Relentless consumer of information. Mac lover. Geek. Family Physician working hard to bring technology into the practice of medicine.
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What are the physical limits of humanity?


A new video from Kurzgesagt explores the limits of human exploration in the Universe. How far can we venture? Are there limits? Turns out the answer is very much "yes"...with the important caveat "using our current understanding of physics", which may someday provide a loophole (or wormhole, if you will). Chances are, humans will only be able to explore 0.00000000001% of the observable Universe.

This video is particularly interesting and packed with information, even by Kurzgesagt's standards. The explanation of the Big Bang, inflation, dark matter, and expansion is concise and informative...the idea that the Universe is slowly erasing its own memory is fascinating.

Tags: astronomy   physics   science   space   video
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2989 days ago
The universe erasing traces of its past and its origins is a fascinating idea
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2725 days ago
I finally got around to watching this. It's really interesting and informative, and kind of melancholy-inducing.

You’ve never seen your favorite books like this before

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Unless you’re a particularly earnest kind of grammar nerd, you probably don’t spent much time thinking about punctuation. But yet punctuation is what provides great literature with its excitement (!), decisiveness (.) and intrigue (?).

This is why people have been so intrigued by a new series of graphic visualizations by Adam Calhoun, who by day is a neuroscience research fellow at Princeton. In a series of graphics that were first posted on Medium, Calhoun extracted all of the words from some of his favorite books, leaving only the punctuation.

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun

It might not seem like much at first, but when you compare literary works side by side, the images start to reveal something fascinating about the author's style.

For example, the image below shows two of Calhoun's favorite books, which are written in very different styles. On the left is "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy -- an author whose style is direct, to the point and full of action. On the right is "Absalom, Absalom!" by William Faulkner, who, as you can tell, has a much more complex style, with lots of parentheticals.

Adam Calhoun. "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy is on the left, while "Absalom, Absalom!" while William Faulkner is on the right

Adam Calhoun. "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy is on the left, while "Absalom, Absalom!" while William Faulkner is on the right

Calhoun also created some charts to show just how the use of punctuation differs. On the left below, you can see that "Blood Meridian" is written mostly in declarative statements, with just a few commas and question marks, and an extremely rare exclamation point. "Absalom, Absalom!", on the other hand, is like a treatise in how to use punctuation marks.

blood!blood meridian absalom

Here's how some other books compare on the same measures. Among other things, the chart shows that "A Farewell to Arms" relies heavily on dialogue, and "Alice in Wonderland" uses a fair amount of exclamation points.

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun

Calhoun also graphed how these books compare in terms of sentence length. Once again, William Faulkner is an outlier, with lengthy sentences of more than 40 words each on average. "A Farewell to Arms," by Ernest Hemingway, looks terse by comparison.

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun

The graphic looks different, however, when you break it down by the number of words between clauses -- the words between each punctuation mark, whether it's a period or a comma. Because Faulkner uses so many commas and parenthesis, "Absalom, Absalom!" has relatively few words per punctuation mark. But "Blood Meridian," which uses few commas, has more.

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun

Finally, Calhoun followed a reader suggestion, and created colorful heatmaps out of the full punctuation of each book. In the graphics below, periods, question marks and exclamation marks are red. Commas and quotation marks are green, and semicolons and colons are blue.

colors 1

colors 2

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun

The graphics show just how important punctuation is to a work of literature -- how, even though we pay little attention to periods, commas and exclamation marks, they determine the style and feeling of our favorite works of literature.

“Who doesn't love a perfectly-crafted sentence? But who has a favorite comma or semicolon? Yet it is the fundamental structure to everything that we write,” says Calhoun.

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3073 days ago
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The truth about cold medicine

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(courtesy of Flickr user mcfarlandmo under a Creative Commons license)

(courtesy of Flickr user mcfarlandmo under a Creative Commons license)

To the sick, to the allergic, to the tissue-clutching, stuffy-nosed sufferer, there's a certain aisle in the drug store that offers unbridled hope, where shelves overflow with cold and sinus medicines advertising relief. It seems all a bleary-eyed person needs to do is pluck one from a cornucopia and breathe easy.

Now, science has a more definitive solution to our drugstore dilemma: keep on walking.

