Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Progress of sorts - integrating my simplenote memory extensions with gDrive

Nine years ago I wrote What my blogs are for: memory management and the Google-Gordon geek-mind fusion. It’s hard to believe now, but in those days we did not yet fear Google. Back then, we liked Google. Google was good.

That was a long time ago. Google has since transcended mere human morality (Galactus is a much better name than Alphabet btw). Unfortunately I haven’t transcended my need for artificial extensions to my working memory. To the contrary, that need has grown. Now in addition to my old technical expertise a change in employment means I manage more organizational and political knowledge. Oh, yeah, and I’m back to being a practicing doctor. So now I need to know adult male ambulatory internal medicine. Also, I am old and my brain is crud.

So, yeah, I need those memory extensions. I still use Google’s tools, though the Custom Search Engine I rely on to integrate my blogs with my link share stream and my ancient (hidden) web pages is all but forgotten. Since 2008 though I’ve moved away from the Google dominated web back to files and file systems as a memory store. Carrying a connected computer in my pocket made 1980s style files useful again. I rely in particular on plain text Simplenote to carry around fragments of memory. For regulatory/security reasons I have one Simplenote account for work memory and one for non-work memory — with some notes shared between both using Simplenote’s (simple!) sharing mechanism.

Spotlight indexes simplenote files on my iPhone — sadly only for one account. On my Mac nvAlt syncs to my personal simplenote account — so the text files are indexed by Spotlight there too. Today, guided by a @simplenoteapp tweet I installed Simplenote Electron (which Automattic is abandoning for a future fully native Mac upgrade [1]) and tied that one to my work account. Then I used the improved text export to create a local read-only copy of that memory store — which Spotlight Mac now indexes. So the stores are in one search space at last.

The last twist is that Simplenote local text stores are in a Google Drive folder, so synchronized to gDrive with appropriately stored folders such that appropriate text stores are searchable on both devices. Sadly gDrive does not support “Available offline” at the folder level — so when I don’t have data access I also lose some memory access. (I’m hoping Google will fix this.)

The gDrive integration is important because there are limits to plain text - particularly for medical topics. I have PDFs, Word Docs, Google Sheets and other detritus of decades of notes. I can put all of that in gDrive alongside the text notes and let search figure it out. (This is what Evernote is supposed to be good for but they don’t have a clear exit strategy. It’s trivial to walk away from Simplenote. I need that exit strategy [2].)

It’s all one heck of a kludge, but so is my memory. So kind of fits.

See also:

- fn -

[1] It has the same search bug as Simplenote/Mac!

[2] For example - if they don’t fix that damned search bug [1].


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