September has just begun and, in my part of the world, it brings with it the first autumn winds and the grumblings of students as they head back to school. For my part though I can’t help you with your exams or your math homework (I’m only one humble blogger after all).
I can however introduce you to a few programs that may ease your burden and make those hours of studying a little easier. First on the agenda is a nifty little Linux note-taking program for KDE called BasKet Note Pads.
As you probably expect from a note-taking application, BasKet’s main purpose is to arrange all of your thoughts and information in an organized and easily retrievable way. To accomplish this BasKet, not surprisingly, centers around baskets – blank documents that you add notes, pictures and links to. You do that by clicking on any part of the basket, which in turn causes a blue rectangle to pop up.
You can organize your notes into columns (up to twenty on each basket) or just choose the freeform option. If your current basket becomes too large and unwieldy you can always start another one. This results in a hierarchical system of files and folders not unlike the one found in nearly every operating system’s graphical user interface. In this way Basket manages to offer a lot more flexibility than say, a word processor, but still keeps a certain amount of structure that helps you keep your information organized. This makes BasKet a good choice for a wide variety of tasks, but I think you’ll find it particularly useful during large research projects.
You can apply pre-made tags to your various notes so you can tell at a glance if something is “Important,” or “Funny,” etc and you can always create your own tags should the default choices prove too restrictive. This concept is a small part of what seems to be BasKet’s major design philosophy : customize everything. Just about any part of the program you can think of – like the toolbars, keyboard shortcuts, the aforementioned tags and more – can be easily customized.
Customization is never really a bad thing, but I found some of the features and customizations BasKet offers were a bit superfluous. For example, the ability to change the text color and add your own background image may be perfect for Grandma’s stationary program, but it seems silly and useless to me. Especially in a note-taking program, which by its very nature should prize usefulness over looks.
Thankfully, the pointless features do not at all detract from the overall practicality of the program. The filter tool, for example, is basically a search function that makes finding a specific note simple. And the program automatically saves so you don’t have to worry about losing hours worth of research when you’re in a hurry. BasKet also plays nice with other programs. It integrates into Kontact, KDE’s “personal information manager,” and you can integrate links to other programs (like a word processor) into your baskets. And, should you ever choose to include sensitive information in your notes you can protect it with BasKet’s password features.
There is certainly no shortage of note taking programs for Linux. A program called Tomboy leads the pack of programs that are generally very easy to use but also light on features. BasKet, on the other hand, sports considerably more features and an attractive look. Your first look at its busy interface may be a bit bewildering and overwhelming, and the relatively large list of frivolous features and options doesn’t help matters. Still, I am confident that most will find BasKet to be a helpful and worthwhile research tool.
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