It's a fictional streetscape we wander, here, a metropolis whose buildings, boulevards, and back alleys are in a constant state of flux. This is every place, and yet, no place at all - a city of dreams and a dream of a city.

Here, we explore the life and work of Ivan Illich and his circle of collaborators. There's no comprehensive index to the articles published, but we invite you to use the Search box, to the left, and to explore the Archive links that appear at the bottom of each page. Comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yojimbo, Mac tool extraordinaire

I recently acquired a program called Yojimbo that has, in a word, made my life much simpler. I think of it as a smart box, or archive, into which I can store all the stuff I collect while stumbling around the Web. That's in contrast to a dumb, inert folder.

Yojimbo is the garage, or attic or basement, that I always needed for my always-expanding collection of Web pages, text clippings, images, bookmarks, and receipts - all the stuff, in other words, that I grab, sometimes with no good reason beyond it's being available to grab. But it's a garage that is self-organizing, constantly ordering and indexing its contents for easy retrieval. Garage with butler included!

In the past, these collected items would get stored willy-nilly in my computer. Some languished in my Mac's Downloads folder, most others just cluttered by desktop. Every so often, I might do some house-cleaning and shuffle items into this folder or that - a Reads, folder, for instance, for storing all those news, magazine, and Web page articles that I fully intended eventually to read, someday, somehow, in the future, when I happened to have the time and actually remembered that they existed. This Reads folder itself was contained in a folder I long ago labled Stuff - a sprawling collection of items, many but not all of them organized in folders: images, documents, bookmarks, MP3 music files, you name it.

Yojimbo is a better Stuff folder, a program-and-container into which it's particularly easy to put things. I can, for example, just ask to print any document or web page I like and, in the usual drop-down menu, select "PDF to Yojimbo". Voila - the item is stored under 'jimbo's control, complete with any tags I may wish to add. Or, I can click on another button in my browser to store a page's URL in YJ. Or, I can hit the F8 button my keyboard and any text or image I have selected will get stored, again with tags. Finally, I can drag items to a 'jimbo tab that sits patiently on the far left edge of my desktop; this action automatically stores the items, too.

When I need to find an item, YoJ is way helpful, too. It provides a spiffy Mac-style interface with a scrolling list of all stored items. This list is easily searched, the items's titles, textual content, and tags all available near-instantly. A preview pane shows selected items but one can also open items in their own windows, print them, or drag them to the desktop as normal files. Clicking a bookmark launches the appropriate page in the default Web browser. In addition, items are organized into categorical folder off to the left - URLs, images, receipts, your choice, etc. - to make finding things easier, too. Smart folders can be created that automatically include items that contain specified keywords. (I haven't used it, yet, but a crypto function can hide chosen items from prying eyes, too.)

That's YoJo in a nutshell - a well-designed program that really does the job. I wish I had had this to use many years ago.

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Santa Rosa, California, United States
Writer, photographer, music fan; father and husband living in northern Calif.