While Remembary gives you lots of extra context for your diary's entry, it's still built around the core idea of WRITING about each day. The act of writing helps you reflect on and understand your day differently from just reading about it. Even with helpful features like voice dictation and tapping to copy your Tweets or Facebook statuses into your diary, you'll probably be spending a lot of time typing into the app.

Some people are able to type with the iPad's on-screen keyboard very quickly and accurately. However, if you're used to regular keyboards, and especially if you're a touch-typist, then the lack of physical feedback can make it frustrating. Also, to save space the on-screen keyboard requires modifier keys to access commonly used characters like & and $. It doesn't have easy navigation keys either, and reaching out to tap on the iPad isn't very accurate with smaller fonts.

Because of this, quite a market has grown to help you type on your iPad. Here are three different things I've tried, and what I think of them.

Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (w/ Origami Case)

This is an iconic Apple design that has been around since 2007. It's rugged and beautiful, and the full-size keys make it a pleasure to type with. I already had one of these keyboards when the iPad came out and one of the first things I did when I got it home was pair them up. 

The fact that the iPad and the keyboard are completely separate has its pros and cons. You can put the iPad on a stand at eye level while keeping the keyboard down at a better position for your hands, for example. On the other hand, it can sometimes be awkward if you're sitting on a couch or in bed, or are otherwise in cramped conditions: you have to find *two* ergonomically correct resting places.

There's one big problem I've had with this Apple keyboard: I think it was designed as a space-saving desktop item, not as a travel accessory. It has a large power button on the side which is very exposed and easy to hit as you're putting the keyboard into a bag. This not only turns on the keyboard but can wake up your iPad as well and drain batteries on both. If they've both been turned on and something in your bag jostles the music control keys at the top of the keyboard, your bag might suddenly start playing music while you're walking down the street. The first time it happened to me I was in a hotel corridor when the soundtrack to Inception suddenly started playing - quite scary until I figured out what was happening! 

Also, instead of being a simple on/off switch, the button has to be held down for a while to turn off. This is supposed to take five seconds, but I've been using this keyboard for years and it *still* takes me several tries to actually turn it off correctly.

The best solution I've found for these problems is the InCase Origami Workstation.  It wraps around and protects your keyboard, making it much less likely for buttons and keys to be pressed accidentally.  When you want to type, it cleverly folds back and velcros into a nice stand. The whole combination looks like a laptop when the iPad is in landscape mode, but it's even nicer in portrait mode - I like seeing Remembary's book themes at their full height. Typing on a long screen makes it feel more like a piece of paper or a book, too (and reminds me a bit of Apple's early Macintosh inspiration, the Xerox Alto).

I kept a handwritten diary for years before I started Remembary, and over the years I've been gradually typing in all of my old entries (at least the ones where I can read my handwriting!). I've found the Origami also makes a great book stand for transcription:

InCase Origami case as transcription stand. Victorian fireplace and Carmenère not included!

InCase Origami case as transcription stand. Victorian fireplace and Carmenère not included!

Touchfire Keyboard

The Apple keyboard is nice, but it's an extra thing to have to carry around with you, and with the case it takes up almost as much volume as the iPad itself. For those who want to travel light, or who only occasionally need to do heavy typing, there's the really cool Touchfire Keyboard

The Touchfire isn't a standalone keyboard, but instead it's a clear cover that fits over your iPad and gives the virtual keyboard a physical presence. It's just a thin piece of silicone rubber, so it takes up virtually no space, especially when it's folded up. It has built-in magnets that lock it into place, and which can even help it stow away inside a Smart Cover. 

I was given a Touchfire keyboard while I was at a conference last year and it turned out to be great for taking presentation notes. It greatly improved my typing while still letting me just keep the iPad on my lap. However, when I settled into my hotel room that night to write in my diary, I found I much preferred using a full-sized 'real' keyboard. 

Also, the rubbery silicone of the Touchfire can attract cat hair, cracker crumbs, dust, and other such debris, although it cleans pretty easily. I also found that when folded up it looks a little creepy, like a leftover molted skin from a snake or an Alien, or something like that.

