An Rdio User’s Thoughts on Beats Music

As somebody who has mostly standardized his tech life around Apple products—and, to a much lesser degree, services—I’m generally willing to try an Apple solution before looking for third-party alternatives. The way I see it, Apple’s product, app, or service will probably integrate well with the rest of their offerings. It doesn’t always turn out that way, of course, but Apple usually gets first crack at solving a problem I’m having.

So, when the rumored acquisition of Beats Music ended up being true, I figured I’d give it a try. Being a satisfied Rdio user and somebody who had tried (and dismissed) Beats in the past, I wasn’t expecting to like it enough to switch from my beloved Rdio. But, there’s a good chance that Beats will end up being tied into Apple’s software at some point, so I signed up for a month of Beats so I could kick the tires. Here are my thoughts… [Read more…]

Yet Another Post Wherein a Goofball Blogger Outlines All of the Stuff He Carries With Him

Even before becoming a fancy-pants independent writer, my preferred writing situation has been somewhere that served a good beverage (beer, whiskey, or coffee depending on the time of day and/or my current stress level), allowed smoking (yes, yes, I know) and didn’t care if I parked my butt there for several hours. Other than cutting way back on the smoking, this set of preferences holds true to this day.1

I thought it might be fun—and totally self-indulgent, if I’m honest—to unpack the not-so-secret contents of what friends and strangers alike have dubbed my “man bag.” When I leave the house for more than a couple of hours, this bag is usually with me and well-stocked for a number of situations and opportunities. [Read more…]

The fastest, easiest way to share a page on Buffer for iOS

(Disclaimer: this is going to get nerdy. Not too nerdy, but a bit.)

(Second Disclaimer: This will be useful to almost none of you except in that I think it’s an interesting example of just how powerful some iOS apps have become. Plus, I had a hell of a good time making this and writing about it.)

You can’t swing a dead cat on this Internet without hitting somebody who thinks regularly sharing interesting things online is a great way to [achieve weird business goal]. I don’t disagree, actually, so I made a thing that makes it pretty easy to share interesting links while using your fancy iOS device. [Read more…]

The Coin’s Uphill Battle

Twitter and Facebook were all a-flutter yesterday with links to the product page for Coin. If you’re not familiar with it, Coin is a credit card-sized device that can store all of your payment cards and, when swiped, can act like any of the cards it knows about. Maybe click over to the page linked above and watch the excellent Sandwich video.

Let me start by saying that I think it’s really great that people are taking steps to alleviate the fat wallet problem. Heck, I hadn’t carried a wallet for years and only just recently bought a Supr Slim wallet.[1] Products like Coin and the Supr Slim are designed to solve a problem with which I can absolutely empathize.

That said, I think Coin is in for some challenges.[2]

[Read more…]

5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better

New to Evernote? Tens of thousands of people have used Evernote Essentials to get up and running with Evernote quickly. Grab it today, have Evernote working for you by tonight.

Many of you have been bitten by the Evernote bug. Heaven knows I have.

As you get beyond the Evernote basics and your love affair with Evernote deepens and you start keeping more and more of your life and work inside it, you’ll almost invariably come to the conclusion that you might be able to do even more with Evernote.

Well, you’re in luck because you totally can thanks to the thriving community of smarty pants developers who have built some really great applications that work with Evernote. [Read more…]

A Smattering of iBookstore Publishing Tips and Gotchas

While listening to the first few minutes of this week’s Accidental Tech Podcast, I heard John Siracusa—one of the hosts—wondering aloud about certain aspects of publishing to the iBookstore. Since that’s something I have recent experience doing, I figured I’d bang this out real quick in the hopes that it would help more than just Mr. Siracusa (otherwise I would have just emailed him).

Anyway, hope this helps somebody.
[Read more…]

An Inside Look at My Crazy, Huge Customer Service Mistake

What follows is a post-mortem/explanation of a really dumb mistake I made. Hopefully, it helps somebody or at least gives you all a chuckle at what a doofus I really am.

Every now and again, people ask me if they can give away a copy of Evernote Essentials on their blog, usually as part of a contest or promotion. Normally, I’m happy to oblige such a request.

