Tag Archives: note

ol: One last editor and outliner

A long time ago, I used to keep notes and lists with a normal, everyday text editor, and just draw up a outline format if I needed to show some sort of structure or to-do checkboxes.

Sometime around 2008 or 2009, I found two new applications that quickly took over those roles — one was vimwiki, which I may only need for another day or two, and hnb. hnb was on my system, in spite of its age, for a long five years until I found tudu last summer.

hnb and tudu (and the emacs and vim plugins that do much the same thing) are not the only hierarchical note-takers available. You can add ol to that list, with my endorsement … whatever that’s worth. ๐Ÿ™„


ol stands for “Outliner Lighto,” if the home page is to be believed. And what you see in that image is probably the best snapshot of what it does and how it works.

Arrow keys will navigate through a tree, and leaf nodes expand when you navigate through them. Press “d” to delete a note and all its children, Enter to edit a note, “t” to convert it to a checkbox for to-do lists, “x” to mark a task as done, and so forth. The empty file startup screen will give you help and instructions, if you need it.

Probably one of my favorite things about ol is the cut-and-paste action, or better called the “grab” function. Press “g” and you carry a note with you through the tree, allowing you to arrange and rearrange to your heart’s desire.

Since the display effectively updates as you navigate, it’s a lot easier to organize and visualize than the traditional cut-and-paste model. I like that a lot more than tudu’s way, which borrows yank-and-paste style of vim. And you know how I feel about vim. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

ol is also colorful, even going so far as to assign colors to note depths, which is another wise evolution. hnb and tudu haven’t picked up that idea yet, and it’s one that is probably worth adopting.

I see that ol is written in pascal, which strikes me as unusual, but also completely irrelevant to using the program. As an added bonus, if you’re an hnb user and decide to use this moment to emigrate, there’s a utility that will convert hnb’s text format to a style ol can use.

ol doesn’t have some of the more detailed functions of tudu — like displaying a percentage complete for to-do lists, or allowing extended notes, deadlines and schedule dates. ol probably won’t dethrone tudu for me, for those reasons. I find with tudu that I can rely less on wyrd now too.

That alone is no reason to deny ol the gold star it deserves — for a clean interface, plenty of startup help, easy controls and a few innovative ideas for hierarchical list tools. Don’t spend it all in one place: โญ Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

note: A noteworthy application

Note-taking tools are in abundance at the console, and some of them are so simple as to be almost rudimentary. Even I am guilty of stashing a few oddball commands in a flat text file called “tricks,” and just grepping through it when I need to find something.

The irony of that is that there are many other applications that would do much the same thing, and have internal tools that would save me time and trouble. note, for example, has a clean and easy to manage format, and an interactive mode to boot.


You can kick note into action with just the note command and a flag or two, or you can access its primary functions through the captive interface, like above. Add a note or edit a note, and you drop into your $EDITOR … and I always like it when note-taking tools do that.

Afterward, you can delete notes or even search through them, and you don’t have to rely on shell commands or external programs, unless you want to.

note also supports a “hierarchical” structure that it calls “topics.” If the first line of your note shows a topic path — like “/Wash/dog/” — note will arrange it and list it in topical sequence. This isn’t quite as elaborate as what hnb or tudu can do, but it’s a nice feature.

note has a few other configurations worth mentioning, and the man page is there to walk you through most of them. I was able to install and start using note in a matter of minutes, so unless you need very explicit and esoteric features, it should have replaced your flat-file-plus-grep in very short time.

I don’t see any features on prioritizing, check-box to-do lists, or advanced sorting and management. It may be that those features are better implemented in other tools.

What else should I say … ? In AUR. In Debian. And I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to find it. ๐Ÿ˜

nodau: Take note

nodau, which is the last title for today, is a very simple note taker — in fact, both the Debian version and the AUR description say so.


It’s so simple in fact, that if you clicked on that home page link above, you’ll know that the site itself is effectively blank. That’s pretty simple. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Okay, bad joke. The implications of that empty space in the Whirled Why’d Web are few, but noteworthy ๐Ÿ˜‰ : Arch users who want to give this a try will probably need to wrangle with the source code (which is newer) mirrored in the Debian version.

I know, it’s an added hassle, but it’s worth it. nodau, you see, does a few things that I think are worth note. Get it? Worth note! Ha! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

First, a quick overview. nodau works in a command-interpret style, with the nodau executable taking a command and doing as it’s told. nodau help lists all its vocabulary. nodau list shows you all the notes it has on file. And so forth. It’s not an innovative style, but it’s quick for adoption.

nodau is smart enough to grab your $EDITOR if you declare one, and let you use that in your notable adventures, so if you’re severely addicted to vim or emacs, don’t feel like you’ll have to learn an entirely new editor.

