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Re: [O] Need tip/suggesting:org-mode for note taking

From: Paul
Subject: Re: [O] Need tip/suggesting:org-mode for note taking
Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2012 23:59:53 +1100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Hello 包乾,

Apologies in advance if I tell you something you already know or is
rather elementary.  My best experiences with Emacs often coincide with
someone pointing out something really simple that I had been missing
for years!

> However I should say, taking note in org-mode is just not
> comfortable. I considered why it makes me uncomfortable [ ... ] Is
> there any tips or suggestion to overcome these uncomfortable
> feeling?

> 1. I am not familiar with taking notes in plain text file. Usually
> plain text file means hard to navigate, hard to read, ugly
> structure, to me.  Emacs could handle org file quite well, but
> WITHOUT emacs, on windows pc, on mobile device, plain txt is just
> disaster.

It's OK if you don't like Emacs/org-mode - it seems to be something
that will either appeal to some, but really grate with others.  I've
been using Emacs a long time - it really appeals to me - and the idea
that something /isn't/ a "plain text file" is abhorrent to me!  So
give Emacs a fair shot - but if you find you don't like it (or the
underlying paradigms) - use something else and don't feel guilty about

I occasionally run through the TUTORIAL (C-h t) (which still gives me a
headache after all these years) and always find something new or
something I had forgotten.  This may help if you are finding
navigation problematic.

> but WITHOUT emacs, on windows pc, on mobile device, plain txt is
> just disaster.

Well, yes.  It certainly isn't tidy!  However an Evernote file without
Evernote is going to be even more ugly!  (OK, I haven't used
Evernote, but I'm guessing it's like trying to read a Microsoft Word
document without Microsoft Word.)

So - workarounds.  Install Emacs on the Windows PC.  There's MobileOrg
for iPhones and Android.  And don't forget, whilst it may be ugly to
edit your Orgmode file using another text editor in Windows, at least
it is possible - and it will look great when you put it back in Emacs
or export it to PDF, or ODF, or whatever you like.  (Quick note: don't
use Notepad to edit .org files.  Unless something has changed
recently, it will not cope with "Unix-style" line endings.)  (See C-c
C-e in an Orgmode buffer for some export options.  And read the
manual, of course!)

> 2. I don't know how organize all my contents when it become more and
> more.  With a hand writing notebook, I have physical "pages", in
> Microsoft Word, I also have virtual "pages". In org-mode org file, I
> don't. It's like my org file is a endless roll of toilet
> paper(forgive me for being rude)! And I think it's the main reason
> makes me feels so uncomfortable to handle org file.

Yes, it can be a bit unnerving.  You just have to change the way you

Remember of course, that headlines in orgmode can be "folded" - so you
don't have to see everything at once.  So, let's say you have a large
file, but at the moment you only want to concentrate on your pet cat:

    * TODO...
    * Reasons I Love My Cat
    ** cat is furry
    ** cat helps me type
    * Recipes...

Note how everything under "TODO" and "Recipes" are hidden by the
ellipsis?  Today we concentrate on the cat, but later we can hide the
cat topic (press TAB on its headline), and we can expand (for
instance) the "TODO" topic.

Perhaps you could store subtopics in separate files?  You can link
between them easily enough.  Actually I use one big file where I store
all my little tidbits that I want to remember.  With headline folding
its only ten lines long.  In reality, it's 3250 lines, but it doesn't
matter, because I only have to see the overview - or drill down levels
as required.

I love your "toilet roll" analogy!  Very apt.  I remember reading
about an early word processor that didn't have a concept of file, but
rather stored everything in one big journal (or toilet roll :-) Users
simply found where they wanted to be by searching for the appropriate
text.  I do the same thing with Emacs - zoom to wherever I want to be
using the amazing C-s functionality.  In many ways, I wish this would
map over to real life - I'd much prefer to have /all/ my handwritten
notes in a single binder - especially if weight wasn't a consideration
and I wasn't worried I might lose it.

> 3. Hard to import pictures, web pages...into org file.(In fact I
> don't know how).

Well, you don't really "import".  You "link".  The detail is in the
manual, but here's a quick starter:

Here's what you type:

    [[~/cute-doggy.jpg][Picture of Mr Fluffy]]
    [[http://orgmode.org/org.html#Hyperlinks][Org Mode Hyperlinks]]

And this is what it turns into:


(You have to imagine the above are underlined, and if you click on
them the link is activated - just like in your web browser.)  In fact,
if you export to HTML, they actually become real hyperlinks.  Or
perhaps you'd like the picture of "Mr Fluffy" to be inline - you can
do that too.  (See "Export Options" in the manual for more detail.)

I'd recommend checking out "Capture templates", especially if your
primary interest is keeping track of stuff you learn.  If you want to
remember something, you hit a couple of keys and Emacs prompts you for
information (of course you get to tell it what to prompt for).  This
way, you can quickly jot something down without really having to think
too much about the process.

So, in summary:

  * if you have given it a fair try, but still don't like orgmode -
    stop using it and find something you like

  * do the Emacs Tutorial every so often and discover something
    amazing that somehow you missed last time

  * read about "Capture", and capture templates

  * read the Orgmode manual again and marvel at the possibilities

Have fun!

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