Productivity tools

by Lee Hopkins on November 22, 2007 · 25 comments

in Uncategorized

I sleep better at night because of these applications and productivity tips

Here’s my Top 5 productivity tips culled from various places in the past twelve months (I am guessing that most of any software mentioned is multi-platform, but if they are only Windows then I apologise)*.

  1. Clear your desktop
    This is definitely Windows, but so simple to implement. Right-click your mouse whilst hovering over the desktop. Select ‘Arrange Icons by…’. Untick ‘Show desktop icons’. Now look at the bottom right of your Status Bar: to the left of the clock and other icons you will see ‘Desktop >>’. Voila—clean desktop but with all the desktop icons available via a popup menu if you need them from your Status Bar.
  2. SnagIt!
    SnagIt! - click on the image to visit the product info page Without a doubt the most useful application I’ve put off from buying for over a decade. How foolish was I? The functionality is brilliant, the effects you can add great (see the image above in the ‘clear your desktop’ section), the ease of use stunning. I was an idiot for not getting this a decade ago. Don’t be an idiot and not buy it yourself–once you purchase you’ll wonder how you ever did without it and what horrendous number of hours you lost working around it.
  3. OneNote
    A Microsoft product that has legions of die-hard fans (I’m one of them) and yet is so hard to describe (but watch this video for more info). Consider it a note taker (but it’s not Notepad), a journal, a scribe, a memory saver, a doodle pad, a fully searchable database (that searches inside images!). This and PowerPoint2007 are the reasons I stay with Microsoft rather than migrate to some Linux distro.
  4. Kybtec World Clock
    I’ve used this since its early days. Love it. Yes, there is plenty of competition for multi timezone clocks, especially in the Windows Status Bar. I have stuck with World Clock simply because it works. Every time. It’s now on version 3.3.1 which works within Vista (no build before did). I love it and it’s the only way I can keep up with Second Life time, Californian time, London time, Copenhagen time, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Toronto and all the other places that are important to me for one reason or another. Even better, I don’t have to be online to keep accurate time. Don’t be put off by the poor English and the amateur look on the website. This is a damn fine application!
    Note: For keeping time online when I’m visiting a webcafe I use use timeanddate.com and create a personalised clock.
  5. Xilisoft Video Converter
    Download YouTube videos by whatever mechanism you choose (there are loads of different websites and even apps within Facebook that will let you do this) then use Xilisoft to convert the flash file to something that PowerPoint will recognise. Prior to purchasing Xilisoft Video Converter I wrangled with a long, convoluted way of playing flash videos in PowerPoint. Now I simply download the video, convert it to wmv and plop it straight into PowerPoint. I have saved hours of productivity with this one app.

Close to the Top 5:

  • ActiveWords
    click on the image for the opportunity to download a free 60 day trialsaves repetitious keystrokes. A boon. I just keep forgetting what keystrokes and shortcuts I’ve saved. Click on the image to download a free 60 day trial – trust me, you won’t regret it!
  • Windows LiveWriter
    My offline blog editor of choice (and the choice of many others too). Only has a few niggles (compared to the others) but gets sooooo many things right. Still in Beta, can’t wait to see what the final product is like.
    Windows Live Writer - find out more by clicking on the image
  • ACDSee Photo Manager
    I became unfaithful and migrated to Adobe’s Bridge (because it offered such tight integration with Fireworks, my web image editor of choice), but the lovely maiden Sarah Serendipity crossed my path and I’m back with ACDSee: low ‘overhead’, which means it doesn’t tie up my precious ram, ease of use, very quick to load (all of which cannot be said about Bridge).
  • Wacom Bamboo tablet
    Wacom Bamboo tablet - click on the image to read a review of itWanted a wacom tablet for ages, finally lashed out and nabbed one. Has given my mouse rsi a nice bit of relief and makes editing images a lot more fun.
  • Roland Edirol R09 digital recorder
    Roland Edirol R09 - click on the image to find out more about this wonderful toolA gift from Ross Monaghan at Deakin University and a much-loved gift it is! My sound card constantly plays up, I haven’t been able to get rid of a hum from my Tapco mixer/cablefest, my office is so ‘live’ makes me sound like I’m recording in a toilet if I use my beloved Shure SM57; the Edirol and a Sony lapel mic solves it all. Wonderful! Thank you Ross—you don’t know how many FIR reports you have saved from the waste bin!
  • Microsoft Movie Maker
    Microsoft Movie Maker - click on the image to find out moreFor
    a free bit of ‘throw away’ software included with Windows XP, it sure packs a mighty punch! No, you can’t have more than one soundtrack at a time, but that is a small price to pay for being able to create professional-looking videos that you can whack up to YouTube in a day.
  • msconfig
    Windows only, sorry. Go ‘Start, Run…’ type ‘msconfig’, select the ‘Startup’ tab and ‘Disable All’. Then click on the REALLY important apps, like your firewall, virus and trojan software, etc. Will DRAMATICALLY reduce your Windows startup time and highlight to you how exactly many apps you thought were essential actually aren’t. Click on the image below to see it full size and marvel at how simple it can be to get rid of all those annoying, pesky apps that load themselves automatically into the startup!
     Click on image to see full size
  • Flock
    A social-media friendly version of Firefox. Very neat and I’m growing to appreciate it more and more each day as I spend more time with it.
    Click on the image to visit flock.com and download your own browser
  • Snipurl
    snipurl - click here to create your own snipurl profileA great way of cutting those mega-long urls down to a reasonable size, plus Snipurl allows you to create your own profile and store your snips for reuse. Cool!
  • SpamArrest
    Since paying my miniscule annual fee I’ve become increasingly indebted to this marvellous third-party email service. You wouldn’t believe the amount of spam I no longer get in my email inbox! Saves me more and more hours each month. Comes with free 30 day trial. Bargain!

