Categories
Applications Useful stuff

Why is Evernote offering a free Dropbox Pro trial?

Evernote is offering a free Dropbox Pro trial to new Evernote users (or Evernote Basic users) and who are also not Dropbox Pro members …

Evernote_-_Dropbox_Pro_special_offer

What?!

Dropbox and Evernote have been implicitly targeting each other’s users for quite some time now. Dropbox has even developed features that challenge Evernote directly on some features that only Evernote offered previously. Here are two examples I noticed along the way:

This is very strange. These two services may not be explicitly competing but they certainly offer competing services in broad terms so why are they collaborating like this? So why is Evernote offering a free Dropbox Pro trial to new users of both services? Surely those are the most vulnerable users to target?

Is one buying the other out? Will we see Dropbox integration coming to Evernote to boost available storage? That doesn’t seem likely.

What is going on here? Is it April suddenly?

Categories
Applications Useful stuff

Bookmarking into the void

I was reading a post titled “I’ve Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here’s Why It’s Actually Amazing” and a comment the article’s author made about the Web Clipper got me thinking about bookmarks:

Because I saved each article with the Web Clipper, I have the entire text of the article and the source link right there, plus any highlights and notes I’ve made in each. This is light years better for me than just pasting the links to each article, or trying to write everything down myself into one giant note. Plus, by creating an entire notebook, each note functions as an item in a to-do list, which makes finishing the project much easier.

This tip isn’t exactly news to anyone familiar with Evernote but it reminded me that although I bookmark stuff fairly frequently in Pinboard, I don’t remember the last time I went back to Pinboard to find something I had bookmarked. It is pretty much a one way flow of information and that isn’t an indictment on Pinboard, it is a commentary on what I think I use Pinboard for and what I actually use it for. It could just as well be Delicious.

I have over 8 000 bookmarks in Pinboard which I have accumulated over the years. A substantial number of them come from Delicious when I used it as my primary bookmarking service and I have several workflows set up in IFTTT to automatically add more links to Pinboard. All that stuff works brilliantly except I have probably gone back to Pinboard to find things 2 or 3 times in the last year.

I capture stuff I want to read later into Instapaper (sometimes Pocket) so I don’t need the “read later” feature in Pinboard. I use the Evernote Web Clipper frequently to capture stuff I find (although the experience of reading in Evernote isn’t even close to Instapaper or Pocket so Evernote is mostly a reference system for me with working notes coming a close second).

On the other hand, I look for stuff in Evernote several times a day so I started thinking I should just use Evernote to bookmark stuff, in addition to capturing just about anything I may want to refer back to later. It is interesting that bookmarking services are going beyond just capturing links and tagging them. Pinboard and read-it-later service, Pocket, both offer premium users an option to capture the content of pages they bookmark and to archive that content for future reference down the line.

It sounds like a good idea, in theory, but I wonder how manageable it will be. The key thing is to be able to import those 8 000+ bookmarks into a specific notebook and not have them run through my Evernote Inbox for later processing because that will never happen! I also have this nagging feeling that adding all these bookmarks would just add way too much clutter to my Evernote notebooks, especially if the import doesn’t include tags and notes from the source Pinboard bookmarks.

I just imported all my bookmarks into Google Bookmarks for good measure, while I decide what to do. As if I’d do nothing in the meantime.

Of course another option is to just use Pinboard more often …

Categories
Useful stuff

Is Pocket Premium worth it?

I noticed this update to Pocket this morning.

Pocket, the service that lets users save articles, videos and other types of content to consume later on mobile devices and the web, is adding a paid tier. On Wednesday, the company launched Pocket Premium, which adds permanent archiving (rather than just link caching), tagging and search capabilities on top of its basic free capabilities. Pocket Premium is $4.99 a month or $44.99 a year.

(Via GigaOM)

My first thought was that my Instapaper subscription already gives me access to my archives with full text search but then, again, Instapaper doesn’t capture copies of all my articles as far as I am aware.

On the other hand, I can capture copies of the stuff I want to retain with Evernote (I am about to renew my Evernote subscription for another year). There is probably a way to configure a recipe in IFTTT to automatically capture items saved in Pocket (or Instapaper for that matter) into Evernote. You can already save full articles in Evernote from Pocket and Instapaper manually.

Another option is to use an app like Reeder to save articles to Evernote too (also a manual process).

I like Pocket. I’ve switched back to Instapaper because of the highlighting feature (which prompted me to renew my subscription – $3 for 3 months) and it works pretty well for me. The Instapaper parser could use some work so I still have Pocket as a backup.

Still, for people who are not Evernote users, just want to save stuff and keep it for later reference and like Pocket (there is a lot to like) then the Premium subscription isn’t a bad deal at all.

(Update 2014-06-08): I just realised there is another option that works pretty much the same way as the Pocket archival option. Pinboard, the awesome bookmarking service, offers this as a $25 a year premium upgrade:

For a small annual fee, Pinboard can download and store a copy of every page you bookmark, for your own private use.

Enabling archiving will also enable full-text search for your bookmarks.

Categories
Mindsets

Stupid paperless concept

I love this quote by Evernote’s Phil Libin in an article on GigaOm about a collaboration with Post-It:

Paperless as a concept is stupid. The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper.

