Archive | February, 2012

My shelves are paperless thanks to the iPad

Where once there stood books, print-outs and folders there only stands a few ornaments and keepsakes.  The paper is all gone.  I have a couple of posts already on trying to go paperless and honestly it has taken a few years to get here and the final piece has been possible because of the iPad.  After getting rid of filing cabinets in favour of electronic files on Sharepoint I also tried to go paperless with a tablet computer but it all seemed like too much work so paper still played a large part of both my personal and work life.  However, with the addition of the iPad and the growing number of good apps and gadgets that accompany it I am glad to say that now I am truly paperless.  All the papers that sat on my shelves mostly gathering dust are gone.  Donated, recycled or shredded.  Obviously some companies still send paper invoices by post but that is the exception rather than the rule now and mostly outside of my control.  Companies that allow selection of paperless invoicing such as O2 I have selected that option.

So yes I use the iPad!  The apps I use that enable me to go paperless are:

  • Studio Basic + > Using this app in conjunction with the Studio i pen means I really can forget the pen and paper.  From note taking to signing off on invoices it’s all possible and better than the capacitive pens. See post on the Studio i here
  • Evernote > at last I am starting to really use Evernote and using it to store and categorise relevant items on the web, documents and for work.  Easily accessible from any of my computers or mobile devices.
  • Instapaper > Loving this to aggregate pieces from all over the web and then maybe once a week I can flick through and mark items as favourites, send to Evernote, archive or delete.  No more printing of articles and stacked on a shelf
  • Adobe Createpdf > If I get a Powerpoint presentation, Word Document or Excel file that I want to read and mark up I quickly use CreatePDF to turn it into a pdf and then I open it in Studio Basic where I can use the excellent Studio i pen to mark up the document as I would if it were printed on a piece of paper.
  • QuickOffice > For opening any Powerpoint, Excel or Word office document
  • Scanner Pro > This little app is for the iPhone but works on the iPad2 OK.  I can take a pic with the iPad2 with this app and ‘scan’ it straight as a pdf to Evernote, photo library, google docs or share it via email.  No need to walk and look for a scanner or carry the paper around with me.  Scan it and go.
  • Flipboard > For consumption of my favourite web sites. News, tech, cars and more…..
  • Kindle > For all my books both personal and work.  Any good books I had I have purchased the electronic version and recycled\donated the paper ones I had on the shelf.
  • Newsstand – Focus Magazine > The BBC science magazine I subscribe to.  (Excellent app – see post here )
  • Newsstand – The Guardian Newspaper > – For the daily news obviously
  • Zinio – For the F1 Racing magazine > My subscription to the paper mag has ended so from now on I’ll be purchasing the electronic version on Zinio
  • The Journal > For daily news with an Irish focus
  • Dropbox > If needed for file access but I  am favouring Evernote over this lately just for document storage.

In my last post I mentioned Goodreader but while they have added features I feel it is clunky to use and navigate around.  Evernote is a much slicker app.  And for my pdfs and marking up as mentioned I now use Studio Basic.  A few other apps have fallen by the wayside along the way.

I am really enjoying my clutter free desk and note needing to carry books, magazines and print outs when ever I travel or even to and from work.  Its takes some time to get used to and at the start it can be tempting to just print something out of habit but I would recommend it to all.  Spend some time finding the apps you need to lighten your paper load and enjoy only carrying an iPad wherever you go.

The Studio i for iPad. Is it the missing piece?

On the Studio i home page they state  ‘This changes everything’.  Steve Jobs might have disagreed and changing everything may be pushing it just a little but this pen may just be the iPads missing piece.  Yes that is a bold statement. Does it have a missing piece?

It has been well documented the iPad is the first real device that offers the possibility of going paperless.  However, for many, while it may get rid of papers, magazines and books it has not replaced the pen and notepad.  The normal capacitive touch pen is not a good enough replacement for the pen. It is not accurate and can mean an inefficient use of the already limited space on the iPad.  I have mostly gone paperless over the last year.  I have been using the capacitive pen and while it works well it often falls down because of the lack of real accuracy particularly when trying to mark up printed documents or diagrams.

The Studio i changes that.  The pen or stylus has a very slender tip and with it very fine writing is possible.  The pen currently only works in its own native app Studio Basic + but that will change in the coming months as other note taking apps incorporate this hardware (see info at bottom on upcoming support).  Plug the receiver into the iPad data\charging port and start using the pen.  The app is very easy to use and you can very easily change the colour, opacity and line thickness to what is needed.  Take a picture within the app or import a pdf and start making notes on it straight away.  With all the accuracy of a real pen.

The pen like accuracy means that you really can use the full screen efficiently and get the sense of filling a page full of hand written notes.  While there are a couple of small things to get used to I have found I am using it daily and have really grown to like and use the app for all notes and reviewing all reading material.  Also it ignores finger and palm touches.  So you can touch and rest you hand and palm as much as you like and it wont mark or affect you page.  with the pen I can mark up PDFs, take meeting notes, jot down my daily tasks, project notes or just doodle.  You can then load to Dropbox, share on twitter, Facebook or send by email.  You can have multiple notebooks and docs on the go and easily switch between them.  If I get a word doc (or other Microsoft office doc)I need to mark up I can PDF it on the iPad using Adobe Createpdf and then open it in Studio Basic and start writing on it. Simple.

However there are a few things to note with this product

  • It takes a little bit of time to get used to the products little features such as using the ‘ghost’ dot that follows the pen nib around the screen as this is where it will start inking and not exactly where the nib is.  Also you need to hold the pen the same way as when you calibrated it or the point will be a little bit off (or re-calibrate it)
  • There is a very small lag from the pen stroke to the inking on the paper.  (Not so bad on iPad2 but more noticeable on iPad)
  • You have to press down the nib to engage the pen which at the start is a little disconcerting and can be frustrating depending on what you are doing at the start until you are used to it.  Hopefully later versions will make it much more sensitive to pressure.
  • There is less accuracy at each corner of the screen and at the bottom of the screen
  • You can only use the Studio i in Portrait mode

All that said I really do like it and its by far the best product for writing on the iPad.  I think it begins to close off the missing piece for the iPad. At least the missing piece for me.  I am sure as the product and the app develops and other apps take it on board it will become even more valuable. I gave it a quick demo today and one person soon after jumped online and bought one and another 2 people are very interested and want more info.  That is from a 2 minute demo to only a few people.  It is that impressive for those wanting to really utilise the iPad fully.

In March\April more apps will come with support for this product which I am looking forward to trying out:

  • Good Notes (beta version in app store NOW)
  • Noteshelf
  • Notes Plus
  • PDF-notes
  • Ghostwriter
  • Procreate

If you are looking for this product here in Ireland or for any info you should email B-connected info@bconnected.ie  –    www.bconnected.ie .  Its also on amazon.com and I am trying to find out where else for other geographies as I think this would be very appealing for many iPad owners.

The byZero writing demo on YouTube:

Steve Rixx’s Tech Corner…Glass Is Everywhere In Our Future!

Have recently been sharing part 1 of this and here is part 2. Really worth a watch and its really not that far away when you consider how far we have come with iphone, ipad and new smart TVs!