Just read an article on CNBC today that confirms what I have learned myself– though I rarely act on it. (Full article at http://www.cnbc.com/id/38815496/).
Read this paragraph from this article discussing the effect of “digital input” on thinking:
Cellphones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation.
The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.
When I spend time away from my iPhone, my laptop, electronics, media, and people — even for a short period of time (30 min, 2 hours) — I solve problems and re-focus in a unique way that has a dramatic impact on my effectiveness when I “return” back to my noisy world. And this is my experience as an extrovert myself, who can generally handle a pretty steady stream of noise and activity.
Just this past Sunday afternoon I had about 3 hours of silence as the three other members of my family took long naps… I came up with ideas and thoughts in a way that I had not done in quite a while. The challenge for me — and probably for most of my readers — is to make this time priority, so that all of our other hours of the day or week will be that much more productive.
I am in the process of returning to blogging on a more regular basis again (two boys under the age of 2 can really tax your schedule!), but for the moment I wanted to at least share a few productivity tools that I have found and fallen in love with over the past year…
And not only are all 3 tools very useful, they also have basic, fully functioning versions that are completely free!!
1) LastPass – http://www.lastpass.com
This password-memory tool appears to be the industry leader. It bills itself as the “last password you will ever need” — you do, in fact, log in once and then worry no more about remembering passwords. LastPass is smart– when you are in a website sign-up page asking for a username, password, etc., Lastpass offers you the choice to have it generate a unique, secure password that it will remember in its database. If you decline and enter one on your own, as you successfully hit submit/continue/etc on that page, it gently prompts you at the top of your browser to ‘Save site’ if this a site whose username/password you would like to retain.
LastPass has a lot of different features- AutoFill, AutoLogin, and even multiple form-field profiles to save common sets of information you may find yourself entering on websites of all kinds (think ‘home address’, ‘business address’, even payment info, etc.). There are plug-ins for multiple browser types, and even an iPhone version. Though I’ve not yet tried the iPhone plugin, I imagine that it will be immensely helpful. Not only is entering usernames/passwords in iPhone’s Safari often cumbersome, it’s an even more grueling process if you have to go through a Forgot Password routine! LastPass helps you avoid both scenarios.
2) Adolix split and merge PDF – http://www.adolix.com/split-merge-pdf/
Talk about a paperless office has been almost constant now for the last 10-15 years — and yet, from my own experience, it has just been the last 2-3 years that the mainstream business world is really grabbing hold of this concept. True, digital signatures have not yet taken over as a preferred method of signing over a signature, but on the few things that still require signatures, the printed and then signed document quickly becomes digital again for the purpose of emailing over to a colleague, customer, vendor, or other party expecting the quick arrival of the signed document. In this new world of electronic documents – largely dominated by MS Word format documents in the sphere of ‘editable’ formats, and especially in the world of imaged documents dominated by the Adobe PDF file format, there is need for easier management of not just files, but also PAGES.
How many times have you needed to pull out pages 3-4 of a 20-page pdf contract to email to someone? What do you do? You probably either email them the whole file and hope they can find the sections you need to emphasize to them, or you laboriously print out the relevant pages out of the larger PDF, scan them back into your computer, and email the new, smaller PDF file. Painful, eh?
Enter Adolix. They have created a very helpful utility that allows you to quickly split out pages of a PDF document.
How about combining PDF’s? Or combining pages 1-2 of one PDF file, and then pages 7-10 of the next file? You can use the utility’s split tool to first pull out the relevant pages, and then use its MERGE tool to combine the two newly formed PDF’s into one new file. And, if you use this tool in conjunction with a PDF creator such as Adolix’s own “PDF Converter” utility, or my personal favorite CutePDF (http://www.cutepdf.com/), you can easily take a number of files in different format (a Word document here, an Excel document there, a PDF document there), convert the non-PDF files into PDF’s, and then combine them withoT Adolix!
3) Mikogo - http://www.mikogo.com/
After being tired of essentially being tied to GoToMyMeeting, GoToMyPC, or WebEx for years, I finally spent some time googling around about a year go to find a free solution for screen sharing and web conferencing. I was very happy to come across Mikogo. Mikogo was developed by a company that sells high-end virtual conferencing solutions — a company that now appears to have moved into the GoToMy____ space.
Again, the Mikogo product is FREE, and I have found works just as smoothly as any of the other solutions out there– additionally, I found that the app that runs resident in the system tray does not bog down your computer’s memory or processor, and the features that come in Mikogo are equal to or even better than those found in comparable and more popular utilities.
Now if they could only change their name to something less nonsensical…
I hope that this review of these tools has been helpful!
This posting is by way of follow-up to my recent post, “Real competition for the iPhone?”, which talked about the ‘Droid’ phone rumored to be released by Verizon very, very soon. Their device would be probably the most-hyped release of an Android phone yet.
But today I wanted to point out that popular technology site TechCrunch currently lists TWENTY-THREE, yes that’s 23 different phones either currently available, to be available soon, or rumored to be revealed soon, all which will operate on the Google Android operating system. Note also that all of the major carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T) are represented by this list of phones, and some of them tied to multiple of these devices.
Imagine your choice of cell carrier and choosing between several phones, all which run the same applications! This is truly going to be a significant threat to Apple’s iPhone… and of course to AT&T which as you know is currently the only carrier which sells the iPhone. But you will also notice that at least one of these Android phones will work on the AT&T network as well.
