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Author Topic: Fast Network Notetaking...  (Read 2768 times)
davcom
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« on: July 16, 2012, 10:26:34 PM »

I often find myself wanting to just jot a very quick note down, sometimes with a "classification" (ie to what the note refers in terms of where, how, who, etc it applies) but there's not a system out there that I am currently aware of that does what I need. I want to be able to make each note by using a single or maybe dual hotkey to bring a single small window into focus on any of my 9 PC's around the house/workshop (so it MUST be networked at least on a LAN to start with), and likely tick a few 'classification" boxes (unclassified, ToDo/bring up today, 7 days, Need to invoice, Need to assign this to a client, Add to Business Contacts, Add to Personal Contacts, Add to "one of my XYZ clubs" Contact Lists, Assign to XYZ person or company, and so on). Complete action may take 15-30-45 seconds tops to get the thought into the system so it's not lost and can be actioned when time permits.

The idea is that it is VERY quick and simple to at least capture an initial thought of an action required or action taken so it is not lost nor breaks the workflow, and at a quieter moment can be inspected and further classifications added, from any station on the network. I feel it would be vital to have an auto-classification system based on keywords typed. It MUST also have "filter and show results AS YOU TYPE" method of searching exactly as Evernote does it. This would be a separate "list" used to locate any item of information in whatever list(s) the note(s) you're after currently resides in (including note maintenance to get rid of dupes, orphans, merge notes, etc)

I noted that several others are still on the hunt for the "right" notetaking system that suits them and was particularly interested in "urlwolfs" comment a few posts ago in another thread that capture and classification are separate and should not disturb the workflow". I tend to agree but further qualify his statement by suggesting that possibly some minimal tickboxes and/OR (more likely) the words used in writing the note can be used to automatically classify which list a note is shown on when sitting down to manage notes many times during the day. That way the note is made and classified simply by the choice of words used, initially. Remember that this is for "bullet point" style of notes, not a complete dissertation on the history and likely future events that may surround the reason for the note).

It is quite possible that such a system could be standalone, maybe use an SQLite db ? but with an API that allows it to be treated as a front end to other information software ?

I have been a big fan of Evernote for a long time, and still am but a bit disappointed with its increasing bloat and cluttered navigation, but Evernote does not have a single small(ish) text window available immediately (as it used to) with absolutely minimum clutter PLUS allow you to set some preliminary note classifications (within a 10 to 15 second window of activity to specify classifications)
I like the idea of Evernotes assigning a classification to a note as that does allow you to have multiple categories/folders watching/assigned to a single note depending on the way you are retrieving info, but even that method of selecting categories is too slow (and yes I have done many auto-categorisations in Evernote based on keywords) Last decent version of Evernote was their v2.1.327, then it went online. (Evernote as my Contact List beats any other system on the planet for finding a contacts multiple details FAST, including ancillary notes.)

I am trialling (free) Sticky Notes (www.sticky-notes.org which is a redirect from http://sticky-notes.net) and while I like the hotkey to call up or hide every note simultaneously (which I am treating as lists that I add to or transfer to a Done list (with a date when actioned)) am finding it unstable with (hotkey) showing or hiding every window if the program does not have focus, and standard text formatting keys (CTRL-I, B, U for eg) are dysfunctional and often have to use highlight with mouse then rightclick for italic/bold/underline which is very clunky (slow!). Notes shared over the LAN are not interactive notes either. While this Sticky-Notes shows a great deal of promise, again, it's not quite right (and yes I know I'm using it as (short) lists instead of an individual note per box.)

I use Lists for all completed actions (Done), plus individual lists for Personal, Now (Clients only as Personal is for my private actions), Later, Friends, Invoicing and some others.

Would like to be able to enter a QUICK note and use the appropriate words to have it appear on the relevant list(s) (as per Evernote an action may be seen from more than one perspective so I might see something for writing out a client invoice appear on both the "Invoicing" and Now (Client Actions) lists. Lists should not appear when a note is entered - the lists need to be called separately by global hotkey. Drag and drop notes between lists once made. Right click a note on a list and select Done (auto date/time as it transfers over to the Done list. Personally I don't like seeing actioned items (with strikethrough) on a list of things yet to be done but do agree for the need to confirm that something was actioned ! Some people like seeing strikethrough notes of completed actions on the same list as items to be actioned but AFAIC that clutters things up.)

