E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

iPhone

My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #2

Gran Canaria - La Culata's surroundings

I never thought I would be enjoying this much putting together this series of blog entries around my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week as I am currently doing at the moment. More than anything else, because of the trip down the memory lane from over 8 years ago till today to see whether my own work habits and productivity hacks, while on the move, have evolved a fair bit, or perhaps not so much. Or whether, maybe, I have completely changed my own user behaviours so drastically that it has morphed into something completely different altogether. Quite an interesting and intriguing journey, if you ask me. As I get to write down today’s post, it makes me think that, perhaps, for the core group of tasks I do on a regular basis I haven’t really changed much my own habits, which seems to confirm, pretty much, how hard it is to just change for the sake of it, but somehow it’s the good fun around the edges that I’m enjoying the most so far, as I get to explore new apps and new ways of getting work done. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not necessarily harder, even in a mobile world, right? 

One of the several things that I have found rather enlightening, and eye-opening at the same time, is how, instead of having a single app to perform a specific action, or complete a particular task, I almost always have a handful of apps to handle such kinds of interactions without really having a single favourite one, since I enjoy all of them for what they do and the overall user experience they provide me with. It’s happening to me, for instance, with apps around photography, RSS news feed readers, blogging, podcasting, note taking, drawing / sketching, mindmapping, web browsing, maps / traveling, etc. etc. So I am hoping that, over time, I get a chance to share them all over here as well with an opportunity to indicate what makes me want to keep using multiple of them based on their different nuances, because somehow I feel they all contribute into a richness of productivity hacks I suspect some of you may find useful as well. So, we shall see how that goes as we move further along … 

For this week, though, it’s now a good time to share my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week, indicating whether they are available for iPhone, iPad, or both and explain with a single one-liner or two the main reason as to why I use each of those iOS Apps. Thus without much further ado, here we go: 

  • Blogo: On my MacBook Air, I don’t have a single doubt in terms of my favourite offline blogging app and for a good few years already. It’s MarsEdit. On iOS things change substantially, because I don’t have a single favourite one, but multiple of them, so I suppose, over time, I may have a chance to include them all in this series of blog entries and explain why for each of them. For now, I will start with the one I like quite a bit lately and that I have been using extensively to draft my blog posts while on the iPad Pro. It’s Blogo.

    There is also a desktop app, but again MarsEdit does it for me, so for those folks who may be looking for alternatives or new options, Blogo may well be worth a try. What I like the most about the iOS app is that’s incredibly focused on the act of writing blog posts, no interruptions, no distractions, no fuss, just cut to the chase on ideas you may want to jot down and develop further and keep on writing those drafts further along. The set-up process of WordPress blogs is a gem, too! So easy and user friendly to do that anyone can start their own blog right away! Oh, and the use of images in your blog posts is rather cool as well with tons of options you can toy and play with, if that’s what you are into heh.

  • Feedly: Yes, 2016 and I still read RSS news feeds. Every single day, actually. I spend a significant amount of time just browsing through my RSS feeds while I continue to prune and re-build my own blogroll, which I am hoping to share it along in the next few weeks… And in terms of iOS RSS news feed readers, and like I said already, I have got multiple apps I use on a regular basis and for different purposes, mostly whether it’s an app I can use offline or not, for instance. Right now, one of my favourites is Feedly, more than anything else, because it’s one of the most popular and extended ones and because it allows me to syndicate online as well as offline resources given me something I quite enjoy: choices! 

    One of the little things I appreciate the most from Feedly at the moment as well, ever since I got it working again on my iPad Pro, is how much it feels like just reading a news paper, an online one, to the point where there is only one other app that makes it a superiour user experience than what Feedly provides, but that I’ll talk about that app in an upcoming post. Still, at the moment, for online RSS news feed reading, Feedly does it for me. 

  • Pocket: You could say that Pocket is also a fancy RSS news feed reader and I would probably have to agree with you on that one. Not like Feedly or other traditional RSS news feed readers, but it certainly does the job of helping you curate content you bump into that you find relevant and equally interesting but that perhaps you may want to read at a later time, specially, when offline and disconnected from the Internet. This is where Pocket excels in terms of providing one of the most enlightening user experiences for browsing the Web while offline, if I can say that. But there are a couple of other things I enjoy a fair bit from Pocket that have made it an indispensable productivity and learning tool for yours truly. 

    As a starting point, it allows people to share across their recommended reads, so, in a way, you can connect with other people who may share similar interests to yours and read each other’s recommendations. Pretty nifty if you would want to nurture your networks based on content you all may be mutually interested in. And the other rather nifty feature is how pervasive it is. I use it on my Web browsers on my Mac or the desktop app to save items to read later. I use it on my iOS devices, but what I like the most about it is that it’s fully integrated with other apps, like Tweetbot, allowing me to go through my Twitter feeds and save for later links shared by my networks that I may find of interest. Then at the end of the day, usually, I will go through them, read along, save, recommend, share across, etc. etc. The combination of Tweetbot and Pocket to curate interesting links is a killer. Loving it.  

  • Haiku Deck: On my MacBook Air, Keynote is the main productivity tool I use to put together presentations I then use for public speaking events or for client work. I often use Keynote for complex presentations where I need to follow certain flows, do hands-on demos (with screen shots) or more complex visuals, etc. but when it’s a presentation that needs to become very visually appealing to go further along with a powerful story then I resort to one of my favourite iOS Apps out there: Haiku Deck. 

