Trello Tracks Your Projects & Manages Them With Ease

Do you have use for a free project management application that helps you organize your efforts and the efforts of others in an easy to understand format? Check out Trello – a great app billed as a super-simple team workflow and list manager.

Based on the Web so its easily accessible by members of your working team, tasks can be assigned and tracked via a “board.” On the board, users can create “to do” lists, which serve as the point for creating and assigning tasks, updated upon completion.

Cards are tasks. The card is intended to track something that needs to get done. Cards can hold attachments, be embedded with video, be assigned users, include due dates, hold checklists. And because “drag and drop” is so much fun, you can drag and drop board members onto a card and drag cards into the “to do” list. Invite users to the board via email. Receive notifications about board activity so you can keep on top of what is happening. Or ping a user using the Twitter convention of @ in front of their name.

I like the fact that the board updates in realtime so that you can see progress as it happens – when others update the board, lists or cards, you will “see” it happen. With an eye towards organizational use, Trello will also support permissions for users. Or make your board public and show your business’ goals and efforts. It comes in Web app and iOS app flavors, but can be easily manipulated on any devices browser via trello.com. For now is free to use. It uses SSL security.  Add outside content via embed.

I can see dozens of uses for Trello. Use it to plan an event, prepare for a presentation, get a work project done, write a novel, or deal with customers. What a cool tool – thanks Trello!

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Return to Dictation with Quicktate & Evernote

I remember the “good” old days when the alternative to typing was to speak your document into a little microcassette recorder so that your assistant could type it for you. I still encounter folks who prefer dictation to typing up their own stuff, for whatever reason that may be. But don’t you “dictators” long for being in charge of your words from first utterance until final text edit?

Well, from the “do it yourself” bin, you can get all the fun of dictation with quick conversion to editable text on your smartphone or desktop and the convenience of Evernote with Quicktate. Quicktate is a third-party service that allows you to speak your notes either directly into Evernote or as an audio note attached to email to your Evernote account or via a telephone number and receive back simple, searchable text notes. Quicktate uses live audio transcribers to convert voice to text, no matter how small or larger the recording. If Quicktate integration is enabled, Evernote will “notify” Quicktate when an audio recording has been saved and Quicktate retrieves a copy, transcribes the note and sends it back via email and directly back into yoru Evernote account. It currently works for notes created going forward, but they are working on allowing users to transcribe old audio notes as well. Notes tagged with NOQT will not get automatically transcribed. While Quicktate doesn’t save the audio notes, it saves transcripts in your Quicktate account, organized by month. You can even enable Quicktate to transcribe your voicemail messages and return them into Evernote.

Quicktate’s transciption API has been used by services other than Evernote, such as YouMail, TweetCall, Voxie and Voice on the Go.

The service costs – Economy is $4.99 per month and includes 700 words, with each word over costing $.0125 cents. Standard, for $19,99 per month includes 3,000 words with overage costing $.011 per word. There is also a pay as you go option for $.0175 cents per word. Quicktate also offers a free trial so you can see how you like the service.

If you prefer the freedom of dictation but want the convenience of searchable text, Quicktate might be your ticket. Paired with Evernote, you can become a chattering, organizing machine. And, if you are an Evernote fan generally, you may want to check out their Trunk – it is chock full of applications that work with Evernote to make the service more efficient and effective for your particular needs.

How To Deal With Google Search + Your World

A lot has been going down at Google lately. New collapsed privacy policies, which I am covering in my next class at Solo Practice University, and the roll out of the new Google Search, which adds a + Your World layer to the search giant’s core application – search. What does it all mean? What do I do with this? Big questions, but there are answers to be found and it isn’t as overwhelming and life-changing as one may think when one reads the hue and cries over privacy and search integrity overflowing the tech blogs in the wake of the roll out.

You can read more about the details of Google Search + Your World here. Or check out the video below for an overview.

The essential change is that Search +, as it is being called, will include content added by your friends to your search results when you type in a query. You will also see relevant profiles (Google + profiles, that is) in your results view, and you can expand your social connections with profiles related to your search queries. The assumption, or really the sell, is that content on point generated by your contacts will be of greater relevance, value and presumably veracity than results from the larger, impersonal web. Social results will be marked in your results list with a little blue person, so you can distinguish social or Search + results from general results.

