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Tamagotchi

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  1. The strength of Evernote was that it was the old cloud. You could dump all your data in one place and get access to it on the move, from any device, independent of the ecosystem and hardware. The ubiquity of the cloud has made this redundant. Sure it works best if we choose an ecosystem (Apple, Microsoft or Google) and cheapest when we use fewer services more. With Evernote, you have one user interface and many data sources, but we are then limited to the functionality that Evernote provides, which has stagnated since 2018 - hardly changed. The alternate option is to choose the cloud and then find apps that work well with it. The obvious choice is those that make that come with that ecosystem. Apple, Microsoft or Google produce many good apps that work seamlessly with their cloud service. Examples: Microsoft Office365 works seamlessly across all devices and scales to different screen sizes and includes a full range of apps. Cloud space is cheap with Terrabytes of data included in the Office365 annual subscription. Adobe has created something similar for the creatives. Adobe is too expensive for the occasional use but heavy user would see an advantage in an effort to create a seamless cloud environment with content creation apps. The bugbear with Evernote is what do I do with my data. Many startups have built a good app that does one thing well. They have seen a need and produced an app for that need. Some apps are related to an ecosystem but many are not. Take for example project management. There is so much choice and solutions for every segment and scale. Finding the best option is the challenge. Similar to other fields of activity, service providers offer a way of doing that specific activity better online. One comment in this forum related to a professional mail service that better-suited mails in volume business model than consumer-grade services. So I come back to the question. What does Evernote do well? The information available everywhere is not a unique selling point. The CEO promised that he wanted Evernote to do something with data. It is still not clear to me after 9 months what that vision is. Evernote really should have work it out by now, what they want to do well. In the meantime, Evernote broke the tag search. That was the key selling point for Evernote. That I could have a massive database of things that I had no chance of remembering. With a few tags and incremental adjustments including and excluding tags, I could narrow thousands down to a handful, within less than a minute. This was a wonder. Without search, data is useless. For a specific task, w will find something that is likely to serve, some better than others. There is a solution, should we define the problem sufficiently. Evernote will have to choose a niche, a segment and do that very well. What does the green elephant stand for now?
  2. I need to fish out an old note today that I wrote at the beginning of last year to do a quick job. I logged into Evernote in the browser as I was using a computer that I had not used for months. It was the quickest. I thought Evernote had improved since October 2020 but still felt uncomfortable using it. I was puzzled by this until I realise it is all about trust. When you buy into an app/software solution you lend the provider trust: that the company will be still around in a year or more and the product still useful to you. Without trust, you would never start on the project. Not least important is the belief that the company will continue to support your workflows and that they value you as a customer. We have a relationship with businesses. So do I feel so uncomfortable about using Evernote? Well, the answer is simply that I have been burnt once and when it comes to experiencing pain we have very long memories. As it turns out, I am doing very well now without Evernote. I would have continued to use Evernote if they had handled the transition better, but they did not. The goodwill is gone and there is now nothing they can do to get back. Some could argue that there are few technical reasons to use Evernote, but there is one psychological one: trust. In a few years, the value of the notes will fade, and the sun will set on Evernote.
  3. Discussions, when they become emotional or political can quickly degenerate to a dichotomy: with us or against us, true or false, cloud or not cloud. Consider the problem of cloud security: admit or not? A cloud service is not useful if I cannot get access to my data. However, it is also not useful if everybody can get access to my data. It is not a dichotomy. In the modern world, it is hard to imagine a useful app without some form of connectivity. Some are all about connectivity - Facebook or websites - but this is one end of the spectrum. Do we build the system to keep everybody out (a fortress) and only let in exceptions (a guard at the gate). When in doubt, we err on side of caution and deny access. The alternate is to optimise for entry. We err, in this case, to allow access. The latter turns up in strange places. LastPass was shown to have applied it to second-factor authentication. If you disrupted the second-factor authentication validation on LastPass (pull the plug so to speak) it would let you in. I would presume this is now fixed. The question Evernote has to ask itself is whether is a web application that facilitates local access or a local application that facilitates web access. Engineering is a matter of compromise. In the first case, it will do connectivity well, but its usefulness with intermittent data is likely poor. Alternatively, they could err on the side local, in which case its local performance is optimised, at the price of connectivity. The underlying assumption of EN10 is the latter and Legacy the former. This has implications. If the paradigm for EN10 is connectivity, it will never do local data well. It may pay lip service to it, as did LastPass with adding second-factor authentication, but that does not make it good. There is something disingenuous about lip service. This is how marketing got a bad name. In simple terms, it will never become a replacement for Legacy. If EN10 is to work with intermittent and unreliable data, which is typical for the vast majority of people and businesses around the world, Evernote has to do a lot better. Their current assumptions are more than a little naive. I think the problem is software developers do not get out into the real world much. Sitting in the office, rain is not something they have to think about. However, rain does make a difference, EN10 does not work.
