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January 27 2018

Incredibly Entertaining Analysis of Unknown 80s Bands on the Deviate Podcast


The Shadow History of 1980s Rock podcast by Rolf Potts provides us with a unique and amazing way to reflect back on music from the 80’s. The premise is that Rolf stumbles upon a stack of records from unknown bands of the 80’s that he bought 5 years ago from a thrift store in Kansas. […]

Incredibly Entertaining Analysis of Unknown 80s Bands on the Deviate Podcast


The Shadow History of 1980s Rock podcast by Rolf Potts provides us with a unique and amazing way to reflect back on music from the 80’s. The premise is that Rolf stumbles upon a stack of records from unknown bands of the 80’s that he bought 5 years ago from a thrift store in Kansas. […]

January 08 2018

The Best Way to Build a Single Page Website


I’ve been a user of CMS (content management systems) building many websites for over 10 years. In that time I’ve primarily used Drupal and WordPress for most of my projects and tested many other systems along the way. For my most recent work project we’re using a new methodology for building our site called “headless” […]

The Best Way to Build a Single Page Website


I’ve been a user of CMS (content management systems) building many websites for over 10 years. In that time I’ve primarily used Drupal and WordPress for most of my projects and tested many other systems along the way. For my most recent work project we’re using a new methodology for building our site called “headless” […]

December 30 2017

Top 5 Smart Journal Apps

[UPDATE 12/30/17]

I did a little research to see what has changed in the journal landscape to update this article. I did not find any new apps to add to the list and currently feel that the two top apps to consider should be Journey and Day One.

Journey has continued to get great updates and has expanded their offering to Windows, Mac, and iOS along with their support for Android and Chrome via an extension. Day One has expanded adding support for Android and has begun to add some limited cloud functionality which allows you to sync data and view it, albeit read only for now. I’ve made a few updates to the listings below as well.

In 2012 I wrote this post for The Next Web when I began looking for “smart journal” apps. I considered a smart journal app to be one that provided the following features:

  • Offers posting from both mobile and desktop
  • Syncing to cloud services
  • Exporting to various file formats
  • Calendar views
  • Search
  • Categories and/or tagging
  • Reminder notifications to create entries
  • Private with passcode by default

I reviewed my original post and took a look to see if I could find any new apps and services out there. Below is a list that contains new apps along with some from my original post that contain all of the above features and more.

If you need a reason or inspiration as to why you should keep a journal, look no further than this great post on “Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life“.

Journey

(Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Web and Chrome extension)

This is a very elegant app with a nice UI and design that reminds me of Day One which is an IOS only app (see below). It’s chock full of many of the same features as well. The Chrome extension is used to write entries from your desktop and it syncs to Google Drive. You can also selectively publish posts to your social sites if you want.

As 2017 ends you can see that they continue to make improvements to the user interface and design and they are still adding many new features. You can login through the website and read your posts as well as add new ones. The web interface doesn’t offer all the features of the dedicated desktop or mobile apps but it’s nice to have that as an option and it’s included for free. The pricing model for the software is a little confusing with several different pricing options for the mobile app ($4.49), desktop software ($14.99) and cloud annual subscriptions ($29). However the free offering is very generous and you can test out quite a bit of the features before deciding to upgrade.

You can read a full review of this app here.

Day One

(iOS, Mac, Android, Web)

This app has been praised as the premiere journal app for IOS. It stands out with its beautiful design and strong feature set. To create entries on the desktop requires purchasing the companion Mac app. If you’re an IOS / Mac user you should seriously consider Day One.

2017 has finally brought Android support and while the initial release isn’t as beautiful as the iOS version it’s great to see the support expanding. The new cloud support is a pretty basic and currently only offers the ability to read data that is synced. Also the cloud support requires the $25 annual subscription to access. Still this is definitely one of the top apps worth testing out to see if it meets your needs.

Here’s a good full review of the app.

dayone

Penzu

( Android, iOS, Web)

I like Penzu because it has a strong emphasis on gaining insight from your previous journal entries. This is done by using an algorithm that provides snippets of previous entries as reminders from old entries to help identify themes and give you inspiration for new entries. It’s also got a very robust web app. Here’s a detailed review.

penzu

Diaro

(Android, iOS, Web)

I really liked the features and flexibility of this app when I wrote my first review. It continues to be improved and has added support for iOS in 2017. You can read another review of it I found here.

diaro

Momento

(iOS only)

I’ve added Momento as an honorable mention because it doesn’t offer a cloud or desktop software access but is still a great stand-alone app with lots of great features. If you’re ok just having your mobile device as the only method to store and retrieve your journal then this app is worth your consideration.

This may be one the oldest app on this list which I used when it initially was released. It as continued to be updated with features and the design is gorgeous. This app has integration with many third party apps and services and will automatically import their activity allowing you to automate some of your journal entries. This could be pretty convenient when you don’t find time or want to duplicate the content you’re already sharing publicly. It will also allow you to create private journal entries only available from the app as well.

You can start by downloading the free app and then through in-app purchases add additional features.

