Another fun app: Pano for iPhone. Pic of Central Park taken yesterday from the roof of the apartment where I have been staying.

It seems like a long time since I was able to give expression to my inner geek and write a blog about technology. This Friday I was feeling more computer nerd and less the philosopher, so I hope you will overlook this break from schedule while I share with you my top five productivity-enhancing applications.

None of them are new, for which I make no apology. Like my dear old boat, they are tried and tested and found to work. And with my life still being a hectic whirl, I rely on them to help me maintain some semblance of control over my personal administration. These apps are not all free, but for the amount of time and hassle they save me, the modest cost is money well spent.

These are my personal favourites, but if you know of other amazingly cool and helpful apps, for Mac or iPhone, please post a comment and let me know. I’ve been a little out of the loop, so may have missed out on exciting new developments!

And so, without further ado, may I wholeheartedly recommend:

1. Evernote

I use this to save and organize everything from web clippings to wine labels to flight details to Amazon orders to invitations from the Queen. A little elephant icon in my browser (Safari) allows me to save a page to Evernote with a single click. Notes get automatically synchronised to the Evernote app on my iPhone. The excellent character recognition means I can easily retrieve notes without having to spend precious minutes tagging and organizing. Great stuff.

2. Things

This is how I capture To Do items on iPhone or laptop, then organize them and schedule them. Hey, sometimes I even actually do them. Synchronization from iPhone to MacBook via a WiFi network can be a little temperamental, but works more often than not. There are other great To Do list managers out there, but this one is simple to use. To paraphrase Einstein, Things is as simple as possible, but not simpler.

3. Text Expander

This saves me hours. You set up an abbreviation for your frequently used paragraphs or phrases, and when you type the abbreviation from any application on your laptop, it automatically expands to the full text with a satisfying little popping noise. So, for example, if I type “sf”, it automatically expands to “San Francisco”. Or “ttbio” expands to my preferred bio. Very useful indeed. You can even include images in the text, if you wanted to include a logo or other image in your standard sign-off. Apparently it can be installed on iPhone as well, although I haven’t explored that yet.

4. 1Password

If you’re anything like me, you have dozens of different logins for various websites. 1Password enables you to save them all in a password-protected vault, and to automatically fill in the ID and password and submit them. It can also generate ultra-secure passwords for you. I use the “Wallet” area to store my credit card details, so I can quickly copy and paste them when ordering online. Again, a button in Safari allows me quick access to the login details when I need them.

5. TripIt

When not traveling at 2 knots in a rowboat, I am constantly on the move, and my itinerary can become mind-bogglingly complicated. Tripit makes life so much easier. When I book a flight, bus or train journey, I simply email my confirmation email to Tripit automagically generates calendar events corresponding to my journeys, with all the relevant details. As the time of a flight approaches, it sends me texts and/or emails to let me know when I can check in. On the day of travel, it sends me texts to let me know if the flight is on time, and what gate it is departing from. When I land, it tells me which baggage claim to go to. If only everything in life was as simple…

Other Stuff:

Today, a journey that Tripit can’t help me with. I’m off to Cambridge, New York, for the annual retreat of the Pleiades Network, a constellation of women working for a sustainable world. Very much looking forward to a weekend of putting the world to rights.

Then I am getting the train down to DC for a couple of meetings, including catching up with my friends at the United Nations Environment Program to discuss just what a Climate Hero does for a living.

After that, a few days free format before I am due in Boulder for the Making Waves event. Colorado may not be an obvious location for an ocean symposium, but the health of the ocean affects us all, coastal community or not. I am looking forward to reconnecting with Dr Sylvia Earle and the many other ocean luminaries due to attend, as well as a long overdue reunion with Alison Gannett, one of my walking companions on 2009’s Big Ben To Brussels hike. We will be doing a joint presentation on Sunday Nov 13th.

Must run. But finally, a big GOOD LUCK!!! to all the runners in Sunday’s New York Marathon. I did the race back in 1998, my first marathon. And look what that led to…!


  • Howdy Roz,   Thanks for the heads up on apps.  I enjoy learning new things geek and have learned lots from your ships log on the web (this one) and also peoples contributions in the comments.  In case you have not had enough of rowing you might look up Floating the Apple while you are in New York.  You might even be interested in rowing around Manhattan.  A bit of wilderness in the middle of New York.    Cheers,     Stephen

  • Hello Roz , if you have buddies in Washington , DC? This sunday nov 6th, there is a gathering of supporters for the Tar Sands XL Pipeline protest. They are trying to get enough folks to circle the white house , hand in hand. 
    This likely one of the future historical fubars of the USA that would be part of a jobs creating bill. A pipe line from Canada to gulf of Mexico . It hurts to type it. Thanks for your Tech Friday – good tips . Have you ever visited –
    Worth a look for a world traveler . Be safe and thanks for all you do. Is Rita all on the mend?

    • BIll, I also want to encourage anybody in the DC area to join the now-6,000 people who will encircle the White House to show support to President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. I wrote about it yesterday

      I realized in August when I was arrested at the TarsandsAction that one day was not enough — I stayed a week and made video interviews and documented the groups who got arrested each day. Since then, I have done something everyday, from calling 202-456-1111 and telling the White House volunteers that I support the President’s veto of Keystone XL, to posting on and writing short notes with the same simple message addressed to President Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500.

