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Messages - JavaJones [ switch to compact view ]

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But I can't think of a way to get convenient, reliable transclude atomicity in a set of every changing plaintext files without a paying a price re (2). Seems like something has to give. Bet: transclusion will prove so useful that Markdown syntax will be extended for it. Hopefully in a standardized way. NetCommonMark (Net as in networked notes) on the horizon? Once standardized other note apps would have similar transclude views so there would be less of an lock-in effect to the Obsidian editor.

I can't think of one either. IF you allow arbitrary programs to access *and* edit the data, then all bets are off, period. Unless, of course, those programs all support the same standards. And then it's questionable what value using different programs would have.

Atomicity and transclusion is completely compatible with file-based systems though, as far as I can see. It may have a performance overhead, but there is nothing stopping a tool like Obsidian from having a "working database" or sidecar XML files or whatever it needs to support those raw text files to have extra features like block references and transclusions, etc. There is a repeated distinction made here between "database" and "file based" in relation to things like references, network views, and other things, and I just don't see them being that related. Having everything in a DB may make it easier or faster to do certain things like transclusion (since in theory all text is dynamically generated from the DB in all cases). But as far as I can see a reasonable version of similar functionality can be created using offline, text-based systems with augmentation. If I'm wrong someone please explain it to me. :D

- Oshyan

Obsidian can't export to markdown because it doesn't contain the notes in the first place. The files have an independent existence and can be edited using any program at any time.

I don't understand the point of that distinction. They don't need to be exported because they're *already* markdown, aren't they?

- Oshyan

The boom in interest in both Roam and Obsidian, and various third-party stuff, is both good and bad. Good in that great things will probably come out of it. But bad in that things are still so much up in the air that we don't know how much these tools will change 6 months from now. So I still find it hard commit to either ATM, since which one (or other) I will prefer in the not so distant future probably depends on features not yet there or not yet refined. I'm kind of stuck in test drive mode 8)

That's one advantage that Obsidian has over Roam; there's not much in the way of commitment since it sits on top of text files.  I'm not currently using it though I maintain the same folder structure as when I did- so I can pick it back up if I desire at a later time.

I'm not clear that Roam is that much more of a commitment than Obsidian in that they are both based on Markdown and exportable to same, right? So yes, you might lose the proprietary features, the interlinking, transclusion, etc., that makes Roam cool, but you don't lose what you've written, or at least you don't have to (export it). Am I wrong on that?

- Oshyan

That's an interesting take on the situation.
I share concerns about the professionalism of Roam's development. The offline enticement to believers through a PWA, risking data loss if cache is deleted before sync with the online database, just seemed the wrong way for the program to work.
But I hope it does well because a database has advantages that files don't - even if I prefer files for my own use.
Are the advantages you're talking about really a distinction between "files" and "databases", or are they separate? I would suggest that in fact you can probably do all or most of what Roam does with "files", or at the least by adding a database *in addition to* the files (i.e. a database that manages the files/interconnections). Which is to say I don't think Roam has any kind of monopoly technologically on the benefits it purports, and Obsidian could replicate all or most with the will and the time put into dev. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

One is that he's just substantially expanded the team; I have no experience of development teams, but in other areas it's not unusual for it to take time to become productive rather than a drain on existing resources.
Is there any evidence that he did, aside from the customer relations person I think he mentioned?

Hopefully they predicted this and had stuff like the pomodoro already up their sleeves to give an illusion of movement.
Does that really track with your knowledge of how Conor has been operating though? That he would somehow develop something in advance but not release it just so he could then release it later to make it seem like there is progress happening during an otherwise slow period? Doesn't sound like it matches with what I've seen, at any rate.

The second is that a huge number of cultists are desperate to fiddle personally with the program. Mostly, it seems to me, because they have a drive to fiddle (enhanced by lockdowns) rather than a particular need.
This is true and I have no problem with them doing so, in fact I think it's great. What I was pointing out here was that the RoamMonkey features were, for the most part, *really effing useful* and *should be in the core*. In fact Roam added a new feature a mere few days after that RoamMonkey vid was released which does something similar to the Template feature. It is more powerful than RoamMonkey templates, but unsurprisingly (because it's Roam and Conor) it's *harder and slower to use*. Anyway my point is that this is not someone fiddling just to fiddle, this is a smart person (RoamMonkey author) seeing *important* things missing from Roam and spending his time *as an amateur* to develop them externally.

