My Brain

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My BrainThis isn't really about my brain—or maybe it is.

Back in the late 1990s (1998 maybe?), I attended an IBM conference where IBM was introducing a new technology gadget. They called it the IBM WorkPad and it was a neat little handheld device where you could keep notes, your contact lists, calendar, and tasks—all in the palm of your hand!  There was no keyboard, you used a plastic pencil-looking stick to navigate and "type." And, of course, you could use it to help manage your IBM enterprise systems, which is why it was branded as the WorkPad rather than the PalmPilot.  They had a fantastic offer—50% off. If I remember correctly, that was about $150, still a huge "investment" for me on my non-profit income.

This was in the days before we all had hundreds of passwords (well, those of us working in technology were starting to have them in volume!), before the Internet was common on our desktops, before you had to sign into everything and anything! But, I still had plenty of small details to keep track of, and I soon dubbed this little wonder machine My Brain.

Why did I name the WorkPad My Brain

IBM WorkPad, circa 1998IBM WorkPad, circa 1998
My first Brain

It came with a nice leather pouch to protect it, was easy to carry around, but what made it invaluable to me was the Notepad feature. Why was that so valuable? I soon learned that I could strategically enter all kinds of data—login information and passwords (mine and others), support phone numbers, websites, tips, account numbers—ANYTHING I needed to keep track of, and could find it in SECONDS by searching for one of the words that described it. 

So, over time, I filled the magic machine with addresses, phone numbers, calendar entries -- and tons of Notes!  I upgraded My Brain at least three times (eventually, to the PalmPilot, which was really the same thing without the enterprise system capabilities that really didn't work). The last hardware upgrade had the ability to connect to the Internet.  Imagine that, connecting to the Internet on a mobile device! (I used it to check out movies at the then Carousel Center—it was a pretty primitive connection back then). But, what was most valuable to me was the lightning-fast search capability and the ability to easily sync with my desktop, allowing me to enter my important information really quickly with my keyboard, and take My Brain everywhere with me.

So, time goes by and the mobile "brick" phones become flip phones, that finally become smartphones.  And, yes, I was a late adapter (thanks to my non-profit income). And, yes, I was one of those people that carried both my flip phone and my PalmPilot around with me. 

Why?

 A number of reasons:

  • As time went on, the amount of detailed information I was keeping track of in My Brain had grown exponentially.
  • I had been to enough security seminars to not trust putting all that information on my phone.
  • I couldn't find any apps that performed for me as well as My Brain.
  • I wasn't able to use the apps on both my phone and my desktop.

Pretty much, I was mourning the eventual demise of my brilliant little tool.  How long could I keep this one working? Over time, I moved my calendar to Google—a superior replacement. I moved my phone numbers to my smartphone—good for those people I call frequently. But, I still didn't have a replacement for my detailed contact information, and more importantly, my searchable notes, where I found the MOST value from this tool. 

A miraculous discovery!

And then, a miracle! I found something EVEN BETTER than my aging PalmPilot!

During one of my mourning/desperate searching sessions, I came upon a software tool that looked promising. B-Folders by JointLogic showed up in my search! (Full disclosure—I currently am only a customer of this amazing software company, but, while writing this post, I learned that they offer an affiliate program I may join in the future.)B-Folder websiteB-Folders—my current Brain
(Don't let the dated look of the website fool you, this is very good software.)

One of the first things that appealed to me was that I could import the Palm data I had so stubbornly hung on to into this software.  Holy Cow! I figured that option would never appear. A list of other features made it look like it was worth giving the free trial period a spin: Searchable notes; security; syncing with other devices. So, I decided to dive in. And, I haven't looked back since I first tried this in 2013.  

So, why is this a superior solution for me? Might it be something for you to try?

Well, first, I have to say that Google calendar has completely replaced the old calendar on my PalmPilot.  B-Folders does not include that functionality.  And, I mostly use my phone for phone numbers, of course. But, let's move to the features of B-Folders:

  • The instantaneous searching that was so valuable to me on the PalmPilot is just as good in B-Folders.
  • You can install the software on all your devices (sorry, not iPhone or iPad, but it will run on a Mac desktop). 
  • One license covers all your devices—and they don't use a subscription model!
  • Easily sync between all your devices—easier than the PalmPilot ever was—and that was easy! 
  • Security - your data is not stored in the cloud! The database is encrypted with a password-based, government-grade 256-bit AES cipher. And, you can set your devices to lock at different times.  So, your mobile devices can lock after being open for 5 or 10 minutes, and you can keep your desktop open for hours—or days.
  • Backups are quick and easy.
  • There are a lot of features that I haven't had time to explore related to password management, credit cards, creating your own data templates, tasks, and more.  With the powerful search, I can quickly access anything I need.

One little potential "gotcha".  You NEED to not lose your master password.  There is no way to recover it.  That is part of the strong security.  But, keeping track of one password in your real brain should be easy compared to the hundreds or thousands of details that B-Folders is relieving your real brain of.

So, I happily have My Brain back, and better than ever!

How do you keep track of all the small details?  Have you found tools that you want to share with others? Add to the discussion below!

Do you have a question or suggestion for a future post? Leave it in the comments!

 

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My Brain
February 12, 2018
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