Five Years Already? Happy Birthday Evernote!

In an average day I use a number of applications (laptop, mobile and web) to manage both my personal and work life. Evernote is the only application that helps me manage both.

I’ve been using Evernote for so long that I was very surprised to hear that the company is only five years old. I received an email from the company on June 26th. The note was short and to the point, but the thing that caught my eye was that they were able to tell me what number user I am. Of the more than 65,000,000 users, I am user 28,103.

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I created my Evernote account on March 27, 2008 and have been using the application ever since. The platform continues to get better with each release and I look forward to using Evernote for another five years and beyond.

Happy Birthday Evernote! Thanks for a great product that handles anything I decide to throw at it.

iOS 7 – Three Weeks In

iOS 7

As of today, I’ve been using iOS 7 for three weeks. I’ve run Developer Preview One and I’m now running Developer Preview Two. What do I think so far? I’m pleasantly surprised and very impressed.

The all new flat design is great. I’m still not sure about some of the icon choices, but for me it is a much needed improvement since the initial design from 2007.

My biggest concern when upgrading to iOS 7 was really around losing my ability to jailbreak my devices. Now that I have been running iOS 7 for a while I can honestly say that I really don’t miss much about having my devices jailbroken. I had 22 jailbreak apps and tweaks installed and there are only four that I miss:

  1. BiteSMSApple has really improved the usability of the lock screen with an updated Notification Center, but I don’t know why they didn’t address the ability to interact directly with notifications like they did with OSX Mavericks. This is one feature I hope to see in a future update.
  2. Browser Changer – My default browser of choice is Google Chrome on all of my machines and devices. This tweak allowed Google Chrome to take over as the default from Safari on my devices. I wish Apple would allow us to change the default browser (all the default apps for that matter) or even allow us to remove them.
  3. Diet Bulletin – The updated bulletin alerts in iOS 7 are a much needed improvement, but I still think they are way to large. This tweak allowed me to set alerts to only be the height of the top status bar.
  4. ShowCase – This one is a total preference thing, but the tweak made the letters on your keyboard either capital or lower case making it real quick and easy to know what case you were typing.

iOS 7 is a welcome improvement over previous iOS versions. The updated design and new feature set that we know of so far have made a great mobile OS even better. I hope Apple has some other tweaks and big features in store for the official release later this year.

What do you think of the updates Apple has made to iOS 7? Do you think they made the right decisions for the platform or are you wishing they would revert back? Leave a comment below.

Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time

Plants vs. Zombies has been one of my favorite games since it originally came out for iOS in 2010. The game has been a staple on my iPhone and iPad since purchasing them and has kept me sane in many a waiting room.

I still love the game and its characters, but it is certainly starting to show its age. I’m super excited to see what PopCap Games has in store for the upcoming sequel.

If you’re a fan of Plants vs. Zombies, what are you looking forward to in the sequel? Post a comment here or hit me up on Twitter!

Toy Story – A Classic Now In Live Action

Toy Story in Real Life (Live Action) is something that I have thought would be cool. Now 18 years after the release of the first movie someone has taken the time to put it together. The film has taken nearly two years (started in 2010) to complete and the director’s have even got permission from Disney and Pixar to release what they have filmed.

So why did I decide to write this post? First, when I saw this video earlier in the week I just knew I wanted to write about it. Second, as I type in the kitchen the pizza in the oven has 10 minutes to go. From the family room in the basement I can hear our son, Conner, laughing.

What is he laughing at you ask? Toy Story 3.

When Toy Story came out in November of 1995, I was a senior in high school. At the time I had already decided that I was going to pursue Computer Science, but drawing was something that I really enjoyed. Toy Story was the first full length computer animated movie (as far as I know) and I was amazed at how two things I enjoyed came together so well.

Listening to Conner laugh and being able to enjoy and share the story with him that started so many years ago is amazingly good.

To Infinity and Beyond!

The Tools and Apps I Use to Manage My Everyday Personal Life

Everyday Personal Tools

Hardware

  • iPhone 4S – I’ve had my 4S since it shipped to my house on its first day of availability. Two years later it still does everything I need. I still enjoy using it and can say that it has been my favorite phone by far.
  • iPad 4 w/ Retina Display – Ok, in full disclosure I’ll let you know that this device is actually owned by my employer. While I mostly use it for testing mobile collaboration applications for my day job, I still enjoy browsing the Internet and watching videos from my couch at home.
  • 11″ Macbook Air (2011) – I got a great deal on this refurbished purchase a few months before the 2012 refresh models came out. It would have been really nice to have the option to go with 8GB of RAM, a larger 480GB SSD and even the ability to support dual external displays. The machine has been the best computer I have ever owned. It is super light weight and has been powerful enough to handle any task I have thrown at it.

