For seventeen years (yes, seventeen) I’ve used a planner. It’s a rather unassuming one: small, black, and just right for taking notes in meetings, remembering birthdays, and keeping track of my daily to-do lists.

And for the last five years or so, I’ve had to endure people asking me why I use such an old-fashioned item. “Come on– paper? You actually take notes on paper?” For a guy who’s pretty tied into the technology world, and who uses a computer eight hours a day every day, it sure seemed primitive.

Every year I have to buy refill pages, and these days Franklin sells those things for about forty bucks apiece. That adds up to a pretty hefty sum over the years, and I was thinking the other day that for the price of a couple of refills I could probably pick up a used PDA on eBay or something. So I started poking around, reading reviews, checking compatibility with Linux (of course!), and generally giving some serious thought to whether I should take the plunge and join the twenty-first century.

I found a nice little Sony Clie on eBay and managed to snag it for $80 (two years of refills, hey) and just received it yesterday. Of course I had to play around and figure out all of the little spiffy things it can do, and then I had to figure out how to link it to my Linux system and synchronize my calendar, to-do list, address book, and whatever else came to mind. It turned out to be pretty easy, and now I’ve got a cool little glowing screen to take everywhere with me. It’s a fraction of the size of my old planner, and of course can store a gazillion little tidbits of information.

Of course I’m going to have to unlearn (as Yoda would say) seventeen years of habits, but I can already see ways I can be more efficient with this little guy. So it should be an interesting journey but one worth the trouble.

Sadly, I’m not quite hip enough to have an iPhone yet.