Wednesday, January 24, 2007

50 Ways to Take Notes

I am constantly writing notes. Whether it be for my blog, work, meeting, new ideas, or just basic notes, I am always jotting something down. So I started thinking about all the services I’ve used for taking notes and thought it would be a good idea to share them with you and while I’m at it, to make a list of any others that I find. Now, when it comes to note taking, I personally look for quick and simple. If I have something on my mind, I don’t want to go through some advanced system and climb a mountain just to save a note for myself. There won’t be all the note taking tools out there on my list, but ones that I feel get the job done well.

Quick Public Pages
Using a quick public page service, as I call it, is my favorite method of saving notes on the go. Some are simply a text field on a page that you fill and in click save, others allow you to record notes to a service directly through Instant Messaging with AIM, and some are full planners for creating well outlined documents.

  • ShortText - Fill in your text, click save, and you’ve got yourself a permanent url to a text note. Includes private pages as well.
  • YourDraft - Create and share content using a rich text editor (WYSIWYG) instantly without registration.
  • - The Internet Clipboard. Copy and paste between computers.
  • Sabifoo - (Personal favorite) Simply use an Instant Message client (ie: AIM), message “sabifoo”, and your message is recorded online to a permanent link and RSS feed.
  • Deusto - A new service for the creation of small web pages (digital books) in a simple and fast manner.
  • Backpack - Organize to do lists, notes, images, photos and share.
  • BareWiki - Build your own website and easily allow others to edit it.
  • Infogami - Build good-looking, easily-editable web sites.
  • Zoho Planner - An online organizer to Plan & Organize yourself.
  • Change To Link - Easily create a page of information to bookmark or share with friends.
  • PasteHere - Make pastes from screenshots of your desktop, code from your clipboard, or any other image/text. Pages last for 15 days unregistered user / 30 days registered user.

Basic Note Taking
Quick public pages aren’t really made for note-taking, although they work really well for it. Here are a few services and applications that are meant for note taking.

  • Pianist - Simple memo manager helping you save your ideas.
  • JotCloud - Jot down notes in a cloud of sticky notes online.
  • Web Note - Quickly takes notes with an online post-it like interface.
  • Performancing Firefox - Meant for blogging, although it has a section for saving notes and drafts that works rather well.
  • Forty Internet Notebook - (Note: Service sadly may not be live much longer) Simple and categorized place for you to keep notes saved hierarchically.
  • Backpack - Organize to do lists, notes, images, photos and share.
  • JotSpot Live - JotSpot Live allows you, your colleagues or clients to take notes together on the same web page at the same time.
  • TaskToy - More for to-do lists, but also features searchable notes and memos.
  • Zoho Planner - An online organizer to Plan & Organize yourself.
  • Campfire - Although meant for chatting, Campfire also works great for taking notes! Read this How-To.
  • SyncNotes - “Your notes. Anywhere. Anyhow.”
  • Yahoo! Notepad - Yahoo! Notepad is very simple, especially when using this handy Notepad Bookmarklet.
  • Google Desktop Scratch Pad - Although Scratch Pad requires the Google Desktop software, I find myself using this little plugin all the time. Just type and it saves automatically.

I’m a programmer and when I’ve got an idea on my mind for a script or code snippet, I want to get it down ASAP. I find that collaborative programming services, like Pastebin, or just a service that lets you save a script and share works perfectly. These are like quick public pages, but for programmers.

  • Pastebin - Collaborate on debugging code snippets and receive permanent links to code snippets.
  • TNX - “Simple web service for temporary text storage. A unique URL is generated, that can be easily pasted in a message, but is hard to guess.”
  • TextSnippets - Public source code repository in that you can tag and categorize code. You may also set snippets as private.
  • PasteHere - Make pastes from screenshots of your desktop, code from your clipboard, or any other image/text. Pages last for 15 days unregistered user / 30 days registered user.
  • Nopaste - Pastebin with Syntax Highlighting for PHP Programming.

