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Jamie Todd Rubin

Evernote Ambassador
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Everything posted by Jamie Todd Rubin

  1. It occurs to me that I fell down on my job by not posting a link to last week's installment of my Going Paperless tips, which centered entirely around securing and protecting your paperless data. You can find it here, if you are interested.
  2. Thanks for the tip. When I have a little time, I'll check into the template that generates the category summary pages in my WordPress installation and see if I can tweak it to display more of the article and make the link to the article more obvious.
  3. Hey all, just a quick post to let you know that I've started a weekly "Going Paperless" tips post on my blog. The tips will come out every Tuesday, with the first one appearing today. These are just things I've learned or figured out based on my own experience and what has worked best for me. Some of them are based on questions I get frequently asked about going paperless. The first few weeks (including today) will be basics tips for getting started. After that, I'll move onto other topics and uses. You can find today's tip here. Eventually, all of them will be collected under the Going Paperless category.
  4. Earlier today, I wrote a blog post about how I recently used Evernote to prepare for tax season. Because I'd spent the bulk of 2011 going paperless, it was very easy to gather and identify all of the paperwork this year. I cut my normal prep time from several hours down to 15 minutes. I thought I'd start a thread here for others who might be using Evernote in this manner. What tips and tricks have you found that make tax preparation easier?
  5. This may not address your question exactly, but here is how I handle a similar situation with the P-150. The software that comes with it has some defineable "macros" that can be assigned to the button on the scanner. By default, I have my button set to do a double-sided scan (it automatically detects if there is only one side). But sometimes, I scan a document that has two sides, but I only care about one. In this case, I have created a "macro" with the scanner software that only scans 1-side. In this case, I'll use the pull down menu to start scanning as opposed to the button on the scanner, The pulldown menu lets me choose the scanning method I want to use. By doing this, therefore, I never scan the back side of the page and have no need to delete it.
  6. BurgersNFries is spot on here. I use Evernote as part of an active and ongoing process to be paperless. I don't use it as a backup system. The stuff that I maintain in the cloud in Evernote is stuff that I think I'll have a good chance of needing or working with in the near future. When I don't think I'll be needing to access things online, I move them to a local notebook. This requires some work and management of documents, but that's my point: I use the software as part of an active and ongoing process. Evernote is not to my knowledge a backup system. A backup system is like an insurance policy. It's not part of an active process, but it's there if you need it. I backup my Evernote data quarterly by exporting all of the notes to an XML files using Evernote's native export functionality. This file is the backed up to the cloud using my cloud backup software, but the key difference is that I can compress and encrypt the file before sending it off the cloud because I won't be actively searching it. It's there as insurance, in the event that my local systems fail. Distinguishing between tasks that are part of an active process (e.g. managing documents in real time) and a backup is important to understand why security is implemented as it has been in Evernote.
  7. I think this varies by person. I have a notebook called "Paperless Filing Cabinet" where most stuff goes. I have other notebooks for writing-related stuff that I keep separate.
  8. BurgersNFries, I think the biggest challenge is that the rest of the world is not paperless, so there is always paper still coming into our system. 100% paperless isn't possible yet. In my process, I've tried to account for the fact that other people will still hand me paper and that I need to take some action with that paper. So I think I'm in the same boat, as paperless as possible, given our still largely paper-based society.
  9. Think of a note as a container that wraps the file in meta-data. Folders don't inherently have a lot of meta-data associated with them, but notes can. In addition to actual notes that go along with the file (for instance, when I scan a medical bill into a note, I usually add some text noting the date on which I paid the bill and the method I used to pay it) you get things like tags, URL, location the note was made, note author, etc. The meta-data describes information about the attached file and makes it more useful in searches. (For instance: find any notes created within a mile of my present location.) The difference between tags and folders is that folders are generally a one-to-one relationship. Tags are one-to-many. If I put a document in a "budgets" folder, that's the only place I can find it unless I create additional shortcuts or make additional copies of the file and put it in other folders. If, however, I tag a document as "budget" and "2011" and "household" then searching under any of those tags will bring up the same note containing the document. No need for shortcuts or multiple copies. Tags can let you view different slices of aggregated note. I prefer fewer tags. Evernote's search capability is good enough (for me) to generally just type in a search for what I am looking for and find the results quickly. Where I do use tags is when I want to look at a specific collection of things at once: e.g. "Homeowner Association" documents.
  10. I believe Evernote's ability to make scanned PDFs searchable is a Premium Edition feature. Are you a Premium user? If not that may explain why you can't search the scanned PDFs.
