Category Archives: Software

Software related things, probably focusing on things available for OS X

Taking notes

I used to use Journler for taking notes on my computer, and when Journler died I moved on to MacJournal. However, nowadays I constantly find myself using different computers (Mac, Windows, Linux) and various mobile devices (iOS and Android) every day, and have found it to be problematic to be locked into an OSX/iOS application for note taking/access. There are some cross-platform note-taking applications out there, most notably Evernote, which I have tried to become friends with several times, without success. My biggest problem with Evernote is that it locks you into their system, and you cannot export everything in your library in an easy way.

Inspired by a blog post by Alex Payne, I have decided to change my note taking to the simplest and probably most future proof system: plain text files in folders. All OSes that I know of can handle text files and folders without problems (at least if you are a little careful with file naming), and you can also search your files using standard built-in OS search functionality. So there is really no reason for using a dedicated application for this.

Fortunately, MacJournal let me export my entire library as separate RTF files, and I wrote a little script that added the creation date of each note to the beginning of the file name. So now I have a folder called “Notes” with all my notes from the last 7 years as separate RTF files, organized after creation date.

For new notes, however, I don’t even want to use RTF files. I have had some bad experiences with opening RTF files in different software. Since I am often moving files between MS Word, OpenOffice Writer, TextEdit, Bean, etc., there is always something being messed up (particularly bullet lists). Instead, to keep some richness in the texts, I am now writing notes using MultiMarkdown. I have been doing this for a month’s time now, and think it works great, even though it adds a little overhead in terms of the formatting. However, the freedom to easily export the files to HTML, LaTeX and RTF later on makes it less of pain overall. And storing the notes using Wuala makes it possible for me to access them on all my devices and computers.

Cloud storage

I have been using Dropbox occasionally over the last few years to sync files (installers, etc.) between multiple computers. I never felt comfortable about using it for things I am working on (and private files), especially since they did not provide any form for encryption of the files. After the Dropbox security problem a couple of weeks ago, and the updated terms allowing them to look at your files, if needed, I am even more suspicious about using Dropbox for anything.

Instead I (and probably many others) have found that Wuala works quite well and offers client-side encryption of your files. I have been using Wuala for a week’s time now, and here is a summary of my experience so far:

  • Encryption of files on the client makes Wuala much more secure than e.g. Dropbox.
  • Upload/download speed of Wuala is fairly slow (but this may be because a lot of people seems to have migrated to their service after ther Dropbox problems). Hopefully, the speed will improve again.
  • While Dropbox just gives you one folder that will be synced, Wuala lets you set up as many folders you like for either syncing or backup. You may also just leave your files “in” Wuala, to be able to access them but not sync. At first the separate between these three (files, synced files, backuped files) was a bit confusing, but I have gotten to like this after using it a little more.
  • Wuala is slightly cheaper than Dropbox, and you may also get extra disk space if you trade in some of your own storage
  • There are clients (java-based) for most platforms (OSX, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android). All of them work well, although they do not feel as well integrated as Dropbox. However, I easily trade this for the added security Wuala offers.
  • The best thing about Dropbox is the excellent support for third-party applications. I have been using Plaintext for iOS for a while, which seamlessly integrates with Dropbox. As for know, the iPhone/iPad Wuala apps only allow for reading files, not editing, and there is no support for third-party apps. I really hope they will improve this in future releases.

But all in all I am quite happy about Wuala.

Bibdesk template for DBLP

To get the NIME 2011 conference indexed in DBLP, it is necessary to provide them with a bibliography file formatted according to their description. I have made a Bibdesk template to convert our BibTeX file to their format. This may be useful for others, so I have uploaded the file here now:

The only thing that I did not figure out was how to insert line breaks between the authors. So I have done this by inserting slashes between author names, and have later replaced these with line breaks in a text editor.