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Re: [seul-edu] ANNOUNCE: New Release - iKnow Personal KnowledgeProcessor

On Fri, 16 Jan 2004 15:49:28 -0800 (PST)
"Jeremy C. Reed" <reed@reedmedia.net> wrote:

> On Fri, 16 Jan 2004, Gary Dunn wrote:
> > side of the entry. The installation notes and introduction are
> > included in the tarball.
> What is iKnow?
> What is a personal knowledge processor?
> You described basics of getting it installed (and got me interested
> because you mentioned FreeBSD), but I missed a paragraph or some
> sentences explaining what iKnow is used for and why it is needed.
> The webpage mentioned slate style handheld IT devices.

Thank you for writing. Or, as we say in Hawaii, Mahalo!

The Open Slate project is about hardware and software. The software piece
-- specifically educational software -- is called Chalk Dust. Although
iKnow does not fulfill the team-made, peer-review goals of Chalk Dust, I
consider it an example of a new type of program that is well-suited nto

The answer to your question "What is iKnow?" is answered -- I hope :-) --
in the introduction. I concede that is is a little hard to find. Here is
the text, in plain ASCII:

A Personal Knowledge Processor
Version 0.4 (beta)
Gary Dunn
January, 2004


iKnow is a personal knowledge processor, a tool for bringing order to
collections of information and for revealing relationships between pieces
of information. It is designed to help you know what you know, and to
see deeper into what you have.

In the association between knowledge management and information
technology, the focus has always been on information
sharing. Typically the sharing of information occurs at a web site,
and it has become fashionable for this type of web site to be called a
portal. iKnow is to knowledge management portals what a diary is to a
newspaper. iKnow is a personal tool; it harkens back to the original
allure of the personal computer. iKnow comes to you empty, you fill it
with whatever you want, and all of your data stays on your local hard

In most case, the data you collect will come from outside sources,
such as mail messages and web sites, books, magazines, and newspapers,
lectures, speeches, press releases, sales and promotional liturature,
material safety data sheets; there really is no end to the
possibilities. But in some cases, much or all of it will come from
you; notes for a paper or a book, for example.

Essentially, iKnow is a text editor wrapped in a collection of
organizational and navigational tools. Together, they make a
collection of information worth more than the sum of its parts. The
value-added bonus comes from the insights you contribute, the
organization you impose, and the associations you define.

The Text Editor

The centerpiece of iKnow is a text editor. To call it a word processor
would be unfair, because iKnow makes no attempt to format text for
printing. However, iKnow's text editor does offer text formatting
through functional styles inspired by the original HTML: Heading 1-5,
Emphasized, Foreign, Fixed, Fixed Reduced, URL, and the default style,
Body. Images in GIF, JPEG, and PNG formats can be inserted at any
point in the text. (Images are covered in more detail below.)

The URL text style has a special meaning. Double-clicking on text
formatted as URL will invoke your web browser and pass the text as a
URL to open. For this to work you must enter the path to your browser
in the Preferences dialog box.

Because iKnow builds collections of information, and some information
is "better" than others, each item of information includes a weighting
factor. The weight can be set to an integer value between one and
five. You are free to use this scale in whatever way you wish; the
intent is to have it represent relevancy. The weight property really
comes into play when searching by keywords.

Each piece, or item, of information is identified with an index, which
is analogous to the subject line of a mail message, a news story
headline, a book title, or the label on a file folder. All of the data
belonging to an item is saved in a single file on disk, and the
process is automatic -- iKnow has no save command.

There is no structure to how information is entered. Specifically,
iKnow is not a database; there are no predefined data fields to
contend with, and no schema to design. Each item is a free-form
combination of text and graphics, identified by an index and, if you
like, ranked with a weighting factor.

The Category Tree

Items, identified by their indexes, are grouped by
category. Categories are organized in the familiar hierarchical
inverted tree format used by libraries and computer file systems; a
fancy name for these kinds of things is taxonomy. You create whatever
hierarchy (taxonomy) works best for you, or follow one established for
the field related to your collection.

Each category can contain categories and items, just like the folders
on your computer. iKnow displays these in two lists, side-by-side, in
the upper half of the main window. Categories on the left, indexes on
the right. The contents of the selected index are displayed in the
lower half of the window.

To help you keep tract of where you are, the sequence of categories
that defines your position, starting from the top and going down
through the branches of your hierarchical tree to the current
category, is displayed in a long text field above the category and
index list boxes. This text box can be used for navigation. For
example, to jump directly to the top of the tree, click on the
left-most category, which is always called TOP.

Similarly, indexes can be rather long, too long to fit in the index
listbox. Therefor, the current index is also displayed in a long text
field, this time below the twin list boxes. This text box is also used
to edit the selected index; you must press Enter after editing this
line for the change to be applied.

