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Summary:

As the amount of data we all use and store grows, information management is becoming an increasingly important topic. It’s often ignored until something happens, like losing a software serial number or other vital piece of information in what was once thought to be an organized […]

PPCSoft_LogoAs the amount of data we all use and store grows, information management is becoming an increasingly important topic. It’s often ignored until something happens, like losing a software serial number or other vital piece of information in what was once thought to be an organized email inbox or My Documents folder.

I recently reviewed Yojimbo 2.0, an excellent information organizer for the Mac that can help keep track of bits of information you might like to use later. But what if you use Windows? One option is iKnow from PpcSoft. It’s a productivity tool that targets information management and productivity. It uses notes that connect automatically to other notes within the application — sort of like your own personal World Wide Web, but residing in the safety and security of your local hard drive. I decided to take the trial version of the Standard Edition of iKnow for a spin.

Inside iKnow Standard Edition

iKnow includes a menu bar that follows Office 2007 menu standards. However, when you open features, the dialog boxes while consistent don’t quite follow the Office 2007 standard.

Create Notes. Creating notes in iKnow is a simple process. By default, iKnow creates notes with current date and time as the title.. I liked the capability of being able to create note templates, as even though the notes in iKnow Standard Edition are in text format, templates can help with formatting and consistency.

iKnow_Create_Note

Search Notes. The Search Notes feature is also easy to use. However, it’s important to point out that during my testing, I didn’t create the huge number of notes that you’d be likely to generate during use, so I haven’t really put the search feature in this application through its paces.

Link Notes. PpcSoft touts the hyperlinking of notes as one of the application’s strengths. Linking to another note in iKnow is as simple as typing in the full name of the note and hitting return.

iKnow_Link

User Support. One disappointment I have with iKnow Standard Edition is the lack of online help and/or user documentation. While the application has a Help menu, there is only a sullen attempt at a “Getting Started” multimedia presentation that slogs along with all the grace of a poorly-done PowerPoint slide show, without any significant technical content. Additionally, the “Ask for Help” option is unavailable in my trial version. There are many low cost options today available for online help and user support, and for the application not to provide even a simple help page accessible from the application is a definite strike against it. There is some help content on the web site, but I found no links to it from the application. Some of the dialog boxes also have a help button but the help text is a bit on the light side.

iKnow Availability

iKnow is compatible with Windows XP SP2+, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and available for download from www.ppcsoft.com. It comes in three different versions:

  • iKnow Professional Edition ($249.00)
  • iKnow Standard Edition ($79.00)
  • iKnow Lite (free for personal, non-commercial use)

Final Thoughts

The design of iKnow Standard Edition  is intuitive. However, the application could benefit from losing the multimedia “enhancements” because they hamper application performance in what is otherwise a very usable application. If you are a Windows user seeking a better solution to manage the bits and bytes of important text information you accumulate on your hard drive, I suggest checking out the trial version of iKnow Standard for yourself, because despite some rough edges the application shows signs of promise. Another nice touch is that the “30-day trial” is for thirty days of trying out the product, not thirty calendar days from registering the trial software.

What application(s) are you using to manage information overload on your Windows PC? Have you tried out iKnow Standard Edition?

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By Will Kelly

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  1. I use OneNote. I like the flexibility it allows in linking to various files and hyperlinks as well as the “put it anywhere” capability on each page. I also like the flexibility of folder, page, and sub-page organization (and how you can move things around pretty easily). It’s also nice for sending out the notes via Outlook. I tried using the Outlook task linkage but I didn’t like the lack of task detail visibility in OneNote so I scrapped using that feature. I haven’t bothered with the shared notebook capabilities built into OneNote as I haven’t had a need yet but it sounds interesting.

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  2. Dear Will Kelly,

    thank you for your write-up of PpcSoft iKnow !

    With regards to support, PpcSoft iKnow actually follows the Office 2007 standard of providing an icon in the upper right corner, and also supports the standard F1 key for help.

    If you press F1 a simple (but detailed) web page is opened in your browser. The complete help is contained in one page to make it faster and easier to search for the help you need.

    Once you’ve learned the basics, we recommend using Ctrl+Q to get a ‘Quick help’ for all the shortcut keys available to increase your productivity.

    Also, direct contact from within PpcSoft iKnow is only available in the professional version, but you may still go to our website and contact us directly ( http://www.ppcsoft.com/support.asp ).

    User support is VERY important to us, but quality support is expensive, and professional users are therefore prioritized (but we will of course provide great help for ALL of our users).

    Best regards,
    Atle Iversen
    Founder, PpcSoft

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  3. I’ve been a very happy user of PersonalBrain from thebrain.com. I’ve tried a number of other tools and none of them have captured me, even though I thought maybe they would.

    I imagine that with any of these personal KM (or corporate KM) tools that the longer you use them, the more value you get. And the more locked to that tool you feel. You would almost have to export your whole knowledge base from one tool to the other AND get used to the user interface and user experience. That’s a lot to ask when each PKM tool has a different feel.

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