Tag Archives: Reading

Reading and Writing on the iPad

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to find the time to do all the things I want to do lately, and I go out and buy an iPad? Talk about a time-consuming piece of gadget! All those games and comics I’ve downloaded are going to gobble up the free time I have at my disposal.

But it’s not all bad. There are a lot of ways that the iPad will improve the way I handle my reading and writing activities. In fact, I am currently writing this very post on my iPad using the WordPress app as an experiment. As you might expect, cranking out a long post using the touchscreen keyboard doesn’t work as well as on an actual keyboard, not to mention that it does not contain all the functionalities. But it still works surprisingly well, much better anyway than I’d have expected at first as I’m able to type this at a decent speed with reasonable accuracy, especially once I got the hang of switching between letters, numbers and punctuation (moving the cursor remains quite a hassle however… I need arrow keys in addition to the magnifying glass!). Obviously, the iPad won’t fully replace either pen and paper or my laptop as my tools, but it is still a very welcome addition to my writing arsenal nevertheless.

There are also some apps which dramatically improves the way I read and organize the news and articles on the Internet. I’m currently using a combination of FeeddlerPro, Read It Later and Evernote for these tasks. I use FeeddlerPro To read the RSS feeds I’m subscribed to. In my opinion this works better than going to Google Reader via a web browser. Instead of reading the articles immediately, I would now just browse through the feeds to find the articles I’m interested in and use the built-in sharing capabilities to transfer them to Read It Later. The articles are then stored as offline documents which I am able to read wherever and whenever I want. Finally, I would send the articles that I like and that I want to save for future reference to Evernote. Not only is Evernote great for organizing these articles, I can also easily add annotations, highlights or attachments to these articles. Both Read It Later and Evernote support tagging and syncing capabilities with my laptop so I can easily do these tasks on my laptop as well. In fact, both were already available on the PC, but I just recently learned of their existence. Besides, there’s something about the touchscreen functionalities of the iPad that makes the whole process feel more streamlined.

I believe Evernote will be great for my writing activties as well. It is not just a tool to organize the stuff I find on the Web, but as the name already implies, it basically functions as a collection of notebooks. I can just as easily add my own personal notes to Evernote, so it’s ideal for combining snd organizing online and offline research material, as well as plot and character outlines and the like, all with just a few simple button pushes with my fingertips. To be fair though, I haven’t actually used Evernote extensively yet, so how useful it ultimately remains to be seen, but I will experiment with it the coming months. In the meantime I am also still searching for and experimenting with mindmapping and wiki apps which can also sync with Evernote. Hmm… I wonder if there is some way I can use these apps to help me at work as well, especially in documenting the reports and data sources we have created…

As you might have guessed already, I am really happy with my new iPad. I believe it can really help me increase my productivity. That is, if I can tear myself away long enough from playing yet another round of Jetpack Joyride or Zombie Highway…

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What is the point of reading?

I have just realized something terrible about myself: I don’t remember the books I read. I chose “Perjury” as an example at random, and its neighbors on my bookshelf, Michael Chabon’s “Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” (on the right) and Anka Muhlstein’s “Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine” (on the left), could have served just as well. These are books I loved, but as with “Perjury,” all I associate with them is an atmosphere and a stray image or two, like memories of trips I took as a child.

James Collins mentions in a very interesting essay called The Plot Escapes Me in the New York Times of September 17th that he often forgets about the contents of books he’d read. It got me thinking about my own reading habits and he is right. The thought of forgetting what I’ve read is appalling for me, yet it happens constantly. It’s not just the books that didn’t leave much of an impression. It also happens with books that I either loved or loathed.

Case in point: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

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