Weeknote 15/2013

Weeknote 15/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Creating two new grids for Mozilla’s Web Literacy standard work with the community. The first one’s here and the second (updated) one is still just on Flickr at the moment.
  • Planning my PELeCON keynote presentation. You have no idea how long it takes to collate, choose and organise animated GIFs.
  • Hosting the weekly Web Literacy standard community call. You can catch up here.
  • Catching up with people like Laura Hilliger, Tim RichesLucy Neale and StJohn Smith.
  • Editing the Wikipedia article for Open Badges. Only a bit, though. Must revisit.
  • Moderating a Connected Learning TV webinar featuring Liz Lawley and her work around a ‘gaming layer’ for students and academics.
  • Travelling to Plymouth by train, plane and automobile (literally) for PELeCON.
  • Attending, keynoting and running a workshop at PELeCON. The animated GIFs from my keynote aren’t so animated on Slideshare, so you may want to try this Evernote notebook. Photos are here (when they’ve finished uploading)

Next week I’m in Sweden keynoting and running a workshop at the Swedish equivalent of BETT. Better get planning…

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Weeknote 12/2013

Weeknote 12/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Delayed coming back from the DML Conference in Chicago (my write-up of the conference is here). My flight was cancelled due to the First Officer being ‘sick’ on St. Patrick’s Day. 😉 My subsequent flight was delayed meaning I didn’t get home until Tuesday lunchtime!
  • Taking a day off to spend with my family.
  • Working with Matt Thompson on a diagram to explain what Mozilla’s Web Literacy standard is for. It still needs some work before sharing more widely!
  • Summarising the previous week’s Web Literacy standard work.
  • Booking travel to OER13 and the PELeCON conference, both of which I’m keynoting. Also booked flights to the Mozilla All-Hands meeting in Toronto in May.
  • Planning out my OER13 keynote in Evernote. I’ll be talking about ambiguity, Open Badges and Web Literacy.
  • Talking to people who may want to align with the draft version of the Web Literacy standard being launched on April 26th.
  • Continuing to talk to people/organisations about Open Badges.
  • Writing an abstract for the PLE conference (with Tim Riches) and sending Brian Kelly a title and abstract for IWMW13.
  • Helping interview a potential new hire to our team.
  • Getting things sorted for Nesta’s One Day Digital event in Edinburgh next Saturday. I’m running a workshop on Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker and taking my family up for Friday/Saturday.

Next week I’ll be returning to the place of my birth (Nottingham) for the OER13 conference (Tuesday/Wednesday), continuing to work on the Web Literacy standard stuff and travelling up to Edinburgh on Good Friday with my family for the Nesta event mentioned above.

How to create searchable notes from books using Evernote and your smartphone.

Taking photos of books with Evernote on iOS

Note: This is an update to a previous post.

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:

  • Quick
  • Accurate
  • Citable

I think I’ve got that with the following system. Here’s what to do.

The Basics

  1. 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.
  2. Install the Evernote app both on your computer and your smartphone (I’m using the iOS version)
  3. 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
  4. 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.

Going 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:

  1. Create a Book Clippings notebook
  2. Sort the notes in the notebook to make ensure the note with the front cover is at the top
  3. Select all of the notes, click on ‘Note’ in the top menu and then select Merge Notes
  4. Type out the text you want from each photograph underneath it. Add the page number in brackets afterwards and delete the photo and references.
  5. Repeat. Yes, this takes time.
  6. Drag your tidied-up note into the Book Clippings notebook.
  7. Start reading your next book.

Conclusion

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?

HOWTO: Use Evernote to take notes on books.

Something I’ve started doing recently has revolutionised my ability to synthesise my reading of stuff in paper books. Here’s what I currently do – although there’s probably ways I can improve it (and no doubt something similar is possible using other devices):

You’ll need:

  • An iPhone
  • Evernote app (iPhone and desktop/laptop versions)
  • An internet connection (at some point)

What we’re going to do is to take a picture of a section of text, tag it and add contextual (bibliographic) information, and then send it off to be synced by Evernote.

0. Set up a notebook for your quotations/notes. I use ‘Ed.D. thesis’.

1. Take picture of text

Click on the ‘Snapshot’ option in Evernote. Take your photo of the text you want to capture – make sure you focus correctly!

