A Qool OneNote competitor or a Qool OneNote companion

qoolWhile I am a huge OneNote fan, I use it everyday, I am always on the lookout for a decent or even a superior competitor. Evernote comes close, even in its sub-par form today.  Windows 8 has ushered in a new set of applications, including a slate of OneNote like applications.

The latest I have seen is called Qool.  Qool is really more of an organizational tool than a note taker like OneNote-it does not have a complete set of editing tools like OneNote-but it has many basic features that make it more than usable AND…it qoolmainhas a tremendous sync tool.

When comparing features, it has most of the core set: embed audio, video and photos; note taking; embed other filetypes; organize your notes and present them in one of many ‘dashboards’. What’s lacking are all of the editing features. I’ve not found any way to bold text, change fonts, or any of the formatting features found in other similar applications.

qool5To create a note, simply double click or tap and a blank note appears. Type your text and then press ENTER.  Viola! Your note is saved.  Like OneNote, there is ‘SAVE’ button, changes are saved on the fly. Right click or swipe up and you reveal context sensitive menus.  The basic menu lets you qool4change the current notes backcolor; Pin to start; Organize; Remove; Clean; Upload a file; record audio or video or take a picture.

Organize gives you several preselected layouts for your notes and files. Clean removes selected items.  Remove removes the selected item. Pin to Start creates a tile on your Start Page that will take you directly to your note.

Other context menus allow you to select your Dashboard layout, change your note color and more.

qool7Dashboard is simply a nicer way to present your dataset. Whereas OneNote is more of a database with various notebooks, QOOL is more of a project management tool. When a note is no longer needed, you clean to remove it (or them, depending on how many you have.)  So, being ablqool8e to present your notes and items in an organized fashion is a huge plus. There are several pre-selected layouts, but you can create your own.

The big feature, though, is the sync. I have the trial version installed on three machines. I could make a change on one of them and the change would show up, almost instantly, on the others. Very nice, indeed.

While OneNote need not quiver in its boots, I see that QOOL not only has some use, but could be a great adjunct to OneNote or even Evernote. I will be using to product, which is currently free, and will be reporting back on how well it works, so stay tuned!

Qool is from 598 Studios and is available in the Windows App Store. Open the store, click the Search charm in the charms bar and search for Qool.

qoolinstore

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A OneNote look alike for the Mac

I’ve been a OneNote fan for many years now. I use it at home, on the go and at work. The problem with OneNote, however, is that Microsoft has to release it for Mac OSX.  That’s quite a shame, really, since OneNote is, simply, the best note taking and organizing piece of software yet released. It is versatile and really easy to use. It is, without a doubt, THE best part of Office and the best piece of software the Microsoft has ever released.

Until recently, I thought the only thing that could come close to OneNote on the Mac was EverNote. They, however, jumped the shark with the rewrite of the platform a few years back. It lacks the versatility that it once had . 

Well, I am happy to report that I found a worthy replacement: Growly Notes.

Growly1Growly Notes resembles OneNote in many ways, especially in the Note taking feature-the most important part of the software.  It uses the same tabbed metaphor as OneNote, though the tabs are along the side of the page instead of the top.

Just about everything is there, save for the diagramming and line graphics in OneNote. I don’t use them all that much, so I would not miss them here. You can embed objects, import images from a scanner or camera and perform screen clips, just like OneNote.

One major difference I have found, however, may prevent many from using Growly Notes: lack of a sync feature.  There is no cloud service and I have found no way to sync notebooks across devices. As the software is Mac only, there is no conduit to sync to anything on a non-Mac device.

I am still in the midst of testing the software and, aside from the data sync, it is looking really nice and a worthy replacement for OneNote.

Pair your Brookstone keyboard, use a photo viewer to store important information, Windows 8 shortcuts and Evernote to OneNote conversion

From time to time, I review old content on my blogs. Some of it I update in a newer post, but, I also look for material for new posts. Sometimes I say I will follow up on something and do not. It is not an intentional oversight, I get busy, distracted, what ever and forget.  Some of the posts are short enough that I can include them in other posts. This is such a post. I have gathered several posts and put the ‘meat’ of them in this post.  It is information that I think is very useful still and want to bring it to your attention once more.

In this short collection of tips, I go over:

  • Converting your Evernote notebooks to OneNote notebooks
  • Putting important information in a keychain photo viewer for quick access
  • Pairing your Brookstone or Bluetooth keyboard to your iPad
  • Windows 8 shortcut keys

Please let me know, via comments, if you find this type of thing helpful and thanks for your time.

Tip: convert your Evernote docs to OneNote documents

Ever2One is an EverNote to OneNote converter.  Once you install the software, you give your EverNote credentials and then select your EverNote notebooks to copy to your OneNote Notebooks.  While it is no speed demon, it is a great way to your EverNote Notes into your OneNote Notebook. If Evernote to OneNote convertor
you are like me and use EverNote on the go but would like to incorporate them into your OneNote repository, this is a godsend. My notes came over intact.  No more manual copy and paste.  If you are moving from EverNote to OneNote, this is the easiest way to do that.

MobileNoter does have a cost. The Android Standalone client, which works directly with your OneNote files, is 6.99 and the standard application is $15.00.  The Cloud Sync version is also $15.00. If you are a heavy OneNote user, this software is a must.

