All posts tagged “tools”

My Must-Have Smartphone Feature

I’ve had my Palm Pre Plus on Verizon for a little over two months now.  It’s been working out really well and I’ve been pleased with the purchase even in the shadow of newer/better/faster phones like iPhone 4 and the barrage of Android-powered devices making their way onto the market.

The main reason I’m so content? The mobile wi-fi hotspot feature.

I use it ALL THE TIME…even more than I thought I would. It seems like the wi-fi has been dropping constantly wherever I choose to set up shop for day. Employees at Caribou Coffee are trained to make delicious coffee, not diagnose wi-fi issues. No worries. Every time the network shows signs of slowing, I fire up the hotspot on my phone, set my MacBook to connect to it, and keep right on working.

I’ve heard that the next release of the Android platform will include support for a mobile wi-fi hotspot. Next to using my phone to actually converse, this is the feature I use the most. It  has really enabled me to live up to the name “AnywhereMan” as I don’t need to be anywhere near a public wi-fi hotspot to get online and get my work done.

I’m not sure if I’ll stick with the Palm family when it comes time to upgrade in a year or two, but one the main features I’ll be looking for in the next device will be the hotspot. Palm’s doing it, Android will be doing it…any guesses on if iPhone will be doing it?

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Making the Most of What You’ve Got

I love creativity and talent. The great thing about both of these characteristics is that while good equipment and the right “stuff” can really enhance them, both can shine through no matter the medium.

Photographer Chase Jarvis has a book and an iPhone app named “The Best Camera,” as in “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” He spends a lot of time actually shooting photos with his iPhone even though he has a full lineup of high-end cameras as well. And the pictures still look great because Chase really knows what he’s doing.

I like to do the same thing with photography (and I am not a photographer). We’ve got a few DSLR cameras but more often than not, I like to walk around with my trusty 7MP Canon Powershot and take pictures of things that interest me. And some of the pictures actually turn out nicely because I’m focused on the actual shot and not so much on the technical aspect.

It’s the same with music: More often than not, I prefer the early albums of my favorite artists over the big-budget, professionally-produced later albums. For example, while I enjoy all of David Gray‘s music, my favorite album is still White Ladder. It’s a super low-budget album but contains some of his best songs.  The content over-rides the fact that he didn’t have access to the “biggest” and the “best.” Artists do more with less.

Often times low-budget, independent films have better storylines than $100 million epic adventures. And some of my favorite videos on Vimeo are those shot with the HD camera that I’ve got: A Canon HV30, consumer video camera that dwarfs in price and features compared to what the pros use, but people are squeezing amazing creativity out of it.

There’s something fulfilling about knowing you are getting every possible ounce of usefulness out of your existing equipment. This is especially relevant to do-it-yourself entrepreneurs and freelancers because we don’t have the budget of a large corporation.

Squeeze everything you can out of your Photoshop CS2 software instead of feeling paralyzed because you don’t have CS5.

Push the boundaries of what you can do with iMovie since you can’t yet afford FinalCut Pro.

Make the most of what you’ve got and focus instead on what you are doing. Take note of the current limitations but don’t dwell on them. Someday you’ll be able to afford bigger and better, but right now you’ve got what you’ve got and what’s important is that you continue to evolve your craft.

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Getting All Your Stuff Done Using TeuxDeux

It’s been a quiet year so far here on AnywhereMan. Quiet on the blog, not-so-quiet in real life; it’s been downright busy. Hence, no time for blogging but lots of time to put into practice the concept I talked about in my last video: “Today I’m going to ____.”

In fact, it’s become “Today I’m going to ____. Tomorrow I’m going to ____. And the day after that…” It’s been really crazy.

Last month Seth Godin talked about a simple, free, and awesome web-based to-do list application called TeuxDeux.  I’ve been using it a ton, and while I don’t keep my entire life’s tasks on there, it’s been great for making sure I get every little project update and client request taken care of. If I happen to not get everything done today, it pushes overdue tasks to the next day and marks them in red. There’s even a space for “someday”/big picture tasks.

It’s actually been a total lifesaver.

So when you get up each morning and tell yourself what you need to get done, add it to your TeuxDeux list and get it off your mind.

