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I’m thinking of buying a Moleskin notebook, but was curious to hear what other members recommend to take notes on. I’m currently using a college-ruled legal pad, but it’s a bit large and cumbersome to take around to meetings and such.


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      Does anyone have experience using org-mode in Spacemacs? I tried out org-mode yesterday after reading this comment, but it seems that many of the standard key bindings are in conflict.

      Is there a good Spacemacs-specific introduction to org-mode? How about a reasonable way to navigate keybinding conflicts?

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        I do, but as you said - be prepared to relearn things. I usually get by by using SPC : and typing the command I want, which also shows the key binding. For example it took a while to realise that just t toggles to do status.

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          I’m gonna be of no help here - I disagree with the Spacemacs philosophy. I think emacs keybindings are great and not hard at all if you invest just a little time in learning them.

          Good luck!

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        I’ve been thinking a lot about a good mobile workflow for org-mode. Right now I’m writing in Markdown because a bunch of IOS apps support that, and using pandoc to convert to org-mode, but that’s not ideal.

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          I use WebDAV with the MobileOrg app on android, and the normal org-mobile-pull and org-mobile-push. I get webdav through my email provider, not sure how easily it is to get a webdav account though.

          I do know that most of the org-mobile stuff works with Dropbox if you’re ok with that.

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        Last I looked, Moleskin does not have good paper. There are many other brands of quality paper if you want to go the paper route.

        I would suggest Clairefontaine, Quo Vadis, etc.

        Now I use a fountain pen on some smaller high quality books. I have especially enjoyed the Maruman B5 size — it is not too small, but not too big either.

        For more type of notebooks with good paper: http://www.gouletpens.com/notebooks/c/10

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          I also like the Rhodia dotted paper - I can’t write on blank paper because my writing does not stay straight on a line, but I find the common rulings to be far too distracting and the dots are a good middle ground.

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            Honestly moleskine paper is fine unless you’re into fountain pens.

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              I can’t say I have much experience with moleskine paper, but when I have tried it I haven’t been overly impressed by it either. IIRC, all I’ve really used on it, though, is the Uniball v5.

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              Would you know where to find grid-ruled notebooks with good paper?

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                If you are located in the United States (url is filtered to graph, dot grids): http://www.gouletpens.com/notebooks/c/10/?facetValueFilter=Tenant~Ruling_Type%3Adot_grid%2CTenant~Ruling_Type%3Agraph

                If you are located in Southwestern Ontario, there is a place called Phidon Pens located in downtown Cambridge.

                Besides that, generally if a place has fountain pens in stock that are above $50 with more than one brand, they likely have paper to go with them.

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                  Thank you! I’m in the U.S. so your link is helpful. I’ll check around for local writing supply shops as well; honestly that hadn’t occurred to me before.

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                I have used Field Notes Brand notebooks in the past. They are nice, and pretty, but the paper can be a little thin one some of the special one. I have also use Word Notebooks, and they have nice heavy paper, that is bright. http://www.wordnotebooks.com/

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                Plain text file + GPG + git repo. I’ve got one that I’ve been updating since 2011. Just has the following uber-simple structure:

                NOTE todo today
                  * post on lobsters
                  * maybe eat
                  * some other stuff
                  Just had a random thought which I usually wind up posting as something like
                  this.  Notice the sweet minimal indentation and hard cap at 79 columns.  I
                  edit this in Vim, btw.
                NOTE random topic
                  If the thought/note has some important topic I'll put it after the 'NOTE',
                  like so.
                  There are only 'NOTE' leaders btw.  This just grew out of convention.
                  Anyway you get the idea.

                Works for me perfectly.

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                  I use org-mode in emacs and a fountain pen (Pilot Preppy medium or a Lamy fine, loaded with a converter of Platinum Black Carbon ink) on paper. I personally don’t like the Moleskine paper and use Leuchtturm notebooks or Black n Red spiral wire notebooks when possible, but I’ll scrawl on anything if I have to. I use TiddlyWiki for tagging urls and sync my bookmarks around.

                  One thing about keeping notes on paper is to have some higher level of organization than just linear front-to-back. Keep separate ones for work and even for separate projects. I put a vertical line inset about a thumb’s width on the outside edge to make a margin on each page and use that to make references between pages and add notes. Everything gets a date and often a time. Annotations get dates too. On the cover or inside I put the topic and the date range covered. Then I keep these and refer back to them occasionally. I use colored post-its and book darts/page points to temporarily mark locations.

