DYMO LabelManager PnP label printer review

DYMO-Pnp

If, like most people of my generation, you use the first ten seasons of the Simpsons as a reference guide for life, you will hear the phrase “label maker” and instantly think of the Radio Bart episode in season three, where Bart is given a label maker as an awful gift and, in a fit of boredom ends up pretending to trapped down a well.

Would Bart have been as bored had he received a DYMO LabelManager PNP? Yes. Of course. He’s an 8 year old boy and label makers are not suitable toys for children. But as a 28 year old boy (plus one) working in an office environment, there is a sense of enjoyment to be have from playing the DYMO PNP – especially if you conflate “easy to use” with “fun”.

The DYMO pnp is probably one of the easiest to use label makers I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot of label makers (editing gadget websites is a never-ending world of fun and stationary).

The unit is small and well-built, with an integrated stand so it doesn’t take up too much space on your desk. There is a lovely big power button on the top and an equally lovely cut button that lets you chop off your new labels with a very satisfying click. The DYMO pnp packs a lithium ion battery, which you charge via you computer’s powered USB port.

Software is very cleverly installed onboard – although you can download a more complicated label software package from the basic software on the unit (nb the link from the inbuilt software doesn’t appear to work so you might have to search around the DYMO website to find the correct download link).

As you’d expect from the name, label printing is plug and play – it automagically “just works”, which is the whole point of all productivity devices. The little adhesive labels are ideal of labelling hard drives, plugs, cables and folders – but there are plenty of uses if you are in the habit of keeping things neat and tidy.

The DYMO LabelManager PnP is available to buy online at www.dymo.co.uk or from your stationery supplier with an RRP of £49.99

MindManager 8 Mac OS review

As a “creative” (surely we could have come up with a better name guys?) I love a good mindmap.  Almost every project I undertake is accompanied by a flurry of scribbles on my whiteboard at home – compounded by further doodles on paper, arrows pointing to important words and eventually some actual work. But I can’t take my big-ass whiteboard with me (I’m in the middle of the South African Wilderness typing this), can’t share my ravings with co-workers and can’t always read things I’ve written in a fit of excitement at 3 am.

Mindmanager
Image courtesy of Flickr user Madstreetz

Naturally there are people hard at work in the software world building  apps  to help my take my dubious doodles on the go with me and one such company are MindJet, who have MindManager mind-mapping software – with version 8 out for the Mac and  version 9 for the PC.

Using the mind mapping technique pioneered by Tony Buzan, users map their ideas and information in a web diagram, branching out from a central topic, to create related topics that eventually build into a ‘mind map’. Mind maps can contain all the information related to the project, from text documents, audio and video files, web links and connections to back-end databases, so that all project information is accessible immediately and not distributed over several siloed sources.

MindManager features information visualisations that let you easily lay out, organise and work with ideas in a variety of maps, outlines, charts. You can work closely with everyday programs such as Microsoft Office and there is an iPhone app so you can work on ideas on the go. I didn’t get a chance to test this as much as I’d like but you can make the app and the application play nicely together.

MindManager is pretty easy to use, which is massively important and getting technology between you and your ideas is counterproductive when it becomes fiddly. I’m working on a few longer projects and made a conscious effort to fire up MindManager every time to see how it progress. I was pleasantly surprise. Many, many similar apps have fallen by the wayside.

So, if you’ve graduated from pen and paper scrawls then give MindManager a whirl. There is a free 30-day trial.

MindManager 9 for Windows is $349 and MindManager 8 for the Mac is $249.

iPrioritize iPhone app review: Ready, Steady … Get Things Done.

Oh the irony. I’ve been putting off doing this review for ages – because the app kept telling me to. iPrioritize is a neat little productivity app for the goal orientated – or those who aspire to be.

Utilising a traffic light system, the app gets you to input goals and the fires a series of questions about the task – enabling you to successfully put them in order.

iPrioritize

It errs a little on the simplistic sided – but that’s exactly what you need in a productivity app. I’ve spent (or more truthfully “wasted”) hours updating project management apps, and updating tasks when I would have been better focused on actually “doing” the thing I’d set out to do.

iPrioritize applies some reality principles by querying not only about urgency and importance but about financial affordability, and availability of resources to get the task done. The app asks you a series of questions that force you to consider the viability of your project – in context with all the other tasks you have to accomplish. iPrioritize recognises that things can change, so tasks can easily be re-prioritised as conditions and relative priorities change during the working day or week.

iPrioritize’s “USP” is that it factors in just how much the user actually wants to do the task. Acknowledging unwillingness and being prepared (in the words of Brian Tracy) to “Eat That Frog” is a major factor in whether a job gets done or is constantly re-prioritised or moved.

If you already mentally compartmentalise with ease then you don’t need this app. And if you stick with it for … 3 or 4 projects and pay attention to how it’s trying to get you to think then you slowly won’t need it either.

iPrioritize costs £1.79 from the Apple App Store. More information can be found at www.i-Prioritize.com

Memonic: Your online filing cabinet

Surfing the web sometimes leaves you adrift in a vast sea of LOLcats, viral videos and sometimes, genuinely useful data. Google lets you search through this information, while Facebook helps you share it. Memonic, however, is a service designed to organise it.

