Document Scanning Software.

Historically when I’ve bought a scanner it has come with scanning software – usually an outdated version of PaperPort.

Flat-bed Scanner.
Flat-bed Scanner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More recently, however, the software that comes with various scanners has been limited and sometimes almost useless. Windows built-in tool (Windows Fax and Scan) is okay if you are scanning images – but for documents, you really need something more robust. Here I’m going to provide a brief guide to some of the products currently available – including some free options.

Please feel free to reply in the comments if you

  • Know of other software that should be listed here.
  • Have feedback on any of the products listed here.
  • Are related to the company and want to provide additional insight on the product.

ScanWorks

This is interesting – it is a web-based scanning application, though it does require installing a client on one’s local machine. It is free and there is also a premium version available for $20/annually (not bad). I wasn’t a huge fan of the web interface, but it might be more attractive to others.

iCopy

Everyone likes free and open source – and that is exactly what iCopy is. I used it to scan in some documents recently and it worked fairly well, but its UI is not intuitive and it is buggy. It doesn’t create an output file until the end of a multi-page scan and if you scan too many pages it will crash due to consuming too much memory. Still, a free and fairly easy to use option.

VueScan

This software is extremely popular though I found it to be more focused on image scanning than multi-page document scanning. A free trial is available and purchase cost is $40-$80. It does support a vast number of scanners – including numerous older scanners for which other software is unavailable.

PaperPort

The “standard” in document scanning and management, pricing starts at $200, though it is sometimes bundled for free with scanners (usually an older version). It isn’t bad, but I prefer Lucion’s FileCenter.

FileCenter

Of all the applications I have encountered for document scanning and management, FileCenter is my favorite – even over PaperPort. That said, it does cost $50 for their standard edition and $200 for their professional edition. A free trial is available.

Presto! Page Manager

This software looks interesting mainly b/c it integrates with Google Docs and Evernote. Price starts at $100.

ABBYY FineReader Express

I used some of Abbyy’s software years ago and enjoyed it, I imagine it is still of the same quality as I know it is quite popular. Software pricing begins at $50.

Advanced Scan to PDF Free

Simple, free, and easy to use – if you are doing document scanning and the price FREE is right, this is probably the best option.

OfficeDrop

This is a freemium service, they used to offer desktop software (which was buggy) but appear to have dropped the desktop software in favor of mobile apps and document management. That is unfortunate.

Simple Doc Organizer

I’m not familiar with this software, but the site looks nice and they have a Home edition that is available for free.

Other Options

These are other options that aren’t incredibly expensive but I have no personal experience with…

Holy Snikes You Are Expensive

I didn’t feel like reviewing the really expensive options (e.g. above $500), but I’ve included links to some of them for those who are so inclined…

Interview with Open-Mesh.

Introduction

I’ve been using Open-Mesh for several years now, first at Calvary Community Church and more recently at a consulting client’s location. Recently I decided to reach out to Open-Mesh and ask if they’d provide me with an interview and included a number of questions. Michael Burmeister-Brown, President of Open-Mesh, responded to my questions and I have included his answers along with any commentary I might have below.

I’ve also included additional information I gathered from Open-Mesh representatives in recent conversations as I’ve been installing this new mesh network for a client and I’ve included what information I could dig up about Open-Mesh’s corporate background as well…Enjoy!

Interview

Thanks to OpenClipart.org and pgbrandolin for the image.
Thanks to OpenClipart.org and pgbrandolin for the image.

Dave: What happened to the MR500 line of products?

Michael: The MR500 has been discontinued. It was never designed as a successor to the OM2P series, but a second, dual band line. Its successor will come out this summer (2013). The successor will include:

  • Dual Band 2.4/5 ghz.
  • Clients and Mesh will occur on both bands (MR500 was mesh on 5 ghz, clients on 2.4 ghz).
  • Much higher power / receive sensitivity providing greatly improved range / speed. [Dave: From personal experience, the distance was a real issue with MR500 units, a limitation inherent in the 5 ghz spectrum which has a more difficult time penetrating walls and other obstacles.]
  • Each band will support 450 mbps, providing an aggregate output of 900 mbps.
  • The addition of 802.3af POE support, meaning the new units will support standard POE switches. [Dave: Current units in both the MR500 and OM2P lines require injectors and the warranty is voided if units are directly connected to a standard POE switch.]
  • Layer 7 (application) bandwidth control and monitoring. This will allow administrators to control which websites / web applications users can run and how much bandwidth they will be allowed.
  • Active Directory / RADIUS support allowing integrated authentication to company servers.
  • The POE version will have a single gigabit ethernet port while another variation without POE will have five ports.
  • Price point will be $299. While this is more expensive than the MR500 it is still almost $1,000 less than the equivalent Meraki model (MR24).

Dave: What about the future of other products?

Michael: We will be introducing a 5 ghz-only OM5P model identical to the OM2P-HS but operating on 5 ghz. This will allow customers to use all the OM2P-series housing options and build out a 5 ghz or hybrid network consisting of 5 ghz and 2.4 ghz models. Most computers / tables phones in the last couple of years support 5 ghz so this will be an increasingly viable option. It will also be considerably lower in cost than dual-band units while providing more flexibility in installation. The OM5P will have an MSRP of $99.

