Day One review

Dayone2 logo

If you use a Mac and keep any sort of journal this is an app to look at. If you are a Windows user this is one more reason to make the switch.

I have been a user of Day One version 1 for several months, and it is an excellent tool for journaling. They pay attention to detail in both the design and the features. It has a clean and beautiful interface, and it’s super-easy to use. The MAC and IOS apps play nicely together, and sync is easy to setup and just works!

Day One recently released a new version with the somewhat confusing name of Day One 2.0. I have been using this version for about 2 weeks now. Here’s my review.

What’s new?Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.51.19 AM

There are two big new features:

  • Firstly support for multiple journals. This is perfect for me because I can now store my personal and work entries in the same place, but in separate journals.
  • Secondly, in the previous version you could only have a single photo per entry. Now you can have multiple photos. At first I wasn’t really interest in this feature, but I find that I am using it more and more – especially for documenting my travels.

Should you upgrade?

Well that depends on your needs? To upgrade both the Mac and IOS versions will set you back $49.98 (at the moment you can grab the Mac app for $29.99 and the IOS app for $4.99). If you do a lot of journaling, want multiple photos per entry and support for multiple journals then yes it is an excellent application and worth the price.

But if you are happy with a single journal, then aside from a mildly slicker interface you are not going to gain too much additional value.

Of course if you are not yet a user and are looking for a journaling app, this is one to check out.

Wishlist

While the app is great, there are a few things that I think would make it amazing:

  • Basic customisation of the styling in the posts using my choice of fonts and colours
  • Ability to export entries for a date range, and for the PDF export to show the images full-width, and to be able to select the fonts and colours
  • Applescript support would be amazing

But it’s a great app. It is easy to use, and makes keeping an electronic journal really easy.

You can find out more and get App Store links from their website.

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary review copy from Day One

DEVONThink or Evernote?

I have been a paid user of Evernote for a couple of years and have always found it to be a very good service. However I have become recently more and more frustrated in it, in particular changing the MAC interface to a complex and unintuitive interface, and the reliability of the sycing between the cloud and the IOS app. So I have been looking for an alternative, and I think I may have found it in DEVONThink pro.

Since both DEVONThink and Evernote are used to store and find pretty much anything stored in notebooks (e.g. notes, documents, images, PDF etc), they pretty much do the same thing. In some ways DEVONThink does it much better than Evernote, but there are a few limitations as well.

Here is a feature comparison (this is not an exhaustive list of all the features, just what I consider to be most important for me), and some general comments after. While I have tried to keep this feature comparison as objective as possible, it is based on my own experience. Versions compared are Evernote v5.0.6 (MAC) and DevonThink Pro v2.5.1.

Feature Evernote DEVONThink
Platform Cross platform Mac and iOS only
Groups Notebooks can be stored in a single group (Evernote calls them stacks), but they cannot be nested in multiple levels Notebooks can be stored in groups, and groups can be nested.Notes can also be replicated and stored in multiple folders. EG I have a single list of items I need for photoshoots which is stored in both my photography and my travel folder.Smart groups allow for documents in different folders to be visible in a single place. For example I can view all WIP documents in a single place.
Tagging Tags supported Tags and labels (WIP, completed etc) supported
Browser plugins Yes Yes
Email notes directly to a notebook Yes No
Mobile Sync Over the air Over the air (mac to mac), but only via wifi for IOS. Note that version 2 of IOS is due soon which will support over the air sync. Of course the wifi sync is super-fast (since only the local network is involved).It is easy to select which notes or notebooks to sync (just replicate them to a “mobile sync” folder).You can also sync to dropbox and webdav
File formats Evernote; propriety format with limited export ability. Notes are all regular file formats (pdf, jpg, rtf etc), so it is easy to get the notes out should you wish to migrate the notes somewhere else
Search Saved searches supported. Search is slow Saved searches supported via smart groups. Search is super-fast
3rd Party support Lots of 3rd party applications that connect to Evernote, as well as apps created by them (eg Hello and Food app) Applescript support allows for extension of capability into other applications.
Editing internal editor Limited Since the files are stored in the file system, you can use any external editor (e.g. Textedit for RTF, preview for images etc). However the internal editor generally good enough.
Sharing Yes and very easy Yes but a little more complex
Note templates No Yes (eg: new agenda)
Size limits Limits depending if you have a free or paid package, but very generous limits. Since the files are stored on the computer, no limits
Costs Free and paid versions (annual fees) Pay for s/w, but no subscription costs, but it will take about 3 years to break even in cost compared to Evernote
Mobile version offline access (iPhone) Supported, but I never could get it to reliably work (at last check it told me that I had about 100tb used when I actually had about 100mb used) Supported via wifi

And now for some subjective comments.

