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Author Topic: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.  (Read 6484 times)

IainB

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Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« on: January 04, 2014, 01:20:52 AM »
I haven't used Evernote in ages, preferring the security and controllability of a decent PIM client (currently using OneNote and InfoSelect, so I have a Client + Cloud duplication), but I was surprised to read this on jasonkincaid.net (he's an Evernote addict). Caveat emptor, it seems:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant
Posted on January 3, 2014 by Jason Kincaid

To say this post pains me would be an understatement. More than any other technology, Evernote is part of me, having evolved from habit to instinct over several years and nearly seven thousand notes. Every day ideas flit through my head, ideas for essays, for characters, for jokes. Just now I catch a glimpse of one, without thinking I am talking into my phone like a Star Trek Communicator, telling myself that maybe I should title this post Leaky Sync. Maybe not.

Because I use it so often, I am unusually familiar with the service’s warts. Evernote’s applications are glitchy to the extreme; they often feel as if they’re held together by the engineering equivalent of duct tape. Browser extensions crash, text cursors leap haphazardly across the screen — my copy of Evernote’s image editor Skitch silently failed to sync for months because I hadn’t updated to the new version. Most issues are benign enough, but the apps are so laden with quirks that I’ve long held a deep-seated fear that perhaps some of my data has not been saved, that through a syncing error, an accidental overwrite — some of these ideas have been forgotten.

As of last month, I am all but sure of it.

I’ve been learning how to write songs. It’s terrifying because I stink, so I trick myself, diddling around without actually intending to record anything. With any luck I reach a fugue state, vaguely listening for my fingers to do something interesting; sometimes instinct steers me toward the green elephant’s ‘record’ button and I play for a while.

And so I find myself on December 5, when a meandering session results in an 18 minute Evernote audio recording on my iPhone labeled “not bad halfway through” — high praise, for me. Some of the chord changes are sheer luck, no idea what I did but they sounded good the first time.

I decide to give it another listen with more discerning ears, self-loathing eagerly waiting in the wings.

And — nothing. Zero seconds out of zero seconds. It’s a blank file.

Alarmed, I tap record again, make another note. It won’t play, either.

Another. This one works.

One more. Zero out of zero.

I check the Wifi signal (fine). I let the phone sit for a while to sync, just in case. I head to the web app, which — thankfully — shows the note intact, with its attachment as an 8.7 megabyte .m4a file.

I try to open it in iTunes — it shrugs. Quicktime spits an error. Time to bust out the big guns. VLC.

Nada.

Teeth grinding, I contact Evernote support. The process is slow and bumbling, but I’d like to think this has more to do with Evernote’s overly-structured ticket system than the people working there. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to learn what happened to my audio file, I discover another flaw in Evernote’s system.

As an apparently standard part of Evernote’s support process, it requests that users send over an Activity Log. This is a file generated by each Evernote application that records the myriad housekeeping events going on behind the scenes — ”Sending preference changes…”, and so on.

For most services this log wouldn’t make me bat an eye, but in many ways my Evernote archive is more sensitive than my Gmail account. With email, there’s always the possibility that the guy on the other end will forward the message along, so I tend to behave accordingly. With Evernote it’s just me. I try not to filter myself because that’s how creativity dies.

I ask the support person to verify that he will not have access to my data. No, he assures me. Just the meta data, like note titles (why Evernote doesn’t believe note titles are potentially sensitive is beyond me, but, in my case, they’re usually blank anyway).

Still, out of habitual paranoia, I skim through the log before sending. Thousands of lines of gibberish, dates and upload counts and [ENSyncEngine] INFO: Sending search changes.

And then I come across something more legible. It’s a text note I left a few evenings ago, a stray thought about sex, if I’m being honest. Further down, another note, the entire contents of the text, broken up by some HTML tags. And another.

Turns out there’s a bug, this time compliments of Evernote for Mac’s ‘helper’ — an official mini app that’s meant for jotting down notes without having to switch to the hulking beast that is the desktop application. On my Macbook Pro, running the latest version of Evernote for Mac, this ‘helper’ app records the entirety of any text it saves into the log file.

Alarmed and not a little bit furious that I nearly sent him some deeply embarrassing musings, I tell the support person about the issue, noting that it is a serious breach of privacy (and an obvious one, given that I noticed it in all of ten seconds).

They say to file another ticket.

As for the audio file: even more bad news.

