Kevin Ian Schmidt

Common Security Vulnerabilities

The more involved type of security study, often called a threat vulnerability risk assessment (RVRA), will typically describe the common security vulnerabilities uncovered and ways to mitigate them, and offer a prioritization so that the organization can fiscally manage its security improvements. A Security Study can discover potential vulnerabilities such as a flood risk to a building, weak infrastructure, location of a building along an airport’s flight path, or that the building may be near a railroad line that carries industrial chemicals.

 

Being aware of the common security vulnerabilities your facility faces, is important, and a quality consultant can help you identify them if needed. You can contact me to schedule an initial consultation if a service like this interests you.

What are common workplace security breaches?

Security can be compromised through physical as well as digital types of security breaches. The physical Common Security Vulnerabilitiessecurity breaches can deepen the impact of any other types of security breaches in the workplace. So, let’s expand upon the major physical security breaches in the workplace.

  • Casual Attitude  
      • The casual attitude of employees or management toward security awareness can lead to the disastrous results. There should be strict rules to follow the procedures without any exceptions.
  • Unattended Assets & Areas
      • Any valuable data or equipment at the workplace should not be left unattended at all. Meanwhile, leaving a critical workplace area unattended or unlocked is another critical component that can add huge risk to the physical security breaches in your workplace.
  • Exceptions in Physical Access Rules
      • The physical security is the first circle of a powerful security mechanism at your workplace. So, always keep it strict and follow the physical security procedures in real sense. Always avoid any kind of exceptions in allowing access to the internal or external peoples to the restricted areas.
  • Rogue Employees
      • It has been observed in the many security breaches that the disgruntled employees of the company played the main role in major security breaches in the workplace. The example of Sony’s data breach is one such kind of workplace security breach.
  • Eavesdropping over Sensitive Information
      • Eavesdropping has been a fundamental breach in the data security as well as in the physical security. The overhearing of the lock codes, pins, and security passwords is a big breach, which can lead to the disastrous outcomes. So, always take care to avoid any kind of eavesdropping in your surroundings.
Check Out: Layered Security

How do you go about preventing these security breaches?

To prevent any security breach at the workplace, take the following steps:

  • Review and restrict physical access as per security policy
  • Review and change the access passwords and keys
  • Review and monitor the egress and ingress points
  • Aware the concerned people to handle any uneven situation
  • Identify and secure critical information
  • Check and renew the network security and firewall settings
  • Change security keys after every employee leaves the company
  • Change the guards (human), if any

Tips to Identify Internal Theft

Retail theft Chart
Retail Loss Chart

Whether it’s downloading and sharing company confidential information (a hot topic these days), manipulating expense reports, or stealing merchandise- employee theft and fraud is a serious issue for business owners. In fact, studies show that occupational fraud now results in the loss of five percent of an organization’s annual revenue.

Here are some tips for preventing and managing employee theft or occupational fraud.

  1. Use Pre-Employment Background Checks Wisely

One of the first steps to preventing fraudulent employee behavior is to make the right hiring decision. Basic pre-employment background checks are a good business practice for any employer, especially for those employees who will be handling cash, high-value merchandise, or have access to sensitive customer or financial data.

This Guide to Pre-Employment Background Checks outlines the types of information that you can consult as part of a pre-employment check, and the laws that govern their use. I’s worth noting, that the law varies from state to state on whether a private employer can consider an applicant’s criminal history in making hiring decisions. Check with your local EEOC office for the laws in your area before going down this path.

  1. Check Candidate References

I’m always surprised how very few employers reach out to check candidate references’ often assuming that a reference will never be anything but glowing. However, it’s good practice to check references’ particularly those of former employers or supervisors. If your candidate has a history of fraudulent behavior’ then you’ll want to know about it, before you hand them a job offer.

  1. Proactively Communicate Conduct Guidelines

Every business needs an employee code of ethics and conduct – while it won’t prevent criminal or fraudulent behavior, the standards it outlines will set a clear benchmark for employee behavior and guidelines on how to do business based on a series of principles that promote ethical and lawful conduct.

Once developed, the code of conduct should be documented and agreed to by all new employees (and existing employees if you haven’t put a code in place yet). You can find many templates for basic codes of conduct on the Internet, but as a rule of thumb you should include policies that cover the protection of company data, the avoidance of conflict of interests, and of course, obeying the law.