  11. The two questions I get more than any others when it comes to going paperless are as follows: What about backups (if for some reason, Evernote was not accessible)? Aren't you worried about security/identity theft/etc.? I was tempted to write a separate blog post for this but thought a post here in the forum would be good to better allow full discussion of these important questions. What follows is my personal take. Everyone has to gauge these issues for themselves. And let me be clear from the start: no one at Evernote asked me to write this post. This is based entirely on my own experience because I do get asked these questions a lot. Just look at the comment threads to the posts I've written. Backing up paperless data In all the time I've been using Evernote (well over a year) there has never been a time when I couldn't access my data. Evernote seems to have better uptime than a lot of other cloud-services I've used. In my day job, I'm a software developer and I know how difficult it can be to keep servers up and running. I give Evernote high marks for this so far. When they do have an outage, they announce it through several channels, among them: Twitter (@evernote, @evernotestatus) status.evernote.com That said, having worked in IT for 20 years, I've learned to plan for the unexpected. Here is how I ensure that I have backups of my data and access to my most important documents, even if Evernote is down. My data is not stored directly on my computer. At home, my data is not stored directly on my laptop but on a 1 TB external hard disk. If something happens to my computer, the data on the external disk is still safe and sound. My data is also backed up to the cloud. I use a product called IDrive which allows me to backup up to 5 machines and my WordPress website. The software works on Windows, Macintosh, etc. It runs nightly and I get an email when the backup is complete for each machine. I pay for a premium service that allows me to backup 500 GB of data. I think it costs me $150/year. Included in that cloud backup is the /user/[username]/Application Support/Evernote folder on my Mac. This is a bunch of local meta-data for Evernote that I can easily restore if I ever need to. Twice a year (usually 4th of July weekend and New Years) I use the "Export Notes From [Notebook]..." function to export all my notes (and related attachments) to an XML file that I store in a folder on the external hard disk (and which in turn is backed up to the cloud.) On my iPad, I have enabled the "Offline Notebook" feature for what I call my "Paperless Filing Cabinet" notebook, which is where most of my documents go. This allows me to access the notes and attachments in the Evernote app, even if have no Internet connection. These five things provide me with all of the backup security I feel I need. Sure, there are things that can slip through the cracks here, but with the exception of item #4, the above provides me with good, reliable backups with almost no labor on my end. Data Security, Identity Theft, etc. I get asked a lot about this. The truth is I don't worry about this much. That might be naive on my part, but I have learned over the years that a few simple practices go a very long way to protecting data and preventing things like identify theft. Here are some of the practices that I use. I understand that some people feel more strongly about this than I do and again, you have to do what makes you most comfortable. I always use SSL when transferring data. Evernote uses SSL when data is transferred over the Internet to their servers. That means the data is encrypted over the wire. I always use strong passwords. A strong password is one that uses a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols and does not contain an English word. It is also long, more than 12 characters at least. I change my password frequently. If I feel like I need additional security, I can encrypt documents using some other encryption application before loading them into Evernote. Of course, even the best practices can't always prevent a security breach. When I think about this eventuality, I liken it to the risk of someone breaking into my house and going through my (now non-existent) file cabinet. How can you protect against this? They've gotten through your physical security, they've breached your alarm system? What else can you do? Not much. I do have a rider on my homeowners insurance that protects me against identity theft and I've made sure that rider is adequate to cover any possibly losses. But the truth is I'm not worried that it will come to that, just as I don't worry that someone will break into my house. So there you have it! How I backup my paperless data and how I protect myself against unwanted intrusions. Have at it! Discuss! How do you handle backups? How do you protect your data? Are there better practices than what I've got here? I'm always interested in learning better practices and techniques.
  12. Today I have a guest post on the Evernote Blog: "Why I went paperless" describes my motivations for going paperless and some tips for how I got started. I'd love to hear other tips and suggestions from people who've done the same.
  13. To jelake's point, I think there are 2 criteria that matter when you are looking for something: 1. Can you find it quickly enough? 2. Are your results accurate (not to broad and not too exclusive to leave out important results) If your own method for tagging or filing or searching meets these criteria, then you are ahead of the game, no matter what method you use.
  14. Since I try to do all of my scanning once a day (when I pick up the mail), I the create date of the note is usually the same as anything that I am scanning, including receipts. Of course, not everyone works this way, but it's become a pretty good habit for me. That said, create date to me means "date the paper was created" so I have no qualms about changing the create date to match the on a document if I need to because it will make my searches easier.
