Friday, January 31, 2014

Note-taking in Scrivener?

Here is a very good review of the weaknesses and strengths of Scrivener as a note-taking system. I found nothing to disagree with.

No further comment!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Knowsynotes is Texthaven since December 31. It took me a while to find out about it, but here is my acknowledgement (thanks to the Outliner Forum).

I like the new title of the program much better. The same goes for the interface. There is nothing I don't like here. I think I will buy it. It probably will replace Notepad as my text application in Windows. It also does pretty much everything I want out of nvAlt.[1]

Later that day (18:44): Alas, there is a problem. While "embracing the timelessness of plain-text" is a nice slogan, I do need Texthaven to save files in UTF-8 and not just in ANSI.

1. In my post on Knowsynotes I lamented the fact that ConnectedText could not display CSV files. This is no longer a complaint. There is a Python script now that does this very well. See here. The last script by comvox does it best. However, since Texthaven allows you to edit csv files, the two applications can complement one another.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The End of the Neo 2

I just came across this post:
We have reached the end of our NEO 2 inventory, and we will no longer be producing any additional units—but this isn’t goodbye.

It's important to us that you know that while we have chosen to discontinue our production of NEO 2s, we will continue to maintain this site to provide the absolute best customer support for existing NEO 2 customers. For example:
We will continue to provide warranty replacements for qualified units, and repair services for non-warranty units.

All manuals and software updates will continue to be available on our website.

Free on-demand training for NEO 2 will remain available in our training center for you to use as needed.

Our customer care representatives are available to answer any questions you might have about NEO 2 or its associated programs and accessories.
This is too bad, but perhaps it was inevitable.[1] I still believe that there is room for a word processor appliance like the Neo, however.

The Dana seems to be still available, even (or perhaps because) its use and support for the Palm operating system is obsolete.

1. Apparently, the Neo was actually discontinued in late September 2013. I just did not know and found out only today. This Alphasmart forum should be of continuing interest as well.

Wordle Tip

This post contains a nice tip for using wordle: It's "meant to be word art, but it’s brilliant for identifying overused words."

I agree!

No further comment!

My List of Books Read

There is an interesting post by Jamie Todd Rubin on how he has atomated what he calls his reading list. Perhaps it would more appropriately be called the list of "books read," as he list only books he finished reading in their entirety. Walter Benjamin, by the way, kept a paper notebook for this purpose. It is said to have contained the titles for any book he ever read. Rubin has a list of any book he read since 1996.

Rubin's post is meant to be a "case study in the versatility of text files." He lists: One book per line. Records only books he actually finished reading. Captures the title, author, and the date when he finished reading the book. In addition, he uses symbols to indicate whether a book was "particularly good" (*), whether he read it more than once (^), or he read the e-book version (+), or listened to the audio book (@). He also put this file into a public Dropbox folder and on a WordPress page.

I have no interest in publicizing my reading list. Nor am I overly concerned about having it available as a text file, as I keep my reading list in—you guessed it—ConnectedText. As I reported before, I create a topic for every book I buy or borrow in accordance with the following template (filled in with one of my latest purchases).

Kierkegaard, Sören (2000) //The Essential Kierkegaard//. Ed. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press
[[$PR:Bought:=20131207]] [[$PR:Read:=20140120]]

It's the properties "Bought" and "Read" that are most interesting in this context. They automatically create meta-pages called "Bought" and "Read" that looks like this:
Topics with property bought
(Chardin 1964)

(Jaspers 1997)

(Ortega 1961)

(Thielicke 1963)

(Ortega 1964)

(Gombrowicz 1966)

(Jaspers 1960)

etc., etc.

"Chardin" leads to the following page:

Chardin, Pierre Teilhard de (1964) //Auswahl Aus Dem Werk//. Tr. L. Häflinger, J. Bader, and K. Schmitz-Moormann//. Olten and Freiburg: Walter Verlag

This is one of the oldest books I had. I got it through some program at the S*** Institute in E***p. I think I got a book by Dag Hammerskjöld the next time; one of the reasons was for this choice was that we had to look for the books on a restricted list.

I read it then, and it sort of influenced me. [[noosphere]]

he is very much opposed to [[dualism]] and [[materialism]] wo der Geist fast als eine "Schimmelbildung" erscheint. He seems more like a vitalist of perhaps better [[Thomism|Thomist]]

Er glaubt, der Maulwurf sei ein Grabwerkzeug, der Vogel ein Fliegwerkzeug

der Mensch veräusserliche das Werkzeug. Ich glaube eher, dass Werkzeuge erst durch den Menschen in die Welt kommen (MK).

There really is very little about the noosphere in this book. It's severely dated


The category "External" means that it is no longer part of my "library." I have given it away. It also tags borrowed books. I find the listing on the category page very useful, as it shows me right away how useful the book was for me.

