I had not thought much about the computer mouse and its slow moving extinction until I read this article from The Atlantic. The emergence of the real personal computing has diminished how much a mouse is needed or used for a great number of people. While I work at a desk with a mouse during work hours, my personal computing continues on for hours more without the need for a mouse, but still the tactile nature of the mouse that makes computing more personal endures whenever one touches a screen on a tablet or smartphone.

Today I was looking for a book in my home library and came across this, which caused me to chuckle in light of everyone posting pictures of their first Mac yesterday.

Now that I am annotating more PDFs using the Boox Note Air 3C I am looking for ways to make the annotations searchable as that is not what is produced by the Boox software. Today tried GetSearchablePDF that works fairly well, but is very expensive at $9 per 100 pages scanned. I wonder what cheaper and perhaps self-hosted solutions exist?

I bought the Boox Note Air 3C for the ability to better hand write notes in digital ink and to read with less eye strain. Reading and writing with any mobile device means you are going to need a way to get files on and off the mobile device. Curiously, Boox treats synchronization of the native notes apps different from annotations made with the native reading app. I’ve written about my experience with figuring out this synchronization over on my Daynotes site.

“The American media has spent a generation letting politicians lie about every stupid little thing, and the net effect was to make an authoritarian Big Lie possible.” -Jonathan V. Last, The Bulwark. In other words, the fourth estate enshrined by the First Amendment to preserve the Republic is probably the catalyst for the end of the Republic.

Reading Dave Winer’s recollection of first seeing and using the Mac on the 30th anniversary of its introduction has me reflecting on my first encounters with the Mac during my freshman year of college in 1984-85. My work study assignment was the undergraduate computer science lab that was for all practical purposes put together specifically to be the home for six of the newly minted Macs. The CS department used the lab for teaching an experimental class in Pascal, but also came equipped with MacWrite and MacPaint. I was immediately enamored by these little computers that I had the good fortune to use whenever there were no other students using them, and I lusted over them for all five years I was in school. The price for the Macs were well out of my price range as were the IBM PCs that I could buy on a student discount. The first computer that I purchased was an Atari 800XL during my sophmore year, which I used for programming classes via VT100 terminal emulation connection to a mainframe and for writing papers. After I got my first job I bought an Atari 1040ST, which mimics the Mac UI but cost much less. Finally I bought my first Mac, a Mac Mini in 2005.

Just a couple of turkeys hanging out in a tree.

Two large birds in a barren tree.

Parting Ways With Evernote

Today I canceled my subscription and closed by account with Evernote, which most will think a trivial event. People stop using software all the time, except I’ve been using Evernote from the beginning that it first became available for Windows in 2008. In fact, I am pretty sure that I first used a beta version of the product perhaps as early as 2005. At the time it was introduced no company was really developing notetaking software, at least not for Windows. When first introduced the UI of EverNote had the form of a continual scroll of information “flagged” by date, in fact it could be my first experience with the newsfeed/stream UI now commonly used by social networking applications.

The closest resemblance EverNote had to any other product was the UI of the Newton OS that ran on Apple’s Newton Messagepad. The resemblance may have been intentional because EverNote was founded by Stepan Pachikov who with his company Paragraph International, lead the development of the handwriting recognition engine known as CalliGrapher, which was licensed by Apple for use with the Newton OS. EverNote’s resemblance to Newton definitely drew my attention to the product.

Pachikov brought Phil Libin onboard as CEO of Evernote (originally the product name had a capitalized N that was changed to lowercase by 2008) and Libin grew the company and the product into the well recognized, multi-platform product that most people know of it today. In my opinion what made Evernote attractive is that it centrally stored data (perhaps one of the first commercial client/server applications) that is accessible to client applications running on nearly every computing platform that I use. At a time when it was common to see applications that ran only on Mac or Windows, or iOS, Evernote ran any every single one of these platforms.

Of course, developing and then maintaining separate code bases for each platform is daunting, particularly if the application architecture was not explicitly developed for that use, and so over time bugs crept up that caused problems. The relatively fast growth of the product also lead to performance issues, and for some data loss. For me Evernote jumped the shark around 2013 when the company began licensing/selling products with Evernote branding, like socks, that had no relationship to the core product, while there were significant problems with the Evernote app. One year after Libin left Evernote the company stopped selling these products.

It might be said that Evernote began its path of decent soon after Libin left the company in 2015. Key developers started to leave the company and soon there seemed to be yearly rumors of the company going under. While many who I associated with stopped using it, by 2015 I had accumulated seven years of information in the application and I felt the yearly $60 subscription was worth my continued access to that information from all the devices I use. The Evernote web clipper had become my most valued tool of all the software I use and it is still the best browser web clipping application available particularly on mobile devices. Unlike most other apps, sharing to Evernote on iOS and Android captures the entire web page rather than just the link to the page.

