DIY Gift Ideas For Father's Day

With Father's Day just over two weeks away, now is the time to start making the perfect gift to surprise dad. He might like golf clubs, grilling equipment, or some new ink cartridges for his printer, but nothing says "I love you" quite like a homemade gift. After suggesting gift ideas for Mother's Day, we knew Father's Day was a perfect occasion to get those creative juices flowing again! Here are a few ideas that any dad is sure to appreciate. More...

7 Ways to Overcome Procrastination

22. May 2013 07:00 by Calvin Yu in Productivity  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

ProcrastinationOne of the common complaints about the Getting Things Done (GTD) method is that it teaches you how to get organized, but it doesn’t do much to address the actual "doing" part of getting those next actions done. In this blog post, I'll go into some of the common causes of procrastination and how to overcome them. More...

Artwork You Can Print Out and Hang on Your Wall -- M.C. Escher

A print of a classic work of visual art from your HP laser printer is a great way to liven up your surroundings at home or the office. Many large high-resolution reproductions of iconic photographs, paintings, drawings and prints can be found with a quick search on Google Images, and they can be resized to handily print out on an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of photo paper or coverstock.  For monochrome prints, you will achieve the best results from a laser printer versus an inkjet printer.  To print color artwork, a photo inkjet printer will produce a better quality piece.

This month, we are going to take a quick look at the work of one of the most gifted and influential artists to come from the Netherlands, M.C. Escher. More...

4 Steps to Getting Projects Done with GTD

13. May 2013 08:00 by Calvin Yu in Productivity  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

It’s one thing to write about how to get things done, but what happens when those things are projects? GTD practitioners often get stuck when it comes to projects simply because projects in and of themselves are not actionable, so when projects get lumped together with next actions, it’s like throwing a wrench in the gears of your productivity. In this post, I’ll explain how to make projects work within your GTD system. More...

HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn: The Best Laser Printer For Its Price


Priced at only $229, the HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn is not only affordable and fast, but its small size lends itself to a convenience rarely seen with printers. Weighing only 15 pounds and measuring 15 inches wide, 9.5 inches tall, and 11 inches deep without including the 5.5-inch paper tray, this monochrome laser printer fits comfortably on any desk alongside a PC and is easy to transport between offices when such a need arises. In addition, it handily connects to a computer with a USB cable. Best of all, the HP P1606dn toner lasts for approximately 2,100 pages and retails for about $28.49 each. If you do the math, the cost of replacing your toner works out to just over a penny a page!  Continue reading for our opinions on why this is an awesome printer... More...

DIY Mother's Day Gift Ideas

6. May 2013 08:00 by Calvin Yu in Arts, Crafts & DIY Projects  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

With Mother’s Day coming up quickly, it’s time to start thinking about a gift for mom. While every mom might love some diamond earrings, a cruise, or new carpeting for the basement – these options aren’t always economically feasible. With that said, we’re sharing a few favorite gift choices for mom you can easily make on your own and all you’ll need is paper and a printer!

Follow our five gift steps and your mother is sure to see that you put a lot of thought and care into making her day special. Here's a list of 5 creative and thoughtful gift ideas that won't break the bank:


Mother's Day Door Hanger

Breakfast in bed is always a great kick start to Mother’s Day. It’s simple, quick, and highly appreciated. Since your mother has cooked so many meals for you, it’s a great opportunity to return the favor.

Waking up to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of a sizzling skillet—lovely! A delicious breakfast served in bed—even better. Knowing she doesn’t have to clean up the kitchen—perfect! You are already off to a great start with mom.

Keep in mind however, that a little planning can go a long way, so treat her to a 5-star room service experience by letting her choose her favorite dish the night before with this cute DIY Door Knob. You can then make sure you have everything at hand in the morning to prepare her breakfast before she even gets out of bed.


Mother's Day Ribbon

Because who doesn't want to hear that they're the world's best mom?

It may seem like a cliché, but ask any mom and she will tell you that a gift you make with your own hands means more than anything you can buy at the mall. This colorful medallion will surely brighten her day and give you extra points for the try.


  1. First up, cut all the pieces apart using a paper trimmer or scissors (whatever you have).
  2. Next you will want to accordion fold the two diagonal striped strips at every 1/2 inch. If you have a ruler, it can help make clean lines to fold on.
  3. To make the paper medallion, a hot glue gun will come in handy. Put a big dab of hot glue in the center and hold until dry and set.


Mother's Day Card

While all moms do love getting gifts, it’s often that the card may be the most meaningful part. This is your chance to show your mom your appreciation for all her hard-work and love. With the internet at your fingertips, you won’t be hard pressed to find

tons of printable Mother’s Day cards. Just make sure your printer is stocked up on colored ink before you print. Browse the many selections and make sure to personalize the card with your own special note.


