The digital tools for the trade

Interview recording: The Olympus DS-2 portable digital voice recorder (£97) is easy to use, plugs straight into a PC or Mac, is voice-activated and can record up to 22 hours of audio. If you already own an iPod, you could consider buying a MicroMemo. It costs about £25 and plugs into the base of an iPod or iPod Nano. Audacity is free audio-editing software that some newspapers, including The Guardian, use to produce podcasts.

Google for grown-ups: Saving bookmarks with a social bookmarking service such as or furl enables you to network with people who share the same interests, and to subscribe to particularly good bookmarkers and keyword RSS feeds.

Browsing: Firefox browser has more than 1,000 extensions, including note-taking tools such as Clipmarks and blog writers such as ScribeFire. Flock is a flexible alternative that bills itself as the ‘social web browser”, with built-in blogging, social bookmarking and photo sharing. Alltheweb is a highly customisable alternative to the Google search engine.

News: RSS feeds deliver the news to you as it is published. Download an RSS newsreader, such as Vienna or Snarfware, and subscribe to newspapers, blogs and more. Blog?lines and Google Reader are excellent online alternatives. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds from keyword searches on blog search engine sites such as Technorati and Google Blog Search. Netvibes brings all this information, email and more on to one web page, although it can take time to configure.

Multimedia: Photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and BubbleShare offer an easy way to store images publicly or privately. YouTube, and Vimeo do the same for video footage. Free software such as Shozu lets you upload pictures and video from your mobile phone to photo and video-sharing websites

or a blog automatically. For the sound and vision mashers of the mulitmedia newsroom the £20 Soundslides download is the weapon of choice.

Google it: Google offers a range of reliable services to help keep you organised. Gmail has a massive 1GB of email storage and integrates well with offline email readers and address books. With Google Docs you can write and store features online and work collaboratively. Google Calendar is a shareable calendar. Google Notebook helps you store clippings of text, images and links from web pages. Use Google Alerts to find out when a new news item or web page with a keyword or topic you are interested in is published.

It’s your call: Skype, Google Talk and Gizmo are three of the most popular internet telephony tools. Computer-to-computer calls are free, and calls to fixed lines or mobiles relatively cheap. However, sound quality and connection reliability are patchy. Gizmo is currently the most flexible. It offers free calls to other Gizmo users, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, or Windows Live users. Cheap add-ons allow you to make and receive calls from any mobile phone or landline. Gizmo is the only one to offer call recording as an integrated part of the software.

Contacts: Sync contacts stored in your computer address book with most mobile phones, other computers and web email services. This offers added security if your computer and/or your phone is lost or broken. Services such as LinkedIn offer more in depth ways of storing and sharing your contacts.

Blogs: Blogger is a popular free service provided by Google. TypePad is a low-cost, professional service while WordPress and Movable Type are for the more technically minded. Windows Live Writer is downloadable blog writing software that links into Windows Live Spaces. Some journalists use a blog to simply store published articles.

Don’t forget: Task manager Remember the Milk will help you remember anything – so long as you remember to tell it to.




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