Curio 10 now available with helper app Curiota

Curio 10 is now available.

Curio 10 is now available. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

I got word today from George Browning of Zengobi Software that a new version of Curio is now available. According to the press release, Curio 10 features these improvements:

Zengobi today announced the availability of Curio 10, a major update of their professional brainstorming, mind mapping, and note taking application for the Mac, as well as a new free companion app, Curiota, which integrates with and extends Curio’s functionality and connectivity with always-available note taking, file collection, and extensive OS X scripting and integration features. New features in Curio 10 include support for stack collections for visual task management; powerful mind map & list sorting; iMindMap and updated MindNode import/export support; tag emoji support; numerous table, pinboard, and list enhancements; new Local library shelf for custom watch folders, fast file searching, and Curiota integration; stencils shelf for more efficient diagramming; interface refinements; plus dozens of other features and enhancements.

While I have long been an admirer of Curio, I have not used it much, only because I tend to use more focused apps for note taking and organizing. But I have used it in the past for building and making a presentation. And I am currently using Curio to manage the research I am doing for a book project I’m working on. The helper app, Curiota, is especially intriguing to me, because it may help extend my usage of Curio.

Curiota. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

Curiota. (Image courtesy of Zengobi.)

Within the past year, Zengobi released a “lite” version of Curio called Curio Express, as well as a free reader app, which allows colleagues to view your Curio projects without the need to buy the app. Here’s pricing, requirements and how to download/buy the Curio family of apps:

Curio 10 requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and is available immediately for download from New licenses can be purchased for US$129.99 (US$79.99 for academia, upgrades are US$49.99) from, volume discounts are available. Downloading Curio will begin a full-featured, 2-week trial. More information on Curio can be found at and detailed Curio 10 release notes can be found at

Curiota requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be downloaded at no charge only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curiota can be found at

Curio Express requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be purchased for US$29.99 only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curio Express can be found at

Curio Reader requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan and can be downloaded at no charge only from the Apple Mac App Store. More information on Curio Reader can be found at

I have not yet tried version 10, but plan to purchase the upgrade today. I’ll get back with a more in-depth commentary soon.

Categories: Software | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Interesting view from professional writer on modern note-taking

The novelist David Hewson has an interesting view on modern note-taking over on Medium. You should also check out his blog, which is chock full of excellent advice for writers.

I am beginning to lean toward Mr. Hewson minimalist approach, but I’m not there yet. I’m working on a book that requires (I think) a more complex note-taking system than he describes. And there is a difference between note-taking for a specific project and managing all the bits of information we tend to accumulate. It isn’t always easy to know which information is going to be necessary six months or six years from now. I can’t see placing all of that in an app like Keep. But then again I’m not exactly satisfied with my current amalgam of applications.

Categories: Software | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Workflowy and Tinderbox

If you’re reading this blog post, you undoubtedly know that Tinderbox is one of my favorite pieces of software. The mind-bogglingly versatile and powerful “tool for notes” is unsurpassed for helping me make sense of complex data (complex to me, child’s play to others perhaps). But I do not use Tinderbox as much as I would like for the simple reason that I can only run it on my MacBooks. I spend eight hours a day on my office Windows PC, and am frequently on the go with just my iPad with which to collect and write notes. Consequently, I end up dumping stuff into Evernote, which is terrific for keeping data sync’d across devices, but which does almost nothing for me in terms of analysis and visualization.

A note on nomenclature: It can become confusing writing about two different applications that may use different nomenclature. In this article, I will refer to any single item, whether in Workflowy or Tinderbox, as a note. The content of those notes I am calling note text. So, for instance, a note titled “Note A,” might have note text that says, “This is an example of note text in Note A,” 

Recently, I’ve started collecting research and notes for a book I want to write. Tinderbox would be a perfect helper for this project, so I am back to needing a way to bring in work that I do on other devices. And I believe I’ve found my solution in Workflowy. Being cloud-based and with an iOS app (not sure if there is an Android app, but probably), Workflowy is available to me most times when Tinderbox is not. [Update: The iOS app is a pretty weak implementation of the browser version. In fact, it is barely useable.] I can build an outline, add notes to the individual entries, and then import them right into a Tinderbox document. Here’s how to do it:

Workflowy is an adept, universally accessible outliner.

