Apps I've been using this year

I think the software we use informs how we think. It's important that you use awesome software that makes it easy to get what you want to do done and get out of your way. Here's what I've been using in 2011 so far:

Web apps


I like Quietwrite because it is a dead simple web based text editor that leaves off a lot of the chrome. Emmett and I actually wrote something pretty similar we called Scratchtop a couple years ago, but didn't maintain it and let it expire. With Quietwrite, all you see is a field for your title, and one for your post's body -- as soon as you start typing the header disappears, leaving you to type in peace -- this is critical. I find that I write most of my writing in Quietwrite instead of Textmate (which doesn't sync to web, meaning that I can't finish up posts on other computers) or Google Docs (which is too heavy weight for writing which doesn't require a lot of formatting). Also, Quietwrite has a dead simple sign up process that allows you to start writing before even creating an account.

My one wish: right now the header fades when you start typing, only to reappear when you move the mouse. It should only reappear if you move your mouse to the top of the screen, where the header is, so that you aren't pulled out of the zone if you just want to select some text in your post.




Workflowy is a to do list that lets you get as many levels deep as you want. You can also zoom to different levels, effectively creating multiple to do lists embedded in one big mega list. This is cool - it is incrementally better than Gmail lists, which I was using before, because I can put everything I am thinking about into one big list (personal errands, projects, blog ideas) and easily get between all of those ideas. They even have an awesome export function to allow me to copy and paste those lists into emails (which I do often, to communicate a task list I'd previously brainstormed to a team mate).

My one wish: collaboration on subsections of your list with team mates. I want this because I want to be able to track other people's work if they are responsible for some of the tasks. This doesn't have to be a complicated tracking / ticketing system -- I like the simplicity of just having two states in Workflowy (not done and done).



We've been using PivotalTracker for about a year inside now. For those who haven't heard about it, PivotalTracker is a project management tool for software projects that let's you easily organize tasks around releases. Previously we had used Trac and later Fogbugz. PivotalTracker is best for my needs for one simple reason -- you can keep an ordered list (this feature is surprisingly absent from other similar software). Added benefits include the ability to easily create tickets from the main project view, and very simple at-a-glance tracking of the project (because there is only one main project view).

My one wish: keyboard shortcuts to create new tickets. It would let me enter things so much faster...


Google Docs

Of course, we use Google Docs for most of our documents at JTV. Lighter weight than any desktop software, easy to use from anywhere, and so much easier to search through documents than storing Word docs in a folder. Really needs no introduction from me...

My one wish: Why does Google Docs allow browser zoom if it is going to break the interface? Incredibly irritating as I keep accidentally pinching-to-zoom and as far as I can tell you can't disable this in OSX. That's not really Google's fault, but the effect is horrible as it takes forever to the browser (Chrome) to render the app at the new zoom level, and then you have adjust back and wait again. 


iPhone apps


Love Instagram, a quirky app for sharing photos with vintage filter effects applied to them. However, I find that the killer feature here is that it allows me to share photos on both Facebook and Twitter faster than any other app. Filters were cool but have basically lost their appeal to me.

My one wish: Sharing to both a Facebook account and a Facebook Page at the same time (currently you can only do one or the other).



The breakaway app of 2011 in my opinion. Beluga is amazing at organizing group activities, and it is incredibly viral. You can create a group (called a pod) and add people to it who on the app, or whom you just have a phone number for. Those people then will start getting any message sent to the group (by SMS if they don't have the app, push notification if they do). Beluga makes it incredibly simple to create a group with a bunch of friends and just see if anyone is interested in doing something (I use it to organize pretty much everything from company trips to poker nights). Beluga has literally changed how I plan and find out about social activities; I was actually sad that Facebook bought them last month -- I'm afraid that the acquisition will kill the innovation and active development on the Beluga app.

My one wish: when someone quits your pod it sends everyone in the group a message. When an activity is over, you get a ton of people quitting the group. The messages get annoying after a while.



Obviously you should take this with a grain of salt, as I work on it, but I really love using our new app Socialcam. Socialcam is great because it has changed the way my friends and I use video -- we take actually use it now. Pre-Socialcam, I only took a few videos, and when I wanted to share them I generally just queued it up on my iPhone and handed it to someone. Now, I find it is easier to just take a video and either put it on Twitter / Facebook or send it out via an email (a good tool for making parents feel loved when you are off in Hawaii I've recently discovered). Consequently, I've been taking a lot more video and am excited to share it with friends now, and also to have all this video in the future.

My one wish: I've actually got a lot of improvements I want to see in Socialcam, the first of which is much easier sharing. Don't worry, we're working on it :).



I was trying to find client to post to both Twitter and Facebook and Emmett recommended Hootsuite to me (having actually never used it himself). I downloaded it and it was awesome: simple, allows posting to both, link shortening, and status scheduling. As I've been using social media a lot more recently, I've found Hootsuite to be critical in my efforts. Unfortunately, I have some sort of mental block in saying the name properly -- I always want to pronounce it "hoot-suit."

My one wish: Something went wrong when I tried to add multiple Twitter accounts. It was too much trouble to figure out what, but eventually I'd like to. 


Overall it seems that I generally use web apps for work related writing and organization, and mobile apps for media creation and social activities. I guess that makes sense, as I'm generally behind a computer when working, and on my phone (or at least with my phone) when I'm out and about.