Short story writer, aspiring game designer, bad chess player.

Infobase to Replace Globonotes

Digital clutter is not just about the mess of files, folders and storage devices overwhelming us. It's also about the visual clutter on our monitors and laptops. Personally, I can only take so much. That's why I'm happy to have found a freeware app called Infobase, thanks to Deanna McElveen, at

The main issue I have with the otherwise excellent Globonotes is that, if I choose to keep my notes visible, each one is an individual "sticky note" on my secondary monitor. I could hide notes, but then I would forget about them!

Over the past few months, though, I have needed fewer and fewer notes. This may be due to removing clutter and thus, having fewer things to track. It may also be due to my neater file structure, inbox-zero and moratorium on AppSumo. Who knows? This decrease in note-taking has enabled me to entertain the idea of keeping the notes in a single window. Infobase does that.

I've just start playing with it and, as with any app, it takes a bit of getting used to. My first task is to copy my notes from Globonotes. Later, I'll dive into the help file to see what other features are buried in this gem. Deanna warns us that there are a lot!

So, I guess the phrase of the day is, "Out of sight, but not out of my mind."

Thanks for the Memory Sticks

This is going to be short and sweet.

Over the years, I have acquired more than half a dozen USB keys (flash drives, memory sticks, plastic thingies.) I just ran most of them through a secure eraser app.

They've been retired to a little plastic box, just in case ...

Whatever will I do when I need to transfer a huge file?


Digital Diet 2022

With the new year comes my usual resistance to resolutions. I have nothing against those declarations; I merely refuse to regurgitate the same list of unsustainable objectives that I failed at 25 years ago.

But, my resolve to declutter my digital world has gathered steam. I'm happy to expound on this topic for the benefit of the five people who read this blog.

First, I had to define the parameters of decluttering. Bookmarking, File Maintenance and Email Management represented the three major sources of angst.

Next, I had to identify the causes of clutter. Initially, I blamed everything on technology. Ultimately, I realized that my behaviors were the root cause of clutter: Obsession, Shiny Object Syndrome and Misusing Software.

Finally, I decided to work on the root causes. Ironically, technology helped the most!


As a programmer, I wanted the perfect application, even if it was for my own use. As a digital content consumer I wanted the perfect system for storing and retrieving files. Somehow, these two desires were always at odds within the confines of my personal computers.

For instance, I never, ever liked the default Windows Explorer and Windows Search utilities. I tried many alternatives and finally found two useful alternatives:

  • Xyplorer.exe - for  day-to day file operations
  • Everything.exe - for file name searching

Sadly, these do nothing to kickstart file organization. They just show me my mess in all its glory.

As for bookmarking websites, the main issue I had with browser bookmarks was not being able to search and organize them. I never gave up looking for the perfect extension. I think I have found it in Workona, a tab manager that also saves web pages.

Shiny Object Syndrome

This is the big one. I had acquired so many programs, plug-ins, educational products and courses, that my hard drive was burgeoning with folders. I blamed AppSumo but, really, I just like to play with software!

Technology couldn't help me in this instance. I didn't want to close my AppSumo account because good software is available from time to time. Instead, I embarked on a two-step withdrawal process:

  1. Visit the site, see the software and look at the 1- and 2-star reviews. Those were often sufficient to quell my knee-jerk purchasing impulses;
  2. Delete the AppSumo emails without even reading them!

Once I got AppSumo under control, the other software companies weren't so enticing anymore. Weird, but I'll take that.

Misusing Software

Here is just one example: if the purpose of Gmail is to enable me to send and receive messages, then treating it as a database is misuse! If you are familiar with Inbox-zero, Getting Things Done and similar philosophies, You'll know that the focus is on processing each email message and deleting it.

There is nothing wrong with retaining information from email. The point is to store it in a more suitable location. Think about your own mail that comes into your house. If you let it pile up unopened, you'll end up with a time-consuming mess to wade through. Instead, you want to toss the junk mail, pay the bills (or at least acknowledge them) and file important letters away.

With Gmail, I spent too much time organizing my email. Eventually, I embraced the idea of actually processing the emails right out of my inbox. I dispensed with 90% of the organizational filters, keeping only Family, Friends and Clients.

