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Productivity

There are two ways I get a job done: I keep copious notes from start to finish and do really well, or I don’t take any notes and I fail miserably. This means I’m utterly dependent on some sort of notes editor at all times, and if it has syncing, well, that’s even better.

I’m always on the lookout for a better way to do what I do, including keeping notes, so I was happy to give Moccanote a spin. With an uncluttered interface and iCloud sync with the companion iPhone app, Moccanote is definitely a contender. Can Moccanote’s notetaking and organization features cause me to jump ship? (more…)

After the holiday break, and with students heading into the new semester, many of us are trying to catch up on research for writing projects. Keeping track of sources for accurate citations is an important but time consuming part of research. Consequently, there are quite a few apps available to help organize citation libraries. Literature is a new app that seeks to provide a low cost alternative to other reference managing apps.

Currently, Mac users can choose from four main apps to organize their reference libraries: Endnote ($249.95), Papers ($79), Sente ($129.95), and Bookends ($99). Mendeley is also a viable free alternative with many useful features. At $19.99, Literature cannot compete with the feature sets available at the high end of this app category. Instead, it attempts to create a streamlined alternative that will attract users wary of the high price tags listed above. Let’s see how well it can fill in this segment of the market.

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As a blogger, I’m always anticipating new apps that could take on a fresh approach to desktop blogging. Desktop blogging apps for the Mac are merely by the handful, leaving users with just a couple of blogging apps that can create and publish posts with ease. We’ve got MarsEdit 3, MacJournal, and Ecto as top recommendations, but the fact is we haven’t seen anything new in this sector of the app market for quite a while.

You can imagine my excitement then when I came across BlogEasy, a minimal desktop blogging app that publishes to WordPress blogs. Will this app finally break the silence and provide bloggers with something new and innovative to play with? Let’s find out.

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Taking down notes, whether by hand or on my computer, has always been an integral part of my workflow. Capturing information wherever and whenever, notes always in handy considering that I have such a short memory span to work with.

As such, note-taking apps like NotesTab are of great interest to me, and since version 3 of FIPLAB’s note-taking menu bar app is available for download, I thought I’d take a look at what has changed and what features were added since reviewing it a couple of months back. Likewise, the pro version offers several additional features to make the note-taking experience even better, which I will touch on later in the review. If you’re hesitant to spend an extra $4.99 for the upgrade, but would like to know what you’d receive if you do, read on.

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There are a lot of ways to manage how you interact with coworkers and people who are helping you with a project. Before the days of computers, you had to fax them a daily plan, call them up and discuss things, or even mail them a letter containing details. And if they lived next door, you could always walk over there. Now, however, things have been modernized and we have wonderful tools like Basecamp at our disposal. It was one of the best, until Kickoff 2.0 went into public beta.

Released in the first half of the month, the app is a completely revamped version of its collaboration predecessor. From the design to the features and way you do things, the app has been changed. We reviewed the original one back in 2011, but now design has become more important and developers are distinguishing their user interfaces from what Apple sets as a standard. The question you probably have is, what’s so different about this app that makes it worth upgrading?

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With the new year coming up, Mac AppStorm wants to make sure you get introduced to apps that will make you more productive in 2013. Mind mapping apps just may be the type of tool you need to boost your productivity in the upcoming year. From project management to presentations to brainstorming, mind mapping apps are flexible tools that assist users in storing and processing information of all types.

This review includes two apps that take a more minimalist, simplistic approach to mind mapping—MindNode and SimpleMind—and two apps that take a more power user approach—XMind and NovaMind. Read on to find out which app may best fit your needs.

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In 2002, a book entitled Getting Things Done was published by author David Allen, to widespread critical acclaim and quickly began to amass an almost cult following. In it, the author set forth a method for improving the efficiency of work processes by employing time management techniques, task prioritisation, and concentration on the most important tasks. Ten years, and many improved work-flows later, Allen’s theory remains as prevalent as ever, but not necessarily in the state he first imagined.

Despite being the title of Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, or GTD, has since become the byword for any method of improving productivity, regardless of relevance to the author’s original. Allen’s paper-based method has become outdated in the ten years since its publication, and, largely in response to technological advance and the Internet, other more relevant GTD theories have emerged, such as David Sparks’ Paperless.

With the myriad of electronic devices that now dominate many work flows and work places, making distractions easier to come by—ahem, Twitter—new ways of boosting productivity have come about. However, not everybody has time to read, implement, and stick to a special system. So, how do we bridge this impasse? It’s simple: take away the Internet, or at least part of it. Intrigued? Find out more after the break.

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Think of a typical task on your to-do list, and I’m sure there’s an app that can help you accomplish it. You’ve got Mac apps designed for a plethora of purposes, each designed to solve or complete different kinds of tasks in a number of unique ways. In fact, there are apps that are made to bring different standalone apps and services together to easily manage and keep track of. Off the top of my head are Words for save-for-later articles, MarsEdit for publishing to different blogging platforms, and Favs for all your social favorites.

For today’s review, I’ll be taking a look at Notesdeck for Mac, a relatively unique app that consolidates all of your iCloud, Dropbox, Simplenote, and Evernote notes into a single dashboard to view, edit, and sync in real time. Developed by Michael Petruzzo of Dark Heartfelt, it’s an app where notes—whichever service or note-taking app used—are editable and available at a click of a button.

With this concept in mind, can Notesdeck assist the everyday note-taking Mac user? How does Notesdeck fair in the productivity circle? Let’s find out.

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In theory, I love the idea of being able to easily take handwritten notes and have them stored on my computer. I’m going back to school and taking a bunch of math classes, so it would be nice to be able to handwrite equations and insert them in my notes, rather than using a dedicated equation editor. I could try to do the handwritten style notes on my iPad and take regular notes on my computer, merging them after class, but that seems unnecessarily difficult. Unfortunately, I kind of need something that doesn’t seem to exist quite yet, so in the meantime I’ve been exploring various apps to take handwritten notes directly on my computer.

PenJournal was my latest trial – it’s a simple program made to take handwritten notes, primarily using a graphics tablet. You can take notes, draw simple images, import/annotate PDFs and much more. Obviously, using a graphics tablet is not ideal for taking notes in class (my desk in class isn’t big enough for all that), but it’s still a program worth taking a look at. Stick with me after the jump to learn more about the features of PenJournal and how it stacks up to its pricier competitors, and how it works both with and without a tablet.

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I’m always looking for apps to make things easier and make my workflow run more smoothly. Especially when I’m repeatedly opening the same document or the same website, over and over again, I want to make what I’m doing less of a chore. I stick things on my Dock or in my bookmarks bar, but then I just end up with a lot of clutter. What I need is workflow help that goes unseen until I really need it.

RocketShip may be the app I’ve been looking for. It allows users to create shortcuts to just about anything, including applications and URLs. Instead of clicking an icon in your Dock or on your menubar, you get there by typing a keystroke you created yourself. Can RocketShip save me the time, and most of all the stopping and starting, of switching among applications and websites all day? (more…)

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