10 June 2014

#WorkWonders with Microsoft Office 365

This is what an industry or press tasting often looks like. A lot of times you have a dozen glasses in front of you, plus a water glass and a spit cup. (Keeping the rhythm of spitting into one and drinking from two others while listening to lectures and taking notes is the most important skill in wine tasting. Getting them mixed up is a Bad Thing.) And this layout is before the bottles hit the table. You've got a writer to the left and right of you as well as across from you, and there is precious little real estate to hold a notebook, laptop, DSLR camera, and other equipment--much less the folders of notes and promotional material that you've been handed.

I was a late convert to the smart phone revolution, but I've really enjoyed using Microsoft OneNote to take wine notes during these events. It's the way that I Work Wonders on the road. I can take photos, scribble notes, link to websites, and have a great set of stream-of-consciousness pieces that I can later decipher back in the hotel room and convert into useful and legible prose. And better yet, I only have to keep track of a single phone, not a backpack's load of gadgets and notepads. I've done these tastings both ways and I know which one I prefer, particularly when you're shuffling around to a half dozen of these in a single day.

Technology is often seen as an impersonal, isolating force, but using apps like OneNote on a smart phone actually facilitate socialization. In these environments, my head is not buried behind a laptop screen. If I get tired of typing I can record audio instead. As I meet new people, we can exchange contact information and weeks later I can easily get in touch with someone halfway around the world without having to make sure I didn't lose his business card... which I don't have to keep, because I can take a photo of it in OneNote and append some information about the particular wines we tasted.

I'm running a little contest for my readers. The randomly-chosen winner will receive prize donated by Microsoft: a one-year subscription for Office 365 Home ($99). Tell me how you have "worked wonders" with Microsoft applications, whether it was doing your first Christmas letter mail merge in Word or using Excel to track your daughter's Girl Scout cookie sales. Either leave a comment here or on Twitter, using @benitowine and #workwonders in your entry. The winner will be drawn in a week!

No special rules or restrictions, except that family members and employees of Benito's Wine Reviews are not eligible.

Note: Evaluation of this software was enabled by participation in the Microsoft Office 365 advocacy program, though there was no payment involved. Access to the various programs was provided for free, but the opinions are my own.

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