However, I also have a Python script on this page that looks like this:
<% Python
from gtd import *
It produces this list:
* 19651223 (Chardin 1964) [bought]
 * 19661101 (Jaspers 1997) [bought]
 * 19661121 (Ortega 1961) [bought]
 * 19661124 (Thielicke 1963) [bought]
I find the latter more useful, as it is more compact.

In any case, this represents my list of books I bought and read. I am planning a property "planned" that will also show up in my todos, but it will have to wait for retirement. Nor is the list of older books very complete as yet. I am still working on it.

What about text files? As you know, ConnectedText can save every topic to a text file with a "cbk" extension (unless you have encrypted the project).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Use Evernote as a "Clipboard"

This post at Macdrifter explain how you can use Evernote as a "clipboard" of sorts for transferring text from an iOS device to the Mac. The advice is not Mac-specific but should work for any of the platforms on which Evernote runs. So you could use it also to transfer information from an iOS device to the PC, etc.

In a sense, that is how I have used Evernote for a long time. As a kind of multiple clipboard for texts that get transferred into permanent notes later. It is, however, not "my universal inbox," but, at most, one of my inboxes.

Kierkegaard's Pen

Here is a post about the recent sale with picture:

No further comment!

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Incredibly Simple Concept

Here is a post on Hygen, one of the first hypertext programs by the creator of the outliner Maxthink.
It was an incredibly simple concept: write a plain text file which includes information and link the file to related files simply by including the related file names in <> brackets. Running the program with these files, the user could jump instantly from one file to the next. There was an associated editor, Transtext, which can make the same jumps and has very powerful macro capabilities. There was and still is nothing like this on the market in terms of this speed and simplicity - navigating thousands of linked files in Hygen on a 286 computer with 2 meg of RAM was not simply fast, it was instantaneous.
It is true that the concept is simple, but any application that involves free links, like nvAlt or Notetab, for instance, reproduces it. So, the claim that there still is nothing like it is simply false. Most wikis support that idea. And even the simple-minded AhK scripts I recently published here do allow for such jump. You could even use brackets like "<" and ">", though I don't know why you would.

See also this earlier post.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


By way of Scripting News. This was 1984. Je me souviens.

No further comment!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Luedecke's Zettelkasten, Again

Some of my first posts dealt with Daniel Luedecke's Zettelkasten. I criticized that entries in the program could be associated only through keywords (and that this was not how Luhmann's Zettelkasten worked). This has changed in the intervening years. I just read this reaction by one of the users of the program on Luedecke's blog: "The advantages of your program consist in its ability to link entries directly and freely; and not of entries in their entirety, but of the concepts and ideas found in them." [Die Vorteile deines Programms liegen für mich in der Möglichkeit der direkten, freien Vernetzung (nicht von den Zetteln als ganzen, sondern von Begriffen und Ideen in diesen Zetteln).][1]

If I were to decide now what program to use for my "external memory," "Der Zettelkasten" would be a much more serious contender. As it is, I am committed to ConnectedText. Der Zettelkasten is a very capable program, and many of you may really benefit from using it. The entry is in German, and the fact that the program (and most of its users) are German may present a problem for some, however.

1. I am not here going to discuss the details of the suggested approach.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Recreating Brainstorm's Capabilities in ConnectedText, I

One of the pieces of software that I really used to like and for which I still have a warm spot in my heart is Brainstorm which has not been developed for more than five years now. It still does what it was designed for, but I have used it less and less during the last few years. It never occurred to me before how easy it is to recreate most of what Brainstorm does in ConnectedText.

Brainstorm is just a list processor that allows you to have different levels of lists, very much like an outliner. But whereas an outliner allows you to see all the different levels of an outline at all times, unless you "hoist' the present level and make the other levels (parents and siblings, that is) invisible. All you see is one level and its children. You can also put this differently and say that you must see all the different levels, unless you "hoist" one level.

In Brainstorm you are always hoisted, as it were. You see only one level and the children or dependencies of that level. This functionality is easily reproduced in an application like ConnectedText. You can create topics that contain links to other topics, and you can arrange such topics hierarchically. So, you could have a topic, let's call it "Level 1, A" that contains links to such topics as [[level 2, a]], [[level 2, b]], [[level 2, c]], etc. Clicking on any of these topics will take you to the level 2, where you could have links like [[level 3, a]], [[level 3, b]], [[level 3, c]], which again contain ... etc. Moving up the hierarchy is as easy as using Alt + <-. Going down is as easy as clicking on a topic name.

You could have a separate Project called "Brainstorm," but you could just as easily integrate such a hierarchy into an existing Project.

There is more, but I will write about that tomorrow.

Hack Your Life with a Private Wiki Notebook?

I downloaded from Amazon Bill Seitz's Hack Your Life with a Private Wiki Notebook: Mash Up "Getting Things Done" and Other Systems (Simplest Thing) [Kindle Edition]. It cost me $2.99.

I don't know what I expected, but this post by Phil Jones influenced me.