Memonic

Fresh from the snowy peaks of Switzerland, Memonic is an online knowledge gathering application that lets you capture interesting information from the web, edit it, organise it and share it. It keeps it all in a Google Reader-style page, letting you browse through saved content easily. It’s basically a combination of filing cabinet and secretary – one that won’t take snow days.

Capture

Find something interesting online? There’s two ways to add it to Memonic. If the website has implemented the service, there’ll be a “clip” button on the page to save the page into your virtual filing cabinet – much like how you “Like” something for Facebook.

If there isn’t, fear not: using the “clipper” bookmarklet – a bookmark for your browser that interacts with the page you’re on – you can highlight information or pictures on your current page to send to your account.

It’s ridiculously easy and intuitive – and unlike other services like Instapaper, it means that you’ll only store the information you’ve selected, rather than the whole page. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a better way to grab content from websites.

And if there’s something you’d like to remember that’s not recorder on the web, just e-mail it to the service or write a new item from scratch.

Organise

Once you’ve stored an ample amount of documents, it’s easy to organise them into topics using “sets”. When we were demonstrated the service, a London Snowfall set was created and populated with relevant content within 30 seconds using drag’n’drop. Any saved item can be stored in any number of sets, too.

Edit

A particularly novel feature lets you edit the content of items. Change the title, add or remove a picture, edit the text – the information is now yours to edit. Use it to add new information to professional articles to back up your arguments, or slip in insults about your friends. There’s probably professional uses, too.

Share

You can even turn your sets into RSS feeds for others to follow, or generate a guestpass to share a private item with a friend. Or send individual items via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.

Mobile

Read or update your items and sets from any iOS device – the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. There’s also a Kindle version in development.

Uh-oh. Cost?

A brilliant feature of Memonic is that you don’t even need to sign-up to give it a go – you can use it instantly for up to 10 items. If you want to pass on your details, that limit goes up to 100 items and three groups. For a truly premium experience, however, with unlimited everything – you’ll need to go for the £29/year option. We recommend giving it a go – once you’ve organised the web, you may never go back.

Dell Inspiron duo – Tri-mode functionality to meet multi-functioning requirements

If your house consists of people of significantly varying professions, or your brood comprises of offspring of considerably different ages, you will probably be eternally wearied by relentless battles over what mode a computer PC tablet is switched to. Your ears may therefore prick up when you learn of the Inspiron duo, Dell’s first convertible tablet, enabling users to switch seamlessly between entertainment and productivity modes.

Dell-Inspiron-Duo

Dell’s growing commitment in creating mobility products has hit new heights, as in sporting a unique flip-hinge design, the Inspiron duo ingeniously blends the capabilities of a full-sized keyboard, the facilities of a tablet and the convenience of a dock, meaning users can switch effortlessly from type to touch to dock in a flash. This almost instant tri-mode functionality is perfect for multi-functioning households, craving productivity and entertainment in equal doses.

For those requiring seamless entertainment facilities, in tablet mode Dell’s new duo Stage software supplies for easy touch access to games, videos, an eBookstore through the Bookstage application, music and the internet. With its vivid 10.1 inch HD screen facing outward, the Inspiron duo makes the perfect entertainment companion.
For those requiring more serious productivity, simply flip the screen inwards and the duo leaps into ‘work mode’, revealing a keyboard, for all conventional typing demands, such as word processing, presentations and spread sheets.

The versatile functionalities of Dell’s first convertible tablet are almost limitless. With a built-in Web-cam, elective connectivity options, such as Bluetooth and 4GB mobile broadband and integrated Wi-Fi, the Inspiron duo makes staying in touch with people easier than ever.

At a first glimpse, £449 may seem on the slightly expensive side. Although when you consider you will possess a dual-core processor with a 250GB hard drive with Windows 7 Home Premium loaded, a unique flip-hinge design that formulates a distinct and electrifying new form factor, and endless other features that provide multiple computing and entertainment features, that will satisfy all the family’s requirements, Dell’s fun and versatile tablet, is actually quite a bargain. The Inspiron duo optional dock model costs slightly more at £499, whilst the 320GB hard drive model is mid-range priced at £379.

All three models are for sale at Dell from 2 December 2010 – just in time for a peaceful Christmas!

Office 2011 Mac review: Outlook is positive, the rest of the applications, so-so

Microsoft Office 2008 on the Mac is horrible yet unavoidable necessity, that has had me banging my head against the wall for a long period of time. Random formatting glitches when working with complex (and sometimes quite simple) documents, irritating floating windows and the nightmare that was mail via Entourage (which still managed to handle Exchange better than the native Mail.app).

Ballmer

Office 2011 promises to change all this. I raced through the quite simple install process and jumped straight to the new Outlook app. This account set up was, uncharacteristically automagical, importing multiple gmail accounts from my Mail.app and an Exchange account I had on Entourage in just a few clicks. Downloading thousands of messages took a while – but nowhere near as long as downloading my single Exchange account took when I set it up a year or so ago, so that process has been streamlined on some level. You can even preview documents like you can in Mail.

