OneNote in the Cloud

September 28, 2009 at 11:39 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Research | 13 Comments
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In my very first blog, I described how I was building an information management architecture around Microsoft’s OneNote 2007.  As I’ve settled into my new life as an independent consultant, I’ve stumbled across the first difficulty in the strategy I set for myself.  I now have a laptop to take on the road with me and it would be useful to keep the OneNote notebook on there synchronised with the “master” copy on the desktop PC in my home office.  It’s not as bad as it might seem – while there are two copies of the resources on two separate machines, there’s only one user (me) using only one of the machines at any one time.  Of course, I can just copy the relevant folders to the laptop before I set off and then copy them back when I return.  Seems simple enough – I may even remember to do it most of the time.

Marcus_Closeup_bigger

The interesting thing about Microsoft OneNote is that it seems to evoke something approaching fervour in its users.  I found  a website dedicated to harnessing  the existing enthusiasm for this product and raising awareness for its many uses.   Incidentally, you can keep tabs on what’s new on this site by following its fictional hero Marcus on Twitter.  It was through a tweet from Marcus that I came across a blog entry from futurist Dan Rasmus, describing how he manages his work life across multiple computers.  Dan’s blog introduced me to the idea of using cloud storage to accomplish my sync problems which are essentially the same as his. 

So, this led me to investigate and then to sign up for the beta version of Live Mesh, Microsoft’s cloud service, built on the Azure services platform.   For the techies, there’s a decent description of how it all fits together in Wikipedia , but in simple terms, you get 5GB of storage in the cloud, which can be shared between multiple users and synchronised across multiple machines.  As Dan rightly points out, this isn’t real multi-user collaboration.  For that, you’d be better served using the multi-user synchronisation250px-Meshdesktopcapabilities built into OneNote.  However, it does fit my nomadic style of working very well.  I trialled it by using OneNote on my laptop to compose an earlier entry on this blog during a train trip into London.  On arrival, I used the free wi-fi service at a coffee shop to sync my work back to my office PC and it was ready for final edit and publishing to WordPress when I got home that evening.

demo-howto-share-addmembersNo doubt the time will come when I need to give access to OneNote folders to other people.  This is no problem to Live Mesh.  You can invite another user to share the folder – just open the folder on the Live Desktop and use the “Members” option from the mesh bar to email the person you’re inviting.   You get to choose whether they get rights as owner, contributor or just reader.  Simple.  The invitee can then synchronise the shared folder across all the devices in their Live Mesh, and they can invite other people in the same manner.

Of course, this is the point where you’d have to use  OneNote’s multi-user synchronisation capabilities, something I haven’t had the need (or the time) to try out yet.

OneNote in your Pocket

MobileNoter_iconlarge

When I’m out and about, I don’t always need to take my laptop with me.  Oftentimes, my iPhone has most of what I’ll need – diary, contacts, email, even free phone calls over Skype.  By the way, have you noticed how often now people will respond to a question by saying “There’s an app for that!” and looking hugely pleased with themselves?  I mentioned in a previous blog that Mobilenoter has developed an iPhone client for OneNote.  Their app has been in closed beta since late August, but a few days ago, the beta was thrown open to all comers.   I was quick to take advantage of the offer, downloading the iPhone app and also the Windows sync client.  I won’t repeat my earlier description of what this app can do, but I will say that it does it all perfectly.  There was a glitch with the Windows sync client, when I first downloaded.  I logged a support issue and got a reply the next day to say that a new version of the client, fixing the bug, was ready for download.  How’s that for service? (I’d love to show you how the OneNote pages are displayed on the iPhone, with the formatting, graphics and links all intact.  If anyone knows how to take a screen shot on the iPhone, I’d love to hear from you!)

Next Step – Mind Maps in the Cloud

I’m working at the moment with some people in Dubai, developing the early stages of some service offerings.  Our chosen format for this work is mind maps.  Now, mind mapping is a technique I learned many years ago (on paper, using coloured pens – yes, really!).  More recently, I’ve had great service from the very capable Freemind.  Inevitably, I want to be able to work with mind maps while travelling, so I’ve just downloaded Mindmeister for my iPhone.  This is part of the web-based Mindmeister service and in theory allows any of us to create a mind map in Freemind (for example) and then share it through the web service with the other collaborators.   I’ll let you know how we get on in practice.

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13 Comments »

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  1. Have you tried iMindMap which is the only Mind Mapping software licensed by Tony Buzan. Its an amazing piece of software replicating hand mapping as far as a digital version can. Have a look at the 7 day trial version http://www.destech.wordpress.com and search for iMindMap. If you need any further advice or help please contact me. Tim

  2. I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  3. >If anyone knows how to take a screen shot on the iPhone, I’d love to hear from you!

    To take a screenshot you just need to press the sleep and home buttons simultaneously. Thanks for the good review.

  4. […] cloud, iPhone, Microsoft OneNote, MobileNoter In a previous blog entry I described my experiences using the beta version of MobileNoter to access my Microsoft OneNote notebooks from my iPhone, while out and about.  Remarkably, the development team had managed to include everything planned […]

  5. Hi there,
    Thank you so much for mentioning the OneNote community (www.iheartonenote.com)! We are very excited about this community and its exponential growth – as now we have 8,000 registered members!
    Thank you again and keep up with the good work on this blog 🙂
    Cheers!
    Raquel (on behalf of Marcus)

    • Hi Raquel,

      As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on my blog, as a result of following Marcus on Twitter, I’ve been pointed to invaluable information on your web site. The things I’ve learned there have dramatically changed the way I use OneNote – and indeed the way I work.
      Cheers,
      Tom

  6. Your in my feed Mr. V51.

    I like it. Dense, information rich material. You’re on the right track because you came up on the first page of Google for mindmapping and WordPress. That’s pretty impressive.

    I’m a Freemind user myself, mostly because it’s free. But there are some things I really do like about it, especially the exporting. It’s very cool having a flash-based mindmap running on a WordPress page.

    Looking forward to more.

  7. […] consultant requires me to organise large amounts of (often unstructured) information and to share it across my desktop PC and my laptop, for when I’m working away.  At the heart of this strategy is Microsoft’s OneNote 2007 and, […]

  8. […] with you.  If, like me, you switch between a desktop in the office and a laptop for travelling, keeping the note books in sync is easily arranged by using a cloud service, like Live Mesh.  However, for short trips, or for meetings where it might not be appropriate (or practical) to […]

  9. […] written before in this blog about how you can organise information in Microsoft OneNote and synchronise it between an office PC and a laptop.  I’ve also written about how this synchronisation can be extended to the iPhone.  In the […]

  10. I am in Dubai at the moment and I ave found that the OneNote syncing with the new Office Live/SkyDrive thing is not working. I can access my notebooks through the webpage though. Have they blocked syncing for some weird reason?

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your comment – and welcome to my blog!

      I haven’t yet upgraded to Office 2010, so I have no experience of this facility within OneNote. However, my set up using Live Mesh is going to have to change, now Microsoft have decided to merge it into Windows Live Sync. That’s a job for another day …

  11. […] The busiest day of the year was April 7th with 32 views. The most popular post that day was OneNote in the Cloud. […]


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