I switched to Google Tasks

I’ve recently switched to Google Tasks, and there are a few clues as to why in this article. But detailed information is coming soon. I’m currently working on a script for a video explaining the hacks I used to build my system and why it might be a better choice, depending on what Apps and devices you use.

And talking about tasks, there are many videos on my channel about Evernote Tasks and the tutorial below explaining how to set up and use the Obsidian Tasks plugin.

This is a cross-posting test.

How the Vision Pro caught my attention despite my skepticism

It looks like Apple did it again!

No, I haven’t purchased one and do not intend to do so anytime soon, but this is the first device of this type I would ever buy. Confused? Go with me for a moment. It will make sense, I promise.

Even though the Vision Pro isn’t the only Augmented Reality device out there, I always felt like all the others were made for gamers. It might be because of how they are promoted. I don’t know. But since I’m not a gamer, buying a virtual or augmented reality headset simply never crossed my mind.

It’s a computer

From the very beginning, Apple was clearly positioning the Vision Pro as a consumer device, but because of my gaming perspective and the price tag, it was never an item on my radar. Then I watched Casey’s video about it, and something clicked for me. This is definitely not for gamers. It’s not a gimmick for geeks, either. It’s for everyday people who prefer or have to use computers to do their work.

I’m still putting off buying a US$4,000 (after taxes and some accessories) first-gen gadget, but that video sent me on an endless journey on YouTube. Many people are showing it being used as a computer with several giant screens. I other words, one can use it to “work on a computer” with practically no desk space. All that real-world usage really spoke to me. Well, “real-world” might not be the best choice to describe it, but I think you got it.

I could never use the iPad as a Mac replacement. Despite Apple spending a fortune trying to promote it as a computer, it is note a computer. The restrictions imposed by iPadOS make my work much more challenging. The Vision Pro, on the other hand, can be connected to a real computer, and that makes all the difference.

So many Apps

However, a computer is only as good as the software library available for it. And as far as I could understand, everything that works on macOS will work when a Mac is connected. Which kind of brings us back to the old debate about touchscreen Macs, but I digress.

Then there’s visionOS, which has the potential to unleash a wave of new ideas, much like iOS did a long time ago.

And, of course, the younger generation that prefers mobile devices was not left out. Thanks to Scott Forstall’s advocating for the App Store on the iPhone, there’s now an abundance of Apps already available for Vision Pro.

Why not buy it?

Well, first there’s that price tag. Then there is the fact that it is a first-generation device. I waited until the 3GS to buy my first iPhone, and in hindsight, I should probably have waited until the 4S.

There is one thing for sure: Apple won again. I can clearly see myself purchasing a smaller, lighter, and much, much cheaper version of the Vision Pro in the future. And if it makes the Apple stock go up enough, I might be able to score one for free by selling some of what I own to buy its “4S” generation.

Also published on Medium

He was very close to locking himself out of Evernote

This is the story of how I helped him save his notes

Evernote, like many other companies, lets us use two-factor authentication. This means that, once you enable this function, you’ll always need to use a randomly generated code in addition to your password to gain access to your account. I see it as a good security feature that we all should turn on in every App where it’s available.

It’s usually activated by scanning a QR code with a so-called Authenticator App, which then starts generating random numbers. But here’s the catch: if you lose access to that App, you are in trouble because no one else has those codes.

As a last resort, there is always a list of one-time-use numbers that can unlock the account in case of an emergency. But not everyone saves that list, despite being instructed to do it every time we turn on two-factor authentication in an App.

The Problem

This unique combination of problems is beyond my comprehension, but criticizing him for not having the printed list of codes would not help. The facts are that this person only had Evernote logged in on his iPad, and he lost access to the Authenticator App.

I don’t believe the support team at Evernote or any other company would be able to help someone in this situation. After all, the codes are generated on the person’s device.

The suggestion

Before anything else, I asked him to try something that would probably not work on the iPad, but who knows? I’ve heard that some people have disabled the authentication layer by accessing the Evernote settings on the computer App. Unfortunately, as expected, it didn’t work on his iPad.

Time for a more drastic approach.

The plan was to move all his notes to a new account. On the iPad, he would have to go to each notebook and share it with the new account. On the new account, he would then create a local notebook and move the shared notes to it.

An important detail to remember is that one can only move 100 notes at a time, and there’s no way to select multiple notes on mobile clients. So, the easiest way to do everything on his new account is on a computer with Evernote’s App installed.

How can you prevent this from happening?

