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Paperless Safe

Is Going Paperless Safe?

Going paperless has a great number of benefits, ranging from cutting down on clutter to enhanced efficiency in the workplace. But one question remains – is it safe?

What happens to sensitive and confidential documentation? Will such information be 100% secured if you decide to ditch paper once and for all?

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Going Paperless

Paperless offices can expect a number of benefits including:

  • Reduced expenses
  • Easy accessibility and retrieval of documents
  • Time savings
  • Improved communication and customer service
  • More efficient audits
  • Environmental friendliness

So, with all these benefits, why are so many companies still heavily relying on paper? Research has shown that many companies feel restricted by the ‘legal obligation to maintain hard copy records’.

However, the possibility of legal issues is not the only concern. Here are the other most common fears that prevent companies from taking the paperless plunge:

  • Initial upfront costs and difficulties digitalizing the original documents
  • Security issues, malware, and viruses
  • Change Management

Copying machines and printers are still regarded as crucial office equipment. We’ve been using them for decades and, considering that we’re creatures of habit, it’s hard for us to switch to something entirely new. As a result, the paper continues piling up.

The process of going paperless is actually quite simple and can be completed in only 4 easy steps: 

  • Scan your documents
  • Organize them in digital files with suitable, clear names so you can easily find them
  • Store these files in folders
  • Once you’re done, shred the original paper documents.

However, the security issues are far more concerning. Are digitalized documents a more secure way of keeping data or should you stick to locking your filing cabinets?

Going Paperless and Staying Safe

Research has shown that 47% of respondents think that paper negatively impacts on security and trust. The biggest security issue is in the fact that any document can be easily copied without being tracked.

Sensitive information like health information, accounting files, or tax records, needs to be safe at all times. Having these documents digitalized can be perfectly safe, probably even safer than keeping hard copies that could easily get lost.

But in order to be 100% sure that everything is secured, there are a couple of important factors to take into consideration:

When storing sensitive documents in a digital form, make sure they’re encrypted.

When you keep hard copies of documents, it’s harder to control who has access to them. Every employee that gets access to the company’s filing system can look at any document, which imposes a great privacy issue.

Using a cloud or DMS storage enables you to restrict the number of people who have access to certain documents. These systems offer different levels of access, enabling you to prevent copying, deleting, or printing of data.

There are special encryption features you can have installed on your computer. In addition, you’ll need to encrypt all the external drives you’re using for storage and backups.

Make sure to back up the documents, if possible more than once.

In order to make sure you won’t lose any data in case of system failures or any other defects, you should make backups of your documents to multiple locations by using special software solutions. Have one backup at the office, and one at home or on another off-site location.

Storing your documents on a cloud-based system such as Dropbox or iCloud offers a number of benefits:

  • Your documents are automatically encrypted;
  • You can access the documents from different devices, wherever you are and at any time of the day. This is especially important for those working remotely like freelancers or salespeople;
  • You will no longer depend on complicated backups performed by your IT department;
  • If your computers crash, or a document goes missing for some reason, or even if your company building burns down, your data will be safe.
  • Every change you make in the documents is saved automatically and can be seen in all locations without the need to make copies. This spares you the standard filing conversion and simplifies retrieval;
  • Having a document management system (DMS) means limitless storage and you no longer need to worry about space. In general, files take up little space – a whole year of documents can be ‘packed’ in only 100MB, which makes 1GB for 10 years of business!

In Conclusion

Saying goodbye to paper is a huge step but if you’re persistent enough, you’ll soon realize it’s worth it. Sure, scanning everything may take some time but once you’re done, you’ll be able to work out a day-to-day scanning and filing system that will enable your company to start saving money and be more productive.

As far as data safety is concerned, the bottom line is, when implemented correctly, a paperless office system allows more control over your documents, instant backups, as well as better data security.

Excel handwriting

Microsoft got it Right—Handwriting in Word and Excel with Apple Pencil on iPad (Pro) 2018

If you look at Microsoft Word on your iPad or iPad Pro, you’ll see that it still looks the same as you are used to seeing, and you can still perform the regular functions you use Word for. The new handwriting addition is in the top navigation bar under the tab labeled “Draw”.

Once the Draw tab is open, you can select from three colored pen icons, a pencil, a highlighter, and an eraser. There are also a variety of colors to choose from.

Inside your Word document you can type as you usually would, or you can write by hand by selecting the Draw tab and choosing a pen or pencil, the color, and line thickness. Once you’ve made these selections you can start drawing right inside the document.

Using the highlight function, you can quickly highlight selected text.

The pencil tool allows you to draw and shade with your Apple pencil, just like drawing with an actual pencil.

The feeling of the handwriting is fluid, and there is no latency or delay.

When you add handwritten lines or marks to your document, they stay together as a group of text would. In other words, if you put your cursor in front of them and press “enter” the whole block of handwritten text will move down, just like typed text would.

You can see an example of this on this YouTube video:

This means that you can add spaces between your blocks of text, whether they are typed or handwritten. Then you can insert more text in those spaces, or even an image.

All of the note-taking apps will allow you to use handwriting with typed text in a document, but this app allows you to go in and add spaces between them, while the other apps won’t allow it.

One aspect of this drawing feature that is so exciting is you can use it inside Microsoft Excel. The same “Draw” tab appears at the top in the navigation bar inside Excel.

While using the Draw function, you can select a cell, reduce the thickness of your pen or pencil line, and write directly in the selected cell.

After you’ve written inside of a cell, it behaves just the same as it would if you typed inside the cell. You can actually move the cell with the handwritten text around to a different location on your sheet. You just touch and hold on to the cell you want to move, select “copy”, and then drag the cell into its new location.

One of the most amazing uses of this drag-and-drop feature is that you can create your own calendar. Starting at the top of your document, write each day of the week inside its own cell.

Once you’ve written in the days of the week, you can write your scheduled tasks in cells underneath a specific day. Because you can drag-and-drop your writing from one cell into another, you can move a task from Monday over to Tuesday with the touch of a finger.

