Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mixed Reaction to Evernote Software

As a devotee of writing tools—let’s face it, I spend more time messing about with typewriters and computers and operating systems than I actually spend writing anything—it’s hard not to get excited about this free Evernote software. 


On the one hand, it seems to do just about everything I've ever wanted a note and information gathering piece of software to do. Screenshots? No problem. One-click gathering of content from the web? Easy. Drag and drop image collecting? Even easier. It’ll sync up your notebooks among as many devices as you install Evernote on.  If you think of something on the go, you can just email it to your Evernote address and it’ll be waiting in your notebook when you get to it later.

On the other hand, it pushes all of my paranoia buttons.

  • Forcing me to register before first use. Why should I need to give out my personal information before I even know I like you?
  • Encouraging me to "sync" all of my notes to the cloud, so that I can access them from other machines. Yeah, I understand this is a benefit, but it’s one I’m not entirely comfortable with. I’d rather the program default to not syncing. Consider: are these servers secured? Do I need to assume that anything I save in Evernote will be accessible to their staff? Or aggressive government investigators? Granted, I know that once I've registered I can set certain notebooks to not sync, but given the share-happy nature of the program I'm not optimistic that this wouldn't be easily switched by accident at some time in the future. And it’s creepy that anyone who guesses my email and password has instant access to all the notes I’ve collected.
  • Loading the interface with features that can only be used by upgrading to a "Premium" account. The free version is plenty functional, but there’s plenty of buttons cluttering up the interface which you can’t remove. When you click on them, you get a pop-up asking you to upgrade. I'd almost be willing to do this, except for
  • The monthly payment model. Sorry, but I'd be much happier to purchase your software all at once, rather than a little bit every month. (Yes, I know I’ll save money if I pay for the year in advance. That’s still a period. That ends.) Say I come upon hard times? Do the notes and content I've created under Evernote's premium functions become inaccessible if I don’t pay?  
  • The use of ads on the interface. They're small and tucked in the dead space at the bottom left. They even provide you with a little "x" to click on, to close this part of the window. But clicking on that “x” brings up the offer for the premium package again. This feels like a bit of a slap in the face. Does the ad come back if my subscription expires?

This is why I never get anything done. Nice tools come along, and instead of using them to make anything, I work myself into a paranoid frenzy.  

Think I might make an exception this time, though. For gathering web-clips and doing any kind of journalistic work or blogging, this program is hard to beat. It’s one of the few cases where I’ve found something new and shiny to use on my computer that’s better than the software we had fifteen or twenty years ago.

It difficult to begrudge the software engineers’ their business model. I guess I’ll just bite my tongue and use the free version for a month or two and see if it becomes indispensible, doing my best to ignore my privacy concerns.

After all, I’m just not that interesting. What snoop is going to care what I think about ■■■■ ■■■ or ■■■■■■’■ role in ■■■■■■ anyway?

1 comment:

  1. That's what I thought when I started using it, but about 2 months later my skepticism has converted to amazement.

    I have to agree I don't like the subscription payment method; however, I'm am a HUGE fan of evernote. I've found so many uses for this software - it amazes me daily how much I can do with it. I'm thinking I will pay for it next year, just because it is so awesome.

    For instance, I've just learned how to set up a connection between google reader and evernote using ifttt. Now when I scan through my google subscriptions, and I want to read something later, I "star" it on google reader. ifttt recognizes this and sends it to evernote with my ToRead Tag. Evernote has become my centralized one stop shop.

    The differences between the free and paid versions are not that big. First of all, I don't use pdf very often. I'll use jpg instead. The software's OCR is another favorite feature. I have scanned some very hard to read handwritten notes (recipes actually), and evernote recognized my handwriting.

    I'm not sure where, but I remember reading if you stop paying, you won't lose your data, since it's yours. You'll be able to access it as a free users, plus you can export it. Free users can upload 60MB per month - which is plenty. I love the fact that there isn't maximum storage cap. I could go on... but I'll stop now. Have fun checking it out. : )