Part of writing a blog is finding stuff to write about. I get inspiration from other bloggers, the news, e-mails, clients, the IRS and workshops I attend. But I’m always looking for new sources for info to include and ways to keep track of what I find. So, this is a non-tax post about a couple of tools I’m using. One is new to my blogging toolbox but the other I can’t imaging not having.
Twitter has been a little frustrating recently. My problem is that so much of the content of the people I follow includes a link, photo or video. When I read Twitter in Twitterific or in a browser, I have to click through to see the content. But since finding Flipboard for my iPad, I don’t have to. When I open my Twitter account through Flipbook, it looks like a newspaper with several stories on a page and you flip through the pages like a book. If the tweet includes a link, I see an excerpt of the linked info. If it’s a re-tweeted link, I see an excerpt of the original article. The excerpt can give me enough information to decide if I want to read more or go to the next tweet. Tapping on the tweet opens up a new page in Flipbook with the excerpt at the top, the web page for the link in the middle and the original tweet on the bottom. A graphic, if there is one, is pulled from the article and posted with the excerpt. The tweets without a link or graphic are also shown so I miss no content. My Facebook account is handled the same way in its own section. Not bad for a free app.
In addition to the formatting of my accounts in Flipbook, I like the amount of other content that is available. Besides being able to add my accounts from Google Reader, Linkedin, Soundcloud, Flickr or other social network sites, Flipbook provides content I can add to my reading. They have feeds in a wide variety of topics (news, business, travel, etc.) and sources (NY Times, NPR, National Geographic) and all can be checked out before you actually add them to your account. It’s easy to add, drop topics or move topics in the index. And once I find an article I’m interested in studying more, I can mark it to read later and, in my case, it is added to my Instapaper account.
Instapaper has become my most important tool for blogging. When I find an interesting article, I can save it to my Instapaper account and read it at my convenience. Both the browsers I use (Mac and PC) have “Read Later” buttons on their toolbar. A click and the article is saved until I delete it from my account. It can also be archived, filed in a folder or marked as a favorite. In a browser, I can read the actual page or a text only version. Instapaper also has an iPad app which syncs and downloads new content and lets me read the stories I’ve saved offline in text format.
There is no charge for an Instapaper account unless you want to pay for a search option. ($1 a month paid 3 months at the time.) The iPad/iPhone app for Instapaper is $4.99.
Both these apps let me use the info on the Web without it overwhelming me.