BrowZine- must-have personal journal tablet bookshelf

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Last week, one of my trainees introduced me to an iPad (and Android tablet) app called BrowZine. At the outset, it is worthwhile to mention that the app is FREE!!
This app allows the reader to create a personal bookshelf of favorite journals and access them through the electronic access offered through the hospital or university. The app also allows the reader to combine individual articles from databases and create complete journals and arranges them in an intuitive newsstand. This Flipboard-like ability offers an easy to use format optimized for the iPad or Android tablets. The interface offers an intuitive way for users to browse journals by subject, discover new titles, and easily read articles.

The user has to log in only once to authorize their library e-access and then proceeds to select journals to fill the bookshelf. The app also offers the ability to arrange the journals on the shelf based on the user’s interests.
BrowZine enables easy access to written scholarly articles on the go and also includes the ability to share links to articles with colleagues or email a link to your group, all from within the app. And now on the new iPad air with retina display and newer Android devices like the Nexus 7, the articles are as crisp as news print – finally making reading on a tablet a very attractive solution for digital reading.

A case for the humble iPod

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The other day, during a cleanup of my office, I came across an old iPod. Well, to be fair, it is only 6 years old. The engraving on it reminded me that I gifted this to my wife in 2007. As I recall, she and I switched over to the iPhone after that and an iPod has been the device I would gift to a young niece or nephew too young to handle an iPhone.
I decided to give the new found iPod a second chance and started using this to listen to audiobooks. And over the last week, I came to a realization. There is a certain advantage of having a device without an internet connection and phone capability. It helps you to concentrate on the job at hand and “unitask”. The same goes for reading on the Kindle. Without the distractions of the “always available internet” and multiple applications at one's fingertips, one can get a lot more done.
So, I would not knock that humble iPod just yet. There may be more to learn from the lowly iPod than you might think…

Staying organized- iOS and Android devices Task list apps review

With the constant demands on a radiologist’s time, there is always a need for good to-do apps on our smart phones and tablets. A good task list app can be a god-send when you are trying to stay organized. A full-fledged task-manager like Things, Omnifocus and To-do might be the answer for the highly organized person, most people would prefer to work with simple task list-based apps to ensure things are getting done on time, every time.

Having used a number of apps to help organize my crazy clinical, research and personal schedule, my vote for the best task list apps goes to Any.Do, Wunderlist and Errands.

User interface

Any.DO has a clean, simple interface that makes it easy to add and organize tasks. Any.Do allows toggling between a date and folder based view by flicking upwards on the screen. The date based view combines all your lists to show you what needs to get done today, tomorrow, this week, and later.

The “plus” sign next to it that allows you to add a task into each section quickly. To access the folder views, one uses the pull up located along the bottom of the screen. Flicking it upwards allows you to switch between the date and folder view and also look at a list of completed tasks.

Tapping on any task in Any.DO will give you a list of options that you can apply to that task. You can mark a task as important, drop it into a folder, set a reminder, add notes to it, or share it with a contact.

Any.DO’s settings can be access by pulling up the bottom menu and choosing the gear icon in the lower right hand corner. From here you can edit your folders, use the Any.DO moment feature, change between a dark and a light theme, control what the badge count does, change the language, and change the speech input language. There isn’t much to configure but the options you may need to change are easily accessible right within the main app settings.

Wunderlist’s interface is set up to show you lists somewhat in the form of inboxes. You can tap the pencil in the upper right hand corner to edit current lists or tap in the box above your lists in order to quickly create a new one. Tapping the edit pencil also allows you to reorder lists any way you’d like. If you want your work list above your home list, you can simply drag it in that position.

The main navigation of Wunderlist runs across the bottom of the app and consists of lists, starred items, due today, overdue, and more. More is where you can find app settings as well as other ways to sort your lists. Similar to Any.DO, Wunderlist allows you to view tasks that are associated with time. You can choose to view all tasks, tasks that are already completed, ones due tomorrow, in the next 7 days, later, and ones that have no due date.

Wunderlist allows you to star tasks that are important and they’ll filter into the starred section. You can easily star any task by simply tapping on the star next to the task name. It’ll automatically filter into that section of the app. To mark a task as done, just check it off by tapping on the check mark box next to its name.

