Tag: app

Analog Products/Digital App Makers Round-up

I’ve noticed a lot of analog tool makers are also making apps. I thought I might take a look at a few of them and see if any of them might of use with or in combination with your favorite analog tools.

moleskine app icons

Moleskine:

Moleskine offers several apps at the moment, the latest being the Moleskine Timepage Calendar for iCloud, Google Calendar and more (iPhone and Apple Watch). Its a paid app that claims to be revolutionary. It looks like a clean, simple calendar app that is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing calendar tools like iCloud, Exchange and many others. It is a $4.99 paid app so I’ve just downloaded it to give it a try. I have been using Fantastical for years on my phone without complaints so I’m trying the Timepage as an experiment. The app has beautiful typography and a very simple design. The default view is the week-at-a-glance and if I swipe to the left I get a monthly calendar view with each of the days with activities highlighted with “heat circles” indicating activities from various calendars – i.e. work, personal, birthdays, holidays, etc. The method to build individual events in the app are a little different than other apps like the default Calendar app or Fantastical but I quickly figured it out. It is actually pretty elegant and uses a built-in weather app and a lot of natural language elements that make it feel very friendly. My work meetings are all scheduled through digital calendars and I don’t always get them moved to my paper planner so having an aesthetically appealing interface to view these makes having work meetings a little less painful. If you haven’t invested in a calendar app beyond the default app that ships with your iPhone, the Moleskine Timepage is actually a lot nicer than I thought it would be.

Moleskine also offers their digital Moleskine Journal app (free with in-app purchases for iPhone and iPad) and a Moleskine/Creative Cloud connected app to work the Moleskine and Adobe Creative Cloud notebook (iPhone only). The Moleskine/Creative Cloud Connected App has only one very lackluster review. The notebook was designed to work for Adobe creative products like the Evernote/Moleskine notebooks work with the Evernote app system though it appears most folks aren’t using the Adobe or reviewing the Adobe Creative Cloud version.

There’s a Moleskine Photo Books app for the iPad (free) to help build a photo book through their service. Again, there are very few reviews and I don’t know anyone who’s actually used Moleskine’s photo books as an option so I don’t know about the print quality. But if you’re feeling brave, please let us know if you like the app and the quality of the photos you receive.

Baron Fig app icons

Baron Fig:

Baron Fig has released two digital products to compliment its analog tools: Spark and Mosaic.

Spark ($0.99 + in-app purchases) is an iPhone and Apple Watch-enabled set of creativity prompts. The reviews look positive as quick flashes of ideas to help stir thinking and mindfulness. Think of it as your digital page-a-day calendar with better typography.

Mosaic ($1.99) is Baron Fig’s answer to a digital notebook. While I prefer to write my notes on paper, there are moments when I just don’t have a paper and pen with me but I do have my phone and the Mosaic app lets me capture those little tidbits so I can transpose them later. I do wish there was a way to export projects or share them but they are sort of trapped in the the Mosaic app. Its good for to-do lists and quick reminder notes though.

Exaclair App icons

Exaclair (AKA Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis):

LifeNoted (free + in-app upgrade $1.99 for full version) is a calendaring, journaling and to-do app all rolled up into one. You can add photos and videos as well plus tagging. While it looks like it keeps it all the appointments and to-dos together, I don’t find it to be the most aesthetically appealing app. But if you’re juggling professional, personal, home and family commitments, this might help balance it all. There’s more information available about the app at Life Noted.

ME Journal is the app interface for the Quo Vadis Habana ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Journal. The app is available for iPhone and iPad. I wrote a review last fall about my experience with the ME Journal.

Do you know of any other analog companies that are dipping their toes into the digital world? Or vice versa? Let me know if I missed anyone.I live in both the analog and digital worlds so I won’t say I don’t appreciate efforts to make my digital world as pleasing as my analog world but I do still have some reservations about it. How about you?

What’s on my Desk(top)?

apps on my desktop

Strangely, for a fan of all things paper-and-pen/cil, I’ve been thinking a lot about my digital tools recently. I’ve been fiddling with which music player is best for me, what task manager can get me off the panic precipice as well as all the other digital tools I need to stay organized and productive like text input, calendar management and getting all this stuff to synchronize together.

