Keep Is A Keeper

Good Options

What do an elephant and a light bulb have in common? They’re both logos for jotting down your thoughts to help you remember or process them later. There’s much good to say about writing notes by hand, but if you’re into digital note-taking, then there are several good options to talk about. The one I wanna focus on is Google Keep (the light bulb!), because as much as I like Evernote (the elephant!), I keep coming back to Keep (you know I had to do that).


Weighing The Two

Last year when I ditched my iPad and switched to Chromebook, I upended my workflow. I had used Apple Notes and Ulysses to write all my “stuffs.” Both were great, but they were pretty much Apple-only. And when you go Chrome, you’re going Google

The first obvious new choice for my notes was Google Keep. But its differences from most digital notes apps made the transition uncomfortable. Or maybe not noteworthy. So, for journaling, I ended up settling with Journey. And for the rest of my note-taking, I landed on Evernote. I was so enamored with Evernote, I blogged about it!

After the shiny newness of Evernote wore off, I began to encounter some challenges. First, as I wrote my draft of a Novella for NaNoWriMo, I had quite a bit of frustration with simply typing into the Evernote web app. The cursor would jump randomly and inexplicably to the top of the page or seem to disappear for a moment. My flow of writing would derail. After this happened across many days, my confidence in Evernote’s reliability was shaken.

The other thing about Evernote that trips me up are the multiple interfaces. The web interface has three possible setups: an old one, a new “Classic Editor” one, and a beta version of that. Then there’s the Android app sprawled out on my Chromebook. Finally, there’s the iPhone app version. Not only do they look quite different from one another, they do not have feature parity! One version will have “word count,” for example, but another won’t. So I had trouble sticking to one version.

Over several months of using Evernote, Google Keep was ever present on my Chromebook and iPhone. For certain types of notes, Keep works best. Mostly, it excels at short temporary notes like digital Post-It notes. Also checkbox lists! That makes Keep sticky. It’s simplicity gives it utility. So I kind of ended up using Keep and Evernote, plus Journey, to record my thoughts. Of course, I also use Google Docs for blog drafts. This spread of apps and services is a bit much.

I don’t know if it’s Keep’s simplicity or something else; somehow I kept getting drawn to it. Weird? Maybe. But true. Keep’s simple interface is totally consistent across my iPhone and Chromebook: web app, iOS app, Android app. And although Keep is simple, it has some super handy and powerful features. But maybe the biggest advantage it employs is its omnipresence – its integration into Google’s other apps.

When in Google Calendar, or Gmail, or Docs, you will also find Keep. Off to the right side, in a consistent and persistent slide out column, Google Keep’s notes appear. You can read or copy text from them and vice versa. One surprising ability lets you save an email from Gmail into a Keep note as an attachment. One more great feature lets you automatically turn your Keep notes into Google Docs. Like I said, super useful stuff!

So I found myself at a strange yet not surprising switch on the track. Stay on the Evernote train, or go all aboard the Keep locomotive. Using both is simply too much for me. I need simpler. And while Google is notorious for killing off some of its products or services, I believe Keep has proven to be an indispensable part of Google’s platform and is here for the long haul.


Pick One

The Evernote app is still on my iPhone and Chromebook. But I’ve slowly started to transition fully to keeping all my notes in Keep. But it’s hard to let Evernote go because it still has many strengths. Yet this is what I do. I try different techy things, I rely on some for a long time, then I switch things up, keep things fresh. For now, Keep is a keeper.


Do you switch things up, or have you stuck with one tech solution for many years? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Taking Note Of Evernote

Notable

Is it possible to geek out about notes? Would that be nerding out instead? Either way, as I like to trek through tech, I look for the best solutions. Many companies offer apps, services, or entire ecosystems. One that is the epitome-of-noteworthy is Evernote.


