Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘evernote

I was writing in Evernote recently when I copied information from email into a note. I had done this many times before, but this time I was copying into the web version of Evernote because the free version limited the app to two devices.

For reasons unknown to me, the formatted text removed everything in my notes except for the first two lines. Evernote synced this across all my devices and I lost several weeks of writing.

A while ago I could have retrieved my notes on some other device. I could have also visited the history of the note and rolled back to an earlier state.

But not in the current version of Evernote. I had to pay to access my notes offline or to go back in note time.

It was pay or redo a lot of work. I could not possibly remember everything I wrote — that is why I took notes — so I resorted to paying for a year’s premium subscription.

I could not even pay a bit less for the mid-tier plan (the plus plan) because it did not offer the note history tool.

I felt like victim of ransomware — malware that prevents you from accessing your files or data until you pay up for a key to unlock it.

The premium plan was USD57.98 a year. Fortunately, I remembered an email message in June offering a 50% discount. The deadline had elapsed, but I found that the offer was still valid. So while I paid less, I still paid up.

It was a painful reminder to use more reliable tools. I will be moving some active writing elsewhere and will probably use Evernote for archiving in future.

Evernote’s logo is an elephant because the pachyderms never forget. I am not forgetting this warning and lesson.


I pin tabs in Chrome because the pinned sites reflect who I am and the work I do.

My first tab is to Gmail. This is my longer form and more official communication channel after I get initial messages via SMS, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger, Hangouts, etc.

The second tab is Google Calendar. When someone makes an appointment, I set aside some quality time in my calendar. It helps me stay organised and pings me with reminders.

My third pinned tab is a recent tool, Google Keep. I keep reminders and to-do lists there. If I was an assassin, I would have a to-kill list there.

Just kidding, I would use a password-protected Apple Notes tab for that for security. I have this extra pinned tab in my Chromebook because everything else I have is macOS or iOS, and Notes is available as a standalone app on those platforms.

My next tab is Evernote. The company that made Evernote recently limited the app version to just two devices with free accounts, so I only use the app on my iPhone and iPad. All my other devices depend on the web version. I have this tab open right now because I draft blog entries in Evernote instead of WordPress.

The next two tabs are for information-gathering, reading, and sharing. I have Feedly (to manage and update my RSS subscriptions) and Tweetdeck (for Twitter streams). Currently I estimate that I process 300 articles via Feedly and at least 1000 tweets every day. I do not read every article and link because not everything is relevant or important. However, doing this helps me keep my finger on the pulse on what is important to me.

My initial reaction to Evernote limiting the free plan to two devices and increasing the prices of its paid plans was similar to almost everyone else’s.


I read what edubloggers like @rmbyrne shared about moving to Google Keep and what ProfHacker shared about alternatives.

LifeHacker carried similar PSAs and shared how-tos on moving to Notes in macOS, Microsoft’s OneNote, and several other platforms.

I was thinking of migrating from Evernote and trawled though hundreds of notes dating back to 2010 to streamline the export process. I rediscovered that they were not just notes of the textual sort. I had articles, screenshots, vacation memories, and even portfolio elements [example].

Anyone who has done an export-import process from one platform to another knows that critical elements get lost. Housekeeping six years worth of artefacts after migrating them is not my idea of fun. It is not something that can be done over a long weekend. In fact, I started the process of culling Evernote notes months ago with reminders in Google Keep to egg me on.

The changes to individual notes are not the issue. I invested much time and effort in my Evernote notes because I categorise, tag, and link them one to another. I fear that exporting from Evernote will break the web of links between them. For me this would be like disrupting my neurons and losing my mind. Evernote has become a technological extension of my biological brain.

Evernote plans.

Drama aside, the move by Evernote allows users under the Free plan to connect just two devices to the service. I used this link to check how many devices were connected to Evernote.

Since the web version is not part of that quota, I can keep the Evernote app in my iPhone and iPad while using the web version on computers. This necessitates being online, but that is my default state anyway.

One inconvenience of relying on Evernote Web is the need to authorise each computer via two-factor authentication and to reauthenticate every 30 days.

Another con that I have discovered by using a Chromebook is that Evernote Web seems to create multiple copies of the same note. However, this issue seems to be linked to my need to activate VPN when I am on public wifi. When my VPN gets disconnected and I reconnect, Evernote Web seems to consider this another session and creates a copy instead of reusing an existing note.

