Managing Online Resources for Blogging Content and Tech Tips

An approach on how to keep links to blog sites and online resources, sites and articles organized.

As a communications designer and small business blogger, I am ever on the look-out for quality reading material. Yet with so many fantastic blog sites and online resources out there, keeping links, sites and articles organized can prove overwhelming. The organizational process proves even more taxing when as I struggle to sync systems across my laptop, iPad and mobile phone.

My primary aims when in developing an organizational approach for managing online resources are twofold: (1) ease of use and (2) filter/search functionality. I want to bookmark items across all platforms (on websites, on Twitter and via RSS) and all devices. I then want to tag, filter and search those stored items on any of my personal computing devices.

What follows is my approach for managing it all. Certainly there are others — this is simply what currently works for me.

For industry news and trends: Pocket (formerly Read It Later)

I’ve been dabbling in Pocket for a little over a month now. I find it very helpful in meeting the two primary aims mentioned above. For a great overview about Pocket, check out Coreen Tossona’s post about it. There’s no point in me posting what Coreen has already written succinctly.

For tech tips and “how to” articles: Pocket

As recently as last week, I used Delicious.com to save technical and “how to” articles. However, there is no great way to save links, tweets and the like directly to Delicious from Twitter. Delicious.com does not play nicely with the iPad either — no Delicious.com app. Since I source so many links and articles while using my iPad, Delicious.com is relegating itself to the dinosaur pile. As of Monday of this week, I’ve transitioned to Pocket for this task.

Unfortunately, I still have not yet worked out how to migrate Delicious.com bookmarks to Pocket. Ideas anyone?

For blogs that I follow: Google Reader and Flipboard

When I discover a valuable news or tech blog, I add it to my RSS feed to my Google Reader account. When I have some time, or when I’ve hit my dedicated reading time, I’ll go through those saved feeds using Flipboard. Google Reader is a great desk tool, and my preferred option for searching for a specific topic or post within my RSS feeds. But for browsing though feeds, Flipboard is ideal. The user interface on the iPad is so graceful and it’s dead easy to save a particular post to Pocket for subsequent reading/tagging.

Of course, there are new apps and bookmarking sites being launched on an almost constant basis. Only time will tell how long I keep using my current setup.

Ten iPad Apps for Professional and Personal Use

A detailed list of top iPad apps for personal and professional use.

An iPad

A few months ago a friend of mine picked up a new iPad.  He then tweeted me for my top iPad apps for both professional and personal use.  I was swamped with a number of work projects when my friend asked that question so I did not get back to him at the time.  (Yes, I know … bad form on Twitter and what kind of friend am I?)  Then recently, another friend picked up an iPad and asked me the same question.  Feeling the pressure to respond, I have finally produced my recommendations below.

1. Evernote

There are countless ways to use Evernote, and a quick search will certainly bring up some clever and useful ways.  For me, Evernote is where I store personal and business information that I need now and again, but that I don’t really know where else to store.  Professionally, I use Evernote to store a record of the static IP of my London office, the Pantone colors for lbdesign and the paper stock that we use for our business cards, among other data.  Personally, I use it to store a few of my favorite recipes, keep a record of ideas for blog posts, my IT wish list and more.  I always store my travel details on Evernote in case I lose the paper copies of tickets.

Evernote is online at evernote.com.

2. Zite

Zite is a great magazine app, and one that I use for reading both articles of both personal and professional interest.  When I downloaded the app, Zite asked me what topics were of interest and subsequently serves up news and blog posts from around the internet about my selected interests.  I can request more articles from a particular site or blogger; I can also drop a particular site.  The user-interface is easy-to-use and I like to be able to share content via Twitter and email.

Zite is online at zite.com.

3. Flipboard

Like Zite, Flipboard is a magazine app.  While different users will have their own approaches for using Flipboard, I use it to read through the RSS feeds from my Google Reader account.  Flipboard’s smooth transitions and beautiful presentational style are a massive improvement on Google Reader’s basic user interface.

More information about Flipboard is at flipboard.com.

4. Twitter

Initially a die-hard fan of Tweetdeck, I find the new(ish) Twitter app to be a much better user experience.  The fluidity of jumping from an individual tweet to a linked picture, post or video is much smoother in Twitter than it ever was in Tweetdeck.

Do we need a link to twitter.com?

5. AllRecipes

I discovered All Recipes through a friend who likes to cook more than I do.  What I really like about the app is that it makes it easy to locate the ingredients.  I use the iPad to find a recipe that sounds interesting, then take my iPhone to the store to buy the ingredients before returning home to use the iPad when I am cooking.

AllRecipes is also browser-based at allrecipes.com.

6. 1Password

As an online designer, I spend a good portion of my day logging into and out of online accounts. Using 1Password allows me to do so in a safe and convenient manner.  It’s also great for securely storing personal information like bank account details, credit card numbers and the like.

Check out 1Password at agilebits.com/onepassword.

7. Pandora

Music, music, music. Does anything more need to be said?  I have been impressed with the growing library available on Pandora. It was rather limited in the early days, but the vast breadth and variety of what’s now available for free streaming is wonderful.

Pandora is online at pandora.com.

8. Fox Soccer

Regardless of your politics, if you are a soccer fan, then the Fox Soccer app is a must.  Great user interface, coverage of so many leagues in North America and Europe and plenty of videos.  I’ve not yet subscribed to watch full matches on the iPad but that certainly is on my to do list.

9. NetFlix

Never having subscribed to its DVD-by-post service, I came by NetFlix after its pricing and Kwikster fiasco. Yet for less than $10.00 per month, I can stream unlimited movies, documentaries and TV shows.  (Note: I may be wrong on the unlimited aspect; it’s certainly more than I can ever watch.)  The selection of content is not the greatest, the categorization is suspect, and the user-interface limited, but the convenience is what makes this app worth having.

Need the link?  Try netflix.com.

10. Penultimate

As a designer, I often find myself sketching an idea, web page or concept.  With a new Jot Pro stylus, I can rough-out a home page design over a meeting at my favorite local café and can email it to either the client or my colleague in London.  Another great feature is the ability to paste an image (either directly from the camera or via the saved photos) into a notebook and then draw over it.

More information about Penultimate is available at www.cocoabox.com.

There! I’ve done it. I’ve shared my list of some of my favorites iPad apps.  Of course there are others that I use and like, but I wanted to keep this list to 10.

So, which of your favorite apps did I leave out?