Best Notes Ever

This month, I re-discovered Evernote. The last time I really used it was 2014. Since then, I’ve relied on first-party apps: Apple Notes or Microsoft OneNote or Google Keep. I’ve switched between these over time, depending on the main computer I was using. (I’ve tried Simplenote and used Ulysses too.) They’re all great in their own ways, having pros and cons.

But Evernote sticks out. Unlike the big-three, it’s a third-party solution from a company dedicated to the task at hand: note taking. It’s mission is a singular focus on using notes to organize your life. This is Evernote’s expertise.

Also, I’ve been fond of the green elephant for a long time.

Being a blogger, writer, and thinker, I love jotting down or typing up what’s on my mind. It gets my thoughts out of my head in front of my eyes to see. It’s a satisfying process of organizing my brain.

Simply put: I note my notions.

All The Goods

The first thing that surprised me when I started trying out Evernote recently was the interface. It’s much cleaner and leaner than years prior, yet I found all the tools and features one might want. It’s polished now, and as I began using it, I noted (ahem) how easy it is.

Evernote uses a simple folder (called Notebooks) plus tagging system for organization. You can even have Stacks of Notebooks. To me, this makes a lot of sense. I’ve used apps that employ only a folder system and apps that utilize only tagging. While simplicity is a virtue, Evernote gives the option of both. It’s neither too little nor too much.

One of Evernote’s most impressive features is the Web Clipper. The thing is awesome! It’s easy to add it to your web browser. What I love about the clipper are all the options to share anything on the web to Evernote with precision and ease.

Let’s say you’re doing research online and find an article with a quote you want. You can grab the whole web page, just the quote alone, or simply bookmark it, to name but a few options. Then, without leaving the web page, you can file the content into any of your Evernote folders, tag the content, and add remarks to it. And this all takes place inside a simple elegant drop down window in your browser. It’s incredibly useful and well done!

All that is cool. But how reliable is Evernote? Can you trust it with the fruit of your mind? To that I can say in the span of about 10 days, I’ve added over 100 notes into various folders with tags, links, web clips, and have applied some text formatting. And I’ve done this on the iPhone app and both the Edge and Chrome browser on different computers. So far, everything has been syncing flawlessly.

Finally, one of my biggest reasons for relying on Evernote is because it’s cross-platform. Being a third-party service that works on the web and in smartphone apps, I can use it in Apple-land or in the Google-verse, for example. Evernote is cloud-first; I like living in the clouds.


Note To Future Self

I’ve jumped onto different note-taking platforms over the years. I gravitated towards the built-in notes app on whichever device I had because of its system-level integration. The default app is the easiest to choose and use.

Now I’m hoping and planning to stick with Evernote for the long haul since I can take notes on any device (iPhone, Chromebook), and because it has shown much improvement over time. Evernote will likely stay great or become greater.


What’s your fave note app? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Subscriptions To Escapism

Enter Escapism

Entertainment abounds. It’s so prolific, you can’t escape from Escapism; it’s everywhere! We unplug so much, we may need to unplug from unplugging. As I considered the options for a monthly subscription service, I was reminded how inundated we are with endless entertainment.


Escape Below

There is now a subscription for all forms of entertainment.

Watch

For movies and TV shows, there’s streaming Video: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube Premium, Apple TV+, and more. Binge on binging.

Listen

For music, streaming audio: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Amazon Music to name a few. Millions of songs!

Read

Like to read books? There’s kindle unlimited. How about news articles or magazines? Apple News+ and more.

Play

Are you into games? Now there’s Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass.

For a small recurring fee, you can be fed a limitless supply of consumable content, like an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Binge much? To stand out, the creators, aggregators, and distributors must up the ante, making entertainment more delicious than ever.

Stories Of Other Worlds

There’s one thing all forms of entertainment have in common: story. It has universal appeal. Whichever way you like, a tale is ready for the telling.

A single 3-minute song often tells a simple story. An epic novel is the longest form of story-telling. In between those extremes, a 2-hour movie portrays story as does a 40-hour role-playing-game. The different forms of amusement engage our brains, both thoughts and emotions, in various ways.

