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Web App Review: AwayFind Helps You Stay Out Of Your Inbox

Web App Review: AwayFind Helps You Stay Out Of Your Inbox

Your email inbox is killing you.

Well, maybe that is a little extreme, but the peeps over at AwayFind think that living in your inbox isn’t the greatest thing in the world. So, to rid you of obsessively checking your inbox 20 times or more a day they decided to develop a new service for alerting you of important messages and helping you stay out of your inbox all day long.

The premise

The idea behind AwayFind’s service is to keep you out of your email inbox by having their service send you urgent messages and things that are worth knowing about. The service will scan your inbox and depending on what filters you have set up on the site and which notification services you have enabled, AwayFind will notify you of messages that you deem important.

AwayFind also offers a way to auto-respond to email as well as giving emailers a way to contact you via a customized web form. The service also can notify you in a ton of different ways including SMS, phone call (not for the free account), email (kind of redundant, huh?), Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, even native iPhone push notifications (Android coming soon).

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These kind of services always seem cool at first blush, but once you start setting it up and using it, there tends to be something missing. Let’s see what AwayFind has to offer for users.

    Setup

    With all the crazy promises and unique features of the AwayFind service you may be surprised to know that it is super easy to set up. I always dread having to sign up for a trial of a new web app, mostly because they force information out of you that you don’t want to give. Not the case at all with AwayFind; I quickly set up my account by using my Google login and I was guided through the process of setting up which way I want to be notified of something important in my email inbox.

    I setup straight SMS messages by supplying my cell number and the system sent me a verification code to enter. After the initial notification and email address setup you can then setup the filters that you want the site to apply to all of your incoming email messages.

    Two filters are already setup for you as examples. The first is an alert that sends you a message when a contact that is included in a calendar appointment within the next 12 hours emails you. The second is an email with ‘urgent’ or ‘asap’ flags. You can then setup new filters based on a contacts name, who the email is to, what the subject is, etc. You can then set up a notification to come to you between certain times on the weekdays and weekends.

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      After setting up some filters you get the chance to take a look at the other great features of AwayFind like the iPhone app that sends push notifications, intelligent auto-responders and email signatures, a customized contact form that can be used for contacts to send you alerts, etc.

      I have to say that AwayFind has done a damn good job of making a complicated thing easy to set up. Even with my technical ability, I sometimes find that these kind of services are complicated and confusing. AwayFind has made the process easy for users of all walks.

      Features

      If you are a feature hungry person and want all kinds of ways to control your incoming email, AwayFind has got you covered. The account that I tried was the free account and found that even for a “limited” version of the service, there were more features than I would possibly find myself using. Here are some of the features:

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      • AwayFind includes ways to setup intelligent filters for scanning your email and notifying you of it
      • iPhone client for push notifications (with Android coming soon)
      • Gmail and Outlook plugins so you can setup and edit filters without signing into the site
      • Custom contact form for people to fill out to contact you
      • A handy guide on how not to check your email

      Also, AwayFind offers several plans that have different amounts of features for users. There is a free version, a Monthly Starter for $15/mo, and a Yearly Pro option for $139/yr. The free plan of course includes a limited amount of features and smaller caps for alerts while the paid versions up the caps and features. You can check out the details of each plan at AwayFind’s plan overview site.

        Execution

        I found that after setting up AwayFind with a few filters that included friends that email me once or twice a week that the service was reliable and decently fast. I did sometimes notice that I would receive SMS alerts in the opposite order that I actually received the email messages, but in my opinion this is a non-issue.

        I then set up several different accounts that AwayFind could send alerts to me including my GTalk account, Twitter, and AIM accounts. I found that setting up the GTalk account took a couple of tries, but everything else was fluid and easy to set up. When receiving messages that matched the filter criteria that I outlined all my accounts alerted me in harmony. It sort of reminded me of The Office’s Ryan and his new web service “WUPHF!”. (Pronounced “Woof!”)

        Overall impressions

        I have to admit that I genuinely like what AwayFind is doing here. I think that having the ability to receive “priority” messages via SMS and other outlets is a good way to stay away from checking your inbox every 5 seconds. But, I do think that there is a small audience for this service.

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        I get a lot of email, but I find that just checking my email 2 to 3 times a day is enough for me to stay on top of things. My contacts know if there is an emergency to call or SMS me. But, if you are receiving hundreds of emails every day and are having a difficult time sifting through the endless garbage that you receive, spending some time with AwayFind’s filters may just be the way to finally take control of your email.

        At the very least, sign up for the starter account to see if this service could work for you; it is definitely worth looking at if you are obsessively checking your inbox.

        More by this author

        CM Smith

        A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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        Last Updated on May 14, 2019

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

        1. Zoho Notebook
          If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
        2. Evernote
          The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
        3. Net Notes
          If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
        4. i-Lighter
          You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
        5. Clipmarks
          For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
        6. UberNote
          If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
        7. iLeonardo
          iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
        8. Zotero
          Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

        I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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        In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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