Going Paperless in the Apple Ecosystem

My desk is cluttered with a plethora of papers and notes. I have UPS receipts, sales receipts, a gym class schedule, personal training session receipts, insurance documents … you get the idea. I keep most of these papers in large wire racks and small weighted document holders. While being very messy it also increases my stress level. I feel overwhelmed just looking at it.

This situation has made me decide to go paperless. Being an avid Evernote user, I happened to notice they have a very expensive Fujitsu scanner for sale in their online store. I didn’t want to spend over $100.00 on a scanner so I found a very capable, high-speed model on Amazon for only $69.99. The model I purchased is the Canon Lide 210. It has great resolution at 4800×4800 dpi which is suitable for documents and photographs.

There is an abundance of information on this topic so I will briefly outline the process I have arrived at thus far.

Developing Your Strategy

Going paperless requires a good strategy for storing scanned notes and documents. Choosing unambiguous note titles and filing systems facilitates efficient note creation and storage. This will allow fast retrieval of information in the future.

Buying a Scanner

For the most part you don’t need an expensive scanner. One consideration is a duplex scanner for two-sided documents. Another is a scanner with a document feeder for large batches of papers. The Canon Lide 210 that I purchased has an expanding “Z- Lid” to accommodate books. A fast scanner that can handle A4 or smaller sizes should suffice for most people. A resolution of 4800×4800 dpi is suitable for documents and photographs. Evaluate your needs and research the ratings before investing in a scanner.

Using Cloud-based Software and Apps

It’s good to be able to access your digital notes and documents from anywhere, on your cellphone, tablet or your computer at home. A cloud-based platform like Evernote used with Apple devices provides a convenient way to add new notes and view notes while on the go. You never know when you may need to add or read notes using your mobile devices.

Evernote is a great solution for my paperless workflow. It is a robust platform that consists of cloud-based servers and applications for the both the Mac and iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Information is stored in notes that include titles and just about any content you wish to add, including text, web pages, images, voice memos and files. Notes in Evernote can be synced across all your devices. They are stored in notebooks that you create and name. There is also a “web-clipper” extension for Safari that allows you to select webpage content that you want to save into Evernote.

The Evernote platform provides a central location for your digital data. While other cloud based solutions are also available, Evernote is very capable, reliable and in most cases free for people that don’t store vast amounts of data. There is a maximum upload allowance of 20MB per month. Users that exceed this amount wll need to upgrade to the premium service. I have never come close to exceeding the monthly limit but business users will have to upgrade to the premium service.

Developing a Digital Filing System

It is important to develop a digital filing system to meet all your needs. This is primarily based on the types of notes, documents and media you have to store. You can use keywords and note titles in Evernote notebooks to organize your notes. Choose notebook names that are unambiguous to prevent confusion when adding new notes. You won’t have to decide which notebook to store a note in if your notebooks are named very clearly. Note titles should also be easily understood and making them concise improves readability. Following this strategy will ensure quicker retreival of your notes in the future. The Evernote search “engine” can look at note titles and note text.

Using a Robust Backup Plan

Using a cloud-based solution provides a good backup for all of your digital documents. Cloud servers are redundant and reliable. Having the data stored on your computer and mobile devices provides further protection against data loss. You do need to plan ahead to avoid data loss and data corruption.

A robust strategy for backing up all of your data is beyond the scope of this post but I will suggest that you have backups of your entire hard drive on multiple external drives and that you store these drives in different locations if possible. I have password protected external drives at home and at another location in case of fire or theft. The backups are performed at regular intervals and are staggered over time to allow recovery from data loss or corruption. My daily backup takes care of immediate data and the offsite backup which occurs every two weeks helps avoid data corruption and virus issues, at the expense of possibly losing two weeks of work. I recommend storing all of your sensitive information on local and backup drives only. If you never want anyone to gain access to passwords or bank account numbers you shouldn’t put them in the cloud or on any of your hard drives.

Conclusion

Develop your own strategy for going paperless while considering all of your needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Doing research online will help you cover all your bases.

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My Favorite iPad Air Apps So Far

This is my first blog post!

I absolutely love my new iPad Air.  The reduced weight and thinner footprint make it very easy to handle in one hand.  iPads in general also benefit from a vast selection of high-quality apps in the Apple ecosystem.  Many of these apps are optimized for Apple’s latest iOS 7 software as well as the Retina display.  With the 64-bit A7 processor in the new iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 users will soon benefit from apps optimized for the new 64-bit architecture.  Several apps are already updated for the A7 chip and have improved performance, especially graphics intensive games and multimedia apps.

With this in mind I have purchased over 90 new apps for my iPad Air, most of which were free.  I have selected twelve of my favorite apps so far.  Most of these apps are optimized for the Retina display and iOS 7.  Some are also designed for the new A7 chip.  These twelve apps are listed below in no particular order.

 

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Atlas by Collins – developed by HarperCollins Publishers.

This amazingly complete world atlas consists of several rotating globes of the Earth, each overlaid with a particular attribute (Economy, Population, Physical Maps, etc.).  There are 10 globes so far but be aware that 8 of the globes are additional in-app purchases for $0.99 or $1.99 each.  The other 2 are included.  Also be aware that the additional globes take awhile to download and that this app is very processor intensive so it is probably better suited for the new A7 chip.  The developer is working on additional globes.

