Teacher with goals for self and class

Hi all.
I’m a teacher, working in Hong Kong.
I want to

> get my students involved

in creative exploration with Digital Gardens. You might label this a Pinboarding paradime.

I also need to clean up by own paperwork. Teachers need to be very, very efficient!

My personal PKM is currently evolving towards the concepts involved with Promnesia and Hook.

It’s all about killing hierarchy and replacing it with links on all fronts

Issues I have at the moment:
12gb on Google Keep is too unwieldy due to photos.
It would be nice to search content from web.WhatsApp.com messages too. Sadly this scraper is out of date.

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Welcome aboard! I think you’ve come to the right place to dive deep into your current challenges, and hopefully make some progress solving them. For me it has been an ongoing battle, but progress does come. :smiley:

So glad you are finding Promnesia useful. As I think I’ve said elsewhere, I really think it is one of the hidden/undiscovered gems. A project ahead of its time and a step toward a more unified data future.

12GB on Keep! Wow. For what purpose do you have so many photos in there?

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This 12gb of keep data is an interesting incomplete workflow in itself. Worth a dedicated post but basically, I work in education so light emitting screens are a problem. Instead, I work on the basis of paper for creation where possible and then store it digitally as photos. Now, storage is a total pain so at the moment I use a combination of Google Photos for date+location access and Keep for the photos plus a note to help find it.
I desperately need to improve this system. Keep stores uncompressed photos. It’s too much hassle to do much else.

What I need is better automated storage with OCR of the photos that isn’t siloed and I can bring into something like Miro, only working by sync and not cloud dependent. I’ve used Rocketbook at times but it’s too limiting with the beacons and QR codes.

Interesting. I assume you know that Google Photos does allow you to write notes of a surprising length into the “notes” field. No formatting though, and I’m not certain it shows up in the native search there. Sounds like it wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but it might at least let you get rid of one tool (Keep) in the short-term…

If this is something you have to do frequently and you have a specific location you can do it in, then it seems like you ultimately will want a document-feeding scanner to simplify and speed up the process. Even if not, you want a bulk OCR tool. OCR basically converts to PDF, so you’ll want a PDF indexing media manager. Seems like looking into NAS devices/software would be good (if you don’t want to buy a dedicated e.g. Synology device, there are open source NAS servers you can use on existing hardware).

For OCR itself, there’s this:

Oh yes, and if you don’t need full extraction but just want to be able to search images by text in them, Mylio apparently does this, so might be an interesting solution:

Just a few quick thoughts, hope some of it might be helpful.

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Thanks. Appreciate it!
Thanks for that Google Photos tip. I will start to do that on the basis that that info will probably be in Takeout data if I need it :slight_smile:

Paperless is a fantastic project with the very significant benefit of keep data local. However, recent advances (as in, just the last 3-6 months), in AI OCR recognition now mean that even handwritten notes can be indexed.
AFAIK, Paperless-NG doesn’t use machine learning, unlike the cloud services from:

Textract(AWS), Cloud Vision(Google), Computer Vision (MS Azure via Ink Recognizer service), IBM Watson

I finally found a set of scripts to test these cloud services with, though I’m not sure I have time and the brains to use them yet:

However, I agree that offline, trainable AI would be preferable, keeping the data local.

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Yeah, I almost mentioned Textract and/or brought up PDF upload to GDocs for their indexing and search, but figured your desire for offline was in conflict with that. You have some challenging needs to balance. :smiley: I guess if it were me I’d probably ignore handwriting recognition for now, and aim for a digital platform that can handle that natively at some point (not sure what tools are aiming that direction yet, or which may have offline support).

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I agree with what dGarner said on the other thread. Your replies are so useful. A body of knowledge is building up here. I hope it can form a good resource. Not like xdadevs.

I found something that can do it at consumer level! ReadWise! It has a camera built in. It must be using cloud processing as it actually works with handwriting too now! Great. I’ll definitely be subscribing to that now.

Just for anyone following this, there’s also a particularly fast app on Mac called ‘TextSniper’. This works well for typeface via screenshots, though not for handwriting. Check it out.

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Oh excellent! Yes, I know a lot of people are loving Readwise, but I haven’t given it a proper test yet. Glad it looks like a solid solution for you, and you’ve inspired me to take another, closer look at it too. :slight_smile:

Me too! That is absolutely one of our big goals for the forums vs. Discord (which is more ephemeral). Thanks for asking good questions. :grin:

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I’m just going to try to keep everything in this thread as a diary because there’s just too much to put everywhere else.

First, I started off my intro by saying that I want to get rid of hierarchy but I’m starting to think that could be a mistake. I’m messy. Full text search works but I need structure. However, I hope to make that structure flexible. I’m not sure if this is possible. Lots of thoughts here. The Dendron app tried to FIX our interaction with hierarchy, rather than REJECT it like is the current trend. That’s something to investigate. The uniqueness of keywords in fulltext search is important and useful too. I haven’t seen it discussed much. Pushing 2 words together to FormAPhrase, or using-dashes could be another way to address this. I need to get into this more.