If you spend a lot of time in lecture halls or on airplanes or in other contexts with cramped seating, the Touchfire is great. Otherwise, you might get more mileage out of a physical keyboard. The Touchfire is so small that I used to travel with both the Bluetooth keyboard and the Touchfire, so I would have plenty of options.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

I said I "used to" travel with two keyboards, because my newest iPad keyboard is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. This is a keyboard that also doubles as an iPad cover. It snaps into place as a cover using the iPad's built-in magnets. Then when you want to use it as a keyboard, the iPad fits into an angled slot. 

Logitech.png

The clickable cover idea might make you want to dance in a Microsoft Surface commercial, but this is nicer than the Surface keyboard since it has just enough depth for real spring-action keys.

Unlike the Apple keyboard, this has a proper hard-to-hit-accidentally sunken power switch. Since it's usually locked in place as the iPad's cover, it's also much less likely to inadvertently play music or drain your iPad batttery.

The keyboard/cover isn't cheap at $100, but you could easily pay that much for a separate Bluetooth keyboard and protective cover anyhow.

There are a few downsides, though:

First, the cover is made out of similar aluminum to the iPad itself and doesn't provide any protection for the device's back - and the keyboard/cover combination is too big for most cases. So if you often pack your iPad with other gear, you're likely to scratch and maybe even dent both the cover and the iPad.

Second, to be able to fit a full keyboard into the available space of an iPad cover, Logitech had to make the keys a bit smaller than a regular keyboard. Also, at the top left where I'm expecting either an ESC or a "1" key, Logitech has put a "Home" button - so when I'm about to type in a date like "December 11", I frequently end up leaving the app and going back to the iPad launch screen.

Third, the aluminum can dent relatively easily. A few days after getting mine, I dropped it on a hard floor, and while at least it didn't break it now doesn't fit quite so nicely anymore.

Lastly, because the iPad fits into a slot instead of resting on a stand, it doesn't work as well for transcription as the Apple keyboard/Origami combo.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Some people have found Remembary crashing on startup in the last few days. I've done some research and have discovered that Facebook has made some changes to their feed data format that break Remembary's feed reader. Facebook has a habit of introducing changes without telling anybody about them, and this looks like one of those situations. 

I've fixed the problem and will be submitting the update to the App Store shortly. In the meantime, here's what you can do to keep Remembary from crashing:

  1. Turn off internet access on your device. The easiest way to do this is to go to Settings and turn on "Airplane Mode".
  2. Without internet access, Remembary will open without crashing. Go to the Feed Prefs settings (the 'four inward-pointing arrows' button in the toolbar) and switch to the 'Facebook' tab. Tap on the switch to turn Facebook fetch OFF.
  3. Go back to your device settings and turn internet access back on again (turn "Airplane Mode" off).

Once you get the update next week, you'll be able to turn Facebook fetch back on again and everything should be fine.

I always feel disappointed when an app I use has an update and it turns out to only be a bug fix - so I'm also going to add some new fonts and themes to this new version. The new fonts are: 

  • Marion Italic
  • Gill Sans Light
  • Chalkboard
  • Baskerville Semi-Bold

There will also be three new themes: "Gradus Light", "Gradus Dark", and "Gradus Mono". There's been a recent trend away from densely-textured realistic-looking "skeuomorphic" looks (which Remembary uses a lot) towards "flat UI". These aren't completely flat, but they don't have 3D looks and use simple gradients instead of textures. 

Here's a preview of "Gradus Light", being built in Pixelmator:

For the technical-minded and curious: the 'checkins' feed from Facebook is supposed to have location specifications, which include name, address, and lat/long coordinates. Remembary uses these coordinates to put that checkin on its map. However, the new changes (unannounced and undocumented, as far as I can tell) will sometimes include just a text title for the entire location, often if it's a checkin at a custom event that doesn't have a specified location. Remembary was built to expect a complete data structure with coordinates, and in this case Facebook just gives it a single piece of text. This confuses the app enough to make it crash.

