Device Independent Applications: To Do List

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We all have to many things to do. It’s difficult to keep track of all the things we often have to do. Many of us she’s calendars to keep track of when things need to be completed, others of us make lists. I personally like to use a to do application that helps me organize my thoughts into things that I need to do in the future. Most platforms have some type of a to do applications available on them. Many come with one built into the device. But since I use many devices, in many platforms, I want to have the ability to be able to have my to do list accessible wherever I’m working. It’s also important to have this list available through a web browser, in case I’m working on a computer that I don’t have an application installed.

I’ve looked and tested many of these applications. The one that I’ve selected for use is called Toodledo. Toodledo is a very powerful to do list that’s available in many platforms that I use every day. The greatest benefit of the application is that I can use it directly from a web browser any time. There’s also an application available for iOS that I use daily. Here are a few things that they say they can do from their website:

  • Organize Your Tasks – Use folders, tags, contexts, subtasks and more to organize, search and sort through your tasks.
  • Improve Your Productivity –  Toodledo’s hotlist, customizable alarms, and sortable online to-do list will help you remember to complete tasks on-time.
  • Go Anywhere –  Get Toodledo on your mobile phone, in your email, on your calendar, integrated directly into your web browser, and more.
  • Collaborate –  Easily work with other people on shared projects with Toodledo’s collaboration tools.
  • Customize – Select fields you want to use and define how you want to view your tasks. Toodledo is incredibly flexible and customizable.
  • Import Your Existing Tasks –  If you already use a task manager, import tasks from many sources.

Some of the other features of Toodledo that I use all the time include the ability to set a date of when a task needs to be accomplished. You can then creates a calendar that I can map into my regular calendar showing me when all of these tasks need to be accomplished. When I go to the application and check off an item ias being done, it removes it from the list and from my calendar too.

While a lot of people may feel that the application on their phone for todo lists is plenty good enough for them, I feel that having a more universal application that I can use from anywhere provides me a great benefit.

Toodledo is free to use. Like most services they provide a premium version that gives you additional features. Take a look at Toodledo and see if using a more universal to do application makes sense for you.

Draw Charts In Your Web Browser Using Lucidchart

lucidEvery so often I have the need to be able to draw a flowchart. It could be a diagram showing connectivity between computer systems, or just the direction and flow of data in the data processing system. While there are many tools that can provide this service, many of them are expensive and are difficult to work with. In another career, I used Visio to be able to do this type task. Visio is a great Microsoft tool that allows you to draw charts. Unfortunately, Visio is not part of the standard office suite, and also does not have a Macintosh counterpart.

I’ve looked at tools to be able to do this on the Mac like OmniGraffle. OmniGraffle is a terrific tool that allows you to do just exactly this. But I’m regretful it’s not inexpensive. They do have a great iPad app but again it is not cheap. I would recommend that if you need to draw charts like this all the time on the Mac, this is definitely the tool to use. But I do this only once in a while. I hate to spend this type of money to only draw a few charts year. While doing some web searching for a tool but might be inexpensive, I ran into Lucidchart.

Lucidchart Is a web-based chart creation tool. It’s functioning features make you believe you’re actually running a full application on your computer or on your iPad. Because it’s completely web-based, it’s cross-platform too. You have the ability to be able to use it on Windows Mac or even on the chrome book. In fact chrome is the main location that they recommend using this application in. You can pay for Lucidchart by the month, or if you’re charging needs are minor you can use their free version that allows for up to 60 objects created for chart. For my needs this basically fits exactly what I need to do.

One thing you’ll find if you give it a try is after using it for a few minutes you’ll believe you’re actually running a full application, not something in a web browser. This application is been implemented so cleanly that I can actually easily drag, move, and change objects on the fly. It also gives you the ability to be able to export to a PDF or even to the Visio chart if you want to move to Visio to finish up your drawing.

If your need to draw flowcharts is simple, I highly recommend you give this application a try. When you sign up, you get to sample the full version for a number of days and then it reverts to the free release.

Device Independent Applications: Notetaking

Evernote Camera Roll 20140302 145628If your fond of using a tablet for many applications, one of the first things you run into is the need to be able to take notes. These days, all operating systems include a note taking application. Whether you’re running iOS, android, Mac, or Windows, each operating system provides its ability to do notetaking. But many people need the ability to have a universal notetaking application that can be used on both computers and on tablet devices. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of these and I have finally settled on the use of Evernote.

Evernote is a notetaking application that can be used in a web browser or on literally any tablet or computer platform available today. On the Mac, Evernote can be downloaded for free from the app store. On iOS it’s also free in the iOS app store. There is also an application for android, windows, and Evernote can also be used directly in a web browser. This ability to use an application cross-platform gives you the ability to move notes back-and-forth from wherever you happen to be working at the time.

