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OneNote vs. Evernote vs. Dropbox Paper vs. Google Docs

OneNote, Evernote, Dropbox Paper, and Google Docs are four of the biggest note-taking programs. There are a ton more - Simplenote, Google Keep, and a lot I haven’t listed. However, I chose these three because they are very popular, sync across all of your devices, and support more formatting than others like Google Keep.

OneNote

OneNote is Microsoft’s note-taking program. If you like lots of features, such as password protection, advanced reviewing, drawing, built-in integration with Microsoft Excel, and a lot more, OneNote is definitely for you.

If you haven’t tried OneNote yet, OneNote is grouped into “notebooks” which have “sections”, which have “pages”. For instance, I have a School notebook, with a Math section, and then my notes from today are in a page.

One of the biggest reasons to choose OneNote is for the equation editor. The equation editor lets you type equations, including, but not limited to, fractions, square/cubed/etc roots, exponents, Pi, and a lot other mathematical symbols.

Another big reason to choose OneNote is for the built-in drawing feature. You can draw with your mouse, your finger (on touchscreen devices), or a pen (either a stylus on touchscreen devices or using a special pen, like the ThinkPad Pen Pro, the Surface Pen, or the Apple Pencil. The drawing tool supports lasso selection, erasing, typing, a lot of different colors and thicknesses, highlighting, and shapes drawing. It also supports Ink to Math, which lets you see your drawings be automatically be converted to equations.

Unfortunately, while OneNote supports a plethora of features, it does have some downsides, also. The biggest downside (for me) is the lack of equation editor support in the web version. You can view equations, but not create or edit new ones. The OneNote mobile app lets you edit equations, but I don’t think it lets you create new ones. This rules out OneNote for Chromebook users who want to use equations.

Another big downside is the large amount of bugs in the OneNote equation editor. For instance, if you have a bunch of equations, one on each line, if you press Shift+Home (select until the start of the current line), OneNote will select the entire group of equations. That is just one out of the many bugs in the OneNote equation editor.

Another thing I dislike about OneNote is the inability to delete notebooks. Yes, you heard me right. There is no easy way to delete a notebook. You can “close” a notebook, but it will still be there; it will just not be synced (sunk?) with your computer. Something else I dislike about OneNote - you can’t crop images. At all. Whaaaat?

One last thing I dislike about OneNote: syncing. Microsoft just can’t seem to get real-time updating right. OneNote syncs automatically with the cloud, but you can’t see someone (or yourself) updating in real time like you can in other programs like Google Docs. This can be annoying and cause sync conflicts.

Overall, OneNote is a good choice if you want lots of features, but I would turn it down in favor of better programs.

Evernote

Evernote is one of the most popular note-taking programs out there. Evernote is very similar to OneNote in many ways. It is laid out the same way as OneNote, except you only have “Notebooks” and “Pages” - no “Sections”. The desktop version of Evernote supports quite a few features, although unfortunately, equations are not one of the included features.

Evernote includes quite a few useful features, such as note reminders, meeting notes, work chat, and tags. However, most of these features seem geared more towards large organizations than towards consumers.

Unfortunately, Evernote has quite a few downsides, the biggest being the price. Evernote is the only application in this article that you have to pay for - the other three are free, and I would probably choose one of them over Evernote. While Evernote has a nice user interface and has more features than Dropbox Paper, it does not have anywhere near as many features as OneNote, which is free. Because of the price, I would probably recommend one of the other three over Evernote.

Dropbox Paper

I love Dropbox Paper. Considering the fact that I’m currently writing this article in Dropbox Paper, I might be a bit biased, but Dropbox Paper is definitely very nice.

At first glance, Dropbox Paper looks very simple, and you might decline it in favor of one that seems to have more features. Dropbox Paper has quite a few useful features, although not quite as many as OneNote, Evernote, or Google Docs. I think Dropbox Paper is the perfect balance of simplicity and features.

One thing about Dropbox Paper is that it isn’t setup like OneNote and Evernote. Instead of notebooks/sections/pages, you create folders. You can nest as many folders as you want, or you could put a document in a folder, but also have another folder in that folder. I like this a lot, because you can set it up however you want to.

Dropbox Paper supports semi-full formatting - bold, strikethrough, italics, highlighting (but only in blue), links, headers, bulleted and numbered lists (but no lettered lists… ???), checkboxes, and comments. That’s a full list of the formatting features, which seems pretty small at first, but is actually just the right amount.

