Remember Everything

I am a huge fan of Evernote for helping to keep track of my digital life. I use it as so much more than a note taking tool and I think that confuses some people. I thought I’d share three ways I use Evernote to help me both remember everything and keep all sorts of things organized. I spend a very large portion of my week in meetings — and most of them end with something that either has to be done or has to be managed. I get hundreds of emails in a given day and most of the time it is almost impossible to put them in a place that lets me follow up the way I should. With so little time in between things, I find that I don’t always have time to read what I am looking at online and want to save pointers to go back to. I get handed tons of pieces of paper each day that I need to organize … I use Evernote to help me do all of that stuff.

Forwarding Email to Evernote

I do this quite a bit to keep things organized and out of my inbox. I try to keep my Gmail inbox as clean as possible — not at zero, but typically with under 30 messages at any given time. That means I have to process email quickly and make sense of them before sending them into my archives. Evernote has a great feature that allows you to establish a custom email address to forward emails to that get automatically converted to notes. The real win here is that all the attachments come along, so not only can I get things out of my inbox, but I let Evernote manage the filing of all the attachment. I drop tags on the notes at various times and move them into the right notebook to offer a degree of organization. From there I can get at what I need with a few clicks or swipes on any of my devices.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 4.09.00 PM

Scan or Photograph Paper to Evernote

Another very powerful strategy I employe is to use Evernote to help me be as paperless as possible. I used to keep folders of paper from all the meetings I attended, now I either scan them directly to Evernote from my office scanner or use the camera on my iPad or iPhone to get them to Evernote. As an Evernote Premium user I get to enjoy the fact that images are searchable — that means once an attached scan or photo hits the Evernote server and comes back it is searchable. Again, dropping some tags on the note allows me to quickly reference everything related to that meeting across all my devices — so much better than carting file folders around all day.

Scanned to Evernote

Evernote Clipper to Annotate and Share Pages

Another thing I find myself doing quite a bit of these days is wanting to “clip” or save pages or posts from across the web either for my own keeping or to share with others. I use the Evernote Web Clipper to grab pages and then mark them up for longer term storage … where it gets interesting is when you combine that with shared notebooks. The thing I like about shared notebooks is the ability to share with specific people from within Evernote or just openly on the web — essentially building an online repository of content to share in an organized way. The Web Clipper also allows you to easily highlight content to draw attention to it … and that sticks to the clipped page once it is shared.

Clipped and Highlighted

So there are three simple ways I find intense value while using Evernote. Obviously there are things it isn’t good for, but more and more I find myself storing quite a bit of content in my Evernote. Do you use Evernote? What are some strategies you use to help you remember everything?

The Case for IT Values and Principles

IT Principles can accelerate a University’s progress to a new model characterized by collaboration, trust, and a focus on enabling the effective utilization of technology. If a University is to realize a goal of viewing IT with a more global perspective, we require substantial trust and collaborative implementation efforts that transcend organizational units and stakeholder groups. New governance structures, metrics and transparency will continue to build a unifying culture for IT. This culture should be typified by a set of accepted IT principles. It is incumbent upon us, as leaders of IT at Stony Brook University, to care deeply about having an excellent set of principles. Having them allows us to operate under a shared set of values that guide decision making.

A principle is a rule or guideline that provides clear direction and expresses the values of an organization. A world-class IT principle connects to business success, is specific to the enterprise, is transparent to all, and is detailed enough to drive trade-offs. — via Gartner’s Guide to Creating World-Class IT Principles

A series of IT Principles must be developed. Below is a first cut of IT Principles to be shared more widely for comment, edit, and adoption from the community:

  • We will align IT resources and plans with the University’s Strategic Plan.
  • We are committed to responsible stewardship of human, financial, and environmental resources.
  • We are committed to collaboration, communication, and sharing information across social platforms with a human voice.
  • We will encourage innovation, even where concrete business benefit is not initially apparent.
  • We will always consider open source, cloud-based, and vender hosted offerings in the selection of solutions.
  • We will actively hire great people, develop the growth of our staff, promote a diversity of voices, and support our staff.
  • We will maximize value and reduce cost through collective sourcing and campus-wide adoption of enterprise services that can be adopted and costumed regardless of platform or device.
  • We will work to delight our customers in the delivery of our solutions.
  • We will work collaboratively to provide a responsive IT environment that enriches and enhances teaching, learning, service, and research.
  • We will identify risks, implement proactive security measures, and be consistent with policy and law.


