Evernote: The only note keeper you’ll ever need

186tgj38eph2cjpgI’m going to get right to the point with this one because there is no argument about Evernote being the best note taking tool/software/service.

What sets it a apart from all the others is its speed, simplicity and stability.

It has had some hiccups in the past, but overall it has been one of the most stable apps/services.

I’m not always too keen one using external products or services especially if it is software related. Even at Okinara, we try to keep it in-house as much as possible, knowledge base, issue tracking system, development servers etc..

However, I am personally relying more and more on Evernote now and so is my business.

Multiple Platforms

Evernote can be used on multiple platforms: android, iphone, ipad, windows, web and mac.

Seamless

Source: Evernote.com
Source: Evernote.com

The synchronization on Evernote is one of the things that keeps no loyal to Evernote. I can start my note on my Macbook Pro, and then continue on my Android phone, add or remove something on my Linux based server and continue the process by adding a few more notes on my tablet during my meeting with a client. All this happens seamlessly without any hiccups.

On the off chance that there are some synchronization issues for example if I made some changes on my laptop which did not have internet connection at that moment and then I went and made some changes on my phone which did have Internet connection, so now the second modification will get applied to the note on the Evernote server, but when I go back to my laptop to make chances and this time it has internet connection, there will be a conflict. Evernote is smart enough to know that there is a conflict. It will save both notes and prompt me to take a look.

It’s a very smart and practical app.

KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid

Notes are organized into Notebooks which can only go deep to two levels – a parent notebook book with many sub notebooks which can have many notes.  Each note can also be tagged with one or more tags. Using the combination of these two methods keeps the very simple and basic Eernote seems sophisticated.

If you need a deeper structure (sub category of sub categories and more), you can actually accomplish that with Evernote with notebooks and tags. If I get a chance and if there is demand for it, I’ll write an article on it.

The interface is also very simple. On the web, mac and windows, there are notes on the left and note details on the right. The notebook window simply displays all the notebooks that you have. In contrast One Note is packed with tonnes of features but can quite difficult to navigate and at a certain point it has too much going on for its own good. Then there is Google Keep which just over simplifies everything and is a very weak service/app for what you might want to do with your notetaker.

Types of Notes

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Evernote can record text notes, voice notes, images from your phone and attachments. It can even take hand written notes. This is something that can compete with the Note 4’s handwritten memo. This is one of the secondary reasons I chose to go with Samsung galaxy S6 (check out my take on the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.   instead of the Note 4. If you want to get the the doodling feature of the Note4 on a phone that is not Note 4, then you can simply use Evernote.

Other useful features

  • Reminders – you can turn any note into a reminder and even set a due date
  • web clipper for chrome

Comes in 3 versions – which one is right for you?

free

  • all the feature I mentioned above
  • 60MB uploads

plus

All the features of the  free version plus:

  • $24.99/ year
  • 1GB uploads
  • pascode lock
  • forward important emails directly to your evernote

premium

  • $49.99/year
  • unlimited uploads
  • do more with pdfs – can annotate them
  • version tracking
  • scan business cards
  • search in office documents
  • create slides for presentation

Other uses of Evernote include:

  • keep notes
  • act as a knowledge base
  • keep track of meetings and agenda
  • shopping list
  • journal
  • photo journalism – quick snap to make a note
  • recipe book
  • project management tool
  • CRM

That’s my take on the Evernote. Do you have any other note taking service that you would like me to review. Please add a comment below, like and share this post if you find it useful.

 

 

Give your Mom the Gift of Technology This Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is around the corner and if you’re not sure what to get your mom or grandma then I have a solutions for you. If your mom or grandmother or mother-in-all has not been keeping in touch with technology and social media, now would probably be a good time to get her on board.

Now before I continue I have to add that my mother is on Facebook, uses Whatsapp, Viber and Skype and uses an android phone and manages just fine with most of her computing needs including working with excel sheets, accounting on quickbooks etc…so this won’t apply to her as much and mom’s in similar situations. However, my grandmother is someone who might find some of this very useful, she just doesn’t know it yet.

