Handwritten notes and never-ending paper notebooks

Even I like having a new, empty paper notebook. I just can’t read my handwriting. Also, I know I’ll lose it and that irritates me when everything I ever type is saved safely all over the place. Plus, how do people use paper notebooks? How fast do they fill them and then what happens? Have they shelves of these things?

Rocketbook says hang on there, William, enough. Rocketbook is a paper notebook that you scribble away on and its pages are saved to the cloud. Dropbox. Evernote. Google Docs. You snap a photograph of the page with your phone and what is written on the page determines where it’s saved. So handwrite during a meeting, then take a mo to photograph the page and before you’ve put your phone away, the Rocketbook has saved that note to, say, an email that it is even now sending someone.

That covers my problem with potentially losing the book but there is also that business of filling up all the pages. Honestly, this sounds like a joke but it’s serious: put your Rocketbook in the microwave oven and wait for a bit. Every note on every page is erased and you have a crisp, new notebook.

I read that and think you must need special paper: yes, but that’s what the Rocketbook is made of. I read this and think you must need special pens: sort-of. The have to be FriXion pens by Pilot which I’ve never heard of but apparently are common.

There is nothing here to help with my handwriting but that’s my problem. Your pen work is much better than mine, you might love this.

One thing. This is an Indiegogo crowd-funded idea except it’s no longer an idea: it’s achieved its target by more than 3,500%.

Pardon? Microsoft embracing Dropbox storage

This removes another block to my using Microsoft Word for iPad. Up to now – and remember that isn’t very long, it’s not a huge time since Word and Office first came to iPad – you have had to use OneDrive for storage. That’s Microsoft’s equivalent of Dropbox and iCloud and it’s convenient if you’re an Office 365 subscriber. If you’re not, it isn’t. Not so much. Certainly not as handy as being able to save and open documents directly with Dropbox.

I’d have said Dropbox was an obvious route to go. But I’d also have said Microsoft would never do it. And the result was I never even thought about it enough to write it. So this was a surprise:

Microsoft and Dropbox are teaming up today to more closely integrate Dropbox into Office. The surprise partnership will benefit Dropbox users who use Office across desktop, mobile, and the web as Microsoft’s productivity suite will soon become the standard way to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files stored on Dropbox storage. Office for iPad will benefit the most, with an update coming in the following weeks that will allow Dropbox users to link their account directly to the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint iPad apps.

Dropbox and Microsoft form surprise partnership for Office integration – Tom Warren, The Verge (4 November 2014)

This isn’t just that you can fiddle your way into sometimes using Dropbox, it is that you can seemingly even choose to skip OneDrive completely.

Now, if only Microsoft would sell a version without an annual subscription. Read the full piece.

Keep 1Password 4 around after you upgrade

I’m waiting to hear back from the makers Agilebits and will update this as I can. But my copy of 1Password 5 is lacking five passwords – that I know of. It happens that I created five this week as part of a particular job so I both know they were in 1Password 4 and I needed them today for that work.

Not a sign of them in 1Password 5 or, where I first went for them, the mini 1Password in my Mac’s menu bar.

But they are all still there in 1Password 4.

Now, Agilebits doesn’t recommend you having two versions of 1Password and if they tell me that’s my problem, I’ll believe them. Except, I’d dragged 1Password 4 to the wastebasket.

It is fluke that I hadn’t emptied it. And if I had, I’d have lost those passwords.

With the previous Dropbox bug that Agilebits had eventually copped to, that makes nine passwords I’ve lost – that I’ve found out about.

More when Agilebits responds.

Wow-ish: Dropbox radically reduces prices

I still use my free Dropbox account, I’ve just managed to nudge it up from 2Gb of space to 9Gb through a lot of work with offers and deals and referrals. It would be great to have more, it would mean that I could keep everything I do available to me everywhere I go. But the leap from free to paid has been rather big.

Now, not so much.

Dropbox says:

We don’t want you to worry about choosing the right plan or having enough space. So today, we’re simplifying Dropbox Pro to a single plan that stays at $9.99/month, but now comes with 1 TB (1,000 GB) of space.

Introducing More Powerful Dropbox Pro – ChenLi Wang, Dropbox blog (27 August 2014)

That’ll be $99/year. For UK users that’s £7.99/month or £79/year. It is a gigantic drop: previously you had to pay $99 for a year – sorry, you’re thinking that this doesn’t sound much or in any way different? But your money got you 100Gb: you’re now paying less for ten times more space.

But of course what Dropbox doesn’t say is that this is all because of competition from Google and Microsoft.

I don’t fancy Google Drive nor am I interested in Microsoft OneDrive because I’m already committed to Dropbox and like it a lot. I especially don’t want to get into a situation where some of my work is in Dropbox and some of it is in a rival system. That’d just do my head in.

So the fact that the price has dropped this much and the space has gone up this much is very tempting to me.

And yet I’m holding off.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you why yet you need to know because you should hold off too.

It’s this. In a week or so, Apple will formally announce OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 – and these include iCloud Drive. Both Yosemite and iOS 8 will be free but iCloud Drive will be a Dropbox-like service. So yes, I am waiting to see whether I actually will split my work between Dropbox and another similar service. That’s why it’s embarrassing.

If iCloud Drive is very expensive I won’t do it, but it has the advantage – and this is why I’m even considering it – that it’s iCloud and so works really well with Macs and iOS.