      Do something every day until the President says “NO” to the Keystone XL pipeline and tarsands oil. “Leave the tar sands in the ground” was written and sung by my friend Harriet and we made this video …

    • Hi William, thanks for asking, I am doing just fine thanks. Not entering for marathons yet, but walking quite normally. Rita.

  • Nice if you can afford or need an iPhone. To me it’s just another of those things people are trying to sell me that I don’t need!

  • Okay, you’re making me dizzy, Roz. At least on the Indian Ocean we knew…well, that you were somewhere out there. We need a Roz Tracker. Pigtails to the Palace (for those of you who remember the Pacific row).

  • Love your app selection, but only cuz it very closely matches mine! I don’t use TripIt (don’t travel as much as I used to) nor Things (I use the native Reminders in iOS), but these are all my hot points! Good selection!

  • Roz, I think you’re “walking on two legs” through life.  

    The sanity post shows how sane you are. You have a sharp mind and a working compass.
    This technobabble post..Are you insane? Seriously. 


  • What if you forget your password to 1Password? The feeling would probably be the same as when the red-light (“of doom” did you call it?) came on indicating the solar chargers weren’t working. 

    • Not a problem, 1Password can export a text file of all its information. Simply do this and put it in a safe place …. or, if you like killing trees ..;-) print it out.
      Jim Bell (Australia)
      Another tip is to use a good long sentence, with punctuation, as your master password. It’s quicker to type and more secure. (Mine’s 23 characters long but still easy to remember.)

  • Roz I’d be more worried about a sustainable world when so many of its proponents are slaves to the technology drug, the one that demands a new fix every year because the manufacturer’s dole out new functions like a drug dealer. This ‘must have’ mentality is something which is cultivated by marketing companies around the world and are a HUGE component of what you are battling.
    No company embodies that mentality of consumerism which is destroying our planet more than the fruit one.

    Ask your seven sisters how many have the latest gadget-toy-Furbie and which one has brought a 2nd hand computer/laptop to help stop the vicious cycle?

    Use technology but dont deitify it.

    As we teach children at a young age: what do you NEED and what do you WANT are two different things.

    • I quite agree. The last time I replaced my technology the choice was forced on me because my laptop, iPhone and camera had been stolen in Copenhagen, and it was only thanks to the kindness and generosity of my online community that I was able to get online again.
      You’ll be pleased to hear that many of my Pleiades sisters were sporting laptops (mostly MacBooks) aged at least 3 years old.
      I’d like to see more manufacturers offering viable ways to upgrade existing laptops without necessarily having to replace the whole thing. Meanwhile, eBay is a great way to keep superceded technology out of landfill.

  • Hi Roz,
    It’s entirely thanks to your posts I bought an iPhone.  It is truly the most marvelous device I’ve ever owned.  I can do things with this that Harry Potter can’t do with his wand.  It has an app called Inventory I use to scan equipment bar codes for my job.  The alternative was hand copying the data, transcribing it to a computer, and hoping I didn’t get any data wrong.  Considering there were 10,000 items (and counting) it saved my sanity.  To the non believers please let me summarize: I have apps that I use to send text messages, schedule, take pictures (and add text and special effects, check the weather where I’m at and anywhere I want to go, take dictation(!), take and email notes, play music (from my library or streamed), watch YouTube, check the alignment (and all other relevant data) for the stars, navigate, survey, do math calculations, purchase stocks, imitate a lightsaber noise, read ghost stories, shop on line, level things, write MS Word documents or MS Excell spreadsheets, scan documents and make them into .pdfs., read .pdfs, scan documents and make the text editable, check flight schedules in real time, encrypt data, buy and read digital books, send email, surf the internet, make pretty colors, determine what a song is and who plays it, research data, meditate, cooking recipies, check the sun’s current and future alignment, sleep, play games, learn knots, scan bar codes and comparison shop, count calories (by scanning food package bar codes), determine train schedules, tell time in different time zones, track expenditures, download/listen to Roz Roams, list all personal contacts, take voice recordings, take movies, light and magnify, learn Vedic Math, determine biorhythm, view pictures of amusing cats, etc. etc. ad nauseum.  Oh, yeah, and make phone calls.  I don’t even have the most up to date iPhone. 

    An app I recommend for you Roz is Hearts of Space.  It’s a streaming music app that broadcasts a free weekly show of relaxing but incredibly diverse music.  It’s based off a radio show that’s been broadcasting from San Franscisco since the ’70’s.  If you do a purchase through their web site you can access their very large broadcast archive.  It’s the perfect remedy for hectic days either at the end or the middle.


    • Oh dear, I hope I’m not encouraging rampant materialism! But on the plus side, just think of all those devices and books that are made redundant by having an iPhone!
      The light saber app sounds especially useful! 🙂

      Roz Savage
      Ocean Rower and Environmental Campaigner
      First Woman to Row Three Oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian
      National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2010
      Author of “Rowing The Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean”

  • You might like 360Panorama as an App. On the other hand if you have a new Sony camera maybe your iPhone camera won’t be as useful:).

  • Note added on 10th Jan 2018, thanks to Noor Ballan for the update:

    Hello there ,
    I was using AgileBits, which you mentioned on your page here:
    It’s so great that you shared it. But what I found is that I’m just picking bad passwords (“iloveyou123”), and AgileBits will only be able to help me remember this bad password.
    After some digging, I found a tool that I recommend sharing on your page also. This complementary tool generates random high encryption passwords.
    In hope I helped back,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *