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Local opinion columnists

Have phone, will travel (and document)

By From page A8 | January 12, 2014

CARMEL HIGHLANDS — Today’s topic involves vacations. Not the importance of having time off to rest, relax and rejuvenate, although that’s important. No, I’m writing today about writing while you’re on vacation. Not the type of work-related writing this column represents, but a type of writing that allows you to better recall all the fun you had while you were on vacation.

I’m talking about journaling, but in a new way.

My wife Jill wrote about our adventures in a small journal she kept during one of our vacations a couple of years ago. It’s been nice to look back at that from time to time. Jill’s also an avid scrapbooker, so she’s taken mental and physical notes over the years to accompany any photos or memorabilia we may have collected along the way. It’s easy to flip though those pages – and those books – and get a real sense of the good times we have had.

The idea of keeping some sort of journal has its attractions, but I never really got into it. I guess that’s because I write for a living – at least I used to write for a living. Now I write from time to time as part of how I earn my living. So the notion of writing while I’m on vacation has never really taken hold. I do it when I have to – like now, in our room with a view of the ocean near sunset – but shun it otherwise. (Side note: If you have to work while you’re on vacation, I highly recommend doing so while overlooking the ocean.)

Jill will tell you – and I would tend to agree – that I’m pretty adept with my iPhone. I tell people that if I can do something on my iPhone, I will. I read and write email from my phone. I monitor my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media apps from my phone, logging in to the actual websites only when necessary or if I’m already using a computer. I read newspaper and magazine articles from various sources, and keep up with my interests, both personal and professional. I do some of my banking on my phone. I also use it as a phone, but in truth, in my hands, that’s far from its primary use.

I’ve toyed with the idea of a blog or a personal website as a place to record and flesh out my thoughts, or to document interesting aspects of my life, but it all seemed like more work to me.

That’s no longer the case.

I’m using an app called Day One to document our vacation. It’s essentially a blogging tool without the online publishing component. I’m creating brief posts each day, sometimes several a day, to record what we’ve seen and done.

The software allows for tags, to help identify specific entries among many others. You can add a single photo to each entry, the location you’re writing from and a brief weather report. You can play a song on the device and record its details within the post. The software allows for minimal coding. You can add a header to each entry that displays as such, can italicize text or make it bold, and can create lists within an entry.

The main menu allows you to access your timeline, view your photos, view by tags, and look at entries through a calendar view. Individual entries can be sent out by email or through Twitter, printed, or saved in pdf format. That makes them great for scrapbooking – as Jill has already noticed.

It’s not everything I would want, but it’s close.

The software design makes it easy to create brief entries on a single topic. Lunch at a new place becomes its own entry, rather than one piece of a larger journal entry documenting the entire day. That makes it attractive for someone like me, who may wish to document certain things but doesn’t want to commit a great deal of time and energy to the task. These multiple short takes, taken together, cover a full day’s activities without having to create a long narrative.

It’s also given me something to write about for this space.

Should this endorsement of Day One go viral, I ask that the developers donate a portion of the accompanying financial bounty to a worthwhile charity, preferably one in Fairfield.

Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or [email protected] Follow him in Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid fan of the NFL's Washington team, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He's a member of the Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club and a board member for the Solano County Library Foundation. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.

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