Top 11 tools I need more time to play with

by · November 12, 2014

…right now, if we weren’t sandwiched between Expand (and all its hefty post-mortems) and the huge sprawling beast that is CES. Whoa people, it’s November. Movember, to some. That means the holidaze are right around the corner, followed by a whole new year of optimism and hope for the glorious Kum-bay-ah future in which we magically solve climate change, our dwindling fossil fuel supply, poverty, disease, ignorance, sexism, racism, and all the other -isms and ISISes of the world whut need fixing.

See, we’re Fixers. We didn’t mean to sell our souls — it just became too lucrative to avoid doing so. In fact, some might say it’s the price of admission to the Finer Things in Life these days — that’s inflation for you. A requirement in a democratic capitalist society that barely functions as a democracy and over-achieves as a great big skulking capitalist orc slavering cruelly over the next demographic mark: first, poor and middle class people who believed the nice bankers when they told them they too could absolutely afford the American Dream of home ownership, and now it’s our young people we’re mortgaging away to ensure the glorious future of the next crop of Jordan Belforts and Bernie Madoffs.

But enough dwelling on the negative. Let’s think positively about how awesome Expand was, and that theoretically I now get a chance to resume a semi-normal life of passionate workload (CES 2015 is basically tomorrow…) and intense pursuits of hobbies and generalism. As these frabjous days arrive I am looking forward to hazing more time to spend with these tools:

  1. Assembly — one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while: explodes the equity crowdfunding model by using a blockchain-style incentive system to award equity stakes to project contributors for doing “bounties" created by the project leads. Each participant can be a part of building the product according to their talents and availability, and participate in the success of the company materially if/when it gets to the point of producing revenue. As promising as some of the first crop of projects looks, it’s hard to imagine that a huge success story or two or a million could come out of this platform. Hell, freelance coders and marketers and designers and project managers and biz folks of all stripes could eventually pull down a decent side income or even living by building up a big enough portfolio of successful projects. And for folks who start projects, the chances will be even greater since you’ll have the ability to control how much equity you dole out (and you can always take your own Bounties on as well).
  2. Swarmize — Journalists and media makers should be leaning more heavily on data as a source of original content, insight, and market differentiation. Here’s something to help kickstart that.
  3. Import.io — i can barely even begin to imagine all the crazy stuff one could get up to with this amazingly simple and handy tool that turns pretty much any collection of web page data into a spreadsheet/grid
  4. Tree — I love this flexible outlining tool more than I’ve loved others.
  5. webHook — i have enough of a development background to know how awesomely powerful this framework is, and not enough recently to have the time to dig in right now… but soon.
  6. OmniFocus — Can be overkill for task management but if you’re like me and have bazillions of simultaneous projects and “someday/maybe" todos and items, this is a very robust one (i could also could include OmniOutliner and OmniPlan in here too while we’re at it)
  7. Gridcraft — data crunching, nom nom nom! It’s about time we got smarter spreadsheets than that laggard Excel.
  8. Inbox — which Google will totes send me an invite for any second now
  9. Slack — used Campfire for years, now use Hipchat, but love Stewart Butterfield and have kicked the tires enough to know this thing of beauty will go far towards combating the evil scourge of email that still dominates this land with its all-seeing eye
  10. Curio — i used Evernote as a glorified junk drawer for some years before unlocking more of its productivity power and making it a desert island daily use app — but I’m delighted by the very different directions Curio takes the concept of a “Project" in. The format of an Evernote Note (bless its heart) is pretty rigid — and while you can link to files on the desktop or in the cloud, it’s not actually that graceful when it comes to busting loose from the paradigm of a flat rich text playing field. Curio lets you add mind maps, audio, video, actions, Lists, tables, etc. — and the mind mapping component is very easy to use for someone who gets weary of figuring out how to get the super powerful ones to produce anything resembling how my brain thinks.
  11. WordPress — Honestly, when I was bloggin’ for dollahs as a full-time gig for years and years the last thing I really wanted to do in the molecules of time when I could scrape myself away from a keyboard was to keep up my own personal blog. So it languished for a while, though I’ve always had one in some continuous form since 2000… and I finally made it a project to collate all of the various soapboaxes over the years (except Tumblr, which shall remain separate) into a single URL at doctorparadox.net. I’ve missed working with WordPress and installing a gabillion plugins and mucking around in some front end stuff and even occasionally (#afeared!) the Back End with its codey whatsits… here’s to some skunkworks fun on deck!

See also: Interbot, Zapier, Balsamiq, Mention