WiPPP moved to Squarespace

Wordpress was the original blogging platform for WiPPP, but over the past year, I became increasingly disheartened with the classic blogging tool. Maintaining my site in Wordpress became a chore. I prefer developing content to maintaining a web site.

Several years ago, I decided to run my online professional portfolio, jeffreytaekman.com from Squarespace. I have been so impressed with the ease-of-use and support that I decided to transition WiPPP to Squarespace.

Over the next several weeks, you will notice a new format for WiPPP. The transition has not been pain-free. Although Squarespace's import tool worked amazingly well, many of the backlinks to historical posts have broken. Please bear with me while I correct these issues. If you notice a broken link or other problem with WiPPP, please send me a message so the issue can be fixed.

Thanks again for reading.

Sincerely, Jeff Taekman

Modification to Reading, Extracting And Storing Scholarly Information To Supercharge The Writing Process

In Reading, Extracting And Storing Scholarly Information To Supercharge The Writing Process, I wrote about how I extracted both highlights and full-text of entire manuscripts in order to give me granular access to information. Although I’ve continued my extraction of highlights, the extraction of full text (by highlighting the entire document) proved much too time consuming. Instead, I’ve been experimenting with an alternative that is much quicker (as suggested by Andrew in the comments of the entry)—saving the entire manuscript as single-page PDF documents. Here is what I’ve been doing.

After highlighting a manuscript in Highlights.app, I extract my highlights (along with color tags) to Devonthink Pro using the built in export function. By default, Highlights.app saves my extracted highlights files to the DTP Inbox. I move the folder from the DTP Inbox to my Desktop. Within the moved folder I make two new sub-folders: 1. HighlightsX and 2. PDFx. I then move the extracted markdown files to the HighlightsX sub-folder.Within Bookends, I export the annotated pdf to my desktop. There, I open the file with Adobe Acrobat (any app able to add headers and split documents will work).

In the left most header I put the Bookends citation (Bookends: Edit: Copy Citation), in the center I put the DOI number, in the right header, I put the Bookends link (Bookends: Edit: Copy Hypertext Link: Copy as Text). These headings are added to each page of the PDF. I then split the manuscript into multiple single-page documents. I save the split PDF documents to the PDFx sub-folder.

I then move the parent folder my Dropbox Writing folder and Index the folder using DTP. Within DTP I make sure both the main folder and the subfolders will have their tags included (option click on a folder in DTP and make sure “Exclude from Tagging” is unchecked)

.Although this method is faster—there are trade offs. The “Find Also” feature of DTP depends on the words in a document. A document with too many words dilutes the accuracy of the semantic search. A page of text has far more words than an extracted paragraph and thus is slightly less accurate in finding granular information. The other trade-off comes in the amount of text that must be read when searching. It is faster to scan a paragraph versus a whole page of text in a PDF. Regardless, the savings in time using this method far exceeds the trade-offs in accuracy.Let me know what you think.

Deckset: Rapid Presentation Generation using MarkDown

My workflows have changed since I wrote my entry: “Why I Use Plaintext” in June 2012. The entry was about avoiding the distraction of Microsoft Word and Apple Pages while writing. At the time I wrote the entry there was no Ulysses. Now I use Ulysses for almost all my short-form writing. In 2012, there was no iOS version of Scrivener. Now I use Scrivener for all my long-form writing. Although technology has changed, some things have not. I still dislike bloated software packages that get in the way of my final goal. I still love Plaintext / Markdown.There is another requirement of my job that relies just as heavily on bloated software-presentations. Speeding up the development of a presentation is the focus of this entry.Presentations are used throughout business and academia to transmit ideas. Some influential thinkers, such as Edward Tufte, argue bulleted presentations shouldn’t be used at all. The reality is that presentations are deeply ingrained in business and academia. Many presenters rely too heavily on the glitz offered by the software at the expense of content. It’s easy to get lost in software features—spending hours tweaking backgrounds, transitions, and text placement.Which brings me to Deckset. Deckset is an amazing application for iOS that converts Markdown files into presentations. As this review of Deckset 1 in Macworld says: “It’s designed for the average person who needs to make beautiful slides without the muss and fuss of Keynote or PowerPoint.” With the release of Deckset 2 and its outstanding features, the application has become my go-to application for rapid preparation of presentations. Because Deckset uses Markdown, I find myself concentrating less on making my slides look attractive and more on content. Deckset works seamlessly with Ulysses, allowing me to quickly edit my presentations on my phone, my tablet, or my Mac. (You can use any text editor with Deckset. If you plan to use Ulysses, check out these helpful tips).I recently used Deckset to develop a new 30 minute presentation. I estimate the presentation took about 1/4 the amount of time to develop versus Keynote. The cost for Deckset 2 is $29 (with educational discounts available).Here is a link to the Deckset manual.

