Jott is my new favorite web app. I took notice of it when I noticed a few people using it on twitter. I would see a message with a link to a voice recording of the same message. This is a pretty neat use for it, but I have another use for it. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s look at what Jott is.
Jott is a service that allows you to leave voice mails for yourself, or other people, and have it transcribed into text. From the phone number you choose to use, it will ask you who you want to Jott and then allow you to leave a message up to 30 seconds in length.
I haven’t used it to send messages to anyone or to any service, but rather, I use it to take notes for later use. Before I would usually take a picture of something or record video as reminders to myself. Instead I call Jott, leave a message telling myself to add a movie to my Netflix queue or to check out a new band. When I get home, I have a transcribed version of my message waiting for me in my inbox. The neat thing about having a transcribed version of my message is that I just have to glance at it to remind myself. There is no need to listen to what I said which takes a slightly longer time.
The transcription process is fairly accurate; Just make sure you speak clearly into your phone. If Jott can’t properly transcribe your message, and you don’t remember what you wanted to remind yourself of, you can always listen to the original voice mail.
The added benefit of using voice is that it’s quicker than texting. I find cell phone keypads to be slow, and distracting. With this service I can quickly leave my message and go back to my normal routine.
I can definitely see the service becoming big since it has a lot of potential. I recommend everyone to check it out and maybe write about how it has streamlined some task for you.
If you’re anything like me, then you’re moving from computer to computer. Syncing data between all of these workstations can make your workflow both inefficient and unorganized. There are also cross-platform issues, and the different data formats between applications. This article will demonstrate how to overcome these problems with the use of web 2.0 applications in regards to bookmarks, RSS readers, office applications, email, and more.
Bookmarks: When I’m at my various workstations I usually bookmark websites that are of interest to me. This concept is not new, but what happens when I need to access a bookmark from another computer? I could always sync the bookmarks manually or possibly write a script to do it. Instead, the usage of an online bookmarking site such as del.icio.us or ma.gnolia solves this issue. These services allow for access to your bookmarks from anywhere you have an internet connection. I personally use del.icio.us (although I will be looking into ma.gnolia soon), so I will use it as my example. With del.icio.us you either install a plug-in for firefox or put two buttons on your Bookmarks Toolbar; one for viewing your bookmarks, and the other for bookmarking the site you’re on. It’s a very simple process that has led to a large list of bookmarks that I still need to check out.
RSS Reader:RSS is one of my favorite web2.0 technologies that I use on an daily basis. First I used Vienna to manage my feeds, but I found myself having to export my list so I can sync it on my other computers. This obviously had it shortcomings. Then at SHDH 13 I was introduced to the wonder that is Google Reader. Google Reader is an online RSS feed reader. Besides being cross-platform and accessible everywhere I go, the greatest feature isn’t even in the program itself. Like a lot of people, I use firefox. One of my favorite new features in Firefox 2.0 is how you can click on the RSS feed symbol when visiting a web site and add the feed to your online reader of choice. This makes it just as simple as bookmarking a website with the del.icio.us buttons.
Office Applications: We have all used a word processor or a spreadsheet program; Microsoft Word and Excel being the more popular of the two. Google has created (or bought-out) their own version of these programs for online use: Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Sure there are desktop freeware alternatives, but by using online applications you don’t have to worry about any time consuming installations or running updates. Another feature worth noting is how it saves the documents you are working on in a central location. Just today I was talking to a co-worker about how he was able to work on a school assignment on his home computer (running Ubuntu Linux) and continue with his assignment during his lunch break with his work computer (running Mac OS X).
Mail/Calendar: You should start to see a trend by now, so it should be obvious what my recommended online email application of choice would be; Gmail/GCalendar of course! Back when I was using windows as my primary workstation, I used Outlook for my mail and calendar needs. I often found myself needing to access mail or contact information from a remote location to look up information. Instead I had to wait till I got home to look through my archived mail or contact list. When I made the switch to mac, Entourage (The Outlook clone) seemed like the natural choice since I was never a big fan of mail.app. The process of exporting my data from one OS to another AND from one data format to another was much more difficult than it should have been. This is when I made my official move from a desktop email client to an online email client. I currently use gmail as my primary email client and haven’t looked back. Google Notifier will let me know immediately when I get a new email or if there is an upcoming calendar event. This makes the entire gmail suite feel like a desktop application.
To-do list: We all use stickies or scattered text documents for our to-do lists. Using a site like voo2do lets us store all of those stickies or text documents in 1 central location. It’s great for jotting down random ideas wherever you are. I also heard about using Google Calendar as a to-do list. This may seem like more of a logical choice by allowing me to consolidate my services to 1 provider and add native features.
I hope this has demonstrated the benefits of using web 2.0 applications in the place of standard desktop applications. There are many alternative programs than the above listed, so if you don’t like my recommendations, go out and find something that suits your needs. There are some downfalls of using these applications, such as when you don’t have an internet connection, but I feel the benefits far exceed the downfalls. Remember that the above posted solutions are free, usable on any platform and you don’t have to back up your data (especially handy when you format and need to reinstall applications).