                  FWIW, I started doing this in 2002 and recently discarded two wine case size boxes of notebooks used at prior employers. It was interesting to see my evolution in note taking, too.

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                    I’ll keep your advice on paper notekeeping in mind :)

                    Right now, I have separate pages for each project, and on each line I put a check box for a task, question mark for a question to ask, and check mark for something to remember, followed by the actual note. So far this works pretty well as I can scan the left hand side of the page for things that are not finished, and I cross out the symbols when they are finished or no longer relevant.

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                      I use symbols on the left side too, similar to yours. Instead of crossing out, I write a comment or annotation (usually, “ok /date/ for completed tasks).

                      Also see https://www.reddit.com/r/productivity/comments/3tesbi/my_notebook_todo_system/. There are a number of paper-based systems. I don’t adhere to any system but what I do usually works for me :)

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                    Surprised no one has mentioned Bullet Journal yet. It’s an effective system if you are using a notebook+pen.

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                      Came here to say this. I used org-mode and taskwarrior previously. Totally migrated to the bullet journal and devtodo now.

                      What I like the most about the Bullet journal method is:

                      1. I am removed from my computer. I tend to get distracted with other things while I should be organizing my todos. This helps me prioritize / organize my items better.
                      2. Using a pen!
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                      I use Leuchtturm notebook: http://www.amazon.com/Leuchtturm-Medium-Notebook-Squared-LBL12/dp/B002CV5H4Y

                      The pages are numbered, and comes with a blank index at the beginning. Its pretty awesome.

                      As for my “random note during the day”, I use Remember the Milk on my phone https://www.rememberthemilk.com. They have a single icon widget that lets you instantly jot down anything that gets added to a list for future review.

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                        Thanks, this looks like exactly the kind of notebook for me.

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                        For me, I’m a software note-taker, and a dedicated user of Zim which is a desktop wiki that fits by brain very nicely: The ability to create document trees is really useful, for keeping a work log, or for putting related documents together.

                        Search is pretty good, and so I have a tendency to paste just about everything of interest into it, for future reference.

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                          I have a folder in my Dropbox, and I sulking it to ~/Notes. I create/edit notes in any of:

                          • Vim. I have a tmux keybinding to open a new window, cd to ~/Notes, launch Vim, and start a fuzzy finder. So at at any time, I can do ctrl+b n <start fuzzy finding notes> or :e a new note.
                          • nvALT, for when I want to edit notes in a GUI. Typically I use this when I’m not currently programming/in a terminal.
                          • Notesy for iOS. I’ve had to change iPhone apps at least 5 times because of bugs/other issues, but Notesy has been going strong for a few years now.

                          This allows me to edit any note from anywhere, and doesn’t tie me in to any specific software. Each note is typically a Markdown file, but I have some others in there too, such as dot.

                          If I need to draw something, I love Rhodia dot-ruled notebooks, and any cheap #2 pencil with a sharp tip.

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                            I like lab notebooks because they fold open flat. Unfortunately the one I use is 11.75" x 9.5". Lab notebooks are designed for researchers who need to staple pages into it, so it’s certainly too large for you, but maybe it’s a useful keyword for your searches.

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                              Thank you, if I can find a smaller version of this it may be what I need, since I am left-handed and notebooks that don’t fold flat can be annoying.

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                                http://www.bookfactory.com/ has smaller sizes

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                                  Thanks! That’s exactly what I was looking for :)

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                                I take day-by-day notes in a markdown file in vim (simple chronological order). I keep my todo-list in Taskpaper format using the taskpaper.vim plugin, and my preferred method of working involves adding lots of notes under each task I work.

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                                  I’ve been flirting with the idea of picking up a Wacom Bamboo but haven’t committed yet. Currently I’m using dead trees and Xournal to annotate PDFs.

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                                    I use tiddly wiki with a Markdown plugin. I write down the notes, and later I can add more info or details…

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                                      I have a sort of multi-stage system for taking notes. I first write down notes in one of many notebooks (class notebooks, or a notebook I have for taking notes while I read for pleasure). Once I finish a book or course, I go through my notes, and transcribe the most salient information into emacs. I use the Deft extension for emacs, which monitors a folder of org-mode files in my Dropbox. Each project I work on, book I read, or course I take has its own .org file in this folder.

                                      I like to write with fountain pens, and I found that the paper in Moleskine journals are not quite thick enough; sometimes ink bleeds through. When taking notes from books, I tend to take notes in a Clairefontaine journal or a Rhodia dot pad. If you think you might move toward fine writing instruments, you may want to consider getting a notebook with thicker paper. I’ve tried Moleskines, Leuchtturm, and Clairefontaine notebooks, and Clairefontaine is my favorite.

