Feb 01

Instapaper kills Elephants

I’ve laid out all my reasons for deleting Evernote from my life except one. A better alternative.

I found something much better or better for me in Instapaper.

Now I fully admit my hypocrisy for slamming Evernote and replacing it with another cloud-syncing service, but Instapaper is different and its subtle differences are big deal to me.

The major difference is the goal of the two applications. Evernote’s is to make you remember everything. No thank you.

Instapaper simply wants you to save a news article, blog posts or bit of code so you can look at it later on another device that may or may not have Internet access.

That’s it. Once I log in, I can read it, delete it, star it (nice idea for Gmail lovers) or put it in a folder. I’m not asked to create separate notebooks, create tags, add photos, run OCR, add attributes, create saved searches, etc., etc.

Instapaper keeps me focused by saying, “Dude, you don’t need to clip every portable hard drive you found on Amazon for comparing later, just send me some interesting news you didn’t have time to read today.”

This has really allowed me to change how I use services like Instapaper and Evernote. Today, Instapaper is an iPad news application. That’s what I use it for.

It sits in my iPad news folder and every day I open it up to read articles that I didn’t have time to read at some other point of time. That’s it.

I don’t have to worry about seeing photos of business cards or notebooks friends have shared with me.

Simple and effective, it’s every thing I need and nothing else to tempt me into using it for some other time-sucking information orgy sync.

I’ll finish this piece off with this, as I think it best proves my point and how a useful applications like Evernote can become too much if it tries to do too much.

For this series, I opened my online Evernote account and found that I have 38 folders, one of which includes 72 wallpapers from 4chan.

That means that over the years, I’ve amassed over 70 wallpapers that have never been used on any device I own.

What would posses me to save such garbage? I’ll give you a hint. It’s green and has a trunk.

Jan 31


Jan 27

Thank you Tumblr!


They used my TumblBeasts!

Thanks guys! 

-The Oatmeal

Jan 25

Evernote; The glove box of the Internet

The tag line for Evernote says it all, “Remember Everything.”

The wildly popular software that allows users to sync almost any type of information from any device and keep it synced in the cloud could indeed help you remember everything if you are so inclined. 

But then there’s the issue that humans are incapable of such a feet and, even if our minds could handle the bandwidth, who wants to anyway?

After using Evernote religiously for several years, I came to label the software the “glove box of the Internet.”

To fully explain this label, I have to paint a picture of my vehicle glove box and console. Both are full of incredibly useful things; Tylenol, doggie poop bags, tire pressure gauge, flash lights, pens, pads, batteries, tissue, cell phone chargers among other things. 

Each item is carefully thrown into a gigantic mess tied together by USB cords of some kind. Subsequently, every time I have the notion to open up my console to use one of these useful items, I shut it in disgust. It’s not worth going through all of the crap inside of it to find the one thing I need at that time. 

Evernote, over time, became much like my vehicle console. So stuffed full of crap that I thought may be useful that it became impossible to find the bits of information that were useful. 

You could counter that Evernote’s search and tag functions make it easy to find information later, but I would say that it depends on how you use the notebook application 

For example, I may decide that I’d finally like to hack my Apple TV and jump on Evernote to find that article with step-by-step instructions on how to hack it.  But after a search of “Apple TV hack,” I get 400 articles of different lengths talking about various different pieces of software you can use and tips on applications to download after, reasons not to hack it, etc. 

Where’s that one article I wanted?

To be clear, I am not the kind of person that is going to sit down at home at assign every article I clip a tag and a label. I go through enough sorting through my photo projects.

The idea of having to organize the information we glean everyday is kind of ludicrous if you think about it. 

That’s where me and Evernote first began our separation. Sitting at my desk, I looked up to see a To Do on my calendar that said, “organize Evernote.” Here I am devoting time out of my day to organize information in a piece of software that is suppose to keep my information organized. 

That’s the fundamental point I really want to get across in this post, how applications like Evernote have encouraged us to become information hoarders.

