MailBox + Sunrise + Evernote = Productive!

I have written before about how I use Evernote with email (specifically the gesture-based Mailbox app) for the frictionless scheduling of tasks and followups from my deluge of emails. In brief, emails that require action, or that map to tasks, get ‘swiped’ into Evernote where they are turned into scheduled tasks.

The one gap in this has always been the connection (or rather lack thereof) between Evernote and my calendar app. The result is far too much manual calendar work to turn Evernote tasks into calendar events  and vice versa as events get shifted around. Suffice it to say that my Evernote tasks are rarely in sync with my calendar events. I’ve experimented in the past with a web service called EventNoted but while it appeared promising at first it proved to be a little too unpredictable in the end, required learning a special syntax for note/task titles, and only provided for one-way sync’ing (Evernote to Calendar only).

Then along came the latest edition of the Sunrise Calendar app, a free cross-platform calendar which, for me at least, has now replaced the native iOS and OSX Calendar apps. In short Sunrise plugs my leaky task management workflow by integrating properly with Evernote and it’s reminders system. It’s easy, natural, and reliable. Just connect up Sunrise with your Evernote account in the usual way. Then, when you set a reminder for a note it gets turned into a calendar event for the appropriate date and time and which is then added to a Note Reminders calendar in Sunrise. Once this calendar is visible in Sunrise you will see your scheduled notes show up as calendar events. Everything is kept in sync even when you change the reminder details in Evernote or in Sunrise so you can delete events or mark them as completed or move them around without worry. Even better, when an event is added to Sunrise it contains a link back to the corresponding note in Evernote so that you can access relevant data and additional materials directly from your calendar (great for meeting documents and notes). 

Another nice feature is that if I manually create a new event in Sunrise (in the Note Reminders calendar) then it will appear as a scheduled note back in Evernote. Perfect!

I haven’t found a way to set the duration of a task in Evernote so right now tasks are turned into one-hour calendar events. I’m not sure if I am missing a trick here but it is easy to modify the events in Sunrise anyway if necessary.

So far Sunrise seems to provide me with all of the usual calendaring functionality that I have come to expect from Apple’s own apps. The interface is very similar, although it tries to stack overlapping events from different calendars rather than overlay them, as Apple’s apps do, and which I personally prefer. That’s a minor niggle. Another is that Sunrise doesn’t seem to have the nice hold-and-move gesture for moving existing events around a calendar. Maybe these will come with future updates. For now they are nothing more than minor inconveniences that are easily out-weighed by the benefits of the Evernote integration.

The bottom line: if you have come to rely on Evernote for task creation and management then Sunrise will complete you. It’s as simple as that. And, as a bonus, there are similar integrations with Github, Asana, Producteev, TripIt, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. 


Opinionated Recommender Systems


My main research area is recommender systems and the purpose of this (somewhat longer than usual post) is to discuss some thoughts on where recommender systems might be heading and, in particular, on the prospect of recommender systems that are based on user experiences and real opinions rather than more conventional ratings and catalog features.

Let’s begin…
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Building a Better Ski App.


It’s that of year again. The time when I go digging in the attic for last year’s ski gear while thinking up some way to justify some new gear purchases for the trip (or trips) ahead. And of course technology plays a big part of every ski trip: the now-essential GoPro and associated accessories; my iPhone with the lates tracking apps; and various memory cards, batteries and chargers. The one piece of kit that needs to be improved, in my opinion, is the ski app.
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A Ski Report from Zell am See


Just back from a few days skiing in Zell am See, staying at Pension Andrea. It was a great trip, despite some unseasonably warm temperatures (it was well above freezing on the mountain), which offered up some Spring-like ski conditions in the depths of Winter. It is remarkable how well these resorts manage so early in the season in such warm conditions and especially given that snow falls have not exactly been stellar these last few weeks. Zell has quite a thin covering now despite a few extra centimetres on the night we arrived. We spent 2.5 days in the local resort and a day in middle up on Kaprun, the nearby glacier, which offers some snow-sure confidence to the area.
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Plugging a Leaky Task Management Workflow

photo credit: Chaval Brasil via photopin cc

photo credit: Chaval Brasil via photopin cc

I’ve been using Evernote for a while. It is a great general-purpose information repository and provides me with anytime, anywhere, any-device access to all of the important information that orbits my life these days. Its task management capabilities are lacking however. This is not surprising. Afterall Evernote is not a task management system, although it is flexible enough to be configured as such, and, by all accounts, does a fine job of implementing many of the popular methodologies such as GTD. Indeed over the last few months Evernote has added some useful new functionality in the form of a reminders subsystem that goes a long way to bridging its native task management gap.

The problem for me is that if I rely on Evernote for task management then my task management workflow is not, as it should be, a closed loop. It’s leaky. Let me explain.
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Don’t wander up the y-axis!

board room

(photo credit: EricDanPhoto via photopin cc)

Watching Sarah Lacy’s Interview With Dick Costolo. It’s long (approx 2 hours) but provides a very interesting account of Dick Costolo’s view of the world as CEO of Twitter.

One of the most interesting early take aways relates to Dick’s management style and, in particular, the importance he places on keeping meetings focused and clear above all else; see also similar comments by Fred Wilson.

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The Rise of the Sensor Web

We’ve all heard the stories about how much data there is out there (lots and lots) and how much new data is being created (lots and lots and lots). Various accounts highlight how we are creating more information each year or so than has been previously been created in the entirety of human civilisation.

(photo credit: Merrill College of Journalism Press Releases via photo pin cc)


What’s driving this? Well it started with the Internet but now the world of the Internet is leaking out of our desktops and laptops and into the physical world in which we live.

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