Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Worthy Tools

Snippet of an AllmyFaves screen.
Easy links to everything you need.
Every so often I feel moved to write about the computer as computer. Or to be more specific, to tell you about something that specifically pleases me about working with a computer. Today is one of those days. And it's not so much working with the computer--what a commonplace subject that would be since half the world works with a computer--as tools I've discovered (or that someone else has and told me about it) for working with the computer. I find the following worthy tools that would have wide application. Perhaps you could use them too.

I don't know about you, but I'm an organization freak. I like to categorize and sort and file. Consequently, there's an underlying order to things on my computer. I use Chrome (from Google) as my browser*, and I have a bunch of folders on my bookmarks bar. This is so I can have various categories such as "Tools," "Google," "News," "Reference," "Search," and several others with a whole bunch of links stuffed in them. That way I can get to them quickly. I also have on that toolbar a link to, which is yet another way to access categorized links. It's one of my essential programs. Links are laid out in some 50+ categories, some that you would have never thought of but you're glad they did. Like: Courier, Compare, Movies, Translation, Pets. Like any decent program it's customizable if you register with them, so you can set up your own AllmyFaves page if you want. This let's you put as many of your own use-all-the-time links right up a the top of the page. Once I put AllmyFaves to work, I was able to simplify my Cool.

A program that my sister just turned me on to is one that immediately became integral to my work on the computer. This program is LastPass, as in the last password you will ever have to remember. For years I have kept a list of my PINs and passwords on an electronic Post-It note. It used to take me several clicks to get to the information I needed. Now that requirement is gone. LastPass is all I need. What it does is securely store all of your sign-in information: passwords, PINs, and form fill-in information in one secure vault. Once the information is in your vault, you can instruct it to fill in this stuff automatically when it's needed. Poof! Done. The program is free and it works on all browsers.

Speaking of Post-It Notes, I recently retired by Post-It notes program with honors. It gave way to a more modern note taking program called Evernote. Evernote is really slick. It lets you save virtually anything to a note: your own stuff (like a list of PINs and passwords), clippings from web pages, photos, research. Best feature is that it works on all your platforms: the Web, your phone, your laptop, etc. Keeps all the info synced everywhere. It will work on any browser, and it's free.

*I'm giving a look, however, to Firefox 4 which just came out. It's really, really fast--faster than Chrome--but may have some deficiencies that would be show-stoppers for me. I'm still looking.
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