January 3, 2021 at 12:17pm

2020 Retrospective

What are the rules about linking to my own post on another website I own?

Andrew Canion - 2020 Retrospective:

For me, the narrative that 2020 was a complete write-off is not fair. A lot happened in 2020 and much of it has been positive and transformational.

link
December 29, 2020 at 3:16pm

Dynalist as a Tool for Daily Notes

I’ve been consciously taking more and better daily notes. Part of this is to build a greater awareness of what I do and how I spend my time. Part of it is to be able to capture and later resurface information.

I’ve tried a number of various solutions to this. I experimented with Bullet Journaling (with a pen and journal) and using the Cortext Podcast’s Theme Journal. However, paper creates too much friction considering that I am usually in front of a screen of some sort and I want digital information in any case. I’ve used a range of software, from GoodNotes with an iPad Pencil, DEVONthink with a script to create a daily note everyday, The Archive, Obsidian, and I even trialled Roam Research for a time.

DEVONthink got the closest in terms of being accessible and leveraging its AI to highlight related notes (a feature that has no peer, to be honest). Yet DEVONthink’s text editing is anaemic. No niceties for drafting in Markdown as is my preference. No outlining, which I enjoy and find productive.

I needed a better solution.

Everything’s an outline

It occurred to me that everything is an outline. Mind map? It’s an outline. Kanban board? It’s an outline. Chapters and paragraph styles? It’s an outline. Diaries and daily notes? It’s an outline.

So if everything at its essence is an outline, why not use an outliner? So here I am, using Dynalist as my everything capture tool. I decided on Dynalist after a short play with Workflowy. Workflowy is simple but has none of the features I wanted such as Markdown, linking etc. It is too basic for my wants.

Roam Daily Note

The great feature of Roam - as well as being an outliner - is that it automatically creates a Daily Note’. This seemingly simple feature reduces the friction of having to create a document, or find a place to put text. Put it in the daily note, at least as a starting point.

This is why I created a script in DEVONthink to create a daily note text file at the beginning of each day.

I wanted to ensure that my Dynalist setup could also have a daily note, but it doesn’t come with this feature.

Steve Zeoli’s Daily Note

This is where I give thanks to Steve Zeoli at Welcome to Sherwood. He drew my attention to a simple Windows app that can create a list of dates that cover an entire year.1

I use the date file created from this application to pre-populate a year’s worth of nested bullets for my Daily Note outline.

Dynalist Day ListDynalist Day List

The great thing about Dynalist is that I can zoom in’ (hoist, in old-school outliner lingo) any bullet such that it becomes the header for the page. So I can zoom into a week, or even a single day, and make notes nested under that particular header.

Dynalist supports backlinks and internal Wiki linking, so typing [[ will bring up an active searching letting me link one part of the notebook to another.

It also support dates by starting with an !. I sync these dates to a Google Calendar, which I subscribe to via Fastmail where all my calendars live, to give me another view into my dated tasks from other calendar-based applications such as BusyCal and OmniFocus.

Search and Discovery

I am still in the process of optimising my search settings, but I’ve devised a couple that seem to work well. Searches can be saved as a bookmark within Dynalist and they run when click on in the sidebar.

  • Open Checkboxes’ will show my any checkboxes in my outliner that are not checked off: has:checkbox -is:completed
  • Within 1 Month’ shows me any entries with date elements that are within one month ahead of now: within:1m

Exporting Markdown

I’ve drafted this blog entry in Dynalist (with a couple of detours into Drafts to make use of Brett Terpra’s SearchLink service to create Markdown links). The lack of macOS Services support is one big downer with Dynalist.

The intent now is to export it as a Markdown file and publish it to the world.

Unfortunately, getting nice Markdown out of Dynalist wasn’t perfect. Exporting as plain text with dashes for indentation was the best I could do. This didn’t establish H1, H2 headings and nor did it ensure my graphic was exported. Each paragraph was adorned with a bullet, which doesn’t make sense for long-form writing, either.

It would appear others feel this pain too, as there are a number of threads about it on the Dynalist forum; with this one summing it up best.

So export to markdown is an area that needs some work. Perhaps it isn’t optimal for writing pure blog posts, leaving a place for iA Writer in my arsenal.