    You put together the words, the story, and Haiku Deck gathers and presents you with plenty of absolutely stunning visuals you can then toy with to make it one of those presentations to remember. What I like the most about the app? Well, it allows you to craft beautiful presentations without too much wording or far too complex visuals / graphics in them, so death by PowerPoint can be happily avoided and save you tons of unwanted headaches. It just works: a powerful story + a handful of powerful images and off you go to rock the main stage! Perhaps the way presentations should have been framed all along…

  • Telegram: Yes, there are tons of Messaging & Chatting apps out there. Probably, far too many to count them all with both hands and still fall short! Yes, we all know that WhatsApp perhaps dominates that market at the moment. Yes, we know that plenty of the big players (Google, Facebook itself, Microsoft, etc. etc.) keep trying to debunk it and, eventually, they keep failing. Well, there is one Messaging App out there that has certainly done the magic for me, helping me move away from WhatsApp itself and still use, rather heavily, messaging for both work and personal use. It is Telegram.

    To me, it’s one of the most powerful chatting and messaging apps out there at the moment, allowing me to be on top of the conversations I have in it without getting too overwhelmed by the different notifications from each of the group / individual chats, but if there would be a feature that I’d enjoy the most it would be how pervasive it is. There is a Mac desktop app, so you can continue with your messaging along while at your desk; there is an app for iPhone and for iPad, fully in sync with each other, so depending on what you may be doing you can pick and choose whatever may suit you best, something that, for instance, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to handle too well, never mind the fact there isn’t one for iPad. Oh, and Telegram handles with grace the ability of mixing work and personal use, so you get to experience a bit more of a biz app than, say, WhatsApp. I tell you, if you are looking for a pretty decent messaging app that does a beautiful job at it, Telegram it is!

And that is it! That’s this week’s Top 5 iOS Apps for me that you can take for a spin yourself either on your iPhone or iPad and let me know what you think about them in the comments section below. Oh, and if you’d have some additional suggestions or recommendations of apps I should give a try and share my twopence on them, please do let me know as well. I’m always open to try new apps and see how they would fair further along with my day to day work routines.

Hope you folks enjoyed this week’s selection as next week there will be some more!

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #1

Gran Canaria - Playa del Inglés Beach

 

It’s been nearly 6 years since the last time I have put together an entry over here in this blog, where I was recommending some of my favourite Productivity & Social Apps for iOS, in order to get work done more effectively, that I keep using on a regular basis, even to today. Since I am about to embark on resuming that series of articles, once more, as I mentioned on the recent write-up about my initial user experience with my iPad Pro, I am very aware that some things may have changed so much I doubt those blog posts from back in the day would relate much to this upcoming series. And perhaps that’s good news on its own, we shall see… 

As a starting point, I’m no longer a salaried employee, but a freelancer, which will change perspectives a fair bit in terms of defining both my needs and wants as an independent mobile knowledge (Web) worker. I have also transitioned into becoming a digital nomad versus being attached to a single work location (usually, my home office), as I was till not long ago, and, most importantly, the devices and Apps I use nowadays have upgraded themselves to such level of perfection that my very own user habits are no longer the same. You will see what I mean shortly, but, for now, let me just say I’m really excited to resume the ‘My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week’ series. Are we ready? I surely am. 

But before I get started with this series of blog posts I should also state that I’ll be blogging about my favourite iOS Apps that would be suitable for either my iPhone or my iPad Pro, or both! And, at the same time, I will include a single one liner, or two, as to why I have got them installed in the first place and why I use them on a more or less regular basis, at least, multiple times per week, if not daily. That way you folks may well be able to get a good glimpse of what my daily productivity and social collaboration activities are like. Of course, I will also be looking forward to hearing about your suggestions and recommendations on Apps I should check out in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to take your advice on board, take them for a spin and report back on what my user experience has been. I am certain that’s going to be one of my favourite follow-up activities from this series. So let’s get busy! 

  • IBM Connections: There are a number of different Apps in the realm of Enterprise Social Networking Tools that I use on a more or less frequent basis. Of course, I will be adding them accordingly over the course of time into this series, but, so far, the one that overtakes every single one of them, and, by a long stretch, is the IBM Connections App, as I have mentioned in another blog entry, since it’s the main ESN tool I use with my clients at the moment, both to work together in various different initiatives as well as to provide support as an independent adviser on Social Business and Digital Transformation.

    What I like the most about the App is that, with it, I can get done about 95% of my client work inside the App itself without having to go through a desktop Web browser and in terms of ESN Apps it’s probably as good as it gets. Oh, yes, I am using a whole bunch of them at the moment and time and time again I keep resorting back to my desktop browser, which I guess doesn’t help much if you want to continue using the iOS Apps themselves. So a big plus for this App on its own, as it continues to allow me to work & be mobile, regardless of where I am and, as a mobile knowledge (Web) worker myself, that’s not only a good thing, but an imperative. It does the job beautifully
     

  • Slack: Over the course of time I will have a proper chance to share some additional insights about how I make use of Slack for my day to day work activities, but for today suffice to say that in terms of using a team collaboration tool for both synchronous / asynchronous messaging and communications where you get the exact same user experience whether you are using the desktop app, or a browser or the iOS App, Slack is as good as it gets. Its user interface is just superb, where you hardly need to have any kind of enablement done before you can make extensive use of it.

    However, my favourite features that I can also experience through the iOS app are both the outstanding searching capability and the different various integrations with other apps and services allowing me not having to go elsewhere to get my work done. It gets done in context, right there, in the conversation(s). You should, definitely, look no further if you would want to enable and facilitate small teams to work together in a very effective manner on a single project where plenty of great fun is an integral part of how people communicate with one another. 
     

  • Tweetbot v4: Over the course of nearly a decade I have used tons of different Twitter Apps either on the desktop or via mobile devices and ever since I discovered Tweetbot I haven’t walk back to anything else ever since. I’m currently using v4 of Tweetbot both on my MacBook Air, as well as my iPad and iPhone and I would probably be able to state it’s the best Twitter client out there and by a long stretch. Yes, it may sound as if it is a bit too pricey, since it’s not free, but if you are really interested in Twitter and making the most out of it, it’s totally worth the investment.