This keeps them attached. Other programs like Trello have benefited hugely from third party enhancement. And I notice the building excitement in Obsidian over the near-term API release.
Trello has an API, as you mention. Obsidian will also have an API. These are reasonable programs to develop for because they give you an appropriate channel to do so. Roam does not, yet. It lets you embed live-read CSS *and* javascript in its fricking pages! That's an insane risk, if I know anything about web tech security. And judging by my own experiences of massive slowdown in experimenting with CSS theming in Roam while the system tried to interpret what I was writing apparently in realtime, I think it's a crappy way to extend a system anyway. Even the RoamMonkey dev admits the fragility of some of the things he's built.

So it's great people have the enthusiasm and interest to build stuff for Roam. But I *don't* agree with Roam dev's decision to allow live interpretation of web languages within Roam DBs largely to enable this kind of hackery. I get that they probably wanted to encourage hackery and didn't want to have to wait for - or spend time on - a proper API at this stage. But I think it's irresponsible. I think there are a huge number of "cultists desperate to fiddle with Roam" because Conor is encouraging that, but I don't think he's doing so in a good way for a professional app.

Let me say one last thing which hopefully clarifies where I'm coming from. If this were a free - and especially open source - app; if this were something people could host on their own machines and expose themselves to the risks by individual choice; then I would have less concern with the "lack of professionalism" that I think Conor is exhibiting. But no, they're charging what is fairly clearly a premium for a hacky, messy system that, yes, is super cool, but also is developed largely at the whim of a potential egomaniac, and the community and his relationship to it is just feeding that. IMHO of course. ;)

I get why people are excited to be a part of it, that very messiness has some exciting aspects. But people who have lost data have a more realistic view of it, and there is the potential that more data will be lost because sloppy devs and irresponsible management lead to things like that. If that does happen, hopefully people will see that it was questionable to put that much faith into the "roam cult" and Roam and its founders, because at the end of the day people are excited about doing real work, better work, and to do that you ideally need a reliable tool. Cool, new, and exciting only get you so far.

I'll take Obsidian's humble, experienced team approach any day.

- Oshyan

Roam Monkey:

Here is the maddening dichotomy of Roam, Roamcult, and Conor laid bare: Things like this - which, by the way, looks really useful - are a testament to the flexibility of the system, but also an indictment of the development priorities of the team lead.

It is on the one hand nice that Roam is flexible and extensible enough that such things can be done within it, despite them not having access to the code. That is really cool, in a way. It allows the community to help cover things that the core devs cannot, and without open sourcing, since not all developers/companies and profit models are amenable to doing so. It does present some security risks to allow this kind of stuff though, even with the warnings.

On the other hand, the security risks are arguably the smaller concern here. A majority of the features in RoamMonkey are highly useful to most people. They are, in fact, largely features that should be a core part of Roam! Maybe they will be some day, but here's what frustrates me so much. These features were achievable by a self-professed amateur JavaScript developer using only external access. Surely this could be done as well or better and faster by the internal developers. And yet, in the same several months that this guy has been developing these highly useful features that almost everyone would use, Conor and his partner(s) have added a Pomodoro timer, Mermaid diagrams, and other arguably niche and certainly not "first priority" stuff. This is behavior that users SHOULD NOT accept from a developer of an app they are paying for (and, I would add, paying a premium over many comparable products).

Roam is doing cool stuff, but I refuse to support Conor's self-indulgent approach to development priorities. It's not going to work out well in the long run.

- Oshyan

Thanks for the responses so far!

