Category Archives: Independent Knowledge Professionals

I’m Posting FileMaker Tips over on my FileMaker Fever blog

FileMaker_Pro_12_BoxI call myself a computer professional. The way I make my living is primarily by developing custom applications and selling my FileMaker-based application for creative services businesses (Studio Manager). In my spare time I’ve been working on this app I call Knowledger (see my last post).

Now I’m starting to talk about easy ways to get FileMaker to talk to other apps by pressing a button over at my FileMaker Fever Blog.

FileMaker is the knowledge worker’s database. It means you can have your specialty that’s not FileMaker and still get amazing things out of it. FileMaker consultants may find some tips they haven’t thought of or seen before, but my intended audience is you.

I don’t believe in hard to use, arcane database apps. I like the easy stuff so I can remain human and not be required to become a full-time programmer just to access, collect, use and manipulate data the way I want.

Hopefully, my FileMaker Fever blog will provide you with some simple FileMaker tips that you can use without asking a professional for help. That doesn’t mean you might not want to ask for a little help once and a while if you get ambitious and have a question.

Knowledge Enthusiasts and Knowledger

I’ve been writing about knowledge apps for over two years here and now I’m going to begin the reveal on my latest knowledge pursuit.

I am building an iOS and Mac Knowledge app using FileMaker 12. FileMaker Go on iOS is free. My distribution options are wide open. This is the creative part of my app journey, though, so distribution is not on my mind yet. It is great fun building the app I want for my iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Knowledger

I call my new app-in-the-making Knowledger. It’s the shortest app name I could think of that plays on the word Knowledge – the focus of the app. For now it is a code name. Things are in flux.

Knowledger is a customizable, personal knowledge dashboard. It can pull information from Wikipedia, Google Search and Google Maps on subjects of interest. It is your own database and internet tool. Ambitious Knowledge Professionals may want to use FileMaker Pro to integrate Knowledger into their own Filemaker framework. Lack of integration is one of the frustrations in the knowledge arena and the door is open to go there as needed and desired.

Knowledge Enthusiasts

If you are a knowledge professional, you must keep up in your area of specialized knowledge and also knowledge in general – including current events. You don’t operate in a vacuum. Forces outside your specialty affect your work. Your perishable knowledge exists in world that changes every day.

Computers have been the tool du jour for knowledge professionals for good reason. You need to master the tool to function as a knowledge professional or pay a price. Now we have new species of computers: iPhones, iPads and their brethren providing access to information 24/7.

Are you a Knowledge Enthusiast? I’ve come to believe that my real market is what I call Knowledge Enthusiasts. I’m one. I love to learn. I have learning goals that exceed my professional interests. I am curious about my passions and become curious easily. Managing my attention so that it goes where my priorities are is part of the reason for Knowledger.

Maybe 5 – 10% of the population share this passion for knowledge whether working or not. That’s where Knowledger comes into play more broadly.

The Holy Grail of Knowledge

I’m treading on dangerous ground working on an app called Knowledger. Having access and storage of all your notes, ideas and clippings, books, whatever is what the knowledge enthusiast craves. Ideas, insights and information slip away as other pieces of information and other ideas come to mind. Knowledge at your fingertips. Google says they want to put the world’s knowledge at your beck and call. I’m entering holy grail turf with caution in my own way and trying to keep focus in the midst of a hurricane. Here’s what I’m up to.

Knowledger Features in Development

In its current incarnation, Knowledger tracks your people, groups, places, things, ideas and works. Whenever you encounter any of these and want to save them and follow them as needed, you just type in the name. Data entry is next to nill. Quick. No hassle. Frictionless.

One of the problems you encounter on iOS is that you have to operate in app silos – App A doesn’t know what App B is doing. That problem is starting to be addressed here and there by URL schemes that allow apps to talk to each other. Knowledger uses URL schemes to talk to other apps. Knowledger can access the web with FileMaker’s built in browser, but stopping there limits you. Key Apps used in concert can crucially improve the experience and aid your knowledge quest.

Knowledger can talk directly to excellent Wikipedia apps like Articles and Wikipanion. It can talk to Chrome if you have it installed. It can talk to Drafts and Day One. This inter-application communication is a key feature of an app that is designed to be your dashboard to the world of information beyond your doorstep.

Creativity

Creating requires invention which requires concentration over time. It is facilitated by obsession. To be creative you need to be mulling over the roadblocks to your vision, dwelling in the subject matter at play and using your subconscious to do the rest while you are driving, dreaming or in the shower. You need to have your note pad ready at all times to capture the stray insight that comes your way. But, the dwelling on and obsession piece is where Knowledger comes in.

