What is it about a Moleskine?

ms1.jpgIt’s a note­book, plain and simple. A very well-made note­book, to be sure. It is, per­haps, a premi­um note­book (which would jus­ti­fy the price). I know, I have one. And it’s quite nice.

Yet, Mole­skine is also a brand that brings a lot of emo­tion and sen­ti­ment to the humble note­book. Note­books are about remem­ber­ing things, writ­ing them down to have later — and the Mole­skine brand is based around the concept of being the best note­book you can use to remem­ber. Just check out this descrip­tion from the Mole­skine website’s about page:

Mole­skine was cre­ated as a brand in 1997, bring­ing back to life the legendary note­book used by artists and thinkers over the past two cen­tur­ies: among them Vin­cent van Gogh, Pablo Picas­so, Ern­est Hem­ing­way, and Bruce Chatwin. A trus­ted and handy travel com­pan­ion, the name­less black note­book held invalu­able sketches, notes, stor­ies, and ideas that would one day become fam­ous paint­ings or the pages of beloved books.



Today, the name Mole­skine encom­passes a fam­ily of nomad­ic objects: note­books, diar­ies, journ­als, bags, writ­ing instru­ments and read­ing accessor­ies, ded­ic­ated to our mobile iden­tity. Indis­pens­able com­pan­ions to the cre­at­ive  pro­fes­sions and the ima­gin­a­tion of our times: they are intim­ately tied to the digit­al world.



A lot of fam­ous people use(d) Mole­sk­ines, and a lot of people wax elo­quently about the vir­tues of the note­book.

And now, they can do the same about the free offi­cial Mole­skine app, for iPad and iPhone / iPod Touch:

The offi­cial Mole­skine App for iPhone and iPad allows you to express your cre­ativ­ity through text, images and sketches. Pick a clas­sic Mole­skine note­book paper style, cre­ate a new thought and start to type or draw choos­ing amongst dif­fer­ent col­ors and sizes. Once you are done with your thought, you can store it on your device and make edits whenev­er you want.


  • Pick a Mole­skine note­book paper style: plain, ruled, squared
  • Write and edit a text note
  • Sketch­ing tool
  • Insert and play with your per­son­al images
  • Cata­logue as many memor­ies as you want with a full range of cat­egor­ies
  • Play with images provided by Mole­skine
  • Geo-tag each note cre­ated and cre­ate a vir­tu­al map of your memor­ies
  • Share your notes with friends through email or social net­works

Of course, the Mole­skine app is also a mar­ket­ing tool to get the Mole­skine name on your iOS device, get you com­fort­able and famil­i­ar with the Mole­skine name, and pre­sum­ably get you curi­ous about the actu­al paper note­book.

Mar­ket­ing aside, the app is a fairly good note­book app, with some inter­est­ing fea­tures. And it’s free, so what have you got to lose — maybe it’ll work for you, as the ori­gin­al note­book worked for Hem­ing­way, back in the day.
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WordPress blogging on an iPad just got easier

Earli­er today, Word­Press released ver­sion 2.7 of their iOS blog­ging cli­ent. And I’m happy to say it works well so far, though I’ve only giv­en it a very simple workout.

Pre­vi­ously I’d tried the Word­Press app but had a num­ber of prob­lems pub­lish­ing from it, ran­dom crash­ing etc. So I nuked it from orbit — the only way to be sure.

And then I replaced it with Blo­g­Press, a paid app.

Blo­g­Press is clean, works well, and has some nice fea­tures such as HTML short­cuts and Tex­tEx­pander integ­ra­tion (a must for any iOS writ­ing plat­form). But Blo­g­Press is really designed to con­nect to more than just Word­Press blogs, includ­ing:

- Blog­ger / Blog­Spot
— MSN Live Spaces
— Word­Press
— Mov­able Type
— Type­Pad
— Live­Journ­al
— Drupal
— Joomla
— Tumblr
— Squarespace
— My Opera

Word­Press for iOS is pretty single-minded — it’s designed to talk to Word­Press blogs (both hos­ted and self-hos­ted). And the blog­ging func­tion­al­ity is still pretty basic, but the one fea­ture I really appre­ci­ate in the Word­Press app (that’s miss­ing from Blo­g­Press) is the abil­ity mod­er­ate com­ments.

As well, developers say they’ve killed over 100 bugs and reduced crash con­di­tions, and cleaned up the user inter­face to make it easi­er to man­age blogs.

