Category Archives: productivity

Evernote has Limited-Time Offer for Eligible Students

Evernote logoThe new school year is just a few weeks away, so it is no surprise that the back-to-school sales and deals are starting to appear. Evernote has a limited-time offer for eligible students. Those that qualify will receive 75% off a full year of Evernote Premium.

As always, there is some “fine print” to be aware of. The offer is available only for new and Basic Evernote users in the United States or United Kingdom who verify eligibility with a valid .edu or email address by September 30, 2016. The offer is not available for those who have already used their school email address for this offer before.

It is worth noting that after the promotional period ends, those who took advantage of this offer will find that their subscription will automatically renew on an annual basis at the normal price. A year should give a student enough time to figure out if they like Evernote Premium enough to start paying for it.

Evernote says: “Forgetting sucks. Capture everything you need to know and keep it with you wherever you go.” It points out that students can use Evernote to collect class notes, web pages, handouts, articles, projects, and portfolios all together in their “productivity happy place”.

Todoist Business Makes Teamwork More Efficient

Todoist logoI’m a big fan of to-do list/productivity app Todoist. I use the app on all of my devices and I find it to be a valuable tool for keeping myself on task. I’ve only ever used the personal version of Todoist, as I have (yet) to work with a team that does a lot of collaborative projects. But with the latest update Todoist has made to its team-centric Business version, I’d definitely consider using the app with coworkers.

The new version of Todoist Business uses team activity logs to help with project management. This feature allows team members to see everything that’s happening with an ongoing project, so there’s need to constantly ask individual members for updates. Users can filter activity logs by collaborator, project, or action, in order to get specific information on the status of work being done.

Todoist Business now includes project comments to help keep high-level information organized and accessible. Project comments will allow users to post project objectives and timelines, share files for later reference, and provide project-wide updates to all collaborators at once.

Anyone who’s ever worked with a team-based messaging app knows that constant notifications can become a productivity-stealing nightmare. Todoist understands this problem and that’s why its new version uses “smart notifications:”

Smartly bundled notifications give you the information you need at a glance so you can quickly get caught up on exactly what’s happening in your shared projects – whether you’re on your office computer or on your phone during the commute home.

These additions to the Todoist Business platform are only the beginning. To learn more about everything Todoist Business has to offer (and sign up for the service), click the link at the top of this blog post.

Evernote Adds Google Drive Integration

Evernote logoThere are so many cloud-based tools these days the options are nearly limitless. That’s great for consumers. But it can be a challenge for users of these services to keep things organized, especially when their data is spread across multiple platforms. Fortunately, many of these services offer public APIs that make it possible for them to work together. Resourceful developers have taken advantage of this ability, and the latest example comes from productivity app Evernote, which is adding Google Drive integration:

More and more in our cloud-centric, mobile world, the secret to productivity lies in linking great services together. Every day, Evernote customers create millions of notes that contain links pasted from Google Drive, and they asked for a better way to connect the ideas they keep in Evernote with actions they take in Google Drive. Today, we’re proud to announce that Evernote and Google Drive now work better together, making it easier than ever to capture, organize, and collaborate on whatever is on your mind.

Here’s how it works:

All the files you keep in Drive are now easier to access in Evernote. Now, instead of seeing only URL links, anyone can browse anything created or stored in Google Drive right in Evernote notebooks. With this integration, Evernote customers can add any file in Drive to their notes without leaving Evernote. And any changes to files in Google Drive will dynamically update in Evernote.

Google Drive integration for Evernote is currently in beta mode and is available to Google Chrome and Android device users. Other platforms will follow over time.

Evernote Launches Community Leader and Consultant Programs

Evernote logoThere comes a time in the life of any moderately successful platform when that platform becomes big enough and popular enough that cottage industries begin to crop up around it. The most common representative of this phenomenon is the consultant; someone who claims to have enough expertise on that platform that they should be paid for their advice. Most of the time, the rise of the consultant is an organic and independent movement where the platform has no direct hand in the consulting process. But productivity app Evernote is taking a different approach. This week, the service announced its new program for Community Leaders and Consultants:

If you’d like to learn more about Evernote from expert users or professional consultants, we have two new programs designed to connect you to them.

