25+ apps to make your everyday life easier

TED Blog

Favorite_appsAt our small, fast-moving nonprofit company, everyone does a couple of jobs — and productivity apps help us manage roles that shift between coding, writing/designing and running a full-scale conference twice a year. We asked the TED staff what apps they can’t live without. And beyond the classics—Instagram, Google Maps, Spotify, Uber, Seamless—we found some great apps that might help you too. (A star denotes that the app is free, or at least has a free version.)


For random life stuff…

Dark Sky
A weather app with startling accuracy, its interface tells you things like: “Light rain starting in 22 minutes.” It also shows you beautiful weather maps that let you play local-news weather expert. “It’s like a wizard,” says our CTO, Gavin Hall. “If this app were available in the 1600s, it would have been burned at the stake for witchcraft.”


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Chapter 9: Creating a Free Website.

Tools to use.

  1. WordPress
  2. Weebly
  3. Wix
  4. Strikingly
  5. Squarespace

Creating a domain name

The best place to search for your domain name is http://ie.godaddy.com/

However if you want a country specific domain name then you should register with your local provider.

In Ireland this is http://www.register365.com/. This will also allow you to install a WordPress site when you use 1 click installs through the control panel. It really is not as complicated as one thinks with the 1 click install. The website does all the work so think about this when you are trying to decide whether or not to get a WordPress site. Don’t spend a fortune until you can figure out if you can do it yourself.


Chapter 8 Promotional Materials

When I started out in business first I (like many other small business owners) used http://www.vistaprint.ie/ for creating promotional materials.

I also learnt that one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is marketing to the wrong people. They print up materials and send off flyers to anyone who happens to be in their line of vision.

It pays to do a little research and do some target marketing ie market to people who are quite likely to want your service. Sending 50 well targeted brochures can be more effective than sending a 1000 to people who are unlikely to even look twice at them.

After a while I realised that it really does pay to invest in a good design look for your product. Vistaprint did the job perfectly in the beginning but if you want something that looks unique to your brand then you need to invest a little bit more.

That’s why I was so happy when I found.


This site has a portfolio of every kind of graphic design product that you could need. In fact some of the things you may never have heard of and in that respect it will teach you what kind of promotional materials you should be using.

If you are going to be going to tradeshows then you must invest in a promotional banner. This is one thing I did not regret investing in.

They cost about 150 euro (depending on whether you are paying a graphic designer to do your branding. Worth every penny though, so don’t scrimp on this unless you want to turn up at an event and look like the odd one out.

Then there are flyers, posters, decals, mouse mats, key rings, pens, mugs, sweets (recommend for getting people chatting) brochures, car stickers, lawn signs, and many more.

A relatively new site called Canva has appeared on the scene in the last two years and I love it.

You can create, posters, banners, flyers, facebook tabs, invites and all kinds of promotional material. They look really eye catching and unique and you can sign up for free to try it out. If you refer five friends you get to use it free. You pay when you buy images but they are really reasonable and its a site you really need to check out as I think it will be the go to site for small business when the word gets round.

One that I have recently tried out is Smore.

This creates online flyers. What’s wonderful about it is that it integrates with so many other packages, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Googlemaps, Eventbrite, Craigslist  and it tracks analytics so you know if your campaign has been successful or not.

Chapter 6 Email Marketing

Have you ever wondered how some emails arrive looking very professional with pictures embedded in them and content that you can click on in the email? Also when you receive emails from a company that looks like a million other people have received the same email, then you need to use an email marketing package like the ones listed below this.

They use something called auto responders which allow you to automatically respond to customers when they perform certain tasks.

Auto responses can be something like a thank you for signing up email or a please click here for the download. Listed below are some of the most common.


Constant Contact

Mad Mimi




Again my own personal favourite is Mailchimp.

Why I hear you ask?

Well it integrates so easily with so many other packages. You can use Leadpages to create a Landing Page and everyone who downloads your E-book or promotional offer will immediately be recorded in Mailchimp if you choose that service provider. You will then have a ready made list to send out promotional emails to.

