Lee’s Ten Best Apps and Life Hacks of 2012

best-apps-2012

best-apps-2012HAPPY NEW YEAR’s EVE!

It’s been too long since I have blogged… It’s good to be back!!!

Time to highlight my best digital tips, life tricks and apps that have helped me in 2012. I hope you are looking forward to 2013 being your best year ever!! FYI some of these tips I really had my GEEK HAT ON so if one doesn’t interest you…skip on to the next!

This list is in no particular order, but these 10 are the ones that have had the most dramatic impact for me and I know you will benefit the most from. Each one is truly worthy of its own post.

Text Expander Breevy1. Text Expander/ Breevy: Although from a geek stand point I am probably a few years late to the party, I truly discovered the power of short codes in 2012. The power of never having to type the same thing twice has literally saved me 3-4 hours per week. These two programs that cover both PC and Mac have the power to change the way you work and or play. Why type out lengthy email addresses, frequent comments, passwords, paragraphs, templates, follow up emails, complaint letters, and the list goes on and on and on!

 

 

Here is an example:

—–

Hi ,

Here is the link to the windows software: http://www.16software.com/breevy/

The unrelated version for iPad/iPhone/Mac is called Text Expander. There link is here: http://smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/touch/index.html

As a recap the efficiencies you can create are nothing short of amazing. I saved 3-4 hours a week in unnecessary typing this past quarter alone.

* my motto is ‘Never Type Twice’
* What follow up emails, meeting notes, marketing, or anything else can you create short codes for?
* Remember to create short codes that you won’t commonly type. For example I use ‘xm’ to bring up my meeting note template.

Let me know if you need any help with this.

Cheers,

Lee

PS. In typing this entire email I only had to type your name and ‘xbreevy’
—–

Dropbox2. Dropbox: I have been using the cloud to store data for a few years, but until mid 2012 never truly integrated into my digital life. This is the year I took the plunge and decided to move my entire PC to Dropbox.

Why? As I am using windows computers (desktop and laptop), an iPhone and an iPad I wanted access to everything on my computer regardless of platform (device agnostic :) I also no longer wanted to have to worry about backing up various computers and devices. Now I don’t have to! Everything is available from any device and even if a computer blew up I seriously don’t care as I have EVERYTHING important to me in the cloud.

Call it digital peace of mind.

 

 

Slow Carb Diet3. Slow Carb Diet: Although this has been a previous tip of mine, and is now very main stream, I still come across people who have not heard about how to lose 20lbs in a month with out feeling hungry! This is a lifestyle must have for me as I am frequently on the road, eating in too many restaurants and too often am not able to exercise ( an excuse I know)! I frequently eat slow carb and drop 10 lbs in two weeks mostly after falling of the healthy eating bandwagon at Five Guys Burgers and Fries :)

Here is my first blog post on slow carb: /slow-carb-diet/

My three favourite slow carb foods are Indonesian Scrambled Eggs, Black Beans w/Red Peppers, Onions and Jalapeño, Curried mashed Cauliflower. Drop me a line if you want t o share recipes.

 

 

 

 

4. For Songwriters: My Voicelive 2 has changed the way I write music. No longer do I have to wonder how a chorus would sound with a female harmony in 3rd or 5th, a gang vocal in the bridge, a lower baritone harmony in that pre-chorus is all just a click away. It will never replace the real thing, but has become an essential tool for me to work out song ideas!

5. Gmail: Year after year stays on the top of my list as the best free email platform on the web. If your still stuck with an email address and held hostage to the monthly bill from your Internet provider… You’ll never regret the switch!

Onereceipt6. OneReceipt: Earlier in 2012 I had a great idea for a mobile phone app after sending my associate pictures of receipts for expense report, as we had hit a deadline and was out of town. Wow! wouldn’t that be a great app; just snap a pic of your receipt, tag it and throw away the receipt knowing it is in the cloud forever, properly dated and tagged gas, office supplies, etc! Again my brilliance was trumped by someone else who HAD already created an APP for THAT! Never lose a receipt again … Priceless!

7. Mint.com and Mobile Apps: Although slightly depressing at times when I realize just exactly where my cash is going each an every day or month. There is NO SIMPLER way to get a grasp on your household budget. Just securely input your bank accounts and automagically your inflow and put flow of cash is crunched for you. Easily see where your cash is going, set alerts, and work towards having your money work for you, instead of the other way around!

8. Jotpro: Allows me to write on my iPad as seamlessly as I do on paper.

This one is specific to tablet users and I will not lay claim to discovering such a life changing product, but it has allowed me to ditch paper entirely during my work day. I only carry a real pen these days for emergencies or when a server at a restaurant forgets to bring one along with the bill. I use the following note taking apps on IOS; Notes Plus and Daily Notes (integrates with Text Expander for pure digital utopia!)