Much like lightweight Mac mail client Sparrow, Outlook groups conversations, following the Gmail paradigm. Initially I thought this was awesome. After a few days use a few annoying bugs appeared to have crept in. The most annoying of which was the algorithm used to group conversations, which seemed to simply operate on Subject line. Which is fine if you have ultra-specific subject lines such as “Office Mac 2011 review” but I had an incredibly long conversation spanning years that collated every email I’d ever used “Hey” as a subject line for. I’m sure there is something I could do to fix this … but I shouldn’t have to.

Outside of Outlook, VBA makes a welcome return, with no real excuse as to why it disappeared in the first place. Sharepoint and Windows Live SkyDrive are also thrown in for corporate users, who obviously have quite demanding document sharing needs. The integration of the Mac Media browser – makes searching for pictures – and other media obviously, pretty nifty.

There are a few confusing choices with regards to user interface choices and consistency with Mac style guidelines – which are dealt with in more detail here. Daring Fireball’s Jon Gruber would probably foam at the mouth at all this.

However, given Microsoft’s dominance in the corporate world you will in all probability be using this, not matter what it looks like, and I’ve seen much worse looking software. Like Office 2008. The ribbon is feature-packed, which can be a little confusing at times – although I do enjoy casually glancing at features I’ve never seen before (in what … 15 years of using Office) and experimenting with them.

My favourite feature is however the actual opposite of the Ribbon’s mild visual clutter. The Full screen mode, removes all controls from the screen, but allows you do basic (in fact most) editing and composing work with a limited control set available with a quick mouseover on the top bar.

Excel has a few refinements and Powerpoint looks a lot more like Keynote, which can only be a good thing. Apple’s iWork suite is pretty competitively priced and does lots of basic features that will work fine for the average user. And there is lots of custom low-priced Mac software, that works well most of the time. But… if your work is mission critical or if you function in a corporate environment then the high reliability and (almost) guaranteed compatibility for the Office suite means you should probably bite the bullet and update.

The best novelty alarm clocks and apps

Alarm clocks, whilst we may have a tendency to yell at them, hit them or throw the pillow at them as they exasperatingly ring in our ears reminding us that it is still not Saturday morning, we can’t help but feel a degree of affection towards our infuriating slumber disturbers. The more novel and bizarre the alarm clock, the deeper our fondness befalls, as everybody can’t resist smiling at a novelty alarm clock. Latestgadgets takes a look at five of the most fantastically peculiar alarm clocks on the market…

Clocky

Clocky
Prolonging the depressingly inevitable by pressing the snooze button isn’t an option with Clocky. As soon as the alarm starts, vamoose! It skedaddles away and hides forcing its irate owner to jump out of bed, find it and grumpily turn it off.

Shape Up Alarm Clock
The days of keep fit enthusiasts needing to go to the gym at six in the morning before they start work, may soon be numbered. As the Shape UP Alarm Clock, which could easily be mistaken for a dumbbell, requires owners to do 30 arm reps before it finally shuts up. Just remember to switch arms each morning else you could end up looking like Popeye!

Hanging Alarm Clock
If the thought of having a yo-yo looking alarm clock hanging just inches above you as you sleep isn’t off-putting enough, then wait until the Hanging Alarm Clock sounds its alarm and starts to skulk up its cable. A whack will trigger the snooze function but five minutes later the Hanging Alarm Clock starts chiming and climbing simultaneously until its weary owner finally stands up and turns it off.

Flying Alarm Clock
Similar to Clocky, this bizarre little device will guarantee to not only have you up, but also jumping around like a maniac within seconds. As soon as the deafening alarm goes off a propeller-driven unit makes an ascent into the air. The alarm will only stop sounding when the propeller is safely returned to its base.

Wake n Bacon Alarm Clock
Forget energetically chasing nuisance clocks around the bedroom and being forced into doing arm reps, this one’s more like it. Waking up to the mouth-wateringly delicious smell of bacon really is utopia, but unfortunately, for the majority of us inflicted by hurried lifestyles, this luxury rarely happens – unless perhaps it is a Sunday and our loved ones are taking it upon themselves to nurse our hangovers. That was until the Wake n Bacon was invented that is, meaning this lusciously idyllic aroma can be accomplished every morning. A frozen strip of bacon is placed in the Wake n Bacon the night before and starts to slowly cook ten minutes before the alarm is scheduled to go off. By the time the alarm sounds the bacon is sizzling away.

Of course whilst everybody may love novelty alarm clocks, increasingly people are relying on alarm clock apps, which compared to chasing crazy looking devices around the room, offer a more ‘intelligent’ way to wake up. Absalt EasyWakeup is a smart alarm clock app for iPhone, which detects the best time for you to wake up so you have enough time to do everything before work. Sleep patterns can also be monitored with the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app, which wakes you up when it feels you are ready. With this amount of alarm clock acumen circulating, Clocky’s days may be numbered!