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  • Name Alan Rhodes
  • Location: Brisbane Queensland
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Reports filter disables all tags in plex

This happens in so I don't know if it's been fixed in 6.0.

Using a Reports filter on a tag to hide certain thoughts (tagged with that tag) from appearing (exploding) in the Plex when their parent is activated in Expanded view seems like a great idea, only as soon as I set a filter on a tag to Normal it puts a strikeout cross on the tag thought itself and also on ALL other tags.

This has already been reported here:

It's quite a serious problem for anyone wanting to do this. Has this been looked at?

slow display under windows 7


15 Effective Tools for Visual Knowledge Management

Thanks jostber, great site!

He's selected 15 of the most useful tools, with brief but succinct descriptions. The comments by blog visitors are also well worth reading. Everyone with an interest in this subject should visit this blog.

Expanded View plus type on plex = an UNHOLY MESS

Hi Cornan

Quote: I didn't want to switch to a different thought type, I wanted to edit the thought type itself.

Sorry I must have misunderstood you on that one.

Okay then. When I want to do that in 5.5, I have prepared an accelerator key for Preferences > Accelerators > Thoughts > Properties & Attachments. (I use F4 for this as I have no need for PB's "Search Web" function.) So I hover over the thought whose type I want to edit (using my R hand to move the mouse), press F4 with my L hand, and - hey presto! - up pops the P&A window to enable me to edit the thought's type, all without disturbing the sleeping beast.

I haven't tried this out on v6.0 because for one thing I won't be running 6.0 and 5.5 side by side until they fix 6.0 so it doesn't set my carefully prepared 5.5 layout to default. Judging by the latest posts here, 6.0 still causes grief to 5.5 layouts. So please let me know whether this method works in 6.0.

Supertype's color persists after type is deleted

PB on Windows XP

I thought this might be another "long latency" issue but it's more than that.

Thought A (default color) inherits from typeB (default color), which in turn inherits from typeC (let's say its color is red). Thus typeC is a supertype to typeB, and since no color is specified for A and B, Thought A appears red too because it inherits that color from C (via B).

So far so good. However, when types B and C were deleted, A stayed red. Closing and reopening the Brain, rebuilding the database, even shutting down and restarting PB made no difference. The only way to fix this turned out to be to assign a different type to A, overwriting the old settings.

If this is confirmed, it would be nice to see it fixed.

Arrange thoughts by Supertype

It would be really useful to be able to arrange thoughts in Normal View by (highest) Supertype first, then, within each Supertype, by the types within it, in alphabetical order.

For example, I have a thought named Cars, with child thoughts Audi, Nissan, Rover, SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles), Driving, Maintenance. As you can see, I am especially interested in the first three makes of cars so they are of type tMake. Driving  is of type tHobbies, SUV is of type tSports and Maintenance is of type tChores.

I want the three makes to be the first displayed in Normal view, followed by the others in any reasonable order. I want all these children displayed in the plex, rather than hide the makes under a parent named Makes, and I don't want to have to rename my types. If I Arrange by type, they will be in this order: 

tChores: Maintenance
tHobbies: Driving
tMake: Audi, Nissan, Rover
tSports: SUV

However, if I create a new type zTypeA, making it a superclass of tMake, and similarly create and make zTypeB a superclass of tChores, tHobbies and tSports, AND IF we could Arrange by supertype, the order would change to this:

     tMake: Audi, Nissan, Rover
     tChores: Maintenance
     tHobbies: Driving
     tSports: SUV

This might turn out to be a simple way to please users who ask to be able to arrange child thoughts in a particular order. Note that the subtypes tChores...tSports don't have to inherit anything such as color or icon from their supertypes in this situation. If any of these subtypes already have supertypes, their supertypes could then be subtypes of zTypeA, etc., making the latter super-supertypes.

At present, although subtypes are displayed indented beneath supertypes in the types list, this order is ignored when it comes to Arranging by Type; thoughts are sorted by the alphabetical order of their lowest subtype, as in the example above.

An alternative method might be to be able to sort by a special kind of tag but that's another story.

Expanded View mouise wheel resizing broken in (Windows)

Although I'm still using, I'd like to support Cornan's request that developers take another look at this issue.

I notice that when I switch from Normal to Expanded View, most of the active thought's parents/children/jumps are clustered very closely to it, but one or two are considerably further away. There are three issues:

1) Mouse wheel resizing has no effect on the main cluster, as Cornan says.

2) Mouse wheel resizing works only on the thoughts that are already distant and pushes them offscreen.

3) Close clustering hides some children behind others, making them impossible to find and originally led me to think that some child thoughts got left behind when I switched from Normal to Expanded View. This is the fault of the algorithm which, it seems, still cannot prevent thought hiding from happening. I guess that spacing everything apart a bit using the mouse wheel would have helped me find the missing thought, but for reason (1) this can't be applied, and as a result I have to drag each thought out manually in order to find the missing ones. This is unacceptable.