Travel

There are huge possibilities for knowledger. We are a world of knowledge workers in a knowledge economy. Flooded with information, most of which we don’t want. Collect the places that catch your interest and learn about them in your spare time. I’ve got Iowa where my grand father was born to go with Duluth where my Norwegian grand parents migrated. I’ve got the classic cities like Paris, London, Rome and Berlin. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. And Akihabara, the amazing gadget shopping mecca in Japan. Every time I capture a new place or person I get a sense of satisfaction that I’ve claimed them for my collection.

Better Use of your Time

If you are a knowledge enthusiast, you may be among the minority who resist the call of various iOS games, staying on track with your quest for relevant knowledge. Or not. I would like you to have Knowledger with you as a constructive option and alternative to seductive time-fillers.

With Knowledger, you spontaneously add people, places and things as they occur to you. You favorite the ones you want to dwell on and unfavorite them when they’ve become less interesting or you’ve moved on.

That’s it. Your knowledge system dashboard and personal interests database.

Considerations on Whether to Get an iPad mini

Oct 29: I see that all models of the iPad mini are now showing 2 weeks for their delivery time in the US Apple store. Brave souls have taken the plunge sight unseen. It would help to evaluate this new device to hold it in one’s hand and try it out though. I’ll report back to you on Friday when mine arrives.

Like most Apple products, the build of the smaller tablet is excellent, easily surpassing the competition on the market. By comparison, the Nexus 7 and Fire HD feel like toys. Other manufacturers are going to have to up their game with this product in town. It’s just a striking difference in materials and solidness.

Updated Oct 26: I  preordered a white, wifi-only 16gb iPad mini at midnight Thursday. Please note, I would get an LTE 32gb iPad mini if it was my only iPad but I’m keeping my iPad 3 LTE. I can create a personal wi-fi hotspot with my iPhone 5 for my mini if needed.

At $329, the iPad mini is a more costly than we expected. I had it pegged at $249 and some thought Apple might get crazy and hit $199. I already have the iPad 3 which is now old news with the new iPad 4 announced yesterday.

I thought I would pounce on the mini when I imagined it to be a cheap smaller iPad even if it wasn’t retina because I wanted a Nexus 7-sized tablet that could be a cross between a color kindle and an iPad. I could forget about Kindle and be iPad all the time using my iPad 3 at home mostly when a bigger screen seemed better and using the mini around town when I was travelling light.

Spoiled by the size and lightness of the Kindle 2, I’ve wanted a smaller, lighter iPad all along. I bought a Kindle Fire last December. Even though it is a bit of brick, I liked the size especially for reading. I bought a Nexus 7 in July and love its size, shape and weight. Both of these are gathering dust because I can’t get the apps I want on these devices. I’m not married to google, so that ecosystem doesn’t hold me. I strongly prefer iBooks as an ereader to the Kindle app and don’t appreciate the dumbed down interface on the Fire.

There is inherent loss in just reducing a product in size. We took the time to go back to the beginning and design a product that was a concentration of, not a reduction of, the original. – Jony Ive

These are my big considerations on whether to get this little iPad mini:

  1. The size, thinness and lightness. Everything I liked about the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 will be even better on the mini. It will be easier to hold while I’m using it. It won’t have to be propped up and accommodated to get into a comfortable position. It will be cute and lovable. It will be fun.
  2. It doesn’t have a retina display. I love my iPhone 5, iPad 3 and MacBook Pro retina displays. Firsthand observers who played with the iPad mini yesterday say it is noticeably not a retina display. The word disappointed was mentioned even though further comments emphasized that the screen is very good and better than the iPad 2 screen which is good. I hope the greatly reduced size and weight is more than a fair trade for losing retina. Even for someone spoiled by other retina devices. Retina is high priced in terms of size and weight (you need more batteries).
  3. It’s expensive especially when compared to the Kindle HD 7 and Nexus 7. The comparable Nexus 7 is $249. You have to pay an extra $79 to get the better hardware (but not better screen) and app ecosystem. That hurts. On the other hand, you know very well that $79 doesn’t go far and your time has value. If this tool works for you, do you want the best in class tool or one of the cheaper, economy tools?
  4. It’s a cheap iPad. I paid $359 for my Kindle 2, so this is an amazing bargain in a lot of ways. This is going to be great if you don’t have an iPad yet. It’s $170 cheaper than the iPad 4 retina.
  5. Should you have both a mini and a regular, though? That’s my question. How many devices can you use? This may just be a the right tool for the job situation. I know that my iPad 3 is great when I’m sitting up in bed with my knees up. It’s great on a table with my Logitech keyboard cover when typing. When I need room for whatever reason, that bigger canvas will still be preferable. But when those situations aren’t there and I want easy and light, like for reading which is my highest percentage use, the truly pad-sized, iPad mini will be great! The iPad mini will be a lighter adjunct to my laptop when I need to bring it along with me.

