In the late summer of each year, Apple puts lists of “best apps for college students” on its Mac, iPad, and iPhone stores.
I’ve been looking at these lists pretty carefully for the past few years. These have traditionally been pretty smart lists of apps for college studies and recreation. While one could quibble with some of the choices they make, in general the lists have been quite good. Usually I have found that I own most of the apps on the lists, so I can say that in general I find a lot of convergence between my choices and those of Apple.
This year’s lists are again excellent. Highly recommended for everyone who wants to use a Mac, iPad, or iPhone for note taking, documents, scheduling, task management, calendaring, journaling, or enjoying photos, music, and reading.
For many years I have been a fan of the iA Writer app that is a streamlined and very fast text creation tool (as opposed to a bloated word proessor). The tool works seamously across the Mac, iPad, and iPhone and files are automatically available on all three Internet connected devices. This is also the only writing app I have found that works brilliantly on all three devices and screen sizes. The iPhone version is the only text creator I have found that really works well on the small screen of the iPhone.
A few months ago, iA introduced Writer Pro, a version that incorporates many new features while simultaneously retaining the simple to use, brilliant features of the original concept. If you are serious about writing text (as opposed to doing a fully formatted version at the time of the first draft), this is the app for you (unless you are stuck with a PC). In my experience, more creative and quality writing can be done more rapidly when you are not distracted by all of the formatting options floating around on the screen.
Writer Pro is simultaneously a 5-star app like iA Writer, a 5-Ferrari app, and a 5-tank app. The developer gets a 5-brain rating.
5+5+5+5 on a 5-point scale
Warning. This app has a steep learning curve (15 minutes). Unless you are willing to invest the 15 minutes you may not figure out how this new model of writing (with four stages you can jump between) enhances the creative process. On the other hand, you will recover the 15 minutes of exploration during your first 30 minutes of “real” use.
Etiquette in the Era of High Levels of Adult Cognitive Impairment and Ubiquitous Mobile Tablets
A little role playing exercise.
What is going on? The person (with dementia) sitting opposite you at the restaurant just pulled out an iPad and connected to the Internet. Is it rude or something else? Perhaps that person is using the iPad to look up information on the Internet (or iPad)? As technology progresses and behavior interventions are introduced for cognitive impairment, that is not an unlikely possibility.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of the person with cognitive impairment. Why might you want to consult your tablet or smartphone? How would you feel? How would your dinner companion see you. Rude? Shouldn’t. You are very very smart.
Oh, and real life, I am the guy with the dementia and iPad. Even when you do not need it, it is quite reassuring that it is there. I don’t leave home without it.
Sometimes the following trick helps me both code notes (or task lists) and grabs my attention when the ignored task list is floating around on my desk or becomes part of the wad of notes, receipts, and other small pieces of paper that accumulate in my pockets. I review the wad of paper regularly (hopefully finding it before I put the pants or shirt in the laundry and being transformed to lint in the dryer). This little trick is used by people who make sketchnotes for a living (see the wonderful books by Mike Rohde on sketchnoting). Sketchnoters — because of their business and professional audience — tend to use a more subtle and artistic version of what I do (after all their audience is wearing suits while my audience is me wearing shorts and an old T-shirt). Same principle though.
[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]
The thick-thin pens are called Fude de Mannen by their manufacturer Sailor and fairly inexpensive. A much more elegant and expensive option that does the same thing is any Sailor fountain pen with a Zoom nib. You can also do the same shift between thick and thin inexpensively with a Noodler’s flex pen or many calligraphy pens (the Japanese ones are best and brush pens work even better) or much more elegantly and expensively with either a Pilot Falcon pen or any Pilot pen equipped with an FA nib. I have no commercial relationship to any of these companies. The odds of finding any of these pens in a brick-and-mortar store in the USA are fairly low but they are available widely on the Internet with many coming directly from Japan (yup, they ship anywhere).
I use different writing implements to vary things, color code, and even slow myself down (like the decorative fonts do) in order to increase the time for memory encoding, to build in uniqueness that grabs attention, and to amuse myself (I am easy to amuse).
Many of these “tricks” are the same as those as used in mind mapping without the most important feature of structuring, restructuring, and formally associating many ideas.
The next logical step after these kind of notes is mind mapping which I strongly endorse. On the other hand, some people just want to takes notes and may not want to take the time to carefully think through them or organize their thoughts, and for those folks at least remember this.
&&& the purpoSe of noteS is to REmemBER in parT because the noteS are MEMOR(Y)able and you pay more attention to them ***
While I cannot prove this, it is my guess that these techniques will also be useful for those with memory and attention problems like normal aging, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. But all of these conjectures require empirical research to substantiate and are just WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) on my part at this time.