Unclutter and share your mind with MindMeister

As a visual worker I’ve struggled with the ability to collect, organize, and present my information in an efficient and effective manner. I learned early on that project management tools were complex and rather cumbersome for me. Drafting long documents was painful and business owners usually are too busy to do more than scan the information. Bulleted lists are fine but seemed to lack the appeal to really show off the benefits of an idea. Then I found a perfect fit for the way I work.

MindMeister dubs itself as an online mind mapping and brainstorming tool. While accurate, the description falls short of its real potential. You see, MindMeister allows me to work the way I think. I generate and document ideas, I flush out the idea and estimate resources, I gather information from business owners, and I present and manage these ideas as projects. I don’t have the luxury of sitting at my desk for all of these steps, in fact who knows when an idea will hit me. Regardless of location, device, or platform MindMeister is there and ready for me to document my brain with visual cues.

Granted I’ve used a number of mind mapping solutions, but a few key features make MindMeister the best for me.

  1. Online means I can connect from any device with an Internet connection
  2. Offline means I can connect to my mind maps even with my Internet connection fails
  3. Mobile support allows me to access mind maps from my tablet or smartphone
  4. Enhanced mobile apps dedicated to simply documenting ideas as they happen
  5. Collaboration allowing mind maps to be shared and modified with others
  6. Export for documentation and presentations

These are just my favorite features, and this short list barely scratches the surface.

As with any online solution, MindMeister comes with an array of pricing and service options. The basic service is free and will give you a nice taste of the product. After a few weeks I opted to go with the pro version with a fee of $9.99 per month. After almost a year I’m still happy with the price and the service.

For a quick overview of MindMeister watch this quick four minute video.

Note: MindMeister doesn’t give me any money or services for my rave review but if they had, I would have taken it.

Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Google Docs and this rivals Windows “My Documents” experience. The gap between desktop and cloud closes a little more every day.

Google Docs code includes references to some upcoming features that could make the service better suited for storing media content. There are many references to a preview pane that will allow you to view more information about your files and even check the content without actually opening the files.

via Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections.

Azure? Really, what’s in a name?

If you think the name is hard to understand then you’ll be lost on the technology. Azure is the name of Microsoft’s new “could” computing platform. Diagrams of the new platform show Azure as a common foundation, allowing developers the ability to create applications by utilizing a plethora of Microsoft software and services.

It’s clear that Microsoft intends to allow developers to utilize this platform to build customized applications hosted in a high availability configuration. What’s not so clear is what services are actually available, what the cost is, or how Microsoft’s other online initiatives fit into the mix.

Some of the known services to be included on Azure are:

  • Live Services to create social applications
  • SQL Services for relational database capabilities
  • .NET services to ease communication and development
  • SharePoint Services for collaboration features
  • Dynamics CRM for customer relationship management

For Azure to be a success, Microsoft needs to clearly define Azure’s role, offer-up great communication, and one-up all of the other “Cloud Computing” competitors. Given Microsoft’s recent lack of clear communication and the nature of the completion, they have a long road ahead of them. After all that, now we have to talk about overcoming the name. Azure?

More Azure Information:

· From Microsoft

· From Paul Thurrott’s Win SuperSite