Winterfest 2019 - Discount on tools for creators & writers

Got an email from Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems announcing the 2019 Winterfest of artisinal software. It includes 25% discounts on:

  • Tinderbox
  • Panorama X
  • Nisus Writer Pro
  • DEVONthink 3
  • Aeon Timeline 2
  • TextExpander
  • SpamSieve
  • Storyspace
  • Bookends
  • Trickster
  • PDFPen
  • HoudahSpot
  • HoudahGeo
  • DEVONagent Pro
  • BBEdit 13
  • ImageFramer Pro
  • Hook

There are some pretty interesting applications in there. In particular I am trying out Trickster and Hook. Trickster tracks files you’ve used recently. You can do this with Finder but I never found it a very useful approach. Hook allows you to “link together” different things you’ve been working with. I’m not exactly sure what it is does or how I will use it but it intrigued me.

I remain torn on buying a copy of Tinderbox. I want to, but I know the reality is frustration. And it’s a distraction from building Mentat. Then again Tinderbox is a very mature feature and it has some interesting new features that it will take me years to come close to - if I ever do. Mark, at least, can focus on his development. I’m considering raising some funding for Mentat next year and see if I can hire a programmer to help me.

I’m giving DEVONthink and DEVONagent another go. I’ve tried them in the past and didn’t get on with them. But it was long enough ago that I think it’s worth another try. I still like the idea of a research assistant esp. as Google gets less and less useful by the year. But I fear that a separate app is going to be a lot less useful, we’ll see.

Aeon Timeline has made me curious a few times. I don’t have a specific need for a timeline creator. I did play with them a little bit in TheBrain but didn’t find the UI there very useful. Will I ever write that novel? Maybe if I did I should make it a hypertext novel and check out Storyspace.

Ah… so many apps to play with, and so little time.

Anything catch your eye?

Really tempted by:

Storyspace - although realistically I have no time to get back into writing interactive narrative (a good interactive is 5x the work of a good linear, at least)

The DEVONs - get behind me Satan - I used to use DEVONthink - but I switched to Evernote as it was what my collaborators were using a few years ago. I’m not actually convinced that DT has many features that I need more than Evernote, but I am getting nervous that Evernote is going to fold… and whence my data then?

Aeon - like Storythings, very tempting, only I’m never going to write those non-fiction works (politics of the post-Mont Pelerin world) (History of Y2K) so… despite Aeon integrating with Scrivener, not today.

Trickster isn’t for me I think, somehow my filing system works ok for this.

If you use plain email hosting for any email accounts, then I’d put a word in for Spam Sieve, overall it works pretty well. Downside is you download all the spam - upside over server side is you never lose anything in an opaque way. (I’ve always hated webmail interfaces, including gmail, so I never went the gmail route.)

Tinderbox - I too am torn… maybe I’ll watch that video you posted on Slack, but my gut feel is that Mark just sees the world in a different way to me. There is a “try before you buy” aspect to TB, which I have tried, but I feel like I’d only really settle the matter by buying the full version and trying it for months… but my gut feel is that I’d get there and find it’s not quite how I think.

Hook looks really interesting… Going to watch some videos and see how it looks…

Yeah I fancy Storyspace. I’ve built a few things with Inform, not quite the same thing but I enjoy these kind of tools. My problem is that I get too ambitious and never finish anything :slight_smile:

I abandoned Evernote for a number of reasons, mainly that it just seemed very limited and annoying in multiple directions and they never seem to fix (or develop) anything I cared about. The text editing in particular was heinous. I’m not really sure I need the DEVON stuff either.

I am playing with DEVONagent to see if a dedicated search tool has value. So far I am not super-impressed, I hoped it might be a tool to piece together information from multiple searches and create some kind of map around a set of related topics. That is certainly one of the apps I intend to build using Mentat.

Oh, I didn’t know it integrated with Scrivener (which I do use), that’s interesting. I might get this one just for giggles. I’ve a feeling it might be one of those tools that you find more uses for once you have it.

I’m trying it out, I’ve already realised I need to stop it looking at my Dropbox folder as it seems to be swamped by “placeholder” files which I assume are some artefact of how Dropbox works. That’s a shame though as some very useful documents are managed via Dropbox.

Here I can’t help you other than to echo that Mark comes at things with a very different perspective to me also. But I almost feel like buying a copy anyway to keep learning from it.

If you haven’t I would certainly check out Roam. It’s basically a Wiki with some clever tricks up it’s sleeve but that’s okay. There are things I like about it. VoodooPad for macOS can do some of the same tricks and has the advantage of being offline & native.

Right now, v1.0 of Mentat is targeted at a Mar 18 release. It’ll still be very rough around the edges but it will certainly have a different perspective to Tinderbox.

I have it installed but, so far, haven’t found much to do/done much with it. I’m not sure what that says yet. Probably I need to go watch the videos to “get it”.

Completely off-topic (I guess StorySpace is a little bit too) but I am considering an upgrade to [Max8].

I bought Max5 back in about 2010 when I was doing a lot of musical experimentation but not much since. I have a hankering to get back to that stuff. Max is another rabbit hole!

Someone whose thoughts on these matters I find interesting (although not always compatible) has recommended Roam, so I should give it a try… although since I am maybe getting a new iPad maybe voodoo is the way to go - I’m wary of ending up with my data in a service that then disappears.

Looking forward to seeing Mentat, for sure!

Max is really interesting! I’ve been thinking about getting back into electronic music stuff… but then… there’s a lot of things I’d like to dabble with, but once the year gets back into swing I may not have as much time as I feel like right now!

Max is a lot of fun. I think my best creation was a kind of “neuron style” sequencer. It was a laughably simple simulation of how neurons fire, but quite effective as a sequencer. The challenge with tools like Max is they are so deep, you really do require a good amount of time to get to the heart of them. Like you, I have less time than I imagine. I haven’t made a “piece of music” in years, just dabbling and messing about. I do keep buying music software because I love it and I still enjoy playing. Not cost effective but hey, life has to be about more than that eh?

I’m not sure what I hoped DEVONagent would be but I guess something more than a search tool with some URL exclusion stuff and previews baked in. Seems like half a tool to me and the simpler half at that.

Okay I bought a copy of Aeon Timeline 2. I don’t have a specific use-case although I have a couple of bits of novels it might be fun to plot in this, but messing with the examples it just seems cool and worth £22.

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I just realised Hook is an Eastgate product and can link things inside Tinderbox.
That’s a potentially interesting extension.

Are you sure about that? It seems to be a company called CogSci … did I miss something?

oh sorry, you’re right.
But it seems Mark from Tinderbox has set up some API for them, clicking on the learn more on the winterfest page sent me to a notice about it

I am finally digging into Hook a little and watching the screencasts. I’m still not quite sure I get it but I assume that Hook itself is a database that is maintaining links between open documents.

The integration with Tinderbox I think is using some AppleScript support which MarkB introduced in TB8. I’ve not thought too hard about supporting AppleScript in Mentat because I don’t use it myself, but you can do a lot with custom URL schemes (esp. since a Mentat Thing can script a URL responder).

I’ve considered baking in a RESTful web service to Mentat to allow full exposure of the data-model and scripts via a URL interface. Technically not that hard to do and allows another way of exposing what it does.

My perception is that Hook works only at the URL/file level which may be limiting in some cases (esp. SPA web stuff) but I should be able to support something.