Category Archives: Tech Tools

My Experience with the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

Evernote MoleskineI tweeted a few weeks ago asking my followers what they thought about the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine. I didn’t hear from anyone on their thoughts about that notebook specifically, so I decided to make the purchase and decide for myself. If you buy one of these notebooks on the Moleskine website, they’re $29.95 for the bigger size. I bought one on Amazon for $19.77. By the way, I don’t do affiliate links, so if you click any of these links and buy something, I don’t get paid.

A lot of you who are reading this blog are probably thinking to yourselves, “that is a lot money for a notebook”. And you would probably be right – if a notebook was all you received . If you’ve ever bought a Moleskine before, you know that they are not cheap by any stretch. But you also know that they’re worth the extra cost. They hold up extremely well, retain a classic and professional look, and they’re trendy too. And trendy counts for something, right? The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine is exactly like a normal Moleskine, except for the following:

  • The cover is decorated with Evernote-branded artwork and the Moleskine-standard band is green (It’s detailed up close but looks black from far away)
  • The notebook comes with a unique validation code for 3 free months of Evernote Premium, which costs $4.95/month (more on why that matters below)
  • Stickers are included that are specially coded to match up with Tags on your Evernote account

Those extra features only cost you about $8 on Amazon, since a normal Moleskine notebook costs around $12.

EvernoteNow, when I’m working, I can write down notes in a meeting, snap a picture of the page with my iPhone (which has a feature that fits these notebook pages in the frame perfectly), and rename the note something that will be easier to search for later. In a matter of minutes, the written words that I wrote are searchable on my Evernote account, so next time I’m rifling through pages trying to remember where I wrote that one specific thing that I can’t seem to find, all I have to do is perform a simple keyword search and the note will turn up – on every single device that I sync my account with. That’s called OCR technology, which I’ve discussed before, and it really is the best feature of Evernote that most people don’t know exists. My written notes are now filed in subfolders on my Evernote account, so I can easily find things that I need most of the time without even having to perform a keyword search.

But why do I need an Evernote Premium account?

  • You may not. But I’m finding many reasons to use my account now that I have more space to upload information than I did when I was worried about reaching my monthly maximum. The other day, I cataloged some recipes that my Grandmother left behind in various church cookbooks. Now, they’re searchable and archived for years to come.
  • You can search within PDFs and iWork documents, which is a feature I have not used. I don’t have much to say about that, except that it sounds like something that could be very useful, especially if you’re studying for a test or project using large-volume PDFs.
  • You can also take notebooks offline. Again, not much to say about this beyond the fact that it’s a great feature.
  • You can read about more features here.

In short, I recommend the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine. A normal Moleskine would work just the same for some of the features I pointed out, but the stickers coded for tagging and the free months of Evernote premium make the cost difference completely worth it. I will point out that this Notebook is only for someone who is genuinely interested in getting their notes organized across devices. If that sounds like something that’ll put you to sleep, don’t waste your money. If you’ve been wishing you could be more organized but can’t quite give up written notes, this is a wonderful solution to your problem that I think will help you in your noble quest to be more productive and save time by being organized.

Related Insight from People Who Are Smarter Than Me:

Craig Jarrow, the Time Management Ninja offers:

Brett Kelly has a great book about Evernote too, which I intend to read soon. I read his free chapter though, and it definitely intensified my interest in the app.

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How to Check on a Pet When You Can’t Be at Home

PuppyThis is my puppy. He’s fourteen weeks old, and he is nuts. We named him Talmadge, after one of the longest-standing political families in the state where we live.

He is a great little guy to have around, but he really is crazy. No, seriously. Crazy. He weighs five pounds and can jump up to my waste already. He figured out how to climb out of his playpen before he was old enough to visit a dog park. Like I said, crazy.

When my wife and I decided to get a dog, we rationalized our decision by coming to two realizations:

  • Right now, we have fewer commitments than we will probably ever have for the rest of our lives. Why not get a dog now, while we still have a good bit of extra time on our hands and no one else to look after?
  • And, modern technology allows us to keep an eye on the little guy even when we can’t be there, at little to no cost to us. We both work a lot, and we need to be able to check in on him because we can’t come home to let him out for lunch.

So that’s the purpose of my blog post tonight. No, I’m not saying that to be twenty-something, you need to have a dog. What I am saying is – if you’re looking into it, know that it’s a big commitment, a great decision and not as expensive as the critics like to tell you it is. I really do love the little guy. Also know that there is an easy way to keep an eye on pets like Talmadge when you can’t be at home.*

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. An internet connection
  2. A computer with a built-in camera or a webcam
  3. The free software program “Skype” or another video communication service.
  4. A cell phone/iPad/iPhone/Android, etc. that can stream video
  5. Oh yeah…you’ll also need a pet. Although I guess this could work as a security option in general.

