How I use the iPad Mini at Work – Note Taking


 

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By now most of you know that I have been working from remotely a few days a week.  By remotely I mean, I’m either working in my home office or out of a different office.  As you can imagine, as a paralegal, most of us rely on notes that we take during meetings, telephone calls and sometimes even when an idea just strikes us….. I have tons of those while on the bus or sometimes just sitting at my desk which means that we can fill out tons of notebooks in a single year.

When I worked out of one main office, I didn’t mind so much having a notebook on my desk where I could quickly jot down an idea and then put a little post-it tag on it to mark the location on the page.  Usually by the end of a few months I would have a drawer full of notebooks with forgotten notes on it and if I ever needed to find one sometimes I would have to pull out a few out of the drawer and go through all the post-it notes to find the one I was looking for.  This made for wasted billable hours at times and it was very frustrating.  However, I continued this process because, like I said, I was stationary and it was a tried and true method.

Now, that I’m no longer in one place all the time this method because a hindrance.  I would be in one office, or at home, and the notebook where that one one I needed was in another location, either at the office or at home …. You know, somewhere I was not.  I needed to develop another system.  A system where all the notes I need are with me all the time and since I needed to develop a whole new system why not figure out a way where I can also search for notes instead of having to read pages and pages?

In comes the iPad.

That part was easy.  The iPad is portable and with me all the time.  After all, I take it with me so I can read and check my social networks at lunch or during a break.  However, although typing on the virtual keyboard is ok for a quick email, I don’t particularly like using it that much.  So I searched and searched for a note taking app.  I found one that I sort of like, NotesPlus… it’s free on the App Store.  I have to admit that I really liked it at first.  It’s easy to organize by allowing you to create “notebooks” for each of the subjects you need and it even has a recording feature that allows you record the conversations (remember to always let whomever you’re speaking with that you are recording the conversation).  I created a notebook one for general notes and a few for the specific issues — you can create one for each of your cases, for example.   This was my go to application.  It was easily uploaded to dropbox and I was sure to always have my notes wherever I went.  It was nirvana!!!! well, almost.

Then the trouble began.  A few months ago, while I was on a call something happened to my NotesPlus.  It started crashing every time I tried to write a note and it became really frustrating when I couldn’t keep up with the conversation because I had to restart the application every few minutes — Grrrrrr — anger set in.  After the call I uploaded all my notes to Dropbox and went on a search for something better.  Remember, I still don’t want to carry notebooks with me everywhere.  My bag is heavy enough with shoes and food and we all know that these are much more important than a stupid notebook.

In the meantime, because I still have not found a note taking application that I like I, went out and bought the Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard and right now I am typing my notes in Pages (the equivalent of Word).  Because I have an iCloud account with Apple, I am able to see my notes on all my devices, including my phone, my computer at home and off course, the iPad.  I like this method.  It serves the purpose I was originally trying to accomplish.  However, I still want a note taking app.  I like writing and doodling when I’m listening to a call and it’s always much easier to write a note than type a note….. at least for me, since I didn’t grow up around computers all the time…. perhaps this new generation feels more comfortable typing than writing but there is something to be said for a handwritten note…… Don’t you feel like you can remember things better when you write them down?  hmmmm maybe it’s just me.

So, long story short, I’m still looking for a note taking application.  Do you have any ideas?  For now I’m going to continue using this method since the original purpose has been met.  However, nothing wrong with making it a better system don’t you agree?  So do you have any note taking apps you like?  Can you give me some suggestions?

I will be back with my review of the Logitech Keyboard which, for now is my new best friend.

Ana

Clipart from Google.  Thank you.

 

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The iPad – Using it at work


The iPad, what an amazing invention…. ok, perhaps not so much an inventions when it was released by Apple.  I guess it was genius marketing.  At the time it came out there were already other gadgets on the market that probably would have done the same thing but none of them ever took off like the iPad did.  Even when the competitors came on, and there were quite a few, the iPad remained the one table everyone wanted.

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I had the original iPad and then the iPad 2.  when the Mini came out I swore I would not get it.  After all, why would I want a smaller tablet?  Would I be able to read anything on the screen?  Well, it didn’t take a lot of convincing.  One visit to the Apple store and one look at the cute little table, I had to have it.  I got the regular WiFi only version, at times it’s annoying, but I’m surviving and I love it.