Dave: The site is pretty simple and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of advertising out about Open-Mesh. Will this change?

Michael: To date we have not done extensive sales or marketing outreach, but I think you can see this is beginning to change by the website and especially the resources page. This summer/fall will see significant increases in this area as new people come onboard.

Dave: How many employees do you have at Open-Mesh?

Michael: I am not sure of the exact count – we are a geographically diverse company with two separate teams in Germany and others in Italy, Canada, China, and of course, the United States.

Dave: For organizations interested in Open-Mesh, how do they know your product will work and that you’ll be around in the future?

Michael: Our sales have doubled each year for the last three years and we have just under 40,000 networks managed on Cloudtrax. Feel free to reach out in a couple months and I’ll be able to share more information on new offerings – especially regarding Cloudtrax.

Open-Mesh Corporate Profile

Open-Mesh is a low profile organization. Unlike many sites that have detailed information about their corporate officers posted on the site, Open-Mesh has none. Go over to CrunchBase and you’ll find a bare-bones company profile. There is no company page on LinkedIn and searching for Open-Mesh employees surfaces only two.

One could take this as a sign that the company is small and unstable, but when it comes to technical companies this is oftentimes the sign that employees are pretty hard-core geeks who spend more time coding and building than they do marketing themselves. It seems to be the latter in the case of Open-Mesh.

Luckily, finding information on Open-Mesh President Michael Burmeister-Brown, who provided the above interview, is a little easier than finding information on employees generally – and Burmeister-Brown’s background is nothing to laugh at.

Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek tells us that Michael founded Central Point Software in 1981 where he served as President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) until 1991. Central Point would be acquired by Symantec in 1994 for $60 million.

In 1992 Michael founded another company – Second Nature Software  – and began serving as its president. This company had an environmental focus and committed all its profits to The Nature Conservancy – over $2.5 million. It appears to have closed its doors as of 2012.

Michael founded another company, NetControls.com in the mid-1990’s and in 1997 this company was acquired by Yahoo!. Michael continued at Yahoo for five years working on Yahoo’s News Ticker and Yahoo Messenger products.

He has also served as a Director of WebTrends since October 1996. I am unsure whether this position is ongoing – Bloomberg doesn’t clarify.[1]

Michael became a co-founder of NetEquality seeking to ensure that internet access was available for everyone – especially low-income communities. Originally, NetEquality was associated with Meraki, but when Meraki boosted their prices and abandoned the low-cost market, Michael decided to step in and found Open-Mesh.

Want a face to put to that name? Check out Oregon Live’s article here and scroll down the page halfway.

Other News

According to conversations with Open-Mesh representatives I’ve had over the last several weeks, here are a few other tidbits I’ve gathered:

  • There is a significant firmware upgrade on the way for Open-Mesh devices this Spring [unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the details of what is included…but it was pretty exciting.].
  • Another upgrade will occur in the Fall/Winter of 2013 which will include one of Meru’s best features – automatic load balancing across available APs.

Send Me Your News

If you have additional info. or updates on Open-Mesh or CloudTrax, I’d love to hear them and I’ll try to add them to the current article as appropriate.

Support Open Mesh

I’m impressed by what Open Mesh is seeking to accomplish, it seems like a company with an honorable and worthy mission. I’d encourage you to join me in supporting them.

  1. [1]This information on Burmeister-Brown consists of info. gathered from Bloomberg but also from NetEquality, Wikipedia, and Second Nature Software’s site.

Why I Don’t Use Evernote.

If you where to look for the note-taking app with the most “buzz” surrounding it, it would far and away be Evernote. Evernote has millions of users, a well-known brand, and has permeated not only the lives of individuals but also businesses. It is extensible and flexible. OneNote – what is that? Ohhh, Microsoft’s product. That isn’t cool…Not to mention that its pricey.

Image representing Evernote
Image via CrunchBase

I used Evernote for a time (maybe a few months or a year) and then abandoned it. I wanted to like it and many things I did like about it – but there was one significant issue which remains an issue that forces me to keep my distance from Evernote – versioning.

What is versioning? Quite simply it is keeping a history of changes to a document and allowing the changes to be rolled back, compared, merged, and so on. Google Docs is a great example of this functionality.

Several times while using Evernote I took some fairly extensive notes only to have the noted get overwritten and I was unable to recover them. Even using Premium, which does include some limited versioning features, the number of revisions stored was so few that it was easy to make a few changes, realize you lost something important, and be unable to roll back.

Okay – that is me. But we aren’t really here to talk about me, we are here to talk about you and whether you should be using Evernote. My answer: probably not.

Why? Because I’ve worked for years in IT and have had innumerable individuals come to me asking for assistance in recovering their data – from floppy disks, flash drives, hard drives, and so on. I’ve seen the tears and the anger when the individual learns that their masters’ thesis that was 90% complete has been irretrievably lost.

“That hasn’t happened to me yet.” I know – but it only has to happen once…and IMHO, Evernote is not a reliable tool for writing significant documents or even for keeping one’s research notes about significant projects. There is too much possibility of “device failure” – in this case, the unavailability of previous versions when you need it most.

