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9/03/22

Android multi browser windows

There is a really useful "multi browser window" Android feature I was unaware of until accidentally activiting it. However I couldn't figure out how I did so. After some digging, I figured it out. I am using Vivaldi, but any Chrome based browser should have this I believe. 

You can see from the below screen shot I do not have any "window" option

To activate the window feature, you need to first split screen the browser application. It doesn't matter which other app you select, it will be overridden. Once split screened, you can long press any link and you should have a "open in other window" option

Now you can see when opening Android recents that the two browser windows are linked, split screened and there are window management options 

5/30/22

Todoist+Obsidian = best task & note system

If you have read any of my past posts, you'd know I was a big fan of Amplenote. However just recently I found myself getting very frustrated with it, and ultimately decided to leave Amplenote, blog post explaining why here. This was not easy, as I really enjoyed my time researching and using Amplenote, and thought it was the all in one solution where my tasks and notes could live. This is actually a clue to why I am leaving.

If you notice in a previous post, I said Amplenote is the best task+note system. However this post title, I make the distinction to say that Todoist plus Obsidian makes the best task AND note system. Amplenote, while admirable for trying, just couldn't cut it when it came to being both. I realized I needed a dedicated knowledge management system AND a dedicated task management system.

This current post is going to detail why I am using Todoist and Obsidian instead.

Overall benefits

I realized after testing this new system out for a week, I actually enjoy having my tasks and notes separated. I thought I needed them together, but the separation actually helps me focus just on getting just tasks done, or conversely just writing.

Benefits to Todoist

UI is fantastic! The icons of the buttons when adding or editing a tasks are very easy to visualize or pick out, enabling you to quickly move through this UI without any friction. Easy to understand where you are at in the app, whether it be you Inbox, a project, or a subtask. Speaking of subtasks, they are done very well! Also, you can make comments on a task, and it notifies the other user if commented or assigned. Really powerful. Here are some screenshots to illustrate the functionality of the app:

Desktop app is really well done!

Quickly add a task from this really nice widget
Schedule it

Move it to a project
Or if adding to a shared project, assign it to someone


Benefits to Obsidian

  • You can either search for note titles (shortcut Ctrl+O), or an exact and comprehensive search (Ctrl+F), which means you can ingest a lot of information and dump all your files in a massive folder without trying to organize, as the search or backlinking will enable you to quickly find what you need. This also enables atomizing subjects and notes.
  • Fantastic for longform writing, researching, backlinking and knowledge management. 
  • Local file control
  • The heavy focus on backlinks and and mentions means the graph view enables you to visualize connections and trends. This leads to greater connections and at the top level, MOCs.
  • Easy to sync to your devices via Syncthing
  • Able to modify to your liking with plugins
  • Full featured mobile app
I have seen Logseq recommended instead of Obsidian, and maybe I will play around with it. But for now I know how to use Obsidian, plus I haven't ever been a fan of outliner apps like Workflowy or Dynalist, and that is what Logseq is. Plus they're in beta and their Android app is a hideous green. 

Conclusion

I am not fighting the apps to do something they're not good at. Having a task app that is fantastic at what it's designed for, plus very well executed collaboration functionality, and having my valuable notes in an app targeted for knowledge management under my control and backup has made my job interfacing with both parts of my life a lot more seamless and relaxing.

I might eventually make a separate blog post about my Obsidian setup, but I am still tweaking it.

My reasons for leaving Amplenote

As the note title says, I am leaving Amplenote, my former Task+Note system of choice. I really enjoyed learning the system, and the dev team behind it are extremely friendly. At first I thought it was the magical all in one solution I had been looking for, being able to have my tasks and notes in one place. And indeed it was for a time, in fact I am really bummed to have to write this post. However, after using it extensively for about a year, their product has some downsides that are too big for me to overcome. Sidenote, I will keep an eye on Amplenote's development to see if there is a point I could possibly come back. I truly like the team and vision for an all in one solution. 

Anyways, here are the reasons I have to leave:

1 - No trash can

If I am writing important notes or content in my knowledge management system, and accidently delete it, it's gone forever. There are a couple workarounds, but that is unacceptable to the value I place on my notes, especially my personal writing and longform content. Priceless amount of time and energy put into them, and the fact I wouldn't be able to recover them is too much for me to compromise on.