So, why is this better than just buying her something that she likes? Learning new things can be difficult for some people after a certain age, so for someone who has not been exposed to a lot of the new technology that is currently out there, suddenly tutoring them on doing something complex that involves more than 3 to 5 steps can be overwhelming. I’m merely stating some ideas which you can use, but then you will have to judge depending on the level of exposure to technology that your mother or grandmother has.

But if you expose them to just the right amount of technology the rewards can be very fulfilling; connecting to family members and long lost friends via social media, getting entertained or educated with Youtube and mobile games, staying in touch with family and friends with messaging apps and more.

Social Media

images (2)If your mom/grandma is not already on Facebook, my number one recommendation is to get her signed up this Mother’s day. We take it for granted but Facebook really is an amazing tool. She can connect with friends and family, search for long lost friends and maybe even make new ones. Viewing photos and update on what her family is doing, reading and watching news articles and videos and even sharing her own photos can be a surprisingly pleasant experience and one that she will be very thankful for. If she is already on Facebook you can give her some tips for making her experience even better. Maybe she has just “friended”  people and has no pages “liked”. You can show her that liking a page gives her updates from that page in her news feed to enrich her experience on Facebook.

Instagram_Logo_02pinerestIf your mom is the creative type and/or is into photography , you can introduce her to Instagram or Pinterest. If you or your mom is bold enough, you can get her introduced to twitter. Just make sure that you explain to her that anything and everything she posts on twitter will be visible to everyone. I heard of a story where a person was using twitter to keep personal notes. They thought that because they don’t follow anyone and no one follows them, their tweets will remain private – yeah… don’t let your mom be that person.

Gadgets

To make full use of social media perhaps the best way to get your mom started would be to get her a smart phone or a tablet if she does not already have one. As to which smart phone or tablet you should buy for her is totally up to you. If you have an android phone, you will probably lean towards Android and if you have an iPhone then you will lean towards an iPhone. Same goes for tablets – you cannot go wrong either way.

You can also get her a Fitness Tracker if you want to encourage your mom to stay fit. Check out my review of the Misfit Flash Fitness Tracker.

If you do end up getting her a phone or tablet be sure to give her a quick tutorial, get her started with some social media accounts and show her how to work her way around the camera.

Messengers

whatsappWhatsapp is my number one messenger app recommendation – it’s very simple to use, is reliable and almost everyone is on it. She can even form groups with family, friends or the neighbourhood book club. You can share pictures of her grandkids or just use it as simple a way to say a quick hi. There are other messenger apps like Viber and Facebook Messenger which you can introduce to her.

Video Chat

skype-logoFor video chat, I would recommend Skype and Hangouts. If she is on IOS then Facetime will work best for her.

Youtube

YouTube-logo-full_colorYoutube has to be a category on its own because that is how big of an impact it makes on our daily life. Youtube is the best entertainment education tool out there and of course I do not need to reiterate it here because you already know, but if your mom/grandma/mother-in-law isn’t already using Youtube, you really need to get her on it ASAP. From entertainment which includes comedy, films, funny videos, to news and educations, to DIY projects – just image the world of possibilities that she can have at her finger tips. If nothing at all she could be watching cats playing the piano.

Other General Knowledge

  • Google Search – Here are some Google Search tips that you can teach your mom. I bet you even you didn’t know about some of them.  
  • Flipboard  – Even if your mom is not into reading for pleasure, I bet she might just get into it because this app is just so beautifully designed that she would just want to use it only to admire it.
  • #Hastag – teach her how hastags work. 
  • Shortcuts – You will be surprised how many people don’t know about Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Y and so on for Windows and Cmd instead of Ctrl for MacOSX. Here are keyboard shortcuts for Windows and keyboard shortcuts for Mac OSX.

