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.

header-mac-screenshot

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 http://www.bear-writer.com 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

workflow_task_tip

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
Attendees
Agenda
Notes
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 WordPress.com 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

IMG_2618

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

IMG_2619

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

IMG_2620

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

IMG_2621

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.

 

Notes

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.

Reminders

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?

Life Hack: Linking to a specific Apple Note

Life Hack: Linking to a specific Apple Note

BIG UPDATE HERE:   I figured out a better way to link up notes in Apple Notes.  For this new version, I am using a text expander snippet to generate this for me.  Here is the workflow.

If I am writing a note that I want to reference later, I need to have an easy way to get back to this.  Sometimes I use it for writing a task and linking to a note for details, sometimes it is a note that wants to reference another note.  In Evernote, I would just use the note link option.   For Apple Notes now, here is what I do.

I created a TextExpander Snippet using Javascript with the following code:

 var chars = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXTZabcdefghiklmnopqrstuvwxyz";
 var string_length = 10;
 var randomstring = '#SearchKey: ';
 for (var i=0; i<string_length; i++) {
 var rnum = Math.floor(Math.random() * chars.length);
 randomstring += chars.substring(rnum,rnum+1);
 }

I assigned this to a shortcut, that when I type it, I get something like this:  #SearchKey: CwFPFCR7xm

NOTE: The great part, I get a new code each time I run the snippet.

This is now my new link back to this note.  Now, in any other note I want to reference this note (or in a task manager), I just put this search key in the place I need the reference.  Super easy to get back to my note. As an added bonus, I now also see all reference from other notes when I search.

Referenced Notes

 

This works great ! I am still playing around more with notes.  I really do want to like this enough to ditch Evernote.  This is just one more nail in the coffin for replacing Evernote for me.

Below is my original post.. but this new technique is much better.


 

I have recently spent time trying to use Apple Notes instead of Evernote.   One feature I was missing was the ability to link to a specific note like I did in Evernote.   I used this in my task lists all the time.    Since you are not able to get a specific note link from Apple Notes, here is my quick hack.

Step 1:  Create your note

Step 2: Use 1Password (or similar password manager) to create a unique complex password

Step 3:  put the password at the end of the note as a #tag.. so you see something like #jerd-Ax-ceuk (or whatever your password manager generated)

Step 4:  Put the same #tag in your task manager.

Step 5:  When you need to find that note, just search in Apple Notes for the unique tag.. Viola!

Hope that helps someone.  It was a quick fix for me.

Tried and Failed…  Apple Notes vs. Evernote

Tried and Failed… Apple Notes vs. Evernote

I was trying to see if I could switch from Evernote to Notes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Evernote, but with all the hubbub lately around Evernote, I thought it was safe to explore options outside of my walled garden of Evernote.

I figured by trying Apple Notes, I would see if a built in App would work for me.   Here is what I found.

Things I liked in Notes

  • Drawings – this was great.  Evernote does not have this option the way Notes does
  • Safari Integration – I like the share sheet.. to be clear, Evernote has a great web clipper, so no real win here
  • Speed of launching.  Notes was fast.   (I also had far less notes in it)
  • Title, Header and Paragraph formatting.  The ability to hit CTRL T for a title, CTRL H for a header.. so awesome.

Things I missed from Evernote

  • The ability to copy a link to a note and use it somewhere.  I do this all the time within Evernote, Omnifocus, etc FIXED:  See Here
  • Tables.  Yes, Evernote tables suck.. but its better than no tables
  • Sharing of notes.   Getting a public URL is just so nice
  • Search limited to a folder – no way to do this in notes NOTE: Learning more search modifiers is helping me.  
  • Searching for edited files within the past week that had checkboxes.  It’s a great tool to help me track un-done items from meeting notes.  Notes has no way to track check boxes
  • IFTTT integration.  I have a recipe that takes my meetings that are coming up and creates a new note for meeting notes.  Saves a little time, but it’s nice.

Anyway.. for now.. back to Evernote.   I will deal with the speed issues and lack of formatting types for now.

iPhone Live Photos

iPhone Live Photos

I’ve had my new iPhone for only 4 days now.. but I can tell you that I am quite impressed with the Live Photos feature.   Initially when I saw it, I was sure it was going to feel gimmicky.   Like many people, I can tell you that the emotional connection you get with a live photo is much more than a still.

In order to take a live photo with your iPhone, you use the little yellow icon at the top of the screen to toggle them on/off.  I am not going to go into the HOW these work.  There are plenty of sites doing that.  I just wanted to share my experience with them, albeit limited.

Live Photos Icon
Live Photos Icon

When you take a photo, yes, you can go back and hold the screen down with 3D touch and see the animation.  That is just a portion of the “magic” that you get with a Live Photo. Where I really start to see the value is in the integration with the rest of the ecosystem.  When you are scrolling through the images in your camera roll, each image has a slight bit of life to them.  This is subtle, but it helps me remember the moment just a touch more than before.   Then, the kicker for me is the integration with the watch.   When you create a photo face from a live photo, every time you pull up the watch to see the time, you get a live photo animation.

I really think Apple is on to something here.  Yes, they are not the first to do this, but they have the power to make it real.   I hope they open this up for everyone to create and play these photos.   Still photos are an artifact based on a medium.   Most of us don’t print out photos anymore, why not make them have more life.  I say bring it on.  I love them.