The fix simply makes sure that the returned value is actually a data structure, otherwise it skips trying to get a location for the checkin. I'm also adding better error handling so that if (when!) Facebook changes things again without telling anybody, it will simply skip funny data rather than crashing outright.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

There are many reasons to keep a daily journal: a private place for your thoughts, a way  to reflect on each day, a place for your future self to see what you were doing in the past, and even just great daily writing practice. 

But many people have trouble starting a diary, and even more trouble keeping the daily habit. I’ve managed to keep a diary for almost a decade - and while it hasn’t always been easy, I’ve learned a whole lot. I put all of these lessons I’ve learned into my iOS diary app Remembary

Here are some tips for getting into and keeping the diary-writing habit, and how you can use Remembary to get the most out of them. You don't need Remembary or even an iOS device for them to be handy, but I've included notes on how Remembary can help in each case. 

1. Make it easy to write - anywhere and anytime

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Any habit will be difficult to start and maintain if it's hard to do. Some people try to write only at a special desk, only in a special book, and with a special pen. This can be great for "getting in the mood" but it can lead to trouble if you're on a trip, or you've misplaced your special book or pen. Also, in these digital days, writing quickly and legibly with a pen is becoming a lost art. It's much better if you can get things written down quickly, any time and any where. Do you have some time on the bus or in a waiting room? If you have your diary with you, you can quickly write something down.

Remembary lets you write your diary anywhere you have your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. If you're on the road and have left your iPad at home, you can write on your iPhone and then transfer your entries back afterwards through DropBox or iTunes.

Remembary lets you type on the screen or with an external keyboard - if you're using more recent iOS devices, you can even dictate your entries with voice recognition. If you still like the look of handwritten diaries in handsome books, it has a dozen retina-grade themes and a wide choice of fonts, including Renaissance calligraphy and even a recreation of Jane Austen's handwriting.

2. Be private and personal for a change

With all the social media and online forms of expression available these days, we are in a golden age of writing about ourselves - but all of this writing is done in public. In a world of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, it's still important to have a place to write exclusively for an audience of one: your own self. When you're writing in your journal, it's important to just write whatever you feel like, without worrying about who might be reading. Simply writing 100% honestly about your feelings or your ideas can help you work through them - and that's much more difficult if you're worried about who might be reading. 

Make your diary your own, for yourself only. If you still like sharing your thoughts online, or are working on a memoir for when you become famous, consider your private diary to be a rough draft, but still keep it for your eyes only.

Remembary can be secured with a password, making sure that nobody else can see your diary. If you also lock your device with a passcode and also encrypt your backups, your digital diary is almost impossible to break into - certainly much safer than any physical one with a built-in lock.

3. Build a Chain of Days

Keeping a daily journal is, obviously, one of those habits that requires daily effort. Starting and keeping a daily habit can be very difficult, especially these days when so much in our lives is chaotic and unstructured. 

One strategy that works really well for building daily habits is the "Seinfeld Calendar" where you mark each day when you've done your task and try to build as long a chain of days as possible. This gives extra weight to each day: you're not just missing a single day, but instead you could be breaking a chain of several weeks.

Any page-a-day diary will let you quickly see which days you've missed, but Remembary also has a calendar view that shows days with entries in green and days without entries in grey. This lets you see at a glance where you have gaps, and how long a "Seinfeld Chain" you've been able to build.

4. Use your social media and pictures to help remember what you did

If you have missed a few days in your journal, don't worry - and certainly don't give up! Just fill in the gaps as best you can as soon as you can. Even a short diary entry is better than nothing, and the longer a day stays empty, the harder it is to remember what happened.

These days, though, we have so many extra ways to remember what happened each day. Twitter, Facebook, blogs - all show what we were doing and thinking, timed to the minute. Every photo or video you take these days is likely to be timestamped to the second. Pictures and postings made from your phone are frequently geotagged, so you can even see where you were doing things, as well as when. 

Even if you're writing out your diary on paper, you should use your computer or phone to help remember what you did every day. It's easy enough to forget just what happened in the morning, let alone several days earlier.