2 - No local file control

I realized how much this meant to me when using Obsidian. The security of having my own backups and control of my data is massive. Also, Amplenote would auto archive notes past 30 days. This was frustrating. There was an option to check "do not archive" on a single note, but there is no way I am doing that for all of my notes. It should be a global option.

3 - Search felt useless 

Search is the lifeline of a productivity app, especially in regards to knowledge management. But no matter how I searched for a keyword, I inevitably either couldn't get the exact match I was looking for, causing me to manually try and remember which note I put the item in, or even more aggravating, when it did happen to find the keyword, it wouldn't highlight the keyword, nor would it take you to that section in the note. I would have to manually read through the whole note to find it. 

4 - Task management is lacking

At first I didn't think this was a big deal, as they have the task score system, and also the idea of putting ideas into daily-jots and then transitioning them to full blown projects or simple todos seemed powerful. Which the concept is indeed great, but in practice, really frustrating. Here are the issues:

  • There was no legitimate way to tag someone. There are hacks, like creating a file with a persons name, backlinking tasks with this named note, and then sharing that note with the person, and then having them check the backlinks, or just send the tasks to that person's titled note. But is not an ideal way to assign/tag collaborators. There is no notification for this person to know there are items they are assigned. Inefficient and not friendly for collaborative task management.
  • The notifications worked maybe 50% of the time. And when they did, if you clicked on it you wouldn't be taken to the actual task, just to the top of the note that contained the task. Goes back to the search issue of not being able to find stuff.
  • No task hierarchy in Task view. Really important for context when viewing subtasks of a project.
  • No homescreen widget to see a list of tasks, you have to open the app. (Not a massive problem as the app opens quickly, but compared to Todoist it's hard not to want this quick glance/add option).
  • The UI of the tasks was not great. Especially compared to a dedicated task management app like Todoist.
    • It does not feel intuitive to me when editing a task, and the information fields are not easily recognizable at a glance, seem jumbled together.
    • Fair amount of small glitches when editing tasks. Example is if you checked a task off that was on the bottom of a note, it would scroll you to the top. Very frustrating.
    • No way to reorder tasks by drag and drop on mobile: you had to press an arrow button repeatedly to move it up or down. Very frustrating, and sometimes didn't even work. 
  • This is subjective as I know a lot of people like it, but I realized I didn't like the auto scoring system. It was constantly modifying the values based on time, priority and urgency and trying to shove them up to the top. I had to keep fighting the app due to this. I prefer a manual approach, where I can set due date and priority once, and then use the UI to filter to a view of my tasks in the way I want to see them.
It's more that Todoist addresses everything above that I complained about, but then also does it extremely well with more features. Feels frictionless when using. I explain all of these points in a later blog post linked below.

5 - No multi pane

Very essential for writers/researchers to have multiple notes open for context and reference. In fact I am writing a book right now in Obsidian and have 5 windows open. Amazing, I forgot how much I missed this!

6 - Subjective/personal items

  • Lack of good themes. I dislike any colors besides grays and blacks in my software, however all of Amplenote's themes are littered with different colors. I know I am probably in the minority here.
  • Calendar integration is a feature they advertise, but not only was it useless for me since I don't use Google or Outlook calendars, but to me the calendar UI in Amplenote was not pleasant to use if I want to use that by itself. I also realized I actually dislike combing tasks with appointments in a calendar. I want those separate. Example task would be doing dishes. And example appointment would be going to the dentist. Having both of these types smashed into one calendar and micromanaging my day down to 15 minute blocks is claustrophobic for me. I prefer keeping my Exchange calendar for hard appointments, and then in a separate system have tasks I schedule for days, not specific times. This enables me to be flexible with my tasks, knowing I can do them anytime doing the day, and if I need to I can push to tomorrow. Instead of times, I use Todoist's 4 levels or priority. I feel this is a better way to slot tasks into my day around my hard appointments.
  • This item is a bit hard to explain, but the reliance on traditional tagging in the side bar is limiting IMO. It forces you to categorize notes (especially since their search doesn't work well). This makes you constantly worried about having created something but forgot to tag it for later use. They call backlinking, "inline tags", where a note is the tag. In Obsidian, backlinks are the focus instead of traditional tags. In fact you don't even need to use traditional tags in Obsidian. This is really important for the concept of linking information, and it shines in the graph view. You can then take highly backlinked notes and create MOCs. You can pin notes as MOCs in Amplenote, but really the system is encouraging you to tag/categorize instead of backlink. 
    • In Obsidian you can either search for note titles, or an exact and comprehensive search. And this enables you to just dump all your files in a massive folder without trying to organize, as the search or backlinking will enable you to quickly find what you need.
    • Obsidian title search has most recent titles which is awesome when moving between notes.

