Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

A few links of interest - 21 March, 2017

Using Turtl as an open source alternative to Evernote

A paper notebook and a fountain pen

(Note: The introduction to this post first appeared (in a slightly different form) in an article published at and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)

Information. Whether we realize it or not, we collect a lot of it. Interesting little snippets. Links. Research for school or work. Recipes. Quotes. And a whole lot more.

To organize that information, millions of people turn to Evernote. There’s no denying that Evernote is a useful and powerful and popular tool. But it’s also a closed one.

Maybe you want to take control of your information and move away from a closed, proprietary tool. Maybe you’re disgruntled about the recent changes to Evernote’s services. Maybe you just want to take notes the open source way. Whatever your reasons for moving away from Evernote, there are open source alternatives out there.

Let’s take a look at one of those alternatives: Turtl.

3 command line tools for working with graphics

A blurry photo of a command lne session

Photo credit: *n3wjack's world in pixels via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at It appears in this space via a Creative Commons license.)

Images and the command line. They seem an unlikely pair, don’t they? There are people who’ll tell you that the only way you can manipulate and view graphics is with software like The GIMP or any number of other GUI application.

For the most part, they’re wrong. Command line image tools can much of what their GUI counterparts can and they can do it just as well. Sometimes, especially when dealing with multiple image files or when you’re working on an older computer, command line tools can do a better job.

Let’s take a look at three command line tools that can ably handle many of your basic (and not-so-basic) image manipulation tasks.

Easing into open source

A lighted sign saying 'Open'

(Note: This post is based on a presentation I gave at the Lightning Talks on October 22, 2014)

There are many people out there who are interested in, and even eager to use, open source. Not just for one or two tasks, but for their entire computing experience. But, for a variety of reasons, they aren’t able or willing to make the leap from the closed, proprietary world to a more free and open one.

Even the more resolute ones hesitate. Why? A big part of it is change, which no one really likes. And they might not know a lot about open source.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

One of the many ill-fitting hats I used to wear was technology coach. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned as a technology coach that can help you ease people into open source.

Taking notes with Laverna

A person taking notes with pen and paper

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t take notes. Most of the people I know use an online note taking application, like Evernote or Simplenote or Google Keep.

All of those are good tools, but you have to wonder about the privacy of your information — especially in light of Evernote’s great privacy flip flop of 2016. If you want more control over you notes and your data, you really need to turn to an open source tool. Preferably one that you can host yourself.

And, yes, there are a number of good open source alternatives to Evernote. One of those is Laverna. Let’s take a look at it.