A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice in September examined phenylephrine, the decongestant that appears in many over the counter cold medicines found on store shelves, from Tylenol Sinus to Sudafed PE to Advil Sinus Congestion & Pain. Phenylephrine worked no better than a placebo at reducing nasal congestion in people suffering from seasonal allergies -- even at doses four times higher than is typical in cold or sinus medicines.

"It's a ripoff," said Leslie Hendeles, a professor of pharmacy and pediatrics at the University of Florida who receives no funding from drug companies and wrote an accompanying editorial. "Right now, people with a stuffy nose deserve to get relief from an effective medicine."

The study, funded by the pharmaceutical company Merck (which last year sold an allergy medicine that contains a rival decongestant to Bayer), is just the latest piece of evidence to cast doubt on the effectiveness of phenylephrine.

One study showed that majority of the drug is broken down in the gut and the liver, flushed out of a person's system before it makes it into the bloodstream. A 2009 study that will sound especially sinister to anyone who suffers from allergies put 39 patients with a grass allergy into a sealed room called the "Vienna Challenge Chamber." Then, the scientists piped in grass pollen. The people were given phenylephrine, a sugar pill, or another decongestant called pseudoephedrine. Phenylephrine did no better than placebo, while pseudoephedrine -- which must be obtained by going to the pharmacist's counter -- beat them both.

Not everyone agrees that the evidence shows phenylephrine doesn't work -- in 2007, a Food and Drug Administration's advisory committee deemed that evidence was "suggestive" it worked.

"Phenylephrine 10 mg is safe when used according to the label and has been proven effective for nasal decongestion in multiple clinical trials," said Barbara Kochanowski, the vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade association that represents over-the-counter drugmakers.

Evidence of phenylephrine's effectiveness comes from a review that combined and analyzed the results of seven individual studies. It found the drug had a small but real effect on nasal airway resistance, a technical measure of airflow in the nose, in 113 people. One to three hours after taking the drug, people experienced at least a 20 percent reduction in nasal airway resistance.

The new study examined the drug in more than 500 people with seasonal allergies, at escalating doses. That meant it would have increased the amount of the drug that bypassed the gut and liver and made it into the bloodstream. Even then, phenylephrine worked only as well as placebo. The study used a measure of how patients felt-- a nasal congestion symptom score -- instead of measuring nasal airway flow.

So why does phenylephrine persist?

There's a lot at stake: upper respiratory ailments account for $1.1 billion in annual salesin 2014, according to data from the Nielsen Company.

"For well over forty years, consumers worldwide have relied upon phenylephrine to give them much needed relief from nasal congestion caused by the common cold and allergies," Kochanowski said.

Hendeles is drafting his second citizen's petition to the Food and Drug Administration to have phenylephrine reviewed. He argues that companies simply don't want to have to cut into their sales by putting their drugs behind a pharmacy counter, which is required by law for pseudoephedrine. That's because pseudopehedrine can be used to make methamphetamine and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act that was signed into law in 2006 made it harder to obtain.

Rather than have their products vanish from store shelves, companies began reformulating medications that previously contained pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine, Hendeles said. Otherwise, people who didn't know or want to bother to go to a pharmacy counter, people looking for sinus relief in a gas station or airport kiosk that isn't a regulated seller, and people who simply don't read ingredients and trust the words "cold relief" would no longer buy their products.

It can be a confusing situation for consumers, with seemingly identical drugs having different active ingredients. For example, Sudafed has pseudoephedrine in it, but Sudafed PE's active ingredient is phenylephrine. Advil Cold & Sinus has pseudoephedrine, but Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief contains phenylephrine.

While pseudoephedrine has more evidence to support its use than phenylephrine, Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said she tends to recommend patients skip all decongestants. None of the drugs work very well, and they can come with side effects such as jitteriness, dry mouth, and raising blood pressure. Instead, she recommends taking a hot shower or filling a sink with hot water, draping a towel over your head and breathing in the steam.

"The decongestants, in particular, I suspect most of us would not be the least big surprised they’re not the least bit effective, because that’s our experience," Filer said. "Frequently, I find an awful lot of people may get an hour of relief; over the long term they seem to feel worse."

So, advice one step better next time you feel the sniffles coming on: Save your money for soup.

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3165 days ago
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Our maternal mortality rate is a national embarrassment

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The United States ranks near the bottom of the world's wealthy countries when it comes to the number of women who die from due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, according to new data from the World Health Organization. American women die in pregnancy or childbirth more than twice as often as women in Canada. Even worse, the United States is one of only a few countries -- including Zimbabwe and North Korea -- where the mortality rate has risen since 1990.