Has anyone heard of any software that may do this cleanly (I detest cluttered UI's) or has any coder had any thoughts along these lines for a new project ?
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 10:28:35 PM by davcom; Reason: Added that urlwolfs post was in a different thread. » Logged
barney
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 11:24:46 PM »

I do much of what you describe - not all, by any means - with CintaNotes.  Mind, I don't aspire to your degree of preliminaries, but the ability to set/define multiple tags on the fly works well for me.  As for replicating across multiple boxes, either Syncless or Beyond Sync (sorry, no links) should resolve that issue - at least it does for me.

Not an ideal solution for your dilemma, but at least a possible start.

P.S.
I quit EverNote when it went cloud  ohmy Angry Wink.
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davcom
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 05:10:49 PM »

Thanks Barney, will check those options out. I may have to bite the bullet and find a coder that can do it "just right" eventually but if I can cobble something together that approximates what I'm after and it's stable without needing constant tweaks then will give it a go. That was a shame about Evernote. Still a neat program but they've munted the simplicity of operation that was its immediate appeal for such a deceptively powerful program and I can see it falling by the wayside for many which is a shame.

I do much of what you describe - not all, by any means - with CintaNotes.  Mind, I don't aspire to your degree of preliminaries, but the ability to set/define multiple tags on the fly works well for me.  As for replicating across multiple boxes, either Syncless or Beyond Sync (sorry, no links) should resolve that issue - at least it does for me.

Not an ideal solution for your dilemma, but at least a possible start.

P.S.
I quit EverNote when it went cloud  ohmy Angry Wink.
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davcom
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 05:23:55 PM »

Barney, on looking at CintaNotes it's advising that it can sync across multiple PC's using Dropbox or SugarSync, both of which I run already (and I've just starting using the free FTPbox http://ftpbox.org/ so theres another option yet again).
Looking at how CintaNotes (and Evernote too for that matter) have the single continuous note system it might pay me to revise my expectations and consider using filters within CintaNote to provide the "Action Lists" I'm after. My main concern is that I might lose something in the great mass of info where on separate lists I'd be more focused for that lists specific activity.
Remains to be seen how simple the capture of a note in CintaNotes is. Will provide some feedback here after I've played round with it for a few days. Thanks !

I do much of what you describe - not all, by any means - with CintaNotes.  <snip>  As for replicating across multiple boxes, either Syncless or Beyond Sync (sorry, no links) should resolve that issue - at least it does for me.
<snip>
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barney
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 06:53:32 PM »

Barney, on looking at CintaNotes it's advising that it can sync across multiple PC's using Dropbox or SugarSync, both of which I run already (and I've just starting using the free FTPbox http://ftpbox.org/ so theres another option yet again).
Looking at how CintaNotes (and Evernote too for that matter) have the single continuous note system it might pay me to revise my expectations and consider using filters within CintaNote to provide the "Action Lists" I'm after. My main concern is that I might lose something in the great mass of info where on separate lists I'd be more focused for that lists specific activity.
Remains to be seen how simple the capture of a note in CintaNotes is. Will provide some feedback here after I've played round with it for a few days. Thanks !

Yeah, I didn't mention the cloud stuff - neither use nor trust it.  In regard to your Action Lists, one of the things I love about CintaNotes is that when you select - via Shift- or Ctrl-click in Win environments - multiple tags, you see only the notes that have all the selected tags.  Set 'em to sort in date order, and you have a minimal time line.  This has been a virtual life saver for me, as I can fine down to a single note, if I tagged it properly, or just see a list of everything in a less tagged, more extensive selection of notes.  All done on the fly, as it were. 

