Archive for the ‘Writing tools’ Category

Or, I’m always on the lookout for The Ultimate Note-Taking App

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to exist. IA Writer comes close, but it still doesn’t have all the features I’d like. Note’d is pretty nifty, but it too lacks the features I need. Standard Notes has all the features…but you have to pay $10 a month to get them. It is available, however, for all your devices: iPhones, iPads, Windows machines, MacOS devices, and Android smartphones and devices. So if I create/edit/delete a note on my iPhone, it syncs to my iPad and my laptop.

(As an aside, before I went completely digital, my ultimate notepad was a Rite-in-the-Rain notepad and a pencil.)

Which brings us to Apple Notes. From what I’ve seen of it—and used it—it seems to be the best all-around note-taking app available for iOS and MacOS: iPad, iPhone, and Macs. The problem is that in addition to an iPhone and an iPad,I have a laptop running Windows.

Apple Notes started out as a bare-bones note-taking app. But Apple, like just about every other software publisher, lost sight of the First Rule of Engineering: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.

Over time, Apple Notes has been tweaked and massaged and upgraded until it’s now just a short step away from being a full-blown word processor. And if I’m going to use a word processor for taking notes, I might just as well use Notes’ big sister, Pages, which runs on all of my devices.

The Ultimate Test

So I’ve decided what I’m going to do: I’ve downloaded  all the apps I listed above and installed them on the appropriate devices. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to use each of them to jot down the same notes. At the end of the test period, I’ll decide which one I like the best, based on ease of use. Then I’ll get back to you with the results.

 

 

Apple iPhone 10X

A Brief History of Technology

It’s funny how succeeding generations take technology for granted. My Nana’s first electric refrigerator must have seemed to her to be a miracle. Nowadays the only time I consciously think about it is when I’m looking in it to make my grocery list.

And even that is more about food and shopping than it is about the refrigerator itself.

June 29, 2007

Not exactly a Day of Infamy.

I sat at the Apple iPhone help desk on the evening of its release. Even though we had just completed 2 weeks of intensive training on the operation and capabilities of the device, that evening was the first time any of us had actually seen one, much less had an opportunity to work with it.

One iPhone between 8 techs. No wonder callers were frustrated.

Now my grandchildren all carry iPhones. And while I still look at mine with an occasional sense of wonder, to them it ain’t no big thang.

During those weeks of training, I had an epiphany: this was no mere mobile phone! No. What Apple had done was figure out how to fit an entire computer in the palm of your hand!

It’s 11 and a half years later as I write this. Cell phone (or if you’re British, mobile) usage has exploded. The phones themselves have evolved into various flavors of smartphone, and whereas they were once considered a luxury, they have become for many of us an essential part of life.

Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few people I know don’t even go into their own bathrooms without it!

But Here’s the Thing…

I love my iPhone X, which I once swore I would never own. My next upgrade was to be to the 8S or Plus or Z or whatever was the top of the line 8 at the time.

But my carrier had a special offer: buy one iPhone X and get a second one free! And so I decided on the X, not realizing that it was about to be replaced by a few newer, more improved models.

But that’s on me. My iPhone X still runs circles around my old 6S Plus.

Writing and Publishing

I’ve written before on how I love writing on my iPhone. How it’s become my main writing tool for whatever site I’m writing: Medium, letters to the editor, blog posts—you name it, I’ve written to it on my iPhone!

And on Medium and WordPress, at least, published as well.

That’s About to Change

Ever have an improvement that really wasn’t? When I bought my new laptop 3 years ago, a Windows 10 machine, it booted blindingly fast. Now, after a long series of updates, upgrades, and “improvements,” I can turn it on and almost have time to get dressed, go downstairs, eat breakfast, and wash the dishes before heading back upstairs in time to see the damn machine is ready—finally—for use.

With the release of iOS 12.1.1, my iPhone is still blindingly fast—compared to my original Motorola flip-phone.

And there are far more things that are easier and faster to do on my laptop than on my iPhone. Things specifically related to publishing what I write.

Even Medium’s own mobile app isn’t designed to publish straight to Medium; more and more often I find I need my laptop to prepare my stories for final publication.

The Solution

So here’s what I’ve decided.

(What? Did you seriously think I was going to invest all this time bitching about things without offering a solution? You obviously don’t know me very well.)

I’m still doing the bulk of my writing on my iPhone, with an occasional detour to the iPad.

But rather than publishing (in Medium’s case, posting) what I write directly to the web or wherever, I’ll save my drafts. Then I’ll move to the laptop to massage them, add images and links, make them pretty, and then publish them.

And Apple? I’m sorry, my old friend, but I was wrong: you still haven’t managed to put a computer in the palm of my hand.

