here is how I organize Evernote.

My primary notebooks:

  • Work
  • Church
  • Content Production

This three areas are places that my brain has ideas at strange times. If I’m asked a question or need to capture an idea I just drop it into the appropriate notebook. Once you begin using this system you’ll never wonder “where did I put that?” – It’s obvious you put it into your second brain, Evernote.

In addition you might start adding some tags to help you drill down quickly.

Evernote has a great search function if things get lost but its easy to adapt this system to however you choose to work.

Final Tips

2 killer tips that keep me sane.

  1. Save your evernote email address to your contacts – Anything you email to this address is added to Evernote. I BCC: the address to save a step when scheduling meetings and it means I can import data from anywhere because everything supports email.
  2. Setup Tweeting to Evernote – Now you can @myen or dm myen to send data. Great for flagging a link for followup or texting yourself and idea.

If you are brand new to Evernote check out their Getting Started guide and see some more ideas in the Evernote Tips Blog

This is part 1 of my Evernote Worthy Series on using Evernote.

Life Enrichment through Evernote

I’m starting a new series on one of the most flexible and productive pieces of software I’ve ever used. Evernote.

evernote-iconI find myself spending more time discussing Evernote in my presentations and having conversations about it on a weekly basis. I’ve become an unofficial evangelist because this beautiful and simple system has transformed how I get things done. It is my briefcase, my brain, my planning station, my research desk… see what I’m saying?

My Goal

I want to open your eyes to the potential of Evernote by sharing how I use Evernote and some of the tips I employ on a regular basis. In addition I’ll point you to some of the best Evernote learning resources that I still return to for ideas.

This is where you come in…

What do you want to know?

Do you use Evernote currently? If not what are your questions?

  • What is Evernote?
  • Why should I use it?
  • What does it do?
  • How would it help me in this scenario?

I’ll try to address scenarios and your questions specifically to see if Evernote could ease your information collecting, gathering, and managing. I promise it can.

Already an Evernote user?

I want to hear from you. Share your usage tips and process in the comments or if you need a longer forum I’ll gladly let you guest post during this series.

Evernote life changing software. Let me be your guide.

Share in the comments or tweet your question with the hashtag #EvernoteWorthy

In addition to these posts I’ll be exclusively sharing more juicy tips and goodies in my Network Insider emails. So take a moment and subscribe today.

Create timely tweets

Send Later…

Those are powerful words. It allows me to produce when I can and publish when I determine. I schedule blog posts and delay delivery time of emails (Tip: Try Boomerang for gmail) so scheduling tweets made sense to me from the first day I discovered the function.

alarm_clockScheduling tweets enables me to:

  • Talk when others are listening. Posting links at 2am just won’t see much traction.
  • Prevent flooding my friends timelines. I read hundreds of blogs via RSS and I doubt anyone wants to see me share 20 items at once.

Social dashboard apps like Hootsuite and Cotweet introduced this ability but we are now seeing a new breed of apps that aim to simplify the process. Instead of requiring you to schedule each tweet you focus on creating and the schedule is predetermined.

Don’t miss the great comments below. @BufferApp responds concerning mobile updating, @tacanderson shares how he uses a combination of these 2 services, @nwbingham brings up an additional issue I failed to mention.

Introducing Buffer

Buffer helps you build a queue of tweets that will be posted on a timeline that you predetermine. Set your schedule and write tweets. Easy.

buffer_tweet_box

  • To get started visit BufferApp.com and create a free account. (They do offer pro plans that allow multiple accounts and larger buffer starting at $10 a month but for most individuals the free account will work nicely.)
  • Create a schedule of the days and times you want to tweet.
  • Write tweets and add to buffer.

bufferBuffer has a nice analytics dashboard so you can judge the effectiveness of your schedule and they offer bit.ly API integration for link shortening. They also offer a number of browser extensions and bookmarklets to ease buffer creation.

2 criticisms of Buffer

  1. Their lack of a mobile app and or mobile web page. (Buffer if you are listening I hope I can scratch this statement very soon.)
  2. Buffer should remove the “Suggest an update” field it is bot-like behavior.

Introducing Timely

timely_logoTimely.is is a competing solution build by the folks at Flowtown. The major difference is they tweet at the times they determine to be most effective for your account, it’s a very cool feature but personally I prefer a bit more control.

Time.ly doesn’t offer the extensions or bookmarklets like Buffer but they are worth a look.

Concluding thoughts on scheduling

Some folks don’t care for scheduling tweets. I can respect that but I find this function useful for the reasons I stated above. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t schedule when you are unplugged – If you are going to be away for hours on end don’t tweet. If you can’t be responsive in a reasonable amount of time then you are sending the message you aren’t listening.
  2. Be prepared to pause – Sometimes big things happen and your scheduled tweets will look thoughtless. So when a major quake devastates a country or the President is announcing the death of a major terrorist pause your queue.

Your turn…

What would you add to this list? What are you thoughts on tweet scheduling?

A Remote Wonder

Let’s keep this short and very sweet.

joinI’ve tried every remote support and screen sharing technology on the planet and I’ve discovered a new favorite. So whether you need to help Mom block people on Facebook or share a presentation with 200 of your closest friends look no further than Join.me

Simply stated: I’ve never seen a screen sharing solution this fast, easy, or polished. Little surprise it is built by the fine folks at LogMeIn.

How does it work?

Well… you click 1 of these 2 buttons on the Join.me homepage:

2011-09-28_2007

Any questions? Good. Enjoy.

Don’t forget they offer free iPhone/iPad & Android apps

Dear Google+, It’s not you it’s me.

I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for weeks but I’ve held out hope things would get better. We can’t keep going like this… I can’t keep making excuses.

dear-johnI don’t have space for you right now.

Yes you’re beautiful and wonderful and your future is filled with promise but now just isn’t a good time for me.

Cheer up! You are going to have lots of new friends and Klout loves you so it really isn’t a big deal that I deleted you my iPhone today.

You are more amazing than I hoped but the fact is:

  • A) Everyone is on Facebook
  • B) Twitter offers me mobility and simplicity.

I don’t have the time or energy to manage another set of lists, replies, notifications, and connections. I’m maxed out. I’m sorry.

You’re going to be amazing and I’ll probably be crawling back to you in coming years but I just need some time. Ok?


Am I Alone?

  1. Are you still active on Google+?
  2. Have you reduced your activity elsewhere to make room for it?

I love competition and Google+ will continue to be a game changer but for this early adopter and social median I’m bowing out… for now.

(Dan Reimond hit his own “Enough is Enough” wall and went so far as to call Google+ a “ghost town”. )