October 7th, 2011

test tube

Electronic lab notebook question

Hello! I haven't written anything in livejournal for weeks. If you're wondering where I've been, the answer is mostly at home. If you're wondering why you haven't seen anything from me (and are wondering if I'm writing lots of secret things which are filtered away from you), the answer is that I genuinely have not posted anything since my public post of 22nd September. Why not? I've been busy with trying to sort out my body clock and get back into working...

I have a backlog of 5 or 6 posts to make when I find spoons for them (maybe this weekend?), but for now, I have a question for anyone who knows anything about postgraduate students and/or Macintosh computers.

I'm looking for lab notebook software that time-and-date-stamps everything you write. It's important to keep good records in case of disaster later, and it's important to have clear what you knew when. However, most of the programs labelled as "electronic lab notebooks" are designed for industry and are ridiculously expensive and feature-ful. Apparently, other postgraduate students have used Evernote, Google Notebook, Circus Ponies Notebook and wiki and blogging software - but I'm not sure how they're "getting away with it" since only wikis (to my knowledge) will datestamp everything. Even blogs are editable later, though I don't *think* you can fake the datestamp on the initial post.

Does anyone have any ideas that are easier to use than a wiki? Having to learn something akin to HTML simply to mark up my own lab notebook seems almost as much hassle as writing it out by hand, though there may be wiki editors like livejournal clients available now. (I still miss Semagic after switching from Windows to Mac - Xjournal is miles better than typing directly into the web interface, but awful compared to Semagic).

Feel free to point other people directly at this post - it's public, after all. And if you have any ideas for communities where I could ask questions like these, please let me know. The PHD Comic forums are down, and the old Papers (Mac research program) forum where you could ask anything has closed, so I'm pretty stuck for options. Thanks!

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