Archive for category lifehacks + cooltools

Going Paperless: Using the Drafts App to Quickly Add Common Notes to Evernote | Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Rubin blogs regularly about “Going Paperless” and about Evernote (he’s an Evernote Ambassador). He recently blogged about using the smartphone app Drafts. I had installed Drafts but not really used it. Reading Jamie’s blog got me started by pointing out the advantage of using Drafts:

  1. automation – you can set up Drafts so that notes will not only go to specified notebooks and be appropriately tagged, but also be appended or prepended to existing notes. Very useful for adding to a list, for example.
  2. speed – if you don’t need the rest of Evernote (access to your other notes), then using drafts to write notes if much quicker as it takes less time to load.

If you are an Evernote user and don’t have Drafts, you might be interested in reading his post.

Regular readers of these posts know that I am very big on automating stuff that is repeatable. Adding notes to Evernote is one of those repeatable things, and I am always looking for ways to speed up and improve the process. Lately, I have been using the Drafts app more and more to get common “ad hoc” notes into Evernote very quickly. Over time, I’ve realized that there are 3 kinds of notes where Drafts has become indispensable for me:

via Going Paperless: Using the Drafts App to Quickly Add Common Notes to Evernote | Jamie Todd Rubin.

Yahoo! Japanese dictionary gets the boot


I’m not a translator, but being an English-speaker in Japan, I often need to translate words and documents as part of my teaching job. I used to have a collection of large dictionaries, but now of course everything is online and there’s a zillion apps as well.

My first stop for translating is always ALC because you can look up not just words but also phrases, and it will quickly search its database of news articles and find it or a close equivalent. This is particularly necessary when translating between very dissimilar languages (like English and Japanese) because you can’t be sure that the other language uses words in the same way. In fact, you can be fairly sure it won’t.

For example, I recently looked up “realm“, but what I really needed to translate was the phrase “in the realm of”. I know “in” and “of”, but does Japanese actually use those prepositions with the noun “realm”? If not, and I just stick “no naka ni” and “no” onto “realm”, I’m just going to look silly as well as perhaps not get my meaning across.

So, type in “in the realm of” into the ALC search engine and see what you get. First it gives you the titles of 2 controversial movies by (recently deceased) Japanese film-maker Oshima, and if you’re looking for an excuse to digress, follow those links. But below those come the meat of our search results, and you can see that, in fact, Japanese has many different ways of expressing the idea of “in the realm of”, depending on context. Very useful.

Now, in order to check which Japanese word for “realm” comes closest to the one you want, the only thing to do is pick one at a time and translate them back into English. You can do that right on the ALC website because it handles translation both ways. You can just copy and paste the Japanese kanji into the search box.

Copying and pasting is very convenient, not only because it is quick but also because you don’t need to know exactly how to say those kanji. If you want to look them up in an old-fashioned book-dictioanry (for whatever strange reason), you will need to know how to say the kanji (OK, I know there are other ways, such as by looking up the radical in a radical-based dictionary, but that takes a long time, especially if you’re like me and not entirely up to scratch on your radicals and stroke numbers).

But what if you don’t know how to say the kanji (of course  do know really, but you’ve just temporarily forgotten)? ALC doesn’t help you there.

In such cases I used to use Yahoo! Japan’s dictionary. You copy and paste the kanji you’re looking for into Yahoo’s search box and the results will give you not only the meaning but also how’s it “read” or pronounced. (It won’t give you the pronunciation in the Roman alphabet, though; you do need to read hiragana, the Japanese syllabary, which is no problem because, if you can’t, you probably wouldn’t be using ALC in the first place.)

But not any more. For some reason, Yahoo! Japan has changed the dictionary they use, or changed the format or something, but now you only get the English meaning and Japanese definitions, but not how to say it.

Goo’s dictionary does, however, so Goo goes into my bookmarks and Yahoo dictionary gets the boot. It’s a harsh world, isn’t it? (If you don’t need English translation, Sanseido‘s Japanese dictionary looks useful, as well.)

What’s Japanese for “get the boot”? ALC (via Goo) will tell you: it’s kaiko sareru or kubi ni naru


5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better

Brett Kelly, author of the ever-popular “Evernote Essentials” (click here for more info), blogged recently about 5 apps that make Evernote better. The short version: they are

  1. Powerbot for Gmail (I don’t use Gmail, but many still do)
  2. Placeme (if you really want to tell the world and the government exactly where you were all day every day)
  3. Everclip – totally useful; I’ve been waiting for this one.
  4. Drafts – will check it out
  5. and FastEver Snap – is this better than Skitch? I dumped Skitch because it was so frustrating to use (it wouldn’t do most of the things I thought it should do), but I recently re-installed it because they’ve improved it and now it does many of those things I think a photo-editor for Evernote should do. Many, but not all, so maybel I’ll give FastEver Snap a whirl.

