Tag Archives: Freemind

It’s Getting Harder to Love Linux

Update

I used to be an operating system specialist. I’m not any more. I want to use a computer as a tool to get something done, like most people do.

I’ve used Linux for many years without ever learning too much about it. There was a time when I considered that to be proof it had caught up with Windows for ease-of-use. Windows has crashed and burned on me more than once

Things seemed to change when Canonical took their premature decision to move Ubuntu to the Unity graphical shell on the Gnome desktop. I finally lost patience with Unity a few months ago and installed the Gnome Desktop instead. It’s been mostly OK but I’ve had a couple of odd disappearances of freemind (Java) and umbrello (KDE.) Umbrello is running with it’s icons missing and I’ve manually reinstalled freemind. I now have to work out how to add a Java app to the Gnome desktop. This is too hard for ‘us normal people’.

In the meantime, freemind is started from my terminal with the command

sh -c “cd ~/bin/freemind && sh ‘freemind.sh'”

At least that’s nice and simple, if you like that kind of thing. Sadly, I don’t.

Update: I’ve fixed Umbrello. Via the KDE bug system I discovered that Fedora users were short of an icon library so I experimentally searched for the same library in the Ubuntu repos and added it. The oxygen-icon-theme transitional package adds oxygen5-icon-theme.

I’ve updated the bug report:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/umbrello/+bug/1598401

Update 2: It came unfixed the first time I tried to save – after a couple of hours work, obviously. I’ve backed up to paper before applying this workaround:

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/umbrello/+bug/1585611

I used the synaptic package manager to add kio then let it sort itself out. UML updates saved, with no loss of data. This is why I use a real operating system. Morning not wasted after all. The Linux love is returning.

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Freemind Ubuntu Kludge

[ Update: Now unkludged with a greatly improved hack:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/openjdk-8/+bug/1510009/comments/24

comment out the (only) line
“assistive_technologies=org.GNOME.Accessibility.AtkWrapper” in
/etc/java-7-openjdk/accessibility.properties

Now even more confused how sudo helped ]

I’ve been unable to run my beloved mind-mapping tool ‘freemind’ since upgrading my only 64-bit Linux box to Ubuntu 15.10.

I haven’t found the cause yet, but in trying to debug the problem, I’ve found a surprising workaround. At the command line, run the script as SuperUser:

$ sudo -uYourOwnUsername freemind &

It’s Java so I have no idea why this helps. It’s a really bad idea to use sudo when you don’t know why. It does however, on this occasion, seem to allow me to climb out of a rather deep whole I’ve dug. The problem persisted if I manually installed the latest Freemind. The Ubuntu version I’m using, 0.9, was OK before and works fine on my Raspberry Pi 2 and an older 32-bit Ubuntu, so I’m a bit suspicious of 64-bit Java.

I’ve clearly not had much trouble before as it was news to me that

$ DEBUG=1 freemind

dumps information about the Java environment.

My Mindmap Wants To Womble Free

I’m writing ‘a book’ (possibly four) at the moment. I’ve already made public my idea that the ‘social networks’ that we’ve knitted out of the Internet can be used as an “idea collider”, to generate creativity; in the same way that particle accelerators are used to increase the rate of improbable collisions and accelerate scientific data collection and discovery.

Last night I read a tweet from Dave Winer. He both wrote and uses the outline editing tool Fargo to collect his creative sparks. Dave linked to an article by Alex Hillman on ‘Lifehacker’, which suggested that we should all keep such a ‘spark file’ for our light-bulb moments. This excited the idea particles floating in my brain. You might say it dropped a ‘spark’ on the dry tinder I’d been collecting and I replied. Dave didn’t understand a word I said. This post is an attempt to clarify what I think, at least to me.

What I didn’t look at last night was the embedded video, ‘outlining’ Steven Johnson’s book. It ends, “Chance favours the connected mind”. Steve smashed into my thinking the notion that we are not colliding ideas but idea components. We may not be bouncing ideas off one another, hoping for more sparks but fusing together half-baked ideas to make a whole. Almost like ‘society’ still exists on the Internet. Yikes!

Fargo is a web-accessible, scriptable, outlining tool that uses Cloud storage. “An outliner is a text editor that organizes information in a hierarchy”; what we often call a tree but is more often represented as a root system, drawn from the side.

Trello is one of many software implementations of ‘Kanban boards’. The idea was adopted from the Japanese automotive industry to become very popular with Agile software developers and several other more specialised software implementations exist. Trello’s blog proposed “The great horizontal killer applications are actually just fancy data structures. Spreadsheets are not just tools for doing “what-if” analysis. They provide a specific data structure: a table.” Trello’s specialist data structure is ‘List of lists’.

My own brain problem is not memory fragmentation but memory capacity. The fire-bucket I’ve used to catch my sparks for the last few years has been Mindmapping. A mind-map is a tree (or root) drawn from above (or below.)

The first point I failed to express last night was that ‘outlining’, Kanban boards and mind-mapping are topologically equivalent activities.
Hierarchies, list of lists and mind-maps are sylistic variations of exactly the same idea. My Spark File tool of choice is a mind-mapper called Freemind. I particularly like it because (it’s Free, ) it is graphical and allows links between branches, at any level. It breaks the hierarchy. The results are often ugly – just like reality.

Albert Einstein said that a model should be as simple as possible but no simpler. Human society is not a hierarchy but a complex network built on personal relationships interspersed with imposed structure. One of our favourite models is a delusion. If you doubt this, look at a platypus. Yes, I believe there is a better model but I’m still Wombling for half-baked ideas.

References:
Dave Winer’s tweet that started this <https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/448587642813546496
Alex Hillman on Lifehacker <http://lifehacker.com/5941997/defrag-your-brain-with-a-spark-file, including the video outline of Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’.
Trello blog entry on data structures http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2012/01/06.html

Tools:
Outline Editors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliner
Fargo http://threads2.scripting.com/2013/april/introducingFargo
Kanban boards http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board
Trello http://blog.trello.com/trello-ios-2-5/
Mindmapping http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map
Freemind http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page