Over Looking the Simple Solution

Few days ago I’ve decided to start logging my rowing sessions. I disliked the idea of keeping the log on paper, so I’ve looked into a computerized solution. I ruled out Concept2’s online log book, because I wanted something private which wouldn’t require me to register on yet another website (and sometimes internet access at my rowing club is broken). Soon I’ve decided to manage the log using TiddlyWiki, a client-side html+js wiki, which I wrote about in the past. It some nice features:
1. It fits in a single self contained file that is perfect to put on a usb-stick.
2. It has built-in search features.
3. It allows great flexibility in how to log my sessions – no predefined format which I need to struggle to fit my sessions into.

The TiddlyWiki solution seemed great, and I’ve started using it. But as the title says, I merely looked over much simpler, yet as powerful, solution – a simple text file. Porting my rowing log to a simple, old-fashioned, text file provided me all the relevant features of TiddlyWiki, such as search, flexibility and working from usb-stick, while using less space and editable using a basic text-editor (or the powerful vim). Using reStructured Text, I got a nice readable journal that can be later processed into even nicer looking html files.

We all want to believe that we know to match the right tool for a task. But maybe, because we tend to adopt newer technologies and utilities all the time (because for a lot of tasks they do provide better tools), we end up over looking simpler, “old-fashioned”, solutions. If I take a moment now to look around, I can come up with several other places where new stuff is used instead of simpler solutions. Take a look around you, and I’m sure that you will be able to find some too.

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