This is the feature that makes Remembary special: it's the only diary app that stores your life on your device. It automatically fetches your Facebook and Twitter feeds and lists your postings by day and time. It also automatically searches your photo library and even your Photo Stream to show you every picture you took each day. It even makes an instant map out of any geotagged pictures or tweets or Facebook checkins. The latest version also shows calendar events for each day too.

If you're in a rush, you can even fill in a quick overview of your day by tapping on tweets or status updates or events to copy the text directly into your diary, complete with a timestamp.

Some people who still like to write their diaries on paper still use Remembary just for the way that it collects all of the feeds in one place and helps them remember their days.

5. Enjoy looking back

While writing in a diary can be good for your mental health today, the greater value comes after you've been writing for a while and you can look back on what you've written earlier. Journal entries are like a letter to your future self, and reading back on your past is a great way to get perspective on your life. 

Living your life in real time day by day, it's easy to get distracted by details and busy-work. Reading through several weeks, months, or years of a diary can help you see bigger patterns in your life and behaviour and emotions. What did you find important? How did your thoughts about people or things change over the years? How different was your day-to-day life? How have you changed? 

Even if you're just starting the journal-writing habit, it's enlightening even just to look back on what you were doing and thinking a month or even a week ago.

Understanding how valuable what you write today will be to your future self is an extra motivation to keep writing every day.

I've put almost a decade of diary entries in my own copy of Remembary, and I've included many ways to browse through them.

The calendar display lets you jump around by month, but also includes buttons for quickly jumping to the exact same day one year in the past or in the future. It's fascinating to compare what I was doing on the same day every year, and Remembary makes it easy to do so. I also recently added a "Random" button, which jumps me to a random entry somewhere in my life - I like to cover the date and try to guess when it was written (or at least figure out the correct year!).

Remembary also has a scrollable, categorized list of all entries, including brief summaries of each day - just swiping through this can give a quick view of the big events in your life. You can also search in this list by any text that's in the diary or in the related feeds. You can even just type in parts of dates to see, for example, what you were doing every Friday.

6. Get help

While your diary should be private, your writing habit doesn't have to be. Get started writing with a friend and encourage each other to write. You can also get automated help: set an alarm or reminder to get you to write every day. 

For Remembary, I set up a diary tips email plan to help you get started with diary-writing. Enter your email on the sign up page, and you'll get daily emails for a week, followed by several weekly reminders. These emails will give you extra tips for getting started with the diary-writing habit, regardless of whether you're using Remembary, another app, or writing on paper. Also please note that your address will only be used for diary tips - it won't be used for anything else or sold or transferred anywhere).

Hope you find these tips useful. Let me know what you think. To find out more about Remembary, take a look at the video below and explore the rest of this site and blog. You can also buy Remembary from the App Store - for a fraction of the cost of a paper diary.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Remembary's picture support is one of the things that makes it a unique and powerful diary app. In most cases, Remembary starts checking all of your pictures as soon as you start using the app, but sometimes things can go wrong. Here are some things to check to make sure that Remembary is getting pictures properly.

1. Make sure you have pictures on your device. Sometimes the iOS/iTunes photo sync doesn't work properly and sometimes the photo library just disappears. Simply take a look at the "Photos" app and make sure there are pictures in there. You can also take a look at Photo Stream to see if anything is coming through there. Remembary checks both the local photo libraries and your Photo Stream.

2. Make sure that Remembary has access to the photo library. If you're on iOS6, go to the "Settings" app, pick "Privacy", and then "Photos". You'll get a list of all apps that have access to the photo library. Make sure Remembary is on this list and make sure that the switch next to it is set to "ON". If you're on iOS5, access to the photo library is granted through "Location Services". This access is turned off if you selected "NO" to the access questions when you first started the app.

3. Make sure that Remembary is set up to receive pictures. Tap on the 'four arrows pointing inward' icon in the top bar to bring up the Fetch settings box and then tap on the "Auto-Fetch" tab Make sure that "Auto-fetch Photos and Videos" has been set to "ON". iOS has a bug in the photo library that can sometimes make Remembary crash if there aren't any pictures in the library - so now Remembary checks to see if it crashed the last time you were using it, and if it did it turns off the photo auto-fetch and displays an error message page. 