I was in the process of fulfilling a couple of these complimentary orders last night when I made a pretty fantastic mistake — a mistake I’m going to describe for you now.[1]

This will make more sense if I give a quick overview of how the plumbing of my sales process works.

When somebody buys Evernote Essentials, the sales and CRM software I use (called Office Autopilot) does a few things automatically:

  • Creates an username and password on the customer WordPress site where they can download their purchase.
  • Adds them to an automated email sequence that immediately sends them their download instructions, including the aforementioned login, and sends a follow-up email a couple of days later.
  • Tags them as a customer (so they can be grouped later, as needed for product updates and such).

(To clarify, tags are just text labels that can be applied to contacts within the software, but they can trigger all sorts of actions when applied — as you’ll soon see.)

These actions were pre-programmed by me to happen without my direct involvement. Normally, the whole setup works extremely well. Normally.

For giveaways, I have a special tag that, when applied to a contact, tells the system that they’re essentially a paid customer and to take the same actions as it would if the person had paid (create the login, send them the download email, etc.). This also works really well. Unless I totally screw it up, of course.

Which brings me back to last night.

Instead of applying the special “comp” tag to the people who had been awarded free copies of the book, I inadvertently applied the tag to many, many thousands of people including customers and newsletter subscribers (many of whom had never purchased Evernote Essentials).

You can probably see where this is going.

I had moved on to other things when I started noticing my email inbox was filling up with out-of-office replies, a common occurence when I send out a newsletter or a product update. In a bit of a panic, I switched back to my sales system and started looking for the problem. It didn’t take long to discover what I had done and it took even less time for me to imagine what the fallout would be. There may have been a little bit of crying.

Imagine you’re on the receiving end of one of these emails. An email appearing in your inbox thanking you for purchasing something that you either purchased a long time ago or had never purchased would probably raise a few red flags, right?

“I didn’t buy this! What the poop?”

“Did your email thingie get hacked?”

“I bought this thing [interval of time]s ago; why am I being charged again?”

Red flags. So many thousands of them.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re one of the people who received this errant email, please know that the following statements are true:

  1. If you’re not already a customer, you didn’t buy anything. No transaction took place nor was any credit card charged.
  2. If you are a customer, you weren’t charged again or anything like that.

The moral of the story is summarized nicely by a proverb I’m going to get tattooed across my frickin’ forehead later today[2]:

Measure twice, cut once.

I’m really sorry for the confusion. If anybody needs me, I’ll be answering emails for the next couple of weeks. If you’re affected by this whole debacle and need help, send an email to this address. If you want to make fun of me, leave a comment below 🙂

  1. This is partly to help folks understand what happened and part cathartic effort for me.  ↩
  2. No, not really.  ↩

Brand new and available now: Evernote Essentials 4.0

Friends and neighbors, I’m ecstatic to announce that the latest major revision of my best-selling eBook, Evernote Essentials, is available right this very second. I’m calling it “4.0” and it’s the biggest and best version of Evernote Essentials yet.

It’s a little different for a couple of reasons:

  1. In addition to the PDF version that’s been around since the beginning, Evernote Essentials is also available as an DRM-free ePub (which you can read on many different devices including the iPad and iPhone using iBooks) and a Kindle-compatible .MOBI file. All of these files are included in the download you’ll receive after purchasing Evernote Essentials.
  2. By very popular demand, Evernote Essentials is now available in the iBookstore!

Included in this new version are several new chapters, including two special chapters that my customers have been asking for since pretty much the beginning:

  • How to set up a new Evernote account
  • How I use Evernote

And, of course, the text has been updated to include all of the latest* features and updates to the Evernote applications. It even has a fancy new cover!

If you purchased Evernote Essentials before today, this will be a free update. Watch your email boxes for how to download your free update (send an email to if you don’t receive your download instructions).

Tens of thousands of satisfied customers can’t be wrong — grap your copy of Evernote Essentials today!

