My Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition Review

(TL;DR) I’ve been playing with the Adonit Jot Script weekend quite a bit and I have to say that this is by far the best stylus I have ever used. I think I can use this to take notes on my tablet.

In a recent post, I discussed my desire for a stylus for my iPad / tablet so that I could take notes on it and finally remove that little bit of paper from my life.

It was around this time that I discovered that Evernote was teaming up with Adonit to create such a stylus. The Jot Script Evernote Edition. I’m not sure if there is any difference between the Evernote Edition and the one being sold by Adonit. I am assuming that the only difference is the Evernote edition has the Evernote logo on it along with the “Evernote Green” stripe on the top.

The tip of the styles is extremely thin compared to other styli I have tried in the past. I would put it just slightly thicker than an actual pen. However, I do not notice this difference at all when using it.

I was interested in trying to figure out how the tip worked on the stylus. When it is turned off, it does not work on any multi-touch device. However, when it is turned on, it works on all my multi-touch devices, including my iPad, Galaxy S3 and even my Apple track pad (to my surprise). My best guess is that the slight press of the pen makes the tip go capacitive and that is why the battery is required.

Now on to the actual use of the stylus. It appears that for now, Penultimate is the only app that supports all the greatness of this stylus. It works with the rest of the iPad, but only as a generic stylus. Pairing the stylus with Penultimate was simple and I was ready to go in a few seconds.

The one thing you have to take care to do properly is to say what your wrist position is. If you choose it wrong, you will mark your pages with a lot of little marks while you write. I would recommend that you pretend to write with the stylus on a piece of paper and take note of your wrist position.

Another thing you really should do is turn off multi-tasking gestures on the iPad. I found that with my wrist on the iPad, I was constantly moving to a different application.

Now on to the actual writing. Using the thinnest pen size in Penultimate is the ideal size for me and it works great! Looking at my handwriting on the tablet versus my notebook, you can only find some subtle differences. I have to work on lifting the pen up a little when I write, but other than that, it is perfect.

Where this whole thing really shines is using the Evernote integration. All notes are searchable (at least it does for me as a Premium user) and is able to search using my horrible handwriting. It makes me question the validity of what my mother always told me…. “penmanship counts”. My handwriting is terrible and Evernote appears to have no problem finding what I wrote. I will attach a few images below to prove it.

I am not sure how the battery life is yet. I am still on my first battery and I have about 2 hours of writing with it. I plan on using this enough to add a few AAA batteries to my bag so I never have to use paper again.

If you are big on writing notes for a meeting, I cannot recommend this enough. This stylus is a game changer.

The Search For A Stylus

I love tablet computing. A portable computer that can do about 90% of what a laptop can do for me. It plays games, I can surf the Internet, even do some of the lighter parts of my job (like checking sales, viewing reports, etc).

However, there is one thing I want it to do, that has constantly come up short so far. Note taking. I have tried everything. I have used both the software and Bluetooth keyboards. Both of them just do not feel right. Both are inconvenient when you do not have a table in front of you and I find that it difficult to type and listen to things around me.

The next logical step was to try using a stylus for handwriting. I have about 4 of these things and they are all a total joke. Most of them are like crayons and you could not write a legible sentence to save your life. I even backed the Cosmonaut on KickStarter and that was an even bigger let down.

So today what did I find in Evernote’s new Market? A stylus. The Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus to be more specific. This one looks like it could be different. First it has a super thin point so I imagine that it will feel less like a crayon. Second, it uses Bluetooth to improve the experience further by allowing you to be able to rest your hand on the tablet without interfearing with your note taking.

The downside? This thing is expensive at $74.95. Also for some reason, I have to pump it full of AAA batteries. I would prefer some kind of USB mini plug or something similar.

I think I am going to preorder this guy. I have a conference where I am going to have to take a ton of notes at and that is just about the most perfect test of any stylus. I’ll have my Evernote Moleskin notebook and pen as a backup in case it falls short of what I need.

Have you had any luck using a stylus on a tablet? Am I chasing the impossible dream here? Let me know in the comments.

How I’m Handling the Google Reader Shutdown

On March 13, 2013, Google announced that they would be shutting down Google Reader on July 1st. When I first got the news, I was shocked. In fact, I thought my boss was playing a trick on me. You see, I am something of an information junkie. On an average day I go through 250 to 400 posts. In fact, to get to Google Reader all I had to do was type the letter “G” in to my address bar and hit enter.

The next day, I began my search for my replacement service. Because I would no longer have a multinational corporation covering the cost of my news reading addiction, I was prepared to have to spend some money for a replacement.

The first solution I tried was Feedly. My feeds imported without any issues and it seemed to be a pretty okay option. After a few days, it felt like something was missing. I was not getting through my news stories as well as I was on Google. I needed something that was designed more for the power user.

