Here’s the recording from “How to use Evernote to improve your visual thinking”

Check out my Evernote resource page for the one-page summary and Q&A. Enjoy!

How I set up Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for sketchnoting

UPDATE 2014-02-10: Check out my free/PWYW downloadable resources for Autodesk Sketchbook Pro: the grid I use, the brushes, and a PSD that has the grid and a blank layer.

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Matt just got a tablet, so he wanted to know how I set up Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for my sketchnoting. See the sketchnote below for my layout and brush sizes, and a few other tips. =) I sometimes tweak brush sizes depending on the size of the project, but they’re roughly around that proportion (1.1-1.3, 2.3-2.5, 4.6 or so).

How I Set Up Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for Sketchnoting

The dot grid I use works out to roughly 40 pixels square with dots that are 5 pixels or so in diameter. If I draw small letters at 1 grid unit (~40px) high, this is mostly readable when printed on 8.5”x11” and requires a little scrolling and zooming when viewing on the computer. I usually draw titles at 2-3 grid units high (80 or 120 pixels). Sometimes I use the dot grid just as a guide for keeping letters mostly level, and I pick a size in between.

Toolmaking

My first full day back at consulting after a month-long vacation, and it felt great. I started digging into the REST API for the system we were using, and I figured out how to build a simple command-line client to get data. I’d built a similar community analysis tool while at IBM, and that one saved lots of people hours and hours of work. Since we were starting to need similar reports, it made sense to build a tool instead of manually crunching the numbers. This time,

I decided to build the tool using Ruby instead of Java, packaging it into an .exe with Ocra. I found Ruby to be much easier to write in. The interactive mode made it easy to prototype my ideas. Gems meant that I didn’t have to hunt all over for packages and figure out how to make them work together. It was fun to come up with more ideas and add them to the tool.

I love making tools. I like digging into the wires behind web-based services and making up new ways to use stuff. The value isn’t as visible or as easy to appreciate as, say, web design work, but it’s much easier to build something quick and then tweak it to fit specific people. I like that part a lot – tailoring tools to specific ways of working.

I was thinking about the different things I might like to be really, really good at in twenty years’ time. My current shortlist: writing, drawing (mostly sketchnotes), and toolmaking. I think writing and drawing are like toolmaking for me too. They’re about making tools for the mind, helping people learn faster or more effectively or about more things. =) Maybe if I practise and learn more about writing and drawing — the way I’ve spent most of my life programming — I’ll be able to make wonderful little things too.

Blogbridge – nifty!

Hooray for Blogbridge! I was beginning to wonder why I hadn’t heard of something that flexibly let you slice and dice feeds to make them just the way you want. It’s a Java application, so it’s not as useful as a Web-based thing would be for me, but it will do. Good idea. =)

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