The pros are that I get pass code/Touch ID-locked notes in iOS devices while being able to access my notes on a computer through a web interface. The latter seems slower than using a dedicated app, but that is the price to pay if I want to have my (smaller) cake and eat it too.


This is Part 3 of what I am learning with and from my new Toshiba Chromebook 2. Click these links for Part 1 (first impressions) and Part 2 (setting up a VPN connection).

The Chromebook might not be quite the workhorse like my MacBook Pro — it is more like a workpony — but it gets work done if it is given the right extensions.

By extensions I mean peripherals, Chromebook apps, and Chrome browser extensions. As I conduct courses and workshops that have strong ICT components, I share what I use to trick up my pony.

I tested two remotes — a Logitech presenter and a generic air mouse — on my Chromebook with Google Slides. They worked as flawlessly.

I also connected a USB dongle (Asus WL-330NUL) that serves as both a LAN cable adapter and a portable router. That, too, worked like a charm.


The Chromebook’s HDMI video port is great for modern flatscreen TVs but quite useless in most conference halls and classrooms. So I have an HDMI-to-VGA converter I purchased a while ago. I mentioned in Part 1 that the video outputs default to extended screen. I did not mention that the video might not retain the right aspect ratio and this requires manual correcting.

To keep my one USB 2.0 port and other USB 3.0 port free for peripherals, I rely on a 64GB Sandisk microSD card in an adapter in the SD slot. The microSD is great for holding videos or backups of presentation files.

Even though rarely print on dead trees, I learnt how to add a cloud-linked printer to the Chromebook. While printing a confirmation letter, I discovered that the default paper size was oddly set at 4″ by 6″.

Chromebook extensions
I use most of the same extensions in my Chromebook’s browser as I have on my desktop and laptop. However, I installed a few extras to help with presentations at seminars, classes, or workshops.

  • Keep Awake: Prevents the Chromebook from going to sleep.
  • Zoom: Functions like a proper magnifier instead of just increasing font size. While good for zooming in, it is not good for showing what I type because the zoom point misaligns the type prompt.

I have also installed Gmail Offline because I do not always have an Internet connection. My Google Drive is also offline, but I think only about the last 100 files are synced at a time.

Chromebook apps
So far I have installed just two must-have apps.

  • VLC: This media player handles just about any media file format, even those that the Chromebook’s default media player cannot.
  • Evernote: At the moment I have the app that seems to have been ported over from Android. There is a web version I have not yet tried.

I also use Apple’s iCloud version of Notes, which I keep as a pinned tab in Chrome. The other pinned tabs are: Gmail, Google Calendar, Feedly, and TweetDeck.

I practice what I preach. I tell teachers that learning how to use technology is often a matter of adapting to the new normal and transferring previously learnt skills.

While I am almost always connected online, the Chromebook has reminded me how to strategise and economise, e.g., when and how to work offline. To maximise what it offers, I transfer what I already know from other instruments and platforms, e.g., setting up a VPN, getting a better video viewing experience, or projecting technically clear presentations.

By adapting and transferring, the learning is not steep and is actually fun to do.

This LifeHacker article advises that you not tag Evernote posts because tagging disrupts workflow, particularly for creative thinking. However, this argument is flawed in more ways than one.

One assumption is that tagging happens during the processes of creative work. This not only adds to cognitive load, it also is a distraction. However, it does not consider tagging only at the end of the process. This is like doing a summary reflection as part of a disciplined process.

Tagging at the end also attempts to capture the essence or concepts of a process or a learning experience. In cognitive terms, this adds to mental schema. We tend not to remember details; we prefer broad concepts when faced with overwhelming information. The tags aid recall of details by first activating broad concepts.

Creative thinking is not just a result random inspiration. It can be part of a disciplined process. Inspiration can strike when people have a disciplined routine that helps the mind relax and make seemingly serendipitous connections. These activities might take the form of runs, meditation, doodling, blogging, or a host of other regularly scheduled activities.

I tag constantly. I tag my daily blog entries, Diigo bookmarks, Evernote items, and files on my Mac. This not only helps with recall, it also helps me make connections between seemingly disparate concepts. If this is not creative thinking, I do not know what is.

Video source

Spoiler alert!

The Secret Weapon (TSW) is Getting Things Done (GTD) with a tool like Evernote.


Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: