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Tinderbox Users >> Moving to Tinderbox 6 >> Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
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Message started by Greg Korgeski on Sep 26th, 2014, 10:51am

Title: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 26th, 2014, 10:51am

Might be another embarrassingly easy thing I'm missing but I seem to recall that in earlier versions, you could add a note, hit space bar to insert text, and then there was something you could do to then create a new note (at the same level on map or outline) without having to mouse-click on another note (e.g., getting the cursor outside the text of the note.) Such as, taking rapid notes in a meeting and I want to just add a few words inside a note, then quickly click a new one. Is there a way to do this without leaving keyboard? Using a Macbook Air keyboard, if you just hit the return/enter key you just jump down to the next paragraph in the note content. I can use command-enter(return) or f-command-return for some apps but it does not seem to work. Is there a way?

Thanks!

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 26th, 2014, 11:42am

Opt+Tab does a 3-way focus cycle:

Main view
$Text of selected note
First Key Attribute (if any KA are set)
Main view, etc.


Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 26th, 2014, 11:47am

EXCELLENT!  Thanks, Mark.  G

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Sep 26th, 2014, 12:20pm

This is *another* basic thing I hadn't realized! And that is very useful. Thanks for asking, and for answering.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 26th, 2014, 1:31pm

Some nostalgia maybe but when I first encountered Tinderbox many years ago, I think some of the web pages from Eastgate had some kind of demos or something that showed how to use it and why it was so great for notes, and this keyboard-only fast taking of notes while also creating maps and outlines and so on, was I thought one of the coolest features -- nothing else did what it did. That's still true but it may not be on the web pages now? For a brand new user, it was very cool.

Glad it still works... maybe it didn't change but I couldn't figure out what key combination might do it.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Bernstein on Sep 27th, 2014, 11:13am

It’s amazingly difficult to know which of these things is worth mentioning, much less demonstrating on the Web site.  Depending on how you count, Tinderbox has dozens, maybe hundreds, of these amenities. Some are obviously handy (I fought for months against grabby-hand scrolling as a needless frippery) and some are probably unnecessary (lateral dragging of tabs?), but there's a great gulf.

It might be handy to start a thread with some of your favorites.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by MJ Mastroianni on Sep 27th, 2014, 11:30am

How about a new section (distinct from Documentation and Tutorials) named "Tinderbox Tips"? Suggest limiting tip length to no more than 3 sentences as a goal. All tips to include applicable TB version?

(Just a thought.)

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 27th, 2014, 11:32am

Well, as I've opined at times (sometimes with some obvious frustration), the design and structure and wide ranging goals of Tinderbox make this a daunting task. As Mr. Pareto might have noted, about 80% of what anybody would use it for can probably be easily accomplished with just 20% of the possible actions one can perform in Tinderbox.

Since I've been re-using it with the advent of 6, I've been compiling my own  "easy manual" which is actually good training. I suspect that there are basic and more advanced sets of skills one can learn, but the process/sequence of doing so might not be tidy.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by MJ Mastroianni on Sep 27th, 2014, 11:52am

Yes, I agree, a highly versatile tool's nature will inherently not be captured in a simple, linear way that serves *everybody*, true. And honestly I don't know in this case whether 80/20 Pareto would be less or more 80 for the cross-section of Tinderbox users.

But you know, the advantage of smaller, unqualified bits of useful Tinderbox "tippetry" lends itself well to what seems to be a recurring theme for Tinderbox, IMHO. Namely, "Get the useful stuff down. Organize it according to whatever dimensions best suit your purpose. Let the information reveal itself as it's examined, and sorted, and associated."

Sorry, I'm all in a meta-mood this morning, apparently ;)

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Sep 27th, 2014, 7:37pm

While I am not volunteering to do the work of kicking off a series of very short useful TB tips, I will try to contribute along the way if such a thing gets going.  I also think it would be valuable.

* For instance, I had not realized until last week that Shift-Cmd-W had the same effect as "close project" in Scrivener, or the Opt-Tab discussed here recently.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 28th, 2014, 7:11am

A good example of the kind of thing we're discussing is in Brian Crane's blog, aptly titled "Ordinary Human Language" (http://ordinaryhumanlanguage.ca)  He's got a few posts about Tinderbox, what he refers to as "front-of-the-manual" techniques that for instance don't get into some of the more complex things one can do with agents and attributes, but basic note taking and organizing, with clear video clips explaining what he is doing. (Maybe it helps that he is an English teacher.) 

