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Since there is still no official version for Linux, many apps are trying to be Evernote alternatives, more or less successfully. Although it’s possible to run Evernote in Wine, it’s a good idea to find a native note-taking app for Linux that suits your needs.

CherryTree is an option you should seriously consider because it lets you organize notes in a smart and logical way. Don’t get deceived by its seemingly simple interface – CherryTree has so many features that I could write a book about it.

Installing CherryTree

CherryTree is written in Python and works both on Linux and Windows. Since I am a Linux user, I will be covering the Linux version in this article. The official website offers download packages for Debian and Ubuntu, as well as installers and a portable version for Windows. Many other distributions offer CherryTree in their repositories, but they might not have the latest release. Users of Ubuntu and its derivatives can add this repository to keep up with updates:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vincent-c/cherrytree sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install cherrytree

It’s also possible to run CherryTree as a portable app on Linux – just unpack the source tarball and run

./cherrytree

in the uncompressed folder in Terminal.

Start Organizing Notes

In CherryTree, your notes are organized hierarchically, which is great for complex projects and study guides because it helps you arrange information in a meaningful way. All items in CherryTree – folders, subfolders and notes – are called “Nodes”, and they can be one of three types: Rich Text, Plain Text or Automatic Syntax Highlighting. Choose the latter for notes that contain code.

When creating a “Node”, you can assign tags to it for easier searching. Your notes can be password-protected, and they are all stored in a single file – you can pick the format (XML or SQLite).

One of the most useful features is linking “Nodes” to each other. Any selected text can be turned into a link with the “Insert Anchor” option, allowing you to create a repository of information, like your personal Wikipedia.

Creating and Editing Notes

You’ll be working with notes in the main CherryTree window, which consists of menus, a toolbar, tree view of all “Nodes” in the current file, and the editing area. You can hide all elements except menus and the editing area, and the tree view can be moved to the right side in the “Preferences” dialog.

The toolbar has buttons for formatting functions. Use them to change the text color, make it bold, italic or superscript, turn text into lists (including to-do lists with checkboxes), align text and create subheadings. The “Preferences” dialog lets you select which buttons will be visible in the toolbar.

CherryTree allows you to insert different kinds of content into your notes. You can insert entire files, paste items from clipboard, insert, resize and rotate images (PNG, JPG, TIFF…), add current date and time, generate a table of contents, and insert regular text tables, which can also be imported from CSV files. If you want to add pieces of code to your notes, insert a

Customizing CherryTree

Apart from the features I already mentioned, the “Preferences” dialog lets you change fonts and background colors of the main CherryTree window. You can also turn on line-wrapping, indentation, line numbers, autosave and session restore functions, as well as automatic backups.

Conclusion

CherryTree has so much more up its sleeve. There are handy keyboard shortcuts for users who prefer a mouseless workflow. It offers a powerful “Find & Replace” function that can search the contents of all notes, or a selected folder (“Node”) and its subfolders (“Sub-nodes”), with support for regular expressions and partial matching.

You can export selected text, single, multiple and all notes to PDF, HTML, and plain text. If you’ve previously used another note-taking software, CherryTree can import notes from text and HTML files, as well as from a long list of apps (Gnote, Keepnote, Keynote, Tomboy, Zim…).

It’s a truly amazing app because it can do so much while being light on system resources. I can imagine it being equally useful for organizing recipes, collecting writing ideas, developing business plans or sorting notes for school.

The list of planned features is exciting: CherryTree might soon get support for tabs, a word counter for one or all notes, import from PDF and export to LaTeX and Markdown, and an Android version. It could easily replace Evernote even for Windows users; the only thing that’s missing is online syncing, but you can always set that up with Dropbox or another online storage service.

Ivana Isadora Devcic

Ivana Isadora is a freelance writer, translator and copyeditor fluent in English, Croatian and Swedish. She’s a Linux user & KDE fan interested in startups, productivity and personal branding. Find out how to connect with Ivana here.

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Facebook Messages Is Taking A New Look

It was reported that Facebook will be transforming its Messages feature into a full-fledged email client, with a new two-panel layout that resembles Apple’s Mail on the iPad. The redesigned Facebook Messages will include easier ways to attach files and photos, a collection of emoticons, and keyboard shortcuts.

New Facebook Messages: What to Expect?

The new layout of Facebook Messages features a simple and clean two-panel interface. The left-hand panel lists the latest messages on the Facebook inbox. It will also have a search box, allowing users to search for past messages while reading the latest mail. On the other hand, there’s the much larger right-hand panel that serves as the main message area. This is where a user can read, reply and add attachments to messages.