I also love the fact that you can work with LINKEDIN contacts to import lists of contacts that you already have and they can be uploaded to MAILCHIMP.


Another option that a lot of people don’t realise that you can do is to create emails that you regularly send out. So if you have a typical response that you send to people with information about products etc you can set it up in advance in Canned Responses. The instructions on how to do this are below.

  • How to Create Canned Responses
  1. Go to the icon (top right) and select ‘Settings’.
    2. Select Labs from the tabs at the top
    3. Find ‘Canned Responses’ in the labs and Select Enable.
    4. After Canned Response is enabled, select Compose to create a new email.
    5. Write the body of your Canned Response (Be sure your Signature is not in it – That will show up later)
    6. Select the icon at the bottom right of your email
    7. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ text
    8. Select ‘New Canned Response’ and Create a Name
  • How to Send a Canned Response
  1. Select ‘Compose’ (or reply)
    2. Click the icon at the bottom right
    3. Put your cursor on the ‘Canned Responses’ Text
    4. Select the Canned Response you would like to send.
  • Note: These steps can be used when deleting Canned Responses as well. Just select the Canned Response you want to delete from the bottom of the list.

Chapter 5 Freelancers

Why am I writing a chapter about freelancers? Well if you spend a lot of time trying to do things that you don’t know how to do very well then you are wasting money in your business. Sometimes you need to get the experts in.

My own personal favourite site to use is FIVERR. Basically everything on the site costs $5 . If nothing else have a look at this site and figure out all the things that you don’t know about on it. Have a look at the services on offer and that will help you figure out what your own business is missing or could do with.

If you have difficulty creating content or writing or designing there is always someone at hand on these sites to help you out. They are a lot more affordable than you think as well.

oDesk works just like Elance and Freelancer, but it is still the best as here the new-comers are even hired quite easily which is never possible at Elance. It is true that the competition at oDesk is high but the clients still give a chance to beginners to show-off their skills and professionalism. If you manage to have a wonderful profile and portfolio at oDesk then be ready to get hired and hired by the clients quickly.

Smashing Jobs is a nice place to find programming, designing and writing jobs at. Here thousands of clients post their jobs and the freelancers can have a lot of work to do.

Simply Hired 



People Per Hour


Chapter 1: Blogging.

Blogging, surely that’s for bloggers isn’t it ?Surely someone is supposed to ask you to write one and surely you must be good at writing. Can you still write one even though your English teacher told you that you were never much of a writer?

How do you become one? Well if you can tell a story and entertain a few people by teaching them something they didn’t know before they read your story then you are a blogger

.Surely you need a lot of technical skills?

If you can send and compose an email then it isn’t a whole lot different. You need to click on a button that says new post and when you are finished writing you can save your draft, preview and when you are happy to send it out into the big bad world you click publish. Check for more details on the chapter entitled . Setting up a blog with wordpress

.Surely it costs a lot of money?

Well the good news is that it is entirely free. It costs money if you wish to upgrade and have your own dot com domain name. If you want a snazzy fancy design and some Images that look really professional then you will need to upgrade. I would recommend that you see first of all if it is for you. Dip your toes in gently and just write a paragraph, see if you enjoy the process. When you are finished click publish and send it out into the blogisphere and I guarantee you the process is a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Getting comments from people the other side of the world who read what you had to say and found it enjoyable is most rewarding.

If you do not find it enjoyable or rewarding then what have you lost? It didn’t cost you anything, except for the time you invested in writing a piece.

What are the advantages? Well if you have a business it’s a great way for people to figure out the person behind the business. You can use the blog to answer all the types of questions that people ask you that might seem obvious to you but very often confuses others. It’s also a way of showing that you are human too and that you work hard at your business. Showing the human side of yourself makes it more likely that people will engage with you.

Well the good news is that the world of work is changing. We need to start changing the way that we think about it too. We need to envision working with people who live the other side of the world who may be sleeping when we are awake and who can do tasks while we are asleep.

Sites that you will find useful are as follows.