There are a variety of navigation methods available. Naturally,
clicking on a category in the list box makes that the current
category. There are buttons for retracing your steps and for moving to
the parent category one step at a time, and ways to jump directly to
recently visited categories and across previously established
links. Clicking on a category in the current category field, above the
category and index list boxes, jumps to that category. You may also
use the Go menu to jump back to a previously visited category. In all
cases, the selected category becomes the current category, and the
twin list boxes are filled with its child categories and indexes.

Right clicking on an entry in the category listbox opens a pop-up menu
with the commands Cut, Paste, Rename, and Delete. You use Cut and
Paste to move a category. All categories and items contained in that
category, and all their children, will move with it. Note that the cut
is not applied until the paste is performed, to prevent potentially
large amounts of information from being lost. For the same reason, the
Delete command only works on empty categories.

Keyword Threads

As useful as it is to organize information into a hierarchy of
categories, specific pieces of information -- news stories, press
releases, lecture notes, whatever -- typically are multi-dimensional;
they have meaning in more than one way. As thoughtful as you have been
in laying out your categories, some items will seem to belong in more
than one place.

iKnow accommodates this situation by allowing you to create threads
that cut across the primary organization imposed by your category
tree.  Threads are created by assigning keywords to items.

The keywords assigned to the current item are displayed in a listbox
in the lower right corner of the main window. Clicking anywhere in
this list will open the keyword manager dialog box.

The keyword manager displays the keywords you have assigned for the
entire collection and the current item. There you can add new words,
assign a previously entered word to the current item, and modify or
delete words. Keywords are not restricted to single words; "hot dog"
(without the quotes) can be a keyword, and much more meaningful than
the individual words.

To add a new keyword to the collection, and the current item, enter
the keyword in the text box and click on the Add button. To add a
keyword already in the collection (the list on the left) to the
current item, click the right-pointing button between the two list
boxes. To update a keyword, select it in the current item list (the
one on the right), make the changes in the text box, and click on the
Update button. Updates are global. To change a keyword only in the
current collection is to add a new keyword and delete the
old. Deleting the last reference to a keyword deletes it from the

Relying on keywords that you assign, rather than indexing and
searching the full text of every item, eliminates the guesswork in
choosing what to search for, and reduces the number of false
positives. Full text searches are good when you are unfamiliar with
the subject matter, or when you have little control over where it is
located -- the World Wide Web, for example.

To select items by keywords, drop down the Edit menu and choose
Find. This will open the Keyword Search dialog box. The keywords
assigned to the collection are listed on the left. Use the left- and
right-pointing buttons to create the list to search for on the
right. Logically, the chosen keywords will be OR'ed together; the more
keywords you select, the greater the number of hits is likely to
be. Slide the scales to select the range of weightings to include.

Clicking on the Search button will position you on the first matching
item, newest first. To move to the next matching item, click on 
Edit/Find Again. If Find Again is gray, there are no more matching

iKnow was designed to be used by you to gather information over
time. Thoughtful assignment of keywords when new items are entered
will pay off handsomely in the future, when you browse through a
collection and discover relationships you did not realize existed.


The keyword threads that evolve over time may turn up interesting
relationships, but what about the times when you already know what you
know and want to preserve a specific association? Suppose one day your
methodical application of keywords has paid off, and you notice an
especially significant association between items. How can you save it?

iKnow provides this capability through links. A link connects two
items. Think of a link as a notation scribbled in the margin of a
book, "See also chapter 8."

The links assigned to the current item are displayed in a listbox in
the lower left corner of the main window. Each entry consists of two
parts, the name of the collection where the item is located, and the
item's index. Clicking on a link will take you there.

Links are added to an item using a pair of small buttons labeled with
a "" (ANSI section symbol, char 167 -- chosen because it looks cool.)
Clicking on the button just below the right end of the long index
field marks the current item as a target. Clicking on the button to
the left of the "Links" listbox adds the link to the current item. To
place a link to item B in item A, make item B the current item, click
the upper right link button, then navigate to item A and click the
lower left button. To remove a link, right-click on it and select
"Delete" from the pop-up menu.

Because the clipboard is involved with the linking process, you must
be careful not to use the clipboard between the marking and adding
steps. When a link is on the clipboard, the clipboard status indicator
at the upper right corner displays an "i" (for index).

Multiple Collections

As useful as iKnow is in managing a collection of information, its
real power is unleashed when collections are used in pairs. The key to
success in using multiple collections is the fact that links can
traverse collections. Each collection has its own category tree and
its own set of keywords, so each collection retains its own identity,
but links define points where collections intersect.

Several features simplify using multiple collections. In the Open
dialog box, open collections are not listed, eliminating the
possibility of opening the same collection twice. The File menu
contains a Close command and an Exit command; Close acts only on the
window from where it is selected, while Exit closes all
Collections. iKnow terminates when the last collection is closed. When
a collection is closed a final check is done to ensure that all
pending changes are saved -- again, there is no Save command.

To open a second collection, select File / New Browser, and from the
window that opens, select File / Open.

