Tech Tools To Enhance Your Life

Inspired by a post at our new Mediabistro TK blog—Does a $1,700 MacBook Pro make me a better writer?— we thought we’d see if tools really can make you more productive and better at work (or a better freelancer).

First, the MacBook. We have one (though we didn’t spring for the Pro) and boy it sure is a pleasure to use. But is it necessary? As Chris Rodell writes on our blog:

“I don’t use my computer for games, to edit or view movies or even for indulging in the American pastime of downloading cheap porn while the boss is sexually harassing his shapely secretary. No, all I want is the computer equivalent of a mule. I want a working class animal that’ll allow me to hammer out story after story and zip them onto the internet where they’ll either soar or sink.

“As the friendly salesman was showing me the touchpad tricks and the hidden camera functions I found myself being drawn to the fabulous MacBook Pro when I’m sure I could probably get by with one of the $400 netbooks that are sweeping the tech world. And all the while as I’m being distracted by the unnecessary ornaments they’ve dangled off my sturdy little tree, somebody’s grandmother is sipping coffee on her porch and scratching out a story on a dog-eared yellow legal pad.”

But hey, everyone needs their toys, right? An overpowered computer—as long as you can afford it—is fairly low on the scale of egregious purchases.

On the cheaper side of things: you can now buy the 2009 AP Stylebook for your iPhone. The app costs $28.99, making it pretty expensive, but it’s no “I Am Rich.”

How about a new word processor? If Microsoft Office drives you nuts, Scrivener for Mac and the free Roughdraft for Windows are consistently recommended by scribes everywhere.

We swear by Mac-only Think for distraction-free work, and it’s free. A similar app for Windows is Darkroom, also free.

And don’t forget about our list of submission trackers for freelance writers.

What tech do you swear by? Does the iPhone make you more or less useful? Do you get more work done with a yellow legal pad and #2 pencil than on any computer?