As you get beyond the Evernote basics and your love affair with Evernote deepens and you start keeping more and more of your life and work inside it, you’ll almost invariably come to the conclusion that you might be able to do even more with Evernote.

Well, you’re in luck because you totally can thanks to the thriving community of smarty pants developers who have built some really great applications that work with Evernote.

Having tried and tested dozens (and dozens) of different Evernote-capable applications and services, I’ve found these to be crazy useful.

via 5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better.


Going Paperless: Using Shortcuts in Evernote to Speed Up Your Work | Jamie Todd Rubin

Fiction-writer and Evernote Ambassador Jamie Rubin writes regularly about Evernote (and fiction writing and related stuff), and I’ve found his posts on Evernote to be extremely valuable and interesting. Here’s a recent one, on shortcuts in Evernote.

I received an email from a reader of these posts noting the shortcuts I have in Evernote in one of the screenshots I posted. The reader suggested that how I use shortcuts in Evernote might be a topic of interest to other readers. Considering how much I use the shortcut feature in Evernote, I agreed and I’m surprised I didn’t think of it sooner.

What are shortcuts?

Evernote 5 introduced the concept of shortcuts. A shortcut is essentially a list containing links to notes, notebooks, searches and tags. Unlike “recent” notes, the shortcut list is entirely arbitrary, meaning you can put whatever you want into your shortcut list. You can put the items in the shortcut list in any order you want simply by dragging them around. Then, rather than having to search for these notes, notebooks, etc., you can have quick access to them from the list.

via Going Paperless: Using Shortcuts in Evernote to Speed Up Your Work | Jamie Todd Rubin.


The best just got better: Evernote Essentials 4.0 is available now


Evernote Essentials author Brett Kelly announces,

Friends and neighbors, I’m ecstatic to announce that the latest major revision of my best-selling eBook, Evernote Essentials, is available right this very second. I’m calling it “4.0″ and it’s the biggest and best version of Evernote Essentials yet.

via The best just got better: Evernote Essentials 4.0 is available now.

If you use Evernote (and many people do), check out this comprehensive and well written guide. It’s now available in a number of formats – including Kindle and iBook – usually for $29, but for a short time (and I truly have no idea how long) it’s available for $14.99

I promote a few digital products on this blog and on my website. (I get a small commission if you buy one of these from my blog.) The most popular one is Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials, a comprehensive guide to using Evernote. His latest version (4.0) is out now. I haven’t had time to look at it yet, but paperless guru and DocumentSnap founder Brooks Duncan has, and his short and sweet review is here.

Brett’s Evernote Essentials has saved me a lot of time, and taught me some neat tricks (such as how to locate all your notes with PDF attachments, or all your audio notes), and I’m veryglad I have his e-book to hand (of course, I keep a copy in Evernote so I can access it from my other iPad/iPhone or at work as well as at home) because some tricks which I only need to use once in a while, I forget in the interim (is it Alzheimer’s or just because I’m the wrong side of 50?).

I’m very much looking forward to reading this version. I always learn something new (or just as often, something I’d forgotten).

Click this link to read Brett’s own announcement.  You can of course buy Evernote Essentials from Brett, or you can buy it from me and get it at exactly the same price with the bonus of knowing you’ll be buying me a latte, and who wouldn’t want to do that!

Please note that this version shipped BEFORE the latest Evernote update (5) for Windows. Brett says, Evernote 5 for Windows shipped after Evernote Essentials 4.0 had “gone to press.” It’s not covered in this version, but I’ll have an update out soon that covers Evernote 5 for Windows. That update will be free to existing customers, of course.


Hazel Paperless Webinar Update | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog

For Mac users who either use or are interested in using Hazel to help them with their “going paperless” mission, Brooks Duncan of has a tutorial, to which he’s added an update for recent innovative change Hazel has added.

Back in November 2012, I held a webinar called Going Paperless With Hazel for members of my Paperless Action Plan online course, and anyone else who felt like attending.

Since then, those who have wanted to check it out has been welcome to do so, and I’ve had a lot of great feedback from viewers. I’m glad it has helped so many Mac users automate their paperless workflow.

Recently, Noodlesoft released Hazel 3.1 which has some amazing new features including the ability to go inside the document, figure out what the date of the document is, and use that date for naming the file. It’s pretty crazy.

