The auto industry is approaching Car Apps in an interesting way

I saw an article today on Ford and Toyota launching a Consortium to get developers to build on the Smart Device Link (SDL) platform. You can learn more about it on the SDL homepage.

The strange thing is, SDL appears to be a declarative way to express your application while still giving the auto manufacturer the control over how things actually lay out in the car. I am curious, don’t the brands building want to own the display for THEIR application?

The other thing that comes to mind is “what value do I get out of building for a car platform?” Does this make my users more sticky? Is it just the PR value for the announcements and ongoing press? (which does have some real value) Are companies able to not only build, but keep up with the platforms in the auto space as it gets more fragmented?

I was curious, I am sure there has to be a handful of key apps that motor companies want on their platform. If they think it is a differentiator, or something that partners of the Open Source SDL platform could benefit from, why not just build it for them?

Taking Ford as an example.

Assuming nobody was kicking in money but Ford, and they ate all of the costs, it is probably still worthwhile. (but they could spread the cost over each SDL partner and encourage other car manufacturers to sign up for the platform)

Ford made $7.2B in revenue in 2015. (with a gross revenue of $23M) That’s nothing to sneeze at for top line. Now, let’s say you wanted to ensure you got the top 20 applications on your platform. Things like weather, music, podcasting, traffic, etc. You could hand select a couple from each category and build the winners with no cost to them.

You can see that even at an estimated cost (wild ass guess) of $500k per application to build, getting the top 20 apps would be roughly 1/10th of a percent of Ford’s top line revenue.

Now, let’s say they could convince just 4 other companies to help share the cost. This becomes a much better value for them, and others; something each company could easily justify to expand from the top 20 apps, to the top 50 apps if it show real value as a differentiator.

There are probably arguments to be said about doing what SiriusXM did with building the cost of the services in to the cars, that would be a whole separate discussion.. but it is something interesting to think about.

EDIT:  I should have taken the extra step to calculate additional car sales against competition due to the advantage, and top line growth due to that number.. but I was running under the lazy assumption that Ford/Toyota did that work, and that’s why they are investing in the platform.  It wouldn’t take long though to make up  the revenue..roughly the Equivalent of 1 days sales or less.

Screen Capture feature in Bear Writer

Did you know you can do a screen capture right within your note?   I didn’t realize this existed, pretty cool though.  It would be a way for me to replace Skitch for basic screen grabs I need in notes.

Why I am sticking with Evernote for now

I don’t use Evernote for everything like I had in the past. It really used to be my “everything bucket”. That has gone away over time, but there are some things the way I manage my daily workflow that really help me out. Let me explain.

I try to keep goals and a journal

Keeping a daily journal; I am not good at this. Actually, I am really horrible about doing this anywhere near perfect. I DO have a strong goal to get better at this. it helps me understand where my time is spent, and also gives me something to look back on over the week to see what I have done.

You can see in the image that I try to lay out a week by week journal in a single note for a single month. In the journal I create a couple of sections:

  • Week of.. to track which week I am looking at
  • Goals for the week help me track what I need to make sure I finish by the end of the week
  • Daily logs of work to keep track of my time and thoughts

It becomes very useful to go back and look at where you have spent time. You can see in the image that many of my bullets are links to other Evernote notes. The way I generate this is one of two ways.

  • Right click and copy a note link for a one-off bullet
  • Towards the end of a day, I use my saved search for UPDATED TODAY to grab the notes I have edited today. Then, highlight all of them, right click and copy note links.
  • Paste these in to my Journal

This workflow in Evernote is one of the key items that keeps me here.

Inbox Use

I use the Evernote inbox to capture everything as a starting place. It is my default notebook for every note coming in to evernote. IFTTT to Emails all show up here when I send things over. If I am jumping in to a meeting to take notes, I go here, create a new note and start typing away. I always file things later, but I pretty much know that anything here needs attention to complete.

In an effort to keep things clean, I use a WIP tag for anything that is a WORK IN PROGRESS. then, I can file away as needed to one of my very few folders. If I need to bring back all things I believe I am currently working on, I use the saved Work In Progress search. It will bring up all notes with the WIP tag.

