There are several schools of thought when it comes to digital note taking and productivity. One school advocates powerful tools such as Evernote, which allows you to take notes, clip articles and images, and save documents into a note. Evernote also has some pretty powerful search functionality that lets you find that data again. The other school advocates simple text. Using the file system, and a plain text editor like Vim or TextMate, or what have you. There are powerful arguments both ways, and I find myself coming down somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, I like Evernote’s ubiquity. It’s on my phone, my laptop and my tablet, and I can save everything from quick shopping lists to clipped articles from the web, to pdf documents. In the case of those pdf’s Evernote will even scan them and make the text searchable. That’s extrememly cool. However, it’s too heavy for actual “notes” and Evernote’s interface is notorious for not being “note friendly”. Things are complicated by the fact that I run Linux on my laptop, and there’s not a good Linux client for Evernote.
So, I’ve come up with a workflow that works for me. It might not work for you, but hey, it’s another tool in the battle for ultimate productivity, right? First of all, I use Evernote as my basic “Archiving” tool. It’s where I clip articles to read later, my wishlist, images, receipts, etc… I’ve even started using Evernote as my main bookmark manager. Evernote works well for me as a digital filing cabinet, since that’s really what it’s designed to do. However, there are two things that I do NOT do in Evernote. To-do lists, and my notes.
UPDATE: As promised, I’ve added a post about how I configured my tmux to emulate some of the features of powerline. You can read it here.
I spend almost all of my time on the command line and I use Tmux and Vim obsessively. Like a lot of people, I want my environment to be pleasing, so I was excited when I found out about Powerline, a status line / prompt utility that works with bash prompts, Vim, Tmux and a whole slew of other tools.
My first impression is that Powerline is just really cool looking. It’s nice to have something that lets you simply customize your tools in a simple way without having to dig deep into each individual tool. Unfortunately, it has some big shoes to fill and it doesn’t quite make it all the way.
I do a lot of work with Apache Solr, which is a front end wrapper for Apache Lucene. Lucene is a text analysis search engine. Basically, you give Lucene a “document”, and it analyzes the text of that document, and stores an index of which words and phrases occur in which documents. What Solr does, is provide an http based front-end and a “ready to go” installation for the entire system. Lucene is an amazing piece of software, and Solr is just awesome, as far as I’m concerned.
With that being said, Solr’s admin interface leaves a lot to be desired. Solr has the concept of “cores”, which are independent, unrelated indexes. Reminiscent of Drupal’s multi-site installation, Solr’s multi-core, allows you to set up multiple search engines for multiple sites, all on a single installation of Solr. Unfortunately, you can’t work across multiple cores in the admin interface. For instance, in one installation that I work on, I have multiple cores, one for each site. These sites are all similar, and they all use the same Solr schema. There’s also the potential for the same content to be created across multiple sites, and to end up in multiple Solr cores. Now, if I want to see if a document occurs in multiple cores, then I have to go each core’s admin interface separately, and run a query. That’s sort of my base gripe with Solr, and I’ve been working on a tool to alleviate the problem, for a while now. I call it The WEASL!