Microsoft Office 365: Reasons for Caution

I came very close to calling this article “Why Office 365 Sucks.” I refrained from doing so because I think the cloud-based office collaboration suite CAN be a good fit for some small businesses.

However, as an IT consultant working with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), I will think very carefully before I let it near another one of my customer sites.

Here’s why:

Migration is horrible

Office 365 is great for start-ups who don’t already have a load of data. Everyone else will have gigabytes of file-level data (that probably hasn’t been cleared out in years), and thousands of historical emails.

There’s no way to make the process of moving this volume of data to the cloud anything other than slow, laborious and frustrating. It doesn’t help that Office 365 is very fussy about certain characters within filenames.

While these characters are likely to have been avoided by IT-types, familiar with them since the DOS days, you can’t expect the same from the less technical. Who’d have known that a migration could turn into a nightmare because a client uses lots of ampersands in filenames?

Office 365 is Not Perfect
Office 365 is Not Perfect

Desktop Integration is Flaky

If you want Office 365 to work well, you really need a fresh Windows install on each machine to start with. Try to migrate a PC that’s been previously connected to a domain or has used other Outlook profiles, and all kinds of weird stuff can happen.

While this clean-machine approach is good practice, it does add on migration time. When coupled with a slow data migration, a move to Office 365 can end up using more consultancy time than, for example, a move from Small Business Server 2003 to SBS 2011.

Key functionality is missing

Ask Microsoft how to implement a shard contact list and they’ll tell you several options, including using SharePoint or setting people up as “external contacts.”

However, if you want a shared contact list, available to everyone as an Outlook address book and editable by a whole team, it just cannot be done without clunky workarounds. This is functionality that all of my clients have had for years. It doesn’t go down well when you have to take it away.

Poor support

Support calls can take days to resolve satisfactorily, if they get resolved at all. You can also expect to have to re-explain the problem several times.

The support forums are hugely frustrating too. In the case of the shared contacts issue above, expect to see copy/paste answers that repeat the options that are available and fail to acknowledge the shortcomings that exist.

You have no control

When you reach the point of frustration, you eventually have to tell your customer that there is nothing more you can do – that the issue is in Microsoft’s hands. You can’t remote it and tweak the server any more. Those days are gone.

Conclusion

I’ll repeat what I said at the start: Office 365 CAN be a good fit for some businesses – especially start-ups who haven’t done things differently before. Others, especially those who have become used to the flexibility of something like Small Business Server, should tread very carefully – a migration to Office 365 could feel like a huge step backwards AND make your clients think you have become worse at your job!

How to identify planes and planets with your mobile phone

Last Saturday found our family sitting outside on a warm evening, relaxing after a barbecue. The sky was so clear that we were able to clearly make out two contrails and the shape of an aircraft. This was way above our heads and clearly not a plane using the local airport.

While my relatives discussed its likely route and estimated its height, I quietly took out my iPhone. I felt sure I had heard of an app that could tell you about planes overhead. Leaving them to their discussion, I asked Google.

Plane Finder AR for iOS

Within a couple of minutes, I had used the 3G network to download Plane Finder AR.

I tapped on the app, pointed my iPhone’s camera at the plane and within seconds I knew that the plane was en route from London Heathrow to Morocco. I also knew its flight number and its height (which turned out to be within 1000 feet of my grandfather’s estimate).

Plane Finder on iPhone
Plane Finder on iPhone

Sometimes technology can leave you speechless and this was one of those times. I spent quite a while looking out for planes after that. Every time, just pointing the app at the aircraft told me its origin, destination and various other information.

Thinking about it, the combination of publicly available flight information, a compass and a reliable GPS is probably all that it took to make this app, but that’s really not the point. There was nobody at that barbecue that wasn’t truly amazed by what it could do.

SkySafari for iOS and Android

Looking at planes isn’t the only reason I have found to point my iPhone at the sky.

We are lucky enough to live in an area with very little light pollution. On a clear night, we have a superb view of the stars. As a result, SkySafari was one of the first apps I downloaded for the iPhone (it is also available for Android).

Sky Safari uses GPS to overlay a map of the solar system when your mobile phone is pointed at the sky, making it easy to identify individual stars and planets. It’s then possible to drill down to specific information about each of them.