Do you already have a daily task management app that you use? Tell us about it!

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How I’m Using Tumblr

tumblr

I signed up for a Tumblr account a few months back and I’m happy to say that I’m finally using that account. If you’re not sure what Tumblr is, I can only describe it as Twitter meets WordPress meets FriendFeed. It’s kind of a blogging platform, but it’s also set up well for short bursts of content. You can also follow other Tumblr users.

It’s not that I didn’t like the platform at first, it’s just that I didn’t know how to fit it into my growing assortment of blogs, feeds, blah blah blah. There are so many places for us to put content on the web in a variety of formats, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted one more in the form of a Tumblr account.

That’s the exact thinking that finally gave me the perfect use for Tumblr: Use it as a central location for all the content I’ve got out on the web. Whether it’s a blog post, video content, a photo, or any other RSS-able piece on content, I’m going to funnel it all through my account. It does a great job of importing feeds and allowing you to post content directly. This post itself will automatically show up there within a few hours of publishing.

I’ll also use Tumblr for quick little tidbits and random pieces of information; the type of content that is too large for a Twitter update and maybe too small for a full blog post. Also, this will be a place where I can post things that are both personal and professional…just kind of an “all things Dave Yankowiak” place to go. Sometimes it gets tricky when you combine business with personal life with faith with hobbies and more, but who cares? I always try to keep a level of transparency as part of my personal brand.

Another super cool feature is the ability to record audio for Tumblr from your phone by simply calling a toll-free number. I’ve played around with the iPhone app as well and it’s really easy to use…much easier than the WordPress app for iPhone.

What’s really nice is that Tumblr let’s you point a custom domain to the account, and I have had my personal domain daveyank.com just pointing at my Lift Development site for the past few years. Now I’ve got a place to point it that will be a central hub for both friends and colleagues to find me.

If you’re on Tumblr, give me a follow and I’ll be sure to follow you back.

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Get There With Google Maps Navigation

This isn’t really relevant to freelancing or teleworking, but as AnywhereMan I love to move around a little bit. I also like to know how to get there.

In a stellar move to further expand the functionality of Google Maps, Google has now released an Android version of Maps that directly works with mobile GPS to give you step by step real-time directions. On top of that, it ties in with Google Search on a voice-activated level.  Essentially, you can say something like “Public library” into your phone and ultimately it will find the nearest public library based on your GPS coordinates, and then give you step by step commands to get there as you drive.  If you are in a Google Street View area, it will even show you exactly what you will see as you are driving.

Is it just me, or is this awesome?!  Motorola Droid is looking better and better every day.

Here’s a video from Google about the Google Maps Navigation app:

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Developing Your Skillset as a Freelancer

Lately I’ve been keeping an “I Am/I Am Not” list in the back of my notebook to help determine the skills and services I want to offer to my client base.  This helps me accomplish a few things:

  1. It helps me narrow down exactly what my business “does”
  2. It helps me determine the things I need to get better at and develop through research, education, and practice
  3. It helps me cope when working on things I don’t necessarily love doing

The primary goal of my list is to figure out how I can spend more time doing the things on the “I Am” list (and get paid for them), and how to spend as little time as possible (if any) doing things on the “I Am Not” list.

There is nothing super-revolutionary about this practice, but it’s just a way to keep my mind from getting too cluttered.

How do you make sure you are doing what you WANT to be doing?

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Keep Up With Your Contacts Using Gist.com

How much do you really know about the people you know?  

 

Gist (www.gist.com) is a brand-spankin’ new app that allows you to import your contacts from several sources such as Gmail, Outlook, LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, and MORE, and then browse fresh news, blog posts, and Twitter updates with content relevant to those contacts.  It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you have the contacts you want set to high-priority, the functionality is priceless.  Think of it as part contact management/CRM, part news aggregator, and part Google Alerts.  

