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Navigation Aids for Thinkers


an hPDA using the Rollabind system

neojotter Mark III standing tall
I got interested in the original hipster PDA  (hPDA) concept recently, and couldn't leave well enough alone.

The hPDA idea immediately appealed to me, since it was clear that it was a great improvement over the old jotter. That gadget was sometimes attractive, but seldom really useful: too wide and tall for good pocketability, yet too thin to hold a useful number of 3x5 cards. Here are a couple of jotters and a card for comparison:

Traditional jotters

For some years now, I've been using the Rollabind binding system, having been introduced to it by Levenger under their Circa brand name. So it didn't take much time using the hPDA before I wanted to try a Rollabind version. Since I already had the requisite mushroom-hole punch and a supply of the discs, it was easy enough. This shows how the Rollabind loose-leaf system lets pages in and out of the binding:

Rollabind loose-leaf closeup

It might be extravagant to buy the special punch ($30 and up, through Marco's Paper and others) and binding discs just to make this hPDA variant, but if  you're already into Rollabind, you know how easy it is to whomp up something like this, and then add whatever degree of finish you like.  This loose-leaf style is quicker to use than any that requires you to open and close rings, and you can size it  by changing disc diameter to accomodate as many cards as you're willing to carry. A neojotter (as I call it) with 1/4" or 1/2" discs fits into a shirt pocket with room left for pen or pencil. You can cover your neojotter  with
  • nothing
  • cardboard
  • "boards" (carboard) covered with colored or fancy paper
  • cloth-covered boards
  • leather-covered boards
If you use fairly stiff covers, the innards can be (wholly or partly) 3x5" memo slips instead of cards, and you'll get better than twice as many pages into any given thickness. (1/8 inch  = 15 cards = 37 slips; your mileage may vary.)

Here, left to right, are the original coverless model, a paper-covered version and my second shot at a leather version:

neojotters, three styles

Cover linings (basically coverups for corner construction) can be fancy  paper and custom cards can be made on many common printers. Custom cards shown below were printed by MS Word on an HP Laserjet 1200.

neojotters showing cover linings and custom cards

My latest leather model, shown at the top of the page, is quite presentable and cost less than $6 for materials.

Just learned that Levenger now sells something similar, which they call the "Circa PDA Leather Notebook, Hipster PDA." It looks very nice, but it's $34, and the simplest prepunched refill cards are $28 for 300. Home-made still makes sense for me.

If there's any evidence of interest, I'll put up more photos and details on making covers. To start with, here's a pdf template for covers. If printed without page scaling, it should come out the right size.

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