I can’t be the only one who worries about the best way to stay on top of everything, can I? The to-do lists, grocery lists, ideas for blog posts, things to read now, things to share, things to read later, work projects, events in my life and everything else?

A lot of this fussing has come as a result of upgrading to Yosemite (OS X 10.10). Many of my standby tools required upgrading and some fell by the wayside. Other issues had never been thoroughly dealt with in the past so I used the growing pains of Yosemite as my chance to re-evaluate my whole digital tool library.

The first aspect to my organization is that I work on Mac and Apple products exclusively. I have an iMac 27″ at work (behind a big SERIOUS firewall), a personal 13″ MacBook Pro, an iPad Mini (the original incarnation, no retina, no data) and an iPhone 4s (seriously needing to be updated). As a result of my office firewall and absence of wi-fi for my iPad at work, I need most of my tools to be accessible without installing an app or feature a browser-accessible interface.

Music Player:

Luckily, most music players and streaming music tools are now accessible via web interface so I’ve been able to test and play with Spotify, Rdio and Pandora. The first one I ever tried was Rdio and I’ve built a lot of playlists on it. I abandoned it when everyone went to Spotify and played with that for awhile and finally went to Pandora for the ability to say, “I like English Beat. Play stuff like that,” without having to build all the playlists myself. But in the end, there was just as much work involved in grooming Pandora to my tastes that I might as well have built my own playlist.

So, I’ve come full circle and gone back to Rdio. The web interface is vastly improved over the last few years and includes a free streaming option (with ads) as well as paid subscriptions that allows users to download content to a mobile device. If you don’t pay for the premium subscription, the only mobile option is a “radio” option. The radio option let’s you select a song and the app builds a playlist based on it. I think Spotify free works the same way.

Podcast App:

Overcast has become my go-to for podcast listening. For me, the web interface means I can tether myself to my desk at work and access my podcasts without using up my mobile phone data plan. Sure, I don’t get the benefits of some of the iPhone app features (like speeding up the podcast or skipping pausese) but I can easily bounce back and forth from my phone at home to the browser at work and stay current.

Task Manager:

I’ve tried to keep daily lists on paper using a modification of the Bullet Journal system which is fine for personal projects and home stuff but work projects needed a digital option that would allow me to copy and paste text and rearrange and update a lot. I tried both Todoist and Wunderlist and have bounced back and forth, depending on the types of projects I’ve been working on. This week, I decided I needed to embrace ONE and make it work. So I chose Wunderlist because the Todoist site locked up on me and I could not use the web interface. Wunderlist provides web interface through a browser and a mac desktop app as well as iPad and iPhone versions. In other words, I can have all my lists wherever I am. I can add sub-lists and images to each “task” which, in my case, is a card collection or individual card design. I can snap a pic of the sketch to store with the task item. I don’t know why I didn’t figure this system out ages ago. Now I wish I could copy multiple sub-tasks from one task to the other because every card I do has to pass through the same series of tasks. Sometimes there’s additional task but it would be so helpful.

Photo Editing and Management:

I was one of those suckers who bought Aperture as my go-to photo editing and cataloging. So, with Apple’s announcement that they’ll no longer be supporting the app, I had to switch to Adobe Lightroom CC. Its been a slow process. It took about 8 hours to migrate my Aperture library to Lightroom. I can see why it is the preferred application. Even after just an hour using it, I think my photos look better and the interface is intuitively Adobe.

If photos need more manipulation, I use Adobe Photoshop CC. The weekly Fashionable Friday is built entirely in Photoshop and I design logos, icons and the like in Illustrator CC.

Text Input:

I still use paper for most list-making and taking notes in meetings. I need some excuse to use up all those notebooks and inks I buy. When I have to write on the computer, either to prepare blog posts, work documentation or brain musings, I still have a gap.

I’ve heard lots of recommendations for DayOne as a place to dump ideas but I’m not sure how easy it is to access individual pieces and how much formatting it allows.