What kinds of content will you see from your friends? Photos, Google + content from your Circles, Google profiles and people and pages related to your topic. So not all of the content being served is directly connected – popular Google social content will also show, which presumably is what traditional SEO companies and advocates are squawking about – it will turn Google relevance on its head. The new mantra is fostering a presence on Google+ in order to improve social search results. Facebook and Twitter won’t help you here – Google is clearly favoring its own content, in part because it can and in part because of impediments to mutually beneficial relationships with Facebook and Twitter. Big business at its best here folks.

Google has been moving in this direction for some time, with its introduction of +1’s across the web improving page ranking and integrating social search back many months ago. It is now giving its own social network, Google +, a leg up in the social search results. And why shouldn’t it? Social search is the next big evolution of search on the web and if Google has readily available relevant social content, they would be “mad” not to include it in their results. And, for all of those users afraid of social polluting their search, you can always toggle off the social search function using the buttons at the upper right corner of the search results screen – or not log into your Google account at all when you search.

So, as a content creator, get yourself on Google + and make the best effort of it. You probably already have a Twitter stream and a Facebook page – get that content moving on Google + too. If that sounds daunting, add some tech wizardry with a cross-posting extension like this one here. If you are a content searcher, then you can toggle social on or off, but consider that you are getting more potentially relevant leads and links with social turned on. Search both to compare results – that one extra step might will put you in a better position than searching one or the other alone.

Google + and social are definitely here to stay. Might as well make the best of it.

 

 

RFP Attorney: An Online Attorney Marketplace

Another option for attorneys to display expertise and connect with potential clients? Another site for potential clients to search and vet attorneys based on knowledge and content? RFP Attorney seeks to meet both needs. The site offers a marketplace with optimal search capabilities and flexible content options, ideally offering attorneys and clients a better means of connecting with each other. RFP promises to maintain a state of the art site on which attorneys can collect and showcase vital information through the creation of a Presence, which includes vital contact information, an About Me with background, experience, unique qualifications and personal statement, Case Studies or your example cases including actual briefs or key links, Thought Leadership which collects articles, newsletters, presentations, links, etc., a place to link your blog posts, your Twitter feed, real world Events you are appearing at and where potential clients can meet you in person, and Services – provide information on the legal services you offer, including optional Flat-Fee Solutions. This latter concept is a means offered by RFP for attorneys to offer unbundled legal services through their platform. Presence is not structured around an area law, but rather industries and services the attorney serves and provides, presumably making it easier for potential clients to find what they are looking for. Attorneys can share their Presence on other social platforms as well – improving visibility through more established sites. RFP also promises to boost your visibility on the web through its back-end and search friendly features.

I like the “Verify Me” button – this allows clients a quick link to the applicable bar association for each attorney, allowing potential clients to perform a quick search to determine whether the attorney is in good standing.

For potential clients, RFP offers a variety of tools to search, track and manage relationships. Potential clients can use Quick Search which asks two questions – where do you need the attorney and what your needs are – and returns responses. There are filters on the result page that allows you to further refine the return. Clients can submit requests for proposals for legal services through the site and the tools make it easy for clients to complete the request. Submitting requests after the first will incur a charge, which is one of the means by which RFP monetizes. Attorneys can accept or decline the request. Prices break down as follows:

For Attorneys: Signing up is free and creation of the first Presence is free (you can have more than one). If you wish to showcase additional areas of knowledge, add a second Presence for only $19.99 per month, and each additional Presence after that is $9.99 per month.

Each client lead an attorney accepts costs $1.99. Discounts are available: 5 for $1.59 each and 10 for $0.99 each. Responding to an RFP received costs $9.99. Discounts are also available: 5 for $7.99 each and 10 for $4.99 each.

For Clients: Signing up is free. Searching for attorneys and reviewing their content is free. Sending a contact request is free. If you choose to run an RFP, the first one is free. If you are a legal department, business, or individual with several areas of legal needs, you can run additional RFPs for $29.99 each. Discounts of 5 for $19.99 each are available as well.

