RocketBook Review

I’ve long been interested in taking written notes during meetings and turning them into shareable electronic artifacts. Ever since I was a student, I have had to attend meetings or classes and needed a better way to take notes. In grad school I had an HP tablet (it is still in a closet somewhere), one of the first generations with a removable keyboard and a stylus pen attached to the screen with a string. I enjoyed using that in college for electronic notes. 

As an educator later in life I was always looking for the next best note taking / organizing tool out there and came across a product called LiveScribe which I LOVED and eventually played a roll in selling and training on those products to school districts here in Florida. 

Once the iPad came out, I pretty much gave up on pen inputs, even though my typing wasn’t all that fast, and now that I have the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, I have landed with Notability as my note taker of choice and I haven’t looked back. 

So, out of the blue, my company decided to send out a little thank you gift and this year it was the RocketBook. The short version of the review is, it’s a fun thing to play with, but I don’t know that I have found any real unique use for the product that I couldn’t do with any piece of paper and a smartphone. 

So, basically, the product is a notebook of special glossy paper and an erasable pen, so you can write on the pages, then erase the pages with the included microfibre cloth and a little spritz of water, good way to not create more paper waste for sure. 

The nifty part comes in when you use the RocketBook app to snap a picture of the page which can then be sent to several cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, e-mail, slack, etc. Each page has a set of 7 symbols at the bottom that allow you to check the symbol to initiate a sort of macro that automatically sends that page to the defined service when you scan it with the app. 

There is an array of dots on each page that assist the app in scanning and position the paper (similar to the Livescribe products too).

What I find lacking a bit is the “post-scanning” use. Pages get sent to cloud services, and from there you have to rely on the cloud service for organizing the pages. For example, sending to Google Drive create a PDF with a date stamp name. Google can open that into Docs and attempt OCR, but then you loose any drawings. 

So, while it’s a nifty little product, and will definitely save paper, I haven’t yet found any great use for it in business or my personal life.

One last funny thing - there is a note on the inside front cover that says “Do not microwave this notebook”. Now, while I thought maybe they were just being funny like some tech companies do (MailChimp comes to mind), this company actually has another product that is apparently a notebook you DO microwave to erase the pages. It seems their primary focus is on reducing paper consumption, and that is an admirable thing in and of itself. Now, if they can create a sticky note that I can write on and then it just sends itself to my computer without having to be scanned, that would be a life changer for me.

Happy Holidays all!

Posted on December 21, 2018 .

Unique Gift Ideas

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I thought it would be interesting to share some of the nifty little things I come across on occasion that might not be well known, and some might even make great gifts this holiday season!

The first installment is for a gift I received earlier this year - Rocketbook (https://getrocketbook.com/).

Essdentially this is a traditional notebook with a twist. Using the companion app, you can scan the pages you’ve written and then have them sent to a variety of digital places - email, cloud, etc. Then, given that you are using erasable ink on their special paper,  you can wet the included microfiber cloth and erase the page and use it again - so really, one small notebook is all you need for handwritten notes.

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Now, for me this is a nifty gadget in search of a use, as I’m all in on the digital side using the iPad and Pencil for note taking, but I do know many people like the physicality of writing, and although this does feel slightly different than traditional paper and pen/pencil, it’s a great way to bridge that gap into the digital offering you a good way to store your creative writing or drawing and share it easily with others.

You can program several symobols at the bottom of the page to automatically do something with the page, so basically, checking the symbol at the bottom will take that action when you scan the page with the app, making the process pretty seamless if you routinely want to share to a specific service or person.

Perhaps a neat way to send handwritten thank you notes this holiday season?

Posted on November 25, 2018 .

Audio Technica ATR2100 - First Thoughts

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After an exciting trip to California, and meeting a couple of the podcasters I have been listening to for years, I got inspired to try my own hand at recording some material. Not n erverssarily withn the goal to have my own full podcast, but more as a way to share my experiences with technology given how important a role technology has played in my life. More specifically, Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast podcast at Podfeet.com really inspired me to give it a try. Meeting Allison and Steve was like meeting good friends I hadn’t seen for a while.

In sharing some initial recordings with Allison, and talking about quality and how to improve them, she mentioned the ATR2100 (https://amzn.to/2Dx5rlx) would be a good mic to replace the Blue Snowball I was using, as the Cardioid Dynamic ATR2100 would be better in this setup than the condenser type Snowball. I’ll admit it doesn’t take much to get me to buy some new gadget, but in the first days with this mic, I can honestly say Allison was 100% right.

My immediate observations of the recording quality is that the ATR2100 is more clear with a better focus on the vocal rather than environmental sounds. The ATR2100 also seems to be much more “hot” than the Snowball mic, where on the Snowball, I’d have the gain pretty much full out, while with the ATR2100, I’ve cut it to about half. I haven ‘t really dug in the the EQ settings, as I am still playing with recording setups, but more on that in another post. 

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Physically speaking, the ATR2100 is a familiar handheld mic style, comes with a little desktop tri-pod and can be used over either XLR or USB connection, all cables included - which is always a nice thing! The Blue Snowball mic is a literal orb shape, and while it does have a more sturdy base tripod feel, it only works over USB. 

Definitly a good mic, and a great value. I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with it and will share that journey in future posts. 

Posted on November 25, 2018 .

Why I Don’t Miss the Headphone Jack

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The headphone jack has been a hot topic in the last couple years, and I, like many, were quite perturbed when my new iPhone 7 had no headphone jack. Sure, I had some Bluetooth headphones, but I had those iconic white ear buds in every bag, nook, and cranny around. Of course, no matter how hard I tried, they always ended up in a tangled mess that often took more effort to untangle than was ever worth.


Perhaps my biggest point of contention with the headphone jack was my car, literally one model year before USB was pretty much standard, I still had the Aux Input, and since the CD player had died in my life so far before, I had a nifty phone holder that made use of the CD slot in the dash, keeping the iPhone at the perfect location for maps and safe access when necessary. Now I had to get a new concoction of dongles so that I could both charge and hear the output of my phone, as buying a new car isn’t in my near future.


Fast forward to the iPhone X and AirPods, and I had completely forgotten about wired headphones. The AirPods switch seamlessly (well, most of the time) between my phone, iPad, AppleTV, MacPro, and MacBook. They sound great to me, are possibly useful during teleconference meetings on GoToMeeting, Zoom, or the like, and I LOVE using one ear at a time so I can keep an ear open to the world around me and not having a dangling earbud bouncing around.


Well, today I sit down to get more familiar with my new Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone, which I love so far, and I had to find the time machine to go back and find a wired set of headphones to plug into the mic to use as a monitoring option. I wanted to try the wired option in contrast with using the AirPods as a monitor, so the wired headphones will most likely not be a final decision, but seeing that tangled clump of wires made me once again appreciate the insistence of Apple to loose something tried and true for something possibly better.


I will acknowledge that yes, there are many cases where a wired connection is more optimal and preferred, especially around more pro recording needs, and that I am squarely in the “mass market” category with this


Now, while I still have to have extra bits in my car to make it work, it’s something that I can handle with relative ease and since it stays in the car and ends up being a single connection to the phone, it’s not a terribly inconvenient option until I get something with CarPlay.

Posted on November 25, 2018 .