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Messages - Dormouse [ switch to compact view ]

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Hmm...a counterpoint to the "markdown for everything" movement that I had not considered.
I've switched all my note-taking with images to docx (also considered odt & rtf).
I tend to save images with a descriptive name and date+time stamp - so all are unique.
I'm usually quite disciplined and have a DAM.
But even so

After using Obsidian & Tangent notes with their vault/workspace systems for some time, I realised that workflows with images were high friction or liable to break (depending on the vault/workspace I was in). The high friction system involving saving/naming the image and using a link to that. Rarely worth it for a note. So I switched and now no friction.

At the end of the day, markdown is a text format. In the long term, I think virtually all links with images will break for nearly everyone.

due to prior experience with images breaking over time, we prefer images to be attached and embedded in the post itself rather than linked
An advantage of docx and databases over md files :)

Writing forces me to slow down and focus on one thing, and to really think about how to convert my thoughts/feelings into words accurately ... If I'm just copying or taking notes then, yeah, I doubt I'll spend a lot of time thinking about it after that. But generally speaking I'm almost certainly thinking more about something when writing about it than when not.

I'd agree with that. You can use writing to help organise and systemise your thinking. And I'd tend to regard that as mostly thinking. But most of the note-taking I see described isn't really of that nature. There's a desire for recording, a desire for automation. People write links (surprisingly often in huge numbers), maybe even occasionally look at backlinks, but very rarely reprocess by reading notes and reappraising. I almost commented on the article's assumption that thinking is what happens when you're leaning back in a chair doing nothing except staring into space. I'm pretty sure that Luhmann was thinking most of the time he was making his notes; afaics the writer's note-taking style was far more writing/recording than thinking. I suppose my comment was aimed at that style of note-taking.

tbf most of my writing sessions split into chunks between time spent actually writing and time spent leaning back and thinking about what I'm writing.

I'd say that it simply knocks down a bunch of straw men, except that the writer appears to have been a straw man. Why would writing things down make you smarter? The more time spent writing things down, the less time is spent thinking about them. And mostly he was just trying to put together a database; what advantage was he expecting of his database vs Google; after all, Google was founded on backlinks. He seems to have spent his time collecting and storing, and very little in thinking (tbf collecting and regurgitating are more key facets of journalism than thinking).

From reading Obsidian forum & discord & various PKM sites, I have concluded that the main uses of note taking apps are:
  • by students - mostly wanting to remember for exams etc. Note-taking technique akin to copying notes from blackboard
  • in business - for summarising meetings etc, making collected networking info more accessible.
The word zettelkasten is thrown around frequently, but with little knowledge of what it implies (arguably Luhmann spent more time going through his links and thinking about them than he did making notes from sources).
Not much sign of actual users believing it makes them smarter, far more use for a defined purpose. And not much sign of active use of backlinks either.

And then AI. Clearly won't make anyone who devolves thinking to it smarter. As he concludes, "I accept that to be a better thinker, I’ll have to devote more time and attention to wrestling with what I find" - except that there's little sign that he does accept it.

General Software Discussion / Re: short papers for
« on: December 04, 2022, 06:00 PM »
I think my basic question is .. Word Processor or PDF maker.
And which tool?
I'm struggling to think why you would consider writing in a PDF maker rather than a word processor.
Academia takes a wide range of document formats.
The primary question is which program suits you best for writing. Formatting for upload to Academia is surely a secondary consideration.
I've switched longform writing to Word. Google Docs is another option, as is Libre etc.

Personally, I'd write short academic articles in Tangent Notes because I'd be using the wikilinks as part of the process. Then probably import to Word for formatting and save as PDF. But Academia has many options, and I'd just do this because it fits best with my usual process, and I prefer PDF as a published format. I've a number of PDF editors, some expensive, but would never consider doing the initial writing in any of them.

I write all notes/research in simple markdown using Obsidian syntax. I do that whatever program I write the notes in. And whether the file is a .md or .txt. I might write those notes as a a docx, but will also save them as .txt
 the interoperability of markdown programs is limited unless they restrict themselves to very basic functions. And adding the extra functionality required for many purposes today, creates the same conversion lock-in as databases

As I used more markdown programs, and accessed the same files with a number of them, my issues with markdown as a system gradually increased.

I am unwilling to incur an extra cognitive load simply to reduce computing complexity or longevity. If I could do all writing effectively in docx or other form of rich text, then I would. The programs tend to be more robust and reliable than the markdown equivalent. But much of my writing involves complex notes, which tips me to using programs that can easily access my notes for the first draft. So these workflows are unsettled (as yet) and very depending on what I am writing

But I still felt stuck.

