Monday, November 16, 2009

Evernote Raises $10 Million From Investors - Bits Blog -

Evernote Raises $10 Million From Investors - Bits Blog -

I have been using Evernote for a few weeks, and am amazed by its functionality, and by the powerful ways creative people have found to use it. The article linked above describes some of them, as well as giving some company history. I thought at first that it was just an online notepad, but it can be used for everything from a basic GTD system to a detailed inventory control system.

I have to admit that I am using the free version, and only because my Blackberry doesn't have an easy way to wirelessly sync between the built-in notepad app and an app that I can use on my laptop, particularly with a web-based one, preferably a Google-based one. The free version works fine for me.

Even if Outlook could handle pictures and other file formats, I wouldn't t want to sync with Outlook because I went beyond it years ago. It was a great program for the 1980s and early 1990s, but its architecture makes it a boat anchor on productivity, today. Besides, you need a full-time IT department to keep it working correctly, and even if I had a full-time IT department, I wouldn't have the clout to get them to hang around my office to keep my Outlook working right. Outlook is great if you're a high level exec at a big company. If you're a free lancer, a small business person, or someone who doesn't report directly to a high level exec, then you'd better look at alternatives that you can manage on your own.

As for using the built-in software that came with my Blackberry, the thought of going through the hassle of tethering the BB with a cable and using the clunky sync software that came with it is more than I want to deal with. I want less hassle in life, not more. If I had the proverbial nickel for every hour I have spent waiting while my hand-held synced with my laptop over the last twenty years, I could retire early. I don't want to have to sit around my office and fool with this stuff when I could be out the door at the end of the day, or maybe off to a meeting during work hours.

I also use Remember the Milk, which has an excellent wireless sync system with the BB task manager, but RTM is a task manager not a note organizer. It won't do things like keep track of digital photos of my favorite meals, etc. It's great when the task falls outside of email.

As for my real GTD system, I use GTDInbox, and I love it so much that I am helping them with their marketing and the roll-out as they move into a revenue-generating company, after four years of development. I spend most of my life in email, so being able to use it to track and manage my projects and tasks without leaving email, and without keeping a separate task manager in sync with my email is invaluable. It saves me hours every week. Truthfully, it probably saves me a day every week, when I look at how long I used to have to spend on my weekly reviews. Now, I get them done in under an hour.

To see that Evernote has received capital from a major VC firm really confirms my intuition that they are onto something great. We all have a million things to keep track of, and a lot of the time we need to make up our categories as we go.

Bottom Line: If you're not using Evernote, then give it a try. I think you'll be very pleased.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm on Google Wave, finally

I requested invitations from Google several times, with no response, but then last week I got irate and told Google that I was their ideal tester, since I live in email and communicate with co-workers and customers in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. A few nights later, the invitation arrived. I got it on my Blackberry as I was walking from the gym back to my car, after work. Needless to say, I cut short my evening activities so I could get back to the office and join the Wave adventure.

Being a careful sort, I worked my way through LifeHacker's book on how to use Wave before I actually logged onto it. Once onto it, I could see it was completely different from what I had hoped for. I was looking for a way to integrate my online communication, which comes in via email, chat, SMS, Twitter, FB, etc., so that even though I have the ultimate email-based GTD system in place, there are a lot of messages (meaning tasks and projects) that have to happen outside of email.

Wave is actually a real-time document sharing and editing system. Imagine creating an article in a wiki and then inviting a lot of people to add to it as they chose, or you could do the same in Google Docs. Rather than creating an email thread, Wave creates a shared document. It looks a lot like an email thread in Gmail. The strength of this approach is that it does facilitate real-time communication among potentially large groups of people. The weakness of it is that it does the same, so you can easily end up with a lot of text and opinions flowing at a high rate of speed. Every time I log into Wave, I have to read through all the messages (think posts and comments in the blog format) that have been added since I was last on it. I could find only four of my friends already on Wave (and they must not be thrilled with it, since none of them responded to my Waves at them, meaning they are not logging on very often), so I have been participating in several public waves, and I have not yet gotten any experience in waving among small groups. Wave keeps the discussion arranged in an orderly, easily-understood way, even though the message volume and number of participants is high. For instance, the Software Roles in Education wave has over 145 participants. The List of Things Google Wave Will Kill wave has over 440. Most of these are talkative people with a lot of insight, and they all contribute multiple comments, so this is a lot of thinking to keep track of. Wave does a great job. However, the truly outstanding thing that Wave does is make all this happen in real time. You can actually watch the characters appear on the screen, as people type. (Some users have complained about this and seen it as a negative. They believed it made their thought processes too public. I would recommend that they draft their messages off-line, then. That is simple enough. I do it all the time in email so I don't send half-baked ideas in poorly drafted prose to people who need well thought-out ideas in carefully crafted prose featuring actionable bullet points. This is more of an issue for a work flow and writing discussion, and is neutral as far as platform.)

So, to conclude, after only a few days on Wave, here is my last post to the Is Email Better than Wave wave:

I think it is premature to attempt such a judgment. Wave is still in pre-release development, and there are insufficient users to test it fully. The basic concept of creating a shared, real-time, document among a work group is sound and will no doubt be useful, though this has been possible with wikis and Google Docs for some time. I think that as Wave is opened to more users, and as the slowness and other problems are worked out, the creative mind of the user collective will discover and develop uses that we cannot now imagine. 

If you are on Wave, please connect with me. My name on it is

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

District Dispatch » House re-introduces SKILLs Act emphasizing role of school librarians

District Dispatch » House re-introduces SKILLs Act emphasizing role of school librarians

Note from Peyton: This is critical legislation because it can assure that students have the support and expertise of qualified librarians in school libraries.

House re-introduces SKILLs Act emphasizing role of school librarians
October 30th, 2009 | Category: OGR, School Libraries

The Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries Act, or the SKILLs Act, was re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week with support from both sides of the aisle. This legislation is intended to ensure that all students will have the support and resources they need for a quality education by establishing a goal that all public school libraries employ no less than one highly qualified school library media specialist.

H.R. 3928 was introduced by Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI-3) and was referred to the House Education and Labor Committee.

In 2007 the SKILLs Act was introduced in the 110th Congress by both Reps. Grijalva and Ehlers and received 30 cosponsors. This SKILLs Act was also introduced in the U.S. Senate in the 110th Congress by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and received bi-partisan sponsorship from Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Kerry (D-MA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). There is no Senate legislation yet in the 111th Congress. In the 110th Congress, the SKILLs Act failed to be reported out of committee.

Jeff Kratz
Assistant Director, OGR

ALA | Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study

ALA | Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study:

Now published: Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2008-2009
About the Study

Today’s public libraries are vital community technology hubs that millions of Americans rely on for their first and often only choice for Internet access. Despite increased demand for library computers, however, libraries typically have not seen a corresponding increase in budgets and many are challenged to provide enough computers or fast-enough connection speeds to meet demand.

The Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study is a multi-year project that builds on the longest-running and largest study of Internet connectivity in public libraries. The study assesses public access to computers, the Internet and Internet-related services in U.S. public libraries, as well as the impact of library funding changes on connectivity, technology deployment and sustainability in FY2007-2009.

Built on the longest-running and largest study of Internet connectivity in public libraries, begun in 1994 by John Carlo Bertot and Charles R. McClure, this study provides information that can help library directors and library IT staff benchmark and advocate for technology resources in communities across the nation. The data are also of importance for policymakers at local, state, and federal levels, manufacturers of information and communication technologies, and the communities served.

The project is made possible by a generous donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Library Association."