What do I use? Google Docs / Google Keep. Granted, I’m not particularly satisfied with Google Keep. I’d much rather be using Evernote. I think Evernote is a great company and a great program, I am just befuddled how such basic functionality could be unavailable at all in the free version and only marginally supported in the premium version. In a day where even our consumer backup and sync applications perform versioning – how can an app so widely used and loved lack robust versioning functionality?

Did Hackers Gain Access to All Your Personal Information?!?

Introduction

“Out of sight, out of mind.” This is true of so many important aspects of life. We know we should do something about them, but we don’t – because we forget about them or the effort seems greater than the benefit.

Unfortunately, sometimes these important aspects of life decide to blow up in our faces. For example, most of us have learned the importance of keeping oil in our cars and performing regular oil changes. We know that while this is “out of sight” it cannot be “out of mind.” But, have you ever been in a that ran out of oil? I have and it is not a pleasant experience. The engine implodes on itself with many strange, loud, and scary sounds while smoke billows from the hood and nauseous odors waft through the vents. The car slows to a stop and never starts again. Cue tears, tow truck, and etc.

Burglar from OpenClipart.org. Thanks to tzunghaor for his generosity.
Burglar from OpenClipart.org. Thanks to tzunghaor for his generosity in making this image freely available.

It is time that our technology security becomes one of these “out of sight” but better not be “out of mind” aspects. It has long been time…but if you are a casual technology (computer, smartphone, etc.) user you probably don’t think much about security – and if you do, I hate to say it, but a good bit of your knowledge is probably based on outdated or downright false information.

Today, LivingSocial, a company with over 50 million users, was hacked. This follows a few weeks after Evernote was compromised with its similarly millions of users. Whether you are or are not a customer of these services isn’t the point. What is the point is this: Your identity, personal information, and financials are not safe.

Don’t wait until your Facebook page is plastered with pornographic images to change your password. Or until you send all of your friends emails explaining how you are really lost in London and need them to send money orders to a bank near you. Or until your credit report shows debts you never accumulated. Or your personal emails and documents are flouted across the web for all to see.

Don’t Unplug

Resist the temptation to unplug the computer. I know what I’m saying is a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) and in general I hate when people use FUD. It is usually uncalled for and unproductive. In this case I think it is both called for and productive – but it will only be productive if you take the right steps. The right steps are not to unplug your computer and abandon technology forever. The right answer is to take the time and energy it will take to learn how to live and act in a more secure way in a technological world.

Why not just unplug? Good question – this is the usual action folks who spread FUD about technology are hoping to provoke. That or they want to convince you to buy expensive technological solutions to resolve your issues. Let me give you a few good reasons not to unplug:

  1. Technology is not going away. To withdraw from it is to withdraw from reality. Yes, technology can be overwhelming, addictive, insecure, and bad – but you have to learn how to utilize technology and not be enslaved to it. This is necessary for your job, for communicating with friends and relatives, and for living a productive life.[1]
  2. This isn’t just about your connection to the internet. Look, part of this is simply an educational campaign, b/c the truth is that technology security is horribly weak everywhere. You can unplug from technology – but you can’t force your bank, your relatives, your credit card companies, or so on to withdraw – and so your information is still out there.
  3. We are on the edge of extinction. By this I mean, don’t allow fear to control your life. Take reasonable steps towards risk management – but don’t stop living. Look, this entire world, this entire universe is crazy. At any moment we could all be dead. Don’t believe me? Look at the earthquakes that hit Haiti and Japan or the tsunamai that wiped out hundreds of thousands of lives in moments just a few years ago. “But Dave, that wouldn’t happen here. We aren’t on tectonic plate faults, etc., etc.” Then look at the Spanish Flu which wiped out millions of lives – many of the young and strong – during the early 1900’s, the millions that died in World War I and World War II in combat, or even better – look at the Black Plague which wiped out perhaps 50% of the world’s population a few hundred years ago.
  4. Manage risk, don’t run from it. Let me reiterate on the above point – everything is a risk. We can’t avoid risk, we aren’t in control. We can manage stupid risks. Don’t run in front of someone with a loaded gun; don’t drive a car at excessive speeds in bad weather[2]; and don’t wait until your identity or finances have been compromised to get serious about security.

What Should I Do?

