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Justin Stravarius

I am an Internet Junkie who loves technology and computers more than anything. In whatever little time I can squeeze between my movie and TV show marathons, I write. You can follow me at @stravarius for nerdy outbursts and rants.

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I often proclaim myself to be platform agnostic and as one who doesn’t belong to any popular fanboi groups. In reality though, I have a soft corner to all things Google. I use many of their services even when there is a competent alternative in the offing. I strongly believe that Google is one of those companies that get things right most of the time.

That’s all changed with their announcement of shutting down Google Reader on July 1. It’s not a mass market product that was making money hand over fist for Google, but was used by thousands of vocal advocates of Internet and technology. By shutting it down, Google has unwittingly reinforced the notion that free services from Internet giants aren’t always in the best interest of the users.

I could cry a river about the loss of a faithful companion that brought sanity in this era of information overload, but thankfully, a handful of worthy big name alternatives have emerged in the past couple of weeks. I tried and dumped most of them and finally settled down with AOL Reader.

After the break, I’m gonna tell you how the popular choices – Feedly, Digg Reader, Ino Reader, and more fared in my evaluation and why I went with AOL instead. Read on!
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Jobrary: Resume Management Made Simple

Interviewing for jobs is downright tedious. Depending on whom you ask, the answer will range from boring to annoying. It’s just not the pressure to do better in an interview. Thanks to a lousy economy, these days getting shortlisted for a job in itself is a pain. One has to do a lot of things differently to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Resumes still rule the roost as a critical tool to stand out. And, you can’t have only one version of your resume either. Startups and small companies tend to prefer a one pager rather than the regular one. Enterprises tend to trash any resume that is less than two pages. All in all, it’s a very delicate balancing act that needs maximum attention.

Few web apps have tried their hand at tackling the problem, but there isn’t a clear winner yet. I came across a Jobrary resume even before taking up this app for a review and liked what I saw. Could this one be the winner?
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Azendoo: Combine Your Cloud Tools

With so many project management and team collaboration apps in the market, I’m fast running out of words for the opening paragraphs of my reviews! After three years of watching the web app space closely, it’s easy for me to spot trends from time to time.

These days, each and every individual uses a bunch of cloud apps to communicate, collaborate, share, and store data. Apps that tend to integrate with popular third party solutions to create a productive synergy have a bright and lucrative future ahead.

Azendoo positions itself as one such productivity app that taps into the power of popular cloud apps like Evernote, Dropbox, Box and Google Drive. It’s a useful tool that brings together everything else your business is using for productivity so you can use that data in your projects.
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Storenvy: A Marketplace for Creative Goods

There almost aren’t any barriers to entry into the eCommerce business. Secure and feature rich open source shopping carts, cheap hosting and effortless payment integration have made selling online a piece of cake. Once you have the inventory in place, you are ready to rake in cash as soon as the DNS propagation is done.

Ready to use, hosted storefronts from the likes of Shopify have made getting into online selling far more trivial. When the barriers to entry are virtually nil in a business, its the niche one chooses to operate in and the creative marketing campaigns that’ll decide their success.

Talking about creativity, a creative products marketplace sounds like a better business to be in rather than competing with the big box retailers. There can only be so much discount you can offer on diapers, books and shaving kits right? If that makes sense, you should try your hand at running your own Etsy-style site using Storenvy.

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Volerro: Teamwork Simplified

Collaborating online with a team is still in its infancy. You’ll need to daisy chain a few different apps to get done things with as little friction as possible. There isn’t yet a “one app to rule them all” in sight. When you have to switch back and forth between multiple apps to collaborate, the focus and productivity levels take a hit.

I’m like curious George when it comes to discovering apps. I’m only too happy to try them all as and when they are launched. Except when it comes to team collaboration apps. It’s one vertical that still feels like snake oil and if you remove the branding and fancy copy, almost all of them have the same set of features.

Volerro got my attention with the bold proclamation that it can help users create, refine and distribute content. It’s the creation part that got my attention. No app is better in that aspect except for Google Docs. So, I had to try out this app and benchmark it against the competition.
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Onehub: Securely Organize Files in the Cloud

Cloud has made our lives so easy on many fronts. A secure storage mechanism and robust collaboration options are star attractions of embracing the cloud. What’s disheartening is the fragmentation of services that cloud solutions offer. While Google Drive, Box and Dropbox are big players in the cloud space, they all stand for totally different things.

What one needs to stay productive is a solution that’s a combination of the three. From what I hear, Onehub comes close to what I am looking for. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to take it for a test drive. Care to know about results? Read on!
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Sparkling: Simplify Sales Proposal Creation

Somehow, I am attracted to certain types of apps. When it comes to mobile, it’s the image editing and manipulating genre and in the case of the cloud, it’s the quote generation apps. I have reviewed a handful of them here over the past few months and today, it’s the turn of Sparkling.

In a sales process, it is very common for businesses to haggle over the price and in turn, a quote ends up edited and updated multiple times. There will be customer specific charges and fees as well. So, it’s imperative that the quote creation app is flexible enough to accommodate all the crazy changes.

That’s exactly what I’m going to look for in Sparkling. Join me!
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Between the desktop, web and mobile, there are so many different apps that can help you create and manage tasks. Many of them offer the ability to collaborate with a team as well. So, if a tool is what you are missing in your quest to stay productive, lack of choices is never going to be the problem.

But, every team has its own requirements. Some prefer planning to the boot with every single aspect of the tasks jotted down. Some might prefer to go with a big picture view, focusing mainly on understanding where things stand at any given time. From the looks of it, DropTask appears to be a web app that can help people who prefer to track tasks at a glance. Let’s take a closer look.

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Docracy: The Free Legal Documents Repository

Hardly anything in today’s economy is cheap, especially not legal help. Contracts, business agreements and other standard legal documents are mandatory to close a business transaction, but getting them drawn up is often a costly proposition.

Docracy is an online repository that offers free contracts and other legal documents, socially curated by the communities that use them. The web app is filled with legal documents from reputable, transparent sources and social proof to help you find something as close as possible to the perfect document. Not just the tax forms and stuff you can find on government sites; these documents are those you might otherwise need to pay a lawyer to make for you.

After the jump, we shall learn how to take advantage of this amazing new app!

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Publish Exams Online with Exam Professor

Tests and exams don’t stop at the school or college level. One has to go through multiple rounds of filtration to step into the corporate ladder and a couple of the rounds would include written tests. Even when pursuing a career, it isn’t uncommon for businesses to evaluate the skills of employees by way of administering tests.

Now, with the recent online education revolution with the likes of Skillshare, Udemy etc. tutors need a way to give their students test and evaluate their learning. I could go on explaining the needs to have a flexible online platform that eclipses the cumbersome pen and paper method of evaluation.

Exam Professor is one such web app that allows you to build, embed, and manage your own exams, tests or quizzes quickly and easily. Time to test it out!

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