Daily Archives: 23rd of October 2012

Evernote on offer for a limited time

Evernote's welcome page

There’s an odd special offer on Evernote for a limited time. You can buy 15 months of the Premium service for $29. The usual price is $45 for 12 months. The offer is through the MacHeist bundle. This is a collection of Mac OsX software being sold together. The software is nearly all Mac licences only, but the Evernote licence can be activated without a Mac.

Why would you want to do this (even if you have Mac)?

Evernote is a note-storing application. You upload text, images or files, and Evernote keeps them available online. This means you can access your notes from the computer you uploaded them from or from any other internet-connected computer. This works all ways so that the Evernote app on your mobile phone will automatically upload notes to your home computer. This sounds fairly trivial, the power of Evernote is in its OCR.

Evernote can read images. This means photos of book covers are searchable. It reads PDFs too. For anyone doing research this makes the collection of PDFs on your hard drive manageable. If you have photocopies of old papers then scanned images combined into a PDF become searchable too. Uploads can be tagged, improving the search-power.

To a large extent Google Docs already has OCR, so why bother with Evernote?

One is storage size. Even with a free account, you have unlimited storage. What you pay for with Evernote is the upload quota. Google has a limit of 5GB, though you can pay to upgrade this too.

Another is the mobile integration. A decent camera on a smartphone can now photograph journal pages and combine them into one PDF. Share to Evernote is a common feature for many apps on smartphones, so you could capture and store papers in one go. There is a question about how happy you’d be to read papers captured by a phone though. There are 41 Megapixel cameraphones, but most phones are equipped with much lower-resolution sensors.

To a large extent the usefulness depends on you finding Evernote fitting into your own workflow. The free version is a handy way of finding that if that will happen or not. Macheist closes in a couple of days, so it will have to be a quick decision. Mac owners might be swayed by the fact the excellent Scrivener is included in the bundle too.

Cryptic contribution to N (and C) cycles

Image: Jialiang Gao, Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Jialiang Gao, Wikimedia Commons.

In this global-climate-change-obsessed world we frequently hear the term carbon sink, which is a ‘natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period’. The emphasis on carbon is understandable since carbon dioxide is one of the most important greenhouse gases (GHGs) whose accumulation in the atmosphere contributes to an increase in global temperatures – the greenhouse effect. Intuitively, one way to reduce that aerial CO2 burden is to reduce the amount added to the air, and/or increase the rate at which it is removed from the atmosphere. And the botanically inclined amongst you will surely suggest that maintaining, or even increasing, areas of vegetation – which by dint of that marvellous photobiochemical process known as photosynthesis consume CO2 – will be a desirable thing. Which is why traditionally we have presumed large forest areas to be such important carbon sinks – not only do they remove CO2 in photosynthesis, but also much of that carbon is fixed within their trunks and stored for as long as the tree continues to grow. Hence there are major concerns over the rate at which forests are being removed in such areas as the Amazon. Well, it seems that in concentrating on the big things we have ignored the very small things that are also major players in this drama and which help to make construction of that arboreal sink possible. For example, it is easy to forget that building such massive structures as trees requires not only carbon, but also nitrogen and all of the other essential plant nutrients. So, regardless of how much carbon is available, the value of trees as a carbon sink will be limited by the factors that limit plant growth. That is why you should not ignore the contribution of the photoautotrophic cryptogams – cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, lichens and bryophytes. Being so small they are easily overlooked, yet can cover large areas of such surfaces as soil, rocks and even other plants, and according to Wolfgang Elbert et al., globally they may account for almost 50% of terrestrial biological nitrogen fixation. Which, in turn, is necessary to help make atmospheric nitrogen biologically available to other organisms, such as trees, whose role as carbon sinks is so important in ameliorating atmospheric carbon levels… And we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these land- and oceanic-based carbon sinks (in which regard, look out for my next post), whose global carbon uptake has almost doubled in the past 50 years according to Ashley Ballantyne et al.