So these are my recommendations, enjoy your weekend and A very Happy Mother’s day to all moms.

Follow Your Bliss

Every time I drive on Rutherford Road in Vaughan I pass a small parking lot made of gravel and I see a narrow and steep gravel road that leads upwards and then at one point just disappears into the hill behind, and every time I pass that spot I wonder what it is, and every time I tell myself that I will check it out the next time I am there.

A week ago on Sunday, I woke up in the morning and decided that I will go to this place and reveal to my senses the mystery behind the hill. I was almost certain that it was a trail – there was no other explanation, but I needed to see for myself and this was the day. It is about a 10 to 15 minute drive from where I live to this spot. When I reached there, the small parking lot was filled up so I made a turn and decided to return home and come back some other time, but as I was existing the parking lot I told myself

“NO, not anymore, this happens today. I must find a way.”

As soon as I asked myself that question, I remembered that there is a public library nearby so I drove to the library, parked my car and then walked to this mystery spot. That in itself was quite a hike. Feeling positive and happy with my choice to finally do this, I marched forward climbing up the steep hill. Before I could reach the top, I started to doubt whether this was really going to be something worth doing, but I marched on forward. I had finally decided that I was going to commit to myself to walking 10,000 steps a day and I was determined and excited to find out what this trail had to offer.

I was pleasantly surprised as I  strolled up and down mini peaks and valleys on the windy pathway meeting people who greeted me with delightful smiles and “Good Mornings”.

I stopped on my way and took some pictures:

20150426_104005 20150426_105427

20150426_104104 20150426_104310

 

I thought to myself that this is such a great way to start my morning and asked myself how it is that I was missing out on this for the past 5 years. There were a couple of times when I thought, “okay let me turn back and go back home now, but I kept walking determined to see where the trail ends.

The best was definitely saved for the last. In the final stretch there was a bridge which I had to cross from under it and there on one side of the wall was this:

follow_your_bliss

Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.

What a treat this was – desert for the soul after a hearty breakfast for the senses.

They say no good thing comes easy, but in life it is hard to get what is desired for those who are not following their bliss. When you follow your bliss, not what your mind wants, not what your parents, your spouse, your friends want, not your bank account, but your bliss that there is something magical that happens that is hard to describe in words.

Aren’t all things of true beauty hard to describe? Some things can only be experienced.

Walls of the universe are the barriers and obstacles that show up when you finally decide to follow your bliss, follow your true calling, and if then you decide that there are other things that need your attention, things of less value to your heart’s content, something that isn’t your Bliss, but is something that is of less importance to the ultimate experience of life because someone once told you it was more important, or because “that is how society works” or because someone once told you that you cannot get what you want, or that you are less than what you are worth, or you are not good enough, or you were afraid of disappointing yourself, or did not have faith in yourself or the mechanics of the Universe, then the walls will remain as wall and you will curse the Universe, blame the people around you, make excuses of circumstances surrounding you all the while ignore that you stopped walking on the path that was your bliss and turned away only to go to a comfortable spot. The kind of comfort that is merely an illusion of a safe cave while the beauty of the world of possibilities awaits you.

Just like my trail that had ups and downs, twist and turns,  had sun and shade, with dry dead trees that bared no fruit, and trees there were rejuvenating in welcome of  a new seasons with flowers blooming with signs that can only mean that there is hope, so is life unfolding in this way.

When you decide to turn back from your bliss, you are closing doors, but when you follow your bliss the Universe opens doors for you where there were only walls.

I’m a Misfit

best-fitness-trackersIt seems like wearable technology will soon be able to make your toast for breakfast or teleport me to and from work. Fitness trackers these days track your heart rate, oxygen level, steps taken, stairs climbed, the quantity and quality of your sleep and yes it can also tell you what time it is. Not only that a lot of the fitness trackers have some smart watch capabilities like letting you know that you have received a text message, or you have an incoming call. On the other hand smart watches may eventually replace fitness trackers since they can do all the things that fitness trackers can do and a whole lot.