Here is the follow up post detailing why I am going back to Obsidian for knowledge management, as well as using Todoist for my task management.

5/04/22

My Amplenote tagging structure

In my previous post I mentioned how I extensively used tags in Amplenote (AN), but didn't spend too much time on it. However after getting asked about it a couple times I thought it might be a good idea to do just that.

What's great about using tags instead of folders is that I could have a multiple tags on one note, enabling me to find or correlate that data in different contexts. Here are a couple pointers I find helpful with tagging as well as examples of my own tag structure.

First and foremost, you must read the paragraph Traditional vs Inline Tags. The AN team does a great job with their docs! The most powerful part of this concept is that traditional tags are not containers, they're designators or attributes. 

Secondly: Inline Tags = Note References = links to other notes. Super easy! 🙂

The genius IMO of inline tags being just a link to another note, is that you can use them how you want. For instance, I have a note named @Isaiah, and my wife drops tasks into it for me to review. In this context, the note is really container of tasks. However, I can also filter by that note to find references to me in other notes, which in this context the note is a tag! 

First way of using @Isaiah would be as a tasks filter. I personally don't use this as much, but nice to have as an option.

The way I like to use it is as a notes container + backlink finder. This makes it a dual purpose note, enabling me to be assigned tasks, but also find where I have been explicitly referenced in other notes or tasks.

Lastly, here is a screenshot of my traditional tag structure. Keep in mind this is still a work in progress and I am continually refining as I use them:

A couple of notes about how I use them.

  • I put numbers in the titles of my most used tags so they float to the top of my tag list
  • I use the -1-pin tag for a couple different categories of notes. I use it very sparingly and continually move notes in and out of this grouping
    • Important
    • Recurring
    • In progress
      • Example: if I have a -3-shared/house note titled kitchen remodel, I would also tag that with  -1-pin if I am actively working on that as a primary focus. Once done or put on hold, I would remove the pin tag
      • Caveat here is my note ⏳In Progress that I use to inline tag tasks. My process here has not been 100% decided, as I am using both strategies
  • -5-ingest is the tag for notes that I create when consuming non entertainment content and want to take notes. These notes sometimes are also tagged as research or wiki depending on their relevance and progress of completion. A research tagged note could eventually be a full fledged wiki note after I am done researching.
    •  The sub categories are:
      • articles
      • books
      • podcasts
      • videos
  • daily-jots notes get tagged often, but not always, with journal. Or I just rename the note title to something more specific or migrate the data to a more appropriate note  
  • learning is for formal classes, certifications or professional development
  • wiki is my knowledge database
  • collections are notes with eclectic information in them, such as ✒️ Quotes or 🍺beer to try
Feel free to ask me any questions! 🙂

5/03/22

My Amplenote workflow

In a my previous post I detailed my review and testing of many different note platforms, and why I ended up with Amplenote(will refer to as AN) as my Task+Note system of choice. This post is going to detail some of the tips I have found or adopted to that help me simplify and maximize it's potential in a daily workflow

I would first like to point that the organization of notes revolves around a tagging system that is defined differently in the AN context: no longer do you place notes in folders, you tag them. (Read the aforementioned link to really get a grasp how tags are intended to be used in AN). I also have written a separate post about my Amplenote tagging structure. The most powerful part of this concept is that traditional tags are not containers, they're designators or attributes. Which means you can designate notes with multiple tags, and thus cross-pollinate data. Let me give you an example:

If I have a note with the tag work/projects that contains some code that I might want to research or write about later, I can also tag the note with research/tech and writing/blog. This enables me to keep content up to date in one note, but then find it from many different contexts. 