His discussion is here http://ordinaryhumanlanguage.ca/2014/09/19/front-of-the-manual-tools/.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 28th, 2014, 9:05am

@JF.  The shortcuts are all listed is the doc I posted a while back here: http://www.acrobatfaq.com/tbdemos/shortcut-changes.pdf. I checked today and I think it's up to date. If there are any omissions let me know.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 28th, 2014, 9:21am

Thanks again, Mark.

You provide a huge amount of this kind of help. I was thinking the other day that without you and Mark B's responses on the Forum, the "stock value" of Tinderbox might not be nearly so high. Which is both high praise and also a sort of structural weakness of Tinderbox -- two heartbeats away from becoming a very much less usable tool.

Stay healthy, guys.


Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Sep 28th, 2014, 12:22pm

Mark A -- Thanks for the reminder about the short-cut list!

When I was saying that I didn't "know" about these various tricks, I was meaning that I hadn't incorporated them into my own working-memory repertoire while using the program. Not at all that they'd been missing from your reference works or compendia, which are so valuable. Will study the list again with new care.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 28th, 2014, 1:07pm

JF - no censure implied! I do echo MB's point that it's really not obvious what needs extra explanation from the vast range of TB's features. The article cited above, stripped of filler, explains how to make a link in TB6. Are people really stuck at such a basic level? Generally, questions asked here imply a greater level of expertise. So I'm wondering if all the 'likes' for it are really a hunger for more TB articles. i'm certainly willing to have a go but I'm genuinely unclear as to at what stage/level people are stuck and every time I ask about this there's a deafening silence. Is this an embarrassment thing? People don't want to admit to where they're stuck in case others laugh? I'm confused. I'd like to think this is a pretty friendly forum where we help folk whatever their expertise.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 28th, 2014, 2:17pm

One thought is that forums generally tend to attract fairly advanced users in general. And the most active writers on any forum are generally pretty skilled, whether it's Tinderbox or Scrivener or other tools. New users might feel lost or intimidated that way.

Also, because the interface of Tinderbox is SO different that most other popular Mac softwares, I think in all honesty that yes, even "basic" (to you) things can be very daunting. It does not have the more typical look and feel of, to name two I also use heavily, Scrivener and DEVONthink. Which means that there are several challenges: first, knowing what things it can do and then remembering them, and of course knowing the several ways to do them.

As a psychologist, I find my attention drawn to the "psychology" of using various tools and apps. A favorite line from a grad school prof, who did psychopharmacology studies, was something he'd say when vetoing various experimental designs: he'd say that the task someone was proposing for subjects was "too hard for homo sapiens." Just showing a friend (a smart friend) this morning different ways to try to organize notes that are in maps, I noted that there were a LOT of ways to do it, and she was not really absorbing them as fast as I could show them: links, container notes, and we did not even get to adornments, and there is nothing else that uses "adornments" that she's ever seen. It would take about three or four such lessons for someone to even get to "agents," I suspect. And again, these are really very basic things for you. For most homo sapiens who might like to use something like Tinderbox (so pre-selecting for people at least I think one  standard deviation above the mean in IQ), this will seem daunting. And it doesn't get easier after that.

...[Addendum: going back to Mark B's question about starting a thread of tips: my guess is that this could be helpful. But I'd guess that it would supplement a series of really basic entry level guides (some of which exist, I'm sure, some of which may not.)

User forums can be inefficient ways of transmitting and storing information particularly about basic skills. They are not organized formally, and newbies in particular don't even understand what terms to use in order to find the instructions or answers to questions sometimes.  (I've run into that myself sometimes when posting questions.)  

Second, this eventually results in rather scattered information: we have the manual, the stuff in the Help menu, the stuff Mark A in particular posts, the web pages, the hundreds of already extant forum topics, and that would become a set of basic hints that may duplicate what's in the forum already (not to mention what people will find just by Googling the question they have.)

I'd call someone at least an "advanced beginner" if they even knew that all those sources of help exist. I've sometimes struggled with the vague memory that somewhere, a year or two ago, I saw something on this problem. (The fact that one may not use some Tinderbox functions for a year at a time, maybe making a new complexly structured agent, or even using agent syntax, would be an example.) Meaning some folks who really need the help won't find it this way, or find it easily.

Finally, I would guess that since the forum has a lot of advanced users, it would mean that there'd soon be an admixture of pretty basic things ("how do I type notes fast?" like my questions tend to be), with pretty complicated questions or answers which would seem basic to the advanced user (I don't sometimes understand questions or answers in Forum dialogues; I don't always or often ask because they don't seem relevant to my needs, etc.)

