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April 19, 2011

Notebook 3.0: My Secret Weapon to Organizing Information

Notebook 3.0 - Circus Ponies

I work from home and start my workday while waiting for my boss to call me on the telephone. He always has plenty of tasks for me to complete either today or in the near future. I have so many things to do that it’s easy to lose track of them. I have yellow pads of paper to write notes while my boss is giving me my marching orders for the day but it never seems right to me. I’m a computer programmer and I live in the digital age. Shouldn’t my notes be taken electronically?

I was talking with a friend and told him about my discovering Scrivener. He said he’s used Scrivener for a long time. I wondered why he hadn’t shared that with me but I suppose I never asked him. He told me he loves Scrivener and thought I would also like another application he uses. One to take notes electronically! I was instantly curious. He told me to check out Notebook 3.0 for the Mac.

Notebook 3.0?

That sounded like a new generation of laptop. But I knew it was a note taking application so I searched for “notebook software” and the first listing was from a company my horse riding wife would love the name of: Circus Ponies. They make a product called Notebook 3.0. I went to their product page and saw a Mac desktop that looked like mine, with tons and tons of icons on it. I knew I had to have this software. So what does this software do?

1. Helps you stay organized

2. Let’s you take great notes

3. Easily search your notes

Let’s see how Notebook 3.0 does these things.

1. Helps you stay organized

My desktop is cluttered. It’s the serious I-can’t-find-anything cluttered. I have too many things I do and I constantly see useful snippets of information I want to store, but there’s no good place to store it. My desktop ends up with the information most of the time. It ends up being a massive jungle to find anything. I’ve tried software to move items to different folders but I can’t remember what’s in each folder.

Notebook 3.0 uses the paper notebook metaphor with outlines. This is perfect for managing lists of things, like my daily to do tasks. I can put them all in one page because Notebook pages are as long as you need them to be. I could organize my work notes by date or type of task or project. Whichever way I want to organize it I can. The “wow” factor for me was when I learned Notebook lets you store documents, images, moves, sound files and text in your documents. This was an “ah ha” moment for me. Now I finally have a place to put code snippets, random thoughts, photos, music clips etc. in one place. But I also need to take good notes every day.

2. Let’s you take great notes

I think this was the original design goal of the software. Note taking. You can setup a to do list in an outline and set check boxes and due dates for each item. This is exactly what I need. I can even record my boss on speakerphone and put his directions right in the note! That is such a cool capability.

You can add flow charts and hand drawings to your notes. The software supports pressure sensitive table devices so you can type or write your notes out. I think I’m a faster typist but I think I’m going to buy a small tablet to try it out. Because you can drop documents into your notes, imagine putting your PDF lecture notes into a notebook page and drawing your real time notes of the lecture on top of the printed notes. Just like you would do with paper notes and a pencil. After you take your notes, you have to be able to find them or what was the point to taking notes in the first place?

3. Easily search your notes

Notebook can search your entire notebook with ease. Each notebook can hold massive amounts of information oxycontin high. This was the problem I had before. How do I find that piece of information I saved? Notebook note not only stores your information, but meta data about your information’s attributes. These are things like the date, when the note was updated or any numbers in your notes for example.

The Multidex indexes all of your information in various ways to help you find it faster. Do you remember a specific word? Perhaps you remember a capitalized word? Or you can only remember part of a number or Internet address. You can highlight in six different colors and find all items that have that same color of highlighting. You can search by different types of dates: creation, change or due dates. All of these methods help you find that obscure piece of information you tucked away so you can use it when you need it.

Isn’t storing the information in my Notebook keeping bloating my hard drive?

Not necessarily. You can embed your documents, movies and other large files inside of your Notebook; however, you can also insert links to them instead. I think an interesting idea is to store you information with cloud file sharing online, like dropbox or Amazon S3, and link to the files in the cloud.

Thanks to my friend, I now have a solution to keep my information organized

I was in heaven finding Scrivener, but that’s oriented towards writing. Notebook 3.0 helps you organize all of your information and manage your to do lists. I have lots of yellow pads of paper but I don’t think I’ll be using them soon as I start converting my note taking to Notebook 3.0

Give Notebook 3.0 a try

There’s a free trial so there’s no risk to give it a try. I highly recommend you watch all of the tutorial videos. They aren’t very long and really help you understand what Notebook 3.0 can do for you. You won’t regret trying it.

April 18, 2011

What Options Broker do You Use?

I asked a one question survey to see what the most popular options broker was.

Here are the results now with 234 people responding:

For primary options broker
69.6% ThinkOrSwim
12.1% Interactive Brokers
9.4% OptionsXpress
4.5% TradeMONSTER
3.6% OptionsHouse

For Primary or Secondary Broker
64.0% ThinkOrSwim
12.6% Interactive Brokers
12.6% OptionsXpress
6.8% TradeMONSTER
5.2% OptionsHouse

The rest combined were under 2% of the results.


Forest, Hauptstuhl, Germany

April 17, 2011

Scrivener Can Turbo Charge Your Writing

Scrivener 2

I never thought of myself as a writer. I delayed finishing my Master’s degree by two years living in fear of writing the final thesis. I couldn’t possibly see how I could write a short publication, never mind a book. I recently discovered a software program that changed everything: Scrivener 2.0 for Mac OS X.