I often use my iPad, and Siri to be able to speak my notes into Evernote. Evernote like many applications on the iPad supports this seamlessly. I open up Evernote, create a new note, and then basically just speak the information I need to take notes about. Evernote provides a lot of additional abilities too. You have the ability to be able to import documents directly into Evernote. You can move the text in easily through cut-and-paste, or you can simply embed the document. By embedding the document in an Evernote note, you have the ability to be able to edit that in the native application that created. Evernote also has the ability to be able to insert pictures, charts, graphs, or basically anything that you can think of.

There are also web browser extensions that allow you to select text directly in a web browser and create a new note from that text. It supports embedding Internet links in the note so that they can be clicked on directly and take you to a webpage. You have the ability to embed photos directly from the camera on your device or from your camera roll. Evernote has the ability to use text markup such as bold italic and underline and also create number or bulleted lists. In many ways, it could be a wordprocessor for many people.

You can create and name notebooks which you can move documents into, or create new documents directly in  notebooks that you have. This provides a great ability to be able to organize your notes into subjects that you can retrieve at a later time.

Best of all Evernote provides this service for free. Evernote also provides an inexpensive premium service that gives you the ability to search inside PDF documents, and also Store your notebooks off-line, giving you the ability to be able to use Evernote without an Internet connection.

If you’re tired of the note taking application that’s included in your device, or if you’re looking for something more universal with more features, take a look at Evernote. I believe it’s the best product on the market today and I use it nearly every day I work.

Chromebooks: Not for everyone but possibly for you

ChromebookA recent help call from a friend of mine caused me to rethink my thoughts related to Google’s Chromebook notebooks.  I had an opportunity to look at a chrome book when they first came out, and really wasn’t too impressed. The hardware was a little funky, and the functionality of Google’s chrome operating system was certainly lacking.  But as with many things time chores all and Google’s chrome operating system is beginning to mature.

Today there are basically four chrome book models available. Three very low-cost ones, and one relatively expensive one. Samsung, HP, and Acer have a chrome book notebook. The Acer runs about $200, the HP about $330, and the Samsung runs about $250. For that cost you get a relatively small screen, 11 inch on the Acer and Samsung and 14” on the HP, notebook with some interesting features.  The Acer features a spinning hard drive while the Samsung and HP feature 16 GB solid-state drive.  Interestingly enough, the Samsung looks very much like a MacBook air!   The forth model of chrome book, it’s actually done by Google itself. The chrome book pixel is a very nice laptop featuring a touchscreen hiring processor more storage space and a very elegant case and feature set. It also costs as much as a MacBook Air!  Google also has a Chromebox for those that want desktop capability rather than a laptop for $330.

Many people may ask how you can offer a computer at that price?  Basically, it has to do with the chrome operating system. Chrome is a web-based operating system. You have a Chrome kernel on your machine that is basically nothing more than the chrome web browser. With this browser, you connected all the Google services that are available along with any other service that’s available on the web.  If your computer needs our web centric, basically consisting of web browsing, email, and the occasional note or document, the chrome operating system could be perfect for you.

Early versions of chrome required a network connection at all times to be functional. But Google has made changes to the operating system allowing more and more functionality to be useful even when you do not have an Internet connection. Yeah,  don’t get me wrong, if you don’t have Wi-Fi, these notebooks won’t be very satisfying, but with a fast Wi-Fi connection, and those are available and more and more places, this notebook can do pretty much anything you’ll need to do on a daily basis.

ChromeUsing chrome could require you to make changes to the way to work. If you store documents in the cloud, particularly using Google Drive, it should be no problem for you. These notebooks also have the ability to store documents locally, but some have relatively limited space.  With more and more of the Google services being put together to allow you to do more work in the cloud, a Chromebook becomes more of an interesting possibility.  My limited experience with these tells me that the performance of these devices is very good. They typically have a lower end  processor, but if you keep in mind that all they really do is provide a browser view to the web where everything runs in that browser view, you can see how that would take less processing power.

So someone then may ask who would be a good candidate for one of these Chromebook laptops?  In my consulting service, I run into a lot of people that do nothing more than browse the web get email and deal with an occasional photograph.  Many of these people have high-end Windows or Mac machines to do this small level of task.  They also tend to have difficulties in working with the operating system, because they don’t really get into the operating system often enough to become proficient.  For these users, a Chromebook could be the perfect solution.    Other people are looking for a small device to use when traveling or at the coffee shop and have considered a iPad or tablet but really feel they need a keyboard.  These needs fit right into the Chromebook demographic.

I would certainly not say these devices are for everyone, but if your needs are limited, are normally web-based, and you’re interested to try something a little different, a Chromebook could be a easy and low-cost solution for you. Consider it the next time you making a purchasing decision.