It’s been nearly a month and the most substantive thing Evernote has said is that it is “seeing multiple users who have created audio notes of all sizes where they will not play on any platform.” The company has given me no information on what’s wrong with the corrupted file, and no indication that they might find a way to get it working in the future.

Adding further insult, the up-to-date iOS application continues to create corrupted audio notes, despite receiving an update on December 17, twelve days after I reported the issue. The support team actually couldn’t tell me whether that update addressed the audio problem — they said I should check the App Store release notes, which routinely includes the ambiguous line “bug fixes”, so I had to figure it out for myself. Two more corrupted notes later, I can say with some authority that it’s still there (I’ve also encountered a new issue, where some audio files simply vanish).

Through it all, the support team has displayed a marked lack of urgency that has bordered on nonchalance. Maybe they’re trained that way, or maybe data loss on Evernote isn’t as rare as I’d hope.

None of this has been life shattering, but given how reliant I am on Evernote it is deeply unnerving — now each note I instinctively leave myself is tinged with anxiety. I’m concerned that as I dig through my Evernote archive I’ll encounter more corrupted audio notes, and, worse, my paranoia is increasingly convinced that there may have been notes that never were saved to the archive at all.

More than that, I am alarmed that Evernote seems to be playing fast and loose with the data entrusted to it. Instead of building a product that is secure, reliable, and fast, it has spread itself too thin, trying to build out its install base across as many platforms as possible in an attempt to fend off its inevitable competition.

This strategy is tolerable for a social network or messaging app (Facebook got away with atrociously buggy apps for years). But Evernote is literally aiming to be an extension of your brain, the place to store your most important ideas. Its slogan is “Remember Everything”. Presumably the integrity of its data should be of the utmost importance.

What’s worse, it isn’t consistently improving. When iOS7 launched, Evernote was one of the first applications to overhaul with a new, ‘flat’ design, and as a result benefitted from being featured prominently within the App Store. But functionally, it was clearly a downgrade from the old app, with extra dollops of sluggishness, crashes, and glitches — it may well have introduced the audio recording bug I fell prey to (I believe it dates back to at least October, when I encountered a similar audio issue that I chalked up to user error).

Evernote’s security track record has been similarly frustrating. Asked in October 2012 why the service had not implemented the increasingly-common two-factor authentication option already offered by companies like Google, Evernote’s CEO, Phil Libin, wrote “Finding an approach that gives you increased security without making Evernote harder to use is not just a matter of adding two-factor authentication…”, implying that something better was on the way.

Five months later the promised security upgrade was still MIA — until Evernote was hacked, its database of user passwords was compromised, and the service rushed to implement a two-factor system that didn’t look much different from the sort Libin was apparently aiming to leapfrog.

This is a company with over $250 million in funding and 80 million users. And unlike many web services that promise exhaustive security and reliability, it’s one I actually pay for.

Ironically, the same day I was told Evernote didn’t have a fix for my corrupted music recording, the New York Times published an article about Evernote titled, An App That Will Never Forget a File.

wraith808

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 01:02:58 PM »
I use it quite extensively... on several different platforms.  And I've not experienced anything like what he says.  If it was so endemic, especially being a web application used quite extensively by the userbase that he quoted, wouldn't there be more of a record of said lapses?  More people rising up as their data was lost?

Inquiring minds wonder...?

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2014, 02:05:08 AM »
...If it was so endemic, especially being a web application used quite extensively by the userbase that he quoted, wouldn't there be more of a record of said lapses?  More people rising up as their data was lost? ...
________________________
Yes, one could presume so. I guess you could check the several Evernote user forums/discussion boards for an answer. Probably the user forum sponsored by Evernote would not be the most likely place to look though.
Like I said, "I haven't used Evernote in ages", so hadn't really kept up with its fortunes. I always thought it probably did what it was expected/designed to do, and so was surprised when I read about Jason Kincaid's post - it caught my eye in my RSS feed reader (BazQux).

I just did a DuckGo search on this, and saw that his post seems to have stimulated a fair amount of discussion. One could suppose that there is some frantic damage control going on behind the scenes at Evernote. Maybe the bug(s) highlighted by Kincaid's post will get fixed PDQ now! (Maybe that was the objective.)      ;D

wraith808

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 10:37:02 AM »
Yes, one could presume so. I guess you could check the several Evernote user forums/discussion boards for an answer.

