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Geek Two Point Oh: Microsoft OneNote

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I am so not a hardware person. I’m happy with a laptop and wifi, and I adore my TiVo, but I pretty much depend on other people to invent and manufacture cool and easy-to-use hardware that I can purchase and have delivered to my door. (Like my new BFF, my Antec laptop cooling pad.) Software, web programs, those things I love. (Let’s face it, if it makes me say “nifty” then I’m in. Since lately I’ve been working very hard to set up a professional presence online I’ve also been thinking about how I interact with the internet and the world. You know, software-wise. *g*


For schoolwork (and writing) I use Microsoft Office. My college offers a discount on Office Professional Suite so I gave in and embraced Office 2007. These days Word can do what I want it to do, Powerpoint is useful and super-easy, and Excel remains a great piece of software. I run a casual football pool using an Excel notebook, use another one to play Packrat, and yet another to track date for my taxes.

OneNote is the absolute best thing out there: “The interface metaphor underlying OneNote is that of an electronic version of the familiar tabbed three-ring binder which can be used directly for making notes, but also to gather “pages” printed or sent from other applications. Pages can be moved inside the binder, annotated at will by use of electronic ink, word-processing or drawing tools, and can contain embedded multimedia recordings and web links.” I use it for school (see below) and also for gathering research for writing, keeping all sorts of lists, storing maps and directions, printing knitting patterns and making notes on them about yarn and modifications, saving e-receipts, jotting down notes, etc. I use it just as I would a notebook I carry with me. You can use the blank page, download any number of templates (including the ever-handy calendars), or make your own templates.

I take notes in class with it by typing on a blank page. I print PDF files to it, and highlight and make notes on them while I go. I use either the keyboard or a pen-tool to write notes on articles or to analyze poetry/passages for reports. I collect all sorts of research for papers, including audio and video. OneNote’s screen clip makes it easy to copy anything you see on your screen, including anything that normally would not be printable or saveable. OneNote is easily searchable which is unbelievably handy when I’m looking for that one quote I vaguely remember reading, oh, three months ago, but have no idea which of the fifty articles it was in. It searches not only what you type but also documents that are printed to it. This semester my SOC234 class was utterly paperless thanks to OneNote–I printed all my reading to it, took notes, drafted papers and responses, and finally emailed documents to my professor for grading. OneNote is the single best piece of software I’ve found in years.

Over the summer I’m testing out Xiipy Desktop Edition for OneNote. It’s a “research assistant” that both locates and analyzes your research. It searches and provides you with relevant terms, tags, and tag clouds. Xiipy also has an online edition that’s worth a look even if you don’t use OneNote.

OneNote on Wikipedia
Microsoft OneNote Official Page
OneNote Demo on YouTube
Blog: I Heart OneNote
LinkedIn OneNote Users Group
Xiipy Desktop Edition for OneNote

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Written by tldegray

June 20, 2009 at 11:00 am

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