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Guest Post: Gustav's New Year Recommendations

Over the past year or so I've had the pleasure of working with a development lead who is younger, more handsome and more switched on than I could ever hope to be. That's true of most young development leads of course, but Gustav Andersson excels in most areas. He is one of the few young* men who I can be bothered debating Agile with, far less agree to subject myself to it on a continuous (< see what I did there?) basis. But let's not start talking about Agile - I've had enough of that for several life-times.

No, this post is about some of the useful tools and processes that Gustav has used over the past year. He sent a mail to all his geek friends, mistakenly including me, to see if they had any suggestions of their own. As I am an unreconstructed dinosaur who can just about manage Tripit, the seeds fell on rather stoney ground. But I do have a blog and I know I have some readers who are similarly focussed on tools to improve your life.

So here are Gustav's recommendations. He does actually have some good ideas** occasionally ;-) and I'm sure he would be interested in everyone else's, via comments.

* Of course, he probably thinks he is old. He's not, it just feels like that for now. He'll realise he's going to feel much older.
** For example Glympse. That's a family favourite these days. Nirvana HQ is working out ok so far, too.


This year, I've done a lot of tweaking of my tools and processes for
organizing my life and getting work done. I'm a geek through and through, and so
I use a lot of technology to do all of this. Well, I bet that I am not alone in
this.
It struck me that I have a lot of geek friends (what ever happened to that
Geek Pride Parade anyway?) and that you probably have a lot of really good
systems set up on your end too. I would love to know if there is something you
do in your day-to-day life that works really well in making whatever you do more
efficient or just plain old fun.
So below are my tips and tricks:
BACKING UP YOUR DATA:
I use Mozy (http://mozy.co.uk) to back up
my data. It runs in the background and syncs selected folders to a remote site.
My selected folders are all of my hard drives! Why not? Mozy doesn't have a
space limit to their service, and at £5/month, it's pretty cheap.
MUSIC:
I mainly use Spotify to listen to music. I have a paid for account so I get
no adverts. It works well and so far it covers most of the music that I
want.
PODCASTS AND AUDIO BOOKS:
I listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books. I would recommend anyone to
give those a go. It makes washing up dishes and hanging up laundry tolerable. As
for Audiobooks, I would recommend Audible (http://www.audible.co.uk). You pay £8/month
and get a book each month to own for life.
If you are thinking of signing up to Audible, make sure you get a 'first
time customer' deal like £50 off Amazon or the first book for free.
PHOTO EDITING:
Picasa (http://picasa.google.com/)
is really good for organising and doing common editing tasks. It is also nicely
integrated with the Google suite of stuff like your contacts etc.
PHOTO BOOKS:
For photo books, nothing beats Blurb (http://www.blurb.com/). Great prices and great
results. The software is easy to use. No negatives.
PANORAMA PHOTOS:
If you are into photography, and you want an easy way to stitch together
photos into sweet panoramas, check out ICE (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/).
It's free and much easier to use than other systems I've tried.
PASSWORDS:
Don't use the same password on all your sites! You are begging to be robbed
of everything from pride to cash. Develop a system to derive the password from
the page name. If someone finds out the passwords, they still don't know your
system and hence they can't get access to your other sites.
I also use LastPass (http://lastpass.com/) to automatically log me in
to various sites. Works a charm.
DISTRACTION FREE WRITING:
If you write a lot then you should give a thought to your writing
environment. Q10 (http://www.baara.com/q10/) is a neat
writing application. Very simple, totally distraction free and if you choose,
some lovely typewriting noises. It does saving as your go along and in general,
it works well. It is also extremely fast to start-up and is therefore a really
good companion to the next point.
DISTRACTION FREE WRITING ON THE WEB:
If you are writing something on the web, and it is a longer piece, then you
can get really tired of writing on the site directly. There are far too many
distractions there. With various plug-ins your can ask your browser to start
your favourite text editor, let you write there and when you quit, the text is
copied over to the website.
Firefox has got a plug-in for this called "It's All Text" (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4125/).
If you are using Chrome, then you need to install a separate application
called Listary (http://www.listary.com/).
You can then just press Win+A to edit in an external editor.
SPELLING AND GRAMMAR CHECK ON WEB:
After the Deadline (http://afterthedeadline.com/) is really
good, and it exist for both Firefox and Chrome.
TASK ORGANISATION:
I follow the 'Get Things Done' methodology for, well, getting stuff done.
For an on-line implementation of GTD, check out Nirvana (http://www.nirvanahq.com/). They have a new
version which is all HTML5 snazzy, but you need to opt-in for that version.
Check out their forum for details or just ask me.
INFORMATION CAPTURE AND ORGANIZATION
Work Flowy (http://workflowy.com/) is
an amazing list making web app. It has a clean interface, can cope with a huge
amount of information (as much as you can throw at it) and is entirely keyboard
friendly so you can give that mouse a rest.
SENDING LARGE FILES:
I use Send Space (http://www.sendspace.com/) for that.
GEOTAG:
If you have a GPS tracker when you are snapping away on holidays, and you
want to get the coordinates into your photos, then I recommend using this java
based tool for doing so (http://geotag.sourceforge.net/).
Right, that was about all I had. Like I said, I would love to hear if you
have got similar tips. Come on, share; you know you want to.
Merry Christmas and a productive New Year!
Gustav