Clever and good UI design can still be simple, even minimalist. In fact cutting down a design to the bare minimum necessary is a huge skill in itself. So examples of good minimalist designs that *hide underlying complexity* (either in functionality or in the concepts/knowledge underlying the app functions) are absolutely useful! Making a simple UI for a simple app is less impressive and interesting, of course. ;)

The first one i think of is a software i use every day:
Great ui, everything is under your fingers, just before you need it. It's a programme to design in 3d, easy to use, light, great intuitive ui

This is exactly what I was looking for as my interest is actually specifically in 3D as well! I didn't want to focus too much in that area so as not to skew feedback. :D There are some nice aspects to that app, but if you have any more detail you can provide, specific things you like in the UI (especially vs. other well-known apps with similar functionality), that would be great. If not no worries.

Hi JavaJones,

if you are adventurous I will suggest the following,
1. Use mouse hover action
2. Bigger buttons or images in place of buttons
3. Change color / image on click or mouse hover
4. Show window in slide and close in fade ways
5. Play some small ding dong
6. All messages, even error ones should be funny, like you are saying to your pals.

But as Mouser said, keep an option 'Disable Animation/CPU hog etc.', as user will very soon want a simple cleaner interface to get the job done fast.

Thanks for those ideas. I agree, some of that is good. I especially like panels that are available to slide in/out as-needed, dynamic state change, and prominent but unobtrusive visual indication of status, changes, etc.

Speaking of interesting UI ideas, concepts, approaches, etc. your last comment about having an option for simplification made me think of this:

Any more ideas or examples? Thanks!

- Oshyan

So much 4wheeling! Awesome. They look like fun places. I love that open fir with the "bar" (or spent bottles?) on the "mantle". :D

- Oshyan

Hi folks! I'm in the process of conceptualizing a new graphics program and I'm looking for ideas and inspiration in user interface design. I would love to see your favorite examples of excellent, well designed, intuitive, even "clever" User Interfaces in applications (not websites). Aesthetics matter too, but I'm mostly interested in functional design.

It would be especially helpful to see examples of applications with complex functionality that is exposed through an intuitive UI. 3D programs, music programs, etc. Creative applications, content creation, that kind of thing.

Ideally examples would be from desktop applications, but mobile apps (phone/tablet) are useful tool. Basically any UI that has ever made you go "wow, I wouldn't have thought of that" or use words like "inspired", "ingenious", or "slick" to describe it. The kind of UIs that are immediately intuitive and easy to use, appealing to look at, and a pleasure to interact with. With everything where it "should" be and no actions taking more steps than seem necessary.

Examples of UIs with some nice ideas and "touches", but that are not necessarily a cohesively awesome UI all around also helpful. But I'm really looking for excellent all-around design examples.

Thanks much!

- Oshyan

It's been a while since I visited this thread. Nice to see it still going! Here's my latest from Puerto Rico, including some underwater shots! (and I went to Death Valley late last year but haven't had a chance to process those):

- Oshyan

Sorry for the delay guys, and thanks for the initial replies!

We found several services that send physical cards, which are great but *comparatively* expensive. That was the initial plan, send real, physical cards, but the cost overhead is just too high to make it worthwhile.

So yes, this is a very specific use-case. In this situation it's a way of delivering a specifically requested piece of content to a customer. More specifically, these are "rewards" for Patreon, Kickstarter, or other crowd funding efforts. I know that may sound lame, still like something you wouldn't want to receive even as a donor, but imagine for example you have a traveling circus show that you're helping to fund, the idea is that you would get a semi-personalized custom card from the circus troupe from every location they visit (the card design and content are unique for each location).

The hope here is to provide a little sense of personality and connection that an average (or even good) mass email just doesn't do. It may not ultimately be a good idea, and that's useful feedback if it's true. But it's important to think of the actual scenario we're talking about here. It's the equivalent of getting, say, a sticker from a crowdfunding campaign for contributing. Do people actually want or do anything with the sticker? Probably not, for most. But an e-card with something personal from the latest performance location of the group might be nice(er). Plenty of crowdfunding campaigns do stickers, or other things, and yes these are physical items that have that value vs. digital, but if the digital can be more personal, more unique, and can be regularly updated (a new card from each location), that seems to have value over the physical, in my view.