Use employee orientation as an opportunity to go over the code of conduct and explain any areas that are unclear.

Then, revisit the code each year and be sure to add any new considerations that may have materialized – for example, if you do business with certain suppliers, contractors, or government agencies who require you and your employers to agree to new codes of conduct as part of your business relationship.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Audit

Auditing always has a big brother feel, and in a small business environment this is especially true. However, conducting regular audits can help you detect theft and fraud. Audits can also be a significant deterrent to fraud or criminal activity because many perpetrators of workplace fraud seize opportunity where weak internal controls exist.

As a rule of thumb, identify high risk areas for your business and audit for violations on a 6-12 month basis – these could include business expense reports, cash and sales reconciliation, vacation and sick day reports, violations of email/social media or Web-use policies, and so on.

 

  1. Recognize the Signs

Studies show that perpetrators of workplace crime or fraud do so because they are either under pressure, feel under-appreciated, or perceive that management behavior is unethical or unfair, and rationalize their behavior based on the fact that they feel they are owed something or deserve it.

With this in mind, some of the potential red flags to look out for include:

  • Not taking vacations – many violations are discovered while the perpetrator is on vacation
  • Being overly-protective or exclusive about their workspace
  • Prefers to be unsupervised by working after hours or taking work home
  • Financial records sometimes disappearing
  • Unexplained debt
  • Unexpected change in behavior
Have you read: 5 Common ways employees steal
  1. Set the Right Management Tone

One of the best techniques for preventing and combating employee theft or fraud is to create and communicate a business climate that shows that you take it seriously . Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your finger on the pulse:

  • Reconcile statements on regular basis for fraudulent activity
  • Hold regular one-on-one review meetings with employees
  • Offer to assist employees who are experiencing stress or difficult times
  • Encourage open-door policies giving employees the opportunity to speak freely and share their concerns about potential violations
  • Create strong internal controls
  • Require employees to take vacations
  • Treat unusual transactions with suspicion
  • Trust your instincts

How have you encountered workplace theft or fraud? How did you deal with it or what preventative measures do you use? Leave a comment below.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Guide

smart goals 2

SMART goal setting brings structure and trackability into your goals and objectives. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal’s attainability. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.

In corporate life, SMART goal setting is one of the most effective and yet least used tools for achieving goals. Once you’ve charted to outlines of your project, it’s time to set specific intermediary goals. With the SMART checklist, you can evaluate your objectives. SMART goal setting also creates transparency throughout the company. It clarifies the way goals came into existence, and the criteria their realization will conform to.

Understanding SMART Goals

Specific goal

Specific goals are able to be accomplished easier than a general goal.

A good way to set a specific goals is to answer the six “W”s: Who, What, Where, Which, When, Why.

  • Who: Who is involved in completion of the goal?
  • What: What is it I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Where am I accomplishing this goal?
  • Which: Identify the requirements and potential constraints
  • When: When is it going to be accomplished?
  • Why: Why am I setting this goal?

 

measurable goal

A measurable goal is a specific concrete criterion towards attaining your goal. Measuring progress is a good way to track progress towards completion, and experience the sense of accomplishment as you hit each goal mark.

An easy way to make a goal measurable is to ask yourself questions like:

  • how many;
  • how much;
  • how will I know when it is accomplished?

 

achieveable goal

An achievable goal  are realistic and also attainable. While an achievable goal may stretch your understandings in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, since these may be considered meaningless. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an achievable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.

An achievable goal will usually answer the question How?

  • How can the goal be accomplished?
  • How realistic is the goal based on other constraints?

 

relevant goals

Relevant goals stress the importance of choosing goals that matter and are impactful. A clothing store manager’s goal to “To cook 20 pieces of chicken by 2pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable and time-bound but lacks relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a leading voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization, yourself, will receive that needed support.

A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?

 

time based goals

A Time-Based goal stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time-frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps people focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-based goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A time-based goal will usually answer the question

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?
Check Out: The 7 Secrets of Effective Leaders

So, now you understand SMART Goals, at least a little better.  It is optimal to start setting SMART goals for yourself both within your job and for professional development.

When doing that, there are a few considerations while building the goals for optimal performance.

