Archive for the ‘smartphone’ Category

OneNote for Mac

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Mac, smartphone
Tags: ,

I finally feel like my Mac computing experience is almost complete. I was a Mac fan for many years. When I started grad school many years ago, the need to easily exchange files with professors and classmates took precendence over any OS preferences, and I switched to a Windows computer. I bought a Macbook Pro a few years ago, and back in the fall I replaced it with a Macbook Air. For the most part my experience with the Mac has been a good one, but there was always one thing missing: Microsoft OneNote.

Ever since my first experience with OneNote on a convertible Windows tablet I’ve really liked the product. I’ve only recently (February 2013) gotten back into using it heavily, but in that time I’ve used it extensively. I’ve written two articles in OneNote. I’ve planned three trips. I’ve taken notes in coutless meetings, but all of that work was done either in OneNote on a Windows computer or using Outline+ onPad. Finally after literally years of waiting, the folks behind Outline+ have brought their product to the Mac with a functional editor.

I like it. A lot. As I’m getting started, the basic functionality is there. I’m typing and editing. I’m opening existing notebooks. I’m creating new notebooks and saving them to the cloud. All of that is great, but perhaps most importantly, the LOOK is there. It does seem strange to be talking about the look of a product as the most important thing, but the look is actually very important to me. I really like the way OneNote 2007 and 2010 look. I really hate the way OneNote 2013 looks. Yes, I know that hate is a strong word, but it’s an appropriate word. I really hate the way the Office 2013 apps look, and as far as that goes – SharePoint Foundation 2013 as well.

But Outline on the Mac . . . ah, now there’s an interface. It’s sleek and refined, and it’s close enough to the 2010 Microsoft OneNote interface that I actually ENJOY using it – just like it was the real thing.

I’ve written before about trying other OneNote wannabes, and for my personal preferences, this is the closest replica out there. It’s not perfect yet, and it’s still a little rough around the edges, BUT IT WORKS!

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and the Gorillized folks have come through for me. Thanks for the app!

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While on vacation recently, I tried to do business with two different companies from my iPhone. I was trying to add services that I wanted, and that would have translated into a little more revenue for them. Alas, it was not to be. For both products, I was able to successfully navigate all of their sign-up forms until I reached the very last “submit” button.

 

The. Very. Last. One.

 

As in  . . . the one that equals “buy”.

 

It just didn’t work. I tapped and tapped, but the phone couldn’t submit the content.

 

For one company this won’t be a big deal. I’ll have an opportunity to use their service again later. For the other company though, this represents a tiny little loss in profit. I needed their service while I was on vacation. Now that I’m home, I don’t need it anymore, and I haven’t been back to their website. All because the website didn’t support a mobile browser.

 

Now I understand that when you’re coming from a mobile browser, you shouldn’t necessarily expect the full website experience, and I didn’t. But if the website lets me make it most of the way through a purchase, I expect it to let me complete the purchase. Oh well. Maybe they just didn’t want my business since I was coming from a mobile platform. Funny thing though . . . the company has two mobile apps that I wanted to use after I subscribed to their service. Go figure.

I came across an interesting article at ReadWriteWeb today: 25% of American Adults Use Location-Based Services. I found it particularly interesting because earlier today I deleted my last three location-based gaming apps.

 

Now the article about ReadWriteWeb was talking about location-based services in general, but it made me think about my own experiences with location-based gaming. At the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, I heard a lot of people talking about location-based services and their possibilities for libraries. In particular, they talked about three location-based games: Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown. I downloaded the apps and tried them all while I was at ALA. I’ve played with all of them off and on over the past year and a half. I deleted them today. Earlier this year I also downloaded, played, and deleted another location-based game called Shadow Cities.

 

In thinking back over why I deleted these games, there were a variety of reasons. The Shadow Cities gameplay just didn’t appeal to me. For the other three, there just wasn’t any compelling incentive. Gathering mayorships, unlocking badges, and collecting rent are fine for the first week. After that, what’s left? Not much – for me anyway.

 

The incentive issue actually splits into several issues. First, although I know several people with smartphones , this type of gaming just doesn’t appeal to them. Since I couldn’t compete with my friends, that ruled out any possible “social” incentive for these games. Then there is the lack of mayoral awards in my area. They just aren’t there. When I’m in other cities, I occasionally see special incentives for checking in or being the mayor of a location. Where I live though, Foursquare just isn’t that big with businesses, so there are no incentives for checking in or becoming mayor. MyTown had its own problems. Basically you reach a level cap where you can’t buy any more properties, you can’t upgrade your properties any more, and the game is essentially over. Oh sure, you can keep buying and selling your business and collecting rent if you want to, but once you’re a gazillionaire, it doesn’t really matter any more does it? Interestingly, I see that Booyah just released MyTown 2. I think I’ll give that one a pass. I used Gowalla the least, but it was actually the most interesting of the three. Still, it failed to keep my interest.