Dropbox Paper also supports equations using LaTeX, which is very nice. Dropbox Paper makes it easy to write equations without confusion or glitches. One of my favorite things about Dropbox Paper is that when you click on an equation, it shows it in code form instead of the way OneNote or Google Docs do it (by trying to show it in equation format but making it editable, which is pretty terrible).

However, Dropbox Paper definitely could use a few more features, most notably drawing. I would use Dropbox Paper for my math notes, but unfortunately, I need to be able to draw, which Dropbox Paper doesn’t support.

Another downside of Dropbox Paper is that it doesn’t support offline editing/viewing on the desktop version (actually the web version; there is no desktop version).

Overall, I really like Dropbox Paper. If they added a few more features (cough drawing and more colors cough), it would be the perfect note-taking application.

Google Docs

If Google made a version of Google Docs that was more suited for note-taking - perhaps if they gave it a notebook/page structure like OneNote and Evernote - it would be my absolute favorite.

You might be wondering why I put Google Docs in here - isn’t Google Docs for documents, not notes? That’s correct, but I find Google Docs is actually pretty good (but not great) for note-taking. Google Docs has all the features I like in a note-taking program - full formatting, easy cloud integration, equations, and drawing. I find that you can use Google Docs pretty easily if you create a different document in place of each notebook/section.

Now that I’ve told you I put Google Docs in here, you might ask - why not Word? To which I answer: Word is not good at cloud integration. You can put a Word doc in your OneDrive/Google Drive/Dropbox/whatever and let it sync that way, but it’s not the same as turning off your laptop, turning on your desktop, and seeing the document there - no waiting for your OneDrive/Google Drive/Dropbox/whatever to sync, no browsing through folders: it’s just there.

However, Google Docs isn’t perfect. It wasn’t designed as a note-taking program, so there are a few things that can get annoying there - like the fact that if you fill up a whole 8.5 x 11 page, you’ll go onto the next page, whereas the other three don’t work like that. Another annoying thing about Google Docs is that all your docs go in your Google Drive root folder. You can’t set a default location; you just have to remember to tell Google Docs to save your document in a different Google Drive location.

Round Up

  1. Dropbox Paper
  2. Google Docs
  3. OneNote
  4. Evernote

Dropbox Paper is my favorite note-taking program by far. It’s the perfect mix of simple but powerful.

Google Docs is my second favorite. It supports all the features I want - Chromebook support, equations, drawing, and a lot more. It would get first place if they built a version with a structure like OneNote or Evernote.

OneNote is my third favorite. It supports a lot of features, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll be like “Aw, I wish it had that”.

Evernote is my fourth favorite. Evernote has a nice user interface, but it is expensive and doesn’t do anything special.


DIY: Simple & Cheap Under Desk Cable Management

If you’re the average desktop user, the cables under your desk are hopelessly tangled like spaghetti. You could buy some of that fancy cable management gear that screws to the bottom of your desk, but those are really expensive.

So, how do you do it? With Velcro! I used Velcro to do my cable management, and now the bottom of my desk looks great! It only cost a few dollars and about 2 hours of my time. It’s a lot better than duct tape, because you can easily remove the cables when you need to.


BEFORE (above) AFTER (below)

1. Cables

This step is for most of the cables running under your desk. It’s pretty simple and works great!

First, clear your desk of all monitors, peripherals, and computers. Set them out on the floor in a place where they WILL NOT GET STEPPED ON!

Next, put the Velcro under your desk. Choose which side of Velcro you want to put on the desk. I used the fuzzy side for the desk and the scratchy side for the cables, but it doesn’t matter as long as you stay consistent. Figure out where the first cable will go and mount the Velcro under your desk. Then, using the other type of Velcro, wrap it around the cable. Then, you can just stick the two together and the cable will be hidden.


2. Mouse

Don’t use the above step for your mouse cord, because you won’t be able to pull on the mouse when you need to. Instead, clip a binder clip onto the cable, and Velcro the binder clip to the desk. That way, when you pull on your mouse, it can easily slide through the binder clip, but the cord will not be hanging down.


3. Power cables

Okay, I kind of cheated on this one. I used the BlueLounge CableBox to store my power strip and power cables, but you could just as easily use a shoebox. I put the CableBox in one of my desk drawers and just put all the cables in there.


4. Power cable labels

Remember the time when you unplugged your PC instead of your lamp? To prevent that from happening again, I labeled my cables (yes, that rhymes). My motherboard came with some SATA cable labels, but you can also use duct tape or masking tape to label the cables.


