Monthly Archives: November 2008

Dixau Text Scanner – Time Saving Scanner

Just been looking at the Dixau Text Scanner; a gadget which is able to scan pages and pick out relevant information and I thought I would write a little review of it, as it is classed as a Productivity Gadget.

Although the biggest market for such a device is probably with students the Text Scanner is definitely exciting for anyone who must tediously deal with large volumes of writing on a daily basis.

Tasks such as rewriting quotes or passages from any textual documents (including magazines, research materials, books, business reports, etc.) can be cleanly recognized and clipped by the Dixau Text Scanner and then copied into a text editor.

It saves an incredible amount of time usually spent typing or writing out words from a physical source, acting as something like a highly-evolved scanner. Also interesting is the Text Scanner’s ability to reference secondary sources by picking out keywords. Dixau consults Wikipedia, Google and e-dictionaries to supplement whatever material you may be working with.

The gadget is extremely exciting as a time-saving expansion on reading and editing. The implications of its system on both learning and more efficient work make it an extremely worthwhile piece of technology.

Whether used as a short-cut toward quicker reference or as a means of copying out text, the Dixau Text Scanner is one of the most innovative productivity gadgets ever created.

I have managed to find a video showing the scanner in action. It is a Japanese, or at least it looks Japanese video although the audio is in English.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:728e6606-662a-49e2-8284-c51ecab8e1f3&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=msnvideo" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:728e6606-662a-49e2-8284-c51ecab8e1f3&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=msnvideo', 'Video: Dixau &#8211; Automatic Dictionary Scanner');" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" target="_new" title="Dixau - Automatic Dictionary Scanner">Video: Dixau &#8211; Automatic Dictionary Scanner</a>

Hope you found this little Productivity Gadget review useful. Looks a neat little tool. They are priced around $90 but I have not yet found a link to buy them, when I do I will post it here.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 16th November 2008

Another productive week draws to an end. I submitted a major piece of work that I had been creating over the past couple of weeks. You cannot beat the feeling when you hit the submit button and the work is complete. Kind of like checking off those tasks on your task list.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

I am looking forward to some more GTD Application Reviews that I have already done and I am getting ready to post this week. They include apps such as Zenbe and GTD-Free.

Hope you are all still enjoying the blog!

Evernote Updates Mac and iPhone Application

EvernoteIn the past couple of days, both the Mac and iPhone/iPod Touch versions of Evernote have been upgraded.

For those of you who have not seen Evernote, it is an application that allows you to capture and process notes. These notes can be text, photos, web clippings and much more. Evernote is available as a Web application, a Windows application, a Mac application, and an iPhone/iPod Touch application.

The Mac version is now at version 1.16 The improvements for this version are as follows:

  • You can now create bulleted and numbered lists, tables, and horizontal rules within your notes using the spiffy new note toolbar. We’ve made a bunch of smaller tweaks and enhancements that are less noticeable, but will make typing notes a lot better.
  • Ever wanted to type a link into a note, or, better yet, remove one that was already in there? Well now you can. Just CMD+click, select Link from the menu, and choose Add. To remove a link, hover over the link, CMD+click, select Link from the menu, and choose Remove.
  • This is one of our releases aimed at improving many aspects of Evernote that you may not see. Trust us, these changes will make your overall experience with Evernote much more positive.

The iPhone and iPod Touch version of the app is now at version 1.5. The main updates to version 1.5 are as follows:

  • Voice Notes are now available on iPod Touch when the microphone headset is used.
  • Enhanced support for European mobile carriers.
  • Improved camera orientation handling
  • Misc bug fixes

I still use Evernote and must admit that it is a great application that I could probably get a lot more out of. I will have to start to look for new ways of using it.

Do you use Evernote? If so I would love to hear how you use it so please comment on this post.

Thanks,

AwayFind – Increase your Email Productivity

AwayFindIn the last update from my email productivity experiment, I mentioned that I had been told about a new online service called AwayFind which apparently would help with the issues I was having.

This blog post is worth reading as it will save you time, just as it saved me time. I use AwayFind as my email solution and do not get paid anything for telling you that I use it. You are getting the best type of recommendation for this product as I am a Raving Fan of it and believe that it can save you time.

I get a lot of free invites and requests to check things out but after a few days, I did manage to log in to the account that had been created for me and check it out. I am happy to say that I was very happy with what I saw.

From the AwayFind website:

Awayfind is not just a web tool,
it’s a blueprint for escaping email, with a handbook and a community to ensure your success.

In a nutshell, AwayFind is a web application that provides you with a web contact form that you can use in your email signature or auto-responder that enables people to contact you. There is also a methodology and associated free eBook once you sign up with simple, clear instructions on how to configure the system in order to reduce the burden email puts you under.