4. If all of this has been set up correctly, try going to a date where you know you have photos in your device - a recent birthday or something like that - and see if pictures show up. It might take a while for them to appear if you have a big photo library (you'll see a little spinner to the right of the feed buttons while it's looking for pictures).

5. Go to today's entry and tap on the camera icon to take a picture directly from the app. Once the picture has been taken, it should show up in today's picture menu.

If you're still having trouble getting pictures to show up, please contact me with more details and I'll help you out personally.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Recent updates to Remembary have changed how the app connects to Facebook. Some people have reported having trouble getting connected.

Because iOS6 has Facebook authentication built-in but iOS5 doesn't, Remembary has to do a few tricky thing to make sure it works properly for everybody. There are several things to check to make sure Facebook is working properly:

RemembaryFacebookSettings.png

1. If you're on iOS6, make sure that you have set up your Facebook account in the "Settings" app and that you have enabled Remembary.

2. If you're on iOS6 and have a Facebook account already set up in the "Settings" app, make sure that the "Use iOS Facebook Account" switch is set to 'On' in Remembary's feeds panel (the 'four inward-pointing arrows' button in the top bar).

2. If you aren't set up with an iOS6 system-level Facebook account, you'll see an "Authenticate with Facebook" button on that panel instead. If you're already authenticated, you should see a "Log Out of Facebook" button. 

3. Go to the "Auto-Fetch" tab in the feeds panel and make sure the "Auto-fetch Twitter/FB/RSS Feeds" switch is set to "ON".

4. Sometimes, things just need to be refreshed. Try writing a new Facebook status update, then leave Remembary and come back to it - then flip to yesterday's entry and back to today's entry. Does the new status show up properly? You might also want to double-check your Facebook timeline and then go back to earlier dates in Remembary that should have status updates and see if anything shows up.

FacebookFeedsTab.png

5. Note that Remembary only downloads Status Updates and Location Check-ins that have text in them. If you're just posting a picture without any comment, then it won't show up. Also, things like writing on other peoples' walls or liking a page etc. won't appear either.

If you're still having trouble getting connected to Facebook, please let me know. You can also reach me on Remembary's Facebook page.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

The latest update to Remembary is now available in the App Store. This was supposed to be a quick fix to address some quirks found in 2.0.2, but I decided to take the time to fully upgrade the app to support iOS6, as well as the new iPhone5 and iPad Mini.

Here are some highlights:

  • All of the themes have been updated with 'tall' and 'wide' retina graphics to support the new iPhone5. All of the app's popups and panels have had their layouts adjusted to use the full height.
  • The bug that was preventing calendar events from showing up in iOS6 has been fixed.
  • Remembary now uses iOS6's built-in Facebook authentication. Note: The Facebook permission prompt asks for access to your 'friends list' - this is a requirement for the Facebook API but Remembary doesn't use it at all. It just uses your status updates and location check-ins.
  • Twitter has removed the ability to check unauthenticated accounts, so the freeform Twitter address field has been removed from the Twitter settings box. Now you can only use Twitter accounts that have been configured in your device's Settings.
  • There was a embarrassing bug that only showed up when during "Fall Back" daylight savings time adjustments, since it makes for a day with 25 hours. This has been fixed.
  • There is a bug in iOS6's (now patented!) implementation of the 3D page turn logic that sometimes makes it show the wrong page when the device is rotated. Remembary 2.0.3 has extra checks in place to catch this bug and fix it on the fly. You might notice brief flashes of the wrong page and layout when you rotate the device - but Remembary should be showing you the proper day's entry in the proper orientation.
  • For 2.0.2, I moved Remembary from the "Lifestyle" category to "Social Media". I'm not sure it entirely fit in there, and sales seemed to slow down a bit, so I've moved it back to "Lifestyle".