The main powerful feature is the Idea Execution Funnel (IEF). This enables me to quickly jettison ideas in my overcrowded brain. Here are the three ways I do this:

  1. If very random data that could potentially become a large thought later on, and thus become it's own note, I just dump into daily jots. I look at it as a sort of a temporary mind journal, and I know that these thoughts might morph into my research of certain topics or become something I file away for later, but I just need to get the inspiration out of my head before I forget.
  2. If however the random thought is more of a clear task, but I don't know how to assign it yet, I will use Android's quick entry feature to place that task into my "Inbox" note. 
  3. If I know the specific note or project this task should go into then I place it there.
Now that I have mental muscle memory for the above three steps, all throughout the day I am just dumping information into AN, but strategically and in places I know to look later. This brings me to the second phase of my productivity system.

I have three notes pinned under the "Notes" view"
  • 📩INBOX - where I place the tasks I haven't figured out where should go
  • ☑️TODO - where I place the tasks I need to do but that usually don't need much context
  • ⏳In Progress - explained below
  • ♾️Recurring - a list of repeated tasks telling me to review certain notes for tasks or content I need to complete or organize:

As you can see from the screenshot, I have a task to review daily the following:
  • ✅ TODO - 👥shared between my wife and I
    • This contains tasks we might need to discuss or do together
  • @Isaiah
    • also shared with my wife, so she can drop in tasks relevant to just me that I then move into my ☑️TODO note or a specific project note, such as kitchen remodel
  • my 📩INBOX
  • and finally cleaning up and organizing my ✏️daily-jots into appropriate note titles and tags
  • other less relevant tasks
Note my use of inline tags. While I could just use @Isaiah as merely a blank note used for grouping and backlink referencing, I also use it as a temporary task holding note for my wife to push items to me. Very powerful and flexible.

I don't schedule a review of ☑️TODO as this is often the note I filter on when in Amplenote's "Task" view, as I need help prioritizing much of these tasks since they are singular, small and without dependencies. If any of these smaller todo items need more time after I start them, I !move to my ⏳In Progress note so to keep them separated from my giant list that hasn't been started. When working on project tasks, I usually just view those tasks inside the note for the context. I can also inline tag tasks with ⏳In Progress as another way of tracking them.

Other powerful items are shared and nested tagging. I won't explain these as the AN team has done a great job documenting these items. But I will say both are absolute integral elements to really taking advantage of the AN platform. I use them extensively.

Unfortunately AN does not have a trash function (was told this was going to be released soon though!). To remedy this temporarily, I think I discovered a workaround I have not seen mentioned anywhere (let me know if this has already been discussed). My workaround is to create a note with all my most important notes (ones you absolutely cannot lose or recreate) inline tagged. Then lock this master note 🔒IMPORTANT DOCS so those links don't get removed. Now, if you happen to delete an important note, for example 🍺beer to try, you can use that note link from the master note to pull up the "Restore" dialogue. See the picture below


Sidenote, calendar mode is completely unused by me, partially because the mobile app only has a day view (cannot take a look ahead in the weeks or month). However being completely honest, the major reason I have come to realize is that I don't necessarily want to schedule or look at a list of timestamped small tasks. Most days I am engaging with my tasks and notes on a manual basis when I have time for it. I actually like the idea of keeping my tasks separate from my mail calendar that I use for hard appointments, like the doctor or work meetings. Obviously personal preference for myself here, I know a lot of people like to micro schedule their day, just not for me.

There are many features I am leaving out of this post. Two reasons for this:
  1. First, I really only need an excellent Task+Note system. Not much more, as this is more about my personal daily use and workflow of ideas funneling from my small RAM brain into tasks and notes I can work with later.
  2. Secondly, I don't use many of the features, like Amplecap, Calendar, note publishing, ect.
YMMV, but I hope this helps someone🙂

5/01/22

Blog update

I have been very busy with personal life and work for quite awhile, so sadly I have neglected writing much here. However I have tons of content and ideas stacked up, mostly around my work in the cloud automation / engineering / DevOps space with Terraform, Python and such, but also some productivity strategy guides regarding my task and note system of choice, Amplenote.