In the U.S., 14 out of every 100,000 mothers died due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth. That puts it between Qatar (13 deaths) and Bahrain (15) in the ranking of all 184 countries for which the WHO has data. The United States U.S. is ranked 46 out of those 184 countries, barely in the top 25 percent. By contrast, in Canada only 7 out of 100,000 mothers died in pregnancy or childbirth. American women are over four times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as women in Greece, Iceland or Poland, where the rate is 3 out of every 100,000.

We're one of the world's wealthiest countries, and we spend way more on healthcare than other rich nations. So how did we end up here?

For starters, you can see parallel trends in our infantmortality rate relative to other countries, too. Part of it is access to quality health care: healthcare: poor American moms have less access to care, and may not even be covered by insurance at all. This isn't the case in many other countries, where health-care healthcare access is universal. So in the United States, U.S. the mothers who need care the most may be getting the least of it, which naturally leads to higher maternal mortality rates.

There's a similar dynamic at work in other health outcomes, outcomes too -- like life expectancy, for instance, where the United States U.S. is a huge outlier compared to other countries.

On the other hand, maternal mortality in the United States U.S. is a drop in the bucket compared to rates seen in some very poor countries. In Rwanda, for instance, the rate is 290 out of 100,000 -- 20 times the U.S. rate. The rate in Mali is 587 per 100,000, and in Sierra Leone it's an astonishing 1,360 out of 100,000. In that country, one mother dies for every 100 children born.

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3165 days ago
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3169 days ago
Not quite the rank ordering you'd expect (Poland? Greece? Korea?). Is this a age/health of the mother issue (i.e. who gets to be a mother)?
Northern Virginia

How I rip DVDs and Blu-rays

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The hutch beneath my living-room TV is filled with DVDs and Blu-rays. Many of these are TV shows that now stream in HD on Netflix, making me question my purchase decisions, but every time I’m about to take a flight or go somewhere with questionable connectivity, it’s nice to be able to load some of these movies onto an iPad and not worry about it.

When I mention converting DVDs and Blu-rays on Twitter, people ask me about the method I use. For some people, getting video off of a disc and playable in iTunes or on an iOS device is old news. For other people, though, it’s still a bit of a mystery. Back in the Macworld days, one of our most popular stories was about how to convert DVDs into files, so clearly there’s interest in this subject.

I’ll detail my methods below, but as at Macworld I want to start with a disclaimer: I don’t use these tools for piracy, and neither should you. I use these tools on discs that I own, in order to create files that I keep within my household. Is it legal? Your mileage may vary. Distributing files that subvert copy protection is arguably illegal in the United States; using that software is more arguably legal. I don’t have any qualms about place-shifting my personal viewing of content I’ve purchased and still own. Still, if the idea of any of this makes you uncomfortable, look away.

The mise en place: What you’ll need

An external optical drive. Time was, almost every Mac came with an optical drive. But those days are gone now. I have two of this $40-ish model, which serves as a CD/DVD burner and also reads Blu-ray discs. It’s not pretty, but it works. (If your Mac does have an optical drive, you can use it—unless you want to read Blu-rays.)

HandBrake. There’s only one primary tool that Mac video converters need, and that’s HandBrake. It’s free and it works.

DeCSS. There was a time when HandBrake shipped with the software required to decrypt standard DVD copy protection, but unfortunately that time has passed. Fortunately, you can download and install that file, and then HandBrake will convert copy-protected DVDs just fine.

MakeMKV. If you want to convert Blu-rays, use MakeMKV. It’s free during its extended beta, but I bought a copy. MakeMKV will let you extract Blu-ray discs right onto your hard drive, but its interface is wonky. Fortunately, it can also work with HandBrake!

Dave Hamilton wrote an essential piece about getting Blu-ray ripping to work with HandBrake over at The Mac Observer, which you should check out. Basically, once you install MakeMKV and HandBrake, you need to issue a few Terminal commands to give HandBrake the ability to understand the format of Blu-ray discs.

mkdir -p ~/lib
ln -s /Applications/ ~/lib/libaacs.dylib
ln -s /Applications/ ~/lib/libbdplus.dylib

Getting started with HandBrake


Once you’ve got everything set up, converting discs is relatively easy. HandBrake’s interface takes some getting used to, though it comes with presets that make life easier. Insert the disc you want to convert and open HandBrake, which will prompt you to select that disc in an Open dialog box. HandBrake will churn for a while as it reads the disc.