So, actu­ally now, I’m using both apps to man­age my Word­Press blog­ging — the free uni­ver­sal Word­Press app, and the paid Blo­g­Press app, mostly for writ­ing and HTML work.

Here’s hop­ing that the Word­Press app con­tin­ues to grow up 🙂

Full details at the developers blog.

Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, pro­pos­als, reports, reviews, email…you get the pic­ture. Often times I end up cre­at­ing new doc­u­ments that share sim­il­ar format or con­tent, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into new­er ones. But I’m lazy, and always look­ing for easi­er ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learn­ing how to save time and key­strokes by using text expan­sion soft­ware. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basic­ally, what you do is cre­ate a data­base of com­monly typed words, phrases or lay­outs and assign unique key trig­gers to each snip­pet of text. For example, I usu­ally sign my email thusly:

Brad Gri­er

Brad Gri­er Con­sult­ing
Life­style Tech­no­logy & Com­munity Media

Lots of char­ac­ters and format­ting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email sig­na­ture was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The soft­ware did the rest.

Anoth­er example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be email­ing me to say that most com­mon email pro­grams have a place for a sig­na­ture, and it’s auto­mated whenev­er you com­pose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s anoth­er.

Let’s say you’re a web design­er, and you use com­mon CSS or HTML snip­pets. It’s a simple mat­ter to add this code to the data­base, and call it with a few key­strokes. This Lor­em Ipsum lay­out text block, for example:

Lor­em ipsum dol­or sit amet, con­sect­etur adip­is­cing elit. Nunc mat­tis arcu sed quam tin­cidunt et lobortis nunc volut­pat. Phasel­lus lacin­ia nulla quis lect­us molestie in com­modo maur­is blan­d­it. Nul­lam in ves­ti­bu­lum velit. Donec libero est, volut­pat non accum­san ac, rutrum vitae odio. Cur­abit­ur pre­tium maur­is non nisi ves­ti­bu­lum tin­cidunt. Aenean tri­stique quam sapi­en, vel dapibus ligula. Mae­cen­as com­modo faucibus pulvin­ar. Donec eleifend ante eget pur­us luc­tus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feu­giat dui. Ves­ti­bu­lum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luc­tus et ultrices posuere cubil­ia Cur­ae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adip­is­cing ipsum id massa luc­tus vel sus­cip­it metus ele­mentum. Morbi ven­enatis maur­is eget metus tin­cidunt luc­tus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam phare­tra luc­tus vel ut tortor.

That was gen­er­ated by me typ­ing ‘.lor­em’ and hit­ting the Tab key. Much easi­er than past­ing it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snip­pets dir­ect­ory.

As well, text replace­ment soft­ware can eas­ily auto­ma­gic­ally enter oth­er dynam­ic data such as the cur­rent date (.d) [ Thursday, Octo­ber 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Soft­ware
On win­dows, I’d recom­mend the free Tex­ter pro­gram, cre­ated by Life­Hack­er edit­or Adam Pash. And look­ie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use Tex­tEx­pander Touch. Same fea­tures, with a few extra bells and whistles such as applic­a­tion integ­ra­tion.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writ­ing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s com­puter :smileyhappy: But Tex­tEx­pander Touch has a coun­ter­part (called Tex­tEx­pander, of course) that runs on OSX and oth­ers con­sider it the ‘bench­mark’ for Mac text expan­sion and script­ing tools.

texter.jpgSav­ing time?
One oth­er thing, Tex­ter actu­ally tracks the key­strokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report show­ing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy print­able chart of all your replace­ment mac­ros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replace­ment applic­a­tion? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or per­haps a favour­ite replace­ment macro you use often.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Write a comment, win a prize!

I’ve been a fan of Click­free backup sys­tems for a while now. Drop­dead simple and effect­ive for most home usage. Well now the kind folks at Click­free have giv­en me the oppor­tun­ity to share the love, so to speak, in the form of a con­test, my first, in fact.

All the gory details are here, but the con­test is really simple:

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup hor­ror story and write-up a com­ment on the con­test page that describes a data loss hor­ror story that was aver­ted or would have been pre­ven­ted if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course there is. If you’re not the writin’ type, you can still win —
Click­free has cre­ated a spe­cial code to get a 15% dis­count off your order through them. Simply enter Grier10 at the check­out and you’ll have 15% removed from the total.

