Start The Year Right, Clear Out Your Apps And Tidy Up Your Files

We’ve just started the new year and it’s a great time to do a review of everything you are doing and set a course for the year. Of course, a lot of people set resoultions and get off course during the year. 25% of people who set a resolution give up within the first week, 45% by the end of the first month and only 8% by the end of the year [click here for more New Years statistics]. However, there is one very easy task you can do at the start of the year that will help you for the rest of the year.

Clear out your Apps and organise your files.

Clear Out Your Apps

I’m sure you have some of those apps that you downloaded once to try out or show off to people but just never removed, or a game that was fun for a while but you stopped playing several months ago. Yet, they still sit there on your device unused and unloved but taking valuable space. It might not seem significant now but after a couple of years they can really clog up your device.

Even if you are frugal with your apps, it’s a lot simpler to navigate when you have fewer apps and fewer homescreens too. So start the year right, open up your storage space and do a review of your apps. Try to group them into

  • Apps you use daily
  • Apps you use weekly
  • Apps you have used in the last month
  • All other apps

Then it’s time to bring out the surgeons knife. I’m not going to tell you to completely remove every apps from the “all other apps” group but you need a seriously good reason to keep it (after all, couldn’t you just download it again if you need it so rarely?). On the other end of the spectrum, just because you use an app daily doesn’t mean that you should keep it.

Instead be critical and think if you can use another app to do the same function that you use this app for. What are the reasons that you use it so often. Is there a good reason to have a separate app that does one thing really well or an app that does several things well.

Organise your files

This is an area that many blog posts have been written about and many more could and should be written about. However, I like using an adapted the gride reference from President Esienhour for my storage.

I have two axisis, Frequency of use, and importance. This groups files into four different groups that help me know where to keep my files.

  • If something is important and I need to use it a lot, then I keep it on my dropbox storage and download it into my computer to use as well as having a hardcopy on my external hard drive.
  • If it is something I don’t use a lot but is important, then I keep it on my dropbox account and my External Hard drive.
  • If it is not very important but I use it a lot then I keep it on my device as well as I will use it a lot but it’s not vital to have a back up copy.
  • If it is something I rarely use and isn’t important then I keep it on my external hard drive and move it onto my device as and when I need it.

There are a few exceptions as I try to keep a backup copy of all but the least important things on my external hard drive and I keep a lot of plain text documents in Evernote instead of dropbox but this is a good rule of thumb for images, music etc.

After that It’s a system of folders with topics and time related or project related organising.

Get to it, organise your files today.

10 Not So Obvious Apps For Your New iPad

After the 10 obvious iPad apps that I shared yesterday (the ones many people would put on without needing them to be recommended.) I thought it would be good to look at 10 not so obvious apps. These are ones that might not be perfect for everyone and have some more advance features that won’t be for everyone but they are still worth checking out no matter who you are.


Duolingo is the best language learning app that is out there at the moment. It provides practice of the different areas around a language and uses spaced repetition to help you remember the new words you are learning. It isn’t for every language yet but if you are decent at English (which I suspect you are because you’re reading this site) then you can learn some of the most common European languages. (or learn English from one of the most common languages)

Download Duolingo


Comixology is a great app for reading Comics. Not only do they get in some of the newest comics but if you get a paper version you can also download a digital version from comixology. Comics might not be for everyone but you might surprise yourself by giving them a go.

Download Comixology

Day One

Day one is an electronic journalling application that let’s you record your time, imports your location, the weather, your activity and more features, but also lets you leave notes as well as to what you did. It can be a nice tool for journalling but if you start using some other tools as well then you can really get more from it. I recommend checking out the template that Michael Hyatt uses for Journaling and also Bret Terpstra’s tools

Download Day One

Text Expander

Text expander are another tool that get more and more powerful the more you use them (like Evernote we mentioned yesterday) and the more you get used to them. Not only can they save you time from writing large amounts of text but they can also help provide frameworks that you can use in other areas such as creating a journaling templates.

Download TextExpander


Passwords are a pain! With more and more online services requiring passwords and more tools hacking your password it’s more important to use different and difficult to remember passwords across your different services. 1Password is accessed from a single password and can store all your passwords and log in information for different services. It can generate difficult to remember passwords as well as providing automatic password completion in the in app browser.

Download 1Password


Editorial is a powerful Markdown editor that can really help you if you are writing for the web. With it’s snippets, built in browser, macro support and built in python engine, it is a highly flexible and customisable app that can help you streamline your writing process and if go as far as Federico Viticci, then it can become your main writing application not out of necessity but out of choice.

