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Holiday reflections

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Posted by Dominik Holenstein
Dec 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM

 

@jaslar,
Many thanks for sharing your thoughts!

My big shift this year was going from OneNote back to TheBrain. It wasn’t a decision against OneNote because I consider it as one of best apps within the MS Office suite including many good ideas and approaches. But I am more visually oriented to grasp the context of an entry so TheBrain is my perfect tool. I am a long-term TheBrain user and have been using it for 16 years now. Another important feature for me is that I can use it on OSX and Windows 7/8.+ and sync it over the cloud.
The second shift was going back to MindManager after trying several other MindMapping apps, including browser-based version. But the same applies here: I am used to it and I am still more an old-fashioned desktop nerd and not a all-the-time-being-online-geek (yet).

Even I still prefer the use of desktop software than rowser-based apps, I will use more online apps like Google Docs and Workflowy in 2015. Accessibility and collaboration are the reasons for this step as I am more and more involved in projects including people living and working in different places.

Happy outlining to you all in 2014 and 2015!

Best,
Dominik

 


Posted by Franz Grieser
Dec 29, 2014 at 11:04 AM

 

Hi.

Best wishes to everyone here for 2015.

In 2014 ...

1) I was on a quest for for a digital, mobile, instant-on writing machine for writing down ideas and short snippets when not in my office. I.e. when traveling to the nearby city in a suburban train or the underground, when at home in bed or in the living room (I do not want to set up a computer in the living room).
I have tried a lot. But nothing really works for me: 
- Pen and paper: Instant on but requires retyping the notes/snippets, which I often postpone, some notes even got lost.
- iPad: always with me when commuting because I read Kindle books on it, but the on-screen keyboard is a PITA.
- The Windows RT tablet/keyboard is a good notebook with the tablet safely fixed to the keyboard, but no real instant-on (unless I don’t shut it down but then the batteries don’t last for several days as in my iPad, Dropbox was unusable.
- Windows 8.1 tablet/keyboard: instant-on vs. quick battery drain, no way to safely combine tablet and keyboard.
- Windows/Mac notebooks: to large and heavy to always carry around, instant-on vs. quick battery drain.

Haven’t found a viable solution so far (I am now even considering an “antique” Psion Netbook Pro as writing machine, but am afraid that I will end up with another piece of hardware that is not THE solution).

2) I switched part of my work to a Mac Mini (up to now mainly for running Windows in VirtualBox) and bought a used Macbook Pro for blog writing. And - guess what - I got a lot of apps for it (Scrivener and Scapple, Ulysses III, Devonthink Pro, Curio, Tree 2, Papyrus Autor), which I am slowly exploring now.

3) I lost my trust in Evernote. Which is bad because right now I use it as one of my 2 repositories for notes and saved web pages and because I have access to the repository from my Windows and Mac machines and my iPad. But twice I was not able to access notes I had downloaded to my iPad without internet connection (usually that works fine but there were 2 times that did not work when I was travelling “lite” and the iPad was the only machine I had with me). What is more: I find handling data in Evernote cumbersome. E.g. setting up “folders” within notebooks is a nuisance.

So, on my Macs I moved to Devonthink Pro where I imported the Evernote notebooks I need on the Mac; once a week I import new Evernote notes I entered on my Windows machines or saved from the web while on the Windows machines. On Windows I keep Evernote and OneNote (my second repository). Processing Evernote notes is mainly done on the Macs.

4) I do most of my writing and formatting in LibreOffice Writer on Windows, which I found the most convenient tool. Some writing (for my magazine) is done in Word because I have to preformat the articles in Word stylesheets. For spelling, grammar and style checking I use Papyrus Autor, which is unique in that field. So far Papyrus has not replaced Writer as the writing tool.
I do hardly any writing in Scrivener any more, I mainly use it to structure long manuscripts and to collect notes and snippets. For some weeks I used Scrivener to plan and structure my 2 blogs and kept the Scrivener project in my Dropbox. However, something got wrong (I guess the Scriv project was not completely closed on the Windows PC when I opened it on the Mac) - so I am no longer able to open the Scriv project on the Windows machine, only on the Macs.

5) There are so many interesting cloud apps (Workflowy and Gingko in particular) but I have been reluctant to make the move to a net-only solution without a viable business model. As soon as there will be a Windows or Mac app for Workflowy or Gingko I will immediately give it a try. I want to be able to access my data whether there is an internet connection or not (on German trains you often have no internet connection, the same with a place where I go every few weeks for a few days).


In 2015 ...

6) I plan to reduce cloud storage usage (Dropbox, OneDrive) and install a private cloud on a new NAS system.

7) I will give a few cloud apps a try: A colleague I plan to collaborate more with uses Nimble as her CRM system, so I will probably switch to Nimble.

