Tuesday Tech Tools: Data Visualization and Infographics 

Looking for some ways to tell your story through data? Here are more than 40 data visualization tools.

Adoptive Insights
Designed for business. Powerful but has a high learning curve. Cost on a case by case basis. Free trial available.

Graphic design tools. Create social media graphics, headers, slides, flyers, photo collages, posters, and infographics using drag-and-drop. 60k templates. Clip-art library available or upload your own images. Share to social media from the app or download a jpg, PDF, etc. for posting. Free. $12 a month for more options.

Chart Maker
Quickly make charts, graphs, etc.

Build by Medium. Just plug in a CSV file or a link to a Google Spreadsheet and the tool does all the graphing work for you. There's an explanation here.

Simple responsive charts. Will change the way the data is displayed based on the size screen it's being viewed on.

See a visual comparison of two states, cities, countries or continents. Move them around.  It will also tell how many times bigger a geographic area is to another.

Daily Infographic
A new data visualization sample each day. Great way to get ideas.

Data Driven Vizualization
Examples, steps and video of how to create data visualizations.

Data Remixed
Blog about data visualizations by Ben Jones, an engineer in LA.

Data to Viz
A site that helps you find the right chart for your data.

Data Viz
Drupal-based embeddable modules.

Data Visual
Charts and graphs.  Templates or start from scratch.  A short video introduction here.

Data Wrangler
A tool created by Stanford University's Visualization Group for cleaning and rearranging data for other tools to use (such as a spreadsheet).  Does not actually visualizes your data, but preps it for use. This includes extracting, filling, dropping, merging and wrapping data points among other things. There's a learning curve, but it's free.

Business tool for creating visualizations. Fully mobile. Good collaboration capabilities. High learning curve. Not for beginners. Starting at $83 a month. Free trial available.

Interactive visualizations. Lots of options. No 3-D charts or predictive analysis. Free trial but cost is on a case by case basis.

Create infographics. Video sample here.

Flowing Data
Blog about how statisticians, designers, data scientists, and others use analysis, visualization, and exploration to understand data and ourselves.

Popular social networking analysis tool. Interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical Graphs. Impressive looking but has a steep learning curve (as opposed to Raw). Watch a video introduction to an older version of Gephi here.

Google Public Data Explorer
Makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand.

Data visualization tools. Formally FindTheBest. Not only are there design tools, there are many data sets available to work with.

High Charts
interactive JavaScript charts

Data Visualization aimed at businesses--especially those looking to brand themselves. There's a free option (which allows for data interactivity, public sharing, and unlimited standard data sets) and a business plan that starts at $25 (offering features like private charts, custom templates, upload images and logos, download high-res images, large data sets, chartbooks, etc.

infographic tool especially useful when working with complex data. No coding skills needed. Works with Google Sheets or Dropbox. Create interactive illustrations. 35 types of charts and 200 types of maps. Includes a built-in spreadsheet tool for data editing. Basic version is free but requires the Infogram logo. Upgrades run from $19 to $67 a month.

3D animation of people from 2D video of people. Video explanation.

Create simple charts from your data using templates. Introductory video here.

Interactive graphics. Video explanation.

Raw Graphs
Far more user friendly than Gephi, but not as pretty. Doesn't generate dynamic networks just static visualizations.

Place to create and share visual data. Watch a video explanation here.

Graphically represent your large data sets clearly and efficiently. Nice interface, limited type of visualizations. Free trial. Cost based on case by case basis.

Strip Creator
Create your own comic strip.

Story Maps 
A cutsom mapping visualization tool based on ArcGIS with more mapping options than StroyMap JS in the paid version. With simple to use templates, you can  “walk” your viewers through a map-based story.  Example.

StoryMap JS 
A simple mapping visualization tool produced by the Knight Lab at Northwestern for creating interactive maps and timelines. Based on Google's map software from OpenStreetMap. Does not require technical experience. Create slides and connect them on a map that can be embedded or upload your own basemap. Example. 

Tableau Public
Data visualization tools that are interactive. Maps, graphics, etc. Samples.

Tableau Software
Easy to use, great capabilities. Popular but expensive. $70 each month.

TED Video: Data Journalism and Punk
Simon Rogers at the TEDx in Paris Aug. 2012 explains how data viz is being used in journalism

Create hot-spot graphics. Make images interactive by adding music, a voice over, and text.  Free . Sample.

Timeslines and maps. Sample video here.

Custom templates for graphics. 

Visual Editors
A visual editor promotes visual journalism literacy in graphics, photo, video and design.

Create infographics and data visualizations.

Visualize Free
Upload a data set from a spreadsheet (or cut and paste) for charts, maps, diagrams, etc with a drag and drop designer. Registration needed for an account, but it is free). Lots of public-available data to work with (like data.gov). Uploads are private, so that other users cannot gain access to your data.

Create your infographic resume for free. Video introduction here.

Wolfram Alpha
Computational knowledge engine. Enter a search string and have immediate display of various pieces of information regarding that string. The Pro subscription allows users to input their own data and quickly converted into dynamic and interactive charts. The price tag is $4.99 a month and limited to twenty uploads each month.on. 

Visualizations that make no sense.