Oh, yeah, you can maintain separate databases for a more dedicated approach.  As an example, I have one (1) for Win software, one (1) for Win 64-bit software, one (1) for Linux software, one (1) for recipes, ..., and more.  When the recipe database gets too big - and it will  ohmy! - I can break it down into deserts, appetizers, main dishes, or perhaps veggie, beef, pork, pasta ...  The modification capabilities are near endless.  The only downside, for me, is lack of RTF capabilities in the notes (I like italics, bold, underline, strikethrough, colour, and the like - visual separation works better for these old eyes  tongue.).
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Make a good day ... barn
davcom
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 07:19:48 AM »

Deciding not to leave any stone unturned, here's links to the sync'ing software mentioned by Barney - for those that may follow in our footsteps smiley

Syncless - http://code.google.com/p/big5sync/   (Open Source)
Beyond Sync - http://www.beyondsync.com/      (Payware - $29.95 - 2012/07/19)

<snip> ...  As for replicating across multiple boxes, either Syncless or Beyond Sync (sorry, no links) should resolve that issue - at least it does for me.
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Jimdoria
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 04:34:11 PM »

OneNote does something very similar (I think) to what you want. Windows-N brings up a new "side note" which is a small, sticky-note style view of a standard OneNote page. OneNote's tags are completely customizable, and the CTRL 1-9 keys will automatically apply the first 9 in your list. Then you can filter by tags, organize, etc.

All new notes created this way go into an "unfiled notes" section which defaults to local but could be placed on a net share. You then organize them later into notebooks and tabbed sections. OneNote's synching cabailities are 2nd to none as well - peer-to-peer, real-time synching over a LAN, with disconnected changes synching on reconnect.
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There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.
davcom
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 12:41:46 AM »

Thx Jimdoria,
I've been steering clear of OneNote because of experiences in the past. Others may disagree but I've found it bloated, like much of M$ software, however at some later stage I might investigate it because there are some features (online/offline lists sync'ing for eg) that other systems don't or might not implement as well, but can say that at this stage am liking much of what I find in CintaNotes and like the look of what they have on their development horizon.

@Barney - I think the "on-the-fly" tagging in CintaNotes has its uses but to be the most effective needs to be automatically picked from what is typed in the body of the note rather than retyped into a separate field. If a separate field or fields were to be used for classification then tickboxes might be a quicker option and are less prone to a typo when entering as a keyword. A technique of mine I use in Evernote and will look to use in CintaNotes if supported is to use a word or abbreviation followed immediately (no space) by a colon ( : ) which in ordinary typing is usually unique (except when storing coding snacks of course !) and within a single "sentence" of typing will auto-classify it immediately. No extra typing needed. That way "spam:" (sans quotes) is auto-classified but "spam" is seen as an ordinary word not a classification. That said - Evernote for eg still indexes every single word so either spam or spam: will still get you all notes with that string that might otherwise fall through the cracks and all without the need to click on the folder that references those notes. Covers the field both ways.

OneNote does something very similar (I think) to what you want. <snip>
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barney
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2012, 02:28:56 AM »

@Barney - I think the "on-the-fly" tagging in CintaNotes has its uses but to be the most effective needs to be automatically picked from what is typed in the body of the note rather than retyped into a separate field.

Yep, yer right.  Establishing that convention (for the developer) might be a bit tricky.  It'd need to be easily typed, and not [often] misinterpreted.  As an example, I use the ` symbol in ShortKeys (a text expander) as a trigger for the abbreviations.  But that character is a part of some languages, so it wouldn't work for everyone.  Language and keyboard constraints make that assigning a trigger symbol a problematic thing.

However, when you have several tags already selected, those tags automagically appear in the tag window for the new note.  Not the best solution, I'll grant, but it tends to work well for my needs.  Thing is, I tend to work within the limitations of the software I'm using - that's why I'll never be a good beta tester  tongue - so a lot of potential improvements never occur to me  Sad Wink tongue.

I'd love to see an app built to your requirements, though ... suspect that would be mucho grande.

Edit for clarification - see strikethrough.
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davcom
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2012, 05:31:24 AM »

Barney,
The beauty of the way it's done in Evernote is, that you define every one of your own triggers. It's not up to the developer per se.

Evernote provides a mechanism to store whatever trigger strings you wish, and matches the string list to everything typed and voila... when the notes finished, so is the classifying.

