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Signing Off, And What Does A TechCrunch Writer Actually Use?

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This is my last post at TechCrunch as a full time writer (I may yet do the occasional guest post). It’s exactly 12 months to the day since I started writing here and the date seemed like a good time to go. I won’t bore you with a self indulgent retrospective; if you are interested in my reasons and thoughts I did a podcast with my old site The Blog Herald yesterday – listen to here.

We cover some amazing startups here at TechCrunch, and for every service we cover there’s probably a dozen we miss as well, given the hyper-inflated nature of the second great web boom. You can appreciate a service without ever actually going on to use it, but the better ones can change the way you interact with the web or run your working day. I thought as this is my last major post here that I’d share some of the services that I actually use. I started using most of them based on posts at TechCrunch, so if you like these turned out to be my practical standouts in the sea of noise.

Evernote

Evernote has completely changed the way I deal with paper (yes, old fashioned paper). Its been described as everything from a scrap collection through to a bookmarking service, but at its core its a database service with industrial strength OCR capabilities. To use, you can clip data or a link, type a note, add a photo (with support for webcams) or scan info in. Everything added can be tagged and indexed, and is searchable via the text within each document, for example a wine label with no other information becomes searchable by every word on the label itself. I scan every paper bill or letter I receive, allowing me to shred/ dispose of them cutting down on the need to file things manually. More importantly it cuts out the need to have to go through my filing cabinet searching for the bill later. The service has a desktop client and web interface, so you have the security of knowing that your scanned documents always have a local copy, but if you’re at another computer or on the go, you can easily access the same data.

See Erick’s review here.

Things
This isn’t a web application yet, but hopefully one day it will follow Evernote’s lead and offer a web backup/ sync services as well. Things is a clean, simple Getting Things Done client for the Mac that’s helped me overcome my constant cases of email bankruptcy. It takes a little discipline (I process my email at once every morning and add everything requiring follow up to Things), but its been a godsend in terms of information management. Users can add links to emails, webpages, or simply make notes, and you can tag, categorize and set due dates on all entries. They’re currently testing iCal support, so I’m hoping that if this works well I’ll be able to sync the data, via iCal, across various computers.

Skitch
Michael put me on to Skitch initially and I’ve never looked back. Skitch is a Mac image editing tool that also links into web based image hosting. It’s not a Photoshop replacement, but it handles 95% of my own image editing needs. Simple, quick, brilliant.

See Michael’s review here

Plaxo

Plaxo is trying to be many things to many people, from activity streams through to social networking, but its core syncing product has unlocked my data across multiple computers and even my iPhone. Plaxo syncs data from your calendar, address book and elsewhere between computers. It can also pull data from LinkedIn and some Google services. This allows my laptop, desktop and iPhone to be always in sync, and in case of emergency I can get to my address book via the web as well.

TechCrunch coverage here

LinkedIn

I never really appreciated LinkedIn until Plaxo gave me access to the data elsewhere. LinkedIn remains the premium business social networking destination and I find myself regularly using details I’ve pulled from it. I use Facebook as well, but I find LinkedIn provides more value.

TechCrunch coverage here.

Twitter

Twitter is like being married, you love it dearly but some times you want to strangle it. Twitter has transformed my networking in the last 12 months. It served as a conduit to building new relationships in a way that Facebook, FriendFeed and others never will. I can walk into a tech meeting/ conference/ meetup anywhere in Australia now and although I may have never met anyone in the room in person, I’ll know at least one person (usually more) from Twitter; you cant buy that level of contact and its given me friendships and acquittances that could never have come around by any other means. Twitter still has problems ahead: like a complete lack of a business model, but expect Twitter to continue to grow, with somebody (maybe Yahoo, although Biz prefers a Google exit) acquiring the service before December.

TechCrunch coverage here.

Grooveshark

Until recently this would have been Seeqpod, but since reviewing the Grooveshark player I’ve found myself listening to music there regularly. MyPlayList is another service I’ve been using, although not as much. The bonus with Grooveshark is quality: as all songs are uploaded by users (legally) and the quality is usually first rate, where as Seeqpod can be hit and miss sometimes. I want to love Pandora, and I used it for years, but given it’s now georetarded I’m blocked out. Last.fm isn’t bad, but it’s not a team player in terms of the industry and it’s also owned by CBS; I’d rather support the little guy.

There’s probably others as well I’ve forgotten about. One last shout out to 37Signals: I’ve used their services in the past when running a startup and they’re great (I’m not using them today) but their management ethos is a breath of fresh air in a world where people who want balance should (apparently) be working at Starbucks. If I were local and looking for a job, I’d be begging for a look in.

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