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Text

In the past couple of years, my writing workflow has evolved to accommodate my changing habits, which now include working from wherever I am, thanks to my handy smartphone and physical-keyboard-and-tablet combo. I use them to jot down notes at events and conferences, take screenshots to illustrate points and of late, I’ve begun to record voice notes and calls for interviews, which greatly reduces the time I spend preparing content for articles.

There’s just one problem with recorded notes though: you have to convert them into editable text yourself. Transcribing requires you to listen, pause, type, and repeat until you’re done — and I had not come across a way to do this elegantly, until recently when I stumbled upon Transcribe Pro. This clever app combines robust audio playback control and note-taking for a simple web-based solution to your transcription woes. Today I’d like to show you how I get my work done, and how you can get the most out of Transcribe Pro.

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When it comes to saving things from the web, there are a lot of different ways to do this. For me, when it comes to saving articles, I am a huge fan of Pocket for many reasons that I won’t get into here. But, now that I am going back to school, I find that I am having to save a lot more information from the web than I have in a long time. The main reason why I don’t use a service like Pocket or Instapaper for this is because I want a place where I can dump whatever I find into something temporarily. I don’t like to mix up the articles that I want to read or save for later with my snippets of research for my thesis.

I have used Evernote before for this purpose, but then I came along a web app called Dragdis, which takes a different approach to saving things online. Instead of saving articles or texts to a service, it lets you drag and drop what you want to save so that you can come back to it later. It is actually a pretty neat idea and with some help from HTML 5, this is a slick app to use. Let me show you more about what it can do.

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Social bookmarking is still quite popular, even as Delicious and other original bookmarking sites struggle to find their way. There are sites dedicated to bookmarking images, videos, items on your wishlist, and even good old fashioned websites. One thing you don’t typically see being bookmarked is text. We read and share articles on social networks all the time, but sharing special quotes from online articles isn’t something that is typically seen.

Findings is a new social bookmarking site that hopes to change this fact. With Findings, you’re able to highlight, save, and share all of your favorite quotes from whatever you happen to be reading online. After you bookmark a quote, it shows up in the Findings feed where other users can check it out, comment, and add the quote to their personal collections. Keep reading after the jump to learn more about how Findings works and what I thought about it.

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I am a huge fan of moving more toward the web and away from native software. There are a variety of reasons for this, and I have realized the more we start to move away from software and to the web, the more we are going to need tools to edit on the web. I can think of two recent examples of this, where a friend of mine sent me a link to a new blog he is trying to write as well as students sending me essays online. Having tools to edit these pages online would be so helpful.

This is where a tool like Scrible comes in very handy. It is a toolbar that gives you a variety of options to edit webpages, save them, and then send them off. Scrible opens up a lot of possibilities for the web and it gives us the chance to give instant feedback.

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Formatted text. It’s either the best thing to ever happen to the world of computing, or the worst, depending on who you ask. Plain text is the simplest; you can read it on any computer or app, and it looks the exact same. Throw in some markup, whether something simple like Markdown or more complex like HTML or XML, and it’s a bit harder to write and a lot harder to read, but still, very useful if you’re any bit techie.

Rich text is somewhat of a mess, though. As we all know, one of the biggest problems with switching to web apps for Office files is that Microsoft Office formatting doesn’t always carry over correctly. Even basic rich formatting in comment boxes and simpler apps like Evernote often doesn’t copy/paste between apps very nicely.

I’m a plain text fan myself, and that’s one of the big reasons I’ve switched to Simplenote for all of my notes needs. Whenever I need a bit more formatting, I’ll throw in Markdown formatting, convert it HTML for publishing online, and I’m ready to go. I find it very nice to have all of my notes in an accessible format that works everywhere, and can be useful even if Simplenote disappeared tomorrow.

So, we’d like to know: what’s your favorite way to write text? Do you prefer to just write in plain text, or do you want to add a bit of extra style with Markdown or Textile? Or would you rather have a full featured rich text editor? Why? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Raise your hand if you’ve tried to collaborate with others using a wiki. Most people just don’t get it, do they? Wikis, for the most part, are confusing and slow to edit, and are simply too much hassle for small projects. Wikipedia is the biggest wiki success story, but they’re not the panacea for normal business and educational collaborative writing. The market hasn’t been too rewarding to wiki products, either. PBwiki, a business built around hosted wikis, has been rebranded as PBworks and deemphasizes the wiki part of their product, focusing instead on their project manager and intranet social tools. Even the much hyped Google Wave quickly hit the deadpile after consumers found it too confusing.

After trying to use wikis for one too many group project that fizzled out because of poor tools, I set out to find something easier to use than email, copying a Word file back and forth, or the dreaded wiki that no one could figure out. Enter Writeboard. This simple online text editor takes the pain out of collaborative writing, and is as simple to use as Notepad or TextEdit. It’s a solution that almost anyone can instantly understand and start using without any learning curve. Keep reading to see why Writeboard might be the perfect solution when wikis fail.

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There’s tons of options for saving and sharing text snippets, files, etc. on the web. It seems pretty common place that these web apps become overrun with features and options, which make them powerful but also sacrifice the original simplicity some people were originally drawn to.

Write.fm, originally built to help the Task.fm team move code snippets around, is based on simplicity. It’s meant to be a tool in your workflow, not a complete solution that most of us wouldn’t need anyway.

The app is simple, but it’s definitely something you should check out. Read on for info. and screenshots.

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