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Author Topic: General brainstorming for Note-taking software  (Read 400327 times)
superboyac
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« Reply #125 on: March 18, 2006, 03:24:10 PM »

I wouldn't mind doing a little mini-review of this after I finish the addressbook one.
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nevf
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« Reply #126 on: March 18, 2006, 05:18:35 PM »

@ thomthowolf.
Quote
-be easy to get information into[evernote]
-be easy to locate information in and get information out of [evernote]

Could you elaborate on where you see Surfulater falls short here and what you'd like to see done to improve it.

@ mouser. I plan to offer another Surfulater discount soon. I just need to get the next release out the door first.

@superboyac. Zoot - Rewriting a 16 bit app to 32 bits can be tough. Most likely a substantial rewrite is needed for a variety of reasons, including updating its UI to the latest techniques. Been there, done that! That said it is now 2006 and it is hard to comprehend that technical issues alone would be taking this long. Programmer's like anyone else get burnt out and loose motivation. Maybe the rewards aren't sufficient or maybe it is time for a new challenge. You'll see this a lot with free software, as the kudos alone can't keep the developers going forever. And any demands from users can fall on deaf ears as they never purchased anything in the first place. Open Source Software is a whole nother kettle of fish altogether, but I digress. These are general comments and nothing to do with Zoot, as I wouldn't have a clue in that regard.

@all. In my never ending research into information organisation I came across this lengthy article today which I'm sure some will find interesting. http://wiki.osafoundation.org/bin/view/Journal/HierarchyVersusFacetsVersusTags The article states that one big problem with hierarchies is you can't put an item into more than one folder at once. Clearly they haven't see Surfulater. It also has an interesting discussions on facets and tags, the latter which is slated for Surfulater fairly soon. It concludes that tags aren't very useful either.
Quote
The items look like they're multiplying like rabbits Furthermore, the ability to assign more than 1 tag to an item is perhaps more convenient when you're tagging, but when it comes time to understand the landscape of your data in terms of all your tags, the ramplant multiplication of items showing up in multiple tags can make a mountain out of a mole hill of data.
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superboyac
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« Reply #127 on: March 18, 2006, 05:51:43 PM »

nevf, thanks for the explanation for the 15 to 32-bit conversion.  I guess we just have to wait and see if anything will happend to Zoot.

And regarding that article about information organization, wow, that is a lot of food for thought.  The author has really good points.  I'm left wondering what is the best way to collect and organize information.  I don't know, there's seems to be no real solution.  As for Surfulater, it's true you can clone articles into multiple locations in the heirarchy.  But then again, Surfulater's heirarchies are more "virtual" than the hard heirarchies the author is talking about.

Another thing that scares me about replacing heirarchies with some other more advanced, virtual organization, is what happens when you have a huge amount of notes?  In a heirarchy, you know that if the note isn't in the tree somewhere, then it doesn't exist.  But in these tag or clone systems where one note can be in multiple places, how do you go about finding a particular note when you're not even sure if you saved the note or not, and you're also not sure what category or keyword you want to search for?  This is the problem I had with Evernote.  When my notes became larger, sometimes, I wasn't sure if the note I was thinking of was even saved in Evernote, so i did a search on the keywords that I thought would be in the note, but nothing showed up.  But I was still not convinced that I hadn't saved the note, so i went and browsed each note one by one just to make sure.  See?  That's the probalem with the virtual system...you're not sure where a certain note is, and in cases where there are a lot of them, you might not even remember if you actually saved a note, or if you just think you saved a not, but you're not sure.
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kfitting
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« Reply #128 on: March 18, 2006, 07:51:47 PM »

(When I say this, keep in mind that I have NOT read the article yet!)

Just like we mentioned at the beginning, the organization of data is highly personal.  Some like extremely rigid trees, others like total freeform.  I like the middle!  But, I don't know that one person can decide what is "best" for everyone. (This is one of those times when there really is no absolute!)  One reason it is so difficult to jump onto someone else's computer is that even the filesystem, as inefficient as it may be, grows with the person who uses it.  My filestructure has evolved and makes almost perfect sense to me.  I know that my Library folder contains all kinds of data, including some pictures.  But my pictures folder contains all pictures.... no one else is going to understand it, it grew with my needs! 

