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Year end Outliner/PIM review/roll call

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Posted by shatteredmindofbob
Jan 2, 2016 at 03:49 AM


A new year is upon us, “Best Ofs” have been posted all over the place and there are new things to look forward to.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to put the question out there: What were we CRIMPers been using for 2015? What old favourites are still proving to be solid? And what are we looking forward to?


Posted by shatteredmindofbob
Jan 2, 2016 at 06:02 AM


I wasn’t working as much as I would have liked over the past year, but I guess this gave me some extra free time to experiment some more leading me to actually putting in the effort to learn Emacs/Org-Mode.

After getting past the initial issue of understanding the horribly outdated keyboard shortcuts, I’ve ended up discovering what might be the best single-pane outliner available for Windows. At least, I’ve figured out how to make it do everything I want an outliner to do and am likely only using 1/10 of what it *can* do.

For notes and “knowledge management” on my PC, I played with a lot of
different apps but ended up coming back around to an old favourite:

It hasn’t seen an update since 2013, the interface is well, Java-y and the features are kinda limited but when it comes down to it, it does what I need it to do: allow me to take, store and retrieve notes efficiently.

The search is fast and everything is stored in plain text, making it trivial to use my notes elsewhere. Also, everything can be done from the keyboard.

More and more I’ve found myself wanting to stick to plain text for as much as possible, so after playing with many web-based todo list apps, I think I’ve settled on using Todo.txt through Todotxt.net, though the format isn’t quite as “outline-y” as I would like. I would use Taskpaper but for some reason, in 2016, there’s yet to be an Android client created.

Also, I’m beginning to doubt whether or not TodoPaper 2 (the Windows equivalent) is ever going to be released. (The developer has been saying it’s almost finished for years now.)

Using Todo.txt, however, lets me use Simpletask on my Android phone.

Oh and I’ve been playing with a “minimalist word processor” called WordGrinder. It’s a throw-back to WordStar and WordPerfect 5.1. It doesn’t have any mouse support by design. Though, at this point, I have no idea if it’s actually any good or if I’m just enjoying the novelty factor.

I’ve still got Breevy running for text expansion, synced to TextExpander on my iPad.

For a journal, I’m still using an open source app called Journaley that reads/writes to the Day One format (which I’ve got on my iPad.)

Speaking of open source, I’ve also been using a launcher called Wox since it seems that good old Launchy has been been abandoned. Still not sure if I like it or not though. Right now, it seems mostly useful as a pop-up calculator. Keeping an eye on it to see if it goes anywhere more useful.

For bookmarks, Pinboard is still going strong and still the only web app I’ve been willing to commit to.

Well, there’s also Dropbox, which I’m becoming increasingly concerned about relying on but unfortunately, it’s the online storage app that syncs with *everything*.

On mobile, I’ve been using a beautiful text editor on Android called Monospace Writer.

Still looking for something for taking quick notes along the lines of Drafts on iOS but sadly everything I’ve tried comes up short. Squarespace Notes is the closest I’ve found but it’s
unfortunately a little *too* limited.

Oh, and after getting into the whole Emacs thing, found a nice app for working with Org-Mode files called Orgzly, though for some reason, it requires that you sync manually which is a little annoying, but otherwise pretty nice. It also doesn’t seem all that great for managing Todo lists, which would be a problem if I were using Org-Mode for that purpose.

Over on iOS I am, sadly, starts to hit the limits of my iPad 2. iOS 9 isn’t horribly slow on it, unless I try using third-party keyboards which is unfortunate, since that was my most anticipated new iOS feature.

Day One is still pretty great. I’ve also got a blatant rip-off of Drafts called Quick Drafts which does pretty much the same thing without being $10.

The only other iOS app I’ve felt was notable was Matcha, a simple but pleasant text editor that I’m hoping will fill the void left by Daedalus Touch being abandoned in favour of the full-on Ulysess for iOS.

As for the next year, I’m mostly looking forward to the newest version of WriteMonkey, which looks awesome but is apparently still a few months away.

Also, experimenting with new things as I try to get back into writing: experimenting with version control for documents (though, the comparison has been made before - it feels little like firing an ICBM at a mosquito.) and various static web site generators over full-fledged CMS systems for web content (as well as toying with HTML export in Org-Mode such things.)