A few of my favorite features:

  • Add new contacts or companies to watch directly
  • Share interesting bits on content on Facebook, Twitter, or through email
  • Set various priority levels so you’re assured of seeing the news relevant to your highest-priority clients
  • Items that you haven’t read are marked as un-read, similar to checking your email
  • Profile tagging to create groups
  • If you import actual email messages, Gist will keep an archive of them

As a freelancer, being able to keep an eye on not only my current clients but potential clients through Gist is priceless.  The more you know about a client and their organization, the more they are going to trust that you will be able to take care of their needs.  You may also find opportunities you might never have noticed before.

One other recommendation with Gist is to make sure you’ve got a profile set up to track yourself.  It’s good to be aware of what content is being pulled that has you or your company’s name in it.  

Also, give Gist more than just a  quick glance. It’s in beta right now and the UI took a little bit of effort for me to learn, but the more you tinker with it, the more you’ll see the potential Gist has to be a major part of successful networking on the web. Check it out at www.gist.com.

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Communicate as a Telework Team Using Yammer

yammer-timeThe Twitter phenomenon has been absorbed into the daily lives of most of us, and as someone who works from home, it has become my “water-cooler” outlet (as I’ve mentioned before). The idea of keeping followers updated on “what’s on your mind” has become a staple of the web today.

Apply this idea to a team of telework professionals all working for the same company but in different locations.  Imagine being able to constantly keep each other updated on what everyone is working on at any point in time.  The public (and spammy) nature of Twitter wouldn’t work well for this.  

Enter Yammer,  the “internal communication platform” (and a great social network for virtual teams).  Here’s a quick description from the Yammer website:

Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: ‘What are you working on?’

As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. Information is never shared with third parties.

In a way, Yammer behaves much like Twitter, but instead takes place within the safety of an organization. In fact, Yammer offers a way to create an org chart for those involved with a particular account.  How does it know who should be in an account? It uses the domain on the member email addresses.

For example, I signed myself up to try out the service. The domain on my email account is liftdevelopment.com.  It then created a central “Liftdevelopment” account, and any other users who sign up with a liftdevelopment.com domain will get added to that group.  

Those that are signed up can then publish their status throughout the day and view statuses of others.  Files can be attached to statuses, messages can be bookmarked, and RSS feeds can be added.  Within a specific account, groups can be created.  Plus, there are desktop, iPhone, and Blackberry versions of Yammer available to take the tools just about anywhere.

Yammer is free, but there are premium paid accounts available that allow you to set up a central admin profile.  Companies with one of these premium accounts can manage users, delete messages and files, export data, remove former employees, etc.

For a one-person company like mine, the functionality of Yammer isn’t something I need. However, for a scattered team of individuals, I can see the collaboration features bringing value to communication and collaboration.  If you fall into this category, be sure to at least check it out as Yammer is getting a growing amount of buzz.

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These are a few of my favorite iPhone apps

Today I share a few of my favorite iPhone apps that I use as part of my freelancing business.  I use the iPod touch and can use most of the iPhone apps that are released since I have a set of earbuds with built-in microphone. Someday Apple and Verizon will be friends and I’ll have the actual iPhone, but I can’t bring myself to switch to AT&T.  

And yes, it is Monday and I do feel as tired as I look in today’s video. I got wayyyyyy too much fresh air this past weekend (which is AWESOME). 

If you are an iPhone/iPod Touch user, what apps are your favorites?


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Quick and easy proofing with FineTuna

FineTunaI posted a link to this app on Twitter today, but wanted to re-post here on AnywhereMan for anyone in the community that needs to send an occasional design or layout proof to clients.  I had to send a two-page flyer proof to a client today and wanted them to be able to make simple markups to it, such as “move this here”, “change this text”, “remove this”, etc.  

Enter FineTuna, a super easy way to send and comment on proofs.  You don’t even need an account.  Simply upload your image file or point to it’s location on the web and you’re all set. You’re proof will be assigned a unique URL that you can simply send to your client (or you can email them from the app itself).  Just bookmark that URL and you can get back to the working proof at any time.  

There’s nothing super complex about the functionality of FineTuna. Just add comments, draw lines, etc, but it works great for a simple review process.  They also offer a plugin for Firefox that allows you to create instant screenshots of the page you’re on and upload direct to FineTune (but it wasn’t working for my version of FF…bummer!).

I thought some of you Anywhere folks would find this useful for remote collaboration processes. Enjoy!

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