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Holiday reflections

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Posted by Franz Grieser
Dec 29, 2014 at 11:04 AM



Best wishes to everyone here for 2015.

In 2014 ...

1) I was on a quest for for a digital, mobile, instant-on writing machine for writing down ideas and short snippets when not in my office. I.e. when traveling to the nearby city in a suburban train or the underground, when at home in bed or in the living room (I do not want to set up a computer in the living room).
I have tried a lot. But nothing really works for me: 
- Pen and paper: Instant on but requires retyping the notes/snippets, which I often postpone, some notes even got lost.
- iPad: always with me when commuting because I read Kindle books on it, but the on-screen keyboard is a PITA.
- The Windows RT tablet/keyboard is a good notebook with the tablet safely fixed to the keyboard, but no real instant-on (unless I don’t shut it down but then the batteries don’t last for several days as in my iPad, Dropbox was unusable.
- Windows 8.1 tablet/keyboard: instant-on vs. quick battery drain, no way to safely combine tablet and keyboard.
- Windows/Mac notebooks: to large and heavy to always carry around, instant-on vs. quick battery drain.

Haven’t found a viable solution so far (I am now even considering an “antique” Psion Netbook Pro as writing machine, but am afraid that I will end up with another piece of hardware that is not THE solution).

2) I switched part of my work to a Mac Mini (up to now mainly for running Windows in VirtualBox) and bought a used Macbook Pro for blog writing. And - guess what - I got a lot of apps for it (Scrivener and Scapple, Ulysses III, Devonthink Pro, Curio, Tree 2, Papyrus Autor), which I am slowly exploring now.

3) I lost my trust in Evernote. Which is bad because right now I use it as one of my 2 repositories for notes and saved web pages and because I have access to the repository from my Windows and Mac machines and my iPad. But twice I was not able to access notes I had downloaded to my iPad without internet connection (usually that works fine but there were 2 times that did not work when I was travelling “lite” and the iPad was the only machine I had with me). What is more: I find handling data in Evernote cumbersome. E.g. setting up “folders” within notebooks is a nuisance.

So, on my Macs I moved to Devonthink Pro where I imported the Evernote notebooks I need on the Mac; once a week I import new Evernote notes I entered on my Windows machines or saved from the web while on the Windows machines. On Windows I keep Evernote and OneNote (my second repository). Processing Evernote notes is mainly done on the Macs.

4) I do most of my writing and formatting in LibreOffice Writer on Windows, which I found the most convenient tool. Some writing (for my magazine) is done in Word because I have to preformat the articles in Word stylesheets. For spelling, grammar and style checking I use Papyrus Autor, which is unique in that field. So far Papyrus has not replaced Writer as the writing tool.
I do hardly any writing in Scrivener any more, I mainly use it to structure long manuscripts and to collect notes and snippets. For some weeks I used Scrivener to plan and structure my 2 blogs and kept the Scrivener project in my Dropbox. However, something got wrong (I guess the Scriv project was not completely closed on the Windows PC when I opened it on the Mac) - so I am no longer able to open the Scriv project on the Windows machine, only on the Macs.

5) There are so many interesting cloud apps (Workflowy and Gingko in particular) but I have been reluctant to make the move to a net-only solution without a viable business model. As soon as there will be a Windows or Mac app for Workflowy or Gingko I will immediately give it a try. I want to be able to access my data whether there is an internet connection or not (on German trains you often have no internet connection, the same with a place where I go every few weeks for a few days).

In 2015 ...

6) I plan to reduce cloud storage usage (Dropbox, OneDrive) and install a private cloud on a new NAS system.

7) I will give a few cloud apps a try: A colleague I plan to collaborate more with uses Nimble as her CRM system, so I will probably switch to Nimble.

8) I will do more work on my Macs (writing and planning for my 2 blogs, ebooks) and use my Macbook as a DJing machine for seminars. I just started exploring Curio and like what I have seen so far. The 13” display of the Macbook is a bit small for it, the 24” monitor on the Mac Mini is just right.

9) I will give Notebooks by Alfons Schmid another try as a cross-plattform notetaking/web clipping tool (thanks to Bill’s continuous recommendations).

Regards, Franz