If you want to reach out to others who love using Evernote as much as you do, the Evernote Community Leader program is for you. Evernote Community Leaders work both online and offline to share knowledge and to provide great tips about how you can get more out of Evernote in your professional and daily life. Community Leaders host events, teach classes, lead online chats, and serve as spokespersons for the global Evernote community.


Would you like a personal guide to help you get the most out of using Evernote in your life or work? Get in touch with an Evernote Certified Consultant, a specialist trained to give you personal guidance on using Evernote for maximum productivity. If you’re using Evernote on your own, a Certified Consultant can teach you the ins and outs of Evernote Premium. If you’re getting a team started with Evernote Business, an Evernote Certified Consultant can help you develop custom workflows tailored to your group, train all your team members, and create reference documents for you to use later.

To celebrate the launch of these new programs, Evernote is going on a world tour to help spread the word. To learn more about becoming either an Evernote Community Leader or Consultant, click here.

Kensington Integrates Smartphones and Desktops at CES 2016

Kensington LOGOKensington is a worldwide leader in delivering smart, safe, simple desktop and mobile computing accessories. At CES Unveiled 2016, it is giving a “sneak peak” of several new computing products that demonstrate the company’s ongoing vision and commitment to enhance productivity by integrating smartphones and computers at the desktop.

Often, users are working with two or more computing devices at their desktop. This can lead to a chaotic experience involving multiple devices, files, and operating systems. As a result, users are faced with the burden of creating a separate computing environment with more accessories and too many choices – creating a cluttered landscape that is both inefficient and inconvenient.

While mobile computing products have enriched users and how they work, there is often a struggle to integrate devices and their associated accessories. An increasingly agile desktop system that focuses more on work and less on syncing, emailing back and forth, extra cables, and other computing necessities, enables devices to communicate better with each other.

Kensington is committed to overcoming these obstacles by developing solutions that enable a more elegant and efficient computing experience. For more than 34 years, the company has delivered a robust range of desktop and mobile accessories, and is the industry standard of security-slot design integrated across products of leading brands such as Canon, Cisco, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Philips Notebook Docking Station is “Home Base” for Travelers

Philips Brilliance LED backlit LCD monitorEPI (which is the North America brand license partner for Philips Monitors) announced their new Philips Brilliance LED-backlit LCD Monitor (231P4QUPEB). It has been designed to give you the freedom of a laptop with the convenience of a desktop. The monitor can serve as a “home base” solution for business travelers who frequently work on their laptop.

The innovative Philips Brilliance LED-backlit LCD monitor notebook docking display lets you expand your viewing workplace, keep peripherals connected and access the internet all with a single SuperSpeed USB cable. You can access a full-sized keyboard and mouse via a single USB cable to improve connectivity. The SmartErgoBase offers height, swivel, tilt, and rotation angle adjustments to position the monitor for maximum comfort.

This Phillips notebook docking station is especially suitable for the latest Ultra book-type devices with limited connectors. It offers easy port replication for any notebook. The display has built-in USB 3.0 hub, Ethernet, and stereo speakers that enable you to transmit video, audio, and to connect to internet or intranet directly with a single use USB connection. The docking display is 23”/ 58.4cm Full HD (1920 x 1080).

The monitor is also eco-friendly. The PowerSensor feature cuts energy costs by up to 80 percent by reducing monitor brightness when the user steps away from the desk. The display also received TCO Edge certification with 65 percent post-consumer recycled plastics, minimal hazardous materials, and 100 percent recyclable packaging.

The new Philips Brilliance LED-backlit LCD monitor is available now for a suggested retail price of $349.99.

On The Hunt for Productivity

ProductivityRemember the netbook “fad” from a few years ago? According to Wikipedia, “netbook” as a generic term came into widespread use in 2007. By 2011, manufacturers such as Dell exited the netbook market due to declining sales.

Were netbooks really a fad, or was there something more to it?

