In the time of the cloud, paper notebooks


I love paper notebooks. I have several at a time: the reporters’ favorite Green Apple steno small enough to fit in your pocket, a pair of Moleskine plain cahier journals and OhYeah Moleskine knockoffs (see photo). When I’m in the bookstore, I never fail to stop by the notebooks section, often going there first. I go over the items one by one, the notebooks I checked just last week.

I panic when I don’t have one: notwithstanding the fact that my phone has Evernote and Simplenote, which are both connected to an online account and syncs to all my devices.

Continue reading →

Ghost in the machine

I found the Sun.Star Cebu newsroom abuzz yesterday over a website that seemed to know a lot of details, even intimate ones, about people and things. When I entered the newsroom, I found reporters, editors, librarians, and newsroom assistants gathered around TV host Jude Bacalso, the paper’s lifestyle editor, who was entering questions and getting correct answers on the Peter Answers website. ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING. It’s in Have fun fooling your friends with the website. Click on photo to view larger image.

At first glance, it was freaky. How could the website know the names of a co-worker’s children, the pet peeve of an editor, what I was doing at the precise time the question was asked (holding out my cellphone), what was on a reporter’s head (a polka-dot headband), and what one reporter told another reporter about his mother-in-law?

I initially thought that Jude had a conspirator on hearing distance providing the answers but no one within the vicinity was typing when Jude entered the questions. It was also impossible for Jude to have pre-programmed the answers because the questions were thrown at him at random.

Jude, it turned out, was providing the answers himself right before our very eyes and none of us noticed it. In defense, though, Jude is a great actor and he did put up such a convincing show.

Continue reading →

New screencast on using a TiddlyWiki

I’ve recreated my earlier video guide on using a TiddlyWiki, a single-page wiki you can use for your notes and task lists. Instead of Wink, I used CamStudio to capture screen activities this time.

Wink is an easy to use free software to capture videos of your screen activities and it’s great for creating tutorials. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t offer an option to capture screen activities in video format (i.e. mpeg or avi) so that it can easily be uploaded in video sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe, and Revver. Wink outputs the screen activities in .swf and .exe formats.

My previous screencasts– one is on how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme–are in .swf format and hosted in the Internet Archive. I’ve had complaints on its playback quality and how it can be slow at times so I decided to try hosting it other video services. These services, however, do not accept .swf files so I spent days trying one application after another to convert the files into .mpg or .avi formats to no avail.

Continue reading →

Using a TiddlyWiki: a video guide

I am a long-time user of TiddlyWikis and its various adaptations. Before a catastrophic accident involving the synchronization of various offline files wiped out my tasks list, I was an extensive user of GTDTiddlyWiki. After the accident, I moved to a server-side TiddlyWiki, alternating between and ZiddlyWiki before finally settling with TiddlySpot.

I am also a long-time TiddlyWiki “evangelist.” Any chance I get to introduce TiddlyWiki, I’d show it off.

Continue reading →

Wiki on a K750i? A txt file will do

I’m a huge fan of TiddlyWiki, a standalone web page that you can edit through a browser for just about anything: to-do lists, notes or any other text data. I’m an extensive user of one of its derivatives: the Zope server-based ZiddlyWiki but before that, I used GTDTiddlyWiki, a version that incorporates a getting things done menu and is formatted for easy printing on index cards.

ZiddlyWiki fits my need for a server-side notes taking and archiving solution that is accessible anywhere. I host my ZiddlyWiki on a free Zope hosting account with Objectis. I needed a server-side solution because I wiped out a lot of notes trying to synchronize the GTDTiddlyWiki in my home PC and in my office PC last year.

Continue reading →

Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in accuracy on science entries: Nature

Wikipedia, recently hit by a controversy over a bogus entry on a journalist, comes close in accuracy–in science entries at least–to Britannica, according to a review by Nature magazine.

The review “revealed numerous errors in both encyclopedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.” Here’s a table listing the number of inaccurate entries.

Continue reading →

The network is my computer

Early this year I experimented with having all my essential work related data online. I wanted things I needed for my section, my copy desk job and columns centralized on free online accounts and accessible anywhere.

I wanted to be able to work on things anywhere – office, home or an Internet cafe – if I wanted or needed to. I used several free services in my attempt to make the Internet my computer. I am listing the services below in the hope that if you know of a better one, you’d leave a note so that I can transfer to it.

Continue reading →

Free Zope hosting for my ZiddlyWiki in trouble?

It’s seems, the free Zope host containing my ZiddlyWiki is offiline. The ZiddlyWiki website asked users to export their data “in case they go down for good.” I wasn’t able to read the notice on time so my data there must be lost for good.

My ZiddlyWiki contained my interview notes for my blogging story but all these have been printed in the blog. The other data there I can easily reconstruct since I have a lot of online and offline backups. ZiddlyWiki is trying out a new way to install the program on FreeZope. The previous installation used to be via quick import.

I use ZiddlyWiki for online note taking. I used to keep my tasks list there but now I’m doing it with for tasks I do not want to be publicly available and PBWiki. My PBWiki page also serves as my personal status page so that people I deal with would know on the progress of tasks assigned to me. They can just read the status page and they’d know whether I’m doing the tasks I’m supposed to do and how far away am I from completion.

Putting out a personal status page

I found this interesting post in 43 Folders on the need for a personal status page via a link from Sacha Chua. I think a personal status page would be a great way to inform people you are dealing with on the progress on common projects or tasks assigned to you.

I always tell people I’m easier to contact through e-mail or through my blog and that’s true. I always check my mails but I seldom check my phone and most of the time it’s in silent mode and I wouldn’t know whether I received a message. I’m setting up a status page using PBWiki so that people I deal with will know whether I’m doing the tasks I’m supposed to do and they’ll have an indication on how far away I am from completion. My personal status page can be found here.

Journalism experiment and recovering from a ZiddlyWiki disaster

I was asked to write a special report on a topic I can’t disclose yet. I’ve already sent preliminary e-mails to people I would be interviewing. I had planned to do all my note-taking using ZiddlyWiki. While finalizing my notes it occurred to me: why not give the people I would be interviewing read-only access to my wiki? After all, the topic I’m writing about isn’t controversial – where people might try to influence you on how your draft article is shaping up.

I immediately set up a new wiki for the notes. I had previously hosted my notes in my main wiki. ZiddlyWiki allows you to easily create multiple wikis, you just had to copy the index_html file and place it where you want the new wiki to be hosted.

I created a new sub-folder and placed the index_html file there. I, however, forgot to create a tiddlers folder in the new subdirectory. Because of this, the subdirectory was using the tiddlers of my main wiki and when I started deleting notes not related to the article I also deleted these notes from my main wiki. The disaster would have been complete had I not saved a copy of my main wiki in another sub-folder. I was able to partly reconstruct my main wiki using data saved in the abandoned sub-folder.