Sadly, there are dozens of of software and utilities that I misuse. Even my beloved Xyplorer! That leads to the point of this post: I learned a new trick to simplify file maintenance.

It Was Always About the Tags

I have alluded to the efficiency imparted by using tags instead of folders. But, until this morning, I never realized just how easy I could make my computer life. Normally, I misuse Xyplorer by building category trees (basically, short-cuts to files I use often.) Although the feature is powerful, it conflicts with one of my adopted file management philosophies: Johnny Decimal.

With the Johnny Decimal System, I have the flexibility to rearrange the logical organization of files. Sometimes, I'll move entire folders to another area. Obviously, this breaks the Xyplorer category trees!

What I discovered today is that I do not need to use category trees so extensively. All I have to do is give each folder a specific tag and then search for that tag using Everything.exe!

When I find the folder I want, I just double-click it and Everything instructs Xyplorer to navigate to that folder's location.

This sounds simple because it is!

Unsubscribe, Cancel and Decline

To tackle the clutter of email even more, I'm working on leaving a lot of places. LOL

I talked about this before. Essentially, I need to let some stuff go. More importantly, once I leave, I need to just say, "No" to new offers. Actually, I have a more fun way to check things out without a long-term commitment to my inbox: Burnermail. In fact, it saved me some money!

The Fight Continues

I still need to do something about the 99,912 .mp3 music files, 5,587 .pdf files and countless abandoned projects. (Numbers supplied by Everything.)

Stay tuned for more Digital Diet!

Destruction of Filters

What if we attempted to live a filter-free digital life? I'm not talking about artistic filters or cigarettes, though the latter would probably be a really bad idea. No, I'm talking about Gmail filters.

Some filters in Gmail are downright useful. Being able to delete unwanted email, sight unseen, is a time-saver. However, the filters that "move" incoming email from the inbox to arbitrary labels seem to invite us to spend more time clicking from label to label than just reading the emails one after the other!

I was proud of myself when I reorganized my labels and reduced them from way too many to just enough. Interestingly, less than nine months later, I've felt the need to add more filters. When I thought about it, I realized that my primary filter was broken! I was subscribing to too many things (and not using BurnerMail, duh!!)

Rather than succumb to the urge to filter this new batch of emails, my goal is to unsubscribe from as many as I can and get rid of all filters except the following:

  • Filters that delete unwanted email
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Clients

Deleting from the inbox after reading is faster than clicking the dozen labels I now have. The three labels I keep will help me to prioritize my reading.

Anyway, I don't suppose this idea will appeal to many people. It seems a bit scorched-earth, after all. But, that is what this Digital Diet is all about. One side benefit from all this is that I can finally delete my semi-automatic Gmail Filter spreadsheet. Talk about busy work! (See the Email Filter Shmilter post for details on that.)

Crumbling Cookies

I use a service that helps me keep my websites GDPR-compliant. In early October, 2021, the service alerted me to changes in the GDPR that mandated logging cookie consent.

Remember Sarbanes-Oxley? I'm sure the financial institutions have come to grips with it but, when it first came out, businesses complained that it was too onerous.

Well, this latest GDPR requirement seems entirely too onerous! Obviously, I'm not set up to do my own logging, otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this. The issue, for me, is that this new mandate would incur a monthly fee from my service provider.

While the fee is as inexpensive insurance against fines, I'm looking at this whole GDPR compliance issue as an unnecessary drain on my wallet. Naturally, I asked, "What if I didn't use any cookies?"

Well, I would be in compliance, that's what! I hunted around to see if anyone had tried running a website without cookies. After all, web pages predates cookies! Here's what I found: Scott Cole ran his website without cookies and shared the impact of this decision in a followup post.

I am encouraged by this impact statement. Bottom line: most WordPress plug-ins don't set cookies. If I delete the few that do, then I should be cookie free!

The Digital Diet continues...

Wiki? Wacky!

Digital clutter is in the eye of the beholder. One man's heap is another man's folder. Mo' software, mo' problems. If you need 10,000 hours to master something (spoiler: you don't), you would need a decade to master just ten programs! During that span, nine of them would have become obsolete and the other one would have become so far removed from its origins that you still wouldn't be able to use it to its full potential.

