Want To Stop Sending Hot-Headed Emails? There's An App For That

I’ll give you the spell-checker. While I wish we all could embody the skill set natively of a National Spelling Bee finalist, the spell-checker has been around long enough to gain even my old-school acceptance. But what if you suffer from email rage? For those of you who have a problem with the premature send, check out Tone Check. Tone Check, the “emotional spell check for email”,  is an add-on to Outlook or Lotus Notes. Or it can operate as an extension to Gmail in Chrome. Coming soon for Firefox, Safari, Apple Mail and Windows Live Mail. Once installed, it essentially assigns a tone rating via meter  on the bottom of your email. There are plenty of settings for establishing how you want the checker to respond to your writing and when you want it to respond. You can use a slider to establish the application’s sensitivity.  It’s free for basic use, with two tiers of pricing for pro and business levels for added features.

On one hand, I find it amusing that someone thought we might need an app for this. On the other, I have received enough emails to recognize that we might, in fact, need an app for this. So, what’s the harm in getting a little reading at the bottom of your email that tells you your language is “too darn hot?” If you want to know, Tone Check’s your tool.

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Grammarly: Your Robotic Writing Assistant

There are those out there claiming that good grammar is outdated. And then there are those out there looking to turn a buck helping you fix your grammar and proofread your opus (opuses? opera?). Should you choose to pay attention to your grammar, you can turn to the online service Grammarly to afford you that second set of eyes. Grammarly doesn’t beat around the bush: the site proudly proclaims it to be “The World’s Most Accurate Grammar Checker.” Grammarly offers both online checking and integration with your local software – Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.  Grammarly checks for spelling, punctuation, and simple grammar checking, as well as highlights potential plagiaristic moments in your missive.  Grammatical errors are indicated in red and clicking on the error will reveal a pop up card explaining the wrong and the “write” of it. You can choose to “see less” of the explanation in the cards, and there are up and down buttons to give feedback on the feedback that is given to you in the card.

Word from reviewers is that Grammarly is near the top of the class when it comes to online grammar support, but that it falls a bit short as a local add-on, with much better options out there in WhiteSmoke or Writer’s Workbench. The other downside for me was a monthly subscription cost. For on-line, I would prefer a one-off option for the occasional support, rather than be required to pump in $20 or so bucks a month for a slightly better editor and checker than my word processor provides.

That said, those who make their living writing, or students whose grades depend upon quality written product, might find the money well spent. It’s always nice to have another tool to fit in you writer’s tool belt.

Tweet From Outlook With Twinbox

Yes, there are still some of us who love to use Outlook as their home base for all things digital. Calendars, tasks, contacts, mail and now even Tweets! If you find yourself far more comfortable with the Outlook interface but are interested in delving into the world of Twitter, check out Twinbox (link here) – a free application that allows you to Tweet from within Outlook.

The relatively small application file adds a few buttons to the Outlook bar that allow you to interact with the microblogging site. The app also supports multiple Twitter accounts. There are some simple preference selections to be made, including a clever option to use a keyboard shortcut to bring up a Tweet window. I also like that the service uses bit.ly for shortening links – my link shortener of choice.

Some of the benefits of Outlook are borne out with Twinbox as well – you can leverage Outlook’s foldering, filtering, archiving and search functions to keep track of and locate Tweets, which are now stored within Outlook. Incoming Tweets show in a very Outlook-like window as well, keeping the experience well within the bounds of familiarity. All the usual Twitter conventions, such as RTs, @ mentions, tags and DMs, are supported, and attaching pictures to Tweets is relatively easy – highlight an email that attaches and image or load one up from your computer’s hard drive.

And Twinbox has some great analytics features built right into it – you can easily view top Tweeters compared to total Tweets over a designated time frame.

While Twinbox does not give you all of the possible panoply of Tweeting options, it does a credible job of making Twitter manageable for the Outlook-obssessed set (which includes many professional and business-types). Not a bad way to get an introduction to realtime, social banter in a familiar environment.