 

There was one particularly noticeable disincentive to using these apps. All of them depend on using location services on my phone, and using location services burns battery life. I was surprised at how much a few check-ins would eat away at the battery when I traveled, but it did, and sometimes battery life is too precious a commodity to spend with a service that you don’t enjoy that much anyway.

 

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, these location-based apps actually took away from the enjoyment of the places I visited. I found myself frequently checking in on all three apps. I wasn’t compulsively checking in, but the very act of checking in meant that I was spending a little more time on my phone and little less on enjoying my location.

 

So . . . I’m finished with location-based gaming for now. It was an interesting experiment. I’ll still use other location-based apps, but I’ve retired the games. I might still feel a little twinge each time I lose a mayorship, but I don’t think that will be enough to pul e out of retirement.

 

After I finally convinced myself that I wanted an iPad, I vaguely expected that I would use it primarily as a larger form factor of my older, smaller handheld devices. I figured I would download a lot of the classics and enjoy them on a more book-sized screen. I’ve been playing with my iPad for just under a week now, and I’ve already noticed several changes in my reading – or perhaps more accurately – book acquisition habits.

 

First, and perhaps most significantly, I finally bought an e-book. Heretofore all of my e-book reading has been of out-of-copyright material that I could find on any of a number of e-book websites. However, I finally purchased one with the advent of the iPad. Actually I decided to make the purchase in the week leading up to product delivery, and I settled on Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic.

 

(Here’s an interesting tidbit about this one. I’ve been wanting to read the Discworld series for quite awhile, but every time I check in a bookstore, they never have the first novel. Well of course I could just order it, but who wants to wait? Instead I usually just pick something else. So I went to purchase this title through iBooks, and I was surprised that it wasn’t there. Well that certainly threw a wrench in my gears, so I went for another series only to find that it wasn’t there either. I came back to Terry Prachett the next day, and I found that the book really was there: It was listed as The Color of Magic instead of The Colour of Magic. Interesting little “gotcha” there.

 

Next, I’ve been poking around a bit in an area that I haven’t visited in a long, long, time: comic books. Both Marvel and DC have very nice apps, and the iPad is a great platform for viewing comics. The rich, vivid colors and crisp screen make even old comics seem fresh and vibrant. (And of course a good story is always a good story.) So far I’ve just read a few free comics. I haven’t actually bought any comics yet, and I may not in the future. But that’s not the point. I walk past comic books all the time and never pick one up or give it more than a passing glance. Because of the iPad though, I’ve read a couple of titles in a genre I haven’t explored in years.

 

When I was in the airport yesterday heading for ALA, I walked past the bookstore. Walked past it. Didn’t stop. That’s unusual for me. I actually buy quite a number of books from airport bookstores during waits and layovers. At the very least I spend a lot of time browsing. This time I did neither. I just walked on by with the knowledge that I can grab a lot of titles over the air whenever I like. I’ve done this for out-of-copyright books for years, but now that I’ve made the leap into more recent titles, the world – as they say – is my oyster.

 

Finally, I have to say something about iBooks. I’ve read books on PDAs and smartphones for years. The screen is small, but it works, and I’ve read hundreds of books this way. iBooks is changing that though – not by completely replacing the handheld – but by enhancing it. iBooks provides the option for syncing bookmarks, highlighting, and notes between the book on my iPad and the iBooks application on my phone. In the short term, this has meant that when I wrap up a reading session on the iPad, I can pick up in exactly the same place in my book even if I don’t have the iPad with me.

 

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the iPad over the next couple of months. These are pretty minor changes admittedly, but I’m still at less than a week on the platform. I wonder what the future will bring?

 

My Missing Software

Posted: November 5, 2009 in smartphone, software
Tags: ,

Sometimes you find a piece of software that works well for you on a number of levels. First – and most importantly – it does what you need it to do, and it does it well. Hopefully, it also matches the way you like to work. And occasionally you find a piece of software that just does something no other program does.

