One Week With The Apple iPad Review

Ipad-mosaicAfter experiencing the Apple iPad for the last week, I thought I'd outline my thoughts on the device that seems to still have a lot of buzz and interest.

In a nutshell, I am very happy with the iPad and I believe that it is a compelling device that fits in well between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

I believe this device is going to help me be more effective with reading, podcast & audio book listening, and consuming professional content in eBook, PDF, and other standard formats.  I expect it will also help me on the organizational front with more ubiquitous access to reference material, project support data, and communications services.  Plus, it will be a fun device to decompress with casual games, videos, and music.

No device is perfect -- says the former Newton & still TabletPC laptop fan. As I outlined in a previous blog post, I had some concerns with the hardware and software as proposed by Apple for iPad v1.0 before picking up the device. 

The good news is that as far as I can tell there isn't anything new that the iPad can't do that wasn't already publicly announced before it was released. So, I don't have any buyer's remorse. I know there are now confirmed Wi-Fi issues, but I haven't experienced those with the Wi-Fi networks I have available to me.

Things that are great:
  • The screen is awesome.
  • Battery life is equally impressive.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support is solid.
  • Surfing the web is fast and fluid on the screen with the pinch-to-zoom working as expected.
  • Books via Amazon's Kindle application are readable and easy to consume over hours of reading.
  • Physically the device is solid and feels good in your hands.
  • Goodreader.net is a very nice $0.99 application for reading PDFs.
  • The interface and applications run fast -- so the custom Apple A4 processor was a very good idea IMHO.
  • The built-in Apple iPad applications are well designed.  The Email application with support for viewing a large number attachment formats is especially functional.
  • Native 3rd party iPad/HD applications look spectacular on the device. Some of the ones I've been using include: USA Today, Reuters, TweetDeck, The Weather Channel, Zino, Evernote, Toodledo, Kayak Flights, Dictionary, ABC Player, Yahoo! Entertainment, Sudoku Tablet, YouVersion Bible, and Box.net.
  • On screen keyboard is significantly better than my previous iPod Touch experiences.
  • Internal speaker is better than I expected and so is the microphone.
  • Doing a one on one demo with someone is pretty powerful for sharing and viewing information. The built-in Photos application is especially noteworthy as a good example.
  • Maps with Wi-Fi geolocation is remarkably accurate.
  • I haven't really ran into situations where multi-tasking would be an issue, but I can think of one area I am going to run into problems -- browsing in Safari and then wanting to post via TweetDeck.
Things that are not so great (from a consumer perspective):
  • Screen gets smudged very easily, but cleans up well.
  • Can't subscribe to podcasts directly in iTunes on the iPad.
  • The iPad could lose a half-a-pound in weight, and be more portable plus easier to hold over a longer period of time.
  • Pricing on new iPad specific applications is way to high in my humble opinion. Kudos to many of the application developers I currently use for creating 'free' upgrade versions.
  • The 2x upscale for standard iPhone apps leaves a lot of pixelation issues that distracts from the experience.
  • Safari has crashed more than I expected when consuming media files directly from sites like podcast RSS feeds.
  • I don't like having to sync to iTunes to get Contact updates.  You can get Google Calendar updates directly via CalDAV.
  • iBook prices appear to be on average more expensive than Amazon Kindle prices.  For instance, David Allen's "Getting Things Done (GTD)" is $9.99 on Amazon and $12.99 on Apple's iBook store.
Things that are not great (from my own Enterprise work perspective):
  • No DOD PKI CAC support so you can't sign emails or read encrypted emails.  You also can't use many DOD sites without DOD PKI CAC support in the browser.  Plus at my organization, VPN access and authenticated WIFI is not currently possible without DOD PKI CAC support.
  • Currently there is no way to encrypt the whole device and/or all the application specific storage areas.  This will be a problem as Data At Rest (DAR) requirements become more prevalent and no longer optional.  I've heard rumors about possible 3rd party solutions being released soon that solves this type of problem but nothing definitive as I post this review.  If anyone knows anything about future iPhone/iPad DAR solutions, then please let me know.
Other than fixing the items that are not so great, what could Apple do for improving iPad 2.0 hardware?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • More Bluetooth device support (i.e. networking, GPS, DOD CAC PKI, etc),
  • Integrate a native USB port,
  • Add an SD Card slot, and
  • Drop the price for all units by $100.
I'm sort of ambivalent on adding the camera from a video conferencing/chat perspective, but I think the camera as a sensor to capture location views, barcodes, snapshots, etc would be useful.