I personally love trees for most of my data... I just wish they had filters built into them.  I agree nevf, I don't see where trees couldn't have more than one place to put the same thing... that's what tags etc are for!  But, I will read the article (this stuff is mildly fascinating) and see what else is said.  Maybe it will convince me to change my habits... well, maybe!

Kevin
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rjbull
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« Reply #129 on: March 20, 2006, 04:16:16 AM »

once Zoot can use the typical rtf stuff (outlines, bullets, changing fonts, font sizes, colored text, etc)

Black Hole Organizer has had RTF for ages, and seems to have a good deal of "mind share."  It looks more like a database for text scraps than an outliner.

Quote
We've been discussing these notetaking software for a while now, and this thread has become quite lengthy.

Maybe it's time for an executive summary and <END OF THREAD> ??


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kfitting
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« Reply #130 on: March 20, 2006, 07:29:07 AM »

End of thread?  Why?  How could you summarize? In just the last page new programs were brought up and nevf brought up the article on information display. 

Also, another good site with info on information display (not just related to hierarchies though) is http://www.edwardtufte.co...bboard/q-and-a?topic_id=1

Kevin
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rjbull
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« Reply #131 on: March 20, 2006, 08:16:42 AM »

End of thread?  Why?  How could you summarize?

Perhaps you can't summarize it, after all.  Going back to Superboyac's original post, it looks like this thread is in place of a review because the field is too large.  But anyone coming here from cold is going to have a lot of reading to do.



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rjbull
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« Reply #132 on: March 20, 2006, 08:25:30 AM »

@rjbull:  Keynote revolutionized the way I work and organize things.  I totally understand that note-taking is slightly different from the writing end of things... but I dont think the two are mutally exclusive!

It's just that the notes I might keep are not necessarily oven-ready for any particular use, they'll generally have to be "massaged," in which case not having them in the same application seems to matter less.  If they were all more or less ready to go, then I wonder if a single-pane ECCO-type outliner might be better.

Quote
for the type of writing I do, Keynote 1.6.5 is fine.  For notetaking, Keynote was fine, until I saw Opera's email approach.

What are you using at present?  I'm thinking that even abandoned, and lacking features some people want, Keynote is still the most highly-developed freeware of its kind, and able to compete with quite a few paywares.  It didn't quite float my boat, but I might have persevered if it had had Boolean search.

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kfitting
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« Reply #133 on: March 20, 2006, 09:05:34 AM »

At present I use Keynote.  At this particular moment I am leaning towards TreeDBPro.  Mainly because it is Keynote with full table support, pictures... basically the things that I really would like in Keynote.  Unfortunately, it does not seem to be going the tags route.  But, for the forseeable future I will continue with Keynote.  I have been keeping my eye on NeoMem and Novo (though Novo has yet to come out of vaporware, and the author does not give much feedback as to how things are going.).

So for now I use Keynote.  And will continue to do so until a substantial improvement is made.  The hard part is finding a program that fits your style and makes sense!  (Cost does factor in... I cant afford to spend $100 on this!)  But, we'll see.  Someday someone will pull ahead (according to me... other people may think other programs are already ahead!  Thats fine!) and I'll have to figure out how to convert all my Keynote files over.  Oh well.

Kevin

PS - regarding your comment about this thread: I kind of agree with you, sifting through this is going to be hard for a newcomer.  But, part of the problem is that forums are not great places for storing data (in this case opinions on software).  They are too linear and their search is usually poor.  Sometimes I even use the "site:" feature in google and still cant find the post I'm looking for!  But this problem will not go away by stopping the thread, because now you have multiple threads with the same data... arrggh!  Looks like someone needs to develop better software for forums too!
« Last Edit: March 20, 2006, 09:08:26 AM by kfitting » Logged
thomthowolf
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« Reply #134 on: March 20, 2006, 10:39:55 AM »

@ thomthowolf.
Quote
-be easy to get information into[evernote]
-be easy to locate information in and get information out of [evernote]

Could you elaborate on where you see Surfulater falls short here and what you'd like to see done to improve it.