I am not sure how the charge arrangements comport with referral / fee sharing rules – we will have to see how hat all falls out.

If the site works as well as it promises and it’s fee structure compliant, this could be a cost effective means of tailoring attorney marketing and fine-tuning attorney search. I am interested in seeing reviews on the RFP Attorney process as people kick the tires.

Revolutionizing Mobile Search with DoAT's Everything

DoAT, a mobile search startup that launched last spring at Techcrunch Disrupt, has taken the adage “out with the old, in with the new” in the New Year to heart. With a brand new mobile-optimized web app, DoAT promises that its new iteration, found at the site everything.me, will offer you everything on every topic imaginable in a very easy to use format. I have been playing around with the app and like it enough to offer it a spot on my home screen.

You can try it out on your computer or your mobile device, but it really shines on the latter. When you navigate to it, you are greeted with an attractive splash page showing a search box and trending searches. DoAT clearly recognizes that we lead with our eyes – the layout is really gorgeous. Click on shortcuts and see a list of popular categories. Drill down further and you will get to the real jewel of the service – mini web apps within everything.me for the most popular sources and search engines related to your search topic. When you click on this sub-apps, you will get information tied to your original search within the selected sources. The sources appear to change based on the search you run. And, when you click on an app like Twitter, for example, you will not only get tweets related to your search, but also Twitter accounts that tweet about your topic so that you can follow for future on point updates.

I can’t overstate the attractivenes of the app – DoAT has really done a nice job laying out the functionality. I was a fan of the original DoAT which promised a search experience on the mobile phone that gave homage to the apps that make such phones so useful and attractive. They are really making it happen with everything.me.

If you are a mobile search devotee, please check out DoAT and check back in here with your comments. This is a really cool interface and I believe it heralds the future of pocket computing.

Need An Elevator Pitch?

Stymied by the prospect of condensing your amazing idea, your raison d’etre, your invaluable services or the reason why someone should pay attention to you or your business into one compelling minute? Harvard Business School has the web app for you with the HBS Elevator Pitch Builder. Enter the app and get prompts for “who”, “what”, “why” and “goal.” In each section, you are given a number of words relevant to the section and designed to catalyze your point. There is also a “tip” link to help you if you find that you are still stuck. Because of my curious nature, I of course had to try this out. Under the “who”, I wrote:

I am a creative, original thinker, authoritative in my field and responsive to customer need.

The “what” boils down to your “tag line” – or, as the MBA’s put it, “your value phrased as key results or impact.” I wrote:

Effective decisions, deeper analysis and pointed research, brought to you in half the time.

The “why” asks for what differentiates you and makes you better. I had to think about this one for a little bit. Eventually, I wrote:

Having spent my entire career researching and writing, leveraging technology, and employing creative methods to improve productivity without sacrificing quality, I offer a unique combination of expertise and efficiency.

Then, I had to state my goals. Making more money than Bill Gates didn’t seem a realistic option and my intent was to come up with a useful elevator pitch, should I ever find myself in need of one. But I didn’t have an immediate goal in mind. So I simply wrote:

I am looking to step up to the next level.

O.k. I know. Not very impactful. And the HBS geniuses caught on – this is what they had to say.

Avoid jargon, business-speak or trendy buzz words. Your audience has set through all those boring meetings, has attended those seminars, has read those books. You want to be memorable and that means using your own voice.

The analysis gave me word count, number of repeated words and elapsed time. I still had about 45 seconds to work in my own voice. It gave me average stats, so I could compare. I could email or print my pitch, or edit the pitch to tighten it up.

A pretty cool little tool for making you think about the meaning of life. Thanks Harvard.

Stop! It's Gadget Time!

 

We are right at the start of CES, the consumer electronics show, where all the big and small manufacturers of tech toys trot out some of the stuff they are working on in order to get the tech press all excited. Being that this is a tech blog and that I do have a keen fondness for electronic whiz-bangs, I felt I should at least make a mention that the show is going on and point out a few of the cool things that have been unveiled thus far.

