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This past Friday I got a call from a landscape and masonry contractor who wanted to know if FileMaker could help his company. It turns out this past spring his daughter graduated from college and joined his company in an office and management capacity to take is company out of the “management by shoebox” method they had used for years.  And she turned him on to Apple computers and their built-in connectivity with iOS device.

I’ve been long time user of the Apple platform since getting my first computer, a Mac SE in December of ’91. The funny thing is the guy called to talk to me about my software (360Difference.com) and instead of me talking I spent 95% of the conversation listening to him enthusiastically rave about how he was using Apple Notes a free application available to any Mac and iOS user and all the things it can do. 

I had ignored Apple Notes because I was a long time user of EverNote and a ToDo application I had built in FileMaker based on the principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. About six years ago I was working on building/remodeling a FileMaker solution for an independent insurance adjustment company and in their office one day I got to talking to one of their contractors that often used for restoration projects and he was showed me how he used EverNote to run his operations and I was impressed. I only hope I can remember enough of what this fellow just told me about Apple Notes (retrospectively I wish it was a FaceTime call and I had recorded it!)

He was telling me about how he had a one or two day job where he had to dress up the landscape on a home that was going on the market for sale. He brought three laborers to the site with two trucks full of landscaping equipment and walked them around the site telling them what he wanted done and did so making a video recording everything he was telling them using the Apple Notes App. 

There are several tools you can use to create a note such as just dictating what you want in a note and then iOS converts what you say to text inserting it into the note where you can add text by keyboard and modify it with typical HTML type formatting. Or without even opening the Apple Notes app you can ask Siri to create a new Note. Or you can insert a table. Or make a note with a checklist (good for punch lists). Or scan a document, scan and read text, take a photo, or make a video. 

He then saves this video to a Notes Folder or SubFolder for that Project/Job and shares the video (EMail, Airdrop, or SMS) with the guys he’s leaving on the job so they can reference at any time what they have been instructed to do. Even If they don’t have iPhones they can still view the video on their Android smartphones.

Then when a dump truck shows up later with a load of topsoil he’s ordered for the project  and dumps it on a tarp in the driveway the lead onsite takes a video of the event and if he’s on an iPhone scans the delivery invoice into the Notes folder for that job. Or if he has an Android smart phone he just photographs it and emails it in to his boss who then enters it into the Apple Notes app.

When he gets a message from one of his guys in Spanish or Portuguese  he uses the iOS Translate app to decipher the message.

Meanwhile back in the office his daughter will view the video of the project walk-through and writes out and invoice with an itemized list of the tasks being done on the project. Then when the invoice is given to the client it has a “before” video (the walk through video with out the sound track) and an after action walk through video of the completed project

The guys in the field have also take photos of flowers and trees using PictureThis and his daughter then includes notes about the condition of the plant, shrub or tree and care recommendations. This “Landscape Report” they then give to the real estate agent to give to the new incoming homeowner and they are essentially the first ones in the door with with a prospective new client too

There was a ton of other stuff he described to me but that’s a good brief overview to start with and while I guess you could do a lot of or just about all of this stuff using a collection of other apps my points are these:

• This guy had all this technology available for years but it took a fresh new view from his daughter to learn what it could do for him and their company. Often the biggest obstacle to productive change and adopting technology is OURSELVES. Some times it takes an outsider to provide a fresh new exciting viewpoint, an epiphany so to speak.

• Another obstacle to change that I discovered in myself as I tried to use (and learn) Apple Notes over the weekend is old habits die hard and I still slip back to using the tools I’ve used for years.

• We often look for one big comprehensive application that does everything for us and choke trying to drink from the firehose learning everything when a smaller (and in this case free) app that does what we need at the time is right under our nose.

• Get excited and dig into the tool and learn as much as you can about all the things it can do. Force yourself to learn something new each day.

Intrigued about Apple Notes I went looking around for more information and found these YouTube videos to help illustrate what it can do.

Peter Akkies: Apple Notes: Power User Tips & Hidden Features – YouTube

DotoTech: Why Apple Notes may be the best note taking app

Tech Tips: How To Best Use Apple Notes (iPhone) – YouTube

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J. Jerrald Hayes
Primus Inter Pares at Paradigm Projects, Ltd.
I am an architectural woodworker and general contractor turned IT, Business and Project Management consultant, software developer wannabe senior division triathlete and ski racer, Yankee fan and founder of ParadigmProjects.com, 360 Difference Mac4Construction.com,iOS4Construction.com and now TheBuildingAndRemodelingWiki.com too.
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