    What I like the most though? Well, the fact that due to the very own Twitter API restrictions plenty of the new distracting features and capabilities from Twitter are not available, which means that Twitter remains for me a rather powerful social networking tool vs. just another media tool. I suspect the moment Tweetbot gets terminated or is no longer available that would probably be the time where I’d question, really hard, whether I’d want to spend more time in Twitter at all. That’s how much I heart this iOS App. Without it I would have probably walked away from Twitter a long time ago … 
     

  • Instagram [ iPhone Only ]: One of the many activities I have taken up just recently, as I became a freelancer, and which I’m quite fond of at the moment, is that one of photoblogging, where almost every single day I share a snap shot of something I may have experienced or witnessed, or something that may have piqued my interest whether it’s back at home in Gran Canaria, or while I’m on the road, on a business trip, vacation, etc. etc. And my favourite photoblogging app at the moment is Instagram, although I should probably add that this is due to a very specific capability Instagram has that other apps just don’t have: the filters.

    If it weren’t for the gorgeous filters, I would have probably abandoned the app a long time ago, more than anything else, because it just keeps destroying the overall user experience itself introducing silly algorithms and capabilities that just don’t work, or trying to copycat other social tools just because it thinks it can, instead of focusing on what it does best: photoblogging! My mantra using that app has always been, even to this day, the following one: ‘An experience not captured is an experience not lived!
     

  • Flickr: And, finally, I had to share across what has been, perhaps, one of the oldest iOS apps I have been using so far. Pretty much like Instagram, I still make use of Flickr on a regular basis as it powers each and everyone of the blog posts I shared over here with the daily picture, but also because when I’m interested in photoblogging a snap shot out there without filters I always resort to Flickr.

    I have now been using this social networking tool for over 11 years and, to date, it’s still one of my favourites, even to search for images I can reuse with CC licenses for some of my presentations, to the point where I can see how my days of Instagram use may be numbered, as it keeps insisting on killing itself by adding some silly capabilities no-one needs, yet, I can see myself making use of Flickr year after year to no end, even if it is just to enjoy and treasure the good old Web 2.0 spirit.

    Oh, and do you know what I love the most about the Flickr app? Well, using it on my iPad Pro, specially, the ‘Explore’ capability. On a 12.9-inch screen with some pretty amazing colours and incredible resolution it’s just like having the real thing: a photograph in your hands, just like in the good old days! Pure delight! Highly recommended, in case you may not have experienced it just yet. 

And that’s it for now! I don’t want to extend myself any more than what I have already to give you a glimpse of some of the reasons as to why I have chosen this initial set of iOS Apps for the series of blog entires on my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #N’. Hope you folks may have enjoyed reading through the blog post itself, just as much as I do making extensive use of these iOS apps and, as always, I shall be looking forward to your comments below and further suggestions about other apps you think I should consider that may be worth while using regularly to help improve my over all user experience as a mobile knowledge (Web) worker. So, which app(s) are your favourite ones so far? Oh, and, most importantly, why? 

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Power Shift – People Running Companies by Apple?

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & San Bartolomé de TirajanaI have been in the IT industry for well over 15 years now and for a good number of them I have been relying on multiple different systems. One of them being Windows. Fast forward to today, and as most folks out there would know, if you have been following me on any of the various social networking sites, I have been using Apple products (Macs, iPhone and iPad) for nearly 6 years now and, just recently, I have finally come to terms with the main reason why I made the switch back then and have never walked back. My levels of productivity and effectiveness have never been the same anymore. And it’s just too funny that it’s all due to having watched a recent video clip in Wired from a never-aired Apple commercial in 1983! Yes, 29 years ago some folks over at Apple truly understood and fully embraced the Power of Social. Who would have thought, eh?

I am sure you are all wondering what I am talking about, which video is that one that I am referencing above, what difference does it make that I have moved to the Mac nearly 6 years ago on how I view my own involvement with social networking for business and how I’m more and more convinced they may have provided us all with that tipping point of why there is hope that the Social Enterprise concept will stick around for a long while, if we pay attention to how plenty of large enterprises and businesses are looking closely into the potential impact of Apple devices inside of the workplace (Despite some horrifying experiences that we have bumped into just recently as well). 

Well, I am referring to this piece in Wired, under the title “Former Apple Engineer Posts Unseen Mac TV Ad From 1983“, which references this Google Plus post by Andy Hertzfeld where he quotes an Apple commercial for the original Macintosh that they did in the fall of 1983, but which, apparently, never aired and I think I can see why! Although it is not the main sentiment that Andy mentions on the Plus post. Here it is the embedded code, so that you can play it. It lasts for a little bit over a minute: 

 

Noticed something different in that advertisement? No? Really? Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the discourse of how the Macintosh came together in the first place, but about something a whole lot more subtle that has escaped most people’s perceptions on the repercussions of such bold statements. Specially, my favourite one. The one from Mike Murray, the Director of Marketing of the Macintosh division back then, who just basically stated the following: 

And I think what you are going to see is that the balance of power is going to shift. The balance of power from companies running people to, hopefully, people running companies” [Emphasis mine]

Does that ring a bell? Specially, in the context of Living Social in the workplace? You bet it does! And this is where I came to realise what making use of Apple products has meant for me over the course of the last few years, as I got more and more heavily involved with technology and social networking tools, for that matter, to get my work done. That’s the fact that technology is no longer a hurdle for yours truly. There are no more headaches, no more screams, nor yelling, at the screen b*tching about why a certain action didn’t take place when I did everything correctly. No more demotivated and frustrated things don’t turn around on the screen just right, as you would have expected. Finally, it all eventually falls into place. It all just works! And beautifully.

