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1. Introduction

What is notes-mode and why should you (perhaps) use it?

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1.1 What is it?

Notes-mode is an indexing system for on-line note-taking. Notes-mode is composed of two parts, the visible part, a major-mode for emacs to aid note-taking; and the invisible part, scripts which periodically index your notes for you.

Note that notes-mode provides tools to index your notes, not to search them. (Other existing tools such as ‘grep’, ‘agrep’, and ‘glimpse’ already allow file search.)

A digression about indexing vs. searching: Indexing in this sense means organize them according to categories you give, while searching looks through all text for arbitrary strings. Drawing on the World Wide Web for examples, Yahoo (‘http://www.yahoo.com/’) is an index, while Alta Vista (‘http://www.altavista.digital.com/’) is a search-engine. In (potentially) more familiar terms, the yellow pages (1) are an index, while directory information (411 in the USA) is sort of a search-engine.

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1.2 Why keep notes at all?

So why should you use notes-mode? Well, first, consider why you should (perhaps) keep your notes on line. First, I assume that you take notes as part of your work or school. If you don't, you can stop reading now and go back to watching TV.

If you keep notes, ask yourself why you keep them. Reasons vary for different people, but some include:

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1.3 Why keep notes on-line?

OK, I've talked you into keeping notes. Why do it on-line? Again, there are different reasons for different people. If you don't want to consider keeping your notes on-line, you're welcome to go back to your (clay tablets) paper notes.

However, if you do much of your work on-line, or if you have portable computer, then you might want to consider keeping your notes on-line.

While these advantages are undoubtedly clear to any right-thinking computer user, it should be said that there are a few disadvantages for on-line note-taking.

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1.4 Why use notes-mode?

OK, I've sold you on note-taking and even on on-line note-taking. What about notes-mode? Naturally, it slices, dices, and makes julienne fries. But wait, there's more:

What are the alternatives? I'm glad you asked. (5)

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1.5 Y2K Statement

Notes mode uses dates extensively, both two-digit years and seconds-since-1970. However, notes-mode has been coded to function correctly through the year 2038.

To avoid problems with the year 2000, notes-mode assumes that any two-digit years before “70” are 20xx, not 19xx. Notes-mode should therefore work correctly in both the year 1999 and 2000.

(Notes-mode 1.17 released February 1999 fixes a lingering Y2K problem.)

Because notes-mode uses seconds-since-1970 for some date calculations it will fail beyond the year 2038 on computers with 32-bit integers.

If I'm still using notes-mode then on a 32-bit machine I'll see what I can do.

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1.6 Related work

What would a document be without related work?

Notes-mode is not related in any way to Lotus Notes.

I am told (by David Weisman) that it's something like the now defunct Lotus Agenda.

Ashvin Goel, one of the contributors to notes-mode, has gone off and done a from-scratch reimplementation called records-mode. It's very similar to notes mode, and emphasizes on-the-fly updates to entry links but lacks a manual. You may want to check it out at ‘http://www.cse.ogi.edu/~ashvin/software.html’.

Hyperbole (by Bob Weiner) offers better linking facilities than notes-mode, but it has a bunch of stuff notes-mode doesn't need and it's missing notes-specific indexing provided by notes-mode. For people already using Hyperbole it would be interesting to replace notes-mode's linking with Hyperbole's. Contributions in this area are welcome, provided they make Hyperbole optional.

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1.7 Staying on top

The most recent distribution of notes-mode is always available via ‘http://www.isi.edu/~johnh/SOFTWARE/NOTES_MODE/’.

After you've installed notes mode you're encouraged to subscribe to the mailing lists. To subscribe, go to the web page Send the message "subscribe" to ‘http://www.heidemann.la.ca.us/mailman/listinfo/notes-mode-announce’ or ‘http://www.heidemann.la.ca.us/mailman/listinfo/notes-mode-talk’.

The announce list will contain only release announcements and so is guaranteed to be very low bandwidth.

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