There isn’t a ton of customization with Wunderlist but settings does allow you to change the background image, date format, language, and set up sending tasks by email.

While Any.DO, Clear, and Wunderlist all have simple to navigate and easy to understand designs, Any.DO has most logical user interface and it’s by far the easiest to use. Once you get to understand Clear and become used to the gestures, it’s just as user friendly but doesn’t have nearly as many options when it comes to interface as what Any.DO offers, which makes it a nice compromise.

To create a list or task in Any.DO you can either manually enter it or just pull down to use the voice input feature. This is something that’s unique to Any.DO and adds a lot for users who quickly need to input something without interrupting their workflow. Swipe down from the main screen and tap on the microphone icon. Say what you need the app to add and then tap the checkmark to input it.

Any.DO will try and autocomplete tasks you are inputting by offering suggestions. They’re based on places around you and on tasks you’ve previously entered into the app. It makes adding tasks a lot less painful than manually typing them.

Sorting tasks in Any.DO is easy and can be done within just a few taps. A swipe up from the bottom of the screen lets you order tasks by time or by folder. If you want to see a quick view of what you have to do you can tap into settings and view Any.DO moment which gives you a glimpse of what you need to do today. You can then quickly set reminders for things you have do or move them to a later time. It’s a great feature but something that’s rather hidden in settings. It’d be nice to see this feature pulled into the main menu for quicker access.

Clear uses multiple layers within the app and each layer houses lists and tasks. Tapping anywhere on the screen inside of a list brings up a slot to enter a new task. Just type in data and hit return on your keyboard and it adds it to your task list. From there you can pinch to close lists or swipe upwards in order to close a list and view your main list. Swiping upwards one more time brings you to the main menu that houses settings and themes.

To mark a task as done you can swipe to the right and it will be marked as complete. Swiping to the left on a task will delete it from your list. You’ll notice that completed tasks will show up at the bottom with a line through them. To clear them from your list completely you can pull up on the task list and release and it will clear away old tasks that were marked as complete. While Clear doesn’t have very many options for organizing and sorting, if you’re looking for a simple task list that just works, it does that wonderfully and beautifully.

Wunderlist is a nice compromise between Any.DO and Clear. Task entry is simply and only ever a few clicks away. When on the main task list screen you can quickly add a new list or tap into any existing list and start typing a task into the task box above your list.

Aside from adding general tasks to lists the starred section easily shows you important tasks as a simple glance. When in settings you can view all options for time based tasks and how you want to view them. While Any.DO makes this feature apparent in their main menu, Wunderlist has chosen to put it in settings. I’m not sure this makes sense to me and many users may not think to open settings in order to sort tasks. While it’s a wonderful feature to have, it should be presented in a way that makes it easier for users to find.

If you need to create lists, tasks, and organize them quickly and efficiently, Any.DO is a happy medium between Wunderlist and Clear that allows you to organize just as fast as you enter. While Clear allows for the quickest entry, Any.DO’s navigation will make more sense to many.

Any.DO, Clear, and Wunderlist all offer push notifications for reminders. What is really comes down to is how customizable they are. Any.DO by default will show a badge for any tasks that are due today. You can easily change this in settings to cater to certain lists or any tasks you’d like the badge to represent. Any.DO will also send you push notifications for any task you’ve set a reminder for. To set a reminder you can tap on the task name and then choose the reminder icon and set a time you’d like to be reminded. It’s easy to access from any task and fast, which is what most users want.

Clear allows you to change badges in two forms, for the last active list or for all tasks. This means that you can have badges represent all the tasks currently listed in Clear or you can choose to have it only represent the last list you accessed before you closed out the app. There is no option to configure only certain lists or tasks due today since clear doesn’t allow you to set times for tasks. This also means there are no push notifications inside Clear. You’ll see a badge but that’s it.

Wunderlist by default will show a badge for any tasks that are overdue. To my knowledge there isn’t a way to change this within settings. As far as notifications go, you can set reminders for any task you’d like. After creating a task you can tap into it and choose a due date or set a reminder. Wunderlist will then send you a push notification at the designated time you specified.