Align your SMART goals to organizational objectives

Before you set your goals, you should review your company’s and department’s objectives and justify what you can do to contribute to them. Your efforts will only pay of if you know why you are setting the SMART goals and you align them to the wider goals of the company you work for.

This is obviously good for a departmental SMART goal, but is also powerful for a professional development goal. Say your company is lagging in a specific area, that you recognize, and you can develop the skills or knowledge to address it. This is a goal alignment that allows for you to position yourself better professionally, while also helping your department/company.

Ask yourself;

  • Is the goal specific?
  • What am I going to measure whether or not it is achieved?
  • Is this goal truly achievable?
  • Is this goal relevant to the organizational strategy and your job?
  • Did you set a clear deadline for your goal?

Be clear on what success looks like

Do you want your organization to be setting Smart Goals that are very safe and achievable, or do you expect them to be reaching with Stretch Goals? By establishing a clear expectation of what Success looks like within the organization, leaders can actively encourage people to reach for ambitious goals. For example, a clear message that ‘We expect you to achieve 70% of your goals and that is what success looks like. Achieving 100% of your goals is failure and means you set the bar too low.’ is a very strong message.

Continually review and adjust each goal

Things change. Therefore, it is important you regularly revisit your goals and adjust them as you go.

 

Here are the reasons why you should use  SMART goal setting for your personal development:

o Lead you to the right direction
Many people fail to achieve their aspirations in life because they lack the guide. They don’t have something to remind them or lead them to the right path. Once you use SMART goals, you will have a guardian with you that will guide you every single step of the way. Make sure you have simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals so that you will get exactly what you want in this life.

o Help you stay motivated
It is only normal for one to encounter problems along the way to success. Challenges and problems are parts of our lives as humans and they will not go away. However, there is something you can do about them. SMART goal setting will help you face these obstacles head on. Once you fix your eyes on your goals, you will never go astray. You will know exactly what you want to achieve and have the drive to reach them. You will stay motivated despite the troubles that will come your way.

Check Out: Budgeting for Training

SMART Goal Setting Tips

In order to get you on the right track for setting SMART goals, consider implementing some of the following tips to make your journey towards success much easier:

1. Being specific with your goal setting is seen through the strong statements you make about your objectives. An example of setting a challenging, yet motivating goal is to exclaim, “I will move to California by the end of the year to pursue acting,” instead of “I want to be in a movie.”

2. Phrasing your SMART goals in the present tense helps pull you closer towards achieving success. Get out of the habit of saying “I want to” and start saying, “I will.” This will help you approach your objectives in a manner that is more susceptible to accomplishment.

3. Writing down your SMART goals is a great way to clarify your objectives and create a better visualization of the outcome. Some individuals will jot down each goal on a separate index card, which they then review on a daily basis. This serves as a motivating reminder.

4. When you list the benefits you expect to receive out of achieving a SMART goal, this helps to keep you steadfast in your intentions; increases focus; and makes obstacles much easier to overcome. For instance, a person listing the benefits for losing weight may review the positive aspects when they feel a weakness to binge on sweets. The more advantages you are able to come up with – the more motivating the goals will become.

Out of Office Series: Calendar App: Business Calendar

business calendar

As part of my Out of Office Series, I am searching for a great calendar app, one that can replace my trusty Dayplanner (yes, one of those). I often find myself out of the office, getting  calls and needing to coordinate schedules, or setting up a task for a later date, or about 1,000 other things. A good calendar is the base for a proper time management plan, and a great calendar makes it easier to follow the plan.
As a break in this series, I won’t be reviewing multiple apps, instead just highlighting the one I have already found.

Business Calendar meets all of my needs, is easy to use, and has some really nice features; let’s check it out.