  1. Remember, we are talking about risk management – not risk elimination. These steps will reduce the likelihood of exposure, but they won’t eliminate it.
  2. Invest some time into learning about technology generally and security specifically. The better you understand what you are working with, the better you can utilize it safely. For learning about computers generally, check out GCF’s Free Computer Training courses. For information on security specifically consider reading materials available from US-CERT[3] They are a government organization focused on technology security and offer a number of documents aimed towards the general reader.
  3. Begin utilizing LastPass to manage your passwords, ensure you have secure passwords, eliminate weak passwords, and so on. It is a little bit of a learning curve – but once configured it’ll make life easier and it is free.
  4. Continue to learn about technology generally and technology security specifically on an ongoing basis. Think about how many hours you spend using technology (not just on a computer but also a phone, tablet, using an atm, credit card checkouts at local stores, and so on) and also about all the ways your information is used technologically (banks, schools, non-profits, government, and so on). Consider the total number of hours you spend each year and then choose a reasonable number (say five or ten…or maybe twenty five…depending on how quickly you pick up on technology subjects) to spend on learning about technology and security in the upcoming year. Note how small of an investment you are making relative to the amount of time and energy you spend with these technologies.
  5. Consider talking to someone who knows technology who can make more personalized suggestions for you and who can review your technology overall for safety. If this individual tells you not to spend any time on security – find someone else. Make sure what they are saying is lining up with what you are learning from US-CERT or similar authoritative sources of security information.
  6. On a similar note, most techs (in my experience), including myself don’t mind talking to people about security – but feel frustrated when asked about security and then ignored. Please make the conscious effort to listen and understand. Far too many technology conversations are started with someone asking me a technology question and immediately letting their eyes glaze over. This communicates two things, “What you are saying isn’t important” (and for many of this, this is our livelihood) and “I didn’t mean I wanted to learn, I meant can I use you to make me secure so I don’t have to learn?” (okay, okay, maybe you wouldn’t put it in those words, but when we regularly get these questions with a regular lack of interested in the answers…it is hurtful).[4]
  7. Consider the practices your employer utilizes for maintaining security. Do they exist? Are they realistic? Many companies are horribly insecure…and it might be time to sit down with your boss (if they are open to that sort of conversation) and talk to them about the need for technology security in the workplace.
  8. Share this article or similar articles and the documents from the US-CERT with friends, family, and co-workers. Help raise awareness about the significant issue that is before us in a way that encourages others to do something about it rather than being overwhelmed by fear and running away.

Conclusion

Technology security is everyone’s concern. This is not a hopeless awareness issue. We’ve brought awareness about drinking and driving, drug addiction, mental illness, and healthy eating to varying levels of public awareness – the same is necessary for security.

You will be safer and more productive using technology securely. You will be a better employee but helping encourage safe technology at work. You will be a helpful citizen by encouraging proper security implementations at local, state, and national governmental levels.

I’m available to answer questions, comments, and criticisms via

the comments on this post. Please feel free to write me with your technology security concerns, if any of this is confusing, or if you find the materials I provided for training in technology or technology security too difficult and I will do my best to assist you in finding materials which will work with your current knowledge level regarding technology.

  1. [1]Those who aren’t convinced might consider reading Kirkpatrick Sale’s Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age.
  2. [2]Or at all, but I’m just trying to emphasize the outrageous.
  3. [3]United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
  4. [4]Yes, geeks/techs do have feelings, even if they may not express them.

Goodbye Firefox?

The Horror

I still have my t-shirts. I’m not sure how they’ve held up over so many years, especially with how frequently I have worn them – one for Firefox, one for Thunderbird – both from the official Mozilla store.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

I’m fairly certain I’ve been using Firefox since 1.x, and perhaps even before. I jumped ship from Internet Explorer as quickly as possible and having been a long-time fan of Netscape Navigator, Firefox with its relations to Netscape was appealing to me.

Today I did something that I’ve seen coming for a long time now. I’m not sure if it will stick – but I’ve done it.

  • I exported my bookmarks from Firefox into an HTML file (I probably have several thousand, carefully categorized).
  • I imported my bookmarks from the HTML file into Google Chrome (it looks like they came over without a hitch).
  • I closed the almost-always-running instance of Firefox.
  • I unpinned Firefox from my Windows taskbar.

Now I sit stand in front of my computer, the monitor flashing its warm blue glow, my fingers typing on the keyboard as if nothing has changed, and yet something has changed – something significant. For over five years now a large portion of my life and work has occurred via the Firefox browser, and now, now it is no more.

What Happened?

Firefox’s bloat over time was a big hassle for many – but I held onto Firefox through all of that. The slow release cycles compared to Google’s Chrome drove others crazy, but I held on through that.

What finally drove me (several years ago) to begin using Chrome for at least a significant portion of my web activities was the profiles – something that Firefox never really was able to handle well, as far as I know, still can’t. I have different “personas” on the web – they are all me (Dave Mackey) and I don’t pretend to be different people, but I operate for different functions. I am the personal me, I was the corporate me, I am the techie me, and I am the pastor me. Each of these personas was best served by a separate profile. With thousands of links organized into categories, it was too confusing to try and keep track of everything all mashed into one profile – so now, my ministry links are in my ministry profile, my personal links are in my personal profile, and so on.

Any Hope of Reconciliation?

Sure there is. I have never used Chrome as my 100% primary browser. Up to this point I’ve primarily used Chrome for web app (GMail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep) and have used Firefox for browsing and discovery (e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, RSS, Zakta). There may be issues that arise when I use Chrome for everything that weren’t present when I used it for only these app’ish purposes…but I sort of doubt it.

Still, there is hope for reconciliation in my relationship with Firefox. Why? Because, quite honestly, I don’t trust Google. No, I’m not paranoid. Yes, I let them collect all sorts of info. about me and use it to target their advertising at me. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about commitment. Google has axed far too many products or twisted them beyond recognition to be entirely trusted. I now Google Reader is the latest example, but there have been so many others – anyone remember their attempt with wikified search? Or how about that note taking application – what was it called?

So, Google, here is your word of warning: I’m watching you. Customer acquisition isn’t the whole game, to win customer loyalty you need to be loyal too, and you’ve fumbled quite a few times in this area!

Google Chrome Extensions – A Curated List.

Here is a fairly huge and curated list of Google Chrome extensions. Those I use are bolded, those I have used are italicized, and those which I am considering using have an asterisk. Which ones am I missing that you can’t live without?

Productivity

  • Google Keep – This isn’t an extension, but a web app., but it might as well be an extension. In any case, it integrates with Google Drive making it awesome and simple. There is also a nifty Android app. as well.
    • Sticky Notes – This was my preferred application before Keep, it lacked sync however.
    • Quick Note.
    • Chrome NotePad.
  • Browser Clipboard.*
  • Springpad – For taking notes.
  • Google Calendar Checker.*
  • Meeting Scheduler for Google Calendar.*
  • CleanPrint.*
  • EasyBib Tools.*
  • Lazarus Form Recovery.
  • Google Translate – A useful extension, but one I wouldn’t use frequently enough to make worthwhile.
  • Print Friendly & PDF – Allows you to select actually what you want to print on a page and print to PDF.
  • Google Calendar.*
  • StayFocusd.
  • Ginger – Corrects spelling and grammar.*
    • Spell Checker for Chrome.*
    • After the Deadline.
  • Harvest Time Tracker.

Tabs

  • TabCloud
  • OneTab – This turns your tabs into a list, freeing up memory.
  • Speed Dial – Choose which sites appear on your new tab page.*
  • TabJump – Intelligent Tab Navigator.*
  • IE Tab – Are there really sites you still need to browse in IE? Yes, a few.
  • Incredible StartPage.*
    • FoxTab Speed Dial.*

Phone

Updated: 3/20/13

  • Google Chrome to Phone – Send a page from your computer to your phone’s browser.
  • Google Voice.*
  • SMS to PC Options – Now has an entire page reviewing the various options.

Web Master

  • Google Publisher Toolbar.
  • Create Amazon Affiliate Link (from Travis Illig).*
  • Zemanta – I ended up just installing the plugin into WordPress, it is an excellent way to find related articles for blog posts and Creative Commons licensed images to insert into posts.
  • Buffer.*
  • SEOquake.*
  • Alexa Traffic Rank – I may replace this with something like SEOQuake which provides a fuller view from more services.

Twitter

  • Silver Bird – This is a sleek, streamlined Twitter client. As with all Twitter clients I’ve found, they don’t offer a “mark as read” feature, making them and Twitter, IMHO, essentially useless.
  • Twitter for Chrome
  • TweetDeck

Email

  • Smartr Inbox for Gmail – Made by Xobni, provides integration with social networks and intelligence about relationships using data within email.*
  • PowerInbox – Social network integration, blahh, blahh.
  • Attachments.me for Gmail.
  • ToutApp for Gmail.
  • Streak – CRM in your email.*
  • Cleaner Gmail.*
  • Contactually – Offers CRM in your inbox, but feature set is very limited for free, then moves up to $20/mo/user.
  • Yesware – Tracks who opens your emails.
  • Rapportive.
  • Boomerang for Gmail.
  • Right Inbox.*
  • YouSendIt for Webmail – Allows you to send large attachments via email.

Todo

  • Any.do
  • Google Tasks – Integrates with Google’s official tasks management application, but inferior to most others.
  • Remind Me (by Astrid) – If I didn’t use Asana, I would use Astrid. They are amazing, integrate with Google Tasks, have this app and a mobile app.
  • Toodledo Tasks.
  • Todoist.
  • Taskforce.
  • GQueues.
  • Teambox for Gmail.
  • Google Mail Checker – I just keep a pinned tab with GMail open.
  • Wunderlist.

Clipping

  • Save to Google Drive
  • Diigo Web CollectorMakes it easy to highlight text on webpages, save and clip portions of pages.
  • Evernote Web Clipper – I use Diigo instead.

Image Editing

  • PicMonkey – Allows one to edit photos, can integrate with Google Drive.
  • Explain and Send Screenshots.
  • Pixlr Editor.
  • Awesome Screenshot Capture & Annotate.

Bookmarks

  • Xmarks Bookmark Sync – Once the leader in bookmark syncing it has fallen sadly behind Google Chrome’s native capabilities, though it still rules for cross-browser syncing. Wish LastPass would put some time into this extension/site.
  • Bookmark Sentry – Checks for dead or duplicate links.*
  • Kippt
  • Delicious Bookmarks.*

Discovery/Sharing

  • StumbleUpon – The grand-daddy of site discovery.
  • Pinterest Pin It Button by shareaholic.
  • AddThis – For sharing stuff.
  • Pearltrees
  • Similar Sites Pro – I find it easy enough just to go to their website, no need for an extension.

Security

  • Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker.
  • Ghostery.
  • LastPass – A robust password management solution. A must-have.
  • Web of Trust (WOT) – Helps you to find trustworthy/safe websites.