First, you should remember to take care of the Authenticator App you are using and to print the one-time-use numbers list. By the way, a good place to put this list is wherever you keep all your personal documents.

A password management App is another option. Many of them can read the original QR code and generate the authentication codes. As they are synchronized with the cloud, you will still have access to the information, even in the event of losing or permanently damaging your phone.

However, if you don’t like this type of Apps, you may want to also print the first QR code you have to scan when you create the code generator for that account. That QR code can be used to recreate the code generator on a different Authenticator App. Just be extra careful with where you keep it because anyone with that QR code can recreate the code generator.

Also published on Medium

Will I be able to automatically save my Android photos to Apple Photos?

Even though I adore Google Photos and the endless slideshows on the Google displays I have at home and work, I wouldn’t entrust my memories to any one company. That’s why, for a long time, I’ve been using Google Takeout to download a copy of the photos from the previous year to add them to Apple Photos as a backup. The system works, but it’s too manual and prone to mistakes.

Maybe you don’t know this, but even when you use Google Photos to manage the pictures you take, Android will keep a copy of them in the DCIM folder on your phone. And as far as I know, they will not be automatically deleted. To free up space, you must use the cleanup option or manually delete them. But what if I told you that this inconvenience could work in your favor?

The other day, I had one of those click moments that helped me see this issue as a blessing in disguise. Here’s what I’m currently trying to do as I write this post.

Remember Syncthing? I set it up to synchronize the DCIM folder on the Pixel with a folder I created on my Mac. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please watch the video below explaining how to do it. On it I’m demonstrating how to sync Obsidian, but don’t worry about that. The steps are the same for the DCIM folder.

I am optimistic that this plan will address two issues. The first one is having an easier way to back up my photos, but it will also help me with cleaning up the images that are constantly piling up on my phone. To give you an example, early today, when setting the system up, I discovered 23 GB of old photos and short clips stored on my Android.

It will take a while for all that to be copied to the computer, but the beauty is that Syncthing works both ways. Once the files that have been synchronized with my computer are transferred to Apple Photos and deleted from the folder, they will be automatically deleted on the phone.

This is the very first test I’m doing to make sure Syncthing is correctly transferring everything to the Mac and then deleting the files on the phone when I delete them on the computer. If everything goes well, the next step will be to create an automation to replace the manual process on the Mac side.

This is all for now. When I have further updates about this idea, I’ll publish part two of this article.

Also published on Medium

Have I landed on a highway?

Yesterday’s landing, deboarding, and departure from the Madeira airport were all pretty much the same as the many other airports I’ve been to in my life. But things were about to change in a surprising way.

Today, while driving a rental car, the expressway I was on went below what at first seemed to be a huge highway, supported by an uncountable number of columns. The sight was already impressive, but when I reached the other side and looked in the rearview mirror, I was astonished by what I had just noticed. I had driven below the airport runway.

But that’s not all.

The underpass had many public spaces, such as sports courts, a skate park, a spacious parking lot, restaurants and even a boatyard. Yes, boatyard. Of course, I had to come back at the end of the day to check it all out.

My photos are incapable of accurately depicting the size of the space. It is impressive. According to Wikipedia, there are 180 columns. And in one of Tom Scott’s videos, I learned that they are 50 meters tall, which is another crazy number when we remember that planes are landing and departing from the “roof” above.

His video also explains the reason for the airport’s location. In his words, Madeira is one huge mountain just sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean. And I can confirm that after spending the day going through dozens of the over 150 tunes on the island. It’s hard to imagine something like this, but you can’t drive for more than a few minutes before you come across a new tunnel.

In other words, this was the only place flat enough to build the first runway, which, by the way, was shorter. When the island began to attract more tourists and the planes became larger, it was extended with a platform over the columns, since a landfill was not feasible.

I had a lot of fun geeking out below the airport, and thinking about humankind’s ingenuity, which never fails to impress me. However, this is an amazing island with remarkable sights that humans will never be able to build. Some of them have already blown me away, but there’s still so much to discover.

Have a lovely week, Vlad.

Also published on Medium

Why choose Evernote instead?

Being good at something doesn’t mean it’s easy or that everyone will be able to do it. After helping clients for more than a decade, I can confidently say that the number of people who are not good with technology is much larger than we think.

Today, I started helping a new client who had already told me about his lack of proficiency in technology. In situations like this, Evernote is always my top choice because it’s easy to understand and use.

In about 20 minutes, my client was comfortable with the user interface and the simple structure of notes and notebooks. Tags and tasks were also part of the explanation, but I told him to ignore them for now. Even in such a short time, I was able to show him all the basics and how Evernote Home can be used as a summary of all the information he has in the app.

