Let me just make something clear; there’s no such a thing as “best” or “perfect” note taking app! each app offers a different type of experience which in turn makes it unique! and there are plenty of them out there. I’ve tried nearly 30 paid and free versions to realize this! and ended up keeping 7 active for my note taking purposes plus one that I don’t use anymore but I think it’s worth mentioning here (sling Note). There’s a comparison table below which should give you a rough idea of each app’s overall features. I’m going to introduce them and say briefly what I think of each; hopefully you’ll find it helpful in your pursuit of an ideal note taker.
The ever developing Notes Plus is the creation of Viet Tran. It’s one of my favourites simply because it’s has everything you need in an easy accessible manner. You can create folders which is very helpful in organizing your work. The app tends to slow down a little as the page is getting filled and this is more noticeable when you zoom in, but this is common in most apps with vector shapes. The shape detection tool is one of the unique feature of the app which is very helpful for students. Viet usually have weekend’s sales and provide very good support, so feel free to get in touch with him to add your requested feature to his development’s list. I give it 4 stars, but it’s a potential 5 because I’m sure next update will resolve all the missing features and the performance issues.
08/04/2011 Update: In the latest version of Notes Plus there are different paper types you can choose, an easrer and the zoom box window is adjustable.
I use Note Shelf usually when I want to write a letter! the pen feels nice, there’s a good collection of different papers and it’s fast. There are little bugs like the smilies’ window doesn’t open sometimes(e.g. when you have the zoom window open in bottom of the page), but nothing major.
23/07/2011 Update:In this unexpected but certainly welcomed update there are several mew features such as : landscape mode, cut/copy/paste, choosing paper type and the notebook cover independently, improved zoom mode and more!
04/08/2011 Update: New Landscape mode providing more space and a nicer look!
Notify is such a powerful app, in fact it’s so power that it’s a bit complex to work with! The ability to make selection from web and paste it over to your notes is truly amazing and I mainly use it for research and brain storming. As a result of the rich content it slows down quickly. It has good syncing options and the ability to categorise and assign tags to your notes is very helpful. The page size is unlimited which is great for research but this also contributes to the speed of the app and make it a little less desirable for everyday use.
The good news is the performance will be much better on iPad 2. According to Henrik, Notify’s developer, the sketching algorithm used in Notify is multi threaded which means it will take full advantage of the second core of the new A5 processor. Not to mention since the app is already available and works with iphone’s built in camera, it will work with iPad 2′s camera right away so can capture images and import them to Notify directly.
UPAD is such a pleasant experience! The pen tool feels nice and very realistic. The app is well organized and the drawing and typing modes are separated which is actually an advantage and disadvantage at the same time, but UPAD switches between them very neatly. I use UPAD mainly for commenting on photos but it’s a good all in one note taking app.
22/03/2011 Update: In the latest version of UPAD just released you can organize your notes in folders.
13/09/2011 Update: New feature of the latest version (1.90): Page Bookmark, folder password, Image inserting and more!.
04/10/2011 Update: updated the handwriting engine, added area erasing feature.
Tactilis is a simple and easy to use note taking app. It is in my opinion the best free note taker on the market. As soon as you open it and from the layout you know you are going have fun using this! There’s a line tool acting as a ruler for drawing lines and circles which is designed in a very clever and enjoyable way to work with. The pencil tool is surprisingly good and great for sketching. I use it for note taking on the go because I know I can quickly capture my idea in the best possible way. There are some features such as PDF export missing which is according to Satyakam, the developer of the app, will be resolved in the upcoming update.
Note taker HD is now my main note taking app for work. Everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be and it’s very convenient to navigate around the app. I find it very similar to Notes Plus, both covers all you need for taking notes, but this one can import PDF and you can assign tags to your notes. The overall notes’ view could get a little confusing when you have a lot of pages there; category or folders would have helped keeping your notes organized easier. Note Taker has the best shapes library and it’s highly customizable.
09/08/2011 Update:Folders, a new UI look,user-settable preset pens, single-file full Backup/Restore and multi-document Save/Load, a zoomed editing wrist guard, swiping and full-screen added to page preview.
