In case you missed last week’s introduction, here at Techaccino we’re talking apps, gadgets and gizmos so that you’ll never have to call your nerdiest friend at 2 am when your printer “isn’t working” (seriously, don’t). Follow @techaccino for instant updates and special coverage of this week’s Apple announcement (Wednesday, 2pm — don’t worry, folks in AmCiv 101, Gorn won’t notice you checking Twitter periodically).
You know the feeling: You’re stuck in class taking notes when all of a sudden your professor starts drawing an elaborate diagram of the auditory system. If only you could type AND draw on your computer, whatever the class… Well Brown, I am pleased to announce that day has finally come. No, you don’t have to buy an iPad just because Steve Jobs (RIP) says he re-invented the textbook. No, you don’t have to start doing all your reading on your “too bright” computer screen. Yes, you can still use up those Bear Bucks on printing all your notes before your finals.
For most students taking notes on computers, the benefits of neatness, easy access and speed of writing easily outweigh the pain of carefully trudging that 1.5lb mass around campus. The hidden bonus is that you can also bring your book/textbook with you — with the Kindle and Nook apps on Mac and PC, you can even catch up on that reading during class. Although some books aren’t available in e-book versions, most are somewhere or another, and you can always rely on those 10-page Google Books snippets if all else fails.
An informal survey of laptop screens from the back of Salomon reveals most students use either Google Docs or Word’s Notebook view. In the first case, you give yourself the opportunity to access your notes from any computer, although you’re stuck with just a small number of fonts and sizes; in the latter, your notes look freakin’ awesome, but .docxs are a pain to share with everyone and Word takes a while to open.
Although there are a few other options available, the best one out there is Evernote. It works like Google Docs: an online repository stores your notes with a limited number of formatting options. The bonuses here are that (1) you can organize your notes into notebooks and stacks (think 1 stack per class and 1 notebook for each topic), (2) your notes are downloaded on all compatible devices and (3) you can take a picture, record an audio file of the lecture, or draw on a tablet. Imagine being able to bring your phone or tablet to class to take notes that show up in real-time on the laptop that you left at home (just like that person in the iPad ad!). You can even upload PDFs and slides to a notebook so that now everything about your class is in the cloud, where it belongs.
Oh, and best of all? It’s free as long as you don’t start taking 100 different notes every day. (You didn’t think I was going to start making you buy apps, right?)
Next week we’ll be talking about the elephants in this column: the iPad 3 (yep, that’s right, I’m calling it) and Windows 8.