Categories
Miscellany

A quick question for IT security professionals

I just read this paragraph in the Evernote security and privacy information page. Does this point to a good data security infrastructure?

Operational security is equally important, and physical infrastructure and operations procedures reflect that. The data center where the Evernote service operates is SAS 70 (Type II) and SSAE16 SOC–1 (Type 2) certified and requires two-factor authentication for admittance. All access to the data center is limited in scope of personnel and regular audit reviews are conducted.

As I understand it, their recent move to 2048 bit SSL keys is really good and exponentially strengthens the encryption used to secure data transmission to and from their servers but what about the rest?

Categories
Business and work Mobile Tech Useful stuff Writing

Trying out the Ozaki Stylus R with my iPad

Styli comparison

I bought an Adonit Jot Pro stylus a while ago to use with my iPad 3 and I struggle writing stuff on my iPad with it. It seems to jump around a bit. It is possible I am not holding it correctly (or something) but I tend not to use it even though I have some awesome apps on my iPad for notes, drawing and brainstorming stuff visually.

I was at a meeting a while ago with a couple agency people and noticed Ramotse Phalatsi (I think it was him) using a fat stylus and asked him how it works for him and he raved about it. It is cheap and you get 3 for the price of 1. I thought I’d check it out and went to the iStore today. I couldn’t remember the brand but I bought the Ozaki Stylus R which I am pretty sure is the one he was using. The stylus comes with 2 replacement tips so you basically do get 3 in 1. The Ozaki costs R199 (I received a discount due to some sort of FNB Business cheque card promo I was unaware of).

I played around with the Ozaki for a few minutes and it is really smooth and seems to work well. It is definitely chunkier than the Jot Pro (I lay the two styli besides a couple pens and a marker for a size comparison below) but it feels good in my hand. I’ve been taking more handwritten notes in a Moleskine notebook I carry in my laptop bag lately mainly because doing that on my iPad has been more frustrating than its worth.

Stylus and pen comparisons

I think fairly visually so my notes include diagrams and handwritten notes that probably don’t make much sense to other people but that works well for me. My process has been to take a photo of those notes afterwards and stick the photos into Evernote for later reference. If the Ozaki works consistently for me, I’ll have the option of doing something similar on my iPad and just moving the images across to Evernote either using Penultimate’s integration or importing images I create with Paper.

The only catch with the Ozaki is, because of its size and shape, you don’t see the point where it makes contact with the screen so really fine work can be tricky until you get a great sense of how it feels in your hand and where it makes contact. It is very possible I am not using the Jot Pro effectively so I’ll keep working on that. For now, though, the Ozaki works pretty well. I’ll see how well it works when I am using it for a longer time period and how accurate it is. At R199, it’s not all that much to spend if you want to try it out and like the size and form factor.

Categories
Business and work Useful stuff

Evernote's persistence despite my growing dislike

I once swore by Evernote. I used it for everything. I used it to take notes, to collect scanned documents, receipts, bank statements and serve as a general reference archive for everything that caught my attention and that I want to be able to get back to one day. I still do much of that with Evernote today but that is more because I haven’t worked out how to do all of what I want to do without it yet. I’m getting close, though. Until then, Evernote is the app that is just slightly more convenient to keep using to remain in use.

Evernote used to be clearly superior to other options. It works fairly well on my desktop and I have a host of workflows that tie into it. My bank statements and assorted legal newsletters route into Evernote automatically. I scan all my receipts and store them in Evernote in case I ever need to find them again and I keep track of case reports and miscellaneous bits of data in there, including important data relating to my home and family.

I don’t use it to take notes any more. The apps are too slow to get going and unreliable enough to really not want to go there at all. All the documents I scan and store in Evernote go into a Dropbox folder too. I once contemplated using Evernote for my tasks too but Omnifocus is where I manage all my projects instead. I used the mobile apps all the time to capture stuff on the go. I still use them for that but not nearly as much as I used to, the apps are just too unreliable so it’s easier to take a photo with geo-location data and email it to my Evernote profile for storage.

Between Dropbox for file storage, Omnifocus for my tasks and short term reference and my plain text notes (synchronised through Dropbox), there isn’t a lot I really need Evernote for lately. The one thing keeping Evernote in my workflows is not knowing how I can export all my data into a coherent archive that I can reference later, if I choose to. I also have a couple niggling uncertainties around how I would capture and reference emails I receive (such as email newsletters) which I forward to Evernote automatically.

I can probably supplement a Dropbox file storage system with Yep and Leap from Ironic Software and integrate better into my growing Openmeta Tags use for my notes and documents. The cost of a bundle of all the Ironic apps is even less than my annual Evernote Premium subscription.

With all of this I find myself wondering what went wrong? When did Evernote become the service I use because I am more or less locked into it, despite it being the sort of service that eschews lock-in, in favour of common standards and formats? Is Evernote going to fix these apps, make them all work better or should I join the few travelling out into the desert in search of something a little more reliable and effective?

Categories
Business and work Useful stuff

Context aware Evernote notes

I noticed a cool feature on the iOS Evernote app. If you create a note when you have an event scheduled in your calendar, the app auto-populates the title field with the event description.

You can change it but if you don’t tap on the title field and just add note content or an attachment, the note will have that title. Very handy!