I seem to recall that this was a big problem in v5.0, but I thought the layout algorithm had been fixed.

PS I'm running on Windows XP with a Logitech M400 laser mouse using Logitech SetPoint Control Center software v4.60.122.

Link Types - Expanding the Possibilities

As I said earlier in post #16, links already have a label field; the only problem with it is that any content (specific to that link) is overwritten by the name of its type (except for Untyped links, of course). Therefore all  they have to do for a quick fix is to change this behavior so that any link label content takes precedence over any link type name, exactly as what happens in the case of thoughts, and this should make 90% of users happy.

This would mean that links could be customized as to thickness and color, yet still carry an individual label. This would require an additional drop-down window named Type with the choices Edit type / Delete type, just as in thoughts, but I'm sure this wouldn't require much coding to implement. We have been waiting for this a long time.

Directional links, bilateral jump gates, persistent thought and link comment fields are all nice to have but can wait.

Link Types - Expanding the Possibilities

Quote: (ivos)You are right, that using subparents could be in some cases a solution. BUT it has a big consequences. E.g. you damage the information about "distance" between thoughts and you damage the graphical presentation of thoughts and their relations. Please note, that actually PB is very much about graphical representation.

True, using subparents (post #12 in this thread) means moving the child thoughts one step further away from their rightful parents, and in Normal View this also means moving them out of plex visibility (unless Expand All is turned on, and frankly I find this view tolerable only for short periods of time). 

I agree entirely - PB is very much about graphical representation. If I didn't need that, I'd probably still be using TreePad or Ultra Recall. My suggestion about using subparents is just a workaround solution for now. It is definitely no substitute for proper link labelling as you, jostber and many others have suggested, and suggested many times.

Expanded View plus type on plex = an UNHOLY MESS

Quote: rhodes, did you notice that editing the thought type generated a new opportunity for the explosive additions of new thoughts in Expanded View?

I don't see how this can be so, at least not the way I do it. To change a thought type I R-click the thought to open its context menu, then click Thought Type. R-clicking a thought does not activate it, therefore changing its type should not either. Does your method for changing type differ from mine?

No way to collapse a Tag's children in Expanded View

PB on Windows

When I introduce a tag thought into Expanded view (by clicking it in the Tags pane) it appears normally, with its linked flock of first-generation child thoughts floating below.

However, when I collapse the tag it disappears, scattering its children far and wide, reminiscent of the seed dispersal survival tactic used by some trees. Each child thought needs to be collapsed and removed individually, no easy task when a tag can have many children. In thoughts, the first-generation offspring display strikethroughs when the parent is about to be collapsed. This does not happen with the children of tag thoughts.

Is this by design, or is this a bug?

Expanded View plus type on plex = an UNHOLY MESS

Hi Cornan, nice to see you haven't lost your indignation about these issues that beset us all!

Every time Expanded View starts to get me down, which is often, I recite Hannes' signature quote several times like a mantra:

Quote: Furthermore I think PersonalBrain is unique

after that, things seem to improve and are placed in perspective...

Seriously, what helps me in this situation is to right-click (or r-click-drag), not left-click any thought in the plex; then it won't explode. Alternatively, if you left-click it unthinkingly, make sure you drag it slightly before releasing the left mouse button. Dragging also prevents activation.

In addition, if your plex should suddenly become flooded, why not try my idea of pinning an orphan thought named Active to the pin bar. In each Expanded View, click it on the pin bar to activate it and add it to the current plex. Save the plex with Active in the view but it could even be offscreen out of the way. Now, when the plex gets flooded, click Active on the pin bar and then the Collapse tab on the thought that exploded will reappear. Click it and it will collapse. (Yeah, I know it's another workaround for the fact that the active thought has no Collapse tab, but it works.)

Some more suggestions for taming Expanded View are in these 2 threads:

Hope they help.


(Hi Joel, your last post and this one crossed like ships in the night!)

On reflection, what I found inhibiting about Tinderbox is that it seems to be necessary to have to press the spacebar after focusing on one of those cute little boxes (Notes) in order to read what's inside. Unlike PB, one can't hover over a TB note and see a label, or view its contents in a side panel. Please correct me if there are ways around this.

Without the presence of containers and adornments to signify where Notes really belong, TB immediately becomes more opaque than PB. This is the old, old problem of how to make the relationships between sets of objects visible at a glance. PB does this by making its Notes children of parents.

I agree with you that, despite all the proclaimed deficiencies of PB's links, linking is actually better developed PB than in TB. Coloring and thickening links, attaching comments to links (by hook or by crook!), can actually be achieved (better in Expanded view than Normal view, as I discovered), making the connecting of Thoughts by "lines of reasoning" more immediately apparent; whereas in TB, relationships are implied more by deciding which container or adornment they are in. Horses for courses.