Originally, I was using my iPad more at home and occasionally to read some PDFs, read books, take some notes.   I never took it to the next level.

Recently I’ve discovered whole new world of Apps which make my life 100% more productive no matter where I am.  This could be a good or bad thing.  Considering that I’m always ready to pick up my iPad it means that my boss knows that no matter where I am I will always have everything available to have a discussion……. Use at your own risk.

Research:  There are two great apps for the iPad that I use quite often The CFR and The US Code.  The actual apps are free but you have to buy the titles.  The good thing about this is that you only need to buy the titles you need.  For instance, for me, in the Code of Federal Regulations, only needed to buy Title 12 (for now) I may at some point need to buy others but the price is not so bad.  I use these all the time when I just want to quickly look at the Reg or the Code.  I’ve used it mostly when I’m on the phone.

There is a Black’s Law Dictionary which would be a great addition to my iPad, but I have not purchased this one.  For now I’ve been using the dictionaries at the office or at times I can get away with free dictionaries on the internet.  You know how that is, when you’re on a paralegal salary…. Sometimes have to wait. I guess I’d say that this one is a “nice to have.”

Fastcase, is another app that I currently don’t use very often but have used from time to time.  It’s free and it provides you with information regarding case law.  It can be search using a citation or natural language.  Although not as comprehensive as a Lexis or a Westlaw, it’s good enough when you need a case in a hurry and have no access to either of the other two or don’t have subscription to the others.  I liked it and would recommend it.

Note Taking:

Note taking applications are various.  I have a tried a few and at the moment am sort of disappointed with all of the handwriting note taking applications.  So in order to protect the guilty I will refrain from reviewing or mentioning any of them until the time I actually find one I enjoy and works well.  I’m not very picky.  All I need is an app that recognizes handwriting and allows me to write lots and lots…. almost like having a notebook at my desk.

So, for now, I am taking my notes on the Apple Pages which is the equivalent of Word.  I bought a small keyboard for my iPad and carry it with me wherever I go.  I really like it.  I bought the Logitech Keyboard in white for the iPad Mini (my Mini is white).  It takes a little of getting used to, since the keyboard is so small but I’ve found that the typos can be corrected later and I’m getting faster at typing on it now.  So I don’t mind so much.  I still wish I could take notes by hand….. What can I say, old habits die hard.

Reading and Marking Up Documents

I have used two apps for reading and marking up documents.  I don’t know about you, but I love to write notes on the margins of the documents and draw arrows, highlight and doodle when I have nothing better to do.  Let’s just say my documents wind up being very colorful…. But neat…. I don’t like messy.  So for this purpose I have found two apps which do the trick.  Evernote and Goodreader.  Evernote is great because it syncs with all your other devices which can be a good thing.  However, I don’t often need that since my iPad is with me at all times.  Goodreader is my favorite for no particular reason other than there is more room on the margins to write and the way the pages turn is more user-friendly, in my opinion.  Goodreader also syncs with my Dropbox account so I can access my documents on my computer if I have to.  I find that downloading the PDFs to Goodreader is simple and if I want to keep a clean copy as well as a marked up copy, the app allows me to do that.

Legal News

Well, this one is all over the place.  So most of the time I get my news from the various blogs I read.  Where it comes to apps on the App store I sometimes read the ABA Journal.

appointments and Meetings

I used iCal for a very long time.  This year I was introduced to Sunrise and I have not looked back.  Sunrise syncs with iCal so I can go back and forth if I need to and because my husband and I have one shared calendar on our phones it’s a good thing that it does.  He still gets all my notices….. Sometimes he’s not so happy when I put “to do’s” on his calendar or schedule things for him to do.  But …. those are the breaks, right?  Sunrise is pretty to look at and because it syncs with iCal my color coding does not have to be updated or re-created. Once I set it up it just worked.

I no longer carry notebooks or pens and paper with me anywhere.  The days of having a notebook and a pen and shuffling through my purse or whatever other bag I happen to be carrying to find a pen so I could write a note are sooooooo over.  These days I take a note on my phone and within seconds I have that same note on my iPad and on the iPhone.  If I can’t write it, I sometimes even dictate it.  I have pens at my desk at home but those are mostly used to write on my calendar at home because I still can’t get used to not having a paper calendar.

