Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Notes: Then and Now

I used to carry a 5x7 notebook with me at all times. Any time I had an idea for a game I would write it down in the notebook for later use. This system overlapped with computers because there were few ways to get the data into an electronic format other than a computer and even then it had to be a compatible computer (think 80s Commodore, Atari, Apple and IBM). The notebook was always battered and dirty with pages missing but it served the purpose of saving my precious ideas.

Then sometime in the 90s the computer wars were mostly over. The IBM/Windows PC was everywhere. At that time I started carrying a three and a half inch diskette with me nearly everywhere. As long as my file was saved as a .txt.or .rtf I could update my notes anywhere. A few years later the USB drive was filling the same function with the added bonus of on-board word processing.

Today, the diskette is dead and the USB drive is banned from many workplaces and libraries. Smartphones have allowed the e-mailing of notes and documents between computers but if you forget to forward your updates you find yourself recreating things or worse forgetting your thoughts. If only there were some way to take notes on any PC, tablet or smartphone and have them automatically synchronized.

There is such a tool and it’s called Evernote ( It requires the creation of an account but after that you can create and update notes from any browser. The use of Evernote on a tablet or smartphone can be leveraged through the browser or by downloading the Evernote app. Once you have created your account you can click the "+ New Note" button and start typing. There are several word processing functions like the ability to set the font, font size and font color. There are tables and bullet lists. You can even attach a picture or other file.

The program also supports tagging. You can use the default tags or add your own. Tags allow you to filter the notes you are seeing based on the selected tag. Tags are not something I find useful but Gmail seems to like them.

If you are very prolific you can also create notebooks. In this way you can classify your notes based on subject. I currently only have one notebook with 16 notes in it and a trash receptacle with an additional 11 notes. According to the help files you can upload up to 60 MB of data per month with unlimited storage with the free account.  That is a lot of text. The only way to hit that limit would be to upload pictures. If you want to use more pictures then pay the money for the premium account at $5.00 per month or $45.00 per year for 1 GB of upload per month with unlimited storage.

The bottom line is that Evernote has become my new 5x7 notebook. If I get an idea for an adventure during lunch out I can quickly add that thought to Evernote via my smartphone. I can also compose a grocery list on my laptop at home and access the list at the store from my phone. It has so many uses and so easy to use.

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