Top Tech Items for Your Laptop Bag

If you’re getting ready to travel, or just want to have every tech item under the sun at a coffee shop, this list contains everything you could ever want to bring in your laptop bag!

USB cables It’s never a bad thing to be prepared to charge someone’s device. Lightning, Micro USB, USB-C, heck, even the 30-pin Apple cable and Mini USB.
- USB hub A USB hub can be one of the most useful tech items. You can charge multiple devices, plug in multiple flash drives, and a lot more!
- USB power brick Continuing the USB theme, a USB power brick is great to have with you to charge devices.
- USB extension cable Some USB connectors can block you from using the other USB ports on your laptop. If this ever happens, USB extension to the rescue!
- Ethernet cable This is not very common nowadays, but it still happens: You check into your hotel, and pull out your laptop, ready to connect to the internet. But then you realize… There’s no WiFI! You have to plug your laptop into the Ethernet jack in the wall.
- OTG adapters Ever needed to plug a keyboard, mouse, or flash drive into your phone, or needed to use your tablet to charge your phone? Look no further, OTG adapter to the rescue!
- Headphones Need to listen to music or watch a video in a crowded place? It’s never a bad thing to bring headphones or earbuds with you.
- Power bank It’s happening. You watch in horror as your phone’s battery life slowly gets lower and lower, closer to 0%… You frantically glance around, but there are no outlets to be seen! What do you do? Yup, that’s where the power bank comes in!
- USB mouse Some people swear by their touchpads, but I prefer a nice USB mouse.
- Video cables and adapters Especially if you do a lot of presentation, it’s not a bad thing to have video cables and adapters with you. Make sure you have HDMI/DisplayPort/Mini DisplayPort to VGA, as most projectors still use VGA.


Would You Pay $3 Million for 1GB of Data?

Pay-as-you-go phone plans sound pretty nice. You only pay for how many minutes you call, how many text messages you send, and how much data you use. The text message fees (usually $0.20/message) are a bit high, but not too unreasonable. Until you do the math:

Text messages are limited to 160 characters. The average text message is probably around 80-90 characters. SMS messages use 7-bit characters. Therefore, the average text message is around 595 bits, or 74 bytes. You are paying $0.20/74 bytes, or $0.003/byte. We can then multiply that by 1,073,741,824 (how many bytes in a gigabyte) to get $2,902,004 / 1 gigabyte.


How to Setup a Drive in a Windows PC As Network Storage

My server has a 4TB drive that I use for video archival and media storage. I have been using FileZilla Server to access the files stored on there, but I have been searching for a more seamless way to access the storage on the server for months and haven’t been able to find anything! I finally figured out how to do it, so I thought it might be a good idea to write up a tutorial on how to do it.

Step 1

Allow network discovery and file sharing on both the client and server computers. I’m not sure if you need a FileZilla server to be running on the server computer. If this tutorial doesn’t work without FileZilla, setup FileZilla Server and then try it again.

Step 2

On the server computer, use the net share command to choose which folders/drives are shared with the network.

Syntax:
net share Name=C:\Path
net share Name /delete

Step 3

On the client computer, right click on This PC and click “Map network drive”. Choose a drive letter and, under Folder, type the following:

\Computer-Name\Folder\Name

Windows might ask you for credentials. If it does, type in the following:

Username (substitute NAME for your Windows username on the server computer): Computer-Name\NAME
Password: The password you type in to login to the server computer.

Step 4 (optional)

If you want, right click on the network drive(s) you mounted and rename them to something you like. 


My List of Things to Do When Bored

If you’re like me, you’re often stuck with nothing to do :/

Here’s a list I created. I should update it when I think of other things to do.

- Organize your files. There’s almost always time to organize your digital files. It can make your computer faster in some cases.
- Perform a clean install of Windows. It usually takes a few hours, but makes your computer run a lot faster than before!
- Make your own YouTube video
- Import your music into Spotify. I really love Spotify! You can import your own music into Spotify and stream it to all your devices, or stream songs you don’t own.
- Browse Amazon and eBay. You don’t have to have any money to do this, nor do you have to buy anything.
- Learn a programming language
- Take a free online course
- Contribute to Wikipedia, WikiHow, or any other wiki/tutorial site.
- Contribute to Google Maps. You can submit information about places on Google Maps, including business hours, websites, and even pictures of the location.
- Create your own subreddit
- Upgrade your computer or swap similar components with a friend
- Clear out your inbox


(Windows) How to Schedule Zipped Backups of a Folder

I own and operate a public Minecraft server and one of the things I struggle with is backups. I want to make sure that if the server gets griefed or hacked, my house burns down, or my hard drive dies, my world is still safe. Here is a tutorial on how to build a batch file that will copy and zip those files and move them to Google Drive to be synced to the cloud.