It might be helpful if there were a sort of crowdsourced version of "most useful beginner tips" or something, though. Maybe using stuff like the number of times a tip is read? Compiling that info could perhaps eventually be useful? ]

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Sep 28th, 2014, 5:51pm

On the theme of "things you're vaguely embarrassed to admit you don't know," I thought that the Ordinary Human Language post on text links was useful, precisely because I'd never actually used the little round-T link button myself.

I don't use links really that often in TB, and when I do they've been in maps, note-to-note style. So I knew the concept of text-anchored links, but hadn't actually done it. Thus I had an Ahah! moment in seeing the video from OHL about selecting text, and then dragging the link from the little round T button to some other note. I had assumed that you had to first drag it from the selection, to the button -- and for obvious reasons that never worked.

A similar admission will I know be frustrating to those who have provided guidance, but: I still don't really understand what I have to do to export material from TB. I know there are these wonderful tutorials. But whenever I try, the business of figuring out the right template, and being sure it has the right file structure on the other end, makes me stop.  If there were just some simple "Export this note as text" or "Export this outline as text" button, with simple default settings, that would get me past the barrier (and by "me" I include people who are considering the program.)  Then I could change any defaults I don't like, as I learned the program. At the moment, I feel as if I have to choose more of the structure and defaults than, at any given moment, seem worth the time and bother.

Overall: a fabulous program that is the center of much of my working life. But this is to give some illustrations of real-world non-expert use cases.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Bernstein on Sep 28th, 2014, 10:18pm

Thanks all for a truly helpful discussion.

I'd like to reiterate a familiar argument here, not trying to convince people who've heard it before and who think it's wrong-headed, but simply to establish a starting point with respect to the question of "too hard for homo sapiens".

Let's take as a baseline "some stuff I did in college."  This is now decades ago -- it's more elementary today than it was then -- but it's a handy example.

I was a chem major, but junior year I took a fresh new elective in general relativity because it was taught by a superb professor and it seemed a nice capstone. It had one textbook: the magnificent (and huge) GRAVITATION by Misner, Wheeler, and Thorne. $100 in paperback, even in the 1970s, but it was one (thick) volume that could carry you from first principles to the research frontier as it was then.

But to get there took all those high school classes in calculus, a good chunk of Physics 3-4 on Newtonian mechanics, and good old Math 22 on Multivariate. And the first few weeks on tensors.  And, as it turned out, knowing my way around Fortran and numerical integration turned out surprisingly handy for the term project.  

OK, you say, but that's physics.

The same year (I think) I took Martin Ostwald's seminar on 5th century Greece.  Getting there meant lots of high school Latin, a bunch of textbooks, three or four previous courses in ancient history. (And, in one of the few examples of later-life consequences, in the seminar I managed to get somewhat crossways with a classics major names Matt Neuberg, who would later be an important reviewer of Macintosh software.)  Again, this is just a routine bit of school, but there was a lot that led up to it.

Most of you do work in Tinderbox that's lots harder than college coursework. You didn't learn Tinderbox at school, but my physics professor didn't learn tensors in school, either, nor did my classics professor learn the rudiments of postmodern critique of Marxist historiography.  

Tough problems are hard. That's why we're working on them. Tools can help. It might be asking too much of the tool to make tough problems intuitive.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 28th, 2014, 10:53pm

Mark, I think you have to decide who the market for Tinderbox is. If it is only for the super-intelligent, super-educated user, it's going to be a very different product but one that won't ever really be used by many people. Which would be a shame.

I think it aspires to a lot, but frankly, it also resembles the idea that if you want a computer, you should go to Radio Shack and buy parts and learn to assemble it yourself because, hey, you have to "figure out what you want to do with the data as it evolves." Saying that it's sort of a software for "serious people who are doing hard things" sounds pretty impressive but really, it's just a tool for organizing notes. Scrivener is a tool for organizing notes. DEVONthink is a tool for organizing notes. And while Tinderbox does some cool things, it's been around since before OS-X and still looks much like OS-9 software and doing some things with it are just very difficult, more than I think they should be.

So finding clear ways to organize basic data that are easy to find and accessible is probably the best compromise. Stephen Pinker has a great article in the Chronicle today (http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Academics-Writing-Stinks/148989) where he discusses academic writing. He talks about something he called the "Curse of Knowledge," which he defined as  "a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know."

