Support SaysBrad
  • (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    Anker

    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

  • Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen

    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Artic Silver

    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

  • Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot with Pixelpoint, works with a lot of new drawing apps on iPad.

  • Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen

    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

  • Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Studio Neat

    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

  • Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

  • Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    FiftyThree

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

  • Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Sportsman Supply Inc.

    Playing Cards for your password creation or poker game!

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If you’re looking for an app, need personal or corporate branding, marketing material, an illustration, logo, sketch or design — there’s a Brad for that!

Entries in notes (7)

Sunday
Nov032013

Penultimate Review 5.0 & iPad mini

After waiting for years, Penultimate (free, iPad) finally has zoom.

This change is huge: it makes Penultimate usable.

Above is some handwriting done on the iPad mini. I decided to try on my go-to tablet because it doesn't write as well as the full-size iPad, and if I were to incorporate Penultimate into normal, everyday usage, it'd likely be on my mini and not my iPad 3.

Simply, I use the iPad mini more. Penultimate is the kind of cloud-synced notes app that's used to capture quick thoughts and sketches, phone numbers and directions while on the phone. Prior to the version 5.0 update, Penultimate was too clunky and ugly to tolerate. I've always liked the Evernote integration, but it just wasn't important enough to put up with (and fight against) a crummy app.

Magnification has been on my want list since version 1. Now we have ZOOM and drift, a new feature that dynamically pans the zoomed-in frame while writing. It takes some practice; as evident in my first sentence on the image above, I was moving my stylus ahead while writing and added too much space between letters. Hopefully it's still legible for everyone else. -b


  • If you're looking for a good note taking app for iPad, check it out. I can finally recommend it and call it #bradtasticapproved. Can't beat that price!
  • If you're willing to spend some money, there are many great note-taking apps for iOS — I've reviewed several here on my blog.
  • If you're looking for a text-based notes app, check out ThinkBook by bitolithic.

 


I really hope that the new iPad mini with Retina Display is as good as it sounds, because even without one, the mini has been my favorite thing. Its diminutive frame and weight makes it a perfect tech companion for me. It's small enough to bring anywhere, light enough to use all day — yet large enough to really enjoy apps, games, movies, websites, ebooks, and typing out emails and blog entries. However, I think between the two new devices (iPad Air, iPad mini Retina), for an artist, the iPad Air is the more practical choice. I'll have to wait and see how the iPad Air and new mini handle pressure sensitive styluses like the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus, but my guess is that the Air is slightly more accurate and sensitive to small, light pen strokes.

But if the new mini is as precise as my iPad 3 — it'll be a no-brainer.

Favicon design part 2 coming soon. I also want to share my recent illustration work, but I've been a little busy earning entries for the Borderlands 2 $100,000 Loot Hunt. Wish me luck!

 

Friday
Oct182013

Notes Plus Review - iPad Handwriting Apps

An inkblog Bluetooth pressure sensitive capacitive touch stylus written response to a comment!
 

Yesterday October 17, 2013 was a pretty big day here in America — our lackluster government has resumed spending ten billion dollars per day and the default crisis has been averted postponed until mid-January.

But I also got a comment on my blog entry iPad mini note taking problems. I decided to write a reply in atypical, inkblogging fashion. Here's the comment by Jeremy.

What did you think of the Notes Plus IOS App? I've used quite a few low and high end stylus' with the app and have not been disappointed with the results. www.notesplusapp.com

 

Here's my handwritten 'ink' reply, with text transcript.

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! This is written in Notes Plus on my iPad3 (retina) w/ Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus. I've had the app for quite awhile, but never spent much time with it until recently. I really like the recent app enhancements and the close-up writing mode — its method for adjusting the writing box is probably the best I've used. [Note: referencing the app itself] I wish that it was either raster-based, or had cleaner line creation, more adjustability, more color options (or better colors), and finally, Bluetooth capacitive touch stylus support (for line thickness — pressure sensitivity). Jeremy, you've inspired me to work on a full Notes Plus review. Question: which stylus is your favorite, or what type of styli do you like, the soft tip, disc shaped [tip], Bluetooth, etc? Last, what iPad version are you using, and are you using iOS7? I prefer iOS6. I think that iOS7 slowed down my iPad mini substantially. I hope that you have a great weekend and I look forward to hearing from you!

 

It's difficult to simultaneously compose beautiful sentences and fiddle with legible handwriting, spacing and color, but it was an interesting exercise. I think that my quasi-cursive writing style looks pretty good; quality that I think would be impossible in either Penultimate or Bamboo Paper and probably many of the handwritten notes apps, with the exception of Noteshelf and Remarks.

