For deeper sketching out of ideas, diagrams etc I really like Concepts on iPad with the Apple Pencil. It has an infinite canvas and is all vector based, which is great for never worrying about whether there’s room to fit your idea on the page or whatever. Previously I used Notability and it was good and a bit more traditionally note based, but I miss the infinite canvas. The text recognition and handwriting features in Apple Notes on iOS 14 are pretty cool though, will be nice to see what third party apps do with them.
- You cannot link between notes like a wiki (like Evernotes evernote://$note-guid)
- You cannot export all your notes in a standardised format.
- You cannot store notebooks in specific offline only encrypted disk images for privacy.
- Cannot change background (must use paper emulation)
1. You can link between Notes. On a note, click collaborate icon, click add people, in share options tap icon for Copy Link, and then dismiss the To: dialog with the “Copy Link” text top right. Paste that link in another note. Now they’re cross-linked like a wiki. Instead of doing all this, create/use a shortcut.
2. Use Exporter: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/exporter/id1099120373?mt=12
3. Protect any given note with a key. The note data is encrypted, and stored encrypted anywhere it is stored.
4. Surely changing the background is an optional feature, not a limitation? There are a ton of features Notes doesn’t have, but not having them may not be in the “limitation” category.
// FWIW, I mostly use Ulysses.
3. Per note encryption is useful, but it would be nicer to have the entire notebook stored off line on an encrypted disk. E.g. If I share my computer with people its easy to see what sets of files/notes are "open" by looking at Finders mounted disks list. If the data does not get transferred over the network it adds another layer of security - I do not have to rely on Apples implementation.
4. It is a limitation to me as reading/writing is the primary feature and its a personal preference to have a solid background. Same category as font size adjustment. Minor inconvenience.
4. In the latest MacOS/iOS betas this has been updated to a solid background!
When I tried to export my notes I realized how hard to impossible it was to get them out. An absolute no-go for me. So I gave up on accumulating notes in this otherwise beautiful and practical app.
A few years ago I wrote a few python scripts to export the Notes.app database to html and bear formats. I haven't really maintained them (although I still run it in a cronjob for backups), but I put them up on github in case it was useful to someone.
Yes, it doesn’t bombard you with its functionality and at first glance is a simple place to jot notes (perhaps its greatest strength). But dig into the feature list, and perhaps help me find a similar application that:
1) can combine tables, rich text formatting, and in-line sketches
2) can store any file type in-line
3) can encrypt protect notes
4) can bulk share Notes + live edit
5) has a built-in complex document scanner
I know there are some alternatives that cover most of these but I think Apple Notes is king precisely because of these many layers of functionality.
I use macOS and iOS all the time but I also use Windows, Android and Linux. So sadly most of Apple's services don't work for me. Even though I know they're really good. I really wish they'd expand their horizons a bit. Microsoft stuff works on pretty much everything so why not theirs?
I had no idea it was that good though, because of the above reason I never really used it.
On Firefox on Ubuntu 18.04 hitting Enter once will not go to the next line. Hit Enter again and it will go down two lines.
Works fine in Chromium but there's no reason I shouldn't be able to use Firefox, especially when Apple pretends to champion privacy...
I used this to create an Electron app for my entire iCloud account. It's the only way I can stand to use it from my Linux machines due to the aforementioned Firefox bug. I don't mind using Chromium as an Electron app for this purpose though. Combined with Alltray I got a nice little Apple logo in my system tray that I leave open.
I get the markdown thing but it just seems to add a layer of complexity to a market crowded with productivity porn.
Before Notability I was using mostly markdown files in git. However, using handwriting instead of typing has improved my cognition and creativity significantly. When I'm faced with a challenging task, I start doodling in Notability and keep being surprised at the creative solutions that emerge as I'm writing and sketching. There seems to be a richer thought process to be happending when I use my hands for thinking (rather than pressing keys on a keyboard).
Some additional spontaneous thoughts:
- Searchability of my handwritten notes is great, even after I export my notes to PDF.
- Exporting to PDF stores my notes in a long lasting standard format, preserving the character of my handwriting and diagrams.
- Being able to move/scale diagrams as I develop them has allowed me to start sketching more easily without any idea of where the diagram will go (e.g., ERD).
- Synching: I have Notability running on my desktop Mac, iPad, and iPhone. iPad Pro 12.9" is my primary device, together with Apple Pencil. Mac is for copying in screenshots from web pages, or large amounts of text. And I use it on iPhone on the go to capture ideas, access shopping lists, etc.
- Some document structure is useful: I have monthly work notes, yearly personal notes, "Inbox" on the go, and long running project notes that I keep adding to and tweak.
I've gone back back to Apple's Notes and other native apps (Mail, Calendar). Yes, these apps are not perfect. Undoubtedly there are things other apps do better. But they fade into the background, they're simple and unassuming. They integrate into the OS well, are private, and will be around as long as Apple.
That, for me, makes it a nonstarter.
