Uncle Rob's Tech Treasures • 6 November 2011 • The SnowBlog

Uncle Rob's Tech Treasures



So, a lot of people think of me as a bit of a trendsetter*. And when it comes to the technology I use, I'm always getting asked to share my nifty secrets*. That's probably because I tend to be up to date with all that's cool and useful when it comes to web-related tricks and tips*. *not true But (semi-)seriously, here are a couple of things I'm getting lots of benefits from at the moment. First, I recommend using a service like Instapaper. The idea is that you can clip whatever you like from the web for later perusal. Most of the common browsers let you add Instapaper functionality. And you can set it up so that whatever you've clipped is available on whichever machine you want. Clip interesting articles at work and then read them on your phone while traveling home, for instance. For a less useful version of the same thing, you could just synchronise your browser bookmarks between computers, using something like XMarks. Not as handy, but XMarks can synchronise passwords as well as bookmarks. Or you could use the Safari browser which now comes with a 'reading list'. If you happen to use an iPhone or an iPad (and you keep your phone's software up-to-date) then you also have access to that same Safari reading list on those devices. On a side note: I'm also loving Safari's new 'Reader' button: it takes all the clutter out of a web-page and formats it like an article in a book. It even makes the text a sensible size. It's a much easier way to read longer pieces of text, and again it's available on iOS devices as well as Macs and PCs. (There's a plug-in for Firefox called 'Reader' which attempts to do the same thing.) If you want to go one step further with the clipping of articles, you could use Evernote. It too synchronises across multiple platforms (including iPhones and iPads) but it lets you organise your clippings into notes within notebooks, and it has some cool extra features. You can mix clippings with rich text and images, as well as audio and video notes, and goodness knows what else. Plus - and this often seems like magic - you can paste an image into Evernote and it will read any text in the image and include that text in any searches you later run. So, use your iPhone's camera to photograph a restaurant receipt while in the Evernote app and then later, maybe on your home computer, you could search for 'Death by chocolate' and it will bring up the receipt's photo. Neat-o to a spooky extent. And all of those things are available in free versions. Though some, like Evernote, are cool enough that I happily pay for some extra bell-like and whistle-related enhancements. I hope at least some of that is somewhat useful to at least some of you.


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