Create a file with the extension of “.bat”. I called mine “backup.bat” and open it with your preferred text editing software (I used Notepad)

On the first line, type the following:

@echo off

This means to not display every command that is being run in the command prompt window.

Now, create a directory on your hard drive. I used the directory “D:\tmp.backup” but you can use anything that works for you. This is where your batch file and temporary files will be stored.

On the next line in your batch file, type the text below, replacing my directory with your directory.

cd D:\tmp.backup

This tells the program where to look for and place the temporary files.

Now, type this code, replacing the first path in quotes with the directory you want to copy, and the second path in quotes with your temporary directory, but add a backslash and the name of the folder you are copying.

echo d | xcopy “DIRECTORY TO COPY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\FOLDER NAME”

If the directory you are copying has subfolders, add a new line for each of those subdirectories.

echo d | xcopy “DIRECTORY TO COPY\SUBDIRECTORY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\FOLDER NAME\SUBFOLDER”

The next two lines of code are used for adding a timestamp to the name of the file.

set hr=%time:~0,2%
if “%hr:~0,1%” equ “ ” set hr=0%hr:~1,1%

If you do not want the timestamp, do not add these lines to your batch file.

Go to http://www.7-zip.org/download.html and click the download that says “7-Zip Command Line Version”. Copy the executable file out of the downloaded zip folder and put it in your temporary directory. The code for zipping the folder will not work unless you download this!

7za a -tzip FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip “FOLDERNAME”

Use this code if you want the timestamp. The name of the zip folder will look something like “FOLDERNAME_2017_02_20.zip”.

If you do not want the timestamp, use this code:

7za a -tzip “FOLDERNAME.zip” “world”

Paste the below code in your batch file to copy the zipped directory to Google Drive, or whatever backup service you are using.

echo yes | xcopy FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip “FOLDER-IN-BACKUP-SERVICE\FOLDERNAME"

If you didn’t use the timestamp, use this code:

echo yes | xcopy FOLDERNAME.zip “FOLDER-IN-BACKUP-SERVICE\FOLDERNAME"

Now, use this code to delete the zipped folder that still remains in the temporary folder

echo yes | del FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip

Again, if you didn’t use the timestamp, use this code:

echo yes | del FOLDERNAME.zip

Use this code to delete the copy of the folder in the temporary directory

echo yes | rmdir /s “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\FOLDER NAME”

Last but not least, type the word ‘pause’ in on the last line. This tells Windows not to close the window after it finishes

pause

Here is a copy of the code file with the timestamps”

@echo off
cd TEMPORARY DIRECTORY

echo d | xcopy “PATH OF FOLDER TO COPY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\NAME OF FOLDER TO COPY”
echo d | xcopy “PATH OF FOLDER TO COPY\SUBDIRECTORY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\NAME OF FOLDER TO COPY\SUBDIRECTORY”

set hr=%time:~0,2%
if “%hr:~0,1%” equ “ ” set hr=0%hr:~1,1%

7za a -tzip FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip “FOLDER NAME”

echo yes | xcopy FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip “FOLDER IN BACKUP SERVICE”

echo yes | del FOLDERNAME_%date:~-4,4%_%date:~-10,2%_%date:~-7,2%.zip

echo yes | rmdir /s “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\FOLDER NAME”

pause

Here is a copy without the timestamps:

@echo off
cd TEMPORARY DIRECTORY

echo d | xcopy "PATH OF FOLDER TO COPY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\NAME OF FOLDER TO COPY”
echo d | xcopy “PATH OF FOLDER TO COPY\SUBDIRECTORY” “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\NAME OF FOLDER TO COPY\SUBDIRECTORY”

7za a -tzip FOLDERNAME.zip “FOLDER NAME”

echo yes | xcopy FOLDERNAME.zip “FOLDER IN BACKUP SERVICE”

echo yes | del FOLDERNAME.zip

echo yes | rmdir /s “TEMPORARY DIRECTORY\FOLDER NAME”

pause

Now, open Task Scheduler and click “Create Basic Task” on the left. Type in a name and description, and choose how often you want the backup to happen.

When you get to Action, click “Start a program”. Click Browse, and find your batch file. Click Next and Finish. Enjoy your backups!

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