How a Football Enthusiast/ Collegiate Sports Big Shot Uses Noteshelf

This blog post refers to the classic version of Noteshelf. We now have a new & improved version of the app, Noteshelf 2. We’d love for you to check it out!

Noteshelf Star

Darby Dunnagan was one of the winners of our 2014 Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus raffle. Learn how the Vice President of the Collegiate Sports Video Association lives life and uses Noteshelf.

  1. 1. Tell us about your background and occupation.

I am the Director of Video Operations for the Northwestern Football team. I handle all audio/visual and technical needs of our football program. Basically, if it has a power button or receives a wireless signal, I’m in charge of it. The main duties of my job include filming/editing/distributing all practices and games and managing the in-house video network used by our players and coaches. I get paid to watch football…how lucky am I?!?! I am also the Vice President of the Collegiate Sports Video Association. 

  1. What specific projects are you working on right now?

We have National Signing Day coming up next week and the video requirements for it have been keeping us busy in the office. We are also about to undertake a massive software update on our network so I’ve been doing a lot with that. Spring Ball starts here in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to getting back out on the field. At home, I’ve been working on a family history project for quite a while. I have scanned and documented thousands of old family photos and I am working on building a searchable, virtual family tree. I’ve also been on a kick lately where I’m digitizing all the papers and household files possible, so I can get rid of the paper clutter and keep everything organized electronically. I’m slowly working on creating and photographing my own cookbook.

  1. What hobbies are your hobbies?

My favorite hobby is letterboxing, which combines the art of rubber stamp carving with navigational treasure hunting. My mother introduced it to me by sending me an article explaining letterboxing and I was instantly hooked. I had always enjoyed hiking, so this just added the element of a treasure hunt into my walks. Soon I was hand carving stamps and planting my own boxes to be found. I have planted about 30 boxes (including one in Brazil) and found over 130 boxes across 10 states. I also enjoy scrapbooking and cooking/baking.

  1. Who/what inspires you?

I’m inspired by being a part of something larger than myself. That goes for work and life.  Working in sports, I know that I need to do my job to the absolute best of my ability so my team can be more prepared than our opponent. I know when we celebrate a victory, we are celebrating everyone’s individual work that went into the team win. In life, we are all interconnected and interdependent in ways that we cannot even begin to understand at times. Our actions and choices may have far reaching effects and influences on others. As a result of that, I try to make sure my actions and choices leave a positive trail in their wake.

  1. What are your passions? Name three.

I’m very passionate about making others smile, whether it’s a random act of kindness, giving gifts or just lending an ear or giving a hug to someone in need.  I am also very passionate about my family. The family is extremely important to me and I am fascinated with our family tree and ancestry and enjoy electronically documenting photos and stories that would otherwise be lost with time. Lastly, if you can’t tell, I’m passionate about technology and how it can be implemented in ways to that make us live better and work smarter.

  1. What’s a typical day for you?

My days change with the season so I will go over what a typical road game day looks like for me since those are typically the most exciting days of the year. We wake up early and set up laptops and projectors for any meetings we have scheduled for that morning. After those are over, we break down the meeting rooms and pack up everything in the hotel. We meet up again for a pre-game meal, that’s when I collect iPads from our coaches and staff. We hop on buses and head over to the stadium, usually arriving about 2 ½ hours before kickoff. Immediately upon entering the locker room, we show a motivational highlight video produced for the week. We show the highlight to the players before they gear up and take the field. After all the hooting and hollering and excitement of the highlight tape, it’s time to get to our filming locations and get our cameras set up. I make sure my students get to their sideline and end zone filming locations and then I set up my editing laptop, usually in the sideline booth. The whistle blows and the ball is kicked off and everything is usually a fast paced haze from there. At the end of the first quarter, I collect the cards from all cameras and begin editing and intercutting the game for the coaches to evaluate on the way home. 

I repeat that process at the end of each quarter. During film review, coaches and players see each play from two angles. The sideline angle which keeps all players on the field in the frame and the end zone angle, which just concentrates on the tackle box. My job is to trim off all unnecessary time and smash those angles together for the coaches and team to watch.  45 minutes after the final whistle, my staff and I have the entire game edited, intercut and loaded on about 30 iPads. We hand the iPads out to the coaches and players as they leave the locker room and then jump on the bus to head back to our charter plane. I spend the time on the plane helping out with any tech issues that people may have and continue to edit and export our game. Upon arrival back to the office, I upload our game to a central server that other schools in our conference can then come in and download for their own scouting use. I then download all the other conference games from the weekend and import those into our video network before heading home for the evening.  