So, somebody sends you an email. Your auto-responder thanks them and tells them you are not checking email frequently so if their matter is urgent to please contact you via the AwayFind contact form. If the matter is not urgent, the email stays in your inbox ready for you to read it at your will.

If the matter is urgent, they will fill in the contact form and you will be contacted immediately via your preferred method.

To get started with AwayFind you need to head over to the AwayFind site and sign up for a free account.

Once you have an account you can login and from here you get your AwayFind Inbox and a very simple control panel. The first thing you want to be doing is editing your contact form.

This contact form is the form that you will direct people to in order to get in touch with you and it is the key component of the AwayFind service.

AwayFind

You can really personalize this form with your own details and logos to make it look an extension of your corporate branding.

Once this is complete, the next important step is to set how AwayFind reaches you. This is the method of contact once somebody completes the AwayFind web contact form. This is an important part. If you are not checking email, there is no point using your main email address as the contact method. It kind of defeats the purpose.

The way I use this is twofold. I have entered my cell phone number so that I get an SMS message and I have also cleverly entered my MobileMe email address.

As I use an iPhone and MobileMe, these emails are pushed to me and it does work pretty neat. I do not use the MobileMe address for much else so I know when I get an email on that account it is an important one. I sometimes have data and no cell coverage and sometimes cell coverage and no data. So, I always know I will get the urgent message.

Once AwayFind is configured you need to set up your mail server to send the auto-responder, for which instructions are available via AwayFind for the major mail server vendors. AwayFind even produce some sample auto-responders for you to use.

AwayFind

So, how have I got on with AwayFind?

Well, I have been using AwayFind for the last month or so. I check email twice a day, or when I need to. I have stopped mail notifications and I manually check email on my iPhone.

I am totally free of “notification twitch”, that common complaint suffered by anybody who has ever owned a Blackberry!

I get on average two or three urgent requests a week. I have had no complaints out of people who email me, just curiosity about the system and how much time it is saving me.

If you want to save time and check email only twice a day, or less, then you either risk missing the occasional important time sensitive emails or you sign up to AwayFind.

I do realize that this will not work for everybody as unfortunately some people would not get away with this in their working environment due to the outdated attitudes of their superiors. However, give it a try, make them try it and I am sure, that you will see the benefit of the system.

I know this has sounded like a long sales pitch, but it is a subject that I am passionate about and I am full of enthusiasm for AwayFind. I wish them every success.

Have any of you tried AwayFind?, any views about the service or methodology? I would love to hear.

Thanks.

Getting Things Done GTD with Remember The Milk

Remember The MilkRemember the Milk is a task management application which enjoys some of the widest support options of any similar program. It fits in nicely with the Getting Things Done methodology as it combines many of David Allen’s key concepts into one tidy, convenient app which can greatly encourage better productivity and lower stress for its users.

From the Remember the Milk Website:

Take your tasks anywhere with this feature-packed application. See tasks located nearby, add and complete tasks on the go, organize upcoming tasks, and sync it all seamlessly with Remember The Milk.

The program hosts excellent visuals and functionality. Everything looks superb and the layout of every tool has been properly developed to encourage ease of use and a genuine desire to come back to the system daily.

Every version of Remember the Milk has been given due attention too which means that whether you’re accessing it via a computer, Blackberry or iPhone, the same convenient navigation and solid layout will be represented across the board.
Remember The Milk
Remember the Milk uses the same design ethic embraced by so many other GTD developers by keeping everything as simple as possible.

All of the most common features necessary for proper implementation of the GTD system are represented here. Perhaps one of the most interesting (and innovative) features is the “Locate Your Tasks” option which places your various tasks on a Google map for easy access and grouping.

Little touches such as this go a long way toward extending the functionality of Remember the Milk as well as helping in setting it apart from the competition.

The program allows for other important features too. Tasks can be designated for reminders (issued by various SMS platforms) or easily synced and shared with as many collaborators as are desired.

“Quick Add” makes the addition of new information incredibly simple and convenient and the ability to customize your priorities goes a long way toward helping to make the whole package come together.

Remember the Milk allows users to group their various tasks into any number of categories such as headings like “personal”, “work”, “call” and more.

The ability to customize your lists into as many or as little grouping as desired is something that will no doubt be very welcome to those using the application and it really helps to expand the user-base from people who only want to use the program minimally to those who require the presence of very in-depth choices.

If there is a major drawback it is really only in the download for iPhone users which requires a small payment to take advantage of. This shouldn’t prove much of a problem considering the incredibly diverse number of options which can be taken advantage of however.
Remember The Milk
Remember the Milk is accessible through offline Google pages, Google Calendar, Gmail Gadget, Twitter and Blackberry phones. The latter is perhaps the best salve for users who don’t have an iPhone but still wish to make use of the program while on the go.