Most fitness tracker manufacturers are upping their game and adding more features and capability to their fitness trackers, however one company which is somewhat of a misfit in this case is actually going the other way, or so it seems. That company is Misfit Wearables.

Last year I bought the Fitbit Flex – it did the job well, was comfortable in the hand, the software was not great but not too bad either, it had vibrator alarm, it told me that I had reached my goal by vibrating, but one thing it didn’t have was automatic sleep tracking, but overall it just didn’t feel quite right.

A little less than a month ago I decided that I was going to get active again, or at least start moving a bit. I needed something that counted my steps, automatically tracked my sleep without me having to tell it to start and stop tracking my sleep, and something that was reasonably priced. I was thinking of getting the Fitbit Charge but then I noticed the Misfit Flash and I was blown away!

The Misfit Flash

misfit-flash

Here are the reasons why I bought and kept the Misfit Flash and why I actually love it!

Price

The Flash costs around $50 to $60, but when I bought mine at Bestbuy it was on sale for only $30(plus tax). Compared to what it actually does, I think it is more than amazing!

Comfort

The wrist band is very light and extremely comfortable. I usually sleep with my head on my hand and sometimes the band presses against my temple or my ear and it does not feel uncomfortable at all. If you are looking for something that looks premium, then the Flash is definitely not for you as it looks rather simple, but if you can get past the fact that it is just a fitness tracker(but a fitness tracker that does more than you might know) I think you’ll actually love this product.

It’s also a time Tracker

I never wear a watch, but sometimes it’s nice to know what the time is without having to pull your mobile out of your pocket. The Flash can tell you the time, but the way it does it is just very cool. Every time I look at the time on the Flash it is as if it is saying “Did you see what I did there?”. Just watch this video to see what I’m talking about:

So flexible

misfit_device_positionI don’t think there is any fitness tracker that is as flexible as this. You can wear it on your wrist, on your chest, keep it in your pocket, clip it on your shoe or T-Shirt. That’s awesome!

Automatic Sleep Tracking

Unlike the Fitbit Flex, you don’t have to tell the Misfit Flash that you’re going to sleep, it figures it out on it’s own. I should not have to track my fitness tracker. I just wear it and forget about it, then it keeps on doing it’s thing.

Waterproof

Take it in the shower, in the rain, go for a swim – no biggie.

No Charging

The Flash and it’s cousin Shine both use a coin battery which can last up to 6 months. This again ties in well with just wearing it and forgetting about it.

Software

To be very honest, when I first saw the Android version of the Misfit App, I was disappointed – very disappointment. The software also did not upload my step counts to MyFitnessPal and still doesn’t , but there’s a possibility that the fault could be on MtFitnessPal’s side. I saw the IOS version and it was completely different (read Better) than the Android version, I still decided to keep my Misfit because of their customer services (See Below). A few days after I complained on Twitter I got a please surprise today morning. The new software update makes the software much better now – it’s actually quite beautiful.

misfit_month_graph misfithome misfit_social misfit_sleep misfit_profile misfit_month_list

 

Customer Service

misfit_twitterI Tweeted the complaint I had about the Android version of the Misfit Software and someone from Misfit actually responded fairly quickly. I even opened a support ticket for something else and they were quite quick to reply there too.

Some shortcomings

The calorie counter seems a bit off, but I don’t rely on calorie counting anyway. The Flash does not have heart rater monitoring, but considering the price point for this device, one should not expect a heart rate monitor, has very little to none motivation factor. It doesn’t nag you to get up and get moving, it has no vibrator alarms and does not actively tell you that you’ve met your goal.

Overall, I think the Misfit Flash is an amazing product and it just simply the best value for your money.