I already follow and talk to a lot of people that use evernote- writers for the most part on writing boards and such- and that was the reason that I was surprised.  With the number of people using it for novels, blog posts, role-playing games, etc, if it was as bad as he made it seem, I'd have heard about it was my point.  If it was *that* endemic, I'd have probably run across it by now with the sheer amount of information I have in there.

Doing a bit more research, I came across a couple of other articles from someone that had a couple of other things to say in relating such things (and someone I trust a bit more from experience)

http://www.gottabemo...sues-in-mobile-tech/

http://www.gottabemo...plaints-but-not-all/

I can see where they'd be a bit perturbed - I don't use audio recording in Evernote, and that's apparently what the complaint was about.  But that open letter missive didn't make it seem as though it was just that feature that was pissing him off.  It seemed that it didn't do what it should at base - sync notes.  And the "cloud is falling mentality" by someone who is followed has people looking at abandoning ship to a service that I *know* has problems (even though I still use it; I just mitigate the problems by another method), SimpleNote.

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 04:33:02 PM »
@wraith808: The many comments - apparently from concerned users - following Kincaid's post are somewhat interesting and revealing. I hadn't read them before now.
For example:
  • Some commenters are thanking him for raising the reliability/buggy issues, saying that maybe Evernote will address these outstanding issues now. The implication would seem to be that they may have been outstanding for some time.
    I'm not sure what discussion forums you frequent, but I would presume that might go some way towards answering your question:
    Quote
    ...wouldn't there be more of a record of said lapses?
    _______________________

  • Quote
    Tracey Smith says:   
    January 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm   
    Read the CEO’S response to this post first though. It appears that he took Jason’s post to heart and that it’s “all hands on deck” to make improvements. Libin’s honesty has renewed my faith in Evernote.
    _______________________
    So, if that is true, then maybe my supposition above ("Maybe that was the objective") wasn't all that far off the mark. Good response on Evernote's part.   :Thmbsup:

  • Quote
    Gavin says:   
    January 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm   
    ...The software offers a service, he pays for this service, however the service doesn’t work reliably. Why would that unreliable software be above criticism? Are you really suggesting we should be finding work-arounds for poor software we pay for? This discussion isn’t anti-Evernote, this is holding Evernote to a high standard. We should absolutely be complaining when software fails provide the service we pay for.
    _______________________

Does  Evernote have a board/forum somewhere where is detailed what issues/bugs/features are under action/resolution/development and are to be addressed in forthcoming releases?

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 04:39:58 PM »
Huh. Just read this comment in that Kincaid thread:
Quote
Jeff says:   
January 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm   
I recently lost some text data in evernote. I have suspected other text losses as we’ll but had just chalked it up to user error or poor sync. I have gotten many merge conflicts despite never using the app at the same time. I think I may just end up using Dropbox and a text editor for my notes. Dropbox seems rock solid as a file storage system. Plus if I have made some screw up I can always pickup an earlier version of the file through the web app. Thanks for this article, I think I am finally done fooling with evernote it just seems too buggy and the code base looks like it must be a mess.

The author is presumably not plugged into the feed address at: https://forums.dropbox.com/rss.php

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 05:03:33 PM »
One comment in that Kincaid thread links to this post from PCWorld from July 2013, which gives some good information about some relative pros and cons Evernote/OneNote:
Microsoft tweaks OneNote to make it an even stronger cross-platform business tool | PCWorld

It's clearly not an open-and-shut case as to which one you could actually find most useful.
As usual, it seems to boil down to user requirements.
Existing Evernote users - dissatisfied or otherwise - could well be wise to stick with Evernote and encourage the development/service quality to scale up a notch or three.

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 10:54:02 AM »
Well, whether or not Evernote users think there are bugs in Evernote, it looks as though the Evernote CEO thinks there are, and he's going to fix things. There's his very well-written response post to Kincaid's complaints on the Evernote blog.
Judging by a lot of the comments from self-confessed Internet users across the Internet on this, and by the CEO's post, this must all have been quietly festering for some time before Kincaid championed the cause.
It also seems - from @wraith808's comments above - that some users hadn't noticed or heard/read of anything to be concerned about.
As I wrote above:
Caveat emptor, it seems:

(Evernote CEO's post copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
On Software Quality and Building a Better Evernote in 2014 | Evernote Blog Evernote Blog
Our Notes | 04 Jan 2014 | By Phil Libin

I got the wrong sort of birthday present yesterday: a sincerely-written post by Jason Kincaid lamenting a perceived decline in the quality of Evernote software over the past few months. I could quibble with the specifics, but reading Jason’s article was a painful and frustrating experience because, in the big picture, he’s right. We’re going to fix this.

