I am an avid note taker and I have used many note taking solutions over the years. I have used plain text files, word, wordperect, samsung notes, onenote, evernote, joplin and probably a few others which I don’t even remember anymore.
A lot of these had some kind of a flaw or something that did not quite work for my workflow. There was always a privacy issue to be considered. I always faced some kind of an issue. Sometimes the developers would decide to remove exporting features, the apps would crash and I would lose my notes, and on one occasion I upgraded my computer and I had lost the CD that was to be used to install the software, and there was no way to access my notes.
But the thing that made to decide to stop using any other solution other than my own was this: I had deleted my notes and deleted my evernote account some 3 or 4 years ago. I decided to try evernote again earlier this year and to my surprise my notes were still on the account! I may try other apps again, but I shall never ever use evernote again!
Requirements for my note taking app
Coming to the point of this blog post, I decided to build my own solution. I had some criteria that this new solution should meet:
easy to use
easy to export to other formats
long lasting – would not easily go obselete
Markdown file format
I decided to use text files in markdown format. Text files have existed since the dawn of computers and I dare to say, will never go obsolete. Markdown is a very simple markdown language that is minimalist, easy to learn and easy to read, uinlike something like XML or HTML.
At first I thought about building my own app, but then I decided to use existing editors like vscode, Vim, nano etc…Settling for Vim was an easy decision because Vim has a proven track record and it is one of the most customizable, universally available and stable editors out there. There is a learning curve involved, however, you can learn just enough to start using it in an hour and that would be all you will ever need to take notes, or you can spend years mastering different tricks and adding your own customization. It is this versatility that I love.
Notes and Notebooks
All notes are text files in markdown format and all notebooks are directories – done!
Synchronization and Portability
Most note taking apps have features that let you access and edit your notes over the web, on my phone, table, or computer. You can use cloud storage services like Onedrive, dropbox, google drive etc…
Or, if you hare concerned about privacy or want to own your data, you can use NextCloud. I will make another post on how to get started with NextCloud.
Get mynotes for free
mynotes is free and is opensource. You can download it from my github page. The install script is to be used on Linux, however, you can also use it on Windows 10 via WSL. You can download install a WSL based linux distro like Ubuntu from the Windows app store.
Installation and instructions are available in the README.md file and in this youtube video:
Privacy: 4/5 (took 1 off because if you’re logged in to facebook/gmail etc.. while surfing, it really defeats the purpose)
Ease of Adjustment: 4/5
Ease of Migration: 4/5
This choice is very easy. Although there are many Linux based desktop operating system, my favourite and the love of many Linux users is Ubuntu Desktop. I have been using Ubuntu on and off since its very first release, but now it is my daily driver because its not only a great operating system for developers and techies, it’s also great of casual internet surfers, emailers, and document writers.
I will go on to say that Ubuntu Desktop is better than Windows 10 and MacOsX. It’s fast, safe and secure, and better for privacy than its Apple and Microsoft counterparts, and it has an app store. Ubuntu Desktop also comes pre-installed with Firefox for Internet browsing, Thunderbird for your emails, Libre Office for your document writing/reading, spreadsheets, and slides.
You can even install apps like spotify, zoom, and steam for linux to get your game on. (Disclaimer: At the moment, there are limited games that are compatible, but the list is growing, take for example: Counter Strike, Dying Light, Terraria, Stardew Valley, Ark Survival Evovled, Celeste, Shadow of Tomb Raider, Borderlands 2, here is a full list https://store.steampowered.com/search/?filter=topsellers&os=linux)
Too afraid to commit to Ubuntu?
Are you afraid it’s going to take a lot of effort? No, problem, just download and use the live CD features to boot into Ubuntu desktop and try it out without actually installing it! That’s a sweet deal!
( depending your your method of installation, and migration process, things can be either relative easily or pain in the butt, but I can help you. I’ll write a dedicated post on my blog)
Note Taking: Onenote and Evernote
You can simply use web version of onenote and evernote and it works perfectly fine. But if you want a dedicated app, Joplin is unfortunately the only one that comes close. I currently use my solution, I hope to release it for public use once it becomes more polished.