Communication

  • Mailplane 3 (Beta) – Between my personal, home business and shared family accounts, I look after 10 different email boxes. Mailplane has by far been my email client choice for years. The new tabbed UI of version 3 has made the product a joy to use.
  • Apple iCal & Contacts – I’ve been using the default contacts and calendar apps on my Mac since I moved to the platform in 2006. The updated apps included with Mountain Lion along with iCloud make easy work of managing this information. They sync to my iPhone and iPad as well as make calendar sharing with my wife painless.
  • Messages – I do still use this to communicate with a few Google Talk and AIM users. I also love that Messages can message my iOS friends directly keeping conversations in sync across my devices.

Productivity

  • Evernote – I’ve been using Evernote off and on for close to two years. The most recent updates from the last few months have really improved my workflow. Lately, I’ve been using the application as hold important information and as a collection point for everything and anything. My wife and I have also recently started using a shared notebook to track our 2013 financial goals.
  • Things – I’ve played with and used more productivity applications than I care to admit. I’ve also spent more money than I care to admit trying these tools out as well. I’ve finally settled on Things from Cultured Code as my go to application for personal GTD. While there are some features and integration points I would love to see added, the tool does the job that I ask and it looks quite nice while doing it.
  • Box – I am slowly moving from Dropbox to Box for my sync’d storage needs. For the most part it comes down to the fact that I have five times the storage available to me on Box. Since adding free desktop sync, Box has become my go to for storing files across devices.
  • Dropbox – I still use Dropbox, but as I move to Box I find myself using it less and less. I’m sure that I will have an account for a long time to come as I don’t picture everyone I work with moving to Box simply because I prefer it.

Social / Sharing

  • Twitter – I love Twitter. I can connect with all types of people and get a quick pulse on what is trending (regardless of how stupid I think some trends are). Over the next week, I’m going to be pruning my list back so I can start having more useful conversations.
  • Facebook – I use Facebook all the time. It allows me to keep up with family and (real-life) friends. I’m honestly not sure what the future holds for Facebook, but as long as I know people using it I will likely maintain a profile. If we have never met in real life don’t try to connect with me here.
  • Tweetbot – When Tweetbot was first released, I honestly didn’t see why I would want to pay for a Twitter client. The official apps were working just fine for me at the time. As I started to use Twitter more the need for a premium client became clear. I’m now bought in to Tweetbot on my iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Reading

  • YouVersion Bible – For the last three years I have been reading through the Bible. January 1st marked my start of year four. Each and every year God uses this time to continually teach me something new and stretch me as one of his followers. I highly recommend using the YouVersion Bible app for any reading or studying you may want to do.
  • Apple iBooks – Since getting my first iPad, I have been doing more and more digital ebook reading. While I purchase a majority of my ebooks from Amazon, with some coercion I can read them in iBooks, sync my highlights and notes across my devices and even search for things I remember reading in the past.
  • Reeder – I have a lot of interests and in order to keep up with them I use Google Reader to follow all type of blogs and news sites. I use the Reeder app on my iPhone, iPad and Mac to keep up with this information as well as keep track of where I left off.
  • Pocket – As previously mentioned I do a lot of blog and news scanning throughout the day. Sometimes there is an article that I want to dig a bit deeper into at a later point in time. Pocket allows me to grab these articles for reading later. I haven’t done the best job of keeping up with this queue, but plan to start working through it more aggressively.

Entertainment

  • Amazon Prime Instant Videos – I love Amazon Prime Instant Videos. While the library of free content is not as big as what one gets with the Netflix streaming service, I find it quite adequate as it essentially comes free with the service. I recently watched all six seasons of LOST (the final episode sucked by the way) and the viewing experience was easy and enjoyable.
  • Pandora – I know that everyone is jumping on the Spotify bandwagon, but I’ve been using Pandora for years and honestly don’t see a reason to change at this point. Pandora is familiar and does what I am looking for in a streaming service.

If you want to discuss any of these apps or suggest alternatives, post a comment here or hit me up on Twitter!