The past couple of years have been an amazing time for Evernote. We’ve grown massively as a company, a community and a product. And we’re still growing quickly. However, there comes a time in a booming startup’s life when it’s important to pause for a bit and look in rather than up. When it’s more important to improve existing features than to add new ones. More important to make our existing users happier than to just add more new users. More important to focus on our direction than on our speed. This is just common sense, but startups breathe growth and intentionally slowing down to focus on details and quality doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Despite this, the best product companies in the world have figured out how to make constant quality improvements part of their essential DNA. Apple and Google and Amazon and Facebook and Twitter and Tesla know how to do this. So will we. This is our central theme for 2014: constant improvement of the core promise of Evernote.

This isn’t something we just decided yesterday. We kicked off a company-wide effort to improve quality a couple of months ago. The precipitating factor was the frustrating roll-out of our iOS 7 version. We gained many new users, but rushing to completely rebuild the app for the new platform resulted in stability problems that disproportionally hit longer-term customers, including ourselves. Since all Evernote employees are power users by definition, no one is more motivated to make Evernote better just for the sake of our own productivity and sanity. I’ve never seen people happier to just fix bugs.

Quality improvements are the sort of thing that you ought to show, not just talk about, so we hadn’t planned on discussing this theme until closer to the end of 2014. However, Jason’s article hit too close to home to leave unremarked, so I decided to be up front about what we’ve done in the past few months and what we’re going to do in the next few.

Staffing
Today, there are 164 engineers and designers working at Evernote. About 150 of them are currently assigned to our core software products. The total number will increase quite a bit in 2014, but the proportion will stay the same: over 90% of our resources will go towards improving our core experiences.

Past Two Months: Stability
Starting last November, our first priority was to drastically improve the stability and performance of our main apps, especially for long-term users with many notes. We’ve made significant progress, and Evernote is measurably less buggy than it was two months ago.

We’re starting to see the initial results of this effort in our app store ratings. For instance, when we started this effort in November, Evernote for iOS 7 was at a frustratingly low 2 stars. Today, it’s at 4.5. Our customer support volumes for iOS have been cut by more than half: from an average of 366 per day in November, to 148 now. We’ve made similar improvements to many of the other apps as well. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in this area, but just because an app has a good rating, doesn’t mean that our work is finished; there are countless improvements to stability and performance that we’ll continue to make.

These are recent improvements, but the perception of stability is a lagging indicator of actual stability; you judge how solid or buggy an app feels based on your past few months of experience with it. So even though Evernote is a lot better already, and will get much better still, it’ll take longer for this feeling to really sink in. We understand that we have to maintain a high level of quality for the long term, if we want Evernote to be seen as a truly high-quality product.

Near Future: Design and Simplicity
As we get nearer to achieving our stability and performance goals, we’ve turned our attention to the other important component of quality: great design. Over the next few months, we’ll be releasing new versions of all the apps that incorporate our many lessons learned about what does and doesn’t work. All of our apps will be getting significant improvements and simplifications to the user experience starting in the next few weeks. The five most important areas of improvement that we’re targeting on all platforms are note editing, navigation, search, sync and collaboration.

Our new philosophy is to find every spot in our products where we’ve been forced to make a trade-off between doing what’s simple and doing what’s powerful, then rethink it so that the simplest approach is also the most powerful. We know we’ve found a good design for something when that conflict disappears. It feels like magic when that happens, and we’ll have several bits of magic in the coming months.

I turned 42 yesterday, which is the year that, according to classics of western literature, life, the universe and everything will start to make sense. This isn’t the way I imagined it starting, but I’m glad to have the chance to tell you what we started a few months ago, and what we’re going to be focusing on in 2014.

Thanks to Jason and to the millions of Evernote users who depend on us every day and who go through the effort of fighting for a better Evernote. Our goal isn’t to have a product that’s just good enough that users rely on it despite its warts, it’s to have a world class product, built with solid technology and with a fit and finish worthy of our users’ love and loyalty.

We’re the biggest Evernote users around, and it’s important to be in love with what you build.

It’s going to be a great year.

