Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ronald Reagan's Notecards

Didn't know that Reagan was an afficionado of the notecard method. He must have had many secrets, but one of them was "a stack of 4 x 6 inch note cards that he compiled over the span of four decades. Consisting of quotes, economic statistics, jokes, and anecdotes, they became the core of Ronald Reagan’s traveling research files." I have just learned this from a a review of the book: The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom (Harper, 2011) edited by Douglas Brinkley. "The cards would feature between five and 10 items and would be written on both sides." This does not seem like a good system. In fact, it's hardly any system at all, but it apparently helped not just his speech writers, but it also helped him remember his one-liners.

Here are some pictures of his cards.

Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done?

See here:
First Law of Motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. (i.e. objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.)
This also seems to hold for writing and thinking! I sort of knew this, but I never integrated it into my conscious life.

The discussion of the other two laws of motion and their relevance for "productivity" is almost as interesting. The author sums up the discussion as follows:
Newton’s laws of motion reveal insights that tell you pretty much everything you need to know about how to be productive.
  1. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.
  2. It’s not just about working hard, it’s also about working on the right things. You have a limited amount of force and where you apply it matters.
  3. Your productivity is a balance of opposing forces. If you want to be more productive, you can either power through the barriers or remove the opposing forces. The second option seems to be less stressful.
It's the "opposing forces" that got in the way! Often you are not aware of what they are. "Powering through" or "removing" them presuppose that you know them!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Quiky is a very rudimentary wiki app. It is available for Window, as well as iPod Touch and iPhone), and the Android.[1] It does not do much. Basically, it allows you to create and edit pages, and then to link it, using free links (double brackets). No fancy formatting. In fact, no formatting at all. (Nothing wrong with that, as it makes no claim that it can format.) Accordingly, the interface is minimal (both in edit and view mode).[2]

In order to save a page in the Windows version, you press on the save button (Win+S will also work). Apparently on the iOS version, it saves automatically after 5 seconds. I have found no shortcut for the view mode.

Search is non-existent, so it is obviously not designed for large wikis. Nor is it a large application. The download of the last version is only 85 kB.

Is it ugly? No, I agree with the developer: "it's rather just simple, I tried the same approach, as with the app. The website is in fact web-based Quiky. In the future, users will be able to edit their wikis here.It's already in working stage, but only for a single user." He follows "the KISS approach ("Keep It Simple, Stupid!"), so I defined a roadmap with a few features in every new version." And that's fine with me.

The developer promises that in the future, Quiky wikis will be able to be edited from the Website as well. Don't know whether that is important to me! What is more important is that "Wikis are available for download to / upload from a desktop app via iTunes File Share feature." This means that you can sync your desktop and your iPad. The files are just txt, though the names have the expression "%20" for spaces in their names, like "Third%trial.txt". The files import unproblematically into an application like ConnectedText, but the name remains something like "Third%trial.txt". I haven't made up my mind whether this is good or bad. I obviously am thinking of using Quiky as a complement for ConnectedText on the iPad, and it might be good that the topics imported from Quiky are clearly identifiable. That way, they won't over-write anything important. And it should be easy to rename them.

I like Quiky just because it is rudimentary, but I know that some people might dislike it for that very reason.

1. Apparently, the iPad version is not quite ready. I hope it will be soon.
2. I am looking here at the Windows application. For iPhone screen shots, see here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ema Personal Wiki is free and open source

This is very old news. It was pointed out by one of the readers of this blog in 2011 already that the Windows version is free.[1] It is a competitor for Zim and Tomboy. It's a simple wiki, best used for light work, I would think. It's no competition for ConnectedText.

One thing I don't like is that you create links by surround words or phrases with a set of curly brackets rather than with sets of two square brackets. One thing I like is that it saves the wiki pages as text files.

1. See here (in the comments).

Wikety Widget

I don't know who uses Dashboard these days. I have never really used it. But I did find a Wiki widget for it recently. It is called "Wikety Widget." Apparently, it was the "winner of the first Apple Dashboard Widget Contest." It is "a simple wiki coded by [[Michael Robinette]]. It is advertised as "a personal notepad with automatic linking. Using a simple notebook-style interface, WikityWidget lets you easily jot down and organize notes with hypertext links so they’re easy to find and instantly available via the Mac OS X Tiger Dashboard. It applies Wiki technology in a new and interesting way on the Mac and demonstrates the powerful potential of widgets to leverage technologies in Tiger." The UserInterface is written entirely in JavaScript + XHTML/CSS and the storage is provided by a WebKit plugin which wraps SQLite3 ( )." Somewhere I found the claim that WikityWidget stores its data in an SQLite database located at ~/Library/Application Support/inkling./inkling.db, but I cannot find it there (which may have to do with my setup).[1]

You can download it from here: Am I going to use it? Probably not.

1. See also "WikityWidget uses a native code plug-in to create a Javascript bridge to SQLite in Mac OS X Tiger, which ensures reliability, high performance, large capacity, and adds functionality such as “Search As You Type”. The user interface is rendered using the advanced CSS features of WebKit, and takes advantage of the built-in, high quality, anti-aliased fonts in Tiger. Its strong technical execution, clean interface design and interesting use of Tiger technologies demonstrates the unlimited potential of Dashboard widgets."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Comparing Ulysses III and Write

Here is an excellent comparative review of Ulysses III and Write. It's very detailed and informative. (You have to scroll down a little to get to it.)

I am reconsidering Write!

No further comment!


"Katana" means something like "samurai sword," if you believe Wikipedia. Apparently, some people collect such things. But the "Katana" I am referring to is something of an nVALT clone. You can download a trial copy from here. It's an interesting application, but it has not been developed now for more than a year, and it does not do everything nVALT does. It also costs $9.99 on the Mac App Store. There is an informative review of Katana here which is to say that this review motivated me to take a look at the application.

One of the things that interested me most was, of course, whether it could do free links like nVALT. It does—sort of. In nVALT, when you enclose a word in double brackets, the program puts that word on the search bar, hitting return creates the note by opening it for writing. nVALT does not seem to care about the case in a note name. Nor does it keep track of the links to renamed notes. (If you rename a note, the old links still point to a now non-existent note. Clicking on the old note just creates a new one.) For anyone used to wiki-functionality, this is a serious drawback. Katana does not use double brackets but the expression <""> to enclose links, like so "<"link">". It does not create a note, if you type a word enclosed in these links. You must create a new note by hand for transforming the expression into a link. There is not even a line in the context menu that would create it. Just like nVALT, Katana does not care about capitalization in note-titles, and, just like nVALT, it does not track tile changes in linked notes. So, if you rename a note, the link will be broken.

Katana only deals with individual text files in a folder (no database option). It supports Markdown. If you save the files on a service like dropbox, its files can be accessed from anywhere, using different kinds of editors. You kind specify the place where files are stored.

It's an interesting application. However, I doubt it has a future. The only way it could thrive in my opinion is, if it improves on nVALT's feature set. Smart links, i.e. links that aren't broken when the target is renamed, would be a good thing. Another thing I would like is the ability to work with different kinds of markup, and not just Markdown. (Italics can be indicated by a pair of "*" or by a Pair of "_". Why not allow other markup, like pairs of "//", etc.)