Posted by zoe
Jan 2, 2016 at 01:50 PM


Hey bob, it’s me again with another did-you-know-Emacs-could-do-that tip: if you like nvAlt/ResophNotes, you might try Deft (http://jblevins.org/projects/deft/). It’s a minor mode so it can co-exist with Markdown Mode, and it does pretty much what Notational Velocity does. You type to filter your notes or to create a new note. New notes are created as separate files in .md, .txt, .org or whatever format you specify. 


Posted by Paul Korm
Jan 2, 2016 at 02:42 PM


For 2015, I’m pleased with how Curio and iThoughts (all platforms) continue to mature and I anticipate continuing evolution of new features for them.

I think Ulysses has plateaued—in a graceful way.  It’ll continue to be a workhorse even with no major new changes—I’ll be glad to be wrong, but it seems The SoulMen are mainly producing tweaks, now.

New discoveries such as MarginNote and Quiver have been delightful, niche tools. 

I usually divorce OmniFocus a couple times a year, and did so again in 2015.  We’re re-engaged now, as ever, because I just never find a good all-round non-cloud alternative that I trust.f

The AppleWatch I bought is fun, but clearly a “never again” moment.  The latest iterations of iPhones and iPads seem to offer few real-world benefits—the Apple fan-bloggers are bending over backwards to flog the new products—it’s a bit embarrassing to read some of the claims for 3D Touch, e.g.,  I think Apple maybe has run out of paradigms to shift.  But, it must be nice to reach a plateau as the richest corporate in the world.

Disappointments include NovaMind which began 2015 promising major features on all platforms then went into radio silence after collecting upgrade fees for these features, and never delivering them.  NovaMind cloud is a standalone project that has little value as a result, and NovaMind iPad is still vaporware.  I’m sure I’ll continue to be a sucker for pre-paying enthusiastic developers for features that never appear (MailMate 2—now about 2 years past due; Butler—now defunct, etc.) because I like indie developers.

For 2016 I’m looking forward to DEVONthink 3 (cool advances there), Scrivener iPad (I hope I hope), TheBrain 9 (looking good in alpha testing).  There’s no danger of loss-of-CRIMP.

Happy new year, all!


Posted by WSP
Jan 2, 2016 at 03:13 PM


Okay, I will rise to the challenge on this cold January morning and try to record what’s happening in my software world.

OneNote continues to be my main note-taking program. I use it on and off throughout most of the day, and I’m also gradually shifting material into it that I once stored in other varieties of software. Nevertheless, I have some misgivings about it. I worry, for example, about storing so much of my information in a proprietary format that I don’t fully understand. (I’m not sure that I even grasp completely how OneDrive functions, as opposed, say, to a more straightforward backup system like Dropbox.) And the one conspicuously lacking feature, from my point of view, is reliable tagging. I’ve devised a makeshift system of tagging using peculiar-looking phrases (“notLC” within brackets at the end of a note, for example, means “not in Library of Congress”), but it is tedious to be forced to invent one’s own tagging tools. Yes, I am aware that OneNote does offer something described as tagging, but I find it cutesy and kindergarten-level.

I haven’t yet completely abandoned Evernote, but I am moving material out of it whenever I can. I find its interface clunky and the syncing occasionally unreliable.

Though I continue to have a love-affair with MyInfo, its developer, Petko Georgiev, moves at a maddeningly slow pace. In a sense, I admire his thoroughness and caution: you’re never likely to encounter any nasty surprises with MyInfo, but on the other hand you have to develop extraordinary patience waiting for new releases. The long-promised version 7 is supposed to be based on a complete rewriting of the code. I’m hedging my bets by still keeping a couple of major collections of notes in MyInfo.

For writing drafts I use MyInfo (it’s surprisingly good at that), Writemonkey (which I learned about on this forum), and (occasionally) NoteTab.

In the last year or two I’ve found myself storing information more and more frequently in PDF format; my main tool there is PDF-Xchange Editor, though I also depend heavily on an app called TurboScan on my iPhone for making quick-and-dirty PDFs when I am reading in a library. (If the passage I want to record is shorter than a couple of pages, I just photograph it directly into OneNote on my phone.)

Of course my taskbar is overflowing with other software — I’m using InDesign and Photoshop very heavily at the moment, for example — but I suppose the list above represents the programs most likely to be of interest to readers of this forum.


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