Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tools of the trade

As part of my work for IdeaLab, I have been asked to learn and share my knowledge about some items on a long list of free online tools useful to journalists.

From the list, these are tools I have actually used in my daily work:

- Audacity: One of the most useful free programs ever. It can do everything from simple audio editing to complex audio editing to audio conversions. I just found how to make it record streaming web audio (from any source!)

- Aviary: A great suite of online tools for image, audio and video editing. Despite not having music lessons for the past 30 years or so, I managed to create some decent music for videos here.

- Foursquare (not): I know, it's the best app ever and I'm supposed to love it. I just can't get into it, however. I just don't care who is mayor of Starbucks.

- TweetDeck: This is my addiction. I could stare at it all day, and sometimes do.

- WidgetBox: I actually created an iPhone app with this in an hour. It's crazy easy to use, but you still have to pony up the Apple developers fee to actually see you app in the app store.

- Quora: A database of questions and answers. A great place to find some good advice.

- SurveyMonkey: Create embeddable online polls quickly

- UStream:
Free online live video streamer turns everybody into a TV network. Works with iPhone and Android, too. Or try out or the somewhat more professional Livestream.

Here's some accordian music recorded live at the Philly Folk Festival

- Google Voice: I use this for phone conferences, interviews, and calls to Mom. The sound is great, and it's free.

- Evernote: Good way to organize notes on your gadgets.

- Kaywa QR code: Use this to generate those zippy little bar codes for mobile phones.

- Zamzar: Convert files into something you can use. Stick it to Microsoft and their DocX's.

- Animoto: Creates effects-laden slide shows. Lots of fun, a bit gimmicky.

- PhotoSynth: I just started playing with this. It automatically stitches photos together to create a panorama. Does in seconds what used to take me hours to do.

Honorable mention (other freebies not on the list): GIMP photo editor, Google Maps-Fusion-Docs, Dropbox (the single-most useful app EVER), SynthFont (another great way to create music for free), CoverItLive. I'll think of more later.

And which ones do I want to learn more about? Aviary, Dipity, Google Fusion, WidgetBox, CrowdMap, Google everything, geocommons, fx.

I'll be posting examples of stuff I create as I explore some of these great online tools.

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