Technology

Published on December 26th, 2012 | by Omar

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Replacing my notebook

I started a new job at Electronic Arts this last month as their Technical Director for their Pulse division. It’s meant that I spend a lot of time in meetings. I was initially using a notebook to keep track of what went on in the meetings, actionables, project statuses and whiteboard sessions. However, it’s pretty hard to organize a single notebook to keep track of all of that. Add to that the fact that I’m a neat freak and within 2 weeks I was pulling my hair out!

At 2Paths, I would use my laptop to take notes but lugging around a 15inch macbook pro  all day (once it arrives!!!) doesn’t seem very appealing. Many people have been trying to go paperless and make use of a tablet of some sort as a replacement. My brother-in-law was experimenting with this at work with mixed success. For me, the main issue is that I can’t type on a touch screen…I need the tactileness of an actual keyboard. If I don’t have that I struggle with typing correctly and being confident I’m actually getting everything down and thereby reducing my typing speed and ability to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be listening to.

So over the past week I bought an IPad 2 with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard to basically provide me with a netbook with a touch interface.

 

 

Add to that I’m relying on a number of apps to meet my daily needs.

Keeping track of action items and random thoughts:

I am a huge advocate of Things for the Mac and the IPad. I rely on it heavily for keeping rack of where things are within a project and in live in general.

 

Taking notes in meetings:

There is only one real solution for this and that’s EverNote. It allows me to take and tag my notes. Recently it even allows the insertion of images into the notes themselves which is great when taking pictures of white-boarding sessions.

 

Diagramming/White boarding:

 

My first choice for this is Omnigraffle however $49.99 for an app is way too rich for my blood. So I’ve been using Grafio which is pretty good but the issue is that the document is only editable within the app as there isn’t an app that accepts it’s proprietary format on the Mac or PC. What I end up doing is taking a first cut in Grafolio and then creating the final version in Omnigraffle or Keynote or Visio. Not ideal of course so I might have to swallow the cost of the Omnigraffle app.

Freehand Drawings

I haven’t had much need for this in the past week but I’ve been playing with Wacom Bamboo as an app for freehand drawings. The effectiveness of this app is still to be determined until I have an actual need to use it and determine if it actually meets my needs or not. Stay tunes for an update.

Spread Sheets


For this I’ve gone with the tried and tested Numbers app from Apple. The interface is intuitive enough though there are some quirks when it comes to cell selection vs editing a cell. What’s good about this is that you can export the sheets into excel format if you need to or keep it in the same format if you have a mac.

Conclusion still to come…

I’ve only been using these for a week so I intend to give an update after using it for a few more weeks however, at the moment it seems that it’s a viable alternative to keeping a notebook for a neat freak like myself.


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