8) I will do more work on my Macs (writing and planning for my 2 blogs, ebooks) and use my Macbook as a DJing machine for seminars. I just started exploring Curio and like what I have seen so far. The 13” display of the Macbook is a bit small for it, the 24” monitor on the Mac Mini is just right.

9) I will give Notebooks by Alfons Schmid another try as a cross-plattform notetaking/web clipping tool (thanks to Bill’s continuous recommendations).

Regards, Franz

 


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Dec 29, 2014 at 11:38 AM

 

Franz,

I enjoyed reading your reflections on 2014. One possible solution for your digital, mobile, instant-on writing quest:

I recently bought a ClamCase bluetooth keyboard for my iPad Air, and so far I’ve liked it a lot. It basically turns your iPad into a mini laptop.

Pros:
- Reasonable typing
- Can be bent behind so that it gets out of the way for more typical tablet use
- Good battery life (I’ve charged it once and haven’t charged it again in almost a month)

Cons:
- Makes the iPad more bulky and a little heavier
- Even though it does have a long battery life, it does need to be charged
- Sometimes there seems to be a missing keystroke… not sure if it is my typing or a “hole” in the bluetooth

http://clamcase.com

Good luck with your 2015 goals.

Steve Z.

Franz Grieser wrote:
Hi.
> >Best wishes to everyone here for 2015.
> >In 2014 ...
> >1) I was on a quest for for a digital, mobile, instant-on writing
>machine for writing down ideas and short snippets when not in my office.
>I.e. when traveling to the nearby city in a suburban train or the
>underground, when at home in bed or in the living room (I do not want to
>set up a computer in the living room).
>I have tried a lot. But nothing really works for me: 
>- Pen and paper: Instant on but requires retyping the notes/snippets,
>which I often postpone, some notes even got lost.
>- iPad: always with me when commuting because I read Kindle books on it,
>but the on-screen keyboard is a PITA.
>- The Windows RT tablet/keyboard is a good notebook with the tablet
>safely fixed to the keyboard, but no real instant-on (unless I don’t
>shut it down but then the batteries don’t last for several days as in my
>iPad, Dropbox was unusable.
>- Windows 8.1 tablet/keyboard: instant-on vs. quick battery drain, no
>way to safely combine tablet and keyboard.
>- Windows/Mac notebooks: to large and heavy to always carry around,
>instant-on vs. quick battery drain.
> >Haven’t found a viable solution so far (I am now even considering an
>“antique” Psion Netbook Pro as writing machine, but am afraid that I
>will end up with another piece of hardware that is not THE solution).
> >2) I switched part of my work to a Mac Mini (up to now mainly for
>running Windows in VirtualBox) and bought a used Macbook Pro for blog
>writing. And - guess what - I got a lot of apps for it (Scrivener and
>Scapple, Ulysses III, Devonthink Pro, Curio, Tree 2, Papyrus Autor),
>which I am slowly exploring now.
> >3) I lost my trust in Evernote. Which is bad because right now I use it
>as one of my 2 repositories for notes and saved web pages and because I
>have access to the repository from my Windows and Mac machines and my
>iPad. But twice I was not able to access notes I had downloaded to my
>iPad without internet connection (usually that works fine but there were
>2 times that did not work when I was travelling “lite” and the iPad was
>the only machine I had with me). What is more: I find handling data in
>Evernote cumbersome. E.g. setting up “folders” within notebooks is a
>nuisance.
> >So, on my Macs I moved to Devonthink Pro where I imported the Evernote
>notebooks I need on the Mac; once a week I import new Evernote notes I
>entered on my Windows machines or saved from the web while on the
>Windows machines. On Windows I keep Evernote and OneNote (my second
>repository). Processing Evernote notes is mainly done on the Macs.
> >4) I do most of my writing and formatting in LibreOffice Writer on
>Windows, which I found the most convenient tool. Some writing (for my
>magazine) is done in Word because I have to preformat the articles in
>Word stylesheets. For spelling, grammar and style checking I use Papyrus
>Autor, which is unique in that field. So far Papyrus has not replaced
>Writer as the writing tool.
>I do hardly any writing in Scrivener any more, I mainly use it to
>structure long manuscripts and to collect notes and snippets. For some
>weeks I used Scrivener to plan and structure my 2 blogs and kept the
>Scrivener project in my Dropbox. However, something got wrong (I guess
>the Scriv project was not completely closed on the Windows PC when I
>opened it on the Mac) - so I am no longer able to open the Scriv project
>on the Windows machine, only on the Macs.
> >5) There are so many interesting cloud apps (Workflowy and Gingko in
>particular) but I have been reluctant to make the move to a net-only
>solution without a viable business model. As soon as there will be a
>Windows or Mac app for Workflowy or Gingko I will immediately give it a
>try. I want to be able to access my data whether there is an internet
>connection or not (on German trains you often have no internet
>connection, the same with a place where I go every few weeks for a few
>days).
> >
>In 2015 ...
> >6) I plan to reduce cloud storage usage (Dropbox, OneDrive) and install
>a private cloud on a new NAS system.
> >7) I will give a few cloud apps a try: A colleague I plan to collaborate
>more with uses Nimble as her CRM system, so I will probably switch to
>Nimble.
> >8) I will do more work on my Macs (writing and planning for my 2 blogs,
>ebooks) and use my Macbook as a DJing machine for seminars. I just
>started exploring Curio and like what I have seen so far. The 13”
>display of the Macbook is a bit small for it, the 24” monitor on the Mac
>Mini is just right.
> >9) I will give Notebooks by Alfons Schmid another try as a
>cross-plattform notetaking/web clipping tool (thanks to Bill’s
>continuous recommendations).
> >Regards, Franz

