Author Archives: Arno Wouters

About Arno Wouters

Arno Wouters studied biology (Wageningen) and philosophy (Groningen) and earned a PhD in philosophy of science (Utrecht). He is currently unemployed and looking for a job.

Thinking different about groups and tags in DevonThink

DevonThink’s artificial intelligence can be very helpful in organizing a collection of journal articles or other informational documents. To profit from this feature you may need to shift your paradigm: stop to think of DevonThink’s group hierarchy as a filing cabinet that stores your documents and start to think of it as a catalog to a filing system that is hidden from your view.

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Importing Circus Ponies notes into Outline

A few days ago, Gorillized announced a utility to import Circus Ponies notes into their Outline. When you join the “waitlist” for this utility, you are offered the opportunity to inform the developer about the Notebook features that are most important to you1 and you will be notified when the import utility appears. They also offer a 30% discount off the usual price ($40) for Outline for Mac. The iPad version costs $10. Both versions support Dropbox, iCloud Drive, OneDrive, ​and Box. I have no experience with Outline,2 but I will surely try the free trial (14 days) ​when the time comes.

  1. see my Looking for a Notebook replacement for a list of my favorite features. 
  2. My pinboard bookmarks for Outline

No support for offline use in iAnnotate 4

iAnnotate from Branchfire used to be my favorite tool for viewing and annotating PDFs on the iPad. As I explain on my TechTools page, I sync more than 2 Gb of journal articles on Dropbox with iAnnotate 3 on my iPad. Branchfire recently launched iAnnotate 4, “a major update of the app with features you’ve all been asking for”. It is available for the introductory price of $4 from 3 May 2016 until 11 May 2016. After that, it costs $10. It has many new features, including iPhone support, support for viewing and annotating .doc, .ppt, .xls and web pages​, and the ability to access files from iCloud Drive, Google Drive, OneDrive in addition to DropBox. Unfortunately, Branchfire silently dropped iAnnotate’s ability to download files for offline use and to sync back newly made annotations when reconnecting to the internet. Without this capability, ​the app is no longer useful to me. I think I’ll switch to GoodReader ($5) for all my file reading. GoodReader is a much better tool for reading and managing files than iAnnotate and its syncing abilities are unsurpassed. I have used it since I bought my first iPad years ago. I used iAnnotate because GoodReader’s features for PDF annotation were initially rather meager​, but they steadily improved over time.

Circus Ponies died

I just discovered that Circus Ponies Software ceased to exist. Their Notebook programs are no longer available. Their site is reduced to a short note. Their users forum vanished.

This is bad news for all of us who rely on their eminent Notebook for outlining, note taking or note keeping. I myself have more than 10 years of notes in my notebooks. Notebook 4 currently works fine, but I fear that it will no longer do so after the next OS X upgrade. I will start looking for an alternative. If you use NoteBook, you may want to do so too.

You can find more information about Notebook and the way I use it on my tech tools page.

Things to keep in mind when working with fields in Bookends

Bookends’ entries (references) consist of a number of fields containing information about an article, book, chapter or other work, such as its title, its author, its location in an encompassing work, and the date of publication. The user knows what type of content a field is supposed to contain because the fields are informatively labeled (‘Title’, ‘Author’, ‘Journal’, ‘Volume’, ‘Pages’, ‘Date’, etc.). These labels allow you to fill in and understand the entries without knowing anything about the inner workings of the program.

This works fine as long as you do not fiddle with the predefined labels, reference types and output formats.
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