Aside from the change of layout, nothing much was changed on Facebook Messages. The response box remains at the bottom, and it includes options for adding attachments and quick reply check box.

However, the option to send a message to a friend’s mobile phone is missing. Although it yet to be known whether this feature will be removed, it would only make sense of Facebook will ditch the option. That’s because Facebook Messenger lets users to instantly receive messages from their friends on their smartphone.

There’s also the “New Message” option at the top right area. Prior to this, the option to create a new message is only available in the main inbox view. Keyboard shortcuts were also added on the new iteration of Facebook Messages.

However, the social networking giant is yet to roll out a detailed list of the keyboard shortcuts. Once it becomes available, users can call the list up by pressing Alt + Q for Windows or Control + Q for OS X.

Bosch Unlimited 7 Review: A Powerful Everyday Vacuum

+ Lightweight and durable + Great manoeuvrability + Easy to empty + 40-minute battery life on ‘eco’ mode + 90-degree bendable nozzle to get into tight spots + Auto mode will automatically adjust depending on surface + Interchangeable batteries and optional add-ons

Pros: + Lightweight and durable + Great manoeuvrability + Easy to empty + 40-minute battery life on ‘eco’ mode + 90-degree bendable nozzle to get into tight spots + Auto mode will automatically adjust depending on surface + Interchangeable batteries and optional add-ons

Since its founding in 1886, Bosch has become a well-known household name, recognised as a multinational engineering and technology company. In the 136 years since, Bosch has consistently been touted as producing high-quality power tools and home appliances, including vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines. So how does the Bosch Unlimited 7 compare, and is it worth the rrp of £299?

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In this review, we take a closer look at the features of the Bosch Unlimited 7, including battery life, usability, handling, and performance.   

Features & handling

Straight off the bat, there are a couple of features that set this vacuum apart from others on the market, and that’s the 90-degree flexible tube, and the swappable battery.

It’s unsurprising then, that manoeuvrability is a big selling point for this vacuum. It’s intuitive, so a slight move of your hand will see the vacuum nipping around chair legs, dogs, and obstacles with ease. The motorised brush nozzle has a flexible head that responds well to small motions; you don’t need to pivot the entire device to change direction. A slight lean one way and you can scoot round a corner; a very useful feature if you don’t fancy the cardio workout that often comes with vacuuming.

The dust container is quite small, with just a 0.3l capacity, which could feel a bit restrictive especially if you’re cleaning a large house. But if you get into the habit of emptying it after every vacuuming session, this shouldn’t bother you too much – and you’ll benefit from the lighter weight by having the smaller container.

And being lightweight, it’s particularly useful for hoisting up into awkward corners to reach stubborn cobwebs and accumulated dust. Even when held vertically upwards, motion is intuitive.

However, if you’re not used to cordless vacuums, you should be aware that – unlike with corded vacuums where you lift only the nozzle – you will need to lift the entire vacuum into that dusty corner. And while 2.8kg isn’t that much, if you have arthritic hands or dexterity issues, it does require a fairly firm ‘grip’, to maintain control of the vacuum if you’re doing a more thorough clean of the ceiling. However, it is well-balanced, which helps to counteract this weight to a certain degree.

Battery

Battery life of the Bosch Unlimited 7 varies depending on which setting you’re using – and that depends on the surface you are vacuuming. While it’s not really sufficient to clean a large house from top to bottom, buying a couple of spare batteries would solve this problem. On eco mode, I got an easy half-an-hour from the vacuum, with juice to spare. Turbo mode is more power-hungry, and on a full charge it only managed around 12 minutes before running out of steam.

Having swappable batteries is a huge bonus, especially as they can be used with an ever-increasing range of other appliances. And they’re not limited to Bosch either. It’s one of the largest cross-brand 18V battery systems, compatible with other 18V power tools and gardening gadgets from a range of brands – over 70 different appliances, in fact!

So, if you’re already noticing a number of compatible products creeping into your house – either by design or coincidence – it might be worth picking up a spare battery and charger to streamline routines.

Performance

You may not think that your carpet is that dusty, especially if it looks clean. True, a lot of dust is carpet fluff, but it’s loose dust none-the-less. And that can play havoc for allergy sufferers. But the Bosch Unlimited 7 pulls the dust out of the carpet well, and you’ll be impressed (or not) with the amount it picks up, especially when you come to clean the cartridge filter.