Since it’s so easy to clip and save information throughout the day off the glutton of information that is the Internet, we almost feel compelled to store away facts and blog posts, photos and wikipedia articles because we can.

I  mean damn, I can take a photo of a business card and send it to Evernote just in case I want to contact the annoying sales guy at the conference that gave me his business card 11 times, but do I actually NEED to?

We have to become our own filter of information, even the info we lack the time to initially consume.

There’s a reason that you didn’t read that entire wikipedia page on John Wayne, or that 32 step home brew recipe. It’s because it became boring or you felt that the information lacked the importance for you to spend time on at that moment. Those same facts remain true once that same Web page sits clipped inside of Evernote. 

I can’t begin to tell you how free I felt when I finally realized that, if I wanted to know where to find a Growl plugin for Quicksilver, I could always just freakin Google it. I didn’t need to clip every single useful bit of information just because of some misplaced anxiety that I’ll never be able to find this article again. 

I realized I don’t need another glovebox. The one I drive around with wasn’t working out that well anyway. 

Jan 24

Minimalist Gmail is the Best Gmail Tweaker for Chrome Yet -

Cool, but Sparrow has pretty much become a staple for me. 

Jan 22

Evernote — A break-up story

Around three years ago, sitting at my desk with an old episode of Mac Break Weekly blaring, I discovered what I once believed to be the most amazing OSX application since Quicksilver. 

Evernote, the new web-based notebook application, offered a handful of new features that made productivity geeks swoon. 

Cloud syncing, hand writing recognition, native and Web-based versions and a free price tag made the application a must have for me. 

Notebook, VoodoPad, YoJimbo were all apps I tried out, but Evernote seemed to be the application for me especially after the iPhone app appeared. 

With my new-found love for the green elephant, I set out to make Evernote a key part of my work flow. 

Like any hot and cold relationship, it started out hot and heavy. 

After about three months of use, I was using Evernote for all of my bookmarks, clips I took from my rss feed, a place to back up all of my stories and interview notes and even a word processor at times.

During the pre-Dropbox era (it’s hard to even imagine a world without Dropbox), this worked rather well. 

Over time, my Evernote-centric workflow began to erode as I found more efficient ways to get what I needed done. 

Today, not only do I no longer use Evernote, but I have gone so far as to delete it from every device I own in attempt to avoid even the chance that my eyes might fall on its bright green icon. 

This week I will cover how I used what was once one of the most useful applications in my app folder and how it became a nuisance, something I cringed to open. 

To be clear, it’s nothing against Evernote or its developers. The company has done nothing but make great improvements over the last several months and the application is by all accounts of one the most popular of it’s kind. 

My anguish in using the application is more of a personal evolution of how I work, and that’s what I find the most fascinating. 

Evernote — a breakup story

Tuesday — Evernote is the glove box of the Internet

Thursday—Instapaper kills Elephants 

Friday—Where are we with “notebook” applications?

Jan 21


How to Create a Portable Hackintosh on a USB Thumb Drive -

My weekend project.

Jan 13

SnagFilms for your documentary fix

When Netfilx first rolled out it’s watch instantly service, there was on category that kept me up at night. 

Having unlimited access to hundreds of documentaries made it almost impossible for me to put down the computer and sleep. 

But outside of Netflix there is a new app that has come to the iPad that offers hundreds of great documentaries. 

It’s called SnagFilms and it offers more than 1,800 awesome documentaries in a sleek application that’s great for the iPad. 

The first night I got it I went through three films and I’ve been catching them ever since. SnagFIlms does have a nice web interface as well that has been widely popular, but the iPad app brings the experience to the tablet on a device made for media consumption. 

I highly suggest checking this out. Very cool application. 

“Unfortunately, while the content available has made the free Netflix app a requirement on most iOS devices, its execution and design leave something to be desired.” —

Nice point. Netflix on the iPad is awesome, but the app itself does suck. 

Netflix Review | iPhone and iPad Entertainment App | Macworld