5 Reasons Evernote Should Be in Your Life Right Now

If you were to search the Apple App Store with the word “notebook,” you would be staring down about 773 results. Sure, these apps make a genuine attempt to make your life more organized, yet all but one has left me wishing for more. I would suggest to you, kind reader, that the only one worth bothering with is Evernote. Being able to manage my notes effectively is important to me, and nobody makes it easier or more intuitive. Not only am I going to make such a claim, I’m also going to give you five reasons why I think so.

It’s free (and a few bucks extra makes it even better)

That’s right, free! All of the wonderful benefits of using Evernote I’m about to spell out come at no cost. It doesn’t matter how many devices you use it on. This is great for college students looking for a digital way to organize their notes, someone in business to better organize their projects, or the chef of the family to keep track of their recipes.

IMG_0295

Five bucks a month adds several more useful features. My personal favorite is the ability to mark up PDFs using highlighting, text annotations, handwriting, and more. Evernote Premium also gives you the ability to open the app with a passcode or fingerprint (iOS), download all of your notes for offline use, and gives a total of 5GB of online storage for your notes.

It works on just about anything with a screen

Some are very brand loyal when it comes to their technological life, so when an app as useful as Evernote is available no matter what you’re using, it’s certainly refreshing. I can easily make changes to my notes on my iPhone, add some more information on my Mac, share a notebook with a friend who uses an Android phone, and pull up Evernote on the web on a clunky PC. This support for all things electronic comes in handy for the next reason.

The collaboration tools make teamwork a happy time. 

IMG_0298

Because of Evernote’s ability to cut across platform lines, collaborating using the service is extremely easy. Simply invite someone to a notebook you have, and the other person is now able to make changes to whatever you’re working on. There’s even a built in chat feature which allows you to work with someone without having to give out your number.

It’s an organizational juggernaut

Without even lifting a finger, Evernote helps you to organize. One of the first things that dazzled me about the app is its use of where you’re at on your calendar and where you’re located (using GPS) to title your note. For example, if I’m at school in my PR class and I create a new note, it will automatically title it “Note from Middletown at PR Methods.” This feature prevents you from ending up with a bunch of nameless notes to sift through.

IMG_0299

Evernote also lets your organize your notes into notebooks, and even to put those notebooks into different stacks. This gives you tons of latitude to organize your notes and notebooks just the way you’d like it.

Additionally, Evernote excels at note taking. It allows you to easily create outline-style notes, highlight, record audio, add pictures, tags, and other formatting. This makes Evernote extremely powerful for students as well as professionals in business, journalism, public relations, and other areas.

Evernote is part of a very organized family of apps and accessories

On its own, Evernote is exceptionally powerful. For added functionality, Evernote has several sister apps that allow you to do even more. Scannable allows you to scan documents using your phones camera or a physical scanner you can purchase from them. Scanned documents can then be sent directly to your Evernote notebooks. Penultimate for the iPad allows you to take hand-written notes. Skitch is a quirky but useful app which allows you to take a picture and annotate it with scribbles and text. Since Evernote owns all of these apps, integration is swift and foolproof.

Evernote is an app I’m constantly recommending to others. I’ve been using it for years, and I don’t see myself switching to anything else. If you have any uses for Evernote that I missed or any questions about it, feel free to comment!

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.37.17 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.37.30 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.37.53 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.38.07 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.38.20 AM

Painting With Moss: Tagging Gone Green

Example of moss painting, by Carly Schmitt

A beautiful example of moss painting, by Carly Schmitt

As the warmth approaches us, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s ominous prediction, we’ll inevitably be in search of fun things to do. Well, look no further than moss paint, which I would totally never condone anyone use where someone might make use of spray paint. Although I haven’t given this a go, it appears just as easy to create with as any other paint. Luckily, the internet is full of tutorials to help you make this fascinating organic paint. From what I can gather, this process isn’t very new, but it’s certainly new to me.