SkySafari gets a little technical. I know nothing about astronomy, so some of the information at my fingertips is a mystery to me. However, it is great when someone points and says “I think that’s Venus,” and I can whip out the iPhone and confirm it!

Another great feature of SkySafari is its “SkyWeek” functionality that informs you about significant events in the sky such as eclipses and other phenomena. For those keen to learn about astronomy, this information is a great starting point.

Although neither of these sky-based apps are things I use daily, they are fascinating demonstrations of the things that smartphones can do. Two of our Saturday night party members have now ordered iPhones – not because they are great phones, not because they are good for browsing the Web and not because they are fantastic media players.

They’ve ordered them because they can point them at planes and see where they’re going.

The Most Exciting New Features in iOS 6

 

Apple fans had plenty to get excited about at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, including new hardware announcements and additional details about OS X Mountain Lion.

An array of new, concrete information about the forthcoming iOS 6 also provided plenty to anticipate. Due in autumn 2012, iOS 6 has loads of new features – here are just some of the most significant.

New Maps

Apple’s new Maps feature will replace the Google Maps functionality currently integrated into iOS.

Maps looks typically beautiful for an Apple app and offers a 3D view as well as turn-by-turn navigation, something never before made natively available on iOS.

While some users may miss Google’s StreetView functionality, in all other respects this looks like a significant improvement on the older Maps app.

iOS6 has a Host of New Features
iOS6 has a Host of New Features

Upgraded Siri

Siri will be able to launch apps, understand more languages and integrate with various websites including Yelp and IMDB. Despite plenty of users seeing Siri as little more than a gimmick, it is clear that voice control remains part of Apple’s ongoing strategy.

Facebook Integration

Apple’s iOS 6 will finally offer proper Facebook integration, something that has seemed strangely lacking in the past and is, for many, far more useful than the long-standing Twitter integration.

Facebook integration will allow users to share photos more easily and, finally, sync calendars and contacts with the social network, something Android users have been able to do for ages.

Facetime over 3G

It remains to be seen how well it will work, but under iOS 6 it will be possible to make Facetime calls without being connected to a WiFi network.

This has been possible over Skype for some time, and often results aren’t so great – regardless, this is now supported – and Apple would be unlikely to have enabled this without confidence that it will work well.

Passbook

Passbook is a brand new app that allows users to electronically store tickets and coupons on their device. It even has advanced features such as the ability to update aircraft gate numbers in real-time on stored plane tickets.

The success of this will be determined by third-party participation. Cynical users outside the USA may remain unconvinced initially, as new things like this often begin with far more support for US users than those in other countries.

Passbook on iOS 6
Passbook on iOS 6

Upgraded Phone Features

iOS 6 adds a couple of useful phone features that users of other phone brands may have already begun to take for granted. One is the ability to reject calls and at the same time send a preset message such as “in a meeting, will call you back.”

The new mobile OS also provides users with the ability to mark certain numbers as important, so that calls from those numbers come through even when the iPhone is set to “do not disturb” mode.

New Stores

New stores for iTunes, Apps and iBooks are due with the release of iOS 6. These are not yet complete but are likely to impress – after all, Apple will want to ensure their millions of users find parting with their cash easy and enjoyable.

iOS6 appears to be a rather more exciting upgrade than the previous move from iOS4 to iOS5. Now everyone knows it’s due in the autumn, the only remaining question is whether it will come before or after the iPhone 5.

Why I Won’t be Buying a New MacBook Pro

I’ve never denied being a bit of an Apple fanboy, and I waited eagerly for the announcement of the new MacBook Pro range. When the announcement came yesterday and I read about my much-hoped-for retina display, it was all I could do not to reach immediately for my credit card.

I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve spent some time looking into the specification in some detail and, sadly, it doesn’t make me happy. Here’s why:

The Price

The base-level 15” Retina MacBook Pro costs $2199 and comes with a 2.3Ghz Ivy Bridge i7 processer, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state disk.

Now, I accept this isn’t a dreadful spec, but I already have that much RAM in my current Mac. Furthermore, 256GB is not enough space for all my existing data, let alone anything new – and that brings me on to the second problem…

The SSD and RAM is permanently installed

Not being able to upgrade my storage or memory on a “Pro” laptop is just daft. If I want 16GB of RAM instead of the supplied 8GB, I have to pay Apple $200 – far in excess of the cost of the RAM.