Zoho Reports
Analytics tool to design intuitive dashboards and data visualizations. Easy to learn. Beautiful graphics but limited customization. from $22 to $444 a month. Free trial.

Tuesday Tech Tools: Video

Looking for some ways to help you shoot and edit video? Here are some of the available tools.

Adobe Connect
Video conferencing.

This Apple app let's you add text, filters, emoji, music, and opaque transition cards to your photos or videos. Intended to be fun, though the menu layout is not entirely intuitive and it does take some time to create. Free.

Turns your browser into a television telepromoter.

Disco Videos
A way to add cool effects like music and filters to your videos. $3.99.

Pronounced ‘disco’, this app is for GIF creation. Animations up to 2.5 seconds long. Free. Video example.

App that records Skype and Facetime. It lets you convert your calls into MP3 files for podcasting or easily move the video to YouTube and Vimeo. Split the audio tracks after a call for easy editing. $39.95.

Final Cut Pro
Video editing program.

High definition mobile cam for videography, photography. Lots of bells and whistles probably too much for avarege person or even for what a professional journaist would need. $14.99.

Video conferencing. 14-day free trial. $14-$39 a month subscription.

Google Hangouts On Air* (going away in 2019)
Live streaming platform and automatic HD video capture that allows you to broadcast and record your Hangout to your YouTube channel.

GorillaPod tripod*
Joby GripTight PRO. Flexible legs wrap around objects for unlimited angles. From .7 - 11 pounds. Rubber foot grips provide stability on any surface.

HouseParty (formally Meerkat)
Group video chat app where users get a notice that friends are online. Snap Stories are integrated.

Instagram’s timelapse video. No audio option.

Two tracks of video and audio for editing on your phone or laptop. Free.

A free Firefox plugin to debunk fake video news and verify videos and images.

A multi-track video editor with 3 video/audio tracks for photos, videos, titles, and graphics. $19.99.

3D animation of people from 2D video of people. Video explanation.

Video editing for casual users. Easy-to-use interface. Limited effects. $39.95.

MoviePro App*
Video recording app that lets you listen live to your sound, includes manual controls for exposure, focus, and white balance. Shoot stills while recording. Has a built-in single-track video editor. $5.99.

Wearable camera that takes a photo or video every minute and creates a video at the end of the day (without using the repetitive shots). No work for the wearer. $199.

Video editor by GoPro. Easy-to-use. Add photos, text, music. Templated themes. Free.

Use to record video from your webcam and Skype interviews.

Live-streaming video app from Twitter. Stores video for 24 hours. Will tweet followers that you are living streaming.

Video editor that lets users create slideshows, split screens, video collages, etc. adding music, voice, gifs. Best for short videos. Free.

Premiere Pro*
An Adobe professional-level product that has become the industry standard. Easy-to-use interface. Support for 360 VR and other features, but some techniques require additional applications (such as After Effects). $19.99 a month.

Edit the video by editing the text. For instance, you can upload a long interview and the site (using machine learning) will transcribe the speech and tag each word to a visual frame allowing you to quickly generate a highlight reel or other edited videos.

Reel Director
Creates movies and lets you edit on phone similar to iMovie. $2.99.

Chrome screen capture and annotation tool. Video explanation.

Scribble Live
Live-streaming. Create, curate and publish content to provide real time coverage and storytelling. Fee.

SMOVE smartphone Video Stabilizer
This smartphone stabilizer that doubles as a charger. Portable, fits in your pocket. $200. 

A video editing app that works with music, photos, text or video clips. $3.99.

Steadicam Smoothee*
The Smoothee gives you a steady, gliding shot by a balanced weight system that holds your phone on a frictionless ball joint. Simple to use, though the size could interfere with other attachments on you iPhone. $90.

Create photo and video stories on an iPhone with an emphasis on mobile design. Create collections and share on social networks. Free. Sample.

TechSmith (formally Jing)
A free, easy-to-use screen capture application. Snap a screenshot or record a video, save and share. capture a presentation, lecture, or event.

High quality stock footage of time lapse video.

Digital Anarchy’s plugin to create automated transcriptions of video in Premiere Pro. Free Trial. $299.

Upload your video and TubeMogul will send it to many social media sites at one time-though you'll have to set up accounts with all the sites on your own.  Tracks viewership. A part of Adobe's Marketing Cloud.

Desktop broadcasting of live video to the world from a computer or iPhone (or watch thousands of shows).  30 day free trial, then monthly plans from $99 to $999 for pros, top subscription $2k and up.

Video hosting and editing. 

Video Scribe
Create animated videos, replicating the popular whiteboard-style tutorial.  7 day free trial. $16.50 a month.

Edit video and post directly to Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Available for iPhone and Android (probably the best option for Android. $.1.99.

App for easy photo and video editing on your iPhone. Free.

Vyond (formally GoAnimate)
Make animated videos. Free 14-day trial. Subscription plans: $39 a month or $299 each year.

YouTube Creator Hub
Resources to help create better video content and bigger audiences. An online community for serious YouTube creators.

Cisco’s video conferencing software. Easy-to-use, nothing to download. Several pricing plans-but not cheap.

Collaborative online and mobile video editing.

Create animated movies.

Video and audio file converter.

