Top 8 Smart Apps for the Task Mistress

Photo courtesy of http://womenonthefence.com

I’m the tech-geek in the family. My 3-year old daughter is a close second.

Therefore, it didn’t surprise anyone when I upped and bought the new iPad, replacing my first generation tablet. I’ve come to love apps. There’s an app for everything – and people don’t just say that, it’s true! With home, work, school and life, I’ve come to depend on quite a few apps. ‘Top 8 iPhone apps for busy women‘ in Forbes.com identified some interesting apps but I’m not just busy. I’m a task mistress so here are my top 8 smart apps:

1. CloudWord
This app is fantastic as it helps me create editable documents, with formatting. It saves it in the ‘cloud’ such that I can pick it up anywhere and it doesn’t take up space on my pad. Also, I can email the document as a jpg, PDF, png and so on. It really keeps me working on my dissertation on the fly. Plus, it’s free – as are most of these.

2. iThoughtsHD
I discovered this app a few months ago when I was looking for something for mind mapping. It’s expensive but I use it a lot to join my ideas together in order to arrive at something coherent. I’m not sure where I’d be mentally without this beloved app.

3. DocScan
At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I came across this free app. It actually scans documents such as receipts, business cards etc and saves them. Scans can be sent as emails. It’s great for scanned business cards (in case I lose them), the kids’ party invites (again in case I lose them) and so on. I’m basically a walking talking scanner!

4. WordPress
This post is written with my WordPress app. It is a must-have for me if I’m going to inject life into my blog at any sensible frequency. I can upload photos, and files – editing on the fly. If I had to wait till I was in front of a PC and steaming with ideas at the same to write a post, posts would be bi-annual.

5. SudokuBook
One of my hobbies is numbers so Sudoku is right up my alley. I own volumes of sudoku workbooks but this app is a good option. Actually, it’s a great time waster. Waiting is not my strong point so it helps me focus my brain on something else while I wait for the next challenge. It’s great in queues, public transport, banks and school pick-ups. Not that I’m anti-social or anything…

6. Evernote
I recently downloaded this free app. I feel as if I’ve been thrown into an endless garden. A creative junkie’s amusement park, in short. I’m still discovering the many abilities of Evernote. It’s been talked about a lot and even featured in the article I’ve mentioned on Forbes.com. I can pour my ideas down with words, photos, audio, amazing. And I can send my thoughts to any computer or device! I can finally trap these thoughts in one place….forEvernote.

7. Audio Memo
It’s no wonder I’m into audio, thanks to Evernote. I also need to interview folks for my dissertation so I’m loving this app. Before I discovered it, I was on eBay hunting for a tape recorder! (I thought you said you were techy???) This app helps me capture an interview with a lot of cool features such as marking the beginning of each question. This app has a free version that has a reasonable amount of capability but the cool feature that I mentioned comes at a cost. Still, it beats the tape recorder idea.

8. Angry Birds
I haven’t come across statistics about whether men play this game more than women (if it’s not out there, I’m sure it will soon be). But I play this a lot. In fact, my son, my daughter and I play this, and we basically get in an orderly (rarely) line and take turns. Another time waster but great fun! It’s not as subtle as Sudoku so I tend not to play it in the parking lot or on queues (I can’t make it look like I’m texting like I can with Sudoku).

So there you have it. 8 apps any woman who calls herself a task mistress should have.

Thanks for reading.

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Easter Egg Hunt – Not the Weekly Photo Challenge!

So I was in London earlier in the week. Faberge is doing an Easter egg hunt with 209 giant eggs placed all over London. You can check it out on the big egg hunt website. The eggs are on auction here.

I roamed around and took some photos in Covent Gardens. I have to say: the eggs are cool.

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And a close up.
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This dinosaur one was a hit with my son! And this one was a hit with my daughter:

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I took them with my iPad and a shaky hand. I had been up since 4am (to catch a red-eye flight). Needless to say, I had no strength to go looking for ALL 209 eggs. It would have been fun though. Maybe next Easter.

Happy Easter in advance everyone! I’ve got studying to do in the meantime… See ya!

Another Apple a day is just too many

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There’s a whole bunch of them now, isn’t there? There’s the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac and I guarantee there’ll be more where that came from. I started out with the iPod (I LOVE music but more on that in another post) and now I’m sucked in. I have the lot (except the iMac) but I have finally come to my senses. I need to get rid of one of them and I have nominated my iPhone (sniff, sniff). Don’t get me wrong. I do like the iPhone but I prefer blackberries. I like the iPhone because:

  1. It’s amazing to look at; eye candy.
  2. I love the way I can scroll through documents in Word or PDF and it’s like reading it on a desktop
  3. There are thousands of fancy phone cases for it
  4. The very cool apps can be irresistible
  5. Sometimes, the iPhone google map is more accurate than my Sat Nav

I’m sure there’s more awesome things about the iPhone that my tech-savvy friends may care to point out. But the iPhone also really annoys me because:

  1. It’s a phone for goodness sake. So why do I have to sync it with iTunes?
  2. The apps store is gonna lead me to bankruptcy if I continue to keep 3 or more app-hungry devices around the house
  3. I have to PAY for an app to chat with my blackberry friends (and my husband uses a BB)
  4. If I wait for the charge to go completely, it can take hours for the phone to resurrect (while on charge). It actually DIES and then has to be resuscitated. Or is my iPhone just faulty?
  5. And the most infuriating thing? It’s awkward enough that I have to touch the screen so much but when I write a text or email, I touch and touch but I can’t get the cursor in the right place! I have had to delete whole sentences just to correct a typo…. Blamey! This is a real irritation because I’m a big texter. I’m told that if I leave my finger on the spot long enough, I can edit the word. I say, ‘Bring back the BACK button!’

