Please check out our new home on  Thanks to which helped qompute to start:  great work, great tech, great place 🙂  Wordpress makes blogging an easy start and it’s never a wrong choice to stick with it, both .com and .org.

Our newest post on qompute is about listing web-based group applications, services you can use in teams, places for collaboration.  It’ll become one of those monumental reference posts which will have it’s own life within the blog.  And we’ll constantly update it.  Check it out 🙂

Though the new qompute is now aggregating a few other blogs which had their own address, such as creativecombinations and, we have spun off a new site called, part fun, part trial.  Testing waters so to speak.

See you on 🙂


Apple is on top, iPods and iPhones are still selling in nice numbers, the notebooks have gained market share… But there is a fine line between luxury, premium and overpricing!

Customers like premium, no doubt and Apple has been  en vogue for a number of years.  Premium is justified by a mix of product quality, customer experience, image.  Design plays a big role, in Apples case both the form as well as the interface.  Innovation is equally important, and Apple has truly innovated over the years: iPod, iPhone, iTunes,  multi-finger input, interface, ease of use, sexy design…

Though I contribute a lot of that success to the overall value for money which until about 2 years ago included a competitive price.  There was always  a premium and it was worth it.  Since then Apple again has become comparitively more expensive to the tech device world.  In other worlds, whereas the rest of the IT hardware prices have fallen a lot, Apple has only done so very slightly, preferring to justify the price with hardware and software improvements.  That is ok up to a certain point, the famous tipping point. Example the screens.  Yes Apple uses great displays, but they are shiny and glossy.  The resolution is ok and comparable to typical customer notebooks. But those tend to be half the price. Maybe Apple designers and Steve Jobs say, more resolution is not needed, but  a lot of customers might disagree. Example mobile iDevices and iTunes, incredibly desirable but increasingly obstrusive, riddled with restrictions and even intrusive action to undo, disable or delete stuff.

Apple is walking on ice.  Macs, iPods & co have become fashionable and for some people must-haves.  But fashion is short-lived, especially when pricing and value for money drift apart, when premium becomes a luxury or worse a rip-off.

And then there is the question of love!

Protection becomes a lock-in for customers and a lock-out for competitors and third parties, but what if you lose your key? What does it say about trust? About respect?

Protecting the company against copycats and competitors is about defense and seriously goes against an easy user experience. I have to worry about how many times I have distributed my music files over different devices, I have to worry about what system / hardware I am using, I have to worry about not being able to listen to my music again. I have to worry about Apple disabling applications on my iPhone…  I was in love, but I am not so sure anylonger.

Aiming for a monopoly through proprietary protocols and patents makes you lonely and ultimately vulnerable.  Everybody will take a shot at you, especially if it is lucrative and promising.  Yes, it has worked for companies like Microsoft in the past, but those times are over. Yes Apple has had the advantage of being loveable, but love can also turn quickly against you – if the love is not reciprocated.  Isn’t love also about trust? Does Apple trust you?

Note: I have been using Macs for about 4 years now. I have now an Ubuntu notebook and am not sure if I will get another Mac anytime soon. What I want is open protocols, a worry free experience,  and better screens which don’t glare back at me and offer a better resolution for more visible content. And I want fairer pricing. I hate to be locked-in or locked-out.  I want to leave and join as I want, I love freedom, I love choice. I expect mutual respect. And I want Apple to love me too 🙂

Taking notes


Well I started taking notes “electronically” on my old Palm Pilot, sorry no, my old Handspring Visor deluxe.  I remember first thinking: “why do I need that memo button?”  But it has made sense since.  Under Lotus Domino / Notes one of my oldest databases still in use is a widely replicated personal Journal which has been incredibly useful archive for years.  When I got my old Powerbook (PB) 4 years ago, I started using MacJournal – until a couple of months ago it had crashed.  Unbelievable – I tried to re-install, to no avail.  And I am not in the mood anylonger to try for days, though I am sure it probably would have worked somehow.  Fortunately I had archived my MacJournal notes as html and txt files before.  And since then, I simply started opening a text editor on my machines and every few days saved the file in a journal folder.

So with my new Ubuntu notebook I decided to have another go at the journal / notes question.  Ubuntu comes with a mix of applications aimed at that issue.  There is Tomboy (weird name), Rhinote (still weird, but funny, though as a German my association is not so much the mix of Rhinos and Notes, but more the river of Rhine).  Then there is Xpad and Knotes (borrowed from the KDE environment).

So what am I looking for?  A web-based “center”, a nice off-line app, also a great mobile app on my Nokia would be nice too.  Something like Evernotes, especially because it also integrates images and pictures nicely.