As regards getting information into, I find Evernote is a more stable platform.  I have had Surfulator force  a BSOD on a couple of occasions, while Evernote has not crashed my system since the very early beta days.  Also, Evernote can grab tables and maintain the formating.  Also, if I have to keep an app open, Evernote has a 3 meg footprint versus Surfulator's 12 meg.  This is not to suggest that Surfulator doesn't do a respectable job in many ways, only that Evernote has an edge in collecting information.
As far as getting information out, Evernotes search is lightning fast and limits the content as I type.  Also, evernote offers me tags, which means that I can easily connect the information to a sort of outline.  Evernote also has the intersection frame, which allows me to limit my search by successive approximation.  Also, the Evernote database is just so small that I keep everything in it, secure in the knowledge that I can easily find and organize it later.  Also, I can choose a template with a hot key combination and then paste or type into it.  Surfulator's ability to apply a template is a bit clunky for me.  I grew up in MS-dos and I am still addicted to the keyboard. 
All that having been said, where Surfulator shines for me is in its ability to cross connect and to re-organize material into a coherent form.  I also love the ability to title my entries.  The see also feature is wonderful.  While I can certainly find a particular clip faster in evernote, I have to copy and paste it somewhere else in order to actually work with it. 
Surfulator also offers Boolean searches, which Evernote does not.  This is offset, however, by its inability to search across Knowledge bases.
So, improvements. 
First, I would love to be able to search across knowledge bases
Second, I would love to be able to apply a template with a hot key combination.  Better yet, if I could apply a formatting template to a clipping after the fact, that would really be cool.  In fact, Evernote can't do it, and I have often wanted to be able to do that.
Third, I would like to have Surfulator retain original formatting better than it does now. 



We've been discussing these notetaking software for a while now, and this thread has become quite lengthy.


Maybe it's time for an executive summary and <END OF THREAD> ??
End of thread?!! Don't end this thread, I love this thread!  Kiss  \
Seriously, I have been introduced to some really great software, and I am always finding new things here.  I know a new person will find it a little daunting, but I also think there is enough meat to keep them reading. 


[/quote]
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« Reply #135 on: March 20, 2006, 10:43:21 AM »

This thread will never die! I WILL NOT LET IT!  Grin  Too much to talk about here.  I've had to catch up on many threads of 1000+ posts on FatWallet, HardForum, HydrogenAudio, and others - I think this one is just getting going! (sure hope so anyways, as I see this the most important piece of software to have on a PC and yet someone has yet to get it right) I am currently using both WinOrganizer & Keynote, I hesitate to move fully back to Keynote as I have alot of tables that cannot be imported.  Also, with Keynote, you cannot print an individual note, you have to export it to another program like Word first.  I've also tried TexNotes, but damn that thing is so bloated and clunky, taking up way to much space as a program leaving too little for actual information.  I find Surfulator to be too much of a Web info collecting utility than a note storing application and it too is a bit sluggish (just not snappy in speed).  Evernote just does not offer the ability to organize information in a useful way.  The upcoming rewrite of MyBase looks most promising, but still they have said this will not support tabs within files, which is one of the nicest features about Keynote.  I could go on and into more depth, but I am just an overall unsatisfied person with this category of software ATM.  smiley  Oh, and WinOrganizer, they were on the right path 3-4 years ago, but all forward moving development has been basically non-existent.
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superboyac
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« Reply #136 on: March 20, 2006, 10:52:49 AM »

OK!  I guess this is not the end of the thread!  I said that because I thought that all of the noteworthy programs out there had been mentioned already and the features they had or wished they had had been discussed.  I felt that a lot of things were being repeated, and also that the discussion was tending to veer off-topic (partly due to the fact that most of the relevant information had already been discussed).