More Tech Tools

Tuesday Tech Tools: Design

Some of the tools available for graphic design and UX design.

Adobe Indesign
Adobe product that is the industry standard for page layouts and design (posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers and books). For professionals and high end projects but for personal or smaller projects, there are other programs with a lower learning curve.

Adobe Pagemaker
While not on the level of Adobe InDesign, it is an effective page layout program for the non-professional. Includes predesigned templates that can be modified.

Adobe Kuler
Find complementary color palettes using a color wheel.

For UX design. A wireframing prototyping software tool. No coding needed. Aimed at web and desktop applications.

Design software, a quick starter for wireframing tool. 

Butterick's Practical Typography
Everything font-related including kerning, spacing, formatting, and more.

Color Me
Visualize hex colors.

"Inspiration for graphic designers, art directors, design firms, corporate design departments, advertising agencies, interactive designers, illustrators and photographers—everyone involved in visual communication."

Design Thinking
Blog by Tim Brown about Design issues. Brown is author of Change by Design.

Create logos. Easy to use but the free version allows only limited sizes and only paid accounts get trademark options. The paid accounts are somewhat expensive.  

Font Feed
A "daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world."

This site will generates font pairings for your design project whether you are aiming to create balance, tension or set off content. Free.

Font Shop
This link takes you to the design section of the website where you can "improve your design skills with typography tips and tutorials. FontShop Education docs are formatted for easy downloading and printing, perfect for the classroom or studio."  There's also a healthy glossary section, among other things.  

How Design
This site seeks to meet the "business, creativity and technology needs of graphic designers."

Idea Mag
Japanese design magazine.

UI design templates.

Page layouts for Mac or PC.Alternative to Adobe InDesign.

Lucid Press
Page layouts for the non-professional to design flyers, newsletters, etc.

Prototyping tool for Mobile app design. Drop and drag. No coding needed.

Large selection of professional fonts.

Design software. Industry standard.

Page Stream
Page layouts for the non-professional to design flyers, newsletters, etc.

Popular UI prototyping tools for designing mobile apps. Especially useful for creating animation. No coding skill needed. $129.

Print Mag
Design tips, education, resources from Print Magazine, a bimonthly magazine about visual culture and design.

Colum vizualize color functions by inserting Hex codes.

Society for News Design
Columns and tips on design, workshop schedule, membership database and more.

Society of Publication Designers

Page layouts. Alternative to Adobe InDesign.

Prototyping tool for Mobile app design. Simple setup with drop and drag.

What the Font
Figures out what font you are looking at. 

More Tech Tools here.

Tuesday Tech Tools: Publishing Platforms

Want to start a blog, create a portfolio site, or start a website for your business? Many of the sites below are free. Play around with a few of them and see which one clicks for you.

About Me
Quickly create an attractive profile page. A digital card/personal description site that is highly searchable and smartly designed. Sort of a social media business card. Free. Video introduction here.

Collaborative platform.

Free blog platform with gentle learning curve for beginners Run by Google, so it integrates with Google products well. Lacks many plugins to improve functionality. Limited design options.

Clippings Me
Showcase your work as a journalist, blogger or writer.  Add online and print clippings, link to your social media sites, and customize your portfolio. Free. Demo.

Tools for creating and showcasing storytelling content of writers. Connects publishers (both news organizations and PR folks at businesses with journalists, then takes a 15% transition fee. Designed to help freelancers find work. Takes care of the paperwork aspect (invoicing and payments) for businesses hiring freelancers. Free.

Ghost (formerly Roon)
Open source, free blogging platform. Simple to use, custom domains. Focused on making beautiful content rather than options like plug-ins and SEO tools.

Lots of possible complexity.  Deep level navigation, sections in sections, categories etc.

Live Blog
Live Blog is a liveblogging platform for journalists for posting from a phone or tablet.

Blogging platform owned by Russians (where the servers are located). Lost subscribers after banning political posts and other topics. Ads are shown except for paid accounts.

Publishing platform focused on presentation.

Created by Twitter co-founders to support good writing. Clean design and easy-to-use interface. For those who want to write but don’t want to maintain a blog or website. Intended to be a place where smart people plant their thoughts.  Share a draft of a post with friends who can make comments as marginal notes (rather than at the end of a post). Free, but Twitter account is required. No custom domains or customization.  

Visual-storytelling platform that can combine photos, graphics, animations and text into a slideshow. Considered part of explainer journalism, the company behind the site can be hired to create pieces. 

Publishing platform limited to Evernote (popular note-taking platform). Custom domains, but limited themes. Pulls your thoughts from Evernote into the blog.  Free for basic service, $4.99 a month for advanced options.

Blogging platform. Custom domains, writing-oriented, comfortable setup. Limited customization. $5 a month.   

Custom domains, tagging. Weak on themes.$5 a month.

Especially designed for highlighting the kinds of things a journalist would want to highlight in order to show what they've done. The links to past content are prominent. There’s also an area for listing skills and a detailed biography. Instead of just linking to your stories (which can be taken down) Pressfolios creates a backup version. Lacks social media integration. Free but $12 each month for a pro version. Samples: One: The Atlantic, GQ freelancer, Two: NY Times freelancer, Three: Rolling Stone contributor

Scribble Live
Live-streaming. Create, curate and publish content to provide real time coverage and storytelling. Fee.

