Singletasking Tip: Go Off Grid

For the past four days, as far as my social network, email and IM contacts were concerned, I disappeared completely. No, I didn’t unplug all my devices or sit in the dark with my power cut off, or even have to exert any willpower. I simply took a trip, up beyond the range of my cell phone carrier’s data network, to northern Ontario’s cottage country. The cottage my family visits there is not only beyond cell phone range, it also has no cable, no satellite and no local dial-up service available. What better setting for getting some web work done than at a remote location surrounded by nature and devoid of any Internet access?

Quick Picks: Two Must-Have Resources for Designers

It’s been a while since I’ve actively participated in the design game, but recently, when I was doing some work for a friend, I took a look around to see if there were any new tools that would work better and more efficiently than the ones I’ve been using for ages. Because of the nature of the project, I went looking in a couple of specific areas: file-sharing and font resources. My old picks for these services were still around, but they haven’t changed much despite the passing of many intervening years, so I wanted to check out the new kids on the block.

File Sharing

Once upon a time, I used Image Shack for most of my design-related file hosting needs. That was before I had my own server space with which to play. But despite still having private server space, sometimes it’s just easier and faster to use an online file-hosting service, especially if that service is incredibly easy to use. Read More about Quick Picks: Two Must-Have Resources for Designers

Mineful: A Quick Way to Make Those Feedback Forms

mineful3In what could only be seen as a coincidence, I recently stumbled upon a brand-new web app for creating surveys and questionnaires. It’s coincidental because I’d just finished writing an article about how to create a feedback form for freelance workers to use to evaluate the success of a project. In that article, I suggested Adobe PDF forms (adbe) or HTML as possible formats for your feedback survey, but Mineful presents yet another alternative.

Like Wufoo and SurveyMonkey, Mineful provides an easy way to generate online forms and surveys. First things first: Mineful’s interface might turn off some users. It’s meant to resemble a Windows (s msft) desktop. I’m not thrilled about it, either, but the last thing I want to do is throw the baby out with the bath water. So I figured I’d better check out Mineful’s function before I condemn it based on form.

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From Print to Web: Tips for the Transitioning Writer

Thanks to a few lucky opportunities at school, my transition from print to web was a gradual process, and a move that I made voluntarily. That’s not the case for a large number of writers currently making the same transition. The print journalism and publishing industries are in big trouble, with no sign of turning a corner anytime soon. More and more print publications are switching to the web, and finding it hard to deal with the fact that they can’t just move their existing content and keep on doing the same thing, business as usual.

Likewise, writers can’t just keep producing the same kind of content for a different medium. The web, and its readers, demand a different kind of writing, delivered in a different way. It can hard to find the right mix, especially if you’ve spent your entire professional life writing one way, only to be asked to completely change that up. Here are some tips and resources to help get a handle on just what kind of change is required.

BookMooch: Lessons in solving the problem of ‘free.’

All this talk of “free” being the future of business sure has people nervous. Small wonder. You got into the startup thing to make money! But the concept of ‘free’ is hip, and aint’ going away anytime soon. This is creating new and very real burdens for young founders — how do you manage and grow a business built on a model of giving things away for nothing? Well, today I got a bunch of tips on how to make ‘free’ pay, from a serial entrepreneur who is doing it.

I attended the monthly High Tech Lunch in Berkeley, California where the guest speaker was John Buckman, the founder of Lyris and later, Magnatune, both of which are still going. John’s current startup, called BookMooch.com, founded in August 2006, is an exchange site where readers swap books from their home libraries with one another — for free.

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Yahoo Counters Google’s Mobile Onslaught With Voice

yhoo.jpg Yahoo, with the second generation of its oneSearch product, has thrown down the gauntlet in the mobile search wars. Whereas Google employed a clean and easy-to-use interface to win over the desktop space, Yahoo is trying to make gains in the mobile space by taking a different approach: voice.

The more time I spend with my mobile, the more I realize what a godawful pain it is — even with a QWERTY keyboard — to type. Anything that would make the process less time-consuming (and free up my hands) is welcome, and is precisely the reason I use voice services such as Jott and Goog-411.
So using voice (powered by Vlingo) for oneSearch is a compelling proposition.

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