But it looks like there's much more to talk about here, so let's continue.  I was going to do a short little summary of the things we've discussed, in a sort of mini-review, but maybe I'll hold off on that.  Besides, I'm working on another review right now, so there's still a lot of time for the next review.
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superboyac
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« Reply #137 on: March 20, 2006, 10:54:52 AM »

Quote
Black Hole Organizer has had RTF for ages, and seems to have a good deal of "mind share."  It looks more like a database for text scraps than an outliner.

I'd like to try this out, but they have no trial version.  And to be honest, it doesn't look like it offers anything special.  But that's an empty statement because you really have to just get your hands on these things to know for sure.
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longrun
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« Reply #138 on: March 20, 2006, 01:04:58 PM »

I don't think this discussion can be complete without mentioning the venerable but incredibly expensive Info Select from Micro Logic (miclog.com), which I believe pioneered this category. IS began under DOS as Tornado Notes, and has evolved into a very useful but somewhat bloated program. I've stuck with it for two reasons: I have so much information stored in it (used it continously since ~1985), and some features are so intuitive (type N for new note, G for get, i.e., search).

This category is different from most in that switching among programs isn't just a matter of installing a new one; importing data usefully is often impossible.

Other programs to try include TreePad (various flavors including free) and GemX's TexNotes/TexNotes Pro and do-Organizer (full-fledged PIM with notes).
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superboyac
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« Reply #139 on: March 20, 2006, 01:58:08 PM »

Quote
I don't think this discussion can be complete without mentioning the venerable but incredibly expensive Info Select from Micro Logic (miclog.com), which I believe pioneered this category. IS began under DOS as Tornado Notes, and has evolved into a very useful but somewhat bloated program. I've stuck with it for two reasons: I have so much information stored in it (used it continously since ~1985), and some features are so intuitive (type N for new note, G for get, i.e., search).

This category is different from most in that switching among programs isn't just a matter of installing a new one; importing data usefully is often impossible.

Other programs to try include TreePad (various flavors including free) and GemX's TexNotes/TexNotes Pro and do-Organizer (full-fledged PIM with notes).

Actually, we have discussed InfoSelect here.  I think most of us have ruled it out of the discussion because we're trying to limit this topic to just note-taking utilities.  As you mentioned, IS has become bloated to include several other features.  More importantly, I think IS is just too expensive to be taken seriously here among the other programs.  Even if it were the best program to use in this case (which it isn't), it is so expensive that most people still wouldn't use it.  And as nevf mentioned, there isn't even a trial version of the program for people to get familiar with.

Treepad is a program that hasn't been discussed here yet.  I've tried Treepad out once, and I also tried out GemX's TexNotes.  both of these are very similar programs.  They are highly polished and they do a lot of things, besides notetaking.  I don't think either of them offer the power for notetaking and information capturing that the top 3 programs I mentioned earlier offer.  Specifically, they both operate on the traditional tree-heirarchy, which is nothing special.  But they do have a lot of features.  I might give the two programs another test run just to refresh my memory.
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longrun
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« Reply #140 on: March 20, 2006, 02:08:09 PM »

Sorry I missed Info Select discussion. I'd searched on Info Select (actual name), not InfoSelect.
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« Reply #141 on: March 20, 2006, 02:11:39 PM »

P.S.--There's no IS trial, but Micro Logic does offer full refunds if not satisfied.
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nevf
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« Reply #142 on: March 20, 2006, 02:59:11 PM »

@ all - It would be a real shame to see this thread end. To date it is ageing nicely and just keeps getting better and better.

@ thomthowolf et.all. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE a) Send crash reports to me, b) Join our forums and post your suggestions & criticisms there or if you prefer e-mail me. Don't ever expect that others have reported a problem you are having, or expect some new feature will magically appear all of its own accord. Developers need your help. We do, we really do.

I've fixed two problems in V1.96.0.0 (out shortly) that would cause SUL to crash. One was related to capturing selected contented from very large web pages. This may be what you've witnessed. See here.

