Ramblings from Josh Sullivan

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Fri, 17 May 2019

Monica CRM Experiment

Monica CRM was a very interesting experiment but it won’t last. TheBrain makes better connections for people, plus the notes and attachments are great in TheBrain but in Monica were a bit tedious to maintain. I like the interface and with some basic improvements it would do great. At this point in time I don’t think it is at a point where I can move everything from DEVONthink and TheBrain into Monica.

I am going to keep Monica up and running, I’ve moved it to one of my production Droplets on DigitalOcean so I can have the test server back. I’ll see if the updates in the future help improve notes/attachments and hope one day it can replace the homemade solution I have now.

thebrain devonthink

Sun, 14 Apr 2019

Browsing Privacy

I’ve recently gone all in on privacy related to my browsing habits. I’ve switched to Brave for my browser and use DuckDuckGo for my search engine with fall back to Wikipedia via Bangs. Brave is a Chrominium based browser and therefore has the entire Chrome extensions library available while also respecting your privacy. It isn’t as resource intensive as Chrome on macOS, but Safari is still far better. Unfortunately, I keep finding more and more sites that have issues on Safari that don’t occur in Brave. Plus Brave allows you to block JavaScript which has been useful in preventing the annoying You have an Ad Blocker, please whitelist us” popups, if it’s a small site I usually whitelist unless they are obnoxious with their ads/popups, but for sites like NBC Brave JS blocking is excellent.

My browsing habits don’t require the need to hide them from people, I share a lot of my life online between this blog and my wiki, but that doesn’t mean I want to freely market myself to companies that don’t need my information. I’ve found with Brave and DuckDuckGo, sometimes my results aren’t as accurate as they were on Google, but more often than not they return the correct results. In the cases I don’t find what I am expecting a quick visit to Google will get the result, and with Brave Private Tor Browser, Google can’t tie my search to my profile. Another great benefit of the Brave browser is its ability to stop all auto-play videos, Safari has this feature, but I found a couple of sites it didn’t work on, Brave blocks them no matter what. If you are looking for a browser that respects your privacy, I think Brave is a great solution that is worth at least downloading and trying out.


Mon, 8 Apr 2019

BrainBox Shortcuts

TheBrain’s BrainBox is a great new feature in version 10. Think of BrainBox as a global inbox for TheBrain. On the desktop, you can add files to it, and in browsers, you can add URLs. Unfortunately, it falls short on iOS in capturing in different applications and different data types.

I’ve created two shortcuts to compensate for the inability to capture URLs anywhere but Safari or Safari web view.

  1. Add to BrainBox: takes the currently open page of an application in a web view and passes the URL to the share sheet, at which point BrainBox can be seen, and the URL can be sent to it.
  2. Add Clipboard to BrainBox: takes the current clipboard then shares it to the share sheet as a URL, at which point BrainBox can be invoked to pick up the URL and save to TheBrain.

Both of these actions do not require the opening of TheBrain due to the BrainBox syncing within the extension.

My BrainBox Wish List:

  1. Add other data types, such as Text Files, Photos, and Outlines.
  2. Web view on app.thebrain.com (Which is supposedly being developed)
  3. Integration within Shortcuts; Not just an extension but API access within Shortcuts will enable so many actions throughout iOS.

I’m looking forward to how TheBrain Technologies further develops BrainBox and hope to see at least the first two on my wish list added before the year is out. Hopefully the third is added at some point because I do believe that a great many people will make some great Shortcuts to improve their workflows.


Tue, 2 Apr 2019

Rise and Fall of Evernote

Ahead of Its Time, Behind the Curve: Why Evernote Failed to Realize Its Potential

This is a great read, listing all the steps Evernote took to lead it to where it currently is situated. I loved Evernote in the beginning and used it for some years, and then I encountered a bug that showed about a quarter of my notes as empty. I immediately left for DEVONthink and haven’t looked back. I did eventually sign into Evernote again about a year later and found that the notes content were visible again, so I quickly used the DEVONthink Evernote import tool and imported all the notes, I’ve not signed in or been tempted to use Evernote since.

Evernote had the promise to be such a great product, and I think it could have achieved it. Unfortunately, they branched out to multiple different areas to quickly and stopped concentrating on the main product. The Mac app became so buggy I remember numerous people flocking to Apple Notes. At that point Evernote started to become more of a joke than anything, then of course Work, Chat, Socks, and other ridiculous popups started and Evernote lost most if not all credibility with power users and even a lot of regular users.

Even if Evernote had become the power product that was first envisioned for itself, at this point I still would have left it. Currently, I like hosting my content and making sure I have control over everything I do and use. DEVONthink can be purely hosted by myself via Sync Stores through WebDav on my Synology, although I use iCloud for syncing. But if iCloud went away tomorrow, I can switch to Dropbox, or WebDAV and host it myself on my Synology or a VPS that I control.

For most people, if Evernote had continued on the path of improving the main functionality and keeping resources behind it, I believe they would currently have many loyal users. Who knows where Evernote would be today if they had continued their progress from the late 2000s and early 2010s, but I think now is an excellent time for Evernote to quietly devote time and resources into fixing the issues they have, then build upon that success and maybe it will once again be a service to which people flock.

software devonthink link

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