Evernote allowing you to set strings of whatever sequence of characters you want as a trigger can to some be quite a stumbling block because it makes them have to think about their life fully and categorise everything they do, to arrive at an overall schema with a workable number of such strings. (Coders know this sort of thing and to them this might come somewhat easier because they've had to take apart everything about what it is they're trying to achieve before they can code a part of the whole. Either that or the program is never quite what it was intended to be until the first complete rewrite... aka version 2, is released  tongue ).

I've arrived at a limited number of either abbreviations, or the full word if always typed in full, that match the lists I use to maintain the activities in my life and suffix those abbrev's/words with a colon to make them unique. I can read the abbrev or word inplace and it makes good sense. Bit like the creation of the modern teenagers TXT message tongue

Example...
21/7/2012. Finished repair on <MyCustomersName> PC. Inv: $47.50 total (Parts $37.50, Travel $10). Used MSI 9550 Vid card, 1 x 2nd hand stick of 512Mb DDR400 to increase to 1Gb. Labour Free: as this ones for a friend.

I can copy the above string into an invoice then leave only the salient details once pasted. There are 2 categories automatically assigned to the note and that is Inv: = Invoices (because thats an activity I will need to do at the end of the day) and Free: = "Who have I done some work for and not charged them". (I do work for friends and some community organisations and don't charge them Labour, just Parts or anything that actually costs me, but I should keep a track of the time that it's taking me so I keep an awareness of free work versus chargeable work).

Evernote still allows a search on any string at any time so I don't have to categorise everything, just the most pertinent points that should have an additional method of grouping.

This way I can still use the word "free" (no colon) anywhere else and it makes sense in the note it's used in but will not be added to the category "Free:".

The 2 points to this are that you can use whatever character you like after the ordinary (English in this case) word, it doesn't have to be the colon and 2nd'ly I'm using the words I'd normally type to make the note anyway but adding a twist that helps uniquely categorise it in the process. I use colon because my hands reach those keys ( SHIFT + : ) naturally with little movement away from their standard resting position at the keyboard.

Yep, yer right.  Establishing that convention (for the developer) might be a bit tricky.  It'd need to be easily typed, and not [often] misinterpreted.  As an example, I use the ` symbol in ShortKeys (a text expander) as a trigger for the abbreviations.  But that character is a part of some languages, so it wouldn't work for everyone.  Language and keyboard constraints make that assigning a trigger symbol a problematic thing.
However, when you have several tags already selected, those tags automagically appear in the tag window for the new note.  Not the best solution, I'll grant, but it tends to work well for my needs.  Thing is, I tend to work within the limitations of the software I'm using - that's why I'll never be a good beta tester  tongue - so a lot of potential improvements never occur to me  Sad Wink tongue.
I'd love to see an app built to your requirements, though ... suspect that would be mucho grande.
Edit for clarification - see strikethrough.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 06:21:04 AM by davcom; Reason: Add new lines between sentences on last paragraph to improve readability. » Logged
davcom
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2012, 02:11:11 AM »

@Barney !!

CintaNotes already uses a colon by default within the body of a note to make a tag !!  ohmy  Cool Wow.  thumbs up It looks like _anything_ you type that is suffixed with a colon (no space after the string) and it is treated as a tag. (Be frugal with your tags !!)

Use of the colon is hardcoded by the looks of it so I will make a request to the CintaNote team asking whether they will consider pro's and con's for providing the ability to determine your own "the preceding string is to be treated as a tag" symbol, but for now their use of the colon is RIGHT up my typing street ! (Evernote allows you to set your own "this is a tag" string, not just a symbol that turns a string into a tag).

Observation:
It might be quite a challenge for the developer to allow any symbol or string to have the ability to determine what is, or isn't, re-tagged/re-classified. If I started with a colon then decided later to make it something else, do all the previous tags get altered automatically, how many of them are there ?, does that adversely affect anything and how do you tell over a large number of notes ? (I run several individual Evernotes (one per PC usually) some with several thousand notes). Having a single character only to determine what is tagged does have advantages.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 02:25:06 AM by davcom; Reason: Added Observation: on changing tag symbol. » Logged
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