Proud to be an Evernote Community Leader

Proud to be an Evernote Community Leader

evernote_logo_4c-smI started using Evernote back in 2011 and have found it to be so valuable to my everyday life. I use Evernote to log notes about my professional and personal life.

I keep my notes in Evernote organized with tags and notebooks. I have found it so easy to find information that I created. The ability to have my notes with me on my phone and computer made information easily available at anytime.

I will never forgot when we first went to Disney World and had an issue on our first day. I was able to pull up the notes that I recorded and all information so fast with my phone. I just grabbed my phone, opened Evernote and searched for Disney.

The situation was very easily resolved and we enjoyed a wonderful magical vacation at Disney.

Since then I have been using Evernote even more. The Evernote Web Clipper opened even more possibilities for me. I created a notebook called Articles To Read and clip articles to this notebook to read later. I can highlight sections in the article to make the information even more valuable to me.

When I talk to people about Evernote I also show how I can snap a picture and search for the text in the picture so easily and fast. I am always so excited when I do this. I know, I am a geek! 🙂

I have seen Evernote Ambassadors, tweeted with them and read their blogs and books. I wanted to become one! I believe in Evernote so much that I just want to share how I use it and help others use Evernote and learn from how they use Evernote.

A few years ago I was asked to give a few presentations at a professional development day for a local school district. I proposed one talk on Evernote and one on Agile. Both talks went excellent. I showed how I used Evernote and talked with the administrators and teachers about how they could use it for themselves. We created accounts and installed Evernote on their devices. It was a great success and another proud moment in my Evernote history.

Recently I found out about the Evernote Community Leader program. I applied for the Evernote Community Leader program. I then took a very detailed course about using Evernote, organizing and the different levels of the Evernote Service. I had great discussions with other people in the program.

When I received an email that I was accepted to be an Evernote Community Leader I was so excited! Now, I as an Evernote Community Leader I have some goals that I would like to achieve and would love to talk to anyone about using Evernote.

  • Write blog posts about using Evernote
  • Facilitate workshops on using Evernote
  • Offer advice and consulting on Evernote
  • Create an Evernote Community Leader discussion group on use Educational Technology

ebcc=cl_lrainaldijrSign up for an Evernote account if you do not already have one. The link below will take you to a sign-up page, you can scroll to the bottom to create a Basic (free) account or enhance your experience with a paid account. I subscribe to the Premium level.

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Staying With Apple Watch over Fitbit

Staying With Apple Watch over Fitbit

I have been a Fitbit user for many years. I started with the Ultra, then moved to the One and progressed to the Surge. Fitbit has built a wonderful platform and really has mastered the social aspect of fitness. Fitbit’s use of gamification is something that other companies should look at as a model.

25247104095_c34e98de5b_zAbout two months ago my wife and I decided to purchase Apple Watches. We considered waiting for Fitbit’s Blaze, but both wanted to try the Apple Watch.

I was missing the social aspects of Fibit, the challenges that are available and other gamification available. So last week I purchased a Fitbit Blaze and was going to sell my Apple Watch. My wife said she was staying with the Apple Watch.

After a few days with the Blaze I decided to stay with Apple Watch. I have noticed some very large variances in the accuracy of the Fitbit tracker. On a treadmill I am noticing 1/2 mile difference on a 2 mile walk. I noticed this on multiple times. I have found others that experience the discrepancies also. When I walk on a treadmill I move my hands just like walking outside. I do NOT hold on the treadmill handles. I have compared this with both the Apple Watch and Microsoft Band 2. Both do not have the same inaccuracies. This is a huge failing point on Fitbit, if you put the device in your pocket as is sometimes recommended it works out. But the devices have heart beat monitors so putting them in your pocket defeats the purpose of the heart beat monitor.

Another big difference I noticed between the Fitbit (both Surge and Blaze) and Apple Watch is comfort. I feel that the Apple Watch is much more comfortable on my wrist and doesn’t get in the way. The Fitbit devices have a clasp that seems to rub and the material is not as comfortable.

26397965465_f6320c5b89_bSomething that I noticed about the Activity app on Apple Watch is how the goals are displayed. Three rings are provided: 1)Move, 2)Exercise, 3)Stand. Apple Watch does not set goals on steps, it does count your steps but concentrates on calories burned from fitness. This is actually harder to achieve than just your step counts. Also, the Exercise ring has a goal of 30 minutes daily. The 30 exercise minutes are tracked and the device learns how your exercise and pushes you to do more but giving you minutes for more difficult minutes. As an example, I do 40 minutes on the treadmill, this does NOT count as a full 40 minutes of exercise all the time. I have to have my heart rate at a certain point and it also learns my activity so it doesn’t count exercise minutes that I can do more easily. This sounds strange at first and frustrated me when I didn’t reach my goal, but it makes reaching this goal more challenging.