It was a mistake. To call this alphabetized collection of links and wiki pages a "book" is more than just an exaggeration. It comes close to fraudulence. Furthermore, the contents are rather dated, not to say very old and completely out of date.

My recommendation: Don't buy it! Visit his Website, if you must. The book adds nothing to the jumble you find there.[1]

1. "Jumble" should not be taken as derogatory here. It may be inevitable in a Web site like his. It is, however, unacceptable in a book—at least most of the time. An artist like Arno Schmidt puts it to good use. But not everyone is an Arno Schmidt.

Monday, January 6, 2014

When "Good Enough" is Enough

There is a nice post on Appstorm, called "Another App Won’t Solve Your Problems." It's mainly pitched to Mac users, but it contains valid advice for any user with a tendency for CRIMPING (an expression first used in the outlining forum, referring to the addiction of trying out new personal information management programs on a constant basis). See here for further enlightenment. "We’re apt to think that just another app will solve all of our problems." ... But we are "just collecting tools." Remember: "The important thing is the work, not the tools. You’d be far better off to do the things you need to do with the tools you’re already used to using — so, perhaps, design that flyer in Pages if it doesn’t have to be that professional, or code your next site in the text editor you already use without worrying if other editors are better. Perhaps you’d type faster with TextExpander, but worry about that another day. For now, do the work."

Repeat after me: "I will stop collecting tools in 2014 and concentrate on doing the work!" Or rather: "I will concentrate on doing the work and collect tools only after hours!"

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Building a Better Evernote in 2014

Here is an answer by Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, to the problems pointed out by Jason Kincaid (see previous post).

No further comment!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A "Bug-Ridden Elephant"?

I have always used Evernote sparingly. But I have used it for short-term notes, and I have not found it problematic. I know that many people use it as their main application for notes. If you do, you might want to read this, and especially this. I cannot say whether the problems reported are pervasive, but as they say in German: "Vorsicht ist die Mutter der Porzellankiste" or "safety first" (literally "caution is the mother of the porcelain box").

No further comment!

Friday, January 3, 2014


Kaleidoscope is an application for the Mac that allow you to compare different versions of text, folder and images. Their motto is: "Whatever you write, your first draft is never the last. Spot changed text quickly and merge instantly."

The application costs $69.99.

ConnectedText offers such a tool natively:

It is restricted to text, but I would suppose most people who have use for Kaleidoscope would use it mostly for text as well.[1] In any case, the ability to compare different versions of the same topic has come in very handy several times during the last few years. I would be interested in Kaleidoscope, if I did not do most of my writing in ConnectedText.

1. By way of David Bosman.

Is There Such a Thing as E-reading?

In the latest Sunday issue of the New York Times you can find a piece dealing with the question of how the reading experience is changed by e-books. There is much I can agree with in this short essay, but there is also a fundamental claim I can only disagree with. The author sets up a rather simple-minded contrast between technology and solitude. Technology is, he suggests opposed to solitude simply because it involves what he calls "connectivity." He offers no argument, nor even evidence.

One might as well argue that the kind of technology he is talking about leads to more solitude than connection. I am thinking about the young couple that observed only yesterday in a restaurant. They may have been on their first day, but they were not talking to each other, but each was busy with the cell phone, looking down on the device, rather than at each other. They seemed to be completely isolated from each other most of the time. To be sure, they may also have been "connecting" with other cell phone users who were equally isolated. Is it that technology is "intrusive,' or is it rather that people are thoughtless?

I am not trying to argue that technology "isolates." That would be just as unwarranted as the claim that it "connects" us to the outside world.

In light of considerations like this, I can only be skeptical about the claim that "in a world of intrusive technology, we must engage in a kind of struggle if we wish to sustain moments of solitude. E-reading opens the door to distraction. It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity." The experience between reading a physical book or a book on Kindle is different, but reading on a Kindle or on the computer is no more distracting than reading print on paper. Nor does the printed book per se offer more serenity.

If we are distracted, we are distracted, not the medium. And it's not so long ago that reading novels was blamed for distraction. Now it is "e-reading."

I am not sure that the phenomenological differences between reading words printed on paper or reading pixels justify us in postulating of a radically new form of reading, called "e-reading." But I am sure that any distraction we experience is our own. To reject electronic devices for this reason is foolish. That is also why distraction-free writing applications cannot be all they are cracked up to be.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

One Advantage of Using ConnectedText in Parallels

ConnectedText's full-screen view takes up the entirety of the area available in Windows. This leads to very long lines which are very difficult, if not impossible effectively to process. Parallels allows you to adjust the window in which Windows runs to any size you like. Accordingly, the full-screen view of ConnectedText also becomes adjustable.[1]

1. I use Screen Utility to hide the icons on the Mac.

"The Salutation"

Here is a post about templates in Evernote. Even if you don't use Evernote but another program that accepts templates, like ConnectedText, you can profit from studying the examples.

No further comment!