Note Taking Applications

As part of my ongoing attempts at organization for life and work, I have tried to tackle To-Do List (see prior post from December 2008) and am now reviewing note taking applications, some of which also contain To-Do abilities.

The initial list of contenders I chose are:

My needs for this are an easy to use application no matter what computer I am using (Windows, Mac, Linux), not matter where I am, is secure, easy to manage the content, fast to access, and pleasing to the eye.  I do not necessarily need an application that installs on all clients, thus the cloud applications I have selected above, although Evernote does provide an native client.

 

evernote

Evernote is the most well known of the online note taking applications.  Notes are only the beginning of what Evernote can do.  It is a place for all of your ideas you come up with, things you like with access from any device you use.  Capture and Organize everything is Evernote’s rule.  It may be the only application in this that recognizes and indexes images and PDF’s.

Visually, Evernote is very mature and provides the ability to create notebooks for different needs.  You can keep everything private or you can share specific items & notebooks.  Tagging is key to Evernote  and successfully utilizing all of it’s potential.

Evernote restricts by the amount you may upload per month for free (40 MB).  You can add via Evernote plug-in for both IE and Firefox, emailing to a private email address they assign,  importing from Google Notebook, and via Twitter.

There is also a $5 month premium account that adds SSL transfers, priority image recognition, no ads, monthly upload to 500MB, access to notebooks offline for iPhone and iPod Touch users, and more.

Evernote also provides downloads for Windows, Mac, iPhone+iPod Touch, Android, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.  All devices will sync and work together with one account (if you have that many phones and computers).

My only complaint is that my workflow and Evernote’s seem to not mesh well.  Thus the Evernote interface is not intuitive for my purposes for me.  I have been trying to use Evernote for over a year and it has just not caught on for me yet.

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mynoteit

 

MyNoteit is an interesting application.  It is also a free offering, but does have Google Ads included on the pages.  It is set up specifically for those that are in school as it has Courses and Assignments by default.  They provide external links regarding Term Papers and Learning Management Software.  The site did render a bit slower than expected and the interface is not as intuitive as I would like.  It does provide a to-do list along with the note taking, assignments and bookmarks.  Messaging also looks to be within the MyNoteit environment to help with groups and collaboration.  I did not see anything regarding a storage cap.

Overall, MyNoteit does not look to be the best product for my needs, but may be good for students in school, especially if they are working in teams and like to share assignments.

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ubernote

UberNote reminds me of Evernote.   It seems to be a direct competitor, using much of the same types of interaction.  There is a Firefox toolbar you can install that allows clipping and bookmlarking, as well as, UberClip which adds entire web pages directly into UberNote.  There is also a Netvibes widget, iGoogle gadget and user specific email address you can send items directly to your UberNote. Other methods of getting info into UberNote includes Twitter and importing of your Google Notebook and exporting to a an HTML backup.

Similar to Evernote, tagging is a big componant of UberNote and it also provides a task management section.  There is a mobile version that you can use on your smartphone as well.  They are working on a premium version that will provide more file space (can not find how much they give you now), secure connections and encrypted notes.  Overall I like what I see in UberNote, but am unsure if it would replace Evernote for me.

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springnote

Springnote allows you to login using OpenID if you so desire.  Springnote provides a very clean interface, dashboard and 2GB for free.  You can have both Personal Notebooks as well as Group Notebooks for collaboration.  Springnote is interesting as it is based upon wiki technology.   When creating a Personal Notebook, Springnote creates a Bookshelf, Meeting Notes, Monthly Calendar, Monthly Schedule, Personal Profile, To Do List and Web Clippings by default.  You can create your own pages as well.   Bookshelf is an interesting addition for me as I am an avid reader.  You also have an Inbox and Comments section, both of which look to only be for within Springnote environment.  Within the setting section, you can turn off comments if you have a public page, back up your full notebook and change your profile image.  Exporting to your blog can also be configured here and they identify Typepad, Moveabletype, WordPress, and Blogger.   I run my blog on SquareSpace and it set up without issue.  They also have a plug-in page wiht all plug-ins developed by Springnote and not the community.  They also have what they call “Mashups” which include an iPhone App, a Messenger bot which allows you to add to your Springnote via Googletalk and MSN.  It uses XHTML and has Open API.  There is also an Open Source project for the Springnote editor at Xquared.

Overall I am very impressed with Springnote and can actually see myself using.  I looks like it could replace a number of specific apps I currently use.  All I would need is a paid version with more storage as well as secure usage.

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google

Google Notebook was abandon by Google (stopped development and no new users), but if you are in the Google world already you may want to check it out.  It provides you with a barebones notebook application.  Similar to other Google applications, they make it simple.  You can creates different notebooks, use labels similar to tagging, and share for collaboration.