  4. For the individual, there are things that we wish to keep private and as a business, things we wish to keep confidential. It needs a workflow that covers storage, synchronisation between devices and communication with trusted partners. On all levels, it requires encryption, where the service provider has ZERO knowledge (end-to-end encryption). The deciding point is that EN10 is not going to be very helpful. Adobe Lightroom is an app designed around a specific workflow, as does AVID ProTools and Sibelius (albeit they could be much improved). In the Evernote Forum, I have read the discussion from people who use apps that fill a niche segment: how to deal with hundreds of business emails each day in marketing or sales, or an app for project management within teams. Because Evernote is generic, it does not serve any particular workflow well. I have identified my PUBLIC workflow (web publishing) and my PRIVATE workflow, use specialised different tools (apps) that do it much better than Evernote. The goal of EN10 was to make it much more useful. The Legacy product had stagnated for some years. In a competitive environment where more and more apps, offer specific solutions for specific problems (workflows), Evernote still offers a generic solution. Evernote will not do anything well, and the market share will erode over time. A slow death. Evernote has not yet achieved the functionality of Legacy (not changed since 2018) and it certainly has not come up with a vivid new identity for the space it wishes to fill. The statements from Evernote would suggest that it does not know who it is. There are many companies out there with a clear idea of what their app is supposed to do. I am not talking about features but rather how it makes the life of my customer easier by solving real-world problems. Workflows are one way to approach this e.g. an app for musicians to write music or photographers to distribute content (commercially), are highly valued. What niche does Evernote wish to fill?
  5. For most people on the planet data neither fast nor reliable. Assuming the opposite is building your business model on the sand. Local storage is essential. Some data needs to be encrypted before transmission. Business data is confidential and personal data private. If you live in a cloud, data is assumed. I have watched many people sitting around the office twiddling fingers and going out for coffee because they could not do anything because of yet another IT failure. IT reliability has become chronic as the systems do not have sufficient resilience in the real world. Let's talk about the real world - not the Evernote bubble where the assumption is that you will always have data. 🙂 This is worth a read: Brilliant Hardware in the Valley of the Software Slump — by Craig Mod
  6. Yes, I have seen this too, the metric may even be displayed on screen in the public space. It becomes a game how you can manipulate what is displayed on this board. That is all the management really cares about. Eventually, somebody hits the jackpot, the screen spews out money for somebody. At that point the management realises they have a problem and decides they need a new metric. The cycle seem to take only 3 months. It takes 3 months for somebody to crack the system and driven to the absurd. Some people are remarkably clever and creative, and it just warms my heart. 🙂 The client is the loser of course, because the same game dictates the problems are not best solved but most importantly avoid. I have often wondered about management naivety, and it is demonstrated wonderfully in the design of tech support systems. The rats in the wheel are not to blame.
  7. I discovered today a limitation of web applications. Because they run in the browser, they are taken hostage by the internet connection. Local applications are far less sensitive to this. It is most noticeable on a PC. A PC has a lot of CPU power and fast SSD storage to throw at a local application. This is demonstrated with Legacy, a software virtually unchanged since 2018, is much faster than the modern equivalent and intended replacement EN10. The irony of this was never lost on me. New is that the level of internet dependence that EN10. For the sake of testing, I did not use Evernote but rather Outlook. Outlook, like Evernote, has a local product that is part of Office 365 suite and a web client equivalent (browser), Outlook.com, of comparable functionality (but still less after 5 years of development). The speed of the later depends far less on the speed of the PC but rather on the speed of the internet. Copper Today was a bad internet day. About two years ago, copper cable for "the last mile" from the exchange was replaced by a cabinet sitting on the street. With this change, the length of copper was reduced from 4.3 km to less than 1 km. The change was the result of a network upgrade from ADSL to VDSL that occurred in the whole suburb at that time. Our internet was then 10 times faster, but it is still slower than two-thirds of the broadband connections in the country. Data speed increases in steps with the introduction of new technology - from dial up, ADSL1, ADSL2, to VDSL- but then will largely stagnate. Email provides an interesting benchmark, as a service, for it has not noticeably got faster as in two decades and the functionality has remained unchanged. Resilience testing It can be difficult to test the resilience of the environment in a working system. Economists have noticed this and relied on freak events as a laboratory for policy changes. Two recent examples of this have been COVID-19 when governments intentionally suppressed economic activity (for good reasons) and the temporary introduction of the price on carbon for half a year in Australia. Both had a similar effect to turning off the lights, a sudden abrupt change that propagates through the system resulting in a new equilibrium. The equivalent for VDSL technology is rain - lots and lots of it. Copper pairs do not like water. The insulation breaks down as the moisture invades the ground and with it the cables. It is impossible to stop once the rain has become sufficient that the stormwater system exceeds its designed capacity. Runoff sinks into the ground everywhere and some flooding may occur. A puddle on the ground may not seem like much to us, but this is not true of copper. Anything below ground level gets wet, including the copper cables. VSDL slows becomes intermittent and then eventually stops. The effect of web clients in a browser is the same: it slows becomes intermittent and then stops. Outlook local versus Outlook.com Work must go on. With the increasing failure of the internet connection, I switch from the web client, Outlook.com, to the local application, Outlook à la Office 365. Working with Outlook does not get slower when the internet is