Some of the features of business calendar are as follows:

  • Log-in: This app connects with your Google account, syncing to your Google Calendar. This is great, as you can then access your calendar from phone, tablet, or computer. You can connect multiple Gmail accounts to this app, allowing for different events to be set to different accounts. So your personal events can be run through your personal Gmail account, and your business run through your business Gmail: then just a quick toggle view allows you to see all your calendar events or just specific ones linked to an account. You can also make a local calendar in place of setting a separate account, or in addition to. This level of customization allows for strong organization and time management.
  • Homepage widget: This app offers a highly customized homepage widget, you can set it to Month, Week, Day, Agenda or Tasks only view. You can then set the color theme, the colors of the background/labels/titles/times/buttons, adjust font sizes, the transparency and even the visibility of different functions. This allows for you to have a widget that looks great on your homepage.
  • Events: Events are easily added from the homepage widget. You can color code from 11 different colors, to group events together visibly. Events can be location set, so if you have to travel it will allow for distance/time accounting. Reminders, repeating events, location tagging, attendees, and event description are all easily filled in. If you find yourself often making similar events, you can make preloaded templates, that will autofill much of this information for you.
  • Location tagging: This feature of an event needed it’s own section. If you set a location to an event, Business Calendar will use your current location to alert you when it is time to leave for an event.
  • Tasks: This app syncs with Business tasks, and posts the tasks to your calendar. You can add tasks from the calendar, you can complete them off the calendar.

 

I do have a few wishes for what Business Calendar could do, but none of these are shortcomings, just things I wish a calendar app offered:

  • Picture uploading: I would like the ability to upload a picture to an event.
  • Document tagging: The ability to tag a document to an event, like the PowerPoint to the event reminder.
  • Direct dial: The ability to add a phone number to an event and just clicking it would connect the call.
  • Email events: When you create events and add the email addresses of attendees, it will auto-email the event details to them as well.

This app is in no way shorted by not having these extra features, in fact I would have been shocked to find them all.

Business Calendar Homepage

Business Calendar: Google Play

Business Calendar Pro: Google Play

Business Calendar 2: Google Play

*UPDATE* Business Calendar has released an update called Business Calendar 2: there are extra features, updated functions, and additional features. Please check out their website for a detailed list of the new features.

business calendar 2 business calendar 3b2 4 business calendar 4 business calendar 5

Productivity: Apps I use

So, I have talked about some of the apps I use, now it seems like time to talk about how I use them and how they help my productivity and time management.

At first glance it may seem like I am using redundant apps, but each has different strengths and weaknesses, so I use them each differently. This works to speed up my productivity and better manage my time management, it may not work for you, if not then just grab the best app to help you.

 

onenotegoogle keepskitchevernote

OneNote: I use this as my notebook, I plan and prep my meetings, store my meeting notes, record my meetings, share my projects with coworkers, and am slowly going paperless with quick notes.

Google Keep: I use this to store my photos. If I am doing an audit and find something wrong or a great example, I photograph it and run it through Skitch to make notes, highlight area, post arrows, whatever is needed later for my post-audit presentation.

Evernote: I use this as my catchall. I kick an email over here if I need to save it for later review, I screen grab articles for later or to research for presentations, and for just about anything else I need to make sure I remember.

Using each as a different function, allows me to keep them clean and organized.

 

business calendarB2business tasks

Business Calendar(Business Calendar 2 now): I use Business Calendar 2 pro, since it links up to Google account and calendar. It keeps all my meetings, presentations, and tasks in one easy convenient place. The level of customization makes my calendar easily viewed, and the homescreen widget allows me to easily see my upcoming commitments.

Business Tasks: I love this app, it is easy to use, it allows for quick task adding, it has great subtask organization, and is all around just a powerhouse task list manager. This app syncs to my Google account and tasks as just an extra benefit. The fact that it posts on my calendar allows for me to see my tasks and complete them quickly.

Having my calendar sync with my task list makes for a quick simple view. With a highly customizable calendar, you can not just keep your work commitments organized, but also easily track your personal commitments, like Dr visits or important family functions. Life is easier and more productive with some organization. This quick access allows for great time management, and an organized calendar is the base of a proper plan.

 

mailboxboxer

Mailbox: I use Mailbox for my Gmail account, it allows me to easily swipe my way down to mailbox zero. I can snooze emails until later, then they repost into my inbox when I can spend the appropriate amount of time on it. I can easily swipe them over into the appropriate list.

Boxer: I use Boxer for my exchange email account. Boxer is nice because I can kick emails over to Evernote, put them as part of a task list to be read later, or even send a quick “thanks, I got the email” reply as easy as a simple swipe.

Either app would handle both my accounts, but I prefer different apps for different accounts, so I can easily keep track of my emails and deal with them appropriately.