Mother's Day Photo Collage

Make your mom laugh and reminisce with a unique twist on a photo collage. Come up with a special theme, such as vacations throughout the years. Utilize collage tools such as to easily create a special album for your mom in the shape of a heart, butterfly, or whichever shape you’d like!  You’ll get the best results if you have a photo printer, such as HP’s Photosmart. Don’t forget to get HP ink for the printer so you can print your photos with vibrant colors.


DIY Mother's Day Flower Bouquet

Moms love getting flowers, but sadly they only last a few weeks, if not just days. So this Mother’s Day, make her everlasting flowers yourself. This impressive bouquet only requires a few necessities and will definitely make an impression on your mom. For a full tutorial, visit:

What you will need:

  • 24 prints of the paper rose template
  • scissors
  • a hot glue gun
  • florist wire and florist tape
  • ribbons
  • bow

High-Resolution Printing Without Ink


One of the most dynamic endeavors in the arena of computer technology has been the quest to build a machine that will offer the sharpest rendition of any given image in the highest resolution possible. Through the years, the technology has advanced and there have been numerous innovations for consumer needs, such as three-dimensional printing, which has enabled people to create anything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figures. Unfortunately, despite the innovations in the realm of computer printing, stumbling blocks have come about, which will make the widespread use of this technology possible only many years in the future.

A Pioneering Discovery in Singapore

In August 2012, a team of scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore have struck upon a method of producing high-definition, full color images at 100,000 dots per inch without using any ink. This resolution is ten times that of top-of-the-line printers, which feature the ability to print images at a mere 10,000 dpi.

A Novel Concept Inspired by an Ancient Idea

Taking their inspiration from the concept of stained glass, which was made by mixing tiny metal fragments into glass, the scientists used nanometer-sized metal disks arranged upon a reflective surface. When the disks come into contact with light, small vibrations their electrons occur, resulting in the adding or subtracting of colors from the visible spectrum, depending upon where the disks are placed. Since the disks are so small, they can be clustered very closely together, yielding a particularly sharp image.

As such, this technique allows coloring to be viewed an idea that has more in common with the concept of etching an image into stone, as opposed to an inking matter. Such a concept could very possibly bring radical change to the notion of how images are printed and further developed.

New Possibilities Abound

It may take a good deal of time before this technology is made widely available for everyday use, especially since the process of 100,000-dpi inkless printing takes hours. However, it bodes well that this innovative method will be particularly useful to industries specializing in high-resolution reflective color displays, anti-counterfeiting measures, high-density optical data storage and perhaps one day might enable more detailed three-dimensional printing. In fact, for months, A*STAR's technology transfer arm, Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, has been shopping this technology around to potential collaborators in the hopes of finding a suitable licensing arrangement.

8 Ways to Capture Information Using Evernote

1. May 2013 08:00 by Calvin Yu in Productivity  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

One of the core concepts of GTD is the process of capturing all the bits of information that flow into your daily life and storing them in a trusted system until you can process them later. What complicates the whole situation of capturing information is that you have to deal with both analog and digital information flying at you from both sides. You get post-it notes pasted to your monitor, you get email receipts, you get paper receipts, you get text messages, etc. The fact that you have a ton of information coming in that are in two incompatible formats means that you potentially have more “collection buckets” than you should which only serves to diminish the effectiveness of the GTD process.

Although some GTD’ers are die-hard fans of either analog capturing or digital capturing, my philosophy is to find a system where you can live with both - because let’s face it, paper isn’t going away anytime soon. That capturing system for me is Evernote and in this blog post, I’ll describe some applications on how it can be used in a dual analog/digital environment to collect and manage all the stuff that flows into your life.

1. Capturing Typewritten Notes

This is probably the most simplistic approach to capturing information using Evernote, but it’s still worth mentioning here. Saving a typewritten note in Evernote is as simple as clicking on the “new note” button and typing away. Evernote automatically saves as you go, so there’s no need to worry about having to save your note before you exit. This application is great for when you’re working away at your computer and some random task or thought pops into your mind. You simply create a new note in Evernote and then keep working away. You’re also able to do the same thing on the go with the Evernote smartphone app.

2. Capturing Your Emails

Email capturing is probably the single best Evernote hack that you can set up because it enables you to clean out your inbox, knowing that all your emails are sitting safely in your Evernote software. You can either send emails to your Evernote account manually, or have your email system automatically forward a copy of all incoming emails over to your Evernote account.

One of the prime benefits of storing your emails in Evernote is that you’ll then be able to leverage Evernote’s powerful search features to find what you need. All it really takes is a few choice key words to bring up the email and any other relevant information that you want. Evernote will even save the attachments that come with your emails, so you'll have access to all your documents as well.