I’m conflicted – I want to delete my Facebook account. For some years I was benefiting from this and other platforms by working with programs and providing strategies to businesses. But I wanted out.
I stopped working on
social media related projects and I had my social media accounts
either deleted or disabled for around 2 years but I had to come back
due to academic reasons; university club meetings, tutoring sessions
and group studies are conducted and coordinated on Facebook. It
boggles my mind that that sentence describes the norm.
Just when I decided
the negatives outweigh the positives and again when I was so close to
deleting my facebook, whatsapp and instagram accounts, my attention
was brought to the current use of social media as a platform to push
forward change in a way that was not possible some 10 to 15 years
If it was not for
social media, it would not have been possible to get the world to
rally behind a cause – frankly it is heart breaking that such issues
still exists even in 2020.
During the pandemic,
we were kept in touch with our friends and family through this
platform, racism and other injustice gets exposed routinely, and
people are able raise awareness and organize actions against
injustice through this very platform.
It’s a great tool
that has helped change for the better. But it’s also a pit that
drowns people and tears people apart despite being one click away.
It’s a platform that encourages what the world needs and fights
against what shouldn’t exists. But it also does the opposite.
It taps into our
humanity and satisfies that need to connect, but also chips away our
But digging deeper
what it really feels like is The Matrix, where you and I are
batteries in a vast farm of others like you and me, it’s sole purpose
to keep us engaged, to keep us dreaming so that our lives can be
harvested and sold and traded to benefit the few that are at the very
We have willingly
taken the blue pill. In the next days or weeks to come, I intended to
delete my Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, gmail and other google
and microsoft accounts. That’s the plan, it didn’t work in the past,
but let’s see.
alternatives to gmail, microsft office, onedrive, google drive,
whatsapp, android with Googleapps, windows, macos, ios … Not easy,
but doable. I have moved about 80% away from these.
Follow my blog if
you are interested in alternatives or want to join forces and start
taking control of your own data.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
If only I could see you with your guard down, if only I could see you without the sword of words, demeanor, or of metal, I would not have to judge you for your cruelty in intention and action.
Maybe, I could let my guard down too, put my sword away too.
See, in this stand off, no one wins, but at least one is guaranteed to lose and neither of us wants to be the one.
I’m sorry, if I walk away; it’s not that I don’t care – it’s because I do not possess the will to continue this silly game. It also does not mean you won or I lost – it just means I abandoned the game, a game in which violence of any kind is fair game.
I desire to abandon the ego, but I can’t do it while you are watching. The naked truth of the self is light and liberating, but it is also fragile. So I’m sorry if I walk away and be SelfISH so that I can let the Self be what the Self IS.
Something happened after I wrote the post about moving from Linux to Windows , where I talked about how Windows 10 really is the only operating system most of you would need and there is no real reason, at least not for me.
I came across a project where the best option was to use docker. For now, docker on WSL( Window Subsystem for Linux) does not work – WSL2 will fix that. Then I tried using Hyper-V to install Ubuntu on a virtual machine – which was not a great experience. I had to fiddle around a lot to make networking barely work. I tried to setup docker on windows and yes it worked, but it was not as seamless as I would have liked it to be. Then I started to have issues with Python on Windows. I regularly write and use python and shell scripts to automate things sometimes for ridiculously simple things which manually might take less than 30 seconds. My python scripts were working on Ubuntu, but kept failing on Windows. When I tried to install packages, pip wouldn’t work and there was just a long and torturous 3 hours “I can see it, it’s right there”, “but that’s exactly what I did”, “I love this keyboard, but this time if it doesn’t work, I will smash it”.
If you’re a developer, go Linux(Ubuntu) – it’s so much easier
Since Widows 10 came out, it has been my daily driver, but now…ironically right after I touted Windows to be the number 1 choice, I’m back on Linux, and I am really enjoying it. Working on Linux is amazing. I had forgotten how powerful apt-get was.
Missing package? No problem
sudo apt-get install this_feeling_is_glorious
In no time, I had customized my workspace just the way I wanted and it seems over the years, the Ubuntu Desktop has improved considerably.