I’m taking recommendations now!

Calendar Management:

I still use iCal (or whatever Apple is calling it these days). I use Fanstastical on my iPhone which makes adding events on the go super easy. Wunderlist automatically adds tasks to a special calendar on iCal and provide alerts to keep me on task as well so that all my calendar activites sync. Sadly, my work calendar is the cheese that stand alone. My company uses Outlook and the calendar cannot be linked or synced to my iCal for whatever reason. So I have to manually add events. If anyone has a workaround for syncing Outlook to iCal let me know.

Other tools:

I use 1Password to keep all my passwords sorted. I use Suitcase Fusion to keep my massive font collection together. I build some of my photo collages with PicFrame (like the one at the top of this post). I live and die at the hands of Alfred who helps me find my apps, my files, helps me add, spell and even defines words for me in a pinch. I use Firefox almost exclusively for web browsing and have plugins for some of my favorite utilities like Pinterest, Evernote, Twitbin, 1Password and Wunderlist. Most of my email is now managed by Gmail.

Do you use any of these tools to keep organized? Have any recommendations for me?

Review: Clairefontaine ME Notebooks

ME Journal from Quo Vadis

The new Clairefontaine ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Notebooks are a combination of the Quo Vadis Habana notebooks in size and performance with the addition of a companion iPhone, iPad And Android app and QR codes on each page of the notebook to link multimedia content to the notes you take.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis inside cover

The most unfortunate part of this book is the horse-y type and the lame logo. It just kills me to see such beautiful paper and a well-crafted notebook saddled with ugly design. Luckily, these pages can be razored out once I get the hang of this app. (Hey, Clairefontaine! I’d happily redesign these pages and the logo for you. Call me.)

Moleskine worked with Evernote to create a notebook to archive your paper notes which is different from what Clairefontaine is doing. The ME Journal is designed to link additional content to your notes; be it audio, video, links or still photos. I could see this being useful in meetings where whiteboards are used and need to be referenced later. Linking photos of the whiteboards to paper notes would be hugely helpful.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis writing sample

The advantage of the ME Journal is the awesome Clairefontaine smooth, ivory paper at 85 gsm. Except for the over-sized QR code, the paper is the same fabulous quality as all the other Quo Vadis and Clairefontaine products. This paper loves fountain pens and almost any other tool you throw at it. The QR code is an added bonus for when you might want to link other content like sound, video, web link or photo.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis hot pink cover

Underneath the paper wrap is a debossed logo of the less-than-attractive “ME” logo. It can easily be covered with a sticker of your own choosing.

ME Journal + app

I test drove the combination of the ME notebook plus app while in Portland this weekend. I tend to build lists of books to look for whenever I go to a bookstore and Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a full city block worth of books. I was definitely going to need a big list and capture books I might want to purchase at a later date. I was able to combine images of book covers I found with notes in the book. I have been taking pics of book covers to remind myself for ages but being able to catalog it with the specific location where I found it will make it even more useful in the future.

I do think I need to put a note next to the QR code if I make a digital note so that I remember to cross reference. Once the QR is used or scanned, it cannot be used for additional content. So, just one piece of media per page.

ME app screenshot

The view from within the app shows a library of captured items. Clicking on each item will reveal more details including the date captured and play the sound or video. Its fairly straight forward to use. The only stumble is the “return” key in the keyboard is actually the “submit” to complete a text entry or tag on an image, video or sound clip. Once I figured that out, everything was pretty straight forward.

By the end of the weekend, I had covered the front of the notebook with stickers to hide the ugly embossed logo and I had ripped out the front pages with the instructions as well. In the end, I find this to be a very useful notebook and found several occasions to link written text to digital content via the app. I don’t shoot a lot of video or sound but was intrigued about capturing ambiance from my travels with the app to augment my written experiences.

The ME series is the same price as the standard Quo Vadis notebooks so the choice is yours. I find that the added benefit of the QR codes outweigh some of the aesthetic issues and you can still use the app at any point (or not at all) in filling your book.

