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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Going Retro – Back to paper note taking

NotepadAfter 14 years of electronic note taking I have decided to go back to a paper. The reason for this change is a combination of my job at Yahoo, the office layout and living in a global metropolis,

London

. One way to describe my life is NeoNomadism. I go from meeting to meeting constantly on the move.

I have used different a myriad of electronic devices for note taking from the first Apple Powerbooks, to the

Newton

and later all the different Psion’s and the Nokia Communicators. I was a huge Psion Jotter fan; it was one of the best mobile apps ever created. Lately I have used MindManager X5 which is fantastic mindmaping application, Lifeblog solves many note taking problems as I make notes with the camera phone. A key problem is that my Transformer (Nokia N90) does not give me idle text input and does not allow for mind mapping, web clipping, nor sketching.

I have lots of unstructured data that comes my way, I need to record it and be able to tag it and find it later. I know this is a need lots of people have. I know there are hundreds of products created to fill this demand. If the PC could be a bit smaller, have longer batterylife and wake up in 2 sec. I would use it more for unstructured data collection. 

For my Retro solution I opted for the Moleskin Japanese NotePad in A6 which I modified by cutting out pages which I complemented with a thin notepad A6, where paper is thinner and some can be teared away. For input I acquired a Muji pen with multiple pens, it has black ink, red ink and a 0.5mm pencil. This allows me to make small mind maps with some highlight colour.

So if anyone knows of some great solutions to solve my problems electronically let me know. If you want to build it let me know.

Going Retro is such a great endorsement of falling technology, but also a clear indication that there are problems to solve.

10:01 AM in Technology | Permalink

Comments

Fully understand the ability to think better with Pen & Paper as well as it being a lot faster than your laptop to fire up.

I have been using an Anoto based pen for the last two years. I started using one from Sony Ericsson and now have a Nokia pen. Like your Muji writing stick I can change to a number of different colours and also widths. The thing that makes it a great solution is that Bluetooth means that I can send my notes to others as either an email or MMS. I can also dock it with my PC and thanks to MyScripts I can covert to text and import into any Office package.

Am sure that you can find a friend at Nokia still who might allow you to "test" a pen ;-)

Posted by: Ian Wood at Feb 23, 2006 4:20:07 PM

Fully understand the ability to think better with Pen & Paper as well as it being a lot faster than your laptop to fire up.

I have been using an Anoto based pen for the last two years. I started using one from Sony Ericsson and now have a Nokia pen. Like your Muji writing stick I can change to a number of different colours and also widths. The thing that makes it a great solution is that Bluetooth means that I can send my notes to others as either an email or MMS. I can also dock it with my PC and thanks to MyScripts I can covert to text and import into any Office package.

Am sure that you can find a friend at Nokia still who might allow you to "test" a pen ;-)

Posted by: Ian Wood at Feb 23, 2006 4:21:42 PM

There is a pc that is smaller ( Dimensions: 135mm x 225mm x 30mm ) with 6 hour battery life & 1 sec. startup time
at http://www.coxion.fi/eng/tuotteet/webbook.html, go check it out.

Br,
Teemu

Posted by: teemu at Feb 23, 2006 4:55:22 PM

You're already ahead of the game by grabbing a good pen and a Moleskine. I use a Fisher Space Pen and a Lamy combo.

Most of the "digital pens" I have looked at require you to use special paper, making them completely useless. Being able to slap a Moleskine onto a flatbed scanner or take zoomy-extreme-close-ups with a mobile phone can do in a pinch, but my P910 and 9500 both have crappy cameras.

So I end up capturing a lot of things in a notebook and organizing it later. Seems to work well so far.

Posted by: Emory at Feb 23, 2006 5:29:24 PM

Funny, I just made the digital-to-analog transition as well. Feels sooo good to put a pen to paper and scratch out thoughts, not having to put all my thoughts into linear ASCII text. Ahhhhh. I wrote it up a bit at http://utilware.com/notes.html.

Posted by: Bill at Feb 24, 2006 5:23:05 PM

I agree with what you wrote. I use paper myself because no current computer has the same flexibility. Maybe I can contribute to a solution.

Some years ago, I used the Apple Newton and programmed it myself (Freeware Gomoku). The handwriting recognition was a nice attempt, but IMHO unusable. There has been no real progress in this area, as far as I can see, except for the Decuma recognizer.

Some of the problems that need to be solved:
- fast zooming and scrolling, like physical paper
- better screen contrast
- electronic pens that differentiate pressure levels
- natural user interface that everybody understands
- graphical search function

Some of the hardware issues have been resolved with e-ink and Wacom pens, but nobody seems to have an idea for a software user interface. Anoto is nice, but not the answer. MindManager is nice, but too unflexible. We need direct pen interaction with a display, and the solution needs to be as simple as Series 40 or the iPod. Physical paper is a tough competition.

I worked out a concept for such an intuitive "natural paper" software, and I have completed some working software components. If you are interested, I can demonstrate this.

Posted by: Oliver Völckers at Mar 2, 2006 1:03:16 AM

After testing so many interfaces of inputing data (keyboard, stylus, and touchscreen), there isn't any technology that comes close to using simple pen and paper. You might argue that Tablet PC acts very much like pen and paper, but you just can't replace the simplicity of just using pen and a light piece of paper.

Hopefully, the new Microsoft Surface will provides a better technology for use to input data.

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Some years ago, I used the Apple Newton and programmed it myself (Freeware Gomoku). The handwriting recognition was a nice attempt, but IMHO unusable. There has been no real progress in this area, as far as I can see, except for the Decuma recognizer.

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The thing that makes it a great solution is that Bluetooth means that I can send my notes to others as either an email or MMS. I can also dock it with my PC and thanks to MyScripts I can covert to text and import into any Office package.

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