3. Capturing Multi-Media Into Evernote

You’re not limited to inputting text by any means in Evernote. The software allows you to capture audio recordings, video from your webcam and digital ink from a stylus. I can’t say that I use these options too much myself, but if you’re more inclined to take notes this way, it’s available for you.

4. Capturing Your Website Clippings

See something on a website that you want to capture? It's pretty easy to do with Evernote's web-clipper plugin. Just install the plug-in and it allows you to clip parts or the entire webpage with a click of your mouse. This is a great option if you're doing research or you're a writer collecting reference material. A somewhat hidden feature that many people aren’t aware of is the fact that Evernote will also allow you to clip images and screenshots which can be useful for people like web designers.

5. Capturing Paper by Scanning it

Getting around paper is virtually impossible these days. You’ll always have receipts and documents that get sent to you in paper format. Generally, you’ll need a high level of resolution with important documents for them to be accepted by organizations like the IRS, so in these cases, the camera on your smartphone won’t suffice. However, migrating your paper documents into Evernote is simple if you have a scanner handy. Most inexpensive multi-function printers these days have a built-in flatbed scanner that is plenty powerful enough to digitize your paper documents. If you’re more of the road warrior type, then a company called Doxie manufactures a cordless scanner that integrates perfectly with Evernote, making document scanning portable and simple.

6. Capturing Paper With

One of the drawbacks about digitizing your own documents is that it can take a tremendous amount of time using standard office equipment if you have a lot of documents to digitize. Let’s face it, productivity isn’t exactly increased if you’re sitting in front of the office scanner all day long. But never fear because there's a great service out there called Shoeboxed that will digitize all your documents for you. Shoeboxed works similar to Netflix. For a monthly fee, they send you pre-paid envelopes to your location. You fill the envelopes with all the documents that you want digitized and send it back to their secure processing facility in North Carolina. They then digitize all your documents with IRS-grade resolution and make those images available to you on their SSL-encrypted website. The nice thing about Shoeboxed is that they integrate directly with Evernote, so as soon as they digitize your documents, they are sent directly to your Evernote account. This is a great time saver if you have a lot of receipts and documents that you need scanned every month. I highly recommend it.

7. Capturing With a Smartphone Camera

Evernote pushes the envelope of what you can do with the 1.0 digital snapshot. Sure, you can take snapshots of friends, family and locations and send it to Evernote, but to limit yourself to just that application would be a mediocre use of a smartphone camera and Evernote.

The game-changer here lies within Evernote’s OCR technology that allows it to read text within digital snapshots. Why is that important? Well, if your images contain text, then that means that they are now searchable just like any text document you have in Evernote without any added tags or notes attached to that photo.

So let's say that you were passing by a restaurant and you wanted to capture their menu for later. Well, so long as the name of the restaurant is legible in the photo, Evernote should be able to read it and you can do a search for that restaurant later on. Or let’s say that you’re taking off in an airplane and have to shut off all your electronic devices, but just at that moment, you get the idea of the century. You write it down on a cocktail napkin to get it out of your head and when you’re allowed to, you snap a photo of that napkin with your Evernote app and not only is it saved, but OCR is also applied to it making your text searchable (granted that you have neat handwriting).

If document quality isn't too much of a concern, then your camera makes for a pretty nifty portable scanner that you have with you wherever you go. This generally works best on smaller documents like notes, journal entries and receipts. There are apps available for your smartphone that will enhance the image of the document by automatically adjusting the contrast so that the text pops out more, but I’ve found that the Evernote widget apps work just fine. This application works great for meetings and conferences where there is group collaboration on a master document or a whiteboard. You can document those collaborative notes with your smart phone and send it to Evernote.

If you need your handwritten notes transcribed into text, then a great service that will do that for you is You simply upload your handwritten document image to their website and a human transcriptionist will transcribe your handwritten notes into text.

8. Capturing Audio on the Go

The Evernote smartphone app gives you two great ways to capture audio. You can either capture straight audio, or you can use the native voice-to-text software on your phone to have your note mechanically transcribed as well. This is great when you don’t have a free hand to type or you want to capture something quickly while you’re on the go.

A pretty neat service called Quicktate integrates directly with Evernote and leverages the accuracy and power of real live transcriptionists to automatically convert your audio files into written text for you. This is a great service if you prefer accurate transcriptions of your words, or if you do quite a bit of dictation. The service is inexpensive and much more accurate than the software on your smartphone can ever be. Quicktate will automatically transcribe any voice audio file uploaded to your Evernote, so it’s also a great option if you do interviews or want to transcribe your recorded meetings.


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