You may find Google Documents a better experience if you want stronger collaboration and tools. 

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fruitnotes

I can tell just from the logo, FruitNotes is very Web 1.0.  Not going to be high on the design and visual appeal.  But how is it to actually work in?  What it provides that is unique is the ability to record phone voice notes.  It provides you with a US or UK phone number to do so.  You can also upload photo and videos and tag your notes.

You can share your notes or publish to “your” blog.  However, “your” blog is a blog on their site and not really “your” blog.

What is amazing is that this is “beta” and the footer of every page says “2007 FruitNotes.com”

I struggle with this one.  It just never looks right on the screen, the fonts are awful, calendar seems to be from 1995 Microsoft Access.  Not for me.

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notefish

Notefish tagline says “Revolutionize your Web Research”.  You save information you find on the web into a Notefish page for organizing and/or sharing.  Similar to Google Notebook, Notefish has a simple interface with little advanced organization available.  You can color code your notes and tag notes. 

Plug-ins are available for both Internet Explorer (Windows only) and Firefox.  Very simple, very plain.

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zoho 

Zoho Notebook is apart of the Zoho office products which includes Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Wiki, and others.  You can sign up using your Google Account, Google Apps Account, Yahoo or Facebook. 

If you use any or all of the Zoho applications, it is well integrated and easy to switch between them.  They do provide plugins for both Firefox and Chrome and the ability to import your Google Notebook.  Zoho Notebook is the most like an application that happens to be online.  You can add new notebooks, spreadsheet pages, writer pages, web pages and others to notebooks.  It supports images, audio, video, RSS, etc… as well.  You choose which notebooks you share.  It is really focused on content creation more than the other notebooks reviewed here.

The forums for users look to be robust.  They are working on a mobile version, but none yet.  My big issue is the lack of subfolders for how my brain organizes.  It also does not have some of the advanced features from Evernote like OCR nor does it have task lists like Springnote.

And have I mentioned the Skype integration?  Yes, it has this.

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Let me know if you are using something I missed and I will check it out and update this post!

New Site on Squarespace

I have loved getting to know Squarespace.  Overall, it is a very good system for building your website. Once you understand where everything is in order to modify the templates, you will start fiddling and changing your site's look for quite a while.  And enjoy every minute of it.

squarespace 

The only negatives are if you hit a wall in regards to what you want to do, chances are an upgrade to the next level at more $$ will allow you to do it.  Sometimes even simple things will end up costing you more $$ each month.  Real CSS pros may be able to figure it out without the upgrades, but those of us that are not pros have to pay. Another issue was that my tags did not import from Wordpress, so I have to re-tag hundreds of posts.  Last, it does not support tag or category clouds, or at least I have not found a solution.

My website has gone from self-hosted, to hosted, back to self-hosted and now I am again on a hosted service.  I got tired of the updating and security issues and trying to keep the site going.  Now I can spend more time on content and design vs. database and server support.  Hopefully this will kick start my posting here.

You can try Squarespace for free, no credit card required.  So go ahead and try it out.  I recommend it.

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Having Fun with SquareSpace

I am right in the middle of moving my Blog from WordPress to SquareSpace, and due to WordPress not exporting all of my data correctly, I am manually adding old posts to SquareSpace.  Not a fun activity, but hopefully will be well worth it to get away from WordPress.

Just be aware for those of you thinking of moving over, it is more work than you may have been led to believe.

Cross Platform Syncing

I am finally sick of JungleDisk & .Mac or MobileMe (I am up for renewal).  Jungledisk does not have native syncing abilities and seems to have trouble on my Macbook staying active when I change from Wifi to EVDO and back it does not like to re-mount the drive.  It is also difficult to update my music and picture files from computer to computer.  For example, when I upgraded a music track from DRM to non-DRM in iTunes, I had to manually replace it on each computer and on the online storage.  It is good for back up of each computer separately, but not for keeping one back up to use on all computers & share.


Dropbox Web Interface

I do use Dropbox, and would love it to be my one solution for everything, however, it has only one paid option for 50GB max.  Also, the files that are synced must all be in the My Dropbox folder on every computer. I would love a solution similar that would work on Windows, OS X, and my iPhone, as well as, not tied to a specific sync folder.  Thus I came across SugarSync. It has multiple paid options, thus I can upgrade as more space is needed, is accessible and managed from the web, windows, mac or iPhone, and you identify which folders you want to keep synced.


SugarSync Web Interface

Others I have tried or found are MobileMe - which just did not work,  Mozy - which I found cluncky on my Mac and lacking in sync like I wanted, Windows Live Mesh - worked well but only has a 5GB option currently.

There is a good chart comparing free online storage/sync solutions on Lifehacker here.

