Well, okay to die for is a bit strong, but here is some software I really like.

  • PersonalBrain 5.0 – the best and the most versatile database I’ve found to organize all your stuff. Check out the 3 min, 50 sec. demo below the banner on the home page. It’s neat and gives a very quick demonstration of how it works. You can attach URLs, Word docs, emails, to “thoughts” in your brain, and connect your thoughts to unlimited “child” thoughts below or “parent” thoughts above and so much more. There is a free version (good for practicing and playing with), but you will quickly go to the Pro version ($250) once you see what the software can do, and how limited the free version is. I haven’t got everything in there yet, but am working on it. Also, they have a bunch of video recordings on how to use it, and a Brain 101 free webinar every Friday at 1:00pm Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific time. Check it out.
  • Mind Mapping – if you haven’t been into mind mapping, you’re missing something. The one I’ve been using for 5-plus years is MindManager. It is terrific for brainstorming ideas, and in meetings. I use it for my To Do lists, and it keeps me very organized. I’m still using version 7 and haven’t had a need to go to MM8 ($349). Check out this demo and download a free trial if you are interested. There are other brands and some free programs out there, for example FreeMind but I can’t attest to how good they are.

GyroQ (by Gyronix). It is one of my favorite tools. Basically, it is an immediate thought/idea/action item grabber. Unfortunately it currently is only available as an add-on ($50) to MindManager. Just click CTRL+Q no matter where you are in your computer, and a small window pops up so you can immediately record a quick thought, action items, etc. without interrupting what you are working on. Then, press ESC to close it. Later, with a click of the mouse, you can send your notes to MindManager. I use GyroQ constantly.

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 – I’ve been a speech to text user for at least ten years, and I’ve used DNS for at least 7 years, and didn’t do well with the earlier versions. But DNS Preferred 10 made quantum leaps in accuracy and functionality. You still should train the software for your voice and to both your wired headset and Bluetooth separately (if you use both), but 15 minutes or less of training will pretty much do it. You can use it for word processing, email and even navigating the Web, but that takes a bit more practice I’ve found. Although I use the “Preferred” edition ($200, but a lot cheaper on eBay), there is a “Legal Edition” (it’s a bit steep at $1200 for a single user). But, you may not need the legal version for general correspondence and non-legal dictation.

For a good text to voice reader, I like Natural Reader that you can purchase realistic sounding voices for. There is a free version, but the voice isn’t that good.

  • Jott.com. This is a simple voice to text system that allows you to phone in a voice message to Jott and it is forwarded as a text message or email to yourself, any person or team you designate. It used to be free, but is still very reasonable, if such a system meets your needs. However, check out LifeHacker.com for supposedly free alternatives. I haven’t checked these out, and expect that Jott with its history is probably more sophisticated, but I don’t know for sure.

Finally, I’m a big fan of Gizmo. Okay, it is not software, but a web site with the best freeware out there. Check it out.