The Notebook

I’ve always been surprised how many people have moved over to digital notetaking. I’m quite a tech savvy person (I hope) but I’m not one for digital notes. I find it much easier to take hand written notes in meetings and when brainstorming ideas and thoughts. I have tried multiple times to take notes on either an iPad or a Laptop in meetings but it ends up taking me longer and I’m better at taking notes down by hand so I can circle things or doodle in the margins.

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My notebook of choice is the Baron Fig confidant notebook with dot grid pages. This particular notebook is excellent quality. The pages are nice and think and the hard-covered notebook opens almost flat on the desk. My current notebook is A5 size but I’m thinking of upgrading to the slightly larger version when I’m due a new one.

Having just purchased a new iPad 6th Generation model through work I’m interested to see if the iPad will take more of my note taking function. I can’t see it. I’ve always been keen to choose specific things for a specific purpose and the iPad certainly has its uses as a consumption device. It’s loaded with my eMails, PDFs and various IT Management Apps that are really handy to have quick access to. The only way I think I’ll ever move to digital notes is by incorporating the Apple Pencil into the mix. The 6th generation iPad supports the pencil but I didn’t decide to take the plunge on that purchase just yet. Time will tell.

Apple Event Summary


Although I didn’t watch the Apple Event from 27th March I did keep up with the announcements via the usual live blogs. My initial response was a little disappointment. Not because I didn’t like what Apple announced (I’ve been waiting for a new iPad so the 6th generation model couldn’t come soon enough) but because I think we’ve come to expect more from Apple than they deliver. The products and services they announced last night are great. They look great and I’m sure they work great but they’re not a game changer. They’re nothing we’ve not already seen before in cross-platform, web-based Virtual Learning Environments that schools and colleges have been using for years. The price drops are good but not nearly where they should or could be and folding iBook’s author functionality goes further backwards than forwards.

I’m not saying these things don’t have value. I love the price point of the new iPad and the fact it can now use the pencil is brilliant. I just wish Apple wouldn’t keep saying how much they care about things (like education and the mac) and then come out with average services and hardware. I’d prefer them to say “we’re interested but not that bothered really”.

Starting a fresh

It’s always nice to start a fresh in a new job. Especially when you’ve felt a little unsettled for a few months. I started a new position last Monday and what always amazes me is how starting somewhere new can mess with the systems and processes you had setup for managing your day. I used to think that the systems I used would translate over into any role and although the role I have now is very similar to the one I had previously, my systems still need tweaking to adjust. For a long time now, I’ve been trying to focus in on using specific tools (either hardware or software based) for specific purposes and as I’m now a week into my new roles I’ve settled nicely into what to use for what purpose.

There’s a few basic tasks that help me get through my day.

  • List tracking and to do’s
  • Note taking
  • Mind Maps
  • Documentation – Technical and User

Between these four things I have my productivity sorted so I’ve decided to use four/five distinct applications to get each of these things done.

  • Todoist – for projects and to do items
  • OneNote – for Note taking and logging things for reference
  • MindNode – for mind mapping on macOS and iOS
  • Microsoft Word – for technical documentation
  • InDesign – for pretty user documentation

Whilst I’d like to use a more Apple friendly alternative for OneNote and Word, my organisation uses Office 365 heavily so these integrate well.

There’s a range of other software and hardware I need to get things done but these five individual apps are the ‘tent pole’ applications of my workday.

Mac Power Users Podcast


One of my favourite podcasts lately is Mac Power Users. The show, hosted by David Sparks and Katie Floyd, takes an in depth look at Mac workflows highlighting specific software and hardware. They occasionally interview key people who are known to the show to explore their setups and explain a bit about how they use their Apple gear and what they use it for. Episode 418 on 19th February was an excellent episode. Interviewing Rose Orchard the two hosts go through her role, hardware and software in detail. Rose was excellent. Very clearly spoken and to the point. Above all her setup and workflows were inspirational and gave me some food for thought about my own setup. You can find her interview on episode 418 of Mac Power Users right here. The show notes also include the extensive list of hardware and software talked about in the show. Each of the episodes are really good but this one stood out for me. Have a listen.

What's it all about?

I setup this site not simply as a commercial venture but to provide an online space to share digital art, branding and technology ideas.

I’ve worked as an IT Systems Manager in education for over 10 years and digital art has featured heavily in the IT systems I’ve designed and managed. I’m excited to now offer these services to others.

As well as the design packages I'll also be offering various resources for IT training and systems management, showing a creative side to these sometimes complex and mundane subjects.

This is not a marketing company or even a design company. This is simply about providing cost effective digital art services and a place to showcase creativity and technology coming together.

If you find something you like please feel free to take inspiration from it. If you're interested in some of the design work on show and would like some for yourself, please get in touch.

Gareth Harle