OWL (Outliner with Wiki Linking) (2013)

Mid 2013, Dave Winer open-sourced the Concord editor : a new outliner ported to work in the browser. This was an exciting moment for me as I’m a big outliner fan and the browser was badly missing a decent outliner. I immediately started playing with it.

The resulting OWL (Outliner with Wiki Linking) embeds Concord in the context of a wiki-like collection of named pages and adds a way to easily create hyperlinks to these new pages. (Unlike the orginal wiki I’ve moved away from CamelCase, but I’ve kept the “concrete pagenames” convention.)

I am very happy with the result and use it for my own notebook / brainstorming tool. It combines two very powerful information / idea organizing tropes in an intuitive and easy to use way. Because Concord is just the in-browser editor part, I’ve had to add page-store management code for different environments. I now run OWL (everyday) in two contexts : on my Linux laptop and on my Android tablet.

For the laptop version, I wrote a small Python web-server which saves the pages to disk, and to which the user connects from the browser. For the Android version, I created a small Android app. to talk to the local file-system and embedded the HTML component in a “webview”.

I now use btsync to keep the collection of pages synced between the two machines, giving me the advantages of a single shared collection of notes, without a) having to be online all the time, b) having to run a publicly visible webserver that would need to check user credentials etc. or c) depending on a centralized cloud-service like Dropbox or Evernote which is easily read by the NSA.

The code for both versions is available on GitHub :

OWL for laptop »

OWL Android app ».

Small Tools (2013)

A couple of small tools :

RSS Backup : A script to save items from an RSS feed as distinct files on your local machine. Originally used to backup my answers on Quora it’s now generalized so you can save any RSS feed.

On GitHub »

Planet Builder : I run a couple of copies of the old PlanetPlanet (a Python RSS aggregator) to create rivers of news about particularly interesting themes. These scripts make it easy for me to set-up new installations of PlanetPlanet.

On GitHub »

Mind Traffic Control (2007 – 2013)

Originally an excercise in learning to use the Google App Engine, MTC is a minimal but social task management software whose main feature is to let you manage “todo queues” rather than “todo lists”. Although basic it provides a workable way to track delegation of tasks to your colleagues.

Site : Mind Traffic Control