For example, by default, all apps no matter if they are spread out across different workspaces, get bunched into one – a nuisance when switching between apps/windows with “Alt+Tab”, but you can easily customize this by downloading a package from apt-get.
Also, the Snap App Store is great. The terminal is such an integral part of Linux and as much I admire Windows Powershell and the object oriented nature its commands, the Linux terminal is really where its at -it’s hard to quantify, but makes me feel like wizard. With linux permission levels and UFW + Iptables ( the Linus firewall), I was quickly and easily able to secure and compartmentalize things.
Linux isn’t perfect – nothing is
It’s not perfect; it does have issues, but they are different from issues on Windows. For an average user, Windows IMHO is still the best general purpose Operating system – it does almost everything pretty well.
For power users, developers, opensource enthusiasts, Linux is where it’s at.
I recently got into skateboarding, and a fitting analogy is Linux is the shortboard 0f operating systems that lets you do cool technical tricks, but you’re you’re not into doing tricks, get Windows because that’s a cruiser. 😉
The Journey sailing through different operating systems
Before, I begin, let me clarify things a little. I have not really moved from Ubuntu to Windows recently. I made the transition long time ago, what I am here to tell you is that, I don’t think there are really all very compelling reasons to move from Windows to Linux(for me and people like me).
I have been using Ubuntu on and off since the very beginning when I first stumbled upon it while in university. I have used multiple Linux distros, but I always keep coming back to Ubuntu. There was a time when Ubuntu was my primary driver. This was the time when I had quit my job to work on my startup. I had turned my old Windows XP (yes, that’s right, XP!) into a Ubuntu machine because I didn’t want to spend money on upgrading my hardware or the operating system to Windows 7. Plus, I didn’t really like windows 7. I used it for a couple of years until I needed to move around with my work so I bought a macbook which I absolutely loved!
However, my desktop operating system was still Ubuntu Desktop, while I used Centos Server for work. I have never liked Centos, the any variant of it – we used Redhat in University and I used Fedora for desktop for a little while. At that time, I thought, I will never in my life ever move back to Windows for anything. I even installed Ubuntu on my parents desktops. They were okay with it. Didn’t get many complaints.
As time went by, I upgrade my macs, and with every update, I became sadder and sadder. During that time, I had moved from Iphone and Android and was shocked at how well Android did things that IOS just coudn’t. I was tempted with Windows 8 after using it on my sister’s laptop, but I needed to the *nix experience because of my work. I had completely stopped using Ubuntu Desktop at this point. However, I had moved all my servers to Ubuntu.
Then came windows 10, and also the update to Mac OSX, which I don’t remember what it was called, but I clearly remember thinking, “IS THIS A F*CKING JOKE?”
Then I finally decide do take the plunge into windows. The touch screen, the new browser, the new menu system, the promise of Universal Apps(sadly this didn’t come to fruition). Everything about it felt better than Macs. Initially, for about a month or so, I regretted my decision because I finally realized how dependent I was on *nixy commands. I tried to manage with cygwin, but truth be told, it was just awful. Crashes and bugs and just a whole long list of disappointments and endless frustration and workarounds. But I stuck with it.
I converted my shell scripts to python scripts for my dev work. And it was going okay.
Meanwhile, evernote had started to fail me with constant crashes and multiple changes to UI, and I decided to switch to OneNote. Up until now, I was always looking for an excuse to use my digital pen. But now, with one note, I rediscovered (and in some sense had to relearn) the joy of writing. I will never ever go back to MacOs, or even think about going back to it unless and until Macos has touch screen capability. I was already sold on having touchscreen on a laptop, but now with one note, things got to a whole new level.
Then came Bash on Ubuntu on Windows
You can read about my excitement here: Ubuntu on Windows. This started to change everything. With the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), I could start using some of my shell scripts again. SSHing to severs was easier, and my workflow became fun and my productivity just sky rocketed.
Then, (from what I remember), the WSL was separated from “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” as a standalone thing with Ubuntu becoming a downloadable app from the Windows App store and other Linux distros were also introduced.
Gaming on Windows
After a long period of thinking “I have outgrown games”, I bought an Xbox One and rekindled my love for video games. Still not satisfied, I decided to build myself a gaming PC. Let’s be honest here, Windows is the best place to game on out of all the desktop operating systems.
