Perfectly Searchable Private Notes

I am participating in the Dear Myrtle’s study group called GenTools Study Group – This week the homework is to describe what I use to keep track of research results.

Not everything I have is digitized, but I’m working on it. At the very least I make electronic notes that either include scanned images or describe things in my need-to-scan pile like a note card grandma mailed to me several years ago filed in the grandma folder…ok it’s more like the grandma and a-few-other-people bin, but its is over *there* in my office. Under *that*.

For my electronic note taking there are many services such as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote and Google Keep that I could use. I tried a couple of them. I wanted to like them, but they just didn’t fit. They do have some features that my choice does not like clipping, sync anywhere, and integrated sharing. But don’t find those necessary.

  • I have print screen for clipping if a document download isn’t available
  • I only have one laptop. I don’t own a smartphone or tablet. If I happen to find something at my local library, and for whatever reason I detached from the oxygen tank that is my laptop, I email myself through gmail (save email as draft), or put things on a USB stick.
  • If I need to share something I send an email.

What’s Holding Me Back?

tin foil hat
Yes, this is my dog. No, I didn’t torture him as much as that look on his face makes it seem.

Companies merge, change, and drop things all the time. I’m not just talking about the recent announcements from Ancestry that turn the genealogy world on its head for the last few days. I’ve got my eye on you Google. And remember the dot-com bust? I worked as a security guard at a site being repossessed by the bank during that time. Talk about an awkward time and place to work while going to college for a computer degree. But I digress…

The biggest necessity for any software I use is the ability to export outside of the proprietary format which, unless they’ve made changes since I last looked, those three services don’t do. I like being able to just get my stuff and go. Easily. Without hassle. Does that sound too paranoid? *adjusts her tin-foil hat* Let’s just call it future-proofing.

So What Do I Use?

I use a program called XAMPP to turn my Windows laptop into a temporary web server so that I may host WordPress on my laptop and use it like any other self-hosted WordPress blog.  My backups are in the form of an SQL file. It’s neat. Tidy. And simple to take to a new program if the need ever arises.

I could simply have an online WordPress blog and make it private, but I’d rather not pay for another url and hosting service just for my notes. WordPress’ free hosting service has a data storage limit I may soon exceed, and I just like having it on my computer.

Guides for hosting WordPress on your own computer:

I haven’t done this yet, but there is also a way to put it all on pen drive, which will give it almost the same portability as those other options. One thing to note is that using a default installation of XAMPP on a public network isn’t recommended. It’s probably ok, but it’s like leaving the front door of your house unlocked. The odds of something bad happening depends on the neighborhood, but even in a nice neighborhood it’s better to lock the door.

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