And that’s certainly the beauty behind that powerful quote from Mike, because, if anything, it allows us to do something that would be very much needed at this point, which is forget about technology, use it as a tool, as a means to achieve a goal and focus on the behaviours, on the mindset, on changing people’s habits, on helping them understand you, too, can have a wonderful experience, i..e. eventually, becoming more effective and efficient at what you already do, without having to suffer from the odd technology hiccup, just like that, allowing you to focus on what we would always need to focus on: the conversations. The conversations with people regardless of where you and they are, regardless of the device you are using, whether mobile or not, and regardless of the nature of the interaction. Just converse.

Who would have thought that, 29 years ago, the vision was already there! Who would have thought that those folks portrayed on the video clip were on a bigger mission: helping shift corporate dynamics from a rather heavy technology focus / fetishism, where people were just resources, towards that much more liberating, creative, inspiring, collaborative and knowledge sharing prone environment where people were, still are!, people, interacting with the tools to get something out of those interactions, because tools will always be tools. Yes, some times it would be hard to explain. But then again, that’s where play kicks in. We do need more play at work. Specially, for all of that stuff that we find difficult to justify and explain, but that it’s essential to every single business. Something that people, human beings, have been excelling at for many millennia. And for plenty more to come along!

Yes, I almost became an instant #fanboi. Almost. but what a powerful one-liner, don’t you think? One that can certainly change the world. For the better. Our little corporate world and the larger one for that matter, too!

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Productivity Tips for the Mobile (Social) Knowledge Web Worker – Mophie, Gum Max and Logitech

As I have mentioned on my last blog post, here’s a follow-up entry for today where I’m going to pick things up from where I left them around some additional Productivity Tips for the Mobile (Social) Knowledge Web Worker. This time around not so much on software per se, but on hardware and, more specifically, for two different types of devices: iPhones and iPads. Over the course of the last couple of years I seem to have developed a bit of an addiction with regards to accessories for both of these types of devices, but things seem to have calmed lately now that I feel I may have found just what I wanted: Mophie, Gum Max and Logitech.

Indeed, as a mobile knowledge Web worker, always on the move, one learns to appreciate quite a bit those small pleasures of staying connected to a power outlet whenever, or wherever!, you may be working, just to keep up with your productive day work. Yet, time and time again, we keep failing bumping into those pocket sockets, whether at airports, at bars, restaurants, coffee shops, at customer sites, conference venues, etc. etc. You name it. Yet we know that we need to keep things going, because we have to. It’s our job as mobile workers. So how do we do it? How do we keep our productivity levels up while on the road? 

Well, in my own case, and after having acquired a whole bunch of accessories, that didn’t quite make the mark, by the way!, t think I may have landed on the Top 3 that have certainly boosted my effectiveness and efficiency, while I am travelling, to levels I probably thought in the past were not possible. Two of them are battery accessories (For my iPhone and iPad, respectively) and the last one is a keyboard / case for my iPad. 

You would remember how one of the main key issues we all get to experience, and suffer from!, with our mobile devices, whether smartphones or tablets, is the poor performance of the battery life from each and everyone of them. To the point where we all take for granted that while the battery would be, and should be, better, here we are, in 2012, and the innovation happening around that space is not as rampant, and fruitful as in other areas. So while we keep awaiting for that magic bullet that would revolutionalise the entire market in this area, we continue looking for workarounds that would be good enough to make us move forward. 

And after such a long search I think I may have bumped into the perfect combination that has worked really well, for myself, in the last few weeks. And therefore the reason why I thought it would be a good thing to put together this blog post over here to share the experiences of what’s been like finding new tricks to battery life, as well as one of my biggest productivity boosts when using an iPad: an ultrathin keyboard cover. 

That’s right, on my last couple of business trips that I have done over the course of the last few weeks I never leave home without my fully charged Mophie Juice Pack Plus, my Just Mobile Gum Max and my Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad. They have pretty much become indispensable for yours truly and I wouldn’t know what things would be like without them, as a mobile knowledge worker, because all of that stress trying to find and locate a power socket or all of that frenzy typing with your bare fingers on the touch screen are now things of the past! And very happy to report they are and haven’t walked back ever since! 

The Mophie Juice Pack Plus is that super nifty gadget for the iPhone 4 or 4S that acts as a rock solid battery case that allows you to protect your iPhone from damage, i.e. if it falls down or whatever else, at the same time that it gives you a full one and a half time charge of your smartphone regular battery life, which is just tremendously powerful when you are on the road for an extensive period of time and you don’t have a power socket nearby. Not a problem anymore! That Mophie Juice Pack Plus gadget will solve it once and for all. Now, instead of charging my iPhone every single day I only have got to do it every other day, and, if I am lucky, perhaps even 2 or 3 times per week! Again, priceless, if you don’t have access to AV current right away while travelling. 

But it gets better, because even if I run out of battery life both on my iPhone 4S and my Mophie Juice Pack Plus I still have got another little gadget that has transformed the way I interact with both my iPhone and my iPad: of course, I am talking about Just Mobile’s Gum Max external battery, which, although originally designed for the iPad, also allows you to charge your iPhone’s battery, should you need to. But then again Gum Max was designed to help you amplify and augment the battery life of your iPad, even the New iPad. And it rocks, just as much!

Giving you “a colossal 10,400 mAh capacity, and 2.1A current“, it allows you to charge the iPhone battery up to 6 times, and about one and a half the iPad, at tremendous speeds altogether, so you wouldn’t have to wait much before getting back into action. Even more so, you can continue working while charging the devices. So, as you can imagine, long gone are the times where I have to wait for that power outlet to be freed up, or to hunt down that power socket while at a conference venue, right before running out of juice. Now, it’s all back to keep things going, knowing that battery life is no longer a problem for yours truly. Both Mophie and Just Mobile’s smart and elegant solutions have helped me address and fix that growing pain of running out of battery life far too soon, at the most inconvenient of times. And if I’m traveling across the pond, it’s always refreshing to know that I will be over 20 hours in transit without noticing a single glitch of a failing battery life and instead just keep working along! 

