OneNote & EverNote

2010-January-02

One of the things I have been looking at is what I can use to synchronize notes between my computers, my mobile device(s) and potentially, a web site. Some of the reasons for this include the fact that the new phone I intend to get later this month has a glorious, gargantuan keyboard that makes it suitable for use as a replacement for the venerable steno pads that I've been using in various situations for several years now.

I currently use OneNote on superslab, my main mobile computer, to take notes in classes, organize projects and gather and organize other pieces of knowledge, such as notes for my NaNoWriMo novels, health information, shopping and goal lists, as well as passwords to web sites that I use less often than some.

In the past, I used a Microsoft SharePoint server hosted locally on flatdell to synchronize my OneNote notebooks between multiple mobile PCs, a virtual machine on my Mac, as well as a rarely used desktop PC in the office. This arrangement worked out quite well, especially as I was able to choose which notebooks were synchronized on each machine (allowing me to omit the notebooks revealing too much personal information). I was also able to choose which mobile PC I wanted to use on any given day, and when I got home from classes, the notes were already available on my desktop computer.

The natural extension of this is a version of the note taking application that lives in the "cloud" and is accessible through a web browser, plus has the desktop application and if possible, an application for a mobile phone or other mobile organization device.

At some point in the coming year, Microsoft is promising exactly this with a web version of OneNote 2010, and the new OneNote 2010 for both Windows PCs and Windows Mobile telephones. Until then, what's somebody to do? This is where Evernote comes in. What is Evernote? It's a web site, a Windows application, a Mac application, and it's available for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry as well as Windows Mobile.

The process is fairly simple, you sign up for an account at the Evernote web site and from there you can ues the web interface much like you might use the OneNote application on a Windows desktop. You can then install an application on a computer or a phone/PDA and synchronize the notebook that originates in the browser application. The desktop application also has a local storage area to which you can move notes when you do not need them to be synchronized, or where you can create notes you don't need to be synchronized to begin with.

Evernote

Evernote isn't as comprehensive (or even as pretty and well-organized, sometimes) as OneNote, but for all intents and purposes, it does most if not all of the same things. You can type notes, insert screenshots, hand-write notes, insert graphics either as new notes or into existing notes, rearrange and search notes, and the desktop application does have a function to import OneNote notebooks, but my luck with that particular function was fairly limited.

I am particularly interested in how well the new OneNote web application will work, especially as even though Evernote already exists, I really do like the current functionality of OneNote 2007 and 2010, and OneNote Mobile 2007/2010 are rumored to be really nice as well.

Until the OneNote web app is released later this year, I can either synchronize notes directly with the PC, or use evernote, or simply go without note synchronization, as I already have been for a few years.

Another question I have, for myself mainly, is whether or not I can completely replace the paper-based steno pads with a digitized notebook. This is of particular interest to me as the next steno padd, which I will start using very soon, is going to be the tenth steno thus far, and being able to give the phone the name "Steno-X" is both awesome and quite indicative of the role I intend it to play in my daily life, and in my daily desire to remember everything, ever.