Want to organize your #brain, Try the Brain mind mapping software

What if you were able to put your entire brain into one computer program? Every thought, work-related or personal, with links to Web pages or files on your computer, and any additional notes you’d care to make. And what if you could then link those thoughts together, weaving them into free and complex associative patterns, much like an actual train of thought going through your head? That’s what TheBrain ($249, 30-day free trial) tries to let you do.

downloadAt its core, TheBrain 8.0 is a powerful and flexible mind-mapping program. If you’re looking to create a simple mind map for just one project, you could always go with a minimalistic free app like Blumind, or even with mind-mapper favorite Freemind. But if you’d like to create a vast mind map which covers a lot of ground, TheBrain might just be what you need (and its free version retains lots of functionality).

The first thing you see when creating a new brain is just a single “thought” against a background called “the Plex.” In TheBrain, a thought is just a name for a node in your mind map–much like an “idea” in online mind-mapper MindMeister. Each thought can have multiple siblings, multiple children (sub-thoughts), and even multiple parents. That last one is not an obvious feature, and allows for creating very complex layouts. For example, in a film-related mind map, you could have actor Keanu Reeves both under “male heroes” and under “Matrix cast.”

The Plex itself hasn’t changed much since I first used TheBrain (when it was still called PersonalBrain), about five years ago. It is still visually impressive and fun to use. As you click a thought you’d like to focus on, it smoothly floats over to the center of the Plex, and the other thoughts get rearranged (or shown or hide), all with slick, futuristic animations.

One major visual change for TheBrain 8 is that links between thoughts are now curved, rather than simple straight lines. That sounds minor, but when you’re working on a huge mind map, it does make a visual impact.

Speaking of links, TheBrain’s links pack quite a bit of functionality in themselves. Links can have directionality (e.g, “Films” leads to “Matrix”), and they can even have text. This is very useful for making links into specific verbs, so the link from Keanu Reeves to The Matrix could say “acted in,” whereas the link from Mr. Reeves to Henry’s Crime could say “acted and produced.” You can also style links with colors and line thicknesses, and create “link types” so you don’t have to define the same link properties over and over again.

TheBrain is Java-based, which, to me, is a bit of a drawback. Like other large Java applications (JDownloader and jEdit come to mind) it feels a bit heavy sometimes. For example, the center of the Plex rotates, but this particular animation stuttered throughout my use of the application, even when TheBrain was idle (other animations were smooth). TheBrain took up around 220MB of RAM on my system, or about one third of what Chrome takes with eleven open tabs on the same system. Not a tiny footprint, but reasonable for such a large application.

TheBrain also offers an online synchronization service called WebBrain, which lets you seamlessly sync a local Brain with its online version, and thus, synchronize Brains you’re using on more than one system (such as your desktop and a laptop).

It is definitely an application that takes some getting used to, but for visual thinkers, TheBrain can make a big difference in productivity and organization.


7 Google Keep Tips for Your Phone

Google Keep is a FREE app that will help you organize your life.

In this article we will show you 7 tips that you can do on your phone to get more out of Google Keep. Google Keep connects across all your devices. Check out the list of tips that will be covered.

  • Collaborate and Share with Google Keep
  • Set reminders by time or place with Google Keep
  • Dictate Notes in Google Keep
  • Extract text from an image in Google Keep
  • Doodle in Google Keep
  • Use Google Keep as a bookmark tool
  • Export to Docs in Google Keep

Collaborate and share with Google Keep

Google Keep’s latest update now allows users to share their notes and collaborate on those. You can now, for example, share groceries lists with your family and meeting notes with your colleagues. And as with other Google Drive apps, you can collaborate within Google Keep in real-time, making sharing notes with others a much better experience.Collaborating within notes has also never been easier. Everyone with access to any given note can edit it, and others will see the changes in real-time.

Set reminders by time or place

Google Keep can now enable you create reminders based on time and location. It can even remind you of an important event (or something you need to do) when you arrive at a particular location. The only caveat to Keep’s reminders is that their creation isn’t exactly obvious. If you open Keep, you won’t find a reminder button to tap, nor can you speak that magical phrase “Okay Google Now.” However, Google Keep’s reminders can be easily created .Say, for example, the next time you’re shopping at that massive warehouse store, you need to pick up supplies for your home and your office. You could create a shopping list (for both even), and then attach a location-based reminder so you don’t forget to pick up the items.

Dictate Notes in Google Keep

Google Keep has a voice memo feature, which you can access in two ways:

  • The microphone icon in the notes list.
  • The microphone icon in the widget.

Once activated, you can just speak and Google will convert what you say into text. It’ll create a new note with the text content and an audio recording of what you said. Feel free to keep either or both.

Google Keep also integrates nicely with Google Now, allowing you to add items to list notes just by activating it using an OK Google command:

Extract text from an image in Google Keep

Wanna transcribe your short notice but your lazy to type, Well Google keep now has a feature that can scan handwritten text and convert it into digital text.