SSH on Windows
SSH client is now natively built into windows, so I find myself using less and less of Ubuntu on Windows.
One thing that Windows has that Linux does not is a built in application level firewall. No, iptables is not enough and yes I do use iptables on some of my servers and UFW on other servers. Windows Firewall is THE BEST builtin out of the box firewall out of all the operating system I have used in my life. Paired with something like Windows Firewall Control, I can have a very customized firewall, something that I have not found any other free or paid firewall do well.
WSL 2 is coming!
Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 is coming and it could not have come at a better time. WSL 1 was like a translator between common Linux commands and the Windows Operating system. BUT, WSL 2 will be an actual real Linux kernel – THAT’s RIGHT! Windows will now ship with a Linux kernel. It will be a virtual machine, but Microsoft is saying, without the slowness of a typical VM. I assume they will be doing some sort of optimization to make this happen.
I was using Hyper V to get Docker working on Ubuntu since WLS 1 is not compatible with Docker. (Yes, I can use docker on Windows too). I do have Ubuntu installed on one of my desktop hard drives which I use when I feel like having a change. Recently, I found myself contemplating moving my work back to Ubuntu Desktop, mainly because of consistency. I will not have to switch from git on windows to git on ubuntu or windows desktop to Ubuntu server etc.. etc…
I even tried it on Ubuntu Desktop for a few days. I missed Windows – I love Windows. With WSL 2, I hopefully will not have any reason to doubt calling Windows 10 my home.
So these are my reasons for using Windows Desktop. Working, note taking, gaming and just general ease of use, IMHO Windows 10 is currently the best desktop operating system.
Your existence whether a mere coincidence, or part of a grand scheme, whichever you believe in, is a small glimpse of fading, moving air across your open palms on a clear sunny day with a light breeze.
Your existence is temporary, so much so that if every atom, every molecule, every planet, star, galaxy, were to stop and watch you live your days from the time you take your first breathe to the time you take your last, they will not know a thing about you. The breathes you took, the laughter you had, the tears you shed, the songs you sang or the lies you told.
This short temporary moment that you have in this vast cosmos and this abundant infinite time, is a beautifully fragile stance that you must embrace and endure.
Know that on the skin of this vast cosmos and endless time, you are a tiny particle of air of a sunny clear day breeze that softly caresses and fades into distant nothingness.
Do not be saddened by this truth. This majestic insignificance of yours is the cause of serenity that the cosmos feels on its skin.
The fear of not knowing, the fear of uncertainties and the anxiety surrounding an unknown state of future events is not only detrimental to productivity and general well-being of an individual, but also just simply put, an unnatural state of mind.
Uncertainties are very real – that is a fact, and although there are many uncertainties that one can and may change to certainties by working hard/smart, doing researching, reading, learning etc.. but there are some uncertainties which one will never be able to convert into absolute certainties. Some things simply can never be known 100%, and this is not a philosophical statement, this is no self-help BS stuff, this is a simple fact.
Uncertainties are fundamental part of existence. Uncertainties are woven into the very fabric of our universe. In fact just that statement is something that cannot be said with absolute certainty, because there may be multiple universes.
The natural state of the universe is uncertainty, it is chaos and randomness. There are things that we can know, but there are things that we cannot know. In moments like these when simple truths of our existence dawns upon us that sometimes we realize the relevance of naive phrases like, “ignorance is bliss”. Well to a certain extent not really, but to a certain extent yes, maybe…
The very act of wanting to know more about something increases the uncertainty of that thing or an aspect of that very thing which we seek to understand. This is not philosophical – this is the fundamental structure of our universe. One cannot know the position and velocity of an electron at the same time. Light even even matter has a dual nature. The yin and the yang.
Knowing this, why do you perspire? Why do you hanker over things which you do not have control over? The fundamental nature of the universe is a tease – why let it tease you? Do what you can, accept it and then move on with your life.
You have a choice now. Knowing what you know now, either brood and be upset about this truth, wishing it were not so, knowing that it cannot be changed, or simply surrender to it, accept it and do what is in your power. Why must you insist on hanging onto a rope that is tied to nothing?