The New Retina Display MacBook Pro
The New Retina Display MacBook Pro

Even worse, Apple doesn’t seem to offer me an online upgrade to a larger SSD on the base model, so to get the level of storage I need, I have to get the top-end model at $2799 – that’s simply too much for a laptop with no more RAM or storage space than I already have.

The Missing Ethernet Port

I know this might sound pedantic, but, once again, this is a Pro laptop. I am an IT consultant – a “pro” if you will, and I often need to plug my laptop into an Ethernet network or sometimes into a crossover cable to configure a device. I’m not willing to carry a second laptop for this purpose, or to buy yet another one of Apple’s lucrative adaptors.

While I have no doubt that this new MacBook Pro is a wonderful, beautiful machine, I find myself in a position where I simply can’t justify such extreme expense for something that I cannot upgrade.

Conclusion

The permanently soldered components in the new MacBook Pro present a severe problem. In the event of a memory or drive problem beyond the standard 12-month warranty, I can’t replace these parts myself, making additional expense on Applecare all but essential.

For now, then, I’m going to have to make my peace with the fact that Apple have pitched their new laptop in such a way that buying it cannot work for me. As it stands, I cannot change any parts, connect to all my client’s networks or even fit all my music on the base model. I can do all those things on the one I’m typing on now.

I’ll just have to avoid looking at that beautiful new retina display when I next visit the Apple store. Some things are not meant to be.

Need a Taxi? There’s an App for That

Forgive me for sounding like a fanboy, but my iPhone is one gadget that has continued to wow me long beyond the initial honeymoon period.

I have come to take many features for granted – reliable email synchronization, decent Facebook and Twitter apps and a really good camera being just three. It’s the new apps I keep discovering that continue to piqué my interest.

On a recent trip to London I discovered one that impressed me so much that I began to bore my friends by going on about it.

Introducing Hailo for iPhone and Android

During my London business trip, I found myself in need of a taxi. Aware that there are plenty of apps for that, I Googled “London taxi app,” and ended up downloading a fairly new app called Hailo.

After quickly registering my details, the GPS found my location and told me that there were several cabs less than ten minutes away. Two taps and one was on its way.

My iPhone told me the registration number of the taxi and showed me a little photo of the driver. I was then able to follow the car’s progress through the London streets on a map, not needing to leave the comfort of the pub until it was right outside! The driver was similarly able to track my location from the other end of Hailo’s system.

Hailo
Hailo

Upon arrival at my hotel, I paid the driver. By the time the hotel’s automatic doors had welcomed me in, my iPhone’s vibration signified the arrival of an email, which turned out to be my receipt.

I was in London for about a week so had plenty of other opportunities to put Hailo through its paces. On all but one occasion, it had a taxi to me within 15 minutes. The only time it failed was during a busy Saturday night peak period. We were with a group of friends quite far out from the centre of town and needed two taxis. I persuaded a friend to download the Android version of the app. He did – but the immediately managed to snag the only free car in the area leaving me without transport!

The fact that you can see the taxi approaching on the map can be entertaining. One night I booked a car from a client office and the driver got lost in a one-way system. I was able to see him looping around in circles before finding his way to where I was waiting.

Hailo charges no fees other than the taxi meter price, which in London differs from some of the telephone services where the taxis clock up time on their way to you. So effectively, using Hailo is exactly the same as hailing a cab on the street – except you don’t have to set foot on the street until the car is there. This has obvious benefits for the safety of lone travelers and those moving through questionable areas late at night.

At the time of writing, Hailo is available in London, Toronto, Chicago and Dublin. Similar apps are available in other cities. Whether these work as flawlessly, I don’t know – but I would love to hear. If you’ve tried any, please tell me about them in the comment box.

Microsoft Small Business Server 2011: A Techie’s First Impressions

Microsoft’s Small Business Server features prominently in my life as an IT consultant. Its combination of Windows Server, Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint at a low price-point makes it a compelling proposition for smaller firms.

Dislike of Windows Vista has resulted in many of my clients continuing to maintain systems running SBS 2003 and Windows XP. Now these products are approaching the end of their support lifecycle, many of them are migrating to SBS 2011 and Windows 7. Now that I have completed the first of these migrations, I am in a position to present my first impressions.