Surfulater's memory footprint is quite small, however it is blown out by MS IE which it uses internally. There is nothing we can do about this. However in the scheme of things I don't consider it an issue.

Tags are coming in Surfulater soonish.

Re. Templates and Hot-keys do you mean you want keys for Article|New Article..? Changing templates after the fact should be doable. Added to the todo list.
Search across KB's is planned. Better retention of formatting is on the todo list. I've written about the underlying issue here on my blog.

---

@all - Re. Hierarchies or Tags and which way to go. There shouldn't be any need to be forced to use one or the other. Surfulater currently has its tree, with the same article in as many folders as you want and its 'see also' cross reference links. Tags will be added shortly. Use either, both or none - you choose, you are in control. Just how it should be. And of course their is fast boolean search.

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superboyac
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« Reply #143 on: March 20, 2006, 03:26:32 PM »

nevf, that article you posted last week has really got me thinking about what the solution to organizing notes really is.  I thought tags and categories were the solution, but now I see that they each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.  There must be a way that is the BEST solution, but what is it?  And I think that the solution has to be more than just simply offering both options, that is, both tree heirarchies and tags.  I'm thinking that there's some way to come up with a new system that is better than both of them.  But I can't say what that is at this point.
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nevf
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« Reply #144 on: March 20, 2006, 04:11:30 PM »

nevf, that article you posted last week has really got me thinking about what the solution to organizing notes really is.  I thought tags and categories were the solution, but now I see that they each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.  There must be a way that is the BEST solution, but what is it?  And I think that the solution has to be more than just simply offering both options, that is, both tree heirarchies and tags.  I'm thinking that there's some way to come up with a new system that is better than both of them.  But I can't say what that is at this point.

I don't think there is any one BEST solution as everyone works in different ways and has different expectations. If you had to pick just one solution it would have to be "search'. In other words don't categorize or tag or in any other way organize information, just search for whatever you want. That's pretty much what search engines are about. Some add useful extras such as clustering, but that is simply a layer over the search results. See http://clusty.com/

When I embarked on the design of Surfulater I spent quite some time looking at and talking to people about various visualization techniques such as 2D and 3D graphs et.all. (see http://www.grokker.com/ http://www.thebrain.com/products/personalbrain/default.html and http://www.softasitgets.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=1093#poststop ) In the end my conclusion was that these look great and are fun to play with, but you spend too much time clicking here and there and the benefits just don't come through (IMO).

In a similar way, you can spend (waist) too much time organizing and re-organizing tree's, and trying to find stuff in them. I've written about this on my blog and in the forums. kfitting suggestion of filters helps here, but also complicates. Surfulater already has some tree filtering and more is to come. See One or many Knowledge Bases and Tree Filters etc.

You also need to note that Tags aren't really anything new. Keywords have been around in software forever and are in essence the same thing. A number of the early applications we wrote, had keywords, some 20 years ago.

I'm very much looking forward to implementing tags (keywords smiley) in Surfulater as I want to see for myself whether they better suite my way of working. I'm very optimistic that they will, but I'm skeptical at the same time. Time will tell.

Re. the aforementioned article. The folks at OSAF (Chandler) are an interesting bunch, but this is just one article and viewpoint amongst many.

Ok back to you. When you've worked out that BEST solution please make sure I'm the first one you tell. Wink
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« Reply #145 on: March 20, 2006, 06:55:21 PM »

Quote
that article you posted last week has really got me thinking about what the solution to organizing notes really is.  I thought tags and categories were the solution, but now I see that they each have distinct advantages and disadvantages.  There must be a way that is the BEST solution, but what is it?  And I think that the solution has to be more than just simply offering both options, that is, both tree heirarchies and tags.  I'm thinking that there's some way to come up with a new system that is better than both of them.  But I can't say what that is at this point.
Superboyac,

You already know this of course, but for the others who haven't looked at EverNote yet, I thought I should point out that EverNote combines tags and tree heirarchies in one panel for the best of both. Also, its SmartSearch feature finds notes by keyword literally as fast as you can type.
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Rover
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« Reply #146 on: March 20, 2006, 09:02:18 PM »

Note:  I have not tried Evernote, Zoot, Ecco, etc.

