Thursday, 24 January 2013

So, what do you actually use ?

Over the past few years I've done a 'what worked' post at the end of the calendar year. As an experiment I thought I'd list what applications I use most and then review it in twelve moths time. 

I nearly wrote software rather than applications, but some of the things I want to mention aren't really software programs – they're applications and often depend on infrastructure hosted elsewhere.

Here goes

  • Dropbox – used mainly to sync files across computers irrespective of file format
  • Libre Office – platform agnostic document editor for off line writing. Often used in conjunction with Dropbox
  • Evernote – used as a notes and document management system (Nixnote is used on Linux to access my evernote files)
  • Wunderlist for 'to do' list management
  • Chrome – browser extraordinaire
  • Gmail – email solution
  • Google docs – fast means to create quick and dirty documents irrespective of platform
  • Windows Live writer – offline blog post creation
  • TextEdit – android text editor for note taking and integrates nicely with evernote and Gemail
  • Microsoft Skydrive – used for document backup
  • Excel Web App – for these occasions when Google Spreadsheets or Libre Office Calc will not do
  • Google reader for rss feed management
  • Twitter for tracking interesting things – rarely for messaging
  • Hosted Wordpress and blogger for blogging, and wikidot for creating structured web pages

The interesting thing is the omissions. For example I use pdf files extensively, but I often view them inside evernote or via the Google Docs viewer – hence no Acrobat, Evince, or Preview. Microsoft Office again is something I use – when I need to create or edit a complex report it's what I turn to as it is simply better than Libre Office, but it's Libre Office I turn to for day to day work.

Most of the applications are multi platform. The two that aren't, Windows Live writer and TextEdit are a reflection that (a) most of my offline blog writing is done on a Windows netbook and (b) most of the note taking I take in meetings is done on an Android tablet.

Otherwise I flit between platforms – the operating system I use has basically become unimportant – I have a Mac and a Linux laptop at work and a Windows pc and an iMac at home plus a couple of netbooks, one linux, one windows, for travelling. It is truly the applications that are important not the operating system. The reason why I use so many operating systems is because of the applications I need to use occasionally – some are not available for some platforms, and some simply don't work as well on some platforms as others.

Looking at the list it's basically a work list. If I was to include receational activities I'd add flickr an picasa. Reading e-books takes place on a dedicated e-book reader – these days usually a kindle. I'm also purposely not counting things like newspaper web apps or weather apps as they're simply an alterantive to using a browser.

I also don't use facebook – I have a facebook account that looks as if it does purely because my twitter feed goes to it, but, believe me, I don't use facebook. The only reason I have an account is because of other things that use facebook's authentication service.

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