Before proceeding, let’s get one thing out of the way. Netbooks were cute little notebooks with small price tags that helped to turn them into impulse buys. That cuteness also helped them grab shelf attention in the stores.

Cuteness alone could not explain their popularity. Let us not forget that netbooks actually disrupted the existing larger notebook sales.

It might be helpful at this point to take a look at overall computer sales and how markets have evolved over time. At one time, desktop machines dominated the sales figures. Then, full-sized laptops disrupted the dominance of the desktop PC sales. Netbooks disrupted laptop sales. Next, tablets and smartphones disrupted the netbook sales.

I believe that netbooks inadvertently dangled the carrot of a small, lightweight machine that happened to be a full PC, where real productivity could happen. Of course, the reality did not quite match up to the promise. Most netbooks were sorely underpowered. The worst aspect of the netbook was the smaller keyboard. Typing on the average netbook-sized keyboard is not an enjoyable experience.

Whether we realize it or not, many of us are always looking for productivity devices. With every computing device I’ve ever purchased, in the end I’m always looking for ways of putting the device to work. How useful it is ends up determining if it is one of my most-used devices, or if it ends up given away, or forgotten on a shelf or in a closet somewhere. Once the novelty and the emotional hype of having the new device is stripped away, the question is always what can this device do in terms of productivity?

So rather than being seen as just a fad, the relatively brief popularity of the netbook should serve as a lesson. We are on the hunt for productivity devices. The more portable the better, but without sacrificing usability or performance.

Barriers To Productivity

logosIt’s been just a few days since purchasing a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 256 gigabyte tablet with the type cover. I am finding that I really enjoy the experience. Microsoft really has struck a chord I find myself responding to.

I believe this is the computing experience I have been seeking for a while now. Over the years I’ve had multiple desktop and laptop machines, both Mac and Windows. Certainly over the years I’ve had my fair share of problems with Windows, and to be honest fewer problems with Macs. I’ve also gone through the modern capacitive touchscreen experience with both iPads and Android tablets. The iPad media consumption experience is superior, but newer Android devices have mostly caught up and offer tremendous value for money when compared to over-priced iPads.

As I’ve noted in prior articles, over time I hoped to somehow transform the tablet experience from being perhaps the best media consumption devices developed to date into genuine productivity devices. The sheer portability of a tablet is dramatic when compared to laptops, the necessary bulky laptop bags, and the sheer weight of their accumulated accessories.

After trying three separate Bluetooth keyboards on two different iPad models, I found typing on an undersized netbook-sized keyboard was a notably unpleasant experience. Posting articles to the web from a tablet can be done but it’s not the most pleasant experience without the aid of a mouse.

Laptop computers have shrunk in size in recent years, but a laptop is still a laptop and does not offer the same portability and overall ease of use of a modern tablet. The non-touch, laptops I still bring with me have ended up not being used nearly as much as they once did.

Now that I’ve experienced the sheer portability and convenience of a tablet with a real keyboard and touchpad, I find myself being a lot more productive.

I believe there has been a subtle psychological barrier that has developed over the past few years that has limited my overall computing productivity. The sheer ease of use of touchscreen phones and tablets contrasted with the much more clunky experience of non-touch conventional laptop computing ended up making it easy for me to justify in my own mind being less productive. I would have ideas for articles to write or videos or other media to compile that would necessitate me digging a laptop out of its bag, plugging it in so I wouldn’t run down the battery, booting it up, etc. and this psychological inertia made it easier to just procrastinate instead.

My Windows 10 experience so far has been exemplary. It takes the Surface Pro 3 less than 5 seconds to boot up completely from a cold state. That encourages me to simply turn it off when I’m not using it. I can turn it on and immediately start using it. That’s a far cry from machines of old running off of hard drives. I find it amazing that I have a full, powerful PC that can run real productivity software in a tablet form factor.

The Surface line of computers running the Intel version of Windows is a genuine game changer. I can already hear the howls and catcalls from some quarters, but the combination of Windows 10 and the surface has brought me back actively to the Windows platform.