Scrivener is software for Windows and the Mac that is proving its value in the short time I’ve been using it. It is inexpensive and has fantastic support in their forums. There are many professional writers using it to write novels, scripts, articles and more. It is a lightweight word processor with features designed for writers. Let’s take a look at a few of them.Roblox Robux Hack 2017

1. It helps you organize your writing
2. It let’s you organize your research
3. It reduces distractions while you write

Scrivener has many other useful features but we’ll start with these three that I’m already appreciating:

1. It helps you organize your writing

Scrivener has a binder on the left side that is like the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer left navigation area. You can create folders and rearrange your small documents in any order you like. The “group view” let’s you view and edit multiple documents as if they were one long document. Rearranging them in the binder on the left, rearranges them in the merged document, as you’d expect. Text documents can be parents to other documents. It’s very easy to write multiple pieces of a document and rearrange them.

There’s a corkboard view that shows the same information but in a visual way. Each document appears as a graphical index card, which reminded me of writing a research paper in high school in the 1970s. It’s very natural to rearrange the index cards graphically. The changes are reflected in the binder on the left instantly. For those who prefer a traditional outline mode, Scrivener has that too. You can change document ordering with a simple drag and drop.

Collapsing and expanding the documents and folders is a similar to the way your hard drive is setup. I still have to figure out the ideal ways to work, but I can see how you can collect a huge amount of text and it would still be very easy to find your way around your document. I wish other programs let you organize information this easily. It’s fantastic.

2. It let’s you organize your research

Scrivener’s binder has a research container. You can keep all of your research material organized in one place including documents, images and even web pages. Because the research container is a binder object, you can create folders to organize your research just like your source documents. You can split the view horizontally or vertically and display the document you’re writing in one pane and your research in another pane. It’s a very natural way to write. All of your notes are right there. No more looking for your research.

I imagine this would be especially important if you publish your work and your information was challenged. I’ve written articles in the past and done my research, but I can’t tell you today what I looked at for an article I wrote two months ago. With Scrivener, you keep the research together with your main document so it’s easy to find your original research. This could be useful for writing follow up articles to update an old article with newer information. Since your old research is right there, it would be that much easier to start your new research, especially if your source was a web site.

3. It reduces distractions while you write

One of my favorite features is the full screen mode. I’ve heard people say to close all other programs so you’re not distracted while you write. I’ve always been horrible at taking that advice. I have a 27” screen and it’s all too easy to see a new email come in, or a friend ask a question on Skype. Scrivener has a full screen mode that I’ve fallen in love with

The full screen mode does exactly what it says. But unlike most other programs that have the entire program maximized, Scrivener only shows me a black background with a white page and black text. You can control the font size and the width of the page so it is gigantic on my big screen. You can change the page color and the text colors if you like, but I like the feeling of black on white. Just press the escape key to return to Scrivener. Command+option+F switches back to full screen mode. I like learning keyboard shortcuts as they save you a lot of time over the life of the time you use a program. It’s a lot of fun to write in full screen mode. I feel that I can finally focus on what I’m writing with 100% of my energy. It’s wonderful.

But I’m comfortable with my current word processor

I was the same way. No one likes to change, unless there’s a benefit to learning something new. Believe me, if you do any writing at all, you will absolutely love Scrivener. The learning curve is short. I watched a 30-minute training video and I learned the basics well enough to start taking advantage of Scrivener’s cool features. I’m sure I have more to learn but even learning the basics opens up a new world. You’ll quickly wonder why you didn’t use it sooner.

Scrivener has powerful tools to help any writer

Scrivener was created for writers and it shows. It helps you organize your work in a natural way and that saves your time. The full screen mode let’s you focus on just writing with no distractions. That’s already helped me finish my writing tasks quicker.

There’s no reason not to try Scrivener

There’s a free trial so you don’t risk anything, and the cost is cheap to start with. If you can find a few friends to do a group purchase with, the cost is even less. Scrivener helps organize your thoughts and research. This speeds you up in the end as you don’t waste time looking for things. It’s all nicely organized in a natural way and having your research stored with your document is a really smart thing to do. Give it a try. You only have time to save and a more organized life to look forward to.

Buy Scrivener 2.0 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)

March 15, 2011

The Markets are Melting Down this morning

The markets are bleeding red this morning. The Nikkei was down over 10%. The German DAX was down over 4%. S&P futures are down over 34 as I write this and Treasury yield have plunged. The world financial markets are in panic mode. Risk aversion is on and everyone is fleeing to the US Dollar.

So what does that mean to an option trader?

You’ll experience fast moving markets today. Bid/ask spreads will widen and it will be difficult to get filled at the mid-price. Volume will be heavy and firms with help desks will possibly have delays for you to speak to someone if you need help. With heavy volume, broker platforms will struggle to keep up. You may see transient errors in account buying power, margins etc.

The Markets are Melting Down
What can I do?

– The most important thing to know is if you need to close a short option now, use market orders. Limit orders don’t work very well in fast markets. Just bite the bullet and stop your bleeding.

– Don’t chase a bad position. If you’re at or past your maximum loss, don’t fool around trying to save your position. You could easily take a massive hit to your account that will take a long time to recover. Don’t do it. Honor your max loss and get out.

– Don’t react in a panic mode. You seldom make good trading decisions under stress. Try to neutralize your positions to give you time to think, and the market time to settle down.

– We use probabilities for income type types. Panic markets aren’t normal and we probably shouldn’t be trading during them unless you like risk. Consider reducing your positions or going flat until the market settles down.

In summary

Just be careful. Don’t rush learn the facts here now. Don’t make decision under stress. Don’t chase bad trades. Honor your max loss and use market orders to close positions if you absolutely have to close something today.