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DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Entries in software (3)

Monday
Jan022012

• 2011's "Best" - My Favorite Books, Movies, TV & Apps

 

Over the course of the last month I've given a lot of thought to the review of my favorite media of 2011 -- not necessarily "THE BEST". No, more like "MY BEST." 

Here is a handy set of links to the four posts in hopes that you might find some useful tips, insights, or recommendations that can enrich your life in 2012. 

 

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

And Happy New Year, Happy 2012.

 

Wednesday
Dec282011

• Apt Apps: My Favorite Software of 2011

The “Appification” of software is undeniable, not only on mobile platforms like iOS and Android, but within web browsers (themselves software), platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) on the desktop (Apple and others sell software directly to consumers), and for the cloud (the ultimate client-server arrangement, or so it would seem if you keep up with the tech blogs). As with many aspects of our digital lives, Apple has created an easy-to-understand moniker with the stupefying success of its App Store. 

By necessity, this review of my year in software is quirkier and more customized than any other of the other year-end lists of favorites (books, television, movies). Some of the products I’m mentioning are, indeed, not even new this year! I make no claims of omniscience: I have not researched every category extensively and test-driven the competition. In other words, I’m no Walter Mossberg or David Pogue.

And yet, I have found in conversations with even my geekiest friends that my software preferences seem to be useful. It’s no wonder, given the sheer tonnage of choice confronting the user – more than half a million in Apple’s App Store alone. We all need a little help from our friends.

I myself have accumulated more than 250 apps for my Apple devices, split between iPhone, iPad and Macintosh, and that doesn’t count miscellaneous widgets and hidden apps that I probably don’t even think of as software. 
So, in no particular order, and with no great sense of “BEST”, I offer you this year-end excursion through my software life. Please comment. I mean it.

Productivity

  • SCRIVENER. Whether it’s reports for clients, articles and blog posts, or episodic fits of fiction-writing, the cornerstone of my productive life remains writing. A couple of years back, fed up with the inscrutably horrible performance of the inexplicably ubiquitous Word from Microsoft (how CAN it be so bad after all these years, I ask you? – cut and paste function doesn’t work half the time) I went on a crusade to find a better writing solution.
  • The result of my search was Scrivener from a small UK developer called Literature and Latte (love that!). This year saw the release of Scrivener 2,2, which is even better, and at $45, a bargain.
  • Among the many lovely features in the app is the ability to “gray out” everything but the document you are working on; the tools that group multiple documents within a project and allow easy reorganization, structuring, outlining, and prep for production. There’s lots more: try it, you’ll like it.
  • TEXT EDIT. When I write quick documents, I avoid Word by using Apple’s TextEdit, which comes bundled with the Mac and is a legacy from the Apple acquisition of NeXT Computer, which also brought Steve Jobs back to Apple (Sorry, couldn’t resist). 
  • EVERNOTE. I discovered Evernote a couple of years back from a tweet by Ann Kirschner, who I worked with when she ran Fathom.com, something to the effect of “how did I manage to function before I discovered Evernote.” She’s right. This darling of the future of cloud-based software makes a LOT of things simpler, simply because it syncs content between my iPhone, iPad and desktop. This is where I keep my running lists (for shopping, books, movies, etc), so they’re always in my pocket. This is where I back up all of my blog posts. This is where I often send (via email) interesting stuff to read later (a small miracle of interoperability, actually). I love Evernote (though, I’m not QUITE so slavish in my devotion to Evernote as Paul Boag, whose post called it “My single most useful application”.)  
  • KEYNOTE. I was in the MacWorld audience in 2006 when Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s Power Point-killer, the elegant Keynote presentation package. But I didn’t start using it until this year, largely because of all the wrong reasons (laziness, for sure, but also the comfort level of knowing how to use PPT, horrible as it is, and the network effect of having so many slides available over time to refashion into this week’s deadline-driven presentation). Why did I wait? Keynote is beautiful, easy to use, and creates much more elegant slides. So long as I’m not wedded to various effects (which are fairly cool), I can also easily share PDF versions with clients who may not use Keynote). I also use the iPad version of Keynote, which is a terrific thing to access on trips, at trade shows, and for one-on-one presentations (not so good with groups). 
  • iTALK. When I started blogging this year I found myself interviewing, both in person and by phone. I no longer own a voice recording device – and I don’t need one with iTalk, a great iPhone/iPad app from Griffin Technology. With an idiot-proof interface and the ability to port audio files to the desktop, the app is everything I need to capture interviews. I also recorded my physical therapy regimen with the device, which I hook up to speakers in my home gym so that I can keep my back in shape. 