This feature is really a game-changer because instead of having a static document that’s difficult to make changes to, you have a dynamic document that you can quickly rearrange.

If you use the Draw function in Excel to draw a freeform design that runs over the top of several cells (without selecting a specific cell to write inside of) and then try to use the drag-and-drop feature, the program recognizes that this is a drawn design that spans several cells and it won’t move the design.

These new features have really improved the usability of the Microsoft apps.

The downside of this app is that you have to pay for it. You can download it and use it for free, but if you want to save it or edit with it you have to pay a monthly subscription. It’s a low price, and this feature can be used inside all of the Office 365 Suite, and you can use it on your mobile devices and a PC.

If you already use Office 365 and you do a lot of writing, editing, and creating, this is a great add-on to have.

Evernote and Noteshelf

Note-Taking App to use with Evernote 2018 | Penultimate vs ZoomNotes vs Noteshelf2

Everyone has different needs and likes when it comes to the features they want in a note-taking app. If you’ve ever used my app comparison tool to locate the features you want in an app, you may have noticed that there is a section for user reviews.

When I read these reviews I always learn something new, or find a new insight into the use of an app based on the reviewer’s personal experience.

One of these insights came from a review for Noteshelf 2. The reviewer, Dario Amara, mentioned that he has good results using Noteshelf 2 with Evernote.

This review got me thinking, “Would syncing certain note-taking apps with Evernote fill in some of the gaps that exist in those apps?” I decided to find out.

As far as I know there are only two note-taking apps that can properly sync with Evernote: ZoomNotes and Noteshelf 2, along with the native handwriting/note-taking app offered by Evernote: Penultimate.

I decided to put all three to the test.

Here is what I found.

Penultimate

Evernote offers a native app called Penultimate that you sync with your Evernote account.

Inside of Penultimate you create a notebook to write your notes in. There aren’t really any options for fancy covers or anything. You won’t find tons of functions, colors, or fonts. This app is just for writing things down.

The minimalistic nature of this app means there are fewer bells and whistles and fewer distractions. It is very basic app designed solely for saving your handwritten notes.

It has a great feature that any note-taking enthusiast will love. It has a magnification function, which most note-taking apps also have. But what makes this feature different is the scroll function.

When you magnify a section of text, and then write inside the magnified area, it automatically scrolls to the left as you are writing so you don’t have to move your hand across the iPad screen. You can also increase or decrease the scrolling speed.

You can use Evernote’s search function to locate the notes you typed in Penultimate. Evernote will quickly locate your notes and highlight the search terms within the text.

ZoomNotes

With ZoomNotes you take notes as you usually would inside the app. ZoomNotes has more of the note-taking features we are used to expecting in a note-taking app.

To get your ZoomNotes into Evernote go to the options and find the auto backup function. You will see that ZoomNotes integrates with many different cloud services. Choose Evernote from that list. It allows you to choose from a JPEG or PDF, and gives the options to include the document tags, page tags, document title tags, which can all be useful when you’re doing a search.

Once inside Evernote, your ZoomNotes show up as a thumbnail or PDF symbol that you have to click into, instead of the text just showing up on the screen of your iPad as Penultimate does.

When you perform a search for your ZoomNotes document, Evernote will locate the document, but it does not highlight the search terms in the text like it does with Penultimate.

Noteshelf 2

Noteshelf 2 is the app with the best sync function to Evernote. Being able to sync with Evernote is a unique function of Noteshelf 2, when compared to the other note-taking apps.

Unlike ZoomNotes, which does a cloud backup to Evernote, Noteshelf 2 has a toggle you can turn on that will publish everything you write in Noteshelf to Evernote. In addition, you can publish to any other cloud backup service you’d like to.

There are other great note-taking apps out there with great features, but if you are an Evernote user, the sync performance of Noteshelf 2 makes it my pick for the best note-taking app to use with Evernote.

To use Noteshelf 2 with Evernote, you take notes and use the features inside of Noteshelf 2 as you normally would. You have access to custom templates and diaries in portrait or landscape, with different cover options.

To upload to Evernote, you find the cloud backup under the options tab. Then choose Evernote from the list of options. When you sync to Evernote, it shows how much of your storage space is used inside the app.

The full diary or notebook you create in Noteshelf 2 will be synced to Evernote, giving you access to the features of Noteshelf 2 inside of Evernote.

The notebook from Noteshelf 2 that is synced in Evernote will have a small elephant icon on the front cover to let you know which of your notes are synced and which are not.

With Penultimate you only get one sheet to write on and import into Evernote. With ZoomNotes you get more features, but it downloads documents as a thumbnail you must then open. With Noteshelf you get all the features you want to have in a note-taking app with no PDF or thumbnail icon to click.

I like the feel of the handwriting in Noteshelf 2. It doesn’t have handwriting recognition on its own, but when you combine it with Evernote, you now have handwriting search function.

If you took notes for 365 days of the year inside Noteshelf 2, it would be hard to locate a specific note right when you needed it. But when it’s synced with Evernote, your notes will be searchable, and Evernote will even highlight the search terms in the notes.

I hope you‘ve found this review of helpful. And to think, it all came from a user review in the app comparison tool.

What insights into note-taking and productivity do you have to share that could benefit our community? Leave a review, send me an email, or join in our Facebook group.

Thank you for engaging inside the community. It makes this journey better for all of us.

iPad Accessories

Must Have Accessories For Apple Pencil and iPad Pro 2018

If you want to see what the equipment I use looks like and how it works, then watch this video. Everything I describe in this blog post, I also show you there in detail.

Styluses

I’ve had the opportunity to test many different styluses. Some of these include the Adonit Pixel, the Adonit Pixel Pro, and Wacom’s Bamboo Sketch, which I reviewed here, along with the Apple Pencil.

In the recent past, users could only use the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro. So in order to use a stylus with a regular iPad, you had to use one of the other brands of stylus.

My goal was to find a stylus that worked great with a regular iPad, and might also cost less.

The results when using all of these styluses with the iPad were very similar. They had trouble syncing with the iPad, had too much delay in the handwriting feature, and the palm rejection technology would frequently malfunction.