  15. In my neighborhood, I've seen them on FOR SALE signs for houses that are on the market.
  16. I think we are at the mercy of our own experiences and goals on this one. It is a your-mileage-may-vary prospect. Aside from the rare big ticket items, the only receipts I scan in are those related to writing: postage, travel to conferences, business lunches. Even that doesn't add up to much. That isn't to say that one day I'll find that it would be convenient to have a receipt (or other document) that I decided to get rid of. But this has been rare in my past experience and I'm willing to take the risk going forward until the need arises--at which point, of course, I'll reevaluate. I look at it as a kind of law of diminishing returns. Yes, it would be great to have every piece of paper I ever touched available in searchable, digital format at my finger tips. But for me, it isn't worth the effort. The labor would likely cost more than the savings--matters of principle aside.
  17. In my efforts, the only things that I've kept around are things like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, titles, deeds, etc. The stuff can fit in a small fire-proof box. Otherwise, I will typically scan it (I think I'll need it again) and then shred it. I don't scan every piece of paper I get. I keep only those receipts that related directly to writing, which is my avocation, but which I can still pass along to my accountant for some write-offs. I'll scan receipts for big ticket items, but often times these receipts are now emailed to me anyway (Apple does this, for instance.) When I started going paperless, I gave some thought about how much I access my existing paper documents and that helped feed my decision about what I do and don't scan. While it is far easier to search for stuff in Evernote than a cluttered desk or filing cabinet, I see no point in cluttering Evernote with stuff there is no chance I'm going to look at in the future.
  18. I gave this a try this morning and it worked beautifully. One tip I'd add: Store the QR code image along with the note to which it associated. In my case, I just add some text below the PDF of the manual indicating, "QR code follows" and then paste in the image. That way, if you need it again, you've got it as part of the note. I also ran into the issue with the web vs. evernote:// link. It would be nice to have the ability to pull up evernote:// links, especially if you are using a mobile device with offline notebooks and have no Internet access. (As, say, when the power is out.)
  19. I wrote a new blog post today discussing how I "Use Evernote as a surrogate memory; or answering the question: 'When did X happen?'" that may be of interest to folks here. I include it under the "paperless" forum because the methods I describe help in part to eliminate my need for a daily diary.
  20. I'm not doing NaNo this year, focusing instead of my short fiction. But I have done it successfully in previous years and I recently wrote a post offering my Five Tips for a Successfully NaNoWriMo (http://bit.ly/oNw4P7) for anyone who is interested. Good luck to everyone taking the challenge this year!
  21. Yes, exactly! I'd guess that one big hurdle people face when going paperless is the feeling that you need an elaborate tagging system. A simple one with a well thought-out process will suffice. I've found that Evernote's search capabilities are good enough to where it is often faster just to search for what you are looking for rather than tag everything. I have the same philosophy with my email in Gmail: I have an inbox and an archive folder. Very little mail gets tagged and I can find anything I need quickly by searching, or "starring" messages that are particularly important.
  22. I do the same thing as Michael. Jot down the idea in a note, maybe some additional thoughts. I tag the note to indicate it is a blog topic. And since I do a lot of blogging, I also have a Saved Search to easily pull up the list. One other thing I do. Once I write the post, I delete the note so that my list is list of unused ideas.
  23. Regarding the issue of tagging: I've learned through lots of trial and error that (for me, at least) simpler is better. I love the concept of tagging, but its very freedom can be a challenge. The problem is really one of taxonomy and almost everyone has a different taxonomy for how they organize information. At the professional level, I would consult with a librarian or someone with a degree in library sciences to figure out how best to tag and organize my notebooks, but for the day-to-day stuff that I do, boots on the ground, I rely on a fairly simple taxonomy. In my case, I think the key was thinking about the scope of that taxonomy before arbitrarily creating tags.
  24. I used to have piles of manuals for various gadgets. Often they'd disappear when I need them most (how do you change the battery in the thermostat?). Since going paperless, I have moved to a completely paperless set of manuals for all of my devices, gadgets and anything that comes with a manual--and I've done it without scanning a single document. Here's how: Collected all my existing paper manuals into a single pile. For each manual, I went to the manufacturer's website and located a PDF version of the manual. Add the PDF file to a new note in Evernote and tag the note "manuals" Repeat for the rest of the manuals in the pile. For every new item I get that comes with an instruction manual, I do the same thing as soon as I open the box. Then I trash or recycle the paper manual that came with the item. Finally, I created a Saved Search called "Manuals and User Guides" that looks for anything tagged "manuals". I think I have about 20 or so right now and I no longer have piles of manuals sitting around the house. Better yet, when I need to know how to use the Picture-in-Picture feature on my TV in the downstairs family room, I can pull out my iPhone or iPad, open Evernote, click my saved search and instantly find what I'm looking for without getting up from the couch. :-)
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