Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gadget Girl Strikes Again! A product review...

I admit, I love gadgets. I don't know where this adoration of things that buzz, beep, light up, etc, came from, but I'm not fighting it.

My new little love: The Pulse SmartPen from Livescribe. You may have seen these commercials on tv or little set ups at Target - I actually did not see either. I came across it because I was trying to make my handmade business more efficient. This was my first holiday season selling online and it was insanity (the good kind). Since most of my work is personalized and/or customized there is a lot of sketching and scanning to provide customers an image of what is in my mind's eye.

I scanned in so many sketches of layouts/designs and what not and then had to write up a detailed explanation of my sketch and ideas, hoping that the customer would be able to follow. It was time consuming and sometimes fruitless, because the customer and I were not understanding one another.

So, I started to search for a way for me to streamline this process. I was really only looking for an electronic pen that would keep me from having to scan images, but then I ran across a bunch of stellar reviews of the Pulse. I really wish I had one of these baby's in college, but I think I'm going to get a lot of happy use out of it for my Crafty Business.

I am not going to explain every little thing about this pen, you can check out the website for tech specs, weight, cost, etc - even watch a little video. What I am going to tell you is that although you have to buy the special paper for the little camera that it uses to capture your writing, it isn't all that expensive (about $5/notebook - which is about what Mead charges these days) and the pen - even for someone like me who loves writing with ink (think: Montblanc) - is pretty darn decent. AND this pen RECORDS. So, as you are writing, you can record your own voice with extra bits of info, or whatever, and later, when you go back to your notes, you can just touch the paper (on the word where you started recording) and hear the playback. It is sooooo awesome!

It also has a little screen that can scroll through a main menu, battery power, tells you the time and, if you are recording, how many seconds/mins you have recorded.

The system I am using to keep myself and my business organized is having one notebook be my "desk" notebook - because I am always jotting things down when I'm in front of the computer such as: supplies I need to order, people I need to contact, marketing opportunities. When the pen is docked in its cradle (it has some really nifty magnetic thing going on that sucks the pen into the exact right spot) it uploads my notes and then I can do a search for words like: Order or Contact and the Livescribe Desktop software highlights those words so I can find all the Orders I need to place, even if my notes have them scattered across several pages. When I'm done with a page from the notebook, I can just delete it from the archives. All in one-click. Niiiicce. I also record myself as I'm writing things down at times to eliminate having to write every little thing out - like when I have to contact someone, I'll write the contact info down, but then have a recording of the "why am I calling them?".

I also have a designated Design notebook. This works out so well because I usually organize my designs by materials or even when I would like to release the new piece (like Valentine's Day) and then when I'm ready to actually sit down and work on a batch of fine silver, I can search "fine silver" and find the designs. The recordable feature helps me out here because there have been so many times that I draw a design out thinking it was my next 'big thing' only to go back to it a week later and not have any idea why I thought it was so great. Now, I just record as I draw.

I think I digressed from what my original point was...which was to streamline the scanning process. Livescribe gives you online storage space to upload your notes (you get to choose what you want uploaded) and you can share the file publicly or privately. So, picture this:

You create a sketch of a design layout for a customer and while you are sketching the layout you are recording and explaining as you draw. I then upload the sketch and I provide them with a link to the uploaded file on the website and when they click on it, they can see the sketch and hear my explanation. Here's a quick example CLICK HERE (there is a triangle 'play' button on the bottom left and you can make the screen larger by clicking on the arrow on the upper right hand part of the sketch)

Because you can set a file to public or private, you can decide whether everyone gets to see the upload or just a specific person or set of people.

The Pulse connects to your computer with USB, and upgrades, applications, software updates automatically take place when you place the pen its cradle.

There are a lot of gadgets out there that don't really do much for you, or work as advertised. Sure, the Pulse Smartpen has hokey crap on it like the ability to draw out a piano keyboard and actually play it (it was cool for about 10 minutes) and you can also draw a calculator and have it work (now, that one I like), but I really do think that the Pulse delivers on its word and I can see us having a very happy - and productive - relationship!

Oh - and check here to see if there are any coupons for a new pen - I got $10 off mine and free shipping!

Happy Writing!

~~~ Be looking for my next installment of P.P.'s 'No Freak Approach' to "Crafting for Profit" coming soon!! ~~~

Turbo Tagger

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