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Author Topic: General brainstorming for Note-taking software  (Read 404416 times)
nevf
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« Reply #150 on: March 21, 2006, 01:52:21 AM »

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.
...

Rover, good post. I've had this discussion a number of times. Some if not all folks just want to save stuff with the absolute minimum of interruption to their flow. Surfulater does not force you to interact with it in any way when capturing content. You can simply minimize it to the System Tray, set one option and it stays tucked away in the background briefly popping up a small message above the tray, each time you capture something. You get a date created stamp, an article title, the content you've selected to capture which can include a complete web page, and a URL or possibly a file link. This can be a capture from your Web Browser or using Surfulater's Clipboard Hotkey to capture content from other Windows Applications.

To find stuff you can either use the full text search or view all content in chronological (date/time) order.

Now having said that the payback in putting some effort into categorizing and organizing content pays off by making it easier to find information in the future. You can do this after the event by shifting articles off into folders and adding 'see also' links etc, or when you capture the content in the first place or not at all. The choice is all yours.

In the future you'll likely see automated article classification added, which should be interesting indeed.

Reminders are very high up on my own personal wish list.

PS. For info on keeping Surfulater in the background when adding content see the Help Topic | Power Features | Adding content with Surfulater hidden.
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rjbull
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« Reply #151 on: March 21, 2006, 03:47:31 AM »

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.

What you said sounds a lot like the sticky notes program Magic Notes

I suspect that's not really what you meant, but you might find Magic Notes  useful as a stopgap or adjunct to other things.  I seem to remember someone (kfitting?) saying they used Stickies (Zhornsoftware)  in a similar way.

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rjbull
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« Reply #152 on: March 21, 2006, 03:56:26 AM »

for the forseeable future I will continue with Keynote. 

I thought as much; there still isn't anything (that I know of) in the freeware world to touch it.

Quote
(Cost does factor in... I cant afford to spend $100 on this!) 

It's not just the cost to you, either.  If I want to share the data with other people, I need either a freeware, or a payware that includes a freely-distributable read-only version.

Quote
I'll have to figure out how to convert all my Keynote files over.

Anyone who wants to be a programming hero beloved of the people should start writing a conversion program  smiley

Quote
PS - regarding your comment about this thread: I kind of agree with you, sifting through this is going to be hard for a newcomer.

I think I was hoping for a definitive answer, or at least a set of very clear recommendations, and there doesn't seem to be one.

Quote
Looks like someone needs to develop better software for forums too!

Hmmm...  aren't you a programmer?  Wink


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rjbull
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« Reply #153 on: March 21, 2006, 04:08:42 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.

Last time I looked, trial versions were available:

BHO main page  http://www.lincolnbeach.com/blackhole.asp
Download link 1 http://www.lincolnbeach.c...colnbeach.com/blkhole.exe
Download link 2 http://www.lincolnbeach.c...com/downloads/blkhole.exe

The look-and-feel seems slanted towards a text snippets database.  Organising functions are more limited.  My main disappointments are (a) not indexed (yet, anyway) so retrieval not very fast, and (b) search logic less powerful than I'd like, as I'm looking for something to deal with very large collections of text.  However, BHO has been around a long time and seems to have a lot of followers; here's a link to "Dr. File Finder's" review  http://www.drff.net/reviews/drff02-50.html  (if you think that means anything).

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kfitting
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« Reply #154 on: March 21, 2006, 06:31:26 AM »

@rjbull: 
- I agree about the cost issue and you brought up an excellent point: if I use this to keep my data I NEED to be able to shareit at some point.  Forcing people to buy software is not really an option (unless you're a marketer).
- A programmer?  No.  Excel VBA/AutoIt scripter?  Yes! 

@nevf:
- I agree that there needs to be a way to just throw data into something... but I cant agree IF you cant go back and force a structure on it!  Sorry, searching just doesnt cut it for me.  Part of the reason I dislike ITunes is because there is not really a good way to browse for music.  I remember going to my grandfather's store and being able to just go up and down the CD (tapes before that!) and look for something that seemed interesting.  Searching is great for when you know what piece of data you're looking for... but sometimes I need to be able to browse around.  Structure comes in here.  But, I do agree, I should be able to grab a piece of information and shove it into the program with minimal fuss.  Later, as I get the time, or I figure out the relationships better, I should be able to mold the data to my thinking.
- Stickies??  Never used it!  I do remember the comment though.

