Jul 29

phone and specs

Anyone who is farsighted will know all about the hassle involved in trying to read something up close and do other things at the same time. For example, you’re trying to cook from a recipe on your tablet. Or you’re on holiday in a city you don’t know well. You got your maps, itinerary, etc on your smartphone but you have to continually put on your glasses to see the smartphone display then take them off to see where you are. And on and off…  As someone who had perfect vision when I was younger, I find it all pretty frustrating.

I’d often thought there’s got to be some sort of lens I could put over the display so I could dispense with glasses. Well, there’s hope in sight (pardon the pun) for the longsighted and those with more serious vision problems. It seems that vision-correcting displays may become a reality in a few years time. This was one of the more interesting posts I read last week on Mashable. A collaboration between researchers at University of California, Berkeley , MIT and Microsoft has come up with an algorithm to alter an image based on a person’s glasses prescription together with a light filter in front of a display. The algorithm alters the light from each pixel in such a way that, when fed through the filter, it reaches the retina of the eye creating a sharp, high contrast image. Basically the image is adjusted to take into account the inability of the eye to focus on it. And I guess anyone with perfect vision will just see a blurred display on your phone so that may be a bonus.

So keep an eye out (sorry again) for vision-correcting displays coming to your smartphones and tablets.

Vision-Correcting Display Could Free Users From Their Glasses –  Mashable

Jul 23


Evernote append

Is it possible to append to existing notes in Evernote? That’s a question I read recently on a forum. Although I’ve been using Evernote for four or five years now, and despite having read hundreds of posts where people outline how to use Evernote, I wasn’t sure of the answer. So I did some research and I discovered that in the simplest sense, you can’t send stuff to append automatically to an existing note, not within Evernote itself. By that I mean there isn’t a dialog box or right-click menu giving you the option to append to an existing note, or similarly when you clip a webpage to Evernote using the Web Clipper, there is currently no option to append it to an existing note.

No doubt that will all come to Evernote eventually, but I can tell you some ways that you can use to append to existing notes in Evernote.

Manually append to your current Evernote note

A note doesn’t have to be just one clipped webpage or one clipped recipe for example. Just in case you hadn’t realised this, it is possible to edit a note manually and add stuff before it or after it. For example, if you’ve used the Evernote Web Clipper to create a new note, there’s nothing stopping you appending stuff before or after it. For example, you could paste in text, images, etc.

Merge to append a set of Evernote notes to one of the notes

Evernote merge notes

You can also merge two or more notes into one note so I guess this constitutes appending to a note. Just select the notes you want to merge in the Note List. The F11 key will bring up the Note List if you don’t see it. Then select Merge as shown above. They may appear in a disordered heap as in the left panel above, but they will be merged in the order oldest note at the bottom of the merged note and newest note at the top. The merged note will take the title of the newest note as in the right panel above. You can then delete the titles of the individual notes if you want and rename the merged note. And all the tags in the individual notes will also be brought into the merged note.

Your Evernote email address can append an email to an Evernote note

This is one feature I didn’t know about. Using your Evernote email address, you can append the contents of an email to an existing note in Evernote. Didn’t know you had an Evernote email address? Well you can find it under Tools>Account Info. Add it to your contacts in your email client to save having to remember it. The proviso is that the subject line of the email and the title of the existing Evernote note must be the same. If you have two Evernote notes with the same title, the email will be appended to the more recent note. This also works for appending email attachments. All you have to do is put a ‘+’  at the end of the email subject line as in this example:

Test note 4  @Miscellaneous +

In my simple example above, an email with this subject line and sent to my Evernote email address will be added to the merged note I created above called Test note 4 in my Miscellaneous notebook. I don’t think you need to include the notebook name but it may help to append the email to the correct note if you already have the same note name in different notebooks. I can see the benefits of this if you wanted to say create a log of something. You’d just email your notes to Evernote and they’d all be appended in a continuous log with the oldest email at the top of the note and the newest at the bottom. As you can see below, my text emails are appended at the bottom of Test note 4.

Evernote emails appended to note


Append a log of PDF annotations to a PDF note

So what else can you append? Well, if you’re an Evernote Premium user you can annotate your PDFs.  Annotation is built into the Evernote for Mac version and a summary of your annotations are appended at the top of the PDF. Here’s a good guide to annotating PDFs on a Mac. Hopefully, it’ll come to Windows soon. In the meantime, again if you’re a Premium user, you can annotate PDFs in Evernote on Android and iOS devices and a summary of the annotations will be appended at the start of the PDF. If you want to know more about this, here’s a great post on reading and annotating journal articles in Evernote.