2. Fill in note details

The title should be something that summarises what you’ve taken a picture of. Tag it appropriately. Click on ‘Append note’ and fill in citation details. Make sure you ‘Select All’ and then ‘Copy’ so that the next time you do this you can use ‘Paste’ and just change the page number!

3. Sync

Once you’ve synced it will appear in Evernote on your desktop/laptop.

4. Synthesise

With all the notes in front of you, it’s easy to synthesise your thinking. It’s fully possible to just to this on the iPhone, but it’s easier given the features and screen real-estate on desktop or laptop.

I use a Moleskine notebook and a good old-fashioned pen for synthesising (or XMind depending on how I’m feeling). It works wonderfully! 🙂

I sync therefore I am.

I use a MacBook Pro. Which I like. A lot.

Increasingly, however, it’s a very powerful thin client. A ‘fat’ client, as it were. Pretty much everything I use now syncs with a cloud-based service:

  • Documents, presentations, etc. are saved to a well-ordered Dropbox folder (automatically syncs with my Windows machine at work and my iPhone). I’ve gone with the 50GB for $9.99/month option.
  • Spotify provides all of my music. This is £9.99/month and, to my mind, worth every penny. I sync offline playlists to my iPhone via wifi but can access almost anything I want over 3G.
  • As Evernote recognises text in images and allows you to search through notes, I’m now using it to ‘take notes’ in books I read for my thesis and pleasure. I currently doing ‘pay as you go’ to upgrade storage as and when I need it through the iPhone app (£2.99/month). At the moment that seems to be most months!

The system works so well that I recently sold our Apple Time Capsule. I’ve got a 1TB external hard disk, but to be honest very rarely use or need it. 😀

10 ways to make your working day more productive

A lot of what makes people ‘productive’ is common-sense. But sometimes this needs spelling out, hence this post. I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. Please let me and fellow readers/subscribers know your tips and strategies in the comments.

Here’s some of my tips!

1. Don’t read emails

If you make the first thing you do in a day reading emails, you’re starting off the day on other people’s terms. Instead, achieve something from your own agenda first, then catch up on what people want to tell you! :-p

2. Read something inspirational

It might be the Bible, it might be some Marcus Aurelius, but make sure you read something (however short) – for a quick fix, try tivate.com!

3. Listen to podcasts

However you travel to work, podcasts are a great way to stop it being ‘dead time’. Audiobooks are also great (try Audible). Here’s the podcasts to which I subscribe:

4. Use an online to-do list

There’s lots of ways people will take money off you to ‘make you more productive’. I love Remember the Milk: it’s simple and free!

5. Share everything you do

If you share with other people, they’re a lot more likely to share with you. This, in turn, reduces your workload and increases your overall productivity. You can share things online through things like a wiki or a forum, or face-to-face.

6. Take pictures

I know very few people who haven’t got a camera built-in to their mobile phone. Instead of writing things out or trying to remember complex things, just snap it with your cameraphone! You could take this one step further if you’ve got an iPhone and use the wonderful Evernote for web-based synchronization. 🙂

7. Make everything you can, digital

The problem with paper is that unless you photocopy it a copy exists in only one location – and can’t search and organize it. If you’re a teacher, make your markbook and attendance registers digital. Plan things using Google Calendar. These things might take some time to set up, but will pay dividends in the long-term.

8. Take breaks

Know your limits. You’re far better of having a 10-15 minute break and coming back to something with fresh(er) eyes and increased motivation than slogging away at an activity non-stop.

9. Drink coffee

Coffee is a stimulant: it contains caffeine. Drinking too much coffee isn’t good for you and can generate withdrawal symptoms. However, drinking a couple of cups per day of good filter coffee increases alertness and attention. I tend to have one in the morning with breakfast and one when I come home from work. You could, in fact, combine coffee with taking a nap and have what Lifehacker calls a ‘coffee nap’ – more here.

10. Prepare well

A productive day actually begins the day before. Be prepared! Pack your bag, get lunch ready (if applicable), iron your clothes, go to bed at a reasonable hour. Done regularly, such a routine makes for large productivity gains. 😀

What are YOUR tips for improving productivity?

(image credit: happy birthday, baby mantis (hello, cruel world) @ Flickr)

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