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                                        When I’m close to one of my machines, I make use of org-mode in Emacs to record my notes into org-headings or notes. When I don’t have any of my machines close to me, I always carry a couple of HipsterPDA TODOs and Meetings index cards, along with a Moleskine for long and detailed notes. My pen is a Muji Fountain Pen.

                                        The cards and the notes from my Moleskine are later recorded into my org-mode headings. This helps in two ways, one, while you type down the org-heading you revise and review the task, making it easier to understand and remember, and, two, paper is not a reliable data format.

                                        I sync my org-files with a git repository that I keep in all my machines.

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                                          On OS X, brew install Caskroom/cask/notational-velocity or get it from its site to enjoy one of the most useful note-taking tools out there.

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                                            zsh+vim does the work:

                                            • zshrc: alias wiki='cd ~/wiki && vim index.md && cd -'
                                            • vimrc: autocmd FileType markdown map gf :e <cfile><cr>
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                                              My wife uses a Midori travelers notebook and she likes it. For me I wrote my own software called Muda

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                                                  I mostly gave up on paper as well, for the same reasons. I am mostly using Markdown files and sync them using the appropriate method (git or cloud sync). My MacBook 12" is so small/light that I don’t find it a hassle to take with me.

                                                  Recently, I have started using Dropbox Paper as well. The live previews, instant sync, and collaboration features are nice. So far I like it more than Google docs because it has shortcuts that correspond to markdown (e.g. #<space> makes a heading, etc.).

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                                                  A notecard system like this is pretty great.

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                                                    After many years of refining my workflow, I have (maybe too many?) layers of notes:

                                                    Idea collection:

                                                    • Iphone notes or calendar events if I’m on the road. They’re also easy to dictate with Siri so I don’t need to type there.
                                                    • Pen and paper, whatever I have in hand. I have never really cared for nice pens and notebooks
                                                    • A sticky note when I’m coding and need to copy and paste things or just write simple diagrams

                                                    I then move everything to a local wiki, managed with MacDown, Trello, and a whiteboard in my office. These three, plus the calendar, are my main task organizers. The whiteboard contains “hot” items, Trello has everything, and long documentation is on the wiki.

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                                                      I used to really like these hard-cover lab notebooks I got from the supply closet at LLNL when I was an intern there. I’m sure they were purchased for scientists who needed serious verifiable recordkeeping - some of them had lines on the bottom of each page for a witness' signature - but they were good for my less critical notes too. A bound notebook is easy to carry around without losing pages, you can write on your lap, and once you’ve filled it up, it’s easy to keep around for future reference, since it just sits cleanly on a shelf instead of getting crammed into a drawer somewhere and disintegrating.

                                                      I can’t recall the brand, but the “Boorum & Pease Hardcover Lab Notebook” on amazon looks like basically the same thing, although $35 seems like a lot.

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                                                        I haven’t settled on a note-taking system yet but I’m experimenting with Quiver which is a notebook for programmers. I use it for writing down my thoughts about software engineering, computer science, maths, etc. and drafting articles for my newsletter. It supports LaTeX, markdown, code snippets and diagrams (sequence and flowchart).

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                                                          A mix of things: OneNote, though I also have a wiki running on a server in the LAN. I’ll probably move over to OneNote fully eventually.

                                                          I also like using org-mode, or just some Markdown files and vim.

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                                                            I actually am probably one of the few but I use evernote quite a bit. I use the chrome extension to snag websites in case the author decides to take them down or move things around, notes can be tagged and searched. I do like to take handwritten notes, snap a pic with my phone and upload. Can’t say I’m SUPER happy with all my notes being in the cloud but I haven’t seen a similar quality alternative, but I also can’t say I’d be happy if it wasn’t. I can’t wait till people just have a VPS and you can easily install webapps on it. That way the people who make the application and the people who handle your data are separate.

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                                                              I like the Baron Fig Confidant notebook with uniball jetstream pens. Moleskine notebooks are also good, and I may actually go back to them when I’ve used up my current batch of notebooks.

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                                                                A small notebook, much like a moleskine. I tried electronic notes for a long, long time, and I just could not get it to work. In theory electronic notes are searchable, backup-able, editable and so on. But there is some thing satisfying about little sketches in the margin, drawings with arrows and annotations, done with a nice ink pen (not ballpoint) that electronic notes could not capture. If you have a tablet and handwriting capture, I wonder if you could do all that, but yep, I just use pen and paper.

