Saturday, December 30, 2006

Notable Notes

Google Notebook LogoI read somewhere that when you have a good idea, you must capture it quickly. You have about 37 seconds before it is lost in the general clutter of day-to-day life. Of course, I've also read that 76.4 percent of all statistics are made up, so I don't know how accurate that 37 seconds really is. I do know that I probably drop a lot of good ideas. How many? I haven't a clue. I usually only remember that I had them when I happen to have them again, so, assuming I have, on average 14.3 good ideas for every one that I actually remember, well, you do the math.

Anyway, I figure that any tricks or tools that I can use to help reduce this terrible waste of my brain cycles is probably a Good Thing. Soon to be listed among those Good Things, I think, will be Google Notebook.

Google Notebook screenshotGoogle Notebook is a combination online service and browser extension which makes keeping track of those good ideas pretty easy. Before I go on, though, do be aware that Notebook comes out of Google Labs and at this time should still be considered an "alpha" service (i.e. functionality and appearance could change at any time). That being said, though, it sure is convenient. On Firefox, my browser, it sets up a small tab in the lower right corner of the screen. When, in the course of my daily browsing of the Web, I uncover a thought-provoking concept, an idea for writing, or even a hint for a future product, I can click on that tab, select the text and or pictures of interest, and click on the "Add note" button. Notebook will even record where I found this tidbit.

All of these notes can be sorted into different notebooks (I have different ones for each of the above areas). They can be edited, added to, and deleted. You can share them with friends and colleagues. And the best thing of all is that, so long as I am connected, my notes are always with me. I don't have to worry about lugging along an extra paper notebook in addition to my computer. Heck, if you really need the dead-tree edition, you can even print out your notes for offline consideration.

There are a few features which are missing, which I think would make things even better. One minor one would be a time stamp for the note. Sometimes things make more sense in context. Yes, I could just add a time stamp myself, but the easier a tool is to use, the more likely I am to use it. The user interface for the full page site is a bit rough around the edges still, too, but I'm sure that will even out with time.

So, I recommend that you check out the possibilities. Notebook has extensions for both Firefox and IE under Windows XP, OS X, and Linux. Let me know what you think!

So, what tools have you found helpful in capturing your good ideas?

2 days. (2 days!? Ack!)

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