Automatically Importing Notability notes into Evernote

In this earlier post, I outline why Notability is my preferred app for taking hand-written notes on my iPad.

In concert with my handwritten notes, I’ve developed a paperless workflow that I use to automatically ((Well, as close to automatic as you can get–this process still requires opening Evernote in order to suck up the Notability notes)) import my Notability notes into Evernote.

I do this for a few reasons: the first is I use Evernote as my central repository for “keeping all my things” so it makes sense to be able to archive my notes in this way; secondly, as I am a premium Evernote user, the notes get OCR’d, so not only are they archived, but can appear as I search for items in Evernote ((It is worth noting that Evernote does a fairly poor job of OCR’ing my handwriting. In order to make the notes searchable, I always add a few keywords to the note using the typewriter tool in Notability or add a very descriptive title)).

So, based on this question from Jeff Aman, let me outline how I do this.

First, and perhaps the deal-breaker for some, you need to have a Windows install of Evernote. For some reason, only the Windows version has the “Import Folder” feature that I use to make this work.

This solution also requires linking Dropbox to your Notability app to automatically back-up your notes.

So, with your Dropbox account in hand and a Windows install of Evernote, here’s how to set things up.

1. First, in Notability, open up the app settings by selecting the gear in the lower right-hand side.

2. Now, selecting the “Auto-backup” option, ensure that Dropbox is linked to Notability (or go ahead and link it).

Notability and Dropbox

3. When you press the blue settings button to the right of the Dropbox setting (visible in the screen shot above), you are brought to Dropbox-specific configuration options. Notability notes need to be backed up into a separate, Notability-only Dropbox folder. Also you’ll want to ensure that the export file format is PDF.

Notability Dropbox folder

At this point, you should be successfully backing your notes up to Dropbox. Now what remains is importing these files into Evernote.

4. Opening up Evernote (in Windows), select the “Tools” drop-down menu. In that menu, you’re looking for the “Import Folders” option. Select it with a left-click.

Windows Import Folder

5. A new dialogue box will appear with an “Add…” button. You’ll select this button and then navigate to the synced Dropbox folder containing your Notability PDFs. You’ll have the option of selecting what Notebook new notes are imported and if you want to keep or delete the PDF files once imported. FWIW, I keep the PDFs. Click OK!

Evernote Windows Import FoldersWith this step done, whenever you launch Evernote, it will monitor the Import folder. If a new PDF from a Notability note has been added to the Dropbox folder through the auto-backup process, it will be imported into Evernote.

Now, the process isn’t entirely perfect–while Evernote has never missed a PDF, duplicate versions of the same note appear at times. I suspect this has to do with how Evernote monitors for new files in the Import Folder and how Notability manages the Dropbox back-ups: there can be times where an “old” note gets a new date and Evernote treats it as a new file. While not great, I’d prefer two of the same file rather than missing a file completely.


Letting the jobs come to you

Creative Commons License photo credit: jypsygen

The academic hiring season is going to start ramping up soon. If you’re new to the whole process, it pays to spend a little preparation time before the season starts so that you have to spend as little time as possible on finding and applying to positions when things begin in earnest. Trust people when they say that searching and applying is like a job in-and-of-itself and inevitably, you won’t have as much time as you want to dedicate to the task. So anything to streamline the process is a good thing.

I’m concentrating on the finding jobs part in this post. For my own academic job search, I found that searching for positions can be quite time consuming so I took the philosophy that I wanted the jobs to come to me. The underlying philosophy is push vs. pull. When you go out looking for a job in a paper, you’re “pulling” that information. It requires that you search the job ad out; more importantly it also means that you are spending time searching even if there isn’t a job you could apply for inside the paper. “Pushing”, not surprisingly, is the opposite. It’s about the job ad coming to you, much like a friend that connects you to a job they heard about.

I used three web-based services, two in conjunction, to help me: Google alerts, my RSS reader and a web page to RSS feed converter.