First Impressions of Small Business Server 2011

As with previous incarnations of Small Business Server, SBS 2011 is designed to appear easy to use. In many ways it is, with wizards designed to make frequent tasks such as adding users, configuring software updates and sharing printers simple and intuitive.

As with earlier versions, however, these wizards are running on top of Microsoft’s complex and sophisticated Windows Server and Exchange technologies. While much of the server configuration can be done using the wizards (accessed via the SBS 2011 Administration Console), some essential tasks throw admins way into the server configuration deep-end.

Small Business Server 2011
Small Business Server 2011

As an example, I encountered a complicated feature when I increased the maximum incoming email size from the default. This landed me at the Exchange 2010 command line interface – daunting enough for someone raised on SBS 2003 – and I imagine utterly impenetrable for a non-technical person!

New Features for Admins

The Administration Console provides access to all the key server features and maintains an ongoing “traffic light” style alert system which informs admins of any issues with software updates, security and backups. These alerts link in with daily emails sent to the people in charge of the system to provide quick notification of problems.

I particularly like the fact that SBS 2011 appears to place emphasis on any significant errors listed in the Windows event logs, which encourages administrators to proactively investigate all problems in the continuing quest to obtain green “OK” statuses across the board!

Adding new PCs to the SBS 2011 network is a slick process with better integration than previous versions. For example, if an administrator grants a user delegate access to a mailbox, Outlook picks this up and adds the mailbox to their Outlook folder tree with no client configuration required.

New Features for Users

From a user’s perspective, there is a fair amount of new functionality in this incarnation of Small Business Server. How much users will notice, however, depends on how much of the old functionality they were making use of.

The new remote access portal now provides access to shared files via the Web browser – a valuable enhancement in the “Dropbox age,” and is a compliment to the existing options of remote controlling an office PC, or accessing email via Web-based Outlook. The richly featured Exchange 2010 Outlook Web App now provides this.

At the desktop level, less has changed. Essentially, users access shared files and interface with Exchange via Outlook. SharePoint looks shinier than before, but in my experience, few small businesses actually make much use of it.

Conclusion

In a world where many small businesses are considering a move to the cloud, there’s still a place for Microsoft Small Business Server. It is hugely configurable and delivers enterprise-level IT services at a reasonably competitive price. Businesses just need to make sure they have someone reliable to look after it – there’s still a lot of complexity hidden behind that shiny admin console.

How to insert frequently written text on a Mac with TypeIt4Me

Like many people, I find myself having to type the same bits of text many times throughout my working week.

Various applications already have ways of reducing the labor involved in this. For example, email clients have auto-signatures and word processors have automatic text facilities.

The Mac OS X operating system itself is strong when it comes to automation. AppleScript and the sophisticated Automator utility help many power-users accomplish frequently repeated tasks more efficiently. However, none of the inbuilt features of OS X or my installed applications did exactly what I needed – so I went on the hunt for a suitable solution.

Enter TypeIt4Me, a simple utility from Ettore software. TypeIt4Me allows you to input all your frequently used phrases and chunks of text and assign a short text string to each of them. The program runs in the background and places a small icon in the OS X menu bar. All you have to do is type your chosen string in ANY application and your chunk of text appears, as it you have typed it yourself.

Having used the product for a few months, I have around 20 frequently used blocks of text configured. While this may not sound like a lot, each is something I need to type many times throughout a typical day. For example, a series of three character shortcuts instantly type the full URLs of each website I work on. Given that I probably comment on 20-odd forum threads each day and need to include a URL, that’s already plenty of typing saved.

TypeIt4Me has a Comprehensive Set of Options
TypeIt4Me has a Comprehensive Set of Options

As a freelancer, I often have to apply for jobs. When I sign off an email or online application, I now need only type “ihope” and the utility writes “I hope my application is of interest to you and look forward to hearing from you soon.” I certainly don’t miss typing that several times per week! I also have entries for various sign-offs such as “many thanks,” “best wishes, “ and “kind regards.”

TypeIt4Me includes comprehensive options to assign hotkeys, control exactly how text snippets are used and even to change the behavior of the text macros within different applications. So far, my chunks of text appear happily regardless of what application I am using, the only exception being when I am using my Windows virtual machine. While I would like them to work within that environment, I can imagine the technical challenge involved so don’t expect to see this feature any time soon.