Workflowy is an adept, universally accessible outliner. Create an outline for importing to Tinderbox.

Of course you start by creating your notes in Workflowy. I’ve set up a section of my outline that I call Tinderbox Drawer, where I can work on anything I want to import into Tinderbox. (I could just as easily create a tag called #Tinderbox that would achieve the same thing.)


Select “Export” from the little drop down menu that appears when you click on the bullet icon at the start of the top level of the notes you want to export. Click on the OPML option.

Once your outline is ready to go, click on the bullet icon of the parent note. A drop down menu will appear. Select the choice “Export.” When the export dialog appears, select OPML, then just copy that text.

When you paste the OPML text into Tinderbox, a top level note is created with the OPML text in the note.

When you paste the OPML text into Tinderbox, a top level note is created with the OPML text in the note.

Open Tinderbox and paste the OPML text wherever you need it. Tinderbox creates a new container note with the OPML text as the note content (let’s call this the OPML container note).  Within the OPML container note is another container note (let’s call this the parent container note), which correlates to the parent note from Workflowy; within this parent container note are the child notes. See below:

The original Workflowy parent note becomes a container note in Tinderbox, holding the original Workflowy child notes. Note text from Workflowy are also imported as the note text of these Tinderbox notes.

The original Workflowy parent note becomes the parent container note in Tinderbox, holding the original Workflowy child notes. Note text from Workflowy is also imported as the note text of the corresponding Tinderbox notes.

If you gave the items in your Workflowy outline some notes, those notes are imported into the Tinderbox notes as the note text. Here’s how this looks in Outline View of Tinderbox:

Outline view of the notes Workflowy notes imported into Tinderbox.

Outline view of the notes Workflowy notes imported into Tinderbox.

The one somewhat cumbersome aspect of this procedure is the redundant OPML container note, which you probably don’t need. You can eliminate this by copying the parent container note, pasting this where you want it in your Tinderbox document, and then deleting the original OPML container note.

Tinderbox now supports tags with a Tag attribute, but unfortunately Workflowy tags do not translate to Tinderbox tags. They just come in as part of the text. You can easily set up agents that will search for these Workflowy tags (just hashtags followed by the tag name as in #WorkflowyTag) and apply them to the Tag attribute of the notes in Tinderbox.

It is important for me to point out that this is a one-way process. There is not a way to keep notes in Workflowy and Tinderbox in sync. At least not one I know of.

By the way, Tinderbox does support Simplenote synchronization, but I’m not a fan of Simplenote and — at least in the past — I’ve found there to be some restrictions on how you can use the sync’d Simplenote notes in Tinderbox.

So that’s it. A simple and easy procedure. Now to put it into practice.

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The Martian Rocks

The Martian image

[Updated – see second paragraph]

Amy and I joined my good friend Lou this weekend to see The Martian. This isn’t a review. Let me just say it is a wonderful movie, which I enjoyed greatly.

What this post is about is a quick comparison between The Martian and last year’s science fiction film Interstellar. I’ve already written about my disappointment with that film. If anything, seeing The Martian made my contempt for Interstellar even deeper. Let’s just start with the fact that The Martian was lightyears ahead of Interstellar in scientific plausibility. [Update: Even rocket scientists agree — see here.] I’m not a physicist, so my opinion on this matter may not hold as much water as some others, but I rarely had one of those “yeah, right” moments viewing The Martian, whereas I had a large box of Milk Duds worth of scoffs at the so-called science in Interstellar.

Both movies are ultimately about the same thing: Measuring the size of the human heart on the instrument of the universe. Interstellar warped logic and reason, generating absurd paranormal babble in order to convince us of the power of our will to love and live and thrive. In that process it actually undermined its own message: The filmmakers weren’t even smart enough or ambitious enough to tell this story and stick to something that might actually happen. That’s okay in a fantasy film. It isn’t in a movie that claims to be grounded in science. The resolution to Interstellar was cloaked in some kind of quantum physics mysticism that was, frankly, laughable.

Interstellar also gave us a dead Earth, ruined by humans (apparently, though what has caused the planet to die is never really discussed). The plot is sterile and cynical: Mankind’s fate rests in the hands of one man.