This all changed with the release of the new iPad 2018. With this release, Apple made the regular iPad (2018) compatible with the Apple Pencil.

Before this update, it was necessary to compare aftermarket styluses to find the one that was the most compatible with the iPad and carried all of the best features. But with the new iPad 2018 you can use the Apple Pencil, so there is no contest. No need to compare.

The Apple Pencil outperforms the other styluses, so just get one.

The few dollars you might save on another brand of stylus aren’t worth the tradeoff.

Here are some of the reasons I feel that this is non-negotiable:

  • Using an Apple Pencil with an iPad means you’ll never have to worry about palm rejection.
    • The other styluses I tested the claim that they have palm rejection, but I have experienced that feature not working properly during regular use.
  • The second undeniable difference between the Apple Pencil and the other styluses is precision.
    • With the Apple Pencil, the writing begins at exactly the spot I place the stylus on the iPad. Even the smallest strokes are captured. I can create dots with the tip of the pencil and every dot shows up on the screen exactly where I touched the Apple Pencil to the iPad.
    • With the other styluses, I have often experienced that the writing on the screen is not exactly where I placed the stylus tip. The lines can also be jagged or interrupted, and if I make dots they appear in a slightly different location on the screen
  • Another great feature of the Apple Pencil is you can tilt it and it will behave just like a real pencil would; widening the drawn line and giving it the same “shading” look you get when you shade with a lead pencil.
    • The pencil line adjusts in real-time to the different angles you are holding during use. The line seamlessly transitions from large to small with no interruptions or jagged lines. The other styluses I tested don’t have this ability.

The one feature the other brands have that is not on the Apple Pencil is a button on the side of the stylus for undo and redo. To use the undo function with the Apple Pencil you just double tap with two fingers on the screen.

If you don’t want to get an expensive stylus, just get a ten dollar Mixoo passive stylus without the bluetooth connection. The writing function works just as well as the expensive styluses, and you can change the head from a pen-tip to a disk. Since it can’t provide palm rejection, you can’t use your palm on the screen, but the other bluetooth styluses with palm rejection don’t perform that function very well anyway, so what’s the point of getting an expensive one?

My conclusion: Just spend the money on the Apple Pencil.

Screen Protectors

If you want to use the handwriting function on your iPad 2018 or iPad Pro, it’s essential to get the right screen protector.

Now you might be wondering why protecting your screen will help with the handwriting function.

Let me clarify: I’m not using a screen protector to protect my screen from scratches, I’m using it to make the screen feel more like paper.

I have heard artists confirm that in order to draw realistically and effectively, you have to have the resistance in between your pencil and the drawing surface. This is also important if you are going to be doing serious paperless note-taking.

I reviewed the PaperLike screen protector in November 2017 for the first time. I liked the feel of it and I gave it a good review. Since then I have had many people ask me if I still use it. Yes, I do!

I am still convinced that this is the best screen protector for your iPad.

Other reviewers have tested the PaperLike screen protector in short videos and given it criticisms. I’ve found that it’s easy to look for things to criticize in a very short-term test. The real testament to this product came after I had used it for a month on my iPad Pro, and then removed it in order to go back to writing on the unprotected screen.

The difference in the feel and comfort was undeniable.

When you slide your hand across the PaperLike protector, it feels like paper. When you write with your Apple Pencil on the PaperLike screen protector it has that familiar friction you are used to feeling when you write on paper.

When you slide your hand over an unprotected iPad screen, your hand sticks to the screen. When you write with your Apple Pencil on the unprotected screen it feels like plastic on plastic. In my opinion, that is not a good feeling.

I have tested several other screen protectors; some that have a “paper-like” texture, and some that are glossy.

Although some of these protectors were cheaper in price (like the Tech Armor), they couldn’t match the performance of the PaperLike screen protector.

When writing on the PaperLike, it actually sounds like you’re writing on paper.

Writing on the other screen protectors sounds like writing on plastic. Also, the surface texture of the other screen protectors feels inconsistent; resulting in the Pencil feeling like it’s speeding up or slowing down as it hits these inconsistent spots on the screen.

If cost is an issue for you, you don’t need to use a screen protector.

If you’re a heavy note-taker, or an artist, the PaperLike screen protector is the product you’ll want.

iPad Covers

I think iPads without a cover are quite fragile. If they are used a lot, or accidentally dropped, the screen can shatter, or they can stop working. When it comes to choosing a cover to protect your iPad, there are a lot of good choices. You don’t need to buy the expensive Apple cover. For a regular “around the house” iPad, I find that the basic plastic case with a screen protector provides enough protection for regular use and game-play. For the iPad Pro, or an iPad that is taken to meetings and classes very often, I prefer a smart cover with a hard back and a magnetic closure on the front. You can add accessory bands to the covers that will hold your Apple Pencil, or there are covers with a pen-holder built in. If you want to use a smart keyboard with your iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil case then watch this video to learn why I am not as convinced that there is anything useful out there. If you have any suggestions please let us know in the comments section of this post. I will be more than happy to test out new solutions!

“Nice-to-have” Accessories

The hardware I covered in the sections above are my “basic essentials”. These “nice-to-have” accessories are just that: nice to have.

  • Easel-style iPad stand. These aluminum stands are great for holding your iPad upright on a table. They can be adjusted at different angles to reduce glare or make seeing the screen easier.
  • Overhead iPad holder. This iPad holder mounts to the ceiling. You can use it in your kitchen for reading recipes or watching cooking shows. It can also be removed from the ceiling and used as a table stand.
  • Apple Pencil Cap Replacement. These end-caps can go on the charging end of your Apple Pencil and be used as a rubber end for writing, or you can change your settings on the pencil and use the rubber end as an eraser.
  • Portable power bank. I never leave home without my portable power bank. It can charge my phone or my iPad if I get stuck in a situation where my battery is low and I have no way to charge it.

If you want to see where you can get those just visit my “Note-Taking Equipment” page here.

There are so many options when it comes to hardware and accessories.

I hope you have found this list of the hardware I personally use to be helpful. Because I have spent the money and time to test the available gadgets on the market, you don’t have to.