The solution, of course, is to master the art of creating a wiki. Not just any old wiki, though. It has to be something that will last at least as long as you care about organizing your data. It has to be easy, portable and powerful. For me, that means TiddlyWiki.

For starters, TiddlyWiki (like all wikis) is a hypertext document. This means I can replace my browser bookmarks with a contextual collection of hyperlinks. In addition, I can link to files--whether they reside on my hard drives or live in the cloud. Finally, I can link to other parts of the wiki. 

Next, TiddlyWiki is self-contained. I don't need a server-based platform, although that's a viable option. TiddlyWiki uses JavaScript and HTML to work its magic. Nothing beats clutter like a really large container with a lid.

Finally, TiddlyWiki is powerful enough to be useful in many contexts. I have created user manuals for clients, a bug tracker for my own software and I have used it as an alternative to Scrivener for outlining complex plots.

In all honesty, TiddlyWiki is just another shovel for my pile of digital crap. It's hardly going to make me stop using Globonote, Workona, RoboForm and Standard Notes (which you're looking at right now.)

Facing Down the Gnarly Beast

I just realized that the key enabler for Shiny Object Syndrome is curiosity. While that may seem obvious, I promise you that I hadn't considered it until just now. Curiosity is not a bad thing, nothwithstanding its relationship with "morbid". I think that it simply needs boundaries.

Rule #1: Don't Give Scissors to a Cat

If a tool is not useful, why have it? Unless you are a collector, you should save your money and closet space for other things.

Rule #2: If the Cat Must Have Scissors, Choose Plastic

Free and open source software will only cost you time and space on your hard drive. Scratch that itch, if you must.

Rule #3: Don't Let Your Cat Watch YouTube

If you put scissors near a cat, you have to expect the cat to investigate the shiny object.

Hopefully, you realize that "cat" is your curiosity and, while it won't be killed (the analogy doesn't hold, for one thing), there is also no guarantee that satisfaction will be in the mix. Currently, AppSumo is my favorite place to find scissors. Their marketing videos are slick but none of the offerings are plastic (with the exception of a few apps they've made for their subscribers.)

Since I've blithely ignored all three rules, I had to come up with a fourth one to save myself:

Rule #4: Teach Your Cat Critical Thinking Skills

  • Sort the reviews from worst to best and read them all, along with the company's replies.
  • Picture yourself actually using the tool in your business
  • Often, AppSumo tells you that the offering is an alternative to similar tools; compare them!
  • Check your budget
  • Wait two days
  • Notice that you don't actually need the thing, after all.

If all else fails, return to Rule #3 and stay away from marketers. LOL

A Magic Wand Called "Unsubscribe"

I tend to make too much of relatively trivial things. It's a mindset thing, so I am not going to bore you with why. Instead, let me bore you with a brief discourse about the most mundane tool in the Digital Diet's arsenal:


The ability to unsubscribe is tempered by the phantom Fear of Missing Out. I've remained on lists in hopes that the content would someday be life-changing. I've stayed in forums to nurture imaginary relationships. Bah! Unsubscribe.

Shiny Object Syndrome

Since impulse purchasing is the root cause of many of these subscriptions, isn't it reasonable to assume that the shine has worn off of many subscriptions? Unread PDFs, outdated plug-ins and forgotten Udemy Courses (only 9.00 apiece, but that's 99.00 I'll never get back.) Unsubscribe.

Reciprocity Fails

If you're not a blogger or social media amplifier, you may not know about Social Proof's baby sister. You can read about her here and here (where you can tl;dr straight to the interesting conclusion of the study.) Personally, I found reciprocity to be a bit one-sided. It's probably due to the filtering effect that occurred when bloggers repeated what they thought was the intent of reciprocity.

Much like the old game of Telephone, the message of social reciprocity morphed into "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." I'm basing this on the 4-year difference between the two links above. In essence, I believe that reciprocity went from a gift that kept on giving, to a whiny, privileged-based expectation.

Having bought into the wronger version of the concept of reciprocity, I am not surprised at the abysmal ROI. I'm waving the magic wand to make them all disappear. Unsubscribe.

Identity = Accountability

As an aside, I do believe that identity plays a role in reciprocity. If you find a 20.00 bill on the street, you certainly don't feel the need to drop one of your own bills in return. (This is not to be confused with paying it forward, which dictates that you do something nice for someone else.) However, if your friend hands you twenty bucks to get you out of a potentially embarrassing situation, you'll probably feel a strong urge to repay the favor at some point.

