30/30 Productivity App Review

30/30 If you have seen the movie Up you know that the dogs that are in it are well-disciplined except when they see a squirrel. Unfortunately like a lot of people I have a lot of squirrels in my life: email, Facebook, and Twitter just to name some. I have been trying to become more disciplined and more productive by ignoring the squirrels. One of the applications that I have been using lately to help me in this effort is the 30/30 app by Binary Hammer. If you are familiar with the Pomodoro Technique the 30/30 app is built around this technique.

The 30/30 is a very nicely designed application. There is a time indicator at the top and then below a list of task for the day. Once you finish with a task, there is a sound and then the next task begins. You can schedule your whole day, even when it is time for coffee breaks, social media and email. Each Task is divided into 30 minute sections by default, however you can go into the settings and change the time period for any task. You can also adjust the alert sound and change the icon for each task. You can also set up more than one schedule if you need to. You can also have it show you the duration of each task and the time of day. The 30/30 app also sync with iCloud.

I like the 30/30 app, however I think it works best in conjunction with other apps or methods, like full screen mode. I am also still trying to figure out how to stop it from looping automatically back to the start. The biggest problem with an app like 30/30 is that you must have the discipline to use it. I think that a lot of people download it with good intentions, use it for a short period of time and then stop. If you are disciplined and use it I think that the 30/30 app can boost a person’s productivity. It is a free and available in the iTunes store.

PopClip A Productivity Tool for the Mac

PopClip If you use a Mac and want to increase your productivity one of the applications I recommend taking a look at is PopClip. PopClip is like cut and paste on steroid. PopClip is available in the Mac app store and on-line. Once you download and install the application it will appear in your menu bar as a black and white rectangle. Now when you highlight a piece of  text a small menu bar will pop up above the selected text. By default it shows copy or paste, correct spelling on misspelled words, and define selected words. PopClip will also detect links and email addresses and let you open or copy them, and can start a web search for anything you’ve selected.

In default mode PopClip isn’t that exciting its real power are the extensions that are available for it. Some of the extensions that are available are add a note various application including Evernote, Nvalt or Notepad.  Send tweet to not only thru Twitter but also thru other applications such as Tweetbot or Buffer. You can also use it to the send a piece of text to various getting thing done apps like Omnifocus, Things and the Reminder App. PopClip also has other capabilities you can use it to search for a product on Amazon, find a piece of music in Spotify, or search for a video on YouTube. These are just some of the things that you can do using PopClip, the whole list of extensions are available on the PopClip Extension Page. Normally you use the mouse to activate PopClip however there is an Apple Script  you can install to activate it using a keyboard shortcut. PopClip is available in the Mac App store for $4.99. If you want to try it out there is a free trial version available through the website.

Found and Streaming Sleep Timer: Two Apps That Do One Thing Well

Found Sometimes apps that do simple things, or seemingly simple things to the end-user end up being the ones that are the most useful. This week I discovered two such apps, one for the Mac Found and one for the iPhone the  Streaming Music Timer by Fusion Effects. Both do something that I have been looking for a while

I use several different cloud storage options, including Dropbox and Google Drive. This works great and allows me to store up to 7 GB of files for free. The problem comes when I am trying to find a document and I can’t remember which cloud option I used to store it. This is where Found comes in. Found allows you to search Dropbox, Google Drive, your home folder and Google Mail at the same time. Found lives up in your menu bar, to invoke it you simply hit control twice. Then you put in your search term and it searches all four folders. It works well and has saved me a lot of time.



The second application is a iPhone application called the Streaming Music Timer. I like to listen to music when I go to sleep, however I often forget to shut it down. I have been looking for a timer that will work not only with iTunes but also with streaming services such as  Spotify or Pandora. There are some that are supposed to work if you lie your iPhone next to you on your bed. The problem with this method in my mind is I keep picturing  the iPhone falling off the bed on to the hardwood floor. Plus I charge my phone at night and the electrical outlet isn’t close to my bed. So I was looking for something that didn’t require me to put the iPhone on the bed next to me. I finally found it with the Streaming Music Timer. To use the Streaming Music Timer you simply start your favorite music app and then click on Music Timer and set how long you want the music to play and hit the next button and then start. So far it has worked perfectly for the last two nights.

Found is free and available through the Mac app store and Streaming Music Timer is .99 cents and available the iTunes app store. The Streaming Music Timer does have ads. The Streaming Music Timer is an iPhone app but works fine on the iPad. I do recommend downloading and trying both these apps.

Alfred for the Mac

Alfred AppOne type of application that can help you increase your productivity are what people call launcher apps. There are several popular ones for the Mac including Quicksilver, Launchbar and Alfred. I have tried all three, but lately I have been using Alfred. Alfred can be download through the Mac App Store or through the Alfred Web site. I recommend doing it through the Web site, it will make it easier later when you want to purchase the PowerPack and you will want to purchase it.

So what can you do with Alfred. You can launch applications, search the web, find, and open files on your local network quickly and generally speed up your Mac productivity. If you purchase the PowerPack you can save clips, control your iTunes library, start an email and even add attachments all through Alfred using a couple of key strokes. If I want to launch the Twitter application I hit command then space bar which activates Alfred. I then start typing Twitter arrow down to Twitter and then hit enter and Twitter launches. Want to search the Internet, activate Alfred type the search engine you use, then your search term. You can also search the database of Web sites like IMDB and Wikipedia. If you have the PowerPack you can create custom searches. Want to find or open a file on your network activate Alfred type find or open then the file name and hit enter. For this to work with network attached drives you have to add them too your Default Results under the Alfred’s Preferences. If you have the PowerPack you can add even more options by using Apple Scripts, Automator Workflows and Shell Scripts. You can write ones yourself or add ones that are already written. My favorite one allows me to quickly add a task to the task manager Things. These are just some of the actions that you can accomplish with Alfred.

I like Alfred, it does what I need it too. Alfred itself is free. The PowerPack is £12.00 or around $19.00 and it is well worth it. I recommend trying Alfred, I did and I was surprised how much it helped to increase my productivity.

MobileMonitor Presents Monitor2Go & Field Monitor Pro With Keypad Portable 15″ USB Monitors

Lawrence Pensack presents two portable 15.4″ inch USB monitors that are designed to extend the desktop real estate of laptop computers. Monitor²Go, which is available in May, is a USB monitor that sells for $279 dollars.

The Field Monitor Pro With Keypad is available now and sells for $289, includes an integrated numeric keypad. Both monitors are DisplayLink Certified.

It is possible to daisy-chain up to 6 of these monitors for maximum high-performance portable screen real estate. Both units fold up into the shape of standard laptop computers to go into standard laptop bags and weigh about 4 pounds. They are powered with their own power adapters.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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