Next, I helped him strategically think about and create some notebooks that he’ll be using to add content for the next few days.

In half an hour, a person who is very uncomfortable with technology was already creating notebooks, adding information, and moving notes to organize things on his own. That’s how intuitive Evernote is.

If everything goes as planned, he will arrive at the next session with many more notes and some discomfort with organizing and finding information. Yes, you read that right. It is intuitive, but it can’t do miracles.

This is when we’ll start creating his mindful workflow. I’ll be helping him make sense of all his content while introducing strategies using tags, widgets, or whatever else. It will all depend on how he describes what he is having a hard time finding or doing.

Baby Steps

Not only is he uneasy with technology, he also has his business and personal life activities to take care of. Like several others in his position, he cannot afford the time it takes to learn the fancy apps and methodologies productivity gurus love to sell as magical solutions

That’s why I try to constantly remind myself that many people can only improve their lives with technologies and workflows that are straightforward to understand and use.

That’s it for today. I hope you have a great week.

Plugins might be the missing link for Evernote’s success

Over the years, I’ve heard CEOs say it’s tough to change things or add new features because we all use Evernote differently.

In my opinion, Ian Small, the former CEO, said it best. People often refer to it as My Evernote because, in fact, it is an entirely different experience when compared to the way others use it. That’s why when the company releases something new, some people will love it, while others will see it as a waste of time and resources.

An ecosystem of compatible Apps

If we go way back to the beginning of the Phil Libin era as CEO, the App was much simpler. To add new features, businesses and developers would use the API to create a myriad of compatible services that, in a sense, functioned as plugins. Even Evernote, the company, would create separate Apps if they wanted to experiment with new ideas.

These Apps were listed on Evernote’s website in a space called Evernote Trunk, which was later renamed App Center. Those of you who were not users back then would not believe in the number of services available.

Eventually, Libin’s team began adding new features to the main App. But, the upcoming CEO, Chris O’Neal, took the opposite approach. In an effort to maximize the firm’s resources, he began discontinuing Apps and removing numerous features. That trend, for some reason, never stopped. Even today, features are still being removed. Nonetheless, new ones have also been added. Evernote 10 introduced Home, Tasks, Widgets and many others. And more recently, Bending Spoons add many AI options.

Being in the position of approving, rejecting, and removing features must be extremely challenging. Especially because it has a significant impact on so many people.

As an example, I enjoyed the Evernote map feature, but let’s be honest, how many people actually need to see their notes on a map? Likewise, I always wanted a way to see my notes on a Kanban board. For a long time, there was even a Kanban beta that never saw the light of day. Yet again, does it make sense to spend time and resources developing a feature like this? How many people are likely to use it?

The plugins approach

If the decision to remove or introduce features was a daunting task before the acquisition of Evernote, one can only imagine the current situation after significant staff reductions. But maybe it doesn’t have to be like that.

Remember the App Center? Many people didn’t know about that section on the website. And if they managed to get there, things wouldn’t be easy.

First, not everything would be an App. Some were more about connecting and synchronizing with Evernote. Others I would not even know how to categorize. For example, there was a substitute client for the Mac called Alternote. It was a fully functioning App, but Evernote didn’t build or maintain it. A developer from Ukraine was the responsible for it. Amazingly, the Alternote website is still up, so you can go there to see some of the amazing screenshots. I hope you’re getting a sense of how powerful the API was.

Do you remember the map and Kanban system I talked about before? Obsidian also doesn’t have these features. It doesn’t even have a task feature like Evernote does. However, I can do all of these and much more using plugins.

I’ve got a suggestion

What if Bending Spoons were to stop adding new features to Evernote? Possibly, even remove some of the current features to make the App easier to use and maintain. This would mean that fewer company resources would be needed. What if they were to transform it into something simple and elegant, such as Alternote? What about having a plugins space like Obsidian, instead of the cumbersome Trunk experience?

I do not have numbers or any inside information, but I think it is reasonable to say that this would make maintaining the App much easier and would possibly incentivize developers to innovate, as has never been done before. Naturally, it is imperative that the API is still working as before to make something like this possible.

It would also mean bringing Evernote back to its roots as a note-taking App, which would attract people who don’t like all the new features. At the same time, the plugins would make so many innovations possible. And those who are very specific about how the App should be, would be able to easily create their own My Evernote.

I’d love to know what you think about this idea.

Also published on Medium