31/10/2011 Update:copy/cut/paste of ink and other object between pages, customizable button colours, some UI tweaks
Penultimate is a very simple app with very little features and options. The main strength of the app is the pen which feels very smooth and nice and makes this app worth mentioning. I use it very rarely for a quick sketch but unfortunately it can’t compete with the more serious note taking apps.However, it’s something you will probably keep because of the nice UI and the pen experience!.
03/05/2011 Update:In the new version of penultimate, you can import any image to use as a template, but this option is not very flexible as if your image doesn’t have the
same aspect ratio there’s no zoom or crop options to fill the page with it. There’s also an automated effect applied to your imported image, which is nice actually(sepia colours with paper texture), but limited nevertheless. There’s also a paper shop option where you can buy more papers, but the prices are unreasonable and this is something that should have been included in the first place and for free.
15/10/2011 Update: The ability to copy paste within the notes and importing photos are finally added! Also more colours for the pen and other improvements such as moving pages between the notebooks.
This is an app with a lot of potentials and very similar to Notify; great for research and gathering information thank to the integrated web browser. You can have the browser and notepad side by side in landscape mode which I found very useful. The pen tool is sadly very disappointing and the smoothing method used is slow and changes your writing a little too much sometimes.
I am personally a fan of note taking apps revolved around handwriting ability, simply because of the speed required in taking notes, but if you are more into typing then Notability has all the answers for you! The simple layout, the ability to stylize your text quickly and creatively, and the option for inserting image from the photo gallery, web or your drawing make Notability is very versatile note taking platform. It’s also very easy to organise your work based on subject which is searchable as well. You are provided with plenty options for exporting your notes but what stood out the most to me was RTF, however, there were some compatibility issues when opening in MS Word. (see the table for more export options). For those who record sound as well, you can see at what point of your notes that specific clip was recorded; a quick way to find the related speech to your notes! Overall Notability is great for text-based note taking. There are areas still can be improved such as more options for placing image, arrangement of tools in the UI or the option for direct handwriting input, which I’m sure it will be as the developers of this app has a open line of communication with the users and that’s an important factor in choosing a note taking app.
11/07/2011 Update:Huge interface update to a very nice UI, more flexibility for inserting media including overlapping, more categorizing options for library and more!
11/10/2011 Update: A very good update! Handwriting fully integrated, PDF import, Themes, Paper templates and more.
As you can see it’s very hard to pick only one! but I guess it should be like this; even on pen and paper we don’t just use one notebook for everything. Apps are also developed based on the developers creativity and skills and taste. Some are more technical and some more artistic. You will probably end up like me using a few of them for different purposes. Let us thank all these developers for taking iPad one step further in providing us with more options in our growing digital lives.
Of course that’s not all that happened! There was an interesting intro to stereoscopic, the theory and setup at the beginning followed quickly by A breakdown of a shot in The Hole from the VFX Supervisor (John Gajdecki) which revealed some interesting aspect of setting up a 3d rig and the production and post production issues that you might face. You can listen to his presentation below.
John Gajdecki – The Hole.
Next, and rest of presentations in some ways, were promoting OCULA; the stereoscopic post production plug-ins dealing specially with polarizing effect happening when shooting stereo and vertical alignment of the footages.OCULA was apparently heavily used and developed alongside Tron. This was followed by MARI, the 3D texture painting package which is actually a very good tool and it’s new abilities to work with animated geometry and camera to do projection work; not that impressive at it’s current stage for projection since all this can be done inside Nuke in a similar fashion.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the presentation was the stereo conversions methods in Nuke which you can watch below.This highly anticipated part was rather very short and you could see some people, a small group, leaving afterwards. Apologies for the shaky camera! it was all hand held.
There was also a sneak peak of the Nuke 6.3 showing some pretty cool new features such as 3D particle system and planar tracking. Watch it below.
The event was concluded by a short breakdown of a Tron’s shot. It was alright, not as great as they were teasing us for it the entire day! especially with so many breakdowns of the show already available online. A better presentation was expected from a successful company such as The Foundry. I understand they need to do marketing for their product, but when you call it a Master Class you don’t expect to hear a sale pitch(for the lack of a better word) which was the first impression of many of the audiences. I think they can hold promotional events and keep the master classes technical and for the professionals. Overall it was ok. It’s important to say that expectations are very high from the Foundry. Maybe if this presentation was from any other company I wouldn’t have been this critical, but Nuke has been a sensational tool and it has changed the industry in many ways and people have high regards and respect for the Foundry. Besides,I got my Nuke badge and T-shirt .. so… can’t complain really!