Not to be confused with the dot org site that I will be mentioning later. This is the most popular blogging platform. It’s the one that most people mention first when you discuss blogging. What I would recommend to anyone who has wanted to self publish and finds it a daunting task, start writing a blog.

There are lots of sites out there now that allow you to turn you blog into an e-book, so if you find it all overwhelming then write a post a week or every two weeks and then just use the software and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.




Again if you can send an email you can set up a blog in Blogger. You can also add ads into your blog and earn some income from google for people who click on your ad. While this is probably not as popular as wordpress the feature to integrate adsense is quite easy and probably a reason to use this to get used to the whole idea of blogging.




This is not free but is definitely the most visually appealing of all the sites. This is used mainly for website design but can also be used for blogging. If you want a really professional looking site with fantastic designs this is the one for you.




This is also not free but allows you to sign up for a 14 day trial. One of the most impressive features of this is the fact that the designs are very eye catching. You pay for the visually appealing templates but after months of productivity you can self-publish your blog with http://www.lulu.com/




I have to confess to not having done much with this. However for younger people looking for a web presence they love it.


I love this. You can submit your blog to this site and if it is about a particular niche topic your loyal fan base will find you. This is one way to save time by randomly surfing the net. This site allows you to post your topics of interest and it will automatically return results that are interesting and releveant to you. Sometimes they are downright whacky but always enjoyable.

Chapter 3: Social Media Tools.

Ok , if you think that you have heard of Facebook and Twitter and you vaguely know how to use them, then think again. There are a huge array of social media tools out there.




This link will give you access to all sizes you need to know for all the platforms


First we can list some of the sites that you need to know about.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter,
  • Google+
  • Video sites
  • YouTube,
  • Google video’s


Professional business sites


Bookmark sites

Google reader,



+ Stumble upon.


Chapter 2: Creating a Promotional Video

Ok so you got a little worried at the title of this as you are no Martin Scorcese and the very mention of all things Adobe makes you come out in a sweat. I have used a few sites that are really idiot proof. (Trust me, I figured them out)The tricky thing really is having a plan before you start to use any of the sites. It will be made easier if you have a logo for your business and have it saved somewhere where it’s easy to find like in your ‘my pictures’ folder.Then decided on what images you would like to use. This can be a little difficult as you will find fantastic ones online and discover that you will either have to sell a body part or remortgage the house to be able to afford some of them. This is where I recommend that you look at some of the sites which enable you to use their photos as long as you link back to where you got the image. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Some of the best sites to use are.

  1. Freeimages.com 
  2. Everystockphoto

Once you have organised your images you can start checking out the sites.

The first one that I tried was


This if free if you want to keep the animoto logo on at the end of the video. It allows you to create a personalised video of 30 seconds in duration which can be uploaded to YouTube. I was thrilled with my first production on this. I’m still waiting for the Oscar. It is a brilliant option for someone who enjoys this to earn a living making videos for people by using their templates.


I really like this tool, so much so that I signed up for the premium version of it. It helps you to create promotional videos, landing pages and video CV’s. I like the fact that it was easy to learn to use and also that it is a good way for someone to earn an income from home. It would not take you long to figure out how to use the tool and then create some works of art for others.


I used this and signed up for it and was smitten within minutes. In terms of creating a professional video this is the one. HOWEVER I then looked at the pricing and was completely horrified. It is excellent for someone who wants to do this full time and then it’s probably quite reasonable to sign up to the site.

Prices are based on duration and the amount of stock used. Each package has a set number of stock images and clips and extra stock may be added for free.


I tried this out and had fun using it. It’s relatively new. I tried some of the templates and they had good options for someone applying for a job to upoad a video presentation of their CV/Resume. I liked it until I tried the next one.


I downloaded this for $79 and regret not buying more the minute I signed up. It’s the best tool out there. The fact that you can use it offline as well was particularly useful. I found the templates really easy to use and they videos are completed within minutes of you wanting one. The completed videos that I used to market a course got great feedback as well and engaged viewers and customes exactly like I wanted them too. Definitely the best that I’ve found for the ease of use and value for money

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To book a place on the course email ailieirvine@gmail.com

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