Here is my list of my favorite, must-have online web services that you may never have heard about before. If you have heard of and/or use any of them, then you are well ahead of the rest of the pack.
These applications/services will improve your productivity, efficiency and security. Granted, these are not all free online services, but they are all excellent value for the money.
1. Livescribe Smartpens
We’ll kick off the list with one of my absolute favorites that is always a conversation-starter wherever and whenever I’m using it, and that gadget is the Livescribe smartpen. It lets you take notes while simultaneously recording the audio present at the time, and syncing up the notes with the audio. You can then simply tap a spot in the notebook to replay the audio at that point in time.
Livescribe also maintains space in the cloud for you to store and even share your notes (or pencasts). There are currently 2 Livescribe models: the Pulse and the newer Echo.
2. Toodledo GTD To-Do List Management
For even greater productivity, you need to first employ a better method of creating, maintaining and tracking your “To Do” list and I can’t recommend enough David Allen’s Getting Things Done book and methodology. While Mr. Allen is perfectly at home using simple sheets of paper and physical folders, there are some really powerful software and Web-based tools to assist you in putting GTD into action.
My current tool of choice is the fantastic and powerful Toodledo which was built with GTD in mind. It lets you break down your tasks into custom lists, contexts and much, much more. It also ties in with numerous other services to give you additional ways to access your list and extend its capabilities.
3. POBox Mail and URL Forwarding and Spam Protection
How often do you find yourself sending out the dreaded “Hey, I just switched ISPs. Here’s my new email address”? Too often to count? If it’s more than every 3 years, I think it’s too much and you’re wasting a lot of your life on managing that process.
The solution is to get an account with mail forwarder pobox.com, and hand out that address instead. You never have to change it and you change your actual e-mail account as many times as you’d like.
4. Evernote Uber-Note-Taking
Capture all of your ideas, inspiration, notes and much more into one place centrally stored in the clouds, and access on any and many devices or platforms: all the way from your computer desktop to your smartphone. Evernote makes it easy to capture scanned pages, handwritten notes, photos and more and even performs character recognition on text in images.
5. Backblaze Unlimited, Automatic Computer Backups to the Cloud
If you’re not backing up the data on your computer, you’re asking for trouble. But even if you are, is that backup sitting right next to your computer? That’s not great either, because god forbid if something happened to your home, you could lose both sets of data.
Instead, or rather in addition to your onsite backup, back up your data to the Web. Backblaze does so for the very affordable sum of $5 per month. And even if you don’t choose Backblaze, there are many other excellent online services for doing so.
6. 1Password Web Password Keyring Software
I’ll end this list with a security product that will simplify your life, save you time and frustration, and make you more secure in the process. 1Password securely stores all of your Web passwords (and others if you’d like) in an encrypted vault on your computer and will automatically log you in with the saved credentials with 1 click. It will even tell you how strong your passwords are. Although 1Password started off as a Mac-only product, it now has versions for Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android and other platforms.
Even if you don’t agree that all 6 of these products make your must-have list, I would still argue that secure password management, offsite backups and a one-stop to-do list manager should be a part of your tech toolbox, and even if you don’t go with my recommendations, I strongly recommend you look for and start using at least those 3 categories of tools today.