A while back I wrote about my LiveScribe Echo smart-pen. At the time, I was totally enamoured with the tool, and it was perfect for use at my job. Now it’s a few weeks later and I’ve changed jobs, and I have to say the Echo smart-pen is just as awesome as it was when I first got it. As a matter of fact, I’ve found a great new use for the pen.
First of all, the device has held up really well. After weeks of daily use, it looks and functions like new. The capacity is impressive, since I still haven’t come close to filling the 8 gig limit of this pen and I’ve already logged quite a bit of Pencast footage on it.
At my last job we used something called an ‘agile’ development methodology. This required daily standup meetings in addition to other ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ meetings, all of which were greatly improved by the use of the smart-pen. When I moved to my new gig, I wasn’t sure if the pen would stay as useful. Now, my projects are smaller and I’m often the only developer who needs to work on a particular aspect. Sometimes the projects only last a couple weeks and there is just not a need for a bunch of re-occurring meetings. So, I didn’t think the pen would stay as useful, since my work became less meeting-intensive. However, I was pleased to find myself to be incorrect; the Echo smart-pen has proven to be even more useful in this scenario than it was in the last.
The reason for this is that it has the perfect functionality to document the few meetings that DO happen. These couple of meetings are the only meetings that occur around one of these projects, and this is my only opportunity to meet with the client and the designer respectively. This means that I need to get their input right the very first time, and the Echo is the perfect assistant.
The pen captures not only what I write down during these meetings, but what the client or designer is saying; and most importantly, HOW they’re saying it. Just the other day, I was in a meeting where we designed a dashboard to display items that can be sorted based on several columns. The designer pointed to the column headings and talked about her decision to remove some arrows from the design. She went on to talk about her thought process when removing these arrows, what the arrows were meant to indicate, and why she thought that we didn’t need them. Although it might have been possible to capture all of this with transcription, the smart pen makes it a breeze to capture. With the smart pen, I can also review the tone of the meeting – so, not just what she said, but how she said it. Being able to review the inflection of a meeting can retain great insight as to the importance of a given design element.
If you want to capture more than just the cliff notes of your meetings, especially if you have fickle clients, this device is a must-have. Never have your client tell you ‘I don’t remember asking for that’ again; you can go to the pencast and remind everyone of exactly how your requirements were given.
For me, the LiveScribe is the only pen for important meetings.