First up, my personal favorite non-Apple computer manufacturer: Lenovo. They have been very busy developing a couple of new tablets, a smartphone and, get this, an Android 4.0 Smart TV. How cool is that? It’s a whopper at 55 inches. The Idea Tab S2 10 10-inch tablet is very light and thin at 1.1 pounds and docks with a keyboard, making it look a bit like a MacBook Air.

My favorite camera manufacturer right now, Fuji, has an exciting new addition to its Finepix X- line – the X-Pro1, which apparently is mirrorless, but sports the same cool retro looks as the X-10 and X-100.

And the affordable tablet for kids, targeted at poorer communities around the world, is finally making its tangible debut. The OLPC XO 3.0 tablet will be $100. It’s rugged and can be charged with a hand crank or a solar panel. One minute of cranking gives you ten minutes of run time. I would love that on my iPad! But you won’t be able to buy one: the XO 3.0, like the XO laptops, won’t be sold directly to consumers or parents. OLPC will sell the tablets in bulk to countries who want to ensure their children have computers, and won’t produce units until orders come in.

Along the same green power lines is a solar powered Kindle cover called SolarKindle. Seems an obvious must have for beach reading. And, it even gives you a built in book light!

Many of these products are available now (in other countries) or coming soon, so hopefully the wait won’t be too long. And there is still more CES to go, so who knows what fun stuff is yet to be revealed. I’ll be watching for the shiny.

Does Insync Have Dropbox On The Run?

Have you heard about this new player in the cheap cloud storage / sync field called Insync? You might want to take a look at it, particularly if you are a fan or user of Google Docs. Insync, which has been in closed beta for more than a year, has now opened its doors to the general public with a claimed better feature set and lower cost (through Google storage) than Dropbox. Insync is trying to differentiate from Dropbox with more granularity and control over sharing and organizing files and its cost structure (free, with Google providing the paid storage in the background). Unlike Dropbox, you can set sharing conditions with read only or read write access and can revoke sharing permissions without moving or deleting the shared file entirely. You can share all or part of a folder structure and specify whether or not those you share with can reshare. You can tie multiple Google accounts to an Insync account too – which is GREAT for me and my many Google accounts. And, although the storage is via Google Docs, Insync doesn’t limit you to the supported Google Docs file types – you are only limited by the amount of storage you purchase from Google which is pretty darn cheap – $5 per year for 20 GB and just over $4,000 for 16 TB and by the 10GB per file size limit. Sign up is incredibly easy – just connect your Google account, download the local program, and link your machines to your Insync account.

Downside? No mobile apps yet. I have seen some complaints on Mac fora to the effect that it duplicates files with multiple labels, making organization difficult. However, at the price point, a little extra organization effort seems a reasonable trade-off. No problems here from this Mac user. As in the early days of Dropbox, there may be a few kinks to work out but this application seems promising indeed to heavy Google Docs users.

Windows Live SkyDrive Offers 25GB On Your iPhone

Want to expand your virtual real estate on your mobile phone? If you haven’t already gotten your free Windows Live account, now is the time to do it. Sneaking under my radar during the holiday crazies was this announcement from the fine folks at Windows Live – you can now access SkyDrive’s 25GB of storage via apps on your iPhone or Windows Phone. Pretty darn cool. Dropbox is nice, but it can’t hold a candle to the size of SkyDrive.

Of course, Microsoft has baked SkyDrive fairly deeply into Windows Phone 7.5. With the Windows Phone app, you can store documents, notes, photos, videos and access them from your phone. Share photos stored on SkyDrive by email, text, or IM, use Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with SkyDrive files, and keep your phone’s camera roll up-to-date on SkyDrive automatically. SkyDrive is integrated directly into the apps as well as core phone functions. Of particular use on mobile, you can browse your entire SkyDrive. share files and manage your storage.

The “extra extra” though is an iPhone app! In addition to their OneNote notebooks, iPhone users can access their files in SkyDrive, create folders, delete files, and share links to folders and files directly using the Mail app. Much of the functionality is the same between the Windows Phone and iPhone apps – tailored to the particular phone’s user experience. This is very very cool indeed – kudos to Microsoft for not leaving us iPhone users hanging!

Read more about these apps and SkyDrive and check out some vids over at the Windows Live site. And get an extra 25GB of useful storage on your mobile device. Thanks Microsoft.