With recent news of the iPhone/iPad OS v4.0 coming out soon there is a good chance that many of the software issues will be either solved by this v4.0 release or an earlier v3.x release.  Given that the current release date for iPad support for v4.0 is Fall 2010, I'd expect a hardware update for the iPad when this actually comes out.  Regular Fall releases for new iPad hardware makes more sense for Holiday Sales, and future iPad release will probably be part of Apple's traditional new iPod releases usally in September or October.

The one thing I have not had a chance to try out but would like to is using the iPad to remotely connect to Windows or Mac systems.   I think this could be a big business area for Apple when the 3G version comes out.  With this feature, businesses could leverage the iPad for mobile computing solutions like access to intranet applications, sales presentations, eLearning, etc outside their internal physically controlled Wi-Fi networks.  The only reason I haven't tried them out is the three that look good for evaluation had prices ranging from $15 to $35.  Apple and their developers really need a 'demo' option for items in their AppStore, especially for applications with high price tags. Spending money to do multi-product evaluations is not that appealing to me.

Another thing worth noting is that there is definitely going to be more iPad-like products coming to the market in the near future. I think some of these will be pretty competitive, especially those with Google's Android and more than likely Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series.  The big change, when compared to the past, is that the iPad is based on an operating system geared for being mobile, and the full blown operating system software like those on previous TabletPCs is not the right answer for devices in this middle ground between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

Want to learn more? One of the better Apple iPad consolidated tips, tricks, and pointers articles is posted at HowToGeek.com (link via Kreg Steppe @ FriendsInTech.com)  Another tool that looks interesting is a Google Docs editing tool called Office2Pro that was recently reviewed on one of my favorite mobile technology blogs JK On The Run.

If you have any comments, then please post them below and I'll definitely respond.  If you have any questions that you'd like to have answered, then you can send me email at: sholden@pobox.com or send me a Twitter message (@sholden) or on direct message on Facebook (sholden).

GTD Suggestion - Tracking References Via Google Maps

A recent question on the Getting Things Done (GTD) Virtual Study Group mailing list related to tracking travel related task & project items, reminded me that since this past summer I've been tracking geographical items of interest, reference, and someday/maybe items using Google Maps:

Google-my-map-01

The My Maps feature with Google Maps lets you create your own pins and references.  You can also make your maps public or private.  If you make a map private you can still send the private map as a link to someone else via email.

I like this option because the next time I'm in Atlanta I'll know the options that are available to me.  And the data is available with any Internet access plus browser.

I've also used this feature to build a Visiting San Diego Map for friends and family:

Google-my-map-sd-01

This has been very handy in helping visitors figure out what is available to do in San Diego County and how far away items are.


My GTD Weekly Review Dashboard

Picture 1 There was a recent tweet on Twitter #GTD from Emily Wilska (@OrganizedLifeSF) asking for a "status report" template that one might fill out after completing a David Allen GTD Weekly Review

While I don't have a status report template, I do have a personal Weekly Review dashboard hosted up on Google Docs.

Here is a link to my GTD Weekly Review Dashboard Google Doc spreadsheet that I created. [NOTE: Conditional coloring of fields & fonts may not transfer if you export to Excel or other spreadsheets.]

The basic idea is to track when you do the individual items of a review by placing the date in "Last Completed" column. The spreadsheet will then make a calculation based on today's date, and give you a GREEN, YELLOW, or RED status.  Most of the items are on a weekly (7 day) schedule, but some of them are on a monthly (30 day) schedule.  Here are some links for more information on how to implement conditional coloring of fields for Excel, Numbers, and Google Docs.  Feel free to customize to your own needs.