The blog and help sections of the main page go a long way toward providing a solid support basis for the application as well. While a forum would be a welcome addition, Remember the Milk has such a robust blog archive that almost every question and scrap of news regarding the system can be quickly and easily accessed.

Overall Remember the Milk is certainly one of the best task management applications currently available for users to get onto no matter which version of the service used. The aesthetics, functionality, loads of essential features and great range of support all add up to make Remember the Milk stand out from the crowd of similar applications.

As part of writing this review I signed up for an account with Remember the Milk and I am trialling it aside my usual application, OmniFocus.

It will be interesting to see how I get one with Remember the Milk and I will report back with my findings.

What do you think, got any comments about Remember the Milk or cool tips for using it for Getting Things Done? I would love to hear from you so please comment below.

NetNewsWire iPhone RSS Productivity Tip

I have been using NetNewsWire on my Mac as my main RSS Newsreader for quite a while now.

I love RSS news feeds and I utilize them to make my own tailored news feed, delivering me the news I want every day. I love explaining RSS to people not in the know. It is like taking the parts you like out of every print newspaper and getting it delivered to you daily, free of charge.
NewNewsWire iPhone
NetNewsWire on the iPhone is one of my most used applications on the iPhone. The ability to sync what you have read between the phone and your desktop via the Newsgator sync service is awesome. This means that once you read something on the phone, it is marked as read on your desktop the next time you launch the desktop news client.

I always find a spare five minutes here and there to catch up with reading my news on my iPhone. There has up to now being a slight problem.

I subscribe to a lot of RSS Feeds. Some of the feeds I read religiously, other are mailing lists that I skim for useful information. This is all good on my desktop, but on my iPhone I find it annoying to have to download all the feeds and also the interface on the iPhone is more restrictive and I find myself having to scroll around a lot of the time looking for my “killer feeds”, of which there are probably around 15.

Well, I have just found a little gem of a feature that is available on the iPhone version of the NetNewsWire application. The cool little feature is the ability to choose what feeds you show on the iPhone.

Simply, swipe across the feed that you do not want to show on the iPhone and select delete. You now have the option to remove the feed for good, or to just remove it from the iPhone.

I know this is a little feature, that maybe you already know about but this is a productivity tip that has improved the way I read news.

I have now reduced my feeds from around 80 to my killer 15 that I want to keep up to speed with when I am out and about.

Hope this has been of use, as usual, would love to hear your comments.

Whilst we are on the subject of feeds, don’t forget to subscribe to the feed from this site and get our productivity and time saving updates direct to your favourite news reader!

Auto Card Manager Simplifies Wallet Storage

ACMWalletIt may seem silly to consider a card managing wallet as a productivity gadget but the bottom line often is that if something can save time and remove stress then it’s usually worthwhile in this department.

Thus, the Auto Card Manager has been created in order to provide a hyper-organized alternative to the mess that can ensue when various cards are kept only in a wallet.

The Auto Card Manager sorts all of your most important cards into special slots which can be accessed through the simple press of a button.

Various credit card, debit and driver license slots are hosted through the width of the Manager (for up to either six or twelve individual cards) and a row of buttons are placed to correspond to each one.

Pushing the labeled button neatly ejects your chosen card and saves the hassle of rooting around in your wallet’s folds while a line waits behind you.

It is interesting technology and a fairly innovative take on productivity gadgets although the overall purpose is perhaps a little bit too specific to make it a great idea for the everyday user.

At $39.99 USD for a 6-card manager and $59.99 USD for a 12-card holder, the Auto Card Manager may be a bit too expensive to warrant now but will certainly be worth a purchase when the price levels out a little.

Check out the YouTube video of the gadget.

Now, I just have to find where to buy one in the UK!

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 9th November 2008

The last week has been a great week for this blog. I have seen a steady increase in Feedburner subscriptions and a considerable increase in traffic.

I closely follow the analytics for this blog and it is good to see the average page visits per user on the rise, along with the new visitors brought in from the search engines. I have added a few cool WordPress plugins to help with this, all of which I will blog about in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget, if you are not already a subscriber, please subscribe to this blog with either your favorite Newsreader or you can have the updates delivered via email.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is from TechRadar.com and it is a collection of 50 time saving techniques for Ubuntu. I know from my stats that I have a considerable amount of viewers who use Ubuntu as their operating system of choice so I am sure this link will be useful.
  • My second link is a link to a Life Learning Device. Google Alerts are to thank for this one. It is like a little light that repeats words of wisdom when activated. Looks very quirky!
  • My third link is a link to a blog post about Getting the Most out of a Meeting from The Productivity in Context blog. This is a new blog for me and there are some great posts within.
  • My fourth link is a link to a new little App I have just began playing with called reQall. I briefly reviewed the application yesterday. As Jott is not available in the UK, this looks like the answer. I have to play fully with it and then do a more in-depth review.
  • My fifth and last link for this week is a link to the Top 5 Timesavers from Productivity501. Apart from the Blackberry, I do all of these tips.