Online Documents
I found that there are times that simple text notes just don’t always fit my needs. There may be a note or part of a document that I need to save with text formatting, colors, and headings, but most note-taking services are text-only. In time, I started using services like Writeboard more and more because I can just down notes with it during a conference adding headings and lists making reading my notes a lot more organized. Makes sense, so I decided to make a list of a few.

  • Writeboard - (I find I use this often because of Basecamp integration for work) Collaborative writing software online. Write, share, revise, compare. You can share by email invitation only.
  • Writely - Writely allows you to edit documents online with whomever you choose, and then publish and blog them online.
  • Rallypoint - (I use this for project notes often) Rallypoint combines the powerful features of your favorite desktop word processor with the collaborative abilities of a secure hosted wiki, giving you the best of both worlds.
  • Zoho Writer - Online tool to create a document, edit in your way, and share with anyone.
  • WideWord - Write and share documents easily, quickly and privately!
  • YourDraft - Create and share content instantly without registration. The WYSIWYG editor allows fast and flexible drafting.
  • gOffice Word Processing - gOffice has a nice Word Processor that I’ve only used once before, but worked well then. (Update: Just tested again and it seemed to have made an error when exporting, but works for saving still. Seems to work fine now)

Voice Recording
Don’t think your stuck with typing all your notes on a computer when it comes to note taking. Sometimes it’s just simpler to speak something out loud rather then writing and although the following services aren’t meant for taking notes specifically, they seem to work quite well. Sure, they are for emailing and podcasting, but that’s not stopping me!

  • Evoca - Evoca is excellent for recording podcasts, but it also seems to work for notes as well because when you record, it simply saves it to a list in that you can listen to at any time. They are private until published.
  • Odeo - For podcasting as well, but as does Evoca, Odeo’s podcast recorder also works well and saves your recordings as podcasts which you can easily listen to at any time. They are also private until published.
  • Springdoo - Springdoo allows you to send voice email, as does Slawesome. When you make a recording with Springdoo, it will allow you to preview the recording and send the address to others. Simple bookmark the address or send it to yourself.
  • Slawesome - Meant for emailing voice recordings, but I simply email myself and mark it in my email client as an important note in my memo folder. (Update: Voice recording does not appear to be working as of now, although the emails still send along with your note. It will save, but won’t play it seems.)

Start Pages
What better place to write notes then a start page that opens every time you open your web browser? As I mentioned the other day, I now have Netvibes as my homepage for my browser and I found that I use the Webnote module quite often. Most start pages include note functionality, but I’ll list a few favorites with note modules.

  • Netvibes - My start page of choice which has a simple Webnote module with auto-saving and multi-color selection.
  • PageFlakes - Personalized start page with notes and many “flakes” bringing the web to your fingertips.
  • Protopage - A very neat start page allowing for notes and drag and drop containers for just about anything. Also allows for making multiple pages and setting pages public.
  • Fold - Allows for adding of multiple Notepad Containers which you can drag and drop any where in your Fold Start Page.
  • Google Personalized - Google’s Personalized start page works great for notes when using the Google Notes Module that saves your notes automatically.

Online Databases
Online database services can also be used for managing notes. I’ve made a system in Dabble DB and Zoho Creator for notes which I have made to my liking because I choose what is recorded. Any of the following will allow you to create your own database application for recording your notes.

  • Dabble DB - (Private Beta) Dabble DB is the most powerful service of the bunch with large customization options and application flexibility. Can’t wait for it to go public so everyone can experience it’s power.
  • TracksLife - “Your Friendly, Personal, Online Spread-abase.” Very simple system that works very well. Also allows for public tracks and rss feeds.
  • Zoho Creator - Free online service to create and share web applications with just a few mouse clicks. Very customizable.
  • FlexLists - Create your own online sharable lists with this database like service allowing for custom fields and values.
  • Lazybase - Lazybase allows anyone to design, create and share a database of whatever they like.

That about wraps it up! I hope this list was of help for anyone looking for simple solutions on taking notes. As always when I make a list, if you know of any other services, feel free to share with us in the comments. And for those of you curious as to what solutions I use most often, I tend to use Google Scratch Pad, Netvibes, and Writeboard the most and have recently become addicted to Sabifoo. What ones do you use?


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