Remem­ber, don’t com­ment below if you want the com­ment to be con­sidered an Entry — leave your com­ment HERE.

Again, full details on the con­test here, but I’m look­ing for­ward to this. It’s my first con­test, so be gentle with me please 😉

Four solid tech-news sites I use regularly

Back in the early days of blog­ging, before pod­cast­ing and Twit­ter and all this new fangled stuff, there was a trend amongst blog­gers to occa­sion­ally do posts about the sites that have all the cool tech list­ings and news, as well as the cool people behind the sites.

These days, on Twit­ter, that kind of a shout out is form­al­ized as #fol­low­fri­day, or #ff for short.

I think it’s a shame that this trend has fallen by the way­side on blogs, so I’m going to do my small part to give it a kick­start by shar­ing a few of the blogs, blog­gers and sites that keep me doing my thing.

Techm­eme — likely one of the biggest names in tech news:

Techm­eme arranges all of these links into a single, easy-to-scan page. Story selec­tion is accom­plished via com­puter algorithm exten­ded with dir­ect human edit­or­i­al input.

Our goal is for Techm­eme to become your tech news site of record.

For me, Techm­eme is the pulse of Tech as it hap­pens. Good to check in to, every couple of hours or so 🙂

Life­hack­er — cool tricks and hacks to make your daily life a bit easi­er:

an award-win­ning daily blog that fea­tures tips, short­cuts, and down­loads that help you get things done smarter and more effi­ciently.

Mash­able — a great resource for tech news that mat­ters. Usu­ally first to have news and rel­ev­ant com­ment­ary.

Mash­able is the world’s largest blog focused exclus­ively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news. With more than 15 mil­lion monthly pageviews, Mash­able is the most pro­lif­ic blog review­ing new Web sites and ser­vices, pub­lish­ing break­ing news on what’s new on the web and offer­ing social media resources and guides.

Ars Tech­nica — a little slow with the break­ing news, but awe­some when it comes to detailed ana­lys­is of news and issues.

At Ars Technica—the name is Lat­in-derived for the “art of technology”—we spe­cial­ize in ori­gin­al news and reviews, ana­lys­is of tech­no­logy trends, and expert advice on top­ics ran­ging from the most fun­da­ment­al aspects of tech­no­logy to the many ways tech­no­logy is help­ing us enjoy our world. We work for the read­er who not only needs to keep up on tech­no­logy, but is pas­sion­ate about it.

So these are a few of my prime resources, what’re yours? Which sites are your must-go-to sites when you need to find out more about a tech top­ic?

Brad’s first blog contest — backup horror stories

And we’re done. I’ve received some excel­lent entries in the Backup Hor­ror Story con­test. Give ‘em a read below, and feel free to add your com­ments too. And of course, feel free to share your hor­ror story too, but sadly, this con­test is closed.

Wel­come to the first (of hope­fully) many con­test I’d like to run on my blog. I’ve been doing this tech-writ­ing thing for a while now, but I’ve always been look­ing for ways to more closely engage with you. I think I may have found it with this style of con­test — I get you to write for me. It’s ok, I have prizes 🙂

I’ll get to the details in a moment, but first let me frame the scen­ario: Backup Hor­ror Stor­ies.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all, at one time or anoth­er, lost some import­ant piece data; your digit­al photo col­lec­tion or music col­lec­tion. Per­haps you’re a writer and all your ‘in pro­gress’ manu­scripts are now toast. You’ve lost data. No extern­al copy or backup avail­able. Poof! Done!!

That’s the scen­ario, now the details:

The Prizes and Spon­sor
Click­free — a cool Cana­dian com­pany that spe­cial­izes in no-brain­er backup solu­tions is spon­sor­ing this con­test and has giv­en me a few Click­free Trans­former SEs for this con­test. Since Click­free is all about simple backups, the theme of the con­test kinda sug­ges­ted itself 🙂

In the past, I’d reviewed Clickfree’s C2 Port­able Backup drive — a sol­id unit. The Trans­formerSE we’re giv­ing away in this con­test uses sim­il­ar tech­no­logy, only you provide the USB drive. Here’s the offi­cial com­pany line on the Trans­fomerSE:

The Click­free Trans­former SE (Spe­cial Edi­tion) turns any USB hard drive, iPod, or iPhone into a simple auto­mat­ic backup solu­tion for your com­puter. Just con­nect the Trans­former SE to your com­puter, then con­nect the USB hard drive, or iPod/iPhone via USB into the Trans­former SE. Backup will start auto­mat­ic­ally onto the avail­able free space of the con­nec­ted product, wheth­er it is a 3rd party hard drive, or an iPod/iPhone.

