Did You Never Note EverNote?

Maybe I’m “differently gifted” (the new PC for intellectually challenged) and just need more memory support than your average bear. I continue to be amazed at how necessary info-storage and retrieval has been for me for the past decade, especially, and how unimportant this seems to be for others I interact with.

One of my first thrilling hopes for computers, back in the earliest days of access to digital storage (that would have been about 1985) was that some day, everything I wanted to recall, associate, synthesize and reproduce would be there on a floppy drive. (Some of you might remember them.)

I created a batch file I could call up in DOS with a keystroke on the tiny amber and black monitor and enter those nuggets of wisdom I had read in books (you might remember these as well) long before it was possible to cut and paste from the internet, because there was no internet. (No, kids, I’m not joking!)

My earliest success at storage and retrieval (and never really to have been equalled since) started when I recommended for our clinic the use of Ecco Pro, a customizable, outline-based database that was one of the earliest PIMs (Personal Information Manager). It went belly up around 1994, but still has a base of dreamers who imagine it some day resurrected for Mac. Why this has not happened is beyond me; I still miss it.

But life goes on. And grudgingly, during the years I hung onto Windows (that ended in 2008) I made the transition to something else. For a couple of years, my replacement brain tried to stuff itself into a scrolling tape-timeline software called EverNote. I could never really make it work for me. The endless tape made it hard to get a handle on anything but the one recipe or contact or webpage I could find by searching.

I abandoned EverNote for OneNote, and really really liked OneNote. Slow Road Home was organized using it. I loved its outlining features and the anywhere-on-the-page text blocks and the notebooks/folders/drawer organization. I really liked its visual design that helped me see at a glance different pieces of information. It was a great writing tool cum info-storage. But when I left the PC, even though I went AC-DC for a while using Parallels, I gave up OneNote forever.

So what was I to do to remember enough to make it in this world with a brain by now two and a half decades beyond EccoPro?

Ta Da! Just when I was making the switch-over to Mac, lo and behold, poor scrolling-tape Evenote got a major facelift. In 2008, the app was revamped. And I am totally shocked at the number of my information-overloaded associates who have never yet heard of it, much less tried the perfectly wonderful free version, much less come to depend on it as I do. Their monitors must be plastered with little yellow stickies, and likewise the dashboards of their cars, their bathroom mirrors and the family dog.

So I mention all this only because I found this nostalgic reminder (image above, from PC Mag) of a past epoch in my quest to regurgitate factoids, peoples’ names, and where I put the car keys.

Hold on to your hats. If you have not been Evernote-dependent, future enhancements (including, oh please, a way to use promote-demote outlines within notes and in the organizational tree) to EN are going to make it harder and harder to live in this info-glutted world without it. And so I expect that my current 800+ notes (screen shot taken with Skitch, now an Evernote property)  will mushroom to thousands.

Soon, the app will hold essential reminders to my children’s names, instructions on how to tie my shoes, and a map to town. And back again.

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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. Thanks for the reminder Fred. Evernote has lived on my quick launch bar for as long as I can remember… It just hasn’t been launched that much lately. Newly updated and back on my radar screen.