Going Paperless.

Paperless.

I have a superpower. (Aside from being a sexy geek that is) and that superpower is that whenever I write down a piece of essentially important information on a piece of paper, that slip of bleached wood pulp gets transported to a parallel universe and is never seen again. I have lost countless phone numbers, ideas, concepts, plans and memo’s by writing them down. However, ask me to pull up a piece of digital information (no matter how trivial) from 12 years and 2 days ago? Chances are that I’ll have it for you in under 10 minutes.

So the logical decision for me is of course to go paperless. I have been reading Ebooks for years now and I very very rarely handle a paper book (Because It might not be available digitally). And with writing it’s the same thing. Give me a stylus and let’s go completely paperless. So what do I write on?

Writing on the iPad

I got myself a 5th generation iPad just to be able to have a very compact and light divide to write on. Instead of going for the rather large (and clunky) Apple 1st generation Stylus, I went for the Logitec Crayon. A rechargeable stylus that was designed for the educational department. It handles better then the Apple Pencil but i’ve had some issues with battery life that I need to figure out. The apps I use on the iPad mini are OneNote for taking handwritten notes and Notability for doodling. Annotating Pdf’s is done in the PDF Expert app. The upside of the Ipad Mini is of course the size (its extremely handy to carry around) but that is also its downside. The downside on the Mini is that you don’t have a lot of space to run apps side by side. Having a youtube video open while simultaneously taking notes does cramp your space.

Writing on the Surface Go


The “other” device I write on is my Surface Go. This smaller and lighter 10 inch “cousin” of the Surface Pro line is an excellent little laptop in its own right. The smaller form factor makes it a lot more “natural” to write on then its bigger Pro cousins. Having done annotations and writing on a Surface pro 4 with their 12 inch screen I can say that 2 inches makes a lot of difference. (2 inches SMALLER in this case ladies).

The upside with the Surface Go is that you of course have a “complete pc” with you. The keyboard cover is expensive but extremely handy and does not get in the way of things when you flip it back to start writing. Just like with the iPad you can split your screen and run apps side by side. Book on one end, notepaper on the other. But it is not always practical. The palm rejection acts up when you accidentally touch the ‘other application” with the palm of your hand while writing. The fact that when you are writing in landscape mode also does not help for ergonomics. The Surface go is slightly thicker than the iPad Mini (and a lot thicker) and that also gets in the way.

Flip the Surface Go into landscape mode and it’s a whole new ballgame. The screen is now almost the exact size of an A4 sheet of paper and when you put your note taking app into fullscreen mode it makes for a nice writing experience. The applications I use for Doodling here are “Bamboo Paper” (Because instead of the standard and expensive Microsoft Pen I went for the Bamboo Ink pen) OneNote for writing and Edge for annotating PDF’s.

So what do I write on ?

Which device I pick up generally depends on my mood and on what I want to do. When doing a meeting with a client I find that the iPad mini works great. It’s small enough to carry around and aside from taking notes during the meeting I also use it to walk around, take pictures of their infrastructure and write up some annotations on those. When I want to study from a book I sit down with the Surface GO. Using the Text-to-speech function in Edge I can have the book read out loud to me while taking notes. I’ll put the Surface Go in landscape mode, Open the ePub in Edge, press “play” and the put OneNote fullscreen to write and scribble my way through.

The Picard manoeuvre

But sometimes one tablet is not enough and I go for “The Picard Manoeuvre”. Inspired by the desk of this Starship Captain that was occasionally riddled with tablets, I too go for a multi-tablet approach. The output device (displaying the content I want to examine, a book, video or what have you) might be my Kindle or even a laptop. My annotation device can be the iPad or even the Surface go. The best combo I’ve tried so far when studying from a book is using my Kindle to read and my iPad mini to write on. The end result is a small and light combo I can shove just about anywhere.

Writing 2.0

In the end going Paperless has given me a lot of advantages. I have my notes with me anywhere, can change the order of pages, I can add pictures and even sound files and even put in some typed up text, screenshots, quotes and so forth. It has become so bad that I have a hard time working with “regular” paper because it lacks that functionality. The only downside with my approach is that writing on a screen is not the same as writing on paper. This takes some getting used to and does mess up your handwriting (although i’m not sure this is because of the device or the fact that my handwriting was never that great). I’m not sure.

But gone are the days where I ‘lost’ notes, annotations and the formula for warp drive. (I had it, I swear). Now .. I just “Write 2.0”.

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When wanting is more pleasing then having : What drives YOU to buy new gear ?

