Monday, February 13, 2012

Website Plugs February 2012

I wanted to give a shoutout to a couple websites that have really helped me in various fields of my life.

The first is a website analysis tool I stumbled on during development last month. It's called The reason I was so attracted to this site over others was their layout and simplicity. I entered my address, a little dial racked up points, and it told me exactly what to do to increase SEO. If you haven't tried it out, give it a whirl and see what you think. The test takes under a minute.

Next up is, a to-do list manager with apps for mobile devices. For awhile before Christmas I was looking for a website like this to manage all my projects and tasks, but hadn't come across anything spectacular. Most other sites were missing a crucial feature or just looked awful. But Astrid was simple, sleek and had everything I needed. Now I use it everyday and it has helped my productivity immensely. I definitely recommend testing it out.

Just for fun I wanted to shoutout I've been using their site for a year or so and love it. Their album reviews are generally spot on and have helped me discover tons of new music. They also track your ratings so you can refer back and listen to great albums you forgot about. The only problem with their site is stability and speed. It seems to be down quite a bit and very slow at times.

Finally I wanted to shoutout my new site that I mentioned above: It's a major work in progress, but something I'm extremely excited about. It's an eSports resource website that will act as a centralized database of eSports knowledge. I have a ton of features I'm working on and will be releasing them over the next few months. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Note: I was not paid or asked to shoutout these sites. I'm doing this entirely on my own because I truly use and enjoy these websites.

Ways I manage my productivity

I'm currently in the process of starting a small business and I wanted to share the different ways I help improve productivity using online tools. I'd also love to hear recommendations from readers for new tools they find useful.

The first and most used tool in my inventory is Google Documents. I use docs for almost everything I write down because it's convenient, easy to use, and is safely backed up on a Google server. It's also attached to a Google account I use other services with like Gmail, Calendar, and Talk so this makes it even more useful.

The next best productivity tool I've discovered is Astrid to-do lists. This website and mobile app allows you to create categories, add tasks, schedule due dates, share them with coworkers, and set their priority. It's simple, easy to use, and best of all keeps me on track. I used this extensively for managing not only project development, but in my personal life as well. Easily one of the best, if not the best, to-do list I've ever used.

Next is duo of productivity tools that work amazing in conjunction with each other: Keepass Password Safe and Dropbox. To set this up, there are a few easy steps:

  1. Register for a Dropbox account and download the installer for your operating system.
  2. Install Dropbox and login with your account.
  3. Install Keepass, create a password database and save it in the Dropbox folder.
  4. Voilà! Your Keepass database should sync to your Dropbox account and any computer with the same login credentials.
This combo between Keepass and Dropbox has been amazing for me. My passwords are safe, in a centralized location, searchable AND backed up online and to other computers automatically. I highly recommend this setup so you can sleep easy at night.

Branching off this same idea, I also wanted to encourage readers to save other important documents there as well. Every night after I complete revisions to my projects I zip and copy them to the Dropbox folder. That way if my laptop was stolen or destroyed, I always have an updated copy of my work online and on my desktop. If you're concerned about the security of these files, you can take additional steps to protect them using TrueCrypt.
I won't go into too much detail here since there are plenty of tutorials online, but using TrueCrypt, you can encrypt files or create "containers" to place files in. This way you can encrypt your work and then back it up to Dropbox. This should definitely put any anxiety to rest.

For the last part I wanted to mention a couple other tools I use here and there. Twitter has been great for not only spreading awareness, but reminding myself of cool websites, ideas, and people. When I tweet, I am often times doing it for myself, just as much as for my followers. They also have the list feature which makes it easy to organize others into meaningful groups to reference later.
Google Calendar is another great application that helps me keep track of upcoming tasks and appointments, but is quickly being replaced with Astrid. Sorry Google!
The last one isn't exactly related to productivity but something I wanted to mention anyways. It's YouTube and their queue/playlist feature. I am involved in the eSports world with my website and part of my job everyday is to follow the community by reading news and watching eSport podcasts and shows. The YouTube playlist feature is awesome for this. I grab the list of shows, hit up their VODs and launch the playlist. Works perfectly and keeps me up-to-date. Now I just wish all these shows used YouTube. Darn you!!!