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Productivity Apps Gone Wild: 2 Huge Updates announced today from Springpad & Nozbe!

This is huge folks – for those of you who have Productivity Apps Attention Disorder (yes, yes, I just made that up) – I have great news for you that’s going to make your head spin!  Both Springpad and Nozbe announced huge updates today!


Springpad Goes Offline!

Today, Springpad announced it’s going offline!  Read the full blog here, but know this: you can now feel much more secure with your data in Springpad if you’re a Chrome user!  Full details when you hit the jump.  Great news!  Translation – if Amazon’s EC2 ever goes down again, you can still access everything you’ve sprung.  Limitations noted in the blog post.

Other great news from Springpad land is enhanced access on your Android powered tablet device!  Pretty sweet!  See the video below or hit the jump to learn more.


Let’s not forget this productivity powerhouse of an app that helps you get things done.  You might remember that I interviewed Michael Sliwinski on this blog a couple of months ago, and he said their would be great enhancements ahead … and he just proved it today.  In addition to the integration you already have with Evernote, he just upped the ante by integrating with Dropbox!  Woah!  Now, whenever you have a project that mirrors both the name of a tag in Evernote or a folder or file name in your Dropbox account, it will instantly show up in the web app and you iOS device!  (Android users will get that love soon, I’m sure!)  This app gets better and better.  Hit the jump for full details on the blog.

What do you all think of these enhancements?  Let me know in the comments below!


5 Reasons Why I’ve Just Been Sold on SugarSync over Dropbox!

One of my favorite aspects of social media is learning new things from subjects that you are interested in from people all around the world.  Isn’t it great to know that someone half across the world is also trying to figure out whether to use Evernote or Springpad? For that matter, whether to use Mozy or Carbonite?  Or how about introducing a new service to you like SugarSync over Dropbox?  Well, the latter is exactly what happened to me just a couple of days ago by a gentleman, who is across the other side of the pond for me!

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications specialist, consultant, and author of I first noticed his site when he talked about Springpad and Evernote. That, in part, tipped the scales for me and I had to finally publish the chart comparing the two services here and scratch it off my Someday/Maybe list (boy, did that feel good!).  As I started fishing around Kevin’s site, I noticed lots of posts dedicated to comparing Dropbox and SugarSync.

I haven’t posted before on online backup providers in the past because I’ve been so content with Carbonite and Dropbox (the former for everything on my computer and the latter so I had instant access to specific files no matter where I might be).  I did “mozy” away from Carbonite for a moment.  Unfortunately, for Mozy, it was at the same time they decided to change their pricing plans to not only charge more, but offer less.  (Hmmm…not too sure about that business model.)  In any event, Dropbox is everywhere I need it to be, and with Selective Sync, I didn’t have to worry about personal files being on my work laptop, so again, why mess with something that just works – especially when it’s something as sensitive as your documents, photos, music, and videos?

That is until I did my due dilligence by reading all the posts on Kevin’s site about SugarSync and it’s comparisons to Dropbox. Then, I hopped over to SugarSync’s website and began reading their blog & the forums.  Let me just say this very clearly: Holy Cow!!

Read Kevin’s posts (and another good comparison post here), but for now, let me just give you 5 very good reasons why you should consider moving from Dropbox to SugarSync:

  1. It automatically backs up your Android Camera Photos to every computer and the web!! That’s right, you read that correctly – it automatically backs up your camera photos!! No action is required by you!
  2. You can choose any folder, in any location on your computer – no specific syncing folder required – that’s right, any folder!
  3. You get 10 extra GB (60 altogether) for the same $9.99/month as you do with Dropbox (hey, that’s a good deal of data!)
  4. You can share photos over Facebook right within the program!
  5. You can email files directly to your SugarSync account!!  That’s something I’ve been praying Dropbox would do for years without having to go through some guy’s hack he created!
If you are crazy about backup like me, you can even use SugarSync to backup your Dropbox folder, as Kevin noted in his post last night! 🙂
What online backup solutions are you all using?  Do you have SugarySync, Dropbox, or some other service?  Let me know in your comments below!

