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Last post Author Topic: Ideamason on special  (Read 10323 times)

Grorgy

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Ideamason on special
« on: May 15, 2007, 04:53:59 PM »
There has been some mention of a program called ideamason as a notetaker, organizer etc.  I thought it looked good and have been trying it out. 

It has many features, most of which I haven't found yet, but what I have seen so far, it looks like the program i've been after.  I'm a student (undergraduate liberal arts) and find the idea of being able to organize notes and research material directly in one place which will also help put it into a structured written format really appeals. You can import stuf from endnote, link files web pages create citations lists export to word (and other word processors tho word is specifically supported) and much besides.

I found the user support area very responsive, I couldn't get it to work, odd things happened and I'd uninstalled it but still sent off a message to them thinking I wont get a reply, and a few minutes later they responded, and after a few email returns, mostly caused by attachments not appearing i got the thing to work.

For those interested, its not compatible with window blinds, so you need to set window blinds to ignore it, works a treat.

Ohh I have no material interest in this I'm just a guy looking for something useful.

The good news is that they have it on special until June 30, Regular price is now $69 for a single licence and for students $59 with other options for 2 or more licences (one licence per computer not per user unfortunately)  So while i haven't decided if I'm going to buy it or not yet, this price reduction brings it more within my budget.  (Upgrade protection is included for 12 months, but looking at the website the upgrade there is free so i have no idea what the policy is long term but the guarantee is for upgrade protection for 12 months

http://www.ideamason.com/default.htm

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2007, 01:26:47 PM »
Grorgy, you seem to really like this program (I've seen it's in your top 3...).

Have you found anything you especially don't like after these 4-5 months of usage? Any criticism?

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2007, 04:16:00 PM »
Yes - I'm curious as well. I can't help thinking that Ideamason is a great app, if you give yourself time to learn it...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2007, 04:36:37 PM »
PS Looks like the offer is still on!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Grorgy

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2007, 05:30:12 PM »
Well, yes, I do run into difficulties with it, I find it complex and not very intuitive, and because of this I have been using it mainly as an outliner, note taker, a place to add suggested books movies,  tv shows of interest, a journal and that sort of thing.  The help is quite detailed but lacks pictures and the website has some videos which are great, but I haven't worked out how I can skip around in the video to what i want to see, or quickly rewind to the bit i want to see again, so i have had to kill the video and start again, given they run up to 10 minutes this can get tedious to say the least lol.     

Every time I use it though I'm going through different sections of it to learn more about it and its getting easier to use and more usefu with each use, (just as well).  I'm using it a fair bit, but not nearly at the potential it has at this stage. 

Darwin s point about giving yourself time to learn it, is in my case anyway, very valid, of course some people may just pick it up no trouble at all, unfortunately i'm not one of them.  But the IdeaMason website does say its complex and has a steep learning curve, so i was certainly forewarned.  But each day brings new discoveries for me in it and so long as i don’t get to frustrated and give up, the help is all there and in the end i get what i want.

I would not recommend starting to use it i for a time critical task though.  In my opinion it is best to ease your way into it, and I will start using it to write up my notes from lectures and so on as my next step, before starting to write something that needs to be submitted on a set date.

So overall:
I like it but:
* Its complex with a steep learning curve
* Help resources are not always that friendly to use, but they do exist and are comprehensive as far as i can tell so far.

Think that’s about it, I'll go get another cup of coffee and think about it some more  :)

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2007, 06:01:23 PM »
Thanks for the feedback Grorgy!

I wonder: what do you find you're "achieving better" (or could achieve better) with IdeaMason than your previous (or current) software setting/system?

Thanks!

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2007, 07:44:45 PM »
Yes - thank you Grorgy. I still find myself drawn to the premise behind IdeaMason but will need to buy it now to figure out if it is for me or not! I only had the demo installed for about 6 hours, but of course somewhere buried in my registry is a record of the date of installation and no way to run the trial now... No worries - I don't actually NEED IdeaMason... it just seems "cool" (but not to the tune of $59.95 to confirm this impression - I've already been down that road with other "Gee whiz, neato!" inspired software purchases).