Enough so that it is worth waiting to see what the price is. But after that, Dropbox is on my list.

Want: Transporter drive

I’m taking my time over this because I want to get a storage system that suits me best and that suits me enough that I can forget about it for years and years and years. Right now, I suspect that it’s going to involve a Transporter and I am so taken with this product range that I want you to know about them too.

Oh, does that not sound like a sales pitch? Seriously, I won’t get any money for you buying one – wait, hang on, I can change that just a teeny bit. If you bought a Transporter drive through these links to Amazon UK or Amazon US, I would be quids in. Or pennies, really. But pennies-in isn’t a phrase. And anyway, I think I’m more likely to directly profit from this if someone who really likes me sees this sometime nearer Christmas.


Transporter by a firm called Connected Data (here’s the official site) is like having your own personal cloud. Just as an aside, isn’t that still a deeply strange kind of sentence? But it’s true. Where I currently use Backblaze to backup our Macs to their servers somewhere in the world and I currently use the hell out of Dropbox for getting me quick access to my files wherever I am, I could use a Transporter. It would work exactly the same. But instead of my documents being on Backblaze’s servers or on Dropbox’s servers, they’d be on mine.

And unlike Backblaze and Dropbox and all there rest, there wouldn’t be any monthly charges. Buy a Transporter and you’re done.

It’s not so much the lack of ongoing fees that I think is appealing, it’s the convenience and maybe the security of it all. Intellectually I do like that it’s got to be more secure having your own cloud than using everyone else’s but in practice I’m probably not that fussed. Since I do have our Macs backed up online all the time, the problem I really want to solve is that I have a lot of data. A lot. I’m writing to you from a 3Tb iMac and it is near-as-dammit full.

Computers slow down dramatically when the drive is full and I am seeing that even with this fairly new iMac. So the idea of having a Transporter in the loft or at my sister-in-law’s house and keeping all my films and music on there, that appeals. It appeals so much that I’m not sure why I haven’t already done it or at least tried out one Transporter.

I think you should try one. In the UK, you can buy a 1Tb Transporter today for £188.12 and in the States it’s $259.99. Spend that, plug it in somewhere, off you go to the races and back again.

I suspect my hesitation is that I would need a lot more than 1Tb to make this worthwhile. Connected Data sells a 2Tb version and it also sells a no-terabyte version: an empty Transporter shell into which you can add a drive of any capacity you can find, if it’ll fit. So the odds are that I could fit a 3Tb drive fairly easily. I’m just not sure that 3Tb is enough either.

Then the same firm does a device called a Transporter Sync which gives you all of this connected cloud lark but I believe does it to any drive you can connected to it by USB. I’m not very clear on the differences, but I’m pondering.

There. This started out sounding like a sales pitch and now it’s more of a sales plea: if you use one of these things, what do you think of it? And how useful is the 1Tb storage?

Microsoft giveth

From next month, users of Microsoft’s Dropbox-like OneDrive will get 15Gb free instead of the current 7Gb. If you’re an Office 365 subscriber, that goes up to an is-this-a-misprint size of 1Tb.


Our data tells us that 3 out of 4 people have less than 15 GB of files stored on their PC. Factoring in what they may also have stored on other devices, we believe providing 15 GB for free right out of the gate – with no hoops to jump through – will make it much easier for people to have their documents, videos, and photos available in one place.

Massive increase to OneDrive storage plans – Omar Shahine, OneDrive blog (23 June 2014)

Seriously? I think the 15Gb free space is tremendous but why claim 75% of all computer users have no more taken up than that? I don’t mean to be rude questioning “our data” but it is unsubstantiated. And this is Microsoft, the company whose user testing of Microsoft Word seemingly failed to include any tester trying to open an existing document or create a new one. Hmm. Everything makes sense now.

So does Microsoft making this generous deal and doing so now. OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of Dropbox and right from the start it has offered more space than that service. But now Apple is shuffling its iCloud service so that instead of only an invisible repository for documents, it’s going to be an actual space you can reach and add files to.

It’s not like I think Microsoft should say “hey, we’ve got this one rival we’re trying to unseat, right, and now there’s bleedin’ Apple coming along AGAIN, we’re going to shove some free space at you”. But the 15Gb is sufficiently generous that I think it could’ve just said that and not tried to claim that it can hold all the documents and images and music of all but 25% of computer users.

I don’t have a Microsoft OneDrive account and I do have a Dropbox one. To be honest, I do relish how useful Dropbox is and it would take work to switch away. You could and probably should have Dropbox and OneDrive, that would make a lot of sense for storing documents in places you could reach wherever you are.

But I have a low faff level. I already think it’s bad enough with iCloud that I have to think first, which application did I write that document in? And how I do sometimes have to stop to ponder, did I do that in Pages and store it in iCloud or did I do it in Evernote? I’m also an OmniOutliner user which comes with the Omni Group’s brilliantly-named OmniPresence.

Somehow without intending to, I’ve become fractured over several cloud services. I will get Apple’s iCloud Drive, as it’s going to be called, because it’ll just be here on my Macs and iOS. Maybe I can fold some things into that.

But isn’t the cloud supposed to make all this stuff transparently easy? If you’re in or you like the Microsoft environment, maybe this new OneDrive offer does.

Official OneDrive site