Monday, May 21, 2012

five programs you should start using (if you haven't already)

photo: Raj Lulla Photography (special thanks to Azina*)

If using your computer makes you want to beat your brains out, you aren't using it right. Or your computer sucks.

This post will help you with the first. Email me if you want help with the second.

Here are some programs and websites I use that will make your life infinitely better and your face better looking:
1. Google Chrome
If blog stats are accurate, the majority of you still view this blog on Internet Explorer. Please stop.

Why should you use Google Chrome? It is lightning fast. You can sync your bookmarks to any computer. It is clean, minimal, and sexy, much like myself.

While IE9 is vastly improved, I still think Chrome is the fastest, simplest, and most usable browser out there.  Even my wife likes it.

2. Evernote
I call Evernote my own personal Google. It saves articles, websites, pictures, quotes, and notes for you. You can use it for anything from dissertation research to grocery lists.

It syncs across all of your devices (computer, phone, tablet, etc.), and it is fully searchable. Evernote is good for those times when you're reading a fascinating article and then you hear explosions in your infant daughter's diaper as she sits smiling in the swing across from your perch on the couch - not that I would know anything about that. If you've installed the Evernote web extension for Google Chrome, all you have to do is right click to "clip to Evernote," go deal with the poopocalypse, then come back to your computer and finish reading in Evernote. No more filling your browser with bookmarks or forgetting where you read something.

Just visited their website and noticed that now you can even search text within images on Evernote.  I'm going to have to try this.

Don't fight about money with your spouse anymore. Use

Mint works like many personal accounting softwares, but it does it better and for free. It pulls all of your information from your bank, credit card companies, and even student loans to give you a complete picture of your finances. It is secured with the same level of encryption that your bank uses, and it doesn't actually store any of your financial information.

What sets Mint above the competition though is its completely awesome interactive graphs. I know it sounds boring, but this is what provides marital bliss. Now you can show your wife or husband where your money is going and what changes need to be made. Chart trends over time, plan budgets, or view a realtime meter of how much you have spent in different categories so far this month vs. what you have budgeted. Put it on your phone, and you won't have to call from the store to see if it's okay I buy something (or face a frustrated spouse when you come home).

4. Dropbox
Emailing things to yourself is so 2010.

Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free and increases every time one of your friends joins (from your invitation - I'm almost up to 5GB already).  While Google Drive offers more storage at sign-up, there are concerns that Google may use your files however it wants.  Microsoft Skydrive offers more too, but I've found Dropbox to be much easier to use across multiple devices, users, operating systems, etc.  It just works.

I use it for a job that I work remotely the majority of the time, for sharing photos with family, and for backing up iPhone photos and videos of my darling daughter (it's easier to access on my computer than iCloud in my opinion).

5. Picasa
It might be surprising that an aspiring photographer would still use a free, fairly basic photo program.

I love the way that Picasa organizes pictures, and sometimes I don't need the power of Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop to do a simple crop or lighting adjustment.  In fact, the image at the top of this post was edited on Picasa.

My favorite thing about Picasa is that it incorporates a lot of features from Picnik, which Google acquired in 2010 and has since merged into its products.  Picnik was a great what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor, and it lives on in Picasa.

Facial recognition is cool too, though it is occasionally a little racist (not all Indian people are related) or confused (boys and girls are not the same).  It's a huge help when you're trying to find pictures of someone for a tribute video or just a stroll down memory lane.

What are some of your favorite programs, apps, or websites?  What should I start using?

*Azina gets a partial photo-credit for yelling at me to take the picture of this graffiti in LA before the stoplight changed.  I almost missed it.


  1. Haha thanks for the partial photo credit. :)

    1. You're welcome. You earned it by excellently-timed and perfectly frantic shouting.

  2. I hope your blog statistics register the fact that I'm running Netscape.

    Marc Andreessen rules!

    1. They still make Netscape? (All Time Stats - Netscape, 14 Page Views (<1%))

  3. fabulous demonstration so thanks dude...


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