Carly Schmitt appears to be using a technique which involves applying moss that has already been grown to the desired medium (which is typically wood or rough concrete), but the result is very similar to painting the mossy mixture on a wall. Toronto-based illustrator Jennifer Ilett has a piece which depicts moss paint being used among traditional paint.

The idea of using a living organism as paint is highly fascinating. It presents a more palatable option to those who don’t care for the harmful chemicals used in spray paint. Moss paint is so harmful indeed it can be used indoors to create some very interesting wall art.

Indoor moss wall in an office space

Indoor moss wall in an office space

Luckily for the less crafty among us, putting this concoction together doesn’t appear to be all that difficult. In closing, I will leave you with this handy infographic on how to make your own moss paint. Do with this information what you will, and try not to let your green thumb land you behind bars!

Moss-Graffiti-–-How-to-Do-It2

So This Is a Thing: Meet Alejandro Cao de Benós, North Korea’s PR Guy

576_1364970857Alejandro_Cao_de_Benos

Alejandro Cao de Benós holding a commemorative pin, a symbol of his commitment to putting a band-aid on atrocious violations of human rights.

When the name North Korea is dropped, inevitably this invokes thoughts of ridiculous hacking threats, “mass games,” and unnerving military exercises. When it comes to preserving the communist country’s ironclad public image, truth truly is stranger than fiction. From 1990 to the present, Alejandro Cao de Benós has been the brains behind North Korea’s public relations initiatives. His official title is “Special Delegate of North Korea’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries,” and works in IT during his six-month off season. While on the job, he works closely with the higher-ups in the regime to convince the western world that nobody really starves under Kim Jon-un’s cuddly dictatorship. (Really, they don’t!)

north_korea

Nobody lives on the street or are unemployed. All North Korean citizens have their vital needs covered, which include also the Leisure and entertainment, it is also free to practice sports or learn foreign languages. – Alejandro Cao de Benós

Seeing through the messages of prosperity and an abundance of comfort isn’t difficult for the discerning human being. Amnesty International, known for their relentless fight for human rights around the world, talks about the millions of residents who “have experienced the worst hunger in a decade” with North Korea discontinuing all foreign food aid in 2009. Given the gravity of these blatant violations of human rights, I would have to conclude that our friend Alejandro is a psychotic mess. Perhaps his visits are sheltered, the people he meets cherry-picked, when he arrives at the capitol as are the visits of many westerners. Perhaps the same feverish cloaking of the true conditions faced by the people of this country are cloaked just the same for Alejandro.

There's nothing North Korea does better than training their people in the art of fake happiness.

There’s nothing North Korea does better than training their people in the art of fake happiness.

This is a client which transcends the idea of a “PR nightmare.” Airbnb’s shift to using a logo that resembled female genitalia seemed nightmarish enough to a public relations student like me. The very idea that there is someone working behind the scenes to make the North Korean regime more palatable to western tastes is excruciating to fathom, and is made even more unbelievable by the fact that their publicist is Spanish. As implied before, Alejandro spends half a year working within a country that is sharply contrasted with North Korea in terms of basic human dignity. It’s hard to understand how this man doesn’t see the atrocities of the country he has sworn to represent in the public arena.

A colonial prison in Phyongsong, which appears to still be in use.

A colonial prison in Phyongsong, which appears to still be in use.

This is a lesson in picking your clients wisely. There is no need to sacrifice your own ethical principles for a paycheck. It seems as though Alejandro’s ethical compass is broken or nonexistent. Perspective is key here, and anyone outside the borders of North Korea should have a clear understanding of what’s really going on inside this country. Mending North Korea’s image around the world begins with them admitting what they’ve done, and treating their citizens with basic decency. Putting a western face at the helm of beautifying North Korea’s image is disingenuous at best. As it stands now, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea seems content in their endless loop of denial, and the cycle seems far from being broken.

