Category: My Cool Tools

“Cool tools really work. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. “
– From Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools

My cool tools are the tools I use regularly and I really like. In this series of posts, I want to share my cool tools and review them. All cool tools in this blog


VS Code – A tool for writers

Can this be? VS Code – A tool for writers?

Writers use various tools to write. For digital words, we have many options of text editors, word processors and apps. I have used OneNote, Evernote, Google Keep, the WordPress built-in editor, 750 words — in addition to the old-school style of college-rule notebooks, yellow pads and Moleskine journals — for various kinds of writing — blog posts, free form writing, brainstorming or stream-of-consciousness dumping.

However, till now, I had not used a text editor. So why not try to use VS Codethe coding editor I have fallen in love with?

But what exactly are my needs for a writing editor?

  1. A distraction free writing environment
  2. Should count words
  3. Awesome if it can count characters
  4. Spell Checker
  5. Markdown support
  6. Markdown Preview when writing would be so awesome
  7. Auto-save constantly
  8. Lives on the cloud – accessible from all devices

So are these requirements met with VSCode? VS Code – A tool for writers?

Yes!
1. A Zen mode and a Fullscreen mode (this shows the word and character counts).
2. VSCode has plugins for Word counter and character counter and spell checkers.
3. It has beautiful themes (I’m now enjoying the yellow pad looking Solarized Light Theme). I can install fonts (enjoying Hasklig with ligatures).
4. Markdown support and Preview with Auto-Open Markdown (opens in a preview window side-by-side when writing) and Instant Markdown (opens in a new browser) plugins. Even a plugin to convert markdown to pdf, html or text exists.
5. Auto-save – yes.
6. To save on the cloud, I’m going with the nerdy git + bitbucket. And for the truly obsessive, you can sync bitbucket to Google Drive via Zapier.

So yeah, VS Code is really awesome!

So what does VS Code not have, that I miss? Flashy Distracting Features That I still love like from:

  1. OneNote: I love the feature where different text boxes can be moved around like a bunch of stickies on a piece of paper. But admittedly, that is not a distraction-free environment. Great for brainstorming – not so great for distraction-free writing.

  2. 750 Words:
    I love the distraction free environment, the simplicity of the interface.
    I love the badges
    I loved the word counters and the notification when you reach 750 words.
    I love the statistics.
    I love the Seinfeld style – Don’t break the chain strip which counts the days you have shown up to write and met your goal.
    I loved that it use the text-analysis system called the Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the various emotional content of each day’s entry


Introducing LittleReads – The most awesome book tracking app in the universe

This is a side project I’ve been working on since November 2016. Here is the grand reveal. I’ll blog technical about the making of Littlereads over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, here is the introduction.

LittleReads LogoLittleReads

The most awesome book tracking app in the universe


Superhero couple image

Do you have a child under 6?

Do you read books to your child?

Are you participating in the 1000 books before kindergarten challenge?

Do you want your child to be a super-duper-reader?

Do you want an easy way to track books you read to your child?

Yes? Join us at littlereads.us

Littlereads is modern. LittleReads works on iPhones, Android devices, desktops, laptops,
LittleReads even works offline!
(Told you … it’s awesome! Better than sliced bread even…)

My Story

I have a superpower. I go places.
kids reading imagination image

Utopias, dystopias, future time, past time, alternate time, dungeons with dragons, androids and superworms, new galaxies, universes, multiverses. All are just a book away.

I want to pass this superpower to my daughter. So I read to her.

We go to the library, hang out there, color there, read books there. And bring home a lot of books.

I even signed up for the 1000 books before 6 challenge. I tried the book provided to track read books, but wanted a more convenient digital option. And I have forgotten the books she loved (and I loved to read) when she was 1,2,3…
So I went looking in the wild, for a way to track books. I found a few – but none of them catered to the young ones… you could not track when and how many times you read the same book.

So I decided to scratch my own itch and develop a rash. I mean, an app which is simple, colorful, easy to use, which can track the books I read to her and show me that data in pretty charts. So after about 6 months of development, here is LittleReads.

So please tell me…

What do you think about LittleReads?

Can you use it and tell me what you think? Any bugs, issues? What features you would like to see? Something not working the way you like?

You can email or Tweet @suprada with feedback. Waiting eagerly to hear what you have to say.

Happy reading (and tracking),
Suprada


Share LittleReads with the world:

  • Tweet: Parents, check out #LittleReads - most awesome book tracking app in the universe for your little ones!
  • … or Just forward this email


Side Hustle School Podcast – Cool Tool #6

This week’s cool tool is the Side Hustle School Podcast.

