A teacher uses Milanote

I wrote last week about a teacher who uses Milanote to manage his online class materials and communicate with his students. Here’s what some of his Milanote boards look like:

For more info, anyone can contact him at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.

Google Outages explained (?)

About a week ago (December 14th), YouTube and other Google services experienced an “outage”. I didn’t notice anything (I never do, says my long-suffering wife), but others did:

Well today (Dec. 19th) Google explained. Sort of.

Personally, I blame George Clooney.

Dumping MS Word

OK, that does it: that’s the 3rd time this year Microsoft Office has bailed on me. Each time, my entire Microsoft Office for Home & Business simply disappeared. The first two times were sort of deliberate removals – I was trying to update or install a new component and instead MS H&B simply deleted itself. This third time, I did nothing – no new installations, no uninstallations, no upgrades, no updates, zip. I just restarted and suddenly all my MS docs were blank. Sure enough, the MS H&B was gone.

I quit.

The last two times that happened, it took me several days to re-install it, a laborious process that never went as smoothly as the help pages said it would. Each time required a tech-support person to walk me through a manual uninstall, then a further two calls to help me install it as that didn’t go according to plan, either.

This sucks. I want a stand-alone application that if something goes wrong, I can simply re-install it from the CD. You know, like in the old days!

I’ve installed LibreOffice (OpenOffice won’t open my .docx files but LibreOffice will) and have rescued and printed out a document I need for tomorrow.

I’m investigating alternatives, including abandoning Windoze apps altogether and switching to writing with my iPad. I haven’t up till now because a) my iPad is old and small and b) the keyboards I’ve tried all sucked, but a Mac user I spoke to today said he wrote all the time with his iPad Pro and new Magic Keyboard and was very pleased with it, so I guess I’ll be checking that out.

Another possibility is to use Google Docs.

Both he and another Mac user recommended Ulysses for writing. It’s on my to-do list. By coincidence, the document I needed for tomorrow is a worksheet about Ulysses, the Greek hero, only they called him Odysseus. A group I teach has been reading and discussing some stories from the Odyssey and tomorrow’s is the one about the Sirens.

From https://thetrojanwar.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/trojan-war-tradition-and-the-monomythheros-journey/

Milanote

Milanote is kind of an endless whiteboard…

https://beebom.com/evernote-alternatives/

I’d dismissed this reference to Milanote, but a fellow teacher swears by it and recommended I check it out. Unlike myself, he is not tied to a particular LMS (I’m tied to Moodle, Teams and something called Manaba, which may be a Japanese native).

Teams is the app I love to hate. (Microsoft is not in my good books at the moment, for reasons I might write about later.)

Another fellow-teacher uses Evernote as his LMS: the place where he posts assignments, keeps his classes separated and organized, and has students upload their assignments to, including audio and video. Evernote `|*?+ me off with their most recent update (that dropped several features I commonly use).

This “Milanote colleague” has made imaginative and very practical use of Milanote’s visual, design-oriented interface to create some very efficient-looking repositories for his classes. If he gives his permission, I might post some links or screenshots of what he’s done here.

As I’m locked in to the above 3 LMS, I don’t need Milanote for this purpose, but he is pushing the envelope on what it might be able to do for instructors who need to manage different classes at different institutions.

Another fellow-teacher who inquired about note-taking apps and to whom I mentioned Milanote said that he is not interested in cloud-based apps but something he can download. He wants all his stuff on his computer or iPad, nothing in the cloud. He doesn’t need to interact with a team or collaborators. He doesn’t need to share anything with anyone. Although this sounds like it’s going against the grain, or the flow or whatever, I suspect he is not in such a small minority as might appear. I told him about Bear, which I use exclusively on my iPad – but that’s because I’m too cheap to spring for the pro version.

Cintanotes and Bear

I’ve had Cintanotes on my desktop for a month or so but haven’t used it. I was busy transferring my Evernotes to Bear (on my iPad, as I’m a Windoze user… still).

Here’s the shortest video intro to Bear I could find:

Before dumping Cintanotes, I thought I might have a stab at testing it out. There’re a bunch of videos which seem the most painless way to learn something, so I’ll be trying them out later next week.

This one seems a good place to start:

Evernote vs Simplenote

In my eagerness to get out of Evernote, I quickly selected a couple of options that seemed to allow me to easily import my Evernotes: Notion and Simplenote.

I recently came across this helpful page that compared the pros and cons of Evernote vs Simplenote, and it confirmed a couple of things about Simplenote that helped me decide to close my Simplenote account:

  • There seems to be no way to find notes that have both tag X and tag Y.
  • Simplenote doesn’t provide support for embedded attachments.
  • There seems to be no way to find notes that have both tag X and tag Y.
  • Simplenote doesn’t provide support for embedded attachments.
  • Notes are encrypted in transit, but remain unencrypted on Simplenote’s servers.
  • No way to import notes from anywhere – actually this is not true: I had no problem importing an Evernote enex file.

