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ALWAYS RENDER MARKDOWN IN DEVONTHINK PRO

While perusing the DEVONthink Pro manual for information on variables (to be used in a Markdown based annotation template) I stumbled on this little gem:

defaults write com.devon-technologies.thinkpro2 RenderMarkdown True

This will make DEVONthink Pro always render Markdown per default and so inverts the Best Alternative (CMD+ALT+P) function. This means that you’ll be required to toggle off the rendering so you can edit a file.

I definitely prefer to toggle off rendering to edit a file over having to toggle it on everytime I want to read a file, since I search and read notes more than I write them in DEVONthink.


INSTAPAPER HIGHLIGHTS TO NVALT ACTION WITH IFTTT

I read stuff all the time. In the morning, in the evening and in between, when time allows. I feel most comfortable reading on my iPad and secondly my iPhone (but not for longer periods of time). I have 3 primary sources when I read:

  • .pdf files which I read using iAnnotate on my iPad or PDF Expert on my iphone.
  • the Kindle app for both iPad and iPhone.
  • the Instapaper app which gives me access to my Instapaper account.

With some of the stuff I read (specifically the non-fiction stuff) I do highlights. Now, as I’ve described in earlier blog posts I use DEVONthink Pro to manage all kinds of information, including .pdf’s, web archives, Office documents and what not.

I also use nvALT for jotting down smaller notes, often formatted in markdown, and I’ve configured it to use a Dropbox folder for storage. This enables me to let iOS apps (like Notesy, Nebulous Notes or SimpleNote) access the notes when I’m on the go. As part of this setup I let DEVONthink Pro index my nvALT folder, which will include it’s contents in the database along with all the other files.

I also like to import my highlights to DEVONthink Pro. For the Kindle website and .pdf’s I have Apple scripts which gets the job done. So my Instapaper account was the odd one out.

But just the other day, IFTTT released a new Instapaper channel which enables a couple of triggers.


WRITING WITH SCRIVENER, DEVONTHINK AND ZOTERO

As mentioned in a previous blogpost, I use DEVONthink Pro (DTP) as my Information Management system. Basically, this means that I throw all kinds of information, in all kinds of formats, into DTP for indexing and archiving. Be it blogposts, .pdf articles, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations or plain text files. DTP does it all.

This post won’t cover DTP that in-depth, but rather the proces it is part of when actually producing some kind of writing based on, or including, the information I keep in DTP.

And that’s going to introduce yet another Mac app favorite: Scrivener produced by Literature and Latte.

Scrivener

Now, Scrivener ought to, I imagine, be a writers idea of heaven. I don’t write novels or long form literature. But I have spent the time required in Word to handle 40 to 50 pages more than once. And honestly, it was a pain. My top 2 of personal annoyances include:

  • being forced into a sequential writing process; sure, you can copy/paste and see an outline. But moving stuff around? Better not hope it’s too complex.
  • the inherent focus on form, not content. I find this even more stressful than looking at blank sequential pages. This might be personal, but I think Microsoft Word sits squarely between being a wordprocesser and a typesetting tool. I dare you to use it with a focus on content alone! So for me, I prefer using Word as a typesetting tool in the very end of the process.

Not so with Scrivener. In my perception, Scrivener is all about the content. Sure, you can muck about with fonts and margins. But it’s not something that jumps into your face or is required. Choose a font. Make your headings bold. Write.

Scrivener main window

I’m just going to explain the primary parts of the interface along with the ‘compile’ feature, to give you an impression of Scrivener. It won’t be in-depth per se, but should give you a general idea and inspiration as to trying the app. Yup, free trial at the Literature & Latte site.



TWITTER, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Read this post at the New York Times ‘Fashion & Style’ section and I think it brings a nice and critical perspective to the way some people use Twitter. Or, in fact, many other social media.

It can sometimes be really difficult to get the grasp of a social media and it’s inherent etiquette, but like I mentioned yesterday, keeping it real with integrity is paramount. You will not get succes by spamming people with tweets, favorites, likes or whatever currency the given soclal media has.

Some quotes stood ou to me, and should be part of any basic introduction to social media:

“But a random appeal to Twitter royalty is only one of several gambits by which users of the site blur the lines between good and bad manners. Some Twitter users, on seeing that something they’ve tweeted minutes ago is gaining no traction, will wantonly fire off a spray of retweets or Favorites (similar to the Like option on Facebook) in a desperate attempt to prompt reciprocity.”

“But if there’s no algorithm for determining when self-promotion has crossed the line, are there any general principles to be considered? Two come to mind. First, self-promotion becomes unseemly when it is viewed as repetitive. Your followers probably are willing to tolerate two or three newspaper reviews of your new monograph about combat ethics of the Boer Wars, but not 17.”

“Second, readers are turned off when they’re made more aware of a tweet’s strategy than its content. We were so wowed by the fact that you’re sending the tweet to @madonna and @GwynethPaltrow and @RinglingBros that we lost the fact that you just secured your first booking as a yoga clown.”

“Ms. Li suggested a third metric: usefulness. “Your content has to be useful to people,” she said. “If it doesn’t have value to your followers, then it’s seen as spam or self-promotion.” Under this guideline, Rod Stewart’s tweet about having a child from each decade would seem to justify its swagger, because it’s information that his fans can share with others, or perhaps bait their grandparents with.”

In conclusion, my heuristics when it comes to using Twitter (and other social media):

  • Trust in the quality of your content
  • Don’t push yourself in front of peoples faces
  • If people did not react the first time, spamming will not help


DESIGNING BLOGS FOR READERS

Interesting piece by the venerable Matt Gemmel:

I don’t think there’s any reasonable way, or any need, to separate vanity and ego from a personal blog. Writing is inherently about its author, and is a product of their personality and opinions – that’s not something to be shy about, and we shouldn’t try to change it either. So, write for yourself – and hold yourself to an appropriate standard, because you’d better believe that others are judging the person as well as the piece – but as soon as you publish your views, you’re inviting readers to take a look. I think that the needs of the reader and the author are more aligned than many blogging systems seem to believe.

I haven’t really thrown myself 100% into the art of blogging, but I’m pretty sure that if I do, it has to be real. Not that it isn’t now, but I don’t spend much time on it, resulting in a few bursts of posts every now and then. Which means I also have very low expectations on readership. But quality still matters the most.

And I know, from the blogs I follow, that I need a nerve that shines through, giving me a sense of who the person behind the blog is, for it to be really interesting. Otherwise, I will probably know sooner or later from someone in my RSS feed.

There’s plenty of sites out there, just bouncing the echo of the few and talented, as it is. So be real (even if that’s boring), for the sake of integrity and the readers you might have accumulated. And if that mens no readers, so be it. You don’t want Trent Reznor calling you ‘a copy of a copy’ (because he’s badass).