- Phil Libin, CEO

PS. To address Jason’s specific point about privacy concerns related to the Mac Helper:

There is no inherent privacy problem, but Jason’s article did alert us to a bug in our menu bar helper quick note feature for Mac. This bug resulted in an extra copy of quick notes being stored in the activity log on your local hard drive. This in itself isn’t a serious problem, but it was incorrect for our support staff to suggest that emailing the log file couldn’t expose any sensitive information. We’ve made three immediate changes as a result: (1) The menu helper bug has been fixed, and is available in the direct download version of Evernote for Mac. (2) A message now appears when you click the “email log” button that warns users that the logs may contain some account information such as note title and notebook names, which can be removed if desired, as well as other metadata designed to help the user and support engineer work together to quickly diagnose problems. (3) We’ve changed the training of our support staff so that they now warn users that note titles and notebook names are present in the log file, and that users can remove them, if desired.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 11:14:07 AM by IainB »

wraith808

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 11:55:09 AM »
Well, whether or not Evernote users think there are bugs in Evernote, it looks as though the Evernote CEO thinks there are, and he's going to fix things. There's his very well-written response post to Kincaid's complaints on the Evernote blog.
Judging by a lot of the comments from self-confessed Internet users across the Internet on this, and by the CEO's post, this must all have been quietly festering for some time before Kincaid championed the cause.
It also seems - from @wraith808's comments above - that some users hadn't noticed or heard/read of anything to be concerned about.
As I wrote above:
Caveat emptor, it seems:

Of course there are bugs.  No one said there weren't- find me a piece of software that has no bugs and i'll show you software that has no users.

My point was that it is not a bug ridden elephant, and is not unusable.  And that the article is promoting FUD, and switching to other platforms that are just as buggy, if not more so.  I clearly state that.  >:(

As far as the CEO's response, it is a PR spin put into place because of the pile on.  That should be clearly obvious.

paulobrabo

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 02:13:45 PM »
I don't care for Evernote, I use it but very sparsely. But boy did I lose data using Simplenote (using both Resophnotes and Cintanotes) or what. Apparently you don't have to be the size of an elephant to be bug ridden.
English will never be my first language, it doesn't meter how hard I try.

wraith808

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 02:38:05 PM »
I don't care for Evernote, I use it but very sparsely. But boy did I lose data using Simplenote (using both Resophnotes and Cintanotes) or what. Apparently you don't have to be the size of an elephant to be bug ridden.

And that was my point.  Thankfully, I use Dropbox with the combination, and so have been able to recover from those kinds of errors.  But they are/were definitely more serious than anything I've seen from Evernote.

Deozaan

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 02:50:29 PM »
I use it quite extensively... on several different platforms.  And I've not experienced anything like what he says.  If it was so endemic, especially being a web application used quite extensively by the userbase that he quoted, wouldn't there be more of a record of said lapses?  More people rising up as their data was lost?

Inquiring minds wonder...?

About a year ago (last February or March), I was visiting my parents in another state. We attended a church conference where my mother was asked by a friend who was hard of hearing if she could make a recording of the conference so it could be played back at a later date, presumably after being amplified or something similar. My mom put me in charge of running her friend's recorder. The conference began and I started recording. But I soon noticed a big problem. It seemed as though the digital recorder only had enough free storage to record the first few minutes. As the time ticked down, I had the brilliant idea to make a recording using Evernote on my phone. For about two hours I tried to make sure my phone was properly angled such that it would pick up the sound well, etc. For two hours I worried whether my phone's battery would last long enough to record until the very end.

Fortunately my battery did last long enough. The conference ended, I titled the note and saved the file, and we went home. When I got home the audio note was missing. What I figured happened was that because I didn't have data on my phone at the time (I was paying for it, but I was traveling out of state, so my phone was "roaming" while I was at the conference), it didn't upload the note to the server while I was gone. Then when I got back to my parents' home where I could connect to wifi, I figured the phone synced, but the wrong way. I figured that the local note on the phone was overwritten by the... er... lack of a note, online. That was the best logical explanation I could come up with at the time.

So yeah, I've experienced data loss with Evernote. I'm not sure if it's the same issue this guy mentioned in the article, but it put me off using Evernote, and I haven't really used it at all since, especially since Google Keep was released.


IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 09:19:26 PM »
...As the time ticked down, I had the brilliant idea to make a recording using Evernote on my phone....
That's a rather nifty idea - if it works, which it apparently didn't at the time.
Would it work now - that is, if the technology doesn't still frustrate it? (Would that give you a voice transcript?)
Would it/does it work on Google Keep? (Which provides voice transcripts doesn't it?)

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 09:43:50 PM »
...
I figured the phone synced, but the wrong way. I figured that the local note on the phone was overwritten by the... er... lack of a note, online. That was the best logical explanation I could come up with at the time.

So yeah, I've experienced data loss with Evernote. I'm not sure if it's the same issue this guy mentioned in the article, but it put me off using Evernote, and I haven't really used it at all since, especially since Google Keep was released.

I think there's a hint of the larger downsides of "Cloud Sync" in general here. Coupled with for example the end of EditGrid, it seems like this Scylla & Charybdis.
(Wiki link - http://en.wikipedia....Scylla_and_Charybdis)

We keep seeing fanfare "Go to / collaborate / sync with the cloud!" ... and then the cloud begins to dry up...

So then you're back to Old School local copies, but without all the magic of the cloud when it does work.

The confusion between the two is maddening!


c.gingerich

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2014, 02:46:25 PM »
I use Evernote for work and personal. Have a business account. Never had any issues and use it on computer, android, iphone and ipad... works a treat!
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IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2014, 10:02:13 PM »
You could synthesize this interesting Evernote episode down to some learning experiences, from a typical user's perspective:
  • Don't panic, and don't react without careful thought.
  • Don't take it as a "Jump ship now!" event, even if there are problems.
  • Yes, there certainly are bugs/problems in Evernote (QED), but so is the case with other Cloud-based repositories, and they are arguably all likely to be in much the same condition if you but knew it - e.g., DropBox (QED).
  • Not all of these bugs/problems will affect every user.
  • Hang on to whichever service provider you are currently using, as they will very probably be earnestly working to continuously improve the quality of service and the quality of service level performance.
  • Accept that a feature of life with Cloud-based services seems to be potentially reduced security and increased risk to loss/corruption of data almost inevitably arising from the user having a lack of control over data management by/on a remote third party/service.

As if to add emphasis to this, per Hacker News:
Quote
Dropbox is down
minimaxir 1 hour ago | link

Apparently the website has been compromised: https://twitter.com/...s/421820685766250496
The hackers are also threatening a database leak: https://twitter.com/...s/421822727331131392
EDIT: Dropbox's statement is that it's maintainance issues: https://tech.dropbox...opbox-status-update/

Armando

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2014, 10:28:46 PM »
Dropbox is down
minimaxir 1 hour ago | link

Apparently the website has been compromised: https://twitter.com/...s/421820685766250496
The hackers are also threatening a database leak: https://twitter.com/...s/421822727331131392
EDIT: Dropbox's statement is that it's maintainance issues: https://tech.dropbox...opbox-status-update/

Yup. Lost 1 hour of my time today thinking it was a Windows 8 issue after a bunch of updates. Then I wondered if... And, yes, that was it. BTW, Dropbox Inc. say they're now up and running, but I still can't access my account and connect with my laptop. Strangely, my mobile device can.

In any case : thanks for the heads up concerning Evernote. I was wondering about its reliability as I was considering using it more for voice memos. I'm getting more and more fed up with software glitches and data loss -- probably an effect of old age. Yes, there are worse cases out there, but data loss is unbearably annoying.

Innuendo

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2014, 11:08:24 AM »
I guess my question is...for someone who is contemplating using a product such as this for the first time and therefore has no existing investment in one particular platform which one should I hitch my wagon to?

Yes, I know all these solutions are not 100% reliable, but surely one of these companies seems to have a better handle on things than the others?

Recommendations welcome.

wraith808

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2014, 11:46:04 AM »
What are you contemplating using it for should be the first question.  Images?  Audio?  Purely text?  Clipping web pages?

And what platforms are you contemplating having the need for it on?

IainB

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2014, 06:48:26 PM »
@Innuendo :
This is good advice:
What are you contemplating using it for should be the first question.  Images?  Audio?  Purely text?  Clipping web pages?
And what platforms are you contemplating having the need for it on?