If you need push notifications that are customizable as well as a badge count that’s just as flexible, Any.DO is the only option since Clear lacks push notification support and Wunderlist doesn’t allow you to customize badge counts.

Any.DO uses its own native sync option. You can either create an account by creating an Any.DO account or by signing in with Facebook. Once you’ve set up an account, there is nothing to configure, it just works. Any device you’ve got Any.DO installed on will sync seamlessly.

Clear now supports iCloud and once it’s enabled within settings, all your tasks will automatically sync between iPhone, iPad, Mac, or any other device you’ve got Clear set up on.

Wunderlist supports native syncing through their own login service. Just like Any.DO, once you’ve signed in there’s absolutely nothing to configure. If you sign into your Wunderlist account on the web or on any other device that Wunderlist supports, your items will be there.

As far as syncing services are concerned, all three clients have excellent syncing support and no matter which you choose, you’ll have no issues accessing your data across several devices. Tie.

Any.DO has support for iPhone, Android, and a Chrome browser extension with a native web version coming soon. I’ve been using the Chrome extension for a few days now and haven’t had any problems. The only think I did notice is that syncing runs behind a few minutes but other than that, it works seamlessly with the iPhone app. There currently isn’t a native iPad version so if you need iPad support, Any.DO may not be your best option.

Clear is available in the App Store for iPhone and in the Mac App Store. There isn’t any native iPad or Android support so when it comes to syncing across platforms or to the iPad, it carries about the same support as Any.DO but instead of browser extensions, there is a native app for Mac users.

Wunderlist has been around for quite some time and supports quite a few platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, and PC. If you have a tendency to jump between platforms and need a task list system that can go with you, Wunderlist is it and has the best support of all three options.

Any.DO is available for free in both the App Store for iPhone and the Android Marketplace. The browser extension for Chrome is also free. Wunderlist is also a free option across all platforms and with the list of support you have, you really can’t beat it.

Clear is the only option that is a paid option. The iPhone version of Clear is currently available in the App Store for $1.99 while its Mac counterpart will run you $9.99 in the Mac App Store. If you love gestures and want an app that takes full advantage of them, Clear is it and it’s well worth the price if you need a quick and efficient task manager.

If price is a deciding factor, Wunderlist has the best support and with a free price tag, there’s no competition.

Any.DO, Clear, and Wunderlist all have great options when it comes to syncing and work well to keep you organized and on task. It comes down to how you need to organize your tasks and whether or not notifications matter to you.

While Wunderlist has the best cross-platform support, the interface is not assimple as either Clear or Any.DO. It also feels dated as it hasn’t seen a complete app overhaul since iOS 4. I’d only recommend Wunderlist over Clear and Any.DO if you really need that cross-platform support.

For most, it will come down to choosing between Clear and Any.DO. If push notifications and organizing lists by time are must haves for you, look no further any Any.DO. It’ll do everything you need and probably more. If you prefer a native Mac app and a beautiful simplistic interface that’s gesture driven, Clear is where it’s at.

Adding PDFs to your ipad

As most iPad users know, Apple iPad can display PDFs from your personal collection.
New users of the iPad wonder if there is an easy way to transfer PDFs to the iPad. Thankfully, it takes only a few easy steps to move a PDF file from your PC or Mac to your iPad. There are many other ways to do this (e.g. WebDAV), but here is the easy and probably the quickest way to do this-

Step 1- Install the iBooks app on your iPad. This is a free app that you can download through iTunes or the App Store.

Step 2- Open iTunes on your computer.
iTunes acts as the conduit between your computer to your iPad and back again.

Step 3- In the iTunes library on your computer, click on Books.
Note: If you can’t find this listed in the Library (the first option in the menu bar on the left), you should edit your Preferences in the main iTunes menu to make sure Books are selected.

Step 4. Make sure you can see your PDFs via a file browser (such as Finder on Mac or Explorer on Windows) or as an icon on the desktop. You need to ensure that you can see both the file on your computer and iTunes at the same time.

Step 5. Drag and drop the PDF into your iTunes Book library on the computer. The file will then appear in your iTunes Library.

Step 6. Attach your iPad into your computer using the USB cable and then select it in the Devices menu on iTunes.
The iPad’s Summary tab will appear.