 


Posted by Dr Andus
Dec 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

 

Franz Grieser wrote:
>1) I was on a quest for for a digital, mobile, instant-on writing
>machine for writing down ideas and short snippets when not in my office.
>I.e. when traveling to the nearby city in a suburban train or the
>underground, when at home in bed or in the living room (I do not want to
>set up a computer in the living room).

Franz, have you considered a small (11in) Chromebook for this? This was exactly the problem it solved for me. It’s instantly on, battery normally will last for an entire work day, it’s generally lighter than a regular laptop (no fans, no moving parts), and you could use e.g. the WorkFlowy Chrome app for off-line writing, which sync painlessly when you’re back online again.

>5) As soon as there will be a
>Windows or Mac app for Workflowy or Gingko I will immediately give it a
>try.

As mentioned above, there is already an offline Windows etc. app for WorkFlowy, you can download it from here:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/workflowy/koegeopamaoljbmhnfjbclbocehhgmkm

This means that whatever notes you might take with a Chromebook in WF while offline, those notes would be easily accessible on other machines with other OSs.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
Dec 29, 2014 at 01:52 PM

 

I’d entirely agree with Stephen that the most sensible solution to Franz’s dilemma is an external keyboard. I’ve been using a Logitech keyboard with my iPad 2 for years, and it has revolutionised my writing life when I’m out and about. Santa has now given me a brand spanking-new iPad Mini Retina for Christmas, so I’ve turned to a Logitech K810 multi-device bluetooth keyboard, which allows me to use both my iPads simultaneously. The keyboard supports up to three devices, each with its own dedicated Bluetooth key, so I’ve got my iPads linked to keys one and two, and my iPhone linked to key three. Geek heaven! (Although now that, thanks to Apple, I can use my iPads to answer my phone and send SMS messages, I don’t really need to connect the iPhone at all!) Two iPads together still weigh less than most notebook computers, and if you use a battery-powered portable server (e.g. a SanDisk Connect wireless drive, but there are many others out there), you can exchange data between the two devices very easily. Some apps also run their own WiFi servers: Notebooks, for example, has a very acceptable WebDAV server built in!

But exchanging data between iPads isn’t really the point. I now use my very slow iPad 2 (stupidly, I upgraded it to iOS 8.1.2, which has slowed it down significantly) almost exclusively as a reference machine, on which my various dictionaries and document repositories (including my FoxTrot index) reside. The iPad Mini 2 is rapidly becoming my main writing machine - ridiculous, you will cry, it’s only got an 8-inch screen! Yup, but it’s such a good screen you honestly don’t notice when you’re typing away in one of the many extremely capable iOS writing apps (my current favourites are 1Write and Editorial, although there are various others like OmniOutliner that occasionally surge to the front of the field). And it’s very quick, too. And I asked kind Santa to gimme a device with 32GB of memory, which IMHO is now the bare minimum for an iOS device.

I use rotating cases with both machines, allowing me to position them in either portrait or landscape positions. When I first saw these things, I thought they were ridiculously cumbersome and silly. But such is the competition for iPad accessories that there are now whole ranges of modern rotating cases that are extremely light, well-made and inexpensive. I put my Logitech keyboard in its own case, and carry the whole lot in an ultralight backpack (actually dating from the time I still used my beloved AlphaSmart Dana – a much better option for typing, incidentally, than a Psion Netbook, interesting though the latter are. You can still obtain AlphaSmart Danas on eBay – they run PalmOS and can host up to two SD cards; they also have WiFi). Many a happy hour has been spent in Starbucks, meetings and other venues typing away on my iPad 2. I’m looking forward to enhancing the experience with my iPad Mini 2!

There’s a significant market niche here for somebody, incidentally. The first person/company to design a sleek, elegant iPad case that can house two iPads plus a Bluetooth keyboard will probably make a fortune, mainly from pretentious businesspeople like moi… It would probably have pockets for the very latest, state-of-the-art styluses and battery chargers, and possibly also for wireless servers, MiFi devices (which I also use, and in fact can be used as wireless servers with SD cards if you’re not too fussy about security), etc. And still not weigh much more than a standard notebook!

Cheers!
Bill

 


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