  1. How did you discover Noteshelf?

I discovered Noteshelf in my first staff meeting after taking the job at Northwestern. We all sat down to begin the meeting and I saw almost everyone around me open up their virtual notebook to take notes for the day. I downloaded the app after that meeting and never looked back. When we decided to issue iPads to our football players for the team and academic use, we loaded them with Noteshelf and encouraged the players to use it for their classes and meeting notes. Our entire team, from players to coaches to support staff, relies on Noteshelf on a daily basis.

  1. How does Noteshelf help you with your daily grind? How do you use it for your everyday work/personal routine?

I use Noteshelf every single day at work and at home. For work, I create a notebook per opponent and keep all relevant information for that week in that Notebook. Our weekly schedule, travel itinerary, practice schedules and staff meeting notes can all be found in one convenient place. I have a notebook for every project I have going on and every association I am part of and all notes, thoughts, and ideas regarding those are kept organized via Noteshelf. I keep a running to-do list for work in Noteshelf. I’m so dependent on Noteshelf for work that I make sure to back the app up at least once a week, as to not lose anything. Noteshelf makes creating and restoring backups so manageable which is important when you rely on it as much as I do. At home, Noteshelf uses are endless. I use it to create my monthly menus, save recipes and build grocery lists. I also, scan and save my bills and payment confirmations into their own notebooks making for easy look up if needed later. I use Noteshelf to organize workout routines, make to-do lists and just jot down general thoughts throughout the day.

  1. What kind of notes do you have in Noteshelf?

I keep all kinds of notes in Noteshelf – notes from conference calls, work meetings, customer service or tech support notes. I have notes on projects going on at home or the office, what needs to be done with the project, random thoughts I may have during the day regarding it, or picture or articles I find relevant and need to save in a convenient location.  All my to-do lists can be found in Noteshelf.  Basically, if I used to write it down on paper, it now gets jotted down in Noteshelf.

  1. What are the top 3 important features of Noteshelf for you and why?

For me, the most important feature of Noteshelf is how PDF friendly it is.  We are almost completely paperless in our office. Everything is exchanged in PDF format, so the ability to import and export PDFs is very important to me. The fact that you can export and save to Google Drive is my second favorite feature. My entire life is organized on Google Drive so app compatibility is a requirement for me there. Lastly, the customization of covers and pages in Noteshelf is endless. I love that I can create my own Notebook covers or page templates.  

  1. What stylus do you use and why?

I have found Wacom Bamboo Stylus to be the best. I used to use their “Alpha” model and really liked the weight of the stylus and the fact that the nibs were replaceable. I recently won a Wacom Bamboo “Fineline” stylus and I am in love with it and its compatibility with Noteshelf! The stylus has a fine tip and is almost identical to using a pen and paper.  Furthermore, it has a programmable button that allows me to create up to two Noteshelf short cut functions. Love it!

  1. What are your other favorite apps/programs/gadgets?

I love VNC Viewer because it allows me to remote into my work network and work from home or remotely fix any problems that may arise. I use FineScanner to digitize a lot of paperwork and save to Noteshelf. The app turns your camera into a scanner and then converts and saves the files as PDFs. I’m a big fan of Coursera and love having the ability to keep learning and educating myself. I’ve been using my Fitbit for well over a year and am definitely a fan of wearable technology.

  1. How would you recommend Noteshelf to those who don’t use any note-taking app? To those that are using another note-taking app?

There aren’t many people out there who get through their days without needing to write something down at some point. Then what happens to that piece of paper? It gets filed and dug out again when needed, stacked up with the rest of the papers on your desk to never be seen again, maybe lost forever or just not where you need it to be when you need to reference that information again. Noteshelf fixes all those problems and more. It’s an essential all-in-one organization tool where you can keep all types of information handy in one easy to access place. And it’s extremely simple to backup to prevent data loss.  

For those who may be using another note-taking app… Does your app provide you with the ability to create custom covers and pages? How many pen/pencil options do you get with regards to color and line thickness? Does it give you the option to automatically sync your notebooks with Evernote, giving you access to your most up-to-date notes from anywhere?  Can you seamlessly back up your notes wirelessly or to a 3rd party app such as Google Drive? Can you export your notes in jpeg or pdf format making them compatible for use outside of the app itself? Do you have the option to password lock certain documents? The personalization, security and overall smooth work flow of Noteshelf make it the best choice on the market for taking notes on your iPad in my opinion.


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