FREE (additional in-app purchases $0.99 to $1.99)

 

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Essential Anatomy 2 – developed by 3D4Medical

An absolutely stunning 3D model of the entire human body.  All anatomical groups can be completely isolated and body structures (bones, muscles, nerves, etc.) can be selected individually or in combination.  The entire model structures can be rotated in 3D space by moving your fingers on the model.  The current view can even be saved to the Camera Roll.  The developer offers several other anatomy apps with a more thorough focus on particular systems of the body.  Be warned that these apps are fairly expensive.

$9.99 to $49.99 (most are $9.99 to $12.99)

 

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Evernote – developed by Evernote.

The gold standard for cloud and client based notes.  This app has evolved to become the most complete platform for notes that can include several attachments such as pictures, files, video clips, audio clips, etc.  Attachments are stored inside the actual note. Notes are synced to the cloud and also to client apps on iOS devices and Macs, offering a robust backup system.  There is also a Safari extension called Evernote Web Clipper that adds a very powerful way to select portions of webpages you wish to save as notes, including all formatting   and graphics.  This app ecosystem provides many features which would require a short book to describe.

FREE

 

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Day One Journal – developed by Bloom Built.

This app provides a simple and elegant journaling format, including a timeline view of entries on the left side and a journal entry viewer window on the right which looks very similar to the Mail app on the Mac.  Entries can be tagged for future searching.  It has had some glitches in the past with some users experiencing data loss from a corrupted database but this appears to have been addressed by the latest release.  Regardless it is a good idea to utilize the built-in export to PDF feature to back up your journal entries from time to time. I still like this app because it is very easy to use and is also password protected.  The journal database can optionally be backup up to the cloud if you are willing to allow hackers the feds to potentially view your journal!  I prefer to just export to PDF in iTunes.

$4.99

 

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Paper – developed by FiftyThree.

A beautiful drawing app consisting of several types of notebooks at the top level which can be selected and used to store different types of work like drawings, paintings, etc.  Each notebook contains as many pages as desired and the pages turn by swiping back and forth.  The top level view of the notebooks also allows the pages to be turned.  One tip that took me awhile to figure out was how to switch between the top level and the full screen notebook view.  You just swipe your fingers outward from the small notebook view to go to full screen and inward from the sides of the screen to go back to notebook view.  This app seems to be the most popular drawing app so far.  Be warned that it only includes a couple drawing tools and the rest can be purchased within the app for $6.99.

FREE (complete essentials tool pack in-app purchase is $6.99)

 

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Epoch 2 – developed by Uppercut Games Pty.

This app uses the same graphics engine as Infinity Blade 3.  This post-apocalyptic   robot on robot action game has been seriously updated from the first version released several years ago to include amazing graphics, additional weapons and new enemies.

$2.99 (50% off for initial launch)

 

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Infinity Blade 3 – developed by Chair Entertainment Group.

This incredible display of graphics is completely optimized to showcase the full glory of the retina display.  This app completes the trilogy which was originally announced at the Apple WWDC in 2011.  I am very impressed with the story format and of course the graphics.  Motion is extremely smooth on the new iPads, there is absolutely no lag.

$6.99

 

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The Drowning – developed by Mobage.

Created by the developers of Halo.  The first first-person shooting game developed for tablets that provides a simplified experience comparable to console based shooting games.  You just tap to where you want to shoot or walk and swipe to where you want to look.  Pinch to zoom in or out.  This horror based game is very fun to play.

FREE

 

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Fitness Buddy  – developed by Azumio.

Very thorough fitness app that includes over 1700 exercises and allows  you to  track your progress over time. (weight, BMI, etc.) You can select individual muscle groups to focus on and choose individual exercises from the list on the left.   The viewer on the right shows a graphical display of a person doing the chosen exercise step by step.  Swipe to the left to view each step.  When you reach the final step an animation shows you the complete motion.  This has to be one of the greatest bargains I have ever found on the App Store.

$2.99

 

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djay 2 –   developed by algoriddim

The beautiful interface and powerful performance in this feature-filled mixing app is optimized for iOS7 and the new iPads.  It includes parallel waveform viewing, sampler, track preview, effects, x-y pad, colored waveforms, Slip mode and Sliced Beat mode Crossfader features like one-touch fade and transformer switch.

$9.99

 

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News360 –  developed by News360.

This streamlined news app offers custom tailored content from multiple news channels.  You can completely customize the topics you want to see and select an icon for each at the top of the screen.  The layout consists of five or six story headlines with pictures on every screen within the feed.  Swipe to the left for more screens.  This app offers more options than Flipboard and has faster performance.

FREE

 

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Photoshop Touch –  developed by Adobe

A very robust implementation of Photoshop for the iPad.  Offers layers and adjustments.  A major limitaion is that it cannot open layered PSD files from the desktop version but does support images up to 12MB that can be opened in the full desktop version.  It includes layers and several adjustments but offers fewer filters than Photoshop Express or Snapseed.  A great overall effort from Adobe though.  This app has been updated several times since the problems it had in 2012.

$9.99

Well that about does it, hope this is helpful.  Bye for now.