Archives For ipad

Ever since getting a new iPad last July I’ve been exploring various note taking apps to determine whether I could successfully make the transition from paper and pen to a purely digital note taking workflow. After purchasing, installing, and spending some time in (Penultimate, Note Taker HD, Notes Plus, and Notability I’ve decided to make Note Taker HD my go to digital note taking system.

Note Taker HD ($4.99 in the iOS App Store) was created by Dan Bricklin who, if you’re as old as Internet dirt like me, you may recognize as one of the PC pioneers who gave the world Visicalc in 1979. In some ways the Note Taker HD interface is decidedly unApple-like. There are many small buttons to tap, but those buttons provide direct access to a host of powerful features. I’d call the interface elegant, but it’s elegant in way that Unix utilities are elegant. That’s not a bad thing, but I can imagine Note Taker HD would have stronger appeal among a slightly geekier set of users. (Hey, that’s me.)

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My reading habits changed the moment I got my hands on an iPad. I’d been considering getting a Kindle for a while but held off in anticipation of whatever magical device Steve Jobs and his minions had in store. I’d installed Amazon’s Kindle app on my iPhone some time before, but the small screen never drew me in enough to make it anything more than a occasional reading device. The Kindle app on the iPad’s big screen made all the difference though, and I now find myself buying 90% of my reading material in Kindle ebook form.

About that same time I read Will Richardson’s post where I learned that the electronic notes and highlights that I was creating in my Kindle books could be accessed online at kindle.amazon.com. Wow. To quote Will, “Game. Changer.” I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a non-fiction book in dead tree form again if I can help it. (The inability of Apple’s own iBooks app to make my saved notes and highlights visible in one place is the single biggest reason I have yet to buy a book from Apple.)

Before Kindle, my typical practice was to make my highlights and margin notes in pencil and transcribe them into OmniOutliner so I could have easy access to them later. Effective, but laborious. What if, I thought, I could write some software to “scrape” the web page that displays my notes and highlights and import them into OmniOutliner directly using AppleScript. If nothing else, it sounded like a good excuse to learn AppleScript.

I had the OmniOutliner version working soon enough and added a generic OPML export too for those who don’t happen to own OmniOutliner. By that time I’d started playing around with Evernote and noticed that they had built AppleScript support into their Mac client. I decided to build an Evernote version too.

Enough delay: I’m calling it NoteScraper and making both versions available for download. Please note that there are likely bugs. This software is definitely beta. You can get more information and download the software at the newly minted Savvy Technologist software page.

I hope someone (besides Will) finds this stuff useful. I’d love to hear about it if you do.