10/14/21

The best Task+Note system

EDIT: Unfortunately, after using Amplenote extensively for about a year, this post explains why I have to leave Amplenote, and this post explains why I am going back to Obsidian, and adding Todoist into the mix 

 


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A little over year ago I was in great need of a Task+Note system to organize my brain. I was hypnotized, as many are, into thinking Notion would solve all my productivity problems, but found myself just getting really frustrated every time I used it. Whether it was a quick todo, or a seed of an idea that would need to be grown into a full doc, I realized I needed a system that enabled my brain to empty itself quickly, but then transform brain dump information rapidly and seamlessly to useful task or note without friction.

To this point, "productivity experts" claim that Notion shouldn't be used to do all this and that one should instead use multiple apps strung together with Automate.io or Zapier. I say that is a bad conclusion/strategy: too much gets lost in the shuffle of multiple sources of information. Furthermore I would argue that this is even more relevant with how we use mobile devices: we need something agile to capture and refine information without constant app switching. So, I had absolutely zero interest in multiple apps and I refused to think that no one in the productivity industry had figured out how to solve this problem.

As I decided to start researching, I also grew annoyed with these "productivity experts" in their videos spending 5 minutes clicking around inside of some note app and concluding with "this app is amazing but you need to figure out what works best for you". Or they had a massive video playlist informing you to "just need to download a thousand plugins/templates, spend 6 months fine tuning and then it will be good".

This doc/list is the result of me over the course of many months and late nights endlessly testing note systems. I hope it helps someone besides myself. A particular distinction I would like to reinforce: what I was searching for and needed was a great task management system that was also great at knowledge management. 16 systems (review notes below) failed to fulfill this requirement, but the one that did not fail was Amplenote.

Amplenote - The winner








Pros

  • I have two recent blog posts, linked here --> [worflow,tagging], that I made after using Amplenote since last year. They detail my workflow and tagging structure to maximize the effectiveness of the platform. Hope they are helpful!
  • Their Idea Execution Funnel enables seamless transition of daily jots/quick capture/brain dump into tasks or full notes. Absolutely the best part of this system, and the main reason I chose it as my productivity tool. I have absolutely zero interest in multiple apps. I have to use something that enables me to transform brain information rapidly and seamlessly to digital task or note. No other note system on the market does it like this
  • Android quick capture enables creating task or note immediately with zero friction
  • Truly unified task view, another Amplenote feature that no other note system does
    • Industry unique Task Scoring system, enabling dynamic task ranking based on urgency, priority and due date
    • Task view shows only the tasks boxes from notes so you don't have to hunt through notes to find actionable items
    • List of presented tasks can be altered via selecting tags, enabling dynamic prioritizing
  • Designed to work offline
  • Tagging strategy instead of restrictive folders. Allows notes to be organized/grouped into more than one area
  • Well executed real-time collaboration
  • Fast, clean design, albeit not as flashy as some would prefer. However I personally like their stripped down design
  • Being a potential calendar replacement is a huge bonus. Especially because it's not just a calendar replacement, it pulls tasks and calendars together into one platform. Extremely powerful. (However, see Con #2&4 below though)
  • MFA/2FA/TOTP - a mandatory security feature IMO
  • Email to note function
  • You can also forward SMS to the email address - helpful for long texts or pictures you want to forward to a note. (This will still show up as generic "from email" Rich note unfortunately)
  • Good dev interaction on feature upvote, Reddit, Discord
  • Thorough and updated help docs enable understanding of how Amplenote is intended to be utilized
  • Website features promotion/descriptions are simple and professional
  • Competitive monthly price for "Basic", no limit on notes.
  • Publishing option ($10/mo "Pro" plan), can embed page in your own website
  • Single note "Vault" E2EE option ($10/mo "Pro" plan). Best implementation IMO as it allows you to still collaborate/share for non-sensitive notes, but also to encrypt chosen private notes
  • OCR
  • Cool thing is Amplenote has a public profile page. This is sort of a mini social media wall where AN users can showcase things about themselves. Nice to get to see faces/personas behind a product, and how others use the platform. Here is my profile