9. GoToMeeting (PC, MAC and IOS): I often do 20+ meetings per week. I had dabbled with GoToMeeting in previous years with minimal success, but the latter part of this year I pushed remote clients to truly buy in to meeting with me more regularly on a virtual basis. The result has been astounding! I have found that the 100+ meetings I have done have been nearly as productive as face to face meetings. If you meet with or could be meeting with people (anywhere in the world) GoToMeeting should be on your must try list! To try it Free for 30 days:  CLICK HERE

10. Skype:I know almost EVERYONE uses Skype for free video chatting. Skype is so much more! Probably 2% of the calls I do are video calls, 20% instant messages and 80% of the calls I make are outbound phone calls to long distance numbers in North America. Skype long distance calling is cheap as borsch and the call quality is 100x better than the cell phone reception I get in my basement home office.

Again, Happy New Years and I hope 2013 will be your best year ever.

Cheers,

Lee

 

 

Google Alerts For Stalking Yourself Online

GoogleAlerts

I had coffee with a good friend today, who had no idea Google Alerts existed.  So I thought this would be a great post for her, for you, or anyone else who isn’t using this free service to its greatest advantage.

What are Google Alerts?

It is a free notification service that will send you an email anytime Google finds something on line that you want to watch for; like your name “King Kong”, your boss’s name “Micro Manager”, your competition, your kid’s names, etc? If Google finds any page on the internet with content matching what you are watching for, you will receive an email with a link to that page. Google seems to be freaky at finding every page eventually.

Here’s how easy it is:

GoogleAlerts

Input the topic, name or any search terms you want to monitor. Select whether you want Google to monitor everything (comprehensive), or choose to target news, video, blogs, the web or online groups. Then select how frequently you want to receive email updates, and then finally how many links per email you want to see (20 or 50).

CreateGoogleAlert

Click Create Alert and you are done… sit back and wait! Then depending on how common your search term, it could be minutes, days or months before you receive your first alert.

As an example below, here is a Google Alert landing in my inbox from monitoring my own name online.

Alert

Here are a few other great resources, tips, & alternatives:

Google Alerts Help http://www.google.com/support/alerts/?hl=en

10 Tips For Small Businesses http://www.sbinformer.com/guides/marketing_your_product/articles/090608-10-Ways-to-Use-Google-Alerts-for-Business-Social-Media

Yahoo Alerts http://alerts.yahoo.com/

Windows Live Alerts http://alerts.live.com/Alerts/

Jonathon Fields Blog Post http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/stalking-or-due-diligence-google-alerts-gone-bad/

How are you using Google Alerts?

I Quit Blogging Today

Flying 30,000 ft above the frozen prairies of Canada it struck me! I’m not blogging for ALL the right reasons! Sure, when I’m consistent, I can churn out some damn good posts that point my readers in the right technological direction! Yet, something major is missing.

I’m not enjoying it as much as I use to, honestly don’t think I’m making a major difference & by the lack of comments on the majority of posts I’d dare say you agree! No hard feelings… some time the truth just plain sucks! To date my blogging efforts have been strangely scattered and not social in nature. I’m not only NOT reaching enough readers, I’m not reaching out and really connecting with YOU, with other bloggers, or wickedly interesting people behind the technology, services or ideas I often recommend!

This changes as of right now. No more just tweeting my blog post links. No more Mr. Passive Promotion! I quit blogging today and won’t post again until I can truly step it up a notch.

Here is my future plan to find blogging enjoyment again, produce better content,  and in the process enlighten YOU and hopefully earn the right to ask for your comments and ability to share with your network!

1. No blog post will get published, unless it can truly make a difference to you or someone you may know.

2. I will frequently start reaching out and promoting through this blog the insanely brilliant people, bloggers, authors, tech owners and professionals who are doing amazing things on & offline. These people are the ones that truly deserve your time and attention!

3. Lastly, I have shyed away from controversy for too long.  In doing so, I have avoided posting some truly thought provoking content! When I start again I will come back with thicker skin, and be tackling some tougher issues.

I quit blogging today! I look forward to coming back soon.

Top Ten Tools For 2010

These tools, ideas, software, blogs and online services are my top ten for you to consider making your life, business and technology work a lot harder for you this year, and beyond! I say ‘our’, as I can not take credit for all of them, as many readers and other blogs I regularly read have pointed out several of these! On that note… Thank you to  LifeHacker, Chris Brogan, Seth GodinTim Ferris & Deb Raven! ( All blogs I highly recommend you add to your personal reading list!)

Here they are:

10. Backup Drive, Google Docs or DropBox

Many of our precious digital memories or business related digital documents are considered irreplaceable. If you don’t take the time to back them up, you are at risk of losing it all if your computer crashes ( I speak form experience :). Make this the year you sleep soundly at night knowing that your data is backed up via a back up drive, and or you have utilized a free or paid online storage service.