The frustration is that improving notetaking is a slow process because I have to actually try it. When I finally learn that something isn’t working, I have to start a new system and get stuff from the old system into the new system, slowly and carefully, like moving home. This renewal process is very important, and not something discussed enough! If it were up to me, I’d have 2 of everything: One empty and in development and the other in use. The same applies to my home!

Staying focused. I still love my Alphasmart, type-only, no distraction device. As an example, when I use this on the train, I get 2-3x as much done, even though I never seem to get distracted on my laptop on the train. I think the actual laptop discourages the right approach or there is some subliminal process going on.
The Alphasmart has a backup application that can pull files straight from this 1990’s tech into Obsidian. Being forced to type out backlinks and tags manually might encourage good mental work.

I’ve been studying memory since my first post. Links of interest: WHO, WHAT, WHEN.
For WHO, that would be a name. Mnemonics to remember that. Being able to recall names without external storage is useful.
WHEN, that would be a date and nothing more; that’s the limiting convention. Limitations could be the thing that allows us to grow off. I’ve switched to 2021-12-31 format now to fix text file compatibility. Using a text expander to type that quicker on the laptop with :slight_smile: 01-01-2022WhatsApp as CRM: As updated in another thread, I’m now drafting customer comms in Obsidian and pasting them into WhatsApp and using Element One as a kind of backup. A recommended escape from WhatsApp vendor lock-in. Element actually frees up WHatsApp ALOT so there’s surely more to investigate there with integrations, if I want them.

From WhatsApp to vendor lock-in. I note that the GrapheneOS page on Google Play Services is the best reference point for this on phones and phones are so essential these days that they are a good shorthand reference point for society too. The lock-in is still there. That O/S is the best reference point to having control of ones own tech. Recompile banking APK’s to get around SafetyNet checking or using a separate phone. That’s the only way to have privacy/security of data on phones thus far.
eInk: I found that eInk does give a less addictive effect on a phone but overall it’s probably not worth it because things are just slow in other ways. The focus switching of a phone screen is higher and that lower resolution does actually lower productivity that offsets gains from getting distracted less. The situation might be different on a laptop.
Reading a book on the eInk phone doesn’t really make sense because it’s so hard to make notes. Since we should always make notes when reading, why use this thing at all? Perhaps if I attach a holder to the Alphasmart? The screen is just too small. Yet as a regular phone, it doesn’t work because without GApps it can’t access Gmail with an insecure App password and the A5Pro isn’t particularly secure anyway.

This is all a lot of effort to go to when most people are just using normal devices. Tech can’t do disipline for us? But habits of distraction are hard to change. The addiction is very strong.
What is that addiction? For others, it’s CandyCrush etc but for me it’s social and knowledge. I want to get that nugget of info that helps my life and changes everything again. Also, it’s social. The process of discovering this stuff with others is better because of that discussion, which brings up areas we hadn’t thought of before.
I need to separate out the productive from the non productive. At least if I use a separate device for that, I’d notice what I’m doing. That would help.

New link discovered! Device convergence and diet.
We eat bad food because we’ve been taught to associate nutrients with anti-nutrients. Preservatives are delivered with salt, sugar, fat. But those macronutients are not balanced salt, fat etc. They’re delivered by companies who get us to associate the bad with the good. Our tastebuds then go for the bad, reprogrammed. The proof in this is that this affect is broken by eating the macronutrients between meals, not snacks.

Likewise, device convergence is what is ruining our attentions. We associate the good stuff with the bad stuff. We get a nugget of life changing info from YouTube, so we go there again and waste time.
Again, the fix is to separate the good from the bad.
In this case, Google is the evil company trying to force poison down your throat. It’s not just adverts but we need to learn to avoid those distractions. For me, I use searchterms that are associated with curated sources. These are wiki’s and forums. That’s how I avoid all the SEO spam blog/websites.

Promnesia has been really helpful as an archive. I was able to export ALL of Google Keep and simply delete ALL the images. I then indexed that with Promnesia. If I want the image, then I’ll have to go back into Keep. There’s no backup of images as a result. Google could delete this info at any point. The main thing to avoid this is to not use Google Drive to share anything because if anyone, or anything (bot) decides to flag the content as copyright infringing then you can potentially lose all the data as a result. Google Drive data needs to be backed up or better: don’t use it at all.

From GDrive to Google Photos. I’m still using Google Photos. Local backup solutions were just a pain and expensive. 1-2TB worth of SSD expensive. In the end, I decided to just let Google see my data. This isn’t particularly that bad, seeing as it now looks like iPhones are now sharing data with China to be able to be sold there.

Back to mnemonics. It’s hard to know where to draw the line on internal vs external memory. Again, I think some conventions here give a structure from which to grow. Thus making an effort to remember NAMES and KEYWORDS. This is where to draw the line, I think. DATES would also be very useful to remember but that seems like a lot of work, so I’m handing that one over to external memory, assigning a date to each note made.
The habit to make sure I actually remember websites and references is taking a long, long time. Somehow, I need to find a way or a process to remind myself to do this. This could be as a prompt to fill out in my daily note, perhaps?

