Posts Tagged Tools

My set up for a height adjustable working environment

That in many professions, workers use a posture that is primarily sedentary has become a regular topic in the medical and professional publications. These highlight the risks and dangers that come about consequence of having a primarily sedentary occupation.
This led me to research options about changing my own home study/office area to be more flexible in this respect.
I no longer wanted to be limited to a single option:-
  • only seated
  • only standing
I wanted the ability to change the height of my workstation, which meant the additional monitor which provides me with dual monitor setup, had to be height adjustable too.  It also meant any cables, power and connection, would need to be able to accommodate any changes in height or action as a consequence of re-positioning either the workstation, the monitor or both.
The most adaptable and flexible solutions, are based around motorised height adjustable work tops.  Typically having some sort of switch/rocker in a convenient location to let you raise and lower your work surface.  However, most of these are cost prohibitive. And even though IKEA provides a solution in the UK, for many years this wasn’t available.

The Solution:

What I eventually arrived at, uses the following items of furniture and office equipment.
The Desk: IKEA – Galant (Bekant) Beech (IKEA now have height-adjustable version : Bekant – but I didn’t get that)
This desk has a curved aspect which fits well with my requirements for an additional monitor, space for the laptop, printer and general auxiliary workspace.
Height adjustable and flexible monitor stand by AllcamGSD110D (Monitor Arm)
Additional Height Adjustment components:

Here is the desktop set for standing height, seated desk and showing the height adjustable mechanisms:

Standing Desk - Standing Set-1

Standing Desk – Standing Set-1

Standing Desk - Standing Set -2

Standing Desk – Standing Set -2

Standing Desk - Seating Set

Standing Desk – Seating Set

Standing Desk - Adjustable Mechanisms

Standing Desk – Adjustable Mechanisms

So how is it working out?

Since I’ve had this setup, I’ve been working roughly half the day, with the standing set up and the rest of the day in a seated position. Generally standing at the desk in the morning, and moving to the seated position just before or just after lunch time. What I am particularly pleased about, is the laptop stand and height adjustable monitor arm. The gas sprung monitor arm, is very stable, yet very easy to move and adjust.  Equally easy is the laptop stand, I just use two positions, so moving between the two and tidying it away behind the monitor is straight forward.

So what about you, do you have a height adjustable desk setup at home?

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How Google is Useful

Recently I blogged about Orientating around Android Devices.   While I did mention the use of applications and services in that post, I didn’t call out any in particular.

However, this screen shot, demonstrates one really useful service, I have become increasingly fond of and reliant upon.

That service is Google Now

Screenshot_2014-07-31-13-25-05

As a reasonably frequent traveller the information provided is succinct, timely and ultimately useful in assisting me plan, and schedule my actions.

As it covers a number of topics, including sport, useful local information, etc, and it is available on the desktop too – it is a pervasive, multi-device digital assistance.

Certainly in terms ecosystem and service, lock-in and increasing consumer dependency, I think Google Now, leads the field.

What do you think?

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Visual Magic with Word Lens

Google recently acquired Quest Visual – the developers of Word Lens – the incredible language manipulating app, that translated language in real-time while using input from the mobile device’s camera.

Word Lens

The app is currently available for free via Google Play.

To see how amazing it is – have a look at the video

It is currently available for Andriod, iOS and even Google Glass

For any traveller or language enthusiast this has a must have app.

And for Google  this plays very nicely into the Language and Translation service portfolio e.g. Google Translate

  • Have you used Word Lens?
  • What other mobile language tools would you recommend?

 

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The Humble Table of Contents & Hypermedia Navigation

A favourite topic of mine for blogging about is on tools and techniques to help personal productivity or group collaboration.  So you may wonder why mention the “Table of Contents”?

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Well since Quintus Valerius Soranus was credited with a little-recognized literary innovation: Pliny the Elder says he was the first writer to provide a table of contents to help readers navigate a long work.  The Table of Contents has been an invaluably useful tool to assist in content navigation since that introduction.  And remains an expected item to appear in any rendition of literary content whether physical or digital print form.

The advent of computer software and the Internet have brought adaptions, and automation.   Such as dynamically created TOCs in Microsoft Word or in Wikis such as Wikipedia’s (TOC info).

The core principle being the use of hypertext and hyperlinks (reference points) to form the navigation structure and format, so presenting the user with a method of navigation through the document contents.

With the advent of collaborative, content management systems, like Jive and Microsoft SharePoint,  while it is possible to render a TOC within an individual document, to navigate it’s own headings and sub-headings.

