I do not know if someone told me to do so or if I just copied the habit of my colleagues, but since I joined a research group at INESC (1984), I have kept a log book where I write my daily activities and the problems that I am working on. In 1991, when I started working at the AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray-Hill, I realized the importance of these books because there was a special notebook model for this this purpose which could be requested in the lab’s storage room. The notes taken in these books could be used as evidence in judicial cases regarding intellectual property issues.

In those distant years, in which the term “mobile computing” meant a computer that did not required a crane to be moved, we worked mainly in the laboratory, in front of a computer terminal. At that time, the log book was kept on the desk. With the advent of the modem, the personal computer and, much later, the laptop, the workplace was no longer confined to the laboratory and the log book had to be carried in one’s the briefcase in order to be able to continue the work at home. The size of the log book had become a problem.

In December 2003, in a meeting break at the Catholic University of Lisbon, I saw for the first time a Moleskine notebook in the University’s stationery shop. It was the original pocket model, 9×14 cm, with its characteristic elastic to keep it closed, a ribbon marker, cover bound in cardboard, with sewn-bound sheets of acid free paper and with the famous internal pouch made of cardboard and fabric. Since then, all my daily records were made in Moleskine notebooks.

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The problem of log books is that they run out and a new notebook brings mixed emotions. On the one hand there is the pleasure of starting a blank notebook but on the other there is a sense of loss of the recent past. The advantage of Moleskine notebooks is also its greatest drawback: they fill up too quickly. I was browsing my collection of Moleskine notebooks and noticed that the first lasted for 19 months, the second 12, the third of 9 and the last only 7 months. I started my fifth Moleskine notebook last December.

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I do not know whether if it is by being more busy or if I am writing more, but this growing consumption of notebooks is becoming a problem. It is increasingly frequent the need to check the contents of an older notebook. The solution that I found was to virtualize the notebooks using the ScanSnap S510.

I started by removing the cardboard covers of the notebooks. Then I used an electric guillotine to cut the margin of stitched spine. The result was the post-French revolution Moleskine which can be seen here:

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The next step was to put the loose leafs in the scanner to convert them in a PDF format document.

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Using the possibility of bookmarking the PDF document, I finished the conversion process by bookmarking the beginning of each month to facilitate the location of a specific date.

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