  1. I did figure a way to do this on macOS as well, but I can’t remember how I did it! I should have taken a note!↩︎

dynalist software review
November 8, 2020 at 1:59pm

My Subscription Services

Steven Garrity at Acts of Volition writes of the online services he pays for. This prompted me to make my own quick list.

Some of these links include referral codes, but that’s not the motivation driving this post. They do, however, help me out.

Internet Infrastructure

  • Micro.blog
    Where I spend a lot of my Internet socialising time. It also hosts my blog, photos and podcast.

  • Blot
    An alternative blog that I set up mainly because I was interested in Blot. I really should be spread across two locations, but what can you do?

  • Fastmail
    For secure and private email and calendars.

  • iCloud
    My cloud storage of choice.

Software as a Service

  • Textexpander
    I rely on this for some templating. I don’t like it’s interface. If there was something better, I’d switch.

  • Inoreader
    Solid RSS reader that has many features I don’t use.

  • Harmonizely
    The only online booking system that works well with Fastmail.

  • Setapp
    I use enough of the apps provided through Fastmail to make it worthwhile.

  • Blackblaze
    I’ve been burnt by hard drive failures in the past. I hope never to have to actually ever restore anything.

  • YNAB
    I can only afford all these subscriptions because YNAB helps me budget for them.

  • Sanebox
    Keeping the clutter from my inbox.

  • 1Password
    Secure, unique passwords are mandatory in my world.

News

  • Australian Financial Review
    Got a 3-month discounted trial.
    Unlikely to continue past this month.

  • The Washington Post
    Got a cheap deal.
    Unlikely to continue upon its conclusion.

  • The Saturday Paper
    Got a cheap subscription.
    One of the few places for longer-form Australian journalism.
    I don’t love it though, and expect not to continue.

Entertainment

  • Apple TV+
    Still on the free trial but I’ve enjoyed enough of the content that I will stay.

  • Apple Music
    I’m in the Apple ecosystem and I like being able to call up music from wherever.
    Its playlists are never as good as the ones on Spotify.

  • Netflix
    It’s the default.

  • Amazon Prime
    Has enough content to keep us onboard.

  • Disney+
    Good value for the kids, and The Mandalorian.

  • The Unmade Podcast
    I laugh more through this podcast than any other.

  • NBL Pocket Podcast
    I am a co-host, so I have to support it!

  • Dithering
    An enjoyable and insightful bite-sized podcast. Pay for the things you want to exist in the world.

  • Like You Podcast
    A great relaxation podcast for children. I admire what the creator, Noah, is doing.

iOS Apps

  • Day One
    I’ve been journalling in Day One for many years. I run hot and cold with it, but I enjoy the metadata it captures in addition to my thoughts and memories.

  • Drafts
    Where text starts (when I remember). Used to kick-off OmniFocus templates for work.

  • Pzizz
    Coming to the end of a 5-year subscription.
    Used less than I used to, but is still helpful at bedtime.

  • AnyList
    Reliable shopping list and recipe manager.
    Contains a few random other lists as well.

  • New York Times Crossword
    Brain food, especially the earlier in the week puzzles!

  • 1Blocker
    I don’t like Internet ads, and this covers macOS and iOS.

  • Headspace
    I had a run of around 150 days, then I just… stopped.

  • Castro
    The Inbox has saved me, but I do switch between this and Overcast.

Other

  • Readwise
    I read a lot. I’m using this service to try to help me remember it.

  • Flickr Pro
    An unused subscription. It houses a semi-complete photo archive.
    I don’t need this but I have a weird emotional connection to Flickr, despite hardly ever using it.
    I should get rid of this subscription. Life would go on.

subscriptions list
September 23, 2020 at 8:42pm

Cortex Animated is Great

What’s better than Cortex Podcast?

Animated highlights from Cortex Podcast!

podcast youtube
August 24, 2020 at 3:23pm

Mondo Electronics

Mondo Electronics is a company I’ve helped as part of my job as an Entrepreneurs’ Programme Growth Facilitator.

They were kind enough to say some nice words about the value of the service to their business and me personally.

Working with companies like Mondo is what makes my job enjoyable.

work video
August 16, 2020 at 5:51pm

International Mac Nerds

Martin Feld, Jason Burk and I recorded a pilot episode’ of a podcast idea we had been germinating.

Martin has been kind enough to host the episode on his site.

podcast link