Posts Tagged “apps-tag”

Offline Tools

When we talk about tools that make us productive, we often refer to products and services that automate things for us. They do the leg work for a specific task while we move on with something else. While this is a nice idea in theory, too often than not, we find ourselves swept up by emails, messages, phone calls, social networks and other digital interruptions rather than moving on with that other task.

The best tools aren’t just tools that automate work for us (although they do help), they also let us do with the work without interruptions. These tools don’t rely on network connections, the Internet or any other digital highway to work. They just work, with or without an Internet connection. A few examples of tools spring to mind. For me tools like, Byword, Marked 2, Vim and Sublime Text are great tools for working offline, but being able to work offline aren’t the biggest selling feature.

As a software engineer I do a lot of reading of manuals, technical and programmming books. I also read a lot of programming language and framework documentation through the day. My memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, so I might refer to the docs for a programming language or framework when I’m writing code. Most of these docs are available online. I’m not always online though. Which is why I love using Dash. It’s a document browser that allows to the documentation of various programming languages and frameworks offline. So whether I’m online or not, I can always be sure to get access to the documentation I need when I’m working.

There’s a huge number of apps now that try to keep us in a state of being permanently connected to the Internet, but it comes at a cost. Being online means being connected, being connected means being distracted and being distracted is how we fail do the work we intended to do. When it comes to being productive, look for tools that work offline. Turn off your wi-fi and get working. It’s surprising how much work you get done.

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For me, web apps still rule

Like most people I’ve spent my fair share of money on apps for the iPad, but recently I’ve found that I’m just not using them that often. The problem is that while I like the apps themselves and chose them for their functionality and their ease of use, the freqeuncy with which I use them just isn’t right. When was the last time I wrote anything with iA Writer? I can’t remember.With web apps though, I’m finding that they are more accessible to me during the day at work and at night when I am at home.

I looked at a number of apps for keeping a journal before I ended up writing Journalong, and the same goes for writing. I managed to write a whole book with 750words.com. The only reason I didn’t use it every day after NaNoWriMo was the fact that the pressure to write 750 words became a bit too much. My journal is for every day thoughts, but typerighter is for taking those thoughts and fleshing out something more fuller and richer.

Web apps like Typerighter and Journalong also work well on my mobile devices. I don’t want separate apps for each device I have.Don’t get me wrong, native apps have their places where they don’t require a web interface. However if a service has a web interface with no need for a native app then I will use that service as it’s web interface is easily accessible from the number of different of platforms and devices I use on a daily basis.UPDATE: Since publishing this, I’ve deleted my Typerighter account in favour of writing using Sublime Text 2. Typerighter is a great product if you need a minimal writing interface, but I’ve started using ST2 for writing as it’s easier to pick up my drafts which are kept in Dropbox.​ Maybe I’ll go back to Typerighter when they let you connect to your Dropbox.

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