If you have any questions about hardware or comments on the list above, please engage in our Facebook Community, or leave a comment below, so we can carry on the conversation.

Are we using too much paper?

Are We Using Too Much Paper?

Even though we live in an electronic age, the consumption of paper worldwide remains surprisingly high. In fact, the demand for paper is expected to double by 2030.

People and companies are beginning to go paperless, but paper is still all around us – packages, books, newspapers, wrappings… Once a rare material, today paper floods our planet and (sadly) humans are still totally dependent on it!

How Much Paper Do We Use Globally?

In 2014, paper production on a global level was more than 405 million metric tons. The largest part of this was paper packaging and cardboard, while the rest was writing and printing paper, which is commonly used in offices and schools. 

The largest paper consumer in the world is China, with over 100 million metric tons a year, followed by the USA and Japan. These 3 countries alone produce 50% of the worlds paper!

Paper Consumption in the United States

The United States consumes more than 208 million tons of paper annually. In the last two decades, paper consumption has increased by more than 125%

With each individual consuming 487 lb. paper per year, the paper consumption per capita in the United States is the highest in the world. Just for comparison, the average per capita paper consumption worldwide is 125 lb. This means that the United States consumes 30% of the world’s paper annually.

In the Office

One office worker uses an average of 10.000 sheets of copy paper per year, or a total of 12 trillion sheets per year, out of which almost half ends up in the trash.

Companies in the US spend over 120 billion dollars on printed forms per year. Most of these forms will be outdated in a period of 3 months. 

Environmental Impacts of Using so Much Paper

Deforestation

The production of paper requires cutting trees. In the USA, the number of trees cut down for this purpose is about 68 million a year. On a global level, almost 15% of the total wood harvested is used to produce paper. 

This means paper production is one of the main causes of deforestation, the second largest factor for climate change.

In addition, the process of producing paper also requires great amounts of water. To be more precise, a single A4 sheet of paper requires 10 pints of water!

Paper pollution 

Another serious problem caused by our mindless use of paper is pollution. Paper makes up about 25% of landfill waste and one-third of the total trash in households. 

The use of chlorine bleaches in the production process makes paper the third biggest polluter of water, soil, and air! Finally, when paper starts rotting, it releases methane, a gas more dangerous than carbon dioxide!

Can We Avoid Using Paper?

Considering that a single tree produces enough oxygen for three people and that trees protect our planet from global warming, we can’t help but wonder – is paper really worth destroying life-saving trees? 

People are only just beginning to understand what the use of paper actually means for our environment and have started developing solutions to reduce waste and pollution. 

Recycling 

Recycling one ton of paper saves about 17 trees, 6.600 gallons of water, and more than 680 gallons of oil.

The good news is that many paper-production companies in the United States have modified the process of paper production in order to decrease the emissions of cancer-causing dioxins. 

Moreover, a number of paper-production companies have also focused on alternative paper sources such as fibre crops, agricultural residues, and textiles in order to avoid cutting down trees. 

Each individual can also contribute to paper recycling. 

Here is what you can do:

  • Start by recycling all the paper waste in your household and in the office. 
  • Avoid using disposable paper plates and cups.
  • Exercise your power as a consumer by supporting companies with environment-friendly products and boycotting brands that are cutting down forests to make their products. 
  • Try to buy 100% recycled and chlorine-free paper products and materials.
  • In the office, try to use email in the communication with colleagues and customers whenever possible.
  • Keep all your files, documents, and notes on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.

Going paperless

Let’s look at this problem from another perspective – the use of paper can seriously affect your efficiency in the workplace:

  • A typical office worker spends between 30% and 40% of their time looking for documents kept in filing cabinets.
  • If there were a catastrophe such as a flood or fire, about 70% of businesses would fail in a period of three weeks!

If you go paperless, losing valuable information will no longer be an issue. In addition, all your documents will be stored, indexed, and well-organized, making it easy to access, retrieve, share, or email all your documents anytime and anywhere. 

You can read more about your company surviving the paperless transition here. 

Notability

Is Notability Finally the Best Note-Taking App?

Handwriting Recognition in Notability

What set Notability apart from other apps was that it did not have handwriting recognition.

With the latest update this has changed.

Using your Apple Pencil, you hand write directly onto your iPad screen, and then you can select that specific text and convert it into typing.

From there you can change the text size, the font, the color, and the location of the text and turn it into a really nice looking document. You just take your stylus and select the specific text you want to focus on or convert.

You can also select “copy text to clipboard”. This allows you to select the text and copy it into your email and send it on.

What really pushed this app ahead of GoodNotes 4 is that you can choose “convert selection” which will convert handwriting directly into text without the need to copy and then paste and then delete the handwriting like it is the case in GoodNotes4. You can even convert your handwritten text into typed text with a clickable bullet point so you can turn it right into a task.

Until now, Notes Plus was the only note-taking app to have auto recording and text conversion. This is why I called it the all-in-one note-taking app. But with this newest round of updates Notability now has these features as well.

So why am I saying that Notability is now the number one note-taking app instead of Notes Plus, when they both have the same features? Here’s why: I personally like the handwriting function in Notability better than the handwriting function in Notes Plus. It is much more fluid and I just really like the feel of it.

Inside notability you can also add GIFs. It’s just a nice extra feature that gives you a little more capability. You just select a GIF and insert it into your document on your iPad screen and you have an automatic GIF function right inside your document. In order to select a GIF and move it around you need to use two fingers so you don’t accidentally move something around you didn’t want to move.

Unique Split Screen Function in Notability

Notability now has an amazing split screen function. On one side of your screen you can have a new document ready to be created, alongside another document you’ve already completed. This allows you to have information on one side of your screen while working on an active document on the other side of your screen. This is a feature that users of note-taking apps have been asking for for a very long time.

What differentiates Notability from Notes Plus is that Notes Plus also has the split screen feature but you can only write on one of the open screens, while the other screen is stuck in “read only” mode.