So, despite the dismal outlook for the company and the app, I stayed committed to it, but last year it was acquired by Bending Spoons and they changed the subscription cost to $15 per month, which I decided was too expensive in light of what I pay in other software subscriptions. When the rumors of the demise of Evernote started appearing I began testing ways to export my information out of the application and import it into others. Two years ago I exported everything from Evernote to OneNote, which wasn’t perfect but good enough for me to find information should I need to. Last year I found I could also import my Evernote archive into Obsidian, which I completed last fall and from that point stopped storing new information in Evernote.

My yearly subscription with Evernote renews at the end of January, so my deadline to delete my data from Evernote and close my account was this past weekend. Deleting my notes was much more laborious than I would have preferred, as a deleted note is moved to Trash and then one has to empty the Trash in order to completely delete the note and I found that Trash emptying seemed to only handle about 100 notes or so at a time, particularly with the web application. The problem seems to be with the synchronization performance, even the web app syncs data with the browser local storage, and I suspect there is Javasript handling all of the API calls to tell Evernote’s servers to move and delete data.

I am obviously much more brand loyal than most other people, so it’s really a big deal for me personally to stop using a product after having used it for more than ten years. Obviously, my issue is not with the product itself but the subscription cost that most likely is driven by a decreasing number of subscribers. I do expect Evernote to eventually disappear within the next year or two. Going forward I am using Joplin to capture web clippings from Mac and Linux, tolerating the fact that sharing to Joplin with iPad only captures the link and not the web content. I have also started using Archivebox on my home network. I am using end to end encryption with Joplin and using OneDrive as the “hub” for storing/syncing the data in Joplin between my desktops and iPad. Unfortunately the Android version of Joplin does not synchronize well and I gave up even trying to use it on my Pixel 7a.

Skiers favorite fresh powder.

Snow covered road and lawn

What separates the Boox Note Air 3C from competing products is that it has the Google Play store and is capable of running any Android application. Note however that eInk displays do not have the fast refresh of traditional tablet displays and therefore not all applications will run well, but apps like Readwise Reader and Google Calendar are a good fit. I narrowed my choices of which eInk device to buy to the Supernote Nomad and the Boox Note Air 3C and then picked the Note Air 3C because it can run any Android app whereas the Supernote is limited to only the Kindle app. The tradeoff is that reviews indicate Supernote has some functionality in its note taking capability that Boox does not have, and the Supernote Nomad is smaller and lighter than the Note Air 3C.

My latest technology purchase is the Boox Note Air 3C, which is a Android tablet that has a color eInk screen. If you are familiar with the Amazon Kindles but not familiar with eInk screens, they are the type of screen in the Kindles. Unlike traditional Kindles, the Note Air 3C supports writing and reading. If you have heard of the Remarkable tablets, the Note Air 3C is a competing product with which writing is as near to paper and pencil/pen as possible. Having now used the Note Air 3C for some time, I can recommend unequivocally the type of screen that comes with the Note Air, Remarkable, Supernote, or Kindle Scribe rather than using the Apple Pencil on an iPad.

“If he [Trump] should return to the presidency in 2025, we have no reason to expect him to leave in 2029. So maybe the issue on the ballot in 2024 is not a choice at all, but a much more open-ended question. We know who Biden is. We know who Trump is. Who are we?” - David Frum, writing for The Atlantic

Football Fun

Yesterday was fun for me as a football fan. I am a life long Green Bay Packer fan and really enjoyed watching the Packers pummel the Dallas Cowboys. The enjoyment not so much because I dislike Dallas but more so because Packer’s performance was so unexpected. Jordan Love had a perfect passer rating in large part because the receivers caught every ball thrown their way. The offensive line did a fantastic job of opening up holes for Aaron Jones to run through, and the defensive secondary had two interceptions and made it hard on Dak and CeeDee. I don’t expect the Packers to have the same success in San Francisco, but they could make the game interesting. My respect for coach Matt LaFleur has gone up tremendously for how the term has performed.

Next came the night cap. I’ve lived in metro Detroit for more than half my life, and when Packers play the Lions, I am all cheesehead, otherwise I am rooting for the Lions to win. Those who have grown up a Lions fan have experienced more downs than ups, which I relate to as a Chicago Cubs fan. (Although my Packers were awful during my childhood and teen years during the 70s and 80s.) So, I really wanted to see the Lions win last night, and they hung on to do it, never trailing in their game. The Lions will have another game this season in Ford Field, and have a good chance to getting in the NFC Championship game.

I’ll just put it out there. If the Lions win and the Packers beat the 49ers then these two NFC North Division foes would play each other in Ford Field for the right to play in the Super Bowl. Possible, but not probable, but on any given day anything can happen.