I started using this dashboard last summer when things were really getting out of hand at work.  I was finding my timing for reviewing Weekly Review items to be sporadic with some items being reviewed several times a day to some slipping a couple of weeks or even a month between reviews.  To keep sane, I adopted this dashboard for Weekly reviews (which I look at everyday) and also David Allen's My World Mindmap (which will be a post for another day). 

The key for me is knowing what I am doing and not doing, otherwise I turn into a crazy maker.

(7/15/2012) - Updated to fix broken link to Google docs.


Summary - Doing A GTD Weekly Review Via Twitter

I wasn't able to attend this event but I thought it was important to capture and share.

Kelly Forrister at the David Allen Company recently did an innovative event on Twitter (#GTD #Tweekly).  It was an interactive Getting Things Done Weekly Review.  Here is the sequence via 29 tweets that she posted:

  1. Hello everyone! Ready? We'll do this in 3 parts/11 steps
  2. PART ONE: GET CLEAR. Collect loose paper and materials. Gather everything that's loose into an Inbox, Tray or folder.
  3. You have 5 minutes for this step. Go...
  4. You all have one more minute on step one: Collect loose papers and materials.
  5. PART ONE-STEP TWO-GET CLEAR: Get In to Zero. Choose the inbox that can good progress on in 5 min--email? paper? VM? Go!
  6. a good way to process in is 4D's: Delete it, Do it (under 2 mins), Delegate it, Defer it (onto a list)
  7. PART ONE-STEP THREE-GET CLEAR: Empty your head. Open a Word doc, or grab and pad and clear your head for 5 minutes. Go.
  8. STEP THREE - SOME MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Family, health, meetings you've had, meetings you're going to have...
  9. SOME MORE MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Your direct reports, finances, 401k, the dog, your car, health appts you've been putting off...
  10. PART TWO, STEP FOUR-GET CURRENT: Review your Action lists (or maybe you call them Tasks or To Do's.)5 minutes start now. Go!
  11. 2 more minutes to review action lists--are they current? anything to mark done? anything trigger you to add?
  12. PART TWO-STEP 5-Review previous calendar info. Any triggers?
  13. Many times reviewing your old calendar (go back about 3 wks) catches things you meant to do. 3 more mins left
  14. PART TWO-STEP 6-REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR DATA - anything you should start getting ready for? Go!
  15. REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR TIP: if you find something you need to process, you can add to your mindsweep for now.
  16. if you don't get anything on reviewing your calendar, try going further out. Recurring Tasks are great for calendar.
  17. PART TWO-STEP 7-REVIEW WAITING FOR - if you've got a list review it. If you don't have one, what are you waiting on?
  18. WAITING FOR TIP: Review your email Sent folder. Usually some waiting for's hiding in there.
  19. PART TWO-STEP 8-REVIEW PROJECT LISTS. Projects are your outcomes that require more than one action step. Go!
  20. PROJECT TIP: Projects are typically completed within 18 mos. If you can NEVER mark it done, it's likely an Area of Focus.
  21. PROJECT TIP: Most people we coach have 30-100 current personal & professional projects. Don't be surprised!
  22. PROJECT TIP: If you are not willing to take any next action on a current project, are you sure it's not Someday/Maybe?
  23. PART 2-STEP 9 - REVIEW CHECKLISTS - birthday checklists? travel checklists? home mntce? Go!
  24. CHECKLIST TIP: Maybe you want to CREATE a checklist? Anything recurring that would be good? What to always pack for vacation?
  25. PART 3-GET CREATIVE!-STEP 10-REVIEW SOMEDAY/MAYBE: If you have one, update it. If you don't have one, create it!
  26. SOMEDAY /MAYBE TIP: S/M is not just a "fantasy wish" list. It can be a fantastic place to stage "not yet" projects.
  27. SOMEDAY TIP: You'll trust S/M list(s) more if you know you're actually going to review them again. Otherwise they'll die.
  28. PART 3-STEP 11-BE CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS! Any new thought-provoking, creative, risk taking ideas to add to your system?
  29. CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS TIP: What's REALLY got your attention in your job, family, environment? This is the last step!

