Agenda for iOS Review

Agenda … is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.

What makes Agenda a little bewildering at first is its use of dates and projects, which sometimes makes it feel like a calendar app and other times like a task manager, even though it’s neither. The app doesn’t try to force you into a predefined system. Instead, Agenda gives you multiple ways to organize and view your notes through tagging, filtering, sorting, and searching. The upside is flexibility that should accommodate almost anyone’s workflow. The downside is that it can take time and experimentation to discover how it can work for you.

(Via Mac Stories)

The parallels with Orgmode are, at least to me, obvious and surprising in a good way. I played with Agenda on iOS. The metaphor was a visual analog to how I use (or, more correctly, strive to use) Orgmode for Getting Shit Done.

Hmmm … I wonder how long until there’s a way to integrate the two …

Using Request to Download Financial Data | Irreal:

Sebastian Schweer has a nice post on using the request package to query an online financial service and download current stock quotes. That data is placed in an Org table along with certain historical data (such as purchase date and original cost) and used to calculate the current value of his stock holdings. The table can, of course, be exported to produce a nicely formatted report.

This post is similar to the one by Charl Botha that I wrote about previously. If you need to programmatically retrieve data from a restful website, you should carefully study these two posts. They show how to use the request package and then parse out the data. Sadly, I haven’t had a need to use these techniques but I’m really looking forward to when I do. Request, let-list, and the rest are tools that I’m dying to try out.

(Via irreal.org)

This is pretty cool. I can see using this in my iOS workflows & automation as well.

Reproducible Research for Management | Irreal:

Derek Feichtinger has an interesting post in which he describes the application of reproducible research and literate programming to management problems. As an example, he considers generating a budget for a pair of related projects. His workflow is to first generate an outline describing his goal and the information he has and to refine that with subheadings as more information becomes available. That provides a history of the project and automatically tracks changes.

(Via irreal.org)

I really like this idea. Something to think about.

A fancy Emacs version:

If you like to play diligently and kindly with the Emacs community, you will end up reporting bugs or asking for new features to your favourite package maintainers.

My skills at bug reporting have improved over the years. From the angry “it doesn’t work, man!!1!” to more polite questions, I am always looking for better reports to help debug and solve the problems I encounter.

Usually, package maintainers ask you to reproduce the bug in a clean emacs -Q environment. And that’s good. But they are also happy when you provide as much information as possible about the system you are using.

That’s why I came up with a custom function to gather details about my Emacs version and where I am running it. It all started with this answer from Drew Adams on Emacs StackExchange. His code does way much more than I need, though, so I stripped down the inessential […]

(Via {{ site.title | xml_escape }})

Check out the article for the lisp code.

Also on:

The Trouble With OneNote and Evernote

My solution for replacing these proprietary and, in the end, dangerous-to-use services is the same as Voit’s: switch to Org mode. Unlike OneNote and Evernote, Org runs on your own machine, is open source so it will always be there for you, and, most importantly, stores its data as plain text [In this context, “we” means the community of Emacs users, of course., ed]. The data is readable by any application that knows about text.

Voit makes the case for Org mode in his post but by now we [In this context, “we” means the community of Emacs users, of course., ed] should all be familiar with it. For most of us, what’s required is to import any data we care about into Org so we no longer have to worry about what third parties are planning to do with their products.

(Via Irreal.org)

Karl Voit has a great site for Emacs and Org-mode users, but also things generally open-source. I came to the same conclusion he did, just sooner.

I was an Evernote user and subscriber back in the day, but their increased fees with lesser functionality and the difficulty getting data out of their semi-walled garden was too much. Evernote also had platform inconsistencies I can’t recall specifically but I think there were some features only available on Mac.

I moved to OneNote, which clearly reached its pinnacle w/ 2016. The Metro/UWP/Win10 version paled in comparison as did the Mac version. When it became clear the Mac version would remain feature incomplete, especially the inability to have a local OneNote notebook I moved off.