I'm a gigantic privacy advocate and probably senselessly cautious about tons of technologies, but that's the result of a conscious choice. Set and forget encryption, or programs that advertise they can skip the first step, are dangerous in my opinion/experience. It can give the wrong impression about security and lead to dangerous decisions/actions or lack thereof.
The concept behind thoughtless encryption is noble, but for all encryption models/schemes I know of, it has to be a concentrated and intentional decision else you end up with:
- Lost data due to key mismanagement (not a bad thing, but extremely inconvenient)
- Incomplete or ineffective encryption
- Vehicles for intentional deception that allow bad actors to get you to share sensitive/personal data under the impression that it's protected
and much much more.
Steve Yegge said it best when he said that Security and Usability are constantly at odds, and from my perspective, this is a good thing to some degree. With so many FUD apps that promise security, for the time being is a very convenient litmus test for laypersons to know "how much should I trust this app?"
I know that it's popular on HN to shit on Telegram, but in my current country of residence, Telegram is the most popular messenger program...for normal non-secretive messaging. It is extremely well known not to trust TG for secret conversations, illegal purchases or any other illegal activities, and so on. Not even on the basis of the security model of secret chats, but the discoverability of them. Basically the thought is "If you could find it without being a member of some ring of trust, so can the police". It's one reason why the conversations that frequently happen on HN about Telegram feel so misguided to me -- those who have conversations that may put themselves at risk __aren't using the app for such conversations__. They're not using any such apps, and either doing disposable communications (burner phones, pen and paper convos, etc), or they're arranging meetings in other ways.
Encryption/security has been commoditized by app and platform creators and packaged into a marketing tool. I wouldn't trust Telegram or Signal any more than I'd trust WhatsApp, Messenger, Messages, or whatever Google's monthly name for their chat app is to have such conversations in most countries.
To wrap it back to the GP's comment, I get the complaint about Apple Notes not being E2E encrypted -- but, if you've got sensitive data that needs to be recorded, why are you cloud-syncing it in the first place with a company that has frequently been investigated/prodded by the US Government, and even more frequently probed/violated by data exfiltration companies that work directly with the aforementioned government?
Unless you have a really short memory, I think you mean POTUS 39→45.
And while by a lot of measures POTUS 45 has been a disaster, POTUS 44 did far more damage to privacy than 45 has (yet).
So singling out Trump isn't really relevant or even useful.
"NSA offering 'billions' for Skype eavesdrop solution" (2009) — https://www.theregister.com/2009/02/12/nsa_offers_billions_f...
"Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5 Billion. Why, Exactly?" (2011) — https://www.wired.com/2011/05/microsoft-buys-skype-2/
I'm very conscious of this now when I'm talking on the phone. Not that I really have anything to hide, but I'm always wondering how something would be perceived by someone who is listening in.
It's not a nice feeling at all. This is one of the reasons I hate mass-surveillance so much. Just that feeling that everything I do or say is on the record.
Sure, we're normal citizens with "nothing to hide" - but I've become wary of any possible channel of data collection, regardless of whether the end consumers are private parties or state agencies.
It's dystopian, that I'm having to consciously censor my speech in case anyone is listening. Same with HN - I doubt my comments are of any value to outsiders, but it's possible that someone will associate my real-life identity with this online account, and dig through (i.e., put the data through some extractive process) to assign various values, for unknown consumers - probably advertisers, but maybe even some "good citizen index".
Thankfully I live in the EU (oops, another data point leaked), where there's at least some level of privacy protected by law.
Sometimes I send a postcard where anybody that handles the card can read the message. If I want a little more privacy, I'll send the note in an envelope.
For the last part: Standard Notes, Joplin, jrnl, FS Notes (possibly), nvAlt (not actively developed) etc.
This means that Apple has the ability to decrypt them at all times without your knowledge or involvement, and can and does so via the PRISM program for US military intelligence to access the plaintext data, the same as they do for the CCP in iCloud users in China.
End to end encryption is not the same thing as transit encryption.
For the record: PRISM is not "sniffing" or any other type of bulk surveillance program that would be thwarted by TLS. It's an API/app-driven program, run by and within large tech companies, that permits the US military intelligence organizations to pull the decrypted contents of the account of anyone on the service, directly from the storage systems of those tech companies. The majority of the data that the IC processes is the result of PRISM. I encourage you to read Bart Gellman's book Dark Mirror for more information and specifics.
When I'm backing up to an Apple server, I think of the two ends in the end-to-end encryption scheme as my computer and Apple's computer.
When done properly, the places the data sits/transits in-between have no ability to read or decrypt the information; it's indistinguishable from random data to those intermediate storage/relay services or nodes, because they never have access to the keys to decrypt it.
It is not so much a great workflow I need, it is simply frictionless noting down immediately.
After that I can go to further elaborate on the idea with a mightier tool. In my case it is GoodNotes.
After lots of attempts and frustration (Which features should I use now to get this idea out?) I now use only Apple Notes and GoodNotes.