 

dropboxgoogle drive  onedriveamazon cloud

Dropbox: I use Dropbox as my cloud office. I print from Dropbox to my home printer, I share files with co-workers, I use it to launch my computer for remote access

Google Drive: I use Google Drive as my need it now storage. If I need a document for a presentation or for a meeting, I drop it into Google Drive, so I can access it easily from my tablet, phone or computer. I make folders and subfolders to organize my week in advance, and easily add/remove files as things change.

Onedrive: I use Onedrive to store all my Microsoft documents, for access from any computer, phone, tablet or to email out.

Amazon Cloud Drive: I have Amazon Prime, so I use Amazon Cloud Drive to backup my photos. I can upload photos I take, photos others send me, or photos I have run through Skitch for cloud backup. I can access them from anywhere, I can pull them to my phone, tablet or computer as needed.

By keeping my cloud storage organized separately I never have to fumble during a presentation or meeting for the right file, I never have to search hundreds of folders for various files, I know where each file is stored and can quickly access it.

 

Google Sheets Google slidesGoogle Docs

Google Sheets: I use this to process my Excel spreadsheets on my phone and tablet. It seamlessly pulls them from Google Drive as needed.

Google Slides: This program is great for working on PowerPoint presentations from my phone and tablet. It seamlessly syncs to Google Drive for document retrieval as needed.

Google Docs: I work on my phone and tablet with Word documents using this app, with it pulling my documents from Google Drive as needed.

The apps also work directly out of Google Drive if you are working from your computer. The syncing is seamless, it works great across platforms and devices, making these an invaluable tool in your arsenal.

 

Chrome desktop remote

Chrome Remote Desktop: I only have this loaded onto my tablet and computer. I don’t often need a remote desktop viewer, but when I do need it it is handy to have access easily. I most often use this when I am giving a PowerPoint presentation so I can roam the room freely while still looking at the notes for each slide and control the pace of the presentation.

 

These are the apps I use on my phone, tablet and/or computer to aid my productivity and time management. I have provided links to all of them if you would like to check them out.

Out of Office series: Note App: Onenote

onenote

So my love of post-it notes is slowly being replaced by note apps on my phone, tablet, and computer; yet I still find myself whipping out my trusty post-its, or grabbing a note book for notes still. So onward my search continues.
I went ahead an downloaded the Onenote app onto my phone and tablet, my laptop already had it installed as part of my Microsoft Office Suite.

Needs/Expectations:

Phone and tablet sync: This easily syncs across all platforms used, saving your information in the cloud, so you can also access it from any computer.

Homepage widget: The homepage widget options with Onenote are slightly limited, with a taskbar, single function buttons, or a list of most recently accessed notebook pages.

Ability to make notes, take pictures and record audio: This app allows you to make nnotebooks, with a chapter function and then broken down into pages. You can upload pictures easily into Onenote, or take pictures with the apps and then add notes, you also have the ability to draw and highlight on a picture. You can insert multiple audio notes within a single page, plus type notes attached to the audio file. On a single page it is easy to add pictures, notes, and an audio file.

Speech to text: this is not a feature on this program

Ability to organize notes: The ability to organize your notes with Onenote is amazing. Each notebook, has chapters, then pages. You can tag each page with key words, making them searchable. Each Notebook page can be color coded: really allowing for an organized book.

Other features I would like:

Video notes: this is not a feature with this program.

Ability to set note color: each page within a notebook is able to color coded.

Sync calendar with notes: This is not a feature on this program

Location marking ability: This is not a feature on the program

Handwriting notes: the handwriting feature on Onenote is amazing, you not only can easily handwrite, but add notebook paper or grid lines before doing it, so it allows for neater writing.

There are some additional features and functions of Onenote, that I felt the need to highlight.
Writing: I know, I know, all note apps can obviously write notes, but the note taking in Onenote is equal to a  word processor.
Task list: you can make a task list within a single note.

Onenote is powerful for organizing notes, it launches fast from the homepage app. The ability to organize your notes and tag with key words. The ability to blast off multiple types of notes on a single page is great for me, it allows me to really organize my notes, thoughts, and photos.

 

Download Onenote

Onenote Homepage

Download Onenote: Google Play

Download Onenote: iTunes for iphone

Download Onenote: iTunes for ipad

onenote 2 onenote 3 onenote 4

Out of Office Series: Note App: Evernote

evernote

So to continue along with my out of office series, I am reviewing Evernote. I downloaded this app to my phone and tablet, than downloaded it to my computer as a Chrome extension. Gave this a real try out.