The portfolio network for student builders and doers.

Blogging platform. Establish your own brand with a custom domain. Nice archive and bio pages. $29.99 a year special. 14 day free trial.

A do-it-yourself publishing platform, sames as WebsiteBuilder.com, SiteBuilder.com and Sitelio.com. Some reviewers, such as this one,  say there are many consumer complaints related to billing.

Inexpensive and easy way to build a website or blog. WordPress has more flexible design and functionality (no plugins with Square Space), but not everyone will want so many extras. More focused on content than coding. Nice templates and tools for businesses. 14-day free trial. $8--$24 a month includes hosting.

Storify (no longer available)
Social media aggregate. Publish elements - photos, tweets, videos together. Free.

Writing platform. Minimalist interface. Encourages reader response. Must apply for membership.

This social platform allows users to see posts from all of the blogs they follow in a single stream. Sort of Twitter, but with full text and more images. You can populate your stream with content by others simply by clicking the "like" and "reblog" buttons. Easy to use. Limited customization. Best for photography, art. Free.

Simple website creation. Possibly the most easy-to-use with a useful drop and drag function. Limited customization. Free (with footer ad) but more options with paid subscription from $8-$38 monthly.

Drag and drop website builder using visually impressive layouts. Active customer support but hard to move away. Student example here. Free but a paid account is needed to unlock some features you would expect to be free. $5-$20 a month for a paid account.

WP-dot-com is free and easy to use. The dot-org version is not.  WP-dot-com includes hosting and a domain name (yourdomain.wordpress.com) but your own domain name is only $15 more.  Basic customization available (themes, colors, layout and fonts).  Limited monetization and plugin options.

The most often used software for publishing on line.  Pick your own domain name, host wherever you like, and add plugins as you like. Steeper learning curve that WP-dot-com.

Find more tools here.

Tuesday Tech Tools: Audio

The list below includes links to a variety of audio tools—from podcasting helps to recording phone interviews, from microphones to audio editing software.

Ableton Live
Audio editing program especially for music.

Audio editing program. Basic version is free and includes MP4 and AAC import and export filters.

Helps you record, process, edit and publish your podcast.

Amadeus Pro
Multi-track recorder. Can pull audio off of videos. Includes options for cleaning up noisy audio. No mobile option but easy to use. $59.99

An app for recording short-form audio snippets and podcasts. Similar to Alitu. Free but Anchor changed its terms of service to claim ownership of any material published on the site.

Audio editing software. Free and open source.

Think of it as YouTube for audio.

Searching for a section of audiocorresponding to a note is easy to find.  The recording time is insertedat the beginning of each line oftext. $9.99.

Adobe Audition
Audio editing program.  Formerly Cool Edit Pro.  $349 but it can be purchased as part of Creative Suite.

Avid Pro Tools
An industry-standard, studio-grade audio editing tool. $699 for the base version.

Using phones, you can interview someone and it both streams and records downloadable MP3 of the interview.

Mobile app to record meetings, interviews. Records and sincs audio (from news conferences, for instance) with typing so you can find quotes easier. Allows for tags and annotations. Always recording so picks up the 15 secs before you turn on recording.  Enables recording calls, highlighting key parts of the conversation, and transcription.  Free. $5 for more features.

Transcrption service uses artificial intelligence to transcribe large audio files and allow users to search them using keywords. Free.

Post your audio here link to it from your blog or embed it into your blog.

Dragon Anywhere
Voice to text app for iOS. Have to finish dictation before seeing the text. Free. 

Recup (formally DropVox)
Records audio and sends it directly to your Dropbox account. $1.99.

App that records Facetime audio and video for Mac. Convert your calls into MP3 files for podcasting or easily move the video to YouTube and Vimeo. Allows you to split the audio tracks after a call for easy editing. $39.95.

Access notes on any computer, tablet or phone. Search function lets you find a note in either text or audio format. Free for iOS and Android. For more options there is Evernote Plus $2.99 a month, while Premium is $5.80 per month.

Final Cut Pro
Video editing program from which you can rip the audio.

Intended for music editing. Only 5 minutes of audio can be edited.

Giant Squid Audio Lab Omnidirectional Mic*
Great quality sound but requires an adapter for it to work with a phone. $49.99.

Google Voice
Your own phone number. Can be used to record interviews but sometimes not reliable and they have to call you. Free.

Background horror noise generator.

iOS udio editing app for interviews, podcasts, or voiceovers. Can import clips from other applications and export directly to Dropbox and iTunes. Free.

iRig Handheld Mic*
A handheld microphone with a built-in headphone socket allowing users to monitor audio and control levels when paired with the iRig Recorder app. $59.99.

iRig Mic Studio*
Professional studio mic that comes with many adaptors including a lightning port plug so it will work with the iPhone 7 (which is it smaller than). Includes gain control, level indicator, and headphone output (with its own level control).  Tripod stand included. $179.

iRig Pre*
A preamp which allows you to plug your quality mic into an your iOS device. It takes an XLR input and turns it into a 3.5mm jack. A built in headphone socket allowing users to monitor audio when paired with the iRig Recorder app, which also gives audio control levels. Very simple to use. Uses 9-volt battery. $39.99. If you want better sound quality, and control, try the iRig Pro or even better theiRig Pro Duo.

iRig Pro Duo*
Royalty fAllows you to plug two XLR microphones into your iPhone through the lightning port, so that you and the person you are interviewing can be mic’ed with separate gains. A headphone port allows you to monitor the audio. Uses two AA batteries so it does not draw power from your iPhone. $199.99

Keep Vid
Post your audio here and then link to it from your blog or embed it into your blog.

