Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Evernote and Skitch (about workflows again ?)

One topic that always intruiges me is the aspect of peoples "work flow". There seems to be an incredible amount of variation - what someones says is a very effective and efficient workflow - can be someones else's "hours spent experimenting to achieve the same result as they were doing before". There is a lot to be said for sticking to one method or program and utilising it fully. 
I have recently been through my own elipical journey - only to arrive back at my starting point. 
I have tried many programs and apps that would allow me to work seamlessly between work computer, home laptop and ipad and across different systems - Windows and Apple. After trying many I keep coming back to Evernote.
I originally tried it. Didn't really get into it. Came back to it at various times. Tried other apps. Came back to it again. 
My latest arrival back to it made me think - "if I want to do something quickly and have it available across all platforms - this is the one I keep coming back to!" It does notes, audio, checklists, web links, adds files (of any sort) and across all platforms. In fact I am typing this on it now - because I know later I will want to finish it (or add to it ) working on my ipad. In other words - a work flow that works for me. I had mentioned about Evernote in this blog before http://woodbutchersguide.blogspot.com/2011/04/some-older-things-revisited.html but had been going in and out of it at various times. But I have found the more I use it, the more handy I find it. 
The other program I have found extremely handy on a mac is one called Skitch. This was originally an independent program but got taken over by Evernote. I had also mentioned this one earlier. http://woodbutchersguide.blogspot.com/2011/04/skitch-another-old-one-revisited.html#links.  I had used this one extensively doing screen shots for people - making notes or explanations. A very handy and again, very quick (I really don't want to spend a long time getting to learn a program).
The exciting news is , that the people from Skitch (or Evernote) have now made an app for the ipad. Free and links in with Evernote. So it enhances your workflow with Evernote.

As you can see - you can do most of the things you could do with the full program - shapes, text, arrows or lines, writing and then link it to Evernote or email it.

I must admit - I like things that make my time more efficient and this fits the bill.

If you haven't given Evernote and Skitch a try, I suggest you do. You may be like me and find they are very handy and useable. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Touch, Voice, Sight - is smell next ? Google App for iPad.

It is quite interesting the "rivalry " between Google and Apple. Amusing for us users because the more they compete with each other the more benefit we consumers gain. Many of us think of "Google" as a search engine. I even have a friend who refers to looking something up as - why not use "the google" as if it is a noun. Others, of course, know Google as the maker of a wide range of very useful apps.
I came across one recently that I hadn't noticed before (in fact I'm not sure whether it was just released or whether I hadn't noticed it before). It was one I downloaded for my iPad but it is also available for iPhone,  (I also believe there is a version for Android). The app is simply called "Google Search".  This little app has quite a number of handy features.

When the app first opens you get the normal looking Google search bar . But down below there are three interesting connections. I'll start in the middle first. The yellow circle - Voice Search.Activate this and a microphone appears. Say a word or phrase for what you are searching and a second or two later a list of web sites appear. Very nifty.

The red one on the left "Applications". This brings up a page of Google apps - gmail, google docs, Youtube, calendar etc. Most people have a gmail and probably some goggle docs - so it is handy to have these connections come up on the one interface. Although I must admit I don't care for their calendar app here - much prefer iCal or even the web interface for Google calendar.

The third one , the blue one, goggles, is the exciting one. Click on this and your camera comes up. Take a photo of a well known landmark, book cover, bottle of wine, artwork, text, and it comes up with a listing of websites, photos, information and so on. It's early days yet and it's fairly limited to what it will find but it really takes the aspect of the visual search that one step further on.

Like the aspect of touch that was introduced to our computing use (iPads, smartphones etc) - the voice and visual aspect is the next game changer. That is what Goggle is trying to incorporate here - and reasonably successfully. These new but subtle changes have a habit of creeping in and by the time we turn around twice everybody is using them and they are a normal aspect of their computing/communication. I am amazed how underrated the the introduction of Siri is with the new iPhone. I personally find this little feature is going to be the big change maker in the next couple of years - but at the moment most people just yawn and go "big deal - so what - it doesn't even work that well". But I think they underrate the potential of what is happening. Time will tell.