ME Journals are available in large (6.25 x 9.25 ”) and pocket (4 x 6.375”) sizes in three colors: red, black or raspberry pink. Check your favorite online retailer to purchase (most of my sponsors are currently stocking the ME Journals).

Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer

photo+1

In the typewriter community, its fairly well-known fact that Tom Hanks is a collector. To extend his appreciation for typewriters to a wider audience, he put his name behind an iPad called HanxWriter. The app itself is free and gives you one typewriter and a clean sheet of paper. In-app purchases give access to other typewriters.

It looks like a nice little notetaker app or a place to start that great American novel I’ve been meaning to write. It even adds those modern conveniences like spell check, exporting to Evernote, email, etc. and copy-and-paste functionality, all while clickety-clicking like your favorite less-than-portable, portable typewriter.

(via TUAW)

Curious iApp Discoveries

my iPhone home page

I started this post because I found some unusual iPhone apps recently but then I got to thinking about it and decided maybe folks would like to see some of the apps I use regularly as well. So, here are the highlights of the apps I use almost daily as well as some funky little tidbits I’ve found recently. (The screenshot is my home page as of this morning, truth.)

  • Dots: Dots is a beautiful time-waster game in chunks of 30 seconds. Its free and its addictive. You’ve been warned.
  • Device 6: This looks like a game made for me. Its a thriller/puzzle/mystery game wrapped in beautiful design and a mysterious man in a hat. I just got an iTunes gift card so I’ll be downloading this ASAP. $3.99
  • Connor: Connor NYC is a high-end bespoke stationery company that produced an iPad app to create e-stationery
  • Squarespace apps: I’m familiar with Squarespace as a blog/commerce/website venue but did not know that they offer several apps to create on-the-go notes, portfolio viewer from content on their Squarespace site and a sleek site controller. Squarespace Note app does not require an account and its free.
  • Dictionary.com: I love the Word of The Day feature and being able to look up words on the go. Free.
  • Gmail: I have tried lots of email apps for the iPhone including Sparrow and the default Apple Mail app and I am stuck on Gmail. The new divided tabs that separate updates from social from pormotions and your actual email is genius. It saves me tons of time and lets me see my mail from all the spam, newsletters and miscellany. Genius.
  • Cardstar: This app has the ugliest icon ever and it makes me cringe when I look at it but it is the wallet-lightening joy of an app. It will scan the bar codes off all those frequent shopper cards, hotel/airline points accounts, etc and store them in your iPhone complete with the scanner-readable bar code. Other apps have better icons but THIS one works. And its FREE.
  • Fantastical: Why do I need another calendar app? Because Fantastical lets me type “Meet with Stephanie at 3pm today” and voila! It places a meeting in the right time without having to remember that today is the 15th. I thought it would be more cumbersome to type out a whole sentence to schedule a meeting but its not. I like it so much, I just paid $2.99 to upgrade to the new iOS 7 version.

Other apps I use all the time are Tweetbot, WordPress, IFTTT, USPS Mobile, Delivery Status, Wake, Riposte and Evernote. I’ve tried lots of photo editing apps and use AfterLight most often. What are your favorites?

Link Love: Overdue Again

Japanese pencils
Pencil acquisitions from Kinokuniya (via Paper Pastries)

Inks:

Kaweco_ArtSport

Pens and Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Misc:

small_PO_poster

Tiny Post Offices Print (via Power and Light Press , shoutout to Paper Pastries)

Plugging the Firm: Soundpic

I’ve been implying to folks that I’ve been working on a “secret project” at work. Well, its not so secret anymore. Its a little app called Soundpic that turns your video into a still image and a sound clip in one neat package.

Not only was I actively involved in the design of the user interface, I designed the logo, art directed the promo video and even let them use my largely-unused Facebook page for the video! I am amazed what we could do with just a handful of people and some wishful thinking.

We’ve been running around looking for cool sounds to capture with our images: from rustling leaves to steaks on the grill. I’m still on the hunt for one of those old school sprinklers to add to my “summer sounds” collection.

Soundpic is available on the Apple iTunes store for iPhone. And its free. If you like the app, please let me know or leave feedback on the app store. Thanks!