Organizing TidBits of Information

If you're like me, you tend to find lots of information while you're on the internet that you would like to hold on to for future reference.

This happens to me a lot while visiting a wood carving forum or poking around a website...
It's not uncommon for me to spend time at Amazon.com checking out new tools, books, and magazines that interest me.
It seems like I'm always looking up something new on Google or Ask.com.
Put a blog in front of me or let me find a new "how-to" video on YouTube and there's no end to the pieces of information I can accumulate.
I have this habit of finding information and saying to myself "I could really use this stuff - I need to hold on to it"

Trouble is, how does a body collect, catalog, and reference all these different types of informational TIDBITs for later use?

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Now I know there are ways to do this if you want to take the time to develop a note card system and write everything down and make a catalog....bla bla bla... You get the idea - a lot of work and then If I want to change how I organize stuff, I have to start all over again. Not the way I want to approach this.

There are also numerous ways to do this on a computer too and after all, I'm on the computer when I'm finding this information so using this tool makes sense. But, how do I choose which software to use?

My advice: USE WHAT YOU GOT!!

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Until you know exactly how you want to work with your information and how you want to catalog it, why not use a program that came with your computer?

On an Apple Macintosh, that software is called "TextEdit". On the PC, it's called "NotePad".

These are both little software gems that do a great job of helping you collect and organize the data you want to hold on to.

These software packages are called "Rich Text Editors" because they can handle text, pictures, graphics, videos, PDF's, music files, website addresses, email messages - you name it and you can store them in a single file and use these editors to sort through this data and find what you are looking for at a later date.

In addition to being able to throw the kitchen sink at these things, you can adjust the text to include styles such as different fonts, colors, bold, italic, underline - you get the idea.

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OK, so here's how I did it.

First, I created a file in TextEdit and called it "TidBits" (you can name this file whatever you want - just so it makes sense to you). I keep this file on my desktop and located in a corner of the screen. Whenever I'm using my web browser, I make sure that the browser window does not cover up this file icon completely. I leave a small portion visible for quick access.

Next, when I find a piece of information I want to hold on to. I highlight the information and use the copy command to copy this info to my clipboard. Then I click on my TIdBits file to make it active and paste the information into the file. You can also use drag and drop.

Finally, I add a couple of descriptive tags and a note that indicates the reason I wanted to keep this tidbit.

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Here's an example of how this would work:

1) While on the CarveWright website I found some information about the scanning probe and there was a link there to get the plans for a scanning sled. (I think to myself, "Hmm, I should hold on to this info for when I get a scanning probe of my own")
2) So, I highlight and copy that piece of information
3) I then click on my TidBits file to make it active
4) I type in a couple of tags and a note relating to this information
5) I paste the text and link after the note I just made.
6) I save the TidBits file
7) I then click back on my browser to continue looking through the website
8) If I find another bit of info, I would repeat the previous steps

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Here's how the example above would look in my file:

>===
T> scanning, sled, plans, link
D> found some info on the merits of using the scanning probe and a link for plans to build a scan sled
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The CarveWright scanning probe opens up the world of 3D scanning to anyone. Now you can reproduce original pieces, repair antique furniture, and even copy trim and moldings with ease.
To download instructions on how to create your own scanning sled, click here.
>===

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Now I have a file that contains all the bits & pieces of information that I want to hold on to.

When I have a need to look for a certain piece of info, I open this file and use the "search" or "find" command. I type in what I am looking for and step through the file until I find it.

The beauty of this system is that if I should ever decide to upgrade to a better way of categorizing my tidbits, all the data is in this file and I can easily transfer it to a new format.