Evernote

While the Evernote IOS application looks really nice, it is overly complex and cumbersome to use. In other words it looks pretty but is not friendly. When sync works it is great, but it constantly seems to be wanting to update notebooks, and the updates seemed to take forever. Of course it has online sync, whereas the DEVONThink products do not (yet – see below).

The PC desktop version is great, and the MAC version was until a recent update in which it became very unintuitive. I had to do an online search to find out how to do a simple thing like delete a notebook.

DEVONThink

The DEVONThink IOS application is very simple, but it is easy to use, search is accessibly (and fast), and navigation is really fast and easy. Sync can only be performed via wifi and not though the cloud (although a new version is due this year which will support sync via the cloud).

It reminds me of using the beautiful OmniFocus interface, similar, easy to use but powerful. This is a good companion product for the GTD junkies and OmniFocus users. While both are simple and intuitive, they are powerful products and have loads of useful features. It is not the cheapest products, but after using it for a few weeks you will wonder how you ever got by without it.

It integrates into almost anything, and getting information into and out of it is a breeze. I feel less “locked in” than with Evernote.

Overall (and yes I am coming from a grumpy Evernote experience), I think that DEVONThink is the winner, it will be my product of choice.

You can download a 30 evaluation version of DEVONThink, or the free version of Evernote and decide for yourself.

Disclosure: free license for both iPhone and MAC were provided by DEVONThink for my evaluation.

Charteo review – create custom slide decks

Here is an interesting way to create your presentations. It’s an online tool called Charteo, which allows you to create a custom slide deck based on a selection of over 10000 online slides. In summary, you pick and choose your slides and create a custom desk.

Select whatever slides you need, and once you are ready, checkout and it will create a downloadable PowerPoint presentation containing all your slide which you can then edit and customise as you wish.

Virtual deck

My virtual deck in progress.

You can either buy credits up front  and use them as you go, (starting at EUR 29 for 40 credits, scaling through to EUR 399 for unlimited credits).

They sell bundled slide decks to be customised for your own requirements. Eg the SWOT deck contains a selection of slides that would typically be used when doing a SWOT analysis. These decks can help you to rapidly put together presentations with a consistent feel (the bundles are also a lot cheaper than the bespoke decks).

Sample SWOT deck

Example of SWOT Bundled slide deck.

While I did not look through all their slides (they have over 10000), I had no difficulty finding suitable slides from my presentation. The website is also really easy and intuitive to use. Here is an example of it in use. Firstly a rough outline for a hypothetical speech:

Toastmasters Southern Africa

  • 9 countries
  • 9 divisions
  • 140 clubs
  • Club recognition
  • 10 goals
  • distinguished clubs
  • select distinguished clubs
  • president distinguished clubs

The trick with a tool like this is to firstly define your basic presentation layout and figure out what you are wanting to depict, and only then  use the website to find slides that match what you are trying to achieve. Otherwise you will find yourself falling in, and spending hours looking all the different layouts, and emerge having seen some great slides, but with little to show for it.

So here is how my slides look after I downloaded the sample deck and customised the content. I am really impressed at the quality of the slides. Start to finish took me about 20 minutes.

I think its a great tool that can help to make your presentations more effective (esp with the icons, graphing and charting slides), but I hesitate at the cost. At roughly EUR 4 per slide, it can quickly get expensive.

Would I use it for my everyday presentations? Probably not (simply because of cost). Would I use it for important business presentations where I can allocate budget? Absolutely; it will save you a lot of time and create some great decks.

It’s a pretty good tool, and I recommend that you give it a testdrive yourself.