Still... The features I am most interested in are the referencing system (Endnote compatible) and the idea of preparing a draft from notes, memos, and other fragments of writing. I suspect that this is possible with both Do-Organizer and NetSnippets (both of which I own) but haven't explored generating reports with either of them beyond a cursory read through of the help file.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2007, 10:00:03 PM »
Some quick thoughts : one thing that definitely attracts me to IdeaMason is the apparent tight integration between the different elements/parts/data often involved in a research/publishing process. My current system works well, but I sometimes have the uneasy feeling that everything is scattered all over the place... Which is not exactly true, of course  :)... it's been designed that way, but I'd need a more efficient index/TOC able to encompass everything in my research projets-- IdeaMason might be able to do that. Maybe.

One aspect that bugged me when I tried it (and it's always the same thing, regardless of the software -- myBase, Ultra Recall, EverNote, Surfulater, whatever) is the fact that when you link documents to the main database, links remain fragile and will be broken as soon as pathnames change.

Obviously, maybe...  But I'm amazed that no software in that "genre" seems to be able to cope graciously with this unavoidable and very problematic problem (especially when you have 100s of files and references that have been or could be renamed, moved or whatever). (The only software I know that will keep track of path changes -- in a completely different class of software though-- is tag2find ; there might be others.... )

Another aspect of IdeaMason that I'd potentially dislike is its "rigidity". By that, I mean that some features do not seem to be easily customizable. (What example could I give... ?? well, if I wanted to create an extra tab for another important category, or create an extra type of "material", etc., it doesn't seem to be possible... I think... but that's with most software, of course : nearly all of them are rigid. But, unfortunately, in that "genre", I find that flexibility extremely important ; everybody works a bit differently so the software needs to adapt to that reality. No?)

Anyhow : I WILL have to eventually (re)consider IdeaMason more carefully...

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2007, 10:47:50 PM »
Quote
One aspect that bugged me when I tried it ...I WILL have to eventually (re)consider IdeaMason more carefully...

You're in the same boat as me WRT having to take a leap and buy it if you want to find out if it will do what you want it to do as if you've already run the trial you won't be able to again... Your description of your workflow sounds similar to mine - lots of apps holding lots of info (Evernote, NetSnippets, TexNotes Pro, ZuluPad, Word, UltraEdit, EndNote, Excel, Access, ESRI ArcGIS... etc.). It is nice to speculate that IdeaMason can take all of this disparate info and organise it and even synthesze it for me, to a degree. At the very least replace several of my other apps... but, I paid for them and they work well - my system (like yours) works well. Do I need to spend more money to accomplish what I can already accomplish..!?
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Grorgy

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2007, 12:35:38 AM »
Well, firstly what I am achieving better, I'm starting to get all the documents I have organized in one place, links to all the journal articles, scanned pages from books and so on, using categories to give them some added meaning and reusability.  I am jotting more stuff down, probably because I like playing with the program  :-[ , more than any change in habits at this stage.  Like Darwin says it can format a whole document built up from the various materials, and by the way, the materials all have a set type, but then you name each item and can give it a category or categories and can link it with a project you are doing, and once built the document can be exported to word or any other RTF editor, though it works with words templates.  I haven't figured out how best to do this part yet, as my documents are only quite short essays, and don't need lots of heading (or any).  So that fits in what i can do better when i get it sorted.

I've just started using endnote, I dont really need it but now seems like a good time to learn how as i want to continue onto higher degrees in time when it looks almost essential, or something like it, but hey, i get it free  ;) , so I haven't looked into exporting or importing endnote references yet.

Seems to me that you guys have worked out a system that works, and while I dont know how far through you are it would seem to be to be counterproductive to change to ideamason , though if you were just starting, or looking at just using it for smaller items or other work then I would recommend giving it another look.