Bookends Adds Floating Citation Window

I’d like to bring the latest update of BookEnds to your attention.This update fixed an error that would crash the Bookends when trying to obtain a reference (or link back to a reference in Bookends using a DOI link) from Highlights.app. The latest update fixes this error. Clicking on the reference link in Highlights now selects the reference in Bookends without having to modify the Highlights markdown file. This obviates the need to modify the Highlights markdown file as mentioned  in this entry.The latest update also added a floating citation window to Bookends. Like Papers, the floating citation window is invoked using customizable key combinations. So far, I’ve cited using the floating window in Scrivener, Ulysses, and Highlights.app. It works flawlessly.Well done Jon and Sonny Software!

My Migration from Papers to Bookends

I have dedicated a lot of time and energy squeaking every ounce of productivity from the Papers app. I’ve used Papers for more than a decade. Over the years, I built many scripts and work-arounds to address the shortcomings of the application.ReadCube purchased Papers in 2016. Because of the time I’ve spent in Papers, I started having angst when I read of certain changes to the software: a subscription model, the loss of Magic Citations, and the loss of integration with Scrivener.I started exploring alternatives to Papers. When I wrote about my interest in migrating away from Papers, several Wippp Readers suggested I check out Bookends. Several folks raved about the tight integration between Bookends and Devonthink as well as Bookends and Tinderbox—two other programs I use heavily in my academic life. Several people also mentioned the LEGENDARY support of SonnySoft, the company  behind Bookends.My initial evaluation of Bookends was far too cursory. Following publication of the blog entry, I received a very nice email from SonnySoft asking me to take a closer look at Bookends. After digging deep into the software, I decided to migrate from Papers to Bookends. I haven’t looked back. It’s been several months now and the more I use Bookends, the more I like it.Things I like about Bookends:

  • The interface, although not as modern as Papers, is cleaner and more organized.

  • The iOS and Desktop version are better integrated than Papers.

  • A PDF on my phone is drop-dead easy to import into Bookends. The PDF and the metadata I choose is automatically synced with the Mac app (although I have to rename the pdf when I get to my Mac).

  • All PDFs are saved to a single folder in iCloud, making them easy to access and for Devonthink to index.

  • Bookends integrates well with Scrivener (and many other writing clients)

  • Dragging and dropping citations into Tinderbox and Devonthink are both seamless. Tinderbox maintains metadata from Bookends. This obviates the need for the KM script I built to move citations from Papers to Tinderbox.

Things I don’t like:

  • It was difficult to import Papers library with PDF into Bookends (Bookends only imported about 1/3 of my PDFs).

  • I can't export or customize the format of the exported metadata.

  • My smart collections don’t transfer to iOS.

  • Although I can designate a “watch” folder to import new PDFs into Bookends, this only works with PDFs that are saved to the folder AFTER Bookends is open. This didn't work well with how I collect information so I decided to modify my Hazel script, changing it to launch Bookends instead of Papers.

  • I don't like the way duplicate references and / or PDFs are handled.

Over the next few months, I plan to write several entries about my migration and how Bookends has become a critical part of my augmented writing workflow.

Deliveries Automation - The easiest way to track your packages

Here is a quick tip I wish I figured out before the holidays….There is a nifty application for Mac and iOS called Deliveries (by JuneCloud). The app aggregates tracking information of all your packages. I used it over the holidays to track the progress of my gifts. Out of the box, the app uses iCloud to sync data between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Although Deliveries has handy features, it was a multi-step process to get my tracking numbers into the app.The app was so useful, I decided to figure out a way to automate the process of tracking number extraction. JuneCloud was way ahead of me. It turns out there are two ways to sync data in Deliveries: through iCloud or through JuneCloud’s own cloud service, JuneCloud Sync. If you sign up for a JuneCloud Sync account, you can send an email with a tracking number to track@junecloud.com and Deliveries takes care of the rest.I find auto-extraction from forwarded emails extremely easy to use and is a key feature of several of my favorite apps (e.g. Tripit for travel itineraries, of FlightView for flight tracking).I wrote a rule for my email client, Airmail, that automatically forwards tracking emails to the JuneCloud Sync Service:Although I’ve only been using JuneCloud Sync a few days, so far it’s worked flawlessly (with Amazon packages) and has saved me the hassle of cutting and pasting tracking numbers from emails. I’ll report back if I have any trouble with other vendors.

Psychocybernetics and Agile: Goal Setting for the New Year

I'm a big fan of goal setting. I believe in subconscious mind and its role in achieving goals.Years ago I read PsychoCybernetics and strongly believe in its message. If you have not read the book, it essentially promotes the idea that our subconcious has a servo-mechanism that zeros in on wants and desires. The servo mechanism works both positively and negatively—our subconcious thoughts determining our ultimate target.The book convinced me many years ago I should maintain both short and long term goals and I should favor positive imagery and goals over negative thoughts and beliefs.Each year during the last week of December or the first week of January, I do a two-year sweep. I review the things I've accomplished over the previous year and the things I plan to accomplish in the new year. I review my short, medium, and long term goals and begin to build out what the current year will look like. I put my written goals into Evernote. I visually map out my year in MindNode.In addition to my goals, I also scheduled 30 day “sprints.” These are short term goals delving into new areas that interest me. Much of what I do is based on the Agile programming paradigm. An excellent reference on applying Agile to time management is the book: Getting Results the Agile Way.Here is a picture of my template for yearly planning:Now I'm off to do my review. I wish you a happy and healthy 2018.Sincerely, Jeff Taekman.