Download Editorial


Drafts is a “gateway app”. No that’s not like a gateway drug, instead it is an app that starts your process. The idea of Drafts is to be your notebook on your device. If you have an idea but have no idea where it should go (create a task, add a diary entry, tweet it, add it to a Evernote note, or more) It also supports Markdown and text expander so it allows you to quickly type up messages to send else where either now or save it for later.

Download Drafts


IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is a tool for automating processes with your iPad or iPhone. For every “recipe” you set up a trigger and an action. These triggers can be things such as a new post in the RSS feed, a time, when you star a email in Gmail or even your location. After that you set an action which is what will happen afterwards. So for example, when a new blog post is published, it is added to your pocket app for you to read. Or when you arrive at work you text someone telling them you’ve arrived.

(unfortunately there is only an iPhone app at the moment, but it does work on the iPad as well.)

<a title=”IFTTT” href=”>Download IFTTT


PDFpen is an application suit with apps for the Mac, iPhone and most importantly today…the iPad. If you need to work with pdfs for either reading or editing then PDFped is the best application for you. Not only does it sync between iCloud to keep all the pdf’s you have handy, it also bring PDFs in from other cloud systems like dropbox and google drive.

However, the real value in PDFpen comes in it’s ability to edit and add to PDFs. You can type in information (and pdf will even recognize sections you should fill in and change them into text box automagically) or use your finger or stylus to write or draw over the document so you can add your signature.

There is also a separate scanning app that allows you to scan a document using your iPad’s (or iPhone’s) camera and then share.

Download PDF Pen
Download PDF Pend Scan +


One of the clear advantages of having the larger screen on an iPad is for a recipe book. Showing larger images along with easy to read text means that you can easily switch follow a recipe as you cook. Probably the best app for this is Paprika. Not only does it store recipes you like and sync them between any devices you have but it also has a meal planner to help you track prepare for the month and integrates with a shopping list for when you go to buy the items that you need.

However, some of the real stand out features are it’s inbuilt timers for while you cook and the ability to download recipes from websites with the click of a button. Paprika can really help you manage your cooking both as you cook and as you prepare to cook.

Download Paprika

Do you have any not so obvious applications that you would recommend

Fluent Forever: The Kickstarter Campaign To Help You Learn A Language

Learning a foreign language is tough work. Unless you were lucky enought to have been born into a bilingual situation or have a natural flair for languages then you're going to have to put in a lot of hardwork to get to a decent level of proficcency. In the past it was very difficult to get hold of learning resources to pick up a language but now, with the spread of the internet and the plethora of resources avalible online it is becoming easier to learn a language than it used to be.

The lastest offering aiming to easy your language learning experience is a kickstarter by the name of “Fluent Forever.” brought to you by Gabriel Wyner.

What Is Fluent Forever

Fluent Forever is a kickstarter campaign to create a series of applications that aim to help you improve your pronunciation in a foreign language. The application will play various recording and help you to identify the different sounds that occur with the language. Being able to differentiate sounds helps with not only speaking but also listening and understand what you are hearing, vital skills when you are learning a new language. Check out the video

What I Like

The app follows a basic system of Test Teach Test (hear a sound, identfy it between two option, get feed back on whether it is correct, then repeat) which is common within language teaching. It also provides a vast amount of exposure for a learner of the language when they are just starting out and specifically tackling difficult sounds.

This is aiming to help people learn to deal with one of the most difficult areas of learning a language and help them to be able to process the language they hear from other sources.

However, pronunciation is also an area that even long term language learners can struggle with and so it isn't just an application that should appeal to new language learners but also long term language learners.

What I Don't Like

As a language teacher this does introude upon my day job and so there are a few things I don't like about this system. It appears to focus on “minimal pairs” words with only one sound different like ship and sheep, which are often difficult to tell apart but usually we can guess the word via the other words around them (for example"a flock of X", or “a X on the ocean”). In addition when we say multiple words together we sometimes change how we say the word which makes it harder to hear anyway.

Finally, I really hate the name of the app. I understand that this is all about marketting (it also matches the name of the website of the founde) and seeing as the app has been successfully funded (550% and growing) proves that it was a good choice of name but frankly this app won't make you fluent. There are a lot of other elements to knowing a language and

Back/Don't Back

This is not a complete all in one language learning experience, for that you should check out duolingo, but if you want to improve your proncuncation, at any stage of your language learning journey, then it is a campaing you should look to back. Although I have my doubt about the application and I am not keen on some of it's claim I have backed the project as I try to help increase the number of language learning tools that people have avalible.

Head over to the kickstarter campaign to back it yourself