Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MagicalPad - Outliner, Mind Mapping & Notes

MagicalPad is a slick iPad app that enables you to create outlines, checklists, and standalone notes on an unlimited number of “infinite” workspaces, which can expand far beyond the confines of your iPad’s screen. While the app from MagicalPad is similar in many ways to other outlining programs, it boasts some interesting features; at the same time, some of the developer’s claims about the app overstate its capabilities.

Within the app, each “workspace” is, in essence, a separate page. On each page, you can easily create list notes, which can be hierarchical, and text notes. You create new notes either by double-tapping on the screen, selecting either the text note or list note icon from a bottom menubar, or, while creating a list, by simply tapping the return key on the keyboard.

Indenting, outdenting, changing the order of, and editing individual list items is simple and intuitive—you single-tap an item to select it, and then slide your finger either left to indent or right to outdent, and slide up or down to change the list order. You can easily combine lists, as well.

One particularly nice thing about MagicalPad is that it is easy to change each note’s font, font size, border color, and background color by selecting the note and choosing among clear menubar options. You can also create checklists or make individual items checklist items. Expanding and contracting lists is accomplished with the simple tap of an arrow.

MagicalPad also enables you to export workspaces to Google Docs, Evernote, and Dropbox, or share them via email. You can choose to export each workspace as a PDF, RTF (rich text file), OPML, or in MagicalPad’s own format. However, exporting doesn’t work very smoothly: When I exported a workspace as an RTF file to Google Docs, the file could not be read within Google Docs on my Macbook Pro. Subsequently I downloaded the file to my desktop, and it displayed perfectly within TextEdit.

The developer says that you can share MagicalPad workspaces with other apps, but in practice, you cannot do so directly. When you tap the “share” icon, only the four options noted above appear. My iPad includes many apps that can read PDF and RTF documents, but they did not appear in MagicalPad’s list. It was only when I consulted the online user guide that I found that by “sharing with other apps,” MagicalPad really means that you can download your MagicalPad documents from Google Docs, Dropbox, and so forth into other apps. MagicalPad’s App Store listing notes that you can “open RTF and TXT files … from anywhere in your iPad,” but there is no obvious way to do this, nor could I find a mention of how to do so in the user manual.

In its latest release, Version 2.0, you can make a $2 in-app purchase that enables you to connect individual text notes and lists with straight lines or arrows. While this was a necessary addition, it’s a limited function. Arrows and lines are straight, one color (black), thickness, and type (no dashed or dotted lines, for example), and there’s no option to make the arrows bidirectional. You are also only able to draw lines to entire lists, and not to individual list items.

As an outlining app, MagicalPad is terrific, and by digging deep into the user manual, users can learn that the developer plans to incorporate multimedia and drawing tools in future versions of the app. MagicalPad is prioritizing the inclusion of these features based in part on what users request. MagicalPad provides plenty of bang for the buck (save for the $2 in-app mind-mapping function), and it’s unfortunate that the company touts features and possible uses that it doesn’t currently support.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Infographic Explains Mind Mapping For Beginners

This infographic explains some of the commonly used memes in mind mapping.

While there’s a slightly cynical message here, the biggest instruction — “disregard hierarchy completely” — is worth heeding. Good ideas often emerge when you ditch your preconceptions.  - via Telstra Exchange

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheetah Learning’s New Mindmap Reveals What Professionals Can Learn From Successful Race Car Drivers

The Daytona 500 has been described by three-time winner Jeff Gordon as “The Ultimate Race.” The Project Management Professionals (PMPs) at Cheetah Learning ( feel that the qualities that enable a driver to win at Daytona are the same that can empower professionals to reach their own winner’s circle. That’s why they’ve announced they are offering a new free mindmap designed for Project Managers but beneficial to anyone seeking peak performance.

Competing in the Daytona 500 means going 140 mph on a 2.5-mile track in a tick under 50 seconds with 40-plus other drivers fighting for position. Competitive imagery like that drove the Project Management Professionals (PMPs) at Cheetah Learning ( to create a simple yet effective visual aid to help professionals reach their potential while maintaining a balanced lifestyle. The result: A new, free mindmap. (See details below.)

Think of it this way: Compared to the testing, preparation and adjustments prior to "The Great American Race," the hours between the start and finish line represent just a small percentage of the overall effort. It’s the exact opposite of “cramming for a test.”
Michelle LaBrosse, Cheetah Learning CEO and Founder, put it like this: “Do you remember pulling all-nighters in college, downing caffeine and chaining yourself to your desk until minutes before your exam?” she asks. “Now that you’re older and wiser, you should know there’s a better way!”

