I can’t believe that I have been an avid Evernote user for over a year and have never mentioned it here. Evernote is a note taking application that is web based. You can use the web client to log into your notes and do any manipulation on them that you need. But there are also desktop/phone clients that are native applications that you can use on your computer or phone and have all the info upload to the web storage.
My interest in Evernote started when I was looking for a good way to keep notes and tasks organized on my iPhone. The built in application for taking notes on the phone was awful. The fact that (at the time) the notes taken on the phone did not sync to the computer and therefore were not backed up in any way made it a useless app to me. Especially since I was having such a hard time keeping my phone running.
Evernote allowed me to keep notes on my phone and access them from the web, or from my computer. The notes are immediately sent to the mother ship and are available on my other platforms for viewing or manipulation.
I don’t use Evernote as much as I originally anticipated. Even when I had my beloved Palm based devices, may they rest in peace, I still relied on paper quite a bit to keep my tasks and notes for the day. However, I use Evernote on bigger projects. When I was doing research for a set of lectures I was doing concerning technology and mission work I kept all my notes and research in Evernote. Preparation for any large task where I know there will be a lot of information is a perfect task for Evernote. I also like to snap pictures of articles, not necessarily to read, but to be reminders of something that I want to look up and do further reading on.
The features of Evernote that I use most are tagging and text recognition.
I can take a note (which can be a photo, a sound recording, a saved web page, or a text note) and tag that note with key words that will help me find the note again. While I always have separate notebooks for certain projects, I can also use tags so that when I search for a keyword the notes from several notebooks will come up if they are relevant. I am not limited to just what is in one notebook (folder).
The text recognition that Evernote does is very clever. [This turns very geeky for a moment] If I take a picture that has text in it, then Evernote will search that text too when I do a search for a keyword. They don’t do formal OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on the text. They do intelligent guessing. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what the text is, which is very inaccurate, they make several guesses on each word and store their guesses. Then when you search for a term they pull up all the words that they think might fit. Doing it this way is more likely to return a word that you were looking for instead of ignoring anything that might have been one letter off. It is also possible that they would return results that are not what you were looking for, but almost guarantees that they will not miss a valid hit. [Mortals can start reading again] I can take pictures of pages of text and then do a search on something that I know was on that page and it will return that in the results. For a recent paper I submitted for a class I used this to keep track of all my research books and certain pages that I knew I would be referencing several times throughout my paper. It also works on hand-written notes; assuming your writing is readable by normal people.
I don’t use it for all my daily information tasks (partly because they don’t have a native Linux client) but I do rely heavily on it for larger projects. Recently I read a list of 100 ways you can use Evernote. Maybe you can get some ideas from this list as well. One of my favorite items on the list is #60 “Make a list of all of your girlfriends family members names. Use this list to study them before your next big visit.” My question is, is that supposed to be girlfriend’s, or girlfriends’? Since there is no apostrophe (and clearly should be) I have to imagine that the reason you need a tool like Evernote to keep track is you have too many girlfriends to keep the lists straight in your own head.
I don’t know if Evernote will fit your needs, but it certainly has been a help in research and larger projects for me. Otherwise, I just stick to my paper lists.