Category Archives: Independent Knowledge Professionals

iPad 3 is a Wise Investment for Knowledge Professionals

Click twice to view at full resolution – This is the Home Screen of my new iPad

Updated Oct 26 2012: I just preordered an iPad mini to compliment my iPad 3. And now there is an iPad 4 which replaces the 3. Retina is awesome but I’m expecting the iPad mini arriving November 2 to be good enough for 75% of my use (it is quite a bit better than iPad 2 which isn’t half bad) and very enjoyable being half the weight and thinner than iPhone 5. You decide!

I got the iPad 3 on day one on preorder — the Verizon 64gb model. The 2048 x 1536 pixel retina display is a game changer. A booster rocket from which there is no return. Reviewers had trouble explaining their reactions but calling the retina display transformative nails it.

Based on the information I had, I decided to double-down on iPad and get the best available model. I have not regretted it for a moment.

The Retina display on iPad 3 is a Game Changer

Since the iPad IS a screen, the quadrupling of pixels adds value like no other upgrade could. It’s not a feature like a camera that you might not use. It’s a window to see through. The new screen makes content more real and immediate. You feel like you can reach through the glass.

All apps look a lot better even the ones not upgraded. And the upgrades are rolling in every day. The best, most popular apps are now optimized for this display.

Apple’s retina-ready text engine yields immediate benefits. My favorite text-heavy apps like iBooks, Reeder, iA Writer, Instapaper, Tweetbot and Terminology dazzled on day 1. The new iPhoto app, already a great pleasure in iPad 2, is a joy with photos gaining much greater clarity and color saturation.

One reason I am so happy about all this is that a better iPad means better apps immediately. And, this fuels app purchases fueling the R&D efforts of the most talented app developers.

Ever since the iPhone 4 came out and showed us what’s available with a vastly higher Rez screen, I’ve been waiting for the iPad to follow suit. Now we get a big, easy to operate screen and high resolution in one package.

Who Should Buy a new iPad?

I’m speaking to Knowledge Professionals here and serious students not yet in the work force. Everyone. If you strive to be a professional knowledge worker, then knowledge is your game and your eyes are one of your key assets. Your eyes will thank you. More important is what your level of engagement and sheer pleasure will be in your reading and operation of this device.

When it comes to knowledge, you get what you give. Something becomes interesting, when an interested mind shows up. That interest is nourished by great content and is enhanced by this incredible display — plus all the other wonders of the iPad like a clean, consistent user interface and unparalleled responsiveness to touch.

If you were only playing games and not a game designer, I might hesitate. But, you are a reader, writer, speaker, thinker, designer and possibly artist. Don’t skimp on your axe. Tools matter. This investment is a good one.

My Old iPad 1 or 2 is Working Really Well for Me

If you own an iPad 1, the increased speed and responsiveness is very noticeable. If you own an iPad 2, surely there is someone who would like it. The screen alone is enough. You are a professional or have aspirations to be. This is an investment. Re-read the previous paragraphs, go to an Apple store and bring your iPad with you for comparison purposes. Economize on something else that doesn’t have as much importance for your future. Buying a bargain-priced used iPad 2 is a half measure, but if that’s your best shot right now, go for it.

The Camera and LTE

The Camera. The much better camera should not be completely disregarded even though this update is all about the screen. If you don’t have an iPhone 4 or recent point-and-shoot camera, your iPad 3 might be the best camera you have with you. In any case, the iPad has a much longer battery life than an iPhone or other smart phone. Photography eats batteries alive, you may need the juice the iPad supplies for photography. Once taken, use the new iPhoto app to make the most of the photo in a few moments or longer if you have the time. Use the iPad to send that photo where you want it.

The LTE. It will cost you $129 to have the option to turn on cellular access when wi-fi is not available. I turned on $20 worth (1gb) of data for my first 30 days assuming I will only use LTE or 4G or 3G as a quick fix in the car or in that occasional spot when stranded without wi-fi and needing a connection. So far that’s how it is going in fact I’ve only used 100 mb or 10% in the first few days. Getting LTE in the Mill Valley Safeway parking lot while waiting for my partner to buy a grocery or 2 was a thrill. You’ll like the option to load a page fast on LTE now and then when the *free* wifi is slower than molasses.

Is iPad 3 a Knockout Blow to Competitors?