Device Wars

surface-bookAs technology relentlessly moves forward, functions continually consolidate and devices get smaller as capabilities increase. This march forward has caused form factors to shift. The first desktop computers were relatively large and boxy and certainly not portable. Over time as laptop computers improved, desktop sales began to fall.

Imagine the succession of devices you have gone through over a long period of time. They start out as clunky and single purpose, and over time as the tech improves they get smaller and some of them are simply absorbed such as camcorder and point-and-shoot cameras. Imagine them endlessly changing and continually morphing as your expectations changed over long periods of time. There is an ongoing war not only between devices, their capabilities and their form factors, but there is also a war going on inside of each end user of these devices as to which one is better and performing specific tasks.

The first mobile phones were large and clunky. Mobile phones went through a long progression over time of getting smaller as capability increased and eventually turned into the ubiquitous smartphones we know and love today.
The ongoing warfront is now between smartphones, tablets running apps such as the iPad, and conventional laptop computers. Which one is better at performing what task?

Up until about 2011, I did all of my mobile computing on laptop machines. I got an iPad 2 in 2011. I found the iPad 2 to be a great media consumption device, so between the iPad 2 and my Android phone, I gradually stopped using my laptops for all but real productivity tasks, where the iPad and other tablets really seem to fall flat.

In 2013, I bought an iPad Air. In retrospect, I justified the purchase to myself thinking that the faster processor in the iPad air might enable me to move completely away from laptop computers altogether. Sadly, this was not the case. The iPad remains a great media consumption device, but as a productivity device it is still quite lacking.

My primary use for computers includes writing articles, editing video, editing my websites, and recording and publishing audio podcasts. While it is possible to do all of these tasks on an iPad or an Android tablet, it’s an unnecessarily painful, slow experience necessitating jumping through multiple hoops.

I believe many people did exactly the same thing I did, trying to turn the iPad into a small ultraportable laptop. The iPad makes a lousy laptop. There is no mouse, and though the iOS apps are great for media consumption, the apps make lousy productivity impostors. The iPad makes a poor netbook. I believe that is why Apple forbids the iPad from using a mouse.
The conventional laptop makes an inferior media consumption device.

Beginning in May of 2014, a new entrant entered the ongoing device war. I believe a significant portion of the future of computing resides in the so-called 2 in 1’s. I don’t believe that conventional laptops or tablets running apps will go away, but I believe the 2 in 1’s such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and above will eat into laptop and tablet sales. Apple has yet to enter this 2 in 1 market, despite the recently-announced iPad Pro. The iPad Pro running iOS apps will be a bigger iPad and thus a bigger media consumption device that can’t run genuine productivity software.

I personally see a future for myself with a large screen smartphone, and a 2 in 1 tablet/computer, with some room left over for inexpensive mid-sized tablets that function as media consumption devices and offer mapping and GPS functions. I will allow my conventional desktop and laptop computers, the majority of them now-older out-of-date Macs, die of attrition as they inevitably quit working over time.

Todoist Reveals New Logo

Todoist logoTodoist has released its new logo. The change was made in order to make Todoist connect better with their diverse group of users. In addition, Todoist has made changes to their typeface, color scheme, websites, and blog.

Todoist has users that live on 6 continents, in 190 countries, and who speak 20 different languages. Their professions range from teachers to CEOs, and also include both students and grandmothers. It is easy to see why Todoist wanted to make changes that would help them to connect with everyone who is using their product. They describe things this way:

Last year, we took a look at our growing user base and realized that our previous “TD” logo just didn’t fit in with such an incredibly diverse and inspiring Todoist community. It was time to create a new visual identity to reflect your creativity, passion, and get-it-done attitude.

The new logo includes a series of checkmarks. Todoist selected the checkmark because they feel that it is a strong symbol “that would unify the Todoist identity across all our platforms and be easily recognizable from any home screen”. They also see the checkmark as a symbol of the hard work that people put in so that they can achieve their goals.

In addition, Todoist has changed their typeface from Open Sans to the Graphik font (which they feel is clean and recognizable). Their website and blog have also been updated – including the color scheme and imagery. They also added new web, plug-in, and desktop apps that users can customize to their tastes.