It is my understanding from the GTD Virtual Study Group which did a quick review at the very beginning of their latest podcast is that the timing for this weekly review was limited to 1 hour with all the major items (11 steps) taking approximately 5 minutes each.  The big take away from many of the participants was that they were  amazed at what they accomplished in 1 hour.

Other recommended resources during the Twitter session were:

I've listened to the Weekly Review CDs and I personally recommend them.  The guides are excellent also, and I use them when I need references during GTD processing.


Moleskine DIY Hack - Repositional Glue Stick

Glue-stick2 One of my co-workers recently came up with this handy DIY Moleskine (or other journaling notebook) hack to let you easily put in and remove productivity templates from DIYPlanner.com.

Find the template you want to put in your moleskine, print it out, cut to size, and then use 'repositionable' glue to secure it in the moleskine.  I added a 'shopping list' to one of the back pages of my moleskine.   Now I can use this for a couple of weeks, and then pull it out & add another fresh one without messing with a list of old items permanently in my moleskine.

Another reason, I like this is because it is sort of like creating your own post-it notes, but having control of the content, color, and size of the note.  The index card size ones at DIYPlanner.com seem to be ideal for the Moleskine.


Setting Up My GTD Moleskine 2009

Moleskine I'm going on my fourth moleskine as my primary David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) capture device.  The first one covered 2005, for some reason 2006-2007 was captured in one, and last year (2008) went into a single moleskine.

Here are some of the steps I've refined in setting up my 2009 moleskine:

  • Use my Dymo labler to print up my labels (see below) and contact information in case I loose my moleskine.
  • Contact information is taped right up front and includes cellphone, email addresses, home phone & address; and $20 reward notice if returned.
  • Labels: References - Information [start on page 1]; Inbox - Notes - Tasks [starts on page 9]; Calendar [page 192]; Contacts [page 190]; Roles & Responsibilites [page 188]; and Projects [page 174].
  • Print out a small 2009 year calendar via Pocketmod (tape on front inside cover)
  • Print out a small DIY Planner Hipster PDA GTD Reference Card (tape on back inside cover)

Some things I've learned over the last couple of years:

  • Form-factor and ease of pen & paper has been very beneficial to me.
  • Thinking of the "notes" section as an Inbox has really made it more appealing to capture everything in the moleskine.  I start each day with a new line and keep things in chronological order.  Once I process something, I mark it done using a yellow highlighter.
  • I rarely capture items in the Calendar section except for personal items.  Work items seem to end up in Outlook without making it to pen & paper.
  • I do capture more Contacts than Calendar items using the moleskine.  It happens mostly when I'm on travel, and capturing some new information away from my computer or cellphone.
  • Previous years I have not had a Projects section, but after attending a David Allen Roadmap Seminar this past summer I started doing this, and it has paid off as a good Weekly Review resource.  It also turns out that at times I only have my moleskine, and I can do some productive brainstorming during downtime with just the Projects list in the moleskine.
  • Another item added after the Roadmap Seminar was the Roles & Responsbilities section.  This is great to review from time to time during downtime, and it helps to keep perspective on what is important to me at 30,000-ft and higher levels.

Do you have any good GTD moleskine tips that I might consider?  Leave a comment or drop me an email.


Conference Update - GTD Roadmap, New Media, MT Communications, Office 2.0

I was recently able to attend a David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) Roadmap seminar during one of my regular trips to Washington DC. 

It was a fabulous one-day conference. 

As someone who has been practicing some form of GTD since 2004, it was great to finally get to learn from David Allen in-person.  The Roadmap material was, frankly, excellent for someone in my situation who tries to practice GTD on a daily basis and is maturing in the model.  For instance for me, my Runway is pretty well managed, as is my Horizon's of focus above 20,000 feet. But I do struggle with Projects (10,000 feet) and consistent Weekly Reviews.  This year (2008) could be considered the year of getting a handle on both Projects & Weekly Reviews. After this seminar, I definitely think I have some good best practices to move forward with.

