Hacking away on my Zim notebook

Working with open source is fun because it lets me explore software and change little things. If you’re not really into code and config files, you might want to skip this post 🙂

Zim task list (default)Zim task listSince some time I use Zim, a desktop wiki, to take notes in meetings and at conferences. It shares a few good things with Tomboy, the default notebook on Ubuntu (linking pages, immediately saving what you type so you don’t loose anything on sudden power loss) but has a few things I prefer:

  • Notes are stored as plain text: easier to use other text editors, version control, and scripts, and if for any reason Zim fails, I can still access my data quite easily.

  • The main interface makes organising and navigating notes easier.

  • The Task List plugin extracts lines with possible tasks, so it’s easier to keep track of follow-ups or actions in notes by simply typing a line like:

    [ ] Document my hacks in a blog post

The Task List itself is a separate window you can pull up, to see all open to do’s. But I wanted to fix a few things to make it more powerful in daily use.

Tasktop to improve a knowledge worker’s productivity

I’ve been using Mylyn for quite some years now. Mylyn introduced the concept of task-focused work: activate a task in your to-do list, and only see the files relevant to that task. Tasktop, the company behind Mylyn, extends Mylyn as Tasktop, with even more features, and promises “improved productivity, guaranteed.”. It works great when I am developing software, and also could support me as knowledge worker, for instance by managing bookmarks and browser tabs in Firefox. But I’d like to see it offer more support for task management within Firefox too. A bit like this.

OpenOffice as (blog) writing tool

I’m a geek. So when it’s not a writer’s block keeping me from producing a blog post, I’ll dive into tools and techniques to “optimise” my writing experience before I start typing out sentences. Lets call it preventive productivity: getting a lot of related things done in order to be more efficient later. Like getting the tools and the work flow right. Perhaps I managed that, now that I can really use OpenOffice to write blog posts, with Zotero to manage my reference, and the Sun Weblog Publisher to push the result towards my website.

Curing “Data Hugging Disorder”

Last Friday, the 1%Club held their (first, probably not last) 1%EVENT, about “international development cooperation 2.0”. I facilitated a session on “connecting the platforms”, to pave the (technical) way towards a cure for what Ushahidi’s Juliana Rotich aptly referred to as “Data Hugging Disorder“. It resulted in a positive discussion with several people of organisations that build or host online platforms. Coming Monday, I hope the discussion continues at a meeting in The Hague about a possible Dutch IS-Hub.

Plumbing on the web

Social Media Plumbing: Flow chart to sketch how I use different tools and social media sites feeding into one FriendFeed room, and then use that as input for my websiteSocial Media Plumbing:

A post by Robert Scoble made me have another look at rooms in FriendFeed. I set things up over the weekend, and decided to document it, to maybe succeed in explaining what this is all about. Here’s my situation:

  • I post content on various social media sites through various tools
  • I want some of that content to appear on my own website
  • I switch platforms quite often, or start using them in a different way, so keeping it up to date should be easy

So I decided to start a FriendFeed room with content that I want to appear on my site1, and use their feed widget to then display it on my home page. It still took some effort (to get the styling how I wanted it), but it’s done, and here’s how.