9. iPhone or iTouch (Top 10 there’s an APP for everything list!)

Gone are the days of frustrating mobile devices that make using the internet and other online services painful. I recommend that everyone have either an iPhone or at the very least an i Touch so that you can; unwind anywhere and rediscover the power of music, use abundantly available free WIFI to play games with friends, and or connect with business colleagues and create the next Google, even if you aren’t on the same continent.

Here are my Top Ten apps; WordPress, Skype, Google Apps, Dragon Dictation, Facebook, Echofon (Twitter), LinkedIn, Scrabble, PS Mobile (Photoshop), & PayPal

8. Skype

After recently teaching my parents to use Skype while they travel for two solid months, they were astonished that they could call any phone number in North America for less than the cost of  one  Star Bucks Latte a month. I’ll say that again in case you missed it… for about 3$ a month they have unlimited long distance to any phone!!!! So if you have been hiding under a rock until now,  and haven’t downloaded Skype, what are you waiting for? Skype is so much more than just cheap long distance, as its great for free video chatting, instant messaging and real time business collaboration.

7. Windows 7

Finally, Microsoft has hit the mark with their new operating system. If your PC is still running XP or Vista then it is well worth the effort to upgrade. Here are just a snippets of the 100′s of  improvements you could experience; very simple Home Networking (easy to connect all your PC’s to a home group), faster boot up & down times, and vastly improved user interface even if the changes feel ever so slight! Either way, it’s worth the upgrade!

6. RocketDock

This little free APP saves me time every day, and helps me keep my often cluttered desktop more organized. If you have too many icons on your desktop and want an easier way to get acces to your most frequently used programs, then this is the ticket. The price is right (free), but if you do like it consider donating a little cash to the developers, as they have been nice enough not to charge.

5. GoToMeeting

Ok, so this one is definitely not cheap, but if you are in business and need to conduct super effective remote meeting(s) with one or more people then Citrix has this market locked up. I have used GoToMeeting for several years and highly recommend it to anyone. Some of my favorite uses for this service are;  giving remote presentations, white boarding ideas with partners, connecting to a friends computer and helping, and so much more.

4. GoToMyMac, & GoToMyPc

Although I wrote about this back in 2007 (here), I still use GoToMyPC when I am on the road to work off of my main super computer :) Again, this isn’t a cheap service, but if your business life depends on you reliably accessing your main computer RIGHT NOW to help you close a deal, then this other Citrix product is for you. There are other alternative free services out there for sure, but I have never found anything as reliable and robust.

3. Elance.com

After reading Tim Ferris’s book (The 4 Hour Work Week) I was reminded of this outsourcing service, and finally took the plunge to get a few side projects completed. On Elance you can virtually post almost any type of job or project you can think of and experts around the world will bid to get the work. For often very reasonable prices you could have a script ghost written, hire a programmer or web designer, have a database expert create you the perfect database, hire a virtual assistant, and so much more. Make this the year that you truly act on delegating those tasks you need done, but really know you don’t have the time or desire to get to.

2. Dragon Naturally Speaking

When it comes to typing I had two choices. Either spend the time to truly teach myself how to type or accept my limitations and use technology to my advantage.  What do you think i decided? I finally bought Dragon Naturally Speaking and now talk to my computer, and watch as my words are magically typed out on the screen. No word of a lie, this has probably saved me a 100+ hours in the past year. I have found Dragon to be 98% accurate, and it works on any program I have on my PC that accepts typed text like Word, FireFox,  gMail, etc.

1. Life Is What You Make It

I think I have saved the best for last, but you can be the judge of that.  I know in my heart that there is NO technology on the planet that can truly  make our lives better like other human beings can. Yes, software and online services can save you time & money, of which can be applied to the other areas of your life that mean the most to you. Let this be the year that you consider hiring an executive or life coach to assist you in making this your best year ever. I use & highly recommend Deb Raven.

I hope one of these Top 10  saves you time & or money! Please let me know what tools you use and I truly look forward to hearing your comments. All the best to you in 2010!

Help! My PC is Slower Than a Turtle

A couple years ago I wrote a post about NOT buying a new computer until you have given your current snail of a PC a tune up (PC Optimization). Just the other day I had a conversation with my father about him wanting to AGAIN buy a new computer, because his is sooooo slowwww!!! My rule of thumb, is that if its a problem for my Dad, it is definitely a common problem for most average PC users, as he is about as non technical as they come :)

As the ‘Slow PC’ question comes at me so often, not so long ago I even put together a guide, that I give to email subscribers, friends & family who are prepared to put forth a little elbow grease to get their computers running top notch. If you want this free guide, just sign up to my email list top right and shoot me an email and I will gladly send you a PDF version.