Pricing for Dropbox and SugarSync are as follows:

Dropbox = $9.99/mos or $99/yr for 50GB ($0.20/GB per mos)
SugarSync = $2.49/mos or 24.99/yr for 10GB ($0.25/GB per mos), $4.99/mos or 49.99/yr for 30GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $9.99/mos or 99.99/yr for 60GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $14.99/mos or 149.99/yr for 100GB ($0.15/GB per mos), and $24.99/mos or $249.99/yr for 250GB ($0.10/GB per mos).

Bottom line, I will use both for different reasons.  I will use the Free 2GB Dropbox for quick file sharing between computers and SugarSync as my online backup and sync of music, pictures, documents, etc...across all computers and iPhone.

If you have a good solution for you that is different, let me know!

Update - With SugarSync you can stream you audio as well.  This includes your iPhone.  Full access to all my music on the iPhone is excellent.



Excel Hints is Giving Away Over $1400 in Prizes

My favorite software to use happens to be the one I use all day, every day, at work.  I am one of the weird people whom enjoy Excel.

An earlier Twitter I gave a link to my RSS Feeds for Excel blogs and the like.  One of those blogs that I read almost everyday is Excel Hints.  Currently, Excel Hints has a give-away contest going and if you are someone that would like to win Excel consulting or Office 2007, along with a couple other prizes, just go here and subscribe to their Excel Hints email.

Good luck!



Favorite New Software and Service

Being a computer user that switches between Mac and Windows everyday, I am always searching for tools that will allow me to share information between the different computers, as well as platforms.  Over the last month I have drastically simplified this issue by the addition of Foxmarks and Dropbox.

Foxmarks is a Firefox add-on that originally syncs and backs up bookmarks.  Since I use Firefox as my primary browser on all computers, having them sync is important.  I use to use the Google Sync tool until it stop supporting the new Firefox browser, and in fact, Foxmarks does do this better than Google Sync did.   Recently Foxmarks added the ability to sync passwords as well.  I have had success with this on all of the computers except my office XP box.  It continues to ask for my PIN to sync passwords over and over.  This does not happen on my other XP/Vista/OS X computers however, so am unsure what the issue is?

Dropbox has been a great tool.  It syncs specific folders in real time very quickly so I can have my KeePass and KeePassX synced between all the computers, as well as, my IE favorites folder.

I find Dropbox faster and easier to use than JungleDisk, however, Dropbox has a 2GB limit.  So I do not use it to sync my music collection and the like.  I highly recommend Dropbox to anyone.



Plurk

I have been posting to the social website Plurk a lot lately.  This site is similar to Twitter, as it is a social micro-blog, but with a twist.  It is visually more appealing than the basic Twitter, and as you earn "Karma", more options and control over your account you get.  You gain or loose Karma by the amount of posting you do, as well as, who friends or follows you.

 

The timeline is also unique, as instead of a vertical view, it is horizontal.  Although the mobile version of the site is vertical.

 

 

 

I have found that there seems to be more "community" and interaction between users that have no real off line connection.  That can happen on Twitter as well, but Plurk seems a whole lot more interactive among it's members.  This may also be due to the fact that replys are their own thread under each original plurk.

 

I am really enjoying Plurk and invite you to join in the fun!  Follow me here.



Thanks Embarq

I have to give Kudo's when I run across the rare instance that a company meets or exceeds my expectations.

Quite a while ago, I was having connection issues with my internet provider, Sprint DSL.  I contacted them and went through the ringer trying to get them to replace the modem.  They would not do it unless every conceivable issue OTHER than the modem was ruled out.  Talking about a pain in the A$$.  After hours of testing and ruling eveything out, I ended up buying my own modem off the shelf which fixed the issue.

Fast forward about 2 years, and once again I am having connection issues.  Sprint has since been purchased by Embarq.  I Twitter my Embarq issues and am contacted by an Embarq employee with advice the same day.  I also submit a support email and immediately they send me out a new router based solely on the email.

Now I have not gotten the new DSL modem, so I do not know the final results of my issue, but based upon the reaction and response of Embarq, I have to say Thank You!



New Site is Live

After a couple of weeks and playing with many Wordpress templates, I have finally decided upon one, as well as added more content and how to interact with the site. The template I selected is Revolution by Brian Gardner. Unlike my last template which stopped being supported and updated, I feel this one will continue to grow and get better over time.

I started out wanting something more than a blog, but one that was closer to a content manager than a simple blog. Although I have not implemented everything yet, I am very happy with the outcome. There will be continual changes, modifications and improvements over time, but I believe this template gives me the foundation to move forward.

I can not wait to learn the new CSS skills and Wordpress skills to continue this journey.