I finally migrated my OneNote notes (not really more than project ideas and blog drafts, but they can be quite long these days) to plain text; Markdown, not org-mode, because Markdown just has better support, despite the inferior syntax.
QOwnNotes seems to be able to do much more than I need, but it plays well with Nextcloud and it won't clash with other tools, which is nice.
It'll take weeks before I finally am happy with my configuration. Ah, so many new knobs...

And apparently waving to Tuxman as I change direction.

This actually feels quite stable (famous last words, I know). Tangent & markdown notes on one hand; Word and docx on the other. Whiteboards still being explored, but they (in form of mindmaps/OneNote) have always been peripheral though very useful for rejigging.

And here I am.

All my notes are written using Tangent. Easy, productive environment, wikilinks and I can use other programs like Obsidian, Typora etc if I need to. I'm adding comments & etc using NoteZilla.

I'm using Word for longform writing - everything in one file. Supplemented by OneNote (I put longer comments in OneNote and put a link into a Word comment). It works. There will be no friction when it's time to send off because it is already in the right format; collaborative review is possible; I have colours; nothing to stop me writing first drafts in a program that feels nicer like Inspire Writer. And Microsoft are supporting OneNote again and so Onetastic lives on; and jotting a few quick points into OneNote is genuinely quick and low friction.

And I'm tidying smaller notes into Walling, which from my pov is giving me a range of good visual views into single long markdown files (it won't import them yet, but that's apparently on the roadmap).

It feels as if I've marched up and down the hill several times. Discovered good places to camp and then discovered drawbacks, and had to pack my tent and march on. But this feels stable. Not perfect but workable. Whiteboards will come some time, but I don't see them changing the structure - I'm still as all in on files as I can manage.


I've been using Walling for about a week and I think I'm sold!
The Walling community can be found on Facebook:
Also has a Slack channel now.

I should have paid more attention at the time, but came across it more recently as I was looking to compare other visual programs, having started trialing Heptabase and Scrintal. And I have since incorporated it into my workflow.

Looks a lot like Notion.  Have you used that?  If so, can you say how it's different?

I never got on with Notion, so I'm not in a good position to answer this, but the key to its value for me is that everything is done in cards (calls them bricks) as on a corkboard (calls them walls - but no stacking), but you can switch that visual card view to kanban, table, list, calendar. Very good for quick entry, but notes editor isn't great. Was apparently originally designed to be a notes app and then evolved into a collaborative project program.

The key feature for me is that each 'wall' can be exported as a markdown file, and that file will have a number of heading layers. So my workflow is to use sections on a wall rather than separate walls where it makes any sort of sense and then export each wall daily.

There are many, many, many things I believe could be better, but updates are frequent and it's simple and practical and available on all OSs. The biggest weakness compared to other current notes programs is that it doesn't have wikilinks or any equivalent system.

I use it in two main ways.
  • For very small notes of any type.
  • I also use it in creative development; I like the ability to switch views and and it's design is entirely agnostic about purpose, which seems never to be true of programs designed for writers.
Since I'm using it anyway, I also use it for task management.

That sounds very similar to what Taylor uses it for himself. I assume he said he'd address the image thing; sounds like the sort of thing that can be added straightforwardly.

I just like how it looks better, and the cards and some of the navigation options I like better.
All these matter to me too. Makes for a smoother workflow.
I'll admit that there are a few other things too ..

It's preventing me from committing to it.
What do you make of it, apart from the images issue?

I ask because it's pretty barebones still with multitudes of absent features and I'd assumed that the potential userbase at this stage would be small because of that.

iirc, you had switched to Obsidian. I keep tabs ( ;D ) on what's going on with it, but it's some time since I have actually used it seriously. The 1.0 launch has been described as a great improvement by some and as workflow breaking by others. I'm quite glad to be out of the frequent breaking changes and the latest interface one sounds as if it would probably have affected even minimal me.
I do intend, however, to have a good look at the whiteboard plugins when they arrive. I'll weigh them up against Scrintal, Heptabase, OneNote and Mindomo - and anything else that comes along in the meantime.

About time for an update.

I am now using Tangent Notes for all my note-taking. It's very productive for me and I can use the full range of other programs without loss.

Scrintal and Heptabase look interesting. Similar but also quite different in the way they work. And both likely to change. Neither yet has sufficient features for me to use in a production workflow, but I expect at least one to get there.