An effective way to use a pair of collections is to use one for things
that you have control over, and another for things you don't but may
have an impact on you. If you are a student, use one collection to
store references to books, articles, lecture notes, and information
about financial aid, and another to plan what courses to take, and
thoughts about research and papers. If you are a coach, use one to
store information such as the rules of the game, league guidance,
notes from clinics, and tips garnered from books, magazines, and web
sites. Use another for team rosters, practice schedules, goals, game
assessments and player statistics. The idea is to have one collection
for activities that you are responsible for, and another for
information that may impact your success in those activities.


Images can be inserted into the text of an item. The way this is done
is crude in that the image is treated as a character in the current
line of text. This means that text cannot flow around an image as it
can with the HTML IMG tag. Often, the best strategy is to place an image
on a line by itself.

The method used is similar to HTML in that the image data is not
embedded in the text file. A tag is placed in the text, which points
to a file. iKnow supports three types of files: GIF, JPEG and

All image files used in a collection are stored in the collection's
folder. When you insert an image, a file open dialog opens on the
collection folder. This is to make it easy to re-use images. If you
select an image from a different folder, it will be copied to the
collection folder. You do not need to keep the original. When an image
is deleted from an item, or an item containing an image is deleted, the
image file is not deleted.

Due to limitations with the underlying software, images do not always
scroll smoothly. Either the top edge or the bottom edge of an image
wants to be displayed. Due to the limited height of the text editor
window, the midsection of large images will not be visible. To fit
inside the text editor window, an image should be less than 530 pixels
wide and less than 180 pixels high. iKnow deals with this limitation
by using ImageMagick to display images in a separate window, and with
a clever bit of trickery.

To view an image in the image viewer, right click on the image in the
text window. You can navigate around the collection and open as many
images as you want, subject to limitations on memory and screen

If Allow Image Editing in the Preferences dialog box is checked,
clicking on the image in the ImageMagick viewer will display a large
menu of commands. If this preference is unchecked, a more limited menu
of non-destructive commands will be displayed. Editing commands
include cropping, resizing, flipping and rotating, changing color
balance, and many wild effects. To avoid accidentally changing an
image, only enable image editing when you need it.

When you right-click on an image in the text editor window, iKnow
checks to see if the image is a thumbnail. If it is, and iKnow can
find a file in the collection folder that conforms to the required
naming convention, it will open the substitute. This allows you to
insert small thumbnail images in the text window that open into much
larger images in the ImageMagick viewer.

The naming convention works like this. Suppose you have a large image
file named maui.jpg. If you create a smaller file named maui.thm.jpg,
and insert that file into the text window, right-clicking on it will
open maui.jpg. This works for GIF, JPEG and PNG files, although the
full-size file and the thumbnail must be of the same type --
maui.thm.gif will not open maui.jpg.

If you create the thumbnail beforehand, say using The Gimp
(http://www.gimp.org/), you can do this: import the full-size file,
delete it from the text window, then import the thumbnail.

With a little practice you can learn to create thumbnails directly
from ImageMagick. Try this: 

     o Import the original image.
     o Ensure image editing is enabled in Preferences.
     o Right-click on the image so it opens in
     o Click the image in the new window to display 
       ImageMagick's menu.
     o Use a combination of View / Half Size and 
       Transform / Crop to come up with a representation
       the size you want.
     o Use File / Save and edit the file name to make it 
       a thumbnail -- maui.jpg becomes maui.thm.jpg.
     o Close ImageMagick.
     o Delete the original image from the text window and
       insert the thumbnail.

It is often preferable to resize an image by half, as in between sizes
are more likely to generate artifacts. If you want to use other
ratios, use Edit / Resize and enter a percentage, like 33% or 75%.
Be sure to include the percent sign.


The Preferences dialog box includes five settings:

    o Display Warnings
    o Allow Image Editing
    o Default Weight
    o Window Color
    o Path to Browser

Display Warnings determines whether or not you will be warned when
something is about to happen that could cause a loss of data. For
example, if you select an index and select Edit / Delete, you will be
asked to confirm that you want to delete this item. These warnings are
good for beginners, and can be disabled when you are more familiar
with the program.

Allow Image Editing is discussed in the section on Images. When
un-checked, ImageMagick will display images without making changes.

Default Weight determines the weighting factor assigned to new items.

Window Color allows you to chose a color scheme. It would be nice if
color schemes could be assigned to each collection, but the effect is
global. The color chosen is used to create a range of shades suitable
for rendering the window elements.

Path to Browser specifies the command to invoke when you double-click
on a URL. Examples: /usr/bin/galeon, /usr/X11R6/bin/epiphany. Use the
which command to determine the path; for example: which galeon. For
this to work the text of the URL must be valid and formatted in the
URL style.


           _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/
          _/                                     _/
         _/  Gary Dunn                          _/
        _/  Open Slate Project                 _/
       _/  http://openslate.sourceforge.net/  _/
      _/  http://www.aloha.com/~knowtree/    _/
     _/  Honolulu                           _/
    _/  registered Linux user #273809      _/
   _/                                     _/
  _/  This tagline is umop apisdn.       _/
 _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/