“Wanting is more pleasing then having” : It’s not logical, but it is the truth. It’s a line Spock must have quoted in some long gone Star Trek episode somewhere (please don’t ask me, I can’t remember which one). For some reason it has stuck in my mind for the longest time. “It’s not logical but it’s the truth” is the follow up line .. completing the entire statement and lifting it to the realm of existence-pondering quotes out there.

spock crying

I’m reminded of the quote as I’m browsing through a similar quote (of the financial kind) of my current gadget-infatuation (or toy-crush) : The Dell XPS13 laptop. This sleek small 13 inch laptop has been on the market for quite a while and sports very cool specs in a very small form factor. I could go on telling you about how its innards, the software, the reviews and the hours of research I have been doing about it .. but that is a little beside the point. To sum it up : I’m infatuated with it at the moment. Because its a cool new toy and I want it !
There .. I said it : I want it ! I have read reviews, talked to people who own one, looked up insanely detailed technical documentation on how to take it apart should I ever need to. Adds for the laptop have been popping up in Facebook and Youtube is now convinced my only goal in life is to watch MORE review video’s about the XPS13. If the XPS13 was a girl, I would be considered a stalker. But since its only a laptop (and a gorgeous one at that) it’s called research and I’m called a Geek.
I don’t wear sandals and have a neck beard.
Mulling over this quote in my hands I took the time and step back a little, to the days before my gadgetary obsession with the device to ask myself the question : When did the XPS13 become the perfect laptop for me ? Was it after some long quest through the digital wastelands in search for the perfect portable laptop ? Was it after a life changing event that made me realize that in fact did not OWN any portable computer ? Am I to become a Linux Developer working for canonical in the morning (and hence need such a device ?)…. No. I in fact have a laptop (and multiple portable devices) and I don’t wear sandals and have a neck beard. I can’t even write a decent bash script so .. the developer option is out.  Somewhere along the line I must have just decided that I wanted to have it.
The journey is more important then the destination.
What is important to know is that the journey that took me towards the point where I decided I really WANTED it, has never really started at any point where I NEEDED it. I’m not ashamed to point this out. My “urge” to posses the Dell XPS13 started when I read some article about its existence and from that point out I have started to dream up reasons why I need it. Sure, there were issues with the current size of my Macbook pro (in combination with my mobile lifestyle) that gave me some problems : The Macbook Pro is a little bit too big (and too expensive) to carry around everywhere and it would be handy to own something smaller. Also I have been playing around with Linux for a while now and have always wondered what it would be like to buy a machine pre-installed with Linux .. but none of these reasons truly validate the purchase of a new machine.
When it comes to the small form factor I have an older Surface Pro 1 which is perfectly portable (I take it to all my business meetings) and although Linux runs on it (I’ve tried it) the experience isn’t quite flawless. In its defense it does run Ubuntu linux perfectly in a full screen VM having plenty of power left. So if my “reasons”‘ for buying a new machine are that I need a small portable linux running device .. why don’t I settle for the machine I already have ?
I’ve probably been marketed.
The answer is probably marketing. Subconsciously I’ve been influenced by the mega marketing machine that is the internet into believing I NEED the Dell XPS13. And because of that I”ve started to rationalize the purchase by telling myself all the things I can do with it. Falling for the marketing trick is not something we should be ashamed of our shy away from. For one our economy would collapse and we would all end up living in our own cabin in the woods like hermits .. but it IS a good thing to be AWARE of this.
I for one have been taking a close look at those reasons I came up with why I NEEDED this new device.
– I needed something that was smaller then my Macbook Pro.
– I needed something that was powerful and portable so I could take it with me everywhere without being afraid to break our bump it.
– I would LIKE to have a machine that runs Linux flawlessly.
– It would be great to have a little laptop that I could take with me te blog on and record podcast.
– I would be so much more productive if I had this ONE laptop that could kind of do anything..
….
So dp I need it ? 
There are plenty of more reasons where these came from if you query me long enough .. So I decided to take this shortlist and throw it at the hardware I already have. (In this case my I5 Surface pro) . Turns out that (aside from running Linux natively) it CAN do all the things I want to do (and then some) Add in the stylus and the transformable laptop-tablet form factor and it is actually a more versatile device then the XPS.
Then why do I want it ? 
The second thing I did was to take long look at the list and figured out what it really meant. When I read beyond the technical desires there are some creative desires there. What my subconcious is actually trying to tell me is that I want to have more time to be creative. My creative urges see the XPS13 as kind of a promised land to write more, podcast more .. have more time to myself. They also are urging to have a less complicated life. Those are the things I really WANT.
The bottom line is that what I really WANT is more time to unleash my creativity and a less complex and hectic life to do this. Thanks to clever marketing the XPS (and its specs) has been heralded as the enabler of these solutions. The fact is : it’s not true. If I want to be more creative , i CAN … I just need to do it on the hardware I already have. Instead of upgrading my machine I might need to upgrade the way I spend my time. Perhaps I need to upgrade the importance of listening to my creative urges. Perhaps what I really want is an XPS version of my own life at the moment.
Its funny how a cool gadget triggers thoughts about what you really want out of life .. but in the end THAT is what matters. So when you feel the urge coming up to get a cool new toy you don’t really “need”‘ .. figure out WHY you want it. It might uncover some hidden desires or frustration that you want to resolve.. Getting those sorted out might be harder then just buying a cool new toy in a shiny box .. But it will be much more rewarding. So you see 🙂 Wanting is not as pleasing as having .. It’s not logical : It’s the truth.

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kw902 : What’s wrong with Windows ?

Its time for episode 2 in Season 9 of the Knightwise.com podcast. Today we take a long overdue look at Windows (Both Windows 8 and Windows Phone /RT) Triggered by a recent purchase of a Dell Venue 8 pro tablet we take a look at what Windows still has to offer. What are the cool apps in the store, what are the killer apps you need on your desktop and which tools give you the best “Cross platform slider – friendly” experience.

You can download the show or watch the live recording (Which is full of glorious bloopers and distractions from the Live chatroom).

Shownotes.

 

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