*The videos are intended only for public use,
Although this was a public event, the foundry has the rights to ask for removal or alterations should they find it necessary.
**This article is only reflecting a personal opinion. It was revised on 11/02/2011
The official Houdini 11 Launch event was held last night in London by Side Effects. In this fairly short presentation (2 hours), as well as Kim Davidson president and CEO, Janet Foster Senior Account Executive and Jeff Wagner (old school blog) there were people from Double Negative and Framestroe showcasing how they’ve used Houdini in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”,” Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang”.
It was overall an interesting event which was followed by a little party afterwards. I didn’t stay long , the place was too small and too crowded, but you could find interesting people from London’s big effects houses there. You can watch some of the Houdini 11 new features that was presented by Jeff Wagner at the event in the video below.
The new version of Ubuntu has recently been released. I wasn’t very optimistic about it since my bad experience with 9.10, but turned out the new version is actually pretty good. It runs smoother and little features added to make the interface more friendly. I still think 9.04 is the most reliable and stable version of Ubuntu, but if you install 10.04 you definitely won’t regret it.
The improved Software Center is a very convenient and easy way to get and install the software you need. Not very thrilled with Pidgin being replaced with Empathy for built in universal chat client, but it’s been nicely integrated with the GUI.
Strangely the windows button are moved from right to left! But this can be easily fixed. Just Press Alt+F2 (or windows button+F2 depending your keyboard layout settings)to bring up the Run Application dialog box. Enter “gconf-editor” in the text field, and click on Run. The Configuration window will pop up. Find general in apps>metacity>general. Click on the + button next to the “apps” folder, then beside “metacity” in the list of folders expanded for apps, and then click on the “general” folder.
The button layout can be changed by changing the “button_layout” key. Double-click button_layout to edit it.Change the text in the Value text field to: menu:maximize,minimize,close
Overall, 10.04 is a good experience but if you are using 9.04 and don’t need your Ubuntu to look fancier! I think you better stick with it for now.
(so far I’ve only had one compatibility issue with 10.04 which was Apple Shake that is fixable)
Skype has officially stopped supporting Windows Mobile due to what they feel is their inability to provide a rich user experience! (read the full story here). I know interface wise windows mobile is pretty awful but providing a good GUI ( graphic user interface) is really up to the software developer and there’s been some very graphically powerful windows mobile apps.
The good news is you can still use the windows mobile version of Skype until the end of 2010. Hopefully by then and the introduction of windows mobile 7 Skype developers will come back to their senses and continue the support for Pocket PCs.
In the past if you wanted to watch a video file on your mobile phone there was always the need to convert the original file. This had two main reasons; the slow processor of the mobile devices could not deal with the original resolution and frame speed of the video file, and also too the mobile devices could only playback a limited number of video formats. Nowadays with most divices running at 500Mhz CPU speed range and the mobile phones supporting a wider range of video formats there’s less need to convert your files but still you can’t play everything on it. There are however a couple of good players for Windows Mobile that can do the trick!
CorePlayer is a commercial software supporting Window Mobile,Symbian and Palm based devices as well as standard versions for Window and Mac. It can play almost every formats and the only exception that I faced was the files with AC3 audio encoder codec.
After googling for a few hours I came across a discontinued open source project; TCMP. It can play the files even with AC3 codec. You download it from here. There’s no need to install it, and to create a short-cut for the application you need to copy player.exe file and paste it as a short-cut to windows/start menu(full guide).
After three years using HP iPAQ rw6828 and bringing it back form death for a few times! I finally bought a new phone. I remember in the past, especially before iphone, it was easier to get a good phone as there was a clear line between normal and smart phones, but now there are just too many to choose from! Finally I ended up getting HTC Touch2. A small phone that stands just on the edge between all the new super phones and the older generation. Based on windows mobiles phone 6.5 and featuring HTC TouchFLO, the phone has answers for all your daily needs and considering the price I think it’s one of best choices for under £250 pocket PCs. To transfer my date from the old to new phone i found an excellent free software which I intend to introduce here;
- messages (SMS, MMS, …)
- call logs
This is really a must have tool and you can download it from here.