Suction is excellent, whether you’re vacuuming the carpet or the ceiling. Likewise, there doesn’t appear to be any loss of suction when the flexible tube is bent at 90 degrees, and while having a choice of different modes (eco, turbo and auto) is nothing new, of course, it’s good to know you don’t have to run it at full blast all the time. I like the intelligent ‘Auto’ mode, as gives adaptive power across multiple surfaces – so you don’t actually need to change the settings, if you don’t want to.

Ordinary day-to-day detritus is vacuumed up with ease, and with just one pass; although pet hair does need ‘going over’ several times. The six LED headlamps are a nice touch and are useful for searching out dusty corners – they illuminate around 30cm in front – not to mention they make vacuuming more fun.

It does, however, struggle with thicker carpets, and stubborn, trodden-in dirt. So you’ll need to opt for several blasts in turbo mode, or grab that old wire brush to loosen the dirt first before tackling something as dirty as my car…

It’s also worth noting that the main head – the motorised brush with the LED lights – picks up hair and string no worse than most other vacuums, but a quick release mechanism would make cleaning and detangling the brush roll a lot easier. As it is, I’m still having to cut the more fibrous detritus off the roller with a pair of scissors.

As for storage, it has a neat, space-saving design, similar to most stick vacuums these days, in the form of wall mounting unit. But there’s also a rather handy ‘hook’ on the back of the vacuum itself – so if you don’t want to commit to permanently fixing the housing unit to the wall, you can suspend it from a suitable shelf or rail instead. This hook is made of plastic, however, so time will tell if it’s strong enough.

Verdict

The Bosch Unlimited 7 is ideal for hard floor apartment living, with lots of under-furniture areas prone to collecting crumbs and dust. If you have a few thick-pile rugs and carpets – even on ‘turbo’ setting, it struggles with reaching all the way down into the fibres of the carpet. On short-pile carpets, or ‘firm’ carpets however, the Bosch Unlimited 7 is great, and the headlamps are a fun feature. Manoeuvrability is excellent, and it’s great for getting round obstacles.

Suction on pet hair is adequate, but you’ll need to ‘go over’ an area several times to get the best results. Battery life is fairly decent for a cordless vacuum, and comparable to other brands; around 40 minutes on eco setting, 12 on turbo. But if you still want more juice, just like you’d have several batteries for your DSLR, you can buy extra swappable batteries – which you can also use with a variety of power and gardening tools.

It’s a sightly pricier option than alternative stick vacuums, but you’re compensated with a vacuum that has brilliant suction, is super flexible, portable, and lightweight. Just don’t forget to clean the dust filter.

Alternatives Miele Triflex HX2

With its maintenance-free HEPA lifetime filter system, the Miele Triflex HX2 captures an impressive 99.99 per cent of fine dust, allergens, and even viruses. It has a generous 60-minute battery life, so you can cover a lot more ground on one charge than you can with the Bosch Unlimited 7 – ideal if you have a larger property – but with this comes with a price tag to match. It’s Miele’s most powerful vacuum cleaner designed for long-lasting performance, and, according to them: “you might change your flooring before you change your Miele.”

Shark IZ202UK

The Shark IZ202UK is comparable to the Bosch Unlimited 7, both in terms of price and features. It too, has a 40-minute run time, can bend in the middle to reach under furniture, and has a removeable battery pack. It’s got a larger dust box capacity than the Bosch (0.7l), and is anti-hair wrap, but it’s heavier, too, coming in at 4.7kg.

Gtech Multi Mk2

If you’re after a smaller, handheld vacuum, then the Gtech Multi MK2 is a solid option. You save on price, and if you want something that can tackle random bits of detritus, or for a five-minute job on the car, then it’s a reliable alternative. And once you’ve done with the car carpets, the dusting brush is useful for upholstery and car seats. It’s super lightweight, too, at just 1.5kg.

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Novation Launchpad Is A Simple But Powerful Music Maker

Let’s cut to the chase: creating music on an iPhone or iPad isn’t as easy as it should be. The gold standard, GarageBand, almost requires some knowledge of an instrument, which drastically whittles down the amount of users that can create on the platform. However, the complexity of the music-making process isn’t specifically limited to GarageBand, as it is something music-creating apps have struggled with throughout the history of the App Store. Wouldn’t it be nice to just press buttons and watch a creation form in front of your very eyes?

