Some people have jobs that mean they need to be contacted immediately. They have occupations that require them to act quickly in critical situations.
I’d like to think what I do makes the world a slightly better place, but I can’t really think of what a true emergency would look like in my line of work.
Over the years, more and more work-related apps have crept onto my phone. It’s only when I go on holiday with a strict ‘no work’ policy that I reflect on the impact this has on my leisure time.
I’ve worked from home for the last eight years and, for the last six, in a house with a separate home office. I have the ability to literally shut the door on my work at the end of the day and go ‘home’.
Instead, work tends to follow me home through the apps on my phone; despite being relatively disciplined with notifications, I’ve slipped into an unhealthy elision of work and leisure time that diminishes both.
For the last 10 days, while I’ve been on holiday, I uninstalled or disabled all work-related apps on my phone. It’s what I usually do when I’m on holiday: all or nothing.
So far, the only work-related app I’ve re-enabled is my calendar. I’m thinking of keeping it that way.
This evening, I scrolled through the list of apps I had installed and deleted about half of them. The main things I want to use my phone for are communication, music, and short-form reading and writing. Occasionally I use it for navigation, or a contactless payment if I forget my wallet.
I do sometimes wonder what ancient Stoic philosophers would do if they were alive today. What would Marcus Aurelius do? Epictetus? Seneca? Keep it simple, I guess.
Essentially, they all say that the phone is gorgeous, both in terms of hardware and the swipe-based MeeGo operating system.
The Nokia Ovi store contains very few apps as Nokia has effectively abandoned the platform (although they are supporting it until 2015).
That hasn’t stopped me getting two significant updates to the phone in the short time I’ve had it. The latest update was awesome and included built-in DLNA streaming to devices such as my Playstation 3.
Quite why a closed app store equates to a successful mobile device is beyond me. The only two apps I’m actually missing are two you probably don’t use: Path and LastPass.
I want to credit Amber Thomas with a throwaway comment she made during our Skype conversation earlier this week. She talked of the worrying tendency of people to treat ‘platforms as standards’. Hence the title of this post. What I’ve realised is that Apple iPhone app makers love to create silos for information. It makes their apps profitable.
On the other hand, I like my workflows. And the best mechanisms for making those workflows as smooth as possible? RSS and email. Which, given Project Reclaim, is just as well. 🙂
I’ve spent a small fortune on apps for Apple devices. And to what avail? I don’t need a dedicated special ‘distraction-free’ iPad app to write well. I just need to find an environment conducive to writing and get on and write. I don’t need a fancy to-do list with heatmap colours. I need a list of things to do. Paper and pen’s working well.
The N9 has apps and accounts that are integrated into the operating system itself. The Twitter app is great and the Messages app integrates SMS, Google Talk, Skype and other instant messaging platforms:
Connecting your accounts enables you to import and export from almost any app. I added the Evernote and MeeIn (LinkedIn) functionality through the Nokia Ovi Store. It’s not completely barren.
This isn’t a review of the Nokia N9. Nor is it a post comparing it with my previous smartphone: an iPhone 4. The reason for this post is to point out a couple of things:
To what extent do we (myself included) treat platforms as de facto ‘standards’? Is that healthy? Is it sustainable?
To what extent does our tool use affect how we see the world? Do we need to change the tools we use to see the world in a new light? If so, how often?
Finally, the change has made me think about web apps. Cross-platform, browser-based HTML5 applications. Why don’t companies go down that route? Well, perhaps because anecdotal research shows that people only tend to look in app stores rather than on the Web for such apps. And second there’s the issue of monetisation. There’s money in those iOS and Android hills.
I can’t help but think, however, that initiatives such as Mozilla’s completely Web-based operating system Boot to Gecko (B2G) will lead to greater cross-platform compatibility. As the fortunes of large companies such as BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple wax and wane, so too will the desire of consumers to lock themselves into one ecosystem. I don’t want to have to re-purchase all of my apps just because I buy a new mobile device.
The future is more democratic. The future is more open.
During the summer holidays before I headed to university I worked in a secondhand bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. And then, to help support myself during my MA in Modern History I worked in Waterstones bookshop in Newcastle. I love books.
But, despite my affection for the printed word, I still prefer, on balance, reading on my Kindle. One of the main reasons for this is the ease by which I can highlight sections of text (non-destructively) which are then available at kindle.amazon.com.
Whilst I’m waiting for everything that’s ever been written to be digitised I need a solution for physical books that is:
I think I’ve got that with the following system. Here’s what to do.
Sign up to Evernote. You can experiment with a free account but, like me, you’ll no doubt go Premium for the added data storage/transfer and functionality.
Install the Evernote app both on your computer and your smartphone (I’m using the iOS version)
When you start reading a new book, create a new notebook for it and take a photo of the front of the book. Title this first note something like Author (Date of publication) – Title, Place of publication: Publisher
Every time you come across something you want to make a note on, take a photo of the text. Add any comments or thoughts you have and title it something like Author – page number(s)
After syncing, Evernote provides OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on the text of images, so you could stop here as you’ve now got searchable notes from books (as promised in the title). However, I’ve gone one step further.
Now that the notes you want are in Evernote, it’s time to tidy them up and make the text copy-and-pasteable. Here’s what to do after carrying out steps 1-4 above:
Create a Book Clippings notebook
Sort the notes in the notebook to make ensure the note with the front cover is at the top
Select all of the notes, click on ‘Note’ in the top menu and then select Merge Notes
Type out the text you want from each photograph underneath it. Add the page number in brackets afterwards and delete the photo and references.
Repeat. Yes, this takes time.
Drag your tidied-up note into the Book Clippings notebook.
Start reading your next book.
I’ve found this an extremely effective way of getting searchable notes from physical books. As a bonus, you might want to try using Evernote’s Web Clipper to import your Kindle notes so that everything’s together in one place.
Have you tried this? Have you got a different system?