If you don’t see a drawer on the side of the HandBrake window, click the Toggle Presets button in the toolbar. HandBrake’s developers are kind enough to provide a bunch of presets, including ones for Apple devices. You can also create your own presets or import ones saved by other people.

For most iOS use, I recommend the “AppleTV 2” and “AppleTV 3” presets, which will generate files that are no larger than 720p HD and 1080p HD, respectively. And despite the name of the preset, these files play just fine on an iPad or iPhone. (If you’re only planning on viewing on a small device, you might want to save space and opt for the 720p/AppleTV 2 preset, especially since only the iPhone 6 Plus can really show a native 1080p image.)

Once you click on a preset, you can pretty much press the Start button in the toolbar and get going—HandBrake tries to pick the right video file to convert, with frequent success. But there are plenty of areas of the interface you should familiarize yourself with. I’m not going to step through everything there is to know about HandBrake—you should check out that Macworld article for more—but I want to hit the highlights.

Title pop-up. This is where you pick which video you want to convert. On a disc with a movie, you’ll probably have a bunch of small bonus features and a single, long track that’s the main feature. HandBrake will show you the running time of all the tracks (at the end of each entry, in the format 00h00m). In my example, there were two tracks, and the one that was three hours and five minutes long was the one I wanted, so I selected it. If you’re ever unclear about which title is which, select one and then click the Preview Window button in the toolbar. You’ll be able to scrub through and see the contents to confirm that it’s the item you want to convert.

If you’re converting a disc with multiple items on it—say, several episodes of a TV series—you’ll want to select each one in turn and then rather than clicking on the Start button in the toolbar, click on the Add to Queue button. Then when you reach the last item on the disc, press Start and all the items you’ve queued will be converted in turn.

Video tab. Halfway down the HandBrake window is a set of tabs, labeled Video, Audio, Subtitles, and Chapters. On the Video tab, the most important feature to pay attention to is the Framerate (FPS) pop-up. American TV plays at 30fps, British TV at 25fps, movies at 24fps. I always set Framerate to “Same as source,” so HandBrake doesn’t bother to convert the framerate of the video and leaves it to the playback devices to get it right. I’ve never had a problem with this approach.

Audio tab. Video files can have more than one audio track. By default, most HandBrake presets for Apple devices try to lay down two audio tracks: A mixed-down stereo track that’s listenable on any device, and a digital track that’ll play back on any home theater system that supports DTS or Dolby Digital.

This stuff can get complicated. Some audio formats can be passed through, and others can be converted. You can also select additional tracks, such as foreign-language or commentary tracks, and convert them too. In general I’ll pass through a 5.1 surround track if it’s offered as a secondary source, but the first audio track is a stereo mixdown in case I’m watching on an iPad.

In this case, there’s a secondary audio track I want, but I can’t tell which of the three sets of English audio tracks I want. To find out, I select one as the top audio track, then click Preview Window in the toolbar, then click the Live Preview button to give me a 15-second preview. If the audio I selected is the one I want, I know which track to select. If it isn’t, I repeat the process until I find the track I’m looking for.

Previewing an audio track to see if it’s the right one.

Other tabs. I don’t touch the other tabs, usually, but if you’re someone with subtitled content, you’ll need to experiment with the Subtitles tab to make sure you’re going to get the options you want. If your movie or TV show has occasional subtitles for foreign languages (think Greedo in “Star Wars”), choose the Foreign Audio Search option and HandBrake will try to find any subtitles that are meant to be visible during the movie when it’s being played in its default language.

What’s next

Video files take a long time to encode. Even on my 5K iMac, this three-hour HD baseball game will take more than two hours to encode. Be patient, or let your encodes run overnight.

Once my files are done, I transfer them to a very large hard drive (in my case, it’s a Drobo 5D) and add them to iTunes. I can watch them on my AppleTV via home sharing or transfer them to my iOS devices. The ultimate goal is to make my DVD boxes as irrelevant as my old collection of CD jewel cases.