On the other hand, if you are among the sane members of Homo sapiens who reside on this planet (or off it, I guess ๐Ÿ™„ ), nodau provides its own, very basic, very simple text editor to supplement its filing and listing abilities. It’s not flashy and wouldn’t make much of an impression were it to grace this list of its own merit, but it will do.

So you have that ability — to swap out the editor that nodau uses. I like that.

The second option worth listing though, is probably even more useful: nodau can encrypt notes, meaning you can protect prying eyes from reading the next chapter of your Harry Potter/Star Wars fan fiction crossover epic. ๐Ÿ™„ I am full of such wit today. …

Once encrypted, a note becomes obscured and won’t be readable or editable without a password. Tell nodau to unencrypt it, and the note returns to its plain text heritage. I will let you research and judge if nodau’s encryption will pass muster, but I think short of security geeks, criminal cartels and corrupt governments, it will probably offer a reasonable degree of protection.

From what I can tell, nodau keeps its data in ~/.local/share/nodau/, so if you go looking for a local copy, I’d encourage you to start there. And yes, I checked, and the encryption appears effective at a cursory glance.

I won’t hold out nodau as some sort of security application that will prevent hackers from stealing your credit card number, but it does strike me as an unusual feature for an otherwise simple note-taking program. A solid thumbs-up for nodau. ๐Ÿ˜‰

snb: In promising directions

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ll know I was a long-time, die-hard fan of hnb, a note-taking application with a branching structure. It is a very old program — probably second-only to sc, among dated applications that I still used on a daily basis — but never failed to build or do the job.

So I have fond memories. And I’m intrigued that there’s a redrafting of hnb available, running under the name of snb.


And it has a lot of the allure of the original, with a few additions. As I understand it, the biggest draw might be the availability of Unicode characters, provided of course that your terminal supports them.

snb also handles checklists or to-do lists after a fashion, allowing you to tick off an entry with the “d” key. Movement is primarily vi-ish, with the shifted HJKL keys dragging entries up, down, in and out of branches. Most of the other keys you can find in the default page for snb, which will open if you don’t give it a file at startup.

If I understand the startup pages, any configuration is going to require editing the source files and recompiling. That’s probably not a huge inconvenience, and looking over the user.h file, it’s not so terribly different that you might have trouble.

I like snb and if I had found it about six months ago, before I came across tudu, I might have jumped ship in that direction instead. As luck would have it, I’ve gotten used to some features that tudu offers, and stepping away from those isn’t appealing.

snb is a good project though, and I’m curious to see how it evolves.

sncli: For cloud-based to-do lists, and more

About a month ago, Eric sent me a note about sncli, which works as a command-line interface to Simplenote. I’d never used the site before, and I have some reservations about using cloud services for all but the most mundane of data, but I’ll try anything once. Especially if it has this much color:

2014-08-23-6m47421-sncli-01 2014-08-23-6m47421-sncli-02

And true to form, sncli kept the online version up-to-date with my changes. Quite quickly too, I might add. Simplenote had my changes from sncli online before I had clicked on the tab.


And no, I don’t really wash the fish. The fish washes himself, constantly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As I can see it, from what I’ve learned about Simplenote and from working with sncli, the real value in this is the ability to access to-do lists and reminders from devices other than your old 133Mhz Pentium laptop. I don’t have a smartphone (only dumbphones) but if I did, it would be nice to see those lists update between sncli and the web interface and the mobile phone.

sncli itself has more to love than just the color scheme. Off the bat it’s easy to see how it works, and if you’re a fan of the vi-ish control scheme, navigation will appeal to you immediately. You can add a note with “C”, edit one in your $EDITOR with “e”, sync with your online account with “S”, and so forth. Easy to use and remember.

Provided you have a Simplenote account, you can configure sncli with little more than your account name and password. Add those to .snclirc and you’re ready to go … keeping in mind that those are stored in plain text.

That would be only one of my very few suggestions for sncli at this point: Find a way to manage an encrypted password, perhaps along the lines of how gcalcli handles it. Considering gpg is available on just about every system out there, it should be an easy dependency to fulfill.