So that’s it. I’m leaning towards a blackberry. At least, I can text like mad and hopefully curb the apps store habit before I go bankrupt. I still have to ‘feed’ my iPod and iPad so I guess I’ll let you know how it goes.

What are you reading your blog with?

I discovered a few days ago that my blog comes up with a funky layout when I view it on an iphone and an ipad. It had been fine on both devices since November when I started blogging. I usually add new posts with my netbook or laptop so I can’t place my finger on exactly when it went pear-shaped on the i-tools. Also, other blogs showed  up ok on all devices.

On an ipad/iphone, the following problems currently exist that did not exist before:

  • My sidebars are gone
  • My title is on the left side of the screen instead of the center
  • The body of my post is only three quarters visible as the rest of it seems to be sliced off the screen vertically

I went to the Support page on WordPress and tried a few things based on advice in the forum. I checked that:

  • I didn’t have any strange HTML in any posts. This meant checking every post one by one for tags like <div>, which are usually the culprit. I didn’t find any.
  • I didn’t have any text widgets as these may be problematic if not properly customised.
  • Any cookies and caches on my ipad/iphone were cleared.

The only thing I had left to do was to change the theme (my beloved theme) to something else and see if there was any improvement. So here I was going between my netbook and my ipad trying to see if changes I make on the “book” affect the layout on the “pad”. Anyway, I found that changing the theme works and some themes are better than others in terms of width, number of widgets accommodated on the sidebar and so on. Maybe everyone else knows this but I just discovered today that not any ol’ theme will do. And that’s the story: I had to change my theme to make my blog look good on ipads and iphones. I hope Apple is grateful because I loved my old dark wood theme. But I’m still wondering though: how many people read blogs on ipads, iphone and other Smart devices? I can’t help wondering. Please respond to the poll in the sidebar to put me out of my misery. Thanks!

What’s in the price?

It’s on countless products in the grocery store: 99p, £9.99 etc. That’s psychological pricing. They want you to think the product is cheaper so you see 99p and you think: ‘Wow, it’s less than a pound! Well, my current problem is quite the opposite.

I have been working on increasing sales of a particular software product through aggressive selling but the efforts are not equalling the results. What I’m finding increasingly shocking is that my customers think the product is too cheap and would rather buy the more expensive products! Actually, it makes sense.

Imagine that after several months of awaiting the iPad, Steve Jobs put a price tag below any net book out there, for instance. The effect would probably NOT be more sales! Loyal Apple customers want quality so a low price may well signal low quality, whether real or perceived. So this is the plight of my product. I want to take a page from other industries like gaming, retail and even the car industry. In gaming, it is becoming popular to get certain games e.g. Tap zoo or Farmville for nothing. Then if the customer wants the accentuate their experience by adding more features or add-ons, they pay. A similar structure applies in the car industry- you get your ride at a base price and then pay a premium for add-ons like sat nav, alloys and heated seats for. This structure keeps the price sensitive customer but still attracts that customer looking for quality and is willing to pay more for it. I do this myself when I go shopping. I don’t like to buy the absolute cheapest item but tend to buy the mid-range. I too associate “cheap” with poor quality. Marketers concur that,

“Many consumers use price as an indicator of quality.” Kotler (2009)

But is this always true? Can a company not enter the market selling at rock bottom prices and go on the win market share? Maybe. It depends I think on the type of market. For instance, if it is highly competitive like retail, price sensitivity becomes very high and many customers will for buy at Asda not Sainsbury based purely on price. Of course, it’s not only price that matters. One should consider customer service, quality, support, ease of returns etc. Also there’s this strange thing about wanting to do what everyone else is doing….. What brands are my friends buying?

Anyway, for my dear product, I will need to roll my sleeves up and do the following to arrive at a plausible pricing strategy.

Segmentation analysis. Classify my customers. What is their behaviour and attitude towards my product? Who among them are promoters? Are their any detractors that will not repurchase or refer others to me? Why? Does it have anything to do with price or is there much more? How can detractors become promoters?

Competition analysis. Look at what the competition is charging and then evaluate market share distribution. How low is my price compared to the average price paid by customers?  Is it really about price or is the competiton actually just…better (ouch!)?

Communication, communication, communication. I can’t increase price without telling the customers why. And it has to be done right! There are a dozen ways to do this e.g. through sales ads, conferences, press releases, exhibition, free trials etc. Most importantly, there has to be an internal positioning statement that tells employees what space in the market this product is occupying. This bit is tough. It will also cost MONEY……. There has to be a budget in place, maybe based on % increase in sales anticipated from the price increases but they are other ways (Kotler et al (2009) has some ideas).

Engaging the team. People are your assets. If they don’t engage and empathise with customers to make this happen, you’re screwed. I’m screwed. Incentivise, give bonuses whatever- just make it happen. Many times it’s a chicken and egg scenario. People don’t want to put in the effort because they don’t believe it will yield great results. But if they don’t put in the efforts, there will be NO great results!

Determining the perfect price... (freedigitalphotos.net, 2010)

Premature Preliminary thoughts are:

It may be that I need to hold back some features from the standard product and then sell them separately as add-on features like my gaming pals. This is what I’m really pondering at this moment. See? You’ve got me going on and on and on. Business addict! 😉

Related authors:

Kotler et al (2009); Marketing Management

Farris et al (2006); Pricing Strategies (in Marketing Metrics: 50+ Every Executive Should master)

Heskett et al (1994); Service profit chain

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