If you really want to get nerdy and take control of your video encoding process, let me recommend the works of Don Melton. If you don’t know who Don is, he’s a former Apple engineer who is pretty obsessed with transcoding his disc collection. After discussing his video methods on Rene Ritchie’s Vector podcast, he posted a GitHub project with his video transcoding scripts. This is graduate-level stuff, but I’m glad Don is out there tweaking HandBrake’s settings to get the perfect encodes so that I don’t have to.

Is it worth it?

Good question, section heading! I don’t know. As I said at the start, a lot of my DVDs have now been released in HD formats. Do I want to bother ripping a standard-definition copy of a movie or TV show that’s now available in HD? Perhaps I should just wait for the next time I want to watch it, and buy it on iTunes, or buy the Blu-ray, or stream it from Netflix or Amazon. I’m not converting a lot of standard-def video these days.

I’m not buying many Blu-rays these days, but sometimes the format just offers more content than is available via download. And of course, even when those Blu-rays come with digital copies, the copies are often in standard definition or trapped behind hinky apps and UI. An example: When I bought the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” on Blu-ray, it came with a standard-definition digital copy. When I want to watch “Star Trek” on my iPad on a trip, what version do I watch? The ripped Blu-ray, of course.

Will I ever really convert my entire video collection to digital formats? I suspect I will probably convert the stuff that’s not readily available elsewhere—these World Series games are never gonna be on Netflix—and deem much of the rest of it disposable.

If you’ve got questions or comments about this, feel free to drop me a note at I will update this post if it turns out there are questions that I haven’t properly answered.

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3483 days ago
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Going Paperless: 5 Tips for Creating Digital Baby Books in Evernote

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I started these Going Paperless posts back in April 2012, when my daughter was about 8 months old. I was already an Evernote user when she was born (I hadn’t yet started using Evernote when my son was born) and one of the things I did at time, was start recording all of her milestones in Evernote. I did this for my son, too, but not as early as I did it for my daughter, and so I have a fairly complete record of every milestone I’ve thought to record for the first 3 years of her life.

In addition, I’d occasionally add pictures, or artwork that my kids did. I’d scan in cards that they received for their birthdays, or that they gave us for our birthdays. I kept score at the Little Man’s very first Little League game. The league doesn’t keep score at that level of play, but I kept a scorecard so that I could show it to him when he was older. And I keep a list of books for each them, that we’ve read together, in the hope that they will continue to maintain that list as they get older1.

None of this was formally planned on my part. I just wanted to have a good record of my kids growing up, something beyond the ubiquitous photos we have today. In collecting this stuff, however, it occurs to me that I’ve created a kind of digital baby book, or a memory book, for my kids using Evernote. And so, it occurred to me that I might be able to offer tips to others who want to try to do the same. So here are a few tips for folks whom might want to try this at home.

1. A notebook for each kid

One thing that I didn’t do, that in retrospect might have made things a little cleaner, was to create a notebook for each of my kids. The notebook corresponds to what would be the physical baby book, or memory book you’d get to keep track of their early life. Instead, I used tags to identify notes that were associated with one or both of my kids, but as you’ll see in step 5, there is an added benefit to notebooks that will give the virtual baby book the feel of something more tangible.

So what do you call these notebooks? Well, anything you want, but I’d probably include my child’s name in the notebook title.

Having a separate notebook holds one further advantage. It simplifies searching when you are looking for some event or milestone in your child’s life. You can start your search by telling Evernote to look only within the notebook in question. So if my son’t notebook was called “Little Man’s Baby Book” I could start my search with:

notebook:"Little Man's Baby Book"

This would ensure that only this notebook would be searched, and my search wouldn’t be cluttered with results from all of the other notebooks that I have. I have a lot of notes that have the word “baseball” in it. Probably hundreds of them. But if I wanted to ensure I saw only those notes with the word “baseball” in my son’s baby book notebooks, I could search as follows:

notebook:"Little Man's Baby Book" baseball

and that would look only within the notebook in question for the term “baseball.”

If you had multiple children and wanted to be a little more organized about things, you could create a notebook stack called “Baby Books” or “Memory Book” (or anything else) and place the notebooks within that notebook stack.

2. Tagging milestones

Remembering to capture the milestones as they happen is important. Fortunately, Evernote makes that easy. I always have access to Evernote, be it through my iPhone, computer, or iPad. When the Little Man got his first ever base hit in Little League this past Saturday, I pulled out my phone, and added a note to Evernote. It looked like this:

Little Man Hit 1

When I add these type of notes to Evernote, I tag the note with the appropriate child’s name, and a tag I use called “Milestone” to indicate that the note represents some important milestone. It makes it much easier to find them.

