Jeffrey Geiger is the marketing technology manager at Geiger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My love for technology began when I was given a computer as a child, and it began to turn into a career when I ran a web design company in high school. From there, I made it official by studying computer science at Clemson University. I consider myself to have always been a self-taught semi-pro tech consultant, and I’ve been working in or as a liaison for tech for the last decade. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what I like and what works. Here are some of my favorite tools to use:
The most important device I own is a jailbroken iPhone 4S. Jailbroken phones allow you to open up the system software and customize virtually every aspect of the device. It’s total personalization of all the things you can’t personalize right out of the box. (There’s even a jailbreak App Store called “Cydia”). Yes, you need to channel your inner hacker and the setup time is considerable. But productivity goes through the roof when you’re up and running.
As far as computers, I use two laptops: a Sony Vaio and a MacBook Air. Most of the time I use the PC, but for image and video editing I use the Mac. The Sony is actually lighter than the Air and is as good as any PC ultraportable I’ve ever seen in terms of hardware performance and construction. I have been using PCs my entire life, but I’m nearly positive a Mac will be my next computer because the operating system software is more intelligent and intuitive. The hardware is also of superior quality (metal vs. plastic)--something you rarely find with a PC.
I have an iPad third generation (retina display, but not the latest version), but I prefer the size of an iPad Mini. The iPad3 works well as a small portable screen to watch TV and videos, but the Mini’s size is perfect for getting things done. I think it’s because you can hold it easily with one hand. My best friend has a Google Nexus tablet w/Droid, and it’s also very nice.
I use a scanner with an auto-document feeder for every piece of print that’s important --my credit cards, license, birth certificate, pre-digital photos, everything. As long as you use a safe password, it’s easy to retrieve any document or image from your phone, tablet or laptop.
Sometimes I’ll put a copy of these files on USB/flash drives, but I’m using them less and less because all my data is on the internet. This way, I don’t have to worry about all the things that could go wrong with my files--such as my computer dies or gets a virus, or I physically lose my USB drive. I rely on cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud to serve up and backup my now electronic file cabinet. Dropbox is my favorite because it seamlessly syncs with every device I have--Mac, PC and mobile. Files are accessible everywhere instead of having multiple copies scattered all over the place.
Slingbox is an indispensable entertainment device that lets me watch TV on all my devices via the internet. Accessing your home DVR whenever and wherever you want it is a great investment.
But the biggest thing for me, hands down, is using gestures. Whether it’s on your laptop touchpad or on your touchscreen mobile or tablet, the latest input surfaces let you use finger motions to do routine tasks. All it takes is two fingers to scroll, three fingers to switch between apps, pinching and spreading your fingers to zoom, etc. It’s mind-blowingly brilliant because it’s so simple. Instead of moving your mouse cursor everywhere, just use your hands.
Launchers—programs that index your files and programs and then opens them with a keyboard shortcut—boost productivity gains because you don’t have to move your mouse to click icons or drill down through folders to find files. I like Launchy for Windows and Quicksilver for Mac.
I use Outlook 2010 for email, mostly because I have not found anything better that works for supporting our corporate Microsoft Exchange servers. That said, I love the Gmail web interface.
Google Chrome is the best web browser by far. It’s the fastest at loading web pages, has a vast library of plugins and synchronizes across all devices. While I have several other browsers installed, I only use them if I need to do some testing on our websites.
I use Windows 7 most of the time because I’ve been with Windows all my life. But the more I use Macs, the more I like them. I think Apple got me hooked when the iPhone came out, so for mobile operating systems, I feel more comfortable with iOS over Droid. But these are all just personal preferences. They’re all good.
For tasks, Microsoft Outlook/Office, but I am trying out a service called Asana and am really liking the way you can granularly organize tasks among groups--all in real time. I’m a list guy, and Remember the Milk does a great job organizing them in a clean, attractive interface.
For reading, Google Reader efficiently pulls in feeds of news and information. But I see Reddit as the future because of the way it democratizes the very definition of news. People vote up stories for what’s truly popular instead of just consuming what media outlets publish.
For pictures, I use Google Picasa. It has all the features you could ask for such as facial recognition, Instagram like filters, image editing, tagging, etc.
I visit Wikipedia more than any website. I use Yelp to find new businesses, such as restaurants, because reviews are offered. I love Google Maps, and you can get some great plugins such as Google Earth in 3D that just amaze.
On my iPhone, an app called Camera+ improves the default camera. It features a one-touch “clarity” filter that makes pictures instantly stunning. Two-way voice apps such as Voxer strike a nice balance between texting and talking. Waze is a great turn-by-turn GPS/traffic helper.
There are so many apps and programs and devices out there competing for our attention that it's easy to get overwhelmed. I hope the tools I've provided help clarify some of what's available. But I’ve found that the best way to figure out what to use is by experimenting. Just spending five minutes pushing buttons can be the best guide in finding your own tools.
Have fun with the discovery of the tools you'll want to use. And I'll leave you with my bonus tip: Super Mario Galaxy 2 for Wii might be the best game of all time. Flying planet to planet is like going from 2D to 3D. It’s a new way to look at gameplay.