Use Drafts to append to an existing Evernote note (iPhone/iPad)

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can use the Drafts app to append to an existing Evernote note. I use Android so I haven’t tried this but Jamie Rubin gives a detailed guide here.

Use IFTTT to append data to an existing Evernote note

You can also use IFTTT (If This Then That) to append data to an Evernote note. If you don’t know about IFTTT, it’s worth checking out. Here’s a link to a great guide to IFTTT from MakeUseOf. Basically, a ‘Trigger’ plus an ‘Action’ make a ‘Recipe’. Once you’ve signed up, among other things, you can start to use readymade IFTTT recipes to automatically send stuff and have it appended to an existing Evernote note.

If you search for ‘Evernote append’ on IFTTT, you’ll come up with over 1,600 readymade recipes ranked by the number of people using them. The recipes can include: adding tweets, favourited tweets, FourSquare checkins, Facebook status updates, new book wish-list for your Kindle, iOS reminders etc., all appending to an Evernote note. And if you can’t find the recipe you want, you can make your own with – Append to Note.  This Action can be used to create recipes which will append to an Evernote note as determined by its title and notebook. Once a note’s size reaches 2MB, a new note will be created.

Here are just a few examples of readymade IFTTT recipes which append different kinds of data to an Evernote note:

Collect ebook highlights in a single Evernote note

Create an Evernote list of bestsellers to read

Log when you enter and leave a place and append that to an Evernote note

Append a line to an Evernote note every time you tweet – creating an effective backup solution

Archive your Foursquare check-ins in one Evernote note

Save a diary of all your Facebook status updates to an Evernote note

Use Zapier to append data to an existing Evernote note

Zapier provides a service like IFTTT with Actions and Triggers except that combinations of these are called Zaps. For Evernote, they have an Append to Note action. You can read more about it here.

Well I hope that’s given you some ideas to take Evernote a little further. What sort of stuff do you append to Evernote notes? Have I missed any other ways to append stuff?

Jul 9

Windows 7 and Linux Mint

Those of you who are following this series of posts where I set up a Lenovo laptop to run Linux will remember that two weeks ago I created an image of my base Windows 7 installation. I’m now at the stage of dual booting the Windows 7 installation with a Linux distro.

Which Linux distro?

One of the first challenges with switching to Linux is the vast choice of Linux distributions (or distros) available. However, for those new to Linux, Ubuntu or Linux Mint are generally highly recommended. But the choice doesn’t end there. Having settled on a distro, you now have to choose a desktop environment, or desktop for short. A desktop is just a set of programs running on a particular operating system and which share a common graphical user interface. Choosing a particular desktop isn’t critical as you can change that later without having to reinstall Linux.

So I settled on the Linux Mint 17 distro with the KDE desktop environment. Why Mint? Well I have a netbook still happily running Ubuntu and I wanted to give Linux Mint a spin. I had read a number of good reviews of Mint 17 KDE and I had already installed KDE’s Dolphin browser in Ubuntu and liked it. Having said that, I’ve just listened to a review of Mint 17 KDE on the latest Mintcast podcast and they weren’t exactly blown away by it. I think I could sum up their review up as: if you like KDE then Mint 17 KDE  is worth checking out.

If you’re undecided about which distro or which desktop environment, or even whether your choice will run on your hardware and what it will look like, you can evaluate them all by downloading the isos, burning them to DVDs or your USB stick and running them from there as what’s called a live CD.

Downloading Mint

This is really straightforward. You just head over to the Mint website and download the iso file you want, then burn it to a DVD or to a USB drive. Here are the current choices for Mint:

Linux Mint versions

I chose Linux Mint KDE 64-bit, downloaded the iso which took about 40 minutes and  burned it to a DVD using my favourite free burner ImgBurn. I then ran the DVD as a live version first. This just means booting up Linux Mint from the DVD or USB drive without installing it first. Everything went fine – it even found my Netgear router straightaway, unlike my earlier Windows 7 reinstall which needed Lenovo utilities to be reinstalled before it would find the router and connect.

Tip: Running a live version is a great way to check out the look of a desktop environment, and whether the distro will run on your hardware and recognise your peripherals like your router, all without installing anything on your hard drive.

