First: the winner of Extra Yarn is Samantha E. Woot! Congratulations!
[Edited to add: Mac will be SIGNING Extra Yarn at Copperfields in Petaluma (and they'll be yarn bombing the store, contact them if you want to help) on March 4th at 2pm. You should totally go if you have a chance.]
Now I want to list a few things that I've been loving lately that you might like too. Some are free, some aren't, and all are things I think are worth it, whatever the cost is.
Casey of Ravelry first turned me on to this. It's a program that works on any email platform, and it makes your inbox sane. And seriously, that's exactly what it does.
This is what my inbox looks like right now. It's hard to see, but I have nothing in my inbox, 1 in SaneLater and 1 in SaneNews. (Often I have 50+ in each, it just so happens I just cleared both.)
See that? It creates labels (for Gmail -- I think it does other things appropriate for other clients) ALL ON ITS OWN. I don't know how it knows that it should stuff all my Twitter and Flickr and yarn store sales into SaneLater, but it does know that. All my newsletters go automagically into the SaneNews label. And all the good stuff? The important stuff? From friends, family, readers, editors, my agent, and my bank (oh-so-important)? They go into my inbox, where I can see them without looking around the clutter.
If it messes up, you can train it easily: just drag and drop the email into the right folder, and it won't make the same mistake twice. You don't have to learn the system -- it's intuitive, which is somthing they tout, and something that I've found to be true.
So I easily keep on top of my inbox, and once every other day or so, I flip through my Later and my News labels to make sure I haven't missed anything (usually I delete everything in there, but I want to look at them, at least briefly).
Bonus: Best thing? You can defer email, send it away, giving it a time to land BACK in your email inbox (Tuesday at 1pm, say) and get it OUT of your inbox. You don't have to remember to do whatever it is you have to do -- it just lands. We have dinner reservations tonight, and instead of leaving the email sitting in my box all day, I set it to re-land at 6pm tonight so at that point I can look up driving directions and delete it.
Cost: 4.95/month, FREE trial for 30 days. I just bought two years' worth -- that's how much I never want to be without this thing. (I think this is what Gmail was going for with its Priority sorting thing that I thought was such a ugly mess.) Sanebox = Highly Recommended.
I've filed my taxes last week, they're all done and I can relax. However, pulling together all my receipts from last year was HORRIBLE. Every year, I vow I'll stay on top of them, and every year in January, I pull out my box of receipts that look like this:
Did you know that New York taxi cab receipts are almost unreadable after only a few months of being stored in this manner? I know! I was surprised, too!
With Shoeboxed, you can email yourself all those receipts you get in email (for example, I just send the receipt for my purchase of Sanebox to them), and they file a pdf image of it for you while stripping and logging the information. It already knew that I'd place that charge in my Computer/Internet category, it knows how I paid, and on what date.
If I get a paper receipt, I use the app on my iPhone to take a picture of it and it does the same thing, almost instantly. So, theoretically, by the time I get home from a business trip, I could have all my receipts logged already. I LOVE THIS.
It's not cheap, at 9.99/month, but for me, Shoeboxed is going to be worth it.
(Oh, and to celebrate the fact that we didn't owe money, I bought a pair of Fluevogs: Zazas)
3. Remember the Milk
I love this reminder app because I can have it loaded in my email, on my home screen or on my phone. I put everything into it, even things like Trash Out every Sunday. Every day it emails you with what you need to do that day, and it's so SATISFYING to cross things off.
Cost: I think they have a free version? But I got the Pro account, $25/year.
I just installed this, but I love the idea of it. It's a car alarm for your computer. I'm SO often at the cafe, and I stay there for long periods of time, and I drink a lot of coffee. Naturally, I gotta pee. Usually I ask someone to watch my computer for me (and I know most of the people sitting around me, at least by sight). Even though I do it, it still makes me nervous and I'm always relieved when it's still there when I come out.
IAlertU makes a squealing sound if your computer is moved or unplugged. You can set it so that it doesn't turn off even if the computer is closed. Oh, and it snaps a picture of the person who moved the computer and emails it to your phone!
I see the problem here, of course. I'll be in the bathroom and some kid will hit the table, setting it off, and then I'll be that jackass with the too-sensitive car alarm. But oh, well. (And I know a thief will grab and run and won't care that much, but at least people will notice. And hell, some thieves do that while you're sitting at the table with it, so you can't worry all the time, right?)
5. Prey Project
If the thief DOES get away with my computer, I'll get HIM. Using it, you can find where your computer is, see who's using it (and take pictures of them using the camera!), lock your info, take screenshots of their sessions (computers have been retrieved when the thieves log into their Facebook or email accounts). The recovery stories are fun on their site, and this story is fun, too. Nosepicking thieves!
Cost: Free to install, $5/month if you need to activate it to find your computer.
So there you have it. My five favorite new computer finds. But really? My two all-time favorites remain Write Or Die ("putting the prod in productivity") and Mac Freedom (which removes me from the internet entirely for any length of time), without which I would get no writing done, ever. Lately I've been going in for 15 minute sessions, much shorter than I normally do, with a goal of 250 words. This is so easy I always blow past 250, get to 350 or so and realize it's not far to 500. Do this four times, 2000 words. It's like magic. I love tricks like this. (Both free.)
Anything else I need to have?