At my home we got sleet, snow, and some wind but not the extent to which had been forecasted. It’s icy enough to keep me indoors and I see some tree branches that have fallen due to the weight of the snow. I know there are thousands of homes that lost power, but fortunately we were not one. Right now the temperature is 26 degrees with a wind chill of 14, and we are heading into a week of temperatures in the teens for highs and single digits to below zero for lows.

Weather forecasts from all local outlets declare that a snowpocalpyse is imminent. The skeptic in me suspects the actual results might not be so extreme, at least for where I live. However, the 50 mph winds forecasted and its ability to take down power lines is a concern. We do not have a generator.

BGR reports that Rabbit Inc. received 10,000 orders for the R1, which I made note about yesterday, on the day they announced it. I imagine for many the $199 is throw away money. At least the price is low enough that if the company quickly goes away one will not have lost a thousand dollars.

Enough snow has fallen to make it pretty and the walking slippery.

Snow covering tree branches

Woke up way to early this morning and could not fall back asleep, therefore I will be running on lots of coffee.

Personal Computing Continues To Get Real

Back in 2011 when Apple announced the iPad I believed it marked the real beginning of the personal computing era rather than the beginning of the Post-PC Era as was being pronounced at the time. As I argued then, and think it is still the case, we have historically thought of a personal computer as a device that one person uses. In other words, “personal” meant one. My argument back then is that “personal” really should mean what everyone knows it to mean, which is computing specific to you, the user. I imagine personal computing as the mashup of hardware + software + Internet + intelligence.

Today I learned via manton about Rabbit Inc. and a mobile device and operating system it has introduced built around a Large Language Model and what the company calls a Large Action Model to provide a user interface based on natural language processing and execute actions rather than generate text and pictures. I don’t know whether the NLP works as well is demoed, but the demo at least shows exactly how I imagined how personal computing should work. Speech is our primary mode of interaction and typing is really abnormal and frankly unknown to the majority of people in the world.

I think the software is the most important part of what Rabbit Inc. has made, the purpose of the device is to prove the software’s functioning and capability. If it does perform as well as shown, I expect the company and product to be acquired by one of the big tech firms.

First significant snow storm of the winter in southeast Michigan resulted in no snow at my home. So far this year we have had some snow flurries that lightly cover the grass but melts away soon after. Seems odd to me to be in the second full week of January and not have a good inch or two on the ground.

A lot of attention is being spent on Artificial Intelligence, with most seeing it as the next big technological iteration after mobile Internet access (smartphones), and that might be right. Consequently many are overlooking what the company responsible for that last iteration is launching this year, with Apple’s Vision Pro going on sale in stores for $3,499. Much focus is on the hardware, but what one will be able to buy in February is analogous to the original iPhone. Steve Jobs knew when he announced that first iPhone that mobile Internet access will change the world, and it has for both good and ill. Spatial Computing has the potential for changing how we interact with and thus use personal computing, while Artificial Intelligence has the potential for changing what personal computing does for and to us.

Intentional Trusting

This article in The Atlantic, We’ve Been Thinking About America’s Trust Collapse All Wrong by Jedediah Britton-Purdy is very good. Too bad it’s behind a paywall, but worth trying to read. Here is one of the many important points:

Another distinction between personal and political trust that we need to learn involves living with sharp moral disagreement. In our own lives, we may refuse to enter close and lasting relationships with people who, say, disagree with us about questions as fundamental as how we should raise our children or what gender roles mean in our family. (I don’t mean that this is necessarily the right approach, and we may lose something when we cut ourselves off from challenge in this way, but the decision is an intelligible one.) But politics is about coexistence with disagreement around issues as fundamental as these, such as abortion. If we treat moral disagreement as proof of moral badness and as a reason, effectively, to cut off civic as well as personal relationships, then politics is done. Politics is a relationship we cannot escape, for better or worse. We can poison it, though, and confusing it with personal relationships that we can refuse or leave is one way of poisoning it.

Recently discovered Tal Wikenfeld, via YouTube and her song Corner Painter. Currently listening Prince’s Welcome 2 America album on which Tal plays.

I store personal data like the steps that I walk in Exist.io, which I highly recommend. Today I received my Year in Review summary that told me that in 2023 I walked 3,203,658 steps for a distance of 1,457.1 miles, all of which went toward walking the equivalent of the Appalachian Trail. My average steps per day is 8,375 now, up from 7,969 in July 2020.

This article in The Atlantic implies that people, many of them Republican, are resigning from Congress due to frustration with getting nothing done. However, I think it doesn’t really matter whether members of Congress are frustrated, it should matter more whether voters, particularly Republican but Democrat too, are frustrated. I personally think that many people specifically do not want Congress to do anything, they want gridlock, and find the theatre much more entertaining. Too many people vote based on how a person makes them feel or how they want to feel rather than on any facts.