Logo of Side Hustle School podcast

Details

Tool: Side Hustle School Podcast
Cost: Free
Type: Podcast
Works On: On Phones via Podcast App / Browser
Link : https://sidehustleschool.com

What is it about?

Side Hustle School is a daily podcast by Chris Guillebeau. That’s right. An episode a day. The episodes are short- mostly less than 10 minutes. The weekly recaps and extended cuts run slightly longer – still less than 20 minutes.

It features stories of real people with busy lives – full time jobs, families and other commitments – who have income generating side hustles. All these people share the value of wanting to create more opportunity for freedom in their lives – and multiple income streams is a big step in that direction.

Chris provides details – what they did, what were they trying to do, what lessons we can learn from these stories, what steps we can probably take toward our own side hustle. He provides useful working models for everyone who wants a new source of income in a limited amount of time.

Why I like Side Hustle School?

Why am I fascinated by this podcast? It’s inspiring. I’m learning about the various kids of hustles, what kinds I would be interested in, various kids of marketing, learning about the different attitudes I can bring to my side hustle and might I expect from this. The tools out there, these steps I can take and what I can do for 20mins each day and see where the hustle ends up in.

You should definitely listen to a couple of episodes and see if it’s for you. Here are a few recommendations:

Episode 9 – The Craigslist Photographer

Episode 64 – Long-haired men create tribal identity

Episode 26 – These Resume Templates Make $462/month in Passive Income

Episode 83 – Bridesmaid-for-Hire Posts on Craigslist; Earns $20,000/Month


About My Cool Tools

“Cool tools really work. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. “
– From Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools

Other cool tools here


Myths and Legends – My Cool Tool #5

I have always been fascinated by fairy tales and folktales. As a kid, these tales transported me away to different fantastical lands – so like our own but really not now.

Growing up in India, the Hindu mythology was the dominant source of stories. The stories of the pantheon of Hindu Gods, their supporting characters and enemies were fascinating. One of my uncles, a secular Indian-flavored communist, had a collection of Russian and Ukrainian folk tales, which I loved to read. Add to this, the stories from Greek, Roman and Norse mythology I got to read as a part of my lessons in school, made a heady mix. Between Krishna and Hanuman and Tenali Rama and Birbal and all the Ivans and Baba Yaga and Hercules and Perseus and Medusa and Athena – what you get is a fan of the fantastical, of adventure, of travel, of the bizarre and of the strengths hidden in common folk, of the hero’s journey.

170x170bb Some childhood loves don’t go away. Spice, salt, climbing stuff, making stuff and reading fairy tales – are apparently my loves which are here to stay. And so imagine my delight when I came across The Myths and Legends Podcast by Jason Weiser. He described his podcast as:

“Did you know that fairy tales weren’t originally for children and are way more bizarre, ridiculous, and interesting than you ever thought possible?

Maybe you’ve heard of characters like Thor, Odin, and Hercules from modern movies- stories stretching back centuries. Well, the originals that inspired the adaptations are even better.”

He retells this stories in a funny, modern way, cutting to the heart of the matter. Did I mention how funny he is? For example, here is his introduction of Enkidu of the story of Gilgamesh:

“If you think your job is rough, hopefully you don’t have a hairy naked man leaping majestically through your office with his gazelle friends.”

At the end of each podcast, he highlights the creature of the week: like the Splinter Cat, the Saalah, the Habetrot…

This is a show I enjoy so much that it is one of those I subscribe (as in pay real-world money to support Jason’s great stuff). If this at all looks interesting, you should listen to the free version.


Introducing Exifile – for your Scribd highlights

I like to take notes and mark highlights when I am reading, as I have talked about here. The paper book and pen is good for this. With online reading, Amazon kindle does an awesome job of allowing us to highlight and take notes and very nicely offers the kindle.amazon.com – Your Highlights service to access those highlights. Add to this the excellent Bookcision bookmarklet and you can download those highlights – a file per book – into your computer in JSON, XML and plain text.

Well, I also read a lot of books on Scribd – I like their collection of books and think their subscription is of good value. But I had been frustrated at the lack of so basic a functionality (at least for me) as notes and highlights. As of 2015, Scribd allows notes and highlights – however, they are trapped in the cloud. And there is no way of looking at all your notes and highlights in one page.

So I took the inspiration from Bookcision and wrote a bookmarklet – Exifile to release your Scribd highlights – in text and JSON format out of the cloud. And here it is for everyone to use – http://www.oddumbrella.com/exifile/

So give it a try and tell me what you think.