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Drive-by Tips for Centralizing Your Content on the Internet

Drive-by Tips for Centralizing Your Content on the Internet

Centralized Content

    Last week, I wrote on how bloggers could make the most effective use of the FriendFeed service. A question I heard from a few people went something like this:

    I’m not a blogger, but I want to centralize my content on the Internet. How do I do this?

    There are so many ways to manage information online, and many ways to centralize various types of information. The main decision is in deciding which data you want to centralize and aggregate so that you can choose the most appropriate method of pulling it all together.

    I’ve called this drive-by tips because I’m not going to beat around the bush – I’m going to get straight to the point and direct you to the services you need to start getting your information together, so get ready for a fast ride!

    I want to centralize my notes

    I’m a big fan of Evernote, personally. The beauty of this service is that you can use it on your computer, your phone, from the browser, hell, soon they’ll have firmware for your microwave oven. And it all syncs up seamlessly.

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    You can learn more about Evernote and its many uses by reading this recent Lifehack article.

    The kind folks at Evernote have given me a bunch of invites. If you want to grab one, just leave a comment asking for an invite and I’ll get it to you.

    I want to centralize my bookmarks

    Hands-down, the most popular way to centralize and organize your bookmarks is using del.icio.us. With a domain name like that, how could you not use it?

    You can integrate del.icio.us with Firefox using the plugin they provide on their website, or you can use Flock to save bookmarks locally and to an online bookmarking service at the same time. This creates a back-up of your bookmarks – one copy online and one locally. del.icio.us may be more reliable than your computer, but anything could happen.

    A popular alternative, also supported by Flock, is mag.nolia.

    I want to clip web content

    Want to clip web content without leaving your browser? If you’re already using Evernote to centralize your notes, you may as well stick with that (even though it requires you to switch windows). If not, you can download Flock, the social web browser, that has a web clippings feature built-in. Drag any image or text to your web clippings sidebar while surfing and you can come back to it later.

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    Firefox user? You don’t need to jump browsers just to get a clipping service – ScrapBook is a plugin that integrates web clipping capabilities with the world’s favorite browser. Hey, regardless of whether it’s the most frequently used, we can all agree that Firefox is the world’s favorite!

    Perhaps you want a native web service, not another app or plugin. As always, Google has a solution for your online needs – try Google Notebook. Or do you want a web service, but have joined the anti-Google crowd? There’s always Clipmarks.

    The minimalists among us will enjoy ToRead – a service that sends sites you’ve come across to your email address so you can catch up on them later.

    I want to start a blog

    So I said this one wasn’t aimed at bloggers, but it seems to me that when people catch the info-centralization bug, they soon after catch the blogging bug too, even if it’s just to store some information in a readily accessible place.

    Free Blogs

    WordPress is the most popular blogging system, and in my opinion, the best one. You can get a free hosted account at WordPress.com, but the hosted accounts have restrictions on what you can do with it – no advertisements, for instance.

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    Blogger is another popular free blogging service. It has more of a spam problem, but also gives you the option to put Google AdSense ads on your blog and has SEO benefits thanks to its genealogy – it’s a Google property. Both of these advantages contribute to the bigger spam problem.

    An older service, but still quite popular, is LiveJournal. This is typically for personal blogs that are akin to diaries. Lots of teens use this service.

    Lastly, if you want a blog to post quick links, notes, quotes and reminders for yourself, nothing beats Tumblr.

    Self-Hosted Blogs

    There are three things you need for a self-hosted blog:

    • A domain name,
    • Hosting,
    • Blog software

    You can get the first two from GoDaddy pretty cheaply, and I wouldn’t go past WordPress.org for great self-hosted blog software.

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    Most blog systems are compatible with FriendFeed, bringing you one step closer to true information centralization.

    I want to centralize content for my friends to see

    Done all of the above, but now you want to centralize your content not just for your own convenience, but for your friends too? Assuming that you’re connected with your friends via Facebook, like most people these days, this should be pretty easy for you to achieve.

    First, start an account at FriendFeed. Once you’ve plugged in all your accounts for the different types of content, you can install the FriendFeed Facebook app which will post your FriendFeed updates to your mini-feed.

    Of course, the FriendFeed experience is better when your friends use FriendFeed itself, but this method allows them to catch up with everything you’re doing pretty easily without having to add yet another account to their list.

    Don’t forget that FriendFeed is very useful for keeping track of your own content; it’s not just for the convenience of those who want to track you. Know you said something somewhere, but can’t remember where or what? It’s just a few clicks away.

    Hope you enjoyed this drive-by introduction to content centralization for non-bloggers – and remember, if you want an Evernote invitation, just give me a shout in the comments.

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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