Since this is a brainstorming thread, I thought I'd brainstorm... or at least shower smiley

I've been thinking about this topic since the thread was stared and I think I know what I want, I just don't know what it looks like... so here it goes in words.

As I think of an idea or want to capture a web page or some text or whatever, I really don't want to spend a lot of time describing it to myself.  I think I know what it means and end up giving a bogus description anyway.  It's like finding notes that say "call Bob" and you have no idea which Bob or why you would call.  All I want to do it press a hot-key that pops up a clean window for me to start typing or pasting in.

I'd like a date/time stamp; let me know if it's captured, web, handwritten, whatever; let me create todo just by hitting another key or maybe typing todo:.  I'd like to be able to assign a reminder to anything,  again by hotkey or typing alarm:  3/19/2007 9:15 am (which will remind me that I'm 42).  It should apply to whatever text page I'm currently working with.  I should also be able to pick from a calendar display via keyboard or mouse.

Then I'd like to assign some general associations with note.  Something like work, fun, tech, etc. 

I want it to save everything and go away until I need it again.  I like the concept behind Google Desktop for searching to find documents instead of browsing a tree.  Let me enter some keywords, maybe a date range and pull up a synopsis of everything you find. Again this should be a quick hot key interface.

I guess my point is that I really don't want to spend a lot of time maintaining a database or tree structure.  Just let me find things the way they make sense, and let me assocate some general relationships quickly and easily.  Is that too much to ask?  cheesy
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thomthowolf
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« Reply #147 on: March 20, 2006, 09:36:14 PM »



I guess my point is that I really don't want to spend a lot of time maintaining a database or tree structure.  Just let me find things the way they make sense, and let me assocate some general relationships quickly and easily.  Is that too much to ask?  cheesy
If that is all you want, you really need to try evernote.
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« Reply #148 on: March 20, 2006, 10:18:21 PM »

Just installed Evernote.  First impression... Eye candy, mouse centric. thumb down

I don't see where to change the basic color scheme quickly, I'll check the manual. 

Shows promise... we'll see tellme
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superboyac
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« Reply #149 on: March 20, 2006, 11:09:31 PM »

Quote
Just installed Evernote.  First impression... Eye candy, mouse centric. thumb down

I don't see where to change the basic color scheme quickly, I'll check the manual.

Shows promise... we'll see

Rover, I'll be totally honest (at the risk of offending EverMike!), the first time I tried Evernote, I too had the same reaction.  For the most part, I hate bubbly, shiny interfaces like Evernote kind of has, with it's blue rounded edges and the "option" to overlay the usual Windows border around it.  I like things to be simple, functional, and rectangular (ie Keynote).

That being said, if you can get over that, Evernote is quite powerful and amazing, if not unique.  It's perfect for what Rover just mentioned about putting clips of information in it and just forgetting about it.  It's search and filter methods are, I think, the best you can find so far out there.

As a minimalist suggestion to Evermike, I'd say to get rid of that trapezoidal blue border around the program and just have the normal windows border, and use the space at the top for some more toolbar buttons.  I would strongly suggest to put on that main toolbar all the buttons that are available in the "full mode".  By the way, I still don't see why there even has to be a "full mode".

Part of the reason why I'm against bubbly interfaces and non-rectangular interfaces is because the computer monitor itself is rectangular.  So as far as keeping a clean desktop, docking, and all that other postitioning stuff, it's much easier to do with rectangular programs.  Being creative with that aspect of the gui really adds nothing to the program.  One of the main reasons of how I discovered donationcoder was when I finally got sick of the Konfabulator program and realized that there are programmers out there who write tiny little programs (coding snacks!) to take care of all your little Windows issues.  Konfabulator widgets are totally annoying with their Mac look and bubbly, useless features on them.
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