- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

In the early days of PC computing, there were all sorts of little programs that made life easier. One was Borland Software’s Sidekick that let people keep vital information at hand on their computers.

Press a keystroke or two and, presto, the data was there. I had a colleague at work in the early 1990s who could not be separated from his copy of the software.

Sidekick is long gone. Many of its functions have been replaced by features in Microsoft’s Windows and in other products such as Outlook.

But it would be nice to have some pop-up features now and then; such as a way to take notes on the fly and then use that information at another time. You can do this in a word processor, just open a new window.

There is a “notes” feature in Outlook but you must have Outlook running, switch into the program, call up a new note and then enter your text. That’s a lot of steps and for many simpler is better, much better.

In their spare moments, some programmers at Logos Research Systems in Bellingham, Wash., came up with just such a program. It’s called NoteScraps, the price is $20, and it’s available for users of Windows XP and Windows Vista. You can use the software in “trial” mode, though that’s limited to 10 such notes.

I don’t have Vista on a PC, yet, so I had to make sure that Microsoft’s “.NET” computing framework was installed first. Doing that took about 10 minutes; then the download and install of NoteScraps. So far, so good.

The notes are the electronic version of sticky notes, which dot many of our desks, computers and even our paper day planners. Typing on them is simple and easy, and each note “shrinks” in the program’s window as you add more. The text is always available and can be selected, highlighted, and copied into a Microsoft Word document, or another application.

It’s kind of a tossup between using existing tools and something such as NoteScraps, whose demo video boasts,”There’s no menus, just your notes.”

And that’s true, there are simple commands to create and search a note, and all notes, date and time stamped, are kept in one file on the PC, easy to find and export as needed. Overall, however, not having to take many steps into Outlook’s notes feature is an advantage.

Will NoteScraps be the great deliverance for PC users? I don’t know, but there is a parallel product in the Macintosh world that might give a clue.

The Mac OS X operating system has long boasted its own “Notes” program, which many Mac devotees swear by as incredibly useful and reliable. That should offer some hope to NoteScraps’ developers: they might well be onto something.

Just one glitch, so far, for some odd reason, the registration code sent to me didn’t “take” when pasted into the “unlock” section of the program.

I’ll keep trying, though, since once unlocked the program seems capable of an unlimited number of notes, which is certainly a good thing. You can find more about it at www.notescraps.com. If you are a Windows XP or Windows Vista user, I’d certainly recommend your checking it out.

• Read Mark Kellner’s Tech Blog, updated at https://www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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