As I said in my write-up of Evernote, I am a cynical techie who isn’t impressed with bells and whistles. I judge applications purely on whether they help me better achieve my day-to-day work. TypeIt4Me scores highly on this basis and I wouldn’t want to be without it. If you frequently need to type the same text across a range of programs, it’s an essential purchase.

My iPhone 5 Wish List

I crossed the line into full-on Apple addiction a few weeks ago. Not satisfied to wait and watch Apple’s iPad keynote speech after the event, I tuned in to a live blogcast, followed the tweets and photographs as they happened, and waited eagerly to find out about what the “one other thing” bit at the end might be about.

Well, as you probably know, this particular keynote event didn’t actually have a “one other thing” part. Instead, the event concluded with a slide telling us that in 2012 there is “a lot to look forward to.” After my initial disappointment that we hadn’t been given a tantalising glimpse of the new MacBook Pro or iPhone 5, I got to thinking: what do I actually want to see from Apple this year?

With that in mind, here is my own personal wish list for the iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple decide to call it). I have tried to keep my list practical – I don’t need a waterproof phone. Instead, these are things that would make the best phone I have ever possessed even better.

1. A New Form Factor

The fact that there was no change to the iPhone’s shape with the release of the 4S was a disappointment to many. It’s time for a change that makes the device look more modern and that makes it clear that it is a NEW iPhone. I imagine case manufacturers dream of this too!

iPhone - People Outside the US Would Appreciate an Improved Siri
iPhone - People Outside the US Would Appreciate an Improved Siri

2. A Better Siri

Apple need to prove that voice control is more than a toy, and this starts with making Siri more useful outside the US. Siri’s voice recognition accuracy gives a glimpse of how exciting this technology could be – so let’s see an exponential improvement.

3. Improved Durability

A study by a UK company found that 40% of UK iPhone users are using devices with a cracked screen. If Apple could find a way to make the devices less fragile, it would clearly please a lot of people. While we’re at it – we need a practical alternative to plastic screen protectors – they are near impossible to stick on without huge air bubbles.

4. 32GB on the Base Model

If you compare the cost of a 16GB flash drive with a 32GB flash drive it’s not a whole lot. With Apple clearly wanting us to invest in HD video via the iTunes store, they need to drop a couple of dollars of profit margin and give us more storage as standard.

5. Better Earbuds

It is surprising that a company as image-conscious as Apple continues to dish our earbuds that are widely known to be dreadful. It’s time for a change.

If Apple could tick those five boxes, none of which should be too hard to achieve, I may take my Apple addiction to a yet higher level and go and queue at an Apple store on launch day.

What would it take to make you do the same? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

4 Reasons Why We are NOT in a Post-PC Age

Is the Desktop Dead - Tablets have been Tried BeforeSales of desktop PCs and laptops are falling. It’s impossible to read any technical media without hearing about the “death of the PC.” And both Apple and Microsoft are soon to release operating systems that seek to merge the features of the computer operating system with those available on tablet devices.

All this evidence mounts up to suggest that the Steve Jobs-coined “post PC era” is upon us. Well, I’m going to stick my neck out on this: I don’t buy it.

Don’t get me wrong – I possess and adore an iPhone 4s, and if I need to quickly look something up online in the evening, I am as likely to reach for that as I am my laptop. I also think that Apple have done enough with the incredible specification of the latest iPad that I will finally give in to temptation and buy one, even though I don’t NEED one.

The ability to perform tasks via phones and tablets that would previously have required a “proper” computer is undeniable. Often these tasks can even be performed more effectively and flexibly on these devices. This, logically, accounts for the falling desktop and laptop sales figures…but “post-PC?” Don’t be daft.

Here’s why:

1. Business

Walk into any office and what will you see? Everyone working with email. Staff using office applications, bespoke databases and commonly used apps like Photoshop and InDesign. Move further into the business, and PCs and traditional servers are powering everything from car production lines to restaurant EPOS systems. Is this going to change overnight because the new iPad has a retina display and a 4G mobile connection?

2. Gaming

Phones and tablets now have power and graphical grunt to rival dedicated consoles. However, can they play Skyrim, World of Warcraft and Deus Ex? Do they have the ability to utilize the classic keys / mouse combo necessary to play the leading first person shooters? Do they even have a D-pad and A button to rival the original monochrome Gameboy. No, no and no.

