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Notational Velocity / nvALT: 10 power user tips & tricks

Notational Velocity (NV) is a “modeless, mouseless Mac OS X note-taking application”, as the author describes it, which is elegant, attractive, and powerful. The original application has inspired various forks, of which nvALT is perhaps the best, and adds some very useful new features. In this article I’ll show you 10 power user tips and tricks to get the most out of nvALT.

1. Use NV as a knowledge organiser

NV is a great place to keep text of any kind:

  • tips
  • ideas
  • reminders
  • notes
  • meeting agendas and minutes
  • checklists and workflows
  • recipes
  • procedures and howtos
  • draft writings
  • cheat sheets

You can use it as a kind of external brain pack or databank: anything you think you might need again, stick it into NV. You never need to save; everything you type in is saved automatically.

It’s easy to find notes: just start typing in the title area and NV searches as you type, listing all matching notes.

If no note matches what you’ve typed, just press Enter to create a new note with that title. Simple, but brilliant!

NV works best with lots of short notes: for example, instead of one big note called ‘Recipes’, make separate notes: one for bolognaise, one for shepherd’s pie, one for cheesecake, and so on. If you put the word ‘recipe’ in the title, typing that will instantly find all your recipes.

Read more »

Sysadmins Take Note

After many years as a professional sysadmin, my best tip for those just starting out is: take notes. Our job is basically about solving hard problems. (If they were easy, users would have solved them already.) This being so, keeping a detailed notebook of everything you do is like having an external brain pack. You don’t have to remember or rediscover how you solved that bizarre DNS problem back at your last gig; it’s in the book. You don’t have to reread the man page for half an hour to remind yourself how to self-sign an SSL certificate; it’s in the book. And you don’t have to waste time wondering where you got to on the current project at the end of last week; it’s in the book. Read more »

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