I'm also working on more updates and even a few surprises before the big diary-buying New Year's season. Look for 2.1 (or at least 2.0.4) soon.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke
Remembary 2.0.3 is now out and it includes updated 'tall' and 'wide' iPhone5 graphics for all twelve of the included themes. Like on the iPad and other iPhones, these use every available pixel to give a rich writing and reading experience, including paper textures and sometimes even watermarks. Here's a quick overview of each of the themes:
  • Codex: Gives the impression of an antique tome with old weathered paper. This works nicely with fonts like "Tycho's Recipe" and "Jane Austen". The original version was designed by Nick Bolger, but has been reworked from scratch by Andrew Burke for the new version.
  • Daybook: This is descended from the original theme for Remembary, which used to be called "Planner". If you look closely at the pages in this theme, you can even see a watermark. The original was designed by Carol Clapham, but has been reworked from scratch by Andrew Burke for the new version.
  • Notebook: Carol Clapham designed the original version, but this has been thoroughly updated for the retina display with paper pulp, aging effects, and a photorealistic background. It now feels a bit like an old school notebook found in someone's attic.
  • Platinum: This is based on another Carol Clapham design. It's closely related to "Daybook" but has a more hard-driving "Executive" feel. The black leather and stitching were actually taken from a scan of a Targus iPad case.
  • Kids: This was designed by Brittney McIsaac, a Halifax-based graphic designer who has worked on a number of iOS apps over the years. Since Remembary is text-based, the margin doodles have to be built into the theme! The octopus in the top right corner might become Remembary's new mascot.
  • Lights Out!: Another Brittney McIsaac production, this is designed to be used at night if you're catching up on your diary after the lights have gone out and you don't want to disturb anybody.
  • Fathom: The original version was designed by Nick Bolger, but this has been thorougly updated for retina displays. The background wood pattern is actually from a wooden pier in Gros Morne, Newfoundland.
  • Heart: This uses the same basic ingredients as "Platinum" but reverses the aesthetic appeal. If "Platinum" was for the Corporate Raider in all of us, "Heart" is for the teenage girl in there too.
  • Paper: The original version was a quick stock photo adaptation from Lance Hancock (who also designed the cover page) which turned out to be an appealing favourite. It works surprisingly well with the "Andrew" and "Jane Austen" fonts.
  • Zodiac: Another Carol Clapham design, heavily updated with retina-grade stars and nebulae for a mystic spacy feel.
  • Parchment: An original Carol Clapham design that only required small adjustments to work in the new Remembary. It looks vintage and like a stylized watercolour at the same time.
  • Circles: Another Carol Clapham design that didn't need many changes for Remembary 2. It strikes a nice balance between seriousness and whimsy.
Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

A small update to Remembary has just been approved to the App Store. I had actually submitted 2.0.1  a while ago, but while it was waiting for approval some other problems came up, so I canceled it and worked on 2.0.2 instead. It fixes some problems that came up with Remembary 2.0 and adds a few small features:

Fixes

- Some users didn't want to allow Remembary to access their Twitter accounts, but if they had a password on their diary they would get stuck in an endless loop of Twitter access requests that would just pop back to the password page again. It doesn't do this anymore. Also, there's now a switch in the "Auto-Fetch" box specifically to turn off Twitter.

- Exporting in 'Data' format would sometimes crash, especially if sending the export to an email or DropBox. It doesn't now.

- It's always been tricky to get the cell heights right for the feed items tableview, but the new logic for that is much better than it's been before. Big long Facebook posts should now fit just as well as single-word tweets, and nothing should be truncated anymore.

- The "Facebook" link in the help section now goes to the correct page (Like us!)

Updates

- If you're looking at a picture full-screen, tapping on it now hides the top bar, letting you see more of the picture. Tapping again or going to another picture shows the bar again.

- The 'copy feed item to diary' button icon isn't a grainy MS-Office-style 'copy' icon anymore, but is now a high-res arrow that should be more meaningful.

- The Facebook/Twitter/RSS icons in the feeditems listing are now all retina-enhanced.