I expect unprecedented sales for iPad as a result of the retina screen alone. If you thought the masses were lining up behind iPad making it hard for other tablet-makers to compete, get ready for a big uptick. At the same time I fully expect the most hardy tablet makers like Samsung, Amazon, HTC and a few others to raise their games to try to compete. I wish Palm were still in and hope RIM keeps at it. Microsoft, with its installed base globally on PCs, has a shot with its coming Windows 8 tablet. But, it could take a while and who knows what Apple will do for an encore?

News Reading on iPad — Work Flow for Knowledge Professionals

We live in a world of apps and are beginning to move beyond the web browser. There’s a work flow to finding news of interest, skimming or reading it and filing it away in your reading stack or for reference some time in the future. Here’s a way to do it all on your iPad with great pleasure and efficiency. [Post Updated April 30, 2012]

1. Scanning for Interesting Stories, Cherry picking a few short stories to read now, dispatching some for later.

The first step is to go out and see if there are some important, interesting or exciting new stories just out. Actually, if you have an iPad and a good app or two, this doesn’t even require getting out of bed. Go to your easy chair if you must and get a cup of tea or coffee. Now, what has happened since the last time you checked?

I wrote about keeping current in January and covered the apps I think you should know about. You will want to use multiple apps to get the discovery, diversity, ability to focus on your interests and some input from social (what have they found today?). I recommend you try: Tweetbot for iPad, Zite, and River of News – each has a great user experience, customizability and allows you to dispatch what you’ve found for later use.

The Flow for my 3 Favorite Apps:

  • Tweetbot displays your full twitter stream by default but easily allows you to select a particular list. When big stories break, I consult one of my tech-oriented lists first. Otherwise, I start with my full twitter stream. Tweets are short but usually enough to decide whether to read now by tapping the link or to send to Instapaper by tapping and holding the link and selecting Read Later. Tweetbot let’s you read now in luxury with a choice of beautiful Readability themes built-in.
  • Zite opens to top stories with summaries with feature images. Stories are organized in sections. I usually read top stories first and then consult the sections I’m most interested in at the moment. Tap to read a story. Tap to send to your Instapaper (or now Pocket) reading stack, or Evernote for later reference. Thumbs up or down the article, tags, author and publication to further train Zite’s AI for next time.
  • River of News. Scroll through the stories in your RSS subscriptions in Google Reader. As you go, each post is marked as read. I like that feature. Double-tap to send to Instapaper, triple-tap to email full text, tap star to star, swipe to navigate. Efficient! Three other excellent RSS readers are Reeder $5, Mr. Reader $4 and Perfect Reader $2 on sale). Reeder has a companion iPhone app for $3 which makes it arguably better than River of News if you have both devices – synergy is good.

2. Reading in Instapaper

"Instapaper 4.1 Articles View"
Instapaper 4.1

You’ve stacked your current reading, especially long articles in Instapaper because this is where reading is optimal with different themes, fonts, brightness controls, adjustable line height, margins and auto-scrolling. Equal to the best eReaders except for annotation: no notes or highlights allowed.

On March 16, iPad 3 launch day, Instapaper added 6 great new typefaces. Elena is the new default and I love it. If you prefer sans serif, try Proxima Nova. These fresher, better faces are to die for on iPad 3 and eye-pleasing on any iPad.

Instapaper rules for saved for later article reading. Pocket is #2 (more graphical). Other amenities include file folders, archive, sharing to Twitter, email full text and more. If you want to annotate or have read enough to file for future reference, you can dispatch the article to Evernote.

3. Reading & Annotating in Evernote

Always with you. Reading is not at the level of Instapaper, but you get an even better always with you capability with Evernote. It is free on Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle and more. Instapaper doesn’t have a desktop app so you have to use a web browser to get there and the experience suffers as a result. There’s a high-end Evernote service that you can add for more storage and some other amenities.

Note Taking / Annotation. You can write a full article in Evernote and have that power including bullets, numbered lists, variable headings and more. This ability to write and annotate is a big advantage of Evernote. The trade-off is that it takes longer to get the full-text of an article into Evernote than it does to file to a folder in Instapaper. I save the really good stuff to Evernote so I can engage with it.

Annotation. Even more often than writing notes in Evernote, I will highlight key passages. I can also color text and style it as I can in writing my own notes.