There are all kinds of events that happen in our kids’ lives that represent important milestones. I try to be somewhat picky. I includes firsts, of course, and then I also include other types of milestones that are important to me. The best way to demonstrate is to provide some real examples, so here are some of the milestones I’ve recorded for the Little Miss:

Little Miss Milestones

You can see there are a wide variety of milestones. Some are just notes, noting an important event, like when the Little Miss first said, “Mama.” Others include photos or videos. Milestones can be anything, you have to decide what’s important to you to capture.

3. Photos, videos and other media

On birthdays, I take photos of the kids and those go into Evernote. It makes for a nice evolution of their growth over time. Actually, I usually include 2 version of the same photo.

The first is just the plain photo that I take. The second is a photo of the Little Man or Little Miss standing by a section of wall near the living room. I use Skitch to markup the photo showing how tall they are in that photo. This is a nice way of capturing their height and growth over time, without marking up the wall.

I’ll also occasionally capture videos in the note. When the Little Miss first began crawling, I got it on video and that was included with the note mentioning the milestone.

One thing that I capture, perhaps a little too obsessively, is all of the kids schoolwork and artwork. Each day, when this comes home, I scan the paper into Evernote. I don’t tag it as a milestone, unless it has some significance, but I do tag it with their name. If I had separate notebooks for the kids, these would probably get filed in those notebooks. Artwork gets tagged “artwork” and schoolwork gets tagged “schoolwork.” This makes for quite a collection of notes, but I think the kids will enjoy looking through it when they are older.

And yes, we do keep the originals. They get put into a plastic bin that goes into the attic. We might never look at the originals, but it is hard to toss out paper that your kids have sweated over, and into which they’ve put their creativity.

Little Man artwork

4. Automatic timelines

One thing I try hard to do is create the milestones, or scan the artwork and schoolwork on the same day that the event happens. By doing so, I build a natural timeline of events without any extra effort on my part, because Evernote captures the create date for each note2.

As you might have noted in the milestone image under tip #2 above, listing the notes in List view shows you all of the dates associated with the notes. Those dates can be sorted and you get a nice history of events in your child’s life. Here is a partial list of recent dates for the Little Man:

Little Man timeline

I’ve actually learned things from the timeline. For instance, the Little Man reported his very first loose tooth on August 7th. I told him that it would probably be wiggly for a few weeks before it came out. I told him that because it seemed to me that, when I was his age, it took forever for loose teeth to come free. But two later, the tooth was out! So much for my wisdom.

5. Flipping through the (virtual) pages

The thing about a baby book is that you can sit on the couch and flip through it and show friends and family. But when these things are crammed into Evernote, doesn’t it take some of the tangible nostalgia away? Maybe, but there are a couple of advantages you have.

Sharing the notebook with family

You can use Evernote’s sharing capability to share the Baby Book notebook with other family members or friends. Which means, of course, they don’t have to be sitting on your couch.

Presentation mode on the Mac

The Mac version of Evernote has a “Presentation” mode that allows you to move through notes in a notebook in much the same way you’d move through slides in a PowerPoint presentation. When you are in a notebook, you can press the Presentation Mode button:

Presentation Mode

and you will see the note in full screen mode, and can use the arrow keys to navigate the notes in the notebook just as you might navigate through slides in a PowerPoint presentation.

Taking this one step further, if you have an Apple TV device, you can display the presentation on your TV for all of your guests to see, and flip through the virtual pages of your baby book, almost as if they book was a real object. Here is what Presentation mode  (showing the Little Man’s artwork) looks like when using AirPlay in combination with my Apple TV:

Presentation Mode on AppleTV

With a little forethought and planning, Evernote makes it very easy to capture virtual baby books and memory books. These can be fun to look through from time to time. They are also visceral reminders of just how quickly the kids grow up.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] As always, this post and all of my Going Paperlessposts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post:  A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Going Paperless Blog. Add link

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  1. My list of books that I’ve read only goes back to 1996. I never thought to record them before that.
  2. On those occasions when I capture the note after-the-fact, I just backdate it using the Windows or Mac clients, which allow you to change the create date.
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