My own experience has been that it's not just being able to learn some of the complexities of Tinderbox but it's then keeping them all straight over time, if you're not rehearsing day after day. There are too few easy to find guides or tools built in, so for instance when you want to export something and you've never done it, it takes a few hours to maybe figure out how.

When every other software we use day to day makes that pretty darned easy (e.g., File menu/export/click, or a bit more in Scrivener but not that much), it seems in this day and age unnecessarily clunky. Reading "gee, people don't want to work hard enough any more" is just a frustrating thing to see. Anybody who uses Tinderbox probably works their butt off as a professional something or other -- just not as software engineers or consultants with that kind of time to spare.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 29th, 2014, 6:01am

The 'curse of knowledge' cuts both ways. I 'just' want to help fellow TB users - so why do they make it so hard by refusing to explain what they're actually trying to do - rather than complain the results of their experiments don't match the (unshared) vision in their head. In return, the opine that they're 'just' trying to get stuff done. Rinse and repeat. Without a little more sharing, it's hard to progress. I think we (myself included) forget how guarded we are in asking questions. We may fear making ourselves seem dumb, my may feel our data is too private (and are unwilling to abstract from it), we may fear asking the 'wrong' question and thus missing out on a better answer. All are self defeating: open communication is so much more productive.

I think MB's post above is being misunderstood. It's not saying that things need to be hard, but rather that we too easily forget the process the process of making complex things simple is hard. Sometimes, things aren't simple even if we wish them to be so. Thus, when hitting a blockage we tend to over-value our time/expertise and thus under-value the same in others, especially those who might be trying help (and doing so to no advantage of their own). We ease our embarrassment of not knowing by excusing it as the by-prodcut of those who are conspiring to make things difficult for us. We remain clever as the problem is not our fault.

We can't all know everything so it shouldn't be embarrassing to ask for help - especially when proffered for free.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Sep 29th, 2014, 6:37am

Mark: I certainly do apologize if my concerns come across as complaints about anyone's willingness to help. But I think there is a distinction that can get lost here. My frustration at times is a sort of meta-issue -- it's at the level of the design of the product.

If anything, it makes it very awkward to raise issues about that, because I know that the response will be at the level of "hey, we are working very hard to help you with your specific question."

My comments are generally not the same as my questions. My questions are like the one that started this thread. And I for one do appreciate how much help you in particular provide.

My comments are really about why it's necessary for you to provide so much help so often. Take exporting -- I don't get it in terms of, say, how to export notes so I can stick them onto the desktop easily. Now I have not had a lot of need to do so -- frankly, I do workarounds. Because it seems like there are a lot of steps and I don't understand what I'm doing or why. My bad, but I'm a customer. I just don't find some things about the product to my liking, but I still have a love-hate relationship with it.

That is NOT repeat NOT ingratitude to you or Mark B.

I gave up on using Ulysses to write years ago because the designers just would NOT attend to user requests related to the desire for text formatting in the "writing" space. Otherwise it was pretty nice. But Scrivener came along and built that into the product and it sometimes is great. Hearing from the designers of Ulysses that "people shouldn't want to write that way" was absurd. Defensiveness about product design is not responsiveness to customers.

I'm done. This is too upsetting a dialog to continue.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Corey Colyer on Sep 29th, 2014, 7:13am

Mark A wrote:
Quote:
The article cited above, stripped of filler, explains how to make a link in TB6. Are people really stuck at such a basic level?


I reply:  Yes.  

Not that this hasn't been documented.  Of course it has, several different ways.  But the brief screencast on Professor Crane's blog offered a concrete example of links in use that immediately resonated with me.  (Like Jim I had never used the parking spot in that way... I hadn't even considered using that. But seeing it in use was an epiphany).  Upon encountering that example, I immediately recognized ways to use a similar strategy in my current data analysis project and I put it to use (and concurrently sung the praises of Tinderbox to a colleague).

Quoting Jim Fallows (whose advocacy convinced me to explore using Tinderbox):  
Quote:
I still don't really understand what I have to do to export material from TB.


I reply:  Me too!  I've read the various help docs, forum posts, etc. But this is not yet intuitive to me.  I've chalked it up to my own cognitive limitations and assume at some point I will run into a need where I will be forced to buckle down and figure it out.  