I will be doing a full review of the Click­free Trans­formerSE very soon, but don’t let that stop you from enter­ing the con­test.

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup hor­ror story and write-up a com­ment to this page that describes a data loss hor­ror story that was aver­ted or would have been pre­ven­ted if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

Import­ant: If you’ve not com­men­ted here before, your com­ment may be held in mod­er­a­tion until I can author­ize it. No wor­ries, I do this daily.

The Rules:
I’m keep­ing this fun, so the rules are simple.

1) It’s a blog com­ment con­test — tell me your story in a com­ment to this page using the form below. Any­one can enter. Only com­ments entered into the com­ment form below on this page will be eli­gible.
2) After that you post a com­ment, let me know through a private email noti­fic­a­tion to me (via this in-blog con­tact form). It’ll let me know you’ve entered and be sure to provide a val­id email address for fol­low-up should your entry be selec­ted. No, I won’t sell or spam you..the email address is to be used ONLY for this con­test. After the con­test, all email entries will be deleted.
3) Top 3 com­ments will be selec­ted for a prizes. I’m not sure what cri­ter­ia I’ll use to judge yet. Maybe the fun­ni­est, most dra­mat­ic, most poten­tial for loss-of-life, I don’t know. Maybe the most sup­port from oth­er com­ment­ors (get your friends to help out!). But there will be three, and I’ll write about them in a fol­low-up post.
4) Ran­dom draw for a few more prizes. It’ll be ran­dom.
5) Win­ners noti­fied with­in a week, deliv­ery with­in a month via Canada Post.
6) The con­test starts now (March 1, 2010) and runs until Mid­night, March 31, 2010. Timestamp of the blog and cor­res­pond­ing email to me will determ­ine entry date and time.

Bonus Prize: Every­one Wins
Ok, now this is also very cool. For the month of March, the fine folk at Click­free have also author­ized a dis­count code for orders on their site. Place any order, use this code ( Grier10 ) and they knock 15% off the price of your order.

The Tablet Cometh: Some thoughts on Apple’s announcement

Next Wed­nes­day, Apple will host one of the most anti­cip­ated tech­no­logy announce­ments of the year, per­haps of this still-fresh dec­ade.

The reas­on for this level of atten­tion is that every­one anti­cip­ates that Apple will re-launch a device that the industry has been try­ing to make work for 20 years — the Tab­let com­puter.

As some pun­dits pre­dict, this could be the thin-edge-of-the-wedge that will change the pub­lish­ing industry. Think eBooks, news­pa­pers and magazines:

If the tab­let does emphas­ize ebooks the way ana­lysts expect it to, we can only hope that Apple helps show pub­lish­ers The Way in a future ver­sion of the iPhone SDK, sim­il­ar to Amazon’s act­ive con­tent Kindle devel­op­ment kit (KDK) announced yes­ter­day. If the tab­let suc­ceeds in its arena, the way the iPhone has before, authors and pub­lish­ers will be able to Pub­lish Dif­fer­ent.

The cur­rently lead­ing name for the device is the iSlate — based on some clev­er detect­ive work that uncovered Apple own­er­ship of the domain name:

…islate.com was registered to Apple in 2007, through an inter­me­di­ary (to dis­guise its true own­er). At the moment, that domain doesn’t seem to lead anywhere—and there are a couple explan­a­tions.

And, earli­er this month,  coin­cid­ent­ally coin­cid­ing with CES and the pleth­ora of Tab­let, Slate, Pad announce­ments from oth­er hard­ware vendors, Apple announced Wednesday’s event, appar­ently leaked busi­ness and product pro­duc­tion inform­a­tion, and gen­er­ally kicked the hype level up a notch.

And frankly, I hope Apple does release a Tab­let. This kind of tech­no­logy has the abil­ity to change (again) how we work and think about dis­trib­uted com­put­ing tech. mak­ing it more mobile and  cre­at­ing new modes for con­sum­ing and inter­act­ing with con­tent.

And yes, I’ll be pay­ing atten­tion to the event and post­ing my thoughts shortly after­ward.