 

* I had a chance for a bit of reflection today, whilst waiting for Second Life to resolve some server issues. I’m a long-time Windows user (from 3.1) so cut me some slack for being Windows-centric!

Currently listening to: – Monkey Business – we belong together

  • Bonnie

    Windows Live Writer is actually out of beta now–Windows Live Writer 2008 was released on 11/6. Thanks for the mention, and let us know what you think of the final version :) Bonnie [MSFT]

  • Bonnie

    Windows Live Writer is actually out of beta now–Windows Live Writer 2008 was released on 11/6. Thanks for the mention, and let us know what you think of the final version :) Bonnie [MSFT]

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  • http://davepress.net/ Dave Briggs

    Xilisoft Video Converter sounds interesting – how do you download from YouTube in the first place?

    Great article though, have downloaded SnagIt! already ;-)

    Dave

  • http://davepress.net Dave Briggs

    Xilisoft Video Converter sounds interesting – how do you download from YouTube in the first place?

    Great article though, have downloaded SnagIt! already ;-)

    Dave

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  • http://www.logautomotive.com BentleyW

    But I sleep well in the night because every day I achieved my everyday goals

  • http://www.logautomotive.com/ BentleyW

    But I sleep well in the night because every day I achieved my everyday goals

  • http://www.snagitguide.com/ Peter – Snagit Guide

    Really nice list of apps.

    I am already using most of them, but there are sure a few I am going to check out.

    I was just shopping for a digital recorder so the Edirol tip came in very handy.

  • http://www.snagitguide.com/ Peter – Snagit Guide

    Really nice list of apps.

    I am already using most of them, but there are sure a few I am going to check out.

    I was just shopping for a digital recorder so the Edirol tip came in very handy.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    G’day Bonnie,

    Thanks for the update re Beta/Live.

    I’ve updated to the latest version and still note the same ‘wishes’ I had before (see http://snipurl.com/1u39r)

    Thus I eagerly await the next update! Is there anyway that Live Writer can auto-detect a new version and allow the user to upgrade?

    Cheers, Lee

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    G’day Bonnie,

    Thanks for the update re Beta/Live.

    I’ve updated to the latest version and still note the same ‘wishes’ I had before (see http://snipurl.com/1u39r)

    Thus I eagerly await the next update! Is there anyway that Live Writer can auto-detect a new version and allow the user to upgrade?

    Cheers, Lee

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Dave,

    I use keepvid.com as my downloading site of choice, but there are ANY number of them.
    Lee

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Dave,

    I use keepvid.com as my downloading site of choice, but there are ANY number of them.
    Lee

  • http://davepress.net/ Dave Briggs

    Thanks Lee, I’ve bookmarked that for future reference!

  • http://davepress.net Dave Briggs

    Thanks Lee, I’ve bookmarked that for future reference!

  • http://www.sueblimely.com/ Sueblimely

    Thanks for this Lee – there are some things here that I am most definitely going to check out.

    I am a OneNote and Flock devotee already and agree live writer is good.

    I use a free program called MWSnap rather than Snag It and just use Irfanview as a photo viewer – I can open files in Photoshop to edit directly from there too. I tend to keep my images well organized in folders though so do not really need an external program to help.

    I am wary of using spam filter programs after too many emails I want to keep being filtered out. How does Spam Arrest go for this?

  • http://www.sueblimely.com Sueblimely

    Thanks for this Lee – there are some things here that I am most definitely going to check out.

    I am a OneNote and Flock devotee already and agree live writer is good.

    I use a free program called MWSnap rather than Snag It and just use Irfanview as a photo viewer – I can open files in Photoshop to edit directly from there too. I tend to keep my images well organized in folders though so do not really need an external program to help.

    I am wary of using spam filter programs after too many emails I want to keep being filtered out. How does Spam Arrest go for this?

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    “I am wary of using spam filter programs after too many emails I want to keep being filtered out.”

    SpamArrest has an ‘unverified’ folder that you can check out on the web and ‘verify’ email senders. Then they automatically get through thereafter.

    Plus, senders who send you an email get a ‘are you a real human being?’ email — if they reply that they are (and spambots can’t *yet* do this) then their emails (including the original email) are verified as non-spam.

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    “I am wary of using spam filter programs after too many emails I want to keep being filtered out.”

    SpamArrest has an ‘unverified’ folder that you can check out on the web and ‘verify’ email senders. Then they automatically get through thereafter.

    Plus, senders who send you an email get a ‘are you a real human being?’ email — if they reply that they are (and spambots can’t *yet* do this) then their emails (including the original email) are verified as non-spam.

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