Originally posted on 1/19/2015

Top 5 Smart Journal Apps

November 16 2017

Bill Simmons Rapid Fire Conversation with Jeff Bridges


I’m a recent subscriber of the Bill Simmons podcast and I enjoy listening to his micro-detail oriented dissection of the sports world. However his recent podcast conversation with Jeff Bridges was a pleasant surprise. Jeff Bridges just seems like such a genuine person and here he tells so many well detailed, behind the scenes stories […]

Bill Simmons Rapid Fire Conversation with Jeff Bridges


I’m a recent subscriber of the Bill Simmons podcast and I enjoy listening to his micro-detail oriented dissection of the sports world. However his recent podcast conversation with Jeff Bridges was a pleasant surprise. Jeff Bridges just seems like such a genuine person and here he tells so many well detailed, behind the scenes stories […]

October 10 2017

My Headless / Decoupled CMS Comparison Matrix


I recently wrote about the journey of moving from a traditional content management system to a headless / decoupled one and learning all the issues that need to be considered. For the process of selecting a headless cms software or service we needed a way to help compare them more easily as we tested each […]

My Headless / Decoupled CMS Comparison Matrix


I recently wrote about the journey of moving from a traditional content management system to a headless / decoupled one and learning all the issues that need to be considered. For the process of selecting a headless cms software or service we needed a way to help compare them more easily as we tested each […]

September 28 2017

My Online Project Management Services Comparison Matrix


A few months ago I embarked on researching hosted project management services to use for our marketing team. The system we were currently using wasn’t effective for us anymore. This provided a good opportunity to look at the current landscape to determine which service would be the best fit for us. For this process we […]

My Online Project Management Services Comparison Matrix


A few months ago I embarked on researching hosted project management services to use for our marketing team. The system we were currently using wasn’t effective for us anymore. This provided a good opportunity to look at the current landscape to determine which service would be the best fit for us. For this process we […]

September 08 2017

Considering Moving to a Headless or Decoupled CMS Approach? Tread Carefully…


[Updated on 9/11 with Headless CMS Buyer’s Guide link and my commentary] I’m about to embark on a new website re-design / rebuild. We’ve decided to move to a headless CMS (content management system) for this project. If you’re not too familiar with the headless CMS approach you can learn more here and here. Also, headless and decoupled […]

Considering Moving to a Headless or Decoupled CMS Approach? Tread Carefully…


[Updated on 9/11 with Headless CMS Buyer’s Guide link and my commentary] I’m about to embark on a new website re-design / rebuild. We’ve decided to move to a headless CMS (content management system) for this project. If you’re not too familiar with the headless CMS approach you can learn more here and here. Also, headless and decoupled […]

August 24 2017

Foursquare Focuses on Lifelogging in Swarm 5.0

Foursquare recently released a complete revamp to their Swarm app focusing entirely on Lifelogging with regards to location and travelling and I couldn’t be happier. Location tracking is personally one of my most important Lifelogging data points and the new Swarm app provides immediate access to historical data and aggregated insights as well. The new interface is clean, intuitive and extremely functional.

A Search Bar sits atop most screens. From here you can begin typing anything and the search results will begin appearing in realtime organized into groups by categories, locations, and places. Then let’s say you tap a location from the results you are then presented with a screen that will show all the check ins at that location within a date range that you can modify to search more granular if you want as well. This makes it very easy to pinpoint anything you are searching for.

          
(Search bar and tapping on a search bar result)

The Main screen will show all of your check-ins in reverse chronological order. You can click on a check-in to get more details on the location and get insights such as how many times you’ve checked in to this location category or city. You will also see any friends and the total times they’ve checked in to the location.

          
(Home and Places Screens)

The Places screen will display a world map along with bubbles displaying the number of check-ins in aggregate based on a location range. You can pinch and zoom the map which will in turn display new bubbles. Below the map a list is dynamically generated starting with countries, and then in the case of the U.S. it will then update to display states and then locations as you pinch and zoom the map above. Any of the bubble or locations in the list below can be tapped to display more details. This is just another way that you can search your history in the context of a map instead of keywords which is a great option as well.

On the Categories screen you can get a pie chart showing your top categories and below the chart is a list of every location category along with a total count of check-ins. You can tap any of these categories to then get a reverse chronological list of your check-ins and filter further with the previously mentioned date range filters.

          
(Categories Chart and List)

The User Profile screen provides a nice overview of total Check-ins, Places, and Categories. Friends can view this page and then tap and navigate each of these screens the same way you can for yourself as mentioned above. This lets you explore friends profiles in a very detailed way which I think is great. Below that section they display your photos, friends, and stickers. The stickers are also accompanied by streaks and Mayorships which are part of the gaming aspect of the app.



(User Profile)

After using the app for about a week one feature that I’m not sure remained is the passive location tracking allowing check-ins at a later date. This provides a list of places you visited that but didn’t check-in allowing you to add them add a later date. I’m a big fan of that feature and while I was able to click on a previous notification that leads to the old screen I have yet to see any locations appear there or get a notification on the new version. I find this feature to be very important as I tend to not check-in everywhere I go and having that ability is nice.

