Evernote ‚Äď Remember Everything

Evernote is “a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving.” The corporation is described as a “Creator of a multi platform note taking application for mobile devices. The site include product information, a company blog, and support services.”

I am a great note–taker: to-do notes, checklists, reminders, dashed-out thoughts and drafts for that Great American Novel. As I use different machines for different locations and tasks, finding where I put that note is not always that easy. Yes, I do file syncs, but not every day. I also use (and thoroughly recommend) the indispensable Dropbox for Cloud file syncs across multiple devices and locations.

But I’ve wanted to get away from that text file syndrome for a long time. Individual text file notes are under-the-hood equivalents of Post-It Notes on the refrigerator. Notepads and note organizers have long been a dime a dozen. I even wrote a crude one in C once. Apps come and go so fast I went back to huge folders of text files back in the 1990’s.

I hope Evernote sticks around. I found it by accident in the Apple App Store, while looking for something compatible with the Notes app that comes on the iPad. I found Evernote instead, which is much, much more robust. It’s available for Mac, PC and mobile devices: iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and DROID. I now have it on all my computers. Best of all, they all talk to one another via the Cloud. No more file syncs, no more lost notes. This isn’t a full review, but …

I’m already awarding it Summitlake’s Five Stars. Five stars

As I wrote a nephew,

[quote]This app is VERY cool. Free. Check it out!


I have it installed on iMac, Mac, PC, and iPad. Everything autosyncs on their private Cloud. You can also access your notes on a secure web page. No more file transfers. Notes, pictures, even audio I think. Creditable text editor. Reminders, lists, Great American Novel. Not recommended for bank and credit account numbers ūüôā Organize by multiple Notebooks.[/quote]

And I hope you’ll check it out too. Below is a screen shot of my app (Grabbed on the iMac) with my starter set of my own notes. A place for everything at last, and everything in its place. You can subcategorize your notes by Notebooks, and you can create as many of then as you want. You can access the same notes in the same format anywhere on any machine or platform, and you can also access your notes on the Web. You can export backups of your notebooks to the local hard drive.

Users are even assigned a free individual email address which will post directly to your free Evernote account. And so you will still find it on any one of your Evernote machine or device installations next time you open Evernote. Not bad for a free app.¬† This app (and the services behind it) are certainly worth a bona fide retail price.¬† I can’t even find where I might send a PayPal donation. I think the implementation of this idea is pure genius. Cheers!


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Great First Impressions of iPad2

I ordered my own iPad2 on Wednesday October 5. I only found out later in the day that Steve Jobs had just died.

We’ve all had a chance to review his life on TV newscasts, TV specials, online articles and analyses, and tributes. The number of tributes exceeded anything I hoped for or expected. Even at news sources I normally distrust, coverage was positive yet balanced and told a remarkable story that will be retold many more times in coming decades. I think iPad2 turned out to be a brilliantly fitting way to launch the post-Jobs era. It embodies all the design elegance, under-the-hood power and user-friendly simplicity he devoted his life to.

October 17 NEW YORKERToo few of us read and enjoy The New Yorker perhaps, but as one dedicated fan of that magazine, I can recommend their October 17, 2011 online article “How Steve Jobs Changed,” by James Surowiecki. Surowiecki is an accomplished writer and financial analyst who writes the magazine’s The Financial Page. Read Surowiecki article

But this post is about my first impressions of my iPad, even though its rationale is for me closely connected to reading my weekly The New Yorker on iPad and, eventually, all my other periodicals.

I was introduced to my first hands-on iPad experience by a friend whose eyesight issues may be worse than my own. He bought iPad to help rectify that. I find myself limiting reading sessions with print periodicals, either because of poor-quality newsprint, or lighting and glare issues with high-quality glossy magazine pages such as are mailed to me by The New Yorker and National Geographic. My friend says he can’t read a regular newspaper at all any more. I get all my in-depth news online, and for free, at sources such as BBC, Huffington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, PolitiFact and MarketWatch.

I’m fine with reading news on computer flat-screen panels. But I never cared for being chained to a computer chair to read books or magazines at length. I’ve already started downloading my The New Yorker issues to iPad, and find them eminently easier to read and navigate than those paper editions. This is a vast improvement over early industry efforts to find a suitable ebook format for periodicals.

I ordered the basic 16GB Wi-Fi model iPad. I don’t have 3G on my Verizon account and I’m unwilling to pay the monthly charges for it. 3G is great for iPhone, perhaps, and for people always on the go. Even if 3G was free, my lifestyle is such that I’d seldom be in a location where I’d have any need for it. Obviously, if you are “mobile” – move around a lot away from home and take your devices with you – the Wi-Fi + 3G model would be best for you. Continue reading

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Graphic Converter for Mac

Graphic Converter for Mac –¬† 5 Star Rating - Summitlake Consumer pagefive stars

Back in the dawn of digital photography in the 1990’s , we used to send film to Seattle Filmworks for processing. By return US mail we’d get back negatives, prints and a floppy disk of images in a proprietary compression file format called .SFW. With the included software, one could save those as JPG images. They were pretty crude digital images – to fit on a floppy disk, they had to be! With prints and negatives long misplaced, these images are often the only surviving photographic records of a decade of our lives.

Recently I discovered many of those old JPG images had become corrupted. Photoshop couldn’t open them. Photoshop couldn’t open the .SFW source files, either. This is like losing a piece of one’s family history. I began my web search for a solution. The old Seattle Filmworks software may still be available, but it hasn’t been supported since Windows 98.

To my utter surprise, I found that an application called Graphic Converter. Graphic Converter? That’s like locating an old friend you lose track of a decade ago. I used to use it on the Mac. I purchased it and installed it on my Mac Pro and recovered all my files.

