You suggest this book/piece of software/item to everyone in your field, so suggest it here.
January 23, 2008 3:53 PM   Subscribe

What are the websites, software, books, desks, tools and errata you find the most useful and efficient for your work, and why are they so much better than the competition? Brownie points if they're good for students, and are free--but hey, list them all.

I'm talking about things like Zotero (previously). The perfect waterproof sketch pad, if you're often in the field. The perfect drawing desk. Whatever.

I just want to find the most efficient way of doing things in various areas. I'm not looking for a free-for-all chatty recommendations list, but a lot of people saying "this sped up my work, and here's why." Hopefully there won't be too many Quark-vs-Indesign-type spats.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Wordweb is amazing and indispensable because you just sweep your mouse over a word in question and click on the WordWeb icon on the task bar and voila, the definition you need.

I also like Eusing registry cleaner because it keeps my pc nimble and the registry lean.
posted by JaySunSee at 4:20 PM on January 23, 2008

You don't want to narrow it down at all? All the useful tools in the world, all the occupations... you'll have quite a list.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:21 PM on January 23, 2008

Dual monitors. I can't quantify the productivity increase (yet) but damn, I can feel it :-)

Also, I can't believe I'd not thought to do it before but last week I installed the Morning Coffee extension for Firefox - instead of keeping a "Dailies" folder in bookmarks you add the sites you visit daily (or weekly or on specific days) and they open in separate tabs at the click of a button.
posted by ceri richard at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2008

for a student with a mac: omnioutliner for taking notes.
posted by ncc1701d at 4:42 PM on January 23, 2008

Seconding dual monitors. I always tell my friends that it doubles my productivity.
posted by kjackelen05 at 4:51 PM on January 23, 2008

I tend to keep notes about random stuff in ZuluPad, it's simple, wiki-like and can be run almost anywhere. It's always a good idea to keep a set of old-style bookmarks online in a way that is browser independent (no extensions, plugins or such), say in either Netvouz or iKeepBookmarks, if you are prone to hang around computers not your own (including cybercafes and the like). A good USB drive crammed full of portable applications is also a good idea in that regard, I mainly stick with the packages provided by PortableApps. Most publishers offer to send e-mail alerts with the table of contents for new issues of scientific journals, this is an efficient way of keeping track of such things.
posted by Iosephus at 5:30 PM on January 23, 2008

Windows search sucks balls, I use this and it has saved me on numerous occaisions.

Search Replace
posted by mattoxic at 5:45 PM on January 23, 2008

Google calculator in the firefox search box. If I want to know what 355/113 is or how many feet in a mile, I just hit control-K 1 mile in ft= and it pops up "5280 feet" -- I don't even have to open a new window or tab. Did you know there's about 7149 teaspoons in a bushel?
posted by moonmilk at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Todoist. It makes my life work.
posted by ®@ at 7:23 PM on January 23, 2008

The wheel.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:26 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Media management tools- I use BeyondTV for Tivo-like stuff. And Feedreader for blogs. Saves me hours a day AND can amuse me for hours a day. And, unlike ever changing websites, I can turn it off for unamusing things like work and responsibilites and all the content doesn't disappear.

Also, simplicity. I've found that using ubiquitous tools (the junk built into windows) whenever possible saves me tons of time not screwing around with 1000 applications and plugins.

And I ditched my Palm for a stack of index cards. That might be taking it too far, but now I spend zero time maintaining the f-ing data in the palm.

And using the command line and batch files to script everything I can.
posted by gjc at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2008

I'm somewhat of a marketing/advertising "swiss army knife" in my company, and I couldn't live without the one-two punch of the "Prnt Scrn" button and MS Paint. I know there are other great screen capture apps out there (i.e. SnagIt) but for speed and simplicity, this is the best way to go. I just save as a .jpeg from MS Paint and I'm set.
posted by Detuned Radio at 9:27 PM on January 23, 2008

I can't believe I'm saying this *again*, but Lifehacker? Totally got your back on this, since they are in the business of making life easier (tech-orientedly speaking). For example, the Top Ten Back to School Tools for the Organized Student can be found there, allowing you to evaluate your *own* possible sources of efficiency/cool new toys.

So my suggestion, *especially* as a student looking for free/cheap, would be to take a look at the site, since it aggregates a lot of what you're looking for.
posted by librarylis at 9:42 PM on January 23, 2008

For me as a student, the number one tool I use is Google Desktop. If you haven't tried yet, do it. When the teacher want's us to open a document, everyone else is like: Hm, where did I save that ... hm I can't find it.
It just hit ctrl twice type something, hit enter and there I go. It takes about 10 seconds to open up any document I ever typed.
And I don't spend any time organizing my stuff at all.
So Google Desktop is definitly the best thing ever for any student that works with a pc.
posted by kall at 1:41 AM on January 24, 2008

Gotta second Google Desktop. It rocks! So much faster and better than Windows search. You can even see docs that you deleted through a cache.
Gotta second index cards too. Have a stack at work and a stack at home. I write down my daily to-do's on the index cards. Longer term to-do's such as weekly, monthly, yearly, and "some days" go into a Moleskine notebook.
Lastly, the GTD philosophy.
posted by qsysopr at 6:28 AM on January 24, 2008

posted by ook at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2008

Definitely GTD. Even if you only incorporate bits and pieces of thay method your productivity will benefit in any field
posted by LC at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2008

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