My 10 Favorite Tech Things of 2009, Plus a New One

Drill through hole picture

Flickr Creative Commons by Cayusa

My friend, Deepak Ghodke of Tableau Software, asked me what new technology I was using this year.  So Deepak, here are my list of favorites for for 2009.

Most are web applications–the only exception being the excellent shareware text editor WriteMonkey.

1. Evernote:  The jack-of-all-trades of capture tools.  I actually broke-down and purchased a premium license ($45.00/year) having exhausted the 40mb/month of storage that the free edition provides.  Evernote is combination web, desktop and cell phone note capture system–keeping all in sync.  Want to remember a restaurant name or the menu?  Just snap a picture with your phone and sync.  Evernote indexes the text inside images and makes them search able.  Scan and upload your handwritten journals and notes to Evernote making them fully search able and available anywhere.  Don’t miss the invaluable Firefox or Chrome web clipper extensions which make adding to your Evernote files a single-click operation.

2. ReQall:    ReQall allows you to leave voice notes to yourself.  The application converts these to text and will integrate with Evernote.  I don’t use the voice mode often but I love being able to capture quick text notes on my phone.  ReQall syncs your phone notes with the its website.  Standard accounts are free and are acceptably featured.  If you want more advanced features like automatic location recognition, push notification for the iPhone or the ability to add notes via email that will set you back $24.99/year.

3. Ubertwitter:  A very full-featured Twitter client for your cell phone.  Ubertwitter allows you to filter for Tweets in your area only, look at tweeter’s home pages, filter on your DM’s or @ messages or view trending topics.  I also use Ubertwitter to drill into the favorites of the people I follow.  This has yielded many informative websites that I don’t think I would have found any other way.  Freeware.

4. Google Reader (RSS):  While the technorati say that RSS is fading and that social media tools are replacing it, I can’t imagine living without  my RSS reader.  I follow nearly 300 blogs & websites via Google Reader. Most (non-tech) people I know haven’t even heard of RSS and don’t use it.  If your one of those people spend an hour learning how to use Google Reader.  RSS is an efficient way to monitor many sites.  It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s free.

5. Think of Diigo as Delicious but with annotation added.  Highlight text on any web page. Add your own notes. Bookmark sites.  From that point forward any time you go back to that page your notes and highlights will be there. Share your annotations with specific people, groups or keep them private. Free.

6. Zotero:  This Firefox add-in allows you to save detailed bibliographical information for books, websites, papers, pod casts, or other media with a single click of your mouse.  Zotero also provides a very slick facility for embedding the bibliographic material into your writing tool and will do so in many different formats. Free.

7. You Send It:  Have you ever had a really large file that you needed to share that was just too large for email?  You Send It provides a very simple way to send these files. No training required.  The basic process–upload your file to You Send It.  Then, You Send It forwards a message with a download link to the receiver.  Couldn’t be simpler.  Your file size limit is 100MG.  The free version works fine for me.  More fully featured plans start at $9.99/month.

8. DropBox:  A virtual hard disk for holding up to 2GB of personal data on the web for free.  Use Dropbox to transfer files or backup critical documents you create on a borrowed computer.  Dead simple.  DropBox looks like another hard disk on your computer. A simple and efficient way to add flexible storage.  50GB of storage cost $9.99/month.  100GB is $19.99/month.

9. Google Chrome:  The fastest browser in the land, now with extensions.  And, it’s amazing how many neat one’s there are already with more being added daily.  I still use Firefox as my primary browser for leisure but Chrome has become my speedy browser of choice at work.  Free.

10.  WriteMonkey:  This shareware program is the best pure writing tool I’ve discovered in over 10 years.  A simple text editor with a clean interface, WriteMonkey has a surprising feature set just a right-click away. I particularly like old typewriter sound option. It makes you “feel” like a writer.  The program downloads & installs in under 60 seconds.  It has become my primary text editing tool.  Highly recommended.  The author, Iztok Stržinar, accepts donations accepts via Paypal.

11. Dabbleboard: A virtual white board which allows you to collaborate via the web.  I just discovered this tool and have not conducted any web meetings with it. Yet, I feel it is easy enough to use that I may try it out in that context soon.  I also think it’s a great way to create illustrations which can then be embedded in blog posts or emails.  The free version seems very good.  Pro plans start at $8.00/month and offer unlimited private drawings & meetings, SSL/https encrypted access, embedding your own logo and priority support.

What new technology have you discovered this year?  Are you using any of these tools?  How are you using them?

Full Disclosure:  I’m not affiliated with any of the companies or people who created these tools.

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