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My thoughts on the tools for the Thirty Day Challenge ’08, part 2

1 Aug

Yesterday I told you about some of the tools we’re using in the Thirty Day Challenge this year and as my post got a little long-winded, I decided to break it up into 2 parts. So, here’s Part 2!

So, today we’re going to talk about StumbleUpon, YouTube, Google Subscribe and FriendFeed.

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is a tool we used last year as well and if you’re not familiar with it, basically, it’s a social bookmarking sharing site. (That’s a mouthful!) You “stumble” sites you like (or don’t like) and let everyone know what you think. You can share links to just about anywhere and anything. Like most social networks, you can add friends and you have profile page where others can view what you’ve liked/disliked. There’s also a handy toolbar you can install on your browser if you choose. Personally, I find toolbars annoying as hell and only use them sparingly. The one exception, of course, is the 30dc toolbar.

YouTube

If you don’t know what YouTube is by now, I think you’ve been hiding under a rock. 😉 My 3 year old even knows what YouTube is. (He likes to watch Thomas the Tank Engine videos.) For the 30dc, YouTube comes in very handy for a variety of reasons, the major one being that this is where Ed Dale shares all of this seasons training and tidbits. Ed teaches you how to search, subscribe and effectively use this handy site.

Google Subscribe

I’m still a little mystified with this one and don’t really quite it fully. I’m sure by season’s end, I’ll have it down pat, but right now, not so much. According to the pre-season training,

“What it means for you as a 30DC participant is that Ed will be able to help you with your searches on Google. Including opinions reviews, and any relevant info depending on what you’re searching for.”

So, I guess it’s usefulness truly remains to be seen at this point.

FriendFeed

This is another awesome tool. FriendFeed allows you to see what your friends are doing all over the web. Yes, of course, it’s another social media networking site but isn’t that what it’s all about? 😉 There’s just much about it, I can’t even begin to describe it. If you use Twhirl (which I talked about yesterday), you can follow your FriendFeed as well as your Twitter updates. Very cool.

So there you have it. Those are all of the tools we discussed in pre-season. I’m sure there’s more awesomeness coming down the pike, so stay tuned!

And if you’ve figured out the whole Google Subscribe thing, please feel free to tell me all about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

See you again soon,

~ Annie (lsandrsn on the 30dc forum)

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My thoughts on the tools for Thirty Day Challenge ’08

31 Jul

Ed and Dan have introduced some great tools for this years challenge during pre-season and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them so far.

Flock

Flock is a “social media” browser built on the Mozilla engine (the same engine Firefox uses). Part of it’s awesomeness is that *most* firefox extensions will work in Flock. In fact, so far, of all the extensions I use (about 20), I’ve not found one that isn’t compatible. Another great thing about Flock is that a lot of the other tools (like twitter, youtube, facebook, etc) all integrate with the browser which means you can sign in to those accounts automatically. It even integrates with all your Google accounts, including gmail.

One of the coolest things about Flock, is that it makes subscribing to RSS feeds super simple. On any page with a live feed, a little RSS icon will turn orange on your address bar. All you have to do is click that icon and it subscribes to the feed for you. It’ll even remember your favorite feed reader and load it right in.

And the second coolest thing about Flock is the Media Bar. Anytime you land on a page (like flickr, youtube, and the like), that has media like videos and pictures, a bar opens up at the top of the browser window and shows you all of the content on that page. You can subscribe to the content, even! Just like an RSS feed!

Twitter

Twitter is definitely awesome! It’s like a mini conversation hub. You can share thoughts, ideas, links and just about anything else – as long as it’s only 140 characters long. It brings “social” to your desktop and allows you to interact, in real time, with other twitterers all around the world.

Twhirl

I’ve actually been using Twhirl for quite some time (at the prompting of some of my Twitter friends) and at first, I didn’t really like it. But I’ve gotten to where it’s one of those tools I’d rather not be without. Twhirl is simply a desktop client, compatible to both Windows and Mac, that uses Adobe Air as it’s platform and allows you to Twitter from your desktop as opposed to Twitter’s web interface. (You can even use Pownce from Twhirl.) If you Twitter – and you SHOULD – check out Twhirl.

Google Reader

This is one awesome reader! I used to use bloglines and although I liked it, it was lacking function that I found frustrating. I then went to a desktop client for a while until I finally decided to try Google Reader. One of the things I like best is the ability to use what’s called list view. This allows me to see the blog name, the post title and brief snippet of the opening paragraph. It lets me decide if I want to open it up and read it or not. And I’ll tell ya, with over 300 feeds in my reader, it sure makes reading A LOT faster.

And just like gmail, Google Reader has a star system so you can save the ones you like most for easy finding later. It also allows you to organize your feeds by folders. I keep all of my “must reads” in a folder called Favorites and browse it first every day.

You can also set it show only new posts or to show all posts. I love this feature and keep it set on show new that it’s easy to find new stuff and be bogged down by stuff I’ve already read.

If you have the greasemonkey and the stylish extensions installed, you can even view the actual post page form the originating blog. This is great if you want to leave a comment but don’t want to have to go to the blog to actually do it. A very big time saver for me.

Ok . . . this is getting rather long and I’m only half way through the cool tools. So, for your sake, dear reader, I will break this into 2 chunks and post part 2 tomorrow.

~ Annie (lsandrsn on the 30dc forum)

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There’s no charge for awesomeness

28 Jul

The Thirty Day Challenge 2008 has a new tagline – “There’s no charge for awesomeness.” It’s not bad as far as tag lines go, but personally, I think “there’s” should be dropped. 😉 I think in this case, “there’s” is already implied in “no charge for awesomeness.”

