Taking notes


Well I started taking notes “electronically” on my old Palm Pilot, sorry no, my old Handspring Visor deluxe.  I remember first thinking: “why do I need that memo button?”  But it has made sense since.  Under Lotus Domino / Notes one of my oldest databases still in use is a widely replicated personal Journal which has been incredibly useful archive for years.  When I got my old Powerbook (PB) 4 years ago, I started using MacJournal – until a couple of months ago it had crashed.  Unbelievable – I tried to re-install, to no avail.  And I am not in the mood anylonger to try for days, though I am sure it probably would have worked somehow.  Fortunately I had archived my MacJournal notes as html and txt files before.  And since then, I simply started opening a text editor on my machines and every few days saved the file in a journal folder.

So with my new Ubuntu notebook I decided to have another go at the journal / notes question.  Ubuntu comes with a mix of applications aimed at that issue.  There is Tomboy (weird name), Rhinote (still weird, but funny, though as a German my association is not so much the mix of Rhinos and Notes, but more the river of Rhine).  Then there is Xpad and Knotes (borrowed from the KDE environment).

So what am I looking for?  A web-based “center”, a nice off-line app, also a great mobile app on my Nokia would be nice too.  Something like Evernotes, especially because it also integrates images and pictures nicely.

So here is a first take on that quest:

The web apps:

Google Notebook – free and quite nice.  What’s missing is a syncable app on the desktop. Google Gears doen’t work on my AMD64 Ubuntu version (yes, unbelievable…).  Pics are web linked, so Google Picasa could be used for pics, of course Flickr & co as well.  Other Google contenderws could be Google sites (basically a wiki), a private Blogger account and of course Gmail is also a big container of notes as well…

Evernote – I like it, though there is no Ubuntu / Linux client.  A workaround could be the Windows client wrapped up in wine. And Evernote is proprietary and as a premium service unlikely to publish a Linux client any time soon.  Though a local Gears or Adobe Flex client might be a possibility…  What I really like is the container idea.  Just put everything in it, including pictures.  The idea is that you local app syncs with Evernote on the web and the pics are even scanned for texts and indexed.

TiddlyWiki – a personal wiki which works both on your desktop (of course through the browser) and on the web, either through your own web installation or through hosted services like TiddlySpot.  There are even two GTD (Getting Things Done) versions.  Initially I was ready to discard TiddlyWiki , but the more I think about the whole thing, the more I like it.

The desktop apps:

Tomboy is great – in the desktop world.  Yes you can set up a webDAV. Yes, with virtual web disks like dropbox, you can have a web version of tomboy.  Yes, it integrates with Evolution and has a “tasque” task manager addon.  And it has an easy link language comparable to wikis.  A bit like a personal desktop wiki.  Though I am not yet convinced, especially regarding the web side of things.  Maybe an integration with evolution and a sync between evolution and Gmail / Gcontacts / Gcalendar could do the trick… A bit complicated, on the other hand I have to chose a email desktop client anyway.  And the game between Evolution and Thunderbird is still undecided.

KNotes looks nice, a sticky note app.  Of course it is closely linked to the KDE world’s Kontacts. Have to check it out more.  Same for Rhinote.


5 Responses to “Taking notes”

  1. I found a discussion that talked about the 64 bit gears question:


    Also, here’s another link that might be useful to anyone running Evernote in Wine; it’s the Wine AppDB entry for the app.

  2. Thanks Dan, the Wine AppDB is really useful as I have to do legacy installations of Lotus Notes and iTunes as well.
    in the Google Groups discussion I found this link http://www-personal.umich.edu/~swolchok/gears/ , though I haven’t tried the newest one yet.
    Thanks again 🙂

  3. 3 Leong Tri

    This is a really solid overview and I sort of went through the same thing. For me, I like to take pure text notes – with a sprinkling of markdown.

    I finally found a solution in ayenotes (http://www.ayenotes.com) – the cool thing about ayenotes is that it allows you take notes online by translating shorthand into longhand. This makes typing full notes so much faster – its sort of like autotext on the blackberry or textpander on the mac if you’re familiar with any of those macro apps.

    I have it configured so that when I am in my o chem class I can type in a few keystrokes and it will automatically fill in all of the formulas, concepts, and terms for me. The app is also really lightweight – a lot leaner than google notebook so it loads quickly (that’s been a problem for me since some of my classes are in wifi deadspots).

  4. Off topic – need help with email settings
    How do I change Gmails SMTP settings?
    Dr Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman MD

    • Usually in settings 🙂 Though there is not much to change regarding SMTP, since gmail is Google and therefore gmail.com can only be handled by Google themselves. The SMTP port is also set by Google. Does that answer your question? Did I understand you correctly?

      BTW qompute has moved and is now found on qompute.net

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