This is one of those instances when the perceived Apple's walled garden convenience just falls flat. I personally prefer FSNotes (it has a long way to go but it's FOSS) and Bear. I am moving from Simplenote.
Apple Notes works fine on any platform that supports a modern web browser at icloud.com.
Because several times now I've lost notes due to Apple's cloud "sync." On a few occasions, the note turned up in the trash (with no action on my part) or simply disappeared.
Putting aside the spontaneous deletes, one thing that seems to more frequently push things into the trash is editing the same note on more than once device - the handling of this on the icloud backend appears to be "hell, just delete it."
edit: I should note that this spontaneous delete thing was more common a year ago, but then again, I've dramatically reduced the number of notes I maintain, now down to like 30 or so as opposed to the hundred+ I used to keep.
Whatever the cause, sometimes notes disappear and that is unforgivable.
If I cannot trust that something I store in a note won't ever disappear, unless I explicitly delete it, then I cannot trust the system period, and thus cannot use it.
I can't tell you how many times or how often it's happened. I think I must be on the third or fourth re-creation of my "Restaurants" list in the last couple of years, and that's just the one that comes to mind easiest.
Really disappointing that they couldn't get that right.
Edits also sometimes result in a bunch of duplicated notes.
This is a key feature for note-taking apps — quick to load wherever you are — and is one reason why I also gravitate toward Apple Notes for jotting down ideas. I can then reorganize into documents or spreadsheets as needed when I’m back at a desk.
I like to use Linux systems and even though Microsoft sells Windows, OneNote allows me to use it in a browser.
Apple still seems to favor their walled garden so that you have to live with all their downsides in order to enjoy the good parts.
The rub is that non iCloud is text only, so you lose functionality.
I believe that there hasn't been enough innovation in the jot-down phase of notes. Most people use Apple Notes, Google Keep, or raw text files. They're convenient for jot-down. But painful when it comes to organizing.
Notes are easier to organize when they're modular. You can add modularity, without losing convenience or speed, by writing notes like you're messaging yourself.
Fast jot-down + easy to organize in small steps = more likely to stick with it.
(I'm one of the creators of the modular, messaging-like notes tool bytebase.io)
i used notes for personal design drawings/sketches, and it was great for that purpose until the upgrade.
How on earth is "if you have internet connectivity, short press the dictation button, but if you want to do only local dictation, long press it" even remotely intuitive, or logical?
Although it sucks that other developers do not get to offer their shortcuts.
I don't use the document scanner tho :(
I haven't tried it with Notes but with Apple's Podcast app it's a nice sqlite DB you can query.
Maybe it was this
I've used it and it works.
Software developer also makes Another note taking app Falcon http://falcon.star-lord.me/#features
NOTE: Exporter works well, but it does NOT decrypt locked notes, nor does it handle anything outside of text (e.g, tables or images).
Additionally, iOS devices can be locked remotely.
My best software designs happen when I'm taking notes on paper, and I think it's largely what you say - I can't write as fast as I can think, which more or less forces me to think more carefully.
The founder of You Need a Budget makes a similar argument about budgeting and not spending on credit - the financial limits encourage you to manage your entire lifestyle more creatively.
It's often observed that small, scrappy, hungry companies tend to come up with more creative solutions than large, well-capitalized corporations, and even observed that formerly small and creative startups seem to lose that spark as the money rolls in.
There's that section in The Odyssey with the island of the lotus-eaters.
Speaking of poetry, I suspect that many poets would say that their creativity is enhanced by working within the limits imposed by a poetic form.
It has nothing to do with that. There’s nothing inherently creative about writing. But it adds value in that it forces you to spend more time on a single thought while writing, which is not the case while typing. On a computer, you write your notes so much quicker that by the time you’re done, you barely put any thought into it.
I have so notes I don’t even remember creating, but that never happens with handwritten ones.
None of that metadata is recorded, or could ever be revisited. But when I write with a pen, I can see the differences and sometimes it clearly relates back to the emotional experience.
Definitely way more effort than it's worth, but it might be a cool dumb thing to build.
about time to type, there's nothing stopping you from typing slower at all. also, if you choose to do it, it won't stop the forgetting-effect you mentioned.
not to mention how much harder it is to learn how to draw letters and words vs typing in a keyboard..
They don’t compare to written, and a decent amount is the pen tip friction.
Wacom comes close.
However the apps themselves ?
I’d like to use one note more, but PDFs don’t become copy-able text. Searchable but not copyable.
Writing on a surface device is ugh. And I had really high hopes that they would push on the tech.
Procreate -iOS- has the best redo and undo features and gestures - which may as well be a lost art since no one else seems to be copying them and saving us manhours of annoyance.
Now if only the surface writing experience were comparable - I like one note 2016 more than the one on the iPad.
God cmon MSFT, make this stuff just work.
During one of the surface launch events, a presenter said her entire life was on one note.
I can see that happen. But I can only see it, I can’t believe it will happen until the input modalities feel much better.
One downside is that I have to then type all my writing up, but I use this time as an opportunity to do a first editing pass.