Click here to read the TechCrunch article I reference here.
Anyone with their TV on last probably saw Verizon’s DROID commercial… encouraging people to visit droiddoes.com
Apparently, this is a Motorola device running the Google Android operating system– many people believe devices that run the Android system are the biggest threat on the horizon for the otherwise-dominant iPhone.
Just to be clear– the Google Android operating system can run on various devices on different cell phone networks. This will allow people choice in devices, choice in wireless carriers, but a set of downloadable applications that will work on all of those different phones and wireless networks, assuming the phone they are using is a phone running the Google Android operating system.
Here’s a snippet from an article posted yesterday about this:
I’m not going to be foolish enough to call this an iPhone killer for the simple fact that the iPhone’s developer community is still miles ahead of Android’s regardless of how good Droid turns out to be. But don’t be surprised if you start hearing about people who quit the iPhone in favor of the Droid. After all, even if the phone doesn’t turn out to be quite as polished as the iPhone, it will be running on a network that will actually let them connect their calls consistently.
One final thing to note: given how direct an attack Verizon is making on the iPhone, it sure doesn’t sound like the iPhone will be making the leap to Verizon any time soon.
From this individual’s comments and plenty of others, it is clear that the consensus is that the iPhone market share is fairly dominant, and that eating into it will take a while.
But in the meantime, for those of us who’ve not yet taken the iPhone plunge, there may be an exciting alternative soon!
No, I haven’t either.
But the AT&T network has been strangled by the iPhone recently.
I’ve started a blog posting entitled “My junky phone – savings or a symbol?” that I really need to finish – but in light of all the press in recent days about iPhone’s service problems, I’m glad I waited… BUT I couldn’t wait to pass THIS on to you all out there, several of whom I know have iPhones.
Despite TechCrunch having reported on this issue months ago, the rest of the media is starting to catch on… the AT&T cellular network is being bogged down by the intense data demands of the typical iPhone user, leading to slowdowns for many users.
You’ll notice in the ZDNet article below the author blames Apple for the problem– but, I assure you that Apple is not happy about this, regardless of whether the blame is rightly theirs or not. I also think this bad press about the iPhone’s slowness, even if it is not systemwide, pretty much assures that other carries will have the iPhone available soon. Although, it’s a tightrope Apple and the cell companies must walk. Making the device available to other carries will help spread out the cellular network load to other carriers, and yet it is also going to increase the total absolute load on cell networks, as people will be rushing to get the iPhone with their existing provider, that they were leery of leaving for AT&T.
Coverage of this issue the last few days includes these articles:
Wall Street Journal: AT&T Gets a Fuzzy Signal on Apple’s iPhone
Also.. NY Times March ’09 article: 3G Phones Exposing Networks’ Last-Gen Technology
According to this article in the NY Times yesterday, some “experts worry that the recovery may be weak, stymied by consumers’ reluctance to spend.” Oh no! We’ve got to go spend our money!
Some of the reasons why consumers are slowing their spending from the irrational highs of recent years is described in the article by Moodys.com chief economist Mark Zandi:
“Lower-income households can’t borrow, and higher-income households no longer feel wealthy,” Mr. Zandi added. “There’s still a lot of debt out there. It throws a pall over the potential for a strong recovery. The economy is going to struggle.”
Mark Zandi is describing a return to rationality among American consumers–and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, if the lower-income don’t borrow–because they can’t–and save their money instead, and if higher-income households don’t spend all they make (and save their money instead), I believe this will lead to a more stable economy over the long-run. This may not appease everyone–Cash for Clunkers, for example, was designed to stimulate spending quickly in the short-run, as some economists are convinced that is the greater need.
So, to appease those with a short-run mentality, and to excite the technology lovers out there such as myself who have not yet taken the “plunge” into the world of Apple technology bliss, I propose the first-ever iStimulus. The government will give a purchaser a $100 tax credit for every Apple device they buy – an iPod, iTouch, and yes– especially the iPhone.
This stimulus will do several things for the economy:
1) It will push me over the edge and let me whip out my debit card for the new iPhone activation fee, knowing that $100 of it isn’t all my money – it’s from the government, and so society will gladly share in the cost of my new technology purchase in the form of taxes to cover the iStimulus program.
2) As a result, I can feel good about buying something I don’t completely need. Yes, I literally do have the cash to go buy one and yes, I may or may not really need it, but the government wants me to spend–and it wants me to be a good American citizen–so it has given me an incentive to do so now.
3) It will give Apple more reasons to boast of their strong recent success. It doesn’t matter that they recently sold their 40 millionth iPod/iTouch device; this will get them closer to that 100 million mark! Yes, we may indeed create a mini-technology bubble that will eventually burst, but we can worry about that later…
In all seriousness, the one positive thing about such a stimulus is that at least for once we would be investing money into a company with a future!! And granted, there is nothing wrong with buying “wants”. But, in my opinion, when you lie to yourself and call it a need, or when you finance those wants through personal credit and the backs of society in the form of government incentives, we will find ourselves creating yet another spending bubble that we and our children will be paying for in the form of higher taxes and slower economic growth in the future.
I have personally experienced no benefit from any of the recent stimulus programs; so I say launch an iStimulus program so that more of us can feel good about this devastating economic path that the current administration and the conventional economic wisdom of the day is leading us down.
UPDATE: You may wish to read the related posting about a proposed “WiiStimulus” by clicking here.