Narrative for Finding and Reminding

It's Monday, your first school day after a short vacation from the
Easter holiday.  Before vacation, you had been working on writing
several reports about your recent field research on the coiling habits
of the boa constrictor.

After blowing away a thin layer of dust from your computer (what's
with the cleaning staff at this campus, anyway?), you turn it on and
log in.

The first thing that greets you is the journal of the last work you did
before you went on vacation.  Beside it you see an area for reminders
of things that you need to get done soon.

You see familiar items in your journal, in the "Last Week" section:
two or three documents detailing different aspects of the boas,
pictures of boas that you took in their habitat and that you have been
editing for publication, and several IM conversations with your
colleagues.  One of those says "conversation with Paco" - your
Uruguayan colleague, plus a little annotation you added for that
conversation: "retrograde boa".  You are on the trail of a peculiar
specimen that lives in the southern hemisphere, and yet it coils
*anticlockwise* around tree branches.

Thankfully, nothing is in the area for reminders.  You were careful to
deal with soon-to-be-pending things before your vacation.

Coming back from vacation means your mailbox will be full, and you
need to go through it.  You exit the journal, and open your mail
program.  Some mails from Paco catch your eye, so you click on them
first.  He has a draft report about the retrograde boa, and some
really good pictures, he says.  You save the attachments to your
Downloads.  Surely enough, the journal notifies you that new items
appeared.  You click on the notification; the journal comes up again,
and you see your items there.

"I don't want to read Paco's stuff just yet", you think.  "First I'll
see if there is anything urgent in my inbox, and goddamn, I need a
coffee."  You drag the files from the journal into the reminders area,
specifically to the "Today" section - you want to keep those items
around for reading later today.

You go and get your coffee.

Coffee by the computer effectively makes you one-handed, so you use
the remaining hand to scroll through your mail.  Nothing out of the
usual, fortunately; only mail that you can reply to at leisure.

With coffee and an awakened brain, it's a good time to see what Paco
was up to.  You bring up the journal and click on his draft report in
Today's reminders.  Oowriter opens.  You read while you sip your drink.

A notification tells you - your sister is on IM and wants to talk to
you.  You put your mug down.  "Yo, dawg", she says.  "Yo", you reply.
"Mom's birthday is in two weeks."  "Oh, you are right.  I get a cake,
and you get a present?"  "Sure.  Gotta go; ttyl."

You fire up a browser.  Google-maps for "bakeries in Dough St.", for
that's where you know the good cakes are.  There's the link for
Wallace and Gromit's shop.  You drag the link from the browser, hover
on the journal, and as it appears, you drop the link into the "Next
week" section of the reminders.  An icon appears there, and a text
entry - "Cake for mom", you type.  You close the journal.

You read on.  Paco's draft is quite good.  You can certainly reference
it in your own papers.  So, you bring up the journal again and your
documents are right there in the last work you did before vacation.
You open your documents and cut and paste the citation.

Paco is online.  You IM him.  "Mind if I use your retrograde photos in
my report?"  "They are CC-BY-SA, dawg.  Go ahead."  "'k.  Sweet draft,

You bring up the journal again, and you make it cover only half the
screen.  You drag Paco's pictures from the reminders section into your
oowriter document, which of course causes them to be inserted.  "Oh,
damnit", you think, and then you sigh, as you resign yourself to
having to fix the image anchors and wrapping later.

You greedily lick the last drop of coffee from the rim of your mug.

It's nice to be back.

 * * *

It is Monday, a week later.  You come to school, boot up, log in.  The
journal greets you with the results of a busy week:  lots of ephemeral
material around your three reports - images, conversations, web pages.

The reminders for "This week" catch your eye:  you see "Mom's cake"
there.  Click on it - your browser opens.  Scroll down to find the
phone number for the bakery; dial after requesting an out-line from
the university's phone system.  Wallace answers, and you can't
understand what he says at first.  You hear a tea-gulp, "oh, I'm
terribly sorry, I had a cracker in my mouth.  How may we help you?"
You order the chocolate cake with almonds, so you can pick it up
tomorrow.  "Certainly."  As you are hanging up, you hear a faint
scream, "Gromit, get to it".  That dog can bake, you think.  You leave
the reminder there, so you'll remember to pick up the cake tomorrow.
After that you'll remove the reminder so it doesn't roll over into
your journal when the week ends.

Paco IMs you.  "I'm screwed.  A fucking boa ate my laptop.  I can see
its shape outlined in its belly."  "Dude!  I told you not to..."
"Tell me you have those drafts and the pictures I sent you."  "Got
them.  Will mail you."  "Thanks.  I have no idea what will happen, but
it's certainly material for a paper on the digestion of plastics and
rare metals."  "Take care, Paquito."

You halfway roll your eyes, but you are thankful that it is the laptop
and not Paco that is inside the retrograde's belly.  You open a mail
composer and select Paco's email address.  Click on the journal.
Scroll back to Last Week.  You drag the pictures and the documents to
the mail composer.

Before you hit "Send", you type in the message body, "Do send me
pictures of the belly outlining the laptop."

During the day you look for web pages from other researchers.  The
pages appear on your journal.  But the next time you bring it up, you
find your false-positives there.  Some idiot blogged about "Airborne
ophidians" - you were thinking of snakes on trees - but really it was
a pompous review of "Snakes on a plane".  You don't want that
silliness cluttering your journal.  So you bring up the Eraser tool
and click on the offending links.  Neat and tidy, again.

 * * *

You've been piling up reminders of things-to-read next week.  They are
various PDFs that you found while looking for web pages from other
researchers.  When you dragged those PDFs to the "Next week" area in
the reminders, you put the files into two groups - boas and other
snakes.  The reminders area lets you place items in a free-form
organization, so you can spatially group things together as you need.

Once you finish your reports, you mail them to your advisor - again,
by dragging from the journal into your mail composer.  You also drag
the reports into the "Next week" reminders section, and type "Poke
advisor if he hasn't replied yet" into the space for an annotation.
Next week you'll see that the reports have bubbled up to the reminders
for "This week", and you'll remember to ask that unreliable bastard if
he hasn't read your ouvre yet.

Two days later, your advisor surprises you:  he *has* read your
reports and likes what he sees.  But he would like to see what Paco
said first, and he asks you for his paper.

You bring up your trusty journal.  In the Search box you type "Paco"
and the view scrolls to the first match; other matches get
highlighted.  "Conversation with Paco" matches but that's not the item
you want; you hit "Next" a few times.  While "draft.odt" doesn't match
directly, it *also* gets highlighted as it was saved from a mail
attachment that came from Paco.  You send the file to your advisor,
and as soon as you hit "Send", you start wondering if you should have
asked for Paco's permission first.

 * * *

It is in this way that the journal helps you keep your working set of
data for easy referral, and also how it helps you set up ad-hoc
reminders to do stuff.  You can trust that the work you do will appear
in your journal; you can trust it to be the lifeline to your everyday

Mockups will come next.  Meanwhile, notes of plot holes and things I
missed are appreciated :)


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