With Notability both sides of your screen are usable. You can reduce or increase the size of a screen. You can also go inside the menus and actively use both sides of the screen at the same time depending on which one you have selected with your stylus.

In addition to these game-changing updates, Notability also has these important features:

Global Search Function best in Notability

Notability has a global search function (it will look for every example of a word or phrase in a ny notebook). Inside the app you can search globally for your handwriting as well as for typed text. At this time, it’s the only note-taking app with this function. The other note-taking apps only search within the notebook.

To demonstrate how the global search works, I can open up a notebook and use the handwriting function to write the word “test”. Then I save and close the document and open up the search function. I search for the word “test” and the app brings up the results immediately. When I open the notebook suggested by Notability the app has even highlighted the specific words in the document that I was searching for. It’s amazing.

PDF Import

You can import a PDF directly into Notability. This particular app will allow you to select specific pages of the PDF for import, instead of just defaulting to importing the entire document. Notability will ask you if you want to import the PDF into the note you’re working in, or a different note, or create a new note. You select exactly where you want the document to go.

Once the PDF is imported into Notability, you can open it and the hyperlinks inside are still active. This means you can import Digital Journals.

Clickable Hyperlinks

Like in GoodNotes4 and Noteshelf2 you can import PDFs with hyperlinks that are clickable. This means you can also use digital journals. However, in Notability you can even drag and drop hyperlinks from your Browser into your note and the text will be clickable or you can just hand write it and convert it into text which makes it also a clickable hyperlink.

The Drawbacks

With all of these amazing new updates, there is still one feature that is disappointing to me that I hope the developers can solve. It is the highlighting of words.

If I highlight a word, the highlighting lays over the top of the word instead of going behind it. The more I highlight a word, the more the highlighting covers up the text. When you use the highlight function inside of GoodNotes, the text will jump to the top of the highlight. This makes the text with highlighting behind it easier to read.

Some users of this app have complained that when you use your stylus to highlight a word or a sentence, the line is squiggly because it follows your hand. The way to fix this is to start drawing your line and then just hold your stylus in place for a moment and the line will straighten itself out. You can even do this when you’re drawing shapes. If you’re drawing a square, just start the line and hold it for a moment until it straightens out, then make your connecting line until it straightens out, and so on until the square is complete. This function makes drawing shapes inside the app very convenient.

Every time one of these note-taking apps has an update it is big news for us! We use these apps on a daily basis to improve our workflow and productivity.

Because we’re constantly using these apps, our community has special insight into what could make these apps even better.

If you take the opportunity to try out Notability with the new updates, let me know what you think. What are your favorite features? How could the app be improved? Leave a comment in our Facebook group to keep the discussion going.

I will keep you informed every time one of these note-taking apps has an update, so you can stay on top of the best features and get the most out of your note-taking.

For the latest updates and reviews you can stay tuned to this blog, join the paperless movement Facebook Group, check out my YouTube channel, or grab a copy of my eBook: Paperless Note-taking Like a Pro.

Mac Desk

What does it mean to be a Paperless Company?

I get asked this question a lot, and my first response is usually the same question, directed back to them. Sometimes, depending on the person asking the question, the answer will change. However, 90% of people will have the same answer, in some form of variation.

The answer will usually go something like this – 

“A paperless company is one that minimizes the use of paper to help the environment”.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this answer, and helping the environment anyway you or your company can is always a great idea! I, however, answer it a little differently. 

To me a Paperless Company is one that is data secure, agile and extremely productive. 

Sounds a little more suave, right? But what does being paperless have to do with being agile, data secure, or even productive? Let’s chat about it. 

Is your company quick on its feet? Can your company adapt to changes three minutes before a meeting?

It’s funny, but transitioning to a paperless environment can actually make your company much more nimble, alert and fight ready. What do I mean by this? Being agile basically means you have the ability to adapt to changes as and when the business needs. Let’s say you’re heading to a meeting with a client, but five minutes before that meeting the leadership you are seeing changes. You’re no longer sitting down with the VP of Sales, Maxine. You’re now sitting down with COO, Bert for this meeting. 

Let’s say your paper presentation has been adopted to include Maxine’s name to help seal the deal. Now what? You scribble Maxine’s name out and replace it with Bert’s? That’s not very professional, is it? However, what if your presentation was being delivered digitally? You got it! Head in to the keynote, make the necessary changes, and voila. Bert, is none the wiser! If anything, Bert will be even more impressed that his name has been included at such short notice.

This process being paperless has ensured that the company delivering the presentation can make quick edits on the fly to ensure a successful meeting takes place. This is the definition of being agile! Being paperless and agile in this instance could be the difference between Q3 profits vs Q3 losses.

You have to remember employees are people, and people are susceptible to making mistakes. And boy do we people make a lot of mistakes. In fact, we read these headlines all the time.

“Employee leaves confidential information on city bus”.

Consumer data is gold. It’s been this way for some time, and consumer data is only becoming more priceless. Facebook wants it, Google needs it, and the government is losing it. Data is the new money! Protecting, and ensuring your customer data doesn’t get in to the wrong hands is paramount for any business dealing with personal information. Laws are changing, and people are becoming smarter about who has access to their information, and what they are allowed to do with it.

Take an old accounting firm for example, one that hasn’t transitioned digitally. Where do they store all of their customers tax returns? Where do they keep all the books for their largest contracts? Right… in boxes down the hallway in that empty office to the left. You know, the one with the vacuum in that the cleaners use nightly. Once a month though they’ll ensure document safety by moving those boxes to a storage facility. Ludicrous, right? Don’t be shocked when I inform you that over 55% of companies still store customers personal information this way.

Do not presume this is down to cost savings either. Cost is actually one of the least impacting variables when it comes to technology decisions. The biggest issue is change management! People get stuck in their ways, and go by the old saying, if it’s not broken, why fix it? Going paperless in this instance would not only free up office space to hire a new person. But would also ensure that their customer information is safely secured in a private cloud, rather than in boxes accessible to the building cleaner every night. 

