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Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Build a Geeky Database in Evernote

Frank Degenaar

I like building stuff. I like tinkering. There's nothing like creating your own thing. 

Have you ever seen the Calvin and Hobbes Search Engine? Now there's a database that saves hours of systematic browsing for keywords among roughly 3,000 online comic strips. Search engines make us more productive. Enough said.

I've always had this itch to create my own data base(s) and a search engine to go along with it. The thing is that I know nothing of the technical aspect. I could have learned coding and gone that route... but since I have roughly 24 hours a day in which to attempt to balance the things I'd like to do with my existence (including the stuff on my bucket list) I decided to find a way to create a poor man's search engine.

The little engine that could

THE CHALLENGE: Find some sort of service that could help me find any spoken word or phrase within a bundle of subtitle files for an entire TV series. LOST, for example. 

I THINK I CAN: My early attempts included such skull-dumbery as emailing myself the contents of each subtitle file and using Gmail's search feature, along with a complex system of tags. I also tried creating a post for each episode in Blogger and using their platform's search feature.

I THOUGHT I COULD!: I never got as far as testing Dropbox out. Evernote stopped me dead in my tracks and brought me to the end of my journey. 

I have since created a number of TV series databases, which can be used in some pretty cool ways. That was just the beginning...

My very own Peanuts database

I went on to create a (personal) Peanuts database with 17,965 comic strips that are all indexed and searchable owing to Evernote's OCR technology. Evernote has blown me away in the OCR department. This strip is one of 47 search results (47 notes/ strips) for the phrase "dark and stormy night":

Any line you want

So what would you search for if you could search any spoken word or phrase within an entire TV series? The first thing that popped into my mind once I had a "Big Bang Theory" database was the word, "Bazinga". Here we see the first time Sheldon uses the word in question: Season 2, Episode 23 - The Monopolar Expedition. Some other things we can glean from this screenshot: 

  • "Bazinga" was uttered in a total of 13 episodes to date.
  • It was spoken 3 times (3 matches) in this particular episode. Command-F on Mac/ Ctrl-F on Windows. "Search Note" feature on mobile/ tablet.

  • We can locate this rendition of "Bazinga" at roughly 41 seconds into the episode.

The applications thereof could then range anywhere from, just-because curiosity, to easily finding and graphically illustrating phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions for my English students here in Brazil. If you ever wanted to quote Star Wars, which seems to be a big one, you could do that too - and do it correctly. I once double-checked a Star Wars reference from a well-know author, who shall remain nameless. Granted, it was not a popular quote, but still. He quoted Yoda as having said something - where in fact it was a rather iffy paraphrase of something actually spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Not a biggie. I mean, how would anyone have known for sure, unless they had some way of referencing it quickly? Now we can. 

May the fair use gods shine upon us

Unlike a Peanuts comic strip database in Evernote, there does seem to be some basis for sharing the TV series databases of fan-made subtitles I have created in public Evernote notebooks under the fair use premise. It's a touch-and-go thing - but here's hoping that this site I set up to share those notebooks lives long and prospers:

Any Line You Want

So far, you will be able to search any spoken word in the following TV Series/ Sagas:

  • How I Met Your Mother
  • LOST
  • House M.D.
  • Chuck
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Star Wars

Most of the above series can be found on Netflix, just in case you were wondering. Pay "Any Line You Want" a visit and please do tell what search phrases you searched for in the public notebooks.

Some suggestions:

  • In what episode of LOST was the "hatch" stumbled upon? (Remember to sort notes by Title)
  • Take a look at Doctor House's famous catchphrase "Everybody lies". (Don't forget Ctrl-F/ Command-F once you've hit the search button... or the "Search Note" feature on your mobile device or tablet).

Remember in iOS you cannot search long Evernote notes that scroll off the screen on the web. You would need to either view the shared notebook(s) online on desktop or join the notebook(s), in which case you would be able to see the entire note in your iPhone or iPad Evernote app itself.

I hope you find what you're looking for!