Skip to main content

Offline: The notebook

Offline: The notebook


Paul Miller continues his offline travels and runs into troubles in the world of note-taking.

Share this story


The irony is not lost on me: mere weeks after I published my Verge At Work internet-based text document synchronization workflow masterpiece, I left the internet. In addition to the chuckles this has produced, it's also caused me great sadness. I miss the confidence and convenience of having my notes available on every device and saved to the cloud.

Since I ditched my iPhone in addition to my process, a huge simultaneous pain point has been on-the-go note taking — because all the best ideas seem to happen on-the-go. My replacement has been this notebook.

It's a Moleskine, naturally

It's a Moleskine, naturally, since I'm a lemming-hipster that believes my choice of notebook will direct me toward the path of Hemingway and Picasso, not just to the Bedford Ave. L stop in Williamsburg. I haven't named the notebook out loud, but if it's possible to mentally "name" something the abstract concept of a color, that's what I call it: it is orange.

I started out slow, copying out passages of books I like, and writing down incomplete lists of movies I see and what I think about them. My hand would cramp up quickly, I couldn't read back my own quasi-cursive attempts, and I'd often fail to have the notebook on hand for the most exciting ideas and need-to-remember facts.

But then I started to travel this past month, and orange has become indispensable. No observation is too small to be stored in it, no book recommendation lasts 30 seconds before it's jotted down, and my notation style has started to become not only useful, but beautiful to me — something I've never been able to say about any iteration of my handwriting over the years.

To ease my mind, I take pictures of the pages with my iPad and then backup those pictures to my MacBook, just to make sure a loss of the notebook won't be catastrophic — I recently lost a well-marked copy of The Odyssey, and I haven't recovered from that horror. I'll probably never even use half of my notes, but what's important is that they're there; my life has not passed unobserved or unremembered.

And who could have foreseen what happened next? I ran out of orange. I've filled every page with my fevered scribbles. This has never happened to me. I've never filled a notebook in any school subject, never worked a diary past a couple days, and all my grand schemes of filling sketchpads with concepts of moon colonies and sky cities remain blank.

In computers, the concept of limited storage has always been present. As rapidly as hard drives grow in capacity, our capacity to fill them grows. The advent of the SSD has tightened the bit strings, and now we have our music and movies and family photos resting in 500GB Western Digitals and 50GB Dropboxes. But when was the last time you ran out of room for text files? It's a mind trip. I expected orange to last a full year, at the very least. As the weight of the notebook started to shift left, I remained in denial. It was only when a mere handful of pages were left that I started to realize the repercussions. I started to write smaller, cram my notes into every margin, double back to fill out the lax, early pages. But the end came.

My life has not passed unobserved or unremembered

I bought a new notebook. It wasn't easy to find — I visited a Sears in a Mexico City mall, which had many pens and lighters and other novelties, but no blank collections of paper. In my beyond broken Spanish I asked for directions to a store that would have notebooks (Samborna, I was told, a sort of fancy Sears minus appliances and plus a built-in restaurant), and I made my way there on foot — passing along a MetroBus route that I determined to take on my way back. Here is a transcription of some of orange's last precious inches:

I've never been so happy to see a Sears
Effing Sears has pens, no paper
Don't think the VAW irony is lost on me

Paul Miller will regularly be posting dispatches from the disconnected world on The Verge during his year away from the internet. He won't be reading your comments, but he'll be here in spirit.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Striking out

External Link
Emma RothTwo hours ago
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.