I once worked for a company that required four signatures before you could action any change. Sound crazy? Actually though, it’s a really smart process! Safe, but somewhat annoying when you have to track down all four parties; in four feet of snow. Streamlining this process with technology will maintain the safety aspect of the process, alongside freeing up the employees time gathering these autographs.

Remember that accounting firm from a moment ago? What happens when they need to retrieve a document from three years past? What’s the process for retrieving a clients files for the previous seven years? You’re all with me on this one right? The accountants will have to head to their secure offsite storage facility to retrieve those documents. Talk about inefficient. Being a paperless company here would be extremely time friendly for the clients of these accountants. It would also make the accounting firm much more productive in a sense of time saved. 

In fact, productivity is probably my number one reason for guiding businesses paperless. The time saved by removing physical paper from an environment can be astronomical. And nothing makes management happier than their employees gaining access to more time. Once upon a time, business deals would take weeks to finalize. Now they can be completed 30,000 feet in the air.

You can read more about the digital world and your company here. 

However, if I were to ask, what does it mean to be a paperless company now? How will you answer it?

Plastic Man

Do Plastics Have a Place in the Clean-Energy Future?

So what, exactly, is a “plastic”?

Plastics are made up of synthetic polymers and a mix of chemicals. The polymers are created by taking monomers, found in oil and gas, and putting them through a polymerization process to produce the polymers needed to create plastic. (Did you get all that?)

These polymers are what make plastic so versatile. At some point in the manufacturing process, plastic can be poured, spun, molded, extruded, or applied as a coating. This ability to manipulate plastic makes it useful for everything from water bottles and plastic bags, to car parts and technology components.

Lego01

Plastics don’t just give us better tech, they make our lives better in other ways too.

Plastics contribute to public health and safety by giving us sanitary ways to package food and deliver clean water.


Using plastic as packaging for food gives us a safe way to store food and keep it from spoiling as quickly as it would in other packaging materials. It also protects the food during shipping and keeps the quality of the food consistent.


Water is an important resource that can be contaminated in urban areas if it isn’t handled properly. Plastics are used to store and supply clean drinking water to communities, and to help prevent the spread of germs into the water supply. Because plastic is both lightweight and durable, it’s reliable and easy to use in city water control and distribution systems like sewers, irrigation, and drainage systems.


Plastic is a huge part of the innovations we see in the medical field. What would we do without life-saving advancements like IV lines and bags, surgical equipment, monitors, and imaging machines?

Plastic saves energy and uses less material.

Using plastic in building, packaging, and transportation uses significantly fewer materials and fossil fuels in the long-run.

A high strength-to-weight ratio makes plastic a superior storage container when compared to glass, metal, paper, or wood.

Compare a glass soda bottle to a plastic bottle with the same dimensions. Both bottles are strong, but glass will shatter and plastic won’t. And the plastic is lighter in weight, which means less material (and cost) is used to create it.

A comprehensive study published in January 2005, GUA (Gesellschaft für umfassende Analysen GmbH) shows that packaging beverages in PET, instead of glass or metal, reduces energy consumption by 52%.

Plastic Duck

Plastic is used to save resources, cost, and weight in aircraft, automobiles, construction materials, dishes, toys, televisions, computers, clothing, shoes, food containers, medical equipment, and more.

It’s plain to see that without modern plastic materials, we wouldn’t have the lifestyle and resources we currently enjoy.

As paperless devotees we use our computers and devices to live paperless and help save trees. But considering the plastic we rely on to make tech accessible to us, are we hurting the environment in other ways?

What is the effect of being surrounded by plastic to our health and environment?

The chemicals that make plastic such a versatile material are also the chemicals that cause an impact to our health and our environment. These chemicals easily leach out of the plastic and into the surroundings.

When we finish using a plastic container and we throw it out, we end up with a big problem: A landfill full of plastics that won’t biodegrade quickly or safely.

Different plastics decompose at different rates. The range of decomposition can be from 20 years for a plastic bag to 450 years for a plastic bottle (Source). 

During the long slow decomposition process, chemicals leach into the dirt and down into the groundwater.

As the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and spreads through the environment, it becomes a threat to a large number of earth’s living creatures who can, unknowingly, ingest it. Once inside an animal’s body, the plastic can block the digestive tract, or leach chemicals into the animal that can lead to death.

Plastic waste in our marine environments can be found from the poles to the equator (Source).

It gets into the oceans and waterways from tourists, sewage overflows, illegal dumping, landfill sites near the coastlines, and accidental industrial spills.

Because there is so much plastic waste in the oceans, marine life is exposed to the risk of swallowing small pieces of plastic or getting tangled up in larger pieces of plastic (like soda rings), which can lead to permanent disabilities or death (Source).

Does plastic pose any risks to human health?

Different types of plastics use different chemicals, like flame retardants, stabilizers, phthalates, bisphenol A, and more. There is a concern that these chemicals can be transferred from the plastic into our bodies and cause problems.

Bisphenol a (BPA) is a chemical found in some plastics. In 1936 scientists called BPA an “environmental estrogen” when they watched the BPA bind to estrogen receptors in female rats and stimulate their reproductive systems. BPA is also linked to negative developmental effects, like reduced survival, low birth weight, reduced growth of offspring early in life, and delayed onset of puberty in male and female rodents (Source). 

The concern over how this environmental estrogen affects humans has caused scientists to monitor the amount of these chemicals in human blood and urine. They are using this data to try to determine the effects plastics are having on us. This is an ongoing study, with no definitive answers (Source).

So what’s the solution? Can we live without plastic in our lives? Do we want to?

Plastic has added to our quality of life in so many ways. From technical and medical innovations to safe storage for food and water; the benefits of plastic are easy to see when you look around.

Even though there are health and environmental threats created by using plastic, the trend shows that plastic use is going up worldwide.

Instead of focusing on eliminating plastic from our lives, innovators have started to look for ways to make plastic safer for the environment.

Recycling

Recycling is an energy-saving strategy. We get the largest benefits from recycling when we look at it as a “material conservation strategy”. One of the materials we look to conserve is carbon.

Carbon is a valuable resource we use to create our electricity. To get this carbon, we burn nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Plastics capture about half of the carbon that is used to produce them.

