(+) How to Use Evernote to be a Better Genealogist
The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
One of my favorite computer tools is Evernote. I’ve been using it for more than 10 years now and love it. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along before Evernote. While Evernote has many uses, I use it primarily as a digital filing system. In fact, I find that it is a perfect complement to almost any genealogy program, often compensating for the shortcomings of whatever genealogy program you might use to track your research.
Admittedly, all this didn’t happen overnight. When first installed, Evernote presents the new user with a blank screen. That user typically says, “Now what?” This article will hopefully answer that question.
First, let’s clarify what this program can do for you. Simply put, Evernote helps you organize and retrieve information. Remember when you purchased your first computer? The salesperson told you it would organize and retrieve everything from your kitchen recipes to your income tax records. That salesperson probably didn’t mislead you; he simply was talking about the future. The hardware has been available for years and has been sold in computer stores everywhere. What has been missing until recently was the easy-to-use software: Evernote.
To be sure, dozens of database programs and other retrieval programs have been available for years. Most database programs, including your present genealogy program, have been hobbled with rigid design requirements: data has to be entered in certain formats or the programs were designed for very specific purposes. Evernote represents a new method of databases: those with free-form data. You can store and easily retrieve text notes, sound bytes, images, full-motion video, recipes, income tax records, insurance documents, saved web pages, and more. Even your recipes and your genealogy data can be stored. They can both be stored in the same database or in separate databases, as you prefer. Even better, if you own two or more computers, such as a desktop and a laptop system or a computer at the office plus a second at home, Evernote makes sure that all your data is available simultaneously on all your computers. In fact, it even makes the same information available on Windows, Macintosh, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Blackberry, and Windows Phone devices, in addition to any web browser on a borrowed computer or at the library or in an Internet cafe. Your latest data is available at all times on all devices.
Evernote also makes backups of your data in the cloud for security purposes. It even contains an option to encrypt sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, to keep your information private. Anyone will have great difficulty obtaining your data from Evernote; but, if they succeed and if you have encrypted the information, even retrieving that data will be useless. All the hacker will see is a random amount of scrambled letters and numbers. However, since you know the encryption key, you can immediately convert those scrambled letters and numbers into clear text whenever you wish.
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