Cons

  • No trash function
    • Please upvote this feature suggestion. Thank you!
    • Per Lucian: "Trash functionality also coming soon!"
    • Unfortunately this makes me very hesitant entrusting my invaluable and very important research and book writings due to me accidentally deleting an important note. Seems like a big oversight
  • No calendar month view on Android
    • Please upvote my feature suggestion. Thank you!
    • What's odd (credit to a commenter on my Reddit post) is that the mobile PWA actually does have the calendar view! Which is great that I at least have that option if I only have my phone, but really annoying that it is not in the native Android app. I can't use their calendar in this state
  • Search is pretty useless/frustrating IMO
    • There is no keyword highlighting, so you have no idea where in a note a phrase is at, forcing you to hunt through all of the notes returned when you searched for the keyword
    • Please upvote this feature suggestion. Thank you!
  • No Exchange/WebDAV/IMAP calendar support if you want your external calendar to display your scheduled tasks - only supports Google or Microsoft
    • Please upvote both of these feature suggestions: Exchange and calDAV
  • No shared tags (important for collaboration since there are no project folders to tie notes together)
  • No task hierarchy in Task view, only flat list (bad for projects, as you need to go to the project note for hierarchy)
    • On roadmap per Lucian: "Please upvote the existing suggestion here; we are aware of this one and it's on our to-do list to think of the best ways to implement this."
  • Only a single teal color scheme (I dislike greenish colors)
    • On roadmap per Lucian: "Custom themes are on the roadmap!"
  • No way to move tasks to specific note headings
    • Please upvote this feature suggestion. Thank you!
  • No 24 hour/military time
    • Please upvote this feature suggestion. Thank you!
  • No backup MFA codes
  • No native desktop apps, only PWA
  • No multi/bulk select of notes
  • Cannot @ mention a collaborator. Very important part of projects and tasks
    • Please upvote this feature suggestion. Thank you!
  • No automatic scheduled backup to email
  • Cannot move tasks up/down on Android
    • You can move the tasks, but only by pressing the "up" button above the keyboard. Wish it was more intuitive by just holding on a task and moving with my thumb either up OR down. 
  • No resizable pictures - I missed the tiny button on bottom right of picture
  • Cannot pin notes - Implemented October 2021!
  • No default tag color
  • Unable to edit rich text in note preview, forced to go into note. Especially pertinent without aforementioned lack of task hierarchy in Task view. Need a way to quickly find a parent task and clear child task without having to go inside of note
  • No enterprise/organization functionality e.g. branding, group perms, domain
  • Above average monthly pricing

Notesnook - Appealing, but falls short

Pros

  • Works offline
  • Clean design
  • Automatic backup to email
  • Great dev visibility and interaction via Discord
  • Completive monthly pricing
  • E2EE

Cons

  • E2EE means no collaboration
  • No unified task view - more of a notes app than a task management app
  • Notebook/folder based structure instead of tags
  • No MFA/2FA/TOTP
  • Instability of product, feels beta, customer data durability in question
  • Sluggish interface
  • Slow sync

Upnote - Potential, but too many cons

Pros

  • Fast
  • Clean design
  • Completive monthly pricing, lifetime subscription

Cons

  • No collaboration
  • "Task view" is a not very useful, just a static list of notes with tasks that you have to go into each note to view tasks
  • Does not seem like it is designed to work offline as company has very few FAQs
  • Notebook/folder based structure instead of tags silos/restricts note's flexibility
  • Runs on Google's Firebase servers (migrating my data away from the big companies)
  • No dev visibility, no company story, I don't even know who the team is behind the application
  • Notebook based structure instead of tags
  • No E2EE option
  • No MFA/2FA/TOTP

Supernotes - Potential, but too many cons

Pros

  • Unique design/function of linked cards instead of notes inside folders (Similar to Walling - notes below)
  • Collaboration supported
  • Great dev visibility and interaction on forums, feature visibility

Cons

  • No mobile apps, does not work offline
  • No unified task view - more of a notes app than a task management app
  • Personal preference: card hierarchy does not feel intuitive to me. Friction/confusion just to find the parent cards, and their restricting of allowing cards to stay in sidebar without opening said card is constricting to me. In fact, Tobias even says "this is annoying" in a YouTube walkthrough video (at relevant time in video) but justifies this by saying it keeps the sidebar from being cluttered. I completely disagree and dislike function restrictions like this: if I want all of my parent cards "cluttering" (IMO this is not true) my sidebar, I should be able to. Especially considering the price they are asking
  • No E2EE
  • Above average monthly price for "Unlimited", "Starter" only allows a measly 40 cards.