Also, OneNote does it's recognition and replaces your handwritten text by printed text of a different size. This makes all kinds of diagrams, side-by-side-text, tables, etc impossible.
I have gone back to a paper notebook.
The writing experience was not ideal, either. I'd scroll the page by mistake, etc;
Writing with a fountain pen on good paper is like meditation to me; you wouldn't want to contaminate meditation with computers, like they contaminated everything else...
At university I mostly used cheap Brunnen paper for note-taking, not nearly as good as the Oxford, and you'd only want to write on it single-sided, but very cheap (a ten pack of 50 page pads costs the same as a single Oxford pad) and much better than some of the other cheap paper which basically seems to be photocopier paper glued together, which is awful to write on.
There are probably paper review forums or blogs or something like that that might help you find nice paper locally.
I always buy blank pads and usually use my own ruling backing paper, which has black and somewhat thicker lines than what comes with writing pads, which makes them easier to see in not-that-great lighting conditions.
git init fall2020
Next semester, I'm going to run the above command and then make a directory for each course I'm taking. In there, there will be a series of markdown documents numbered 'nn.md' with a header at the top of the file with the date and the subject. After that, it's just plain markdown. I alternate between VS Code and Vim, but both get the same job done. When I'm done, I just 'git add . && git commit' and move about my day.
Since I currently use GitHub private repos for hosting, if I'm walking to class, I can view the rendered Markdown right on my phone. This is nice for getting a quick recap about what the last class covered.
I also use a Git repo for my journal, but with different ways of formatting entries. The entire thing is very extensible, but not as friendly as some other note taking apps if you don't like plain Markdown. Writing a web interface for this setup wouldn't require much work, and it's something that's on my list of things to do.
I do use OneNote at work, but it's a classic example of where the tool molds the use case. Typically I will use OneNote to track a problem, or gather notes and links from other sources. It's a great way to put together a dossier on a problem so to speak, but I don't really use my creative juices in OneNote.
Also in time I found I never really used any version control features. Backing up to a remote was the only thing I needed.
I've resorted to using the original numbering system manually, but I'm still waiting for a tool that understands them and knows how to work with them (or maybe I'll get fed up after a while and make my own).
It's nice since it renders the markdown while you write it,
which I kinda need when writing LaTeX.
It's an offline tool, but I'm pretty much always near my laptop, so that's not much of a big deal for me. Tbh, having it offline was kinda a bonus for me.
No Vim support though, which is a bit frustrating.
You can do google doc or office doc, but the key for me was having one doc that I just keep prepending to.
Each day i'll add the date yyyy-mm-dd (dow) in bold and then list my work for the day... I use hyperlinks to dedicated docs or online guides for more involved projects (quick ctrl-k), and add a little check mark when it's done.
By adding days in the future, I am able to schedule work or set reminders, and with ctrl-f I can search the doc for anything I've done previously as it also acts as a journal.
I often used to get lost in the minutia of catagorization, and having list sorting help me determine priority, but I've come to realize that I already know what needs to be done, and roughly in which order. ... my bottleneck was always focus. Excessive task structure can be a procrastination in itself.
Going back to paper as op suggests seems like a step back.
It's not perfect, but it works. I do still wish I could add some sort of hierarchy to line items and also be able to zoom out to see the bigger picture, but for now that just sits in another dedicated doc that I schedule myself to look at now and again.
Hitting 18 months now on this system. Have never felt so organized.
You can also directly link to any node, at least in WorkFlowy.
My approach is similar to yours except it's one hierarchical entry per day.
Last time I posted it on Hacker News, quite a few people told me they adopted this workflow.
I do need a better way to view and report my data though, so what I've done is write a read-only reporting GUI that can parse my text file, give me daily/weekly/per-task/per-client reporting on my time tracking, per-day views of any journal entries, and a TODO list. It can even export the current week's entries in a format that pastes into my invoice spreadsheet template.
This is all managed in a per-year text file, 2020.txt, that's easy to back up and could be version controlled if I needed to do that.
* Plain text only, no graphics, formatting, outlining, tagging, categories, etc. These are all distractions to actually getting your point down and don't really add any value, don't get sucked into them.
* Ability to do simple text search and go to specific date. Big lifesaver for any problem that looks like "So exactly what did I do on this one specific day 3 months ago?"
Paper is nice for avoiding distracting formatting details. But losing out on free text search is too much of a drag.
It can act a journal, as you mentioned but...it's a linear overview of the things churning in your mind. And something great can come out of it but regardless, it helps you in more than one way.
I appreciate the insights and methods you use. I sometimes over-complicate solutions when all that's needed is a catch-all drawer.
I’m clearly a fussy sod. But really, just a nice, oss, local files, ability to encrypt, x-platform apps: surely not too much to ask....?
This really put me off when I first started using it, and at a client site, it's really the only option. Otherwise, the organization system is something I've come to like/live-with, but still -- why the boxes that can be moved around? Is there a "turn off free-form placement" mode that I haven't found?