Kevin
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superboyac
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« Reply #155 on: April 17, 2006, 01:17:58 AM »

Here's an update to a program discussed here, Mybase.  On the Mybase yahoogroup, the author has released a beta of the new version 5.0.  He has apparently rewritten the code from ground up (I think mouser was considering this for CHS), and there are a ton of new features.  I haven't experimented with it fully yet, but it also seems like he has incorporated "labels" into the program somehow.

I still like this program, even though it uses a regular tree heirarchy to organize information.  I'm curious as to how the label system works.  I wonder if it provides the option that some of us have discussed here, where the user decides if they want a regular tree heirarchy or some kind of virtual heirarchy by categories and tags.

And just to recap, let me remind you guys of the new features in v5 that I like.  It has fully indexed searches and the filter-as-you-type feature that I love.  Evernote has this as well, but I must say, the way Evernote does it is amazing--very fast and very smooth, probably the best implementation of this feature I've ever seen in any program.  But Mybase is doing it now also, so that is a huge thing.  Mybase also allows multiple databases to be open at once, like Keynote used to do.  I think Surfulater offers this also, in a slightly different way.  Anyway, just an update, glad to see this software still evolving.
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nevf
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« Reply #156 on: April 17, 2006, 04:17:01 AM »

And following on from superboyac's post I'd like you all to know that I've just released the latest version of Surfulater, Version 1.96.0.0.

New features in this release include the ability to Import Bookmarks from a variety of applications, including IE, Firefox, Linkman, Powermarks, Compass, Netscape & XBEL files, new Bookmark and Note templates, content editing improvements, more tree item images, improved searching, enhanced XML Clipboard capabilities and more. This is a big update, as you'll see from the releases notes here and in the Help.

If you've tried Surfulater in the past and need to start a new Free Trial simply UnInstall Surfulater and delete the
My Documents\My Surfulater folder. Then download and install the latest Surfulater release and your free trial will start over.

See: Surfulater V1.96, B0.0 released - A Happy Easter for more information on this new release.

Expect to see a new DC discount shortly. smiley
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brotherS
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« Reply #157 on: April 17, 2006, 11:35:34 AM »

[...] I watched a guy who was in love with it show off a bit.  He talked about finding a topic quickly pressed a couple of search keys and started typing his word. (He knew where the cursor would be and that he could type right away [...]
Where did you watch me working with AutoHotkey?!? ohmy

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Thank you.
brotherS
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« Reply #158 on: April 17, 2006, 11:37:07 AM »

In the future you'll likely see automated article classification added, which should be interesting indeed.
Sounds great! Based on keywords in the articles already saved that should be possible with a good hit ratio.
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Thank you.
superboyac
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« Reply #159 on: April 18, 2006, 01:11:37 AM »

nevf, that's great news also!  I will try out the new Surfulater tomorrow at work.  Powermarks, cool!  I'm also curious to see the new text editing features.  Thanks for the update.
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tim254
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« Reply #160 on: April 18, 2006, 02:55:59 PM »

Do any of these programs work with Google Desktop? 
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superboyac
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« Reply #161 on: April 24, 2006, 11:31:47 AM »

Here are two messages I recieved from the author of Mybase.  It should give some insight to the philosophy behind his program.  He also talks about some of the upcoming features of the program and it sounds like he is looking to implement some of the things we've been discussing here, such as virtual linking ot other items and labels (or tags/categories).

Quote
Thank you for letting us know of this discussion. It is interested.

We currently do not have a login account with the donationcoder.com forum, but
we'll have a short note about mybase freeform database software.