Novation Launchpad sure would seem to think so. The app, created by developers Novation, is as simple as it can get, but the results don’t suffer from the ease-of-use. Read on for a full Novation Launchpad review…

Design

If there’s one thing that hinders Novation Launchpad, it is the design. It’s not that the design doesn’t work effectively, it is just not visually appealing or fun. What the user essentially sees is a group of forty-eight squares with which to interact. The two primary colors are yellow and black, reminiscent of the lyric app Genius by Rap Genius, and there isn’t much more to the app than the tiles.

In a way, the app is in stark contrast to the overall look of iOS 7. Of course, my opinion is quite subjective, as this design language may be more enjoyed by others. Despite this, it must be said that the app’s mixture of gray, black, and yellow isn’t the prettiest color scheme, and it sure doesn’t play nice with the cleaner design of iOS 7.

Capabilities

What this app lacks in beauty, it makes up for in sheer fun. When presented with the drum pad, users can simply tap on a box and tracks will begin playing. After selecting a few of the many options, the overall piece begins to form and almost always sounds great.

This is the true genius behind Novation Launchpad. Somehow, the team behind the app managed to choose loops and effects that go well together in a multitude of combinations. Because of this achievement, anyone can create something that he or she can instantaneously start bobbing their head to, which makes the app usable for everyone.

But Novation Launchpad isn’t the only app that can put beats in a loop, or even do it well. However, the app allows for the addition of effects, which greatly improves the experience. Repeating the sounds, dropping the bass, and muting the track can all make this feel like actual music creation, not just some preset combination of sounds.

In addition, Launchpad seems to scale its features to each device. While all of these features are on both iPad and iPhone, the iPad version allows for sliders to more accurately alter sounds. Also, the iPad app offers the ability to swap out different tiles, something not present on iPhone at the time of writing.

The Good

If you’re interested in making good music (and who isn’t?), this is the app for you. Its simplicity makes it something easy to pick up and use, but it’s also expansive enough to create something unique every time. It also has multiple genres of sounds, so users aren’t stuck with a single set of tracks.

Novation Launchpad keeps its beats in sync, so every piece sounds like it is layered just right. The editable tracks help differentiate the app from its competition and also make for a better experience altogether.

The Bad

The UI of this app is bold, but this attribute makes it very difficult to enjoy from an aesthetic standpoint. Additionally, the app also is limited on the iPhone in comparison to the iPad, and for a user of both, I found it hard to pick it up on the iPhone after tinkering with it on the iPad.

Novation Launchpad also has quite a lot more features and sounds, including an import audio feature, but these require a purchasing fee, which may turn some users away. Because of this business model, I felt as if I was losing out on the full capabilities of the app.

Value

Without any in-app purchases, the app is free to use and offers a wide selection of features and tracks to use. For a decent price hike, however, Novation Launchpad can become an entirely different beast, but I’m not sure it’s worth all of the money they are asking, especially $6.99 for audio import. If you are satisfied with the basic capabilities, however, than you should be happy with the free price tag.

Conclusion

Sure, some people may see Novation Launchpad and be hesitant because of the rather bland design, but the power of this little app is not to be underestimated. It’s really a joy to play with, and if you’re the music-making or general creative type, don’t hesitate picking this one up and exploring its expansive features. Download the app for iPad and iPhone in the App Store.

Related Apps

My initial thought was that this app reminded me of a lot more complex version of Propellerhead’s Figure.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Vs Note 4: What’S Changed?

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Note 4: What’s Changed?

Samsung has a new flagship, the Galaxy Note 5, the fifth in its series of popular phablets. With a smarter design, more functional S Pen stylus, and faster connectivity, it’s shaping up to be the best Note yet. Thing is, last year’s Note 4 was no slouch, so the question undoubtedly on many existing users’ mind is “should I upgrade?”

The Galaxy Note 5 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, though the differences are relatively small: the new phone comes in at 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm and 171g, while the Note 4 is 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm and 176 g.

However, there’s been a big change in materials along the way, something that your hand almost certainly will notice. Gone is the plastic back with its faux-leather finish, replaced with toughened Gorilla Glass 4.

While the sides of the Note 4 were metal, the Note 5 smooths their sharp edges. It’s more akin to the Galaxy S6 design, and together with a slight taper to the rear panel, makes the phone feel narrower and more comfortable to hold.

Both the Note 5 and the Note 4 have a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, running at 2560 x 1440 resolution for a pixel density of 515 ppi. However, Samsung has refined the hardware for its S Pen stylus, promising a cut in latency and greater accuracy.