This means that when someone interacts on your blog or your social media, you're probably going to feel a twinge if you don't reciprocate. But, at the end of the day, you two are likely just a pair of random ships, passing each other. If you are more than that, then reciprocity follows social norms, obviously. And by social norms, I mean this.

Workona vs Pinned Tabs

Since this is not a review post, here is the tl;dr (411):

Workona wins!

Workona has workspaces, within which I can save tabs as well as bookmarks called resources. Whenever I switch to a different workspace, the open tabs are swapped out with whatever tabs I had open the last time I viewed the workspace. That's nice and all, but I have a few tabs that I would like to be available at all times.

This goes against the core philosophy of Workona, which aims to enhance focus by removing distractions. So, my workaround has been to pin the tabs to Edge! Yay.

That's fine until the pin tabs are forgotten. Googlezens have complained loudly, so I know it's not just me. In an effort to preserve the tabs, I created a Workona wokspace call Pinned Tabs. This workspace has one resource that contains the dozen or so tabs I might want to open and repin.

Guess what? That's a pain! It's faster to distribute the pins to relevant workspaces and simply switch to them when I need to. There is the risk of forgetting to check a site, though. The solution to that is simple. If it is important, I can just type the first few letters of the site and autocomplete will get me there.


Demote Evernote

Ugh! I can't bring myself to delete my account. Luckily, I don't have to. I'm just going to stop paying for it. One of these days, I may actually close it. For now, I don't need to make a hasty decision, since Evernote basically can become free cloud storage:

This is the key bit, from the Evernote Help & Learning Center:

Your subscription won't change until your current billing cycle ends. Once your subscription runs out, your subscription will be canceled, and your account will automatically revert to Evernote Free. None of your data will be lost, and you will maintain access to all of your notes and notebooks.

Since I switched to Standard Notes, I had given myself until September, 2021 to transfer Evernote to the new platform. I've completed that task. I still have 4,500+ notes that are more or less random clippings from the web. Sprinkled among the chaff are some fleeting thoughts. By retaining my account, I can browse through my notes, looking for them--like popping in an old VHS of home movies.

Here's one:

Humorous T-shirt Idea

I need a design around this:

Remember, It's All

01000010 01010101 01001100 01001100

01010011 01001000 01001001 01010100

Install Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a glorious suite of productivity software, supported by the same clown car that swerves over everything that Microsoft owns. Let's see who the clowns are, crammed into the 1990 Volkswagen Beetle:

Accounts - I have personal and business accounts, each with it own, MS enforced email address
Crapware - It's not exactly crap, but most laptops come with a trial of some version of Office
Authentication - This is actually good, but causes confusion, because both accounts authenticate to my mobile phone.
Online Help - Though it is a muddled nightmare, one of the links finally pointed me to the right login.
Installation - there are actually TWO components: "Office" and "Other Apps"

Every time I have had to reinstall Windows 10 or set up a new laptop, the clown car threatens to run me over. Here's the latest drive-by horror story:

I can never remember if I can "upgrade" the crapware to my Enterprise version and always wind up wasting time launching and staring futilely at trial version screens, as if willing the installation genie to pop up. Eventually, I decide to install Microsoft Office from a so-called downloader file (OfficeSetup.exe).

It takes a while to pull down the apps from the MS store. Afterwards, a link to the Access database appeared in my Start window. It wasn't there before because Access isn't part of the crapware package. However, when I launch it, a window pops up, saying that Access isn't part of the account. 

Obviously, I am not signed in to my Enterprise account. Heaven help me, I sign out and try to sign in to Enterprise and the login screen reads, "Invalid email"! I looked over at my other laptop, compare addresses. Nope, no typo. Eventually, I realize that I am trying to do a "Switch Account" within the personal accounts ecosystem. This is why point decent online help is vital. When all else fails, read the f... wait, this complex office suite doesn't have a manual! Normal people's first thought when setting up a laptop probably isn't, "Hmmm, let me go to the web and make sure I'm doing this right." I think the world would be a better place if the first screen the pops up after clicking Install included a warning:

                    Don't screw this up! Visit for step-by-step instructions.