Tip: pair your Brookstone (or any Bluetooth) keyboard to your iPad
To pair the keyboard:
  1. Turn on the iPad and the keyboard

  2. Press the Bluetooth Connect button on the keyboard (the light will flash)

  3. On the iPad, tap the Settings icon

  4. On the LEFT side, find the Bluetooth setting and tap it with your finger

  5. Under DEVICES, select the Bluetooth keyboard case

  6. After a second or two, the iPad should display a box with a code. It will ask that you type code on the keyboard (just press the keys that correspond to each character in the code, NOTHING will display as you type.)

  7. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard once you have typed the code in

  8. After a second or two, the iPad will tell you that the keyboard has been paired.

brookstoneiPadkeyboardcaseFrom this point on, you should not have to pair them again, however, I found that if I let the keyboard battery die, once it is charged, you will have to pair them again.  The keyboard is charged via a standard USB cable. Any USB wall charger will work or you can charge it via a powered USB port on the computer.

NOTE: if you do not use the keyboard for 15 minutes, it will shut off. Just tap a key to turn it back on.

There are numerous Bluetooth keyboards that will work just like the Brookstone. These instructions should work with most of them.

Tip: windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

Windows 8 is right around the corner. Get a head start on the new interface by learning a few shortcuts that will help make the transition better.

Here are a few more hotkeys for Windows 8 that might make a non-touch user work a little easier:

Keys:
Windows 8 Function

  • Windows+[space]
    Switch language and keyboard
  • Windows+,
    Show what’s on the desktop
  • Windows+[pgup] or [pgdown]
    Move a Metro app to the monitor on left or right in multi monitor configuration
  • Windows+F
    File Search
  • Windows+Z
    Application Bar
  • Windows+H
    Opens the share charm
  • Windows+C
    Opens the charm bar
  • Windows+I
    Settings
  • Windows+[tab]
    Switch between apps
  • Windows+Q
    Opens the Search page
  • Windows+J
    Move between the snapped and filled apps
  • Windows+E
    Open Windows File Explorer (the old Windows Explorer renamed)
  • Windows+M
    Go to the Windows Desktop
Tip: portable info center

If you have data (like medical information, insurance info, etc.) that you want to be able to recall quickly, and do not want to carry around a smartphone all of the time, you can do it with a cheap, portable device and some free software. If you are like me, you almost always have your keys, and this device will fit on them. 

The device: a cheap keychain photo viewer.  The software:  JPEGBOOK (go here and scroll to the bottom to download.)

Here’s what you do:

    1. download and install jpegbook from the link above.
    2. install the software that came with the photo viewer, if any
    3. open jpegbook and enter the data in the text area OR you can prepare a document with all of the data and then use jpegbook to convert it to images
    4. start the transfer software and import the resulting image files from jpegbook
    5. transfer the images

      on the device, you should be able to scroll through the images

jpegbookjpegbook has a preview feature that will show you how it will break up your text. You may have to experiment a bit with the format and the resolution.  Most of the viewers are something like 128 x 128.  Play around until you get the best results and proceed with the steps above.

The photo viewers are small and have rechargeable batteries.  You will have to connect the device to your computer once a week or so to keep it charged, but this should not present much of a problem.  Most of these things can be had for under twenty dollars and, if you shop judiciously, you can find them for under ten.  Target frequently has them on sale and/or clearanced. This is a cheap, easy and quick way to maintain this very important information.  There are a few services available as well as dedicated devices that provide the same functionality.  But, if you cannot afford or simply don’t want to go that route, then the keychain viewer is a great alternative.  Just remember, these things provide NO security, so keep that in mind and they are quite small and easy to lose. 

You can use jpegbook to create images in a variety of sizes, so you can apply this technique to Zunes, iPods, iPads, iPhones and pretty much any device that displays jpg files.

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MobileNoter for Android and a way to get your EverNote notes into OneNote with one click

As I have previously stated, I am a huge fan of Microsoft’s
OneNote note taking application.  OneNote is a terrific database whose sole
purpose is the art of taking notes. You can arrange your notes any way you wish
and you can include multimedia in them as well.  Handwriting recognition and
audio notation are included. The application, however, has one major drawback:
It is Windows centric.

Microsoft has released a somewhat limited iPhone client. While

MobileNoter for Android

MobileNoter for Android

it works, it is lacking in many features that make OneNote so great.

Last year, I wrote a mini-review of an application called MobileNoter. MobileNoter was an iPhone/iPad
application that also had a Windows piece that allowed syncing of OneNote
Notebooks with your iDevice.  The application worked very well.

MobileNoter now has two additional components: an Android
client and the awesome Ever2One converter.

First, the Android client works very much like the iDevice counterpart.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here on how it works. Click the link to go to
the product page for screenshots and a video.  Suffice it to say that it is a
tremendous way to get your OneNote Notebooks onto your Android device.

The second companion piece is more exciting for me
since I also use EverNote.  Ever2One is an EverNote to OneNote converter.  Once you
install the software, you give your EverNote credentials and then select your
EverNote notebooks to copy to your OneNote Notebooks.  While it is no speed
demon, it is a great way to your EverNote Notes into your OneNote Notebook. If Evernote to OneNote convertor
you are like me and use EverNote on the go but would like to incorporate them
into your OneNote repository, this is a godsend. My notes came over intact.  No
more manual copy and paste.  If you are moving from EverNote to OneNote, this is
the easiest way to do that.

MobileNoter does have a cost. The Android Standalone client,
which works directly with your OneNote files, is 6.99 and the standard
application is $15.00.  The Cloud Sync version is also $15.00. If you are a
heavy OneNote user, this software is a must.