Followup.cc

Followup.cc is a service that allows you to schedule emails to arrive in your inbox when you want them. It is similar to the previously reviewed Boomerang for Gmail, but differs in some important ways.

I have been using both free and paid versions of followup.cc for several months and find the tool to be an indispensable part of my attention management strategy, as applied to email. The email inbox tends to be a great way for other people to express their plans for my (limited) attention. Liberal deleting and short responses help a lot, but sometimes I need more time to either think about the response, or work on some larger issue before responding. Being able to re-send email to myself in the future, when I know I’ll have the time to devote to the message, has become super helpful. It’s also really useful as a prompt for followup with others (or myself). I can send a note to a colleague with a bcc to followup.cc and then forget about checking in again in three days (or whatever), because I know the note will come back to me as a reminder to follow up. So handy.

Emails are scheduled with special email addresses. If you want an email to come back to you in one week, the address is 1w@followup.cc, or 1week@followup.cc. If you want a specific date, send it to that date’s address, ie june4@followup.cc. If you want a specific date and time, just throw the time in there separated with a dash, ie june4-10am@followup.cc. All your scheduled emails can be viewed and edited in a calendar format in your followup.cc account. This calendar can also be ported to your Outlook or Gmail calendars, if that appeals to you.

I find that using the followup.cc addresses in the *bcc:* field of my emails works best for me with emails that include other people. However, if you want your other recipients to also see the email when it comes back around, just drop the followup.cc address in the *cc:* field and the note will come back to you and everyone else at the appropriate time. The service works fine in the *to:* field as well, and I frequently use that to send quick reminders only to myself, to be delivered later. Attachments are supported in the paid versions, and if you include them in a scheduled email they’ll return to you intact when you need them.

Unlike Boomerang for Gmail, followup.cc works with whatever email host/client/device you choose to use, though there is a special plugin for Gmail if you desire. The free version of followup.cc allows for one email address to be used, while paid versions allow multiple addresses. Multiple addresses come in handy when using the service for both work and personal email, or if you want to share the service with a spouse or partner.

Here’s the thing with this tool: it’s usefulness is limited by your existing email habits. You may be tempted, as I once was, to send more messages to the future than are needed in an attempt to buy yourself some breathing room in the email deluge. This only postpones and compounds your misery. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Practice good email hygiene, and use followup.cc to help leverage your attention appropriately.

followup.cc
Free and paid plans ($4 – $20 per month)



Unfavinator

I’ve been favoriting tweets ever since I got on Twitter, often tweets with links in them where the aim is to get back to them when I have more time in order to read the links.

The result is that I ended up with hundreds of favorite tweets, to the extent that it became a mess and whenever I wanted to go back to a specific ‘favorited’ tweet invariably I wouldn’t be able to find it.

To solve this, I wanted to erase these tweets in bulk but Twitter itself doesn’t let you: you have to do it one by one. Having researched if there were any apps out there that could do this, I found none until I came across Unfavinator that solves the problem easily and effectively.

All you do, after you log in, is that you see the list of your favorite tweets which you can delete easily. I had some 800 favorites which I deleted in the space of a few minutes when it would have taken me hours to do so otherwise.

Now my favorite tab is clean and filled only with those tweets that really mean something.

-- Paul Grech  



Fineprint

I’ve used the Fineprint application almost since it first came out. I was always frustrated at printing “that” page from the Web. You know, the page that has 3 lines and is almost always worthless. Fineprint allows me to delete “that” page. Fineprint also lets me print several web pages on one sheet up paper. I can delete sensitive text. I can type on pages before I print. I can save as PDFs. I can….

I’ve saved, literally, tens of thousands of sheets of paper with this tool. It is essential.

-- David A. Bressman  

Fineprint
For Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP sp2 or higher
$50



Point It

It’s just a bunch of tiny little color pictures so if you can’t communicate with somebody you whip this out and point at a picture. There’s so many pictures in it that you always get the idea across.

-- Tim Jenison  

[[This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast with Tim Jenison. See all of Tim's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder]]

Point it: Traveller’s Language Kit
$9

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

point-it-4

point-it-3

point-it-10

point-it-9

point-it-8

point-it-7

point-it-6

point-it-5

point-it-2

point-it-1




Google Drive Camera Scanning

This is a specific function of the Google Drive application for Android. There is a “scan” button that lets you take a photograph of a document and uploads it to your Drive folder (formerly Google Docs).

I have used this for the past year, mainly to scan in business cards. When I put the card against a contrasting color surface, the app automatically detects the edges and crops the image to just the card. If the crop is inaccurate, I can fine tune the selection by hand (there is a very satisfying feeling as you drag the edge and it snaps to detected edges in the image). Best of all, Drive’s OCR lets me search these images by text content, such as name, email address, company, etc.

This has enabled me to go paperless with respect to business contacts. I can access these cards from my phone or any computer with internet access. I can toss cards soon after receiving them with peace of mind.

I prefer this tool over specialized business card scanners, which cost money and take up space. CamScanner is a nice alternative with more image processing tools; the trade-off for this is an extra step in getting those scans up into the cloud. Drive’s scanner is a great fire-and-forget, no-cost, no-file-handling way to scan in a bunch of business cards from any location.

-- David Lee  



Unroll.me

I’m on a lot of mailing lists that I did not subscribe to. And every day I get added to a half dozen or more unwanted lists. These spamlike subscriptions are usually from PR flaks who want me to write about their clients. It’s almost always for things I don’t care about (like an insurance company announcing the appointment of a new regional vice president). It’s annoying to sort through this garbage in order to find email I care about.

Then I discovered Unroll.me, a free mailing list management service that works with Gmail, Google Apps, and Yahoo Mail. It does a great (but not perfect) job of finding the mailing lists you are subscribed to and presenting them as a list, allowing you to instantly unsubscribe to them by clicking with your mouse. As of today, I have used Unroll.me to unsubscribe to 1,601 mailing lists. It’s a dream come true.

What about the mailing lists that I actually signed up for and like? Unroll.me is great for dealing with those, too. Instead of receiving the newsletters one-at-a-time in my inbox, I’ve added my 114 mailing list subscriptions to a “Rollup.” This is a daily digest prepared by Unroll.me that contains email from the subscriptions I care about (my bank, my health insurance provider, Audible.com, my kids’ school, James Altucher’s essays, etc.) You can click on any of the items in the Rollup email to see the full email.

Here’s what the Rollup looks like:

rollup

Unroll.me is something I would happily pay money for. It is free, but you need to pay with a tweet or a Facebook like.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Unroll.me
Free



iMagnet Phone Mount

You don’t want to mess with your phone much while driving, period. But because we depend on our phones for driving directions, music, calendar appointments, etc… and, oh yeah, talking on the phone, this car mount provides the most straightforward way to keep your phone accessible in an environment where you really don’t want to pay much attention to your phone (mount).

It holds your phone, securely, where you can see it – and without fuss and fidgeting to get it in our out of the mount. Hold it up to the magnetic surface and it grabs and holds firmly (I’ve been down some pretty bumpy dirt roads without a single slip).

Need to remove your phone quickly? Just lift it off – no clamps or clips to mess with. The mount face swivels and tilts easily for view adjustment and the sticky-cup suction has stayed firm on my dashboard for nearly a year (and still going). The only downside for me, is that my phone case now has a thin, rectangular metal plate stuck to the back of its case for the magnet to contact. This plate hasn’t caused any phone usage issues – it still slips in my pocket fine – it’s just not as aesthetically pleasing. Another option is to try to place the thin metal plate between your phone and its case, and if the case is thin enough the mount face can grab it. The package includes two of the rectangular stick-on plates and another smaller round plate for the under-case option.

-- Janna Kryscynski  

iMagnet Phone Mount
$25

Available from Amazon



Ram Mount Mobile Phone Mount

I’ve used this for the last six months and it’s been a rock-solid mount for using my phone as a GPS.

I prefer to use the Waze app on my phone to the GPS in my car, and this allows me to safely and easily mount my phone to my car. I like Lexus and BMW’s implementation of their navigation system, which puts the screen further forward and up than mounting it in the console where the climate control and stereo typically go. This way, you don’t have to look as far down to read the navigation, and can keep better visibility on the road. The windshield mount puts the display in a similar position that I think is ultimately safer.

The suction assembly is excellent — it uses a twist lock to add additional suction and has so far been flawless. The X-grip flexibly accommodates many different phones, in or out of cases.

-- Mark Xue  

Ram Mount Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount with Universal X-Grip Cell/iPhone Holder
$39

Available from Amazon



Sony Pocket AM/FM Radio

It doesn’t have stereo reception or digital tuning or even a darn clock, but my little Sony Pocket Radio has been going strong for a decade. A pair of AA batteries supplies me with months of music, news, and sports broadcasts. Its reception is strong and steady, the volume is more than adequate, I’ve dropped it a few times without harming it, and it’s about the price of a sandwich. Sure, I wish it came it cute colors. Yes, it tends to tip over on occasion. And it’s so easy to carry from place to place that my biggest complaint is that I sometimes don’t know where I left it. But in the age of HD and wireless and internet media, this pocket radio proves that stuff doesn’t have to fancy in order to be great.

-- Jeremy Jackson  

Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio
$13

Available from Amazon



ASUS RT-N16 Wireless Router

The ASUS RT-N16 is an excellent high performance router that has all the features you would expect from a router in its category. But the feature that stands out is an embedded torrent client that can download and upload torrents to and from an external hard drive plugged into the router’s USB port. I’ve been using it for more than 2 years now, and I can’t count the time and electricity it saved me so far.

The point in having a torrent client in your router is that:

1) To download torrents it’s necessary for someone share it in the first place, and depending on the availability of sources (seeds) this can take some time.

2) The torrent protocol, as any other P2P protocol, depends on people sharing what they have downloaded in order to continue working; so it’s recommended that you upload at least two times what you have downloaded in order to keep the network alive.

All of this requires you to leave your computer on and connected for a long time, and doing this for the sole purpose of downloading and uploading torrents is a waste of electricity and at times just inconvenient. As most people just leave their wireless router on and connected all the time at home, it’s quite interesting to have this task performed by it.

Although many people associate torrents with piracy, it’s just a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol and it can be used to download lots of legal content, mainly media and software. [Here are 30 sites for legal torrents — Mark]

To use this embedded torrent client you need to connect an external hard drive to one of the router’s USB ports. Then, using the router configuration page through a web browser, just press a button to install the client in this HD. After that you will be able to access the client from your browser through an IP address (just like you do to access the configuration page of any router). The client is updated regularly by ASUS through new versions of the router’s firmware, which can be easily updated through the router’s configuration page.

Beware, however, that this client is much more limited than traditional torrent applications, like uTorrent. Limitations include a limit to the number of torrents you can download at the same time, and not being able to select files to download within a torrent.

-- Alessandro Mattos  

ASUS RT-N16 Wireless Router
$78

Available from Amazon