I've described my issues with a longform writing workflow in a long series of posts. I've found good, markdown-based, programs (eg Inspire Writer) but they all have issues (IW is most effective when the documents are in its database; its syntax is from Ulysses and is very idiosyncratic) and in combination they don't form an ecosystem but a mess. So I've given up. I've gone completely to the other side and now only use Word (with OneNote as a longer note backup - I put the link into Word comments). The outline navigation pane is very workable, I have all the file controls I need and there's never any friction at an export to Word stage. Looks okay, works okay. With Writage I can open and save markdown files (though it doesn't understand wikilinks). It's an odd progression because most of my longform writing previously was effectively in txt or databases; I pretty much detested Word. There's the added advantage that most programs will exchange documents with Word without syntax clashes.

This actually feels quite stable (famous last words, I know). Tangent & markdown notes on one hand; Word and docx on the other. Whiteboards still being explored, but they (in form of mindmaps/OneNote) have always been peripheral though very useful for rejigging.

Interesting Workflowy evolution to use headings (h1 & h2) and paragraphs as an option instead of bullets. Given that it now has comments (not sure how long that's been for) as well as notes, it's usability for writing has increased substantially. And still has its colours.

Have also started testing Scrintal and Heptabase. They're both a cross between a whiteboard/mindmap and a notes app. I've seen some users comment that they are going all in and giving up Obsidian (always Obsidian for some reason). I wouldn't go so far, but they do look as if they could be very useful in planning and revision stages (a perennial discomfort for me).

And noticed that Tana is getting a lot of traction recently in the PKM space. No idea why yet. Or exactly what it is.

I noticed that the Apple PKM notes app Craft has been launched for Windows and decided to have a look. Thoroughly underwhelmed at first glance. @links instead of wikilinks (don't know enough about Apple programs to know if this is an Apple thing). Didn't strike me as easy or intuitive to use. But one feature it did have was an integrated Publish function; quite a cheap way of plublishing to the web if you like to use the program.

But the following quote from a review was interesting. Daft in it's concept that Obsidian should have an export function (what exactly would it be exporting to, after all, when it is already just files). But certainly raises questions about files Vs databases and the lock-in from links, images and inserts into files. Partly a consequence of markdown/plaintext - rich text includes all the info in the file itself.

While notes in Obsidian are simple Markdown text files, maintaining the critical links between note files, images, and other embedded files is complicated without a proper export function (which Obsidian lacks) review comparing with Obsidian

he's building a piece of art
This is the essence of it.

As you commented previously, it's the first useful graph I've seen. A view rather than a calculation. Designed to be used.
All the features are useful.

I hypothesise that the underlying explanation is that he developed it for his own use as a writer. Okay, I'm not a micro-blogger but all the best programs for writers have been developed by writers for their own use originally. So ease in use is being tested continually.

Features don't exist for the sake of it. They have to have a function that he can recognise - I doubt he has time to add anything else.

The host of features it doesn't have, I can achieve in other ways without workflow friction.

General Software Discussion / Re: Contra Chrome
« on: August 23, 2022, 04:25 AM »
I use Firefox, but I have installed chrome too when firefox fails.
I was using the laptop yesterday when it started to crawl. The major culprit seemed to be Firefox which was hogging memory and sometimes CPU. I tab open, 34 processes!
Had many tabs of Vivaldi open, but its speed never seems to be impacted by opening extra tabs.
Went back to normal speed when I closed FF.

General Software Discussion / Re: Privacy, Security and bookmarkers
« on: August 20, 2022, 07:47 AM »
there is already so much of my (our?) personal info out there in various places (banks, government, medical, insurance, telco's, businesses, forums, apps, etc) that regardless of what I (or you) might do the horse has pretty much bolted on any chance of guaranteeing security of our personal info and/or anonymity.

I know. But I like to believe that most of it is in silos however imperfectly these may be boundaried.

I've sucumbed to facebook (meh...) simply because so much info is distributed via that platform only
That's true. There's definitely a level of cost to avoiding it. More so since many businesses decided to make facebook their only customer facing site.

General Software Discussion / Re: Privacy, Security and bookmarkers
« on: August 20, 2022, 07:41 AM »
what was the post about?
iirc it mentioned one of the Raindrop plugins.

There are none in Obsidian's plugin store, but at least 3 on Github.
Whether they function or are safe, I have no idea.

General Software Discussion / Re: Privacy, Security and bookmarkers
« on: August 18, 2022, 06:08 PM »
what do you do when people you want to follow only post on such sinister platforms?
If I can't follow them, then I don't.
But I agree that it's virtually impossible to avoid them all without entirely isolating yourself.

