By Monte Ferguson
In my day to day life it seems like there is always a bunch of things that I need to remember or follow up on. Or I'll get this great idea and need a quick way of jotting it down for future reference. When I run into that situation my natural inclination is to jot it down on a sticky note. It's quick, convenient, and I can take the note and place it somewhere easy to find. Rather than buried under a pile of papers.
My computing life is just as hectic, if not more so at times. I've often relied upon a number of different ways of storing and organizing the quick bits of information and ideas that I want to deal with later. But I've always run into problems and it has to do with how I deal with things. If I can't find what I'm looking for quickly, I'll either redo something I've done or have to spend time trying to rack my brains for that one idea I thought of last week. Either way some major time can be lost.
At first I thought the MacOS X Stickies program would come to my rescue. But I had to remember to use it. Meaning I had to launch it whenever I needed to jot something down. I also got quickly over run with sticky notes all over the place. With no way to organize them I just threw up my hands. I needed a lightweight program that was as easy to use as Stickie Notes yet things could be found in a heart beat.
Then I found Sticky Brain from Chronos Software. Chronos describes Sticky Brain as a tool to "Store anything. Find anything. One click."
Sticky Brain has been steadily maturing. It started out looking pretty much like the classic Stickies program that Apple ships, with added features. This version, 2.x adds whole new capabilities that definitely make it much more useful than Apple's Stickies.
Sticky Brain can store all kinds of information like text, web and email addresses, file links, calendars and alias' to pictures or sounds. It has built in hot key or contextual menus that allow you to save stuff to Sticky Brain without running the program. New with this release is the Sticky Browser. It works much like an internet search engine. You can type in a few search words and it will immediately come up with a list of matching stickies. You can also preview and edit your stickies in the Sticky Browser. You can assign alarms to your notes. You can create To Do lists and calendars. It even comes with word processing features like a built in spell checker, that works as you type. You can perform text clean up chores on the text you've imported into a sticky note. Helpful if you often grab text from web pages or emails. You can apply a default text style, rewrap paragraphs. StickyBrain supports multiple undos and redos. Each sticky keeps its own record of changes, meaning that you can undo and redo changes multiple times in more than one sticky. StickyBrain also makes automatic regular backups of your StickyBrain File, great for reverting to a previous version. You can also make stickies private. Which will mean you have to type in a password to view their contents.
Sticky Brain is drop down easy to use. We've all used Stickie before. So you'll be right at home in this program in no time. But once you really sit down with it you begin to see some of the features, like text formatting. The electronic help is well written. It does a very good job of explaining the finer points of the program without being over wordy. Being able to import text or web pages into a sticky note without having ot open the program is just awesome. Quite a time saver. Sticky Brain can also import Classic stickies, i.e. stickies from MacOS 9 and earlier.
One of my big gripes is that picture files aren't really stored in the sticky, at least under os x. A pointer to the file, like an alias, is stored in the sticky. Which means that if you delete the file then your sticky “containing” the picture is worthless. Another thing that threw me at first was that some of the more advanced text features are only available when the sticky is open. This may sound pretty obvious but I always view my stickies by using the Browser so that was irritating. If you've used MacOS X stickies and want to import them into Sticky Brain you will be disappointed. Chronos says that the MacOS X stickies use a different file format than the classic version. Which prevents Sticky Brain from importing them. (To their credit they do offer a work around.)
If you're one of those folks who is bombarded by information you've probably tried various ways to get a handle on it. I'd encourage you to give Sticky Brain a try. It's easy to use. You can even invoke it when the program isn't running, via contextual menus. Searching for an item is fast and efficient. The more you use it the more you find to like about the program. I find it indispensable when trying to keep up with all of the items of interest that come my way. This program has become a permanent resident on my Dock.
Posted: Saturday, September 24th, 2005