Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (1047 mails)

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[opensuse] (offtopic) how do you organize your data?
I will try to keep this short, but I just wanted to ask if somebody had seen something or knows something that I might have missed.


First of all this question is about textual or informational data.

Just as you can keep e.g. newspaper articles in a folder, and notes in a notebook, and addresses in some address book, so too can you organize the same kind of data digitally.

There are three categories of information:

- personal (information pertaining to your person and your life) (first level)
- notition (self-generated data that you maintain in order to remember things) (second level)
- knowledge (archived articles, may included "bookmarks" as well) (third level).

In Dutch I call these "personal", "data" and "knowledge" (or persoonlijk, gegevens, kennis).


now of course you can just keep collections of text files interspersed with scanned images, saved photos, and so on. The user experience won't be that great, but it is resilient.

We can call the three levels: self, group and world, or as it may related to Unix permissions: user, group and others. Typically the closer it is to yourself, the more likely you are to be the producer, and the more it relates to the world, the more likely it is for you to be a consumer, of the information.

"projects" for instance may be personal, and private, but they may also be, and typically are, stuff that you show to others. You may not show it to everyone, so projects often fall into the 2nd group, or level.

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but speaking purely of personal data, contact details (address book), notes you intend to keep, etc., we are speaking mostly of textual data at this point not excluding images or scans or photos, but still centered around 'knowledge'.

In general, the format that lends itself best to these kinds of things is a WIKI

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The problem with wikis is not only that they are often rather poor in terms of user friendliness or power (underdeveloped programs), the issue is also that you need to run it as a server. There are two classes of wikis that I know of:

- runs in a browser as a self-contained system (TiddlyWiki)
- requires a server to run
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As a result:

- either you store the data locally on your devices
- or you use a web service

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The best cross-platform web interface that I know is EVERNOTE. Evernote is available on every platform except Linux, and then you can still use the web interface. It is a proprietary solution but your best bet if you want your data to be easily accessible on mobile devices, although the Android version caused data corruption (corruption of spacing in text). In the past at least, not sure if still.

As a personal device (that you might sync to the cloud) the concept of "wiki on a stick" becomes interesting. In order for personal data to be resilient, you need to be able to use it on any device. Unfortunately I know of no "wiki on a stick" solutions that are portable across platforms, and unless files are saved in regular formats (text and jpg,/png) they won't be much use on a cloud. Moreover this will never be really useful on a mobile device unless you have an application the equivalent of Evernote.

So there are really two solutions for storage:

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- Keep it on a stick that you keep synced to your regular computer(s)
- Keep it on a cloud sync that you keep synced to your regular computer(s).

And third: use an integrated solution centered around note-keeping, like Evernote.

All of this seems rather poor to me.


Currently I'm doing two of the following:

- I have a slightly reasonable wiki solution called DokuWiki that I run on a personal VPS server
(but I worry about security)
- for larger data sets (software, manuals, multimedia) I maintain an OwnCloud server on the same VPS that functions as an online collection and data organisation. Of mostly software (for Windows), music, a bit of video, etc. In principle I could easily link the dokuwiki files to be accessible through OwnCloud.

You could even imagine writing a plugin for owncloud to render the wiki files. But as most wiki solutions, DokuWiki is rather poor (so I don't use it much) and OwnCloud itself has an excellent file manager but other than that it is rather poor also.

It's the best I can do at this point, although I still have old TiddlyWiki files lying around that contains an older addressbook etc. TiddlyWiki is actually quite userfriendly and also powerful, but in the end you need to do a lot of programming yourself to make it useful, and you are dependant on the thing never to get corrupted. Plus it is hard to run it with all the Java restrictions these days.




So the question is really: has anyone done work in this area, and have you accomplished anything beyond what I have now? What I am doing (running my own VPS) would not be feasible for anyone else (everyone else) but you could consider yourself a provider of these things to others (friends, colleagues, etc.). If something like OwnCloud were sufficiently developed, it could start approaching the level of Dropbox or Synology NAS cloud solutions, but it's not really there by a far margin, and of course I made myself unwelcome with one of the authors as I couldn't achieve something that should have been ridiculously simple ;-).

Synology has a well-developed platform (and you can run DokuWiki on it) but it requires running an appliance in your home and I require 'outsourcing' it to a VPS.

A VPS solution is in-between personal local storage and anonymous/large scale cloud storage.

A VPS really falls a bit into the 2nd level. It is not as personal as a stick, and it is not as world as a DropBox or whatever.

Currently I only use OwnCloud for non-personal data and anything that is remotely secret/personal I encrypt individually. I also don't use it for anything requiring real filesystem support since I couldn't get WebDav working and it doesn't play nice with permissions if I were to share the filesystem where it stores its files.


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So my question is: have you tried anything in this direction, and where are you now?
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