Category Archives: Work/life balance

Ad Humor: Herding cats

This is an oldie but a goody. This often reminds me of work. Its a great concept that ties together the complexity of EDS services in an easy to understand metaphor.

Quick App Review: Evernote

I have officially solved my digital notebook issue.

The need for the notebook comes from the need for a repository for the myriad of details that collect each day that don’t warrant a separate doc, but still have value to later projects or later recall.

I was looking for a solution that would sync among all my devices, provide backup, and to leverage search and tagging so finding the information in the piles of notes was easier.

Prior to trying Evernote, I used a great and flexible app called Mori. Mori is a great app but it lacks the backup and sync functions and has no application for the iPhone. I made the switch because I got tired of syncing up the latest notebook to my other machines.

I have been using Evernote for a few months and it delivers on its promise to help out your short term memory. With the complexities of a small and growing business and a recent marriage, there is a lot of non-document information that needs to be captured, stored and classified for later retrieval. Evernote allows me to do this and access this information intuitively and from any device.

The UI is very simple and intuitive and it allows for simple capture of notes via email, web clipping or photos. The app also allows you to search images for words so that you can identify search returns in your images. An example use case is taking a photo of a wine label, sending it to Evernote, then searching your notebook to have it call up a picture ot the label for a later purchase.

So far the app is a winner with me and I highly recommend registering for the beta and giving it a try. Its fast, flexible and works well on Mac, PC, iPhone and Winmo.

Any other Evernote users out there with some thoughts?

Smartphone Mashup: Can somebody step up and get this right?

Smashup

The obvious question is why is there no de facto winner in the smartphone space? In my quest to find the right smartphone, I have been through the following phones in the last three years (thankfully I can sell all the old ones on Ebay!).

PHONE CARRIER OS
Motorola v-60 (verizon) MOTO
Samsung sgh 4?? (t-Mobile) SAMSUNG
Blackberry 957 (att wireless) RIM
Blackberry 7200(?) (att wireless) RIM
Samsung sph-i500 (verizon) WINDOWS
Sony Ericsson T608 (verizon) SONY
RIM 950 (Cingular) RIM
Samsung sgh-i700 (verizon) WINDOWS
Palm Treo 600 (sprint) PALM
Blackberry 7750 (verizon) RIM
Blackberry 7100 (cingular) RIM
Current Phone: Blackberry 8700 (cingular) RIM
In my search, I have yet to find a device and network working together that satisfy all the criteria below:

  1. Must have QWERTY keyboard for email and text.
  2. Must have push email
  3. Must have sync tools to PIM on desktop
  4. Must have decent high speed internet
  5. Must have good voice quality
  6. Must have good design/ form factor: has to to work ergonomically correct as a phone and emailer
  7. Decent battery life
  8. Decent Network (ideally verizon)

Right now I am using the Blackberry 8700. A good device, but not the holy grail. The rub I have with Blackberry is that the voice quality is less than optimal. This is both the phone and the network (cingular). Unfortunately Blackberry has not cracked the code for designing thier candybar/qwerty to work well when it is placed next to the ear. Further, I don’t think the voice technology is up to par with the likes of the Motrolas or the Samsungs. I use this phone because it has all of the above criteria satisfied more than any other smartphone on the market. But let me say this is still not an ideal phone becase the voice can be VERY bad. I mostly blame Cingular for this. I have heard the new Palm 700 with windows (Verizon) is quite good but is a bit kludgy when it comes to navigation and the battery life is poor.

As far as outlining the good/bad qualities in the different competitors in the smartphone:
Blackberry: GOOD: mail/messaging, GOOD battery life, BAD: Voice and sound quality, BAD: phone design for using as a phone, GOOD: no stylus needed
Palm: GOOD:: New windows OS (Treo 700), GOOD:best design for QWERTY phone, BAD: PALM OS is too crashy, BAD: Battery life, BAD: stylus needed, BAD: new windows OS is clumsy
Samsung: GOOD: voice quality, BAD: Battery life, BAD: Crashy and slow, GOOD: Windows OS, BAD: heavy and large phones
So if I could put together the ultimate smartphone:

  1. It will work on Verizon
  2. It will have good voice/sound technology
  3. It will have push email (blackberry)
  4. It will be comfortable on the ear when you use as a phone–form factor like Palm
  5. It will have the battery life of a blackberry
  6. Ihe OS will be stable and fast

So the winners in each of the criteria above:

Best QWERTY keyboard: Blackberry (full keyboard)
Best mail: Blackberry push service
Best sync tools: Blackberry (Intellisync)
Best internet: Verizon EDVO
Best voice/sound technology: Motorola (hopefully the moto Q comes out sometime this decade)
Best industrial design: Palm 700
Best battery life: Blackberry (no contest)
Best network: Verizon (no contest)

So a conclusion?
I’d say the closest to the mark are the Blackberry 8700 and the Palm 700w. Neither of these devices are ideal. The Blackberry shortcomings are the fact that its on the Cingular Network and the fact that it has poor voice and sound quality. The Palm 700w scores big because its on Verizon and because you can work on MS office docs, but the battery life is not great and the Windows OS for the Palm is still half baked.

The one outlier here is the pending Motorola Q smartphone which seems to be in a constant state of delay. This phone better be good, as they keep delaying its launch, which is becoming quite tiresome. I know of several people who gave up waiting for this phone and bought the Blackberry 8700 or Palm 700w instead.

Anybody have any thoughts here?

See follow up entries on this issue:

Second in series

Third in series

Fourth in series

Fifth in series 

Late breaking News! More web based AJAX Calendars!

There are more online calendars hitting the market these days. I just read on TechCrunch about a few more AJAX based clandars that don’t sem to be doing anything that new. I must admit, this new gen of calendars have some pretty slick and desktop-like features. It seems like most of these are after ad revenue, as most are being offered free right now. I have yet to discover one that appears to have a different business model behind it, other than Trumba, which seems to be quite idle these days.
I guess I am not convinced yet that these web based calendars will be that useful alone until the RSS standard is accepted for all calendars. Once this RSS standard is broadly accepted, then the calendar app people use will be somewhat akin to a calendar reader. This is the holy grail that will free us  from heavy desktop client apps once and for all.
Some of the noteables on the list:

http://www.planzo.com

http://www.spongecell.com

http://wwwcalendarhub.com

http://www.kiko.com

http://www.airset.com 

The TechCrunch article: 

http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/01/30/spongecell-an-ajax-calendar/ 

Meditation and Science: Buddha on the Brain

This is an intersting piece in Wired that talks about how meditation can change the gamma waves in your brain and bring about change in the external world. The world of science isn’t buying, but we think this is a very cool perspective.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/dalai.html