Posts Tagged cooltools

The Beginner’s Guide to Writing With MultiMarkdown | Michael Hyatt

I’ve heard about Markdown, a simple way of marking up simple text so that it appears as formatted, and have started exploring it (well, I downloaded an app, and saved an article on it to read later). Then recently this article by Michael Hyatt convinced me to get going with it.

I started using Drafts app recently, but have not explored its Markdown function yet, mainly because I use Drafts solely to get notes quickly into Evernote on my mobile devices, and Evernote doesn’t recognize Markdown (I think).

But if you want to know more about Markdown, especially how simple it is to use, and/or how a busy blogger and writer uses it, read Hyatt’s article. It’s not a comprehensive overview, just a brief introduction.

I have used a number of “blog processors,” including BlogJet and then MarsEdit. But in the last few years, I have completely converted over to MultiMarkdown.

It’s a way of writing that turns minimally marked up plain text into well formatted documents, including rich text and HTML. You can even use it directly with WordPress. If you are a writer, you owe it to yourself to explore MultiMarkdown.

And, before your eyes glaze over, it is honestly the easiest way to write anything. The syntax is so simple, you already know it. If you can use an emoticon, you can write in MultiMarkdown.

via The Beginner’s Guide to Writing With MultiMarkdown | Michael Hyatt.

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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.


Digital pens and intrusive pedagogy (or good and bad advertising)

penRecently I attended a demonstration of a digital pen by Hitachi (sorry, Japanese-language only) at my university. The plan is to distribute 100 of these digital pens to various teachers and students and see what they come up with in terms of evaluations of its usefulness or new ideas for exploiting this technology. Altho the technology is impressive, I was left rather cold about the possible applications that were outlined by the presenter.
The presentation was given to teachers and staff, and there was much time spent on how having STUDENTS use this could be useful for TEACHERS. The Hitachi digital pen, unlike the the little smartpen from livescribe that Prof. Wesche describes, has no audio-recording facility: it just records what you write. You can send the data either as a jpg or a txt file by email to your computer or cell-phone.
The Hitachi pen records not only what you write, but also how much time you spend writing, how long the pen is (and is not) touching the paper. This data, the presenter told us, could later be analyzed by the teacher to investigate exactly where or at what point students have difficulty in understanding a subject. That put me off right there. Next, we’ll be having students plugged directly into electrodes to “study” (i.e. normalize) how they are (or are not) studying; and giving them electric shocks to keep them concentrating, perhaps.

A further example given was this: a lecturer could analyze the notes taken by students to count the frequency of the lecture’s keywords: did students take accurate notes?
The presentation was of course in Japanese, but I took notes of it mostly in English: had my notes been analyzed in this way, NO keywords would have been found. Or, suppose a note-taker, instead of using the lecturer’s keywords, translated or substituted their own, preferred, terms or expressions? Again, the “keyword analysis” would show very few or no keywords, but this would not necessarily mean that the note-taker had not understood or been delinquent in note-taking.
When I pointed this out, I was told that, in Japan, most university students just take verbatim notes, so this kind of simple analysis was perfectly valid.
On reading Prof. Wesche’s enthusiastic blog entry about the “smartpen“, and watching livescribe’s product demo videos, I find the smartpen more attractive than Hitachi’s digital pen. Is this partly because the Hitachi presentation was pitched to teachers as supervisors of other people (students) using the pen, rather than as direct users of the pen themselves? Perhaps. In any event, I found that emphasis was on the data that can be collected by the pen, rather than on the practical usefulness of the pen as a consumer product. In addition, rather than nurturing student autonomy and independence, collecting and using such data to “help” students seems to me to re-inforce a false belief that is already unfortunately all too prevalent and seems to be gaining rather than losing ground: namely that “education” comes only from licensed and authorized experts who have the learners’ best interests at heart and are therefore justified in almost limitless intrusion into learners’ personal behaviour. Counting how many minutes or seconds a person’s pen is touching the paper, using that information to draw conclusions about that person’s cognitive abilities, then from those conclusions giving guidance or instruction to that person, strikes me as overly authoritarian, if that’s the word I’m looking for. Lines from a song float into my mind: “You raise the blade, you make the change, you re-arrange me till I’m sane”.

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