I personally don't care for the skeuomorphic organization of notebooks, tabs, and pages. But maybe that's just me :)
There's a workaround though: Click on the title and then press enter and it'll create one again in the right spot :)
But yeah OneNote is bloated, slow, has the typical MS UI boneheadedness... But it's what I have to work with at work :'(
Knowledge base organization gets discussed frequently on HN. I understand your frustration though, I've always longed to see a one fit for all platforms though. Onenote sure shows a lot of potential but is probably limited by the fact that MS wants to keep it as close to their office suite as possible.
It's FOSS, works on local files, has encryption and supports note linking.
It also has apps for several platforms.
This is only sort of true. You can import/export markdown(or text) files, but the source of truth is in a sqlite database. When you sync with webdav or another folder, that's also markdown - but it's not recommended to edit those files directly.
Other than that, Joplin is great. It's my main note taking app outside of spacemacs/org-mode.
I'd like to hear of alternatives that apply the same e2e encryption model.
It was after buggy experiences on Simplenote that I had to jump ship. I don't know if I just had too many notes, or what, but it became slow, updated in weird ways that lost things or copied the same line multiple times, jumped to the top when I tried to scroll down, etc. Just all manner of strange behaviors.
Every single box is checked by Trilium (https://github.com/zadam/trilium), plus you can self host a server if you want to sync between as many clients as you want, and you can password protect only specific notes if you want to. Only "disadvantage" is that the client is electron; if you can live with that, I think you should check it out. (I'm not affiliated, but I've been using Trilium for a while.)
The only problem is that sharing is a pain.
What about this:
Picking a tool to solve a problem is the opposite approach to how you solve the problem. You instead need to define the problem and then find the tool which is the best fit. If you're frustrated with the tool, then you might need to put more thought into the problem.
I still write and draw on paper but not for journal purposes.
An app is hidden away on my phone, and I need to actively open it to use it. But my bullet journal is always in my bag. It serves as a physical reminder. And it oddly gives me way more flexibility in how I structure it.
Being a software developer myself, the irony isn't lost me.
Or at least, it would be 4 - 5 completely different processes and a given note app isn't best for all of them.
App for capture and inbox (this is an actual note taking app but I don't use it for writing)
App for writing notes (my own writing
App for display and management of networked notes
App for arranging (networked notes), outlining and building to the draft stage of writing
These are all part of a typical note cycle which many people use one app for. I put these notes through a cycle in the order that I wrote them. Typically I would start out with capturing information, then creating my own notes from that information and then eventually using that information for my own writing. I'm not a writer, but writing helps me think through things I want to understand better.
I could constrain myself to a physical journal. I could constrain myself to anything. It would drive me nuts though. I would end up attacking the journal with scissors and then pasting pieces of paper to the walls. Then arranging pieces and pasting notes on top of each other as my ideas change.
As far as the physical (bullet) journal goes. It works great for me as I use it to structure my daily tasks. It allows me the freedom of structuring using visuals without being constrained by GUI tools. It's quick and doesn't get in my way too much. Which is what I need for it to stick for my habit.
Plain text doesn't fix note-taking any more than it can fix to-do lists. Again, there's no tool to blame.
I do use Apple Notes too beside Day One for temp notes (email drafting, edit texts, links to check & trash, etc), but it’s on my journals where my knowledge-notes reside.
What people like from real notebooks is that you don’t have to think about organization, you just start a note in the next blank page. With Day One that’s what I got (even by email), and then, once I need to search for something in my personal log, I can organize stuff with tags or backlinking notes.
The “On this day” function also helps, as you can prune old ideas or notes that were a dead-end.
Personally, I’m sold.
Yes, it is a lot of processing things twice but I think it has some benefits. Most things aren’t actionable so it is just great for refreshing my memory. It forces me to write everything I think of down so I don’t forget anything and DayOne is great for that. I have nearly 10,000 entries. I don’t worry about note size. Some are “send contract to Ashley” others are longer thought out ideas. I’ve been using this system for the last few years and it has worked well.
One size fits all note apps never worked for me and I figured the reason for that is that a lot of what we do are context specific. We want the notes / todos for a particular type of task to live where we do the task when we are doing the task.
echo -e "\n$_date: $text" >> ~/Dropbox/notes/stream.txt
I think org-mode solves almost all offline note-taking requirements
* org-roam makes it super-easy to link notes
* emacs as an editor is as usable as any other editor
* Rich media is possible and easy to do in org-mode. Attach a snapshot, embed a video file
* Code with documentation is a feature not available in most other note taking methods/apps. It's possible to run code snippets and add comments, documentation about them in the same space
* Latex support is advanced. Inline equations work seamlessly
* Search support is advanced
* One of the main drawbacks is that all your notes end up offline. This was a deal-breaker for me. ox-hugo helps in publishing your notes to a (private) static site where it can be searched, viewed but not edited on the fly
* Publishing through ox-hugo is separate from maintaining a backup/sync of your notes in /org/ format. You'll have to do this separately through Dropbox/GDrive/etc
* A backup of your org notes is not usable until you set up your emacs environment and download all your notes
Sadly, the combo of (rich optional) text, easy paste in pictures, inking, file embedding, easy linking, open file formats / all in a sqlite file you can sync / stick on a flash drive, that runs on Windows/Android/Linux/maaaaybe web is just not there yet that I can see.