Note that Charteo gave me 30 free credits to test with, which I used to create my test deck, and if you use the coupon code charteo10 in the provided field in the shopping cart, you will get a EUR 10 discount.

A freebee from the best

I have listened to Darren LaCroix’s “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week” CD’s several times, and they provide great insight into the business and art of public speaking.

Darren has now gone a step further by offering offering 52 weekly modules (IE 1 year) via email for free. You can signup or find out more here.

Create great docs from PowerPoint – review of George! for PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a great tool for creating presentations, but it has never been particularly good at creating documentation or handouts. However, it is a huge amount of work to maintain two completely separate sets of documents.

Enter George! for PowerPoint by Leaders Guide Pro. They kindly gave me a free license to play with the product.

This simple little addin fills the gap very nicely by providing a simple yet powerful documentation creating capability for PowerPoint.

Some of the features are:

  • Create table of contents for your handouts
  • A variety of elegant document templates, with titles, page numbers, headers and footers
  • Can create speaker notes or delegate handouts
  • Custom logos can be added to your documents
  • It is very easy to use

Here is what a typical PowerPoint handout looks like. Nothing wrong with it, but kind of boring.

boring version

But put it through George!…

handouts

Notice the header at the top, and copyright details at the bottom.

 

table of contents

You can finally add a table of contents to your handouts.

 

set-up docs

A variety of templates to choose from.

Tagging

George! uses a simple process called “tagging” to create the table of contents.

Would I buy it – yes! Would I recommend it? Yes if you find yourself creating handouts on a regular basis from your presentations. If you are just using it for Speaker Notes, then the default printing capability of PowerPoint will probably be ok.

George! uses Microsoft Word to create the actual documents (I suspect the Office scripting engine), and as a result the actual document generation process is a little slow (especially for large documents). So, best to create your documents and grab a coffee or something while you wait. However the results are worth it.

You can buy George! for about $40 from Leaders Guide Pro.

A final comment: I had a few problems getting my free license to work. Nancy from Leaders Guide Pro was absolutely superb with assisting me, providing support and follow-up. Full marks for their customer support.

How to make money as a speaker without charging a speaking fee

I am in the process of assisting with the organisation of our Toastmasters Conference in Southern Africa. Now, because we are not for profit, we have very little money to pay our guest speakers.

However for many of the speakers, they are literally losing income by not accepting a paid gig when they are speaking to us for no cost. So for one of our speakers, we needed to figure out a way to make it work.

Then, I something that I learned in a CD course called “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week“, by Darren laCroix came to mind, and that is that there are ways to make money as a speaker without charging a platform fee.

One of the easiest of these is Back of Room Sales, or BORS. Very simply, in exchange for speaking for free, you  arrange with the conference team to provide you with facilities to sell your products after your presentation. In fact, very often you will do this regardless of your speaking fee.

So, our conference team approached the speaker with the following suggestions:

  1. We provide a high-profile table with two volunteers to assist on the day of his speech
  2. We sell his products in our “stock shop”, for the duration of the conference, and all proceeds go to him
  3. He speaks directly before a tea break, so that he has an opportunity to work the room, sign books etc directly after his speech
  4. If 20% of the delegates buy his book at R100, that is about R5000 he will be making, which is not bad, considering that he could have received nothing at all for the presentation

We took this offer to him, and he gladly accepted our proposal. This was truly a win-win situation.

So, as a speaker, are you going to do something similar? If you are approached to speak, and they cannot afford to pay you (or to pay you much), how about suggesting a similar arrangement.

Now, some of you are saying that you don’t have a product. Here is a secret from Darren. “That does not matter!” If you have a great speech, you will most likely have books and CD’s that have had an impact on you, books and CD’s that have helped determine your outlook, and influenced your message. Those are perfect places to look at useful products that you can sell at your presentations, get used to the idea of selling products, and make some extra cash. For example, I often speak on PowerPoint, and there are some great books that have helped my shape my views on PowerPoint. These are books that I believe will help anybody to give a great presentation. These are perfect starting points for products.

So, go out there, and sell products!

If you really want to learn about creating and selling products, you need to get the CD set “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week“. By the way, I paid for it in two speaking engagements!