Google alerts

Once set-up, Google will send you an email containing the web pages that it has found containing the search terms you’ve provided. I had two alerts set-up last year:

“environmental studies” “tenure track” and “environmental education” “tenure track”

The same Google-fu you use for crafting your searches come into play here. So, I sent Google out to look for pages that had the terms tenure track (not just tenure or track, but both; that’s what the quotation marks do) and my two fields, environmental ed and environmental studies. I then chose what kind of notification worked best (Google can send hits immediately; I settled for daily).

Since setting these up in August 2010, I’ve received 185 emails directing me to pages with tenure-track and environmental studies and 10 emails for my environmental education search. Most were positive hits: ads for tenure-track jobs. Some results are false-positives. Most recently, for example, I got a link to a page trumpeting a University president’s record of starting an environmental studies program and the plans to hire new tenure-track faculty. Not exactly a job ad, but potentially interesting information none-the-less.

RSS reader & web page to RSS converter

Many web pages have a RSS feed that you can subscribe to using a RSS reader (e.g. Google Reader). I like subscribing to feeds because it means I can consolidate my attention in one place: visit my RSS reader once, and every new item since I last visited will appear. No need to visit all the blogs I’m interested in following individually.

Many departmental or faculty hiring sites lack an RSS feed. This typically means you need to bookmark the site and remember to visit it often enough that if a position is posted, you notice. Frustratingly inefficient. Thankfully, the web service Page2RSS can  help here. Rather than bookmarking a hiring site, I simply turned it into an RSS feed, then added it to my reader. When new positions were posted, I saw them appear in my reader. Page2RSS even will send you a tweet. Many disciplines have an aggregate listing of jobs (see the CAG job listing, for example). Page2RSS is perfect to set up this webpage as an RSS feed that will deliver new jobs to you, as they’re posted.

There can be a bit of “noise” with this method: any changes to the site will get pushed as an update. So if a department updates a news widget, you might get notification of that. On the whole, however, I found it to be of enough value that I didn’t mind the extra noise. It’s especially valuable when a site doesn’t offer to email you when new jobs are posted.

Job aggregation sites

A strategy that I didn’t mention as part of my web-based services but equally helpful are the job alerts that some (University Affairs being a notable exception) sites allow you to subscribe to. I’ll use the Chronicle of Higher Education job section as the example, though different sites offer similar services. After signing up for an account, you can set-up a job alert, which will send you an email when a job is posted that matches your search criteria. These sites are a rich source, which is why I wanted to mention them. No special hocus-pocus, however, in getting them to work. Register, subscribe and you’re getting job postings right away.

How-to Ollie

How-to: Create a kayak crate for the transportation of a Border Terrier (or any other small dog breed) on the deck of a tandem sea-kayak

My challenge: to take Ollie (at the time, a five-month-old Border Terrier puppy) on our regular summer sea-kayaking trips on Georgian Bay. Canoeing with a dog is easy. Kayaking with a dog seemed a bit more difficult. So I dreamt up a contraption that would allow Ollie to join us on these kayaking trips. Thanks to my Dad helping in the construction!

Witness it, in situ:

The tandem kayak with Ollie's Kayak crate

My criteria in the creation of the crate:

  • Traction: Kayak decks are fibreglass with a shiny gelcoat. Ollie would need a surface that would allow him some sort of gription as dog nails on gelcoat doesn’t really work.
  • An edge: In wavy conditions, the kayak can pitch quite suddenly. Having something that would contain the dog would help him stay on the boat while in swells seemed important.
  • Sun protection: All day kayaking without sun protection would equal fried puppy. My perfect design would offer some kind of sun protection.
  • Wind sturdy: Winds on Georgian Bay can be fierce (for example we had one evening this trip of ~ 45 km / h winds or 6 on the Beaufort Scale). Any extras (such as the sun protection) would have to stand up to a whipping wind.
  • Waterproof: This seems obvious.
  • Protects the Kayak: Since the Kayaks aren’t mine, I figured it would be bad if it ended up scratching the kayak when installed.

So with these criteria in mind, I set to creatin’. Since the kayak crate was a success, I’ve provided an illustrated step-by-step guide if you’re interested in making one yourself.