Liberted Syndication
For creating podcasts. Small monthly fee.

Podcast Hosting Services. Starting at $5 a month.

Logic Pro
Audio editing program, especially music.

Post your audio here and then link to it from your blog or embed it into your blog.

Audio editing program, especially music. $75.

Live internet audio app. Share in social media, text with listeners, embed player on your website. Free.

Audio editing program.

Audio editing program designed to normalise MP3 files so that they all have the same loudness in a more effective way than other programs.

MP3 Quailty Modifier
Audio editing program to adjust the quality of your MP3 files so you can save disk space.

Music Editor Free
Free audio editing program. You'll need a converter since it can only save WAV files.

Simple audio editor made for users who do not need all the options offered by Audacity free. 

Transcribe recorded interviews.

A podcasting platform focused on ease of use. Doesn’t include some of the extras of other sites but low learning curve. Monthly fees from $12-50,

Podcasting made easy. Some users have said it rather clunky.

Audio Editing program. $225 full commercial license. $60 for discounted license.

Record your incoming and outgoing phone conversations on any phone without needing equipment.  Works for interviews.

Rode i-XLR*
A broadcast quality XLR adaptor that lets you connect it to the lightning port of the iPhone. The cable is about 10 feet long in order to reach an interview subject. You can adjust the headphone volume but there is no preamp or gain control. $149.

Rev Voice Recorder*
Quality voice recorder and editor for both iPhone and Android. Includes Dropbox and Evernote integration. Free but voice-to-text human transcriptions in 12-hours for $1 a minute.

Shotgun Mic*
Popular RodeVMGO Video Mic GO Lightweight On-Camera Microphone SuperCardiod. Lightweight directional microphone. Adaptor and extension cord needed as well for it to work with a iPhone 7.  $99.

Popular resentation tool owned by LinkedIn. Use documents, PDFs and video to create webinars, audio presentations, for online lectures etc. Solid analytics for free. Watch a slide show about SlideShare here.

Smart Voice Recorder
Android recording app. Good for memos and group meetings. Decent audio quality. Allows users to skip silences, test the mic, determine where recordings are saved, etc. Free.

A project of Northwestern University's Knight Lab, it lets users embed audio into posts. So, for instance if you write "..thick, one-note guitar riffs shuffle and stomp with a heavy beat" you can make it so that when someone clicks on "thick, one-note guitar riffs" they will hear a short example. Watch a video explanation here.

Post your audio here and then link to it from your blog or embed it into your blog. Limited space free, more for a fee.

Free. Audio editing program. Especially for music.

Create photo and video stories on an iPhone with an emphasis on mobile design. Create collections and share on social networks. Free. Sample.

Shure Mic for iOS*
Shure MV88 Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone for iOS. Stereo and mono options. Small and portable, it plugs directly into the iPhone’s Lightning Port. A 90-degree hinge allows you to adjust it to different angles to capture the best sound. Comes with an app that controls the gain, EQ, and stereo width. $129.

Record cell phone calls and export the audio for editing, to email or upload to Google Drive or Dropbox. IoS and Android. Dial the TapeACall line, then dial the person you want to talk to, and merge the two calls into a conference. The recording is saved on the app. $24.99 a year. Watch a video here.

For call-in podcasts. Samples.

Speech to text transcription in 5 minutes Advanced speech recognition software. 10 cents a minute.

All things audio. A performance space, editorial session, an audition stage, a library, and a hangout. How to guides for podcast beginners.

Audio editing program (Mac only). $80.

VideoMic ME*
Compact and lightweight, directional microphone for smartphones. Adaptor and extension cord needed.

Transcribes audio to text.

VoiceRecord Pro
Professional voice recorder. Record audio from events, voice memos and on-site sounds at unlimited length, add markers, share or upload. iOS. Free.

Free audio editing program.

Free audio editing program.  Bit-perfect, minimizing the loss of quality by altering files only when absolutely necessary.

Free Audio editing program.

Video and audio file converter.

Zoom iQ7 Mic*
This compact condenser mic is portable. Can be set to record a source from the front with or without the surrounding ambiance from the sides. $99.

More tech tools here.

Create your own Polls and Quizzes

Looking for a way to survey a class, figure out a group meeting time, or create a poll for your website? Here are some free options along with pricing if you want more options.

Checkbox Survey
Flexible question design but weak interface and results reports. Has multiple levels of access. Lots of mixing and matching of radio buttons and checkbox responses. Weak reporting options-just static displays. Expensive: no free version and it’s $37 a month for just the basic plan, up to $287 a month.

CrowdSignal (formally PollDaddy)
Create surveys, polls, and quizzes. Works well with WordPress sites. Free version offers unlimited polls. The $29 a month account for more options such as customization and export options.