Folder Structure to Maximize Writing with Devonthink Pro

On several occasions I have written about how I use Devonthink Pro (DTP) for scholarly writing. Although at one point I had all my information on manuscripts in a single DTP database, over the last year I have maintained separate databases; one for PDFs, another for my annotations.I accomplish this by having separate folders in Dropbox. After extracting my annotations from Highlights.app, I place the exported files in their own folder. Once a month, I export all the PDFs in my Paper’s Library to their own Dropbox folder. I use a Hazel script to throw away any duplicate PDFs in the Dropbox folder. I index (not import) the annotations folder into one DTP database, and index my PDFs into another.This setup allows a fair amount of flexibility. Not only is this setup advantageous for writing with DTP (as I will cover in my next entry), it allows easy access to my PDFs for reading with Liquidtext or listening with Voice Dream.

Highlighting PDFs from Within Scrivener

Here is a quick trick to use with Scrivener.I’ve been working on some short executive summaries. For longer projects I tend to keep my research in Devonthink. For these shorter reports, I’ve been importing all the supporting information into Scrivener. On several occasions, I’ve wanted to highlight PDFs within Scrivener.It’s very easy to do. In Scrivener, just click on the button indicated in the picture to launch the imported PDF in your default reader.Holding the button down lets you select a different PDF Reader (and lets you choose to make it your default application). Any highlighting changes are saved back to the PDF in Scrivener. I've used this trick numerous times over the past few weeks. I hope you find it useful too.

Mourning the loss of Integration Between Papers and Scrivener

Early indications, including personal communication with ReadCube personnel, are that Magic Citations (now called SmartCite) will no longer integrate with Scrivener. The new Papers app will only work with Microsoft Word. Bibliography formatting is not an issue for me. The biggest loss is the ability to add citations on the fly in Scrivener without interupting my writing flow.The news of this impending feature loss (along with the announcement of an annual fee) had me scrambling to invesitgate my options for citation managers. During my search, I came across this Wikipedia article, Comparison of Reference Management Software with a great table that collates the majority of software out there.My needs are the following:

  1. Ability to organize and search through metadata and pdfs
  2. Integrated citation insertion with Scrivener and Ulysses
  3. Ability to insert citations while writing on an iOS device
  4. Ability to annotate PDFs and export each comment individually appended with the article's metadata
  5. Ability to export metadata (to enable my workflows for sense-making and export of annotations)

I looked at the following:

  • Zotero
  • Bookends
  • Mendeley
  • Endnote
  • Readcube
  • No product currently fills the void left by Papers, although the consensus of users (both those seeking alternatives to Papers and those who are being forced to leave Sente) seems to be to move to Bookends. I tried the demo version of Bookends and was not impressed. I am waiting impatiently for the release of ReadCube Papers. If the majority of features are retained, I will likely bite the bullet and pay the annual fee. I plan to figure out a work-around to add citations to Scrivener / Ulysses.I'd be interested in hearing your plans / thoughts on academic citation managers.

    ReadCube Release of Papers App

    If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m invested in Papers. The majority of my writing workflows use the app.I’ve been following news about the app with trepidation. Papers “teamed up” with RedCube in March of 2016. Readcube / Papers have been working on a new version of the app. Although the screenshots look reminiscent of Papers, there will be at least one major change; Papers is moving to a subscription model. I have not found pricing information yet.The combination of a new version, and unknown pricing model, and a distrust of traditional publishers has left me wanting to explore my options.I’m curious what app each of you is currently using for manuscript management and bibliography generation (and why). Please leave comments below.Addendum: Beware. Updating to Scrivener 3 breaks Magic Citations in Papers. From what I've read online, Readcube is not saying when (or if) this issue will be resolved.

    OmniFocus Mail Drop Trick

    Here's a quick tip for getting tasks from your email to your OmniFocus Inbox.Many times, requests for my time arrive via email. Committing and tracking this type of request used to be a multi-step process. First, I'd add the email to my OmniFocus Inbox. Then I would reply to the email acknowledging my commitment (or requesting a follow-up).I realized there was an easier way....Now, when replying to an email with a task, I merely put my OmniFocus Mail Drop email address in the bcc field. Using this method, I can respond and track the task in a single button click.

    Travel Receipt Workflow

    Here is a handy workflow to keep track of your reimbursable / billable expenses on the road.Set-up:

    I have an Evernote Notebook that is used solely for professional receipts. This notebook is named “Receipts_Work”. I’ve set up an If This Then That (IFTTT) Applet to send an email when the notebook receives a new note.When I receive a receipt on the road, I immediately scan it with Scannable then save it to my Receipts_Work Notebook. IFTTT monitors the Receipts_Work Notebook. When the new note is detected, it automatically sends an email to both my assistant and my Omnifocus Maildrop address (so the item is added to my Omnifocus Inbox).After my trip, I can go back to my Evernote, select all the receipts/notes from my trip and make a “Table of Contents” using a single button push in Evernote.This workflow simplifies management of reimbursement receipts. Hope it works as well for you as it does for me.