There are three other conferences that have my attention right now:

I will be at the upcoming New Media Expo (NME) 2008 speaking on "Getting Started With Audio Editing - Hands-on With Audacity." More information about my Audacity related resources over at AztecMedia.net/Audacity.  Christy is going to go with me this year, and we hope to get some Jersey Boys Las Vegas interviews completed for the Jersey Boys Podcast. And yes, we will be seeing the show again while we are there. ;-)

I am also planning  to attend the Manager-Tools.com Effective Communications conference in San Antonio, TX on September 9-10, 2008.  This should be a great conference and if you are a manager, you should really consider attending.  Or at the very least, go over to Manager-Tools.com Getting Started page and get started.

The other conference that is on my radar but I don't think I'm going to be able to attend is Ismael Ghalimi's Office 2.0 Conference.  David Allen is going to be giving the keynote which is great, but the line-up of other speakers is impressive, and the content seems right up my alley.  If you are interested in attending, you can save $100 off the conference fee by using this link that Ismael gave me.  For those who are GTD Connect members, David recently interviewed Ismael for the In Conversation podcast.  It is a very good podcast that examines what Ismael is up to with regards to Office 2.0, and gets deep into the personal GTD systems Ismael is deploying.  He is definitely an impressive 'cloud/virtual systems' guy.

 


Getting - Busy Four Day Weekend Recommendation

4updaykeeperThis Memorial Holiday weekend in San Diego looks very busy for us.  When things start to look like they might get potentially out of control with the family schedule, I've found I like to have a 'low-tech paper' calendar for the family to look at in the kitchen. 

I usually print out a couple of pages for each day of the weekend using a 'day keeper'  template from DIY Planner.  But since today is an off day from work, it is really a four day weekend, and a four-up Hipster DIY Planner page can get all the information I need on sheet.

I just printed a single page, and add all the stuff I know is suppose to happen. Now when Christy gets back from volunteering at the kids' school, she can get her items on there, and in theory, we should be pretty well scheduled. 

Have a great weekend! You can follow mine via twitter if you want.


My Getting List Manager Analysis Of Outlook & Pocket Informant

I recently read a post by Kelly Forrister "What makes a good Getting list manager?" But it wasn't until I read Eric Mack's analysis of her post that I made the connection that I should evaluate what I do.

Here is the criteria:

  1. Sorting lists by context
  2. Ability to assign a due date
  3. Portable for on the go access
  4. Easily accessible
  5. More attractive to you than repelling
  6. Doesn't force priority codes
  7. Place to capture additional notes
  8. Ability to search and sort in various ways.
  9. Robust enough to handle all of your stuff.

My system for handling Getting Runway "Next Actions"  is an IBM X61 TabletPC with Windows Vista running Outlook 2007 teamed up with an AT&T Tilt with Pocket Informant 8.

As I read through the list, I find that Outlook + Pocket Informant do the majority of the items pretty straight forward for me: sorting (#1); due dates (#2); easy access (#4); search & sorting (#8); and capture notes (#7)   Neither seems to force priority codes (#6) but offers them if you want them.

I gain portablilty (#3) not so much from the list manager software but more from the platforms.  The IBM X61 is the best PC laptop I've ever had, and I have it with me nearly all the time I need it. Outlook is usually always running and usually only a click or pen gesture away. If I'm going some place without my X61, then I have a good sync with the AT&T Tilt Windows Mobile Phone so I don't miss many @phone, @store, etc items.  Using this setup to capture is pretty straight forward, but I actually use a combo of 3x5 cards and Moleskine for the most of my capture which is probably a topic for another post.

The part that is probably completely personality preference is #5: 'is this attractive enough to you to use it or not? ' It is probably also one of the most important questions that you need to tackle or you'll have a hard time getting things done.

What works for you?