I spent the past couple weeks looking for a good piece of software I could use to create a diary of my daily reflections on teaching. This website isn’t the right place for these thoughts because I want to keep them to myself when they’re rough, and only share them after some time to think about them. I plan to read over my thoughts each week and then post refined reflections on this website.
I searched Google for “offline diary software” and “offline journal software” — and even threw in “open source” and “free” — and came up either with an overwhelming amount of shareware options, or pages about the journaling features of files systems (not what I was looking for). It wasn’t until I had given up and was checking my to-do list (OmniFocus, which was telling me it’s time to read over my Evernote notes and create tasks for any items requiring action) when I realized I was already using the best solution — just not yet as a journal.
I considered four applications before settling on writing my daily teaching journal / diary in Evernote.
- Evernote is an application I was already using. I primarily use it from my phone when there is a product I need to remember — such as the dimensions of the air filters for my house. Evernote automatically stamps my notes with the date and time, so I don’t have to think about it. It supports different notebooks, so I can keep the teaching journal separate. Evernote supports tagging, so it will be easy to remember how I want to tag the posts if I make them public. It is on my phone, in my web browser, and on my desktop — both Windows and Mac. This means I can back up my files myself in case the cloud ever fails me. The notes I make in Evernote are private unless I choose to share them (though I probably won’t use this feature of Evernote because I already have a website for this purpose). I can even export any note to HTML, which makes it very easy to get info from Evernote into this website.
- RedNotebook Portable is a portable version of RedNotebook, a “modern journal” which is open source, free, and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s available from PortableApps.com, so I wanted to like it. But I couldn’t figure it out quickly enough. It seems to have the features I want, but I can’t find all of them, and the features I can find, I can’t get to them in a way I would expect.
- Microsoft OneNote 2010 (part of Office 2010) seems to be great for capturing and cataloging lots of little bits of information — especially if you operate primarily in the Microsoft world. It didn’t do a good enough job of showing the linear nature of my journal entries. It doesn’t display the date in any obvious way. Also, tagging isn’t obvious enough. It’s really just overkill for a diary.
- Memoranda “is an open source cross-platform diary manager and a tool for scheduling personal projects,” which looks interesting, but I settled on Evernote before trying it out. It is cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) because it runs on Java. I like the cross-platform bit, but am not impressed with Java apps very often (it happens, but it’s rare).
Today’s post is a result of the daily=private, weekly=public approach to my teaching journal. This week I was testing software, so that’s what I wrote about. I also had about eight other concerns, but finding the right software was the soloist trumpeting above the sound of the band.