Create polls. Great for finding a meeting time among people. Cuts down on email exchanges. Can’t be embedded, but can be linked. It’s a PCMag Editors' Choice productivity app. Everything you need for polling is free. The $39 a year Private account takes away ads and gives you the ability to see who hasn't answered a poll yet and encryption options. Business account for $69 a year.

Interface could be better. Multiple reports. More options than SurveyPlanet and some design advantages over Toluna QuickSurveys. Features not as strong as Checkbox Survey and SoGoSurvey. Free options includes unlimited surveys, questions, and respondents. Basic plan includes data exporting, email support. $40 per month for the Premium plan.

Sometimes confusing interface. Can import questions from Word docs. Works best with straightforward a survey structure. Includes a collaborative task manager, administrative controls, and various reporting options. No direct social media integration. Customized pricing, so who knows how much it cost.

Allows you to pose a question to your audience and get instant feedback by phones. Fewer  features than Socrative or Poll Everywhere, but it is free and easy to use.

Poll Everywhere*
Instant audience feedback through texting. Embed in PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides for live surveys. Can replace clickers in classrooms. Free version for up to 25 responses per poll. $19 a month for more options.

Expensive but winner of PC mag’s Editors' Choice award for creating surveys. Interface is powerful and thoughtful organization but has a learning curve. Create shared reports. Really meant for professionals.

Create study tools like flash cards and quizzes or make use of those created by others. Useful for rote learning. Easy to use but limited functionality. Popular among language learners. Although it will link to Google Classroom, it will not connect with academic LMS (learning management systems like Blackboard). App available. Free version for most features. $1.99 to make it ad free. $19.99 for more options.

Poll Junkie
Unlimited polls and responses with more features than social media polls. Share the link or embed the code. Only free with no sign up.

Create online surveys. Nice interface with lots of starter templates. An option to merge surveys. Limited flexibility in question ordering. Tracks email invitations and responses. Strong reporting functions including a helpful calendar. Stacks up decently against SurveyGizmo and SurveyMonkey. Pro accounts from $12 to $40 a month.

Supports the creation of forms, including payment forms, quizzes, and surveys. Users can include text, or other media. Can import questions from Word docs. Includes a bulk-edit mode. A free option with unlimited survey questions but otherwise limited. $25 per month for the Explorer plan.

Popular option for easily creating simple surveys. Designed to be accessable. Free option allows for up to 10 questions and an unlimited number of surveys that can be sent to up to 100 respondents. Has a mobile app to check survey progress. $32 per month for the Advantage plan. $99 a month for the Premier tier.

Easy step up from Google forms to create surveys with a very clean interface but very basic. Limited question choices and limited options for surveys requiring more complex questions. The free version is generous: unlimited surveys of unlimited length to unlimited respondents. $15 a month for the Pro plan.

Toluna QuickSurveys
An online survey tool with nice reporting options, including the ability to create shared reports. Limited options for more complex questioning. Works best with straightforward a survey structure. $85 per month for the Premium option. A hefty $85 a month for access to Toluna analytics.

Zoho Survey
Online or offline surveys. Easy to use but limited question options. Has a mobile app to check survey progress. Great reporting features. Comparable to SurveyPlanet but with more features and options. Limited free option. Many features are available for the $20 a month option. $60 per month for the Enterprise plan.

More tech tools here.

Tuesday Tech Tools: Website Analytics

Need to get understand who is visiting your website and why they come? Here are some tools that will help.

Crazy Egg
A leading visualization software that gives website administrators heatmap reports showing how visitors are using their pages. $29.

Google Analytics
Detailed statistics about website performance and traffic sources and measures conversions. Free.

Records video sessions of website users’ behavior. Heatmaps show what users find interesting on your site.

Majestic SEO
Find out how all the websites on the internet link to each other. Information about how the fabric of the web is knitted together--and what is connected to yours.

Open Web Analytics

Matomo (formerly Piwik)
An open-source web-analytics platform that gives you insights into you website's visitors. Doesn’t offer anything that Google Analytics cannot provide—except the user retains ownership of the data. Free but also offers a pro account.
Improves SEO by tracking your keywords and how well they are performing on the search engine result pages. 14 day free trial. Starting at $19 month.

Real-time web traffic response tool. Lets you post a targeted response on your website.

Find more tools here.

Tuesday Tech Tools: Organizers

Need to get yourself organized? Here are some tools that will help.

Manages projects and processes-weddings, movie shoots, companies, etc. Allows you to log entries in spreadsheets which can be turned into sets of data stored in the cloud. Some limitations you won’t find in tools like Trello. There’s a video explanation here.

Schedule Gmail or Outlook email for a later send date.  Add-on for Firefox and Chrome. Free.

Popular social media scheduling service for posting to multiple sites at one time or later.

Popular note/audio organization tool. Access notes on any computer, tablet or phone.

A cloud-based accounting app that helps you manage clients and projects, send invoices, and track time, expenses, and estimates right from your iPhone.

Find a halfway point between two locations. Great for setting up meetings between people.