Mybase 5 incorporated the 'label' system and the 'symbolic link' feature, which
might have been missed on the forum discussion. the 'label' system works as the
mentioned 'Tag' and 'keyword' system does, you can assign any info items with a
label name. the 'symbolic link' feature allows you to create 'virtual item'
linking to another item, so you can have one item appearing in any other items
without producing duplicates; To create a symbolic link, simply drag-drop an info
item with the 'Alt' key hold down;

Mybase is basically intended to be a powerful personal freeform database
software. A good information management software requires a stable, efficient,
flexible database engine, and then define specific applications on the basis of the
database. note-taking is one of major applications of mybase database.

Mybase offers the addon API, so any utilities related to import/export (or
capture/share) can be designed as addons. this makes the program structure clear
and help improve the main code's performance.

Unlike others, mybase pack is incredibly small even if you have all plugins
packed into; The v5 is even smaller, the main code is only 1MB in file size, while
it contains most of the major components; More important, it is fast. There's
No delay at startup. We try to keep things efficient, uncluttered, flexible yet
simple as much as possible;

If you have any questions using mybase, please let us know. Thanks.

Best Regards,

wjjsoft support ( support@wjjsoft.com )
Mybase Freeform Database ( www.wjjsoft.com )

Quote
Thank you for your postings; That is a good place unbiasedly discussing
software, we like it; You may post our notes anywhere you see fit. Here's another note
for mybase software;

We've built a very flexible infrastructure for the freeform database platform,
so we can develop over the database as many applications as possible, and users
can manipulate their own database as easily as possible. Our goal within the
main code is to provide a substantial number of powerful 'Organize' utilities,
'DB maintenance' tools,  'Fast search' capabilities and an efficient, intuitive,
uncluttered user interface, while the addon/plugin API makes limitless
posibilities for making the 'Capture, Share' utilities. All this are based on our solid
database engine. Unlike others, we've put majority of our energy on the
database engine and the flexible infrastructure, rather than focus on a bubbly bulky
UI design. We hope our customers understand all these hidden work done within
the product, as results, we've received a lot of positive words for the freeform
database applications. some of words listed on our website:
www.wjjsoft.com/mbs_testimonial.html  some can be found on the yahoo groups:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MybaseForum


For later versions,  we planned to make more utilities on the basis of the
'Capture, organize, share, edit, search' concept, and improve existing addons, and
maybe the UI if that is really necessary and valued for customers;

As for the flexibility with our database, you might have seen that we've
developed some other minor code for GNU Linux and FreeBSD, all these applications are
based on the freeform database engine. We've ever planned to make a series of
programs across Windows, Linux, and Pocket OS like palm/ce; Currently our focus
is still on the Windows platform.

BTW, as to edit webpages, there's a 'HtmlEdit.dll' plugin for this task within
v4,8x, but now, if you've tried the v5 beta, you'll find we've seamlessly
incorporate the 'Inplace HTML EDIT' into v5 without launching a third-party tool. To
edit a webpage, press F2 on the webpage, the webpage goes into edit mode, and
you can make modifications to the webpage, just like the RTF edit;
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tokjdm
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« Reply #162 on: April 27, 2006, 12:53:50 AM »

I find this thread very interesting. I have been looking for the ultimate note taker for years and am not satisfied with my current choice (one note). Someone talked earlier about Memorymate (a DOS program) and this is still my reference today (although I can't use it any longer because of the format restrictions).

For me the most important criteria of a note taking software should be ease of use and automatisms. This excludes all tree-based softwares: building a tree is a waste of time and is irrelevant to the way the information is actually structured in my head and the way I am searching for it. As the information grows, the tree is anyway irrelevant. OneNote functions with a kind of tree structure but at least you can mostly ignore it since the name of each article is inserted automatically.

Tagging should be the way to go but not through formal tagging: defining and typing in tags for each note is a waste of time. Each word in the article should be a tag. The key should be to have a search functions which allows the refine or broaden a search on all words in the database. A very good example of this kind of search (but unfortunately badly implemented on other aspects and no longer supported it seems) is exalead, an internet or desktop search engine (I use it to search my local files, as an internet search it is useless). The search function should also allow to locate articles quickly from the date of their creation (Memorymate had a wonderful and easy way to do this with a search in the form of c<010106 where c means the date of creation).

The ability to view articles within a calendar would also be helpful (or a timeline like picasa 2). Templates should be optional and freely modifiable for any article.

