Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another great app and a random bit

If you do, or do not have an iPhone (aka-Jesusphone), do yourself a favor and download Evernote. Evernote used to be an app like Microsoft's OneNote - my most favoritest-est app ever - but they have taken a new direction that is pretty damn cool. On its own, the iPhone app is great. It gives quick access to voice, picture, typed, and drawn notes and the creation of said notes. It even recognizes handwriting in pictures, so snapping whiteboard/chalkboard images makes note taking even easier. It's basically a Pandora's box for all the random crap that floats around in your head. There is a free app (PC and Mac) that works similarly. Again, works great. There is also an online version - I think you see where this is going... You can sync them all. You sign up for a free account online, and shazzam, all your random crap follows you everywhere. It's like your own technologically enhanced hippocampus (the apps) and distributed cortical representations of a previous events (the notepads). Evernote has been around for a while, and is one of the few apps that seems to be getting better with time, rather than bloated. The whole shebang is free, and the only limit is a pretty generous amount of syncing per month. I assume the idea is to provide a fully functional product for everyday use, and then charge when it becomes something you want as part of your 'professional' life (note taking in class, meetings, etc).

BTW - I have discovered that as dorky as voice notes are (*click* "Note to self - stop using the word 'dorky'." *click*), they really are a million times easier than tapping stuff out or doodling. If you don't believe me, try to catch yourself every time you think, "I better write that down (or jot down in PDA app). Ugh, can't break attention from (task at hand, like driving). I'll just try to remember it, and if I forget, then it isn't that important anyways." I do that constantly, and the stress of feeling like I have forgotten something builds up quickly. Hopefully this will take the place of my weekly 3-hour "mental purging" at the whiteboard*.

(Just FYI - a couple years ago, when I got my first tablet PC, choosing OneNote or Evernote was the big debate. It still rages on, but they have kinda fallen into their own niches.)

* - I set aside 3 hours, no breaks to do anything else for those 3 hours, and write down all the random crap in my head on a big whiteboard. Paying bills, presentation ideas, family items, books, topics, places, everything - summarized in 1-5 words - and then divide them into time frames (time required and when I want them done by). If I remember I need to do something during those 3 hours, it gets parked in the corner to be done after, but a big part of the exercise is the requirement that nothing can interrupt those 3 hours.

And the random item is an article from my good friend Heida about Iceland. I am semi-obsessed with the place, and the article goes into some of the cultural aspects that contribute to it being named one of the happiest places on Earth (best places to live, happiest people, etc). It isn't entirely fair to compare to the US for many reasons (the greater cultural diversity, economic influence, and history of distrust of the government we were born out of, to name a few) but it's an interesting read. One thing in particular that got me thinking is that the family rallies around the children regardless of parental issues like single motherhood and divorce (highest divorce rate in the world over there, and they don't care to change that), so there is always a sense of growing up with a safety net. The result is ridiculously intelligent, creative, and comfortable adults. As the son of a single mother whose family always provided that same feeling, I have to agree that the feeling of always having a fallback has been the single biggest factor contributing to my success (or relative success).

Being drowned by political news coverage, it reminded me that in the context of conservative and liberal political factions, this idea is at the heart of voters' concerns and the farthest thing from the minds of those orchestrating the elections. (I wouldn't argue that the candidates feel the same, especially Obama, but the people working to get their candidate elected like the Roves of the world.) Election politics are based on epiphenomenons - if the most observed feature of a group of desired voters happens to be pink socks, the 'electioneers' make that the issue - because psychology dictates that people with similar outward expression are attributed with similar internal 'values'. The problem is that the path works both ways, and by pointing out that candidate B wears blue socks, the voters think that s/he is opposed to their values (more so lately, thanks to our highly polarized country). That is why the media both focuses of stupid and inane things like flag pins, and yet comments on how stupid and inane focusing on flag pins is. They can't break from it, because the 'issues' are presupposed based on the appearances - something that Fox News has caught on to. That's the point of emphasizing Barack's middle name, talking about the 'covert Muslim' crap, talking about 'fist bumps' and the rest of the ridiculous crap Obama supporters think is ridiculous. Backtracking to intent and values, undecided voters become suspicious and uncomfortable, and trying to explain it away doesn't help because the damage is done. And the icing on the cake? Making people think that the candidate is "just like them". Forget that you're a wife beating, crack head, alcoholic. It doesn't matter, because, hey, this guy is just like you, and you aren't TRYING to be a bad person. That other guy, though... He's dangerous. He's a politician, so you can't trust what he says, but look at what he does! Would you ever do that? Well, our guy is just like you, and HE wouldn't so let's assume you wouldn't either.

Meh, this went on waaaay too long. Gotta get back to work.

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