Day One to Tinderbox

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Day One to Tinderbox

I’ve kept a Daybook using Tinderbox for years, and wish to continue doing so. The problem is I know that Day One exists and is really good at what it does. The conflict between smooth and easy entry using Day One and the comfort and flexibility of Tinderbox keeps me up at night. Well, not really, but it does cause me to waffle between the two.

I switched to Day One again a month ago and I really do love it. Day One automatically logs my location and the current weather, is always just a click away on either the iPhone or Mac, and is pretty to look at. The trouble is that I can’t to some of the nifty analytics that I do with Tinderbox. If only there were a way to use both!

I decided today that I’d find a way, and came up with something that, while not pretty, works.

Basically, I export the Day One entries to an OPML file and then drop that file onto my Tinderbox Daybook and run a couple of quick “stamps” to clean things up. Here’s an overview of how it works.

I originally wanted to process the native Day One export but found the file needed way too much manipulation if it was going to be useful to Tinderbox. I wanted an easy way to get dates, locations, and weather into Tinderbox attributes and not just as part of each note’s text. OPML seemed an obvious choise. I found Nathan Grigg’s dayone_export. It’s a python script that parses the Day One data file and generates an export file using a simple templating system (Jinja2). Day One Export didn’t come with an OPML template but using the Markdown example it was easy enough to create one. It looks like this...

The template file is saved locally (on my Mac) as ~/.dayone_export/default.opml.

To generate the OPML I run the following...

# dayone_export --output dayone-export.opml --format=opml --after 2014-04-01 ~/Path/To/Day\ One/Journal.dayone

Then I drop the output file (dayone-export.opml in this case) onto my open Tinderbox daybook document. Note that I included some additional attributes in the OPML template for things like Weather, etc. When importing, Tinderbox will use or create User Attributes matching each of them automatically. This gives me something easy to work with. Also note that I use the --after attribute, which will let me export regularly without dealing with duplicates.

To clean things up in Tinderbox, I apply the following “stamp” to each of the imported notes:


This stamp...

1. Copies the note’s Name to its Text

2. Changes the Name to only contain the first sentence

Then I just drag the notes into the proper dated container in Tinderbox and I’m done. Sure, it’s a little kludgy and probably prone to errors but at least now I can keep using both tools and enjoy the benefits of each.

It works, but I hope someone smarter than me comes up with something better one day.

Personal Kanban

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Personal Kanban

We use Kanban boards successfully for most client projects, so I thought it might be interesting to try it in other areas as well. “Personal Kanban” is meant to help with that. The book is deliberately non-prescriptive, which I found a little disappointing. The entire thing can be boiled down to two concepts.

1. Visualize your work

2. Limit work in progress

Knowing that, you can probably skip the book and start with the Personal Kanban website.

As a test, I’m giving the 30-day trial of LeanKit a go. I prefer it to Trello, but it remains to be seen if I eventually use any of them long-term.

OneNote Mac

Saturday, 29 March 2014

OneNote Mac

People who like OneNote seem to really like OneNote. I’ve always been a bit envious because I don’t own a Windows machine and I’m not likely to run Windows in a virtual machine like Parallels just for a single app.

When OneNote for Mac was announced I installed it immediately. I also liked it immediately. As an on-and-off Evernote user I found OneNote to be nicer to use in almost every way. There are Notebooks, Sections, and Pages, just like my real notebooks. I appreciate that, as opposed to Stacks or whatever in Evernote. I love the way I can just click anywhere on a page and take a note right there. It’s a little like Curio in that respect, without all of the extras that overwhelm me in Curio. Linking between pages and paragraphs is handy, too.

The problem of course is that Evernote does much more than this initial release of OneNote. I mean, I can’t even attach a PDF to a OneNote page. Can’t print or export yet either. That’s just crazy, but for simply taking and organizing notes, OneNote still wins for me. I like using OneNote for basic note-taking so much that I am ignoring all of the things it doesn’t yet do. I hope Microsoft goes all-in on the Mac version, because I’m already hooked.

Making it easier

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This site is built using Tinderbox. I continue to find ways to improve the process so that publishing is as easy as I can make it. One thing I still didn’t like was getting images in the right place and linking them. So I fixed it.

First I added an "ArticleImage" attribute so I don't have to type in the entire path for images links. I just type in the image's filename and the Tinderbox export template figures out the rest.

That manages the lead image anyway, which is usually the only one.

That works well, but there was a little nagging thing remaining; opening the blog image folder in the Finder. It’s not like it’s actually difficult, and there are a number of quick solutions. For example, I could put the folder in the Finder sidebar or in the Dock. The trouble with those solutions is that those folders would *always* be in my way even when I'm not writing a blog post.

So I made it easier to get to the folder right from the Tinderbox document. I just added a "Stamp" which opens the folder in the Finder.

The Action for the Stamp is this:

runCommand("open /Users/myuser/Dropbox/")

Now I can select "Stamps->Open Image Folder" and up pops the Finder window. A small but useful tweak I think. feels like zagging

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 feels like zagging

I have a tendency to “zag” when everyone else is zigging. It’s a combination of a need to explore and my built-in contrarianism.

For example, everyone uses Twitter. Using Twitter is zigging. It’s the easy choice. (specifically is the zag. It’s newer and, to the uninitiated, nothing more than a Twitter clone that no one uses. That’s really too bad. On the other hand it’s clean, useful, and quiet. Too quiet for some, maybe.

My annual subscription is set to renew soon I thought I’d dive back in and see how it feels these days. Turns out it feels pretty good. It’s a smaller “audience” but it’s an interesting group.

Also, I didn’t know they introduced a simple commenting system, so I added it here on my static, Tinderbox-based blog. It’s a one-liner so why not? Here’s the original blog post: What is the comments widget? I like it.

I find that the comments widget is much cleaner and simpler than the mess that is Disqus.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram

Sunday, 16 March 2014

I’m not a fan of “self-help” books, so it’s a good thing I don’t consider “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” to be one of those. It’s more a tool for understanding personality types. I’m a 9.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

LICEcap - simple animated screen captures”

That’s exactly what it is and it works great.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Every so often I consider “going dark” on the Internet. Meaning I drop out of Twitter, Facebook, etc. just to get away from the noise for a while. It never lasts because I love sharing stuff Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr. Even so, I think it’s time to try staying away for a while.

I’ll be posting here at and probably the blog but otherwise I hope to under-share on the usual sites for a while. Miss me!

UPDATE: That lasted like 4 hours. Shut up.

Why Photography Matters

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

I really didn't understand what Mr. Thompson was getting at in "Why Photography Matters" and wasn't interested enough to find out. Skip this one unless you're just dying to read someone beat up on Susan Sontag


Thursday, 6 March 2014

The latest Daniel Suarez book, "Influx", is much like his others. That means full of tech thriller fun. I liked it.