One Note To Rule Them All (not the one you think)

Looking back at my web search history, I have been on a quest for several months now to find a note-taking application that checks a couple of very specific boxes and that I can use for documenting my home network (aka home lab) setup.

I’ve installed Joplin. I’ve installed Obsidian. I’ve installed a whole host of apps and applications. None of them deliver exactly what I am looking for.

One of the big items is that I am trying to avoid is cloud services (see above about home lab), so EverNote and OneNote were right out. OneNote I like, actually. I use it at work all the time. I have it sitting in the #2 spot of my morning launch order in my taskbar, right behind Outlook, and in front of puTTY. But, I do not want to have to use OneDrive when I have a Synology NAS in the rack in the basement.

Today, in particular, I have been on a tear looking for the solution. Hell, I even tried out the Bing AI ChatBot, seeing if it could narrow down the insane number of choices available just to what I am actually looking for, which is actually a pretty short list:

  • cross-platform: Windows, Linux, IOS
  • support import of images
  • support drawn input
  • shareable
  • files are local
  • open-source, if possible

You’d think that would be easy. Nope. Not until I sat there in the living room chair with a cat in my lap looking at the Joplin app I had installed on my iPhone months back and never used. Joplin does not support drawn input. Neither does Obsidian; it is just text, as far as I can tell.

But you know what? I think that I came full-circle on this quest. See above where I mentioned that I have a Synology NAS? That NAS allows me to run a server, basically, called Synology Note Station.

  • It has installers for Windows, MacOS, and, ahem, Ubuntu (in the form of a .deb file). It also has an app in the Apple App Store for both iPhone and iPad.
  • You can easily add image files to the notes.
  • You can draw on the notes. In fact, Calin and I invented a family, called the Moops, IN NOTE STATION on the iPAD! One of our favorite characters from this family is Merk Moop.
  • The notes are shareable to other users on the NAS.
  • The notes ARE ON THE NAS.

That is five of six boxes checked! And the last box is half-checked, as it is “free as in beer” if you already own the NAS. This is far more than any of the dozens of note-taking applications that I have looked at. Seriously, I have spent a scary amount of time researching this.

I’m not saying Note Station is perfect. Oh, goodness, no. It needs some serious polish and love from Synology. But it appears to be the perfect note-taking application for me. I am glad that this quest is over. Now I can get on with the exciting task of documenting my network and keeping track of my late night changes!

He’s just busted out of prison
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