intermittent. Sure, the synchronisation is also intermittent, but you do not notice that. The conclusion from this test is that local applications are resilient to rain (data unreliability) where web clients are not. Given sufficient rain, a web client reduces you to the tech of a bygone age, before the introduction of the internet, without a local application replacement. Better data I would hear the reoccurring objection, that the problem lies with better data and not putting all your data and applications in one basket, the cloud. While this is true, it is not possible to improve data connections quickly and a small business can certainly not do this without moving. (There a certain points in the city that are nodes from which large-capacity data is distributed. I have heard of businesses finding commercial premises in the same building as these nodes thereby overcoming the "last mile".) For most of us, this is not an option. Others would claim mobile data is the option. When the data goes out, a router can reroute the data to the mobile data network. This is great with local issues, but with heavy rain, the whole area goes down. It becomes a network failure. The mobile data network will become quickly overloaded and seize up. We see this with road closures. The traffic from an already overloaded network reroutes to the few available routes and the traffic comes to a halt. There is no substitute for network capacity. Building a better data network In the long term, the copper data network may be replaced by an optical fibre network and the "last mile" problem can finally be buried as a historical oddity. Unfortunately, such changes require large investments and long periods to build these networks. Unless the network is being built now, you will not see improvement soon. If there is no discussion of this then it could take a decade or more to see the improvement, should the upgrade from ADSL2 to VDSL be indicative. Conclusion Web applications such as EN10 are not resilient to rain compared to Legacy. This is another reason to stay with Legacy as long as possible. It is not just a question of functionality and privacy, but also the resilience of the workflow itself. Data disruption for many is a real threat. My response since October 2020 has been to develop workflows that cut out Evernote. For web publications, I have developed a workflow that does not require Evernote at all (Instapaper, Readwise, Grammarly, WordPress). If I need a "note taking" software then I use a Joplin local client which uses markdown just like WordPress. I see this trend continuing. I have no way to improve data. Legacy will fail eventually (threat). Until then, I have to remove my resilience on Evernote (risk mitigation). My workflows were a symbiosis with Evernote and this must end. Every app has its day. Companies come and go. The work, however, must go on. I have become indifferent to Evernotes plight but conclude that the management is not all that smart. What did Darwin have to say about this sort of thing?
  8. Customer service in the current decade has become rather curious. Help pages usually give you instructions for the most basic functionality, which you can usually work yourself. More advanced functionality is often poorly documented. There will come a time when help pages help no more, and you need to contact support. Support often refers you to the "basics" page as that is easier and quickest. When there it is tricky, they will get right back with "we have passed the suggestion off to our dev team". This phrase has become a euphemism for "no idea and not my job." You know you have hit the limit of support with this message. Worrying is that it seems to happen so quickly. I have memories of support having a more "can do" approach and trying to find an answer for me. The good news is that the forums can be more help. Some people take pride in knowing things in the forums and can be the most help. From having got lost in different forums, Evernote is one of the better ones. I would congratulate the Evernote forum participants for that. The limitation is that even a capable forum cannot compensate for a limited product. It must be frustrating to have to say, again and again, that the product cannot do it yet. My inspiration for this post was my experience with customer support that all too often gives easy answers and gives up too quickly when a real problem arises. Have others experienced this?
  9. I am a tagger and for tagging and tagging searches Legacy is the best - faster and more functionality. The EN10 has a ridiculous 50 note selection limits. If you compare the function of Legacy and EN10, I think you will find it much smaller. I have little doubt about this. EN10 may look pretty, but the beauty is more than skin deep. Functionality is more important. It is only two years of development. Perhaps, they just need a few years more. 🙂
  10. Many have moved on and left Evernote. It was a good product and it was destroyed. Only the Evernote Legacy holds me there. A refuse to pay for this limited functional product. I have a decade of notes in it and is serves as an archive. I use other things now. If Evernote should go bust we know why.
  11. Same here - a static database. It has no workflows attached to it any more. It is a curious case study. Will Evernote survive? In what form? They are not selling socks any more. Legacy still works better than anything and its features are over two years old. 🙂 PS This discussion started with Evernote 10 not working in a browser for me. It works again now (and no I am still in the locked out period - "Your monthly limit resets in 3 days"). I did not change anything on my set-up. (Regular updates of the OS was about it.) Evernote 10 comes and goes, it is in continual movement.
  12. If you are refering to value for money proposition, then you are correct. Anything divided by $0 gives you big numbers. On the other hand, if the comparison is in absolute terms - features, upload, in fact most things - the new free plan offers less than the old free plan. I think this is easily demonstrated. In this sense, it is a retrograde development. Again the savour is Legacy. It was always good. The recent 6.25.2.9198 and that from last October is so similar that nobody is going to notice. The advantage of the free plan is that you get to use Legacy 6.25.2.9198 on a single PC and it is fast, stable and familiar. There is nothing wrong with that. The fate of Evernote 10 is in the stars. Where it is going in the future is not something I would hope to guess.
  13. I agree. The free version is more restrictive than the old one. The Evernote 10 experience has been in many ways a retrograde one.
  14. Confirmed. Works in Chrome but not Edge - both Chromium. Strange but works.
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