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Archive for 2012

Dec 19 2012

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Best Apps to Increase Productivity

Do you wear one or more (or most likely 25+) hats? Between our business, personal, family and other interests and obligations, the number of details that pass through any given day would probably be surprising, much less, countable. Distractions pop up constantly, yet we assume that we can remember to follow through with the important issues of the day. Some days we do better than others in terms of being focused and sticking to our responsibilities. Add a creative and/or entrepreneurial personality to this everyday challenge and chaos, disorganization and procrastination can be unwelcome companions. Add a busy schedule to that combination? Paralysis can come along for the ride.

All of these details and responsibilities, big and small, take up space in our heads. The best way I know of to de-stress from all that information is to do what many productivity experts call a “brain dump”—deposit to-do items into a trusted system, preferably one that has multiple ways to access it in the office as well as on the road. I’m always on the lookout for new apps that will tweak my productivity in a small but meaningful way. Here are some of my favorite apps as we look forward to a super-productive (and busy) 2013.

Project Management
There are so many project management apps, but primarily they are grouped into apps for one or apps for teams. Some team apps can be used effectively by one person. In the past two years, I’ve moved toward a GTD philosophy (Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen) but have made some adjustments to best meet my work needs. Here are some excellent apps:

Todoist (http://todoist.com/): Looks simple, but this is one powerful app. Email and web urls are captured quickly to turn into tasks and achieve “inbox zero.”
Nirvanahq (https://www.nirvanahq.com/): A simple, elegant project management system for GTD.
Producteev (http://www.producteev.com/): Great for one or a team and integrates with gmail.
Wrike (http://www.wrike.com/): A convenient hierarchical folder system good for one or a team.
Basecamp (http://basecamp.com/): A good app to work with clients remotely.
If you want to get obsessive, visit Priacta (http://www.priacta.com/Articles/Comparison_of_GTD_Software.php).

Phone to Text (http://www.phonetag.com/): PhoneTag is a great service which transcribes voicemail messages into text and then emails the transcription to you immediately. This service is invaluable to me personally, first, if my cell phone is not nearby and a call comes in and second, to bypass listening to long phone messages.

Evernote (http://evernote.com/): Most of you are surely aware of Evernote. It’s the perfect reference app and its web clipper feature instantly captures and files websites for client projects or for any purpose, which can be tagged at the time it is captured. Evernote also just came out with a collaboration with Moleskine—a physical notebook where you take manual notes, take a picture of it with the Evernote app, and the notes are then searchable! Evernote’s mobile app has all your information accessible.

Post-It Notes (http://www.post-it.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Post_It/Global/Products/Product-Catalog/?N=6406323&rt=rud):
I’m currently comparing Post-It Notes and Notezilla, two apps that create sticky notes which can serve as reminders on your monitor. I like reminders in different forms and I need them!

Gmail Mobile App (http://www.google.com/mobile/mail) /Google Maps:
If you have not downloaded these apps on your smart phone, do it! They are smart, visually beautiful, have many options the built in phone email client does not have and a delight to use.

Sanebox (https://www.sanebox.com/home): I think it was 15 minutes after I downloaded Sanebox, I felt that I’d use it forever. It does an inexplicably near-perfect job of separating emails into appropriate categories. It places the most important emails in the inbox and all others in categories you specify. Any email can be deferred to the next day, to 2 hours, 15 minutes, to any time span desired and the email will pop back up in the inbox at the designated time.

Email This Page (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/email-this-page-by-google/dbeoemfhkdniadbojeencpkgmobndpai?hl=en): I use this app quite frequently, as it sits in my Chrome toolbar, ready to email a link to myself, a client, a friend or family member. So useful and it saves several steps.

Find My iphone (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/find-my-iphone/id376101648?mt=8): A must-have app which tracks your phone’s location and allows information to be deleted or otherwise protect your data.

Snagit (http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html): Snagit is awesome—It captures any part of a web page, your own pages or images from your hard drive. It files away your captures for future reference but most importantly, it allows notes, arrows and other notations to be placed on the captured page in a professional style. I keep it active as a one click bar at the top of my monitor and use it frequently.

Hootsuite (http://hootsuite.com/):
The best app to manage your multiple social accounts. It makes engaging in social media easy and efficient.

Productivity is where it’s at, especially with all the responsibilities we have. A diverse selection of tools can make the work day better and more efficient. What are your favorite apps? For endless tips on apps, sign up for updates from web appstorm (http://web.appstorm.net/).