My Shortcuts are my lifeline

This is really the key for me, what other note apps lack. The ability to create shortcuts for easy access. It is how I manage my workflow.

You can see that I have few, but powerful shortcuts. I will describe them for you to help understand my daily use, and why Evernote is sticky for me right now.


This is where everything starts. The .. at the beginning is just to sort it to the top in my folder view below.

December 2016

This is my “current month” journal. As described above, this is how I quickly add items to my journal. I add items to the top of my journal list so everything appears in reverse chronological order .

Sonos Archive

This is where I store all of my work related notes. Simple. Nothing is sorted beyond this one folder for work. (I also have personal archives). I search and sort with tags as I find them way more powerful.

Work In Progress

As I mentioned above, this is a saved search to find all items tagged with WIP. It helps me keep track of open items.

To Complete – Week

This is a saved search that looks for all notes with open checkboxes edited in the past week. If I am taking notes and I need to add a task quickly, rather than creating it in my Task Manager (currently 2do), I just use the Evernote checkbox.

Later, once I am processing meeting notes, I move tasks to my actual task manager and check them off in Evernote.

Having a quick way to find things for the week has been very helpful.

To Complete – Month

This is the same concept as above, but often I use this just to make sure I have not missed any processing from as far back as month. It’s not common, but it does happen.


So, as you can see, my workflow itself is what keeps me in Evernote. Sure, I could go learn how to adapt to Notes, Bear or other apps, but I have just found that I am very used to working in Evernote this way. I have been an Evernote user since the beginning, and it’s a hard habit to break fully.

Trying out the new note taking app called Bear

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately trying to figure out my long-term plan with Evernote, or something else.  A couple of things that really bug me about Evernote are:

  • Lack of markdown support
  • The editor is just goofy as hell for layout/formatting
  • tagging seems tedious..but perception I guess

So, I was excited to try out Bear when I heard about it.   It’s a new application that looks to bring a lot of key features of Evernote, but fixing some things that really bug me in Evernote.


There are a couple of things I’d like to see in Bear that are not currently there.

  • There is no tag completion.  This leaves it open for me to accidentally mis-type a tag and create a new one
  • There is no bulk-tag management.  I want to be able to select a group of notes and apply a tag.  No luck yet, maybe soon

I am going to play with this for a bit and see how I like it.  If you want to check it out, jump over to for the details.

Use Emoji to help make searching in Workflowy easier

I just had this thought tonight.. I’ve been using #task or #meeting in my notes in Workflowy to track meetings or tasks.  Why not make them an emoji, it will look better, and you can still search on it?

I tend to keep my weekly/daily journal of all meeting notes, things I was working on and random stuff that pops up during the day.  Now, if I just click a month, or week.. and search for the emoji I want to find, it filters down nicely.   See the clip below


For my text expander snippets, I’ve got a few I am using.

The first is when I am creating a meeting.  Once I sit down in the meeting I type .mm to ask to fill in the meeting minutes.  It prompts me for a meeting name, and then fills this in. (with proper tabs for layout)

📅 test meeting name – Tuesday, 25 Oct 2016
Action Items

Then, as I need to add in action items, I can use the — shortcut to put in a ✅ in front of each action item.

Later, as I clear off action items, I can just delete the Emoji, and still see what action items I had captured, but not completed.

Finally.. I can search using .meeting as a shortcut in the search bar to get my 📅 emoji to show up.  This helps me filter on all meetings.   I can also search on ✅ to find all tasks in a bucket.  (usually by week or day)


Shifting gears again on note taking..

Shifting gears again on note taking..

Not sure why I am forever trying to optimize my workflow.  My evenings and weekend “fun” is messing with things, including my own setup.   So.. I am moving my day to day note taking back to Workflowy.

Why you ask?

I decide a couple things.   First, I am not sure if it’s boredom with Evernote’s lack of formatting and updates to fix it.. or if I don’t enjoy the process of Evernote anymore.   Workflow does something so easy for me.. it gets me to notes very quickly.  Both creating new notes and looking up old ones just works for me.   I am an outliner by nature, all of my notes are either outline or mind maps.   Why deal with Evernote’s goofy formatting when Workflow just works for me.  (at least for now)

Do we think it will stick?

