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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BIOS Won’t Boot!

I’m in Phoenix at the moment, returning to the Bay Area tomorrow. I’m staring at my newly rebuilt Windows 7-64 PC, which is working great. It’s dawning on me that when I shut it down tonight I won’t need to say good-bye. Taxes are due in a week and my PC up north died.

I’ll be packing the car tonight for the drive north. In addition to the usual travel stuff,¬† I’m packing (1) a CR2032 3V Lithium CMOS battery, and (2) this PC. I just lugged this PC down here to Phoenix last month. Since I’m moving here soon anyway, lugging the PC back north with me just seems counter-intuitive.

Yes, I also have a fast Mac Pro up north, but all my tax stuff is on the PC.

Usually, when I post one of these “this happened to me” articles, there’s a moral to the story. In this case, I don’t know what it is yet. The PC failed just when I had to get a night’s rest for an early morning drive south. If I had to guess what the moral of the story will turn out to be, NOT forcing Windows shutdown with the Power Button would be high on my list!

Here’s the story (or what I know of it so far), excerpted from a letter to a friend. There’ll be a follow-up post once I do the diagnostics and fix the problem with whatever it takes.

I have a new Windows7-64 up north too, and I love it, but I may have to do all that over again too, if not very lucky, as soon as I get back next Friday.

Less than 12 hours before I had to leave for Phoenix, I was on the phone with Comcast cable/internet to get them to reset my new modem again. Some browser intercept feature of theirs was hijacking my browser on all 3 CA machines – a Mac and two PC’s.

Their tech guy reset the modem, got customer service to update something or other that should make the “hijack” screen go away, and he had me shut down and reboot the machines. This fixed the problem in the Mac and the old XP machine. The Win-7 machine refused to shut down. After several minutes, I forced it off with the 5-second Power Button trick. I don’t like to do that, and normally don’t.
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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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Exporting Outlook Contacts to Mac Address Book

Here’s how to use the universal vCard business card format to¬†port your MS Outlook contacts over to Mac Address Book.

In theory, you should be able to export your MS Outlook Contacts file to tab-delimited text or *.csv. I wasted too much time trying to find an export format that Address Book could import – I tried about half a dozen. I researched it. This works:

  1. In MS Outlook (2007), open a single contact that you want to port to Mac.
  2. Using the “Office Button”, select Save As->Export to vCard File and save the contact. Default destination is C:\Documents and Settings\(user name)\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures. Use that default to avoid renavigation on every Save. Windows doesn’t remember where you saved the last time.
  3. This creates a vCard
  4. Repeat for all the contacts you want to save.¬† I did 97 contacts in¬†less than¬†half an hour. Look at all the folks I haven’t written for way too long!
  5. Open Signatures folder. Copy all of the signatures you want to port to Mac.
  6. If you are networking with the Mac, you can drop (paste)¬†the files in the Drop Box or directly into a networked¬†folder that¬†you make. I made a Vcards subfolder in Mac’s¬†Documents folder.
  7. If not networked, copy the folders to CD, USB drive or thumb drive and then mount on the Mac, copying to the directory of your choice.
  8. Now, open that folder in your Mac. Drag and drop the .vcf files into the Name column of the Mac’s Address Book.

You’ll usually get some XML garbage in the Notes field, but all of your legitimate Notes will also be¬†preserved. Pictures in the Contact Picture field will be ported over!

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Back In The Day

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

My mom used to irritate the heck out of me with this old quote, attrtibuted to caustic French critic, journalist and novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). I will grudgingly admit that, with the passage of time, it seems as true as ever.

Digging through some old notebooks, I found a forgotten printout from ten years ago. I bolted from the Mac platform to the PC in 1997. I upgraded my first PC hardware in 1999. Principally, I replaced the original Micron motherboard with a newer, faster ASUS board. My letter to a friend follows below.

To: Richard
From: Alex
Subject: Back On The Air


The motherboard upgrade went very well. The mechanical part was a piece of cake, and I took my time.

Windows took awhile (several restarts) to get used to the new motherboard. It wanted to install a few drivers that should have already existed. It didn’t help that I got confused about which drive letter it had assigned to the CD-ROM with the Windows disk and drivers. I put in a different Ethernet card, and had to reconfigure the TCP/IP to get back onto PacBell DSL.

And that’s about it. Total time was about five hours. The machine does seem faster. With the 100MHz bus, the 500MHz CPU should seem roughly twice as fast. I can see a difference in the apps. Startup never seems any faster no matter what machine or platform, although no Mac has ever been as slow on startup as any Windows machine I’ve ever used …


I think we must all admit we’ve come a long way in the past decade of technological breakthroughs. With 45-nanometer chip architectures and 3.0+ gigabyte CPU clock speeds, Windows startups do seem slower than ever.

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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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Human Interface Guidelines

Back around the dawn of history, when the ghostly flickerings of DOS still cast long dancing shadows upon the primeval forest, early mankind was still searching for a way to get through the forest while bypassing the medicine men and witch doctors.

This was at places like Xerox/PARC and Apple. We fix the year at roughly 1984 AD.

The idea was that a user ought to be able to navigate the depths of the operating system, and its attendant user applications, with a consistent, intuitive, learnable set of conventions. Since the interface was graphic, not text-based, the new GUI dashboard was populated with graphic icons, menus and consistent keyboard shortcuts (copy, paste). No longer did the stop sign get to be red and hexagonal in one county, and yellow/triangular when you crossed the line into the next county. Apple came up with a pioneering set of guidelines, their famous Human Interface Guidelines – surely not the first, but the most comprehensive and consistent.
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25 Year Mark for PC’s

This month’s PC World magazine is celebrating their 25th anniversary, which pretty much coincides with the rollout of the IBM PC. Holy cow, has it been that long?

I bought my first personal computer, an Apple II with two 5-1/4 inch floppy drives and 48KB of RAM, in 1979. By 1982 PC Magazine was launched to cover the new IBM PC. (PC World was a spin-off startup after the earlier PC Magazine was sold to new owners, in the same year).
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PC in a Drum

L Series enclosuresNo, it’s not a drum, it’s a custom PC enclosure made of maple, and accepts the standard build-it-yourself PC hardware.

I’ve got to admit this is way cool. I’m not a musician, but if I were a drummer, or just the music lover that I am with lots of room to display nice things, I would have to have one of these. In my apartment I can always plead, “but where would I put it?”
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So You Wanna Buy A PC?

“Psst! Wanna buy a PC?*”

*Venerated Mac commentator Adam Engst of TidBITS recently offered insights into buying a PC, based on his own experiences. Summitlake.com is pleased to take this opportunity to share some of its own insights — based on our experience.

For those of you who follow this site or know me well, there will be few surprises here. Still, please don’t thank us for shattering illusions with a few well-placed heresies of our own.
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