All notes are markdown, stored in a SQLite DB with full text search. It has a simple frontend and you can drag/drop images onto the editor and it will upload them.
To facilitate quick note taking I wrote a FUSE driver for it and have bound CMD+N to open a command line scratchpad window (I use i3wm) where I can write and edit notes using conventional *nix tooling.
It's not perfect, nor slick, but it works for me.
I didn't understand this part. Why can't you just write the file and then either manually/automatically trigger an import of the text into the SQLiteDB?
Could have used NFS or something to achieve what you've suggested, but this is the path I went down and seems to work ok for my needs.
What's the best way to contact you? I can't find your email on your website or Github.
The best solution for this, I’ve found, is to still take notes on the bigger picture but then to add the smaller details, definitions, concepts to Anki , which literally forces me to review those smaller details again and again until they “stick”. Doing so then makes me want to revisit the notes to get the full picture. As a result, my memorization of all kinds of things has greatly improved, which makes future research and documentation all the more better. It’s a very good positive reinforcing learning method and I recommend it to anyone who may have similar issues.
I the end, if you have the wrong tool or the wrong method for anything you are going to have a bad time even if the tool or method is useful in a different setting. An analogy: You can hardly unscrew something using a hammer unless you want to have more problems then before.
I always find this kind of mindmap stuff to go beyond my screen size too quickly though.. I'd love to have something like this in VR so I can walk around and write stuff everywhere, move things etc, just like I have my walls covered in stuff like those stalkers in horror movies :D
VR would be great for this I think. I might even make an app like that.
I find since I moved from Tomboy to OneNote that my memory is significantly worse.
Tomboy didn't support pics so I was more tuned in to meetings as I was actively processing info in order to note it down in my own words.
Now in Outlook I often tune out when I feel something is less relevant, and I lazily take screenshots "in case I need to look at it later". Then, when something comes up that is more relevant to me I'm tuned out and need to catch up. I also remember information much less long because it never really entered my brain at all.
So yeah it definitely helps for that purpose, at least for me.
I recently started working with a new client. 7 years ago and many companies past, the now-CEO asked me to set up a system for her and I took ample, random meeting notes. I still have those notes as plain text in a folder, organized by year.
When the new client asked for a design proposal and said they're getting resistance from the C-suite, I could pull up those notes and make some seemingly omniscient recommendations quite quickly.
I tried too many of the note taking services, but really, a plain text note with a YYYY-MM-DD title and stored in a backed up directory is near-perfect and ultra-portable.
That said, for me writing things down does help me organize my thought process.
Another thing that I do think is beneficial but directly work-related is writing ADR's (https://github.com/joelparkerhenderson/architecture_decision... basically technical documentation, one file per decision (architectural, language, library, etc); I can start those as a stream-of-consciousness ramble, then add some research / alternatives, and finally do some formatting and commit it into my project's repository.
From there it'll take on a life of its own, I'll reconsider things down the line (most recently, replacing Reach with React Router because the former is end-of-life and in retrospect had some quirks I ran into). My hope is that when more people join my project or take over, they'll be able to read it and understand where things have come from, and then add their own ideas to it.
Of course, they'll likely opt to just ignore it entirely because tl;dr show me the code.
Akkshaya Varkhedi says in the article a couple downsides to handwriting notes on paper are:
1. Can't add screenshots, images, links, etc.
2. can't easily search for content.
Using something like Goodnotes addresses both of those items. You can take screenshots, add images, and links, and even use the devices camera to capture images (like the whiteboard/chalkboard during lecture). And (depending on how good your handwriting is), there is a search feature which searches the words you've written—and those words can be converted to type if you want to add them to a document without needing to re-type it.
Buying a tablet and stylus (like iPad and the Apple Pencil) to solve the two points paper notes does not solve seems a bit overkill—but in todays world, if you're a student going into University and need to purchase a device, those tablets are looking mighty attractive versus a standard laptop.
However, I don't like using it for work/personal projects. Still trying to figure out why.
Then, I became smarter. Before writing, I'd then research, ponder, and then find a solution someone did. Awesome, there it goes.
I do still write notes -- Handwritten, erstwhile in Evernote, Apple Notes, etc. Then I wanted to simplify it, in the hope that the notes will likely stay on even after I'm no more. Recently, I chose to stay with plain text, markdown is the next-step up, and then perhaps plain HTML.
Markdown - I write it as plain as possible. It is easily readable as Plain Text, if needed.
HTML - I'm pretty confident that HTML as its saner, plain form will remain and live through time.