This work flow is almost too easy and enjoyable to call it a work flow.  It works especially well on the iPad whose big screen and multitouch is wonderful for skimming, reading and annotation. I now know what this is like on an iPad 3 and it is really stunning.

14 Tips for the Underemployed Independent Knowledge Professional

The era of the good job is mostly over. It may have been a 20th century thing. Don’t wait around for lots of good jobs to show up begging for applicants. Between outsourcing, the slow economy, automation, downsizing, offshoring, benefits reductions and corporate mergers, the job market aint what it used to be.

Even if you still have a good job or decent job, keep reading. The thing is that companies don’t do business like they used to. They minimize the number of permanent, full-time jobs they have and maximize the use of independent contractors engaged on a temporary, part-time basis. This is a rational adaptation to accommodate (1) our rapidly changing environment and (2) global competition.

You are a business of one — an independent contractor — who may currently have a full-time gig. If you would like to develop or expand your own knowledge-based career, read on. Here are 14 ways to use all that underemployment you are complaining about to better your situation in a big way.

I’m speaking to all you talented people who can do lots of good things and want to be working more and enjoying it more both personally and financially. A lot of people are out of work, got laid off, don’t have enough work in their own chosen business or profession since money is tight and the economy has taken a breather.

A lot of people are stunned and confused to not be getting the quantity of work they want. Maybe you are over forty and can’t seem to get the job you want competing against casts of thousands of other job applicants. Maybe you were getting enough work as an independent knowledge professional without extending yourself beyond your comfort zone when times were better. Whatever the reason, there’s work to do now to set the ship aright.

Nothing prevents you from creating value for yourself and others without an official job. We need a clear set of concepts about this because a ton of people are out of work and a lot won’t get their jobs back.

Jobless? That may not be the problem you think it is. What else is there to do? You don’t need an employer, necessarily. There are other options for making enough money without one. Here’s a list of 14 constructive ideas:

1. Train yourself by reading, doing exercises and creating branded web presence and your own information products or software. Read free blog posts. provides affordable online training in various content-creation applications. YouTube training videos are incredibly useful for a lot of short subjects you may need to learn to better compete in this environment. Apple’s own iTunes University is a new source of free education. Re-training and education has always been a smart choice during economic downturns.

When you train yourself, you use your time – the same time that gets sold to employers when you have a job. You create value for yourself in terms of increasing your marketable skills and knowledge. Your projects described here also increase your desirability, accessibility and visibility in the marketplace or actually create info products that can be sold.

2. Groups and Buddies. While you are doing #1, do a lot of it in tandem or in groups because that makes it more fun, provides a structure and builds valuable informal partnerships that broaden and deepen your social network which gives you more points of contact with the marketplace. Your teams and partners can trade services and products with you. Your own personal marketplace outside the jobs world we’ve been brainwashed to believe is the only way things can be done – everything else is viewed as not “real” and not of much value.

3. Off the Grid Can be Good. While you are in the informal cooperative economy, you are largely off the grid relative to the IRS and therefore will reduce your taxes. At the same time, if you both deduct expenditures on the other person’s services and those services can be described as for business, there’s no net tax consequence anyway.

4. Get out there and Start Trading. People may be reluctant to hire you, but they might be more than ready to trade their services for yours if you ask. On a trial basis, start doing something for trade where you get something back. That payback can be in the future a little bit. This is how most social networking works. We help each other back and forth over a period of time without major scorekeeping. If things get too far out of balance, we renegotiate the relationship by talking it over and finding a way to rebalance or if that doesn’t work, letting that relationship drop to lesser centrality or actually drop completely if it doesn’t provide mutual benefit and the net giver doesn’t want or can’t afford the gifting aspect of it.

5. Ask for what you want as long as it is an authentic request where no is an acceptable response to the request. Some of us, many of us may have difficulty with this but it is a necessary skill to develop in this informal economy.

6. There are already lots of freelance kinds of work. At the most basic we have babysitting, housesitting, house painting, handyman kinds of stuff, ghost writing or editing resumes, letters, web copy, application essays, housekeeping, organizing, helping with garage sales, fixing, training, tutoring, setting up computers, smart phones, etc.. There are a million and one possibilities… Making a specialty out of one of these works or creating a portfolio of things works if done with some structure and smarts. See below.

