There was a time when I thought I would die if my computer stopped working. I was 11 and my computing weapon of choice was Windows 95 running on a 486 processor. I used to think I was a graphic designer because I kicked pixel ass in Paint Shop Pro and made terrific business cards for my dad in Print Shop Deluxe. My biggest problem then was finding a way to make sure my “graphics portfolio of utter nonsense” is kept intact. In the 90s, every upgrade meant something will go wrong and you will be required to reformat your disk. That was the ‘in’ thing, so that meant your data is pretty much ‘out’.
It took a while, but we made it into the future and I have less to worry about. External storage comes in terabytes now! No one I know even owns a thumb drive now! I also rock the complete Adobe Creative Suite now, but I also realized that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. Other than adding new adjustment layers and smudging off acne, I don’t have much use for Adobe and its staggering array of creative apparatus. But I guess the important thing here is that if and when the wind of creativity blows in my direction, I have the tools to act on my urges. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about Photoshop as we all know what that mammoth of a software is capable of. I truly believe that it’s the little things that make or break user experience. Enter Evernote, Instapaper, and Dropbox.
If this were a Cosmo interview and my laptop were my make-up kit, I’d say that the following apps are my must-haves. I think the analogy works well here because while our make-up products have travel-size versions, these apps have mobile versions that also fit right in your handbag!
They said that in his century, Hemingway carried what we’d call a Moleskine these days. I carry my iPhone and use Evernote. You know how some people relate to art and say, “this is the window to my soul.” I think of Evernote and say, “that thing has my soul.” I have wish lists, first drafts, favorite lyrics, final drafts, travel itineraries, passwords (I know), and even a stray article on a seemingly implausible sex position. All of those and more are filed in my Evernote account. My favorite thing about this piece of software is how well-integrated it is with other apps and services. You can clip and save pretty much anything from text snippets to full e-mails and webpages. It’s a keeper!
I also love Instapaper because sometimes, I just don’t have enough time on my hands to be able to read every word in a Huffington Post article. Instapaper solves this for me. Just by clicking a bookmarklet, I can send an article over to my Kindle as a document for later viewing. Gone are the days of forgetting to read something despite bookmarking via Delicious. When I’m able to consume information in an appropriate time through a comfortable medium, I’m happy. Twitter’s most recent iOS update now boasts a “Read Later” feature that sends linked articles from tweets straight to your Instapaper inbox. Make sure you check out this magnificent development.
And who hasn’t heard of Dropbox? Show them to me! Dropbox has helped me realize my ambitious dream holding my documents close to my heart at all times. In an age when we change gadgets in the same frequency as we change underwear (read: often), we can’t be burdened by the pains of backing up and restoring our personalized file systems. I had set up my computer such that my documents folder is already Dropbox. You will never find me saying, “oh it’s in my computer at home” unless you’re talking about a photo or an MP3 file. Or I’m lying. I have every document with me (and a plethora of reactionary GIFs) as long as I have my phone.
The cornerstone of all three apps is their syncing capabilities, or what most people fondly call “the cloud.” We have our data tucked comfortably in a remote server, readily accessible whenever we have internet connectivity. These apps are stellar when utilized to their full extent.
What are your must-have apps?
Image via Flickr.