These are the two reasons that I am giving up on Fitbit and staying with Apple Watch. I would love to see Apple or a third party, even Fitbit add challenges and gamification to the Apple Watch. Even a paid app from Fitbit would be wonderful.

As I thought about which device to keep, I considered the above issues that I encountered as well as other features offered on each device. The app store on Apple Watch is full of many useful apps. I use Day One for journaling on a daily basis, this is only available on the Apple Watch. LoseIt has an Apple Watch app that lets me look at my calorie intake and nutrient summary from my wrist. With the price decrease on the Apple Watch it makes the it more affordable and with the additional features and accuracy of the activity tracker it increases the value.

I am curious if which device you prefer and why?


Journaling with Day One My Way

Journaling with Day One My Way

I have been keeping a journal for a long time. I find it very therapeutic to write my thoughts down and reflect on them. I started with pen and paper, writing entries in notebooks. The last few years I started to use Day One on my iPhone. I wanted to have a way of having my journal with me so I could record my thoughts whenever and wherever I was. I tried a few other applications on my phone, I really wanted something that I could use on my computer and iPhone. Day One currently works on Apple products but the intuitive user interface and stability of the application is well worth it. I have used it on my iPhone and also used it on an iPad and found it to be a clean interface. I am able to just write what I am thinking and move on to what I am doing. I record simple thoughts throughout the day. I have tried other apps several times but keep coming back to Day One because I find this system to be so well put together and it lets me focus on my thoughts.

I use a Windows laptop which was a limitation with Day One until very recently. I have tried using the third party apps but didn’t really like working with a Windows app. I wanted something that was web based and can be used anywhere but have a full keyboard. Most of my entries are created using an iPhone but at times I like to write more detail and prefer to type on a full computer. If you are a Mac user, Day One has a Mac app which I have used on my kid’s Mac Book Air. This works wonderful, but I use Windows most of the time (for now).

This month Day One released an update that includes a channel on IFTT which makes it possible to use other platforms to record your entries. I was very excited about this release and quickly looked into how I could use this to better record my thoughts.

If you’re not familiar with IFTTT (If This Then That), it’s a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services. IFTTT is a great way to automatically add content from many web services including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. You can even set up an SMS trigger to create a journal entry via text message!



I am an avid Evernote user, but keep my journal separate from my notes. With the addition of IFTTT I create a “recipe” that will take a note that I tag with #DayOne and save it to my journal in Day One. This is huge for me, I can very easily type on any computer with a web browser using Evernote and tag it with #DayOne and it is saved to DayOne. I love this feature and was excited to have it available. (I know, I am a geek).

25895524062_467bbe0f75_oI also have an Apple Watch and have the Day One app installed on it as well. When I first heard that Day One released an Apple Watch app I was not thrilled but after using it I have to say it is amazing. A large amount of my entries come through my Apple Watch now. I simple dictate into the watch and the entry is saved. I also have shortcuts that I used on the Apple Watch. I have a shortcut that I used to record when I take my medicine so I don’t forget if I have taken it already. I will use it to “check in” at a place, so I can very easily without saying anything check in to the location using GPS and an entry is recorded and I can go back later to fill in details.

As you can see in the above image I have reminders set to prompt me for creating journal entries. I like to have this prompt to think of what I am grateful for each day and the reminder is set to add the tag “grateful” to the entry.

25387520583_921d29dc23_oI have a separate journal for different types of entries. I have one for just personal thoughts, one for work and now have one for ideas on blogging about. They are easily separated and can be “tagged” with more information if I wish.

Picture logging is another feature I use often, I don’t always want to share the pics, sometimes I just want to record them for myself or my family to later see. I will take a few pictures and add them to a journal entry, add some text if I wish or come back and add the text later.

If you have questions about how I use it or suggestions on other uses I would love to hear them. Reach out to me at @LJRAIN or here in the comments.


Apple Watch My Thoughts

Apple Watch My Thoughts

My wife suggested that we pickup Apple Watches for ourselves. Originally we planned on waiting for the new Blaze by FitBit to be released. But, being the tech geek that I am, we thought let’s give it a try and if we don’t like it we can return it. It has been nearly a month now and I have to say I really like the Apple Watch a lot.

It is a very comfortable watch and doesn’t get in the way. The big Fitbit Surge and Microsoft Band 2 got in my way when I was typing. Apple Watch is much more comfortable and has a great band that adjusts to fit perfect. There are many selections of  bands that you can choose from to fit your style as well.