I can't realistically avoid being exposed to Microsoft and Google, but I try to avoid the others as much as I can. And I have some browsers set up to clear all info daily. Quite hard to determine degree of risk too; location helps sometimes but it's easy to set up a HQ in the USA or Europe, as TikTok have done (it was apparently the most popular website of 2021!). At least that means that meta has lost the youngest generation; but still - worse and worser, who can tell?

Markdown, not org-mode, because Markdown just has better support, despite the inferior syntax.
So sadly true.
I also have a suspicion that it's hobbled by the tight linking with HTML.

Notable seems to expect me to store a note's "categories" right in the Markdown file which is annoying when editing them outside Notable.

idk whether it is the same, but this reminds me of my irritation with the extensive YAML which many of Obsidian's plugins produce. When I look at a note, I don't want to be distracted by irrelevancies.

Congratulations on having worked out a new system that will work for you. Out of my league, so I have no opinions on it at all.

I have been rereading the early pages of this thread. It has been quite a journey since the pre-PKM program days.

I mentioned that I have switched my note-taking to Tangent Notes. I recently found that it has the ability to open notes directly from the file explorer (it opens the first available relevant workspace/vault if one exists, or makes the folder a vault if it doesn't), and the file explorers and other utilities are far faster and usually more powerful than those in the program or Obsidian. So I thought it would be helpful to go through all the suggestions made earlier in the thread which have suddenly become directly relevant again, though my response may have changed (I'm not as sensitive for instance about ensuring that file tagging is totally cross-platform). This means that search &etc now works well for docx, pdf etc (I notice that DocFetcher now also has a Pro version, but I've not tested it out yet). I've set Dopus up to give me a word count column too (I thought I'd set XY up to do the same but can't remember).

Tangent's Query feature is due to appear in very early alpha at the weekend. I don't know what it will actually do.

General Software Discussion / Re: I'm thinking of going primitive
« on: August 18, 2022, 04:57 PM »
a kind of system lock-in can happen even when all the data is plaintext and local.

I think this must be very much the case for heavy users of Obsidian with multiple plugins.

Probably won't matter to the students whose need for a note-taking is short-term, but for anyone else, it could be quite restrictive. The high proportion of programmers in the user base suggests that syntax and layout would be enabled to be easily exported, and converting all notes to standard markdown is on the developers roadmap, but the workflows don't seem likely to convert easily for those who have to move into traditional corporate softwares.

Outliner Software forum: where there's a long history of useful discussion on all Notetaking and PIM-related methods, workflows, software/apps. Still in search of the Holy Grail of PIMs though.
Strong Mac orientation now, but still has a degree of interest in the newer programs.

Taking Note blog: has very useful thoughts on Notetaking methods/philosophies in general and Notetaking software/apps. Strongly favours the Connected Text PIM, but I gather CT may no longer be being developed/maintained (its future seems uncertain/obscure). Seem to have been no posts since December 2018, though comments from readers have been added since then.[/li][/list]
Disappeared completely now.

General Software Discussion / Privacy, Security and bookmarkers
« on: August 02, 2022, 05:13 AM »
I was reading a post on Obsidian Forum and picked up a casual reference to the Raindrop bookmarker/webclipper, and I started to wonder about privacy and security.

(Raindrop is based in Russia - I'm not sure how it's managing to take payments, given the sanctions, or make payments of its own. Apparently there are 3 servers across the world, presumably synchronised, but I don't know exaclty where.)

And I reflected how much our bookmarks and web history say about us as individuals and as a social collective. And wondered how exploitable that was.

We know that some states have laws requiring data surrender (China, Vietnam) and others have their own ways of doing the equivalent (Russia, Iran, North Korea), and most countries have a degree of capability (USA, UK; EU doesn't admit it). And that VPNs are of limited use (we can be identified with cookies, other programs present etc).

But also that some of these countries achieve significant influence on virtually everything by manipulating social media (Russia the biggest player here), hacking corporates (China) and ransomware (Russia, North Korea). The information available publicly suggests that western governments have a very poor handle on what is going on (viz the investigations into Russian manipulation of last US presidential election) and the companies themselves seeming little better (viz the uncertainty about the extent of bots in the Twitterverse).

