I’ve been using a few different journaling and note taking applications on my iPad and iPhone of late. I used Bear Notes for a long time it feels like and created a variety of notes about my vagabonding around with images in them for areas I would visit plus master itineraries. I then tried SimpleNote and OneNote and a whole bunch of others. They all are really good apps if you stick with them but if you want to move around, it becomes difficult. So I found finally Standard Note which is a high privacy application which encrypts your notes payload end to end and it runs in the web, with desktop apps, iOS and Android. There are also extensions which really make the app look, write, and add functionality for using cloud storage securely and other stuff. The other thing is that its all clear text. I’ve finally reached where I was using Ulysses so long ago which is kind of funny if you think about it. I traveled miles and miles of different apps with one time purchases, subscriptions, only to find an app which keeps everything in the most portable of formats — clear text. Of course I can also write in markdown if I want and the text is processed and presented to look better. That part does not matter since I never share the notes so writing in clear text is good without markdown editing at all.
Journaling Faux Pas
I’ve faux’ed and pas’ed a few times with journal apps. I wrote online in some web diary for some years but those were ugly times from 2009 to 2015 so I deleted all of them without saving copies. The posts were ugly with divorce and hatred and I grew past that point so when I read them afterwards I felt uncomfortable with the stuff. Next it was Ulysses in some kind of clear text. That was okay but I then thought that I did not get enough back in pretty formatting or how days were defined. Next up was Day One. I liked Day One a lot but I left it because it feels more like a silo of my data. I found that if I was running Day One on android I could export to a format for my new tool called Journey but not on iOS. Why? Because they just don’t do the exporter is why. So I left that for Journey because there is none of that and it stores the notes on Google Drive and I feel more incented to use Google Drive for storage than iCloud. I also use the Google Docs stuff on occasion. Journey does things about the same way except you can only have one journal. I can create “tags” which is the new way of division, addition, formatting and nesting in some tools. I am not a big tag user. I mean there is only me and my notes. If I cannot find something across two devices running the same basic platform and tools, something is horribly amiss.
So the big deal about Journaling is that. It is a big deal to me. I write every day in it. I write about my feelings, the travels and wandering I do, the moments I find. It’s grist for the Mike mill. I don’t like keeping physical journals at all because they are physical. I don’t like carrying bunches of stuff if I can find tools that maximize my chosen ecosystems to manage data. I also keep track of some camera stuff. If I find a neat article I may snip the link and save it. I’ve found that iPhone photography is rich online with a lot of blogs and newsy articles about how different people use the iPhone 11 models. All of these ends up in notes and sometimes I discuss them first in my diary/journal. At some point the ideas move to what I use for notes.
So across all this, I’ve found a few constants:
- Clear text is the best for writing notes.
- End to end encryption is good and using security for the notes is good.
- Simple tools give you reasonable output.
- Be methodical and use the tools. See if you can stress test them a bit and see if they will work for your needs.
- End up with the things which make you happy but also protect and enhance what you create and manage.
- There is no workflow. There is only me these days. If a thing comes up in a journal post but I want to write more, I will probably start a note with a tag about it at some point.
There are many more little rules that come and go. I’ve changed and exchanged and deleted and won and lost at this stuff many times. Now I find it ironic but cool I am back to clear text which is where I started many moons ago. Perhaps your Evernote and OneNote particularly give you what you need. Yay! I just felt both were overkill for my needs. A nice simple clear text editor with different extensions has become very nice for me. But as the venerable say YMMV.
I’ll continue to look and follow the last two rules above particularly. I want to be happy with what I use but I also want my stuff available and not locked in some format with some tool not on another ecosystem. Maybe that is the final rule set. I will call it Portability. Things must be portable and available.
It’s worked well for me. I enjoy writing every day in Journey and I like my notes approach now.
I have only a week left in Taiwan and will be here in Kaohsiung for about 4 more days. Then Taipei for two days. Then on to Philippines for almost a month and then I return for a visit to the US. Taiwan has been a lot of fun. I’ve particularly enjoyed how safe things are here and how well technology works here. Convenience stores with machines that do a multitude of things. ATMS all over the place. Wonderful high speed rail and rapid transit. The food is fun, the people are interesting, and the history is so cool with so many different historic periods. I would have probably stayed another 4 weeks and not gone to the Philippines at all. I really like it here. But on we go. Vagabonding is not moving fast but its not standing still either. So I will go on.