It's all about "user requirements". Many/most people (including myself) often have not articulated/written down what their requirements are for a "new thing", because they are still forming their ideas about what they want and what is or might be possible.
I personally find that the best thing to do is to trial a software application as though it were a potentially useful tool for what you generally might want to do. In the process of trialling, you will discover something, including, for example:
  • Confirmation of your requirements, and/or discovery of new requirements.
  • Whether it can effectively do what you wanted it to do.
  • Whether what you wanted to do is feasible using that tool.
  • Whether the tool or some other similar tool you might have read/heard about could potentially offer a  - in some way - "better" (for you) approach, thus to some extent refining or redefining what you thought your requirements were - this leads to changed requirements.

So jump in for a swim and trial something that looks like it might do the job. Discover/explore all its aspects for yourself. In the case of Cloud-based PIMs (Personal Information Managers), you have a decent and growing selection, but, as I said above, it is caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), and, in particular:
Accept that a feature of life with Cloud-based services seems to be potentially reduced security and increased risk to loss/corruption of data almost inevitably arising from the user having a lack of control over data management by/on a remote third party/service.
___________________________

I have trialled Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and others, and I discovered that the clincher for me was that there are some general mandatory (must have) requirements that need to be met, including, for example:
  • 1. Availability: The PIM must be fully-functional, and with fully available data, whilst online and/or offline.

  • 2. Data Types: The system must be able to store and make use of my Information in all its various modes/forms - including files ( object linking and embedding), plain text, rich text, html (e.g., web pages), image, automatic OCR of imaged text in any image captured, audio (recording and playback), audio transcripts and searching of phrases in audio (and now video).

  • 3. Search/Retrieval: To enable/make use of full and fast search/extraction of information, including metadata, and hyperlinking and cross-referencing (which latter implies Wiki-like features).

  • 4. Data security: No trust. There must be provision for Client-side and Cloud-side encryption, where required, and there must be absolute minimal potential risk of breach of security, of loss/corruption of data, with recovery from same being entirely under my control (which also implies my control over full/comprehensive backups and the ability to restore from those backups).

  • 5. Sharing/Collaboration: The ability to enable specific person or group sharing of sections of the PIM database, as and when required, fully under my control (granting of read/write permissions included).

(I have various other requirements, not listed above.)

From experience so far, there is currently no single Cloud-based solution/offering that can meet the test for these general mandatory requirements, except in the combination of SkyDrive + OneNote - so, for my requirements, that's what I use.
The Data Security requirement, in particular, is/was failed by DropBox, Google Drive, and Evernote (they also fail on other requirements, with Evernote arguably being the least-worse).

So, if you are likely to have similar requirements for Data Security, then a Cloud-only solution is probably not for you, but otherwise the current crop of Cloud offerings isn't too bad, and will probably improve (as I suggested in this thread, above), and Evernote still seems to be the leader in terms of very good Cloud functionality + some good/minimal Client functionality. Your peculiar requirements should/would always be the deciding choice factor though.

Each Cloud solution will have its own idiosyncrasies and peculiarities, and these have to be evaluated in any trial to see whether you can live with the thing, longer term. More likely than not, once you have learned how to change your way of working so as to make best use of the tool, and adapted to it, then the tool will become an indispensable and useful extension of your mind, and you will probably find yourself making ever more use of the tool because of that - and you could become reliant on it. (That is why Data Security is always an important requirement for me.)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 06:58:21 PM by IainB, Reason: Minor corrections. »

Innuendo

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2014, 09:48:11 AM »
wraith, that's a very good question & I'm not 100% sure yet what I'm looking to do, but working full-time, going to school full-time, and trying to balance things in my personal life too is proving to be quite a chore. I need to get things under control. Normally my INTJ-charged brain can easily cope with everything thrown my way, but I think I've reached computing capacity. :)

IainB, this is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I'm extremely security-conscious as well so I will start with OneNote+SkyDrive and see where that leads me. The fact that I was able to get Office for a pittance due to this makes the decision a lot easier.

MilesAhead

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Re: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant.
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2014, 01:45:42 PM »
Speaking of Evernote, has anyone been able to download it?  I've been trying to download 5.20 for 3 days.  No matter what link I start with I end up with "waiting for cdn1.evernote.com"  and it just hangs.

Edit: One last try and I got it.  Not sure I want it.  But I am a bit curious. :)

Edit2:  After all that I downloaded into the folder on the system partition.  Which means it went into the ToolWiz Time Freeze shadow cache.  Unbelievable!  :)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 03:23:01 PM by MilesAhead »

IainB

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