For those of you who are non techie, and don’t want to spend a few hours reading and manually cleaning your machines, then my best advice is to spend a few bucks and use the king of PC Fixer Upper software called System Mechanic. Umm, the name kind of says it all,  so I though I would just paste this video which has a link for more info below.

Cheers,

Lee


Own Your Own Name Online

I was recently out for drinks with a friend and the conversation led to ‘Googling’ your own name. So I pulled out my trusty iPhone and Googled his name…

First result was his LinkedIn  profile… good start!

The rest of the first page results were related to his name appearing in various charity and foundation Web documents. What can I say, “He is a quality guy!”

Then I asked a simple question, “Do you own your name.com?”

His answer didn’t surprise me, “NO, how do you go about getting that?

The conversation that led from there was me assuring him that it’s not hard, it’s not expensive and if your name is available you would be crazy not to make the annual investment of around $10 a year! So as we finished our drinks, I promised to send him an e-mail that night with a link where he could check to see if his name was available and purchase it at discount.

This is the link I sent him on how to search and purchase your own name online using a service called GoDaddy :  GoDaddy (See & click on image below on what do when you get there)

Now, he is one of the lucky ones and will be picking up his name.com right away! If you have a very common name, like Mike Smith, then it is a totally different conversation. (If you are in that situation should mean an e-mail as I have a few friends in the domain brokerage business you may want to talk to!)

Thank You

After several years of blogging there are two words I love to hear, and even more so that I absolutely experience joy saying to other people!

Thank you! AKA thanks, tks or thankyou!!!!

Today, I received my 100th blog comment and two emails from various people thanking me for my help and gosh darn it feels good! What can I say, “I like to help!”

In retrospect, I think I only thanked two people today who helped me… Should have been more!!!!

So a big thanks to all of you who take the time to not only read my infrequent blogging, but a special appreciation to readers who take the time to comment, ask questions or even challenge my point of view!

I’m here to help, so please don’t be a stranger and drop me a line anytime!

How can I help you?

Top 3 Pet Peeve Geek Questions

OK fellow geeks, and good day to the non-geeks who torment us with nightly phone calls!

I may not be an IT specialist, but if you are like me and happen to be remotely good with a computer these days, you quasi de facto become tech support for your parents, siblings, friends and co-workers.

So this post is for all you UNPAID tech support geeks… you know who you are! Feel free to post your best questions in the comments below as I feel your pain.

3.  I don’t know what I clicked but now my screen is sideways and my neck is getting sore?

This one came from my Dad! I couldn’t stop laughing after I walked him though rotating his desktop under his display properties. I love you Dad… but holy cow!

2.  I think I have a virus? I WASN’T looking at those sex websites or anything so I don’t understand how I got it.

Ummm, I will protect the more than one not so innocent people by not naming names, but  too many people apparently don’t have a teenager they can blame.  Two words for you folks -Antivirus Software!!!

1. My computer is sooooo slow and its only a year old?

When asked if they change the oil on the car…yep of course. When is the last time you cleaned up your computer?  (Shaking their head….) If you think that a registry is where you go to select presents for a wedding and defrag is a war term, please, please go buy System Mechanic!

I will post more if they come to me, but I’m sure there are few stories out there that put mine to shame.

Mahatma Gandhi’s iPhone

The is my first post via my iPhone WordPress App. Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I’d be switching from Blackberry I would have made a comment that ended with, “from my cold dead hands!”

Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world!”

I agree and don’t know too many people that would dispute Gandhi. This quote has been an inspiration to me, but for some reason, has always seemed incomplete… So my deepest apologies to Gandhi but I changed it!

“To be the change you want to see in the world you must constantly be changing!”~ Lee Raito

Change is the one constant we can all count on. Whether it’s changing to an iPhone, changing your income, or changing your lifestyle…

YOU just have to decide to change and go for it.

Mahatma Gandhi would have loved the iPhone!!!

Don’t Use AVG Until You Read This

Top 5 Reasons Not To Use AVG Antivirus Software

  1. You ‘Secretly’ want to get rid of your computer, and sort of enjoy the fact that some pimple faced hacker genius teenager on the other side of the world can use your PC while you sleep to send millions of spam emails.
  2. You have a crush on the technician at the computer shop and you feel the monthly $29.95 Virus Removal charge is more economical than the online dating site eHarmony! Oops… another Trojan horse!
  3. You’re broke or just plain too cheap. (Guess nobody told you basic AVG was free!!!)
  4. Your Mom works for Norton.
  5. Last, but not least, you’re a Hacker and think it would just be DUMB to use anything that is legit.

For everyone else…
AVG Technologies - Tough on threats.