And as we techies like to say in our own inimical, technobabbly way, “Close, but no cigar.”

Plasencia Cigars

 

WordPress is great for blogging, but it has limited visibility

Let’s be honest: blogging—even on WordPress—is a labor of love. Many of us pour out our hearts and souls only to receive comments that far too often are actually adds for products. It’s a rare day when I receive helpful comments.

Not so on Medium

I’m doing more and more of my serious writing on Medium. Don’t know what it is? Here’s how Medium bills itself:

Ideas and perspectives you won’t find anywhere else.
Medium taps into the brains of the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers to bring you the smartest takes on topics that matter. So whatever your interest, you can always find fresh thinking and unique perspectives.

The stories—that’s what Medium calls whatever you publish there—that I’ve written have received positive responses and replies. This is truly a supportive community by, of, and for writers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned pro: you’re welcome here.

It’s free to join

Basic membership is free, but there’s also a premium membership level for $5 a month. The basic membership allows you complete access to stories, but restricts the number of stories marked “members-only” each month.

In addition, paid membership allows you to join the Medium Partners program, which gives you a chance to earn money on your stories. Oh, I’m not getting rich, but at least my stories earn enough to pay my membership fees.

There are also major commercial publications on Medium, and I’ve known authors whose stories have been picked up by the New York Times, and who have been paid the proverbial Big Buck$ for them.

So give it a try

Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t. But what self-respecting writer would ever turn down an opportunity to put her stories in front of a larger audience?

We’ve had a good run, but it’s time to say goodbye. I never used you as an actual writing program; I merely copied what I’d written in other programs and apps and pasted them in to you. So I was only using you as a place to store all my writings.

My first mistake was configuring you to use Dropbox. I wanted to be able to access you across all my devices. But that created a problem: when I launched you, Dropbox had to sync before you would open. And when I’ve got an idea for an article or story, 2 minutes is too long to wait.

So I deleted you from my laptop, after deciding that I’m never going to own a Macintosh, desktop or otherwise.

Instead, I’ve moved all of my files into Evernote.

Why Evernote?

  • Because I can install it on all 3 of my devices—laptop, iPhone, and iPad—and it will synchronize across all 3 of them.
  • Because I can fine-tune my settings to a degree that Scrivener never approached.
  • Because it has a smaller footprint, loads faster, and in general just does a better job of what I want it to do.
  • Because even if I leave my devices at home, I can access it on the web via the nearest computer.

Still, it Hurts

It hurts because Scrivener has been a good friend for the past couple of years. And like any other friend, it hurts to say goodbye.

But nothing lasts forever, right? Just as we outgrow certain friends, so it is with computer applications. And I’ve simply outgrown Scrivener.

An Aside

QUESTION: What’s the difference between an app and a program?
ANSWER: There isn’t any. Software publishers decided that “app” sounded sexier than “computer program,” and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

    Lamott

    I’m spending today migrating most of my writing projects to the Cloud. (As an aside, I’m slightly amused by the fact that after being an IT professional for over 30 years, I still don’t know if that should be the cloud or the Cloud.)

    I use several different programs and apps when I write; some of them do have desktop versions, but only for MacOS—and I use a PC. But they all have one thing in common: they can all connect to Dropbox. If you aren’t familiar with Dropbox, I would strongly urge you to check it out. While there are many other cloud storage services available, more and more programs for writers are making it easier to connect with Dropbox than with any other similar service.

    With everything on Dropbox, I can readily access it from my PC, my iPhone, and my iPad. Besides, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that my years of hard work are backed up in a secure place. And in case you’ve forgotten it, let me remind you of Robyn’s First Rule of Computing:

    BE PARANOID AND COMPULSIVE!

    And as the First Axiom of Robyn’s First Rule of computing says, “It’s not if  you’re going to lose data, it’s when.”

    “A Change is as Good as a Rest”

    That was one of the bits of homespun wisdom my father shared with me as I was growing up. Never mind that I was too young to understand what it meant; the important thing is that it stayed with me, and that now I understand it.

    I live in a rented room in a two-story house. It’s where I do most of my writing. Sometimes, when the weather allows, I sit outside with my iPad and write there. Just the change of environment lets me see things from a different point of view. I feel refreshed, almost as if I’m a different person. This, then, is what my father meant.

    But what allows me to do that is Dropbox. No matter where I am—be it in the house, at a cyber café, at my doctor’s office—so long as I have a connection to the Internet, I can work, especially since I also keep a local copy of my work on my iPad.

    Why the Quote from Anne Lamott?

    Because until I came across it, I had no idea what I was going to write today. And you know something? She’s right!