Right now I’m really missing my ListPro. I’ve used ListPro for years. Most recently it was on a Windows computer in conjunction with a Palm Treo. ListPro handles nested lists very well, and it’s very customizable so I can make my lists into just what I need them to be. The Treo version combined with the desktop application gave me a good combination that did just what I wanted, and I haven’t yet found its equal.

Oh, I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried – not because I WANT to move to another app. Ilium just doesn’t have an iPhone app on the market. When I considered the move from the Treo to an iPhone, ListPro was a must-have app. Unfortunately, although I saw the press release that Ilium Software was releasing an iPhone version of ListPro, I missed the later retraction that said the app wasn’t going to be ready on time. Yep. Completely missed it. I saw it AFTER I bought the iPhone and tried to find ListPro in the app store.

In a typical workday, I pull up ListPro (desktop) at least 4 or 5 times a day, and I used to pull it up even more frequently on the Treo. A recent development update from the company rekindled my hopes, so when I saw a tweet about an early shopper discount on ListPro I knew that the time had come and the app was nigh ready for release. Alas, it was not to be. And being so blatantly reminded that I can’t use ListPro on my iPhone reignited my search for a comparable app. I’ve tried several – some free, some paid – and I just can’t find it.

There are all kinds of list apps out there, but they’re too rigid. They want to be a grocery list, or a to-do list, or a checklist of one kind or another. They don’t offer the flexibility to work the way _I_ want to work. And then let’s talk about a desktop companion. For the most part, those other apps just don’t have it. There are a couple that try to get around it through e-mailings to/from the app, and there is one that offers an option to add data through a Google Docs template. But that’s just not what I’m looking for.

You wouldn’t think that a person could be so particular about a list-making app, but ListPro is just that good – at least for what I need it to do. And so I wait, not with bated breath, but with a kind of quiet, longsuffering patience. I have the desktop app, but no mobile counterpart. I’m not happy about it, but at the moment I simply don’t have any other choice. Unless . . . perhaps . . . Hey, Ilium, how ‘bout it? Maybe a little something underneath a guy’s tree?

A lot of the “free” apps available for the iPhone are ad-supported, so as you tap away on the device you are confronted by a host of ads with various levels of intrusiveness (depending upon how nice the developer is). I recently downloaded an app called Dots Free. The ads in this one are small text bars that display at the bottom of the screen. Not very intrusive at all really, so it was just kind of happenstance that I noticed one of the ads invited me to check out the new Palm Pre. Right there . . . embedded in my iPhone app . . . a Palm Pre ad. Too funny. Now of course Apple isn’t running this ad, but given the animosity between the two companies, I found this decidedly amusing.

palm_pre_ad

Sometimes you need a little chuckle. And I still think the Pre is a pretty cool device. 😉

<begin rant> Okay there was no reason for writing it as "mE" except that I’m fed up with companies that use funky capitalization to try to make themselves and their products stand out. </end rant>

I’m currently at ALA for the annual conference, and I realized something shocking today. I brought a book with me. A paper book.

Does that sound counter-intuitive – being shocked at the idea of someone taking a book to a library conference of all places? Well it shouldn’t, but for me it is. I’ve owned PDAs and/or smartphones for around 10 years, and one of my very first and very favorite applications was iSilo, a book reader. I’ve upgraded each time iSilo had an upgrade, and it was easily my most heavily-used application. Since I had this great book reader I really liked, when I traveled I just took several eBooks along on my handheld. Less to pack, a variety of books, easy, convenient. I liked it so much and it worked so well for me that I stopped taking books along. Sometimes I would buy a buy while traveling, but I had basically reached the point where I didn’t take them with me anymore.

Enter the iPhone. For various reasons, I just couldn’t stay with the Palm OS any longer. After switching to the iPhone, iSilo was one of the first apps I downloaded. (Incidentally, I was right in the middle of a book when I made the switch.) Unfortunately, I really dislike the iPhone implementation of iSilo’s autoscroll feature. I used it all the time on the Palm. Loved it. iPhone implementation? Not so much. The iPhone’s limited battery life and iSilo’s autoscroll problem have conspired to make me really go easy on actually using the phone. Yeah, that’s right. I’m afraid to use my iPhone too much, because I’m afraid the battery will run down leaving me unable to receive a call or send a text at the end of the day.

So . . . as I was heading out the door for ALA I picked up a paper book I bought in the airport on the way home from my last trip. Totally weird. I bought a new device that I thought would help me enjoy eBooks even more. But the limitations of the device and the program have actually pushed me back to paper. Who would have guessed?