Yes, I would probably agree with you that both of those gadgets are certainly not very cheap, but I can tell you that if you spend more time on the road than what you do at your home / remote office, it’s definitely one of the best investments that you could ever make as a remote knowledge worker. Highly recommended both of them!

And talking about best investments how about if we move on with what I feel has been one of the best purchases that I have done in a long while with regards to anything tech based. At least, for my mobile devices. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, over the course of the last couple of years I seem to have developed an addiction towards accessories, specially, for the iPad, mainly iPad Cases and external Keyboards. I think at this stage I may have tried out about a dozen of them of all sorts, shapes, product specs, capabilities, that you can imagine. And it is something that I haven’t grown tired of just yet. It keeps building up! Although, I no longer feel the same urge as I did before… And all of that thanks to the absolutely delightful, and incredibly powerful altogether!, Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

I first read about it on Twitter, of course, where folks were raving around how powerful, yet smart it was; then I saw my good friend Dennis Howlett putting together a lovely blog post where he talked about how good it was, where he also included a short video clip on it. And that was it! I knew it right there that I wanted to have it. No further convincing needed. So while I was in Boston, for the Enterprise 2.0 conference event, I escaped for a few minutes to the nearest Best Buy shop and got myself one. And, boy, did it make a difference on how I do productive work on my iPad ever since! Tremendous!

Indeed, over the last couple of weeks I have been using my iPad quite extensively, even while at home!!, definitely much more than with other keyboard / cases I have tried out so far, just because of the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, because it allows me to do extensive typing away on an instant access device I can take anywhere! So now I actually get to draft entire blog posts, work much more often than ever with Evernote, or whatever other note taking App, with my photos, with file sharing Apps, mindmapping along quite happily, Twitter and other Social Networking Sites Apps, with work related Apps, too! etc. etc. Goodness, it’s transformed the way I interact with the iPad in ways I never thought I would. It’s like combining the best of both worlds: a laptop computer, and a tablet, which for reduced spaces it’s just perfect! Even when inside the plane! It just works without having to self-inflict yourself painful postures!

So there you have it. As I continue to keep reshaping my mobile (social) knowledge Web worker user experience in order to get the most out of my productivity, while on the road, I’m finding out it’s a combination of both software and hardware the bits and pieces, here and there, that are helping me reach new levels of effectiveness and efficiency that I never thought I would be able to on mobile devices like my iPhone 4S or my new iPad. Thus, perhaps, it’s also a really good time to resume  that rather interesting initiative I kept going for a good while, but that I left go dormant for perhaps far too long, because I didn’t think it would prove too useful over the course of time. Well, I think I was wrong.

And it’s probably a good time to confirm that, don’t you think? It’s about time that I resume again bringing up to live #elsuapps, specially, since I already tried it out, once more, in Google Plus and maybe now I have got a much better chance of sustaining it in the medium / long term, as I keep spending more and more time on the road using all of those super nifty iOS Apps, with the perfect hardware companion to make it relatively easy to roll things up again, I guess! Thus stay tuned for plenty more coolness and usefulness to come along! I am sure you will all enjoy it just as much as I am doing it myself with all of these hardware accessories. It’s like being at a candy store, except perhaps that I have already got my sweets… 

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Productivity Tips for the Mobile (Social) Knowledge Web Worker – TweetBot, Pocket, Evernote

Gran Canaria - Roque Bentaiga & Mount Teide in the SpringOne of my favourite activities within the Social Web realm has always been that ability to keep up that playful spirit of finding opportunities time and time again to fine tune my overall user experience using social networking tools, whether internal or external, in order to find new use cases, or productivity tips, that would help boost my performance in allowing me to get work done in a smarter way, not necessarily working harder. And since lately I keep traveling quite a bit and spend more time on the road than at my home office, I thought it would be a good time exploring how I can improve my overall knowledge Web worker experience using various social networking / productivity tools while on the road. And, after plenty of experimentation I think I may have hit a magic formula that I have grown to become rather fond of in the last few weeks and that I think I am now ready to share it across with all of you folks who may be interested in finding out what’s all the fuss I have been making about it all along: TweetBot + Pocket + Evernote = Mobile Productivity Heaven!

As you may have noticed, over the course of the last few months, I have been blogging a couple of times on how increasingly tough it’s getting for yours truly to keep up with a reliable Internet connection, while on the road, or at home, so I have learned to treasure AND maximise the time that I remain connected to the Social Web to grab all of the information that I need and eventually continue working offline trying to find new methods of improving that offline productivity. And, like I have just mentioned above, I think I may have found that brilliant combination that will certainly help me along quite nicely. 

So, I thought, why not share it across over here in this blog, for other folks to perhaps learn a new trick or two, or maybe expose that method across and see if other folks have got other, improved, methods of maximising that online exposure to continue working offline. And here I am! Thus, let’s go for it! Let’s see where it takes us …

As you may well remember, at the beginning of the year I mentioned how I was planning to stop spreading thinner out there on the Social Web and focus on what I then called The Big Three, that is, the three major social networking tools that I would be focusing on to get my work done: IBM Connections (Mostly for work related stuff), Twitter and Google Plus. 

Well, while I am eagerly awaiting for Google Plus to finally land with its own native iPad App, which I think is coming up pretty soon, perhaps even to mark its first anniversary, who knows!, and while I have been enjoying tremendously the latest version of the IBM Connections App on iOS devices (More on that one shortly, too!), I guess it was time for me to fine tune my Twitter experience, while on the move. And, boy, have I found a superb option right there?!?!

