Simple Tool Rule: Always use the least complicated correct object, or method to get the task at hand done.
The old way was the “Right tool for the job.” Well the jobs have changed and the right tool is now much more of a nebulous concept. When asked why some tools are more useful than others we need to consider what it was meant to do originally. From a simple beginning other uses may certainly be derived but more often than not they are not supported. You can use a knife to open a pickle jar if you try hard enough, but if you cut your hand don’t complain to the knife salesman.
Reducing points of failure:
The less points of failure in a system that exist the less likely the chance that the system will need maintenance, and if something does break the fewer places you need to look to find the problem. Its simple enough in hardware, as well as in concept. But when you extrapolate the rule out to something as large as a car the idea breaks down, when you try to apply it to a piece of software the rule struggles to find any footing at all.
Online Life is Complicated:
Within the online realm i seek to simplify my tasks in keeping up to date with various networks and maintaining different streams of content. these three tools are my favorite when it comes to smoothing out work-flow and the creative process in general.
Firewire might have been a great protocol, but the utility of USB made it king, you need to do a cost benefit analysis on each tool in your digital arsenal to see if they are worth the time.
Ping.fm: Either via email, sms or website you can update multiple streams of content. Post to twitter, Facebook, and pretty much everywhere else., you can set up distribution lists, and through simple commands post content broadcast style, focused to one service, or one type of service. invaluable tool.
Twitxr.com: From a standard phone i can snap a picture and via email or SMS have it uploaded to Flickr, Facebook and post a message to twitter about it. The rest of the world may use twitpic, but i prefer the twitxr interface and abilities.
Evernote: With multiple points of entry into the system I can drop notes to myself from my work desktop, home desktop, take pictures from my phone and have the text in them search-able, email reminders and ideas from my phone, a mobile email client, or even my pocket PC with a doodle on the screen and get them all collected into one search-able database.
I evaluate every tool in my digital arsenal using these three quick tests
- Will I ever use a good portion of the features?
- Can this service or tool make a job easier or quicker?
- Does this tool or service help with a common task or an infrequent one?
The last rule was put in place because of Linux, I can write a script to do anything on a given machine if i had enough time, so the functionality and the utility are there but quite often the method for getting to that reality takes too long for a job that doesn’t need to be done that often.
What are your Digital Tool that follow the Simple Tool Rule?
An earlier different version of this post is also on www.paulrjmuller.com, this version focuses more on the services and condenses the content. For a more flowery and verbose version please feel free to head over to that site as well.