Anyway. I need to locate the business ecosystem's login portal. I use the term portal because you can sign in from any Office software app, as well as from the web browser. I fumble around with the clown known as and finally click the proper link to the Enterprise login page.

Once my login authenticates via mobile phone, I follow the help page's instructions to click on "Other Apps". This finally leads to Excel, Word and other apps to be downloaded.

The next time I need to install Microsoft Office, hopefully, I'll remember that I posted this.

Deliberations are Self-defining!

That headline is a bit of wordplay: considering things at length is actually the opposite of liberating. Essentially, it leads to analysis paralysis. That's where I am this summer.

First of all, I bought a new laptop. I wanted something more modern. I have a 2 TB solid state drive. From my understanding, SSD's have some disconcerting properties. Since I may be misguided, I will not repeat my thoughts here. Suffice it to say that I am hesitant about loading it up with software.

Secondly, I'm in the midst of evaluating all the software I've acquired over the years. A good number of them fall into the category of "totally useless", in the sense that I'm moving away from activities that required such software. For example, I'm no longer writing automation code for clients. So Microsoft Visual Studio is totally useless.

Thirdly, I'm not sure about my evaluations! This is the part that is causing me to deliberate. What if I want to build a little program for myself? Without Visual Studio, I'm stuck with Excel VBA. Ugh! So, I reconsider, move Visual Studio to the "I might need this some day" category and then have to decide if it's worth installing on the new laptop.

Every program that I plan to install will make me wonder if it's going to spam the SSD with log files, backups and temp files. If I know about it, I can point the fire hose to one of my external USB hard drives. But for software like Visual Studio, I have no idea where the hose is spraying.

Finally, I intend to play a lot of games on my new laptop. I've already set my Steam Library to an external drive. Factorio is one such game.

I've scoured Reddit, Steam community and Factorio forums looking for pros and cons of running it from my SSD. (The cons won.) So now, I'm wondering what will happen if gameplay is unacceptable from the external drive. For context, you have to understand that I love Factorio and will destroy the SSD if it means I can play it. LOL

Deliberations are supposed to help one come to a decision. In my case, I may just conclude that everything is totally useless, except Steam. Now that would be liberating.

Ditto: The App that Made Me Go "Hmmmm..."

I was just talking to my friend, Mitch Mitchell, about clipboard replacement apps.

This is not going to be about clipboard replacement apps. Do your own research. LOL

No, what I want to mention is that I may have yet another tool in the Digital Diet arsenal. During our conversation, I noted that I used to use Quick Cliq then switched to Ditto. In the very next sentence, I said, "But I must not need it, because I never reinstalled it."

There. Try turning off a program or two and see if you can get by without it.

I've found this to be the case for quite a few apps. Taking inventory,  I'm living without Ditto, Visual Studio, ABBYY FineReader, NordVPN, Folder Colorizer and Bing Wallpaper.

As I typed the list, I realized that my changing work habits account for half: instead of ABBYY Finereader, I use Microsoft Edge to read PDFs; I'm not developing Windows apps right now, so no need for Visual Studio; NordVPN cause more problems than it solves. The other half represents visual eye candy or minor helpers that I can live without.

Try a software inventory. You might be surprised by what you're not missing.

Digital Sticky Notes

I need a new sticky note application. Globonote is great, but... [note, I found a solution!!]

Warning! If you have multiple displays, Globonote might not be for you.

At first, I loved Globonote. It replaced my physical Post-it notes with little windows. I used it for everything from reminders, to-do's and blog post notes to webinar notes and my ever-changing Johnny Decimal Index.

Every once in a while, Windows 10 forgets that I have two displays. Or it switches them. When this happens, application windows go "off-screen" because my laptop screen is not as wide as my ViewSonic monitor.

After I fix the displays, normal application windows are visible again but not Globonotes. I don't know how to get them back on-screen. Luckily, I can preview them in the Note Manager, but it's time to get a "windowed" application for my notes.

I will miss Globonote but, besides the off-screen problem, I was cluttering my ViewSonic with a wall paper of yellow boxes. Although I could roll them up so that only the title showed, that defeats the purpose of having notes in your face.