I hope this helps a little bit.  Finding the right app to help you be as productive as you can be is a work in progress and I feel as if I have only scratched the surface.  I made a promise to myself that by the end of the year I would be close to being paper free.  So far, I’m doing really well.  Aside from some files which I still need to convert to the computer my desk has no papers on it.

If you know of any apps you think I’d like, please feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to try them out.  As I said, my road to a greener work life is still a work in progress.  What about you?

XoXo

Ana

Image from www.techradar.com

Pages on the iPad


It’s Tuesday, and as such, I’m going to talk to you about my iPad. Have I told you how much I love it? I guess in a way there is a love hate relationship. I love it because I’m never without something to do and I hate also because I’m never without something to do.

In my efforts to go green I currently download all my documents to my iPad. All the large regulations that I need to be analyzed (these go into Goodreader) all the articles that need to be read and organized, my email (these go into Evernote) my books and now with Pages and Keynote I have created additional ways to stay busy.

Today I’m going to tell you about Pages.

I’m sitting on the train, typing this article in Pages. Before the iPad, I would either have to carry my laptop or wait until I got home to write my articles. Now, that’s no longer an excuse. I have convinced myself that I have one hour of uninterrupted time to write. When I get home I insert pictures and links on the post (eventually, WordPress will figure out how to allow me to do this from the iPad). So that’s the reason for the love hate relationship. I no longer have to carry the laptop in order to feel productive but I also no longer have the excuse that I don’t have the laptop and therefore I don’t have to be productive. It’s a daily battle of wits with myself.

Pages is Apple’s word processing software and it has been formatted to work perfectly well with all the mobile devices. Since the iOS 5 it’s now on all my devices, the iPhone, the iPad and on my MacBook Pro. I can do everything on the iPad the same way i can on the computer. It’s intuitive and works very smoothly with the touch screen systems. I have not tried it on the iPhone and I’m not sure I will have a need to do that. However, I have looked up documents that I’ve created on the iPad on the iPhone and they look the same, only smaller, which is the reason I don’t draft or edit on the iPhone. I think I’d go blind trying to do that.

One of the best things about the application is that the documents can be emailed as Word documents to another computer. So if I’m doing something for work, such as a statement of facts or correspondence, I can do it while on the train and then email the document to myself at the office as a word document and finish working on it at the office. The only issue I have encountered with this are the fonts. We all know that Apple’s fonts do not match Microsoft’s fonts, so if the document is created with one of Apple’s fonts, it does not convert properly when you open it on a PC. Nothing you can’t fix, just have to play with the document a little and format it for the PC. But, in my opinion it’s still better than having to do everything from your desk at the office.

The other great feature of Pages on the iPad is that the document saves up in the cloud as you type. You never have to worry about saving as you go. This is great because normally, I’m still typing by the time I reach my destination. However, knowing that the document has been saving in real time I don’t have to worry about losing any of my work and I can just close the iPad and know it will be there when I open it again. Not only that, but because it is saved up in the cloud I can pick up any of my other devices and continue working on them. So for instance, let’s say this article is not finished before I get home tonight, I can just pick up my MacBook Pro and put the finishing touch on that and upload it. Very convenient right? Now do you understand the love hate relationship? There are no excuses.

Have I told you how much I love my iPad? Tell me how much you love yours.

One Year with the iPad


I guess today in honor of the launch of the Amazon Fire Tablet I want to tell you more about my iPad.  It was just a little over a year ago that I decided that I was going to give in and buy myself an iPad.  I told you all about my trip to the Apple store and how I convinced myself that I was just going to look and not buy.  At that time I was still being my stubborn self and still telling myself that the iPad was nothing more than a very large iPhone.  Hmmm that didn’t last long.  One foot in the door and I caved.  Read that post of my purchase here.

That was my conversation.  The iPad has totally changed the way I work. In my original article I said that I did not type long documents on the iPad.  That, too, has changed.  I have gotten used to the keyboard and I can and do type some of my articles on the way to the office while on the train.  It’s better than having to take my computer.

Lots of changes have taken place and lots of Apps have come and gone.  It is true when the commercials say that “there’s an app for that.”  The problem is that there are usually three or four thousand apps for that actually.  I’ve had lots.  Some, I have kept from the beginning and some I have deleted and totally forgot about.