Maybe I should have started by asking the even more general question of what kind of rewards might be of interest to people in that kind of crowdfunding scenario that would also be low-cost (after all what's the point of contributing to someone's patreon if most of your donation goes to your reward+Patreon fees+card processing fees?). If so I'll start a different thread for that. But for now I'm still curious to see if anyone has any ideas for how to meet this specific need.


- Oshyan

OpenMe is another service that just misses the mark:

They are all template-based as well, but they have a "blank" photo template. Unfortunately it doesn't have a normal "signature" style, it puts the name at the bottom of the card interrupting the frame. Not a deal breaker, but a little non-ideal. More importantly it doesn't seem to have any personalization of the "to" part. And that *is* pretty much a deal breaker. It also has advertising/branding in the email sent to the recipient. And while there's a decent web view, it would be nice to be able to zoom in as well and get a higher quality view.

So again a *business-oriented* (i.e. brandable) option would really be helpful here. One that has the above features, of course.


- Oshyan

Hi folks, I've got a sudden and surprising need for some kind of "ecard" (electronic card) system or service and I thought the DC community might have some ideas for how to address this need.

The basic requirement is for a system that:
  • Web-based, ideally (we don't want customers to have to download e.g. an app to their computer or phone to view
  • Allows easy creation of card-like visually-oriented messages (think traditional ecards)
  • Allows use of custom images provided by the user, preferably able to specify "cover", "inside", and maybe even "back"
  • Ideally the text is all customizable and has a hand-written look (e.g. a "script" type font)
  • Can handle automatic mailing to a list or group of people
  • Can personalize the text on each message with e.g. {first_name}, so that you get e.g. "Dear Bob Johnson" in the "card" contents
  • Provides some kind of way for the recipient to view the card in a nice way, something as simple as images of the front, inside, and back, or a more dynamic approach that lets them click to flip between views or something

So the general idea in this particular case is our "user" would create a base card in the real world, some kind of hand-drawn design, then scan that and use it for the cover and possibly interior or back. Then they upload this to the "system" and write a message in the online editor. They upload their contacts (or select from a list they previously uploaded), and the system can then send out ecards to those contacts with custom greeting per-contact.

The bottom line goal is to have a way to contact and thank customers in a customized way that includes their name and custom imagery/graphics/etc. And to be able to create and send this out easily and quickly. So for example of course one could do this all in Photoshop or InDesign but the process of customizing the card for each recipient and sending it out would be laborious.

This probably sounds suspiciously like typical mailing list system features, but from what I've seen the main issue there is very few mail clients support anything but basic fonts. Web font support (or Google Fonts) is quite limited, even in Gmail. So the ability to do e.g. "Hi Bob Johnson" in a nice-looking (i.e. script font) way is quite limited if not impossible. Most of these systems also don't provide card-like templates, nor do they have web-based viewing systems with any sophistication (i.e. with a way to view front, inside, and back of card in a nicely presented way). It would all work in a pinch, certainly, but it's pretty non-ideal and not really capable of the full feature list here.

I have searched around Google of course and have found no end of very, very bad ecard sites (it seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a market full of garbage, make-a-quick-buck type sites with terrible content and horrible design/functionality). Most of them are heavily template-focused, with lots of terribly-designed holiday themed cards, Thank-You cards, etc, etc. Custom capabilities (e.g. upload image for front of card) are limited when available (which is only in a minority of cases anyway). And none of them seem to have good contact management. Many also have advertising, etc. The need here is for a business-oriented system, one we're happy to pay for to get good service, but ideally at a price that is competitive with other mailing-type services.

There was one "business-oriented" ecard site I found, but it seems to be largely template-oriented and the ability to upload e.g. custom front images is unclear. They have a "custom" option but it's more like a service to design a card for your company, which is probably expensive. The card send-outs themselves are also not cheap, around $.80/each for 100 at a time. MailChimp, by contrast, is free up to 2000 or so recipients! That price would be acceptable if they supported all needed features, but they seem to be pretty focused on their own pre-existing designs which won't work for this need.

