(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)
Even though I'm not their most enthusiastic user, I do realize that spreadsheets can be very useful. And they're not just tools for people working in finance or in data science. Anyone can use spreadsheet to keep track of their personal finances, to catalogue a personal library, and more.
Desktop spreadsheet editors have their limitations. The biggest is that you need to be at your computer to use one. On top of that, if you need to share a spreadsheet, it can quickly become a messy affair.
Enter EtherCalc, an open source, web-based spreadsheet. While not as fully featured as a desktop spreadsheet, EtherCalc packs enough features for most people.
As someone who writes for a living, I tend to take a lot of notes. Once upon a time, I used a desktop application called Tomboy to do that. Tomboy was a nifty little app, but it ran a bit slowly for my tastes. And I found that it could be more than just a little unstable at times.
On top of that, Tomboy needed something called Mono in order to run. To say that Mono has something of a controversial rep in the Linux world is like saying a monsoon is a little bit of rain. I'm not a zealot, but having Mono on my laptop to run a single application seemed like overkill to me. So, it was bye-bye Tomboy and Mono.
While I now use Standard Notes to take notes, my road to it took me through several other applications, both on the web and on the Linux desktop. With the latter, one that I tried and liked was Gnote — a rewrite of Tomboy in the C++ programming language.
Recently, I decided to give Gnote another look. Here's what I found (and recalled).
Ah, the mouse ... It made computing so much easier for so many people. Why memorize a bunch of arcane commands when you can point and click?
There are times, though, when a mouse just gets in your way.
Some people, believe it or not, work better with just their keyboards. Using combinations of keystrokes and navigation keys makes them more efficient and more productive, even in a graphical environment.
One task that lends itself quite well to being keyboard driven is note taking. Let's take a quick look at two note taking applications for the Linux desktop that work better with just a keyboard.
Ever have a moment in which an idea or thought or quote or whatever suddenly popped into your head. A moment when you needed to get that idea or quote or whatever down before you forgot? Yeah, me too.
Once upon a time, people did that with pen and paper using something called a scratchpad. Actually, they still do. Using a paper scratchpad works, but why scramble for analog tools when you can go digital? And why use something complex when you can use plain text?
Why a Scratchpad?
You could, as I just mentioned, have a thought or idea. Something that you need to do or someone whom you want to contact. A scratchpad can be an extension of your short-term memory. Use one to put down whatever’s popped into your head before it fades away.
Once upon a time, carrying your todo list with you mean keeping a sheet of paper or a notebook in your pocket or bag or somewhere else within easy reach. Nowadays, it's a lot easier thanks to smartphones.
There are more than a couple of todo list managers for Android. Some of them are even open source. I've tried several over the years and they've either been bare bones or they've packed every bell and whistle imaginable. One of the better ones that I've tried is Tasks, which is based on the late, lamented Astrid todo list app.
Tasks lies in the middle ground between the simple and the (sometimes overly) complex mobile todo list apps out there — it does a lot, but doesn't (and doesn't try to) overwhelm you.
Do you need complex, feature-packed graphical or web applications to get and stay organized? I don't think so. The right command line tool can do the job and do it well.
Of course, uttering the words command and line together can strike fear into the hearts of some Linux users. The command line, to them, is terra incognita.
Organizing yourself at the command line is easy with Calcurse. Calcurse brings a graphical look and feel to a text-based interface. You get the simplicity and focus of the command line married to ease of use and navigation.
When it comes to managing your work, sometimes a task list isn't quite enough. Sometimes, you're working on something that's a bit more involved or complex and which requires a tool that's a bit more flexible and can give you an at-a-glance awareness of the status of your tasks.
One popular way to do that is with a kanban board. One of the most widely-used kanban board applications is Trello. But being good citizens of the FLOSS world, I hope you use something more open like WeKan or something similar.
If you use Nextcloud as a personal productivity hub, you can add a kanban board to your instance with an app called Deck. Let's take a look at Deck and how to use it.
While I'm a big fan of plain text, I'm also a big fan of both privacy and of taking control of as much of my data as I can. Plain text is great for doing that.
If you find yourself using a platform or a tool that winds up not respecting your privacy, lain text enables you can easily move your information elsewhere. All without having to worry about fiddly conversions.
That's especially true when it comes to taking notes. You might be familiar with Evernote and Google Keep. I've used them in the past, but my trust in the companies behind both was eroded several years ago. Which is one of the reasons why I turned to Standard Notes.
What if you want even more control? You can turn to Joplin. It's billed as An open source note taking and to-do application with synchronisation capabilities, and it does a very good job of all that.
Let's take a look at how to use Joplin to organize your information.
A few months ago, I finally realized that too much of what I did was spread across a few too many services and applications. Jumping around to review things like my calendar and task list was a bit of a distraction. I figured there had to be a better way of doing that.
I didn't have to look far. Nextcloud came to my rescue. While I've been using Nextcloud for several years, it was only recently that started thinking about using it as a personal hub. Yeah, sometimes it takes me a while ...
The great thing about Nextcloud is that it's easy to set up as a hub, with many of the tools that you need to do what you need to do. So, let's take a quick peek at how to turn Nextcloud into a personal hub.