#11 - Good weekend and notes

3 minute read

Motto: I keep looking up the definition of insanity, it always says the same thing

I’m back in Lawrence. Worked out yesterday in the most “old-fashioned” way imaginable. Going to apply to a few new places.

This past weekend was awesome. Saw my cousins. Went to Gander Mountain and Cabela’s. Decided Gander Mountain is far superior. Swam. Ate like kings. Sat around a fire. Played Battlefield 3 four TV’s wide - See below.


It was a blast.

I’ve been doing a bit of back-sliding on areas of focus. A long time ago I decided I wanted a master note taking system that I could use for the rest of my life to keep things organized and keep my head on the right direction. The search for the best option became a bit of an obsession a couple years ago. Back then I settled for Springpad… but after a recentish update it is clear Springpad is going a different direction than I like. Last night, I broke the problem down and reached a few conclusions…

First off, what do I ideally want to keep track of?

  • a history of doctor’s visits, employment, vacation, and other major events
  • legal forms, taxes, warranties, inventories, and financial tracking
  • quotes, thoughts, notes to self, tips & advice, artwork, and the columns
  • places, dates, and people of interest
  • list of favorites, projects, ideas, and goals
  • more as they come along

What features would the system ideally have?

  • Digital and Ubiquitous - must be backed up locally and online and accessible both ways
  • Must be able to handle many types of notes - text, spreadsheets, PDFs, pictures, etc.
  • Must include some sort of security - password protection
  • Should be fully compatible with Android (specifically use the “share” API)
  • Should be organized and searchable
  • Should be convenient and aesthetically pleasing
  • Additional features such as reminders, “add to __” in Chrome, etc.

The Top 5 below is a comparison of the five best options that I’m aware of existing. I’m dedicating the first portion of today to a head-to-head usage test of the top three competitors. Basically fill out notes of various types and see how the implementation plays itself out across my phone, computer, and the web.

Top 5: Note Taking Systems & Their Strengths and Weaknesses

5. Pen & Paper

The Good: I can do whatever I want with pen and paper. The Bad: Indexing, searching, backup, ubiquity, and aesthetics all suck. There is obviously no support for android and the conveniences of a digital system.

4. Dropbox

The Good: Handles all types of notes (handles all types of everything). Available everywhere. Good organization. The Bad: Dropbox is definitely not a note-taker, it is a file backup and sync service. There is no real native way to view notes nor edit them from a phone. Search is limited.

3. Evernote

The Good: Very well integrated into Android. Available across all platforms. Wide developer support. Handles text and pictures very well. Acceptable levels of search. Quick to make and open notes. The Bad: Does not have adequate security. Does not handle spreadsheets. Disappointingly little organization. Wants you to do “Premium” for advanced features.

2. Google Drive

The Good: Very well integrated into Android. Available in equal parts across all platforms. Handles all types of notes. Acceptable levels of search and organization. The Bad: Does not have adequate security. Every note opens in its own viewer and takes a while to do so. Seeing information from more than one note at a time would be hardest this route.

1. Microsoft OneNote

The Good: Aesthetically superior. Password protected notes. Great organization. Feature-filled & technically capable of handling most any note type. Acceptable levels of search. The Bad: Very poor Android implementation. The online option sucks. Only text notes are easy and searchable.


“It’s a well-known fact that you aren’t responsible for things you smash when you don Hulk Hands” - Me. I thought it was funny after I said it