Partitioning the hard drive and dual booting

As this was my first time to try dual booting, I did a bit of research online to see what sort of problems people run into. A few places mentioned going into the BIOS first when Windows is booting and making sure that UEFI Secure Boot is turned off and that the UEFI/Legacy Boot Priority is set to Legacy First. I also installed the free version of the utility EasyBCD in Windows as this is required later to add an entry for Linux Mint 17 in Windows 7′s boot menu. It’s all explained in the walk-through mentioned in the next paragraph.

I won’t go into the whole partitioning and dual boot procedure because it will just duplicate what you can already find online. I found a great walk-through for dual booting Windows 7 and Linux Mint 11 at Linuxbs. Although I’m installing Mint 17, the procedure is virtually the same. The only place I found it differed was in Allocate Drive Space. The option to choose here is Manual as the other options are to use the entire disk, which I didn’t want to do as I wanted to retain Windows 7 on a partition.

Tip: I found that dual booting article so helpful that I’ve clipped it to Evernote so if I ever have to refer back to it again for any reason, and the page has been taken down or the website has gone, I have a copy!

You’ll note in that walk-through there are two ways to dual boot. 1. Install GRUB 2, the Linux Mint boot loader, in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the disk, or 2. Install Windows 7′s boot loader in the MBR. I chose the second option and that’s the option chosen in that walk-through. When choosing partition size for my 500 GB laptop hard drive, I pretty much gave half to Windows 7 and half to Mint 17.

I found the whole partitioning and dual booting procedure went flawlessly and I can now dual boot into either Windows 7 or Linux Mint 17 KDE. The next post in this series will look at getting up and running with Mint.

Have you tried dual booting Windows and Linux? Any problems? Which distro and desktop did you choose? And what are you running now?

Jul 1

Highland forest

I’m at the stage in life where I have more years behind me than in front so I’m starting to get the feeling that time is running out. Running out for doing things I should have done by now… and doing new things before it’s too late. So much to do, so little time. I’ve blogged about making the most of our spare time before if you’re interested.

Stuff I should have done

This probably hits most of us. There’s always tomorrow to do this or that job, or visit this or that place. We’ve just had distant relatives over here from Australia, and they’ve visited parts of Scotland I haven’t even been to yet! Having said that, they are retired and have time on their hands. So I need to put that one right and see a bit more of my beautiful country and try out some of the ever increasing number of pathways through the Highlands of my native Scotland.

What else should I have done – well, I’m an average cook, but I really should try to cook more from scratch. It’s really easy to get a ready meal, shove it in the oven and go back to work while it heats. No excuse really – I certainly have plenty of cookbooks amassed from charity/thrift shops, so I must get into that.

Stuff I should learn

What can I still accomplish? Well I’d love to learn programming. But that’s one area I’ve never really got round to. It’s just so hard to know where to start. There’s no quick way to achieve this without putting in a significant number of hours. I should say that I vaguely remember learning some basic Fortran in school way back in the late 1960s in the days of mainframes and punched cards, but I never saw the possibilities. Who did? Well, I’m kicking myself I didn’t spot it. Who would have imagined that within 40 years, programmers would be coding apps for computers that you carry round in your pocket – or even wear! And I’ve still missed the boat. I must have some deep seated hankering to code though. After all, I’ve bought books on PHP and WordPress, bookmarked loads of webpages on coding and coding courses, learned basic HTML, and just today, I signed up for a bunch of courses on Stack Overflow before I really knew what I’d done, just because I thought it was a bargain. It’s much easier to learn new skills these days with all the online resources we have available now. But can I learn to code at this late stage? Can I spare the time? That’s the big question. Is it too late for me now? What would I do with the skill? Am I better off spending my spare time just wandering through the Highlands of Scotland enjoying the sites, and travelling abroad? How do I best use the time left to me?

It’s never too late

When I look back on my life so far, I can see areas where I’ve devoted time that could have been better spent on other things. Yes, we’ve all been there and it’s only when we look back, we realise what a waste of time that weekly commitment was. Too much time in front of the telly, too much time spent chasing other fruitless pursuits.

But it’s best not to look back too much. Look forward and try to achieve a few more things, that’s my aim now. Who knows when ill-health may strike. So for me, among other things,  it’s cooking, photography, travel more, here and abroad, and learn more about Linux. I’ve just dual booted my Lenovo laptop with Windows 7 and Linux Mint 17 KDE and I’m pleased with the result. More on that in the next post. And finally, I must try to at least open a programming book!

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