The passive tracking feature is something that I’ve used in the Moves app as a way to supplement my Gyroscope data but that app has been very flaky for me on Android. My favorite passive location tracking is through Google Location History because of its ability to passively track data accurately and provide such a detailed history and ability to export the data.

You can read more about the history of Foursquare’s location tracking and reasoning to take Swarm in this direction by reading Dennis Crowley’s post. You can also get a behind the scenes look at how the product design came to be in Swarm 5.0 by reading Greg Dougherty’s post as well.

If keeping an accurate history of the places you’ve been is something you’d like to do I highly recommend adding the Swarm app to your suite of Lifelogging apps on your phone.

Foursquare Focuses on Lifelogging in Swarm 5.0
Foursquare Focuses on Lifelogging in Swarm 5.0

Foursquare Focuses on Lifelogging in Swarm 5.0

Foursquare recently released a complete revamp to their Swarm app focusing entirely on Lifelogging with regards to location and travelling and I couldn’t be happier. Location tracking is personally one of my most important Lifelogging data points and the new Swarm app provides immediate access to historical data and aggregated insights as well. The new interface is clean, intuitive and extremely functional.

A Search Bar sits atop most screens. From here you can begin typing anything and the search results will begin appearing in realtime organized into groups by categories, locations, and places. Then let’s say you tap a location from the results you are then presented with a screen that will show all the check ins at that location within a date range that you can modify to search more granular if you want as well. This makes it very easy to pinpoint anything you are searching for.

          
(Search bar and tapping on a search bar result)

The Main screen will show all of your check-ins in reverse chronological order. You can click on a check-in to get more details on the location and get insights such as how many times you’ve checked in to this location category or city. You will also see any friends and the total times they’ve checked in to the location.

          
(Home and Places Screens)

The Places screen will display a world map along with bubbles displaying the number of check-ins in aggregate based on a location range. You can pinch and zoom the map which will in turn display new bubbles. Below the map a list is dynamically generated starting with countries, and then in the case of the U.S. it will then update to display states and then locations as you pinch and zoom the map above. Any of the bubble or locations in the list below can be tapped to display more details. This is just another way that you can search your history in the context of a map instead of keywords which is a great option as well.

On the Categories screen you can get a pie chart showing your top categories and below the chart is a list of every location category along with a total count of check-ins. You can tap any of these categories to then get a reverse chronological list of your check-ins and filter further with the previously mentioned date range filters.

          
(Categories Chart and List)

The User Profile screen provides a nice overview of total Check-ins, Places, and Categories. Friends can view this page and then tap and navigate each of these screens the same way you can for yourself as mentioned above. This lets you explore friends profiles in a very detailed way which I think is great. Below that section they display your photos, friends, and stickers. The stickers are also accompanied by streaks and Mayorships which are part of the gaming aspect of the app.



(User Profile)

After using the app for about a week one feature that I’m not sure remained is the passive location tracking allowing check-ins at a later date. This provides a list of places you visited that but didn’t check-in allowing you to add them add a later date. I’m a big fan of that feature and while I was able to click on a previous notification that leads to the old screen I have yet to see any locations appear there or get a notification on the new version. I find this feature to be very important as I tend to not check-in everywhere I go and having that ability is nice.

The passive tracking feature is something that I’ve used in the Moves app as a way to supplement my Gyroscope data but that app has been very flaky for me on Android. My favorite passive location tracking is through Google Location History because of its ability to passively track data accurately and provide such a detailed history and ability to export the data.

You can read more about the history of Foursquare’s location tracking and reasoning to take Swarm in this direction by reading Dennis Crowley’s post. You can also get a behind the scenes look at how the product design came to be in Swarm 5.0 by reading Greg Dougherty’s post as well.

If keeping an accurate history of the places you’ve been is something you’d like to do I highly recommend adding the Swarm app to your suite of Lifelogging apps on your phone.

May 15 2017

A Fictional Story about Continuing to Live after Death through AI as Imagined by LifeAfter

In a recent post I wrote about how we will live forever through bots and AI in the near future. I discuss how several technologies are advancing that will allow this to happen. There have been many fictional stories that have explored this premise and recently I discovered an eight episode podcast series called LifeAfter and was produced by Slate’s Panopoly for the GE Podcast Theater.

LifeAfter Podcast

According to this article on Fast Company, the team behind the series describes it as “Her meets Ex Machina” and FC continues by stating that it’s “…pondering the question of what happens to our digital identities after we pass, and what role AI can play in the grieving process.” The story takes a dark look at the future along those lines. This series would also make for a great episode of Black Mirror (now on Netflix) which is another great series that takes a dystopian look at the future.

Without giving too much away, the story is based on the premise of a social network that uses audio recordings as it’s method of communication and one aspect of the plot is based around how those recordings manifest themselves via an AI bot after a character in the story dies. If this sounds intriguing I highly recommend giving it a list. I found it to be enthralling. I’m sure we will begin to see many more stories that continue to show how technology will impact our future with many of them coming to fruition sooner than later.

A Fictional Story about Continuing to Live after Death through AI as Imagined by LifeAfter
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