A short screencast or clarify document showing some different concrete export scenarios (say an entire document tree to html; a subset of notes to plain text (preferably in markdown); some notes to ompl; etc would be most welcome.  Mark A, I am sure you are frustrated with me right now. You may say, but this already already exists:  http://shoantel.clarify-it.com/d/hqq9gh.  And indeed it does and it is what I use when I walk through the export process.  But whereas this is deep and detailed, I am suggesting a document or screencast that is quick and illustrative.  Seeing a function used "in the wild" helps us to see how we might use it.

Again, that's the value in Crane's posts.  He is keeping meeting notes and finds cross linking to be useful.  So he showed us how he does that.  I would have never gone looking for that example because I didn't realize how valuable it would be. Now I am cross linking with abandon and getting more done in my project because of it.

I'm not quite at the point where I need to export (in this data analysis project).  But when I am, and when I predictably hit a wall, I will post my question.  Speaking for myself, I've never been afraid to post naïve questions on the forum and have always received helpful guidance from Mark A, MarkB, and others on the forum.


Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Bernstein on Sep 29th, 2014, 11:14am

Sigh.

OK: to be perfectly clear above: instead of general relativity and 5th century Greece, we could easily write the same argument concerning reading and long division. (Do you remember how difficult long division was? Do you remember learning to read?  I do -- along with four surprisingly pleasant years of remedial reading classes.)

I've said my peace here; I'm bowing out of this thread.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by MJ Mastroianni on Sep 29th, 2014, 12:27pm

I'd just like to say that I really appreciate the very noteworthy level of support and discussion that's present in the Tinderbox Forum. The sincere goodwill of those helping others, and those willing to expose their struggles for the benefit of everyone is considerable and laudable.

Hard problems are hard, yes, but solving hard problems also makes you a boss, baby! (lol)

I struggle with Tinderbox on and off for many of the same reasons as others do, I think. But I don't find it a terrible and frustrating experience. I know that Tinderbox is powerful, that's well attested to by those successfully and even passionately employing it. But people here represent an extremely diverse set of intentions, goals, working styles and mental models, and available time. It's not as frustrating to me anymore though, having listened to many interesting questions and opinions here and outside this forum.

I'm trying to adopt a lighter style of learning about Tinderbox. I think it's very frustrating to try to learn the nuances of any powerful technology at the same time as solving one's real work, especially if that work is also difficult by nature. There is only so much time. So I'm more interested lately in just exploring what specific features are good for, what can be done with them, and how they might work in concert to greater advantage.

I think it's inescapable that one has to invest a fair amount of time to gain real facility for some things. And I appreciate that one can do quite a lot without an encyclopedic knowledge of Tinderbox, too. But imagine what it's like to try to be of assistance to those who can't or won't share the central core of the user's problem. (No doubt that there are many ways to skin a cat, except perhaps for a cat you can't really see.)

I'm thinking of Tinderbox more and more as a kind of "IDE for thought"; it's helping me to think this way more. I want to know in a deep and comfortable way how to think about what I can do with Tinderbox. Originally I was enthusiastic about Tinderbox being a kind of analytical tool (in the sense of organizing and characterizing data, adding meaning to diverse information) but also as a tool that I could use to present my ideas and conclusions. This additional presentation capacity requires a lot of comfortable skill with Tinderbox, to use it "live", so to speak. I'm interested in exploring if it's possible (for me.)

My basic point: it's a pretty challenging endeavor to service the diversity of needs represented here. Kudos for everyone's best efforts, we all want to solve problems like a boss, baby!



Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Sep 29th, 2014, 2:17pm

On a variety of points:


Quote:
I'd just like to say that I really appreciate the very noteworthy level of support and discussion that's present in the Tinderbox Forum. The sincere goodwill of those helping others, and those willing to expose their struggles for the benefit of everyone is considerable and laudable.


Yes. Everyone who has thought about, tried, or come to rely on this program is the beneficiary of extraordinarily generous and prompt attention from Mark B and Mark A, in their respective roles.



Quote:
I struggle with Tinderbox on and off for many of the same reasons as others do, I think. But I don't find it a terrible and frustrating experience.


For myself, I don't even find much "struggle" any more. In keeping with the many levels of the program's capabilities, I find these layers in my use of it:

   •  (1) Bread and butter: Most of what I rely on the program for is info-management, though when I stop think of it, that covers quite a range of different specific purposes.
      When reader mail comes in via the Atlantic's web site, I quickly categorize it for future use. When I do daily interview notes, I keep them in a kind of daybook-journal file. I have a poor-man's-GTD setup that I use for tasks and projects. And—the really heavy-weather use—when I am working on a big article, I use TB to map out, categorize, track, etc the different themes and specific facts I'm going to use.
     In this whole category, I feel as if I know in muscle-memory what I need to do to create and use these TBX files. So I spend 99% of my time on the "what" of these files, and 1% on the "how."

