Four programs that make a difference in my life. Maybe they'll be useful to you. And which ones should be next for me?
Years later... I just fell over this item, and thought this item I wrote might interest you.
My Intellectual Prosthetic
I have immense respect for Tinderbox and for Mark Bernstein, but day-to-day for working with ideas and information, finding themes and serendipitous connections, I find myself using Obsidian. Alone it's pretty bare-bones but it has hundreds of "plug-ins" (almost all free) which allow you to set up tagging, linking and data handling in ways that make sense to you.
It's all based on Markdown which means it's easy to get at your notes from the Finder (I use the Mac and iOS versions). It also means your stuff is on your own computer (even if you use one of the easy sync options). For me it has been a Scrivener or DevontThink level experience to move work into it. Maybe worth a look for you?
James, you may find this interesting: In the last few years, David Allen and their team have transitioned from Lotus Notes to Microsoft 365 products. All of what used to be Lotus Journal Databases are now OneNote Notebooks.
I believe David Allen is currently using the Mac App versions of ToDo, Outlook, and OneNote as his core system. All of his Evernote notebooks are now in OneNote as well.
After watching a YouTube interview with Chris Pratley, one of the creators of OneNote, I started trying it out and have been really enjoying it. (There's something eye-opening about hearing from the creator what problems the app is trying to solve.)
I'm currently using the Windows version on my Mac running Parallels. There's something nice about the full-functioning desktop app that isn't yet available in the Mac version.
Other apps you may enjoy: Setapp. For $10/month you can experiment with a library of excellent Mac-designed app. My favorites include BusyCal, Bartender, Trip Mode, CleanMyMacX, iThoughtsX, and Text Soap. (Text Soap cleans up common issues when moving text in/out of apps.)
I follow David Sparks (Mac Sparky) to stay up to date with the best tools on the Mac and he's a big fan of Obsidian.
If I recall correctly, you're a fellow fan of XyWrite, the one true word processor. Scrivener almost certainly does everything you need and more, but I've enjoyed working with Ulysses (https://ulysses.app), a Markdown-based text editor that feels more XyWrite-like, at least in spirit, than anything else I've used. I translated a book with it, and it never once got in my way.
What might it take to get you to try Windows again? Needless to say we would love to have you using ActiveWords 4.0, i.e. http://www.activewords.com/. But you also haven't mention say Slack, Evernote or MindManager? All fundamental to my work flow. Can't imagine not having them.
A very interesting and informative read (as always). One thing that I find fascinating is the way storage has come down in cost. With my first desktop Mac SE, I purchased a hard drive from a SF company called Jasmine, which had 90MB of storage and cost $1800. Now, that amount of storage is essentially free.....
Surprised you haven't mentioned https://roamresearch.com/, which seems to be all the rage now among the cool people in Silicon Valley.
re: future-proofing, Markdown seems to be the emerging standard among people who mostly write text but don't want to depend on, say, Scrivener being around in 30 years. There are many great tools for manipulating Markdown (see pandoc) and you can ride on top of all the infrastructure being used by serious coders (version control, macros, etc.)
I'd love to hear some good discussion about "future proofing" technology, especially written records. What is the possibility that those living in the far future -- say 500 years -- look back at our time as a kind of "Dark Ages" where there are few written records of anything? They might recognize that the moldering hunks of silicon represented *some* kind of records but they are forever prevented from figuring out what they contain. Or to put it another way, will those in the year 2500 find those writing in the year 1500 spoke to them more clearly than those in 2022? For that matter, what records recorded electronically in, say, 1980 are no longer accessible to us and are now lost forever?
All I know is that I will carefully preserve my paper copies of the Atlantic, perhaps burying them in the yard, for the benefit of future archaeologists.
You seem to be a MacOS user. Might be best to say so right up front. Few of these have Windows versions, and none of them are for Linux. Clicking through on the app links means serial disappointment for most.
Software I use? Honestly, the stuff that comes with my Mac is Good Enough for most things. I use Luminar Neo from Skylum for photo editing and Audacity if I need to tweak audio recordings
For software development Visual Studio Code is free and good, and if you’re on Windows Notepad++ is indispensable for editing any sort of text.
Dear James, it’s Grace Hopper, not Hooper.
I am breathless, Jim. I feel I should be drawn-and-quartered in a public square for thinking I knew about the computer industry without reading ALL those pieces for the last 40 years. Only recently did I learn about your hardware adventures before the PC. All I dare say more specifically is I also fooled with Magellan and Agenda, too, and was so disappointed when they didn't fulfill their promise. And where do you list specifically which suggestions you made for Word that Microsoft obviously ignored?