A short distance to a minor deviation

Catchy subject eh? I am a master of creating subjects or headers with no real basis in what I am gonna write. Call it my particular skill or irritation and frustration point. Perhaps you have stopped reading already. I’m totally cool with that. You will miss a minor deviation from all the wonders of Ho Chi Minh City.

Taking Notes on Mac and IOS – my 2019 and onward revisions

I like taking notes and then being able to edit said notes on my iPhone or my MacBook. Its a thing I do sitting in the room in the mornings and then when I’m out eating lunch or having coffee or over dinner. There is always something more to take note of. I also enjoy applications which sync flawlessly using iCloud between devices. I want the same info and roughly user experience between the devices and if I pay for a subscription, I expect to have gratification from the application developers.

To reach there, I’ve tried any number of Notes apps like OneNote, Apple Notes, Evernote, Ulysses, and on and on. This is all leading me to the app which now has my attention and is actually a joy to use whether in the room on the laptop or on the move. That app is Bear. So what about bear keeps this old retired guy enthralled and using it and not hunting a new app? Here are a few reasons I can think you may want to consider to try or not try:

  1. Its fast. The syncing action is not a sinking action on the MacBook and my iPhone. Everything happens in really fast time and my notes are there when I need them.
  2. The UI and its beauty and simplicity. I do not need a thing overly complex and I really enjoy the use of tags to split or join notes and see them in various sections. I also enjoy linking to another note by typing two left brackets and seeing the existing notes show up. If I am in a tag area like #writing and I create another note it maintains that tag. Cool beans and it lessens workflows to get things where I want them.
  3. Linking notes to other things. You can link between Bear and other apps. By coping the Bear Notes Link it will open from the other application on the MacBook or my iPhone. There is a nice collaboration at work there.
  4. Subscription Models work. I believe it’s a value thing for subscription models and application developers will create value if they see you have skin in the game for the long term.

My Diary on MacBook and IOS in 2019

I’ve gone back and forth on an app to do this. There is a separation line between the blur of consciousness stuff I want to record like a conversation for my future self or a thing to clear from my mind or a frustration or a vent and a note that captures a thing to me.  The note is often undated while the journal entry is not.

So enter Day One for the diary. I use this app on both my MacBook and iPhone too and it has some of the same rationales as above. Its a joy to use and it tags the location and keeps track of where you are and will bug you to create journal entries. I need that sometimes. I don’t have a list of reasons because many cross over. What I expect from a diary app is crispness and a clean interface that lets me get right to writing these time and thought based blurs of things. If an area  demands more exploration or explanation or links of thought, I create a note in Bear and link it as mentioned before. If I start something Bear and I want to reference it in a Day One journal post (like about travel ideas) I can create that linkage.

Combining it all into one thing

That’s impossible and I no longer want a single thing like for awhile i did with Ulysses. I appreciate the closeness but separation of well-designed applications with different UI and purposes is very cool and a desired thing. I want to have my travel notes reference the detailed list of things I keep in Google Sheets but be separate. I want to reference diary posts in Bear. Easy peasy!

Finally, I want to bring it all and find it all on my devices. For me the whole Apple Ecosystem just works the best for me. For you it may be Google Docs. I used that for a long time and its closely integrated. If I moved to a Chromebook particularly with an Android phone, I would export and move.

That’s the final thing for me. I want the ecosystem integration but I also want a way to bail if the time comes. Both of these apps offer attractive and advanced ways to export information and I’ve tested both with a different journaling app that resides on Google Drive.  I cannot see myself leaving though.

What I can see is upgrading in 2020 to a new MacBook or getting the 2019 iPad Air device with the smart keyboard and bidding adieu to laptops completely. It would be easier to travel with just the iPad and iPhone I think. Charging and maintenance, weight and size, comparable use and applications would be ideal!

Give it some thought in your experiment of one. I have not found the final end point. I have found a way station stop along my path that lets me integrate my notes and diary entries. Does it make it all worth it? Perhaps. It does make the trip more fun and keeping detailed notes on travel in Bear is the best! Day One really lets me focus and create thoughts and talking to my future and sometimes past self. I think both are important and finding ways for me to tie them together thoughtfully has been damned good.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.