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#Tip: 4 tools to ‘take back your time’

Image by Earls37A on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by Earls37A on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The Muck Rack blog has published a list of three tools to help you “take back your time“.

Are all the hours you’re spending on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Buzzfeed really just to do your job better?

In general, the internet takes more of your time than you care to admit. And, to make matters even more complicated, as writers and communicators, we tend to spend more time online than those in other professions.

The tools Muck Rack recommends are ManicTimeRescueTime and Tictrac. You can read more about them here.

We’re adding a fourth to the list of tools: Freedom, which turns off the internet.

Freedom enforces freedom; you’ll need to reboot if you want to get back online while Freedom’s running. The hassle of rebooting means you’re less likely to cheat, letting you focus on work.

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#Tip: Try this Embed Responsively tool

Image by Sean MacEntee on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by Sean MacEntee on Flickr. Some rights reserved

If your site is responsive, here’s a potentially useful tool.

Embed Responsively “helps build responsive embed codes for embedding rich third-party media into responsive web pages”.

Simply enter a URL, and you’ll get an embed code.

It works for content on the following platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Google Maps, Instagram, Vine, Scribd, SoundCloud, Storify, Facebook and Twitter.

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#Tip: Scrape web pages using this Chrome extension

Scrape is an screen scraper Chrome extension.

It is really easy to use. Simply install it and then right click on any web page that contains a table you want to scrape and there is an option to save the data to a Google spreadsheet.

Journalist Jens Finnäs has provided a tutorial on his Dataist blog. He explains how he used the extension to scrape the contact details of all Swedish MPs.

Another example


If I want to create a Google Doc spreadsheet of the list of people who signed up to the last Hacks/Hackers London event, I simply go to the Meetup group, click ‘print attendee list’, right click to ‘scrape similar’ and ‘export to Google Docs’.

Another way of doing this is to scrape the table directly, adding =ImportHtml (“url”,”table”,0), in the first cell (A1) of a Google Doc spreadsheet. (The URL is the page which contains the table.)

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#Tip: Three converters for dealing with pesky PDFs


Image by rillian on Flickr. Some rights reserved

If you have ever attempted to extract data or text from a PDF, here are three tools that might be of interest.

1. CometDocs 

CometDocs converts PDFs to Word and Excel.

2. PDF to Excel 

This does exactly what it says on the tin, creating an Excel spreadsheet from a PDF.

3. Zamzar 

Zamzar allows you to convert from PDF to a range of file types.

If you have a favourite PDF concerter, do share in the comments below.

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#Tip: How to do a multitrack edit on your iPhone

voddio mobile reporting


If you are a broadcast journalist or create podcasts, you are no doubt familiar with multitrack editing on a desktop computer. But do you do complicated audio edits on your phone?

One app which allows you to do this is Voddio, made by Vericorder, which we have written about several times at

Voddio and it is used by BBC 5 Live reporter Nick Garnett (who has become known as “the iPhone guy”, he tells me).

Neal Augustein, a US radio reporter, has created a video guide to using Voddio.

The four-minute video guide is at this link.

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#Tip: A great list of free tools for digital journalism

Image by JM. Some rights reserved.

Image by JM. Some rights reserved.

Journalists have a wealth of free tools available to them. And US journalist Danny Sanchez has compiled a really handy list on his blog, Journalistopia.

There are visualisation tools included, video tools, timeline tools and more.

The list is at this link.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Try online video editor Weavly

Weavly is an online video editor which allows you to create “video remixes” using multimedia content from YouTube, SoundCloud and Loopcam.

Editing is done inside the browser.

Weavly has created a page for journalists which explains the benefits and copyright.

It’s worth checking out to Weavly, which is still in beta.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Eight ideas for using Spundge

Spundge, which launched less than three months ago as a platform to help improve the efficiency of journalists’ digital workflows and their ability to keep track of their beat and stories online, has been adopted by many journalists.

The Spundge blog has gathered examples of eight ways journalists are using Spundge Notebooks.

The post describes how journalists can use Spundge for breaking news, saving and tracking story ideas, and building on personal branding.

Trinity Mirror’s David Higgerson has also blogged about Spundge, and outlining 10 ways journalists can use it.

The post is at this link.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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App of the week for journalists: Splice, an easy video editor

App of the week: Splice

Phones: iPhone

Cost: Free (£2.49 to go ad-free)

What is it? Splice is an easy-to-use video editor for iPhone. The best thing is that you won’t need to read a guide to the app before using it.

You can batch add video clips or photos already on your phone, trim the clips and select transitions and add titles.

It is fairly intuitive but if you get stuck there’s a short video that will get you started.

You can export to the iPhone’s camera roll and from there you can send by email, upload to YouTube or connect your phone by USB and add the edited video to your computer.

How is it of use to journalists?

Have you got a favourite app that you use as a journalist? Fill in this form to nominate an app for’s app of the week for journalists.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Use TubeChop to embed part of a video

If you ever want to embed part of a YouTube video rather than the full-length footage, use TubeChop.

This tool was brought to our attention by this post on the 10,000 Words blog.

By adding a YouTube URL or keyword into TubeChop you can select part of the footage and save and embed that selection.

For example, here is a clip taken from a video that was 9 minutes in length. It is cut to only show the first part of of the Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from space.

The photo below demonstrates how easy TubeChop is to use.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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