Task management system. Organizes according to the context in which they are done (online, at the office, at home, etc.) . Designed with teams in mind.,

Mac program that keeps lists and organizes outlines. Low learning curve to create rich, multi-column, collapsible outlines in many styles. Add embedded notes, images, links, etc.

Google Now
Tracks your online behavior and uses this data to predict the information that you will need, such as local traffic or weather updates.

Bookmark things you find in social media. One time $9.94 cost.

Social work platform for basic project management tasks — calendar, contacts, activity stream — that helps teams collaborate and communicate. Both free and paid versions.

Process Street
Document, manage, and track your workflows and business processes. Records tasks in templates – lists which show what tasks to do and what order to do them in.

App that gives you a single place to dump all your ideas. Especially helpful for creating and managing complex writing projects.g projects.

Organizational tool that integrations with many other apps. Tasks or projects are stored in cards which are then arranged into columns.

Organize all your travel plans into mobile itineraries.

Writing app for Mac. Uses plain text or Markdown for writing, but also includes notes, exporting, organization and more.

Digital note taking app. Excellent design, but lacks due dates, reminders of upcoming deadlines and calendar view. Free version limits you to 500 lists or "items" per month.  Pro accounts can be backed up to Dropbox. Individual pro accounts ($4.99 per month or $49 per year) and Team ($3.99 per month per user, or $39 per year per user, with a two user minimum) A short video introduction here.

Tuesday Tools: Various Writing Helps

We all could use a little help with writing and editing text. Here are some wonderful tools (apps and online) that will help in unexpected ways. You'll more writing tools at the tech tools site. If you have other suggestions, feel free to send them my way.

Associated Press Stylebook*
The most used reference guide to writing news stories, the AP stylebook is available both in print and online for a small fee.  It can improve general writing as well, especially for its alphabetically organized guide to the use of common and proper nouns.

Diversity Style Guide
Resource to help media writers nagivate through a "multicultural world with accuracy, authority and sensitivity."

Cliche Finder
Just what the title suggests. Free.

Check for online plagiarism.

Corpus of Contemporary American English
This BYU site includes transcripts of spoken language from radio and television programs and comprises academic writing from a range of disciplines allowing comparison of styles--spoken language vs.written academic language.

Coschedule Headline Analyzer
Analyze your headlines for SEO and share value. Free. 

Dragon Anywhere*
Voice to text app for iOS. Have to finish dictation before seeing the text. Free.

Flip Text
Flip text upside-down.  Use it on Facebook or Twitter. Free.

Gender Guesser
Cut and paste some of your writing into the the Gender Guesser and it will tell you whether you are male or female based on the writing tendencies of each.

the Grading Game*
App for practicing your editing skills and win points. Avail at the App Store.

Grammar Girl
Writing Tips from a grammarian.

Edit, organize and share documents. Merged with Dropbox in 2014.

HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator
Just write three nouns related to the topic that you'd like to blog about and this site will offer ideas.  

Lexicon Valley
Slate's grammar podcasts.

Limpert's About Editing and Writing Blog
A blog about how editors and writers do their work by Jack Limert was editor of the The Washingtonian for more than 40 years.

Created by Twitter co-founders to support good writing. Clean design and easy-to-use interface. For those who want to write but don’t want to maintain a blog or website. Intended to be a place where smart people plant their thoughts.  Share a draft of a post with friends who can make comments as marginal notes (rather than at the end of a post). Free, but Twitter account is required. No custom domains or customization.

Online Etymology Dictionary
Gives you the history and derivation of any word. Free.

Developed at the Associated Press, Overview analyzes the complete text of every document, extracting keywords and sorting documents into categories and sub-categories.

Power Thesaurus 
Crowdsourced thesaurus. 

Free rhyming dictionary.

SEO writing tips.

Writing platform. Minimalist interface. Encourages reader response.

Collaborative writing tool. 

Mac typing shortcut. Takes snippets of text and turns them into longer ones. Ideas for how to use it here. $44.95.

Extracts text from a variety of printed sources (PDF, books, etc.) by using the iPhone camera. Can translate text from many languages. $4.99.

Tone Analyzer
Linguistic analysis detects the emotional tone of your writing. Detect the levels of particular emotions it triggers and language style. Free.

 Yoast SEO
A WordPress plugin to work SEO into your writing.

Tuesday Tools: Writing Scripts

Here are some tools (apps and online) that will help you get your TV or movie script in shape. There are more writing tools at the tech tools site. If you have other suggestions, feel free to send them my way.

Fade In
Script-writing software with similar features toFinal Draft without the price tag. Not as many of the extras that come withFinal Draft but only $50. Windows, Mac, Linux.

Final Draft*
Industry standard for writing screenplays on both Windows and Mac. Notes section for keeping track of characters, special scene view to get an overview, index card system for summaries, etc. $170.

Free script-writing alternative to Final Draft and Fade In. Enough features to get you started.

TV Tropes
Fiction writing help through examination of storytelling devices in creative works.


Tuesday Tools: Writing Organizers 

750 Words
Tracks your progress toward writing 750 words each day. Keeps up with your writing speed, and how often you get distracted. Free.

Daily Page
Start a daily writing routine with daily writing prompts. $5 a month or $4 annually.

