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Ten Questions for David Imel
1) Tell us about what kind of machine you're running OS X on and what you think of Panther (10.3)?

A: I'm running on a G4 Laptop with OS X v10.2.8. As I've migrated to all of the Mac built-in software (such as Mail and Safari), I've found it to be much cleaner, faster and more robust than the software I was using previously (i.e., Netscape and Mozilla). So I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the upgrades to some of these apps in Panther.

2) How would you describe your professional work and focus? Why or how is your Mac important to your work and projects?

A: I manage an organization which implements science ground data processing systems for NASA. In my daily life, this translates to lots of meetings and lots of presentations. In fact, I go through periods where I'm never actually in an office, but am attending meetings and reviews throughout the day. My wireless-equipped Mac laptop lets me stay in contact with the rest of my organization, even when my cell-phone can't connect from the interior of a building. All of my work is on my Mac, so that I can continue working during "lulls" in meetings. In some very real sense, my Mac laptop *is* my office.

3) What kinds of software applications do you use in your work?

A: Office-X gets heavy use (especially PowerPoint) as does NoteTaker (of course), Mail, Safari, Meeting-Maker, OmniGraffle and FastTrack. I'm also using CodeTek Desktop, which I find very useful for managing multiple desktops. Now that I'm doing "pure management", I have been using X11 and the Unix Apps much less.

4) Are you using NoteTaker now? How exactly are you using NoteTaker?

A: Yes, I use NoteTaker continuously. I use it to take notes at meetings (obviously) as well as to keep action item lists -- NoteTaker has an excellent ToDo system. I recently ran a two-week "tiger team" activity completely off of NoteTaker: we had a page for everyone's assignments, and we kept other NoteTaker pages for the work we were updating. Another NoteTaker page kept cross-references to the documents and web-links which were central to our work. As we worked, we kept updating the "open issues" page and the "assumptions" pages we were maintaining. Being able to keep track of this information conveniently and easily really helped make the activity successful.

NoteTaker is also a great place to store "miscellaneous" information, like instructions for accessing equipment you don't use very often. I keep a several notebooks in my NoteTaker library, including a "Miscellaneous" notebook, a notebook for formal review preparation, a notebook with all of my meeting notes, a notebook with personal notes on hobbies and interests, and notebooks devoted to specific projects and special topics.

5) What NoteTaker features matter most to you? Why?

A: The outlining is excellent, and really allows me to organize notes and action items. The controls let you reorganize notes exactly where you need them. NoteTaker does a lot of neat things, but it does note-taking extremely well.

I really like the ability to drag a PDF copy of a NoteTaker page onto my desktop, and also the ability to select notes on a page, click the email icon, and have the formatted notes come up in an Mail compose window.

The "Library" is very nice -- allowing you to easily view and access all of your NoteTaker notebooks at a glance.

I have begun to make use of the inline web-browser, and think it's a pretty neat feature.

The indexing is impressive as well: NoteTaker automatically comes up with a complete set of indices, including a list of all words in your notebook, hyperlinked to where they're use in the notebook. Finding information is pretty easy.

I almost forgot -- one of the things I like best about NoteTaker is the visual interface: it may sound silly, but the little spiral binding on the side of the notebook really gives the illusion (along with the page-turning animation) that you're writing in a notebook. It's a very comfortable interface. It's also nice to be able to customize the format of the page -- using lined or even graph paper, for example.

One last thing I would add is that the interaction with the NoteTaker folks has been excellent. AquaMinds has responded very rapidly to both my requests for information and my suggestions for new features.

6) Do you use NoteTaker with other applications? How?

A: I mostly use NoteTaker with Mail -- it's very convenient to take all of my notes in NoteTaker, and then be able to email them to someone else directly from NoteTaker. I've just begun exploring the AppleScript facility -- tried one of the demos on the AquaMinds website (the "SearchGoogle" script) which works great. I can imagine exploring that more in the future.

7) How do you describe NoteTaker to other users?

A: I tell my colleagues that this is one inexpensive piece of software that's a must. Everyone who has seen me demo it has agreed. My Mac OS X colleagues have all been very pleased with NoteTaker.

8) Before NoteTaker, what OS X tools did you try or use to meet your needs?

A: I tried Word, of course, but it's too big and really not convenient for organizing and rapid note-taking. I also tried the Stickies application for awhile, but there's no organization there, and nothing near the functionality of NoteTaker.

9) What is the learning curve for using NoteTaker?

A: For just taking notes and making ToDo lists (which is the vast majority of what I do with NoteTaker) it's very easy.

10) Are there other applications you intend to use NoteTaker for in the future?

A: I think I'd like to learn more about the Scripts.

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When I'm not working, I'd rather be in Yosemite, as I was this Summer

After BS (University of Washington, 1985), MS (Caltech, 1987) and Ph.D (Caltech, 1990) degrees in Physics, David Imel joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a radar scientist, where he worked on the TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter which measured the global ocean circulation, the IFSARE program (an airborne synthetic aperture radar for measuring topography), and several other projects, including recently the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which made the most precise and complete maps of the earth. David managed the AIRSAR program for five years, and then joined the Michelson Science Center at Caltech in 2003, where he is responsible for supporting NASA's Navigator Program which seeks to find earth-like planets around other solar systems.

Links for further information:
Navigator Program

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