January 12, 2023

Looking BackLooking Back

2022 Review

2022 was an interesting year. Life after the advent of COVID needed a lot of adjustments, and I am not sure I am done with that at all. I have managed to avoid COVID so far. The main reason behind that is my tendency to hunker down and decrease all interactions outside the home. In other words, I am scared shitless. It is not a healthy way to live.

Apple Products

Need a new desktop. Have been holding off buying a new computer with the expectation that there will be new iMacs around the corner. The M1 iMacs were launched in May of 2021. They haven’t been updated since. Can’t justify paying full price for a machine which is a year and a half old. The other alternative is the Mac Studio and I am considering that, but an all-in-one configuration has it’s charms. By the end of the first quarter of 2023, I will spring for a new machine.

Apple used to have yearly updates to its machines, they seem to have moved away from that schedule and now you get staggered updates to desktops and laptops. I have heard good things about the latest laptops, but I don’t need portability. I have an old MacBook Air which fulfills my portable computer needs.

Software

2022 was an interesting year for software. I went all in on Obsidian. Got frustrated with it. Switched over to a combination of iA Writer and Sublime Text. Went back to Obsidian. Over the last year, the developers of Obsidian addressed some of my gripes about it. For instance, it now supports macOS Services. “Lazy typing” is still not supported but a Keyboard Maestro macro which turns two spaces to a period and Auto-shift on my Planck keyboard lets me type capital letters without the Shift key being involved in the process. That has made working in Obsidian easier for me.

Obsidian

Obsidian is sneaky. It is ostensibly a Markdown based text editor. But it introduces elements which extend both Markdown and text editors in unique ways. Obsidian Canvas is the latest addition to the program. An interesting implementation of mind-mapping to the tool. Canvas gives you an unlimited canvas to explore ideas. This is not Markdown but you can turn most of it into Markdown. It is a well-thought out implementation of the idea and is a useful tool.

It is sneaky because you are going to be reliant on Obsidian for everything you do. It will add features to Markdown which will make it the only logical program to deal with all the additions that you have incorporated in your writing. They look like plain text in the other editors but they lose the effectiveness when you are not in Obsidian. Callouts is an example of such a feature.

The secret sauce which makes Obsidian shine is Community plugins. There are a host of plugins which add value to the use of Obsidian. I am surprised by the ingenuity of the plug-in developers who extend the usefulness of Obsidian to me. Some of the plug-ins which get used significantly include:

I have a lot more plug-ins installed. They improve search, keyboard commands and some other assorted functions on the editor.

The experience of using Obsidian is not unlike that of using Emacs or VIM on the computer. You are going to go into the rabbit hole of customizations since a lot of Obsidian is customizable. Your work will suffer from this obsession. That is one of those things which make iA Writer a useful foil. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, iA Writer is barely customizable. I am trying to achieve a desirable middle ground.

Helping with that middle ground is a theme called Minimal. I use it. I don’t care about any other themes. This is the one which reduces my need to customize the look of the editor. It works. It helps that it comes with the following color schemes: Atom, Ayu, Catpuccin, Everforest, Gruvbox, macOS, Nord, Notion, Solarized, and Things. I switch between the color schemes available when I get tired of Solarized.

I use Obsidian because it lets me use themes and my own fonts. It lets me manage my tasks through Kanban boards and task lists. Lets me read my books. Take notes. It is customizable to an insane level. It lets me think and write. Over the years, I have realized that the perfect text editor does not exist. There is friction associated with the use of any editor you choose. Obsidian, at this stage is the text editor with the least amount of friction for me.

The only thing which occasionally bugs me about Obsidian: Electron uses a ton of memory. Not as much as it used to, but it is noticeable.

I love working in Obsidian. My use case is not representative of the “typical” Obsidian user. I am not interested in “knowledge management,” am interested in taking notes. Notes which make sense to me. Not interested in MOCs (mainly because I don’t know what it means). I am interested in notes, categorizing them with tags, and being able to locate them when I need them. I link to connected notes in a haphazard way. I am not interested in creating a knowledge network. My networking of notes is geared towards corralling notes together which I might need later. It is geared towards reminding future me that there are associated notes which I might want to explore. The new-fangled terminology around the whole field of “knowledge management” seems a fad which I am skeptical about.

SF Mono

I have found a font which I am using for everything. SF Mono.

Bike Outliner

Besides Obsidian, Bike Outliner is the program which gets the most use on my machine. It is the best outlining application that I have ever used.

More Solutions Which Get Used Every Day

These get used on my computer multiple times every day:

Conclusion

2022 was a strange year. I was not as productive. Hope to get back to a normal level of productivity this year. Will see how that goes.

Note: Thanks to George Milton for the photo.


macOS


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QB 011: Note-taking and Knowledge Management Jack wrote that Personal Knowledge Management is exhausting. I found myself agreeing with his conclusions. I made the mistake of reading “How to