Tag: ipad

Digital Life: Evernote Alternatives

Evernote Plans

There have been lots of articles floating around the internet this week following the announcement that Evernote was changing its policies regarding how it was handling its accounts. Now, if you want to use the service on more than two devices, you must pay for their premium service to the tune of $34.99/year for their Plus account or $69.99/year for their Premium account though their are offering the Premium account for a year at half price to entice folk over to the paid service.

I’m not exactly a “power-user” of Evernote but I like being able to access notes across multiple devices (iOS, web and home computer) so I think I’ll try to find a different solution sadly. Or maybe a couple different solutions. Sadly, my work computer does not allow me to install any applications so whatever options I choose need to have a web interface.

I have collected some recipes in Evernote over the years but mostly I have various snippets, half-baked ideas, some lists and idea starters and an assortment of links stored in Evernote. I don’t usually use it like a paper notebook, it tends to be things that are copied and pasted from a digital source to a digital source, like URLs or in preparation to be digital content.

Google Keep

I had several folks recommend Google Keep as an option which offers a web based interface as well as an iOS (and Android of course). It has a very “sticky note” aesthetic and allows for checkbox lists, image embeds and categorization labeling. It ends up looking like a tidy wall of sticky notes and has tagging. There is a plug-in for Chrome to automatically add content to Keep from a web site and options to move content from Keep to Google Docs so if you are already entrenched in the Google camp, this might be a good candidate for you.

OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is another candidate though I cringe at the idea of utilizing another Microsoft product. I’ve already adopted Outlook on my iPhone as a legitimate alternative to Apple’s kludgey Mail app which neither filters junk mail nor handles Gmail with any sort of efficiency so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Microsoft is quietly creeping in with alternatives that might actually be useful. It works across just about every possible platform and looks to be designed to integrate seamlessly with Office products, though for me that’s not as big a selling feature.

Another solution might be to use Apple’s Notes app which is available across the iPhone, iPad and the desktop. Of course, this only works if you’re fully invested in the Apple ecosystem. I am fully invested in the Apple ecosystem but I’m not sure I can take advantage of it at work because I cannot connect the work station to my Apple ID so I can only access it via the iCloud interface via a web browser which does not allow the addition of images as anything other than links. There is minimal formatting options on the web version.

SimpleNote

The last option I’m considering is Simple Note. I’ve already been using it to a certain extent in combination with an older version of Notational Velocity (NVAlt) which will sync to Simple Note on my iPhone and the web. Notational Velocity hasn’t been upgraded in years and NVAlt has also been left to languish for some time so the default Simple Note apps and web interface are your safest bet. The biggest downside for Simple Note is the absence of any support for images. SimpleNote does support Markdown and tagging which is nice. But its still a pretty stripped down option in comparison to all the bells-and-whistles with Evernote.

With all of this research, I’ve determined that the bottom line is that I no longer want to have multiple places where my data detritus is saved. Evernote’s ultimatum is forcing me to set aside some time to merge and purge data and files and get them all in one place and then choose one system to use to its fullest extent.

Are you an Evernote user presently? Are you sticking with the service or jumping ship? If you’re leaving Evernote have you chosen a new service yet?

Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer

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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)

A Digital Solution to an Analog Problem

Scribd

I love books. Like a sickness. Sometimes I read good literature and sometimes I devour trashy, pulp novels. I can’t pass up a good coffee table book of art, illustration or design. My house is overrun with books. My teeny, tiny house is stacked two deep in some place with books. My favorite weekend activity is to scour the shelves at the secondhand book shop for a gem. The first step is to admit I have a problem. “My name is Ana and I’m a bookaholic.”

I’ve tried to embrace using the iPad or Kindle or what-have-you to buy books from Amazon et al, but even digital books get pricey.

And then, Scribd stepped into my email this weekend with an offer I could not refuse. Scribd is a digital subscription service like Netflix, but for ebooks. For $8.99 per month, I can read as many of the over 400,000 books in its library on any Apple or Android device or on a Kindle Fire. I did some cursory checks for my favorite authors. Some were listed, some were not. In some cases, a few of an author’s books were available but not the most recent. But there were lots of options, available for immediate download. Unlike my local library where the ebooks are slurped up at alarming rates and I’m left #322 on the next-to-read list so that I can read a particular book about 6 years from now.

I was offered a free month’s trial to use Scribd. Books are read in the Scribd app but the app can also be use to browse and download other books. The “books similar to” options provided decent direction to discover new books as well.

Oyster Books

I also decided to do some research to see if other services were offering a book subscription service and found Oyster. Currently Oyster books are only available on the iOS platform and the monthly subscription fee is $9.99 but their library seems a little larger.

I went ahead and started a free subscription with Oyster as well to compare the two services. The interface for browsing and book discovery on Oyster is a little more aesthetically pleasing than Scribd but both are similar with a search option or a browse by category. Oyster offers more esoteric sub-categories like, within Science Fiction, they’ve divided books into categories like “Utopian Dreams” or “Genetic Engineering”.