Visualized: Evernote vs Springpad – is it really a competition?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

For so many of you that follow my blog, becoming more productive is like caffeine for our brains.  The desire to be more productive motivates us.  It drives us.  Performing at work and life at peak productivity levels is our passion.  We long to find the right app on our computers, iPhones, Androids, iPads, and other tablets to help make that happen.  Our goal: know what we need to do and with whom, whenever and wherever we are in work and at home. And it’s come down to this: Springpad and Evernote.  You’ve all read my posts: but for you newbees, a brief recap: I fell in love with Evernote. I chastised Springpad. Then, like a regretful teenager who dumped his girlfriend and wants a second chance, I saw the shiny & new Springpad and repented.  I even went head-over-heels like a GTD Ninja in Springpad.  But then again, showing how weak and pathetic I am, Evernote comes out with their shiny & new.  Oh, how fickle can one productivity geek get? The audacity of it all!!  And so, on Twitter and on my posts, I get this question from so many of you: Which is it now – Springpad or Evernote?

The reality is that they are two different products with many similarities. They appeal to different target audiences with the same end game in mind.  Even Jeff Janer, co-founder of Springpad wrote that once on Quora.  He’s not really trying to compete against Evernote – but now, with Evernote’s latest kung-fu moves (Android update, New web interface, social media sharing, and desktop redux), there’s so many striking similarities. Both apps, I believe have their place with a specific segment in the note-taking-remember-everything space.  Evernote has been pushing educational, photographer & visual arts, musicians use cases in a big way.  Springpad has been really amping up their usefulness when shopping, cookingsharing bookmarks, and of course, it’s overall usefulness in sharing notes with the world.

There’s definitely a cross-over market for both sets of people as well.  I’m the perfect example. Evernote is really for business and Springpad is for everything else in my life.  I use Evernote in business meetings, jotting down notes on client calls, storing customer literature pieces, presentations, managing expenses, and anything else that you can think of that requires stuffing digital files into this online repository for work.  I love the OCR & advanced search capabilities, nested notebooks & tags.  Springpad has its home for me for being able to “semantically detecting what you’re saving and structuring the data so that we can use the meta data to add relevant information and useful offers to help you save time and money.”, which include my recipes, shopping lists, todo’s, and bookmarks.  I love The Board for the ability to visualize and brainstorm projects.  Can you accomplish all of the above? Well, sort of.  That’s the reason I sincerely don’t believe one will dominate the next.

Well, I thought of no better way to illustrate the differences than with a … well, an illustration!  So, like any good 7-year old would, let’s draw!

Springpad vs. Evernote

Springpad vs. Evernote (c) 2011 Daniel E. Gold

Video Post! A review of Springpad’s New Android App Update!

Hi Everyone – I am so excited to deliver to all of you my very first video blog post! Enjoy and don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments below! Thanks so much!

(If you’re on a mobile device, click here.)

UPDATE: 40Tech blogger Bobby Travis simultaneously released a fantastic post on the Springpad Android update. Check it out here! is a fabulous site for more awesomeness on GTD and productivity tips, tricks & best practices!

Springpad and Evernote – My Guide to Getting Things Done

Choices, choices, choices.

There are so many apps out there to help you get organized that you can literally spend more time searching and setting up your so-called perfect setup that you will actually end up spending less time getting things done.  I’ve spoken before about how the vast sea of productivity tools can actually make you less productive.

Being a productivity junkie though, I can appreciate the need to get things done.  Reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done changed my life.  Yet, while it sounds somewhat paradoxical, it also made my life more complicated.  When I saw the errors in my unproductive pre-GTD live, I realized I needed to change.  So I setup 43 folders and bought a half-dozen Moleskine notebooks (which I have professed my love for here), post-it notes, index cards, and a Fisher Space Pen.  I read here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here to learn how others setup their context, projects and next actions.  All of this was fine and good – and frankly, what I think I needed to best understand how to leverage the most out of the GTD methodology.  However, I knew something was missing – the ability to quickly search by context and area of focus quickly no matter where I was or what device I had handy.  Enter digital GTD.

