Not product placement, I swear

I recently attended a conference, and before travelling, I did some research on styluses for my iPad. I love the device, but I have long struggled with using it for taking notes, because inevitably, my hand-written notes look like a ransom note written by a toddler. So I thought I would look into a better stylus, and in my research, came across this actual pen.Livescribe 3

I bought one and used it throughout the conference, and I LOVE it. I can’t remember which of my doctoral seminar classmates said that writing notes by hand was much more in keeping with her/his thought process; I remember the discussion (I think with regard to reading journals) concluded with the idea that typing is ultimately better. What I liked about the pen was that I could write, using my 40+ year-old annotations and everything, but have notes uploaded immediately to my phone (or any device running the app). When your note-taking session is complete, the app converts the pages to PDF, which you can save anywhere. This is one page from my conference notes, saved as a PDF, which I mailed to myself:

2016-03-25 (2)

Furthermore, the app includes OCR, so you can eventually ‘translate’ your hand-written notes to text. One section of this note page was rendered as

-technology ⇒ and related social media
communities; digital cldoacyg
online social mores

OK, it totally messed up “literacy,” but otherwise, it got everything, so imagine how well it would do with better penmanship 🙂

Anyway, that conversation from this past fall kept ringing in my ears as I took notes at the conference, so I wanted to share my new find with everyone. The pen is NOT cheap, and does require special note paper, but if handwritten notes are a preferred method, it might be worth the investment. The special paper is available in everything from standard spiral notebooks to post-it style sticky notes, which could be very useful for reading notes.

PS: another conference tip I learned, with a much cheaper solution, was to pick up a cheap portable charger. I found one at Winners for $13, and it saved my phone on Day 2 of the conference.

Does anyone else have travel tips to share?


Finding a path

I feel inspired this week; I have found the first member of my committee, had a good exchange with my supervisor, and added a few good articles to my reading journal. I’ve also had a few motivational moments not quite directly related to my writing, but definitely uplifting  – I had a couple of great meetings with colleagues about sponsoring a refugee family, I created with Inspirationset up an online poll to arrange our doctoral seminar end-of-semester potluck, I participated in an informal discussion with our Women’s Studies group on “Because it’s 2015” and the new Trudeaumania, and I rearranged my home office so my back is not to the door. Little things, perhaps, and not directly related, but it’s a lot easier to think about where I am in this process when I’m in a good, productive mood.

So this morning I took some time to research mind-mapping tools, and settled on Inspiration, for a couple of reasons: first, this is the tool I used for a couple of my M.Ed. courses, so I’m already familiar with its features and UI; secondly, compared to some of the other tools, I found it more intuitive and I prefer the layout options – many of the others were too linear, which doesn’t appeal to me or make sense to me (why make a flowchart when I can just do a linear outline, after all?); and finally, thanks to the American obsession with retail sales at this time of year, the software was 70% off.

Then I got started, and was surprised when it took not much time at all to create an outline for my dissertation. Granted, there’s a lot to add, and a lot of reading, writing, reflecting, and discussion to fill in the blanks behind the bubbles, but it feels really great to have this visual representation of where I’m going over the next few years. Also, purple, so, pretty.