And here it is: “The key to getting the maximum return on investment for your study efforts is to have a peak performing mind and relaxed focus so that you are able to rapidly synthesize information,” LaBrosse said.

The free mindmap that helps professionals do that is titled “Holistic Accelerated Exam Prep.” It’s available at under the headline: “Cheetah's Daily Tool to Improve Your Career.” The download is part of Cheetah’s theme for the month: “Project Management of Prosperity.”

“When you approach learning in a structured manner, you ensure that you are getting the maximum ROI for your study efforts,” explains LaBrosse. “And remember, knowledge is wealth!”

This methodology isn’t limited to project managers. It’s a holistic approach that can benefit anyone, from athletes and students to administrators and CEOs.

For LaBrosse, the message she shares is practical, pragmatic and based on personal experience. As a single mother of two, she invested considerable time building Cheetah Learning on a solid foundation and then patiently and systematically growing it into a multi-million dollar powerhouse in the Project Management education field, a competitive arena with 1,600 providers who are registered with the Project Management Institute (PMI).

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Get It Out of Your Mind And Into a Mind Map

Do you ever feel like you have some great ideas, but when you sit down to write them, they're not so great? Or even worse, you can't really get a sense of what the ideas were?

What is a Mind Map?

Tony Buzan, who created the word "Mind Map" and has written extensively on it, describes it as a powerful graphic technique that makes use of the way our brains naturally work. He says it has four characteristics.

  1. The main subject is crystallized in a central image
  2. The main themes radiate from the central image as branches
  3. Branches comprise a key image or key word printed on an associated line.
  4. The branches form a connected nodal structure

How Do You Mind Map?

Mind mapping is best done in color. If you have some markers or colored pencils, and a sheet of white paper, you're ready. If you don't, just use what you have.

Start with the central idea that you are trying to wrap your mind around. It could be the big picture (e.g. your next chapter) or a smaller idea (e.g. the next few paragraphs.) Write it down in one or two words at the center of the paper, and draw a circle around it. If there is a symbol or picture that you can put with the words, sketch that in. The idea is that you are activating the non-verbal side of your brain. The quality of what you draw is not important, since you will be the only one seeing it. The same is true for the ideas you come up with. Don't edit, just put in what comes to mind.

There are no rules for the way to proceed from here. I tend to break rules, anyway. The way my mind works, I start thinking of related ideas, categories, and ideas, which I write in little circles surrounding the circle in the middle. I then use lines to connect them.

Tony Buzan likes to draw curved lines emanating from the center, and write the related or associated ideas on the lines. The result looks like a tree emanating from a central spot.

My technique looks more like a bunch of lollipops.

As you continue to add associated ideas to your outer circles or branches, you continue to draw the connections. You will notice as you fill them in that there are cross connections that appear. I find it helpful to draw lines between those interconnecting ideas.

How Does a Mind Map Help?

The brain is an associative network, and the right hemisphere (in most people) is responsible for non-verbal, visual, associative and much creative thinking. Normally when writing, we are mostly making use of our left hemisphere, which tends towards the analytical, one-thought-at-a-time approach. Our internal thoughts, however, are not shaped like that. Thus we have a roadblock as we try to get our brilliant thoughts on paper.

By using a Mind Map as a starting point for thinking, you can bypass the blockage and feeling of overwhelm caused by overly analytical thinking. The Mind Map allows you to see more than one thought at a glance, and in doing so helps clarify your thinking. It shows the way ideas are interrelated (or less related than you thought.) It allows more access to creative, non-linear parts of your brain.

How Can Grad Students and Professors Use Mind Maps?

At this point, you're probably thinking, "How is it that Gina writes so brilliantly and clearly? How does she keep all her creative thoughts straight?" The secret is that I use Mind Maps to write my articles. So it's not a high IQ but my Mind Mapping skills that got me where I am today.

Here are some helpful ways to make use of Mind Mapping.

  1. Use it for brainstorming ideas for your proposal or new research project.
  2. Make a Mind Map of your next chapter or the one you're currently stuck on.
  3. When planning your career, make a Mind Map to show the pros and cons of your available options.
  4. Use a Mind Map to take notes.
  5. Mind Mapping can help keep you awake and interested in your subject.
  6. Prepare for an upcoming meeting with a Mind Map and use it to explain your ideas.
  7. Use it in teaching, both to prepare classes and for handouts.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Choosing Between Mind Mapping Or To-Do Lists

Let's face it, each day we are bombarded by dozens of things to do. Our many responsibilities make sure our hands are full most of the time. Most often we find ourselves forgetting so many things! Often we simply get confused with what to do first and what could be done later on. We even end up suffering from work overload that makes our lives way too stressful to handle.

