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Take Note

I’ve been experimenting with some neat apps for the Mac, iPhone/iPod and the iPad. These are apps that are designed to be “as simple as possible,” in opposition to the usual philosophy of “having as many features as possible.”

The following are two note taking apps that are designed to work together, both with and without the Internet. Yes, apps for note taking. Note taking is a big deal. Suppose you’re starting a new position you have to write down a lot of obscure facts. Or you might need to remember the correct temperature for poaching eggs or the name of a set of legos or the title of a book to give as a gift. The Mac has an actual stickies app, which uses a similar approach. The problem is that it does really scale well—you can only have as many notes as will physically fit on your screen.

The first application I started using, for the Mac, is Notational Velocity. This is a free application developed as a non-commercial endeavor by public spirited hackers. It’s tiny and unobtrusive so you can leave it running all day. When something pops into mind, you type a title, hit return, and type your note. As you are typing in your title, the app will also show you other notes you’ve entered that might be relevant.

The second, for the iPad and iPhone, is Simplenote. This is basically the same idea for the iPad and iPhone.

What’s great is that if you create an account at http://simplenoteapp.com/, then the notes that you take with Simplenote on your iDevice are synced automatically to the notes on your computer stored in Notational Velocity.

All free. (Okay, Simplenote has advertisements, and you can pay $8.99 to turn the ads off.)

The idea behind both of these is to make it ridiculously easy to record a short thought, and to make them always available in searchable, wherever you are. They share the idea that good notes do not need to be any longer than a sticky note—one or two sentences (although they certainly let you enter more). You never have to save the notes. Every key you type is recorded to the computer for you. They never get lost and the computer, or iPad, or iPhone, will find it for you.

Pretty cool.

1 comment

1 Dad { 05.05.10 at 6:36 am }

I have really enjoyed reading your blog each evening. Hope you can keep it up.