I am late with my TechParent piece for one reason, I am in love (so far) with Evernote. It is rare that I will start with such an exclamatory, but Evernote finally managed to do something that I have been complaining about in many areas. Take several ideas that are good on their own merits and make them better just by connecting the dots with other similar ideas.
Evernote does that in the area of becoming what I would consider (and please excuse my outdated reference) the Web 2.0 version of an actually working DayRunner. Perhaps I should clarify that a bit for those that don’t remember or aren’t old enough to remember when you simply could not live without a DayRunner. Day “planners” were of course around forever, but in the mid to late 80′s the “DayRunner” (and their clones) became in the analog world, the single most important “tool” a business person (or really any busy person) could have. It has places and compartments for your Calendar, Address Book, Business Card Holder, a pad for scratching out thoughts, notes, etc and so on, all in one single easy to carry tool(and unfortunately easy to lose… a “feature” Evernote doesn’t share of course). It is this all-in-one single and EASY TO USE metaphor that makes Evernote… uh… noteworthy.
Products like Google Notebook is good for jotting notes… so long as you are in your web browser. Jotting a note or taking a picture as a reminder (the only thing I really consider the camera on a phone good for using), is fine for what it is, but it is separated from your other information, and the pictures and notes are separate applications, so you can not search across this information. Evernote combines, text written files, web “clips”, audio files, pictures and combines them into a searchable repository that is available to use and retrieve from, both at your PC through a client, any PC via the Web Client as well as on your mobile phone (assuming you have a SmartPhone. If you are away from your own computer (and don’t have your phone handy), you can even e-mail something into Evernote.
Evernote bills iteself as your “external brain” and it is (or can be) a fairly good description. All those tidbits stored away, regardless of the source, there ready to be tapped when you need to remember something. Graphic laden items are run through a recognition engine, which when added to your tagging, makes it a powerful tool to remember and search through even say pictures of a book you spotted in a bookstore or coffee shop that you may want to buy later. Or photograph the label of a bottle of wine you spotted in a restaurant, but wanted to buy later. Even take a picture of notes you scribbled on a napkin, if your handwriting is reasonably legible… Evernote will convert it into searchable text.
You can even share certain notebooks with others. And of course the fact that you can “share” will (justifiably) immediately bring up the one concern… privacy. Well, to that end Evernote has a (granted somewhat limited) answer. You can encrypt text in notes (images cannot at present be encrypted). This can only be done presently from the Desktop client (available for both Windows and Macintosh).
It is a great way to organize everything, and more easily searchable than that stack of post-it notes cluttering your computer screen. There is a premium pay version ($5/month or $45/year) which gives you more storage, but for many (and to check the service out) the free version which gives you 40 MB per month is more than enough. That is enough space to store (approximately) 20,000 text messages or 400 camera phone snapshots or 270 Web Clips. So why not give Evernote a try… think of it as an external hard drive adding to your brain capacity… and what parent couldn’t use that extra capacity with everything we try to remember day in and day out?