There are other “Cons”, but the above are enough: Simplenote may be for you, but it is not for me.

My Premium subscription for Evernote ran out November 30th, but I coughed up for 1 month simply to avoid the hassle of dealing with notes with attachments larger than 25MB. Everything is going into Bear. So far, so good, tho slow. I suppose I could just import one massive Evernote file with ALL my 10,000 notes in it, but I’m taking the opportunity to go through each notebook and delete ones no longer needed. (I’ve actually got some notes that I haven’t looked at since the day I made ’em! Yeah, imagine that.)

So, it’s one notebook at a time: selecting all the notes, tagging them all with the name of the notebook (in 1 word, no spaces), then exporting the sucker to Dropbox, then importing into Bear. Works smoothly for me.

Exploring Evernote alternatives – 4

My procedure for exporting my Evernotes. Of all the options I’ve explored, Bear seems the most promising as it keeps the formatting and the attachments of the original note as well as the tags.

I’m all the more eager to migrate now that I find that Evernote, not content with p***ing me off with its latest version which no longer supports local (unsynced) notes and a whole host of other neat functions that disappeared in the latest “update” (I had to revert to the legacy version simply to be able to get my notes ready for export), now won’t let me even trash my notes if they have larger attachments than 24MB because I’m now back to the Free Evernote plan, having canceled my annual Premium membership. Can you believe it?

Anyhoo, here’s (for my benefit because I can’t remember anything from one day to the next) how to export your enex Evernote file and import into Bear for iOS (I don’t have a Mac). Once in Bear, you can export into Markdown for importing into other notetaking apps if desired. I’m about tuckered out already and I’ve only imported 3 notebooks into Bear (another 50 or so to go; might be finished by Christmas 2021). Here we go:

  1. Choose one Evernote notebook.
  2. Select all the notes in that notebook.
  3. Tag all the notes in that notebook with a new tag that is the name of that notebook. Update: the tag should not have spaces in it.

The .enex format does not include informations about your notebooks. If you want to keep the notebook name as a reference in Bear we suggest to add a tag to your notes in Evernote before exporting them.

Migrate from Evernote
  1. #4 (how do you change the numbering in a numbered list in Gutenberg?) Export the notebook as an .enex file. I save mine to the desktop.
  2. #5. My desktop pc is a Windoze, but Bear only works on Macs or iOS, so I need to get the .enex file into Bear on my iOS device. I’m on the free version of Bear so I cannot sync. I then copy it to a folder in Dropbox (I use a folder I created called “Inbox” but you can use any folder. Note to self: best to choose a folder that is near the top of your Dropbox pile so you don’t waste time looking for your enex file. You’re welcome. )
  3. #6 Access the .enex file from within my Files folder on my iOS device and download it (make sure your Dropbox or whatever cloud storage you are using to transfer your Evernote enex files appear in your “locations” in “Files”; if not – and at first, Dropbox did not appear in mine – you’ll need to add it: here are 2 links showing how to do that
    1. https://youtu.be/Pf5vNHigq0k
    2. How to add Dropbox to the Files app on your iPhone or iPad (2017, but the principles should be the same)
  4. #7 Open Bear, hit the “bead curtain” icon (settings, I guess) at the bottom and choose “Import & Export”.
  5. #8 Under “Select Format” choose “Evernote” then “Start Import”. It’ll open your Files folder. Navigate to the folder and file you want to import (I already downloaded it to Files so it’s all ready to go, otherwise it’ll have a little cloud icon in the top right-hand corner).
  6. #9 Tap the enex file you want to import and go make some coffee or pour yourself a glass of wine. It might take a while, depending on the size of the file. Or the size of your glass! Update: I tried and failed several times to import a large file (1GB+), until I read the helpful manual and made sure the enex file was already downloaded to my iPad from Dropbox BEFORE starting to import, and also leaving Bear open (not in background) until the importation was complete. (I left my iPad on overnight, plugged into power: next morning, “Import Succesful!”).

Exploring Evernote alternatives – 3

OK, what’s the next alternative on the list after SimpleNote?

Google Keep? No thanks. Next!

If your main problem with Evernote is that it doesn’t efficiently allow you to share notes with your team members then you should try out Notejoy.

Top 15 Best Evernote Alternatives You Can Use – July 2020

Well, that’s NOT my main problem with it. I don’t have a team and am not into sharing. Next!

calling DEVONthink a note-taking app will be undermining its full potential as it’s not only a note-taking app, it’s also a full-blown document management system that can handle PDFs, links, and more. The app even has a built-in browser which lets you open the links inside the app itself.

Top 15 Best Evernote Alternatives You Can Use – July 2020

This sounds like overkill for my needs, but as my first choice Simplenote doesn’t seem to handle attachments well, I might check it out. I hope it offers a free trial. Scratch that: only available in Mac/iOS (and no free trial for the iOS version). Exploration will have to wait till I’ve weaned myself off Windoze. Coupla vids I checked out to learn a bit more about it

Next!