7. You are likely to need support to get enough structure for yourself. You can scrape by without it but with or without money changing hands, you need a mentor or coach and a group or buddy to check in with, problem solve, see what’s hard to see about yourself. This is someone and someones who are committed longer than this week – preferably long- term to your success. A good friend who can give you feedback, encouragement and help you stick to your goals and guns can be extremely valuable. Be careful here because informality and friendship can deteriorate rapidly into undifferentiated meandering towards not much of value. Sometimes it pays to trade with or pay someone to keep the conversation and alliance at a higher level of commitment, focus and consistency.

8. You Might Want to Hire Some Help. If you can’t arrange a trade with the person you want help from, consider working out an affordable pay for service arrangement. Make sure you create a structure to evaluate the benefit you are getting relative to what you are spending. Some benefits are measurable. Other benefits will be long-term even character-building things that keep on giving for the rest of your life. Others will be infrastructure improvements that will keep paying off whether that’s a better marketing strategy, web presence, blog posts done, better attire, better grooming, better business practices. Typically, you hire a coach, tutor or consultant for these types of things.

9. Resist a big upfront non-refundable payment in advance for a program. “Get rich quick” sales pitches are hard for us gullible humans to resist and very lucrative for people who are good at selling and not necessarily 100% legit even if they’ve deluded themselves otherwise. These pitches understate the difficulty and overstate the odds of success and make you pay before you realize either. This is the business model at fitness clubs, for example. When you find yourself at the wrong end of one of these programs, you are often left worse off than you started partly because you’ve lost the big upfront fee and partly because you feel like a schmuck. You are left discouraged and less confident in a lot of cases. So avoid those – ok?

10. Offices are overrated. Bricks and Mortar stores and offices are on the decline. The reason why is that it is more efficient to use digital tools and the Internet to get things done – things like shopping and in a lot of cases working. Our means of production have shrunken in size and cost and fit into the average home with a little creative juggling and design. Face to face meetings still have a value. It’s just that moving people around in cars is incredibly time and energy inefficient. And maintaining a separate work location for every worker outside the home no longer makes sense for many things. What does make sense is occasional meetings – not living together 8 hours a day at a location that requires commuting and parking. The rise of Starbucks (now with free wi-fi, yay!) and other coffee places as meeting and work spaces provide an alternative to office space. This is accepted practice nowadays. Co-working spaces will multiply that offer office space on an as needed basis rather then full-time.

11. Work where you are. Computers are cheap and iPhones, iPads and other portable devices are computers of the handiest kind. If you have cellular data, you are always connected to the resources of the internet and your own data stored online. You can not only work but now sell your services and products online with a DIY web presence with shopping cart and even charge someone’s card or Paypal account from your iPhone. This means little guys like us have a chance to do everything necessary to make money without an employer.

12. It may be “easier” to just HAVE a job but 3 things work against this:

  1. Getting good jobs is very difficult for the majority – people don’t retire creating a downline jam.
  2. Keeping jobs ain’t easy.
  3. You wind up working 12 hour days and being on call 24/7 in a lot of cases due to staff reductions making you responsible for 3 people’s jobs and now we are available by phone and email 24/7 practically.

13. Institutions and infrastructure don’t support the independent knowledge professional – yet. You have to invent solutions. Lack of structure is perhaps the hardest problem especially for those who haven’t developed good self-management skills – the majority of us.

14. Key Independent Knowledge Professional skills and requirements:

  1. Self-management with help from structures
  2. Resourcefulness and creativity to problem-solve ways to work outside the traditional systems
  3. Working well with others and relationship-building.
  4. Tech knowledge and literacy. Writing is worth getting better at by blogging or other means.
  5. The right tools – investing wisely for utility, avoidance of obsolescence and usability so the tools aren’t more trouble than they are worth.. Learning curve for the tool needs to be reasonable given the return you get. Buying off-brands and dead-end tech is the rule.. Don’t do it!
  6. Streamlining your housing/office situation.

Most of us don’t have all of these but necessity is the mother of invention so start getting yourself up to speed. There is a world of opportunity out there.

Why Knowledge Professionals Should Try iBooks Author Now

Independent Knowledge Professionals benefit greatly from writing eBooks. Writing a book puts you on the map as an expert in one stroke. Since you are a knowledge professional, you can also augment your income by selling knowledge products, especially eBooks. A small eBook purchase can be the starting point for a future full-service client. You’ll be writing non-fiction books, the kind that benefit most from graphics, charts and other engaging elements that old-style eBooks don’t provide.