Next Up

I'm already at work on Remembary 2.1. Software is always trickier than expected and schedules are difficult, so I can't say exactly when this will be out, but I'm hoping before the end of 2012, and I hope it will include:

  • Support for iOS6's built-in Facebook authentication.
  • Support for the new longer iPhone5 screen (and whatever new device they might announce later this week).
  • In-App purchase for new themes.
  • Thumbnails for Facebook and maybe Twitter pictures directly in the feeds.
  • 'Recently Played Songs' as an (in-app purchase?) option in the feeds list, for people who make music their life.
  • FourSquare and perhaps App.net support.
  • Export to HTML, eBook, and perhaps PDF formats.
Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Samuel Pepys was a smart and perceptive man who was lucky enough to have a prime vantage point during very interesting times. He kept a private diary for ten years, which happened to coincide with the restoration of the British monarchy, the Fire of London, the Great Plague of London, a war against the Dutch, and the rebirth of public theatre - not to mention his own rising fortunes from lowly clerk to senior naval administrator, speaking in Parliament, and being personally known to the King and other powerful aristocrats.

Pepys' diary was turned into a very popular daily blog, which turns out to have been an ideal way to read it. In fact, it was this blog that inspired me to start keeping my own daily diary (although my life is a whole lot less interesting than Pepys'). Keeping my own diary of course inspired me to make Remembary, so Pepys could be considered the grandfather of the app. 

I built Remembary as a way to help me remember what I did because I haven't been very good at writing in my diary every day. I always had the impression that Pepys found time at the end of every day to write in his diary, and that my inability to do so was a sign that I was less organized than him, or a statement on our perhaps busier times. However, in one of the last entries in the diary, he writes:

So home, and by night home, and so to my office, and there set down my journal, with the help of my left eye through my tube, for fourteen days' past; which is so much, as, I hope, I shall not run in arrear again, but the badness of my eyes do force me to it.

A few months earlier, several days of diary entries just consist of short jot notes and some itemized spending.

So iIt looks like Pepys frequently took short notes while he was out and about during the day, and then fleshed them out into full diary entries when he had the time later on - sometimes a week or two later. This, it turns out, is exactly how Remembary works. Your tweets and status updates and pictures are all like Pepys' notes, which you can then use later on when you have the time to write up full diary entries.

So everything has come full circle: the app I built to help my own shortcomings in diary-writing turns out to reflect how Samuel Pepys actually wrote his diary. I'm sure Pepys would have loved to have an iPad - and with his active lifestyle you can be sure that he would have really enjoyed having an iPhone and a Twitter account. 

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Until recently, Remembary was an iPad-only app, so I didn't think it would be very useful out in the wilderness where wifi is scarce and plug-in power is scarcer. Earlier this year, I drove from Edmonton to Halifax, camping and hiking along the way. A few weeks later, I spent a week in Newfoundland's spectacular Gros Morne area. I had an early test version of Remembary for iPhone on both of these trips - and even in prototype form, Remembary totally changed the experience.

Whether I was walking among the hoodoos of Writing-On-Stone Park in Alberta, or scrambling up the scree face of Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland, I took a lot more pictures knowing that they would automatically become parts of my diary and would also show up on my map of the day. Every picture becomes a jog to my memory, and a point on a map to show my progress.

Writing in my diary in the tent at the end of the day was made much easier with the "Lights Out" theme, which was specifically designed to not dazzle you or anyone nearby in low light situations.

But I also found Remembary really useful while on the trail itself. The picture list and map view showed me where I had gone and when. By taking a picture of each wayfinding sign, I could see how long it had taken me to go measured distances, and so get a sense of how fast I was walking. Seeing the picture points over the satellite view gave me an instant birds-eye view of my progress and how much further I had to go. 

Out in Gros Morne, I was often out of cellular data range, but I got around this by checking the maps where we were going to hike when I was in town and had wifi access. The iPad caches the map tiles, so they were available later on when I was on the trail. 

I've made sure to keep the photo albums from my trips in my iPad's photo collection, so the picture are always available to Remembary. If I want to show people where I went on my trip, I often just hop over to the appropriate day in my diary and show them the map of where I went, tapping on the good pictures to show them in zoomable full screen.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke