Tuesday, March 20, 2007


A couple of additions to yesterday's post. In the coalition speculations I forgot that the Christian Democrats exist as well. They have 7 seats and although they lost some votes they didn't lose any seats. As a very conservative right wing party they would probably fit into the coalition with the Centre, the Conservatives and the Swedish PP. The True Finns however, have already declared that they will aim to be the loudest opposition party and are not interested in joining the coalition, whatever it will be. How surprising...

Prime minister Vanhanen (current and most likely the future one) has said that there should be 3-4 parties and about 120 seats in the coalition. He wants a relatively large majority, and is likely to get it. I'm pretty sure that the only open question is whether it's the Greens, the Christians or the Swedes that join the two big ones.

Anyway, to he main point of this post. I've looked for ways of organising information, mainly to make sure I have a proper organisation in the thesis. The thesis itself is of course a boring old linearly organised (one-dimensional) book, but as the material is so diverse and there's so much of it, I need a way to keep track of it and organise in more dimensions. Three would be nice, but two will do.

I have a flip board, but it's not currently in use as I don't have the necessary wall-space in the lab. But, I have something better. Freemind is an open source project, a Java-based mind map program you can download. There are a number of these software packages out there, most of them commercial. The two things they need to have to be better than pen and paper are an intuitive user interface and the ability to expand beyond being a static map.

Freemind ticks both boxes. It is very simple and easy to use, and there is depth in it (in the form of having nice options to use various visual cues to sort things and make the maps look nice) if you take some time to learn the options. The most useful function for me is the ability to link to other files in the computer, and also across different mind maps. So I have now made all my thesis chapters into mind maps, linked them to the word-documents (yes, I'm an idiot and writing my thesis in Word. I'm sure I'm going to regret it...) that are the drafts of those chapters. Also, you can "linearise" a mindmap, so that you can obtain a structure for the chapter from the mindmap you've drawn. Great program, highly recommended.

I also like the fact that the project page has a wiki with lots of tips for using the program, galleries of other people's projects to give you ideas etc. There is also a continuing stream of new versions, with added features. And a new visual look. I'm using the 2005 0.8.0 version, 0.9.0 is already in beta phase, and the logo will change from the butterfly to a lightbulb. And I thought we were banning the bulb...

Another way of organising myself is to actually use the Moleskine notebook I have now finally bought. And while writing this I've just realised that I forgot to make an important phone call today and send some equally important papers. Also, I'm supposed to be presenting some results in two hours and haven't yet decided how to present them, and I'm supposed to take part in an hour-long experiment before that. It seems that I still have a bit to go before I can say my organisation is actually working.

(Pic. FreeMind)

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