organising notes

I've finally realized I need a better way to manage random notes and info on my computer than what I've been using -- a mixture of some permenant text files holding info such as phone numbers that are kept in revision control, and random notes jotted down in files with random names that are often lost and deleted. I pretty much realised this last night on the train when I found that a) I'd deleted the file (probaly named "foo") containing the note I took that morning telling which line to switch to to get "home" and the stop b) I'd also lost home's phone number c) my gps's waypoint for home was inexplicably 200 miles west, somewhere in Sweden (WTF?) d) I had several mails sitting in my inbox just so I could refer to them for info such as my departing flight. I streched my memory a bit and did get back home, but my memory for random peices of information is not getting better (I've not been able to remember my last 3 home phone numbers), and this mess had to end.

So I looked at available tools for managing this kind of stuff. I rejected the more rigid and graphical PIMs and seem to have settled on a little curses program called "hnb", which is a kind of outline editor. With some tewaking the UI is no longer an angry fruit salad[1], and is almost bearable, though it has some rough spots. But it's easy to quickly add notes, it's very flexible for storing any longer-term informaton in a nice hierachical layout that can be quickly navigated and searched, and it saves the data as xml which I can check into subversion for safe-keeping. I've also started using it for recording what I've done on my job, for my weekly reports, as well as todo lists. It would be nice if it had support for encrypting the data with gdb (a patch in the the BTS), and stored some metadata, such as last modified date for notes. Overall a good tool that's worth the learning curve.

hnb screenshot

[1] I wish I could file bugs on Debian packages just saying they had this disease and be able to expect to get them fixed.