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Author Topic: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool  (Read 4386 times)

mouser

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NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« on: October 08, 2014, 05:39:52 AM »
I am always fascinated by new productivity utilities and ideas, and I'd like to create another one for this year's NANY 2015.

I was actually thinking of making a kind of lean and mean utility Digital Index Card Notes system, that would compliment the index-card system I have been using to keep track of todo items and ideas for many years now.
You can read about my real-world non-digital index card system here, and a brief old discussion of some ideas for a digital version here.

My current best idea is not to try to replicate visually the idea of physical index cards that you can shuffle around on screen, but rather to provide a database-driven system for creating "virtual" cards (i.e. small entries with title and text), with some keywords/group identification, with good fast search/sort/filtering, and then provide functionality for PRINTING such cards on index-card stock.

So it wouldn't be a replacement for having a physical collection of index cards, but a supplemental tool to help you create, print, and search them.

Alternatively, one could imagine the utility as a more general purpose tool for maintaining a lean and mean database of entries that you want to print out on card stock (of whatever size); so think flash cards, etc.



Just my current idea, can't guarantee it will be the one i finally end up with.

Another related alternative would be not to print the entries on index card stock, but perhaps to assist in printing a daily TODO list from selected entries, or something similar.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 06:01:33 AM by mouser »

mouser

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2014, 05:41:39 AM »
I'm happy to hear suggestions, alternatives, etc.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2014, 06:27:01 AM »
Hi Mouser!

Just as a "devil's advocate brainstorming exercise", it sounds to me like your big competition is the Stickies type programs. To me a bad weakness of index card only size is once you get a tad above that size frame, you are stuck. Stickies can print on whatever size paper your printer can handle.

So for example, since the "search" was something I never do, I just checked. Let's consider Tom Revell's Stickies.

R-Click the small tray icon/manage stickies, then
Tools/find

... finds them by title.

Then for printing,
R-Click/Print, then
Properties/Paper Size and choose 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 or whatever your size is.

or whatever, because once you get into the print menu, it seems to be local firmware that changes a little.

Meanwhile, there's 3.5 levels of urgency. Use a desktop splitter like the one I use from the obscure non-Nany C contest here, Trandesk. You open Stickies on the 4th tab, with any one open, minimized, or long-term-closed as you like. Then splits 2 and 3 hold working projects, with their sets of stickies open or minimized. You save your last tab for the rest of your faster disposable stuff.

So put another way, a problem I see that you have to find a clever UI for, is "overloading" your app. Once you get more than about 20 index cards going, how do you deal with them?


dr_andus

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2014, 07:12:00 AM »
it sounds to me like your big competition is the Stickies type programs.

To me WorkFlowy came to mind (and other similar cross-platform to-do/outliner apps), which enables me to do exactly what Mouser does with his physical system or what the new software aims to be able to do (minus the index card printing). So my question would be, how would this new software be different from WorkFlowy? The printing feature could be one (though personally I wouldn't have a use for that).

Once you get more than about 20 index cards going, how do you deal with them?

The answer to that would have to be a decent exporting function, so stuff could be moved to a specialist database that can handle masses of data. Again, WorkFlowy can export as formatted text, plain text, and OPML.

anandcoral

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2014, 11:23:30 AM »
As an idea, I use http://www.resoph.com/ ResophNotes, with http://simplenote.com/ Simplenote integration. I save files in txt format, so that I can have my data back, even if any one of the above does not work, for some reason.

It has good search and tagging options.

Regards,

Anand

dr_andus

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2014, 11:33:05 AM »
As an idea, I use http://www.resoph.com/ ResophNotes, with http://simplenote.com/ Simplenote integration. I save files in txt format, so that I can have my data back, even if any one of the above does not work, for some reason.

Here is an alternative example for the Mac on Using nvALT as a Zettel Note Archive for implementing a Zettelkasten (i.e. electronic version of the index cards in a slip box) method for handling a vast amount of index cards with various tagging and search tools.

mouser

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2014, 11:52:27 AM »
Lots of great comments here so far -- you guys no more about this type of software than I do and have more experience with these kinds of tools, so I need your assistance.
Some quick thoughts:

I do *not* want to try to reproduce the functionality of the best-in-glass general purpose tools.  They are too good at what they do for me to think I can do better.