The image at the top of this post was edited (just for fun) using Repix and Distressed FX — both apps downloaded free. I'm not very familiar with either yet, so I decided to combine the effects of each to gauge the results. Distressed FX is particularly cool; I think I'm going to use it more, likely in combination and conjunction with other apps such as Tangent and Over, for photos and designs.

If you're looking for a great app to use with a capacitive touch stylus and don't mind a vector-based app, check out Notes Plus. It has a great deal of features and a lot of options, but remains usable and straightforward.

 

Friday
Oct112013

iPad mini note taking problems

Ink Blogging test using Penultimate for iPad by Brad Chin

While doing my semi-weekly tour of the App Store (most new apps release on Thursdays) — downloading new apps and checking out app updates — I decided to experiment with a few old apps.

I'm excited about the prospect of new iPads announced by Apple on October 22, in particular, I'd like a faster full-size iPad (hardware stylus support is probably too much to wish for, since Steve Jobs considered styli anathema) and a retina mini. I do a lot of writing and drawing on the iPad, but it's always felt a bit awkward and lacking. Quite simply, the iPad wasn't designed to be an artist's tool. I hope that that changes.

Opening up Penultimate (an original iPad app purchased by Evernote), I discovered support for an upcoming stylus release, the Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition ($74.99, shipping Oct 25). I've had mixed feelings about Adonit styluses as they don't work properly for long (although with a little modification, you can fix your Jot stylus), but this one looks fundamentally different. No disc tip. But... there aren't a lot of details on it.

In addition, Wacom released a new stylus called the Intuos Creative Stylus ($99) and it looks awesome. I asked them to send me one to review, but no response. (Maybe you can help me convince them? ^_^ I'd be grateful!) I really want the Wacom Cintiq Companion... but it's very expensive. I've been wanting to do more illustration and cartoon drawing, but the Intuos is difficult for me to use, and the iPad... well, it has issues.

The iPad mini has he same resolution as the iPad 2, meaning smaller pixels, but it also seems like they shrunk the capacitive detection mechanism also. It just doesn't track precisely. After using the mini for awhile, going back to the iPad 3 (retina) is somewhat euphoric — it's that much better.

Penultimate, however, always seems to have issues.

The test ink blog writing above was created quickly on the iPad mini without any magnification or zoom (Accessibility Options > Zoom). The app doesn't have pinch zoom or any kind of Paper by FiftyThree or Noteshelf type workaround, so I used to tap zoom until I finally ditched the app. I like the superb Evernote integration, but it's just not worth it. I don't like messy, ugly notes. If you've seen any of my handwriting, you know what I can normally produce digitally. The image above is just plain bad. I can read it so technically, it's usable, but I don't like it.

The iPad mini seems to track strokes off to the side. (See slash separators in 10/10/13 and the 'T' in "Test") Penultimate on iPad retina seems to simply create sloppy, rounded strokes, almost like a vector pen tool with smoothing, only worse.

I've also noticed that Paper by FiftyThree handles handwriting poorly, even with the magnifying tool. Their custom ink engine is nice for sketching (there is some stunning #madewithpaper artwork online, check it out), but just doesn't track the whip-like, short and rapid strokes used in natural handwriting — cursive seems a little better than block print.

What's your favorite handwriting tool for iOS? My favorites are still Noteshelf, Remarks and Muji Notebook. I've been using Noteshelf to track and compile my thoughts on iOS7 (spoiler: I'm not fond of it), plan my new websites and social networking profiles, and to outline my very overdue guide to iPad palm rejection (wrist protection) for artists.

I took a few new photos for that post, so hopefully I can edit it all and get it up soon. Oakland weather has been somewhat depressing and miserable for me this week... hot and sunny. My neighbors have been thrilled about it. Weirdos.

 

Saturday
Aug102013

Taking Notes on the iPad & iPhone!

Well — the groosoft sale that I'd mentioned was certainly short lived. Hopefully you picked up both amazing apps! If you didn't, that's a bummer, but let me explain why they might be worth your money.

If you're looking for text-only notes, check out my ThinkBook review.

 

Scrapnote Handwriting Scrapbook (iPad 2 & newer, $4.99)

Scrapnote is an amazing consolidation of productivity tools presented in an elegant package. It isn't the most visually stunning app, but it is powerful and straightforward — perfect for quick and dirty note-taking. Imagine Evernote, Skitch, Penultimate, Noteshelf, Pages and Adobe Reader features all in one app.

You say "scraping," I say "scrapping."

The main feature is its Scrap tool (a process misspelled as "scraping" in their materials). It's basically a clipper; take images, or even a stack of images, videos, text, (no audio, though) and insert them right onto editable pages. These objects can be drawn over and snap-aligned with guides (just like in Apple's Pages).

