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Tips and Tools To Ease The Turbulence In Your Workflow

This month’s Carnival of Journalism is hack-your-workflow, otherwise known as tips and tricks. I focus on tools I share with my students, my experiments with my iPad and tools to use with Twitter. (Not in that order!)

Tools For Twitter

Twitter is my primary entry into the real-time web, whether I’m on my laptop, iPad or iPhone. But I don’t use the same tools on each platform.

TweetDeck is my tool of choice on the desktop. Long before Twitter launched lists, I had topic-centered groups (columns) on TweetDeck. I customized the application colors so that it’s dark text on light background, the opposite of the default setting. I use it to schedule tweets. I use it to send tweets from a half-dozen accounts. And I use it to post to Facebook, too.

I was thrilled when I learned Twitter had aquired TweetDeck, because I hope they do what they did with Tweetie, make a good product better. On both the iPhone and iPad, I use the Twitter app. I truly love the iPad app for its display of media (links) and conversation; its functionality has brought me back to (sometimes).

For archiving tweets based on keyword or hashtag, I turn to TwapperKeeper. There is now a limit on the number of archives you can keep for free, and Twitter disabled the download feature, but I still find it very useful. (I have a paid account.)

When I’m trying to get a handle on how someone tweets, I turn to, a Seattle startup. Damon’s (@dacort) tool shows the percentage of @ replies and RTs, average tweets per day (lifetime or by month). TwitterGrader, Klout and TweetCounter are other useful tools. And Topsy is the place to search and see trends.

To back-up my personal tweets, I believe in redundancy. For a few years, I pushed them to a dedicated blog, and I used the blog as a 3×5 card file, with Google as the divining rod, so to speak. Today I use Backupify as well as TweetScan and Damon’s RowFeeder.

Finally, I use Storify to curate tweets and then integrate them into stories. Storify is the best thing since sliced bread! It’s easy to create a story using media from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube coupled with traditional web content.

Tools I Share With Students

Screen Captures : For Mac folks, nothing can top Skitch. Nothing! It’s an easy-to-use tool, accessed by keyboard shortcuts, that also makes annotations a snap. For PC folks, I recommend Jing, but it does not facilitate annotartions.

ScreenCasts : If your screencast is reasonably short, then Screenr is your friend. It’s web-based, which means it works anywhere you have a Net connection. Free, of course. Simple integration with YouTube and designed to partner with your Twitter account. Jing, which is dual system, also does scree casts; so does Quicktime (with the mpeg2 upgrade).

File Conversion : Zamzar. Web-based freemium tool that converts almost anything. I learned this quarter that it will not convert propriatary cellphone audio files. See a YouTube clip you’d like to (legally) use offline? Zamzar to the rescue.

File Sharing and Storage : Dropbox. This is a particularly useful tool for students working on lab projects. No need to tote a USB drive back-and-forth (and forget it upon leaving the lab). Use my invite and we’ll both get an additional 250MB storage… for life.

RSS : At the suggestion of Howard Rheingold, I gave NetVibes a second chance. The first weeks of the quarter, I was unconvinced that it was the best tool to monitor student blog posts. At the end of the quarter, I appreciated the dashboard and the ease of reviewing historic posts. It’s a keeper.

Experimenting With The iPad2

I am on the downhill side of a 365 project (photo a day) which has featured iPhone photos almoat exclusively. I’ve migrated to the iPad for cropping and color correction (PhotoGene), creating a thin black border (CameraBag) and uploading to my WordPress account (FTPonTheGo). I create posts using BlogPress (far superior to the WordPress app, plus it’s multi-lingual). I believe the jury is still out on the touchscreen keyboard, but editing photos by interacting with them with my hands? Not going back voluntarily!

I’ve not yet edited audio or video on the iiPad, but I believe the gesture interface will be natural there, too.

Last but not least: This quarter, I read final papers — doc, docx, rtf, pfd — on the iPad, using DropBox. No other application required. No (I hear you thinking), I could not make margin notes. It’s the end of spring quarter, most students don’t want that much detail! I will use this method for my first read because it forces me to read without a (virtual) pen in hand.


Other tools I love on the Mac: TextWrangler (for notes, for writing style sheets and code), Transmission (P2P), DataRescue (the name says it all), OnyX (a simple GUI for command line file maintenance), Rescue Time (when I really want to know how I’m spending my time at the keyboard) and Gist (amazing contact manager that integrates “the web”).

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad (links to come – I’m on vacation and have been up all night – red-eye to the east coast)

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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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