Then there's B2B Ecard Which seems again heavily focused around templates, in this case even narrower, around specific holidays. Even their "Custom" option seems holiday-oriented. And it's all quite expensive-seeming to boot!

There's also Smilebox, which is an app that requires install on a desktop machine, and I haven't tested it yet. It may do some or all of what is needed here, but again it seems very template-oriented and we're more interested in providing our own graphics. I thought someone here might either know what Smilebox can do from personal experience, or have a better suggestion.

Are there any better options out there folks?


- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: Picasa to be 'phased out'
« on: March 18, 2016, 02:03 AM »
In my experience Picasa only stores another copy of a photo if you tell it to.

People who "like" to keep photos still on their cards are almost certainly doing so for a bad reason. They should be disabused of their foolish notions rather than pandered to with software features. ;)

Last but not least, Google Photos does do face recognition, plus "object" recognition:
Facebook does face recognition as well, though it's not really an appropriate replacement since it's public by default and has no editing tools. Flickr has some "recognition" stuff but it doesn't yet do individual faces (i.e. your great aunt Gladys vs. your uncle Bob). It will just recognize that there are *people*/faces in a given photo.

OK, I lied about that being the last thing. Personally I don't use Picasa anymore, but I really did love it for its face recognition, and also found it really useful to recommend to many people as a simple, easy to use *local* photo organizer and simple editor. Google Photos has limited storage space unless you cut down the resolution of your photos or pay for more storage, and that sucks. As local storage gets cheaper and cheaper, it's still really nice to be able to store photos on a hard drive! Of course I realize it's only a matter of time before that balance will probably shift, where having anytime, anywhere access is better. Even now the issue of cross-platform photo syncing is a concern that Google Photos helps manage (though not very well on desktop, in my experience). So... yeah, I'll miss Picasa, sad but not surprised it's being discontinued.

- Oshyan

I'm glad to hear the discount link is still working. Let us know what you think of iDrive once you have it up and running!

- Oshyan

What a stroke of luck that I saw this. I didn't have notification turned on, I haven't logged-in for months, and just randomly decided to. :D

Anyway, iDrive. Well... unfortunately I can't recommend it wholeheartedly, but maybe with some caveats/reservations.

It's a tremendously ambitious product and I think that's where they're falling down. It tries to do local and cloud backup, sync, mobile backup, disk imaging, cloud file sharing, and more, across multiple platforms (including, as I said, mobile). And their prices are generally competitive. Which means they're trying to do more stuff within the same revenue envelope/profit margins, which generally means corners will be cut. In this case I think the corners are cut in both Support and Development/QA.

What you end up with is a product that, when it works, works decently but not exceptionally. It is programmed (seemingly) in a functional but not clever or elegant way. Functions like deduplication are simplistic or outright missing/not working, for example. If you move a file to a new location it has to re-upload it (last I checked, admittedly it's been a few months since I did, I just stopped worrying about it). When it does a backup it has to scan all your files again and it takes ages with large file sets, even though the app is running all the time and theoretically should *know* what has changed already. The realtime backup is a separate function from the normal backup.

Perhaps one of the most important things is that the notification system for failed backups is *part of the application itself*. This means if the application fails to start for some reason (as happened to my mother for many months recently), then you may never realize it and your data could be not backed up without your knowledge! This contrasts with Crashplan (and presumably many other providers, though I don't know for sure) which have the cloud platform itself, i.e. your backup account, notify you if no data comes in for x days. I still get notifications from Crashplan that I haven't backed up in like 9 months. ;) Other than that silliness (I stopped paying ages ago, why hasn't my account been deleted?), the idea of notifying from the cloud account makes tons more sense because then you know if your local application is not doing its job! If you rely on the application to notify you, your likelihood of failure is much higher.

The big problem though is that while these issues are generally fixable (in some cases it seems it should be fairly simple to fix something, like the notifications for example), when you report them to their support you generally get nowhere. Support is bad in my experience, and that's a problem. I am really just hoping that their dev team is actually working and improving things and that with time it will get better enough.