There are many practical note-taking uses for Scrapnote, but it can also be used as a presentation tool. Each notebook can be set as read-only — the app even comes with an example in the form of a detailed how-to guide. Scrapnote has several different handwriting tools (eraser, highlighter, pencil, pen) each with its own settings and properties, as well as a decent color palette (but no option to choose your own colors). Images can have custom borders (or not) and can be rotated and cropped (clipped, rather, as if set inside a frame) in-app, and text can be presented in various styles and fonts, with optional boxes and drop shadows.

There are some missing features. The major ones:

No zoom. It's a shame, because I could ditch my other handwriting notes apps if it had the ability to zoom into areas for more control. Well, almost, except...

No backup. This is so strange to me, because groosoft's $0.99 Jotter has iCloud sync. No backup makes this app somewhat limited in longevity, so hopefully they'll rectify that. iCloud and Dropbox backup would be preferred. Also...

No PDF export. Single pages can be emailed or sent to images, but the entire notebook cannot be easily presented together in a single file. Each page could be exported and backed up, but those documents would no longer be editable in-app.

Limited colors. The selection isn't bad or that small, it's just not ideal for me. This won't be an issue for everyone, and I'm sure someone out there prefers the simplicity of a set palette.

At the wonderful price of free, I couldn't complain much about these omissions, but for $4.99 — I expect more. If you're on the fence about this app, check out the "trial" version, Scrapnote Lite.

 

Jotter Handwriting Notebook (universal, $0.99)

I have no idea what "real tactile note app" means to groosoft, but I do know that the poor typesetting (look at "app" — "a pp") and misspelling scrapping (in Scrapnote) is indicative of oversight and carelessness... and that is concerning...

But for 99 cents, Jotter is pretty cool.

Especially as it's an iCloud-synced, universal app. Many of my favorite handwritten notes apps are iPad-only, limiting my ability to view and modify these notes on-the-go with my iPhone. The mobile-friendly feature makes it worthy of mention, and perhaps, a download.

Jotter has the same drawing tools and color palette as Scrapnote and has various background options (paper types) including lined/ruled, graphing paper, white, black, etc. — but the pages aren't arranged into notebooks, and images cannot be added into the documents.

However, you can use an image as a background.

For FREE, there's no debate about downloading Jotter. For a buck, it's still probably worth a try. There are other handwriting apps for iPhone, but most have similar issues and cost the same as or more than Jotter. The iCloud sync is a great bonus, and until Evernote makes Penultimate for iPhone (they really should), this is basically the only choice.

But still — no zoom. :-(

 

For iPhone handwritten notes, you could try Draw Pad Pro or Muji Notebook for iPhone — both offer zoom, and Draw Pad Pro is universal and has backup!

Draw Pad Pro is feature-rich and supported, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel right; it also isn't visually attractive, but there's something about the drawing tools and interface that doesn't work for me... so at $2.99, it's difficult for me to recommend (there are occasional discounts on it and it is free from time to time, however).

Muji Notebook is a text and handwriting notes app with a distinct Japanese esthetic and Japanese paper styles. So naturally, I like it (In general, I like Japanese design); but it is limited, and though there are iPad and iPhone versions, the two don't sync with one another. Muji is based on less is more; and with fewer color options, paper styles, and export options, it is a single-purpose tool with more style than substance — aimed at a niche audience. Still, the iPhone version ($3.99) is worth trying because the Muji zoom tool makes writing small, detailed notes a breeze. Developer/publisher Ryohin Keikaku offers trial versions: iPad Lite and iPhone Lite.

 

Final thoughts on note-taking tools for iOS

If I had to score these apps based on my needs, Scrapnote would earn 7/10 and Jotter a 3/5. Both are good, but need improvements to replace my go-to, everyday notes apps. If you've got a back-to-school iPad mini and automatic online backup isn't critical, Scrapnote is probably a worthwhile investment. If groosoft ever adds zoom and backup, Scrapnote would be an 8.5 or 9 out of 10.

If you have a favorite handwriting app for iOS that I haven't mentioned before, please let me know about it!

Also, if you're an app developer or publisher and would like an honest review and feedback, please get in touch. I'm easy to reach online! :-)

 


I've written about the wondrous — yes, magical — iPad, time and time again. I had had concerns that the device was just an overgrown iPod touch, but those fears were quickly dismissed by just using the original iPad for about two minutes. Since that life-changing day, I've dedicated a significant portion of my life and blog to it, and have written before about note-taking on the iPad.

Also, I let the superfloo.us domain expire, but nothing else has changed. Same content, says Brad.

 

Tuesday
Aug062013

Two Fantastic Free iOS Apps!