RSS

Search

  • Wajam
  • Google Personal Blocklist – Allows one to remove specific sites from your Google Search results. I use it mainly to get rid of content farm articles.
  • Google Webspam Report – Allows one to report spammy results via Google Webmaster Tools. I think I wouldn’t use it frequently enough to make it worthwhile, can just manually go to GWT.

Uncategorized

  • Evernote Clearly – Removes distractions from pages you want to read. I don’t find this necessary, and I like to support blogs monetization.
  • Adblock Plus – A favorite of many, I don’t use it b/c I believe in supporting sites that use ads as their basis for revenue.
  • Pulse.
  • Last.fm Scrobbler – For listening to music.
  • Better History.*
  • Send to Kindle (by klip.me).*
  • iMacros for Chrome.*
  • FreshStart – Cross-browser session management.*
    • Session Manager.*
    • Session Buddy – Looks interesting.*
  • Anti-Porn Pro (by clouduacl).
    • Blocksi.
    • FoxFilter.
  • CloudMagic – Search multiple online web apps.
  • Yoono*
  • AppJump App Launcher and Manager.
  • TLDR
  • OneReceipt.*
  • Bitly.*

Bibliography

I LOVE Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang effect
Boomerang effect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure how I survived this long without Boomerang for Gmail, and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do when my free premium trial runs out either. This tool is absolutely awesome for increasing productivity.

Essentially, Boomerang allows you to remind yourself and others about emails in your inbox. If you are like me and are continuously getting emails, this is a must-have. For example, if you send an email and need a response to it you can have Boomerang bring the message back to the top of your inbox if you don’t receive a message with x time frame.

Another awesome feature is the ability to send recurring scheduled emails. For example, if you have someone who tends to forget things you can set up a scheduled email which will send another copy of the email every day until they remember to do whatever the email specifies. Of course, this could be abused – but properly used it is awesome.

One feature I’d love to see added to Boomerang for Gmail is the ability to SMS someone if something doesn’t happen in x time frame. This could be a text message to self reminding yourself to answer an email, or a reminder that you haven’t received a response to an email, or even a more persistent form of the recurring scheduled message – say the person doesn’t respond within five days to your recurring emails it could escalate to recurring text messages.

Boomerang is available for free on a limited basis and there is a personal account priced at $5/mo. But to get the recurring messages you’ll need the Professional which clocks in at a whopping $15/mo. I pay $5/mo. to SugarSync for 30 GB of data!

I understand Boomerang needs to make money – but might I suggest an alternate pricing scheme? How about a pay for usage option? For example, let me deposit a specified amount into my Boomerang account (lets say $10) and then charge me $.10 for each email reminder I make for myself above the base ten free and maybe $.25 for each recurring email reminder I schedule.

For some people, the flat Professional package would be the best deal – but for others the pay per usage would be more than adequate. I imagine this would add significantly to Boomerang’s user base. I really don’t think I can afford another $15/mo. for a professional subscription. I already pay $60/mo. for internet, $5/mo. for SugarSync, may need to start paying FreshBooks for invoicing, adding Boomerang on top of it all? If I was going to use it heavily, sure, but I’d say I’m a medium load user. I might schedule a few reminder emails per day max and the recurring emails would probably next exceed ten a month.

Firefox Add-Ons.

I have a Firefox t-shirt from ohh, so long ago[1], I’ve been using Firefox for so many years[2]. Today I’ve compiled a list of add-ons which I believe are useful/interesting for Firefox. I have not used all of these – those that I currently use have a ** by them and those which I have used in the past but am not currently using have a * by them.

I must admit, I’m really thinking about moving from Firefox to Google Chrome entirely. It has taken me a long time – but I’m seriously considering it. Right now the biggest thing that keeps bringing me back to Firefox is its bookmark management – it is easily and significantly superior to that included in Chrome.

It saddens me that at some point Mozilla dropped the ball with Firefox and we all watched as Chrome gained market share and Firefox seemed to be doing nothing. Mozilla seems to be rectifying this situation now – but it may be too late. The addition of a PDF reader to the browser was a slick move, but probably not enough.

Well, I’m not really here to talk about whether Firefox or Chrome is a better browser – that is another topic for another day…

Bookmarks

Speed

Tabs

Commerce

Social Media

Curation/Discovery

Security/Ad Blocking

Downloads

Development

Email

Translation

Customize

Productivity

Other

IRC

RSS

  1. [1]Yes, I also have a Thunderbird t-shirt from the same time period.
  2. [2]Yet, I’m also old enough to remember before there was a Firefox, when IE dominated the landscape, and Netscape was the main alternative browser, but even it had basically died.

MailStore Home – For Long-Term Email Archival.

You want to save your emails forever – but for whatever reason, keeping them “online” is not an option. This used to be much more of a dilemma before Google brought Gmail on the scene and started offering gobs of free space and forcing most other major email providers to do the same. Still, there are a few reasons you might want to keep emails forever in an “offline” manner:

  • Backups – You want to ensure that if Google shuts its doors, you don’t lose the last ten years worth of emails.
  • Space – You are an email fiend and manage to consume the vast amounts of free space given you by your email provider.
  • Corporate Restrictions – You are part of a corporation that places limits on your mailbox size – and you’ve reached the limit.
  • Archival – You want to keep the emails, but don’t really want them showing up in your searches through your mailbox.