In contrast, The Martian is the story of the world pulling together to save the life of just one man stranded on a distant planet. The heroes are scientists and astronauts and even political bureaucrats desperately trying to do something remarkable. They are smart, resourceful people, people who actually understand science and how the universe really works. Their success is inspiring exactly because it isn’t fabulous or fantastical. It is simply possible (only, of course, if we stop eschewing science in favor of bullshit mysticism) and that’s what makes it inspiring.

The short of it is this: The Martian is the anti-Interstellar.

Interesting side note: Both films feature Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, though The Martian uses the two of them much more satisfactorily.

Categories: Entertainment, Film Review | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Bullet Journal Journal!

The Bullet Journal notebook is a fine quality journal from Leuchtturm1917.

The Bullet Journal notebook is a fine quality journal from Leuchtturm1917.

I mentioned in this recent post that there is now available an actual Bullet Journal journal. So, of course, I had to order a copy, which arrived by mail the other day. It is manufactured by Leuchtturm1917, so the quality is evident to the touch. “Bullet Journal” is embossed on the cover, which is a cool but completely useless feature.

The features that might be handy for bullet journaling include the following:

  • A key to bullet journal signifiers. The common, recommended ones are printed in the key, and there are plenty of blank spaces for adding your own custom signifiers.
  • The first four pages are dedicated to the Index. (I don’t keep an index in my bullet journals.)
  • The next four pages are dedicated to the Future Log. (Another bullet journal feature I have not used in the past.)
  • The pages are already numbered.
  • There are three bookmarks for quick access to a variety of sections of the journal.
  • The last eight pages include instructions/suggestions for keeping a bullet journal.
The inside front cover of the Bullet Journal journal features a key to bullet journal signifiers.

The inside front cover of the Bullet Journal journal features a key to bullet journal signifiers.

The journal pages are dotted grids, which work fine for bullet journaling, though I prefer lined grids. The notebook includes a standard elastic enclosure band and a gusseted pocket.

The beauty of bullet journaling is how adaptable it is, including the fact that you can use almost any kind of notebook for your rapid logging. So you do NOT need this journal. At $20 it is a little pricey, but no more than any other Leuchtturm1917 notebook. That said, this is a fine piece of stationery that might inspire you to tackle the bullet journal system and stick with it.

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The Climate Web – super WebBrain site

One of my commenters, Mark, referred to a WebBrain site that he has been working on called The Climate Web, built using TheBrain. A note of explanation is perhaps in order. You can buy a stand alone license for TheBrain and use it on one computer (Mac or Windows: it is cross platform). But you can also get the “Pro Combo” which gives you not only the desktop application, but also cloud service allowing you to keep your “Brains” in sync across your various computers and access them online. The online versions of your data can be private (default), or public. The Climate Web is public, of course.

Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s comment that provides more detail about the site:

Something you would be interested in is our effort to use the Brain as a knowledge management solution for an entire field, indeed one as complicated as climate change. Our Climate Web Brain is at It’s massive, serves many purposes, and we’re constantly experimenting with how to make the information more accessible to very different audiences. FYI, it contains >10,000 documents and more than 15,000 URLs, but more important is how we’re trying to use the unique capabilities of the Brain to link information together in ways that can help provide access to “actionable knowledge” that is specific to an individual user.

One excellent example of how TheBrain can help you manage your information, even in copious quantities. (Update: Please note Mark’s request for input about The Climate Web in the comments section of this post.)

FYI: Climate change is happening and is caused by man. Just to make my view clear.

Categories: Software | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Notesuite sold off and no longer available.

Notesuite, the promising note-taking application for iPad and Mac, announced a couple of months ago that it had been acquired and that the application would no longer be available. While disappointing, this announcement is not surprising. The company had not released an update to the app for a while, and blew off repeated requests for information about the status of the application. And last spring they ominously released a utility for exporting notes out of the application for use in other note-taking software.

I am sorry to see the end of Notesuite. I thought it had great potential, though it needed some polishing. Why one company would buy another then discontinue the product is a bit intriguing. That’s what happened when Dropbox acquired Hackpad. It makes me conjecture that some of Notesuite’s features will find their way into some other app. (Evernote has recently announced some major new features are on the horizon with their note editor.)

In the end, however, people who paid for Notesuite (for both Mac and on the iOS) are left with an empty bag and a need to find another place to put their work. I am sure it is difficult to sustain a software business, but this feels like just one more cautionary tale: buyer beware and keep your work in multiple places.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Bullet Journal has a new website and a proprietary notebook

I just got word that The Bullet Journal has a new official home page. Looks quite handsome and full of good information. Also, they are now selling a physical, 249 page bullet journal notebook for $20. Just FYI.

