Jim's Inchoate Weblog
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hits since 18th June 2002
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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!
Saturday December 7 2002
Update on Pimmy
Geminisoft's Pimmy, which I've now been testing here for a couple of weeks (at least) remains my choice for a lightweight free email package. What it lacks in advanced (and not necessarily useful) features it more than makes up for in ease of use and elegance. A great way to keep tabs on multiple email accounts, people. Oh, and it does newsgroups too, although I cannot claim to have tried this facility out. If anyone does, please let me know how well it works!
Posted at 8:12 pm by Jim Woods
Friday December 6 2002
Wind-powered walking machines
As I say, here. Amazing.
Posted at 8:44 pm by Jim Woods
Thursday December 5 2002
Text manipulation thrashing great frenzy of wordlust (gratuitous title maybe, not boring though)
Gaining the distinction of having the longest title of any item in this blog to date comes an entry to clear a few things up.
First, I think I've probably been less than clear about Maple, MindMan et al, and the whole business of this text creation-outlining-mind-mapping idea. Regardless of what I've said in the past, here's the plot. It's easier to write this new entry than to go back and edit a few previous ones, and in any case I like to let my stuff stand as it was of the moment unless there's something really inaccurate or outdated which really necessitates editing. Sooooooooo....
I'm like (most of) you. I crawl, a venal mortal and no more, fine intellect ravaged by the years and the beers, across the web cackling and hoarding little pieces of information in various formats. I do this a lot. I like to organize this stuff because I can pretend that this is somehow like organizing my life. I do that hardly ever. And I like Maple, because as I've said it lets me group text and stuff in a structure called a document tree, which is like a whole load of silly little files and directories and subdirectories and dung beetles (all right, not dung beetles) but is self-contained in one easily administered file. Easy to search across too. And links may be embedded. Sounds almost good enough to eat, eh?
Do it. Get it. It's a gift. You'll love it. But you have to pay for the version that really kicks with HTML. And HTML, let's face it, is what most of the stuff you're dealing with is likely to be. Read down though. Because it's game on now...
But remember that this is not mind-mapping...
Mind-mapping is using MindMan, and other similar packages I have seen but don't have, to create a kind of graphical texty flowcharty thing. They call it "project planning software". I call it a kind of graphical texty flowcharty thing, and further a damn neat way to lay out text snippets (using colour and so forth too!) such that they can be connected with arrows and lines and other stuff to show priorities and precedence and preconditions and premature ejaculation. Not that last one actually. But you get the idea.
Document trees and mind-maps are very useful. But they are a bit different from one-another (although in essence they are free-text info stores at heart) and I apologize for failing to make that clear in the past.
Now, I have a treat... I have found a piece of software that is unbelievably powerful at organizing text (HTML, RTF, TreePad, whatever) and pictures and objects and, well, virtually everything. KeyNote is a veritable beast jazzer of its kind. It's the Maple Pro (which you have to pay for) except that it does more and it's free. You can do macros. Plugins. All of it. And the man is rewriting it to be better... Bring it. Bring it on.
Posted at 9:56 pm by Jim Woods
I've talked about using Maple - to structure ideas in the form of a hierarchical tree of text files - before in this blog.
Hmm - it's just become evident that Blog's spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "blog"; I delight in such oddities, but I digress.
Anyway, here is a page of links to excellent writing software. In particular, MindMan Personal is free (my favourite price) and enables one to structure ideas in the form of a tree-like graphical representation. This is something which is both amazingly simple to use and amazingly difficult to explain. So why not take a look at it and have a play?
Posted at 2:26 pm by Jim Woods
If you have QuickTime 5 on your box and want a real treat have a look at the panoramas here. Breathtaking...
Posted at 6:41 am by Jim Woods
Wednesday December 4 2002
Keith O'Connor RIP
I've just heard that Keith died in Portugal last Friday of a heart attack, just like that, in front of his fire.
I remember many long afternoons telling jokes and talking about music with him in his shop in Oxford before he moved out to Portugal (where he gigged relentlessly). He was game to play any piece of music on pretty much any instrument, and did so on countless and diverse occasions.
I remember him sitting in the Music Box going through hymns because he was having to stand in for his local church organist, and I remember him playing the drums for the local mental health drop-in centre.
I remember him playing his guitar and singing on many gigs, and I remember him picking up every guitar which was brought to him in his shop to buy and finding something good to say about it.
I remember his standard method of agreeing prices on deals - a coin toss for the difference.
I remember him showing me how to play the blues over and over, and he'd shake his head at my efforts and say jokingly "how many divorces have you been through?" and laugh.
Most of all I remember him selling me more than one lovely guitar at a ridiculously low price because there "wasn't room for it in the shop". He had masses of room at home, and that's where he stored things.
I remember him putting down his guitar and saying "it's the best thing, isn't it?"
Farewell, Keithy. Clear skies.
Posted at 9:02 pm by Jim Woods
Tuesday December 3 2002
Longtime readers of my sites will know that I have a particular liking for good old DOS and it's many spinoffs. In fact, you'll find a lot of DOS links in my links section. It's great for squeezing the last bit of useful life out of archaic hardware. Well, here are Paragon, who will cheerfully sell you a fine contemporary DOS as well as a fair few other very useful file system-related utilities.
Posted at 6:47 am by Jim Woods
Monday December 2 2002
Maps of Amsterdam
The Waag Society (for old and new media) have produced an amazing map of Amsterdam by equipping the citizens with tracers for a week. This gives an entirely new perspective on one of my favourite cities. A sort of technology-meets-town-planning artwork. Be sure to look at the other neat things they're doing too...
Posted at 7:33 pm by Jim Woods
Sunday December 1 2002
Righty-ho, let's link.
Got a few links for you today, albeit computer related ones. Linux-related ones, in fact. I'm sorry that the "interesting weird stuff" is taking a back-burner of late, but it is somewhat time-consuming to find stuff out there that is less prosaic. I link stuff from other blogs, but I prefer whenever possible to find the content myself. Anyhow, you can blame my ridiculously busy social life. Sooner or later I'll get an evening in to go neat-thing-hunting...
Today's stuff is all Linux-related as I am still beavering away at getting away from the Gates virus. This is actually quite easily done with a Linux distro such as Mandrake, which trades a little stability off against having up-to-date hardware support. Mind you, if you're used to W*ndows, it's as stable as all-get-out. I think I have already mentioned DemoLinux, which is essentially a version of Debian which you can run from a cd image without altering your hard drive. It comes with a hell of a selection of apps. The only downside is the size of the download... If you have a proper, grown-up link i.e. at least 512 kbit ADSL or better you can go to LinuxISO and get CD images for all the major distros. Be aware, however, that there is a fairly severe amount of learning involved to start with Linux.
I've got a few loose ends to tie up here. First, AceMoney: although I haven't had time to play with this as much as I'd like yet, it seems evident that either the QIF import routines on this software OR the exporting from MS Money are a bit hit and miss - at least in my case. This is only really important if you are taking your existing data and importing it. Nothing is affected if you are starting from scratch with AceMoney. Secondly, AmphetaDesk is now updated for better stability. You can search this site for my original description of what this is if you don't remember. I'm using My Yahoo as a news-agglomerator at the moment since I can use it from any platform with a decent browser. And I'm keenly awaiting the next Crazy Browser update which should be here by Christmas.
Posted at 10:48 pm by Jim Woods