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What I find is actually lacking is an automated or dynamic inventory of the content of space, e.g. the actual records or documents that exist within that same.   At this point in time I’m not aware of either existing in the named example of content management systems I’ve given above.  I would be interested to hear of system that supports such a service.

I do create these myself, as a way of recording a breadcrumb trail, to be a record for my own use, and feel it does serve in ease my own navigation around self-service content libraries or document repositories.

It serves me well to store contextual material around such artefacts and I have benefitted from productivity gains by easily finding the article and context around is origin or purpose for storage, long after it has passed from my activity memory.

These manual document TOCs are part of Personal Knowledge Management kit bag.

Here’s an example I call “Key Links”

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I was slow to realise that Evernote has a “note link” functionality, and again these can be constructed and utilised as a manner to navigate and move between notes.

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See this help note “How to use note links to connect between notes” to understand how to create and set these up.

As it says:

One of the coolest things you can do with Note Links is create a Table of Contents for a set of notes inside of a notebook. This is particularly useful if you are sharing a notebook with other individuals.

And the Evernote Blog article:

Quick Tip: How to Use Note Links

Here is a youtube describing the functionality.

Evernote Note Links

My recommendation is always add a link back to the TOC document you have created, so you have the ability to go and return via hyperlinks with equal ease, there is no point linking somewhere and ending up stranded.

Like this:

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Do you use TOCs in this manner, in Evernote or elsewhere? 

Have you found an automation tool to do this?

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Evernote’s Web Clipper Update

Evernote introduced another to their Web Clipper product. (v6.0) – the initial release available for Google Chrome

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Here’s the introductory video:

Evernote Webclipper for Chrome

The Web Clipper is one of the best features of the Evernote product set.  For me it’s key for collecting and saving web content into my Evernote.

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Interestingly this particular update includes several features I associate with Evernote Clearly, another Evernote product I like and have posted about previously (link).

      • “Simplified (NEW): We brought in features from our Clearly extension to strip the page of all distractions for easy reading and clean clipping.”

It’s also integrated elements from Evernote Skitch too:

      • “We’re bringing features from our Skitch app right into the Web Clipper to let you overlay shapes, arrows and text on top of the page you’re viewing.”

I think these integrations with the other products are a good step forward.   Many of comments on the Evernote blog post – offer similar sentiments, and indeed talk about removing the need for Evernote Clearly extension at all.  To be honest I would welcome that too, it seems to me Evernote are positioning themselves to have a single integrated browser extension.

What do you think – 1 single web browser extension or keep them separate?

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When Google Replies– Voice Activated Search

Google has had voice enabled search services on multiple devices (mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet) for a while (see >> “search by text, voice, image”).

However, at the recent Google I/O (2013) they announced a “conversational” search experience which has been extended to the browser and desktop experience.

This means Google search responds to an audio search request with an audible answer.

Voice search starts with a click on the microphone icon in the search bar.

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giving the “Speak now” prompt

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and then the “Listening…” prompt

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it captures into text the voice request spoken…

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The search result returned show all the usual feature giving and provides an audible voiceover of the summary text from Wikipedia (where possible).

It also often says “Here is some information about [request]”.

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Often the request is not picked up or understood correctly and the following appears:

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Interestingly, the voice accent and gender are different for different Google domains.

e.g. (google.com – female voice with an American accent, google.co.uk – male voice with an English accent)

At the moment I find it a little flaky and error prone but I presume it will continue to improve as more people engage verbally with Google.

Have you started making use of this service?

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Improved and Integrated Biographical Visualization services

I wrote about how Visualize.me had introduced an integrated infographic service for CVs in this post.

Vizify offer a more comprehensive service which integrates and surfaces data from multiple content services. (Facebook, Foursquare, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress etc.)

Which produces a more dynamic and holistic biography of an individual, here’s a link to mine.

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Apart from regularly polling your services feeds for updates to keep an up to date representation of your digital profile | expression, they have also introduced a set of Vizcards (digital comments | business cards)

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I certainly like the simplicity of the Vizify service and the overview function it provides.  While Linkedin is a great service for professional networking, it can feel busy or noisy with corporate profiles, and discussion groups etc.  In comparison Vizify provide focus on the individual and space to present for each facet or feature in the biography which is refreshing and seems to me to produce a more nuanced and holistic summary of that individual.

Do you use an infographic based biographical summary service?

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