In the end for me there are just very few real options. I have a very large amount of data, over 3TB with millions of files, and I don't have a bidirectional gigabit connection nor $100s of dollars to spend every month for backup. If price were not a concern I might use some kind of AWS-backed setup since they have an option to mail physical disks for initial data seed. But given price sensitivity, iDrive is one of the very few options that offers data seeding (for free no less!) and that also does local+cloud backup. The fact they do a lot of other things is interesting and sometimes helpful too. I've actually used the cloud file sharing a few times and been happy it existed, even if it's a little clunky. But I'd happily sacrifice that and some other functions for a more reliable and well coded core app.

That being said, Crashplan - one of the few other options - was just consuming way too much memory, and had its own reliability issues at times as well. iDrive works *most* of the time and does its job adequately, as far as I can tell. If I had less data or more money, I'd probably recommend something else (not sure specifically what). But given my needs I'm still sticking with iDrive for a while longer to see how it develops. If they can deliver on the promise of their app+service it could actually be incredible. Having all these features in one app *could* be great if they were all well developed and reliable. Let's hope they get there...

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: flamory
« on: November 08, 2015, 12:11 PM »
OK, I tried it. I am... not totally impressed. It is definitely an interesting application, with some useful and interesting features. But the interface is slow, clunky, and not very responsive or well thought-out. The data retention and "sharing" (with the developer) policy is not great IMO. The app has a system tray icon *and* a persistent taskbar icon, which seems pretty unnecessary. And the "history" function (automatic capture of your browsing history) while promising, is implemented very poorly (and yes, I know what you're thinking, don't browsers already have history?). I could go into detail but bottom line is I wouldn't recommend it at this time.

I *do* like the idea, and the simple built-in tools for annotating your captures. A similar such tool with a better and more responsive UI, better organizing functionality (such as drag-and-drop to custom folder names, and/or tagging of captures), and no data mining would definitely be appealing to me.

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: flamory
« on: November 06, 2015, 07:08 PM »
It looks fairly interesting to me for my needs. Have you tried it? I will probably install and give it a shot...

Edit: This part in the EULA will probably put some people off:
This Software may automatically send error reports to the Company. These reports may include information about your computer and recent actions that lead to error occurrence. They will not contain your data (such as documents, texts and images) or snapshots.

This Software may automatically send usage reports to the Company. These reports may contain information related to usage of the Software, such as aggregated statistics and UI interaction patterns. They will not contain your data (such as documents, texts and images) or snapshots. These reports could be used by the Company to improve the quality of the Software.

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Interesting "stuff"
« on: November 06, 2015, 11:59 AM »
Probably nerds. I wore *three* watches when I was a kid (they each did different things, calculator, pedometer, altimeter). Fortunately I grew out of that nerdery, but some people don't. Target market for this thing! :D

- Oshyan

in favor of a gentler slower approach

Sometimes you just gotta romance the world universe into your bed, amiright? :D

- Oshyan

mwb1100, that seems to be what is being suggested, yes. And someone in the Reddit thread mentions the Mule example as well. :D

- Oshyan

Genius (and horrifying) stuff!

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 01, 2015, 12:27 PM »
Prince is, indeed, a forking awesome guitar player. Well worth seeing him live if you get the chance.

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 26, 2015, 01:34 PM »
Fabric is more expensive and harder to clean. So it seems logical it's for cost/practical/functional reasons. But now I'm intrigued about fabric earphone covers...

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: Unique Solution to Pirates
« on: October 23, 2015, 06:47 PM »
Cool idea!

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 23, 2015, 04:48 PM »
Miles, you *can* download (store on device) your music, at least on mobile. On desktop I don't think there's an option for that (it's browser-based). You don't own the music you store on your device though, unless you actually buy it separately (Google Play *store*). You can then listen to that music offline anytime, anywhere, and it never expires, but that's just the stuff you bought. The unlimited streaming is separate, allows you to "cache" your music (download), but it won't stick around if you cancel the subscription. Does that make sense?

- Oshyan

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