Earlier on in the year, I blogged about how Janetter is my all time favourite Twitter desktop client  on the Mac (By the way, it works in Windows, too!) and how I kept looking for a counterpart for my iOS devices, specially, for when I was travelling not bringing along the MacBook Air with me. And I found it. And I bought it. And I enjoyed it. And I started loving Twitter again while on the move! That absolutely essential Twitter App for mobile devices is called Tweetbot and I can tell you that after having tried several dozens of Twitter mobile Apps it’s just as good as it gets. For real!

Perhaps at some point in time I will create another blog post along the same lines of the one on Janetter and share Top 10 reasons why I heart Tweetbot big time as my default mobile Twitter client. But for now, I’ll go ahead and share across the main reason why I love that App: having the opportunity of going through an extended catchup of my timeline. You know, when I am on the road I am usually stuck on queues waiting for things to happen. Waiting for public transport, at airports waiting to check-in, or while boarding, waiting for meetings, at conference events, workshops, seminars, summits, etc. etc. you name it.

So I keep finding myself with plenty of time to go back in time on my timeline and catch up with my favourite source of news, insights and information on what’s happening around me, work related or not. And I try to make extensive use of it to keep up to date with what’s happening. In most cases I won’t be the kind of person who would be tweeting a lot, unless I’m live tweeting at a conference event, of course, but just reading through the tweets, diving into the Social Flow(s), trying to maximise the time I remain connected to see what’s happening and what I may need to pay attention to. And Tweetbot allows me to do that beautifully. If you haven’t tried it out I can certainly recommend it. 

Then, once I bump into those golden gems that I would want to dive into, but that I didn’t just have time to explore further there is a second feature that I truly love from Tweetbot which is just fantastic. Oh, by the way, Janetter also has it, in case you are wondering. And that is a super user friendly integration with another one of my favourite productivity tools that I have been using for a while now: Pocket (Formerly known as Read It Later). Pocket is pretty much like Instapaper, except that it is free. It’s a service that allows you to save links to Web sites to view at a later time while offline! And I must admit that I don’t know why but the overall user experience, and, specially, the flow is far more attractive than that one from Instapaper. So I stuck around with it and I am glad now that I have, because I am enjoying it big time!

Pocket has got a bookmarklet, too, that I can use from my favourite desktop browsers, so I can still continue making use of it while using the Mac, but it also has got a fantastic iOS App that provides a superb user experience of fully interacting with the app while reading all of that offline content. It allows you to both search for it, as well as tag interesting items, you can star (mark as favourites) articles, mark them as read and a whole bunch of other nifty capabilities. Like I said, highly recommended!

Essentially, the way I use it in combination with Tweetbot though, while on the road, is that I have the latter configured to save items to Pocket with just a single tap, tap, of my fingers and off it goes, so within a matter of minutes I end up with several dozens of articles to read offline for when I am no longer connected. And off I go! Just brilliant! 

Then when I am offline, which seems to be happening far too often nowadays with all of that business travelling, I fire up my third favourite productivity tool at the moment, which has become, essentially an extension of my physical memory for everything that I do and that I would want to annotate further, should I want to refer to it at a later time. Got a new idea that I have just come up with and want to write it down, there it goes. Have I got an interesting news article, blog post, Web clipping, thought, insight I would want to bring forward on to an upcoming blog post of mine, there it goes again. Have I got a quick thought I would want to jot down through audio, not a problem, there it goes one more time. Like I said, I truly meant those words that this particular productivity tool has become an extension of my memory. Of course, I am talking about Evernote

There are plenty of great use cases that I have developed for Evernote, as a personal productivity tool, over the course of time and I will perhaps detail some of the most compelling ones on another upcoming blog post, but one of my favourite ones, at the moment, when combined with Tweetbot and Pocket is that ability of creating a note where I just draft blog posts from stuff I have bumped into through Tweetbot or that I may have saved into Pocket. Then, when I am back on to a steady Internet connection, I just sync those updates into the Evernote servers, get to my MacBook Air, launch both Evernote itself and MarsEdit (My default offline blogging client that I have been using for years now!), copy and paste from one to the other, fine tune the post, proof read it, add links accordingly and voilá! Blog post will then be published! On to the next one! Yay!!

And there you have it! All set on to new productivity levels as a mobile social knowledge Web worker. It’s just too funny though, because, just the other day I was talking to one of my good friends at another event, who is also a heavy twitterer himself, and he was surprised how this year I keep taking extended breaks from Twitter and he kept wondering whether I was having enough of it all and decided to give up on it altogether or not. No, not at all. Far from that. What’s happening is that since I keep struggling with staying connected while on the move, I have made the decision to shift towards offline working, where I possibly can, and I sense I have now found that magic formula that would still allow me to remain productive, while catching up with things and then share across what I have learned, which is essentially what folks would be able to find out with these blog posts that I keep sharing across over here every so often. 

And it is thanks to that magic formula of Tweetbot + Pocket + Evernote that I have finally been capable of taming that growing pain and frustration of struggling to get work done while I am on the road, but there is still something else out there that has allowed me to improve those offline productivity bursts even more and into levels I never thought possible. This time around though nothing to do much with software, but with hardware accessories. But that would be the time for another blog post coming up next! 

Ready? It’s coming … But before we dive into it can you have a guess about what it may well be? Folks who may have seen me face to face in the last couple of weeks may have noticed already what I am referring to, since they, too, loved both of those accessories, but what do you think? Any ideas what they may well be? 🙂

Stay tuned! Coming up!

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@Janetter or How I Started to Enjoy Twitter Once Again

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There used to be a time when I was very much in love with Twitter. It was my favourite social networking tool by far. It was quite an exhilarating experience being constantly exposed to some of the most amazing conversations and informal learning at its best. To me, it was *the* place to provoke plenty of facilitated serendipity to take place and keep in the know with all of that stuff one gets passionate about over the course of time. But then, after a short while, I started hating Twitter. Perhaps a bit too harsh of a word, maybe loathe could do.