The last reason is why I use MailStore Home these days. See, I like to keep all my emails for historical purposes – but I don’t necessarily keep them because I’m going to reference them. When I search my Gmail I don’t need to see these emails in the results – they are historical…but I still want to be able to access them just in case someday I need one. So, I use MailStore Home.

MailStore Home is a nifty and free product available for non-commercial use (e.g. don’t use as an employee of a corporation). It has been around for years and I’ve used it on and off-again for years. It creates a local store of your emails which is searchable and browsable through a friendly and intuitive UI.

There are a few weaknesses to the program:

  • Backups – It doesn’t automatically perform some sort of cloud syncing backup, though it does offer the option to backup to Hard Disk Drive or USB. I use SugarSync, so this isn’t really a problem – since SugarSync takes care of the cloud backup for me.
  • Automation – You have to run MailStore Home manually – it won’t just automatically pull down all the latest emails from your email account. Bahh humbug. It isn’t a major pain, but something worth nothing.

Granted, there is a reason this is called MailStore Home – namely because it is their lite product for non-commercial use. They do offer a for-pay server product which looks pretty amazing as well and probably addresses some of these problems.

Ohh, and did I mention they have a non-profit discount on their server product?

WordPress Plugins – A New Summation.

Introduction

WordPress
WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

I like to categorize and organize. So what did I do? I reviewed the first one hundred pages of plugins on WordPress’ Plugin Directory ordered by most popular. From the first number of pages I included essentially every plugin (categorized), but as I moved through additional pages, I included only those which seemed to be interesting, unique, or well-known in some way. Here is the result. I hope you find it useful as you determine what plugins you will install in your WordPress instance.

Those plugins which I use regularly I’ve bolded. Those which I have used regularly in the past I’ve italicized.

Anti-Spam

Forms

SEO

Social Media Sharing

  • Social Media Widget
  • Shareaholic[2]
  • Facebook
  • WP to Twitter[3]
  • Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Buttons
  • AddThis[4]
  • NextScripts
  • Add Link to Facebook
  • WP Socializer
  • ShareThis[5]
  • Facebook  Like Button Plugin
  • Facebook Comments
  • Sociable
  • Social
  • Floating Social Media Icon
  • WP-Email

Multiple

  • Jetpack by WordPress.com

Import/Export

  • WordPress Importer

Images

  • NextGen Gallery (see also NextGEN Gallery Optimizer)
  • Lightbox Plus
  • WP Photo Album Plus
  • Gallery
  • Lightbox Gallery
  • jQuery Colorbox
  • Grand FIAGallery
  • Image Widget
  • WOW Slider
  • Easing Slider
  • Slideshow Gallery

Audio/Video

  • Viper’s Video Quicktags
  • Smart YouTube Pro
  • Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin
  • JW Player for WordPress
  • Embed Plus
  • MediaElement.js
  • WordPress Video Plugin
  • Video Embed & Thumbnail Generator
  • S0undCloud Shortcode

Administrative

  • Broken Link Checker
  • Advanced Custom Fields
  • All in One Favicon
  • WP Maintenance Mode
  • Regenerate Thumbnails
  • AdMinimize
  • Enable Media Replace
  • WP-DBManager
  • Postie
  • ManageWP Worker
  • WP-Optimize
  • Duplicator
  • Thank Me Later
  • CloudFlare
  • Duplicate Posts
  • DB Toolkit
  • Admin Menu Editor
  • OptionTree
  • WP Robots Txt
  • Use Google Libraries
  • P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
  • Add From Server
  • InfiniteWP Client
  • Front-end Editor
  • Plugin Organizer
  • Kontrol Developer Kit
  • Configure SMTP
  • One Click Close Comments
  • Custom Post Type UI
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Peter’s Login Redirect
  • WordPress MU Domain Mapping
  • SB Welcome Email Editor
  • Peter’s Collaboration E-mails
  • OpenHook
  • Bulk Delete
  • underConstruction
  • Co-Authors Plus
  • Simple URLs
  • One-Click Child Theme
  • wp-FileManager
  • After the Deadline
  • Peter’s Post Notes
  • User Switching
  • Advanced Excerpt
  • Ultimate Coming Soon Page
  • Redirection
  • WP Mail SMTP

Statistics

  • Google Analytics for WordPress[6]
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Analyticator
  • WP-SlimStat
  • WP-PostViews

WYSIWYG Editor

  • Ultimate TinyMCE
  • TinyMCE Advanced
  • Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
  • CKEditor for WordPress

Performance

Add-On Functionality

  • BuddyPress
  • bbPress
  • WP-Ecommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • The Events Calendar
  • Ready! eCommerce Shopping Cart
  • Events Manager
  • Polldaddy Polls & Ratings
  • WP-Polls
  • All-in-One Event Calendar
  • eShop
  • Connections
  • Link Library
  • Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin
  • Ajax Event Calendar
  • Calendar
  • JigoShop
  • Mingle Forum
  • WordPress Poll
  • easyReservations
  • GigPress
  • WP-CRM
  • CataBlog
  • WP-Invoice
  • Participants Database
  • Q and A
  • Business Directory Plugin
  • Booking Calendar
  • wpsc Support Tickets
  • ClickDesk Live Support
  • Quick Chat
  • Event Organiser
  • Seriously Simple Podcasting
  • RSVP Plugin
  • ComicEASEL
  • Webcomic
  • Yet Another Photoblog
  • WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart
  • WP Symposium
  • Job Manager
  • WP-Property
  • Gravity Forms Directory