So, now, I have started collecting, writing pieces of notes in a set of Plain Text Collections - akin to your Org-Mode but much much simpler. In order to publish it, I threw in Jekyll for now but I'm not married to that and I'm keeping it such that if I just change a tool the next time, I can do it without much jugglery.
Of course, I still use quite a few Note-Apps but most of them are the tools to my needs. I've stopped looking at Note-Apps that ingest and keeps it there. For instance, I can write in iA Writer and the file stays where it has. I can then continue writing it with SublimeText + Markdown. I will try to write more, be naive all over again. I don't want to know who reads it, how things are -- but just things that interest me.
1. e-ink screen of more than 5", less than 18"
2. sd card (aside from the Likebook Mars, this is just about impossible to get in most eReaders, let alone one for less than $500!) and an open format (ODF-based linked files, json / svg in sqlite etc)
3. syncthing access (android or native Go binary)
4. headphone jack / built-in microphone
5. stylus (wacom or whatever, can take or leave pressure sensitivity just not-battery powered plz)
6. low latency, even if ugly artifacts drawing of the lines
I guess if someone wanted to buy it it would exist and could be purchased, but I ended up settling on the likebook mars since it did all of the above except the stylus and low latency drawing.
Remarkable has apparently pushed the low latency way down and good for them, but they IIRC off the top of my head do not support syncthing or sd cards, and they are far, far too much for the average joes of the world to purchase. $300 USD is expensive, and it barely gets you halfway to the ~700 USD (IIRC) they go for. Clearly a high-end product.
Just this month I started doing notes on my computer again after being introduced to an app here on HN in another thread that seems to have hit the high points for me. More than anything, it seems to work for me because it just gets out of my way. Try Standard Notes if you haven't yet. I like writing in Markdown, so I use it as I would a text editor, but rather than needing to search at the command line and maintain a git repo, it has tagging and search built-in as well as encrypted cloud syncing, but otherwise just stays out of my way. It works really well.
If I'm learning I will write notes with a pencil and paper (pencil over pen every time). This means I have to think more about what I'm writing and for me is more flexible. I use an A4 squared pad with an index at the front, each page is split similar to the Cornell note taking system which is good for summarising and adding tags for quickly finding information. My notes are scribbled and messy. I will then transcribe these onto a computer using text files and folders for structure. You can't beat text files. As a front end for this I use Zim Desktop Wiki. Cross platform, portable, and easy to use with a simple markup syntax. It offers many excellent features, including a journal, tasks, diagrams, spell checking, interlinking, back links, searching, tags, images, tables, version control, and many others. Drop the notes into Dropbox and you have syncing.
If the worse comes and Zim disappears it's all just text files and folders. Pandoc can convert Zim to markdown or whatever you like.
For other quick notes I use a reporters jotter. I will transcribe them onto the computer if they are important. But generally these notes are throw away.
For had written notes, sketches, Daily journal & learning (graph paper with straight lines and snapping) - Write by Stylus Labs, works on iPad, Android, Window, etc. Files in svg/svgz. App opens nearly instant.
Joplin for Tasks, Notes, recipes, web clippings. Markdown with proprietary indexed folders, but easy import/export. Local storage on my phone, so instant access to my information with search.
QOwnnotes for long form, journal, blog entries. Markdown in regular file structure. For iPad I use Writemator.
Plain text, full text search, and point it at iCloud/Dropbox/Drive and now you have your notes fully synced.
I’ve spent far more time than I care to admit trying out new note applications...
I use this as well, have all my stuff in a git repo and sync it to my iOS device so I can edit it with apps like iA Writer or 1Writer easily.
I thought about putting it in git, wasn’t sure if even having to commit/push would be too cumbersome for me.
I sync my notes with iCloud and have nvALT look at the folder there - then I setup a shortcut on iOS that appends to a “daily” file - can even use Siri too. Everything stays in sync and I don’t need to think about it. At least for now
Hotkey popup, it's free, you own your data, and just enough of a feature set to be useful without a learning curve.
So far it's working pretty well for me. I think the key is the regular review/processing.
I think I could implement this in just about any tool, so long as there's an easy way to quickly add an entry with a timestamp to the current weekly note file. I happen to use org-mode in emacs for this with org-journal (using doom emacs, only switched a couple months ago) but other tools would work just as well I bet.
This has been my conclusion after years of trying different tools or even trying to make my own. Once I started focusing on the process I realized that not only I don't need a lot of features from a tool, I'm actually better off without any complex features.
I just use markdown, vim, and git. This specific choice of tools for me is only guided by one thing: I don't want to waste any brain cycles on figuring out / deciding how my note taking tools should behave. For someone else this could've been a Word doc and a folder structure. When you do that, then taking notes becomes as trivial as writing with pen and paper, except for the ability to edit and grep which is really all you need.
Bonus: it's ridicuously easy to work with markdown (and friends) with pandoc. I routinely convert all my markdown notes to html and use < 100 loc of ad-hoc JS to give it a decent browsing UI.
And I have pretty much everything to take a note when I want to + it's plain text so I don't even need the apps to write, very convenient if for one reason or another I don't have access to one of my devices.
