I said I was going to do a post on apps and software, but Livescribe is so fantastic for so many things it will take up a whole post. What is Livescribe you ask? First I must say, I do not work for Livescribe, I am just a very happy customer who has been using their pens ever since they introduced The Pulse (2008). They are now onto their 3rd generation pen, Sky. Actually I think the doctors at UNC Family Med. all bought Livescribe pens because of my enthusiasm. Okay, so now what is Livescribe? Just the best thing since sliced bread. There is a 15% off coupon link at bottom of post.

Livescribe lets me capture whatever I write onto paper and preserves it on my computer. However, that is not the best part, the best part is that I can record at the same time I am writing. If that isn’t enough to make your spine tingle wait until you read this -> later when I go over my notes, if I want to hear what was said at a particular time, I just tap on a word and I can hear what was recorded at that point in time of my note taking.

Okay I know I’ve confused you. I am sorry let’s see if I can do better. Livescribe is a little computerized pen that also has a recorder in it. You can take notes and record at the same time, on special dotted paper, you just tap record located on the bottom page. When you are done just tap on Stop. The dots let the pen remember what was recorded during that particular time of writing. Then at some future time you can replay your meeting/lecture/interview by just simply tapping anywhere on the dotted page of your notes or drawings (another great thing is that it does not have to be words). Then with a USB (for Echo pens, Sky is WiFi) connector you can connect the pen to your computer and upload your notes to your hard drive and/or a site setup by Livescribe (since I use Dropbox this is where I keep my files), these are called pencasts.

Here is a video which I think explains it much better.

I not only use Livescribe for genealogy, but also when I go to town council meetings and interview people for articles, (I am a freelance journalist for our local county paper) and  conferences. I have notebooks for each occasion and I can save my pencasts accordingly; interviews, town meetings, genealogy, classes/conferences. Another great feature is that you can search your notes, so no more hunting and pecking through numerous pages of notes. This is such a wonderful part of the pen, I am sure we have all had this happen – you attend a conference and the guest speaker talked about some wonderful new thing, but you did not catch the whole name. Now it is just a matter of searching on your note paper or tap near the word/area that you remember was talked about, and viola you have it. No longer missed sections during a conference. You can also share you information through email, Facebook, Evernote, Google Docs and mobile devices such as an iPad. The Sky pen will do this wirelessly, Echo needs a separate app.

Livescribe’s onboard microphone is good for decent sized conference rooms, but you can also buy the 3-D earplug (you can buy the pen set which comes with the headset), which can record in larger spaces. I used my pen without the headset in Omni hotel’s conference room which was large and I had no problem.

The sharing feature works beautifully if you are sharing your research and trees with others. My sister and I are both trying to figure out the von Hassel’s, so when I find out information I can easily share it with her through Facebook or via email. This is extremely handy. I have also come across German words or phrases that I am unsure of, I just write them down, tag to send via email to my Mom or Dad, and once I connect they get my queries.

Livescribe also has apps available for the pen, however, I do not use many of them. The one I do use is a Spanish transcription app. I can write TWO EGGS OVER EASY, tap on  each word and Livescribe will translate it into Spanish for me. I also use Connect which allows me to send my notes to any Google Site and Docs.

Livescribe Connect Video

I use the pen also without recording, just turn the pen on and it keeps track of your writing. I like this feature when I am researching a family. As long as I am taking notes on the special dotted paper, it keeps track of everything, and later when I am home I just upload it to my computer and keep the file in my “family” folder. I tend to come home with multiple pages of notes and I love that I can use the search feature and easily find what I am looking for.

I want to add a few things about the pen. It is a little on the bulky/large side. If you use very skinny pens it will take a bit to get use to the bigger size barrel. My Dad, who was the recipient of my Pulse when I bought the Echo, loves it because he has arthritis and it fits his hand perfectly. So the size can be a blessing.

The paper is not very expensive, I usually buy the 3-subject notebook right around 7 or 8 dollars, I tend to buy it in Target or Best Buy. Also if you have a color laserjet printer with postscript drivers installed, and can print 600 dpi or higher, you can print out your own dot paper.

I am a fine ink person so I buy my ink cartridges right through the Livescribe site. However, I did hit a bonanza one day at Best Buy and bought 4 boxes for a very reasonable price. The clerk thought maybe they were discontinuing the line but they weren’t. My Echo is the 4 GB version and I have been in two hour meetings and both the battery and recording lasted just fine.

If you are interested in getting Livescribe – Echo or Sky please use this link and get 15% off your purchase. Not only will you get a discount but you will also help me. Remember I am in no way affiliated with Livescribe.

As always if you are confused and/or have questions do not hesitate to leave a comment. Also if there is a feature of the pen that you would like more information on let me know and I will do a post on that subject.

Happy Digging!


About Cathy von Hassel-Davies

I am a German born Yankee living under Carolina blue and loving it.
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