Tag Archives: Paperless

Back to paper with Moleskine’s Evernote Smart Notebook

I have droned on in the past about how great it was to go paperless on the iPad and just how I achieved that.

After all that I am now going to tell you about how great it is to have some paper again!  Firstly, I love being almost paperless and my shelves are still paperless, I don’t print anything to read, sign or comment on.  I haven’t abandoned my paperless effort and I still do the majority on the iPad.  However, while the stylus and Studio i works great for note taking they do at times compromise how you can use the iPad.  Multi-gestures have to be turned off.  The Studio i doesn’t work in all apps that I like so I still need a capacitive stylus.  A couple of times my battery has run out just when I needed to take notes so I was left scrambling for a pen and paper.  Quite often I felt like I needed two iPads.  One with the document open in front of me and one where I could take notes as switching back and fort between the different apps can be a little annoying especially in meetings.

I wanted my hand written notes stored electronically in a manner I could use.  I tried a Livescribe pen and notebooks and liked the tech but it was all just a little cumbersome.  If they could get it to sync wirelessly and with some apps as opposed to having to go back to your PC or laptop every time it would be a big improvement.  I also tried a new iPad cover that had an integrated notebook so I could read on my iPad and jot down notes to the side.  I didn’t like it. More often than not I ended up pulling the iPad out of it.

Along came an email from Evernote on the new Moleskine notebook that they were planning to launch.  I signed up and placed my order as a Moleskine with some tech built-in seemed ideal.

Evernote Moleskine Smart Notebook

Evernote Moleskine Smart Notebook

As with all Moleskines the quality is excellent. So straight off just the look and feel of the notebook is pleasing.  The notebook comes with a selection of stickers that you can place on your notes.  The advantage being that when you use the Evernote App camera to snap the page, to record it electronically, it recognises the stickers and will auto tag those pages for you.

Evernote Moleskin Notebook with Stickers

Evernote Moleskin Notebook with Stickers

Obviously you don’t need to snap and record every page. Just the ones to want.  Once uploaded your hand written notes become searchable in Evernote and available across all your devices.  So when on your 3rd notebook and travelling you can still bring up those notes from the 1st Notebook that is sitting at home in your drawer!

Evernote App Auto-Tagging

Evernote App Auto-Tagging

Above is a screen shot from the iPhone Evernote App auto-tagging a Moleskine page.  Click the little check mark in the bottom right and it then uploads to Evernote.  Safe and secure and available anytime in the future for reference from your mobile device or computer.

I love being back organised in my Moleskine while also being able to archive to the cloud important notes for future reference.  I do have a few thoughts on it though:

  • Its expensive.  Overly so I feel but I am hopeful as more people use them then the price will come down.
  • The Notebook includes 3 months Evernote membership.  As I am already a premium member this is useless to me and probably just adds to the cost.  They should either get rid of it or make it optional on the notebook
  • Stickers – Should be able to refill your stickers separate to purchasing a notebook
  • Sticker types – I think there should be at least 3 more different types of stickers.  Possibly a web page I can log on to select the 6 option of stickers I want with my order.
  • Uploading a page – should have an option to overwrite if page was already uploaded.  Sometimes I snap a page and then a few days later there may have been notes added to the same page.  When I upload it again I now have two of the same page albeit one with edits. It would be great if there was an option to only have the latest version of each page (some may want to keep all but an option for those like me that don’t)
  • Some more variations for cover colours and types of notebooks

P.S. Livescribe if not already then you should start looking at how you can link your pen via Bluetooth to devices and sync notes just taken with an app such as Evernote – and do a deal with Moleskine to get some nice notebooks – Love your product but it’s getting out of date fast and it doesn’t need to!

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:

An update to going paperless with the iPad

I wrote in a previous post about going paperless.  I wanted to give an update.  On the writing side I tried the Pogo stylus but after some time decided I didn’t like it.  It’s too thin to hold and thus there is not a pen feel to it and the top feels like a piece of sponge cut off and glued on.  Also I didn’t like how it felt to write on the screen, it didn’t really glide across the screen as I had imagined and it was more forced across the screen.  It worked fine but if I wanted to stay using the iPad as my notepad I wanted to find a nicer writing experience.  I did a little research and found the Bamboo.

I have been using the Bamboo a few weeks now and really like it.  It is the same size as a pen with some weight so the feel of it is much better.  Excellent build quality for a simple tool and the silicon type top means it very nicely glides across the screen and much easier than the Pogo stylus.  I really am enjoying using it.  I have a number of notepads for different projects open within the app Penultimate and its working really well.  Referring back is easy.  Not carrying paper is great and the only thing I am very careful about is ensuring my iPad always has plenty of battery.

The other thing that has changed is the newspaper app.  I started with the Wall Street Journal, moved to the Financial Times and am now with The Telegraph.  The Telegraph is the cheapest of the three, I prefer it in its usability and content.  It’s a pity you can’t share articles easily but other than that I really like.  Other papers and magazines need to catch-up and have their content properly formated for these iPad type of devices and not just the scanned in type replication of the physical format that most seem to do.

GoodReader is another app I am using more also.  Especially with the stylus GoodReader allows me to write straight onto the PDFs I am reading or add typed comments.  Great for reading reports and white papers and no more printing.  In the past I would print these items to bring with me especially when travelling but now its all on the iPad.

I am still struggling with a couple of things like keeping and marking up links.  Yes there are plenty of apps out there that do this but so far havent settled on anything….looking at investing some time in Evernote again to see if it works as lots of good feedback on it but still trying to perfect the apps list.

I have now got in the habit of bringing the iPad everywhere.  It’s so much easier to carry around than a laptop to meetings, easier to use and less invasive.  There has actually been a somewhat unforeseen side effect.  The last paper magazine I submit to is the F1 mag which I have blogged about before.  Its delivered every month to my door.  I don’t pick it up.  I am so used to everything in the iPad and using it I seem to have abandoned paper.  I have just become completely at home with using the iPad for everything where it once was paper.

Multi-tasking now on the iPad is just second nature.  Hand written notes, typing an email, researching a piece on the web, updating our office sharepoint, reading the newspaper, reading a book, watching a video, listening to the radio, watching a movie, remote desktop to a server, updating Twitter or Facebook, writing a blog… the list goes on and on.  I think if I can find a couple of more apps to help me on a couple of points where I am poor and for me it might become the perfect tool.  After many false starts in the past with tech from Palm Pilots to tablets I think I might just become completely paperless thanks to the iPad.