This leads to an interesting dilemma, an offshoot of the "If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" problem. If links are so well developed with their own comments, etc., that it becomes as natural to store relationship data in them as in PB Thoughts (TB Notes), would that be more intuitive than confining data to text fields in notes with just rudimentary links as TB and most concept mapping applications do? It's a hard one to answer. Directional links in PB can only be constructed with difficulty, which detracts greatly from their functionality, as jostber has observed. On the other hand, you have come to use links more sparingly - is that as a result of reading Mark Bernstein's book?

I can't see a correct answer here, but I can see that whichever application (even a piece of paper) we use for depicting our internal memory map can have significant feedback on the way we visualize it to ourselves. In a similar fashion, the words available to us in our native language constrain the way we conceptualize things. Sometimes it requires effort to resist thinking like a software application - too much like the tail wagging the dog.

At all times we should keep in mind the fact that PIMs, like paper, should be no more than aids to help us create larger maps than we can otherwise comfortably visualize. At least TB doesn't make crude attempts to confuse Brain and Thought with the way we naturally imagine things.

(Added since reading Joel's previous post)

Thanks for your response to my earlier post. Yes, I'm glad we seem to understand each other. Each application has its strengths and weaknesses. If Mark Bernstein ever decided to port Tinderbox over to Windows, I'd be in trouble riding two horses.

As you say, the crux of TB's design is the concept of the (isolated) Note as the "atom", whereas in Normal view, where PB began, it's the linked Thought. The enforced hierarchy that PB imposes may not be for everyone, but at least one can escape it to some extent in Expanded view.

My Expanded view demo is really just a static map and is pretty rough round the edges compared with TB's polished appearance. Also, the time I spent on it, (particularly crafting enclosures!) might be appropriate for presentations, but impractical for daily use unless Harlan comes up with some box drawing functions.

Thanks for shedding light on TB's development history. I suspect PB began life as an application for crime analysis, since I seem to recall early ads by Natrificial mentioning its use by forensic experts. It would be ideal for dredging up otherwise unsuspected links between events and crime figures; I bet it's still used for this purpose. Crime writers would find it invaluable.

TB lacks this associative background, though its Agent feature (shown in the screencast Planning) seems just the ticket for finding what's missing from a set of relations, similar to applying Boolean functions to tags in Reports filters in PB.

I look forward to reading The PersonalBrain Way by H. Hugh, though it might take some time to appear.


Hi Joel

I was interested to read your comments about Tinderbox (TB). As a Windows user I cannot evaluate this app though I have been to the website and studied all the screencasts, so I understand their jargon better now.

A TB Note is a rectangular box on their Map view, so is equivalent to PB's Thought in Expanded View. Clicking TB's Note opens it for editing.

In many ways, TB's interface offers many more user-friendly features than PB does - multiline note names, resizable Notes (equivalent to resizable Thought boxes in the plex), varying fonts and colors, a long list of attributes (metadata) for each Note, sorting by last word (surname), and views, views, views. Yet despite all this largesse, I began to feel Tinderboxed in after a while. As SteveZ observed in his blog, "the Map View in Tinderbox restricts you to one level of detail at a time".

When reading comparisons between PB and TB, it's not always clear which PB view is being used in the comparison. You said:

Quote: This addresses a challenge I've had with using PB as a mindmanager: The graphical layout is constrained by how PB shows things on the screen. TB, on the other hand, lets you lay things out in "Map" view any way you want...

That might be true of Normal view, but certainly not of Expanded View, where with a bit of experimentation you can create just about any layout you need (see my examples here). Mind you, this can be hard work at times as there are no intelligent agents, containers, adornments, etc. to help you, but on the plus side they don't get in the way of your creativity either. As you see I make a lot more use of orphan thoughts in these examples than I ever imagined I would, and simply grouping them without any attempt at linking them turned out to be extremely good for storyboarding my ideas. 

My worry is that if I turned to Tinderbox now I might have to think the Tinderbox way in order to record my ideas, and right now this seems more constraining than using PB.

It would not take much for Harlan to make Expanded View the really user-friendly environment that it needs to be to compete with TB at its own game. My impression is that TB began largely as a map view and extended from there, whereas PB began as a database which excels at retrieving associations, hence Normal View. A map view looks very pretty but can become difficult to manage (scalability problems) as it grows huge, whereas users of PB can always fall back on Normal View to manage large databases and reserve Expanded View for those areas where intricate relationships become really important.

A new look for Expanded View

You want to create enclosures too? Why not.

First, create a pair of horizontal and a pair of vertical parallel links around the thoughts you wish to enclose (AA, BB, CC), as shown below. Use any short name for the thoughts at each end; I used upper case O. These thoughts began as orphans.

Now, create a type for the thoughts with the same color as the background (black) to make them invisible.

That's all there is to it! Unlike enclosures in some other applications, you can be more creative and have links leading into and out of the enclosure, as well as any combination inside. Truly, this is thinking outside the box. Another workaround.

In this example, there's no advantage in making the enclosure background a different color. Doing this might make thoughts and their links less visible as their colors were chosen to be seen best against the main plex background.

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