Home Screen: Ben Carter

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This Sunday, the Mac Power Users will publish a workflow show with Ben Carter (website) (Twitter). Ben started a law firm and is now doing a short run podcast on it called, “Let’s Start a Law Firm”. It’s a great little show and useful to a lot of people running small service-based businesses. Ben was telling me about some of his favorite apps so I decided to make it official.

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What are some of favorite apps?

My three favorite apps that your readers may not be using are:

1) Deli Radio allows users to create custom playlists of musicians that are performing in or near a specific geographical area within a specific date horizon. For example, I have a playlist that plays indie rock bands that are playing within 50 miles of Louisville, Kentucky in the next month. It’s a great way to discover new music and support live music. Also, one of my best friends is their general counsel. It is also a web app, so you can listen at your desk.

2) Songza offers users pre-made playlists that may be appropriate for certain activities at specific times of the day and week. It tells you: “It’s Wednesday morning. Do you want music for: a) waking up happy, b) waking up with energy, c) rolling over and hitting snooze, etc. etc.? It will then present you with six or so genres of music. After choosing a genre, you get to pick one of three playlists. I’ve found some great songs on Songza and love all of the new ways we have to listen to music. In another life—if I do this one well—I hope to come back as a musician. Songza also has a web app for at-work listening, but I mostly use Spotify at my desk to explore some of the bands I’ve found using Deli Radio and Songza on my phone. I pay the 99 cents a week for the ad-free version of Songza. Worth it.

3) Avocado is a really fun app that I use with my girlfriend. Designed as a kind of social network for two people, Avocado is basically a beefed-up text messaging app with a few awesome twists. When I started dating my girlfriend, she was living in Manhattan and I was in Louisville, so a lot of our relationship was in text messages. Very early in the relationship it occurred to me how much of the inside jokes and meaning-making was evolving in text messages that were trapped on our phones, so I began to look for an alternative that might allow me to export our text-exchanges and found Avocado. It allows you to use your photos to set custom emojis for certain emotions (I have a fist bump, a look of dismay, and a high-five emoji), create and update shared lists, and share, caption, and draw on photos. It’s a really fun app that (again), has a web component. So while I’m at my desk, I can text her on her phone using my computer keyboard, which is really nice.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Facebook. I wish I didn’t like it so much, but I do.

What is the app you are still missing?

I don’t really feel like I’m missing apps so much as I feel like I’m missing some functionality in the apps I already use. I use Sparrow as an email client even though I know I’m living on borrowed time following its acquisition by Google because it has a “Send and Archive” feature. I love “Send and Archive”. More email clients should offer it.

Also, I wish Songza made it possible to save songs to playlists that I could create rather than only offering me their playlists. Instead, I’m snapping screenshots of good songs and adding them to Spotify playlists.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I run my law practice through my phone. My iPhone is my office phone. I use Soulver to calculate mileage, balance my books, and double-check the math that loan servicers have performed when offering or denying my clients loan modifications. I track my time when I’m on the run using Rocket Matter’s iPhone app. I navigate to rural Kentucky’s courthouses using Google Maps and listen to Roderick on the Line on my way there using Downcast. Even when I’m standing at my desk, I’m just as likely to log on to check my bank balances on my phone as on my computer.

So, is “constantly” an answer?

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

IT IS A COMPUTER. IN MY POCKET. I feel really lucky to be old enough to remember computing in the mid–80s and hope I never stop feeling grateful for the nerds that make this all possible.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I practice consumer law, which basically means that I’m representing people who have been duped, defrauded, or otherwise misled/screwed by a business. I wish there were an easier way to export text message exchanges. In a surprising number of my cases, text messages are going to be evidence in a trial. Screenshots? Come on.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re a guitar player, I really recommend the ultimate-guitar.com app for iPad. I use it on my Mini and it really makes finding, storing, and playing music easy and fun.

Thanks Ben.