Security

  • Wordfence Security
  • Bulletproof Security
  • Better WP Security
  • AntiVirus
  • Timthumb Vulnerability Scanner
  • Login LockDown
  • WordPress HTTPS
  • No Right Click Images Plugin

Customize Look & Feel

  • WP-PageNavi
  • WordPress Related Posts
  • Display Widgets
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
  • List Category Posts
  • Widget Logic
  • WP Google Fonts
  • Options Framework
  • Breadcrumb NavXT
  • WP-PostRatings
  • GD Star Rating
  • Custom Meta Widget
  • Theme My Login
  • Special Recent Posts
  • Crayon Syntax Highlighter
  • MaxButtons
  • Theme-Check
  • Infinite-Scroll
  • WP No Category Base
  • Post Layout
  • Background Manager
  • Gantry Template Framework
  • Dynamic “To Top” Plugin
  • WordPress Post Tabs
  • Collapse-O-Matic
  • WP-Paginate

Membership/Roles

  • s2Member Framework
  • User Role Editor
  • Role Scoper
  • Members
  • Advanced Access Manager
  • Simple Facebook Connect
  • Google Authenticator
  • Social Login
  • WordPress Social Login
  • Social Login & Social Sharing by JanRain
  • User Access Manager
  • WP-Members

Comments

  • Disqus Comment System
  • CommentLuv[7]
  • Disable Comments
  • WP Ajax Edit Comments
  • IntenseDebate Comments
  • LiveFyre Realtime Comments

Monetization

  • AdRotate
  • QuickAdsense
  • WP125
  • Adsense Insert
  • AdSense Manager
  • Affiliates
  • Ad Injection
  • Easy Adsense
  • Adsense Extreme
  • Ad Squares Widget
  • Ad Codes Widget
  • Ads Manager WP/BB
  • Amazon Product in a Post Plugin
  • Amazon Link
  • Simple Ads Manager
  • Google AdSense Plugin
  • Easy Ads
  • Paid Memberships Pro
  • AdSense Now!
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • AdSense
  • PayPal Donations
  • WP Auto Affiliate Links
  • Adminer
  • WP-Insert

Backup

  • UpDraft Plus Backup
  • Online Backup for WordPress
  • BackWPup
  • WordPress Backup to Dropbox
  • BackUpWordPress
  • WP-DB-Backup
  • Simple Backup

Page Management

  • CMS Tree Page View
  • Post Types Order
  • Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin
  • Exclude Pages
  • Related Posts
  • WordPress Popular Posts
  • Google Doc Embedder
  • Advanced Page Manager
  • Simple Page Ordering
  • My Page Order
  • 404-to-start

Mobile

  • UppSite
  • WordPress Mobile Pack

Newsletters

  • Wysija Newsletters
  • Constant Contact for WordPress
  • Subscribe2[8]
  • MailChimp List Subscribe Form
  • Newsletter
  • Newsletter Sign-Up

Downloads

  • WordPress Download Monitor
  • WordPress Download Manager
  • WP-Filebase Download Manager

Other

  • MapPress Easy Google Maps
  • Comprehensive Google Map Plugin
  • WP Google Maps
  • Leaflet Maps Marker
  • Print Friendly and PDF Button
  • WP-Print
  • Pretty Link Lite
  • Meteor Slides
  • WPtouch
  • Page Links To
  • Social Slider
  • FeedWordPress
  • Types
  • Relevanssi
  • Advanced Code Editor
  • White Label CMS
  • Google Calendar Events
  • Groups
  • Portfolio
  • Liveblog
  • Strictly Auto Tags
  • Magic Fields 2
  • More Fields
  • Custom Field Template

Multilingual

  • qTranslate
  • Transposh WordPress Translation

PHP

  • Exec-PHP
  • PHP Code Widget
  • Shortcode Exec PHP
  • Allow PHP in Posts and Pages

Post Enrichment

Gamification

  • CubePoints
  • Achievements for WordPress

 Twitter

  • Tweetily
  • Tweetable
  • Twitter Tools
  • Xhanch – My Twitter
  • Twitter Widget Pro

 Available Elsewhere

  • CiviCRM
  • Simple:Press
  1. [1]I used this before Jetpack came along and offered bundled Contact Forms.
  2. [2]I used this before Jetpack provided social sharing.
  3. [3]I used this before Jetpack provided integrating sharing to Facebook and Twitter.
  4. [4]I had used this in the past, but had replaced it with ShareThis, etc.
  5. [5]I used this before Jetpack provided integrated sharing.
  6. [6]I still use this on occasion, but WordPress stats included in Jetpack are usually sufficient for me.
  7. [7]I’m not sure if I will continue using this plugin.
  8. [8]This has been replaced by Jetpack’s functionality.