Calling it a night now, busy weekend and another busy week ahead.

Thanks, Andrew..

reQall iPhone To-Do and Reminder Service Productivity App

reQall iPhone AppreQall is one of the most effective Apple iPhone and iPod Touch productivity applications currently available for users to bring into their day-to-day life.

It effectively combines several different organizational features into a single, extremely handy app. The program is completely free of charge as well and this is definitely something that should propel it to the forefront of similar productivity systems.

The application acts as a to-do list coupled with a quality reminder service. reQall lets users either speak or type their tasks into their iPhone and then store it for a later time.

The reminder function can be set for specific dates, hours and minutes before signaling users that it’s time for them to check off or start carrying out an action.

Reminders can be issued through various options including email, text message, instant message, calendar alert or a computerized voice. The flexibility inherent in using these functions is what makes the program really shine however and users are likely to return to reQall just to play around with the various options.

If for no other reason than the free download, reQall is a great option for busy iPhone and iPod Touch users to check out. It has enough features and customization to warrant regular use and is extremely well polished and developed besides.

From the reQall website..

reQall for iPhone gives you a voice-to-text recorder, task/shopping/idea manager, reminder service and memory aid all in one. It will improve your productivity and change how you remember. Just say what you want to remember; reQall for iPhone will manage the rest.

As with most of these tools, there is also a fully featured Web Application where you sign up for a free account and the data is synced between your iPhone and reQall.

reQall also supports the Blackberry platform as well as the Apple iPhone.

It is a great time to be a Productivity Blogger and iPhone owner, there is so much available right now!

Review of the Nozbe GTD and Productivity Application

NozbeNozbe is a great tool for both strict Getting Things Done adherents and those looking only to provide some better structure for their work and life.

The website and program are both well developed and feature a solid spin on David Allen’s teachings as a way to increase overall productivity while lowering your stress.

The site initially appears pretty cluttered but once you’ve navigated yourself into signing-up and getting into the heart of the system, Nozbe offers one of the best online GTD options currently available.

Everything is visually based to a degree not found in many competitors and this goes a long way toward maintaining functionality.

The only drawback to the entire approach is that it takes a little while to truly figure out the program and start really using it to its full potential.

While Nozbe has a lot of the bells and whistles often lacking in GTD sites or software, this positive trait is often something of a double-edged sword navigation wise.

Nozbe

Nozbe has a lot of great features worth taking advantage of however and, as mentioned above, it hosts some uses that other GTD-centered apps and sites lack.

Users can input their projects, to-do lists, next actions or group tasks as is to be expected but Nozbe also offers a little bit more than the usual fare.

Simple touches like the ability to share files among a group have a lot of potential for making the system far more viable than the more self-sufficient options out there.

Nozbe allows file attachment to tasks and projects as well which is extremely handy for organizing the clutter which can be associated with different work into one place. Images, text documents or little scraps of information (like Notepad files) can all be grouped into one place, an invaluable feature to be sure.
Nozbe
Mobile options are also fantastic to see present here. Nozbe hosts support for iPhones, regular cell phones and a variety of browsers (for both Windows and Mac operating systems).

This attention to compatibility and ease of use is a great implementation of David Allen’s recommendation for portable, PDA-like organizing and Nozbe users should be able to get a lot of mileage from it.

The platform is a bit visually scattered compared to other GTD applications as mentioned before but anyone impressed enough by the huge amount of things done right at Nozbe should be able to get over this and take the time to find their way around.

In terms of a general criticism this should be made clear, although it also shouldn’t be taken as an entirely negative report on Nozbe considering how much it does right.

Perhaps the most enticing aspect of the platform is the innovation that the Nozbe team brings to their system. Although there are better options out there, none of them quite have the scope of vision presented in Nozbe’s mobility, sharing and file attachment details.

These alone make figuring out the sometimes muddy interface worth the time and effort in the end.
Nozbe
It’s difficult to recommend Nozbe for everyone considering how many other fantastic options are out there that succeed in aspects focused on in its overall service.

When you log in go the Nozbe system, there are a collection of videos showing you how to start using Nozbe right through to some advanced uses of Nozbe.

Just the same it is one of the more unique GTD applications currently available and its visual approach coupled with the mobility options makes Nozbe a system at least worth checking out.

For some, the site may be too much trouble to have any real, lasting worth but for others, Nozbe could be exactly what they’re looking for.

I am an affiliate for Nozbe, so by you signing up, you do earn me a small referral fee.

Nonetheless, it is worth signing up to a free account and seeing how you get on.

Do I use Nozbe?, No I don’t. OmniFocus is the GTD app for me because my profile does not really fit a web app.

Did you enjoy this review? What are your thoughts about Nozbe? I would love you to comment so we can start a discussion.