Putting technology to work – My Story

Putting technology to work to stay productive and ahead, these are the services I use that give me an edge.  In other words, here are some really cool services I think you might want to check out!

As much as I love technology, there has to be a purpose, a reason to use a particular technology. Here I share the services that I personally use that help me stay informed, increase my audience or are just plain cool.

Featuring WordPress, Docker, Statusbrew, Inoreader and more.

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Putting technology to work - The services I use

Every service I use stands out in some way.  It's usually not run of the mill but class leading or has something unique. For me, putting technology to work means implementing and harnesses value from systems for a shared goal.

At the risk of sounding self-promoting or even worse arrogant, I really like these services and I think I have chosen them pretty well but I am always on the lookout for alternatives.

Publishing

I like writing and sharing my experiences as an IT Professional. This is something I'll be working on but it's great to have a platform and systems that facilitate this goal. 

WordPress

I host this site on WordPress, which I self-host.  Rather than just be ordinary, I use Docker and four containers.  I have outlined how I set this up here: Ultimate WordPress Docker setup guide.

These containers are WordPress itself, a MariaDB backend, Nginx proxy and a Let's Encrypt companion for SLL certs.

I love WordPress, I know some people love to knock it instead, security is always a concern but it's just so flexible and extensible. Let's not forget as of writing, WordPress is used by 26.6% of all websites, which isn't a bad validation.

I am using RamNode as a host who are very good but I have a dev box on Scaleway who offer a next generation service. 

WordPress Themes & Plugins

I use Thrive Themes, where I am a member.  I use them for themes and some great plugins. I love how Thrive Themes are constantly developing and their whole ethos.  I am not close to making full use of what they have to offer but I'll get further with this.

I use the FocusBlog by Thrive Themes on this site, which I like though I am using some of the stock elements for now. I use Thrive Content Builder to create content in WordPress, which is just a fantastic tool.  As much as the built-in WordPress editor is always improving, it can't compare to Thrive Content Builder.

I use Jetpack mostly just for the site stats. I also use Yoast SEO, which is good and hopefully increases the visibility of my posts in search engines. Of course, I have Google Analytics, I just need to use it more.

The rest

Grammarly

I use Grammarly as a better spell checker, I use just the free version, which helps pick up a few more typos.  Grammarly has a plugin for Microsoft Office for Outlook and Word, unfortunately, it doesn't work with click-to-run (C2R) versions of Office, which is a shame.

Visme

I have only recently started using Visme for graphics and I'll be using this much more. With Visme you can create visually appealing presentations, posters, infographics and more.

 Here is a recent example of what I have used Visme for:

I use Docs.com to publish technology white papers, guides and other such documents I come across.  I really like Docs.com and hope to use it more. You can check me out there:

​https://docs.com/cian-allner-1

With ScreenToGif I can easily create animated Gifs.  I use it occasionally to liven up tweets or for blog posts.  It's a great free screen capture utility with a lot of options and efficent encoding. 

I have to mention Greenshot, the free and open source screenshot tool. I use this all the time, it's a great alternative to paid programs like TechSmith's Snagit.  In fact, I liked it so much, I did a review of Greenshot a while back that you can read here.

Social Media

I am still relatively new to Twitter but it quickly became apparent a tool would be useful to manage followers.   I picked Statusbrew previously known as "Unfollowers” and I have found it a boon.  

I am not actively using it grow my account that much, more to keep track of the comings and goings. It's a nice service, that's evolving quickly with new features.  It has good mobile apps, which was a must for me.

Here is my Twitter account in case you want to see what I am up to!

I have dabbled with the scheduled posts option in Statusbrew, so even when I am offline I can post.  I use it selectively but it's a really nice option to have.  Going back to WordPress, I use a plugin called Custom Twitter Feeds Pro by Smash Balloon.  This allows me to embed my Twitter feed directly into my website.

I can use it, for example, to only show my Office 365 tweets with Office 365 blog posts on my site. To do this I use it in conjunction with Thrive Themes Clever Widgets.

Content reading

How do you keep up to date with all the news sources in your profession? For me, I manually often visited web pages whenever I had a chance and missed out on breaking news.  Now the news comes to me with Inoreader, the content reader for power users.

Read my Inoreader review to see what it offers.

I have created an Inoreader bundle for IT Professionals.  This is a collection of Microsoft feeds that I have brought together into one place.  You can check out the bundle here and subscribe if it's of use:

Microsoft IT Pro Inoreader Bundle

Inoreader is superb, you can add all your RSS, Google, Twitter news sources and manage them smartly. I am trying out IFTTT to post tweets from Inoreader feeds as well.

Putting technology to work - Closing thoghts

​Putting technology to work is all very well but it has to solve some problem or add some benefit. 

In this post, I have shared some of my top services that I use, that I really like.  I hope you have found this useful and maybe even discovered something that might help you in some way.

Don't forget to check me out on Twitter @CianAllner, if that's your thing! Thanks for reading.​