Another important factor is unicode compatibility and the ability to import web pages and graphic formats. I work in a multinational environment and unicode compatibility is a necessity and the main reason why I use OneNote.

I like the concept of Asksam very much but it is not unicode compatible. The same with Keynote (as far as I remember). The concept of Evernote is interesting but unicode compatibility is limited (web pages in another language, I use Japanese, cannot be imported properly). Mybase and Surfulater are tree-based as far as I could understand and for me uninteresting (it seems that you could ignore the tree in surfulater and just build everything in the same page but this is not very elegant; in addition surfulater does not seem to handle well copies from the clipboard which are not in English).

I tested Zoot a long time ago but it was not unicode compatible and the learning curve was too steep (but the concept very interesting). Infoselect and Inforecall are just tree-based programs, like treepad and many, many others.


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superboyac
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« Reply #163 on: April 27, 2006, 01:19:22 AM »

tokjdm, based on your previous post (welcome to DC, by the way!), Evernote is the program that comes closest to your criteria.  I don't think you will find something that suits your needs better.  As far as unicode compatibility and Japanese support, you should probably talk to the author about it and see if you can convince him to include that.

I think that, as of now, none of us will find that "perfect" program for our notetaking needs, and we need to just find the one that fits best.  Or in my case, what I'm doing is using several of them at once, and not committing to any for now.  I use one at work, I use free trial versions of other ones for a short period of time.  It's frustrating, but I think the genre is still in it's premature stages.  I know these programs have been around for ages, but the modern implementation of them is still premature, that's why I say that.
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tokjdm
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« Reply #164 on: April 27, 2006, 01:50:10 AM »

Thank you for this almost immediate comment. I agree with you that there is no perfect program. I am also quite used to the unicode problem: very few program are unicode-compatible and it is somewhat understandable. Why bother about the rest of the world when you see the size of the english-only market. I talked with the Evernote author and he offered some solutions for note taking (changing to RTF as standard format) which do not solve the internet page issues. Not enough to convince me to switch from onenote yet (unfortunately).
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rjbull
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« Reply #165 on: April 27, 2006, 04:47:08 AM »

tokjdm,

I find this thread very interesting. I have been looking for the ultimate note taker for years and am not satisfied with my current choice (one note). Someone talked earlier about Memorymate (a DOS program) and this is still my reference today (although I can't use it any longer because of the format restrictions).

I still haven't seen anything as clean, simple and effective as Memory Mate, with its limited but sensible Boolean search terms and indexed database, giving retrieval that's both fast and precise.  For large quantitites of scraps of unstructured data, the tree model isn't very useful, certainly not as useful as a full-text, free-text database.

Quote
Another important factor is unicode compatibility

You might want to look at ScrapBook which is a small freeware cardfile program with a Unicode version, but, you would probably find it too simple for most needs.  This Wiki entry on cardfiles might also be relevant.  ScrapBook was mentioned in a recent post on TinyApps Blog

Quote
Infoselect and Inforecall are just tree-based programs, like treepad

Info Select for DOS didn't start that way.  It was a bit more like Memory Mate, and put little windows that matched the search on screen.  I haven't looked at the Windows version because of the cost.

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tokjdm
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« Reply #166 on: April 27, 2006, 05:08:06 AM »

I really wish MemoryMate had been better adapted to the Windows environment. The current version released by Brownbag simply does not work http://www.swreg.org/soft_shop/18/shopscr35.shtml.
Scrapbook is nice and I used it for some time but the search and formatting functions are too limited (and I had problems with bugs at the time, v2.20 may be better).

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rjbull
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« Reply #167 on: April 27, 2006, 05:26:41 AM »

I really wish MemoryMate had been better adapted to the Windows environment. The current version released by Brownbag simply does not work

You're not the only one to say that about Memory Mate; see e.g. John Buckman's outliners page

Quote
Scrapbook is nice and I used it for some time but the search and formatting functions are too limited (and I had problems with bugs at the time, v2.20 may be better).

ScrapBook 2.20 is dated 21 April 2006, so it's hot off the press.  I haven't used it "for real," but it looks best suited to simple actions and short records.  Pity...