Over the course of just a few weeks Twitter managed to destroy, in a very pernicious manner, not only the overall user experience, but the entire ecosystem as well that made it a success in the first place: Third party apps. And it totally hit me when I saw my all time favourite Twitter client (Nambu) disappear into thin air just because of that series of misbehaviours. Fast forward to the end of 2011 and I am back in love with Twitter again, not because of all of the various different new features and capabilities they have been putting together, but because I have finally found The Best Twitter Client On The Net: Janetter.

Yes, that’s right! It surely looks like Twitter continues to be keen on destroying not just the Third Part Apps ecosystem that made it incredibly popular in the first place, but also some of its own desktop clients like Twitter for Mac or TweetDeck, where the latest upgrades have deteriorated the user experience for both of them tremendously altogether! Or so I am told. The thing is though that ever since I started making use of Janetter my overall user experience has seen quite a profound transformation.

It was through my good friend Rachel Happe that I first heard (Of course, on Twitter!) about this very special Twitter client that works both in Windows and on the Mac. She liked the experience and right away I thought about giving it a try myself, after having been actively searching for a good substitute for Nambu throughout all of this time playing with a bunch of other Twitter clients whether on the Mac or on iOS devices. And right off, within the first few hours I knew that Janetter would be my new, much preferred, default Twitter client on the Mac. What a beautiful experience, indeed!

I realise most of you folks would notice how I hardly ever get to talk about (Productivity) Tools and such on this blog, since I have always thought that they usually come and go and it’s very hard to get attached to any of them over the course of time, because you never know when they will go ahead and disappear. But since a bunch of people have been asking me what I like so much about this particular Twitter client why not put together this blog post and share some of the most compelling reasons why I have been enjoying it since day one that I installed it. At the same time, there have been a few other folks who have tried it out themselves, after I mentioned on Twitter myself how much I enjoyed it, and they didn’t like it at all. They actually thought it was a horrendous experience, so perhaps this article would help me share across some of the main reasons why Janetter is, to me, as good as it gets with regards to Twitter clients on whatever the platform. Hopefully, with that input it would give you a pretty good idea on whether you may want to give it a try or not.

So here are some of the most compelling reasons why I heart Janetter as my all time favourite Twitter client, even way above than Nambu, from back in the day:

  • Cross-Platform: Indeed, no matter whether you may be using Windows, or Mac, it would work in both just beautifully! Time and time again I kept finding it a challenge recommending a Windows client that would not be TweetDeck, which is, I guess, what most folks tend to use at the moment. And now we have got a pretty good and rather impressive rival: Janetter. (Yes, I do realise there isn’t a version for Linux users at the moment, so those folks may need to continue using whatever tool they may have at the moment)
  • Scalability: You could probably say that I’m a power user of Twitter, and perhaps of several other social networking sites, too, and one of my favourite features from Janetter itself is how scalable it is! It’s amazing! I have been using it rather heavily over the course of a few weeks now, with large networks and rather complex searches, and not a single glitch to be observed with the overall performance of the application or the machine altogether, which is not the same I could say about a bunch of other Twitter clients or even other social networking sites’ Apps. That’s a winner for me, specially, if you are a heavy user of Twitter yourself. Worth while a try just for that!
  • Reliability: Another one of my favourite features from this Twitter App. Like I said, I use it daily rather heavily and, probably, in the most extreme of circumstances hacking different behaviours and I have yet to see, and experience!, the first crash on the Mac! And that’s been weeks of long and lasting use already! Like I said, not a single one!! Not sure what you would think about it, but that’s what reliability is all about in my books, don’t you think?
  • The Look & Feel: This may well just apply to Mac Fanboys, but one of the things you would very much like from this Twitter App is that it behaves and works in pretty much the same way than any other native Mac App, which is a lot to be said for an application that’s developed to work cross-platforms. The time dedicated to make it look and feel like a native Mac App is just priceless. It doesn’t give you the impression, at all!, that you may be using a Windows copy! No way! A big Yes!!
  • Customisation: This is an area that I know most folks would not care much about it, but I love it. Being capable of customising my own user experience of what I see and play with is just a tremendous bonus! The wide range of Skins with multiple colours, displays, fonts, etc. etc. and the extensive User Preferences to tame the experience to your own likes and dislikes, needs and requirements surely is quite a treat! And something that you hardly ever see on Twitter Apps at all these days.
  • Like TweetDeck: But … without the hassle. That’s pretty much how I basically describe Janetter when people ask me about it. It’s like TweetDeck but without all of those issues that keep crumbling the overall experience of Adobe AIR Apps (I had enough of the Kernel Panics, so I no longer use AIR on my MacBook Air and everything running smooth again!). Any kind of problem or issue you can find in TweetDeck it’s fixed in this Twitter App, for real! Seriously, if you are looking for a pretty impressive alternatively to TweetDeck on the Mac, or on Windows, take it for a spin and see how it would work out for you. I can probably guarantee you won’t be back ever since…
  • The Timeline: I guess at some point I should probably go ahead and put together a short screencast of how I use the Twitter Timeline to quickly scan through tweets and pause through those I would really want to digest and muse further about and when to speed up and move on. But if you try out Janetter youself you will see what that experience looks like to me at the moment. As easy as it can get and using something so relatively simple, yet so powerful as keyboard strokes to advance on reading tweets, as well as natural scrolling (Up or down or both!) without seeing the application come to a hault! No matter how fast you go! Just brilliant!

  • The Groups: This is probably the one single feature that most folks who use TweetDeck today, or any other Twitter client that allows you to gather twitterers by groups, would enjoy very much and by far! Creating groups in Janetter is just such a breeze! Groups as in Twitter Lists, obviously; if you have created them already, it’s just as simple as displaying them and they will stick around pulling a bunch of initial updates to let you know how things are going, and then move from there. You can mark them all as read, if you would wish to as well, and you can have a whole bunch of columns without a single glitch on the overall performance itself. Very powerful and strongly recommended for power users, for sure! 