3. Ergonomics

Imagine the legal fallout if offices switched from desktop PCs and made staff hunch over tablets. There’s a reason office workers use ergonomic office chairs and monitors located on desks – it stops them damaging their spines.

4. Practicality

What, really, is an iPad with an attached keyboard? It’s basically a laptop. What, really is an iPad with a BlueTooth keyboard? It’s basically a desktop with a screen that doesn’t stand up on its own. Without any ports.

Now, I am aware that my stance may seem non-progressive. The kind of thing an old-school techie may have said about the iPad when it was first released. This is not the case. If I didn’t love technology, I wouldn’t have got into the industry. Furthermore, there are wonderful ways to use the iPad right across the consumer and business sectors. Creating music and graphics in an iPad is a pleasure impossible to emulate without the tactile experience of a tablet.

However, why should everyone do everything on a touch-based device simply because it is possible? I have no doubt that over the next couple of years I am going to witness plenty of clients make poor decisions by trying to squeeze computer shaped square pegs into iPad shaped round holes – and all because they read “post PC era” somewhere and took it too seriously. We all need to calm down – the computer’s not going anywhere.

How Evernote Changed My Life

Evernote has been around a while now, and is a seemingly permanent fixture on the ubiquitous “must have apps” lists that fill technical websites and computer magazines.

Evernote is, however, far from being something just for the nerds. Heavy exposure everywhere from Time magazine to the New York Times has led to it being one of the most consistently popular apps for iOS and Android. There’s therefore a chance you’re using it already. If not, I’m going to tell you why you should.

Despite the hype, I was uninspired by the idea of Evernote to start with. I’m a cynical kind of techie. I have to spend my life not only using tech, but also helping those less technical use it. My interest in anything new and / or popular is less about what it can DO, and more about whether my clients or I will actually consistently use it.

I thought about all the ways I already had to take notes – Mac Mail, Microsoft Outlook, my iPhone’s native notes app, Microsoft OneNote, Wunderlist, my expensive Moleskine notebook. All of these are things I have used at some point with good intentions. All of them also now linger somewhere in my life with a few long-forgotten lists or notes living within. When I want to write a shopping list, I pull a sheet of paper out of my printer. The prospects for my long-term use of Evernote were not great.

OneNote - Forgotten in My Life
OneNote - Forgotten in My Life

However, Evernote’s killer feature is its synchronization. Even the free version allows syncing of a generous quantity of notes, Internet page grabs and camera snapshots across ALL devices: PCs, Macs, iDevices and Androids.

My time with Evernote started much the same as my time with Microsoft’s OneNote. “Right,” I thought, “first off, I’ll start a section for all my blogs and projects, then one for shopping lists and recipes.” I filled a few things in, in my heart thinking that a week down the line I wouldn’t be using it.

Then, however, the next day, I was sitting at a café near my home, and a flood of blog ideas came to mind. Straight away, my iPhone was out of my pocket. I went directly to the relevant lists and added the ideas. I decided to commit to this for a few more days, and suddenly, I had a better list of topics than I had in ages – and it was a click or a tap away wherever I happened to be.

At this point I started to think that Evernote may actually be a keeper, and decided to play around a bit more.

A new takeaway restaurant opened in my town. Wanting to show my wife the menu and suggest we tried the establishment that evening, I walked up to it, clicked my iPhone’s camera and quickly uploaded it to Evernote. All my wife had to do was look on Evernote on my Mac at home, peruse the menu and let me know what she wanted.

Evernote Displaying a Takeaway Menu
Evernote Displaying a Takeaway Menu

This was the light bulb moment. “Hang on,” I thought, “how much easier will life be once I’ve taken a little picture of all the takeaway menus?” No longer will my wife have to call me from the doorstep of a Chinese takeaway read out the menu and see what I fancy. I’ll just have all of them in Evernote.

My Evernote is now filled, as it should be, with idea lists, brainstorms, shopping lists, recipes and, yes, a bunch of takeaway menus. As time goes on, I will be seeing how other Evernote features work their way into my life. Evernote has improved my life, even without text searching of photographed content and the ability to access notes via a browser (in the paid version).

As I said before, to me, software is not about what it can do, but whether I will consistently use it. Well, despite my initial reservations, I now use Evernote everyday – and that’s a win.