Bear Review

Bear is a fairly new application. Its been around on iOS for several months but I never really took interest in it until the macOS application was released.

So what is Bear? Well its a note taking application and a beautiful one. It is everything I need Evernote to be in a light weight package and did I mention it is beautiful.

The big pull for me was the recent news that All Evernote employees get access to all your notes by default. Well I keep some very sensitive information in Evernote and don’t want just anybody to be able to go and read that. Bear on the other hand don’t even store my notes on their server so there is no way the staff can can read it. Bear handles sync via iCloud which I’ll admit has its own issues with privacy and security but the thing here is I trust Apple more then Evernote.

The other thing Bear does right is not formatting. They support Markdown like syntax as well as attachments, linking to notes and hashtags instead of notebooks, folders, tags and everything else Evernote has going on.

The best comparison I can make is Evernote is the Swiss Army Knife of note taking applications it doesn’t everything and none of it very well but people use it and put up with it because nothing comes close – until now.

Because Bear supports Markdown I enjoy writing in the applications, in fact this blog post was drafted in Bear. I also picked up on the Markdown tweaks and additions very quickly and now I can take notes on a phone call faster then ever.

Bear has almost replaced IA Writer for me and will replace it completely once I find the time to copy over my current drafts.

Sync uses iCloud so if you only have a free iCloud account you are going to be limited to only having 5GB of notes at any one time but this is a huge limit if you are mostly keeping text based notes. I already pay for a 50GB iCloud account to house all my personal email so this is no issue for me.

I almost instantly paid for Bear Pro to get the syncing across devices and export to different formats. Exporting a PDF to email clients a copy of my notes is one of the surprise features here. I don’t care to much for the themes as the default theme is just simply gorgeous.

Bear has replaced Evernote for me as is also proving to be a good to do list manger are the same time. Bear provides everything I needed Evernote for with no monthly upload limits and at a fraction of the price.

Workflowy

Workflowy first an foremost is a god send. An outlining tool and notebook and task manager all in one. The website doesn’t tell you much about it but once you sign up you get a series of tutorial videos to watch that explain things in a lot of details. The power of the endless page and near endless hierarchy of nested lists is simply brilliant and inspiring. As a tool Workflowy is so flexible and packs a lot of hidden power.

In both my personal and business life (really one in the same) things change by the minute not the day. Traditional task management apps like Todoist, Omnifocus and Things just can’t keep up with the rate that information flows into my life. Not all of this information is a task or job some of it is notes that might be needed for an action later, some of it is random thoughts I don’t have time to flesh out right at the time they come to me.

Other things I use Workflowy for is actually writing. I don’t get time to sit and write a full article for this site or any others I manage in one go. A perfect solution to this is Workflowy, as an outlining tool this is what it was designed for and is perfect at it. I can list an idea and inside that a few bullets on bits I want to touch on and then when I have time to flesh out them points I can go to town and write a few words or even paragraphs in the notes of the bullet. This alone has increased the amount of content I have in draft for this site but it doesn’t feel overwhelming and there is always a plan laid out that I can follow no matter how much time passes.

There are a number of questions around this. The application hasn’t changed a lot in its 5 year existence. I am assured that they are still developing and working on the platform however Workflowy is a small team (2 people) and there is a limit to what they can do. I work as a small team and no all too well what this means.

They have a lot of plans and some big aspirations however when you have 6 or 7 full time jobs to cover as 1 person just to keep the product online developing new features on the product is a very very slow process.

Workflowy Pro, what do you get and it is worth the $50 a year? The short answer here is not a lot, Workflowy is still a fairly unknown product and that can earn you a lot of monthly bullets for free – I have 2500 at the time of writing this. That makes the unlimited bullets pro gives you only valuable for the heaviest of users.

The other features pro will buy you are some new themes and a choice of fonts. Password protected collaboration is a feature of pro to add a little security/privacy to your shared lists as well as backup to Dropbox.

Backup to Dropbox is something of a nice feature that drops a complete copy of your Workflowy account in plain text format into your Dropbox every morning so you always have a backup and can’t lose a thing.

Would I pay for Workflowy Pro, yes for the Dropbox backups and unlimited bullets. Although in the 3 months I’ve been using the application I have only come close to my 2000 bullets per month limit once and that was in the month I was moving house and had a literal ton of tasks that were added and completed. That said I would still pay $50 a year from the new year for the service just to know I am supporting the 2 guys and helping to keep the lights on as they don’t have any adverts even in the free version.

Restarting The Blog

After almost 7 months of not blogging and not even having a blog online I have made the decision to restart blogging on this site.

Shortly before shutting down my previous site and before uploading a 1 pager I wrote on Medium and that fell by the way side as I got busier so why restart?

I have come to the realisation that I should be blogging no matter how busy I am as I enjoying writing and blogging is a brilliant outlet for that even if I am only writing about news and simple how to guides. I will import all my old content to this site at some point in the near future and I will be writing on a semi regular basis with a good series of posts coming on productivity.

Blogo Revisited

Blogo recently had a large update that fixed a lot of bugs and moved to a freemium pricing model. With these changes I thought it was about time I revisited the application and updated my thoughts on it.

With the new update the basic blog post management and creation is free for 1 blog. The image editor is also free as well as the improved Markdown support and WYSIWYG editor. For £7.99 a month you can manage multiple blogs and manage and reply to comments.

The writing experience is not on the level of a writing application like IA Writer or even Desk PM but it is still a huge improvement over writing in WordPress itself.

Blogo Editor

I’ve been in search of improving my writing workflow on WordPress for some time and nothing seems to cover what I want. For the longest time I have been writing in IA Writer and then copy and pasting my work into WordPress for publishing – not ideal. Blogo seems to be going in the right direction for what I want from a writing/publishing application but it still has a long way to do. It works better then Desk PM for publishing to WordPress however it still lacks so much when it comes to the writing experience.

Desk PM

I’ve always been looking for a great writing app that allows me to produce the large amounts of content I create on a daily basis and easily publish this to any number of the WordPress sites I regually post to. Recently I’ve been using Draft as I needed something web based however now I am back in my office full time I want something for Mac.

Initally I went back to IA Writer but really missed not having direct posting to WordPress so started to look around. I found Desk PM – a writing app made for both writers and bloggers.

Ok so what is that exactly. Well imagine IA Writer with a few publishing options and the ability to preview the post on your website. It is a full Markdown editor as well as a WYSIWYG.

Desk PM

So where does it fall short. Well it doesn’t allow full blog management like Blogo and the Markdown syntax is not faded as it is with IA Writer or even Gust. All in all Desk PM offers a good writing expirence but doesn’t come close to dedicated writing apps.

I recently went back to using Gust on my personal site and will probably provide an updated review on the plugin in a couple of weeks time after I have really tested the latest version as it seems to of improved a lot in recent releases.