WOW, Thanks for sharing. A bunch of stuff in there.

Your mention of Promnesia prompted me to chase that rabbit. I must have been there before, it was bookmarked. There was a bunch of stuff there (and linked from there) which resonated with me this time.

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Am I taking over this site? Journal updates, Jan 2022:

##The Productivists journal thread

What I wrote in that previous entry about diet and sunlight is really helpful. Even living in a very sunny location, it’s hard to get enough sunlight. It makes such a big difference; try working after a relaxing day at the beach vs a day inside.

Likewise, saturated fat and stearic acid has also been very influential to productivity. It seems to give a solid source of energy that polyunsaturated fats are missing. In fact, getting away from industrial seedoils really helps. This combo helps to reduce the afternoon lull.
But it doesn’t completely eliminate it without enough sleep.

Sleep is a major problem for productivity. Earplugs cause ear infections eventually. Soundproofing a bedroom is too much unless you own the property, but owning a property doesn’t make sense because moving every 5 years is a better process for cleaning.
Thus: Coffee.

I’ve avoided coffee all my life due to fears over caffeine. I didn’t realise the benefits. It makes you think you’re awake. It gets me through that afternoon dip. The thing is, the afternoon dip is normal, to some degree. But I can’t get it to coinside with a gap in my schedule. Further, this country really doesn’t give many places to sleep in public if I’m out and about.
The issue with coffee is that it just masks over the sleep issue. I can see that when I was tired before, I would crave sugar and chocolate to survive. But the sugar would get me on the high-crash-high rollercoaster. I can see that I craved both the caffeine in the chocolate but also the saturated fat in the cocoa butter. By switching to pure cocoa, I got the benefits but without the drawbacks of the sugar. Interesting.

Caffeine is no cure though. It masks problems. When I’m actually tired I actually start making a LOT of mistakes. These would have been sackable mistakes in my previous job. Attention to detail when typing, this kind of thing. Glaring errors.

Thus, Theanine.
I sometimes take this midday if I think I’m going to be tired, as it’s too late for coffee.

Coffee is still a problem, though. It’s no substitute for proper sleep.

Getting early morning sunlight onto the eyes and stretching.
Ref Andrew Huberman.

This tip about seeing the sun in the morning straight after getting up, staring at the horizon it another productivity boosting tip that actually works. Time efficient. Just 5mins seems to make a difference. Combine with a early morning run and some stretching. Stretching hamstrings and hip flexors seems to help mentally. Could it be improved posture = improved thinking?

Efficient backup workflow.

I have a central server at home and at work we just put a USB stick in the router and sync to that via Syncthing.

I’m amazed how useful syncthing has been… and how reliable. It’s also acting as a backup, using the file versioning support. Avoiding the cloud like this has been a panacea. This also works very well with Obsidian.

Hook from HookProductivity.

I’m finally using this app effectively now by linking to PDFs from within Obsidian.
I’m very concerned about getting dependent on this app so I want to see other ways to do this. For example, click the link to copy it to the clipboard, rather than drag and select, then copy to clipboard…
then paste that into spotlight search. That could be as little as 2 hotkeys and it serves the same purpose.

The function of hook to link files together doesn’t seem to work well cognitively because I forget that I’ve linked the files. Having the links visible in ObsidianMD works much better.


WhatsApp is how I contact my customers.
I tried other methods and basically I’m stuck with standard WhatsApp, not even the API because the API has so many limitations on it, it’s not efficient.

I’m using the MULTIDEVICE BETA for WhatsApp Web. This has the disadvantage of lag while syncing those first messages. This kills flow completely and needs fixing.
Something that could be PART of the solution is Element One. I have to pay $5/month for this but it bridges WhatsApp to Matrix IM. Matrix can then send me emails of customer’s messages. This is much more accessible backup than WhatsApp’s solutions.
But there’s yet another problem with WhatsApp: It keeps deleting sent and received files. I then end up with an incomplete record of customers comms and it’s been embarressing at times.

In general, WhatsApp is probably the biggest drag on my productivity at the moment.

The solution is surely to leverage Matrix to automate all these shortcomings. However, the platform doesn’t look like something that has much in the way of turn-key solutions. Thus, I’m also keeping an eye out for Beeper, as this will be similar to Element One.

Pasting a Hook:// link into WhatsApp didn’t work. That needed an extension to enable clickable hook:// as clickable links.
I then put a link as a starred message at the top of each chat. The client can see this but I mark it as “Note to self” and I hope it’s not too distracting for them. This is easier than editing the page with Greasemonkey scripts.
Initially, I had these links go through to a folder on my desktop but now they’ll be opening in ObsidianMD with a link to that student’s notes in a folder called “People”. That master student note contains the link to the folder.
It seems that it’s possible to go directly from that master note to the WhatsApp chat with:

Or, even better, use WhatsApp:// and the app.

Hope this helps someone out there. I use all this for student profiles.