Thursday, April 2, 2015

More Favorite Apps

I’ve written in the past about some of favorite apps and websites, including Clearcheckbook, Mint, Xmarks, DropBox, and GoogleDocs. Here are a few more that I’ve found indispensable:


SplashID Save

SplashID Safe is a secure password storage/manager app and desktop program that keeps all my website log in and password information close at hand via a password-protected app on my iPhone (it’s also of course available on other devices). Just as importantly, it syncs with a desktop version of the program, making it available on my desktop and safely backed up should anything every happen to my device. (The desktop program can also act as a stand-alone product.)

While SplashID stores my various usernames and passwords for my online email, banking, and social media accounts, it’s also designed to store other sensitive information and is easily customized. As a result, it’s a great convenience to store information like social security numbers and other private information of family members, credit card numbers, combinations, insurance numbers, vehicle information, etc., that I often have to access when doing things like filling out forms while out and about at places like the doctor’s office or traveling.

I’ve used SplashID for many years, dating back to my PalmPilot days. While there are several popular rivals to SplashID—most notably 1Password and LastPass—I’ve stuck with SplashID since it was easy to transition the data from the PalmPilot to my iPhone. There was a brief period when I considered other options, primarily because SplashID for a time was acting a bit buggy which caused me to worry about its dependability, but upgrades since then have restored stability and my confidence in the app.

SplashID and most other similar apps offer other features that I don’t use, such as the ability to generate strong passwords, securely save passwords in the cloud (a leap I haven’t made yet), and to auto-fill blank lines online. I’ve never used these additional bells and whistles, but as it stands, SplashID is definitely one of my most used and functional apps.


ToDoist

There are tons of “To Do” apps out there, so it’s rather surprising that it’s taken me so long to find one that works just right for me. Of course, the plethora of options makes it difficult to test all of them and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Anyway, I recently discovered and starting using ToDoist and it seems to fit the bill. It is a mobile device app that syncs with the cloud and links to a dedicated desktop app that is also linked to the cloud. So I can add tasks and reminders (with or without deadlines) and check them on both my mobile device or desktop computer, and strike items as I do them. You can view tasks on the fly either for the day or the next 7 days. And, of course, you can organize the tasks and reminders into different categories. It has quickly become a useful app I use every day.


TaxAct

Back in the early aughts, I received a free CD copy of the tax preparation software TaxCut (apparently now renamed H&R Block Tax Software)—they were very smart because I found it very useful and used the software for several years due to familiarity and the ease of transferring data from one year to the next.

As tax preparation and filing moved more to the Web, based on a recommendation, I went to TaxAct, which I have been now using since 2007.

It’s the only web-based tax preparation software I have ever used, so I don’t have a point of comparison, but it’s a product I certainly recommend. It carries over a lot of personal information for me from year to year so that I don’t have to re-enter the data every year (another incentive to stay with the same program). It’s step-by-step entry program is fairly straightforward and intuitive, though sometimes going back to earlier entry screens can be tricky and a bit confusing because they are often nested within sections. Other than that, it’s fairly straightforward and allows the user to submit their federal and state tax forms for one price under $20 (additional state forms cost extra).

Plus, when you file online, users usually receive tax reimbursements much quickly -- usually in about a week or so, versus the several weeks if you are waiting for a check!

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