Instead of burning fossil fuels, certain kinds of carbon-rich plastic waste can be used as a feedstock, to burn as fuel in place of some of our limited natural resources. (Although this is not my favorite solution, our current reliance on fossil fuels is undeniable. Until we make the shift to cleaner methods of energy production, using plastic waste instead of fossil fuels can help preserve nonrenewable resources.)

Here are some other ways plastics can be reused and recycled.

Plastics can be:

  • Reused to create the same product again (called regrind use)
  • Recycled into resins or glues
  • Incorporated into asphalt roads
  • Spun into fibers for clothing
  • Turned into carpeting
  • Made into insulation for jackets and sleeping bags, and much more.

As recycling equipment improves, and innovative people use their imagination and motivation, we will continue to see plastic being reused in innovative ways.

So what’s better than reusing our plastic waste? Plastic that is biodegradable!

Manufacturers and innovators have been making serious progress in the development of biodegradable plastics that can compare in function to oil-based plastics. These plastics are being created largely from renewable natural resources like starch or cellulose.

In 2008 it was estimated that production capacity for biodegradable plastics worldwide was around 350,000 metric tons. (Bioplastics 07/08)

What’s so exciting about biodegradable plastics is, they can be composted.

In the UK there are more than 300 composting sites that collect household waste, commercial waste, and municipal non-household waste, to create carbon and nutrient rich compost for soil. (http://www.organics-recycling.org.uk/).

Biodegradable plastics could add a large amount of material for composting. Just imagine plastic being added to compost for the benefits it gives. This is a much better picture than a plastic bottle sitting in a landfill for 450 years and leaching harmful chemicals into the ground.

Plastics have an important role in renewable energy.

As we move closer to our goal of 100% renewable clean energy sources, we will need earth-friendly plastics to play an important role in the progress. Plastics can help drive innovative designs to support this effort.

Plastics are already being used in the hardware we rely on to produce renewable energy.

For example:

  • Lightweight rotor blades made from plastic foams are being used for offshore wind turbines.
  • Solar water heaters containing plastics such as PE and PVC can provide up to 65% of a household’s hot water needs.
  • The cells on solar panels are coated in plastic to protect them.
  • According to an article titled Plastics Help Deliver Renewable Energy, “researchers have been developing a new generation of solar cells in which plastics not only can protect the technology but also can serve as the photovoltaic material itself”. 

Conclusion​

Without plastic, the use of these technologies would be impossible.

Without a doubt, plastics have made our lives better and have helped advance our technologies.

We also can’t deny the damage they cause to our environment and our health.

The efforts of dedicated scientists and innovators are giving us a future where we can keep plastic in our lives, and also limit the damage that it does to our health and our environment. Innovations in technology like biodegradable plastics will help us get closer to our goal of green energy and a clean environment.

We can do our part to contribute to the responsible use of plastics by staying informed, participating in recycling programs, and choosing to buy biodegradable plastics over oil-based plastics as they come onto the market.

To keep up on the latest innovations in going paperless and clean energy, join us on the #PaperlessMovement.

Apple Pencil and iPad Pro

Stylus Alternatives for Apple Pencil

This page contains affiliate links meaning I earn a little commission if you use those links.
This will support the #PaperlessMovement. Thanks!

Okay, of course, everybody knows the Apple Pencil, but there are so many other styluses out there claiming to be awesome if used with an iPad, that I needed to test at least some of them! Actually, all of those I checked are cheaper than the Apple Pencil. However, some have a very close price tag.

I hope you’re sitting tight. Here is what I think:

Adonit Pixel Pro

It claims to be perfect for the iPad Pro. However, once I connected it to my iPad Pro 12.9 2017 (which at least was an easy task to do) the excitement was lost as soon I started to draw something in Procreate. The Bluetooth connection was not very stable in my opinion. The lines I drew were not straight and even showed gaps, and palm rejection was…well all that was rejected, was the stylus from my Bluthooth devices after I tested it…but not my palm during writing. My friends, this is a “no go”! This stylus costs nearly the same as an Apple Pencil, and yes, it has a button that can be programmed for undo, redo, etc. But…I don’t care about a button, if I cannot draw a simple line with it, without losing my nerves.

Adonit Pixel

The Adonit Pixel is a little bit cheaper than the Adonit Pixel Pro and is sold for the “normal” iPad 2017 and older. So it is for those people who don’t own an iPad Pro and still wanted to write with a proper stylus. But, and it is a big BUT, with the iPad 2018, we have Apple Pencil support. So guys and girls…all I said about the Adonit Pixel Pro apply to this one too. In my opinion, spend a little extra and go for an Apple Pencil.

Wacom Bamboo Sketch

Ok, so far we have seen Adonit products. What about Wacom, a very established company if it comes down to high-quality digital drawing boards for professional illustrators and designers. Oh boy, what a letting down. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am very open minded and started all those tests as objective as I possibly could be, but what we have here is just nothing you should even bother with. Same thing, no proper palm rejection, no perfect lines, not worth the money.

Adonit Jot Pro 3 (Passive Stylus)

I did an in-depth video review for this stylus already (here). And I still think it is an excellent stylus if you need one for your iPhone. But if you own an iPad 2018 or an iPad Pro, don’t even think to get a passive stylus. Especially not one that has such a high price tag! Why? Because of the lack of palm rejection. I believe this is indeed one of the most important things, to be able to lay down your hand on the tablet and write like on a piece of paper (which even feels like paper with the PaperLike screen protector applied, that I will discuss a little bit further down).

Mixoo (Passive Stylus)

If you really want to save money and just need a stylus for a little bit of drawing around, tabbing and surfing the internet, then get this one for about ten bugs here at Amazon, and you made a good deal there! It does everything the Adonit Jot Pro 3 passive Stylus does and even has additional features such as interchangeable tips.

