These are my most-often used, most useful, favorite technologies for 2009. They need not be new in 2009 and they are in no particular order. The old standards of browser (Firefox), mail app (Apple Mail) and MS Office are excluded.
This has replaced Yep as my brain database. My Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scans PDFs directly into Evernote. I also rely heavily on the web clipping (with Readability, see #4) and the iPhone app — which I use frequently to take pictures of business cards. The paid premium gets me all kinds of attachments so I forward emails to the account. And the OCR is fairly decent. The sync feature makes sure I’m up to date at work and at home. Minor quibble: recent update to the Mac client has changed how Evernote handles email forwarding of notes – now an internal system. I prefer the old method of email attachment which allowed me to choose which email address to send from as well as the ability to append signatures. Hopefully they offer the option to use the old system. Three notebooks (Home/Work/Web) keep me organized in a way that I never would have thought possible. My shredder gets plenty of work and neatness is my (ever-unachievable) goal.
Nothing beats Dropbox for syncing files or sharing. It just works. And the backup retention is a nice little lifesaver. The iPhone app is getting better and certainly works in a pinch when you need to email a file to someone and aren’t near a computer. Minor complaints include the stripping of meta data from files — which forced me to drop Yep and move to Evernote — and the lack of group accounts. With 2GB free, there is no reason not to use it. Everyone should at least try it out. Up yourself to the 50GB paid account and start throwing stuff in there. You’ll be amazed at how handy it is.
While cable card may be coming to the end of its short, miserable life, I still rely on my Series 3 Tivos as the household DVRs. Nothing can make me use the craptastic Time Warner Cable DVRs. But Snow Leopard killed Tivo Desktop — never the best program to begin with — and Tivo doesn’t seem in any real hurry to make the update. In the meantime, pyTivoX is just the thing to move video to the Tivos. The app does one thing and does it well. For free it’s hard to ask for more.
An eminently useful script I’ve added to my browser toolbar. Strips all the crap out of web pages and formats them cleanly which makes them perfect for emailing. The combination Readbaility/Evernote script found here allows one button additions of nicely formatted articles directly into Evernote. Go try it. Even without Evernote it is worth the bookmarked script on your bar.
My main camera. The full format 24-70 lens is a beast. Heavy, long, and worth the effort to drag it around. It’ll pair nicely to a full frame digital at some point. In the meantime, the D300 is just the thing for photos. Hard to beat this combination but a medium zoom would be nice. Rumors abound of a fast 50-150 which would fit my shooting style but I’m not holding my breath.
Managing all the log-ins can be a full-time job. One nicely handled by 1Password. Throw in sync ability through Dropbox and the app is just about perfect. Choose one very hard to crack password and let 1Password do the rest. Make long, unique passwords for all your sites and protect your account. The iPhone app makes sure you have remote access to the info when needed. Worth every penny.
A set it and forget backup application built-in to the Apple OS should be used by everyone. I enforce use with all siblings. For those with desktops, buy a 1TB drive, plug in, turn on, and forget about it. For those with laptops, Time Capsule takes care of the chore. Everyone should back up. Dropbox acts somewhat as a backup but all those photos and docs that don’t go into Dropbox get version backups on Time Machine and I know the inevitable call from a sibling about an accidentally deleted file, dead computer, or dropped laptop won’t end in tears. Data loss in inevitable. Time Machine is the best tool for those who can’t seem to do it on their own.
8. Google Apps
Many people confuse Google Apps with google applications. It’s not about search or Picasa but about domain level hosting services. With gmail type accounts, full access to docs, ichat, and all the rest, it can’t be beat as a family solution. It’s free, easy to set up, and so easy to administer. For users it could not be more simple. It’s gmail with their own domain name. Throw in full imap and now exchange abilities and it makes no sense for any family to pay for these services. The paid business version is economical too. Follow the cname editing instructions for your domain register and 20 minutes later, you’re all set. A $10/year domain name becomes a powerful tool. Thanks, Google.
I still can’t get used to Google Reader so my RSS reader of choice is still bloglines. I can read/skim hundreds of sites I’ve subscribed to with my morning coffee. It’s got some quirks and is looking long in the tooth and maybe anyone new to RSS feeds should start out with Google Reader for the excellent integration it offers but I’m a creature of habit. Everyone should have an RSS reader though. If you haven’t tried to use one, do so.
10. SSD Drives
Yes, they’re expensive — the 160GB intel G2 runs around $500 — and the lack of TRIM support has caused some issues but both of those problems are abating and the benefits are worth the trade-offs. Speed, speed, and more speed. Plus less heat, no moving parts to crash, and whisper silent. Nothing like an SSD drive to make an older computer feel new. 2010 should see much lower prices, better TRIM support, and more OEM inclusion. Personally, I’m shocked Apple didn’t add a build-to-order SSD option in the new iMacs. A 256GB SSD in the new 27″ iMac would make it an absolute screamer. Grab a big external for video and archiving and all is perfect. Maybe next year. In the meantime, evaluate your storage needs and consider springing for a SSD. Phenomenal upgrade.
Speaking of next year…things I look forward to: the Apple iTablet (by whatever name it is called), faster home bandwidth, more streaming/download video choices, more full frame digitals from Nikon and some new lenses, and a whole host of crap I didn’t even know I needed. Which is why I would bet that 3 years from now, more than half my Top 10 list above has been relegated to the dust-bin of my life. Such is progress.
Happy New Year