I use evernote for the ephemera of the web, so its got lots of junk in it, stuff i should really get rid of, but its all in categories to and if I need something I can have a look there, and at that point decide to move it to ideamason and have it available more permanently (I've had evernote go silly on me and I've lost its contents a couple of times, though not recently, probably getting better at using it)

What I want to do, is have the references in endnote and Ideamason, figure out how to get the documents formatted how i want them so they can easily be exported to word, have evernote as the main place for new snippets and get the ones of value into ideamason.  However, I'm not there yet.

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2007, 05:49:03 PM »
@Grorgy : thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and reactions.

@Darwin and others : you are probably aware of that but there are a lot of different views expressed about IdeaMason at www.outlinersoftware.com.

One comment in particular, posted by dan7000 (May 10, 2007 at 03:45 PM), confirmed that IdeaMason would probably be a bit hard for me to work with :

Quote
I’ve been using IdeaMason heavily for 2 months now, and I’m pretty disappointed.

It won’t work for what you want to do, because as far as I can tell, it doesn’t really handle external documents well at all.  There is a special “documents” tab that holds external documents, but those are not integrated into the rest of the program at all.  In other words, that tab is nothing more than a link list. You can’t associate any comments or even a citation with the external doc.

And, most disappointingly for your purposes, those documents can’t be searched.

One work-around is that you can create a “library” item, which has a “source on the web” tab, and view your external document there—it allows you to enter a local file:: url.  Library items can have comments and citations associated with them, so that solves that problem.  But you can’t easily view your document outside of their viewer, and, again, IM search does not search within the external document.

IM has a lot of other flaws for what it’s supposed to do.  I used it to research and write a major paper for my final year of law school, which is due tomorrow. I was really excited about it, and thought that it would help structure my writing process.  But it just slowed me down, and continues to do so, because of all the work-arounds I have to use—and because it is so painfully slow.  However, I do think it’s a nice concept, and someday I’ll write the IM folks with my wish-list and see if they’re responsive.


Of course, this is just one person's opinion. But what caught my attention, is what seems like and awkward management system of external documents... In my case this would be a HUGE issue. I’ll be watching for IM’s development, but it seems like I’ll just skip that version.


PS. By the way, grorgy... I hope you won't be put off by the comment I posted! I'm not trying to make IdeaMason sound like a bad app! It actually looks like a great app and I've mostly seen very positive reviews... but I'm trying to see its potential shortcomings to make a more informed decision...
« Last Edit: August 25, 2007, 05:56:23 PM by Armando »

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2007, 06:08:20 PM »
Thanks Armando - I WASN"T aware of the website that you linked to - this is really interesting. The comment that you quote confirms my experience running a demo in May (or whenever it was offered on Bits du Jour) - I found it very confusing, very slow, and enticing all the same!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2007, 01:44:51 PM »
So, Grorgy - this is going on sale again tomorrow for about $33USD for the student edition. Any updates as to how you've found life with it over the past 5 1/2 months? Enquiring minds want to know. I want to know.

Actually, I've once again been allowed to run the demo (maybe there's a four to six month period that must pass between demos?) and I like what I'm seeing, but would appreciate any insights you might have with using it for a longer period, particularly to help you write, which is what I'm primarily interested in.

Cheers!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Grorgy

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2007, 07:11:29 PM »
I mainly used it this last semester to link to documents and some brief notes, i was always being so efficient that to try and use something I was not 100% familiar with to write an essay when it was already overdue just wasnt going to work  :-[  But i found it very useful for that, and at that price I'd buy it, well i did lol but i needed dual licenses as it only is licenced for 1 computer.  So not a lot has changed since my last comments on it really, i need to practice more with it as it isnt an easy thing for me to learn, but that may just be me.

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2007, 10:26:21 PM »
The price is now right for a... long term trial? ... I guess.  :-\

wraith808

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2007, 02:30:02 PM »
A bit late with this, but I was already trial-ing it for preparation for NaNoWriMo and using it for my writing when I found out about the discount- I was planning to get it for 99, but for the price on BitsDuJour it was a no brainer.  I write fiction in my spare time, everything from modules for games to actual novels, and I find it perfect for that, even though I'm not using half of the features.  It really makes it easy to write stream-of-consciousness and worry about structure later, and it helps to organize bits of information and source them.  I'd heartily recommend it to any writers, but especially to students- I have a friend that's writing her dissertation using this software, and it's taken the place of several different programs that she was using for this.

