Digitizing Life and Tabulature

I have a love/ hate relationship with paper.  I love to write on paper, to feel the pen flow across the page and see the words magically appear on paper.  It is almost like meditation to see the thoughts persisted on the pristine page and my mind seems to remember better just having them written down.  On the flip side, I hate to try to find a place to store all of my journal articles, half written stories, drawings, sketches, software diagrams, notes or whatever.


I have been looking at other paper sources in my life, one of these is music tablature.  One of the reasons I think there is still so much done by paper and pen here is that it still a bit cumbersome to move from the flow of creating/ writing music to a digital device.

I’ve tried it a bit in my own small dips into writing music and I prefer to see it on paper first because there are fewer constraints.  I can go from an image to a musical staff, to a more structured lyric flow in less time than I can in digital format. This also seems to generalize to the creative flow in a lesson and I have a lot of tablature from those as well.

As a result, I have a couple of binders around the house filled with papers.  Some sheets have rips in their hole punches or have been hole punched twice to help with this.  It’s a bit messy and difficult to share with my musical partner in crime when we are trying to come up with our practice set.

So, now that the long preamble is over and hopefully I have provided some storytelling value to make this not sound like a product evaluation, let me get to the details of what I have tried and what works best for me at this point in time.

Digital Warrior-ing Tools Circa 2019


First of all, I tried the PhotoScan product from Google.  How the product works is it takes an initial photo to establish the frame and then takes 4 more so that it has enough data to augment the photo and remove glare, etc.  It is a super great product for photos and I used this for a bit however found that the steps to get to a completed “tab” added too much time. Those steps were:

  • Grouping Photos (some tabs are multi-paged)
  • Cropping: currently nothing is done here so the background you choose is important
  • Creation of a PDF
  • Upload to storage

I’ve submitted feedback on these however I am not sure where they fit in the priority as they go a bit beyond the main purpose of the app: photos.  It is a really great product for that use and I would recommend it for that purpose.

Apple Notes

I saved the best for last here and this is my current choice for digitizing tab.  The app allows you to take pictures of documents, which it calls “scans” and embed them into your notes.  The flow works a lot better and has the multi-paged and cropping built in. There is still a separate step to open the photo on my MacBook Pro, create a PDF and upload to Google Drive but it’s a fairly quick flow.  The parts that could work better are:

  • Naming/ renaming: currently I name my note first because taking the scan first makes this part difficult, renaming doesn’t seem to be possible
  • Feedback for the app baked into the product (currently not sure how to do even do this)
  • Creation of PDF
  • Upload to storage

I’ve been really happy with the notes product.  I wasn’t sure how to submit feedback about the naming/ renaming though and it would be great if there was some sort of feedback mechanism baked into the product.


I hope that you have gotten something from this post, more than just “Use Apple Notes”.  For myself, I feel like it’s a bit “producty” and will need to work more at character development for my next story, something like, “The digital warrior stalks his prey in the night…”, but hopefully it gets the point across with some entertainment value and gives you some inspiration for your own digital journey.


Side Note: More Backstory

In other areas of my life, I have also tried to go paperless with various levels of success.  When I was on strata in my condo I moved to a mostly paperless system using G-Suite and email.  We, using the royal we here, signed up early in the G-Suite days and were grandfathered into the free account which was huge in moving the rest along.  

The account gave us a reasonable amount of storage, email, calendar and website and a place to keep all of our documents as well. During this time I was a digital nazi, demanding everything be done electronically.  We had digitally signed documents, were able to “meet” and get back to owners in days rather than weeks on decisions and keep a copy of all important documents in case we changed strata management companies. Although I regret the feelings that came with driving this sort of change and fighting through some of the pushback I believe that what we accomplished was remarkable.  

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