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Friday
Nov252011

• Nick's Great Information Friday for 11/25/11

Pardon my turkey, but I guess I'll blame Thanksgiving for a tardy edition of my Friday summary of the best tweets, posts, and quotes from the past week.

THE FUTURE WAS YESTERDAY. This prescient piece in the NY Times looks at web-based predictive software: “The Web has come to reflect the world,” says Christopher Ahlberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Recorded Future. “We can use that to predict things.”

DIGITAL DARWIN: Brilliant biz strategist Brian Solis nails it in this Washington Post post: “Digital Darwinsim and why brands die.” Key quote: “ If organizations cannot recognize opportunities to further compete for attention and relevance, they cannot, by default, create meaningful connections, a desirable brand or drive shareable experiences. The brand, as a result, will lose preference in the face of consumer choice, which may one day lead to its succumbing to digital Darwinism.” 

E-TEXTS: Textbooks aren’t just any books, says Christopher Scheutze in the NY Times, and then explains why  “Textbooks Finally Take a Big Leap to Digital”

900 POUND APPLE: Fear of Apple iTV has manufacturers ‘scrambling’ says the LA Times. “Could any company other than Apple could be leaving its competitors in the dust in an industry it hasn't even entered yet?”

BUNDLE UP: Everyone knows that the cable bundle is a business model that is bound to collapse sooner or later – consumers hate It. Biz observers watch closely for signs of the chinks in cable’s armour, and this rundown on Starz’ options after it exits its Netflix deal may be one.

MPAA VS. TORRENT, AGAIN: The battle lines over piracy have been drawn for many years, with the studios on one side and “information wants to be free” team on the other. This post on TorrentFreak does something different: analyze the potential cost of copyrighted movies using Netflix as value. Not scientific, but interesting.

FUTURE OF TV: I summarized my opening remarks for a Future of Television Panel at Georgia Tech’s Future Media Fest.

WEB SERIES: Bill Robinson urges viewers to take a seat “in the Booth at the End” in a post on HuffPo about the much-loved made-for-broadband series.

DANISH MODERN: The Guardian reports that UK TV is getting more non-English series from other countries, due to the phenom success of Denmark’s THE KILLING, which returns for a second season. I watched season one, thanks to a secret friend, and am jonesing for season two of this most-brilliant police procedural, better than the American adaptation.

ONLINE REPUTATION – can’t live with it, can’t live without, evidently, given the heat and light around social reputation site Klout, like this scorcher from self-described geek Pam Moore, who tells why she has deleted her account. Check out this new reputation site with an even better name: Flout. How about Flaunt? Or Pander?

STATS: YouTube is now serving 3.5 billion videos per day, and that’s 1.5 million more per day than just a year ago. Jeez! A new study reports that one-third of online consumers will use a tablet by 2014.

SOFTWARE WARS: The headline says it all in this CNET post by Rafe Needleman further analyzing mobile content development in the post-Flash era: “HTML5 will kill mobile apps. No, it won’t!” 

SOFTWARE LOVE: You don’t see love-letters to software applications like this one every day, in which web designer Paul Boag sings the praises of Evernote. Since I happen to agree, I gave this tweet a star! Seriously, if you don’t know about Evernote, read this.

TWITTER LOVE: I learned much from this Business Insider post: “Twitter is Quietly Building a Huge Business” – fave quote: “Twitter is the new TV.”

TRANSMEDIA. My coverage of StoryWorld conference – What Transmedia Has to Teach (and to Learn) was published on The Wrap, an online showbiz trade, in case U missed it. Jen Begeal’s coverage of the same event has a decidedly feminist approach, due to the pronounced impact of females on stage and in the audience. Check out: “Where the Transmedia Girls Are”