Susan Serra

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Dec 13 2012

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An insight about designers

We love Design. Our work is about visualizing the next best space. It isn’t about racking up as much volume as possible. That’s very obvious when you look at the sum of our never realized projects from the past few years.

Love of Design is why we persevere when specifications are incorrect, materials come in damaged or warped, the completion date gets pushed and clients declare bankruptcy. When we are passionate about our clients and our work, we take the nuggets of information we learn from designing the custom wine room that was scrapped or the efficiencies gained when aiming to meet the modest budget of a dreamer.

So we keep designing and hope that our work resonates with our client’s passions and we are thankful when it aligns with budgets, lead times and personalities.

When the destination we create with our Design path is successful, we like to humbly point to it with Pride, but of more importance, it fills our sails and helps us navigate trouble times.


May your Season be bright with Success and your New Year be warm with Joy!


Ann Porter

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Dec 12 2012

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Talk is cheap but it’s still a gift

I just got an iPhone. I know this isn’t earth-shattering news to anyone, and as a previous Blackberry user, the jury’s still out on whether or not I even like it as much. I’m giving myself some time to get used to all the new features, and I tried out my Facetime feature this morning with my sister who lives in Rhode Island. Aside from the fact we both looked astonishingly bad on camera, it was great to chat face to face with her.

I was reminded of a day in 1964 when we were young teenagers, spent at the Worlds Fair in Queens, NY. For those of you who are old enough to remember (and those of you who weren’t even born yet), that particular fair was the talk of the time, and people from all over the world gathered to see the latest and greatest in modern technology. I remember waiting in line for what seemed a very long time to do a Picturephone chat with my sister at the Bell Telephone exhibit. I think we waited at least an hour in line and were then escorted into two separate booths. There was a table with a phone and a conical, modern-looking module right next to it. We were prompted to pick up our separate phones, and low and behold, we were seeing each other on the module as if we were on TV! It was a futuristic experience, and we both marveled at the thought of a day when we would all be wearing stretchy space suits chatting with each other in our Jetson-like houses.

What amazes me more than anything is that we now take this type of technology for granted. I guess it’s because I was around before all of this was even invented, and that I come from an era where technology was more like this:

I love the idea that we can now operate systems in our home remotely—open doors, turn on lights, etc. And that we can be notified when our appliances, which are interfaced with our phones, need service. Certain “apps” can read labels, tell us what paint color is on the wall, and get information about a product instantly. I can video chat with my clients in my office, rather than burn gas or hop a plane for a long-distance meeting. And that saves on energy costs and carbon offsets, which is wonderful, and satisfies my ongoing quest for sustainable solutions in the home. So I don’t want to take any of this for granted, and every day could bring us closer to a smarter, greener planet. I hope we continue to use this amazing resource wisely, and remember that it’s a GIFT, just like a face to face, one-on-one conversation with a real person, which can never replace a smart phone, appliance or car. There’s no “app” for that.

Sending you all the very best of the holiday season, and hope 2013 is a happy, healthy and prosperous year for you and your loved ones.

Patricia Gaylor

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Dec 10 2012

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Kohler’s Moxie comes to the aid of shower singers everywhere

By Alice Liao

Even if you fancy yourself a solid enough singer to belt out your favorite tunes in the shower accappella-style, having a little musical backup only makes the experience that much more fulfilling, especially when your repertoire includes songs in a language that you don’t speak (but I digress).

Sure, devices for playing music in the bathroom abound, but none puts the music so as to allow you to fully lose yourself in both a relaxing shower and, say, BigBang’s hyper-pop “Fantastic Baby.” Kohler’s Moxie showerhead promises to do that.

I say “promise” because I haven’t actually installed it yet, but I have taken the one I was given at a recent press event for a test run in my bathroom.


Let me explain. The showerhead comes with an integrated speaker module that you can sync up to a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device—in my case, a iPod nano. What’s cool for someone like me, who thinks switching out a showerhead is an ordeal (but knows it isn’t), the speaker is detachable and portable.

Plus, the sound quality is pretty decent. How decent? Put it this way, some of the songs sounded richer (like Bad Boy—I could hear the bass more clearly, and yes, I have very adolescent taste when it comes to pop music) than I remembered from listening to them through earphones or on my laptop.

The speaker runs on a lithium battery, which offers seven hours of playtime, and is recharged via a supplied USB cord. It is attached using a strong magnet and includes an on/off button that lights up to indicate operational status. Furthermore, at $199, Moxie makes for a nice gift to a friend or yourself.

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