*(In the interest of maintaining personal integrity, you should know that Evernote 5 for Windows shipped after Evernote Essentials 4.0 had “gone to press.” It’s not covered in this version, but I’ll have an update out soon that covers Evernote 5 for Windows. That update will be free to existing customers, of course.)

Why I bought another iPad mini

A few months back, I published a couple of posts describing why I bought“”and then subsequently returned“”the iPad mini. You can go back and read those posts for the full story, but the short version is that, at the time, it really didn’t fit my needs well enough to justify ditching my full-size iPad.

Things have a way of changing, though.

I recently bought the iPad mini again. I mentioned this on the Twitter and a few people were curious what prompted me to reinvestigate a device I had previously tried and dismissed. Hence, this post.

Reconfiguring my computing life

My computing configuration has undergone some changes recently. As of a month ago, my primary Mac is now a laptop (it was previously an iMac). Since I work from home and spend a great deal of time at my desk, I really like to be able to work other places, particularly in the evening. The iMac isn’t exactly portable and I would routinely take my iPad to a coffee shop or a bar and work there. The iPad, combined with a Logitech Ultrathin keyboard case, became a somewhat crude laptop stand-in; it worked quite well for writing, task management, email and other basic computing tasks.

Now, I have a laptop that I can easily take with me wherever I decide to go. As a result, the iPad has slid into more of a consumption device for me. Not completely, mind you, but I do a great deal less typing on it than I did in the iMac era. These days, my iPad is used for reading books and comics with my kids, watching the odd movie and only occasionally for writing.

New iPad accessories

For what felt like a long time after the iPad mini came out, there was a noticeable dearth of serviceable keyboard cases. The device has Bluetooth and can be used with any keyboard and the best solution I found during my first go-round with the iPad mini was to use it with an inCase Origami (non-affiliate link) “” a case for the Apple Bluetooth keyboard that, when unfurled, provides an easel-like stand for the iPad. It worked well enough and I still use it on occasion, but it was annoying for three reasons:

  1. It has to sit on a table top or the iPad will fall backwards out of its little slot. I often type with the iPad sitting on my lap, so this is a big-ish problem.
  2. When used with the iPad mini, the bottom half-inch or so of the screen is obscured by the keyboard’s cylindrical battery compartment.
  3. I hate carrying around two things. Yes, that’s a dumb complaint, but it bugs me and I’m not going to say it doesn’t.

I was glad to discover that, since then, Logitech has made an Ultrathin specifically for the iPad mini (non-affiliate link). I’ve written most of this post using it, actually. It’s definitely small and using it requires tolerating a few non-trivial annoyances, but I’ve used and loved my full-sized Ultrathin for quite some time and was confident that the smaller version would perform roughly as well as its big brother.

Regarding Retina”¦

In the aforementioned post, I cited the lack of a Retina display as one of the iPad mini’s biggest drawbacks. To be honest, I’m still not thrilled with the idea of a non-Retina display, but I’ve chosen to just deal with it. The comic book reading experience isn’t nearly as nice on the iPad mini, but Comixology makes it more pleasant with their fancy Guided View technology (which displays a single panel at a time instead of a whole page).

Why I didn’t just keep my big iPad

Honestly, it started feeling huge and heavy. It could be that I’m growing doughier and weaker and I’m just not the strapping chap I was a few months ago, but I decided I wanted something smaller and lighter. You’ll recall from the aforementioned post that the size and weight of the iPad mini were my favorite features, so this shouldn’t be altogether surprising.

Moreover, the iPad mini pretty much obviates my need for a Kindle. I would occasionally read while walking around my neighborhood””something that has perpetually vexed my pal Michael“”but I rarely do that anymore and having a smaller device to read on made more sense and is more comfortable.

Lastly, I just wanted a change of scenery. I’ve been a rather heavy iPad user for the past couple of years and the siren song of a different form factor was more than I could resist.

In Conclusion

I haven’t sold my large iPad yet and I have 30 days to return the iPad mini plus accessories if I decide to, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable furture.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I’ll earn a small commission. I’ve also placed non-affiliate links immediately after all affiliate links, so choose whichever one makes you more comfortable. Know that any affiliate product I recommend is something I personal purchased, use and love enough to tell you about.