This is such a fundamental feature for going paperless with Hazel, I decided to record a 10 minute update for the webinar building on the examples that we used and going through the new features. It even includes some stuff that is so new I haven’t posted on the Blog about yet.

If you have purchased the webinar, you should be receiving an e-mail with a link to the update. If it doesn’t show up, let me know.

If you haven’t purchased the Going Paperless With Hazel webinar and it sounds like something you might benefit from, feel free to head on over and check it out.

Click here to learn more about the Go Paperless With Hazel webinar.

via Hazel Paperless Webinar Update | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog.

Mind Mapping Apps for the iPad: A Comparison | Technology, Innovation, Education

If you are looking for a mind-mapping app, this review might be of interest. I have not tried any of the apps mentioned.  Mouse-tip to tabletproductive for the link.

Unlike the Android marketplace, Apple’s appstore unfortunately does not allow you try out apps for a couple of minutes and get a refund if you don’t like them. After buying an iPad I wanted to have a good Mindmapping app, but I had no idea which of the six or so options would be the best choice for me. I searched for a site that compared them all, but couldn’t find that either. That’s when I decided to buy them all, use them all and review them all on this blog.

via Mind Mapping Apps for the iPad: A Comparison | Technology, Innovation, Education.

More on LastPass

LastPass update. (Click here for all my LastPass posts.)

Trouble logging into Yahoo with LastPass on my iPad: the Yahoo login page won’t let me paste the password. I have to type it in.

Lastpass logs me in automatically into one website for which I have, for some reason, two passwords. Which one is LastPass using to log me in? If only I could switch off this automatic login! I searched the online support, FAQs and the pdf user manual, but couldn’t find how to turn off the automatic login, and have requested a ticket from tech support.

As a rule, I never enable the automatic login (I figured it would only cause me trouble, and I was right!). Instead, I just choose the “Autofill” option.

Update: As they say, it helps to read the friendly manual. I have discovered the reason why LastPass was automatically logging me into certain websites. It’s a feature, not a bug.

Also in this post:

  • is Yahoo! Japan preventing cut-and-paste when logging in?
  • LastPass’ One Time Passwords: why use them when there’s the virtual keyboard to foil keyloggers?
  • what to do first if you think your Lastpass account has been compromised?
  • and, when I see my Vault in my web-browser, am I looking at my local version or my online one?

First, here’s why LastPass was automatically logging me in: I was clicking on the name of the website in my LastPass Vault. From the user manual: Read the rest of this entry »


One Time Passwords and Yahoo! Japan

In an earlier post, I mentioned the password management software program I’m trying out,, and that LastPass offers a one-time password option for logging in securely to your LastPass account.

Since its recent (May 2013) security breach which may have affected 20 million users, Yahoo! Japan is now offering one-time passwords to login. How do they work?

Update: Yahoo! Japan also offers a “secret” login ID which is different from your regular registered Yahoo! ID and used only to login. If you choose this option, you can no longer login with your regular Yahoo! ID.

Basically, once you have selected the one-time password option in your Yahoo! Japan account settings, when you login, you are given a one-time password which is “live” for a limited time only. You can choose whether you use the app or the email option. Either way, when you login, you are given a one-time password which is sent to your iPhone app or your designated email address. You then copy and paste it into the login page and you’re home free.

What’s the difference between the two, app or email? If you have a smart phone, the app is quicker as you don’t have to wait to receive the email.

What if you lose the app, or your phone, or you’ve changed your phone to a different type?  Are you locked out of your account for ever and a day? Fortunately not. You simply access your Yahoo! account and cancel the one-time password option.

Wait! How do I do that if I don’t have my smart phone or the app? If you can’t access your account via a different terminal, then either use your recovery email address or access the one-time password page and click on the link that says “stop one-time password” (ワンタイムパスワードの停止 in Japanese). Of course, if you forget your date of birth, or the answers to your secret questions, then you’re screwed.

Lastpass – a brief review 3

This is part 3 of a multi-part review of the password management software LastPass. (Click here for parts 1 and 2.)

I signed up for the Premium version, which costs $12/year. The reason I did so was so that I could access my passwords from my iPad and iPhone as well as my desktop computers.

The short version is, I’m still satisfied, and having copied my Firefox passwords and strengthened the weak ones and given new paswords to those websites for which I was using duplicate passwords, am now starting to input other passwords not in Firefox, which I keep on the program I used previously, called Access Manager Pro.

However, I’ve also run into some unexpected problems.

As I wrote before, I’ve been using Firefox Portable, both at home and work. However, it won’t work on some networks, because the network won’t allow a USB-based browser to connect. Firefox Portable still fires up, though, and so you can use it offline: Read the rest of this entry »