Day One
Great journaling app for IOS and Mac.  Clean look, syncing, photo imports, passcode, reminders, public publish option. Very organized and easy to navigate.  $4.99.  

Content management system for WordPress providing a snapshot of content with a calendar feature. Advanced draft and pending review feature. User groups to keep writing teams organized. Useful for multi-author websites.

Powerful writing program for iPad and iPhone. High learning curves but valuable once you find workflows that suit your purposes. Beautiful inline preview. $4.99.

Access notes on any computer, tablet or phone. Search function lets you find a note in either text or audio format. Free for iOS and Android.

App for distraction-free writing. A blank canvas to write on--and nothing else. Includes timers, stats, alarms, goals setting, etc. Free.

Journaling app. Simple, quick to start. Easily search through old journals. Calendar navigation, customizable templates, export functionality. Free. 

App that gives you a single place to dump all your ideas. Especially helpful for creating and managing complex writing projects: writing a novel, play, TV show, magazine feature, etc. Write in fragments and then shuffle scenes/chapters in a "bulletin board" mode.. throw in research notes, multimedia files, and character sketches.  Allows you to slowly "grow” books, scripts, and articles. Easy to convert the document to an e-book, web page, a PDF, or Word doc. Works with Mac and Windows.  Free 30-use trial. $45 for the latest version. Many writers swear it's worth it. Doesn't work on iPads though.

Writing app for Mac. Uses plain text or Markdown for writing, but also includes notes, exporting, organization and more. $44.99.


Tuesday Tools: Writing Academic Papers

If you are one of the many students getting your school start this month, here are some tools (apps and online) that will help you edit your writing (or the writing of others) especially when it comes to figuring out how to make citations. There are more writing tools at the tech tools site. If you have other suggestions, feel free to send them my way.

Citation Machine
Auto-formatting for citations of research papers

Auto-formatting of citations for research papers.

Resources for editing professors, students and working professionals to help strengthen the craft of editing and support the work of editors.

Purdue Writing Lab
Writing and formatting help.

SuperSummary Academic Citation Resources 
Links to style guides, FAQs, tutorials, quizzes, sample papers, and tools to help students' citation and research processes.

Tuesday Tools: Editing Text

Looking for some tools (apps and online) that will help you with editing your writing (or the writing of others)? Here are some useful options. The tech tools site also has a list of links to writing helps for better organization, academic papers, and putting together scripts. If you have other suggestions, feel free to send them my way.

Mac app that checks your grammar and spelling. Free.

After the Deadline*
Checks your story for grammar, spelling and style. Works as a plugin for WordPress blogs, an add-on for the Firefox browser, etc.

Scans your writing and highlights flaws such as repetitive words, overuse of adverbs and use of passive voice. $30 a month.

An app that analyzes your writing, breaking down everything from which words you are using frequently to the number of times parts of speech come up in your writing. See what percentage of sentences are extra-long and which words are filler and which verbs are weak. Free.

Writing tool that works as grammar checker, sentence rephraser, translator, dictionary and text reader. Free.

Automated proofreader and personal grammar coach.

Hemingway App*
The Hemingway app is designed to make you a better writer by highlighting problems in your writing. Goal is to make more direct and active--more Hemingway-ey, as the Washington Post proclaims. Just paste your text into the app and it will highlight hard to read sentences, adverbs, complex phrases, and passive voice.  Color coordinated highlighting. Click on these words to see the suggested alternatives.  Word count, readability grade, etc.  $6.99.

Marked 2
Tools for writers including word counts, document stats, highlights repeated words.  Mac only.  $9.99.

Hire an experienced proofreader based on an hourly rate (typically one hour for every 5000 words).

Grammar, plagiarism, and spell checker. Mostly free but $7.50 per month for all features.

Proofread Bot
Shows your mistakes and what areas of your writing that could be strengthened. The more words reviewed, the greater the cost starting at $5 for 20,000 words.  

Readability Score
Cut and paste your text into a dialogue box to see the writing's grade level. Free, but for any contribution you get access to more advanced tools like readability alerts, PDF and Word doc processing and bulk uploads. TextEvaluator offers more feedback on the text.

Writing app that checks grammar along with flow, structure, word frequency, and overused phrases.

Like Readability Score, it will tell you what grade level a piece of text is written on, the average length of sentences, etc.  But TextEvaluator goes further, including grammatical complexity, insights on vocabulary, etc.

Word Counter*
Cut and paste your document (or just type) to see how many words, characters, and sentences you are using. It shows what words are overused, the average number of words in your sentences, and the reading level you are writing at. Free.

Word Frequency Counter
See how often you use (and overuse) words and phrases in your writing.

Checks your text against a huge database of correct language. Use it to find language you might not have considered. A desktop app that works with emails, Word docs, etc. Free. 

Tuesday Tools: Bot Detectors

Want to know if a Twitter account is run by a human or a bot? The Botometer hunts Twitter bots. A high @Botometer score suggests the account is probably automated. Accounts rated above 48% are flagged as potential bots—anything over 60% rates as a “likely” bot. It's a free product from Indiana University. 

An alternative comes from the University of New Mexico. Like the Botometer, DeBot is a bot detection system for Twitter accounts. The information is archived so it can be searched. 

Find more tools here.