Graphic Converter is an extraordinarily powerful and intuitive imaging software app. It does anything and everything one needs to work with images: edit, crop, color balance, file conversion, slide show, and much more. If I’d realized it was available and still being improved, I’d never have bought Adobe Photoshop Elements for Mac, which costs three times as much.

The new Graphic Converter is even more powerful and intuitively engineered than before. It was the ONE app I truly missed when I left Mac for Windows in 1997 (not returning to Mac until 2009). I was so happy with the new product I wrote Lemke Software to express my delight. App creator and software designer Thorsten Lemke wrote back from Germany asking if he could use my letter of thanks on his Customer Statements page. Of course he could – it’s the least I can do. Below is an excerpt from my letter of thanks for such a fine software product.

[quote]This is just a note of thanks for a great product. I used Graphic Converter from about 1995 to 1997 and it was the best Mac app I ever used… I didn’t have to use a manual or Help file to do it. Graphic Converter is as logically designed as ever! It is also the only product other than Photoshop I have ever trusted to edit my photo images, and your product performs a lot of functions Adobe doesn’t.”[/quote]

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Mac & Windows Notes

I continue to enjoy my Mac Pro (under Snow Leopard) and my PC (with newly installed Windows 7-64). Following are some collected notes & observations.

  • Music: for years I’ve been careful to select PC motherboards with the best onboard sound processors (DAC’s). I knew I would be interested in finding the results of A/B sound comparisons between Mac and PC playing the same iTunes tracks in synch.
  • iTunes: “PC music” is a hot topic in the high-end audio magazines these days. The thinking is that you have to get an external DAC to wring true “hi-fi” stereo sound out of your PC – and the pros are often as not using iTunes to create their own state of the art music servers – something I’ve been doing for years, using just the onboard digital-to-analog logic.
  • And the audio quality winner is: Continue reading

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Windows 7 Impressions

I won’t pretend there was any urgent reason to upgrade from XP to Win 7. My XP installation was getting slower and slower, and that was only just reinstalled in July. My new Mac Pro (64 bit Snow Leopard) greatly increased my dissatisfaction with the PC side: if I’m going to live with Windows, and I am, I needed to do something!

A new motherboard and chip was financially out of the question. I’m running an ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe with AMD 64 6000+ CPU. It’s not that old. By the time you add all the other stuff you always find you need, a slight upgrade turns into a major investment. I decided to go full bore with 8GB RAM, Windows 7 Pro (64-bit), and a better graphics card that would support “Windows Aero”.
Continue reading

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Mac Pro – First Impressions

Mac iconI’m really impressed.¬†Five Star ratingfive stars. Let me state up front that this Mac exceeds my wildest expectations. It’s everything I wanted, runs incredibly faster than any PC I’ve ever owned or built, and the software is everything you expect from Apple, if not more.

Having¬†jumped ship¬†from a Mac Clone to PC’s¬†in 1997, I have a lot of investment in home-built PC’s, a huge software environment, and considerable PC¬†“learning curve” acquired in the last 12 years.

But I’ve always wanted to install a test server right on my own¬†box. I’ve been uploading drafts to test regions on my server for years and testing them there. Of course I do a lot of WordPress nowadays, a great, no-brainer web-based solution for blogs and entire websites. But, of course also , I still¬†customize with¬†Perl and HTML, I’m starting to use PhP, and I’m thinking about jumping into Ruby/RAILS.

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Barnes & Noble eReader

e-books on your PC, sort of
(1.5 Stars)

I thought it best to write this review promptly before I uninstall the Barnes & Noble eReader application. After reviewing the current technology offered by Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I have yet to see how a serious electronic book industry is ready for prime time.

I investigated Amazon’s Kindle technology quite some time ago, and did not buy a $299 reader device to replace the odd $5 paperback¬†for killing time at the airport gate. If the airline industry has not learned in seventy years how to¬†take the best interests of its consumer base seriously, I suppose we should not expect much better of the fledgling ebook industry, which, in my opinion, is off to a very bad start. Continue reading

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Acronis True Image Home 2009

PC Backup and Recovery
 (Four Stars)

This is not a full review of the Acronis True Image Home 2009 backup product. Nonetheless, the effort that went into its development is obvious and impressive. The GUI makes no asssumptions about the user’s experience level, but don’t let that fool you into believing the product is watered down or underpowered. Continue reading

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Review: Super Flexible File Synchronizer

The Search for the Perfect File Synch 5 Star Rating - Summitlake Consumer pagefive stars

Super Flexible File Synchronizer (2.1 MB download)
Written and copyright 2003 by Tobias Giesen


Every once in a while an application comes along that not only fulfills all your hopes and expectations, but restores your confidence in the application writing and programming business. I’ve been looking for the “perfect” file synchronization utility since 1997, when I made the PC my primary platform instead of the Mac.
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Microsoft ClearType

We’re not kidding. If you use a notebook or LCD flat panel monitor, and you have upgraded to Win XP, MS ClearType is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

We already know about anti-aliasing technology (Apple Computer, 1990’s). It’s important. ClearType takes it a step further. Tune ClearType from a choice of settings for custom font proportioning with the most apparent clarity (and readability) on your machine.

Your current font styles and preferences settings are not changed; they are displayed so that they are easier to read. Eyes of any age (but especially those that need a little extra help) will appreciate how much crisper ClearType text is. Print fonting is not affected.

We have no reports on this yet, but it’s a good bet owners of CRT monitors might notice some improvement too. We just haven’t found a downside to ClearType.

So far, we’ve installed ClearType on two desktops and on our little Vaio laptop. The setting that works best for us always seems to be the same (upper left hand choice panes). This is being composed on the laptop right now. Everyone who has seen this has taken the trouble to write back and thank us. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most appreciated.

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