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                                                                  pen and paper

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                                                                    Spiral bound gridded notebook that can lay flat and recently the Signo 207 pen: http://ask.metafilter.com/290515/Whats-your-favorite-smooth-writing-pen

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                                                                      For handwritten notes I have a stack of floppy grid-ruled pocket notebooks. They say “Moleskine” on the back but I haven’t been able to track down the exact product again. The form factor is great - I can stuff a notebook and some pens into my back pocket and pull them out anywhere - and I can write and draw more cleanly on a grid than I can on lined paper. However the paper itself could be better: the markings I make with my pens on one side of a page are rather visible when I flip it over.

                                                                      As far as software goes I haven’t found a system I really like yet - OneNote has locked me out of data before; Evernote only supports shallow hierarchies. But for maintaining a daily planner / TODO list, TreeSheets can’t be beat.

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                                                                        I prefer writing with pen and paper over lugging a laptop around and typing but pen and paper have obvious problems. In an attempt to solve these problems I’ve been eying things like http://noteslate.com/ and http://www.myboogieboard.com/.

                                                                        I’m currently trying out the Boogie Board Sync and it is kind of nice but there’s still problems, the biggest one not being able to flip back to previous notes on the device itself. That seems like it will be a deal killer for me.

                                                                        The writing experience is nice though and the technology definitely has potential.

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                                                                          This is programmer heavy newsboard so replies will skew towards a computer based solution(ie use org-mode).

                                                                          I use notebooks and pocketbooks to have something with me at all times. At my desk I have a muji legal pad for rough todoing and sketching. For anything I would really like to keep, I write it as a text file. I have folders like diary, bookreviews, etc. They are mostly markdown files but who cares really. The file names are either dates, topics or both.

                                                                          Re: notebook choice. Moleskines are fine. I may slightly prefer muji ones because I like how they look but unless you are a fountain pen nerd(I used to be) they all work pretty well. Pilot G2 pens are genius.

                                                                          What I wish for is some kind of system for taking notes of stuff that I read. I’d really like to have an organized reading journal but haven’t found anything that I could stick with.

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                                                                            Lamy logo and squared paper. I found that writing in two columns, on a piece of A4 paper, makes it much easier to go back on my notes.

                                                                            I go A4 because I find it’s the right size to keep all of my notes in one place. An A4 pad is large but it’s the same size as my laptop.

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                                                                              I found that once I switched from a computer to a notebook for note-taking and general research, I became a lot more productive. I find having the computer in front of me makes me more distracted and less focused, and I love the ability I have to just stick my notebook in my pocket with a pen in my jacket at all times of the day. I bring it to bars, cafes, train rides, the park, etc.

                                                                              I used to be a big fan of the Ogami Stone Notebooks [1], the paper is wonderful to write on with a ballpoint pen and is waterproof. However, once I realized that the paper decomposes at around the five year mark, I switched back to a Moleskine.

                                                                              The Moleskine [2] has worked well for me – I buy the exact same size and same one every time, I can buy them almost anywhere – abroad, in an airport, in basically every single city I may visit for both school and work. I like the consistency, because I can keep them all together and date them and have a record of whatever I was working on at a given moment related to my research.

                                                                              [1] http://www.jennibick.com/collections/ogami-stone-notebooks/products/ogami-stone-notebook-professional-hardcover

                                                                              [2] https://store.moleskine.com/usa/notebooks/notebooks/classic-notebook/p1?lang=en-us

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                                                                                I use the Baron Fig Confidant and love it. I’ve used it for about one year and am almost ready for a second one. I use mine mostly for writing notes for meetings or tracking lists, but since it’s dot grid it has occasional drawings and wireframes in there as well. The paper is excellent and can take a ton of ink without bleeding through. Matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had bleed, and I sometimes use permanent marker in it. I have the very first version that came out which means it doesn’t quite close flat, but this is something they’ve fixed since then. I highly recommend it unless you need pocket-sized notebooks, in which case you’d probably want Field Notes or a small Rhodia notebook. I’ve never actually owned a Moleskine so I can’t contribute to that particular debate.

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                                                                                  For the most part I’ve stopped using paper, except when I know the notes will have a short lifespan, in which case I use a steno pad (small enough to carry around, but with a spiral at the top).

                                                                                  Otherwise I used Microsoft’s OneNote because it syncs to all of my machines (either as an installed application, or the web browser version). Unless I’m at my desk, I’ll use my iPad Air 2 with a keyboard case and a stylus for when I need to draw.