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2007, 03:20:42 PM »
I did more or less that same thing, for the same reasons as your friend, wraith. I'm really hoping that IdeaMason can help me focus on writing my dratted dissertation... If not, the price was right!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2007, 09:14:34 PM »
Are you currently using it, Darwin ?

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2007, 09:20:37 PM »
Er...

No, not really.

To do so would require active PhD work and I am in advanced denial/procrastination mode at the moment! I have a couple of courses to design and run by the various levels of bureaucracy at the college before December 20, a textbook to edit before December 15, midterms to grade and lectures to prepare...

OK excuses aside, I'm hoping to use it in earnest over the weekend - I'll post back!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Armando

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2007, 09:27:32 PM »
I see...  :)
(you seem pretty efficient to me, even when procrastinating....)

Curt

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2007, 05:36:03 AM »
... I write fiction in my spare time, everything from modules for games to actual novels, and I find it perfect for that, ....  I'd heartily recommend it to any writers, ...

As a writer you should give it to yourself to try out the portable Liquid Story Binder from Black Obelisk Software. The author of the program is constantly updating the program, and on the forum there are almost never any talk of bugs. The manual is somewhat poor / "unpedagogic", and support is via the forum, but as one can see on the forum, the author is answering many questions a day, so please don't ask this IT-illiterate (me) how it works (though I can tell that it has music playlists!).

The program: Liquid Story Binder at www.blackobelisksoftware.com
The asking price: $45.95 once (from Plimus) + 'Order CD' option
The forum: http://tech.groups.y.../group/Liquid_Story/

Quote from: Liquid Story Binder
Features:

Dossiers: Create Dossiers for major characters and settings. Timelines: Plot your novel by organizing cards along colored timelines. Storyboards: Combine images and text to create a visual reference board. Outlines: Create a collapsible tree of plot ideas. Image Galleries: Organize your reference images into galleries. Builders: Organize complex scenes using titles, descriptions, and color indexing. Position Memory: Liquid Story Binder XE remembers just where you left off. Manuscript Building: Combine multiple chapters into a single manuscript automatically. Printing: Preserve your font and paragraph editing with Format Printing. Workspaces: Preserve your favorite window layouts for quick access. Project Goals: Words per day, words left to write, days remaining, multi-document word counts. Color Schemes: Create the perfect writing environment with your favorite window colors. Recordings: Record yourself reading your own novel. Test for pacing and time. File Listings: Organize all your files into easy-access file trees. Backups: Every Chapter has its own backup repository. Never lose a single word with automatic version and session backups. Compress your whole archive into a single ZIP file. Shortcuts: Quickly access your favorite external software and documents. Statistics: Times, Word Counts, Goals, Sessions, Versions, Days. Reader: Read over your work in a easy to view columned window, free of editing distractions. Music Playlists: Add your MP3s and sort them into playlists. Set the mood for writing. External Editing: Open your work outside of Liquid Story Binder.
Quote
Current Version 1.91, Released November 9th, 2007
Liquid Story Binder XE by Black Obelisk Software
Word Processing, Outlining, Organizing.

A Portable Text Editor that Keeps You Organized
Liquid Story Binder XE is a uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and novelists. Writing software for those who require the editing ability of a commercial text editor as well as a document tracking system. It is for those who want the freedom to create, outline and revise but are tired of losing track of their work.


Word Processing for Novelists
Liquid Story Binder XE is specifically designed for fiction writing.  XE includes all the standard features such as spell-checking, thesaurus, smart quotes, templates, font and paragraph styles -- everything you need to write your next great novel.

Chapter and Scene Based Writing
Liquid Story Binder XE can clean and combine many small documents into a single, font-unified manuscript. Use a Chapter Builder to quickly arrange complex scenes.