(The above video alerted me to the existence of an app called Obsidian, and I was interested enough in it to check it out. Obsidian will import Markdown notes. To get Evernotes into Markdown, I followed the “Bear” method below.)

If you are a Mac user, Keep It can serve as a good Evernote Alternative option for you.

I’m not, so… Next!

Zoho Notebook

Inside, you can create text-notes, voice-notes, add pictures, and more.

OK, interesting and free, but… not available for Windows, so pass for the time being. Next!

CintaNotes is a very good Evernote alternative for Windows users. It is a lightweight, fast, and simple note-taking software

OK, looks interesting. I downloaded it. Problem: how to get my existing 10,000+ Evernotes into CintaNotes? It won’t import an Evernote enex file. I need to convert it to an xml file first. I asked the Evernote community how to do that and was told there are over 16,000 results to a Google search on that subject. After carefully going thru all 16,000… well, actually just the first 20… 19 of them deal with converting to or from PDF or some other irrelevant format. The one page that told me how to convert enex to xml sent me to Github… Uh-oh. “Here’s the code. Go nuts!” Yeah, thanks but that’s above my pay-grade. Even this to-pay-for product won’t do it. There’s a package to convert to Markdown, which might come in handy (if I can figure out how to use it; there is a Windows version; I just tried it and my Windows 8.1 won’t let me open it for some obscure security reason. Oh, well). But for the moment, CintaNotes sits empty and unused on my desktop. Next!

Roam Research. Have heard about this, mainly from serious tech-lovers, so I’m doubtful. I created an account and discovered it will import json or markdown files only. So, not immediately useful. I’m on the 30-day trial which gives me a few weeks to figure out how to turn my Evernotes into either Markdown or json (whatever that is; oh! Github has code for that, which I can’t make head or tail of, but thanks). Next!

Milanote is kind of an endless whiteboard…

Yawn. Next!

If you want a simple note-taking app without the bells and whistles that come with an app like Evernote, Bear is the right app for you.

That’s me! … oh, wait…

One thing to mind here is that Bear is only available for Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, and Mac).

OK, I downloaded it onto my iPad. Now, how to import my Evernotes… That should be straightforward, yeah?

Well, this looks a little hopeful:

There are several ways to migrate off of Evernote and onto another tool. One of the easiest note-taking tools to import into is Bear, a Mac/iOS markdown notes app

Post-Evernote: How to Migrate Your Evernote Notes, Images and Tags Into Plain Text Markdown – Dec. 2018

And this helpful page also makes the process sound as if might be even within my own limited abilities.

Update: My imported Evernotes appear well in Bear. This looks like a winner. All that remains is for me to export the rest of my 10,000 Evernotes… What fun!

Exploring Evernote alternatives – 2

OK, what’s the next alternative on the list after OneNote?

Simplenote

Pros:

  • Free
  • Windows version
  • syncs across devices

Cons:

  • the browser app won’t let me import my exported .enex Evernote file. I need the desktop app, which does let me import .enex files.
  • imported notes lose attachments, so no PDFs or images. Bother. What about encrypted notes? Does Simplenote allow for private (unsynced) notes, like Evernote used to do until the latest version (one reason I decided to look into alternatives)?
  • Can I attach images or pdfs or video or audio to Simplenotes? Don’t know yet.

Exploring Evernote alternatives

Since Evernote’s latest update (version 10), I’ve been seriously considering alternative note-taking apps. In fact, I cancelled my annual Premium renewal yesterday, even tho I’m not yet ready with a working alternative.

I started here: https://beebom.com/evernote-alternatives/

My first exploration was of Microsoft’s OneNote, because

  • I already tried Notion and found it too much work,
  • it seemed to be easy to import my Evernotes into OneNote
  • I already have OneNote.

Actually, that last item was false: although I have Office for Home & Business installed, I didn’t seem to have OneNote.

  • Step 1: download OneNote.
  • Step 1 problem: having downloaded a suitable file from Microsoft, the installation process told me it would involve removing certain MS products because of incompatibility. Continue/cancel? I cancelled.
  • Step 1 problem 2: MS Word and Excel have been erased from my pc!
  • Step 1 problem 2 solution: repair MS Office – repair finishes but MS Word and Excel still absent.
    • solution 2: reinstall MS Home & Business. Word/Excel restored. Now what?
  • Return to Step 1 and try again. This time, I’m smart: I don’t click “cancel” but “install anyway”. Ha! Fool me once… Wait… What? There’s a problem with the installation? Required removal of previous installation unable to be properly completed?
  • Sigh and call MS tech support. Choice: follow magic footprints online or pay $12 for a telephone-guided support through the process. Cheapskate, I choose the free online instructions. What could go wrong?
  • To cut a long story short… 5 calls to tech support later, I’m back where I started: Office (2013) installed but without OneNote.
  • Conclusion: OK, what’s the next alternative on the list after OneNote?