It occurs to me that despite being tree-style, you might find Treepad Asia a possible stopgap because it supports Asian languages.  You can always ignore the tree style  smiley  You get rather better search facilities if you use the free Treepad viewer, but it's still limited compared to Memory Mate.  I've been tinkering with Treepad Lite lately, largely because it has a simple file format, and most other programs can directly import its files anyway.  So if I do find something better, it won't be such a problem to change.

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« Reply #168 on: April 27, 2006, 06:02:22 AM »

Treepad Asia does not really work with Asian languages. It works only if you have that language version of Windows installed. I use two computers: one with English windows (but Japanese language installed) and the other one with Japanese windows. Treepad Asia will work in Japanese only with the second one. This is much too cumbersome. I remember when I first saw Treepad I asked them when unicode compatibility would be implemented and they said in 3 months. I think that this was 3 years ago and unicode compatibility is still promised as a future development on their website.
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nevf
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« Reply #169 on: April 27, 2006, 07:48:23 AM »

I've just discovered this thread has come back to life again and I haven't received any e-mail notifications of these new posts. ohmy

Will try and catch in the next few days. No time just now.

For those interested Surfulater V1.96.2.0 was released this week. See: http://blog.surfulater.co...released-calm-seas-ahead/ and http://www.softasitgets.c...rums/showthread.php?t=842

Plus two new articles on "Pushing content into Surfulater from other Programs". Part 1 http://blog.surfulater.co...om-other-programs-part-1/ and Part 2: http://blog.surfulater.co...om-other-programs-part-2/

Later,
Neville
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« Reply #170 on: April 27, 2006, 08:28:52 AM »

Treepad Asia does not really work with Asian languages. It works only if you have that language version of Windows installed.

I didn't realise that.  It's not good.  Treeline supports Unicode, I think, but is still a standard treepad-style organiser.  Its data format is XML, so you have some hope of conversion later.

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learned
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« Reply #171 on: April 29, 2006, 12:37:39 AM »

I have to admit I'm a fan of Evernote and think it holds the most promise. The biggest weaknesses/opportunities I see for it thus far:

Titles (Mike has already addressed this here)

Better Tag Filtering (Regular Expressions Perhaps?)

When I capture entire web pages, I'd like to go back later and mass delete canned blocks (il.e. banners) which would require some pretty extensive find/replace capability

Easier entering of tags...the rubber stamp tool is clumsy

Synchronization and Archival

I agree that tags are the way of the future. I don't want to deal with hierarchy any more. Delicious currently has my favorite tag implementation.
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tinyvillager
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« Reply #172 on: April 29, 2006, 01:26:52 AM »

Surfulater gets a big thumbs up from me,i purchased a copy maybe three or so months back and it improves
with each release.Ever since my browser bookmarks have gotten out of control i've taken to bookmarking
and flat out backing up entire pages with Surfulater.At first glance it looks like an untamable beast,kinda like
The Bat !,but given patience it ends up being really good a organizer of information.

My only gripe and it's a gripe that carries on to all programmers,no love for the Opera Browser.
I'm no programmer,so this might actually be Opera's fought,maybe too closed (again acting like
i know how programming works embarassed)but from an end user experience i want some love for Opera.
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kfitting
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« Reply #173 on: April 29, 2006, 08:42:32 AM »

As I understand it, it is Opera's fault.  Opera does not copy HTML to the clipboard like IE or FF, just plain text.  This also means it doesn't copy RTF either... I don't understand why, it does get cumbersome to always open another browser when I want to save something... but, there you have it.

Kevin
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nevf
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« Reply #174 on: May 01, 2006, 07:44:08 PM »

As I understand it, it is Opera's fault.  Opera does not copy HTML to the clipboard like IE or FF, just plain text.  This also means it doesn't copy RTF either... I don't understand why, it does get cumbersome to always open another browser when I want to save something... but, there you have it.

Kevin

Opera has padlocks on all the doors. They see this as a big feature as Opera users don't suffer from spyware and the like. The downside is developers can't hook into Opera and do anything usefull. The need to open the doors a little and work with us folks. I've tried contacting them, but never got anywhere.
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