Org is my primary exocortex now. The only major things I can’t do right now are:

  • Capture hand-written text or drawings

  • iOS version

I’m overcoming the latter using Drafts 5: Capture ‣‣ Act on iOS with some scripting and maybe some Pythonista 3 & Workflow stuff. Some Drafts 4 (Legacy Version) may still be needed. It relies right now on Dropbox as the sync engine but I hope to move to git/GitHub/Working Copy soon. I hope to publish my work and workflows this week (Golden Week 2018).

丸曽ビル, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Also on:

I’m debating the best mobile solution for Emacs for me. My main driver is org-mode, of course.
* File sync for configuration and org-mode
* Power management (battery life)
* Portability (weight, size, profile)
* Display quality (readability, sharpness of text)
* Keyboard (Japanese JIS, shortcuts)
* Inputs (USB, Bluetooth, on-screen keyboard), outputs (micro-Display Port|USB C|Micro USB|mini-Display Port), and network (wifi, Ethernet [via USB], cellular)
* Non-native integrations like pandoc, PDF-tools If I go with a primarily tablet solution, it will have to be Android or some other non-iOS option. If I go with a primarily laptop|ultrabook|netbook solution it has to have a good Japanese keyboard.

On iOS, Drafts seems an interesting option.

Also on:

I need to not only capture notes and tasks in meetings. I need to capture each meeting’s specifics as well.

I live in an Apple-centric world at work and some functionality is far better on iOS than it is on the Mac. This includes calendar integration.

I created a Workflow that looks at my iOS calendar and creates an org-mode compatible text entry in Drafts for iOS for each event selected. The meeting’s particulars are captured as org-mode Properties.

Once in Drafts I can append a meeting entry to my ‘refile-drafts.org’ file immediately so it shows up in Emacs on my Mac or else keep it in Drafts if I need to enter data from my iPad or ~shudder~ iPhone.

I’m pleased with my first stab at a Workflow and a Drafts action, but I know they can be improved.

I wish I could open the refile-drafts.org file in Drafts, for example. But iOS makes that hard to impossible. I think I need to write a Workflow that renames it to refile-drafts.txt and then opens the file in Drafts. Then I can use my existing action to make it into an org-file when I’m done.

To see both the Workflow and the Drafts action, check out https://www.github.com/zenshinji

Also on:

Another Take on Engineering Notebooks:

Kleiman’s post can be useful for a wide range of users. The main takeaway, for me at least, is that your tools and specific procedures are not as important as organizing your data and scripts and keeping careful notes on what problem you’re trying to solve and the steps you’ve taken to solve it.

(Via Emacs – Irreal)

Here is the original article that kicked this off. As I’ve been trying to simplify my workflows to better manage my data my thinking has informally been tending toward what Dan Kleiman wrote. I don’t have code any more, replaced by the constant flood of documentation coming my way for various projects. Something like this could would for me with a few small changes.

Language/Editor Integration:

Articles about Org mode almost always make the point that Org documents are plain text and can be edited with any editor. That’s true and it’s part of what gives Org its power.

On the other hand, just because you can edit Org mode documents with any editor doesn’t mean you should or would. Who, other than in an emergency, would do such a thing1? One reason not to do so is, of course, that Org mode runs in the Emacs lisp interpreter so you can’t get agendas, generate reports, use the spreadsheet functionality, or a host of other things in other editors.

A more subtle reason, though, is that the Org language is integrated with the Emacs editor.

(Via Emacs – Irreal)

I agree … but …

I don’t have a universal Emacs device. I use Orgzly on Android [F-Droid & Google Play] and beorg on iOS for tasks and agenda stuff when I’m mobile which fill the gaps a bit. I use Termux on Android [F-Droid & Google Play] for a more full-featured Emacs experience. And of course I have Emacs on my MacBook Air, my MacMini, and my Surface Pro 4.

There is a capture gap that still needs addressing. Then, manipulating that which has been captured.

I don’t have a good solution, but I know that this is not (directly) an Emacs issue. And it should not be a Gnu Emacs issue, because RMS won’t let it be. Too many compromises would need to be made in order to facilitate an “official” macOS Share Sheet for Emacs, for example.