Exporting references from Zotero to Tiddlywiki


Regular readers will know how much I enjoy a good tinker with my system. I have been playing with Tiddlywiki recently, partly as a result of admiring Jack Baty’s rudimentarylathe.wiki instance of Tiddlywiki, and partly because of Soren Bjornstad’s Grok Tiddlywiki book, which I think I also found out about via Jack. I had tried out Tiddlywiki before but never quite got it. Soren’s book helped me to see how flexible it could be and how I might be able to use it in a similar fashion to the way I have been using org-roam. While I still enjoy org-roam, things feel (to me anyway) a bit up in the air with it at the moment, as there are big changes coming in version 2 which will probably involve a bit of backwards incompatibility. I couldn’t decide whether to wait to make the changes, or transition to the new version now, and that indecision made me reluctant to add to my collection of notes. In addition — for reasons too long and boring to go into here — I have also moved (reluctantly) from Bookends to Zotero. I like the flexibility that Zotero offers to those of us having to live in a dual Word/Pandoc citations world, but I really miss Bookends’ speed and UI.

Anyway, this change in the tools I depend on left me with a puzzle: how could I export references (with metadata) from Zotero to Tiddlywiki so that I could make notes (known as ‘tiddlers’) on each journal article of interest? There’s a vanishingly small possibility that anyone else might want to solve a similar problem in exactly the same way as me, but in case anyone is curious, this is how I made it work.

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Singing with nightingales

life nature

Back in the mists of time before Covid, Mr Bsag and I booked tickets for a Singing With Nightingales event (hosted by the folk singer Sam Lee) for April 2020. I had wanted to attend one of these events ever since I had heard about it, and the tickets were a 50th birthday present, partially funded by kind gifts from friends and family. I don’t need to tell you what happened next, because you were all there: lockdown happened, events were cancelled, and all of our lives contracted. I booked again for April 2021, determined not to be denied my fix of folk song and bird song, and once again, plans had to change. Luckily, this time the event was just postponed, rather than being cancelled, so last week, we set off for Sussex to attend the event. After all the waiting, all the pent-up need be somewhere other than our local area, it could have all been a huge anti-climax but (spoiler alert!) it was not. It was one of the most magical evenings of my life.

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life mumblings

It shouldn’t surprise me because it always happens this way, but somehow it does surprise me, every time. I have recently finished a piece of work which had consumed almost all of my time and focus at work for a number of weeks. There was a fixed deadline and it was a substantial and complex piece of work. For these reasons, it was also a bit stressful, but that’s the way work is from time to time. What surprised me (and shouldn’t have done) is the way I felt after I had finished it.

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Learning Go


I might be terrible at learning human languages, but I really enjoy learning programming languages. In my last post, I mentioned setting up Johnny.Decimal, and that I was thinking of writing some tools to help me interact with the system. I’m a dedicated Alfred user, and when I spotted a very nifty library called awgo for writing Alfred workflows in Go, it seemed like the perfect excuse to dip my toes in Go and learn another programming language. The result after only a couple of weeks of tinkering in spare moments was this alfred-jd workflow. I really like Go.

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Digital spring clean

life geekery

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with spring cleaning recently. I’ve tidied and cleaned elements of our physical space (nothing makes you more aware of how much junk you have accumulated than a period of lockdown), but I’ve also had a ‘services and digital’ spring clean too. It has taken quite a bit of time, but I do feel better for it.

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Re-visiting poetry


It’s interesting how your perspective on things shifts as you get older.

A little while after Valentine’s Day this year, I remembered an experience (many years ago) when I came across a poem while browsing in a bookshop, just after Valentine’s Day. I had just endured a very painful and messy break-up of a relationship, and my bookshop meandering was an attempt to distract myself for a while. I picked up a book of poetry at random (Michèle Roberts’ collection ‘All the selves I was’), and opened a page at random. Bam.

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Using the tab-bar in Emacs

emacs geekery

When I’m working in Emacs, I like to have some visual separation between different workspaces (which roughly equate to different projects). Previously, I was using Doom Emacs’ workspaces feature, which uses persp-mode. My initial reason for disabling workspaces was because I found that projectile-switch-project didn’t work properly with it enabled, but I also thought it would be interesting to see what I could set up using built-in Emacs functions. What I ended up using was Emacs’ built-in tab-bar.

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Cutting my own hair


I finally gave in and gave myself a haircut today. Surprisingly, the results were not terrible. Along the way, I have learned a little bit about the process of cutting hair, and realised that very few parts of this process are in any way possible to do well when cutting your own hair.

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Flannel Carolyn pyjamas


I like to have a sewing project to tackle when I’m on holiday, so this has been a chance for me to tackle a long-planned project: making a pair of Carolyn pyjamas from cotton flannel.

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Switching to Selectrum for incremental narrowing in Emacs

geekery emacs

My Emacs tweaking tends to go in waves. I keep an eye on the Emacs subreddit and the Doom Discord channel on a fairly regular basis, but I try not to jump on every cool new package I see discussed there. Every now and again though, I see something interesting which coincides with an itch to tinker with Emacs, and away I go… This time, it was reading discussions about a constellation of relatively new packages concerned with incrementally narrowing lists (and other related functions) that caught my eye. This sounds very niche, but for many people (me included) being presented with a list of things and being able to type to incrementally narrow the list and then select something is a core part of the Emacs UI. Since I use Doom, and it offers you an easy way to choose either Ivy or Helm, I had been using Ivy, for the sake of easy configuration. Both are fine packages, but having tried both, I preferred Ivy’s more minimal interface, and the fact that it used the minibuffer rather than a buffer for completions. However, it — and the related packages, Counsel and Swiper — are somewhat complex and difficult to get to grips with. I was also not using all the features that they provided, so was curious if I would enjoy using something even simpler. That’s why I tried out Selectrum.

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