Conclusion​

If you own an iPad Pro or the new iPad 2018, then go and get the Apple Pencil. This is all I have to say here. Really, don’t waste your money on any other stylus. As soon you can test the Apple Pencil on a friend’s iPad you will start crying about the money you lost. However, I have to admit, I am a little bit sorry for Adonit and Wacom though. Clearly, they supplied us for a very long time the only way to use a stylus with an iPad. But with the release of the Apple Pencil, they either need to improve their products from the ground up to be more reliable, making them a lot cheaper or just give up trying to compete. Sounds hard? Well, I don’t think Apple will make it easy for those companies to get access to the parts of iOS that makes the Apple Pencil as excellent as it is. If you say, “TOM, you are just a blinded ‘Apple Fanboy’ I don’t believe you!” then please go and have a read on Amazon here and here what other people say about those styluses.

I think, I also made my point of view quite clear in my video about those styluses:

Do you agree / disagree? Any other experiences with those styluses?
Let us discuss this in the comments below!

Digital Collaboration

Can Your Company Survive in a Digital World?

Digital can have many facets, but for the interest of this article, we will narrow it down to two: internal business operations, and having an online presence.

Inside a company, there are things like files, workflows, and communication that can benefit by moving from paper to digital. Transitioning your internal files, systems, and processes to a digital format can increase your bottom-line by reducing errors and increasing efficiency. Having an online presence through a website, social media platforms, and email marketing can make the difference between success and failure in a business. As more and more consumers turn to the internet for socializing, entertainment, and shopping, businesses will have the opportunity to connect with these potential clients and become a part of their “online” world.

To give you an idea of how this might play out in a real business we’ll look at an old-school insurance agency:

This type of business is run by an insurance agent who gets customers by running ads, cold-calling, and referrals. They have a brick and mortar office where clients come to learn about insurance policies, sign documents, and receive customer service. This office has paper files containing all of their customer information. There is no system for internal communications or a systematized workflow that can be accessed from a centralized location. This results in less-than-optimized operations as each employee does their own thing (and they usually only communicate or collaborate when something has gone wrong).

Now compare this business to an insurance agency with digitized operations and an online presence:

Digital insurance agencies can still get clients through ads, cold-calling, and referrals, but the bulk of their customers come from online searches. They can still meet clients and sell in person, but they can also close sales and sign documents online. And the same can be said for customer service, making payments, and the client’s ability to view their insurance policies in real time.

Since file storage and internal operations are digitized, information and processes can be accessed in seconds resulting in more efficiency and fewer mistakes.

So what does this mean for the future of brick and mortar businesses?

Since so much of our commerce is shifting to the digital realm, does this mean you can’t have a brick and mortar business?

No. It just means that in order to stay competitive, you need to have a streamlined system that increases efficiency for your business, and convenience for your customer. You also need an online presence for marketing, sales, and customer interaction.

The old way of throwing out some advertising and tracking average monthly sales has merged with sophisticated systems like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. These highly specialized programs can track the journey of individual customers; from their interactions with your brand on social media, to how often they purchase and which payment method they use.

Businesses use this highly focused data to create loyalty programs and reward their best customers with coupons and special promotions. They also use the data gathered from CRM software to help predict income trends and make the needed adjustments.

A CRM is only one of many digital advantages businesses can use in the quest to become digital.

So what does this mean for the future of brick and mortar businesses?

  • Digital file storage systems with search functions
  • Calendar and scheduling systems
  • Task apps and programs
  • Customized email systems that integrate with calendars and task lists
  • Digital document signing software
  • Virtual meeting programs
  • Invoicing and payment software
  • Accounting software and programs
  • Inventory Management System with integrated Point-of-Sale software to coordinate ordering supplies, receiving shipments, and maintaining in-house stock
  • Webcam-Enabled Monitoring systems to ensure security and employee compliance
  • In-store iPad kiosks and tablets to streamline the customer ordering process and increase credit card privacy
  • Using social media to engage with customers
  • Optimized website with responsive customer service and detailed FAQ
  • Comprehensive Analytics

This huge list of possible digital upgrades a business can adopt is only a fraction of what is available.

The seemingly endless applications can leave a business owner feeling completely overwhelmed. Being unclear on where to start, many companies make half-hearted attempts at integrating digital into their business, only to abandon it later.

How can a company begin to make the transition to digital as painless as possible?

By far, the most important step a company can take in the digital transformation journey is to hire a specialist to analyze the company’s needs, draw up a plan for which software and programs to use, and implement the transition with the company’s current OS and employee workflow.

This specialist can be an in-house Chief Digital Officer, or an external company that specializes in helping companies transition to digital. Each option has advantages based on the size of your company and the size of the job.

The CDO or digital transformation company will analyze the needs of your company and then draw up a plan.

Here is a brief outline of what this process might look like:

1- Analyze the workflow of the company. Look at the available software and create a workflow that is easy for your team to use and adapt to.

2- Digitize paper files and create a reliable backup schedule and location.

3- Select specialized software and programs for your unique business needs such as: a CRM system, inventory management system, collaboration software, etc.

4- Digitize processes such as inventory, invoicing, ordering, and receiving shipments. Automation in these areas reduces errors and increases efficiency.

5- Choose the online components to your digitization. This includes a website, online ads, email marketing, online marketing, and engaging with customers through email or social media.

6- Analyze the company’s security needs, to protect customer information and internal communications. For example: Be aware of which apps and software use cloud services for storage. Avoid those options if cloud storage goes against your company’s privacy and storage regulations.

Conclusion​

The final component of the move from paper to digital inside your company is giving special attention to the attitudes and habits of the employees.

Most people resist change. This includes employees who can be deeply attached to their personal systems and processes.

When team members resist change and refuse to adopt new systems, workflows, or technology, they can sabotage the best laid plans at digitizing your company, and leave you more frustrated than before the transformation began.

Special attention, care, and training must be given to your employees to make the transition smooth.

This can include personalized training in software and workflow systems, dedicated meetings to hear employee concerns, and brainstorming sessions with employees to help them feel like they are a part of the process instead of victims of change.

Adding emerging technology to an existing business can be a big job. But the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. With the help of a skilled CDO or a digital transition company, and a committed team of employees, it can be done.

You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your company is up-to-date and operating at the current level of technology.

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