Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I recently came across an interesting application, named OrgaNote. It's small (608KB), and it looks like a three-pane Outliner. However, the first pane is a rudimentary outliner, the second one is for textual information or notes, while the third pane lists all the links that a particular note contains. So, it is really more like a two-pane outliner (with an additional pane for links). As they say: "OrgaNote is a tool to organize notes. Notes are small (or large) pieces of text that can be organized in a tree structure. The key feature is the possibility to create arbitrary links between the notes to have an additionally way of organizing the notes."

Linking is done by selecting a piece of text, pressing Alt + (with + from the numeric pad) and selecting the note you want to link to from an outline that pops up. I would prefer the ability for direct links that allows for creating new links right from the editor. I can also see problems arising in a large project with many notes. But it works.

The outliner is somewhat rudimentary, allowing you to move entries down (but not up or left or right). It may be too rudimentary for inveterate outliner. You can import text files and export "extracts," text and HTML.

It also has the ability to give you a timeline for all your entries (see Website). It is kept general to allow for all kinds of uses, but the example given is a "dream journal," so it's probably best for keeping any kind of journal of specific activities or happenings.

As far as I can see, only German is available in the interface. That should not present a problem for most, as it does not have many functions. It's free.

Monday, August 22, 2016

ConnectedText, Texthaven, and nVALT

Having taken another look at Texthaven in the last post, I was wondering how it would handle more than 10,000 notes, exported from my largest ConnectedText Project. Well, it did--at least sort of. This is what happened:
  1. Export to text files is easy in ConnectedText. I exported the text files to a folder called Texthaven
  2. Texthaven uses Markdown as its markup language. So, I had to transform some of the codes, Like "*" for ConnectedText's "//". I also had to change the double with a single square bracket, and removed the markup for predicates, categories, and some other things Easy enough with a program like Search&Replace for the Mac. It took a while, but it worked well.
  3. A bigger problem was that Texhaven uses ANSI, while ConnectedText uses UTF8, but I finally got that done with CPConverter after several trials, had to rename the directory it created, and was good to go.
  4. Texthaven opened the directory without problem, and it also opened the text files, as expected. However, editing them did not always work (or perhaps it just took too long for my patience). It seemed a bit erratic.
  5. This may have been due to the fact that I do not have a registered copy--at least in part. I was determined to buy a copy, if it had worked flawlessly. But I don't want to take the risk, since it had significant hiccups. I could not create an index file either, for instance. Including images was tedious as well. So, I deleted the directory again and gave up on Texthaven.

I believe that this test of Texthaven was a bit unfair. I know that it works well with fewer text files. It's just that I do not need it for that. I then thought that it might be interesting to try the same experiment with nVALT. I did, and it worked flawlessly. nVALT uses double brackets and takes UTF8 without problems. All, I had to do is point the program to the right directory and specify single text files and not the database. It works flawlessly. (Though I left untouched for now the ConnectedText markup for categories, properties, images, etc.) I now have a working copy of my main project on the Mac. I intend to update the files occasionally just to have a recent working backup. I will continue to use ConnectedText itself for my daily work.

Still, I am amazed how well the ConnectedText text files work in nVALT, and how quickly nVALT is in opening links, etc.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Texthaven for Android

Texthaven, the plain-text organizer, is now also available for the Android. As I pointed out before, Texthaven is a good replacement for notepad. It also can handle CVS files very well. "The core of the Texthaven note taking program is a plain-text file. It offers Markdown formatting and options to link to images or other notes but its heart, its essence, is basic text in a simple file in a directory on your hard drive. A file that is easy to read, edit, back up, share or search on virtually any device you would want to read or edit a document on."

"The Texthaven Android app is a complement to the Windows program but can be used independently to create, format and edit Markdown files and view images and simple CSV files."

It reminds me very much of nVALT. I especially like the fact that you can crete links by just enclosing them in square brackets.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Louis de Bernières on Notebooks and Word Processors

Louis de Bernières writes sometimes in a garden shed, but says that "more often ... I write in my library, which has thousands of books. I’ve also got absolutely stacks of notebooks, which makes my creative life a bit chaotic because I don’t know where to find things." Furthermore:
Prose I usually write straight on to the computer. But I wrote my first novel, and some of Birds Without Wings, longhand. My poor sister used to type things up for me. Eventually, she gave me £500 and said, “Get yourself a word processor.” So my next three books were written on a Brother with a tiny black screen and green writing, which I called Esmerelda. It was actually my most fertile period, and I often wonder whether I should go back to Esmerelda. I still have her in the attic.
I don't know about Esmeralda and fertility, but I do know that indexing one's notebooks is a very good idea. It is a tremendous help in finding things.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Peresc's Note-Taking

From Pierre Gassendi, The Mirrour of True Nobility & Gentility Being the Life of Nicolaus Caludius Fabricius, Lord of Peiresc ..., Englished by by W. Rand, Dr. of Physick (1657)[1]:
He was not, therefore, of their mind, who having got fair Books,are afraid to blot them with such lines or marginal notes, for he esteemed those Books most highly, into which he could insert most notes; and therefore he commonly caused all his Books, when they were in Quires to be washed over with Alum-watwer, and when he foresaw their Margents would not be large enough, he cause white paper to be bound between the printed leaves.[2]
The use of of interleaved copies was more common than this quotation may make it appear.

1. For Peiresc, see here.
2. See here for the source of the quotation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Do Book Readers Live Longer?

"The best reason for reading? Book lovers live longer, scientists say" -- or so you can read in the Washington Post.

The evidence for this is slim. The evidence for readers of books living better -- or having a better shot at living a life worth living seems more persuasive (to me).

The Guardian published a similar story about this study yesterday.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Montesquieu's Pensées

Montesquieu left a set of three bound handwritten notebooks.[1] The entirety of the notes was not not published during his lifetime, though some notesare marked as “put in the Romans” or “put in the Laws.” Others are marked as belonging to a certain context, like "this did not make it into the essay on the 'differences between talents' or "remarks on count Boulainvilliers’ 'History.'”

The notes appear to be in chronological order. They seem to start in the early 1720s and continue to the end of his life. I found the first three notes especially useful as indicating the nature of his note-taking. They are, he says,

[1] Some detached reflections or thoughts that I have not put in my works.
[2] These are ideas that I have not delved into deeply, and that I am putting aside in order to think about them as the occasion allows.
[3] I will be very careful not to answer for all the thoughts that are here. I have put most of them here only because I have not had time to reflect on them, but I will think about them when I make use of them.
In other words, his notes were conceived as working notes. They represent things he wrote down in order to think about some more in the future. They are noteworthy to him, but they are preliminary and might or might not be endorsed by him in future reflections.[2]

This kind of tentative taking note of ideas should be emulated. I believe that it has some similarities to Lichtenberg's Wastebooks.

1. An English translation them can be found here.
2. I became aware of Montesquieu's My Thoughts through Henning Ritter's Notizhefte (Bloomesbury Verlag, 2010). Henning says that he adopted Montesquieu's maxims of My Thoughts as his own.