Saturday, 23 May 2015

Vaguely reading and writing-related technology – Jess Vallance

Last month, book blogger and all-round teen marvel LucyPowrie asked me to take part in a Google Hangout as part of her UKYA Day. Sure, I said. No problem. What's a Google Hangout? 

Anyway, it turned out to be quite cool – video conferencing essentially. I do a LOT of conference calls and this was easily one of the least awkward ways of doing it. 

It occurs to me that there are probably lots of useful apps, websites and other tech stuff out there that I've never heard of, so really, what I’d like to do in this post is just ask everyone to tell me all about the useful things I don't know about. But that doesn't really seem in the spirit of blog-posting, so I’ll kick things off with a few tools I find quite handy.

1)      Pocket
This is great as an anti-procrastination tool. You set up an account, then you send any interesting links you find on the internet to your virtual ‘pocket’ so you can come back and read them when you’re waiting for a bus/in bed/not trying to write a book. 

Click on the link in your Twitter feed or wherever, then click Send to Pocket.

2)      Cold Turkey
Another one to help you avoid time-wasting. Cold Turkey lets you block yourself from certain websites for a set period of time.
List the offending sites, then choose how long you want to block them for. 

3)      Feedly
There are lots of blog aggregators out there, but I like this one best. It lets you add all the blogs you regularly read into one place, sorted by subject.
The numbers show you how many new blog posts since you last checked. 

4)      FreeAgent
Unlike the others in this list, this one isn't free but it is well worth the money if you’re self-employed. It lets you keep track of all of your income and outgoings, send invoices, upload bank statements and store your receipt scans in the right places. (NB this screen shot is from the company’s demo site, in case you’re all looking at it and thinking I’m loaded.)

5)      Spritz
This one’s more weird than useful, but I’m adding it just for interest’s sake. 

It’s a bit of technology that aims to help you increase your reading speed by showing you one word at a time at a set rate – the idea being that by keeping your eyes looking in one spot rather than scrolling down a page, you can take in words more quickly. 

It’s quite hard to explain but try it out on the website. I predict that most people here will hate it as it completely ruins the natural rhythm of the text and makes you read every single word, which I don’t think we’d normally do. 

Set your WPM speed, then the words will appear one by one. 

OK, that’s all I've got. Now tell me yours. 

Twitter @jessvallance1


Joan Lennon said...

Pocket sounds like a great idea! I have my own clunky system, but this looks so much better - thanks for flagging it up!

Susan Roebuck said...

I've got Pocket installed and I've sent articles to it to open later. Problem is, I forget and then never read them. Thanks for the other information.

Emma Barnes said...

Freedom. If you've got a mac, then it lets you switch off the internet for a specified amount of time. Not free, but cheap (and invaluable).

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks, Jess. Pocket sounds useful.