Digital Nomad

Mind you, I’m very happy here on the other side of the Mac Divide and already spoiled to a new way of thinking about installing software, finding files and text and making applications do their tricks. But I am digitally bipolar yet. Search as I have for that single program that satisfies the needs that were met in MS OneNote, I’m not there. But not for want of trying.

I’m typing this in Circus Ponies NoteBook. I have 30 days to decide, then it’s $50. I’ve blogged from VooDooPad Lite (free) and Mori (shareware that nags until you pay) and Journlr (60 day trial I think). They all have their strengths and quirks. And none of them gives me the whiteboard space of OneNote with drag and drop clips from the web with the ability to outline both within notes and within sections, folders and notebooks.

They all search indexes vastly faster than OneNote 2007 (I understand the lastest version that comes with Office has a much faster search.) They are all within the OS I paid so much to use versus switching back to the Parallels-run XP apps (OneNote, Ecco Pro, NoteTab Pro and an instance of Firefox at times) though that is fairly painless–enough so that I am not yet persuaded to abandon those programs for any of the ones I’ve mentioned. Yet.

Circus Ponies Notebook so far seems to offer the greatest variety of types of data organization and offers decent text display, which is the main thing I need, along with its own indexing engine (doesn’t seem to work in Spotlight–is this good or bad?) so that I can store passwords, serials, etc and find the quickly. It will let me pull in web clips from Firefox (paying the price of automatic saves from Safari) but it won’t let me nest and collapse those multiple clips in an outline like OneNote and you can only place them in a linear fashion on the page.

Sure as I PAY for one of the programs, the killer Mac OneNote will come along. I guarantee somebody is working on this, because it is the only instance I know of where Mac can’t better Windows in application performance and ease of use.

EccoPro replacement? Nothing close on the Mac side to let me quickly create and reorder multilevel outlines (with different formatted text at each level) and quickly set alarm dates and times and reoccurrence on the fly. Should I rely on online paid equivalents like BackPack?

This ambivalence is taking its toll on productivity–spending way too much time in the helps of the different programs, testing each for ability to do what I need to do in an way that “fits” my old habits. I’m trying not to be tied to old habits, but when they arose out of using a system that worked, I really want to match with Mac. Til then, I’m wandering in the digital desert.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Well Fred, glad to see you’re looking at Circus Ponies. I think someone has mentioned this before, but have you looked at DevonThink? Yes, you have to pay for it, but it’s pretty cool – organize your docs, text files, pictures, PDFs, all kinds of stuff into one big data base. I know a few writers who use it. I usually copy all my ‘files’ into the data base and then move the actual files into a backup somewhere.

  2. Hi Fred,

    I recently fell in love with a MacBook Air and have the same issue. I’ve been doing most of my journal writing in OneNote. Now I am perplexed. I want the MacBook to be my ‘casual’ writing tool. One that I take with me and use at Starbucks or the library.

    I’ve been experimenting so far. I too have used the Circus Ponies Notebook trial. It just doesn’t feel or look right to me.

    I am writing on the MacBook in Word for now, and emailing conversion files to myself to move onto my office desktop Dell. There the file can be pasted into my OneNote files if I like.

    So far I’ve only done this a couple times. I’ll probably end up with two sets of files eventually and only swap the most important into a master set. My Journal is probably going to become fractured. It doesn’t really matter I suppose.

    I really love the MacBook Air. The screen, the keyboard, the form factor. It’s what I wanted in all those respects. I know a lot of people are pooh-poohing it for the lack of ports etc., but I don’t plan to connect it to anything on a normal basis. That’s the point of wireless interfaces.

    Sorry if I’ve gone on too long.