Jack Baty Daily

Daily notes from Jack about everything

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Sunny 38.5 | Low 34.9, High 51.7
Flickr 2024

Well my Flickr Pro subscription automatically renewed yesterday. I had a reminder set to "Decide on Flickr subscription" but it was scheduled for tomorrow. Oops. I suppose that decision has been made for me for another year. It's OK, I was probably going to renew anyway. I've been using Flickr since 2004 so why stop now?


Outliners with Notes

There are only 2 software tools I know of that usefully combine an outliner with long-form notes: Tinderbox and Emacs/Org-mode. Everything else is either an outliner that awkwardly lets me include a note with a node, or a long-form writing thing that allows for some basic outlining. A third group includes full-on outliners like Bike or Logseq, where every paragraph is always a node. I like those, but they're also too much outliner for me, if you know what I mean.

Some Markdown editors can make markdown feel sort of like an outliner. Emacs' markdown-mode is a great example. But if I'm going to use Emacs there's no way I'm not using the superior-in-all-ways-to-markdown Org-mode. A popular note-taking app that doesn't even fake it well is Obsidian. Not even plugins can turn that editor into something that feels right. With Org-mode I can manage small or large document outlines with ease. I can put notes and todos right inline, add metadata to any heading I wish, etc. You'll tell me, "But Obsidian (or [FAVORITE APP]) can do all this, if you jump through these specific hoops..." No thanks.

Tinderbox was born for this. It's a powerful outliner right out of the gate, with serious features like hoisting, aliases, custom attributes, etc. Each heading starts simple, and if you want to make it into a giant document with acres of text and subheadings, that's easy too. Like Emacs, it's loaded with scripting features that make it sing and dance if you go deep enough.

I just mostly wanted to bitch about Obsidian again, which ate the past two days while I tried to wrangle it into something that it doesn't want to be.


Tagging things in my Tinderbox Daybook

Tagging things in my Tinderbox Daybook

I don't remember when I actually started keeping a Daybook in Tinderbox, but I first wrote about Tinderbox as a Daybook in 2008. At some point in 2012 I ventured off into using Org-mode for everything so my Tinderbox Daybook languished. I've still maintained one each year, but entries were sparse. I rebooted the practice this year, and have been more consistently using my Tinderbox Daybook. Watching Dave talk about his new Tinderbox "Captain's Log" has inspired me to dust things off and make a go of it full time again. I may skip most of the automation for now, as that was never a sticking point for me, but what he's done may be tempting to emulate at some point.

One thing that came up in the video was the automatic tagging features in Tinderbox. It will parse each note's text for specific phrases and those can then be automatically set as "NLTags" or "NLNames". Here's a screenshot showing what happens after typing "Dave Rogers" in a note.

Tinderbox recognized I had written a person's name, and automatically tagged the note. In addition, I have several NLTags configured like so:

health: blood pressure; headache; migraine; doctor; prescription; sick
money: bought; ordered; sold; paid; purchased

What this does, for example, is cause Tinderbox to tag a note with "health" if I mention any of the list of words in the note. So if I mention that I had a headache, it is automatically tagged with "health". I then have agents that collect those notes so I can always see a handy list. The agent query is simple:

$NLTags.icontains("health") | $Tags.icontains("health");

This way the automatic tags work, but I can also manually add a "health" tag that will be swept up by the agent. There can be false positives this way, but it's close enough.

Tinderbox is pretty neat.