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My brain has a limited capacity to store knowledge. In the past, I frequently needed to think about a particular topic and remembered finding valuable resources for it, but didn’t remember enough to find them again. The internet alleviate this problem. It is easy to write stuff down on the internet, and then find it again later.

Right now I use Google Notebook. When I find information on a topic I am or might be interested in, I write it down or link to it and describe it. If I have a preexisting note I add the information there; if I don’t, I start a new one. That way, when I decide to revisit the topic, I can search and find sources that I have already come across. When I find a paper that I might want to read later, I write a note to myself, so that I can find it later if I decide to read it.

Here’s a typical note, from my “Investment” notebook:

Online banking, higher rates than capital one
offering 4.1% when capital one was at 2.96%
offshore bank maybe a little sketchy

also high CD rates for large sums 100k – 7.5%
not FDIC insured key

some skepticism about it

I found some interesting information online on banking, that I thought might be useful in the future, so I wrote it down for the next time I have to make a related decision. I wish I could do this with my school-real life note taking and store it on a computer where it is searchable.

I also occasionally look though my notebooks without a specific goal in mind. I do this for a couple reasons; 1) I can correct misspellings and errors, 2) sometimes it inspires me to look to go and read something or spend time thinking about an idea I had, and 3) leafing through it helps me remember what resources I actually have in there, which is important if I don’t want to start from scratch next time

I suspect that I will stop using Google Notebook soon because Google has seemingly stopped updating the application. Google has removed the application from their menu bar in Gmail. The search feature is also somewhat limited; for example, if I search for ‘auction’ it doesn’t do the regular Google things like also searching searching for ‘auctions’.

I don’t know what software I should use. I do know that Zoho has a Notebook (though it doesn’t seem to have a search feature!), and Second Brain seems interesting (though it doesn’t seem focused around note taking), but I haven’t played around with any software for an extended period.

Do other people do this sort of thing too?

Lately, I have been more aggressive about managing my finances. One tool I think would be useful for doing so is to get historical data from my bank of my account balances, deposits, withdrawals and other similar information in a format easy to paste into Excel. That way I could graph trends in my spending, income and total wealth and calculate other aggregate variables.

Such data could help me make better decisions in a number of ways. For example, if I always had a lot of money in my checking account (which pays lower interest than my savings account), graphing my average checking account balance would be useful because I could save money by making sure to keep more money in my savings account instead of my checking account. It would also be quite useful to be able to easily put fairly precise dollar amounts on my total income and total spending, and the ability to monitor trends in my spending on fuel could help me make decisions about my future car decisions.

I was somewhat surprise and disappointed to learnĀ  that my bank does not provide a way to get such data. I doubt creating the feature would be very difficult, and I doubt that I would be the only person who would find such data useful. I am not sure why they don’t offer it.

As I have become more serious about reading, I have become much meaner to my books. My books suffer all sorts off abuse; they get written in, tossed in my backpack, tabbed, eaten over and generally abused. Most of my soft covers have mushed corners, and even my hardcovers have scratches and dirt on the edges.

My dad has the opposite attitude toward his books. He covers all his books in heavy paper wrappings before he reads them and is generally very careful with them, and he has always admonished me to be gentle with my books.

My father and I are very similar in many other respects, so I am not sure what could account for the difference between our attitudes towards books. Perhaps the difference is simply generational, but I asked him if books used to be a lot more expensive and he claims they’re actually more expensive now. He claims that the difference is that he sees that books are meant to be treated well so that you can have a library, but I already have a bookshelf of which I am proud, despite their condition. Sometimes I even buy books that I have already borrowed from the library and read, just so I can show them off on my bookshelf.

I have noticed that I am somewhat embarrassed to lend out my books because I have written in them, and I am afraid that others will think less of me after reading the silly or arrogant things I have written. My dad thinks my embarrassment means I will learn to be respectful of my books, and I suppose that is possible.

I’m moving back to Seattle and starting school in a few days, so blogging will be light for the next few days.

Coyote says:

there is a LOT of bitching out there about the new IPod classics.

I purchased one four days ago (along with a MacBook). It’s still in the mail. I guess this will teach me a lesson to research everything well before I buy. At least I researched the MacBook.