The battery is one of the issues that I have heard about and was worried if it would last a full day for me. I have no problem charging it every night, I did that with the other devices that I wore already. I have had no problem with the battery lasting a full day with heavy usage. I use the texting (dictation feature a lot).

I have been downloading apps and trying them out to see what I felt was useful on the Apple Watch. I have said that there is not much use for apps on my wrist but I am incorrect and now find it very useful.

25301311464_e77df0f5f7_oOne app I use constantly is Day One, Day One is a private journal application that I use on my iPhone already, I have been using it for about one year now and really love the app. I was original not happy that Day One put an Apple Watch app out thinking it would NOT be useful. But, this is an app I use constantly throughout the day to record pieces of my life. Small bits of information about my day that I can reflect on and remind me of later. I will write a more thorough post about Day One in the future. But, I recommend using it and I am VERY anxious for them to release a web app so it will work on more than just Apple platforms.


I have used the maps app a few times and find it very useful, I can lift my wrist and say “Hey Siri, how do I get to …” and it opens the map and prepares for navigation instructions. It doesn’t work very well with my car which is paired with my iPhone. If I have the opportunity I will switch to Waze on my phone which works wonderfully when paired with my car through Bluetooth.

25301311494_9b3ac47806_oI also use the workout app on the Apple Watch, I mainly walk. I try to walk a lot to move myself to a more healthy life style. I am a programmer by trade and sit a lot at a desk. When I walk I launch the app and select an open walk to record my walk. It records the walk (not GPs of my walk). I can earn badges as I work on my health goals. Currently there are only three goals available, 1) Calorie Burn; 2) Stand Up; 3) Activity. I would like to see this to be improved much more. My personal preference would be a tight integration with Fitbit which has a wonderful community and social challenges with other users.

I found that reminders works wonderful also, I once again lift my wrist and say “Hey Siri, remind me to ….” and it creates a reminder for me and then alerts me about that reminder. This is a nice functional for a smart watch.

Apple Watch allows you to send your heart beat to someone else with an Apple Watch. I do this on occasion with my wife. It’s a fun little feature but I have noticed that it doesn’t work as well. Many times we don’t receive the messages that are sent using the heart beat or the drawing function.

25908116646_546eeb96dd_oThe only other app I use on the Apple Watch often is LoseIt, I am a premium member and log all of my food intake. Trying to be mindful of what I eat and it has been helping with me loose weight. I am currently down 25 pounds!! The LoseIt Apple Watch app just shows you what calories you have available for the day. Easy way to check on how I have been doing.

I am glad we purchased Apple Watches and did NOT return them. We feel there is a lot more value in this device than in just a fitness tracker but having the apps that are available and I am sure there will be more coming. Not all apps will really be useful to have on your wrist though and it will be interesting to see what other innovative ideas people come up with. I am very hopeful that Apple will work more on their Workout app and introduce social challenges and add step goals to the device.


My Thoughts on Microsoft Band 2 (based on feedback)

My Thoughts on Microsoft Band 2 (based on feedback)

I received some feedback on my last post, My Experience with Microsoft Band and wanted to address it here. First, thank you so much for the feedback and for taking the time to read my post. So, the feedback was that I wrote more about my Fitbit than I did about MS Band. So, this post is dedicated to the Microsoft Band 2.

I have worn the Microsoft Band 2 for nearly two months. The first thing about the Band is that it is a very nice looking device. Microsoft really made this device “pretty” and also comfortable. I liked the fact that it is narrow and has rounded edges. The screen is very clear and crisp as well as the navigation of the menu “tiles”.

One of the big things to keep in mind about Band 2 is that Microsoft designed it from the ground up as an activity tracker. It was not designed to be a smart watch, but fits that description very well.

I really like the device a lot, I would swipe to run and start my daily walks. I prefer to use the GPS to track my walks just to see where I have walked and show my wife. 🙂 Walking is the main exercise I do, I am a couch potato trying to get healthy. Tracking your steps with this device is very accurate and I also feel the heart rate was a good form of measurement. I would NOT use this or any activity tracker to monitor my health for safety. Use it for a metric to help you on your journey. Medical issues should be handled by medical professions.

I didn’t get a lot of use out of the UV tracker since it is winter.  One of the cool features of the Band 2 is guided workouts, it allows you to build a workout and download one and have it on your wrist. Think of it as a HIIT timer on your wrist that writes out your next activity. You choose from many workouts that are pre-built on the Microsoft Health app or site and then sync it to the Band. You can also assemble your own works and sync to the Band. Once you the workout is loaded you can then swipe to the Guided Workout Tile and start the workout. The Band will guide you through the workout. This is just a wonderful innovation and very useful. Like I said I am starting out and use small workouts which there are plenty of. There is also a Couch to 5K guided workout. These are FREE!