Sure… for now . I love having my daily journal along with notes and project details all in one areas.  I break things down from an inbox, work and personal nodes.. but that is it.  Sub bullets from those top level items.

Taking the plunge..WatchOS3 Beta 6

I’ve been dying to try this. I had assumed non-developers were going to get a chance to try this out. I love my watch, but the lag drives me nuts. Trying to open apps is worthless. I’ve all but given up.

Everyone posting about how good WatchOS3 is, I am taking the plunge and installing it. Let’s see how this goes tonight.

Publishing with Ulysses

Publishing with Ulysses

OK.. the new version of Ulysses is out now and it includes the ability to publish straight from the app to WordPress. The great thing is.. not only is it hosted sites, but if you self-host, you can also publish.

I’ve recently started moving my writing to the iPad. The challenge is, and was going to be.. how to publish from the iPad. I know Fredrico Viticci and others have managed to put together some workflows.. but this is nice. It’s just built in.

Anyway, for now.. let’s see if we can get some more stuff published. I am just trying to figure out the sheets vs. grouping for publishing.. but here we go. Hopefully a better and easier workflow.


Apple Notes Slowness on Startup – FIXED!

Apple Notes Slowness on Startup – FIXED!

I was trying to explore switching from Evernote to Apple Notes for a period of time.  At some point during this experiment, Apple Notes started acting like a punk.. basically every time I tried to open Notes, the sync to iCloud would freeze up the app for anywhere from 15-60 seconds.  It was unusable.   It was also driving me crazy.

I finally broke down and did something I NEVER do, I called Apple Support.   After a bit of back and forth on the phone, the tech suggested I delete my iCloud Account from the phone and then add it again.   While this seemed extreme, I was a bit desperate.   So I did.   Once I was able to restore my iCloud account, to my happy surprise, Notes was responsive again..  for about 15 minutes.    Then it all went south again.   UGH!  Oh, and did I mention that when you delete your iCloud account, you have to re-add all of your Apple Pay options?  (phone and watch).  What a pain!

After some poking and digging on the interwebz, I came across Adiel_G.  He had found a way to fix his issue.  He gave me clear instructions that I wanted to share here. Why am I sharing?  Well, it seems to fully work!  I no longer have this lag or slow-ness at launch.

Summary:  We want to remove the Notes database from iCloud completely, but leave iCloud intact.  


Before you start, you will want to backup your notes.  You can export 1 by 1 to something like Evernote through a Share Sheet, or use something like Note2Text to export the text out of the notes.  (it loses attachments, but might be worth it for you.  I was for me)

Step 1:  Go to your iCloud Account on your iPhone/iPad and choose Storage


Step 2:  Click the Manage Storage option, this will bring you here:


Step 3:  Click the Notes under Documents and Data.  (If it isn’t showing, click more)


Step 4:  Click the Edit in the upper right, then click Delete All.  This will remove your Notes DB completely.


Sure, I lost some formatting and attachments in the process, but I had also backed up key items to Evernote first.   The key point here is, it fixed me.  I am happy for this.  I wanted to post this in hopes that others find it when searching for the same issue.  What a pain.


IDEA: Auto-create tasks from Apple Notes

IDEA: Auto-create tasks from Apple Notes

I am playing around with the Apple Notes app still to see if I could replace Evernote.  One of the items I love about Evernote is my ability to see recent notes with checkboxes created in them.  There is no way to do this with Apple Notes.  It got me thinking, why are Tasks in Reminders different from Tasks in Notes?

Imagine you are taking meeting notes, and during the meeting you create some tasks that have to be completed.



After the meeting, you currently go back and extract those tasks out manually.  What if the the reminders application had a special note(s) that pulled out tasks for you?   Then, you could use Reminders for your tasks, or automate IFTTT rules into a task editor of choice.


A task is a task in my view. Why wouldn’t I want them in the same place?  It seems like any software creating a “task” could use a common platform and integrate these across the board.   Could someone get to that please?