  • The Mentions: If you have been following me on Twitter for a while, over at @elsua, you would probably know how Twitter Mentions is my most simple, and long standing, grieving of my overall Twitter use. I have been complaining about how poor the accuracy of the Mentions is overall and time and time again we have seen how Twitter itself seems to be not very keen on wanting to address the issues and fix them. Well, no longer needed. Janetter did just that for me, allowing me again to catch up properly with those Mentions by not missing any of them! Pretty consistent and rather reliable! Not sure how they do it, but it just works! And thanks much for that!!
  • The Searching Capabilities: Whether you are searching for specific terms, whatever those may well be, even with complex searches, or following a particular hashtag (Like I am about to do with #ls12 and #connect12 when I get back to work – More on that soon!) Janetter’s searching capabilities and real-time searches are just superb! Not matter how busy the Search timeline may well be, it will keep up with it and provide you with all you need. Just like that. No need to figure why this or that search doesn’t work, or why it doesn’t pull off updates. It just does it and beautifully! And in columns, too!! Which means that’s rather easy to keep up with them in a single view without having to go click, click, click.
  • Following Conversations in Context: For those of us who have always considered Twitter one of the hottest places out there in the social networking sites realm for holding conversations on a wide range of topics, this Twitter client would be incredibly helpful and very powerful, because as you engage in conversations with other twitterers you would have an opportunity to catch up with them without having to go elsewhere. They are right there, embedded as part of the tweet stream, and in a rather beautiful and elegant manner, which is certainly everything, but disruptive, and that is what it should all be about! No longer will you be missing out on conversations in context while you are tweeting away! Fantastic and very much needed altogether!
  • An ecosystem on its own: Where viewing and displaying Twitter related data from other Twitterers, like their profiles, their latest tweets, the following, etc. etc. or the pictures and videos they keep sharing along works like a charm; embedded right there within the same window and with an opportunity of, once again, not having to go anywhere else, which means you can keep tweeting along without having to worry as to which window you were at at that very moment. Love how it takes tweeting in context into a new level altogether!
  • Muting Options: Yes, I know, I know, plenty of times I have been enjoying some serious rounds of twitterrhea myself, specially, when I am live tweeting conference events, and time and time again folks keep wondering how to mute me for a (long) while. Well, Janetter offers that opportunity, right there, in the Application itself and with a good number of options. So if you ever need to mute any of your social networks it will do the job just beautifully, which means you can keep your focus where you would want it to be, instead of getting distracted unnecessarily. Priceless, don’t you think?
  • Support of Multiple Accounts: Ohhh, and if you have multiple Twitter accounts, this App would help you manage each of them rather elegantly as well. Now, I now longer need to worry about that one myself, but if I were, I would surely make use of it, instead of having to go for more costly options to try to achieve the very same thing. Very nicely done altogether!
  • Local Cache: This is perhaps my all time favourite feature from any of the Twitter clients I have used over the course of the years. From what I know it’s not even available for the vast majority of them, but, to me, it’s become an essential key feature I cannot longer live without. We all know that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the Twitter streams, so we eventually get to dive in every so often to see what’s happening. Well, Janetter takes that into a new level. It allows you to cache all of the tweets, so you can catch up with them, if you would want to!, at your own pace and rhythm. If you have got a special group of twitterers that you would always want to read all of their tweets this client would allow you to do that easily!

    I love it particularly when I’m travelling, or away from the computer for an extended period of time, and would come back wanting to learn what’s happened on my Twitter streams and there it goes… all of them (In the hundreds, or the thousands!) available with a single scroll! Yes, I know you are not supposed to read them all, but sometimes, whenever time allows you to, you do, and it’s just such a treat having an App that fully supports it that overtime it’s become the one single main reason why I couldn’t live now without Janetter to keep up with those folks I’m keen on following up with. 

    Really powerful altogether to give you, the end-user, the ability to decide how much you would want to dive into your tweet streams without going crazy, but having a good grasp of what’s happening. Can you imagine Twitter allowing you to do that natively on their Apps or the Web interface? No, indeed, not a single chance! Massive kudos to Janetter in this regard, for sure!!

And, finally, perhaps the one single key favourite feature of them all. After all of what I have mentioned above, all of the reasons, features, capabilities and huge potential it offers to us heavy twitterers, I still find it quite amazing that Janetter is made free, as in FREE!!, for all of us. No doubt, even if they would ask us for money I think it’d be the best money spent on any Twitter client out there by far, I would buy a copy of it in a split second and without thinking too much about it!, but the folks behind it have made it available to us all free of charge, which is just probably as good as it gets!

That’s about it, folks, here you have got in a single blog post the various many reasons why I’m now back in love with Twitter, not because of Twitter itself, or the technology behind it, but because thanks to the absolutely delightful user experience of Janetter I’m capable of doing something that in the last few months I kept struggling with time and time again: following, digesting, and learning plenty more in good context from the tweet streams of my favourite social networks, which, eventually, is the main reason of why Twitter exists for most of us and I am happy to see how this Twitter App is making that possible. At least, for me. Hope for you, too! If you have found this blog entry useful enough to take it for a spin, let me know in the comments what you think and whether it’s helping you transform the way you interact with Twitter, like it has done with me so far and big time …

 


Ohhh, and in case you may be wondering what would be my favourite iOS clients for both iPad and iPhone, for when I am on the road, away from my MacBook Air, that would be Osfoora HD for the iPad and the native Twitter for iPhone client. But, once again, they are not the same as the real thing, which is why I do seriously hope that some day we would be able to see Janetter entering the iOS world helping us redefine that mobile Twitter user experience once again! I very much look forward to that!

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