“The Thirty Day Challenge – No charge for awesomeness” sounds way cool.

But that’s just my perspective.

Anyway, I can hardly believe it’s already just a matter of days before 30dc 2008 begins – *this* Friday! Wow! Although I’ve kept up with the pre-season stuff, I’m really not ready for it to begin. I mean, we’ve barely just begun having summer around here and August means it’s almost over. That bums me out, quite frankly. Summer with the kids home, the warm weather, fun activities and gardening is just a season I hate seeing come to an end.

If the emails Ed Dale and Dan Raine have been sending out for this years challenge are any indication, 30dc 2008 is going to knock the socks off any previous year, IMHO.

So, other than following pre-season, is there anything you’ve done to get ready for this year?

I decluttered and reorganized my office. Ok . . . well, that’s not entirely true. I *did* truly declutter and reorganize, but not really for the challenge. The fact that I’ll have a nice, clutter-free office this year is just a bonus. I simply got everything in shape because it was driving me nuts! Because my old desk had no drawers, everything was piled on TOP of my desk and it made working difficult at best.

Get ready to fire! (Use <— that link to sign up if you haven’t already.)

~ Annie

Another List of Cool Tools

20 Sep

Many of the tools I’ve shared with you in the past are available on both Windows and Mac machines but today, I’ll be sharing some Mac only programs. I apologize to all you Windows users out there and if I knew of Windows comparable apps, I’d share those. Unfortunately, I don’t. But if you do, please post them in the comments.

StickyWindows. This is a cool little program. It makes the edges of your screen “sticky” – and you “dock” open programs there when you aren’t using them so they’re not taking up space on your desktop. Now, you can basically hide open apps with the dock, but this takes a bit further so they’re open and very easily accessible. I love this program and I use it everyday.

Skim. If you read or use a lot of PDF docs, this app is a must-have. It allows you to make notes, comments, and much more on your PDF’s for future reference. It also has a bookmark feature, snapshots feature and even allows copying and pasting quite easily. Skim is like Preview on steroids.

PTHPasteboard. Where Skim is Preview on steroids, PTHPasteboard is your clipboard on steroids. It will remember 100’s of items you’ve copied and allow you to insert any of them with just a few simple clicks nearly anywhere you want to paste them. I copy and paste A LOT in my writing and design work and this little app speeds up that process so much, it’s not even funny. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy bells and whistles but it powerful nonetheless and like the other tools I share, I use it daily.

So, there you have it! Another segment of the cool tools series. I hope you find these useful. And please do post any Windows apps you use that are similar to these. I’ll be back soon with another Product Creation post, though I am still feeling under the weather so it might be late today or possibly not until tomorrow. We’ll see what the day brings!

~Annie
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Another creating products post is coming soon

17 Sep

Product Creation, part 3 is coming tomorrow!

Just wanted to let you know that tomorrow I will be posting the next piece in the Product Creation series. Also look for some slideshows and/or videos for all 3 modules soon. I want to give you the best chance possible to help you on the road to creating your own products.

So – don’t go anywhere! Look for that tomorrow and perhaps by this weekend, I’ll upload a free report on creating products for you. What do you think?

~Annie
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Overcome Writer’s Block – The Report

17 Sep

After getting several great reviews via comments and emails from readers who enjoyed my Overcome Writer’s Block series that was posted this weekend, I’ve created a downloadable report with all the posts. It’s just a simple report – 11 pages long and I think you’ll enjoy it.

You can download it via the contact form at my other site – Annie Anderson Blog. Just enter your name and email in the form, hit submit and you’ll receive an email within just a few minutes that contains the download link and password.

There’s a special bonus in the report as well. Check it out!

~Annie
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Another Set of Useful Tools

10 Sep

I wasn’t going to post my next in the Useful Tools series until later in the week, but as I’m sitting here brainstorming, I came up with another set of useful tools I use often, if not daily. So, I thought what better time to share them with you than now.

NovaMind. An awesome MindMapping software, available for both Mac and Windows users. The power of this program is amazing! And I’m sure I don’t even know a miniscule portion of what it’s capable of. But it’s awesome and I love it. Until I began using NovaMind, I wrote/drew my MindMaps by hand because nothing worked the way I wanted it to. And if you don’t do MindMapping yet, you owe it to yourself if you’re serious about your business endeavors to give it a try. There’s a GREAT book by the creator of MindMapping, Tony Buzan. Go to Amazon.com and get it, too.

Bluehost. Seems everybody who’s been online for any length of time has a favorite hosting company. And, mine is Bluehost. I’ve been with them for going on 2 years now and I’ve never had an issue. I keep adding domains to my account and it all just keeps running smoothly. It’s about $100 if you pay annually and $10 for new domains. You can even transfer existing domains free.

Adobe Creative Suite. Though CS3 is now on the market, I am currently using CS2 and will probably upgrade here soon. In any case, it’s a suite of Adobe’s best design products and I highly recommend them. I’ve been using them since the early days of PageMaker – which at the time, was produced by a company called Aldus. (Yes, I’ve been around a while in the design market! 😉 ) And yes, CS3 is expensive if you’re looking at it from a financial perspective. At the least, learn to use Adobe Acrobat so you can produce PDF documents that are both Mac and PC friendly as well as Photoshop or Photoshop Express for making your pictures look spectacular. You can buy those 2 products separately from the Suite.

So – those are my best tools for this time. Let me know if there’s something you use every day or regularly that I haven’t mentioned yet. Perhaps I’ll take a look at it. 😉

~Annie (lsandrsn on the forum)
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