Some things in life are free! (Saving: $5.98)

My recent posts, and some soon to follow, are quite serious — but saysbrad isn't becoming a pure-politics blog! I'm writing a review of two great note-taking apps gone free! Scrapnote (iPad, was $4.99) and Jotter (universal, was $0.99), both by groosoft. I'm not sure how long these apps will remain free, so instead of waiting for my reviews, you should go download these apps!

 

Thursday
Jul212011

ThinkBook app for iPad Review

ThinkBook - Write, Plan, Outline and Take Notes ($4.99) is an iPad app by bitolithic that I’ve recently spent some time using, and I must say, ThinkBook IS AWESOME. I will get into app specifics, but first, I want to comment on the wonderful developer, @bitolithic. Emiliano Molina’s responsiveness, support, and attitude has been exemplary, and he is a developer that should be supported. bitolithic is also responsible for Comic Zeal, a universal comic app with great reviews.

Now, to the meat of the ThinkBook quick review!

 

ThinkBook has custom keys that are extremely usable; adding notes and navigating the app is a breeze.

ThinkBook is productivity application designed to organize large amounts of information (text) into usable chunks. The beauty of this software is that, by design, it’s as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. You could use this app to organize classes, schoolwork, research, or your entire life.

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward to-do list application, this app is probably overkill. It could be used to keep track of tasks, but task management isn’t its main strength. (Information on “Wunderlist” at the end of entry)

However, if you are working on a complex project, ThinkBook is perfect.

From the onset, ThinkBook can seem daunting. The learning curve seems steep. Fortunately, after spending about ten minutes with the app, I realized that it is a lot more intuitive than I’d first thought, and quickly fell into a productive rhythm with the program. Still, I recommend reading the built-in manual — to get the most out of the app. 

ThinkBook has a simple, powerful structure, built around a homepage called “Contents.” This overview page is just like the table of contents in an ebook — from here, you can jump to various pages and books within the app. ThinkBook organizes text on individual pages, and books are simply collections of pages. 

All of your text inside of the application can be found using the search tool on the sidebar. Further, ease of use is provided by a cursor on the righthand side of the screen; this tool allows notes to be moved around freely, and can be used to move entire pages as well.

 

ThinkBook is only going to get better. I have no doubt that Emiliano will continue to support his apps; bitolithic won’t disappear. Also, if you do end up getting this app, don’t hesitate to give your honest feedback — your concerns or criticisms will only help to make the app better!

You could also let bitolithic know that you read this blog entry ^_^

(For a wonderful FREE task manager, check out Wunderlist — available on all iOS devices, iPhone, iPad, as well as Android, Mac OS X and Windows PC. 6 Wunderkinder GmbH has also released a web app version. Wunderlist stays synced across all devices. Definitely Bradtastic Approved!)

Sunday
Jun052011

Replacing Japanese Paper with Aluminum and Glass

Over the past year, I've used many different notebook apps for the iPad, and though I tried to love them, none really felt right. Penultimate, a great, highly rated app, has many things going for it, but it lacks the precision that a detail-oriented designer needs. Some apps such as Note Taker HD and Notes Plus also come close to paper, but they're both missing things.

However, iPad owners: I've found the answer — my favorite "notebook" app is "MUJI NOTEBOOK." if you haven't seen it, check out more information. Granted, the style might not suit other so well; the Japanese influence is clear, down to the paper types and formatting.

For true "pen and paper" feel, get a capacitive touch stylus. WACOM recently released a Bamboo stylus, but I haven't used it yet — the demand seems high, and there's a several month wait (I do have one on my Amazon Wish List, however, and my birthday is in three months!). I own styli by Ten One and Boxwave; either is good, but the Boxwave is easily my favorite.

It's not perfect—paper isn't perfect, either

MUJI Notebook has text, writing and drawing support with multiple methods of input. Some are slightly cumbersome; for instance, English handwriting to text is difficult to use effectively because the system doesn't detect letter shape, it assesses stroke order. That said, it's still easily my favorite, and I now take notes in ways I didn't — and couldn't — before, because my iPad 2 is near me so often.

For typed notes, I recommend Nebulous Notes... but my favorite iPad writing app is iA Writer.

Share?

I'd love to hear about your favorite iOS apps, productivity tips and tools, or whatever else you use to get things done on mobile devices. Coming soon: the team behind Day One (Journal) for iPhone and Mac desktop PC released a universal version of their iOS app. Ive played around with it, and believe that there's room for improvement, so I'm going to hold off on a formal review. One of the main new features is the inclusion of "reminders," a feature from the desktop app, designed to help the user remember to write throughout the day at set intervals. Hopefully, I can review OmmWriter for iPad soon as well.

I'll share some more photos and artwork soon, too. If you're curious, you can check out Antipresto, my Tumblr, for photos, videos, links, and other cool things.