How To Get Things Done in the Car (And Live to Tell the Tale)

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

We begin today with a fun fact: when you drive, the thing you should do is drive. Not text, not read emails, not read Atlas Shrugged, not brush your teeth while doing your makeup. Crazy, right? Yet, somehow, I’ve seen all these things being done while the driver hurtles at unnatural speeds toward large objects both moving and inanimate.

There’s a balance to be struck somewhere between single-tasking on the road, and ultimate productivity. The balance, I think, is technology. There are a bunch of applications and services out there that will let you get done the things you need to get done, all while keeping your eyes and (most of) your focus on the road.

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3 Ways to Pay and Get Paid Digitally

This post is by a new contributor to Digitizd, Bobby Grasberger. Bobby and I went to school together (and never met), and now live in the same city (and haven’t met). We’ll fix that soon. Look out for more from Bobby in the near future, and follow him on Twitter. (Also, quick aside: Bobby’s opinions are his own, and in no way represent those of the company he works for, R/GA, or its clients.)

Nobody carries cash anymore.

If you do, more power to you – but it’s not ubiquitous enough to count on these days. Credit and debit cards are great for places that accept them, and most stores and organizations do. Most people though, don’t. Every time you want to get paid back by your buddy who didn’t have cash for dinner, pay your roommate for rent or split the check at dinner, you’re trying to pay an individual.

You could use cash or check, but then someone has to either run to the ATM (and pay for crazy fees with no record of where the money is spent) or pay by check (whenever you have your checkbook with you – and hopefully you’ll remember to write the “who, when, why and how much” in your checkbook register). There’s a better way.

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Take Simple, Shareable, Accessible Notes With Notepad.cc

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

Now that you’ve got a bunch of different devices for a bunch of different purposes, having access to certain information becomes a slightly more complicated procedure. If you found directions on Google Maps, you email yourself the link and the directions so that you can get them from the road.

There are plenty of powerful, feature-rich ways to get your notes and information from wherever you are, like Evernote and Simplenote, and there’s even an app for that (it’s called Pastebot, and is pretty darn cool).

But if all you need is a basic, one-step way to share information with yourself and others, there’s a better solution: it’s called notepad.cc, and it’s “a piece of paper in the cloud.”

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My, How Things Have Changed in Android Land

Came across this today in reading a great back-and-forth about Apple, Google, manliness and win between John Gruber and Joe Wilcox. That’s worth reading by itself (start here, go backwards through the links John gives), but what I really loved was his link to what the Android operating system used to look like, circa 2007 (before the iPhone, which Android devices now look suspiciously similar to, was announced):

That’s the phone (looks a lot more like a certain fruit-named phone than what it looks like now, no?), and click through for pictures of the operating system (think Windows Mobile and Blackberry had an illicit, business-friendly affair and conceived an open-source child).

See it at Engadget.

5 Apps Bringing The Future Of Music

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

What’s music’s past? CD’s, casingles, 8-tracks, the totally awesome picture of me in kindergarten with my Walkman – and now, slowly but surely moving into the past of music, is piece-meal downloading of songs.

Don’t get me wrong, the iTunes model of music isn’t going to go away anytime soon – the record industry’s a little slow-moving, plus it’s a model that works. Ish. But the next thing in music is already making itself known in a number of different places – it’s subscription music. You pay one fee, per year or month, and the whole world of music is open to you. You can listen to whatever you want, and if you stop paying, you probably lose your music.

I, for one, am thrilled about subscription music for a number of reasons, but particularly because it brings me access to tons of music I wouldn’t otherwise listen to. At 99 cents a song, I’m not likely to go out on a limb to buy music I don’t know, and 30-second previews are rarely enough to figure out what I’m really going to like. But if I’m paying $15/month whether I listen to one song or a million, why not listen to anything and everything? Music discovery is way down right now, and subscription listening can bring it back.

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24 Killer Apps for the iPad

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

The “Killer App” is a neat concept. It’s not just apps that are killer, rad or awesome. A killer app is the application or feature that makes you toss out what you’ve already got, buy something new, fight with your spouse over the credit card bill, and giggle all the way to the poorhouse because your new thing is so incredible.