Others

  • Notion - Only online. Bloated and slow. Zero task management option without extensive, janky, manually built, sluggish database templates. Database exports not usable outside Notion. No E2EE option. Android data manipulation/editing severely limited in functionality. No MFA/2FA/TOTP
  • Obsidian - Powerful for knowledge management but needs a lot plugins to be useful aside from that. Not designed for real clean task management. No Sync collaboration (unless you consider sharing vaults with someone and encrypt each folder - not ideal)
  • Walling - No unified task view. Unique design/function of walls>bricks>sections but feels beta IMO, I am personally not a fan of the design (too busy), different size and color bricks with image previews distract my brain from actual data. Cannot drag and drop bricks to new walls (have to use menu). No backlinking or tagging to tie different bricks/walls together. Does not seem to work offline very well. Slow Android app. No indication of E2EE
  • Workflowy - Nested bullet based design felt cluttered/messy to me (especially annoying when trying to write a longish note/doc are broken up by endless bullets). Essentially non existent task management (no unified task view, no auto clearing of tasks after checking)
  • Dynalist - Forgot about this in my initial publishing, but thanks to this user on Reddit who reminded me. This app is similar to Workflowy which is not a good thing for me personally, but I spent more time trying it so I could ensure I wasn't missing out on a better platform. Here's some negative notes about it that kept me from spending any further time on it: 
    • No inbox on Android! Without mobile support, how is someone supposed to get their fleeting thoughts captured like Amplenote's mobile quick entry or daily-jots?
    • Encourages folder organization instead of tags for grouping notes (vastly inferior, and rigid, way of grouping notes). Dynalist tags are half-baked inclusion into the system IMO
    • Tasks do not clear when checked!
    • Editor menu hid behind bullet menu button, vs Amplenote that has a editor bar visible at all times
    • No pure text, always tied to a bullet like WorkFlowy (this is a con to me, but I know some people like this)
    • Plain text and OPML for export instead of Markdown and YAML like Amplenote
  • Organizedly - Looks very promising, but online only with no apps keeps me from even trying/considering
  • Evernote - I don't trust the company due to past decisions, online only unless paying for the product, too expensive for "Personal" plan, cluttered/sluggish design IMO, duplicate "tasks" and "checklists" are confusing
  • Clickup - Too many animations and color, cluttered and busy design, did not feel intuitive during demo. Relies too heavily on outside tools to be a complete solution. Too much social emphasis (just want a task+notes app, not a social network)
  • Taskade - Too many animations and color, cluttered and busy design, slow, did not feel intuitive during demo. Stupid annoying "Social" sidebar wouldn't stay minimized (just want a task+notes app, not a social network)
  • NimbusNotes - Data captivity, instant nope for me (Export notes only to PDF and HTML, import only from Evernote). No unified task view (only task list per note). They now have a task view, but it is only currently supported in the web client, making it useless to me personally. Also, even worse, they have "Tasks" as totally separate from checkboxes. Evernote is another offender in this regard. The idea of checkboxes being different than tasks makes zero sense to me. Didn't waste anymore time reviewing 
  • Standard Notes - Less powerful knockoff of Obsidian
  • Joplin - Ugly beta knockoff of Obsidian
  • Logseg - No mobile app, didn't spend anymore time reviewing
  • Simplenotes - Way too simple
  • Anything stupidly restricted to Apple e.g. Drafts, Craft, Roam, Bear ect I automatically ignore

WAF to ALB to private web server

How to create a protected external website environment.

