writing

Flowstate

I purchased Flowstate app this evening and tried it out both in Finnish and in English. It was quite demanding test even in Finnish. I somehow managed five minute writing in English even if I am not native speaker (or writer that is). I think Flowstate may help me to write in flow state in the future. Sometimes I am thinking too much what to write and how to edit my text during writing. Flowstate does not allow any big editing when writing. You can do that afterwards if your text still exists. Yes, that’s true – if it still exists for any edits. In Flowstate your text will vanish for good if you keep longer than five sec pauses during writing. So you really have to keep the text flowing on the screen.

Here is my first five minute text (you can specify a timer between 5 and 180  minutes) in English (you may get the idea how difficult it was to me to write it):

“Let’s start in English. Very difficult for me I believe. Seems to be tricky to keep the pace up. Wow. Truly tricky. Difficult to write any meaningful things on the screen but have to keep going. Soon this will be erased I think. Very soon. But I will try. I do not even know if the timer was put to five minutes. Hopefully so because otherwise… I will have tremendous problems. Wow again. I feel pain already. Pain in my brain, pain in my hands. Suffering all over… Unbelievable experience… Just too much. I do not believe I am doing this at this very moment. I should not try to edit. I should just write and write. Editing is your enemy in this game… Soon I will be through my first five minutes in English… Now.”

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

I have recently been wanting a real keyboard for my iPad (2nd generation) to achieve faster writing. Then I spotted Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in a local store and decided to buy it even if I did not know about any reviews on it (later on I spotted many very positive reviews on it in the web). I can say that I am happy that I bought this keyboard. It is quite expensive one (99,95 €) but I think it is worth of that money.

I like the idea that this keyboard works also as a cover for iPad’s screen. I have been using Apple’s iPad cover and wanted the keyboard to be similar in that respect and this one really is. This keyboard is very thin and do not add much thickness to the iPad when closed and covering the iPad. It attaches to iPad with similar magnet thing than the iPad cover. I would like those magnets to be little bit stronger though. I am somehow worried how those magnets will work after a year or so. Are they still strong enough to keep the cover in place when closed?

The keyboard itself is fantastic. It is large enough for fast and accurate writing. It is about 20% smaller than my Apple Wireless Keyboard I am using with my Mac Mini. You’ll get used to this Logitech’s keyboard very easily. Also the writing feel is very good. And it is silent too. I think this is a needed feature if you are going to use a keyboard in meetings for example.

This keyboard have a very nice finish (aluminium outer shell) and a magnetic groove where the iPad is placed. The iPad is always in a fixed viewing angle (60 degrees) which could be problem for some users. I feel it is totally okay on table and even on my lap. iPad is staying very firmly in that groove and it is even possible to lift the whole combo by grabbing the iPad when it is in the upward writing position.

If you write a lot (or even not so much) I really recommend this keyboard for your iPad. I use it now always because it doubles as a iPad screen cover and in that way it will be always with my iPad.

Why I chose Pages for writing meeting minutes

First of all I personally have a Mac, iPad, and iPhone. And at work I am forced to use a PC with MS Office package.

I work in science and we have quite a lot of meetings and I would like to use my iPad to write short minutes of them. I want to read those minutes using all my devices at home and at my workplace. So, there are many things to fullfill for a notes/writing app. And I really have tested quite many.

It would be nice if a note app is easy to use and fast for writing using mobile devices. Of course somekind of syncing feature is also a must because I am using many devices to create and read them. I’ve tested at least the following ones (some are iOS and some for Mac, some for both):

Evernote, NoteMaster, Elements, iA Writer, TaskPaper, Note Taker, ThinkBook, ByWord, and Pages (at least these – there may be some else which I do not recall now).

Some of those are really great writing apps. I especially like iA Writer and ByWord for distraction free writing and I am using them for that purpose. But they are not perfect ones for taking notes. Pages is a word processor (at least sort of) and is not a pure note taking app either. But there are few reasons why I chose Pages over the other for my meeting minute app:

You can make decent lists by Pages (even though you have better system for that in other apps – like TaskPaper). But the lists are decent and quite easy to make. The main reason for choosing Pages is the iCloud sync. It is fantastic. I have many of those other apps which use Dropbox sync which is also very nice but Pages with iCloud is very special case – at least for me. When you have your Pages documents in iCloud they are in all of your iOS devices and also in your Mac. Okay, Dropbox will do the same. Some of the other apps use file formats which are not so good if you want to use them in Word. And that’s what I need (I have to circulate the minutes to many people who are using Word). Plain text format will of course work but then I have to do quite a lot of formatting in Word before I’ll send the minutes to others. If I use Pages I can download the minutes from iCloud as Pages, Word, or PDF format. That’s super handy! I can even send the file in Word or PDF format straight from my mobile device as an email. And I can upload Word documents to iCloud too. Even more handy. So, there is much less messing around when I use Pages instead of those other apps.

One bonus more when using Pages. You can easily add some pics and charts in your documents when using Pages.

Mobile WordPress approach

Elements – Dropbox – Byword

The above apps work really nicely together. When you use Markdown editing you can read Byword documents in Elements and vice versa. Very handy indeed! Now I have two different apps who work greatly together and I have beautiful mobile approach to edit documents written with Byword.

Markdown and Dropbox make all this possible.

Byword test

Blog post by Byword

Now I am testing Byword writing app to write a simple blog post to WordPress. I have already tried out iA Writer which I really, really like for writing but it has one major disadvantage for blog writing. I couldn’t find out how to easily import an HTML file to WP and there is no way to just copy an iA Writer document as an HTML file and then paste it to WordPress. But Byword has that option. If it is working (and I will see that soon), I am really going to like Byword.

Byword is a “distraction-free” writing app as are e.g. iA Writer and WriteRoom. Byword has little bit more preferences to twek with than iA Writer (well iA Writer has no preferences at all) but otherwise these two programms are quite similar ones. Well, I do miss that gorgeous Nitti font which iA Writer uses!

I am just hoping to see iPhone versions of Byword and iA Writer. I think there will be an app for iPhone from iA Writer but I have not seen any info about such plans concerning Byword. If there will be iPhone app from either of them I will definitely purchase one. I would like to have this kind of a writing app in more mobile format.

I can say that these “distraction-free” writing apps are able to increase my productivity. I have now started to write a short novel using this kind of apps. This novel project has been my long-time dream for many, many years.