If you're curious about sticky note apps in general, here is the blog post where I found out about Globonote: Microsoft Sticky Notes Alternatives

[Update, later that day...]

Globonote is awesome. A workaround exists to retrieve off-screen notes. In addition, the next release will add the ability to arrange windows. Whew!

Google can't always find the answers. The SourceForge Feature Request for Globonote had this snippet:

William Chan - 2020-10-02  

Will add an arrange visible notes in the next release. For now you can try to double click the note from note manager or search windows for 2 to 3 times, note will move beside the window

Note to self - Getting Started with Johnny.Decimal

You can ignore this post, unless you are interested in learning about Johnny.Decimal.

I posted in the Johnny.Decimal forum, sharing my intention to use TiddlyWiki for my JD Index.

A JD Index is a vital component of the Johnny.Decimal system. With it, you are able to track your numbers, which means that you'll always know the next available number in each AC (Area / Category)

Here is part of the thread, where I expanded on pre-pending the AC.ID to each file:

Thanks for the clarification. I do have several use cases under consideration:

  • Bulk renaming of files so that the renaming tool or another utility can move them into proper folders
  • Auto-renaming and moving downloaded files
  • Global search

I use Windows 10, along with a handful of tools to easily locate, store and rename files. I blame them them for my current mess, LOL. However, they also can be used to fix things.

Bulk Rename Utility, from will help with the initial categorization of files. I can move files with BRU or leave them where they are.

File Juggler, from, will scan a folder, such as Downloads, and act on targeted files.

Everything, from can help me find files, but only if I know part of the name (searching by file content is supported, but slow.) This is particularly helpful when I decide to leave renamed files in the current locations (Dropbox, external hard drive, etc.)

While I agree that it would be onerous to rename every file, I can at least get everything organized with prefixes. Going forward, I may find no need to continue adding prefixes. (I could even run BRU afterward and remove all prefixes from files that have been moved into JD folders.)

The Essence of a Digital Diet

I was so impressed by an article that I feel compelled to write about it.

First, here is the article: How I Got Out of Idea Debt

I consider myself to be a creator, with all the god-like omniscience that implies. Games, programs and stories. Lately, I've been focusing on puzzles: the Venn Diagram intersection of those three interests.

Over the years, I have outlined more than a dozen puzzle concepts, even to the point where a whole series of interconnected challenges were set up, just waiting for me to flesh out and breathe life into.

Meanwhile (meaning concurrently), I was following the contests on, with the intention of submitting an entry to some of them. I used to actively submit first drafts to whimsical contests set up on the Board Game Designers Forum. I even won, once.

As if all that were not enough, I was an active participant on the Creative Copy Challenge website. All this creatin' meant that I accumulated a lot of ideas, outlines, spreadsheets and Scrivener projects. Luckily, I had Evernote to stash everything.

As the author of Idea Debt suggests, ideas are meant to be nurtured and set free, not trapped in the cages of our digital repositories. Of course, I didn't think of it like that. I spent a lot of energy categorizing, re-imagining and safeguarding my little ideas. Backups, duplicates, cross-pollination and other abominations grew in the dark. 

Suddenly (or more like the frog in the pot of water), I found myself the proud owner of an entangled mess of unfinished business. Vines of neglect ensnarled both good and bad ideas to the extent that I really had no way of separating them.

So, the mess languished, taking up debilitating residence in my head and real estate on my hard drives. Much like my friend Holly's recent post suggested, my ideas were in a bottomless backpack that simply weighed me down, even as I held out hope for reaching that destination: Some Day.

Just last week, I stumbled upon yet another system designed to help us organize stuff. It's called Johnny.Decimal and, frankly, I think it is the holy grail. So, it should come as no surprise that like-minded people would congregate at the forum, where I found the link to Idea Debt

Within the context of organizing stuff, getting out of idea debt is the equivalent of tossing out junk before organizing what's left. In that spirit, I think I'm going to go all scorched earth on my old ideas. I don't have the bandwidth to retire them properly, as the author of Idea Debt did. For one thing, nobody cares. For another, if I'm honest, those ideas will always live in my head. But, shed of the umbilical vines by which they cling to the digital representations (and are thus constrained), they will weigh far less. 

You see, memories are valid snapshots that old ideas can sift through, while the young ideas catch a ride on the synapses.