Killer apps vary enormously. When you bought an Xbox 360 even though you already had an Xbox, it was Xbox Live that made you do it.  Of course, you bought the Xbox in the first place because you wanted to play Halo. You bought a smartphone when you already had a perfectly good phone, because this one had the Internet.

For the iPad, the killer app is unclear: is it a gaming console, a netbook, an e-book reader, a TV, or something else? I think the answer, and I’ll grant you that this is a cop-out, is that the killer app for the iPad is its versatility. It’s all of those things and more, rolled into one device.

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How to Buy a Cell Phone

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

I love gadgets. I know—surprising, right? I love ‘em, I read about ‘em, I talk about ‘em to the point where everyone hates me, and I buy ‘em in droves. Some say it’s a problem to have four screens, three laptops, too many phones and not enough money for a cup of coffee, but I say it’s all about priorities.

Over the last few months I’ve figured out there’s one thing I’m terrible at shopping for: cell phones. I bought a new phone in January, and over the last four months have hated it so furiously and fervently that I’m seriously debating buying a new one already.

The problem isn’t that the phone is broken, or defective, or just a bad device. The problem is that it’s absolutely 100% the wrong phone for me. 98% of the time, I need a phone for three things (other than, you know, phone calls): texting, checking email, and getting un-lost 39 times a day. Pretty much any phone out there can do those things by now, so I thought the world was my oyster. I went for cheap and small, and bought a Droid Eris.

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15 Podcasts Your Brain and Ears Will Love

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

Podcasts are a funny technology: they’re incredibly simple, but for some reason no one really understands what they are, what they do, how to use them, or why you’d want to be in a pod or a cast in the first place. So what’s a podcast? The best way to explain is AP test-style: TiVo is to television as podcasts are to radio and Internet video. That is to say it’s a way to get it on demand, consumable whenever you want. Fast forward and rewind to your heart’s content, and keep as much content as you want – until your hard drive gets full.

You can listen to podcasts on your mp3 player, on your computer, or anywhere else you so desire. They get downloaded over the Internet, and are just simple RSS feeds, so anywhere you’ve got the Internet, you can get podcasts. iTunes is becoming the gold standard, though, and provides a great store for finding podcasts (“store” here is used loosely, because they’re mostly free). Many radio stations are syndicating their stuff to podcasts, and there are a huge number of podcast-only “stations” out there now. Unlike producing a TV show, creating a radio show of sorts, whether it’s video or audio, is relatively cheap and simple to do.

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Why I Bought an iPad (And Why You Should Too)

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

Exactly 32 hours after the iPad was released to the masses, I walked over to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York City. I stood in a line of about 40 people, walked down the spiral staircase feeling like the belle of the ball, plunked down $520 or so, and bought myself an iPad.

I’d never actually done that before. I’m typically a “wait and see-er” when it comes to anything that costs more than $5, and like to be a version behind because it’s too easy and too expensive to get caught up in being an early adopter. But the iPad was different.

The biggest question most people have for the iPad is simple: “what will I use it for?” It’s bigger and less pocket-friendly than your cell phone. It’s smaller and less versatile than your laptop. It’s not really a netbook, or an ebook reader. So what is it, and why do I need it?

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20 Ways to Kill a Few Minutes Online

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

I rarely have long periods of time with nothing to do – there’s not typically time to read a book, or watch a movie, or take a nap (granted, “take a nap” requires at least three hours in my world). What I do have, multiple times a day, is somewhere between three and ten minutes with nothing going on and nothing I can do about it. Whether I’m on the subway, waiting for food to come, or at my desk trying to look productive at work, these brief periods pop up all the time.

To be honest, I don’t want to be terribly productive during these periods. What I do want is to learn something, be entertained, or just have a way to goof off while I’m waiting. At the same time, I don’t want to be completely wasting my time (if I’m doing that, why aren’t I sleeping?) – the key is to find the balance between useful, interesting, and feeling like work.

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