 

What’s in a Name?

whats_in_a_name

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet”

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

I recently was put in a situation where the name might have played a role in the final outcome of that situation and then I reminded myself of this famous quote from Shakespeare. What’s in a name? Ideally, characteristics of a person is what really should matter right? Shakespeare puts it so deftly, so elegantly and as such would inspire people to put the name aside and look at who the person really is, what their abilities are, what sets them apart from others, how they think, how they work,..etc..

What’s in a name? It’s just a name,…right? But is it really?

Is Jose, the same as Joe? Watch this video!

For humour, here are some unfortunate names of people, and some very interesting names of products, and some even more bizarre product names.

And of course, Apple Watch!… I guess ‘iWatch’ would have been a bit creepy.

source: http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2014/09/10/first-look-at-the-new-apple-watch/
source: http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2014/09/10/first-look-at-the-new-apple-watch/

Sublime Text

The meaning of sublime according to the dictionary on my Macbook Pro is:

of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe

And Sublime Text 2 is just that. I kept hearing about its legendary speed, and flexibility but I never quite bothered to check it out until my love for NetBeans started to fade. Netbeans had been my programming companion for a long time now. I had been using it since 2009 when I made the switch from Eclipse. That is a long time! More and more Netbeans was starting to prove that it was bloated, slow – especially during loading, the updates didn’t always retain the features that I liked and it kept hogging my CPU and memory. I decided to give Aptana – a flavour of Eclipse another chance after almost a 5 year gap. It has been a long time since I abandoned working with Eclipse. I liked what I saw. It brought back some old memories, and overall it felt as if Apatana was a ted faster than Netbeans. But things were about to change when stumbled upon Sublime Text 2. At first I thought it is just a Text Editor, but it’s not, it’s way more than a text editor. This thing is so flexible you can turn it into an IDE. Here are the reasons why every programmer should at least give Sublime Text a chance:

Its beauty is sublime:

alpha_goto_anything2_large This piece of software is simply beautifully designed. There are many themes to choose from but the default theme with black background and highlighted special words is just stunningly gorgeous and is a pleasure to work with. Another very interesting feature is the small preview bar on the right which  gives you a zoomed-out view of the file that you are currently editing – I never thought I wanted it until I saw it!

Super Fast

Aptana Studio 2 Netbeans 7.3.1 Sublime Text 2
aptana-3-logo netbeans sublime-text-2-logo-full
Took around 30 seconds to load  and background project scan lasted for 1 minute 15 seconds and the program ran slow until the scan was complete. Took around 33 seconds to load and the background scans went on for 2 and half minutes before I decided to close the program. By the way, you cannot stop the background scans in Net Beans, which really is a bummer. Just took 5 to 7 seconds to load and closed as quickly as it could load too. This thing is clearly fast… VERY FAST!

Powerful Search AKA “Go To Anything” (⌘ + P)

Command + P is the shortcut key for search (the feature is known is “Go To Anything” and rightly so) on Mac and I’m pretty sure the P stands for POWER! Which really means the search just commands power. The search is super fast and it start displaying the possible results the moment you start typing AND it displays the contents for the file that most likely is the one you are looking and changes it if it does not fall under the correct results. Go to anything

It Knows!!

It knows what you are searching for even if you are telling it to search for the wrong thing. For e.g. if you make a typo, it still gives you the correct results; also knows as fuzzy search.

fuzzy search
The user types in “hutil” instead of “util” but Sublime, still displays what the user most likely meant. – It’s smart

With Netbeans and Aptana (A flavour of Eclipse), almost always I would open up the terminal or Finder on Mac to search for text within a file or to search for a filename. Now, I don’t need to do that!

Multiple Selection

This just blew my mind away. You can select multiple lines of your code and modify them simultaneously! That is super amazing! You can even select a word which could be a variable or some command throughout your file and change its name. Another scenario where this can come in handy is when you have a list of things which you need to put into an array. I used search and replace the “new line” characters. Now I do multiple selection and edit away. Multiple Selection is awesome!