There is a great level of peace in accepting this fundamental truth of your existence. Serenity is not in gaining, but in letting go.
I had never watched The Super Bowl – NEVER! The closest thing to it was the “Bowl” of rugby. That all changed last night when for the first time I decided that was going give this American Football a try. Noticed I said American Football instead of just football? Because I still see it that way – a very much an all-American sport. Although, we do have a few Canadians playing in the NFL.
So yes! This was my first time watching the Super Bowl! And in fact, this was my first time ever even watching one full game of American Football! And boy oh boy, what a game it was! I don’t know (yet) if I will ever truly become a fan of the sport, but I will be joining in the festivities of the Super Bowl next year!
Before I get to the obvious part of why it was such an amazing Super Bowl, let me explain
Why I have never watched the Super Bowl until now.
The reason is quite simple to be frank. I come from a rugby background and American football looks a bit like rugby. The ball is very similar, the ‘try’ lines are very similar, the goal posts same and serves a bit of a similar purpose. It is also a very brutal contact sport.
However, the gameplay and the rules are completely different. That was the very thing that threw me off and turned me away from the game!
In rugby, you never pass forward – always back and move forward with the ball. But with football, you can and almost always pass forward.
In football, there is a lot of stopping where as rugby is a much faster paced game with no such stoppage unless a rule has been violated or the ball goes out of play. It drove me mad to see the game stop every 10 seconds.
They wear all this gear which at first made it difficult to know who was who. In rugby, players don’t wear such gear. It’s a much more dangerous game to me(personal opinion) and I always thought that is the way a contact should be play – a bone crushing, fast paced, heart pumping action packed game. Why the protective gear?
Lastly, I never really bothered to learn the rules or understand the strategies behind certain kinds of play. One can’t really enjoy a sport if one does not know what is going on.
But enough with that. Let’s talk about yesterday’s game.
Most appearances by head coach: Bill Belichick (7)
Most wins by head coach: Bill Belichick (5)
Most career passing TD: Tom Brady (15)
Most appearances by team: Patriots (9)
Most first downs in a Super Bowl by both teams: Falcons and Patriots (54)
Most passing first downs in a Super Bowl by both teams: Falcons and Patriots (39)
Most passing yards in a Super Bowl by both teams: Falcons and Patriots (682)
What an Experience!
But honestly, I’m not a huge fan of stats. I’m all about the experience a huge sporting event brings. I’ve never seen any team pull a come back like that. Yes, I know, you must be thinking about how I can even say that when this was my first super bowl ever.
The super bowl can be compared to any championship game. You can draw parallels to the intensity and the pressure that is there for the players and coaches and the high expectations from the audience and the on the edge of your seat drama in every minute.
All this is part of any major championship game regardless of the sport. To make a huge come back after being down to that degree is almost impossible for any team.
I have heard so much about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and now I can see why. That man had a look of an unbreakable conviction. When they were down in the first half, you could see a man who was not frustrated, not afraid, not given up. It was a look of a man, who was looking for a way, looking for some way to turn this around by focussing on the next immediate step – he was going to win that one step at a time.
In the second half when the Patriots scored their touchdown, you could see that search turn into a conviction. He is a true leader of the game. Most players and even most leaders would get under pressure and it would show on their faces. Either they would have given up, or after getting frustrated they would have started to fumble and make mistakes. Not Tom Brady.
I have new found respect for the sport of Football – yes I said football and not American Football.
By now you must have already played it, heard about it, or seen people playing it. And even if you think you have not, chances are that you might have actually already seen people playing it. If and when you see people gathered in an area, but no one is talking to each other and instead everyone is walking around in a daze with their heads buried in their phones, then those are what I call Pokemon zombies – or simply people looking for Pokemon. (Read on, I promise I’m not biased.)
I’m not going to talk about what Pokemon Go is. There are plenty of blog posts and YouTube videos on the Internet that dwell into this.
You generally will fall into one of the following categories when it comes to Pokemon Go:
Don’t get it
I fall under category 3 (somewhat).
I don’t get it, but I get it.