Both services have recently received access to the Simon & Schuster catalog which added 10,000 titles and lots of reading options. Both services have business and economic books, young adult fiction, a large cache of mysteries and popular fiction, classics and more. Either option will have something in their collection you want to read.

I did a search for a few specific authors: Stephen King (equally represented by both services, David Sedaris (only one book available at both services “Children Playing..”), Seth Godin (more books available through Oyster), George R. R. Martin (only one short story in an anthology, available from both) and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a knitting humorist and Oyster had all her books but Scribd only had two available). As you can see, lots of breadth in both services.

I really wanted to compare the actual reading experience, which is a make-or-break for me. In general, both experiences sync across devices — from iPhone to iPad pretty smoothly. The only notable difference is that the Oyster reading environment requires users to swipe up to move through pages, more like a PDF or Word document rather than across like the iBooks or Kindle does. Neither has the faux page-turning animation, ability to adjust line spacing or margins that the Kindle and iBooks app allow. Both services feature sans serif or serif font choices and reading white-on-black, black-on-white or a sepia look. Both have highlighting and annotation options. Except for the swiping being a little counter-intuitive on Oyster, they are both perfectly adequate.

Both services offer the option to link with friends via Facebook and other services though, for me, I prefer to just read and not network. Since both services are fairly new, it might not be a big deal to anyone else either. Its really all about the books.

That said, I think both services are neck-in-neck to win my subscription fee loyalty. Both seem like great ways to feed my voracious book appetite without cluttering up my house any further.

If you have an Android device or Kindle tablet, I recommend that you start with Scribd as Oyster does not yet have support for the Android platform. If you decide to try Oyster, please use this link and I’ll get a credit for recommending it.

Have you considered or do you read ebooks? I like having a book with me at all times on my phone for those waiting-in-line moments. Do you?

Get Organized: Todoist Next

Todoist Next screenshots

Today, Todoist upgraded its platform with web-, mobile-, browser- and desktop-based versions of the app and an all-new, streamlined look. They are definitely setting themselves to compete with Wunderlist. The new version offers free collaboration and what appears to be extensive functionality, especially with the collaboration tools and could give Basecamp a run for its money for small teams.

The regular apps and web interface are free. The premium account ($29/yr) offers additional features including adding notes and file attachments, task search, color-coded labels, email or text task reminders, automatic backup and synchronization with iCal. I think the premium version will be the way to go since being able to add text, images and URLs to a task would make things so much simpler. The price per year is less than Wunderlist which is $49/yr for collaboration but Wunderlist allows notes and images in the free version but there’s no indication in a list or sub-list that a photo or note is associated with the item. So it works… sort of. I certainly don’t think I’ll miss the wood grain if I switch.

I waffle between loving the cross-platform convenience of digital to-do lists and missing its paper counterparts and physically crossing things off, adding details and saving the completed lists. Being able to add a task on my phone, then review it or deal with it when I’m parked in front of my computer has a lot of appeal though paper could do the same thing.

This app seems like its is the best of all possible to-do list apps, sleek, streamlined and upgradeable for a small fee. Would you or have you tried any of these digital to-do lists?

Vintage Book Tablet Covers

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I mentioned earlier how my dearest friend, Rebecca AKA Squirrel Junkie had created fabulous tablet covers using vintage books. Well, she is now selling her creations so if you’re not inclined to make your own, you can purchase one directly from her. Each tablet cover includes a vertical elastic closure and soft felt lining and sells for $26.50 plus shipping.

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These are designed to hold a Kindle Fire, BlackBerry Playbook, iPad Mini, Nook HD, Samsung Galaxy 2 & 3 and other tablets of similar size. Tablet stays in place with velcro dots  provided.

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Clearly, this Spanish edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone is a favorite.

(via Squirrel Junkie)

Fossil Goes Back-to-School

Ipad case Fossil

Autumn and the back-to-school season is my favorite time of year. I love tweed and sweaters and crisp autumn afternoons. I love the sense of starting anew like the start of the new school term. So, I get excited when I start to see all the fall collections of upcoming goods, fashions and accessories.

Books iPad Mini Case

Fossil has released their Autumn 2013 collection and there are a few items in it that are perfect for the office, pen, pencil or paper fan.

There are iPad and iPad Mini covers that feature great illustrations of typewriters and stacks of books for $50 and $45, respectively. They are made of coated canvas on the exterior and a faux suede interior. The leather slot on the back allows the cover to fold at an angle for typing or stand it for video viewing.

pencil shaving iphone case

There are also some lovely new iPhone 5 covers that feature pencils including the pencil shaving design I mentioned earlier for $25 each. These are soft polyurethane material so they should be more grippy than slippy. It’s making my itchy to upgrade my phone just to have the pencil shaving case. Love it!

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