It was at this point that I tried NewsBlur. Well, actually, I had to wait a few days before trying it as he had to temporarily shut off new accounts due to the number of Google Reader refugees signing up for free accounts. Anyways, I decided to start with a Premium Account since the entire website is managed by a single person. My first impressions of NewsBlur was that it looked a little rough around the edges, but I was able to move through my news stories at the same speed as Google Reader. It appeared that I found my power user reader application.

This did not mean that things were perfect. I found that my news stories were not being marked read. Also, the Android app was less than awesome. These problems were annoying, but I was trying to be understanding with the developer. I was glad that my understanding was not taken for granted. These problems were slowly, but surely were fixed. Now I have very few problems.

One nice feature of NewsBlur is that not just a website, but also a backend service with an API. This allows me to use different applications if I want to. I tend to just use the official website and mobile application, but it is nice to have options. Today I decided to use download and use ReadKit on my Mac.

Since the announcement, it seems that just about every company is trying to create a service to accept all the displaced Google Reader users. It seems that the use of RSS is not as dead as Google believes. In fact, I believe Google could have just started charging for Reader and most of us would have happily given then $25 a year. With what they did, it really appears that Google is leaving money on the table.

What solution are you using for a Google Reader replacement?

My Take on Windows 8

Not since Windows Vista has a version of Windows been this hated. This means that out of the last three releases of Windows, two of them have been fairly universally hated by their customers. I have been using Windows 8 since it’s release and I am ready to share my thoughts on it.

Before I begin, let me just say that Microsoft had to do something drastic to Windows. Since we are in this “Post PC” era, Microsoft could not just release another version of the same operating system. Had they done that, they would have written off Microsoft as out of touch and that they could no longer innovate.

The bottom line here is that Microsoft was far too ambitious what they wanted to accomplish with Windows 8. Windows 8 is not all bad, just flawed in some situations. Microsoft’s goal was to create a common interface for every device out there. This includes smartphones, web servers, and even the XBox. Microsoft has decided to call this design paradigm Modern UI (it was formally called Metro, but shortly before launch, they changed the name due to a possible trademark dispute).

Modern UI’s biggest sin is that it does not function perfectly on any device that does not have a touchscreen. At first glance, Modern UI looks like a tablet operating system. Because it operates as a touch first interface, using a mouse and keyboard does not feel natural. In Modern UI, you scroll left and right quite a bit and this is very difficult using a mouse. It is a different story if you have a touchpad that supports multi-touch as you can scroll sideways without much effort, but that is about as good as you can get without a touchscreen.

With all the shortcomings of Modern UI, you can be thankful that Microsoft left the classic Desktop interface largely intact, with the exception of the Start Button and Start Menu. Explorer windows have been given a face lift with giving them the same tabbed interface that first appeared in Office 2007.

Multiple monitors are a bit wonky in Windows 8. With multiple monitors, one screen is dedicated to Modern UI and the Start Screen and the rest are Desktop only. The monitor that is used for Modern UI and the Start Screen appears to be a bit random and it switches from time to time so that is a bit confusing at times. Also, Modern UI currently runs on one and only one monitor so there is very little as far as multitasking in Modern UI. It is for these reasons that Windows 8 feels like a very 1.0 product.

Depending on how you used the Start Menu in previous versions of Windows will dictate how you feel about the Start Screen. The Start Screen can basically be descried as your most commonly used applications presented to you full screen in that tablet interface. You can add, remove and arrange these “shortcuts” in different columns. If the program is a Modern UI application, you can resize the icon to take up twice as much space so it can take up an entire row of the column it’s in. You cannot do this with a Desktop application for an unknown reason (this seems like a small problem, but it drives me absolute insane).

If you were the kind of user that clicked “All Programs” in the Start Menu then you will feel lost in the Start Screen as it is not obvious how to get to all your applications. Then once you are viewing all your applications, they are feel like they are placed on the screen very haphazardly.

Now if you are the type of user who used the search box to type the first few letters of the program you want to open, you will feel right at home as you can do pretty much the exact same thing. Again, this workflow is not obvious at all as there is no text box or hint that you can just start typing. However, once you know that you can do this, it feels as natural as your use of the Start Menu in previous versions of Windows.

I know that most of this post has been spent discussing the shortcomings of Windows 8. This is because what is good about Windows 8 is what bits Microsoft left alone (the Desktop interface).

Would I recommend that you upgrade to Windows 8? It depends. If you have a touchscreen monitor, then it is a no-brainer. However, if you have a regular desktop or laptop then I guess it depends if you are an adventurous type. Microsoft has made it clear that Modern UI is here to stay so you can either learn to live with it, or deny it as long as possible.

I know that Microsoft is going to release Windows 8.1 soon, but I wanted to get these thoughts released before so I can do a separate post on how it improves the Modern UI experience.