Step 7. Click on the Books tab within iTunes (in the bar across the top of the main frame).
You’ll see options for syncing and organizing your books.

Step 8. Check the Sync Books checkbox, if it isn’t already enabled.
You can choose either to sync all books (meaning all seen in your iTunes Book Library will be uploaded to your iPad) or to sync selected books (meaning only the books that you check off below will be uploaded to your iPad).

Step 9. Click the Apply button.
The phone will automatically sync with iTunes.

Step 10. Disconnect the iPad from your computer and check that all your PDFs are now available in the iBooks app.

Should you buy the iPad mini?

There have been varied reviews of the new iPad mini released by Apple in October 2012. I was skeptical of the value of yet another tablet, particularly as I own the iPad 3rd generation, Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface.
Based on numbers alone, the iPad mini is meant to be slower than the Nexus 7 and its screen resolution is lower than the Nexus 7. Plus, its resolution is not the much-touted “retina display” seen on the iPhone 5, the larger iPads and the Macbook retina.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I find the iPad mini is every bit as good as Apple said it was going to be in their keynote. And yes, I did compare it against the Nexus 7. It stands up well in terms of speed and its screen looks great. The anodized backing and the light feel of the tablet makes it an ideal device for reading in the subway. The Apple apps ecosystem has more refined offerings than in Google play store. For example, the Amazon Instant Video is conspicuously absent in the Google Play store. As a Amazon Prime member, I think this is an important omission on the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 feels heavier than the iPad mini, even when the mini’s smart cover is on.

But there are a few areas where the Nexus 7 comes out ahead-(especially with the new Jellybean 4.2 update) for example, the ability to place widgets on the lock screen, a more refined notification center and more crisper look to video playback are not to be overlooked. And Google Now and google maps are definitely better than Siri for local search.

Reading books using the ibooks or the Kindle app is marginally better on the iPad Mini than on the Nexus 7.
And although it is little larger than the Nexus 7, it fits in my jacket pocket and the extra 0.9 inches comes in handy when I am reading a pdf or book.

So, should you buy the iPad mini?I would say this- if you are looking for a smaller tablet than the iPad 4th generation, and you intend this to be your “go-to” device for entertainment and information, then this is the tablet for you. If you are more of a tinkerer and do not mind having to customize your device and looking around for good apps, the Nexus 7 should be on your list.

iOS 6 maps app sucks!

I am on vacation in India and have been trying to find my way around the capital city, Delhi. Last year, I used google maps on my iPhone 4 and everything went well.
This year I have tried the Maps app offered by Apple as part of iOS 6 and it really sucks! Sample screenshots of what I encountered during my day are attached and compared to the richness of Google map web app. I had to zoom the ios Maps app to the size shown to get just a couple of named buildings to to show up.
More than half the time, the iOS 6 maps app failed to suggest directions and local search was almost non-existent. I doubt Apple actually tested this outside their internal San Francisco/Cupertino bubble, because rest of world, like me, believes they did not bother to use data from other sources like Yelp to enrich maps from other countries or even US states.
I know that some may not like this, but I have got to say it- Steve would never have allowed this to happen!!
I am seriously considering buying a Galaxy S3 seeing as the maps feature on my Nexus 7 is awesome..
Unless Apple allows Google to put their maps application on iOS 6..
Come on, Apple- swallow your pride and do the right thing.

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Nexus 7 review


Playing with the newly arrived Nexus 7. This is definitely an awesome tablet! Just the right size for reading and gaming. Super search functions using Google’s voice search. Google Now is something that I have not tried out but looks pretty good based on what it came up with regarding my favorite sports teams and local pizza joints. Best of the Google vanilla flavor Jelly bean Android OS and play store combined with the ability to load Amazon Store apps! One has to remember to turn on the capability to add third party apps in order to enable Amazon store apps.
The Kindle book reading is so sweet on the 7 inch interface.
Navigating between screens is indeed buttery smooth as Google promised. Installing apps and widgets was a breeze and most apps that I use on iOS are free anyway (e.g. Dropbox, Facebook, WordPress, Kindle, Sonos, Spotify) and downloading was quick and seamless.
Unlocking with facial recognition and pattern unlocking worked great for me- new to android, so never seen this in action before and was definitely impressed! My nine year-old son was so impressed with this that he wants to swap his iPad 2 for this tablet!