Categories: Productivity | Tags: | 1 Comment

Still Alive

Things I’m thinking about:

  • Crappy Red Sox season
  • Using Tinderbox more than I do
  • Wondering why they didn’t replace the actor who played Matthew on Downton Abbey instead of killing him off (the character, that is, not the actor) when the actor wanted to leave the show. Didn’t they ever watch Bewitched?
  • The hike I’m leading at Mount Independence this coming Sunday.
  • All the changes at my workplace in the last seven months.
  • What draconian new measures El Capitan will impose on my Macs?
  • El Capitan? What a stupid name! (Hope Apple’s not making a mountain out of a mole hill.)
  • Why is older science fiction so much better than the new stuff?
  • Why can’t Hollywood actually make a good science fiction movie?
  • When the mainstream media starts tarring and feathering Bernie Sanders with false accusations and innuendo, then we’ll know he’s scaring the people who own this country.
  • It’s cool that there are two new books about one of my heroes, Edward Abbey. See here and here.

I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post here. I thought I better demonstrate that I’m still alive, so this post.

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ThinkBook gets a face lift, more

[Update: It occured to me that this article needed a screenshot of a ThinkBook outline. Now it does.]

ThinkBook is a nifty iPad app for taking notes and planning projects. You can create notebooks, pages, notes, todos, questions and other items using the unique slider feature. It also is smart with the types of gestures you need to re-organize your information. You can see the slider in action on the developer’s website (note that at the time of this writing the videos used the previous version of ThinkBook, so the look of the app will be different, but the action of the slider is still pretty much the same).

ThinkBook on my home page, featuring the various notebooks I've created. Note the slider on the right (the little triangular thingy), which you tap to bring up the menu of various item types that you can add to your notes.

ThinkBook on my home page, featuring the various notebooks I’ve created. Note the slider on the right (the little triangular thingy), which you tap to bring up the menu of various item types that you can add to your notes.

The app also has some other nice features, like making it easy to create custom dashboards which pull information from your various notes based on criteria you set. ThinkBook just recently got a major update, which mostly revolves around getting the UI to conform more closely to iOS 8 standards.

But it has also received a few new wrinkles. The primary one is that it is now a universal app (that is “universal” in Apple parlance, which means that it can run on an iPad and on an iPhone/iPod Touch). Along with this comes the option to synchronize selected pieces of data (whole notebooks, just pages, or only notes) via iCloud (requires a $3.99 in-app purchase).

In order to perform this operation, you need to first create an equally named item on each of your devices. This is slightly awkward, I think. First, you need to create same-named items on both your iPad and iPhone. So, for instance, if you have a page on your iPad called “Weekly Meeting,” you need to create the same page on your iPhone. As soon as you do, you get a prompt that a sync is waiting. This works fine, but it discourages you from having all your notes on all devices, though it doesn’t make it impossible. (I believe that if you synchronize at the top level notebook, all the sub-content will sync too.) But you also need to be careful that you keep your notes uniquely named. So, you’d probably want to name that meeting note something like “Meeting – week of May 11, 2015” so you don’t run into a problem next week.

Still, this syncing does seem to work fine, and it helps slightly to alleviate one of the problems with ThinkBook, which is that it is kind of out there on an island of its own. You can export notes in what I’d call the usual iOS ways, but there isn’t much other cross-app integration. ToDos are not saved to your Apple reminders. There is no way to use your information efficiently on your Mac (let alone your PC), other than exporting chunks of it at a time. At least now you can create notes on your iPhone and view them on your iPad and vice versa. That’s something.

If ThinkBook had a Mac client, then it would be my go-to information manager, I think — that’s how much I like it otherwise.

Creating nice looking and useful outlines is easy in ThinkBook.

Creating nice looking and useful outlines is easy in ThinkBook.

Another nice feature of ThinkBook is that it is a pretty handy outline builder, so if you’re looking for that functionality on your iPad and iPhone, you should take a look at it.

One other note about ThinkBook: The app is now free, though it features several in-app purchases. Some of these are just cosmetic features, but I bought them anyway to support the developer.

Categories: Software | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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