Inside, there’s an upgraded Exynos 7420 processor, an octacore combining a 2.1GHz quad core and a 1.5GHz quad core. Select models of the Note 4 used the same architecture, though with an older Exynos 5433 that ran at 1.9GHz and .3GHz respectively. Perhaps more noticeable for power users will be the extra memory, with the Note 5 getting 4GB of LPDDR4 rather than the Note 4’s 3GB of LPDDR3.

Unfortunately, not all the hardware changes are necessarily good news. The Note 5 drops the microSD card slot, which means although there’s now a 64GB version alongside the 32GB model – where previously the Note 4 topped out – that’s the most local storage you can have.

Power users are similarly likely to be frustrated by the non-removable battery. Where the Note 4’s 3,220 mAh pack could be switched when you were in the red, the Note 5’s 3,000 mAh battery is not only fixed but smaller.

Both phones have a 16-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization, though the Note 5’s f/1.9 lens is a slight improvement over the Note 4’s f/2.0. It’s the front camera where the bigger changes have taken place, however: the Note 4’s 3.7-megapixel selfie camera has been switched out for a 5-megapixel sensor instead.

As for the software, the Note 5 gets features like YouTube Live Broadcast baked into its camera app, refinements to Air Command that allows for custom apps to be included in the launcher, and the ability to jot down notes as soon as you pull out the stylus, even if the screen is turned off.

Whether Samsung will upgrade the old Note 4 to support some of those improvements remains to be seen.

In short, it’s a progressive update though with some common complaints addressed. The design and materials of the Note arguably never quite lived up to its professional billing, something Samsung has changed with this generation, but at the same time the missing memory card slot and removable battery support are likely to frustrate some of the more keen users.

We’ll know more when we have a chance to put the Galaxy Note 5 through its paces in a full review. Until then, check out our full hands-on with the new phablet.

Taking It To The Streets

Taking It to the Streets CAS alum’s food truck delivers bold flavors

Bon Me food truck, owned by chef Alison Fong (CAS’01), is a popular spot with BU students and staff. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

In January of last year, Alison Fong bought a used DHL delivery truck from a man known as Big Jim. She then drove the truck to a Connecticut company that specializes in installing restaurant-grade kitchen equipment in spaces originally designed for overnight packages.

Buying and outfitting their truck was the first tangible step for Fong (CAS’01) and her husband, Patrick Lynch, in turning their business plan into business reality. Today, their Bon Me food truck—still painted a cheery DHL yellow—parks in Boston’s Dewey Square at lunchtime and on Commonwealth Avenue (near BU’s Morse Auditorium or near the College of Fine Arts) in the afternoons and evenings, serving up banh mi sandwiches and other Vietnamese-inspired fare to hungry passersby.

Fong had her sights set on law school when she graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences sociology program just over a decade ago, but an uninspiring stint as a paralegal and an interest in cooking led her to enroll in New York’s Culinary Institute of America instead. She then worked in several New York and Boston restaurants (some with kitchens no bigger than her 8-by-14-foot truck) before taking a job at Brimmer and May, a private K–12 school in Newton, Mass. There, she was director of food services, determinedly adding asparagus, quinoa, and wheat berry to the cafeteria’s customary carrots, peas, and pasta.

Fong has learned to master the most difficult part of running a food truck: remembering to put everything on the truck. “If we forget to bring our ecofriendly rice bowl containers, then we can’t serve our rice bowls—even if we have all the dozen things that go into the rice bowl—because we literally don’t have anything to put them in,” she says. To avoid such mishaps, she’s developed very specific routines—and checklists, lots of checklists.

Such diligence has led to consistently good food service and a loyal clientele, including Kelsey Shaw (CAS’12), who recently stopped at Bon Me for a bowl of noodle soup to warm her up between classes. “I’m obsessed with this truck,” she confesses. “It’s convenient, and I also think it’s pretty healthy. I love the flavors, and the people on the truck are really friendly.” Her favorite Bon Me dish is the noodle salad with chicken and soba noodles, she says, “but I think I’ve had everything on the menu—and I like it all.”

“We’ve had really amazing reception to our food and our brand during our first year of business,” Fong says. Bon Me’s 2011 revenues exceeded initial projections by more than 50 percent. In fact, the response has been so good that Fong left her job at Brimmer and May. She and her husband are preparing to open their first brick-and-mortar Bon Me restaurant, in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, early next year.

Watch a video about the popular food trucks on BU’s campus, including Alison Fong’s Bon Me, here.

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2012 edition of Arts & Sciences.

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