After much research, I found Remember the Milk for my tasks.  Then Toodledo.  Then Nozbe.  Then Todosit.  Then Hi-Task.  Then … well, you get the point.  However, using these apps were only effective for tasks – not for my reference files.  That’s when Evernote came along and changed everything for me.  I read dozens of blog posts and forums on how to setup Evernote as your one and only GTD resource for tasks and reference folders.  My good virtual friends at 40-tech have a great post about using just 1 notebook for Evernote for everything.  I also played with Nozbe and Evernote and loved that marriage between the two as they play in the GTD sandbox rather nicely.  Then I found a way to leverage the tags in Evernote with Egretlist for a really efficient way of managing tasks and reference files.  Then, it occurred to me that Evernote was becoming ever so un-useful to me.  I was creating so many tags and I was trying to figure out why.  I kept tagging and made new tags and I felt no real sense of understanding why I had the tags I did.  Since I couldn’t create nested notebooks (which you can now), I was creating parent and child tags; with the parent tags mirroring the notebook of the same name so I knew which tags were associated with that notebook.  And on…and on…and on…

But you see, all of this playing made me have to take a rather large step back and I had to figure out a way to get back on task – which spurred a quite a viral buzz with that post.  It also made me realize that I needed to simplify my life, and leveraging my presentation skills, created that presentation.  I came really closed to having GTD burnout – if such a thing is possible.  Then, I took another look at Springpad after it revamped everything they were doing from the ground up and realized … holy cow … this is what I’ve been missing.  It was as if a burst of blinding light was shining in front of me, the heavens opened up and Handel’s Messiah played from the heavens.

With that all being said, I thought I’d share, since I’ve been asked many times on Twitter, how I use Springpad (and how I have used Evernote) in all of my areas of focus in my life.  I’ve organized this by showing the pros and cons of both setups.  Of course, this is just my humble view of the digital GTD world – I’m happy to hear your feedback in the comments below.

The Evernote Setup

In both programs you start off with a blank canvas.  You create notebooks for each of your areas of focus.  From there, you add your notes and tag accordingly.  Evernote is plain.  There’s no escaping that the web app is boring and everyone knows it.  The desktop app is frankly not that exciting either.  It’s essentially the same interface as Outlook, which is good because it makes it easier to understand.

In the beginning, I focused on two major areas of focus – work and my personal life.  So, in Evernote I created a notebook that said Work and a notebook that said Home.  For my tags, I created a parent tag that said Clients and child tags for the names of all of my clients.  I created another parent tag called Products and the child tags listed each of these products I oversee.  In Home, it was sort of all over the place.  I had tags for each of my kids, my blog, bookmarks, movies, coffee, beer I like, etc. Once of the main advantages to Evernote – which it still has over Springpad – is the ability to e-mail any file whatsoever.  So, I can add a PDF and it’ll search its contents.  I can add a picture and with its unique built-in image viewer, it’ll read the text on the pictures I took.  Then, I started e-mailing my e-mails I received at work and began e-mailing them with the tags and notebook in the subject line.  With Evernote’s incredible search engine, I could find any note I wanted while I was on the phone with a colleague or a client.  I even ran into ways to build some very complex search strings and then save them so that you could re-run them whenever you needed.  Evernote became my virtual file folder so that I could quickly access what I needed and whenever I needed it … after all, isn’t that the point?

When I began leveraging Egretlist, I created another parent tag called GTD.  It’s children tags included: @contexts and Names (folks I spoke to on a daily/weekly basis).  Its’ children tags included @contact, @computer, waiting for, someday/maybe.  So, on any given note in Evernote, I’d have something that looked like this: “10/12/10 Follow-up call with Joe Smith” Tag: ABC Firm, XYZ product, .EFG Project, #Sally, waiting for. Then, if the task within the note was completed, I had to remember to delete the tag.  I’m not joking.

Here’s the problem – with well over 1,000 notes in Evernote, e-mailing my e-mails, uploading PDFs, creating more tags, etc – its usefulness was falling to the wayside.  It became too much.  Not only that, but searching on the go on my DROID and the iPad became a bit burdensome as well. For projects, I tried only copying/pasting excerpts out of e-mails and see if I that would help keep it in just one note as opposed to multiple notes, but I think it was too late … I hit the Evernote wall.  I realized that my call to simplify your life should apply to myself as well.  Re-enter Springpad.

How Springpad Changed Everything

Springpad allows you to take that blank canvas and decorate it with beautiful wallpaper.  It is gorgeous.  No, really, it is beautiful.  Shy of sounding like Steve Jobs, it’s eye candy and it makes it more exciting for an end user.  With all of its latest updates, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the web, iPad, iPhone or DROID, it all looks the same.  That’s just genius.

