There’s an old saying “the more things change the more they stay the same” and when it comes to technology where the “next big thing” seems to defy that saying, it comes down to a few basic principals. For years we have heard a steady stream of rhetoric regarding the “endless possibilities ” of our technologies. In fact though, we only need them to do what is required to get our work done. It is true that the possibilities are endless but that can be part of the problem because most people don’t explore those endless possibilities, it’s a little daunting and possibly not fruitful, so people want stuff that works.
I’ve bookmarked an awful lot of those simplify your life, unclutter your life kind of sites this past year and with good reason, beyond the fact that I have a big family. Clutter invades every area of our life and that includes our Computers, Cell Phones, and other electronic gadgets. While we have access to so many good pieces of hardware and software, we simply don’t need all of it. In fact we don’t need most of it. CUT TO THE CHASE: there are too many options and we need a way to simplify our digital life to the essential tools necessary to get work done. To do this we must develop a plan to deal with all the other “infinitely possible and totally cool stuff” that comes our way via ads, email and the web. Before you download it, clip it, snip it or buy it plan how you will use, read or otherwise benefit from it. This of course leads to the larger plan of how you spend your time, energy, money, and so on.
Not the complete list but here are a few picks from 2007 that you might find useful; of course your milage may vary. There are exceptions to every rule and if you are a Macgyver with a geek factor of ten you may well assemble your own kit of parts that will melt silicon for a half mile radius but for us mere mortals my recommendations are in the safe zone.
Apple Inc. – Although not without it’s problems, the company and it’s hardware and software continue to provide the best user experience via OSX 10.4.xx and beyond. Pound for pound they put more points on the board than any other system out there, in my opinion of course.
Photo Editing – Photoshop CS3 and Elements again are both solid and the ones that most people refer to when the subject of photo editing comes up. I’ve tried other editors but they all have their own quirks and tutorials are not as plentiful as with PS. CS3 is expensive but you can get much of the same functionality with PS Elements for about a hundred dollars. If you are looking for tips, how-to’s and training, hop on over to Photoshopusertv.com and that will link you into many good resources for both photography and Photoshop.
Photo Management – Aperture [Apple] or Lightroom [Adobe]. Aperture is a complete suite of tools for managing your photos with an eye mostly to the professional photographer. Lightroom is faster and geared more to the Photo Enthusiast and since it comes from Adobe plays nice with Photoshop for any round trip editing.
Text Editing – There are many good ones and you may find one that suits your style better than another one, however I use Textmate and is apt for just about anything you want to throw at it, from blog posts to coding or websites Textmate is quite extensible and should meet your needs.
Wiki Creation – Creating a wiki in an easy straightforward manner I use Voodoo Pad; funny name but it does what it’s supposed to do, create a wiki. If you aren’t familiar with Wikis then click over to what else, wikipedia.com for all the details.
Google – It’s hard to imagine how much this company has grown and in the areas it has pursued. Beside being the No. 1 search engine the online giant hosts many other services including email all for the price of setting up an account. If you haven’t taken the full tour I suggest you take a closer look; features such as Google Docs and Gmail can be a great tool if you are on the go and not always with your computer.
Graphic Design – Lots of great sites of design nature out there, some broad and meandering and other highly specialized. My favorite, can count on every time to have great content presented in the most clear way is Chuck Green’s ideabook.com His books tips and tutorials reveal the process of design better than anyone I know of.
More Picks of 2007 to come; stay tuned!! Also look for my Macworld Keynote predictions in the next few days.