So here is a first take on that quest:

The web apps:

Google Notebook – free and quite nice.  What’s missing is a syncable app on the desktop. Google Gears doen’t work on my AMD64 Ubuntu version (yes, unbelievable…).  Pics are web linked, so Google Picasa could be used for pics, of course Flickr & co as well.  Other Google contenderws could be Google sites (basically a wiki), a private Blogger account and of course Gmail is also a big container of notes as well…

Evernote – I like it, though there is no Ubuntu / Linux client.  A workaround could be the Windows client wrapped up in wine. And Evernote is proprietary and as a premium service unlikely to publish a Linux client any time soon.  Though a local Gears or Adobe Flex client might be a possibility…  What I really like is the container idea.  Just put everything in it, including pictures.  The idea is that you local app syncs with Evernote on the web and the pics are even scanned for texts and indexed.

TiddlyWiki – a personal wiki which works both on your desktop (of course through the browser) and on the web, either through your own web installation or through hosted services like TiddlySpot.  There are even two GTD (Getting Things Done) versions.  Initially I was ready to discard TiddlyWiki , but the more I think about the whole thing, the more I like it.

The desktop apps:

Tomboy is great – in the desktop world.  Yes you can set up a webDAV. Yes, with virtual web disks like dropbox, you can have a web version of tomboy.  Yes, it integrates with Evolution and has a “tasque” task manager addon.  And it has an easy link language comparable to wikis.  A bit like a personal desktop wiki.  Though I am not yet convinced, especially regarding the web side of things.  Maybe an integration with evolution and a sync between evolution and Gmail / Gcontacts / Gcalendar could do the trick… A bit complicated, on the other hand I have to chose a email desktop client anyway.  And the game between Evolution and Thunderbird is still undecided.

KNotes looks nice, a sticky note app.  Of course it is closely linked to the KDE world’s Kontacts. Have to check it out more.  Same for Rhinote.

My very short-lived experience with Vista Business.
This message has been written on Vista’s Notepad and will remain the only productive work ever produced using this system on my machine.

OK I never planned to keep Vista.  But when speaking with Andy, he was impressed that with my 650 EUR Vista Business was included.  So I decided to check it out a bit.  Checking out meant switching it on and well, watching a DVD 🙂  Twice the computer went down, only rebooting it allowed me to continue to watch the DVD.  WinDVD never remembered where the film was interrupted, so I had to manually go there.  The second time I switched to Windows media Player. Well, some file was missing and the media player never started ok.  The only way to stop the player was to launch the application manager to brutally stop the media application to get rid of that missing file message

Oh hey did I mention that when switching on the notebook the setup process took more than 90 minutes?  How do I know.  Well, I had to watch the first DVD yesterday on my Mac PB, since switching on and entereing the user name isn’t enough.  My HP Compaq first asked which of the 4 I would like, Vista Business German, German 64, English, English 64.  The language question is OK, though this shouldn’t take long.  But why should I decide 64 or 32? My HP can do 64 and from my short research I gathered that only 64 can handle more than 3Gig of RAM. (What a question in this day and age…).

And then it auto-installed… and went on  and on…. altogether something like 2 hours or more, I didn’t hit a stop watch.  Fortunately with relatively little interaction needed, but why all this drama in the first place?  The MS PC world is always arguing that Windows is so easy and for everebody as opposed to Ubuntu and other Linux flavours.  Even I had to check to decide whther 32 or 54 is apporpriate and if I wanted I am sure that a lot of forum discussion could be found around that issue, and what the drawbacks are….

I bet you, the whole installation process from DVD with Ubuntu will need less time – including the tweaks with Wifi which thanks to a stupid industry is mostly based on proprietary drivers.

If ever the question about whether I should keep Vista along with the Ubuntu installation, that experience clinched it.  Why did I have to pay for having it on the machine in the first place?

Bye, bye Vista. Hello Ubuntu.

Is Google Chat proving very unreliable.  The problems I am seeing with GoogleChat include not seeing any other people on-line, previous chats not being saved to email.  I think that is it!

This article serves as well as a post-it to myself: the search for tools to better organise and leverage our lifes, work including experiences, using and recording memories as well as leveraging those with techniques and technologies. And because we are what we are, we have our unique perspective though we live and exist with others.  The productivity techniques and technologies are best when we can tab the life of others and leverage their experience and findings.  It’s a give and take.  Productivity tools need to collect and process our discoveries, automate that as much as possible and provide ways to use that compilation.  Productivity tools must also connect to tools and their experiences, proactively as well as analytically. (I haven’t bother to test and check my few sentences, might be BS, repetition, pseudo-science, whatever. Please be nice 🙂 ).

The point here is not to build a scientific basis or a philosphical observation, it is more like a “state of the quest”…

Continue reading ‘The quest for productivity’