Amber: Assuming you are using Mail.app, how do you deal with the fact the Tinderbox cannot read MIME-encoded or html? Is there a script that you can use with Mail Act-On to convert the content of the message? Thanks.

99.99999999% of the time I have zero use for HTML email. In the rare cases where an HTML email is actually interesting or necessary, I have to handle it manually; usually by copying and pasting the plain-text part. Fortunately most email applications are smart about generating a text part. I don’t even have Mail.app set up to view the HTML bit; it drops straight to text by default.

Going back to Tinderbox, I’m also an ex-user, though I do still get the mailings and always go to the web site to see what the new features are. The last time I got excited about it was when I came across an article describing an “nMemodex” (I think) filing system". I followed the steps and duplicated the system, and used it for a while. Essentially, whenever you create a new note, TInderbox assigns the note a serial number one greater than the previous note. So you just need to prepare a stack of clear plastic files numbered sequentially. Whenever a new piece of paper to be filed comes in, you create a new note, give it a suitable name and some tags, and put it in your filing cabinet immediately after the previous file. I guess you could call it an electronic version of the Noguchi filing system. When you’re looking for something, you do a Find on tags or name in Tinderbox, and you’ve found the serial number you know which drawer it’s in.

Regarding its more central concept generating functions, I find I periodically go through these fantasies of what my day should be like. I imagining writing some notes on some interesting papers in my reference manager, then maybe writing a few paragraphs towards my next paper in Journler. I copy all these across to Tinderbox and set up some cool agents to create interesting groupings of notes that help me form clearer ideas. At the same time, all these notes have been synched across to DevonThink, so I can use “See Also” to find some more related passages, and copy the good ones over to Tinderbox. And pretty soon I’m ready to write my latest paper to revolutionize scholarship as we know it.

In reality, though, time devoted to research is all too short and I still find every program switch a little mentally jarring. I find even DevonThink less user-friendly than I think it should be, and I feel I’m re-learning Tinderbox every time I use it. Although I guess my capacity for dealing with multiple sources has increased, research at the computer seems to be becoming a more stressful operation. Occasionally, I feel I might even be better off just with printouts and a wordprocessor.

Each layer of software seems to make sense: Bookends is firmly based on individual reference sources; Journler is for my daily scribblings; DevonThink can hold vast quantities of material and find interesting connections in a fairly automated way; Tinderbox helps to organize groupings of thoughts and concepts in a more manual-feeling way than DevonThink. And then you’ve got Scrivener to actually write a structured piece of work and Mellel to put it into printable form. And all these tools mean that it’s easy to find stuff that I last looked at years ago. And yet something’s not quite right. The tool that is easiest to remove from the mix here is Tinderbox and that makes things a bit simpler. What I think I really need is training from people who know all these tools and how to blend them effectively.

Sorry for the ramble!

That’s my problem with Tinderbox. Unless you’re using it constantly at a level that allows you to learn its language, you have to re-learn that language every time you want to stretch its capabilities. I have decided - several times now - that I can’t justify the overhead.

If there was a GUI interface on queries, I’d revisit it, but for me, for now, it isn’t a useful investment of time. I can handle complexity if it gives me simplicity, but to really get full use from Tinderbox you need to regularly delve into complexity. I no longer want to do that.

Still, I open it from time to time, look longingly at its possibilities - and then quietly close it again.

You should drop that feedback over in the Tb forums, I’m sure Mr. Bernstein would be interested in hearing it. As I’m sure you are aware, there is a simple GUI interface for building queries, but it hasn’t been substantially updated or re-worked in many many years. I have a feeling that if Tb had a better “query builder” up front, more people might take a liking to it. I see a cross between Boswell’s query builder (which is sadly one-off and doesn’t allow saved queries) and MailSteward Pro, which has an “Advanced” button that lets users who are “in the know” edit the SQL itself to do much more complex and advanced things if necessary.

I think if Tb kept the single dialogue interface (build the query as the user plays with the GUI), but expanded the capabilities of the GUI itself, it could be a nice blend between the two. Plus, having it all in one would allow power users and programmers (with whom the syntax will already be essentially familiar) to delve straight into complexity if they desire.

I sent Mark an email pointing to this forum.

That’s precisely my issue with Tb too. My uses of it are intense but sporadic. I feel it could be much more useful if I didn’t have to part-relearn it each time.

(Incidentally, does, anybody also think the sources of advice on Tb are dispersed over too many documents and locations? When I do my relearning, I’d really like to be able to consult a very small number of sources, preferably a single comprehensive one.)


My situation is very similar to that of Hugh and bashosfrog. I bought Tinderbox a year or so ago, and since then I have tried various times to make it part of my workflow, but to no avail.

If it were a bit cheaper, the barrier to casual buying/upgrading without being sure of using it constantly would be lower, too.

I’m pretty late to this party, but I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to make sense of some data. I searched on this “nMemodex” term for Tinderbox, but haven’t come up with anything. I understand how the system works, but I don’t understand how to duplicate it in Tinderbox. I’m an hours old Tinderbox user. Does anyone have thoughts on how this “nMemodex” could be created, or maybe a copy of the original instructions?


I typed in “nMemodex” in Google, and believe we’ve found the single most obscure term on the Internet.

One hit? Really? It appears to be what you were referring to, though. I think the author here misspelled it. I found a cancelled patent application from Robert Gordon for the “mNemoDex” system. Not exactly a terribly popular term, either.

From the description, it seems remarkably similar to some of the methods that have been described around here, for large-scale “order-less” filing.

Pretty awesome how obscure it was huh? I was completely shocked. I’m not sure why the link didn’t register for “me” to take a look at it, but I will now.

I’m not planning to use it in the way we’ve discussed the large-scale “order-less” filing though. I’m trying to use Tinderbox to gather, capture and organize ideas. I was thinking if I generated an ID that could be sorted by date of creation, that might make a really nice timeline of my ideas etc.

That would be pretty simple to do. With Tinderbox you can set up a numerical attribute that is sequentially incremented whenever you create a node, makes for a nice ID attribute. You could also use a date attribute (either the built-in Created, or a custom one) and then set up a rule that performs a transform on the date to create a simplified ID that destroys itself once the ID is populated to keep CPU performance up.

Simple for you! :unamused:

It’s a deliberate rearrangement of Robert Gordon’s “mNemodex”, coined by Frank Tansey. It was introduced in Tekka Volume 3 Number 2:

I downloaded the whole article when I had a subscription to Tekka, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be acceptable for me to send that to you. I didn’t renew my subscription because it cost $50 for a year, and as far as I remember there was only one issue released during that period. I guess the paywall is the reason that Google can’t crawl Tekka.

One little problem I had was that I wasn’t able to stop Tinderbox assigning sequential IDs to prototypes so I had to create a few gaps in my physical collection.

Thank you for the reference and I’d agree it’s probably not acceptable to send it to me. One of the shortcomings of online subscriptions. You can’t loan it to a friend like you could if it were printed.

Are gaps really a problem, though? I’ve come across the same thing, but after a moment of fretting over my notions of digital hygiene, realised nonsequential IDs aren’t the end of the world. In fact, these days I use an ID based on a date & time stamp. All kinds of gaps in that one.

No, you’re right. They’re not really a problem.

By the way, could you perhaps add a link or two to the discussion(s) referred to on “large-scale orderless filing”?

No problem, some of these are quite old, and most of the threads are extremely verbose, but I think everyone involved had a great time and we all managed to collectively refine our ideas as a result.