Initially I loaded a lot of tiles and found that the battery couldn’t handle it. I removed tiles that I really didn’t need like Facebook and Twitter. I do like the notification tile which allows you to receive any notification from your iPhone on your Band. Texting, phone calls and appointments are think are a wonderful addition and just make sense on the Band. You will feel a vibrate and glance to see who it is or what appointment and where the appointment is.

healthdashboardPersonally, I charge the device every night. I tried the sleep tracking and didn’t find it useful for myself. I also found that the Band and my wrist needed the time to charge and rest.

Final notes on the Microsoft Band 2. I feel the Band 2 (or the Microsoft Health app/site) are missing the social components of the health tracking. Gamification is a great tool if handled right and I don’t think Microsoft is there… yet… I won’t be surprised if they get there very soon though. #DoGreatThings They are handled the social components on social media just need to close some loose ends.

My Experience with Microsoft Band 2

My Experience with Microsoft Band 2

I have been using a Fitbit for several years, I started with the Ultra, moved to the One and then moved to the Surge. I have had very good experience with the product and customer service.

Almost two months ago I participated in a contest with LoseIt as part of their #MyDayMyWay and won a Microsoft Band 2.  Needless to say I was very excited about it. I had been considering purchasing an Apple Watch and looked at the Band 2 as well. I liked the fact that the Band was designed from the ground up for fitness (something I am trying to get better at). I feel there is no need to have as many applications on my wrist as Apple Watch offers since I have my phone with me all the time anyway.

I passed my Fitbit Surge on to my father-in-law, who uses it daily now. I strapped the Band on my wrist and used it daily. I quickly stopped using it for sleep monitoring (just like I did with the Fitbit). I noticed that Band needed this time for charging more so than the Fitbit. Also, I didn’t see a huge value in monitoring my sleep. I already know that I have sleep apnea and I like to have my wrist get a break from the device while I sleep.

Now that I have over a month of using Microsoft Band 2 I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts about this device and the Fitbit.

23546032912_0bcbee8c8c_oI really like the look and feel of the Microsoft Band 2. It is smooth, sleek and comfortable. It doesn’t feel like a watch and offers an easy action of using it. I can easily use it all day without it getting in my way. The clasp that they chose it great, that was one issue I had with the Surge but Fitbit customer service replaced the Surge after issues.

The Fitbit Surge is bulky, it isn’t as comfortable as the Band. It is nice that with the Surge you can see it in direct sunlight where what Band is harder to see because of the display. I think they both have a smooth navigation system on the device.

The Band offers more “Tiles” or apps that you can use than the Fibit Surge, I thought this was nice at first. I loaded them up with the max and noticed that the battery needed charged nightly once I did this. The Fitbit Surge I had no problem going several days with GPS on and not charging the battery. But, I still charged it nightly unless I was away for the weekend.
16220726542_1fbf0c855a_oI was able to look at my steps and my activities on my phone easily with both devices. I could sync the activities from the device to my phone to view the details. Sharing the activities is very different, with the MS Band when sharing if you have GPS turned on your map is shared but not the basic data (miles,steps etc). Fitbit has a very nice sharing feature, even if you have the GPS turned on your map is kept private and your details are shared. Fitbit also provides a way of taking a Selfie or other pic and putting the details of your activities with the selfie. I have turned off GPS tracking on Band because I don’t want to share my location with the world.

Also, the Fitbit app tracks your calories in either by logging food in Fitbit App or syncing with other apps. I use LoseIt to log all of my food and drinks and it syncs directly with Fitbit and I can see my calories in on both LoseIt and Fitbit.

CaptureOne of the biggest advantages of Fitbit is the community, Fitbit has built a community around their devices and provided features for you to build communities around you. So you can get support, you can compete with others and cheer them on. Fitbit has really talked gamification with their devices and I feel that all other devices can look at Fitbit for gamification.

So, right now I still have the MS Band 2 on me. I am now using my iPhone with the Fitbit app to track my exercises. I have already decided that I will be upgrading to the Fitbit Blaze once it is released. I do have an older Fitbit surge with a broken band that I may try to get working until the Blaze is released.


I have experienced an issue with a Fitbit devices and their customer service is just amazing!


UPDATE: (1/18/2015)

I have decided to purchase the Fitbit Flex for both of my daughters. Because of the community, web app and phone app on the Fitbit I am moving my family to Fitbit devices. My old Surge has velcro to on the band to fix the clasp issue. My wife is using the MS Band 2, once the Blaze is release both my wife and I will be wearing that.