I thought it might be nice for a change to veer away from the topic on everyone’s mind, and talk about something really nerdy instead. In particular, I want to talk about how I take notes on my computer.
I love to be able to type in plain text, with my hands always on the keyboard. That’s why I don’t like to take notes using tools like Google Docs, which ask me to keep moving my cursor to a menu bar and click on stuff every time I want to format something.
So I’ve developed an (admittedly very nerdy) technique for note taking. I just type in plain text into an HTML file.
I do it using my favorite text editor, vi (I told you I was nerdy). But right at the top of the file, I put a <pre> tag.
What that does is tell the web browser (where I will later review my notes) not to do any formatting at all. Everything gets spaced out precisely the way I typed it, just as it would in a plain text file.
Except, since this is HTML, I can still type things like <b>, <i>, <u>, <li>, <hr>, <font …> and all of the other useful stuff HTML lets me do. So I can still create bold, italics, underlines, lists with bullet points, horizontal lines, tinted text and all that cool stuff. But it never gets in my way.
Yes, I realize that unlike Google Docs, it’s not WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”). But that doesn’t bother me, because I have no trouble reading my own mark-up while I am typing my notes.
The important thing is that I never need to take my fingers off the keyboard. That means I am never distracted by from whatever else is going on by searching for things in menus on my screen.
I suspect there are text editors out there, like Emacs, which would let me use macros to do all this by hitting hotkeys as I type. But then I’d need to learn a whole new editor.
And I don’t want to do that. Because at the end of the day, I am very lazy.