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: http://leeraito.com/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

 

 

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!