Tools you might wanna use

While I’m between writing projects and finishing up my reading, I’ve been doing a bit of surfing around the Web. Maybe I’m woolgathering, picking up odd bits and pieces of stuff I can use in my writing later. Maybe I’m just wasting time. I dunno.

But what I have come across in the past few weeks are a trio of cool applications I’ve started using to help stay on top of all the data on the Net, as well as how to easier read and manage it all. And also, a way to manage my own data, since I work on three computers on a regular basis.

  1. ReadItLater-BookmarkRead It Later: Like the name says, this tool helps me stay on top of all the interesting articles or blog posts I come across every day so I can check it out later. I want to save ’em in one place, instead of bookmarking and then forgetting them. I never seem to keep up with my bookmarks. This app saves ’em for you, and also syncs those pages you want to read to your iPhone and other computers, so you’ll always have reading material handy. It took me a couple attempts to get the three computers I use and my iPhone synched up, but I think I’ve got it now.
  2. Readability: And now that you’ve got stuff to read later, this nifty tool makes that material much easier  on your eyes to read. Just drag the Readability button to your toolbar, and click it whenever you want to read something onscreen. It clears away the images and puts all the relevant text into a format and font of your own choosing. Not only is it easier to read, but if you’re at work, it looks like you’re reading Important Stuff and not a flashy web page full of graphics. Very cool tool.
  3. Dropbox: This online application is like a great big memory stick, but a virtual one, so you don’t have to carry around anything. It’s basically a virtual folder that’s available on multiple computers. It’s also a great way to back up important files — you have 2 GB for free. You can keep up with all your files in one place, and always have the most recent version. No more typing a new scene on a chapter you’d revised yesterday on the other computer! Now, I just hope that they don’t start charging when they come out with version 1.0…

All of the above applications are free, too. How sweet is that? Hope you try ’em out. A tip of the hat to fellow writer and PR guy Jeff Rutherford for pointing out Readability to me on his twitter stream, and author Ryan Williams for clueing me in on Dropbox. Not sure where I came across Read It Later, but thanks, whoever linked to it first!

If you use any of these apps, let me know! And if you’ve found some cool ones of your own, let me know ’bout ’em too, please.

StorytrackerFinally, I have to mention one more application that’s for iPhone users only. It’s mainly of interest to authors and poets and writers — anyone submitting work for publication where you want to track where you sent a story or poem or article. The application is called Story Tracker, and it’s available on iTunes.

This tidy little app lets you track your submissions, when you sent ’em, to whom, and other details — it’s a nice little database, right on your iPhone. Best part about is it the developer, Andrew Nicolle, has been really open to making fixes and improving it, and the newly updated version is coming soon.

I’ve been REALLY bad about keeping up with my story submissions in the past few years — just a few week ago I almost sent a story to two different magazines that rejected it last year! — so this app came along at just the right time. Looking forward to the update! The app even has its own Facebook page. That means it has arrived. 🙂

Now, to stop tooliong around and get to work on that science-fiction story I need to write before my workshop!


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