Anki: intelligent flash cards

I’ve just started using Anki, a free, open source Mac OS X flash card application that also has companion iPhone and Android applications (not free) that sync your data.  What an incredible app — one can import tab-delineated text files and turn them into flashcards with one click!  It supports unicode font encoding, so your text doesn’t have to be in English.  You can embed images on cards as well.  And the intelligent review algorithm is fantastic — it will schedule your next review of a card depending on how easy or hard it was for you to remember.  Amazing.  Hats off to Anki.

Anki does exactly what it says it does, it “makes remembering things easier” with “friendly, intelligent flashcards.”  This application is not just for students, it’s for anyone who wants to remember anything.  It’s now part of my daily workflow.  Test it out for yourself — it’s free!

The Apps the Pros Use

The Sweet Setup has posted is an awesome rundown of their favorite applications for Mac, iPad and iPhone.  These are apps they use themselves.  Powerusers will find many familiar apps, as well as a few new ones in the list.  Casual users will learn a lot about the possibilities for enhanced productivity.  Click here for the full article.


GTD and Goal-Setting

Here is a nice little article on Getting Things Done (GTD) and Goal-Setting from David Allen. Definitely worth a read. Here’s a short excerpt:



What we focus on changes what we notice. Our brain filters information, seeing one thing in a situation instead of something else, based on what we identify with, what we have our attention on, what we’re looking for—more or less consciously.

The reason for long-term goals is the permission they give us to identify with the greatest value we can so it changes our filtered perceptions. The future never shows up (have you noticed?—it’s always today!). But playing with it as a working blueprint can be a remarkably useful tool to see things (and how to do and have them) that you never saw before.

iPad & .doc file viewing and editing

A client upgraded to an iPad2 and wanted recommendations for the best iPad application for viewing and editing .doc/.docx files on her new tablet. Basic .doc/.docx viewing is built into the iOS system, but she needed more advanced editing capabilities, including the use of Track Changes. Advanced .doc/.docx editing is still in its nascent phase–the only way (to my knowledge, please comment if you know otherwise!) to edit MS Office documents on the iPad with Track Changes capabilities are via two cloud-based MS Office implementations. Here’s a rundown of the best MS Office suites for iPad, both local apps and cloud-based solutions:


1.  CloudOn is a good cloud-based MS Office implementation that allows for Track Changes. It involves a cloud account and an iPad app. It’s a little cumbersome with the required file uploading, etc, and you need to be connected to internet (wifi or 3G). They are currently not accepting new account, but when they do, it will be a good solution if you need advanced editing capabilities. Sign up here to be put on the wait-list for a new account. And download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here. [Thanks to Josh Barrett at TabletLegal for the reference to CloudOn.]

2.  OnLive Desktop. This could be the answer, though it’s also a little cumbersome, and you need to be connected to the internet (wifi or 3G). Download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here.
3. DocumentsToGo Premium
DTGP allows you to view comments (and possibly view tracked changes as well? anyone?), but not create edits with Track Changes. It’s unclear how well it plays with DropBox. I believe you will be able to go to a document in DropBox and choose “Open In” and be able to import it into DocumentsToGo, but after you modify it and save it, it will then be housed in the DocumentsToGo file system, which you will then have to fiddle with either to sync to your desktop or to get back to DropBox. I haven’t been able to test this functionality yet. But, as it stands, DTGP is the best stand-alone non-cloud solution for viewing and editing MS Word documents on the iPad — viewing comments and footnotes included. Download here.
2. QuickOffice Pro HD
QuickOffice Pro HD offers a more user-friendly interface than DTGP–docs are easier to navigate within, editing is more natural, external keyboard support is better, etc, but it doesn’t do well on the advanced editing. QuickOffice Pro HD cannot deal with Track Changes, and comments and footnotes are a question. This could be a deciding factor. Download here.
3. Pages for iPad
Pages has one of the best interfaces of the group. This is not surprising, as it is Apple’s own word processor, and it’s iPad implementation is smooth and intuitive, as all native Apple apps are. It does NOT support Track Changes, and comments and footnotes from a .doc document are a question. About Track Changes support, users report that Pages for iPad accepts all changes in a document when you import that document into Page for iPad.  Pages documents can be synced with iCloud’s “Documents in the Cloud” sync service, so a document you edit on your iPad will also show up edited on your computer automatically. DropBox functionality is a question. Download here.
4. None of The Above. This is perhaps the best option: use DropBox reader for basic viewing of .doc documents, and transition to .txt or .rtf or PDF document formats for iPad editing. Click on the app name for the download link.
For PDFs, consider: 
 4c. iBooks 
For text editing, try:
4d. PlainTextexcellent DropBox syncing, very simple and straightforward interface. Free with ads, which can be turned off for $1.99.
4e. SimpleNotenice collaboration features, still very simple and easy to use, no DropBox file storage, need to syncronize through the web. In-browser editor is good and there are many desktop applications that sync to SimpleNote. Free, with upgrade option.
Please reply with comments about these apps and how they’ve worked for you!

CloudOn: “your iPad, Microsoft Office, Dropbox”

Here is an interesting article from about the web app CloudOn, a cloud-based MS Office suite for the iPad that supports Track Changes in MS Office documents, one of the great missing pieces in iOS:

“Starting today, new cloud service CloudOn brings Microsoft Office files to the iPad in their native formats with all the features and formatting you expect. The files and editing tools look and work the way you expect them too. Yes, you can even view and created tracked changes.”

Could be very useful! We’ll see how much it ends up costing — it’s free now, but who knows…

Open Space Technology

Here is an interesting article on Open Space Technology by Harrison Owen, from Triarchypress. It’s an inspiring account of how many different groups, from Fortune 500 executives to illiterate villagers, have come together and gotten things done without pre-arranged agendas or formal meeting processes. Group work-flows for the 21st century. Back to basics.