Needless to say, this awful situation is the product of our own inability to manage what limited time we have and our improper use of our resources. Both our personal and professional lives demands proper management. We need to organize our life by organizing our thoughts and surroundings. This will play a vital role in your success.

There are various means in which we can manage the chaotic lives we lead. We can use mind maps or to-do-lists for example. They give us different options on how to better manage our time and lessen the stress in our life.

Using mind maps helps us remember information better. It gives us additional insight on the information and our situation. It enables us to gain a clearer view on our work and our life in general. Actually mind maps are a perfect thinking tool that enhance memory, promotes creative thinking, improves our problem-solving skills and makes learning simply fun and easy.

More than helping us in our daily tasks, mind mapping can guide us in personal development. It helps us develop effective skills in goal setting and time management. These are necessary for to succeed in your job and more importantly in your personal life.

A "to-do" list on the other hand is a helpful tool to help us remember the things that we need to do. Every single day there is an endless array of meetings to attend, deadlines to meet, important appointments to go to, and a lot of other important things to take care of. We end up feeling so worn out, often during the day already! As a result we tend to forget what we were supposed to to.

In order for our to-do list to be useful we should first categorize it according to the types of activities we need to address. It should include our daily priority list, a general to-do list, a list of activities that needs to be addressed in the future, list of items we need to follow-up, list of goals, and others more.

Writing down a "to-do" list can be extremely helpful in helping us remember the duties we need to attend to every single day. Still it is much more helpful to develop your mind mapping skills. Mind maps give you a much better means of organizing your thoughts and managing your time and yourself.

Both methods are useful to keep track of what to do. A mind map often is easier, especially in complex situation or with many intertwined tasks. Your mind map creates one overview that shows you the proverbial big picture.

Start to create mind maps today and benefit from everything you do. Instead of being managed by your task and environment, you become the master over your day and life!

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

MatchWare Releases NoteControl, Innovative Software to Simplify Research and Create a Bibliography

With its powerful capture tool bar, integration with and cutting edge Microsoft Word export, MatchWare brings ease to writing research papers with their innovative research and citation software, NoteControl.

Today MatchWare ( ) announces the release of NoteControl, an innovative research and citation software that is changing the way research papers are written. NoteControl  assists users in the collection and organization of research along with the ability to manage citations and dynamically create research papers and bibliographies. Ulrik Merrild, MatchWare's CEO, explains "NoteControl simplifies how research projects are done. Whether you are writing a research paper or a book, NoteControl makes it easy to collect and manage the information you need."

From the collection of information to the process of formatting a research paper, NoteControl simplifies the research process entirely. With NoteControl's capture tool bar users can quickly collect the information they need from websites, document files, PDF's and more. The captured information is automatically stored as notes in the NoteControl inbox. From there, users can organize the information into main folders, sub-folders or by using tags, making it easy for users to find the notes they need.

Users can enhance their project by adding their own text, sound, or video notes and even collaborate on NoteControl projects by granting access to other users.

NoteControl provides users with free access to the world's largest online source catalogue, Users can search the WorldCat database through NoteControl, choosing from more than 1.5 billion documented sources to add to their NoteControl project. Sources can be added from WorldCat, or by the manual entry mode.

Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D, school psychologist and assistive technology expert states, "As students and professionals begin to utilize more and more Internet resources, they will find NoteControl is an invaluable tool to take charge and organize their research for use in projects and presentations."

NoteControl's powerful integration with Microsoft Word allows users to easily convert their NoteControl project into a professional MS Word document complete with formatted section headings and even a bibliography section. The folders in NoteControl become the sections of the MS Word document. All captured notes stored in the NoteControl folders become content for the respective sections of the MS Word document. When exporting to MS Word, users can select from APA , MLA , Chicago , and Harvard  writing/citation styles, allowing NoteControl to dynamically format the document headings and indentations, as well as create the bibliography according to the chosen style.

With seamless integration to MindView, MatchWare's award-winning mind mapping software, NoteControl's folder structure can be exported as a mind map, where the folders become the branches of the mind map. All captured notes stored in the folders become branch attachments in the mind map. This visual representation allows NoteControl users to further conceptualize and absorb the project at hand.

NoteControl provides students and professionals with the chance to enjoy the research process by providing valuable tools that streamline the way in which research is collected, organized, and presented. As a robust tool that brings simplicity to an otherwise dreaded task, NoteControl is revolutionizing the way research is perceived and performed.

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