Tag Archives: technology

The Moleskine Reporter Bag – The perfect travel companion

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Many of us carry some form of a bag to work. Over the years I have tried many a different type and packed them with everything I needed to get through a day. Newspaper, books, magazines, laptop, charger, notepad, pens, passport, wallet, documents and the list goes on. Even with only carrying the essentials one can see that the bag might weigh you down. However, as tech has improved and as more content is available online and electronically that list of items has shrunk year on year to enable me to move to a bag with what I believe is the perfect size, at least for now (and of course for me)!

From the above pic you can see some of what I carry on a daily basis:

  • iPad and Logitech keyboard (which replace my laptop, newspaper, book, magazine)
  • Evernote Moleskine Notebook and pens
  • Battery to charge my iPad and iPhone if I run short on power (prefer a battery compared with carrying chargers and needing to look for sockets!)
  • Passport
  • Other items often thrown in include wallet, iPhone and sometimes lunch or the odd book that is not available on Kindle.

I normally spend about 3 hours travelling daily. That entails a mix of transport types – car, train, bus and finally a little walk on foot. A few days a month depending on where I am working those travel times may be 8-10 hours. There are many like me and many that travel more. Thus the smaller and lighter the bag the easier the journey, if only a little. The Moleskine bag firstly is water repellant which is very important considering the value of the electronic, water sensitive, items inside. It is very light. It has a rigid base that both protects contents and allows it to stand even when empty which facilitates very easy loading of items into it. It has a zipped pocket inside. The strap is long enough to go across the body. The bag is small enough to fit comfortably at your feet on train or plane which I prefer to overhead. Also while small and neat, if I really need to, it comfortably fits a laptop (granted of the smaller types and up to 13″). The middle pic below is of a 13″ MacBook Air that fits snuggly with lots of room for charger, notebook, etc.

So while the bag is not exactly a tech item it does help facilitate my tech life! For what it offers and the quality of the product I think its excellent value for money. Anyone out there considering reducing the weight and size of what they drag around daily should take a look at this bag (and the tech ;-) I highly recommend it!

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Microsoft Surface – The ultimate tablet?

A few weeks ago in New York I was at a demo of Windows 8 and the new Surface tablet. There was nothing new on Windows 8 but getting to use the Surface did enforce just what a powerful tool Microsoft are bringing to the party.

From other posts here you will know that I really do like the iPad. Unfortunately, it could never replace my laptop for certain aspects of my work. Thus on days like today when travelling I am forced to carry the iPad and laptop and appropriate chargers. Granted the iPad is not a large device and not a huge inconvenience to carry but still.

The Surface will change that. The Surface (not the RT version) runs full apps like Excel and Word. They demo’d a little docking station for it and advised that you could hang 2 monitors off it and it also connected to your keyboard and mouse. So it became your full desktop solution. This little slab of tech could do it all. No more laptop and iPad needed. No more dropping stuff in dropbox so I could grab off the iPad. No more switching between devices depending on what I needed to do.

The device was very fast and responsive. Windows 8 was very easy to use on it. Of course as with any new OS there will be a learning curve and bugs to work out but initial view was very positive. The new version of Office interface was very clean with similarities to Outlook.com new interface. An added bonus was the pen\stylus. Unlike the iPad, that needs capacitive touch tip for writing, the Surface can us a fine tipped stylus. This tool meant that accurate writing was easily achievable and it means hand written note taking on the device is a real option.

The iPad is a wonderful device. For many it will continue to be so. The Surface however is a more complete tool especially for business. The ability to have full applications installed, the integration of the operating system with SkyDrive, the ability to dock it and use external monitors, a mouse and keyboard, the fine stylus all mean that it’s not just a real iPad competitor but it could spell the end for PCs and laptops as we currently know them. For the majority of people this device should be enough. There will be exceptions as there always is for those who need lots of processing power and memory. However, for the majority, like me, who need to access email, the Internet, and run Office applications for the most part then this device is ideal.

Over time as apps are added to the Microsoft store then it may turn from the ideal device into the perfect one. I hope it lives up to that potential.

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!

The Blackberry 9900, an iPhone too late.

 I was initially a big Blackberry fan but unfortunately in recent years I lost faith like many others.  However, for anyone out there looking to Blackberry the newish model 9900 is the first one in a while that seems worthy of a recommendation.  Forget the Torch, or Curve or any other model and get the 9900 (if that doesn’t sound too arrogant!) .  So it’s not full screen like the Torch but it is a great little performer and its back to Blackberries best if a little too late.  The Torch (in its various guises) always feels a little lagging and I don’t like the size and balance of these devices.  The 9900 however is very well-built, nicely weighted and perfectly balanced in the hand. Thus a great device for typing with its superb keyboard.  The screen resolution is very good and the screen touch sensitivity\responsiveness is the best on any BB in my opinion.  It is also a very fast little device with items opening up immediately on touching.  Combined with a very good camera it’s almost perfect or at least for many who like a proper keyboard and can live with the resulting smaller screen.

The main downside is a lack of serious apps or at least serious options in apps.  However if apps are not your focus then this may just be the best business partner for you.  Pity it wasnt around a year or so ago it may have stopped many a person from jumping ship.  All in all it is a great little device and worth a consideration.

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.