How a Dad/ Visualization Research Scientist 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!

Richard Walters is a visualization research scientist. Read up on his work, hobbies and how he uses Noteshelf on a daily basis.

Noteshelf Star

  1. Tell us about your background.

I’m from Vicksburg Mississippi – a small city right on the Mississippi River. I work as a visualization research scientist among a group of eight extremely talented people. We provide software and/or very high-quality visuals (movies, 3D movies, posters, simple animations, etc.) to assist researchers with the task of analyzing their supercomputing simulation data. Almost everyone on our team personally dabbles with art in some form or another – whether it’s photography, modeling, designing, or basic drawing. I’m no exception to this rule. I like to draw portraits with chalks and enjoy taking photographs and processing them in Photoshop or other software packages. When it comes to handwriting – I naturally view the process of writing as something very artistic. What better way could someone expressive themselves than using their own handwriting to record thoughts. It’s classic.

  1. How did you discover Noteshelf?

Ever since I purchased my first iPad – I’ve recognized this device as a unique platform for many things – but handwriting in particular. Almost from the start, I’ve searched for available handwriting apps. I’ve tested many of them – and I’ve collected my favorites for sure.

  1. What made you choose Noteshelf for your note-taking needs? What are its three best features?

Noteshelf has stood the test of time and remains one of my favorite handwriting apps for many reasons. In fact, for daily use, it’s the number one handwriting app I would recommend to someone who’s never tried a handwriting app before. The GUI is one of the most intuitive, easiest-to-use interfaces I’ve seen. I can only imagine the conversations and struggles their design team went through to keep the layout simple, straightforward, and clean.  
So, a lot of different kinds of writings are part of my life. All are types of writings that I’d like to keep track of in a handwriting app on my iPad. The way Noteshelf organizes all of your various writings – as a library of books on a shelf – makes you feel like everything is easily in reach. After all, if all you can do is write something – well that’s great.  But if you can’t easily find something that you’ve written – well, you’re probably wasting your time, right? With Noteshelf, you can even “stack books” on a shelf that are related – which is nothing more than a realistic way of representing a “folder on a computer”. I like this feature, and use it a lot. For example, I have weekly meetings with my team; and, I have to generate monthly reports from those meetings. In Noteshelf I have yearly stacks of books that hold a month’s worth of notes in my library. I only have to view the last book in the stack to generate my reports – that makes things easy – without taking up a lot of room on the shelf in the library. The point is, this fits nicely into my lifestyle.

  1. What kind of notes do you usually have in Noteshelf? eg. class lectures, project notes, journal, etc.

I write many different kinds of things: notes from meetings at work, personal insights from Biblical studies, letters, and even simple things like keeping scores for certain card games – or designing coupons that are printed and given to my kids on their birthdays (yeah, our family does a lot of coupons for birthdays – it makes the kids feel like they are king-for-a-day). I’d be happy to demo some of these different types of notes.

In the screenshot above, Noteshelf’s highlighter tool was used with Googled images from the web to design some birthday coupons.  I printed four coupons per page, and cut them apart, and placed them into envelopes as Birthday presents.  I can see that this was done back in 2012 – It’s nice to see this page again; it brings back memories of my son’s birthday that year.  Things like this make my kids feel like king-for-a-day.  I really like the layered highlighter watermelon artwork in the lower right.  Fun and easy.

  1. Can you tell us more about your winning entry? How long have you been writing in that style and what made you choose it as one of your best notes?

Wow.  I like this question.

So, it was only recently that I made some serious efforts towards improving my handwriting. I’ve always loved handwriting, but I’ve always admired other’s handwriting that looked so much nicer than my own. I now write in a Spencerian handwriting style.  Spencerian handwriting is a style of handwriting that was used at the height of the golden age of American Penmanship – named after it’s founder – Platt Rodgers Spencer.  

Last July, I ordered the Spencerian Theory Book and the companion set of five Copy Books from Amazon.  About twenty-five dollars. The theory book describes “proper” letter formation according to that style, and the copy books are for practice exercises. It wasn’t really that difficult. Instead of learning letters, you start out learning eight different strokes. From those strokes, any lowercase letter can be formed. I’ve found that there are several variations for upper-cased letters according to different flourishing styles. I’ve essentially re-learned every single letter and strictly followed that style. Now, it feels rather natural.  So, for anyone wanting to improve your penmanship – I’m living proof that it can be done. And there are other options besides Spencerian – the Palmer Method is another excellent choice some may like as well.   

It has really opened up a whole new joy for handwriting. In fact, I saw the contest announcement and then wrote the entry in response. I’m now always looking for a reason to use my handwriting.

In today’s tech world, personalized handwriting is quickly becoming a thing of the past. That’s kind of sentimentally sad to me. But, in the wake of that fact, there are those who are making extra efforts to let penmanship live on in their lives – and I think those people are experiencing a joy that is available to everyone – but few will take advantage of it.

  1. How would you recommend Noteshelf to a friend or colleague?

I would encourage anyone to consider whether or not you naturally love handwriting. For those that love handwriting – don’t worry so much about what it looks like.  Improvements can come later – the real question is: Do you enjoy handwriting? If you do, figure out how to incorporate it into your life.Take baby steps. Perhaps you may want to use handwriting for some particular regular work meeting, or for perhaps for personal letters only. If you start using handwriting on a daily or weekly basis at first – you may discover an awakened joy for that activity that will spread into other areas of your life. Being that we live in a tech world fine handwriting apps, such as Noteshelf, provide wonderful opportunities to make handwriting part of your daily routine.

Richard is a great inspiration for us. Let us know how you’re going to start using handwriting in your life.


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