   • (2) Very detailed syntactical questions. When there is a specific new sort of query or categorization I am looking for, or format that I want to produce, I often find that I need to prowl around aTbRef, or come here to ask a question, about the quite precise coding details needed to accomplish my end. Eg this string last week ( http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/forum//YaBB.pl?num=1411589237/8#8 ) which arose because I hadn't realized that the .contains() code works differently for Set and String attributes. Or that in some queries an attribute needs the $ prefix and in others it does not.
   This isn't exactly a struggle; but it's often a mystery, sort of like digging out the owner's manual for the car to remember how to change the clock setting for daylight-saving time. And for these Mark A and Mark B are wonderfully clarifying. And if these are chores I'm doing with any frequency, they soon move into category #1.

   • (3) Things I don't use very often but think I "get." I work 95% of my time in Outline and Attribute Browser views, and only occasionally in Maps. That's just me. But when I want to do a Map, I pretty much know how to accomplish what I'm looking for.

   • (4) Things that make me go Ah-hah! when I see them. The text-link trick from Ordinary Human Language is in this category. Also learning about Shift-Cmd-W to save a file and keep its multi-window setup intact.

   • (5) Things I don't understand and feel I should. This leads us to the whole Export realm.
     Most of the time, when there is something in TB that I want to use in some other application, or make into a PDF, or get on paper, I just do a screen shot or a copy-and-paste operation. They I transfer it to a text editor, Evernote, for the next steps. Mark A's wonderfully detailed step-by-step on Exporting ( http://shoantel.clarify-it.com/d/hqq9gh) both suggests a solution and illustrates the challenge, because—until you learn how to do it (as I have not)—this is quite a lot of detail work to accomplish what is, in most programs, a routine step. Ie, most programs have a quick way to "print" whatever you're looking at to a real printer, a PDF, a plain-text file, etc.

  This is the only part of TB that for me seems more difficult than it has to be. The other high-order powers of the program require some learning, precisely because they are powerful and complex. Those I happily and gratefully have learned. But this one function seems simpler elsewhere.


Quote:
I'm thinking of Tinderbox more and more as a kind of "IDE for thought"; it's helping me to think this way more.


This also makes sense to me.

Sorry to see any emergent rancor among a group of people all wrestling with common challenges — and all manifestly interested in the powerful tool that Mark B has created and that Mark A keeps helping us explore.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 29th, 2014, 2:50pm

I was saddened by the coments up-thread about how supposedly hard I've added some more notes to my v6 export demo files and added them as a locked/sticky thread in the Export forum. I've locked it so people can start new thread(s) about specific issues they have.

With luck someone will try the files and get the basics of (HTML) export. For better or worse, HTML is TB's native export format. Other formats aren't covered or I'll get accused of thinks being too complex. The demo addresses what v6 actually does; it's not arguing the status quo - something I'll leave to others.

Doubtless some will now complain the demo's too complex while will others complain the examples are too simple. Some will just complain that it doesn't solve their exact problem, or for reasons that won't be entirely clear. It's hard judging everyone's expertise and expectations, but I hope the demos help and have been worth the time taken to make, test, write up and package them.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Corey Colyer on Sep 30th, 2014, 7:36am

To Mark A.

In case I gave the impression that I don't appreciate or value the resources you provide, please forgive me.  That wasn't my intent.  I've learned more from you, your forum posts, and your documentation projects than just about anyone else.  In fact, after posting, I spent some time yesterday working through your html export materials.  So thank you for what you do.

I am now returning to lurker status.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Sep 30th, 2014, 9:19am

In turn, I'm not trying to take a pop at anyone in person. My comment about people complaining merely reflects the fact you can please some of the people some of the time but rarely all the people and never all the people all the time.

I think the new thread just kicking off in the export section shows how things can give benefit. At least one person tried the exercise and asked a lot of question - most which I can answer but which weren't in my mind when writing them.

I do try to encourage people to ask questions. Pretty much all my IT knowledge is from the kindness of strangers whom I asked how stuff worked.  Here, I try to give back.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 5th, 2014, 10:34am

Mark A: Once again, I do find your responses in these discussions to be very helpful and your dedication and the time you put in, and your patience are astonishing. And really, I feel badly whenever I end up expressing my frustrations which are really always at the difficulty of Tinderbox. It's very hard to write about this stuff. I've said it before but the difficulty stems in part due to what I keep calling a "love-hate" relationship with Tinderbox.