It is critical to test principles against day-to-day routines and behaviors or we risk creating a well-crafted but empty set of statements that don’t change anything. Below are three steps we should do to test our principles prior to wide distribution:

  1. Convene your leadership team — Review your newly minted principles with your leadership team, then ask everyone to take out their calendars and choose three different upcoming meetings. At least one should be a standing meeting.
  2. For each meeting, imagine what will be talked about — In those conversations, what responses, decisions or processes have to be changed as a result of respecting the new principles? Perhaps, as a result of your principles, you should cancel an upcoming meeting, because holding it goes against a principle (such as, if you are holding a meeting on the design of a system without customer input and have a principle that states that all systems will be customer-driven). Or maybe you have to eliminate a series of steps in the development of a new project, because you have a principle that states that you will become more agile for certain projects — and you know that you cannot respond at speed unless you change the way projects are run.
  3. Make, reverse or change decisions — Cancel unnecessary meetings, change the agenda of the meeting, change the processes, eliminate steps and undertake all necessary changes to ensure the principles are adhered to.

Communication of IT Principles

Effectively communicating our principles is the necessary next step in gaining adoption and participation. Our goal is to our decisions be guided by these principles so it is critical that our staff at all levels know them, respect them, and act with them as their guiding framework. We should take action to introduce them and make them part of the ongoing culture of the organization. Some ideas include:

  • Blog posts from various staff members expressing “test cases” for or against select principles.
  • New signage that clearly states the principles in all of our working environments.
  • The use of individual principles during meetings that fall within a given context.
  • When talking to people, use the principles as an example of how a decision was made.
  • Constantly review the principles and make them a point of annual conversation.

Wearables Market Heating Up, With More Than 17M Bands Forecast To Ship This Year | TechCrunch

I wear a Fitbit every day. Before that, I had a Pebble Smart Watch … before that I used my iPhone to track my steps. Honestly, I use these devices for one reason only — to help me reach my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I am, however, looking forward to when these devices move from dumb to smart and allow me greater functionality — it is inevitable. I wonder what it will mean to us in education? Will we try to take advantage of these devices as we have with each of the other disruptive technologies to hit the street? I would assume and would love to spend some time talking about that with some people.

The wearables device market is still in its infancy but it’s growing fast — with more than 17 million wearable bands forecast to ship this year, according to a new forecast by Canalys.It reckons 2014 will be the year that wearables become a “key consumer technology”, and is predicting the smart band segment alone will reach 8 million annual shipments, growing to more than 23 million units by 2015, and over 45 million by 2017.

via Wearables Market Heating Up, With More Than 17M Bands Forecast To Ship This Year, Says Canalys | TechCrunch.

The Flappy Bird Fiasco

The whole Flappy Bird story is absolutely fascinating … from the rise to the fall, it is the stuff of pure Internet wonderment.

Second, for good or ill, Flappy Bird had become controversial. Last week, my fellow reporters and I noticed some chatter on Twitter about how the game and Nguyens other titles had suddenly risen in popularity. We saw people suggesting that Nguyen may have used bots—computer programs that would repeatedly download and/or auto-generate reviews of the game in order to raise its app rankings. We were intrigued, but couldnt find anyone who had proof and left that story alone. Since then, Ive seen blog posts from people who are sure Nguyen did or didnt get help from bots.

via The Flappy Bird Fiasco.

People-Powered Publishing Is Changing All the Rules

Personal publishing takes lots of forms … a personal publishing platform (like SB You) is a great way to hone a voice and develop confidence in writing for an audience. I think any sort of personal publishing is a step towards writing with a real purpose.

“Self-publishing used to be synonymous with unprestigious “vanity publishing,” where well-off authors who couldnt get their books into print by traditional means paid small, independent presses to publish them. But with the advent of e-books, social reading sites and simple digital self-publishing software and platforms, all that has changed. An increasing proportion of authors now actively choose to self-publish their work, giving them better control over their books rights, marketing, distribution and pricing.”

via People-Powered Publishing Is Changing All the Rules.