I'm much more interested in creating something unique, experimental, opinionated, and focused on doing things fundamentally different than the existing tools.

So, one possible angle to this is to make a tool that is really more about PRINTING cards (or sheets) from your item entries, rather than a tool meant to let you do lots of virtual work on screen.. A tool designed to help you manage and print physical cards (or todo lists) for physical use.

That's just one angle -- I'm open to going in a different direction.


dr_andus

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2014, 12:30:37 PM »
So, one possible angle to this is to make a tool that is really more about PRINTING cards (or sheets) from your item entries, rather than a tool meant to let you do lots of virtual work on screen.. A tool designed to help you manage and print physical cards (or todo lists) for physical use.

How about taking the notion of "printing" more loosely as 'arranging cards on a sheet' (for various sizes of actual/virtual paper, e.g. from A4 to A2, for those with bigger monitors)?

Also, how about making the main limitation of the physical index card into its main advantage as a virtual card, i.e. its limited size? The thing about most of the software versions is that you can either type unlimited amount of text (so they are no longer bite-size) or too little (like Scrivener) for it to be similar to a virtual card.

It could be interesting to have a software that forces you to be focused per card because space is limited (a bit like Twitter). The question is what word count that should be per card. And then the other limitation would be the visible size of the sheet it can be "printed" on, again, to force focus.

You can sort of do this with PowerPoint but PPT allows you to decrease the size of the font and cram a lot of text into each slide, thus losing the possibility of enforcing focus.

mouser

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2014, 12:34:00 PM »
Quote
How about taking the notion of "printing" more loosely as 'arranging cards on a sheet' (for various sizes of actual/virtual paper, e.g. from A4 to A2, for those with bigger monitors)?

yeah, i would make it work with any kind of card layout and paper size, that's not a problem.

it does raise the interesting issue of stuff not fitting on a card though.. interesting dilemma.

tomos

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2014, 02:12:54 PM »
^ Have a 'front' and 'back' for each card?

Printing - I like the focus on this.

If printing a bunch of 'cards' on one page, a couple of ideas below - may not be the direction you were thinking, but I'll throw them out anyway:

  • how about being able to emphasise importance via size? (You would then have the challenge of getting the rest to fit in the remaining space. It could be done portrait, either by rotating the card - or the text could be fit to the portrait orientation)
  • different colour backgrounds for different themes a la GTD or for different aspects or projects. Or maybe just a colour strip on the card to save on ink costs.)
Tom

dr_andus

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2014, 06:54:23 PM »
Someone just pointed me to this site, Index Card Apps | A Listly List, which offers a bit of overview about some currently existing index card apps.

mouser

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2014, 07:24:33 PM »
Great find, dr. andus -- i need to go through that list carefully..

ginger

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Re: NANY 2015 Pledge - Some Kind of Unique Productivity Tool
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2014, 01:46:04 PM »
Just some thoughts... I was recently trying to encourage my daughter (who's a student) to start a physical card index - to note down important concepts - so that in future years, she will be able to easily reference key facts/concepts that are relevant to her work.
-However, what struck me, is that the immediate disadvantage of a purely physical card index is: that it can get lost or damaged - (and with it years of precious collation of info). So that's a major advantage of 'creating the index' on a computer and then printing it out.
-The major advantage of a physical card index - is that it's physical - i.e. that somehow - the physical container of the box and the cards within it - are more real than a file on a computer - and thus bring what is on the cards 'to life'. I think part of that is, that the cards don't have so much written on them (because of usually being written in a larger hand written font). So somehow making the card designs as 'physical' as possible. In this vein, as well as larger easy-to-read-fonts, maybe could be an enhancement over handwritten, e.g. might have space and an easy process to put a bit of relevant clip art on them, in a specific location on the card, to reinforce the card contents - or a simple mind map. Being able to make the cards, aesthetically 'beautiful' e.g. with font/background/card border colours might be really useful as well.

Sounds like it's going to be fabulous - looking forward to sending to daughter to try out!