I wondered how concerned people here were about these issues. It's a whole different league of concerns to the closed/open source obsession in some of the Obsidian crowd. It's certainly ramped up for me since I realised that an invasion of Taiwan was at quite a high level of probability, and further since the invasion of Ukraine. Food shortages this winter because of that invasion as well as fuel prices will only increase international instability. The totalitarian regimes will surely manipulate for crypto as a way of escaping the US' banking controls.

And for any who are concerned, what do you do about it? I'm careful about what info I put where, and keeping very personal data local. And having never having had accounts with any Meta service, let alone Tiktok. I'm not sure about the rest. I think I'm less individually vulnerable than most, but there's no way of avoiding societal vulnerability.

Whilst rootling around for better web clipping, I came across Upnote. Firebase, potentially entirely local with no sign up, cheap sync if signed up (prices rising slowly), reddit users seem to like it a lot, developers based in Vietnam but Firebase server is in USA. Apparently optimised for c5000 notes, so huge imports from Evernote are probably inadvisable.

Docx is one of its import options and will export to markdown. Does colour and I'm not sure whether it's primarily based on rich text or markdown, but does work with a markdown syntax set.

20220725 17.40
I've noticed that both Upnote and Nimbus Notes have Enter=New Paragraph, which makes them more usable from my pov.
Upnote looks like quite a neat program, well designed but still adding features at a fair pace. Has a web clipper, but it is relatively primitive as yet. Files and folders can be custom sorted, which is important for writers and sorters. If I hadn't already found Tangent Notes, I'd be tempted to test out the import/export etc for using it as part of writing process. Not sure how good its wikilinking features work (have seen some criticism).
Nimbus Notes seems quite decent from a webclipping pov. Good editing and very much block based. Export options are a major weakness.

20220726 20.14
I'm going to test out Upnote in more detail. There's a nice simple blend of features. Clicking on a wikilink opens it in a popout window, which is my ideal behaviour. Looks good and usable on mobile (for whatever reason, I found that I never used Obsidian on mobile - preferring to use a standalone editor).

I don't know how seriously I could possibly use it. But I rarely actively use Obsidian now; Tangent is for thinking, more thoughtful note-taking and some writing; and I'd already worked out that an internet database was a better design for a bunch of stuff than separate notes - which is why I was happy using Workflowy. (I automatically assume periodic export as well as backups, even for stuff that doesn't matter). Bits and pieces I suspect, that I'd prefer not to do in an outliner.

20220727 00.27
One very neat feature is being able to pin a popout window on top and then just drag images into it. Very easy and quick.

With Obsidian, I'm noticing an increasing number of reports of data losses and instructions for users on how to go through their list of plugins to discover the culprit. The program itself has had a number of updates that have broken both themes and plugins. And a fair number of plugin developers have written their plugin and then returned - quite reasonably - to normal life. It's feeling like quite a fragile ecosystem right now.

General Software Discussion / Web clipping
« on: July 24, 2022, 07:03 PM »
It's not been a priority for me, but I've not been completely happy with my web clippers for a while. The Tiago Forte emphasis on capture (him being a longtime Evernote user) made me look at it afresh. I'd already concluded that much of my web clipping fell into a selected/curated/unprocessed category and that I didn't need to bring most of them into my own formal note system. Historically Evernote was the web clipper I was happiest with.

But, like many other web clippers, it does not save images from web pages that require a password. That's a problem for me because I need the images (often articles make poor sense without them) and I visit many sites that require a password. I do have ways of dealing with it. I can do complete markdown downloads including images (although I don't usually want that). I can save the whole page in a number of ways. Vivaldi offers a range of options. There's OneNote too - it seems to have overcome the problem with images on password protected webpages (although I've thought that before with various programs, including Evernote and OneNote only to find out that the images themselves were not saved only the weblink). And I've just looked at Nimbus notes, which seemed to work.

So, I was just wondering which solutions were most popular here. Apart from the need to actually clip pages including images from any site I have open, password protected or not, my own preference is for quick, simple, multiplatform, webstored but easily downloaded. Ability to highlight, annotate and edit is desirable but only used sometimes, so not actually a requirement.

And some web clippers - like Pocket - just fail disgracefully acting as nothing better than a bookmark. Not even saving the text.
I realise the problem is that their bot visits the page independently and is refused entry, but that's no use to me if it has said that it has clipped the page. I need a process that captures the page while I have it open.

Nimbus is better, but it is far from perfect on all pages. Sometimes it appears to cutoff half way. I wonder if that is a size limit in the free version? But Evernote works on the page where Nimbus cuts off.

It feels as if I need to check the quality of the clip directly in tha app ost clipping before moving on.

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