Alright, milk? Check. Spam? Check. Eggs? Check. What was I supposed to buy as well? Am I missing something? Oh no! Aunt Tillie is coming today!
Ever felt like that before? Tired after a whole day and need to buy some basic groceries and not be angry you forgot that little thing or bought too much? Maybe you need a new job. Or train your memory better. Or use electronic notes in your mobile device. Or all of the above!
The times of Basket
Gather around for another story from the Old Days. Eons ago (in 2008 or similar) I faced the challenge of having too many schoolwork and far too many notes to handle. It actually took me years to understand that the teachers’ words not necessarily are all gold and writing them verbatim with every pause and even fart was not the way to go. This won’t be a tale about hundreds of text documents describing classic literature. Nor about how incompetent I was back then with basic text formatting.
No. This will be the short but important story about Basket Notepads.
Imagine you can fit text, images, links and even various widgets into a digital scrapbook and not have to pay for a One Note license ;). Imagine it’s free and runs on most Linux Distributions. And now imagine you’re me, totally amazed that you’ve found such a program in the beginning of your Free Software Journey.
That’s exactly what BasKet Notepads was to me. After years of learning, switching to a Linux distribution for most of my daily tasks and having exposure to other note-taking tools, I still fondly remember Basket and I can make an educated guess I’m not the only one out there.
Sadly, the 2.0 version never got finished. I don’t know C++ very much, but something tells me that it would be easier to do a complete rewrite or create a clone with a modern toolkit like Qt 5.x than port this code-base. Moreover: Basket never had a sync option. You could try placing it on a shared drive, but that was an “on your own risk” operation.
Dear Basket, you had a good run. I will always remember your flexibility and lovely logo. Also: basket is an awesome name! It suggests mobility of the pieces, but protection from getting lost.
I think I have done everything wrong here, so please learn from my mistakes.
The first thing I did was to abandon Basket, because I was afraid I would be stuck with a piece of unsupported software that I would eventually had to migrate from. While this is a legitimate concern, I never actually took the time to implement a replacement. In hindsight I think having one program to migrate off of is better than hundreds of lose notes and files dangling everywhere (mostly because any program enforces some kind of format).
I was always telling myself: “One of these days, TD. One of these days!”. And that day came sometime ago…
The Notes application
This Kolab module took me awhile to get used to. The key is to read left to right, because this is how the hierarchy works here. On the left you can choose a notebook and sub-notebook. Then you can use the middle column to find the note and edit it in the third column.
Alternatively you can just use the search bar in the top right corner and/or the tag cloud.
When working on your notes you have all the basic editing tools at your disposal. While this program lacks the “infinite canvas” approach used by Basket, it works as intended. Whenever I have my browser open I throw all the tidbits and research there, so I have it in one place for easy search and management.
Migration a.k.a. copy and paste
Compared to the mail migration part this was much less technical but surprisingly much more annoying. I had to restore all the baskets from archives with the build in “Backup and restore” option, go through them, delete almost all the data as junk and export the remainder. I used Kompare to discard as much from the output data as possible before throwing it into the cloud.
Some of the baskets were not “Basket archives” so they couldn’t be imported into the program for further processing. I went through them manually with good and trusted Kate and ended up removing almost everything.
There were also some scanned notes to be read and typed into the notes module directly. Because there were too little of them, using OCR would be just an insane overkill (not to mention my horrible handwriting making the detection more complicated).
Actually very little information survived this sieve of deduplication, comparison and redaction. I also had a text file and html document that I’ve went top to bottom and integrated the contents into the notes and tasks modules. And that was it!
If this post seemed a bit anticlimactic, don’t worry! There will be an epilogue 🙂