Recently I have found myself explaining the benefits of a number of apps, software and hardware to other writers, so here they are for the world to see. I'm sure if I look back on this post in a couple of years time it will appear horribly out of date, but right now these are the tools I use as a poker news editor, most of which are on a daily basis.
A computer, a smartphone: LDO
Skype: This one also seems obvious but I know enough people who don't use it to mention it. Most poker players use Skype in some way or other and it is the perfect tool for interviewing people. Jared and I wrote our entire book over Skype so obviously I am a big fan.
Pamela for Skype: Speaking of interviews on Skype, this is the best Skype recording software I know of. The sound quality is almost exactly how it sounded at the time and it is good enough for prerecorded podcast interviews. It runs quite seamlessly in the background and when you start a new Skype call a small pop-up will ask you if you want this call recorded. There are loads of other features including video recording, but I only use it for audio interviews. The Professional version is well worth the £25 I paid for it (The free version only records up to 15 minutes)
Recorder app: For in-person interviews, there are tons of good dictaphone apps for smartphones. The differences between each one are marginal, but make sure you get one which records for long periods as some have 15 min max durations - usually because they have a paid app with the longer record periods. Get one with good reviews and costs less than a quid or is free, I use one called iProRecorder for the iPhone which does the job fine.
With regards to the above two recording tools - it really is imperative that you record your interviews. Not only does it remove any ambiguity when you write them up, it also covers your back if the subject later claims to be misquoted.
Evernote: A free application which is really a must for anyone, not just writers. Evernote stores written documents on a cloud basis, meaning you can log into it anywhere (Someone else's PC, your phone, tablets, a web browser) and you will instantly have all your work at your finger tips. You can also store files, images, video files etc on it.
It is an incredibly useful tool for organising your work and your life in general. It is not as pretty as OneNote and it is not as fluid to write on as Word, but overall it is the best thing out there. I write all my drafts on Evernote and I can pick them up anywhere. Jared and I also write all our drafts for our upcoming book on a shared Evernote account. Which means when I have finished writing a section it is there waiting for him, and vice versa.
It doesn't look easy to use when you first start, but I insist you power through that first couple of days, because it is a life saver.
Tablet: This is quite specifically for those guys that report live for poker tournaments. I just cannot see how an iPad or equivalent is not the best way report in tournaments in real-time, especially a you can stand with it from the rail.
I haven't done live reporting in a long time, but when I did, you had to stand at the sidelines of a table with a pad and pen (I know, how 2007) and then run across a card room floor, usually up a flight of stairs and round two corners to the media room, to find someone is sat in your seat, you have to log back on to your PC and by then you have forgotten the hand and your notes make no sense.
Having a tablet to hand will surely eliminate all that, allow you update very quickly, and also means you will not miss any key action while you are legging it back to the media room.
Tweetdeck: Twitter is the first place for breaking news these days and this handy programme is a great way of filtering the information that comes through. I have bespoke lists for news sites, players, industry experts and even keywords (Like black friday, mental game of poker etc).
There are lots of tools for viewing Twitter out there, Hootsuite is another one which is great if you are sending a lot of tweets for example, but I find Tweetdeck is the easiest, prettiest and most robust version available for those of us who want to consume social media in an efficient way.
GingerIt: The spellcheckers that come with Word/Chrome etc are not that good for grammar, they generally just correct spelling. GingerIt is a free grammar checking tool that is good for finding the less obvious grammatical errors, repeated words etc. I have tried lots of different proofreading tools and none of them are perfect, they all miss the more subtle errors so they will never replace you doing the proof reading entirely, but the thing I like about GingerIt is that it sits in the background of your PC and you can set it to work by pressing F2 while you are in the document you need checking.
Clippings: If you find yourself regularly copying and pasting the same text or HTML code, clippings is a browser based way of saving lots of them so that they are available every time. I find this invaluable because working with web content I need to have a lot of complex HTML code to hand and this way I have it at the click of a mouse.
For example, at PokerStrategy.com I have a signoff for my columns, which is my name, in Italics, which is linked to a profile page with examples of my previous work. It would be a pain in the arse to have to find that page, link to it, and put my name in italics every time, so with clippings I can just right click, and it is waiting there for me to press with two clicks.
You can get clippings installed with Chrome and Firefox.
Camera: I've actually put this mainly because people would ask why I hadn't put this if didn't. It's great if you can get yourself a badass SLR camera that also does HD film recording etc, and in some instances (If you specifically produce video for example) you might need it. But I find that that owning a great camera these days is not mandatory. The people who require good images (Live tournament updates and magazines for example) tend to have that covered and 9 times out of 10 a solid camera phone is usually fine for everything else. The one thing I would say is that always make sure your camera, be it phone or proper one, is set to the largest picture size setting, as that way it is easy for print magazines to use your images as they need very high resolution pictures.
Camtasia: This is another one that is not mandatory at all but I get guys asking me what it is. Ever wondered what software poker coaches use in training videos to film their desktop while they play? That's Camtasia. It is not cheap and I understand the Mac has a good free equivalent built in.