Penzu – Keep a Journal in the Cloud

April 14, 2010

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If you keep a paper journal you may want to consider the benefits of writing "in-the-cloud" with Penzu. At penzu.com you'll find a secure place to litter your brain droppings. 

 
We're all familiar with a day-to-day diary/journaling – It rained all day so I stayed indoors yada yada yada…   But have you ever considered specific-event journaling, vacation journaling or sports journaling?  Or how about group journaling??  Let's say you're going on vacation with two of your closest friends (i.e. Lucy and Joe).  The three of you decide to use Penzu to record your experience.  How cool would it be to have comments, photos, whatever in your journal from both Lucy and Joe?  You couldn't do this with a paper journal, but with an electronic journal not only is it possible it's more practical.  Say it with me… Technology is a beautiful thing.

 

 

More about Penzu…  Penzu is a cloud computing SaaS (software as a service).  For our not-so-techy readers that means that the software is not downloaded onto your computer. Instead, it (software) resides on a server and can be accessed through a browser (i.e. FireFox, Safari, Google Chrome).  I can already hear the nay-sayers, "Nah, no thanks, I prefer software – especially my creative writing software – to be on my computer.   Plus, I prefer to pay once and own it rather than paying monthly or yearly."  Fair enough.  But let's take a look at the Pros and Cons of electronic journaling.

 

Pros
Safe – entries are never lost or stolen
Never run out of ink
Never run out of paper
Share your entries (Export)
Upload photos!
Download entries  onto your computer (PDF, TXT, XML)
Cheaper than a leatherbound journal

 

Cons
Need computer
Need internet access

 

In 2010 are the cons really that relevant?  Anyone who's reading this article obviously has a computer and a way to access the internet which has become as pervasive as public restrooms and running water.  Hell, these days you can even get all three on a domestic flight!  Now, I'm not an advocate for all software being in the cloud, but for journaling it works perfect!

 
 

There are two versions of Penzu – Free and Pro.  Penzu Free offers the following: Security (not as intense as Pro), Picture Upload, Sharing, Autosaving and Search.  So for "free" you get the basics of online journaling, and if you decide to upgrade to the Pro version all your entries transfer.

 

But for $19 a year – and in addition to the free features – you get the following features with Penzu Pro:  Better Security, Customization, Exporting, Importing, and Date Manipulation.  I only tested the Pro version and  I would advise Penzu to offer the same 256-AES encryption with both versions as security should NEVER be a compromise. 

Just like you might rifle through a half dozen paperbound journals before deciding, Penzu offers a customization feature, allowing you to choose from multiple backgrounds and typing/paper surfaces. Traditional text editing features like fonts and colors are also available. 

 

The features in Penzu are solid, but there's always room for improvement.   My $.02… I would have liked the ability to create categories and sub categories.  For example, let's say that I want to journal about a long awaited trip I'm taking to Italy. I might want to dichotomize the entire experience into sub-categories such as "Prepping for Italy", "The Flight", "Florence", "Rome", etc.  The next trip, or major event in my life, would again be given its own category and sub-categories.

 
 

I was just about to conclude this article and my brain kicked into another gear with regard to this group journaling.  Think about it…  Penzu could be used for weddings or baby showers or family reunions.  Forgo the traditional photographer and give everyone at the shindig one of those cheap, digital, disposable Kodak cameras and ask them to upload their favorite photos to the journal along with a comment.  Penzu also has a feature that allows others to post additional comments.  Would this not bring new life to family events? 

It's also worth mentioning that Penzu donates a portion of its revenue to charitable causes that improve writing and literacy worldwide.  Check it out at HERE.

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