Even Tech Heads Can Struggle With Geeky

Obsidian Note Taking App

I am fascinated with the various note-taking applications and I can’t resist looking at something new. I revel in the technical details and getting things to work in a geeky way. There are times though, when I feel I’ve met my match. Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying out Obsidian again. I’ve been using it on the iMac on and off for some time now and it’s now available for iOS devices. I immediately thought ‘oh great, another app where I can have all my data (notes) in one place. I have spent a few hours trying to get the vaults (this is where you have your data stored within Obsidian) to synchronise across platforms and I’m ready to give up on the project.

Obsidian on the Mac

Paid For Synchronisation

The easy way to do the synchronisation across platforms is to use the paid for synchronisation service from Obsidian. It’s supposed to be possible to get the synchronisation work across iCloud, but for the life of me I can’t work out how to do that. After a lot of head scratching trying to find out where the data was being saved on my iOS device so I could open the vault in Obsidian on my Mac, I still haven’t done it. There’s supposed to be a folder in iCloud Drive called Obsidian with the folder for the vault contained within that. The Obsidian folder is missing in action. These files have to be somewhere, but looking through the Files application either on my iPhone or iPad, I just can’t see them.

What About Git and Git Hub?

Messing with GitHub

My next area of curiosity was with using Git Hub and Working Copy on my iOS devices. Some say it’s possible to synchronise your Obsidian data using git. I have to say I find the terminology within Git Hub quite confusing. When I learning something I need diagrams because I am a visual learner. I have seen nothing yet, which explains how Git Hub works in this way. I have connected a vault containing files to git hub and I’ve seen changes I’ve made in files manifest themselves through this service. Despite this lower level of success I still feel totally confused.

Tech Heads Versus Mere Mortals

In my confusion and my brains and unwillingness to comprehend what I’ve seen in video tutorials and in help files I’m left wondering if I’m just a mere mortal after all. To achieve synchronisation of data in between applications on different platforms, or between the same application on different platforms, there are easier ways. The obvious answer to this is to use application which already does it for you, such as using Drafts or Ulysses or Notes or Craft. There are plenty of options available, each with their pros and cons when comparing to using Obsidian. Craft also does wiki style links between notes and does it in a prettier way. Drafts will do the same, but again not as pretty or as efficient as in Craft. Ulysses is more for the long form text and for creating E-Books, but it does the synchronisation really well. There is also Scrivener which has a synchronisation across platforms feature. It doesn’t do it via iCloud and requires manual interaction and for that I don’t particularly like it. It’s for that reason I gravitate more towards using Ulysses for the long form writing.

The Good and Geeky Way

The Good and Geeky philosophy as far as I’m concerned, is the encouragement of mere mortals to use computer hardware and software to make lives easier. In the way that it works at the moment, Obsidian doesn’t really fit within working concept. I’m sure that if you’re willing to spend the time setting it up it could be just the thing you’re looking for. It’s a really good way of using a note-taking application and being able to make connections between those notes. If you’re working on a project which is quite complicated having those connections could easily highlight something you wouldn’t otherwise find. It’s especially good with its graph view where you see the actual connections in between the files in a visual way. Like I said, I’m a visual learner so this feature is particularly appealing to me. It’s for this reason I will probably continue to persevere setting up Obsidian, so it works for me. I may even opt for the paid version of the synchronisation if I think it’s going to be worth it. I will not stop using Drafts as my primary input software for text collection. So it would be really cool if I could have some sort of integration in between Drafts and Obsidian.

Graph View in Obsidian

If or when I find the solution to setting this up in a simple enough way to convert mere mortals into good and geeky gods I’ll make a video about it. What’s needed is a step-by-step guide to getting started with Obsidian suitable for muggles to follow. The videos I found so far for setting up Obsidian have been too technical, to the point of relying upon using the Terminal and using scripts in Keyboard Maestro to make the synchronisation happen. Watch this space!