Monday, July 14, 2008

Organize Your Written World with Notescribe

I have discovered a great new tool, but I have been putting it on the back-burner until I had some time to do it justice and really spend some time with it. The tool is Notescribe. I have piles of folders on my computer with bits and pieces of notes from speakers, conferences, audio learning sessions on Mp3 or CD, video tutorials, etc. I also do a lot of research for writing, training and professional development. If you are like me, you have tried to organize your folders and files into some system that makes sense for you. What if there were a program that allowed you to take all the notes you wanted, add in keywords and categories, drop them in a list under a category and add a search engine to find a note on a topic quickly and easily?

Welcome to Notescribe.

The software has an "Add new note" feature and the note is a notecard-sized window. You can fill it in, place it in a category, add keywords for searchability and even attach a file to it to have to open. If you have some old notes in a Word document, you can copy and paste them into a new note with all pertinent tracking tags/keywords to set up your database.
To search your database you are developing, you type in a search word that was a keyword (I would recommend thinking through your keywords you attach to a note so you have all possibilities of what you might try to use to find the note again) and then let it bring up the results.
The real power of the program is in the search engine. That is what attracts me. Because of the volumes of material I have written and saved, I can use a system like this to further organize my life. I might not go back and enter all the archives of past work, but if I start now to begin to enter my research and notes into Notescribe, after awhile, I will begin to see a searchable body of work at my fingertips to make my life easier.
One feature I tried to add in Notescribe and it didn't work, was to use my text to speech floating toolbar from Natural Reader with it. I thought it would be nice to see the application work for the visually impaired, or just to have a text to speech engine to use to hear my notes read back to me. Unfortunately, the interface of the two didn't mesh. I could highlight text in a note and have the Natural Reader toolbar over the page, but when I clicked to hear the note with the reader, the highlight went off the chosen text and the reader didn't do anything. The windows were seperate and I couldn't get them to work together. Another option would be to copy and paste the note text into a reader screen and then hear it.
I am impressed with the systematic way a person could use this software to archive and organize information as a really accessible database. I would like to begin to put my AT notes and info from various products and websites into Notescribe and build an accessible database of information.
For students, Notescribe can be a valuable tool to compliment a laptop that is taken to school to record assignments and information/notes and resources for exam and final paper prep. There is a source for the note feature that allows you to build a citation based on what media you are working in. Jake McGrew, CEO and designer, has shared on their blog that there is a calendar feature coming out that will allow organization of appointments, assignment due dates, homework, etc. They are working on email and text messaging reminders as well. you can read about these and other updates, news, etc. on the Notescribe blog.
I am excited about the potential for this software and the company. You can download a 30 day free-trial or purchase the software at a very low reasonable price. Check it out and get your computer clutter under control.
All the best to you!

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