I used to struggle with note taking apps until I started to use
org-mode on termux. Human interface relies on emacs, syncing and versioning relies on git, agenda and TODOs rely on org. Never needed any other note taking app.
As a bonus, emacs color themes look really nice on a crisp OLED screen.
But for random note capture the onscreen keyboard works well. Termux can be configured to display C M shift. It might sound cumbersome but you quickly develop a muscle memory for it. Add to that the richness of emacs+org commands and it becomes faster than, say, Evernote.
Prior to settling on SN I was a big fan of Simplenote and nvALT, but the lack of even basic MFA for Simplenote drove me away.
Evernote, OneNote, etc just seem to be way too much for what I need. And Apple Notes, while it has gotten a lot better, does not make it easy to get your data back out.
This approach merges the simplicity of plain text, the power of tags and links and keep this independent of the of synchronization, backup or future development of these apps or anything in this stack of tools.
- Cloud document systems (Google docs, Dropbox paper, Notion)....
- Project management systems (Trello, Asana, Monday)
- Todo/task/notes management (Keep, Todoist, Evernote)
- Customer Ticketing systems (Zendesk, helpscout, freshdesk)
- Bug/issue tracking systems (Pivotal, Jira, Github)
- Crms (Salesforce, Hubspot, Streak)
- And then theres even specialized customer facing and internal facing KnowledgeBase products (getguru, readme.io..)
Can you see the insanity? So many apps that are just different ways of abstracting and sorting knowledge, relationships, time and next steps.
A lot of progress has been made in enabling developers to integrate customer (event) data accross apps over the past 5 years (segment, mparticle with their data layers). But what about a standard data layer for the folder / project/tickets / tasks / notes hierarchies that exists in all these apps. So our information and knowledge isnt so siloed?
What it'd take for me to move to a new note taking app (not that I'm holding my breath for a new one) is that it would have to be an information black hole. I wouldn't have to migrate notes because it would automatically suck up everything. Of course that's tricky and potentially privacy invading, so I'm not expecting a solution anytime soon.
Occasionally, I'll fire up Word to paste in screen shots, but for most everything, I now write it out in plain text in Notepad++.
I felt burned when Microsoft's abandoned the Outlook Journal, where I had collected years of notes—notes that were almost all plain text.
Microsoft came out with OneNote and I watch colleagues diligently recording their thoughts there, but not me. Plain text, from here out. I may eventually print them and put them in a binder, so I can have "papers" that survive me.
The git solution intrigues me, but I would use my words and little else if I recorded notes there.
It is essentially virtual paper, it replaces a notebook, no more, no less.
But the thing it has that I've seen nowhere else is that it is vector based, with an unlimited size canevas and high zoom (10%-1000%).
It sounds so obvious as a feature. I mean, if you have a stylus, besides drawing, taking notes is the most obvious thing you can do with it. And what can a screen do and paper cannot? Scrolling and zooming. And because smartphones are powerful computers and we have good algorithms, there is no reason to limit canevas size artificially.
So I went in and looked at the most popular note taking apps, thinking: these are made by many-million dollar companies they must have that. And no. All I found was cloud-synchronized text files. None took advantage of the drawing capabilities of smartphones, or they did it in a half-assed way. The S-Note app (I have a Galaxy Note 4) is nice, but it is bitmap and with a limited canevas size, why? Can't Samsung do better?
Only one app did it right and that's Squid (previously Papyrus). And it is a little known one compared to the likes of Evernote. It isn't even mentioned in the article even though it is the closest thing to the "writing things down" solution it recommends, so I suspect the author doesn't know its existence. Otherwise I think he would have mentioned it, even if it is just to talk about how it doesn't fit his needs.
It's also irritating to have bunches of notes in Apple's Notes app, in Confluence, in Notion, in Google Docs and goodness knows where else.
The movement to cloud has driven a coach and horses through the whole reasoning behind the EU/US push to get Microsoft to be more open and not hold institutions to ransom with data locked within a proprietary vendor's platform:
Now we've gone full tilt towards a world of proprietary clouds where we don't even have custody of our own data and instead entrust it to a MongoDB cluster somewhere managed by the latest hot, new note taking startup.
Where are the regulators when you need them to ensure we can get our data in and out of these platforms?
As for me, I find vim or Sublime and Markdown synced via Dropbox work tolerably well. I keep toying with the idea of writing an open source Markdown syncing solution with open source clients for note taking...
That aside the proprietary nature of the cloud and especially how it pertains to note taking (and todo apps) is a real step backwards. The regulators who forced Microsoft to submit in the past would be gnashing their teeth at the situation we have today.
Roam-like note taking app using VS Code. Still early days but has momentum.
Been using it for a week for some project docs, and so far I like it.
Being "locked in" to a platform like that? Yes, please! It's vastly different from, say, Windows vendor lock, and it opens up possibilities instead of closing them off (especially since Emacs runs on nearly everything with a Von Neumann architecture and at least a 32-bit word size).