I Thought iBooks Author Was for Textbooks. Not really. Actually, Apple says it is for lots of other kinds of books too. They are just leading with text books right now. Think reports, of the jaw-dropping variety. If you give one of these eBook reports away, you don’t even have to talk to Apple or give them a percentage.  You can post a link to your website or send it in an email.

Ebook Prep Sucks — Until Now. We’ve been stuck with arcane and limited tools to create eBooks. This patchwork quilt of marginal tools has been perfect for eBook prep specialists, but a nightmare for independent knowledge professionals who can’t spend all their spare time fiddling with unwieldy tech. Writing is hard and time-consuming as it is.

Apple’s new iBooks Author solves these problems. It is easy to use and lets you add tables, graphics and widgets to your eBooks. There is a catch in that the eBooks made by iBooks Author require an iPad for display. I’ll explain why that limitation isn’t something that should stop you.

System Requirements for iBooks Author. First the bad news, you need an iPad to display your eBook while it is in progress and you need a Macintosh running OSX Lion. If you already have an iPad and are running Lion, you are set. Otherwise, read on to see if it would be worth your while to upgrade and/or expand your technology now.

Compelling Reasons to Adopt iBooks Author Now. It’s the only end-user eBook creation tool. There are no other options if you want your eBook to look the least bit good short of spending a lot of money for it to be created in InDesign and even then it won’t look that good in the Kindle Format. There’s a new Kindle Format that is supposed to be good for media-rich eBooks, but there’s no creation tool for it yet. Cross that off your list.

Apple has leapt into the void here. If you are writing novels or non-fiction that doesn’t require illustration, you could scrape by using current tools if you could figure or hire them out. But knowledge professionals need to illustrate ideas with visuals. You can open up iBooks Author and start inserting graphics and more in a few minutes. The output on an iPad will be delightful.

Kindlestore vs. iBookstore. Right now Kindle books are the only game in town you say or may have heard. That’s true up to a point but that point of change is now. Even Amazon has started to abandon the lame eBook format (Mobi) they’ve been using and replaced it with what they are calling Kindle 8 which allows for decent graphics and interactivity (see above). Amazon released the Kindle Fire and broke all their own rules about how e-Ink is the best way to read books.

A lot of people compare the Kindle Fire to the Kindle Touch and like the Fire better for books because of the vivid color and responsiveness. I don’t think things will end well for e-Ink devices. They are niche devices in a world that is filling rapidly with full-featured iPhones, Android and Windows phones and iPads.

Ebooks Won’t Stop at Imitating Paper Books. Paper books are wonderful, but as we move to digital, other possibilities emerge that cannot be ignored. For example, iBooks Author lets you add glossary words in your eBooks. You get the most gorgeous glossary (with search) at the back of the book without any additional effort. And, automatically, the reader gets electronic flash cards that allow them to review and test their recall and comprehension. The eBooks you create for the iPad are truly eBooks. They are apps as well as books without you being a programmer — at all!

But, Shouldn’t You Wait and See? Maybe Apple will fall on its face this time. Don’t bet on it. The cost of waiting is that others will be there before you. Early adopters on this Apple juggernaut will be learning things as the technology rolls out. They will be looking tech savvy with eye-popping eBooks they’ve created themselves — running on the most desirable gadgets of our times.

Some technology is a pain and not worth adopting early. But, iBooks Author is made by Apple and is simple and easy. It is designed to be something anyone can pick up and use. I like blogging software like WordPress and recommend it to independent knowledge professionals, but iBooks Author is much more powerful yet as easy as using Pages or Keynote (Word or Powerpoint).

Resources. There is already a $4.99 eBook available that teaches you how to use iBooks Author. The title is iBooks Author: Publishing Your First eBook. The author is Maria Langer, an established tech writer who has written over 50 books. The moment iBooks Author was announced, Maria spent day and night and wrote, edited and prepared the book over a ten day period.

Even if you don’t have an iPad yet, you can check out Maria’s book or eBook and the materials and videos at This first version of Maria’s book is created with traditional tools to get the book in your hands as quickly as possible. She is working on a fancy iBooks 2 version but I recommend getting in on the ground floor now. Don’t wait for the fancy book. I plan to buy the iBooks 2 version for my iPad when it is available, but this chance to get a jumpstart on a new kind of eBook is too good to pass up.