Today this is what my iPad looks like.

My iPad 2 on September 28, 2011

I like to keep the first page simple.  These are the apps that I use on a daily basis.  There’s my calendar, contacts, Notes Plus (This has to be the best note taking application available), Pages (used mostly to write articles), Keynote (used for the presentations I create regarding the paralegal field.  Currently working on a  presentation for attorneys on how to develop a paralegal program) iBooks (I really enjoy reading and have completely stopped buying paper books), Bloomberg (to get the most up to date information on the markets and check the stocks), Pulse (to keep up to date on most of the blogs I read.  It’s a fun application with lots of information), Zite (this is where I read a lot of the random articles I post on twitter or get my information) Game Center (because every paralegal needs to relax and play games), Twitter (how else would I keep in touch with all you guys?) and finally my iDisk (for when I begin an article on the iPad and want to finish it on the MacBook Pro).

At the bottom I keep my Safari, mail, settings, FaceTime, haven’t really used it a lot but it’s cool 😉 and Remember the Milk (RTM).  RTM is an to do list application.  I have been using it for the past few months and really like.  However, I’m really looking forward to IOS 5 to come out so I can use the “To Do” application Apple will have that works with the calendar.  That will make my life even easier.

Having the iPad organized this way makes it easier for me to concentrate on work.  I don’t see all the other distracting applications and therefore am not tempted to open up a game and start playing instead of working.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes it doesn’t work.  The games sometimes call my name and I can’t help but listen.

the next page of my iPad is organized with all folders where I keep applications organized according to what they do.  Photograph, Food & Wine, Law, Weather & Maps, Newsstand, Books, Finance, Games, Puzzle Games, Catalogues, Lifestyle, Blogging, Productivity, Music & Videos, Television and Social.

Second Page

Since last year I’ve gone through a lot of different ways of organizing my iPad but this one seems to be working the best for me.  At least for now.  Let’s see how long this one will last.

So, this is my iPad.  What does yours look like?  Please feel free to comment below.

The iPad2 and The Smart-Cover


Much has been said about this Smart-Cover for the iPad2. I will review it in depth, shortly. However, I feel compelled to give you my immediate thoughts now.

Picture from "themacspace.com"

Two weeks ago I decided that I “needed” an iPad 2. I don’t think there will be much more the iPad 3 will be able to do that I can’t do with the ipad2 so, before my first generation iPad is worth nothing I thought I’d get myself a second generation. Besides, the Smart-Cover is so cool. I got the pink (“girly”). Now working is fun and ohhh so sexy ;).

Anyway, the cover is great. The magnets work very well. Although I have to remember to store it in my purse facing down otherwise if the cover slides backwards the iPad turns itself on and wastes battery. That’s an annoyance, although not my biggest gripe. The biggest gripe I have is the fact that it does not seem to want to stay at an angle when I want to type on my lap. Yes, it’s true that you can fold it and turn it into a convenient typing angle, if you’re at a table. If it’s on your lap, as I often am when typing on the iPad, it slides all over the place. I find myself using my thumb to holding the iPad in place. I place my left thumb at the bottom of the ipad and type with only two or three fingers, ok, four fingers (both index fingers and both middle fingers). Takes some getting used to and it’s not very comfortable. I have small hands and the reach is not all that comfortable for the left hand.

These are the only two issues I have found with the smart cover. It’s difficult for me to EVER find anything wrong with Apple. I love their products and, I guess you can say, I’m addicted to anything Jobs and now Cook. However, I am hoping they come out with a new and improved cover that works for the ipad2.

Have you bought an iPad2? If so, what do you think of the Smart-cover?

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the ipad2 as well as how my workflow has changed in the past year since I became an iPad addict.

Me and my iPad


As many of you know, for a while now, I have been trying to go green here in my home office.

As much as I tried to read materials on my computer screen and copy and past them into a word document so that I could insert my own notes, it still did not feel natural to me.

My iPhone was too small to be able to comfortably read the large documents I usually have to read and my laptop got too heavy and cumbersome to carry around every day.  I always wound up going back to printing the darn documents in order to read them on the train and making my notes on the margins.  Most of the time this accomplished two things:  1) my bag was too heavy to carry with me every morning into the office and every night on the way home; and 2) I would inevitably forget the documents I had printed, either at home or at the office and would have to print them again all the time cursing myself out for not being able to figure out a solution to this very annoying habit of mine.  Why couldn’t I break myself of the habit of carrying so much stuff around?  There has to be a better way.  I kept thinking to myself.