At it’s core, I firmly believe, as Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  Where Springpad wins is taking your life and making it simpler, even though your life may not be that simple.  What do I mean?  Well no matter how many areas of focus in your life, it allows you to lay out in a visual fashion all these areas as notebooks in a way that allows you to visualize those areas.  In the wallpaper I chose above, I’ve laid each of my areas of focus (my notebooks) on the floor for me to view.  When I need to tend to one of these areas, I simply click on that notebook.  (Oh thank heavens, I can move my notebooks around on the web app!!)

When I open that notebook, in one location, I have all my notes, events and action items for work.  I have, like I did in Evernote, a notebook for clients and a notebook for internal stuff I handle.  In my client notebook, I have tags I setup to include each of their names and product I oversee. When I add a note such as “12/10 – Conversation with Joe Smith” and I tag it by the client and the product, I can then add sub-notes such as hyperlinks, files, images, etc.

I have found that this is particularly useful when it comes to projects.  For example, let’s say I have a project called “XYZ Firm Renewal”.  Within that note, I’ll create things I need to know about this project.  If I wanted to, I could then create “sub notes” underneath with status updates each time something happens.  This is “notably” different than Evernote because I can view each of the notes underneath the master project note all in one view.  To me, this makes a big difference.  See below.

The difference here though is two-fold: 1) visually it’s more appealing and therefore begs me to want to be in there and use it. 2) More substantively, I find that being able to put in a task as a task with a reminder to go to whichever e-mail or phone I want is important.  Being able to create a calendar event which syncs with Google Calendar which then syncs to Outlook is very important.  Putting together the aesthetic with the practical makes so much sense.

When it comes to my GTD setup, here’s what I do in Springpad:

  1. I create context categories for each of my tasks – i.e., @contact, @computer, waiting for, someday/maybe
  2. I create tasks whenever I’m in that particular area of focus (old house, new house, work, blog, etc)
  3. I create reminders if I need to get it done by a certain date (if its actionable on a specific day, I’ll create an event)
  4. To focus on Next Actions, I flag those items I want to focus in on.  I can then click on “Flagged Stuff” to focus my time and attention on my Next Action items.  When I’m done, I simply click the flag again to take it out of my Flagged Stuff.
  5. I can then get a dashboard view if I wanted to of everything that needs to get done in all my areas of focus by context when I go to the “All my Stuff” view.  This allows me to handle everything I need to under @contact or @computer depending upon the time and energy I have to complete those tasks!

As far as collaboration is concerned, every notebook and individual notes can be made public.  Within each note, I can e-mail to colleagues, print the note, and send the note to my phone.

The fun doesn’t stop there though.  Once I realized how much “fun” it was to be in Springpad, I went crazy.  I created a notebook called “Old House” for all the things I need to do to move out of my house – action items, contacts, events, inspection reports.  Again, everything I need to remember is all centralized.  Where Springpad really rocks is now: 1) as you can see below, Springpad “alerts” me on the app (as it did in e-mail and on my DROID) about things I have to do that day; and 2) a way to organize everything visually in their Board.  Take a look at my last post for more on the Board.

Then, I started importing all of my Google and Delicious Bookmarks (Jeesh, had I known they were coming out with the Delicious importer, I would have waited!!).  Take a look at how beautiful my bookmarks now look in Springpad!  I also started importing all of my recipies that I’ve printed out over the years from,, Food Network, etc.  How?  Easy.  I created a notebook called Recipes.  I went to add recipe, and then you can search for the recipe.  Type it in, it finds it for you on any one of those website, and then you just add it to your notebook!  Amazing.  Seriously, amazing.  Lest we not also forget about how useful the Chrome extension and clipper is as well!!

That all being said, not everything is rosy in my love affair with Springpad.  I know Katin from Springpad is listening, so here’s what’s on my wish list:

  1. Sort tags my alphabetical and/or by number of tags
  2. Sort tasks my category in name order (i.e., why is it that my “waiting for” tasks show up before the @ sign in @contact??)
  3. Sort notes by type
  4. Sorting subnotes by date
  5. Complex search strings such as “tag:ABC firm”
  6. E-mail PDF files
  7. E-mail notes to a certain tag/notebook
  8. E-mail notes as a note/task/event


The point here is that its beautiful interface + ability to organize all of your life in one centralized repository + integrations with the greater world wide web + syncing with Google Calendar = a K.O. in my rather hectic life!

What do you all think?  Can Springpad replace Evernote, Toodledo and Delicious??  Let me know in your comments below!


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