I like all forms of entertainment. No surprise there. Recently I tried out Nintendo’s new iPhone game called, Dr. Mario World. It’s a simple match-3 game like Candy Crush or Bejeweled. Despite the simple mechanics of the game, it’s supported by a story. Viruses (the antagonist) have invaded Mushroom Kingdom (setting), and everyone (protagonist), from Mario to Bowser, must unite against them to save the world. There’s “Man versus Nature” conflict in a setting with characters. Story!


Fiction Subscription

If you could choose only one subscription service to get stories, which one would you sign up for? I’ve been wondering about this for video: Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+ to name a few. If I could have just one, I still don’t know which it would be.

Movies are great, but it’s said that the book is always better. Lately, I’ve been immersed in reading. This form of storytelling engages the mind on the deepest level. Novels are excellent forms of escapism! But for the money, I’m not sure. An eBook is typically 10 dollars. At that price, you can get a month’s worth of movies and TV shows. It’s an issue of quality versus quantity, and it comes down to preference.

Amazon offers a kindle unlimited monthly subscription; I’ve never tried it. Yet I recommend reading stories and not just watching them. So your call to action is: go get you a good book. But also keep reading my blog too. 😉


What’s your preference? Are you overwhelmed with monthly subscriptions? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for your time!

Angel Has Fallen

The Flick

My wife and I enjoyed watching Angel Has Fallen at the theater last weekend – we got to go out on a date!


The Score

The movie was better than we expected! I liken it to a spy thriller. There’s Secret Service, fast-paced action, and guns. Lots of guns.

Overall, it’s a fun, yet violent, late Summer action flick. Not only that, it’s got some really funny parts and a good cast of characters.

I’d watch it again. In fact, I think I’ll buy it on Blu-Ray when available.

I like to check Rotten Tomatoes for the movie scores. How good might I expect a movie to be? Critics, of course, can be hyper-critical.

For this movie, they only gave it an average of 39%! That is far lower than the movie deserves. In fact, the Audience – normal people – scored it at a whopping 93%! Yeah!


Go Watch

If you want some good entertainment and must get out of the house, Angel Has Fallen is worth your time and your dime.


Have you seen the movie already? What did you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Pocket In My Pocket

Big Pocket

We’ve got a lot of cool little technology solutions these days. There’s an app or website for everything, right? Well I’m back to using one that I’ve always liked – Pocket.


There’s A Plug-In For That

What is Pocket? It’s a read-it-later type of service. Anywhere you find something to read online, you can share it to Pocket and read it at a later time, even offline. It’s super-handy!

Despite that, I was reluctant to once again rely on Pocket because I prefer having a reading list built into my web browser. Safari on iOS spoiled me on that.

So for the longest time, it really bugged me that Google Chrome did not have such a basic feature. (Caveat: a point of disparity, Chrome on iOS does have a reading list feature built-in, but not the “full” browser on my Chromebook!) But then again, it kind of does.

If Chrome does not have a function built-in, then there’s a good chance there’s a plug-in for that! Sure enough, Pocket has an excellent one for Google’s excellent web browser.

Once the Pocket plug-in is plugged-in installed, a small button is added to Chrome; it’s a cinch to use. Just click it.

To read whatever you saved, you can either go to the Pocket website and login, or you can use the Pocket app on your phone. Both options are nice and offer plenty of useful features.


It’s In My Pocket

Although I lean towards using only first-party software (i.e. going all-in with Google only apps and services), using third-party tech solutions is often a great experience; Pocket is no exception.

It always works. So you can rely on it. It’s great having a dedicated app for saving articles to read later. I was using Google Keep at first, along with the Chrome extension, and tagging stuff “Read Later.” It works, but Pocket works nicer.

If you think of something useful that you would like your computer or browser to do, just realize there’s either an app or a plug-in or a similar solution that will meet your needs quite well.


What’s your favorite handy tech solution? Do you read stuff later or knock it out in the moment? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!