It's true -- in so many ways I really love Tinderbox. I have spent countless hours working in it and learning about it and there still is nothing like it. I adore it. I take delight in it. I know I way underuse it, in fact.

But I also hate so much about it, about the complexity of sometimes doing even very simple things. Just now, for instance, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to learn or relearn an astonishingly simple thing: how to change the default color of new notes in map view from the something gray (so-called -- it always looks brown to me) that is the software default.

It seems to me that I should remember this.  And it should be something simple and easy to find. I know that I've managed to do it before. And perhaps I'm getting old and it's Alzheimers, though in the rest of my life that does not seem to be creeping up. So I find it embarrassing and frustrating at the same time. (I'm going to ask that in a new thread.)

I mean, look. I can't find it by searching the threads. (Search function in threads is not exactly Google for something this simple -- way too many ways to ask and they all yield too many non-helpful results.) I can't find a clear answer in the manual. I don't remember where Mark A's many guidebooks are located...and trial and error with document settings, attribute views, inspectors, and so on, have not been successful so far. Even just this takes like FIVE major information sources and setting areas  and views and such and still... see the problem?

I know that when I find it, I'll say "of course!" But it's like driving in a far away neighborhood that you don't know -- someone will give you the directions you vaguely recall from the one visit a year ago and you'll say "of course, now I recall" and feel dumb. But if the road signs are ambiguous and could mean different things and there are different sets all over the place and they all point different places, it's hard when you don't drive that way daily to sort it out.

For instance, I have to keep re-asking myself, what does an attribute named "color" refer to just hanging in a big list of attributes? To the note color in maps? background? the color of THIS note or all notes? font color? is the list in the attributes view the same as in the inspector view, or do they refer to entirely different things?

It's like the sign to Sunnyville saying "main street" or "town center" instead of "Sunnyville" -- where does it really go? What if there are signs on the poles and freestanding signs and other signs on the freeway and they may or may not all refer to the same town?

People often have a sort of core dimension in their "character" structures: when they have a problem, they can blame themselves (so say hey, it's me, I'm incompetent, I am too dumb for this, and they then quit or get depressed), or they can blame others (and can come across as blaming, nasty, paranoid.) It tends to be reflexive, and that's bad. I've tended to blame me for problems I have in life. I suspect many quietly lurking Tinderbox users also do this, when they can't make this thing work.

And yet, I remind myself to be objective here -- one does comparisons. And that's when it always comes back to this: I do not ever have this much trouble finding out a solution to such a basic problem with any other software. Ever. Even the dreaded Microsoft products, where as long as you do not make the mistake of relying too much on their built-in help system (which has all the hallmarks of having been written by engineers for whom English is at best a second language) and you just go to Google, you can figure stuff out in just a few links.

So I apologize for stirring up rancor, or for coming across as ungrateful or hostile. That is never my intention.

Seriously, I do want it to work. These kinds of notes are attempts to contribute, not attempts to just be critical. I still feel Tinderbox is wonderful and all the hard work is very much appreciated.

But honestly, Apple makes astonishingly complex technology work easily. So it can be done. I really want the same thing for Tinderbox. It's not there yet.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Oct 5th, 2014, 11:11am

Just to address the immediate how-to part of this:


Quote:
Just now, for instance, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to learn or relearn an astonishingly simple thing: how to change the default color of new notes in map view


I *think* what you're looking for is:
  • Create a prototype that has the color you want for notes in the map;
  • If you can't remember which attribute controls the relevant color, use the (effective, IMO) search box illustrated in the screen shot below;
  • Make sure new items have that prototype, through either On-Add actions for the container whose contents the map shows; or a smart adornment in that map; or an agent; or manually selecting them and applying a stamp or quick stamp.



Not addressing your larger points, just mentioning one of the tools engrained enough in my muscle-memory for issues like this. And that basic precept is:
  — Make the change you want via a prototype;
  — Find an automated or manual way to apply that prototype where you want it.

Parallel point for a later time: One of my main avocations is flying airplanes. There is all the difference in the world in the sense of fluency you have when you have been flying a lot, and when it's been a month or two. (Which is why, interestingly, the aviation world has lots of training and check-flight standards based on how much flying you have done recently. And before anyone asks, the traveling public should be relieved to know that commercial pilots are forced to train and be tested basically all the time.)

