In my previous post “Message In A Nalgene Bottle”I showed some screen shots of annotated pictures and maps as well as the digital handwritten notes that would be used to direct generations of Davises around the world seeking treasure, wisdom and a hell of a lot of fun. The application that I used to do this, as well as many other things, is called Notability.


Notability is a popular $2.99 note taking app, of both the hand written or typed kind, made for the iPad and iPhone. There are a variety of similar apps that support handwriting; but, so far, I’ve yet to come across one that works as naturally as Notability.  

Notability has what’s called a “Zoom Writing” function that magnifies a section of the screen to fit natural penmanship. Basically you write like you normally would and Notability mirrors it in smaller form on top of the screen. This means that it’s very easy to quickly and neatly replace your pen with a stylus. Essential for anyone who’s intent on using tablet technology to take notes with in the presence of other human beings. Sorry, but there’s just no cool way to type notes into anything when in front of people.


Besides allowing anyone to type or chicken-scratch out all of the things that they’re unlikely to ever do anything with; Notability can categorize, sort or help you search for the important stuff. It’s great at helping get you organized. Maybe that gallon of milk might actually make it home this time.

Notability is one of four core tools I use to whip the crap out of distraction and disorganization. I like to call it my “Find-Fix and Finish Tool”.


Like any piece of technology, despite what they advertise, it will require effective habits for it to be more than just another one of the 150 apps that your kids have downloaded onto your iPad.

Bonus Content – I guess?

I’m a freaky note taker and I obsess over the pens or styluses I use. Not for any real artistic reason. I think my Dr. called it “Oh-sea-d” or something, but I was too busy obsessing over something to pay attention. Anyways – the pens.

Most styluses have rubber tips. Some have pens in them and others have pens and laser pointers. I’ve had them all. Did I say I obsess over these things? I don’t like the rubber tips because they aren’t smooth enough. The styluses with pens and lasers are too heavy for any serious note taking plus losing a $40.00 stylus isn’t any fun.

For these reasons I’ve settled on the Trent Arcadia styluses. They have what’s called a Micro-Knit tip, very smooth even if damp. They’re retractable also so the tip doesn’t ware out as fast. Perhaps most important is that they’re also cheap and light, like a “Coastie” on a Friday night, so you can buy them a dozen at a time.

Hit me in the comment section with any questions and let me know if you come up with other cool uses for the app.

Okay.. I just realized I referred to a stylus as “Bonus Content”. It’s time for me to get the hell outside and do something dirty or dangerous.


Trent Arcadia’s
Message In A Nalgene Bottle