Minor quibbles
1. highlighting on the Kindle app is not as elegant as on
the iOS device
2. No rear facing camera and front facing camera is just acceptable.
3. The Google play store is harder to navigate through than the iOS app store. You should know what you want and then it is easy o search. Using the staff and editor picks sections helped immensely.

Recommendation: If you are in the market for a portable device, this is an awesome tablet worth buying.

Price: And the price of $199 plus tax and postage for the 8 GB model and the $249 plus tax and postage for the 16GB model is a fraction of the cost of an iPad. And remember Google is enticing you with $25 to spend on apps, music and books in the Play store.

Update- After more than 3 months with the Nexus 7, I have some additional comments.
First, I find reading e-books on the small screen more difficult than on the iPad. I gravitate towards the iPad to write emails, but can read through emails on the Nexus 7 just fine.
The Google search and voice search are just awesome.
Google maps works fine as long you are near Wi-fi. My solution- tether the iPad’s LTE connection to the Nexus 7. Some may think that is crazy, but a geek has got to do what it takes… right?
The camera on the Nexus 7 is okay for hangouts but not much else.
The two things that Google must do for the next version are get 4G and LTE on board and get good front and rear facing cameras.
Also, fixing the problems with rotation that require a special app like Ultimate rotation control is also a must.
Just hope that Apple does not beat them to the punch with a smaller iPad with all these additions. Then, Google will have a real challenge on its hands, not that they are cruising along happily right now!

Retina display MacBook Pro- it is here!

Hallelujah! The Retina display MacBook Pro is here! I have been holding off on updating my late 2009 MacBook Pro and eagerly awaiting the new updated version of this Apple notebook. And it is finally here! I had written about this in March and had wished that in addition to the high resolution display, this notebook would have dictation built in to the operating system. Looks like someone at Apple was hearing my prayers and the new updated MacBook Pro has both these features.
In addition to this, the ability to cram in 16 GB RAM and high end graphics make it ideal for my advanced image analysis needs. And having used the dictation feature on my IPad for writing emails and short notes, I can see how this would be a good feature for radiologists to dictate reports.
And the ability to AirPlay from the Mac using an apple TV means that creating an audio-visual room set-up in a meeting room will be child’s play. No more fiddly cables, yay! Give me a high resolution LCD screen and an apple TV, and I will be all set. Using screenflow and keynote, I can deliver my talk and make a screencast at the same time!

I will post a detailed review here after playing with this new gadget. I am hoping to get it in my hands by the end of the week, if my IT support team can get its act together!

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Newsify- a beautiful aggregator of google reader articles

Finally, I found a really good app to help me sift through a number of journals on the iPad. The app allows one to navigate easily to the full text and most importantly, save the article in a place like Instapaper or Evernote for later reference.
I think this will appeal to people who love the aesthetics of an app as much as the functionality.
It is called Newsify and is free right now in the app store.
It basically aggregates your google reader (and I am presuming that you know how to subscribe to various journals on google reader) into a beautiful flipboard like interface. One click takes you to the full text, especially if you have access to the full text through an individual or institutional subscription.
Fantastic! I went through a bunch of articles from the AJNR, AJR and Journal of Neurosurgery within half an hour and feel that I have accomplished something.
And yes, it is better than the other RSS readers and aggregators out there.. Take my word for it- I have tried them all, but I am writing only about this one!!

Go to the Newsify developer webpage for a full list of features-

Free video tutorials for Mac and ipad

Don McAllister from the awesome Screencasts online site has made the SCO tutor for Mac and SCO tutor for ipad free on the iOS app store. If you are new to the Apple world, then this is a must-have.

In particular, I would encourage you to look at SCO tutor for ipad- It is a complete iPad video guide for new iPad users. It runs to over 2 hours long and has 20 chapters.

The links are:


And if you are interested in learning about using your Mac, iPhone and iPad like an expert, then check out Don’s informative Screencasts Online site (there are both paid and free screencasts).
I can tell you that a lot of what I know about the Mac and ipad comes from listening and watching Don on this site.