Needs/Expectations:
Phone and tablet sync: This app quickly syncs across all platforms. The notes update as soon as you save. It clips websites easily on my computer and then easily display on my phone and tablet.

Homepage widget: The homepage widget for the phone and tablet are highly customizable, from size to options available. You can have the homepage widget display just a single action to the extensive taskbar (which you can then change the actions), to display notebooks (from specific notebooks to all).

Ability to make notes, take pictures and record audio: This app records audio, easily makes photo notes, and makes quick notes. The audio note feature can be quick launched from the home widget, and can be easily used to record meetings. The photo note feature is quickly launched from the home widget, and is enhanced if you include Skitch. Which allows you to make notes on the pictures, draw on them, add arrows, highlight, and type. This truly makes the photo note powerful. The quick note feature is great, it can be moved to any of your notebooks.

Speech to text: The text to speech option for this app, leaves a little to be desired, from my tests you have to speak slowly, or else it won’t keep up. I also tried to use this while I was congested, and it couldn’t recognize my words.

Ability to organize notes: You can’t change the color of the notebooks, but you can place notes under specific notebooks. You can tag notebooks and notes with tag words, which makes them searchable. This makes the notes organized well organized, but at the same time highly searchable.

Other features I would like:
Video notes: You can not make a true video note, but you can add a video to a note, and then do a handwriting note or type out additional notes.

Ability to set note color: not a feature with this program, but with the keywords function, it is easily searchable.

Sync calendar with notes: This is an easy feature to use, you can set a note for a future meeting or a presentation. It will sync to your calendar and add it. If you do not put in a title, it automatically pulls your last calendar task as the title.

Location marking ability: it is easy to tag a note to a location. Which is nice if you are writing a note on where you are, or are location mapping with pictures.

Handwriting notes: This app has a great handwriting function. You can add sketches to notes and have notes typed in as well.

Along with the above features that I needed and those I wanted, Evernote has some other features worth noting.
Highlighter: this seems so basic, but is overlooked on some apps. You can highlight words or entire sections or notes. You can not highlight text from clipped websites.

Share: This feature allows you to easily share your notebooks, which is powerful for group projects. Each party can edit the project, and it updates for all to see.

Chat: this is a part of the share feature, but I felt it deserved it’s own section. This feature allows you to chat among all who are sharing a notebook. That is very powerful, so you can discuss updates, discuss changes, and share input.

Document camera: This is great, it essentially is a handheld scanner for documents. It makes the document searchable, along with being able to be kicked over to skitch, so you can highlight, add arrows, or draw notations.

Evernote is a powerhouse note taking app, with the notebook feature and the ability to tab notes and notebooks, this leaves your notes easily organized. I love all the different features, it let’s me make notes of whatever strikes me. The Chrome extension really adds another dimension, with quick website clips. It is also useful to review your notes from a computer.
I do love this app, it meets my needs, but I find myself just wanting a bit more sometimes.

I will be comparing this app against Google Keep soon, let’s see how they stack up.

 

Evernote Homepage

Download Evernote: Google Play

Download Evernote: iTunes store

Evernote 2  evernote 3evernote 4

Out of Office Series: Note App: Google Keep

google keep

I am a self professed post-it junkie, my office is littered with them, so as I am transitioning over to using my tablet and phone more while out of the office, I am seeking an app to fill this void. I downloaded Google Keep to my phone and tablet, and gave it a test run.

Needs/Expectations:
Phone and tablet sync: This device lets you sign in using your Google account, which allows for syncing between my phone and tablet.
*Extra: As this is run through Google, you can access it via computer, and if using Chrome, download it as an extension . *

Homepage widget: there are 2 widget options, one is a simple taskbar, which allows for quick access to the features; the other widget is a full widget, with a scrollable section with your notes visible, plus the full quick access task bar.

Ability to make notes, take pictures and record audio: With this app you can take notes, make quick checklists, and take pictures with notes. The only audio is text to speech, which is great for quick notes, not long recorded meeting/speeches.

Speech to text: This is a great option, works great, with saved audio to review later.

Ability to organize notes: You can drag and drop the notes in any order you want. Beyond the single main screen, you can archive notes to save them as reminders for later.