Hot Off the Press: iPhone Wallpapers

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m extremely anal about the wallpapers on my iPhone. I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for just right one. Minimal, colorful, but not too minimal or colorful. No quotes. The list goes on and on. I’ve recently been toying with the idea of making a few wallpapers of my own from images I’ve already captured. Here’s the result of tonight’s venture. Feel free to use these on your iPhone 5/5s/6/6 Plus (sorry Android people)! I hope you enjoy them. Perhaps if this is well received, more will come in the future!

IMG_0106

Rain Room

iPhone 5/5s/6

iPhone 6 Plus

IMG_0107

Pink Flowers

iPhone 5/5s/6

iPhone 6 Plus

IMG_0108

Marysville Sunset

iPhone 5/5s/6

iPhone 6 Plus

IMG_0111Butterfly

iPhone 5/5s/6

iPhone 6 Plus

A Picture in 374 Words: Day 156, Evan

156_Evan

Details: 50mm f/1.8, 1/100 sec at f/5, ISO 100

Though it was a project cut short, over the course of 365 portraits I had some wild adventures. There were days where the photographs came easy. I would ride a wave of a consistent string of volunteers. There were others that had their own unique challenges. Evan’s portrait was certainly one for the books.

The day started out at a show in Fredericksburg. Evan is an amazingly talented musician, so I was immediately thrilled to be able to take his portrait. His band, American Arson, really stole the show (check them out). After trying my hardest to take a portrait in a garage with the lighting of a Hollister store, I decided to relent and take his portrait at a friend’s house. It seemed very cut and dry, for the time being.

As the show came to a close, everyone slowly began to trickle to their cars. The talent needed some nourishment, so we all stopped at Sheetz. I left a few minutes early in order to get to my friend’s house and set up ahead of time. I put up my lighting and employed myself to be a test subject. Everything was set, and ready to go. However, the others hit a snag and were delayed. At this point they were about 15 minutes away from the home in Hershey, and it would’ve been approximately 11:40PM. The kicker here is, I had a rule through the whole project that the photos had to be taken before midnight, or the project would end immediately.

Fast forward to 11:55PM and they still haven’t showed up. I was getting increasingly nervous and uneasy. I was pacing outside, begging any deity that would listen to get them to show up on time. At 11:59, they finally arrived. I rushed Evan into the house, sat him down where I had set everything up, and took 3 or 4 pictures. I had pulled it off, somehow. While it’s not the most creative portrait I’ve ever taken, it had been done.

This was perhaps the closest call I had during the entire project. Though it ended only a few weeks later, this prompted me to put a least a bit more effort into planning these portraits ahead. Phew!

Does it Matter? Yik Yak

The production of a social medium that makes people bite seems like a happy accident at best. Yik Yak is one of those networks with a purpose I have yet to fully grasp. The concept of a digital bulletin board is interesting. Anonymity is sometimes hard to come by in an always connected world of consumption, so break from the attention couldn’t be a bad thing. Yik Yak’s function is easy enough to figure out. Users are able to upload anonymous posts visible to others within a certain radius. It’s an interesting concept.

The posts I’ve seen range from the practical to the oddly sexual, and reading what people are saying can be haphazard but oddly entertaining. Interaction is done through up or down votes and the ability to leave comments. Users can also “Peek” into other areas, giving them the ability to see posts but not to add to the conversation.

Despite being a bit of an oddball on the surface, I don’t think Yik Yak should be dismissed on its face. In terms of gauging reaction to, for example, a public PR event, it offers an interesting distinction from a service like Twitter. Yik Yak only allows posts within a certain radius. This could help to filter out the noise from outside observers and allow a practitioner to focus on those within the event. It’s anonymity provides a unique motivator for honesty. The flip side to that is the need to take what’s said with a grain of salt.

Anonymity of course has undesirable consequences in the digital world at times, but from a cursory glance at the service, I believe it should be paid attention to. As its use grows, Yik Yak could easily become another effective tool at reading public sentiment.