My only other observation is that the command to view a note in a pager jumps straight to less, while my $PAGER is set to most. Perhaps that could be an option. Oh, and maybe add arrow keys for navigation. Some people will expect that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I like sncli a lot — particularly for the easy setup, good use of color, excellent use of screen real estate, near-immediate synchronizing with the online service, intuitive commands and onboard help. … Oh heck, what’s not to like? Well done. Have a K.Mandla gold star: โญ ๐Ÿ˜‰ Enjoy!

tnote: An application of note

My mental system of categorizing software is breaking down with tnote. I’m not sure exactly what box this should be in.


tnote insists — or at least the home page does — that it’s just a quick application for taking notes. But consider:

  1. It is possible to add, delete, search and edit notes, much like a task organizer;
  2. It is possible to group notes, much like a task organizer; and
  3. It is possible to assign importance to notes, much like a task organizer.

On the other hand. …

  1. There doesn’t seem to be a date system for notes;
  2. There doesn’t seem to be a priority system for notes, other than the “importance” rankings mentioned earlier; and
  3. There doesn’t seem to be any way to tick off or “complete” notes.

All of which suggests tnote is trying to keep itself out of the task organizer box, and operate strictly as a console version of sticky notes. ๐Ÿ˜

All of the features I listed above are described in the man page and help display for tnote. What I didn’t show very well in the screenshot gif, is that tnote intends for you to make long, rambling notes and includes an option for a “brief” display of only the first line.

Furthermore, tnote has an “interactive mode,” which drops you into your $EDITOR and lets you build up an entire sonnet as a note, if you so desire. Nice touch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few caveats though, as must always be the case: First, I have yet to get the “importance” feature to work, and judging by the man page, that’s where the color appears. Shame. … ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Second, tnote seems to display a lot of white space after the note list, and I’m not sure why. None of my notes included empty white space or blank lines (not just the blank line I include as part of my $PS1). I noticed that white space wasn’t in the “brief” display, so perhaps it’s just a quirk.

I like tnote a lot; it has some good features and for the most part does what it promises. It’s a bit of a hybrid, incorporating the ideas in several different groups of programs and making them work in a new way.

Of course, now I have to find a new mental box for it to fit in. ๐Ÿ™„

tina: A funky little data arrangement tool

The home page for tina describes it as a “text-based personal information manager.” Which … I guess is true.


tina takes text data of any sort, and allows you to apply categories — much like you might do with a task organizer or perhaps a to-do list.

Controls are very vi-esque. Press o or SHIFT+O to add an item anywhere in your hierarchy, then press SHIFT+C to “categorize” it. There are navigation, cut, paste, search and other tools available, most of which follow the vi arrangement.

Where tina loses me is when categories themselves get categorized. Apparently it’s possible to categorize the category, then again and again and again.

And it’s also possible, although I’m not sure how I did it, to loop back from a category to the original data set, meaning there’s a circular structure that crops up. That might be just my whacked-out attempt to learn tina though. So if that’s weird for you, just ignore it. On the other hand, that might be useful.

tina saves its data as flat text files, and picking through those might give you some insight as to how tina is meant to be used.

I liked tina for being quick and light and colorful and easy to control, so long as vi controls aren’t foreign to you. It’s a little quirky in its behavior, but I can see where its arrangement and style might be useful, in certain situations. ๐Ÿ™‚

hnb: Quick, clever and clean

I probably shouldn’t mention two task managers in a row, mostly because one may overshadow the other.

But it was yesterday’s run-in with yokadi that made me pick up hnb again.


Not that I had ever really put it down, if I may extend that idiom. But working with task managers and list utilities, like yokadi, remind me of what I like about hnb.

To wit:

  1. Completely visual. Everything is on the screen, both data and controls, with a drop-down menu for more obscure utilities. A command-line interface to the heart of hnb is there too.
  2. Very fast navigation. Jumping between nodes is done with arrow keys, in a very intuitive manner. If you have ever worked in an outline fashion, you’ll love this. Want to keep an entire node open at a time? Try the plus key.
  3. One- and zero-button add and edit. Edit a note? Hit enter and go to work. Add a note? Just start typing. hnb is even smart enough to skip to a similar node as you type, so there’s your bookmarking system. When your text differs from anything else at that level, it pops out a new line, without skipping a beat.
  4. Built-in calendars and tick-mark system. I don’t use the calendar system because wyrd is so strong in that department, but the to-do tick marks and sort functions are genius. True, the calendar creation is a little obtuse, but that’s minor for me.
  5. There are lots of other reasons, most centering around tools that are just too quick and smooth to discard.

    I compare that with key or even full command sequences to add items, edit them, assign priorities and hierarchies, or even just to show a list of things to do.

    I appreciate the work done and the effort shown in applications like devtodo or ikog, and I understand that for some people that approach is preferable.

    But I’ve had hnb on board for years now, and it’s just to quick and easy to let go.