Other features I would like:
Video notes: this is not a feature with this app.

Ability to set note color: you have 8 different color choices for notes, this allows for bright visible differentiation of notes.

Sync calendar with notes: this is not a feature with this app.

Location marking ability: this is not a feature with this app.

Handwriting notes: this is not a feature with this app.

This app is a powerhouse for note taking, it launches quick from the widget, even the camera feature. There is also a handy feature for marking notes to issue a reminder on a certain date/time.
I will be integrating Google Keep into my workflow, as it meets my needs, I will review the app again after i have had some time to build it into my workflow.

 

Download the app here: Google play store

Download the Chrome web extension here: Chrome store

Google Keep Homepage

 

google keep 3  google keep 2

Out of Office Series: Note App: Color Notes list

color note 2

I am a post-it note junkie, my office is littered with them, I keep stacks of various sizes and colors in my briefcase. So as I am trying to transition my workflow more to my phone and tablet, I need an app that can fill that void left by not having post-it notes to stick to everything. I downloaded Color Notes to my phone, it appeared to be a virtual post-it note app, so I figured it was the best place to start.

Needs/Expectations:
Phone and tablet sync: this is not a feature with this app.

Homepage widget: there is not an actual homepage widget, you can add individual notes to the homepage, but it doesn’t allow access to the other notes you make.

Ability to make notes, take pictures and record audio: You can type out notes, no audio recording, no picture notes.

Speech to text: not a feature with this app.

Ability to organize notes: you can not organize the order of the notes, you can only change the colors of the notes on the main screen.

Other features I would like:
Video notes: not a feature with this app.

Ability to set note color: this app allows you to change the color of the notes, both in the main menu and on the homepage widget.

Sync calendar with notes: not a feature with this app.

Location marking ability: not a feature with this app.

Handwriting notes: not a feature with this app.

This app, Color Notes, is very simple, it doesn’t sync between devices, which its an instant no for me, but even the homescreen widget is severely lacking. I am passing on this app, but if you have one device and want a simple note app, this might be for you.

 

Google Play

Amazon

Color Notes Homepage

 

color note

Out of Office Series: Task List App: Any.do

anydo (2) Any.Do

In my search for a task list managing app, I downloaded the app Any.do, to my phone and tablet, based upon  several reviews I read. Figuring so many reviews must mean a powerhouse product.
Signing on allowed me to link it to my Facebook, Google account or creating a freestanding account. This alows for strong cross device sharing.

Needs:
Phone and tablet sync: works great, easy to signup, which allows for quick setup and sync.

Home page widget for quick access: thehomepage widget allows for multiple configurations,  from a minimal 1 space widget to a large full page view. The widget allows for adding a quick note, or access to the notes you have setup.

Recurring task feature: Any.do is simple to set up a recurring task, be it daily, weekly or monthly. There is no feature for biweekly recurring tasks, or every 3 wks, but as the app is built around simplicity,  this isn’t a deal breaker.

Tasks and subtasks: you can make a task, no subtask feature. The task section is like more of a quick note than a checklist feature. Again, as the app is built as simplicity, this makes sense, but I don’t feel it meets my needs.

Notes section on tasks/subtasks: the primary task section has a note section, but as subfolders aren’t an option, obviously subnotes are out.

Alerts for priority tasks: You can set the task as priority, plus you can set an alert. Marking a task as priority keeps it at the top of the list.

Email capability of tasks and reminders: you can share your tasks with other Any.do users, but can’t email the tasksor have email reminders.

Extras:
Ability to change color of tasks: This is not an option, Any.do is builtaround simplicity.

Clean UI: Any.do is ALL about simplicity, the UI is clean and simple, almost too simple, I felt a little lost just playing around with the app.

So after careful review, I decided Any.do wasn’t what I was looking for, it is closer to a note app than a task list manager. The clean UI is nice, but like I said above, I kind of felt like I was stumbling around at first.
If you are looking for an app that is great for reminders, Any.do mightbe what you’re looking for, as for me, I feel it wasn’t enough of a task list manager and too much for basic note taking.

 

Download the app here: Any.Do site

Download the app here: Google Play Store

Download the app here: Google Chrome extension

Download the app here: iTunes

 

anydo (1)  anydo (1)