  • Use your device’s camera to capture an image of text.
  • Add the image to a note, then tap on the image.
  • Open the overflow menu and select Grab image text.
  • Give it a minute or so and the text will show up in the note.

The OCR engine needs an internet connection to do its magic, but it works quite well.

Doodle in Google Keep

You can now do quick doodles in the mobile version of Google Keep. These doodles can then be imported into Google Docs or edited (but only on the mobile version).

Use Google Keep as a bookmark tool

Even though you are using a mobile device rather than a website, you can still bookmark web pages or portions of a web page as long as you have the Google Keep app installed. From any Chrome mobile browser window on the mobile device tap on the Menu (three vertical dots in the top right of the screen).

Export to Docs in Google Keep

With the Google Keep Copy feature, you can move any note to Google Docs and start working on it there, instead of using the tiny note interface. All you have to do is open any note in Google Keep, either from the Web or the app. Then, click or the overflow menu (three dots) and choose Copy to Google Doc


Should i save my data on cloud?

I recently read a story about how amazon had scrapped their unlimited clouds services package to all its users. This in a way got me thinking about the realities of cloud based services. I have almost tried all cloud based services that are popular but still struggling with reliability aspect among them. In 2015, Microsoft announced a similar move where they also scrapped the unlimited package for overdrive  making it less than what was previously offered. I was among those affected by this move. A similar incident happened when my Dropbox was resented and i lost all files saved. With these incidences am still wondering how sustainable these services are and whether in the long run this is the solution to conventional ways of storage.

It’s pretty simple to understand where a file goes when you save it on your PC. It lives on your hard drive, possibly housed in a set of folders you’ve created and organized yourself. That file is only stored on your computer, unless you decide to email it to yourself or save it on an external hard drive or USB.

Now what about the cloud?

At its most basic level, “the cloud” is just fancy-talk for a network of connected servers (a server is simply a computer that provides data or services to other computers). When you save files to the cloud, they can be accessed from a computer connected to that cloud’s network. Now take that idea and multiply it to understand how the cloud works for you. The cloud is not just a few servers, but a network of many servers typically stored in a spaceship-sized warehouse—or several hundred spaceship-sized warehouses. These warehouses are guarded and managed by companies such as Google (Google Docs), Apple (iCloud), or Dropbox.

So it’s not just some nebulous concept. It’s physical, tangible, real.

When you save files to the cloud, you can access them on any computer, provided it’s connected to the Internet and you’re signed into your cloud services platform. Take Google Drive. If you use Gmail, you can access Drive anywhere you can access your email. Sign in for one service and find your entire library of documents and photos on another.

Benefits of cloud storage

On the flip side, the data you save to the cloud is far more secure than it is on your own hard drive. Cloud servers are housed in warehouses offsite and away from most employees, and they are heavily guarded. In addition, the data in those servers is encrypted, which makes hacking it a laborious, if not formidable, task for criminals. Whereas a malware infection on your home computer could expose all of your personal data to cyber-crooks, and even leave your files vulnerable to ransomware threats. In fact, we recommend backing up your files to a cloud service as a hedge against ransomware.

Another benefit to storing data on the cloud is cost effectiveness and ease-of-access. You can store tons of data, often for free, using the cloud. Measure that against the number of external hard drives and USBs you’d have to purchase, and the difficulty accessing data once you’ve stored to multiple other devices, and you can see why cloud storage has become a popular option for businesses and consumers alike.

Risks of cloud storage

Cloud security is tight, but it’s not infallible. Cybercriminals can get into those files, whether by guessing security questions or bypassing passwords. That’s what happened in The Great iCloud Hack of 2014, where nude pictures of celebrities were accessed and published online.

But the bigger risk with cloud storage is privacy. Even if data isn’t stolen or published, it can still be viewed. Governments can legally request information stored in the cloud, and it’s up to the cloud services provider to deny access. Tens of thousands of requests for user data are sent to Google, Microsoft, and other businesses each year by government agencies. A large percentage of the time, these companies hand over at least some kind of data, even if it’s not the content in full.

The other risk is the fact that there is guarantee that your information/data will not be deleted incase of changes in package subscriptions like the case of amazon unlimited to 30Tb limit.

Final verdict

Yes, despite all the challenges, your data is relatively safe in the cloud—likely much more so than on your own hard drive. In addition, files are easy to access and maintain. However, cloud services ultimately put your data in the hands of other people. If you’re not particularly concerned about privacy, then no big whoop. But if you have sensitive data you’d like keep from prying eyes…probably best to store in a hard drive that remains disconnected from your home computer.

If you’re ready to store data on the cloud, we suggest you use a cloud service with multi-factor authentication and encryption. In addition, follow these best practices to help keep your data on the cloud secure:

  • Use hardcore passwords: Long and randomized passwords should be used for data stored on the cloud. Don’t use the same password twice.
  • Back up files in different cloud accounts: Don’t put all your important data in one place.
  • Practice smart browsing: If you’re accessing the cloud on a public computer, remember to logout and never save password info.