Sunday, October 07, 2007


The last post generated a few comments, and I have time to answer those now. It's Sunday evening, I've just finished prepping our tax paperwork, to go our accountant tomorrow and somewhere outside I just heard a kookaburra "laughing" maniacally. It's probably hunting in the twilight, and I wish it well - I think there is a mouse living in my compost bin!

First, thank you all for your feedback - it's nice to know that I'm not talking to myself!

There is a question from Brab, who asks how I use Curio beyond note taking, and how I decide whether to start a document in Curio or EagleFiler. The first thing I "drew" in Curio, almost the first time I used it, was a 3 page layout of how I thought a web site should look. It was extremely basic, just boxes and text, with a bit of coloured fill. I PDF'd the result and sent it to the man who owned the budget that was supposed to pay for a particular marketing campaign. Next thing knew, I'd been asked to attend a meeting with the marketing people, who seemed astounded to find an engineer who they could talk to; I'm still working with them, and so far as I'm concerned, that 3 page layout paid for Curio right then and there. I'd only been in my current job a few weeks, and I was still in that odd phase that you get at the beginning of a new job, where most of your coworkers know nothing about you, other than what they read in the welcome email that your manager broadcast: nobody is quite sure what your skill set is, or how to engage with you usefully. I needed to demonstrate a general willingness to do whatever needed doing, which I find is the secret to success in most jobs, and to raise my profile within the organization. Curio helped me do that, getting me introductions to people who I otherwise might not have met for months..

I also use Curio when I need to "collage" something together, so I can see all the related bits. And if it happens to be open when I take a phone call, I'll take notes directly into it, or jot down phone numbers, though they will probably get moved somewhere else pretty quickly.

In 2005, I had to study for the CISSP exam, which is a 5 hour marathon and not something I want to repeat (see for details, basically CISSP is a well thought of security qualification). To get the huge amount of information requiredto pass the exam to stay in my brain, I drew a series of mind maps, on large pieces of paper, with markers and coloured pencils. It must have worked, because I passed the exam (to my great relief, my then employer had mandated that the entire security practice had to pass this exam, so it was a bit public, and I'm not good with personal failure). However, the mind maps (which I am reluctant to destroy) are a nuisance to store, so I am converting them to Curio documents.

Finished Curio documents get stored in EagleFiler, and Curio gets used to bring documents from EagleFiler together on one page. Not many documents get started in EagleFiler, with the exception of login credentials, which I store as text files. Generally, if I am starting a document, I start in Word if I only expect to need text and I will need to send the results to a colleague; in Notebook if I am drafting a blog or an email; or in Curio if I expect to need diagrams or graphics. I should state that mine is currently the only Mac on the corporate network, so I have to use applications that give me some degree of portability with the PC users around me (though I do believe that some of my co-workers may be considering a change of platform).

For me, EagleFiler is the giant filing drawer where web pages, receipts, passwords, cartoons, Office documents and PDFs get dumped. My main database contains everything from knitting patterns to technical documents.

Dana asked what I draw with. Because my work is technical, much of what I need to draw lends itself to simple boxes and lines: flow charts and network diagrams for the most part. Those can easily be drawn with Curio's shape and line tools. If I need to mark up a graphic, I can usually manage with my mouse and the highlighter tool. If I want to draw "properly", I have a Wacom Graphire 4 pad. I'm teaching myself to use this, but because I am not burdened with any talent for drawing, it's up hill work.

I also see a note from Greg at Zengobi in the comments. He has answered Dana's questions about Curio versions Thanks Greg, love your work!

Next week I am on leave, and my husband and I are going to Western Australia for a few days. I haven't been to Perth since 1998, and I am told that it is much changed So look out for some pictures of WA next week.


Andrew said...

Thanks for this post. I've just started a new job myself and I know what you mean about having to try to prove yourself. I just wish I could use my Mac at work - I get so frustrated doing things on the PC in a very difficult way, when I know that if I had my Mac and EagleFiler life would be so much simpler!

I hope you enjoy Perth. As a resident here, I can confirm that it has changed a lot in the last 10 years!

Brab said...

Thanks a lot for these additional details. I've been using VoodooPad for my brain dumping, but I like Curio's less constrained approach (each page is not a text document to fill from top to bottom, but just a blank page). I'm not yet committed to it, but I really like the mind map aspects of it. I'll explore a bit more, but thanks again for pointing to it.

Nick said...

I like your blog a lot.

I'm trialing Curio. Interesting app.
I'm curious to know why don't you use Curio for filing as well. It seems to me that it can keep track of files and docs as well or better than Eagle Filer (which I have tried at least four times in the past 6 months and found to be too buggy).

Keep up the good work!

TheWolf said...

I have a major question about this stuff. I'm trying to find the best choice for these programs, and I initially was looking at DevonThink. I don't know how this stuff works, I wish I could find out how to e-mail you with my question... What I'm wondering is why you gave up using DevonThink Pro, because all the other software you reviewed was discussed more, but because Devon was your older software, it didn't seem to be mentioned much. What makes EagleFiler so much better than DevonThink? I'm trying to decide if I should try DevonThink or not. It seems to have a learning curve.


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