And here’s how to do it:

  1. If you don’t already have one, set yourself up a Skype account. Accounts are free and the only cost associated with using the program occurs if you need to call an actual phone number and not communicate via internet. I’ve never paid a cent.
  2. Next, set up another Skype account (using a different e-mail address) for your pet. Yes, Talmadge has his own Skype account. No, you can’t call him.
  3. Once the pet’s Skype account is set up, you need to change some of the settings in order for this process to work correctly. Navigate on over to your preferences, and click the “Privacy” tab. I would transfer every single preference to only receive and allow messages from contacts. Then, I would only add your account to your contact list. This way, no sketchy pet people can watch your pet while you’re not home.
  4. Next, navigate to the “Calls” tab and beside Incoming Calls, click “Answer Automatically”. If you skip this step, you will not be able to successfully use this process. Unless your pet can answer his/her own Skype calls. Which would be awesome.
  5. Position your camera so that you can see your pet’s play space.
  6. Finally, mute the computer’s sound or turn off the computer speakers. It might make your pet go insane if they can hear you when you call to check in on them.
  7. Once you’ve done all of this, you can log in to your Skype account via your iPhone, iPad, work computer or whatever and your pet’s account should pop up as being online once you’ve logged in if you’ve added him/her to your contact list.
  8. Click “Make Video Call” and you should see and hear your pet momentarily. I recommend testing this out in another room before leaving home.

A special note: Skype is free, but it will use a good bit of your data if you’re not making calls over a WiFi network. I would recommend waiting until you’re in an area with a WiFi connection before making a call, unless you happen to have an unlimited data plan.

Some people think we’re crazy for doing this, but in the early stages of having a puppy, it has proven to be an invaluable tool for us. Remember how I mentioned that Talmadge figured out how to get out of his playpen already? I wouldn’t have realized that he had done that until hours later if it hadn’t been for this process, and my wife was able to turn around and put him back in the pen and calm him down.

What do you think? Am I crazy? What crazy things have you done for your pet?

*Do not misinterpret this post as an endorsement of being away from your pet for long periods of time. They love you and they need you, and you need to be there for them.

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No More Google Reader: What Now?

Google Reader will cease to exist on July 1. Most of what I told you about reading blogs revolved around syncing your RSS feed using Google Reader, so I apologize for that. I have been very happy with my RSS readers, and Google Reader has been the glue that kept them all together. I don’t have a recommendation just yet as to what you should do now, but I thought I’d pool some of my favorite articles about the subject together so that you can form some of your own opinions and try multiple options.

Surprisingly, this announcement from Google sparked discussion on the popular blog reader, many people expressing their frustrations with the program. I agree that Google Reader in and of itself was not impressive-looking, but it integrated with a majority of the RSS readers that work across devices, so it will be sorely missed by those who like to sync.

At least I have until July 1. In the mean time, learn with me:

  • This guy said “Good Riddance, Google” and made me realize I’m an “information junkie,” as if I didn’t already know that.
  • Lots of folks are talking about Feedly, which apparently does the same thing and looks better. Since Google announced the end of Google Reader, Feedly has gained 500,000 new users in less than a week.
  • Gini Dietrich over at SpinSucks offers a few of her own suggestions for reading blogs.
  • Flipboard is trying to capitalize on the announcement as well. Some people really like Flipboard, but I’d recommend it for people who don’t mind missing things sometimes. I prefer to see everything and opt-out of reading certain things if I don’t see the need, rather than letting the App do that for me.
  • John Dvorak over at PC Mag says Google should make Google Reader an open source code, like the WordPress platform I currently blog on. I disagree with how he got to this suggestion, but I think it would be great. The problem with this suggestion is that the main reason Google Reader is going to File 13 is to send more traffic to Google+. Making it an open source platform would not help achieve this goal.

A lot of you may be scratching your heads wondering what I’m even talking about, which is fine. This may be your opportunity to look more into RSS Feeds and develop a strategy for reading your favorite blogs.

If you prefer reading all of your favorite blogs via e-mail, I can’t blame you. Scroll on down to the bottom of this webpage and you can easily sign up to receive e-mail updates for this blog. Personally, I’d go nuts receiving an e-mail every time a blog I read published new content. RSS Feeds make this a lot easier, and, no matter how you do it, I highly recommend reading as many blogs as you have time to read. There is some great stuff out there!

What am I missing? What are you going to do?

 

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