Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tech Column: The Paperless Corkboard, Lino

by Bill Adler

In February I wrote about virtual corkboards, a helpful amenity in the paperless world. You can read that article here:  http://bit.ly/13ULnSN. At the time, I was drawn to Corkboard.me. Since then I've tried a few more, including Mural.ly, which has the ability to import notes from Evernote.

I use Evernote as my go-to place for storing ideas, jotting down notes, saving articles from the web. I use Google Docs for writing, and I use Google Tasks for my to-do list. But what every television crime drama has, what every successful movie detective uses, what super smart CIA agent deploys in Homeland for organizing information, is a corkboard. A corkboard stands out among note taking and information management devices because you see a lot of stuff all at once. A task list is just that -- a list. Note programs can't easily let you see multiple notes in their entirety at the same time. Only with a corkboard can you rearrange notes so that you can visualize and connect relationships between ideas and facts.

There's a new #1 in the virtual corkboard world: Lino, www.linoit.com. I like it and use it so much that I've made Lino my browser's homepage. It's the first thing that I see when I open my browser.

Like other online corkboards, you can post a wide range of content, including text and photos. You can have several boards (or canvases), so that you can use a separate board for different projects. Similar to other corkboard services, Lino lets you share a board with somebody else, so you can collaborate with it. Lino uses a familiar corkboard style skeuomorph, but you can change that -- and even make boards that use your own photo as a background.

Before mentioning some of Lino's unique features, I want to talk about one thing that Lino doesn't do that I find annoying with some other virtual corkboards. Many corkboard services let you have a board of infinite size. That means that you can add notes that appear off-screen, and just slide the board to see those notes. It also means that it's easy to accidentally slide your board to the left or right and lose focus. While Lino's boards are infinite size, too, I found that with Lino the board doesn't slip away so readily: Its position is harder to move accidentally.

On to Lino's extra features. You can add notes by email, including pictures, to Lino's boards. All you have to do is snap a photo of something you want to remember, email it to your board's address, and that photo will be right on your board (and somebody else's board if you're collaborating). You can also add due dates to post-its and those note will show up on your computer's calendar, including Google Calendar and Outlook. Having a note also appear in your calendar gives you another shot at remembering something important. Lino, www.linoit.com, will also email you a daily summary of notes that have due dates, if you want.

Lino has tablet and phone apps, so you can take your corkboard wherever you go. Changes that you make via your browser are instantly reflected on your mobile device, and vice versa. If you are collaborating with somebody using a board, you can opt to receive an alert when somebody posts a note on your board.

If you're looking for a way to organize and visualize information, Lino, which has both free and paid versions, is worth spending a few minutes getting acquainted with. It's fun to use, too.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft, "Outwitting Squirrels," http://amzn.to/VXuLBh, and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. His tech column is published on Tuesdays.

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