Software and WebApps I Use – After Retirement

As I have gone further into retirement and simplifying my life, I have made many changes to the hardware and Mac software and Web applications that I use.

So what am I using?

Hardware

I use and love my MacBook Pro and don’t use much else. I am interested in a Nook or Flame as an alternative device, but the iPad is out of my price range right now. I no longer have a smart phone – decided that I had better uses of the $80 plus dollars a month for the data plan. So I have simplified my hardware pretty much down to my MacBook Pro and am very happy with it.

Software

I was one of the day 1 adopters of Apple’s Lion – which was a mistake in my view as I look back with 20/20 hindsight. I now wish that I had waited about 3-6 months (or more) before moving to Lion, unfortunately – I didn’t and had to suffer through many of the well-documented issues that Lion had/has and not liking some of the new styles in Mail/Calendar. Yes, it is better now than it was back in June, but…not to the level that Snow Leopard had reached – yet.

I do use Launchpad when I remember it and here are two screenshots that shows the software that is on my Mac. Umm sorry, I meant Mac Apps.

So what do I really use:

Start page:  I alternate between Symbaloo and iGoogle. It just depends upon my mood.

Productivity:  Google’s Mail, Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, Voice, and Reader. They all just do what I want without a lot of fuss and muss. I have Opus Domini on my laptop for when I really need something more than Google’s Tasks for my Todo list.

Office Suite:  Google Apps/Docs are my primary tools for Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Slideshow, and Drawing. Since their change over to the new engine last year, Google has consistently improved them to the point where I don’t have to use much else.  However, they still don’t have offline editing yet (they do have offline viewing of your documents) and that can be annoying if you don’t have an Internet connection 100% of the time.

I use Bean for when I need to work without the Internet and I have Om Writer, just because it is so damn neat of a concept, but don’t really use it all that much.

Google Docs has become my primary PDF viewer and then when I need offline PDF capability, I use Apple’s Preview.

Evernote is my note taking software, the review that I did back in January, is still very accurate, except that my categories have changed considerably since retirement to reflect my new interests.

No I don’t have either Office or iWork on my laptop, I don’t need them. And yes I have both in boxes out in the garage.

If for some reason I stopped using Google’s Productivity and Office suites, I would in all likelihood move over to Zoho and its versions of those programs.  In some ways I like Zoho better than Google’s offerings, but I am pretty embedded into to Google’s structure right now and like the way things are starting to work together.  Based on my past experiences with Zoho, I wouldn’t hesitate to use or recommend them as a Cloud based alternative, if someone didn’t want to be so deeply in bed with Google.

Browser: I switch back and forth between Firefox and Chrome – dependent upon which one is having the least amount of problems and not crashing too much. Right now Firefox 7 has been more stable than Chrome over the past few weeks (Chrome has had too many Ah Snap (crashes), since their last major update and since I “updated” to Lion. Safari is on here because it comes with Lion. While I love Opera…well it has its own issues, I keep hoping that something will happen and it will take off, unfortunately it hasn’t and probably won’t.

Blogging: Blogger – I have a few WordPress.com blogs, but they have been retired to private and my 2 active blogs are both on Blogger. I like most of the changes that they are doing with Blogger, but sometimes it seems as though something works one day and doesn’t the next? However, things are getting better and it will be interesting to see how they do the integration with Google+, because it is coming and it is just a matter of time before Blogger becomes Google Blogs. It would be nice to have tighter integration between Picassa Web and Blogger, you still can’t link photos with Picassa URLs????

Social Media: Google+ and Twitter. Facebook was deleted and even though I do miss it sometimes (for keeping up with everyone that is not on Google+), I don’t miss it enough to re-open my account. Google+ is improving and as it matures it is becoming the central hub of Google’s online experience and tools – I like what I see of it so far and see it becoming my central social media hub. Twitter is great for quick conversation or the #chats, but I wonder how long it will continue to grow?  I am finding that I am using Google+ more than I am Twitter now, except for the chats.

Image Management: Picassa and no I don’t use iPhoto’11 on my Mac, I just don’t like it and have taken it off my Mac completely. Picassa integrates easily with Picassa Web and Google+. I use Picassa Web to backup all of my photos that I take and scan from albums. I plan to finish scanning all of my photo albums, service records and education portfolio this winter and putting them into Picassa Web for storage.That way if something happens to the hard copy I still have the information available to me.

For screen shots I have both Skitch and JingPro (which I pay for) but since I stopped teaching I just use the Apple built-in screen shot software for most everything I need, except for a quick screen annotation, then either of those two work fine. I could probably get rid of one or the other and not notice they are not there anymore. So probably JingPro will be going away next spring when my subscription runs out in May.

eBook Reader: Kindle, I keep forgetting to put Nook back on my Mac, but I haven’t missed my collections there and Kindle works fine for me.

Music: iTunes, but most of the time I listen to music using Pandora or GrooveShark. I am not a fan of iTunes, but for now it is what I used when there is no Internet connections.

Online Storage – Dropbox is almost full and I forget about it most of the time. iCloud looks interesting, but I am not using any of the rest of Apple’s products so I haven’t really tried it out yet.

I have purchased Google’s extra 20gb data plan, in addition to the 7+gb they give you. I use Picassa Web to store my photos about 14gb, but with Google+ now in use, none of my photos count against my online storage, so I have plenty of space on Google. I also believe that their backup protocols are better than mine and plan to put as much stuff up there as I can, just in case something happens to my Mac – I will still have copy of everything and be platform and operating system independent.

Google Fanboy

I admit it, I have become a bit of a Google fanboy as I move further into retirement and the corresponding simplification of my life.  Even though I get a little frustrated with the way they release new or update their tools which sometimes seem to be about 90% complete and then they use the first couple of months of public access as a kind of public beta to keep fixing bugs.  Good examples of this were the change overs to the new Blogger, the new gDocs engine, Reader etc and ongoing with Chrome or so it seems.

It will be interesting to see what Google tools/application survive the next year, when they decide what they need to/are going to focus on and how integrated the Google user experience will become. I still am not crazy about their gray and white branding look for all of their applications, but will deal with it.

The reality is that

my software needs have changed considerably in the last 5 months and basically, I use many of Google’s tools because the price is right, they do what I need to do and are cloud based, so I can access them from any platform that can connect to the Internet. They are making progress on offering off-line versions of the more important tools, which is necessary to ensure we can still have access to our “stuff” if there is no Internet connection, which believe it or not does happen – all too often.

Finally

Surprisingly, even though I used Office – PC and Mac or iWork suites for many years, especially Office, I do not miss them or the other so-called premium tools that I have used in the past.

As my lifestyle continues to be downsized and simplified, the less I need sophisticated tools to do what I need. The software and web apps that I now use are mostly free and uncomplicated, but more than powerful enough to do more than 95% of everything that I want or need to do now.

Those are the tools that I am using in my new life, are there any here that you recommend a different one than I am using? If so why?

What are the tools you are using?