A Multimedia Organizer
Sort pictures into Galleries or Storyboards, quickly access custom MP3 playlists, even record yourself reading your latest chapter using a microphone.

Pick and Choose Flexible Features
Pick and choose the file types that work best for you. Liquid Story Binder never tells you how to write!  Flexible file types allow you to use your imagination.  Use a Dossier for characters, places or things, or a Builder to preserve important snippets.

Organize Your Novel
Create a Book folder and let Liquid Story Binder sort, search and combine your documents.

Create the Perfect Working Environment
Choose a color scheme that suits your writing style. Save window positions and open files for quick and easy access using Workspaces.  Open dozens of windows simultaneously -  or just a simple textbox centered in the screen.

Full Screen Editing
Even though Liquid Story Binder is packed with features, sometimes less is more.  Liquid Story Binder XE offers full screen editing, a feature that removes all distractions including menus and title bars


Advanced Outlining Tools
Timelines, Outlines, Dossiers, Sequences and Storyboards. Liquid Story Binder XE provides the tools you need to plan your next great novel.

Protect Your Work
For every Chapter, Liquid Story Binder XE creates a single, easy-to-access backup file. This backup file contains an entry for each day's changes. Liquid Story Binder XE also includes a complete book backup using ZIP compression.

Take Liquid Story Binder With You
Liquid Story Binder can be installed on a flash card or USB drive. Take your writing wherever you need to go. Use XE on a friend's computer, at school, or at work.

WordWeb Integration
Liquid Story Binder integrates with WordWeb. WordWeb is a quick and powerful international English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows. It can be used to look up words from almost any Windows program, showing definitions, synonyms and related words. There are also many proper nouns and usage examples.

Universal Search
Liquid Story Binder XE can search every Chapter, Note, Builder, Timeline, Storyboard, Outline, Dossier, Sequence and Backup for a single lost word or phrase. Can't remember where you wrote that important paragraph? Just use XE's Universal Search.

Repetition Visualizer
Liquid Story Binder XE's Repetition Visualizer allows you to find, at-a-glance, repetitive words and phrases.

Simple File Formats
Liquid Story Binder XE uses basic TXT, RTF, and ZIP file formats guaranteeing future access no matter what software you use.

Many Features in a Very Small Download
The Liquid Story Binder XE installation package is only 2MB in size! It takes longer to download an MP3 file!

Vista Compatible
Liquid Story Binder is tested and developed on systems using Windows Vista. Liquid Story Binder XE is also compatible with Windows XP.

30 Day Free Trial Without Any Feature Limitations
Download Liquid Story Binder XE and test out it features before buying.  The download includes the entire XE package without limitations.  If you love what you see, return to our website a buy a special licensing code that will allow you to use Liquid Story Binder indefinitely.  After that, all future upgrades and updates are absolutely free!

wraith808

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2007, 11:23:32 AM »
I've already tried it and several others.  LSB just puts too much in the way of what I really need to do- plot and write.  It's like a multimedia organizer and doesn't have the links I need for plotting and drag-and-drop simple storyboarding and character development.  Just didn't like it.

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2007, 11:36:26 AM »
I still haven't had a chance to really work with IdeaMason  :( :o :-[

I have tried it out a few times but my experience is echoed by wraith's comments, above: I find that it just gets in the way. To be honest, the best writing aid I have on my computer is ZuluPad Pro  :Thmbsup: It's lightweight, very simple, and works.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

wraith808

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2007, 04:50:03 PM »
I find IdeaMason a bit different; I guess it depends on what you're looking to do.  If I'm writing a short story, then I wouldn't use IdeaMason.  I used it during NaNoWriMo and it was invaluable; I plan to use it for further novel writing, game/game supplement writing, and writing articles.  It keeps all of my notes at hand, and allows me to write snippets and combine them together later.

Darwin

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Re: Ideamason on special
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2007, 05:00:08 PM »
Still waiting to try it  :-[ I'm encouraged by your comments, wraith, because what you describe is pretty much exactly how I'm hoping to use it... eventually!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin