The CPA economics director and Building columnist on why he prefers PCs to Mac, listening to Roxette, and trying to remember how he got by before iPads

Noble Francis

What is your favourite website?

Google Reader – I use an RSS reader that compiles all the websites I go to regularly into one page that I just keep open. Any time an article is posted on any of those websites it comes straight to Google Reader instantly. Saves lots of time.

What is your worst digital habit?

Taking my iPad everywhere and looking at email/RSS/twitter all my waking hours (and I have insomnia so that’s a lot). I’m not sure what I did before the iPad.

iPhone/Blackberry/Android. Which side are you on?

iPhone definitely. To be quite honest, I use the Ipad for virtually everything and email more than call people so the Iphone tends to be just an glorified Ipod that takes the occasional call and it is good as a music player…

Are you into social networking? (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc)

I don’t like Facebook as there are very few things I want to say or show everyone I know. Email is far more useful for sending things to individuals or groups of people. Plus, you can ‘like’ things on Facebook but you can’t ‘dislike’ so it is an excuse for people to put 300 photos of something you are not interested in and say lots of things that, if you were speaking to them face to face, you’d be telling them, or at least thinking, ‘this is really dull & pointless’. I have a linkedin account but I don’t use it. It’s for marketing people who love networking.

Are you on Twitter? If so who do you recommend to follow?

I use Twitter a lot (@NobleFrancis). There is a lot of inane rubbish on there but you choose who you follow so just useful people who tweet links to useful/interesting things. I use it to put out the latest economic and construction information as soon as it comes out, with links, and comment briefly on what it means in the broader perspective. Lots of people are interested in knowing the latest information on the economy and construction but don’t have time to track it all so I do it for them.

If you are interested in the UK economy then I’d recommend you follow Stephanie Flanders, Economics Editor of the BBC. If you are interested in construction, and especially housing, then I’d recommend you follow Brian Green of Brickonomics fame. If you are interested in anything and everything then follow writer and playwright Bonnie Greer.

What is your favourite app?

iAnnotate PDF – absolutely superb. I have lots of articles from around the web and work-related publications in PDF. With iAnnotate PDF you can underline, highlight in fluorescent marker, write or type notes and email with all the annotations.

Also, Dropbox is great as I have everything synced between my home computer, office computer & Ipad.

What is your preferred means of communication? (eg. Email, phone, face to face, text etc)

It depends what it is for. Email is better when it is something that needs to be perfectly clear, such as with data/information etc. or something where you need a paper trail just in case. Phone and/or face to face is better to get the general sense around the official line, as there is no paper trail. Texting I only really use to arrange to meet up with friends; times/places.

What did you last buy online?

iPhone5 last week but I have to wait three-to-four weeks for delivery.

PC or Mac?

PC definitely. If you have a PC you can use Apple products, android or Microsoft. With Macs, I’ve had trouble syncing with android and Microsoft products so you are constraining yourself to Apple or lots of hassle.

Guilty pleasures: Most played tunes from iTunes/Spotify?

I like a bit of Arcade Fire, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin but if I have to name a few guilty pleasures then it has to be Prince, ABBA and Roxette… Look Sharp! great album (at least in my mind…

Noble Francis is economics director of the Construction Products Association