One thing I consider when indulging in more than one iPad or other tablet device like the Kindle or Nexus 7 is that we are moving away from paper. As we do so, we will need digital paper devices of different sizes just as paper pads and notebooks come in a variety of sizes. We don’t limit ourselves to one size of paper pad but use many sizes. The full-sized iPad may be your perfect size, especially if you are a fairly large-sized human. Women, normal to small-sized men and children will really love the iPad mini’s smaller, lighter, more portable form factor.

One last thought. The iPad mini will certainly get a retina display in a future update. Just as the Macbook Airs will get retina. But, the extra size, weight and processing requirements of the retina display are tradeoffs that these diminutive devices cannot yet abide.

Related post: Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini updated Oct 23 2012.

Other good posts on iPad mini:
eReader Joy: New: iPad Mini.
Josh Topolsky, the Verge: Apple iPad mini Hands On
iPhone J.D.: Why Lawyers will love the 4th gen iPad and iPad mini
James Kendrick: iPad mini: Why I’m buying one as soon as possible

The iPad mini is going to be so cool

iMore’s iPad mini concept by John Anastasiadis from last week, says it well.

I bought a Nexus 7 a couple months ago and it has just whetted my appetite for the real thing — an iPad mini. Even though the Nexus 7 is the best tablet for Android, it doesn’t quite cut it for someone who uses a Mac and has or has had an iPhone or iPad. If I were a big Gmail fan and strongly preferred Chrome over Safari and a few other things like that, I might be happy on an Android device, but I’m not.

The apps are better on iOS. No argument there. App quality on a glass slab is a big deal. If you only use the most basic apps plus games, it doesn’t matter as much. But, I’m an independent knowledge professional living by my wits and I need the best apps available full stop.

With that disclaimer, let’s get down to why I’m so excited about an iPad mini which I fully expect to be available sometime in October (or possibly even September).

Size matters. This time in a reverse direction. This argument also applies to the iPhone relative to the big iPad. If you can get the job done on a less expensive, smaller, lighter, more portable device, do it. With the addition of the iPad mini, we will have three sizes to choose from. That might seem like a lot but look at notebooks in the paper world. There are tiny notebooks the size of an iPhone, lots of them the size of an iPad mini and other larger ones including many that are 8-1/2 x 11 — letter-sized. People have been carrying these around for centuries. As paper really does fade back into a special-circumstance material, we need devices of different sizes that come with unlimited pages.

Size matters for Creativity. Now here’s the reverse of this notion. A bigger work area helps you when you are trying to wrestle a creative challenge to the ground. It would actually help to be surrounded with 4 walls of screen even to get the full immersion that is like a murder room for a murder investigation. Same creative challenges. So, the iPad mini will be smaller than the iPad we’ve come to know. That will be a limitation for some things. Keep in mind, though, that we already have AirPlay to throw your iPad screen up on a TV screen. There will be more and more that kind of thing going on. Screens keep getting bigger and cheaper.

But it’s the notebook (Device) you have with you that matters. Just like the camera you have with you. A lot of people, even me sometimes, don’t carry their iPads everywhere they go. They keep them at home – which is a great place for the iPad but it is a shame that they are often left there to sit.

The iPad mini is going to be easier to hold one-handed for all kinds of reading which we know is job 1 for most iPads. How many times do you use your iPhone to read even when an iPad is available? I use my iPhone a lot for reading while standing around, when it is handiest and in bed. I’m betting I will choose the iPad mini a lot more often than my big iPad when it comes to both creation and consumption just due to its nice size and weight. The big iPad will be like Steve Jobs’ truck to a car analogy when compared to the iPad mini.

The iPad mini will be easier to take with you:

  • It will fit in pockets — not all pockets but percentage-wise, way more pockets than the 10″ iPad can fit in. Cargo pants might work well with the mini.
  • It will fit in purses. Yes, big purses are popular but there are many women (and men) who carry something smaller — too small for the 10″ iPad to fit comfortably.

It’s Cheaper. Vast quantities of rumors are out there right now and the consensus is that the base model iPad mini will cost somewhere between $199 and $299. That’s a country mile from $499 and means that many more people will be able to buy these iPads – all those students and underpaid knowledge professionals doing good work that doesn’t happen to pay well. All those younger family members who might also be smaller and more mini-sized anyway. All those kids and adults in developing countries where incomes are lower than in the US.