Tonnes of Cool and Useful Plugins

I must warn you! If you are coming from a feature rich IDE like Netbeans or Eclipse you might be surprised at the bare minimum approach of Sublime Text, but don’t be fooled by what you see the first time you use Sublime Text. There are tonnes of plugins available out there there that can transform this magical text editor into a full IDE and that’s the beauty, you only install the features that you actually want and no more thereby keeping this editor as ‘slim’ as possible. I will write up another article on my favourite and must have plugins for Sublime Text 2. If you like this article, share it! Got a comment? Post it! 🙂

Happy 2014

2013_2014

As I reflect on the year 2013 I realize that it was an amazing year! Good Bye 2013 and Hello 2014! Happy New Year!

Every year people who want to make ‘improvements’ in their lives set New Year’s resolutions. Most people fail, few succeed. Those who fail, try again the following year or become non-believers. I wrote an article in 2010 about Why not to Set a new Year’s resolution! (Don’t judge the article by it’s title. It’s not what you would expect)

This year I have really not set a New Year’s resolution, in fact I don’t even have expectations on what I would like to accomplish in 2014. I have no goals, no plans. I’m just going to live 2014 as each day comes – let’s experiment.

I came across a link posted by a friend on Facebook which I think is the best advice I’ve gotten on the topic of “New Year’s Resolution”.  All the lessons in this article are pure gold! I had to learn it the hard way by experience and by learning from mistakes, but is that not he best way to learn.

I hope you get something out of it. I must say, not all of you will ‘get it’. In fact I would not have gotten all of it if I had come across this article last year.

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

 

 

Loving Winter 2013

I can see that a lot of people are having a hard time keeping a smiling face when they talk about winter, the snow and the wind because they're thinking about the cold, the slush, and layers of clothes and shoveling. I'm one of those people who really seem to be enjoying this year's winter. I understand that I might be getting a few frowns as people read this because I work indoors most of the time and yes I do not need to commute because I work from home. But hear me out, will you?

I couldn't get much work done yesterday, so at night I went to the nearby 24 hour Tim Hortons, a Canadian favorite coffee shop to have a warm cup of Cafe Mocha and to get some work done. Ask any Canadian and they'll know the name 'Tim Hortons' it because it's a common name mentioned almost daily in Canadian households. I came home at around 1:30am. It's at most 20 feet from my driveway to the door of my house and within that short distance I began to feel the cold reaching into my legs beneath the multiple layers of clothing. I could feel my cheeks freezing. The coffee had not awaken me up as much as the cold hitting my face did. It was a good feeling.

There was no one on the street, there was silence – my conjecture was that it was so cold that it was difficult for much of the sound to travel. The snow had settled on the ground like icing on a birthday cake and the whole street was lit up with the light from the street lamp that it reflected. I stood there for a few minutes in awe.

Why should I not love winter?

image

I’m Never Retiring!

Today after dinner and watching a movie, I sat there on my sofa thinking what I should do. I was thinking what I should be doing. There are a couple of things I needed to get done, but didn't quite want to do it. I had this very uncomfortable feeling and I could not make out what it was until it suddenly hit me. I was BORED!

For the first time in a very long time, I was actually feeling bored, and I hated the feeling. Not being in a state where I was not doing something for a very long time had made me completely forget about what it was to be not doing something. Today I have decided that I will never be retiring. I never want to retire. Why should anyone want to retire?

I'll tell you why. Because there is so much in life that one can do. If anything, I think there isn't enough time to do everything that one really is capable of doing. Recently, everyday I see new possibilities of living life. There is simply so much to do. I think people grow into adults and they learn to limit their imagination. Kids are amazing; they are always doing something – playing with their toys, running around, well crying too, and eating, and maybe just sitting there, but even while sitting most of the time their playing imaginary and creative games.

I for one always want to be a kid and imagine the possibilities that life can bring. There is simply so much to do and words like boring, bored or boredom should just simply be removed from the dictionary.