  1. Create the certificate in ACM that will be used to enable HTTPS on the ALB
  2. Add the verification record for the above cert to make it active and usable.
  3. Create ALB target group and register the web instance. Later you might have to adjust the "path" and the "success codes" depending on the backend web configuration.
  4. IMPORTANT: create the ALB in any public subnet that is in the same AZ as the private web instance. The LB will not function if you miss this. Second subnet can be any public one, unless there are two web instances obviously. If so, you need to adjust the load balancing rules and options appropriately.
  5. Create HTTP listener that forwards to HTTPS
  6. Create HTTPS listener that forwards to the target group
  7. Create SG "ALB-external" for ALB allowing appropriate public IPs
  8. Create SG "ALB-internal" for web instance, referencing the above ALB SG to allow LB to run health checks & route traffic. This might be port 80 or 443 depending on whether private VPC traffic from LB to Web instance needs to be encrypted with self-signed IIS cert. IMPORTANT: If the private traffic needs to be encrypted, then you need to adjust the ALB to point to 443 instead of port 80.
  9. Create the WAF and associate the ALB.
  10. Add appropriate AWS Managed WAF rules, such as "Amazon IP reputation list", "Known bad inputs". These rules are free, unlike the one created below on step 11.
  11. Usually a "US Only" rule should be created.
  12. Add the desired CNAME for the FQDN referenced in the above cert record to point to the ALB A record.









AWS EBS performance

I have been meaning to document a couple key items to consider when looking at EBS volume performance. Here is a brief example from 4 volumes attached to an EC2 instance, in which the application in the OS was equally distributing the data across all four volumes. 

Each volume is 40 GB. To determine the IOPs, you simply multiply the volume size by 3, giving each volume 120 IOPs.

To calculate bandwidth, it is IOPs multiplied by I/O size. In the metrics you can see it’s averaging about 100 KB for each write to the volume. So 120 IOPs X 100KB = 12,000 KB  = 1200 MB/s of bandwidth available for each volume. From the graph, we can see the average is 2500 KBs which equals 250 MBs.

Also to note, latency and queue are fine. Queue length is basically how much work is waiting to be done, which you actually don’t want it to be zero as that would mean the volumes stand around with nothing to do. Too much work though and the latency goes up.

So, the per volume bandwidth average of 250 MBs is not maxing out the 1200MBs. However, The IOPs are being maxed out as you can see from the graph, where it keeps bursting above 120 and dropping back down.















Just some brief notes on AWS data flow to EBS volumes, and about optimizing AWS PIOPs (provisioned IOPs) EBS volumes.

Let me attempt to use the freeway analogy to define the terms. 
  1. Application data = amount of traffic leaving their house driveway
  2. Data block size = the width of each vehicle
  3. Compute speed = how fast traffic gets from driveway to on ramp
  4. Queue depth = how many vehicles are currently lined up waiting on the ramp to the freeway
  5. Volume IOPs = how many vehicles can be on the freeway at once / quantity of freeway lanes
  6. I/O size = the width of each lane
  7. Volume bandwidth in MiB/s = total width of freeway
  8. Latency = time for vehicles to reach destination after entering freeway (this would be a combincation of length of destination
To calculate max IOPs per volume, divide the volume throughput by the I/O size. For example [1], (16 KiB I/O) = 0.015625 MiB. Now take a volume throughput of 1,000 MiB/s and you are given 64,000 max IOPS for that volume.

Also [2], "to determine the optimal queue length for your workload on SSD-backed volumes, we recommend that you target a queue length of 1 for every 1000 IOPS available....for example, a volume with 3,000 provisioned IOPS should target a queue length of 3......Increasing the queue length is beneficial until you achieve the provisioned IOPS.

Average IO size calculation [2]
(Sum of VolumeWriteBytes over 5 minute period) / (Sum of VolumeWriteOps over 5 minute period)) / 1024

25,000,000,000 / 100,000 = 250,000 / 1024 = 244 Average Write Size KiB/op

IOPs calculation [2]
(over 5 minute period VolumeConsumedReadWriteOps) / period in seconds

1,500,000,000 / (60*5) = 5000 IOPs

Throughput
IOPs * IO size = throughput
5000 * 249856 bytes (244 KiB) = 1,249,280,000 bytes = 1,191 MiB/s

References:
[1] https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/ebs-volume-types.html
[2] https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/using_cloudwatch_ebs.html
[3]https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/benchmark_procedures.html#UnderstandingQueueLength
[4] https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/knowledge-center/ebs-calculate-optimal-io-size/
[5] https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/knowledge-center/optimize-ebs-provisioned-iops/
[6] https://dzone.com/articles/understanding-amazon-ebs-io