I know it’s not for me. I tried it, but I simply don’t feel the appeal. Although, I do get the appeal purely from an analytical point of view.
So what is the appeal? Why has Pokemon become such a craze?
Here is a sample Pokemon Battle
Pokemon was a popular cartoon in the 90s and the Pokemon Go game gives players a very similar experience as the characters in the cartoon. Personally, while growing up I would watch the cartoon every now and then, but I was never a big fan of it.
Players get to go around (literally go around, as in, physically move and go to different places – not just virtually) looking for Pokemon, they have to capture the Pokemon and sometimes these creatures will fight back and not want to be captured, once captured players can ‘train’ them and evolve them into better fighters and eventually battle with other players.
The game keeps things very close to the original cartoon and for a lot of players it’s a way to relive their childhood.
The game at its core is a scavenger hunt. We humans evolved from a hunter and gatherer society so there is something that just clicks, perhaps the game taps into our primal instincts.
Some people just don’t care what it is, but they are more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and ride the hype wave so to speak. These drifters will drift from one hype to the other and at the moment it just happens to be Pokemon Go.
The game has a social aspect to it as well. There are Pokemon Go stops where there are lots of Pokemon hiding, battle arenas, Pokemon balls to collect etc… I’ve heard stories about people being glad to meet other players. Friends get to talk about their collections and have group meet ups.
I have to admit, even though I thought it was silly, I did actually meetup with a few friends to go Pokemon hunting. (My justification is that I had not seen them in a long time, and it was a call of curiosity more than anything.)
I personally will take people walking around and hunting for Pokemon over them drinking, sitting at home, drugs, fights, vandalism etc… If this game takes people’s focus away from negatives, let it be.
This might not work if you are driving top Pokemon stops and then driving back home, however, from what I have heard from a lot of people is that they are doing some serious walking. A friend even claimed to have lost 5 pounds in the process.
Why might people hate it?
But for those of you who love Pokemon, it might be difficult (very difficult) to see why people hate Pokemon Go.
Trespassing and Traffic Chaos
This has to be the biggest problem caused by this game. Sometimes Pokemon are hiding on people’s backyards, lawns, buildings and other private property. Needless to say, most people do not like strangers on their property.
There have been numerous reports on the news about people creating congestion at busy places like transportation terminals, business areas and parks. It causes interruptions and delays for people who just want to go home or get to work, and try having a relaxing day at the park when you have the entire park filled with hundreds of people walking around to catch Pokemon.
All this can be a nuisance, but it becomes dangerous when people start crossing roads on red lights, or biking and playing or worse driving and playing Pokemon Go. There was an incident where a Pokemon Go player drove into a Police car. People have hurt themselves in road accidents and even hurt themselves falling of cliffs – yes that’s right people fell off of cliffs hunting for Pokemon.
Social or Anti Social?
You might see hundreds of people gathered in an area, but is anyone even aware that there is another person next to them, much less be talking to them. I was near The Living Arts Center in Mississauga the other night and there were hundreds of people walking around with their heads buried in their phone. It was actually an eerie sight seeing people behaving like zombies.
Yes, there are people who have gotten addicted to this game. Some have spent hundreds even thousands of dollars on this game. When I was out with a few friends near a popular Pokemon Go area, I saw a couple of people angrily swearing at their phones in frustration. There have been reports of physical fights resulting from Pokemon Go!
Of course, addiction is not just limited to this game or just games in general. The key is balance! I know this may sound funny, but if you see your friends or family addicted to this game, you may need to intervene.
As I said earlier,
I don’t get it, but I get it.
For people who think Pokemon Go is stupid,… is it really? Yes, sure there is no “real” point to the game. People aren’t achieving anything by collecting these Pokemon, but isn’t that true for almost everything. What’s the point of collecting baseball cards? Or playing video games on your xbox? Or watching TV? Sure you can come up with reasons to support doing those activities, and likewise the people who are into Pokemon have their reasons.
For Pokemon players, be safe, be respectful for other people’s properties, don’t create traffic chaos for people who need to go to work or home.
Have fun, be Safe, stay within your limits, and once in a while, just put your phone away and talk to people around you.