Enter the Apple iPad.  For the past month…. Ok, maybe almost 2 months, I’ve been learning all I can about this new obsession of mine.

I have to admit that when Apple first came out with the iPad, although I thought it was really cool, I never thought that I would be one of the people who would have purchased one.  I was one of those people who thought of the iPad as just a really big iPod Touch.  Why in the world would I need a big iPod Touch if I had an iPhone.  I had just spent the money on a brand new iPhone 4.  However, the more I saw the commercials the more I became fascinated with the iPad.

To make matters even more interesting, my local mall, has a large Apple store where I sometimes go just to check out the new cool Apple products.  I began finding that it was getting more and more difficult to pry myself away from the iPads on display and kept coming up with reasons as to why an iPad would be great to have.  However, I still wasn’t totally convinced.

So what convinced me?  Well, back in the Summer, Lynne DeVenny, from Practical Paralegalism tweeted that she had finally gotten an iPad for herself and was totally in love with it Paralegal iPad. Call it jealousy if you must, but I had to have one.  I read about how she downloaded some free materials to study for the NALA examination, and how she had her research applications on it.  To top it all off, I found out that some of the magazines I read were a part of an app on the app store and it would be cheaper to purchase them there than purchase the paper subscriptions.  Then I began to see more and more people on the train (ok, maybe only one or two people) reading the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times on the iPad and not having to fight to keep from elbowing the passenger next to them every time they needed to turn the page.  I have to admit, I am not one of those people that ever learned how to fold the paper just so in order to not disturb the person next to me.

I HAD TO HAVE AN IPAD

I broke down.  On September 18, 2010, I drove (well, my husband drove us) to the mall and we walked into the Apple Store to “look” at the iPad one more time and maybe ask a few questions. That day I walked out with my brand new iPad 3G.

We are now inseparable.  What do I use it for, you ask?  Well, just about everything.  I have loaded it with tons of apps that make my life a little bit easier.  The only think I don’t do on the iPad is type long documents.  I think this Christmas I’m going to ask for a bluetooth keyboard so that I can blog on the iPad.  However, since buying the iPad I don’t use my Macbook anymore.  I even told my husband that I feel like I’m cheating on it.  However, the iPad is so much faster.  It immediately turns on just with a push of a button.  The web pages open much faster, I think even faster than on my iMac, and because it only weighs 1.6 Lbs making it really easy to carry in my bag every day.

Mostly I use it for reading.  From the app store I downloaded the iBooks application and have purchased a few books.  It’s a pleasure to read on the iPad.  The pages look crisp and the back lighting on the iPad makes it really easy on the eyes.  The fact that you can make the font larger or smaller is also a really big plus.  I also have the Amazon Kindle application on the the iPad but I much prefer books on the iBook application.  Additionally, while I was able to read the newspapers on my iPhone, the iPad makes it such a much better experience.  I’m sure the person sitting next to me on the train feels the same way.

For magazines, I downloaded Zinio.  A free application that you can download from the App store to your iPhone or iPad and subscribe to magazines.  Currently I’m subscribed to Bloomberg, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan (because besides being a paralegal and a financial nerd I’m also a woman) and have purchased a few issues of the Economist.

So for the first month I’ve become greener than I have ever been.  Granted, it’s only been a small step for some but for me this step was huge.  So now I’m not buying books, newspapers and magazines.

In order to keep up with all the reading I do for work I downloaded also from the App store GoodReader.  GoodReader is a $1.99 but it is very much worth it.  It takes a PDF and saves it allowing the user to highlight and underline in the document.   Additionally, when you open the document in Goodreader it gives you an option to open it in iBooks and it creates a bookshelf just for your PDF documents.  Although I’ve only had this app for 3 days I’ve been using it a lot.  It’s great not to have to carry a stack of papers with me back and forth from work and to have everything organized and at your fingertips when you need it.  More to come on this App.

Lastly, for the kid in me, I have downloaded some game applications which I play while the husband is watching his football games.

I would love to hear from all of you who have gotten an iPad on how you use it.  What applications have you found have made your life simpler?  Let me know.