In any case, this aspect of the TB Way does now seem "obvious" to me, but might not have been an another time.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 5th, 2014, 11:54am

Thanks for your reply and the pic, though I can't tell of all those options if any of them actually pertains to what should be called "MapDefaultNoteColor" or whatever I'd have called it. (Like I said, I'm gonna just post this on a new thread with the exact title of the thread that I will be most likely to search for in three months when I haven't done it in that time.)

But I agree...those things i do often (the "front of the manual" things), they are easy for me... but some of them seem very complicated when I try to explain them to even very bright friends who use other softwares a lot.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by J Fallows on Oct 5th, 2014, 12:09pm


Quote:
though I can't tell of all those options if any of them actually pertains to what should be called "MapDefaultNoteColor" or whatever I'd have called it.


I'll post a reply in the other thread.

As far as I can tell, the attribute you are looking for is called  (wait for it!  ;)) ... $Color !

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Oct 5th, 2014, 1:20pm

Stepping back to Greg's issue of where to start looking…

I'd go to the manual and finding that 'Using Maps' (as you appear to be a Map user) doesn't mention, I'd look at aTbRef -> Views -> Map View. you can get that far just by links. Scan the latter page it over view and doesn't go into colours in depth but does link to Map View Interface which has list of aspects of the look & feel of Map view. But as I'm now reminded has no note on this, at the info's actually in the parent containers in the article
Default note colours & patterns. Why? Because over the 8 year life of aTbRef, at some point the Misc Interface Aspects grew to big and sprouted a Map Interface section. Of course everyone (incorrect assumption) would have read the parent section, so I (aTbRef's author) omitted to alias the doc into the child container which would have fixed the problem. It shows that writing documentation is hard and that without those who'll only watch video and won't read or vice versa, and so on through personal styles.

All of which shows it's hard documenting a complex, multi-facetted and evolving tool even if one just wants to look at colo[u]r related aspects.

However, I do think users can help by describing the answers they couldn't answer via the available materials. Even if it doesn't fix the issue immediately it does help identify holes in help coverage that may simply not be obvious to the person with that particular problem (contrary to intuition everyone else doesn't has the same problems we do).

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 5th, 2014, 3:02pm

Thanks, Mark. I think you're helping to make my point.

I couldn't find it in the Manual, and as it was an on-the-fly question I didn't read the manual front to back... frankly, I don't think people often consult software manuals very often anymore. I don't sometimes have your reference tools and like you say, they do tend to be developed over time and so things get misplaced, lost, taken out. (Like the above discussion of how to toggle in and out of the "make new note by hitting Return" issue.)

Heavy users of any tool tend to take a lot as obvious that may not be. I always remember having heard that the original "Murphy's Law" referred back to an accident that happened at NASA. (Memory might be inaccurate but the story still works.) There was some kind of test instrument for assessing effects of high speed acceleration on the human body, some kind of rocket sled thing. One part got re-installed backward (it fit either way), and so the thing (without a body in it) went flying off the rail and crashed. When they traced the fault to that error in installation, the chief engineer, named Murphy, created a new rule: that if there is a right and a wrong way to install a part, some day someone WILL install it the wrong way. So the rule became to never design something that can be installed incorrectly.

I know how challenging that can be with something this complicated. But I seem to have a special gift for trying the obvious, but wrong way to do something I haven't done for a while in Tinderbox. So the fewer "ways that can be tried that won't work" there are, the easier things will hopefully become over time.

Thanks again.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Oct 5th, 2014, 3:47pm

The bottom line to this circular discussion is the what we can't understand is all too easily rationalised somebody else's mistake/laziness. One can take that path, or just accept there are things we don't know and that just because the folk who do know haven't written it down (and in a form we understand) that isn't through deliberate antipathy. Sometimes it's best to just ask a question and neglect to mention the head of steam causing one to ask it.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Greg Korgeski on Oct 5th, 2014, 3:59pm

I have never intended to come across as casting aspersions. I'm sorry if it seemed to be so.

Title: Re: Keyboard only rapid notes writing?
Post by Mark Anderson on Oct 5th, 2014, 4:13pm

No worries, that wasn't my concern. I was simply trying to point out that it's easy to get frustrated by documentation if we fall into the lazy assumption that our question is simple/obvious/of no interest to those we think should bother about it. I'm sorry to say it happens to me all too often. I suspect it happens to others too.

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