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What is the point of a Personal knowledge base?

The main reasons to keep a Personal knowledge base include:
a) Writing down and working on your ideas and plans
b) Keeping track of the bits and pieces of information (the metadata of your life)
c) Having a private resource to search that is *actually* tailored for you [because you built it]
d) "Commonplace book" - jot down quotes or jokes, or links that have an impact on you
e) keep track of your long term lists - books you want to read, movies you want to see
f) It is yours, it is private so you can write whatever you like without social pressures

What is a Personal knowledge base?

It is a place to keep notes, ideas, plans, lists, files, pictures - anything you like.
It is your personal set of data that you build up over your life.

You probably have one now - have a look in your My Documents folders for a file called 'ideas' or 'plans'

It can be as short as a piece of paper with useful contacts, or a large database system.

When you get an idea - write it down and move on. If you want to add some details, do so or come back to it later.

Write down the tricky stuff you solve

Finding answers on Google is simple, but there are many things that need to be in *your* personal database, not a public record. Things such as your phone numbers, account numbers, or your Christmas shopping list.

Say you have a hot water system that each year has a minor glitch - you don't want to replace the system yet, as it is only a once a year glitch. But each year you have to restart it by wriggling the top stop valve then press restart. It took a plumber to tell you that - Google wasn't really helpful as it was a specific fault. The plumber said it doesn't need replacing as long as you do that once a year.

You make a mental note. Seriously - you are going to remember that? Or the sequence for all the other little things in your life? Maybe you will, but writing it down takes away the mental effort of remembering this stuff that you don't really need to know.

Write it down and forget about it

As long as you remember to search your personal database *before* you search Google for something, you will come across these notes and answers you've written for yourself easily

Write the original content only

Ideas, plans and stuff you create need to be written down - but how much stuff do you need to write down?

Is it worth writing down the the content of wikipedia? Do you summarise every article you read?

Well, unless you have infinite time you don't to do that - while writing stuff down is useful when studying for an exam, it doesn't all belong in your personal database.

Examples of things to write down

Food Allergies / Likes and Dislikes for your family

Though you wont forget that your daughter is allergic to peanuts, you might forget that Auntie Jane hates turkey and your Cousin John loves that potato salad you make. Jotting down a few notes about likes and dislikes will make a Christmas get together that much happier for all!

Personal Writing

You can use it as a journal, a diary or for writing poems, stories, worldbuilding,

Many great works started life as drafts and snippets, that were eventually worked on and expanded into the final product.

Model numbers of things you buy

Sure, you can put the instructions in a drawer along with all the other instructions, but when you have to order a new stove element it is much easier to search for "Stove" and get back the following note

Stove  is Westinghouse > Kimberly >PAD501R


This is especially useful if you like upgrading your PC - you need to know the motherboard model and type, so if you want to get a new video card you want to make sure it is compatible.

Your personal settings for an application

You like to work a certain way in Word, so each time you get a new computer you go about adjusting it the way you like.
But often there is a setting you forget to change and you continue to use it but it isn't quite the way you like it, but can't work out what is different. You check your knowledge base for "Word settings" and come across the note you wrote last year

Word Settings
- set language to English-AU
- add custom invoice template from T:\docs\business
- add custom dictionary from T:\settings\word

Ah, that's what was missing - the dictionary!

Tips on using cantankerous products

My things we own have strange quirks. You cant throw away anything that doesn't work perfectly though, and once you find the workaround you just make a note.

Water Heater
- at the start of winter, it can turn off : toggle the valve and press restart 
- change battery each September (needs 3x 1.5V D cells)

Write down things you learn that you know you'll need to remember

Though you don't want to re-write documentation that already exists, it can be worth writing down steps for your tricky tasks.
When I started learning Python programming many years ago I had a notes page on tips. I would refer to it at the time, as I was learning, but as I learned more I never referred to that again. That is fine - the notes helped me, and my old 'python tips' document can be archived.

I still keep notes on complex steps that I can forget - for example steps to installing Anaconda on a Windows PC

Install Notes (Windows)
Install anaconda with Python 3.6 64bit

Anaconda3-4.3.1-Windows-x86_64.exe https://repo.continuum.io/archive/Anaconda3-4.3.1-Windows-x86_64.exe

To customise the anaconda command prompt, go to the folder 
C:\Users\Duncan\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Anaconda3 (64-bit)

Modify the properties of "Anaconda Prompt"

start in = T:\user\dev\src\python\AIKIF
buffer size = 140
font = Lucida Console 12
colors = blue bg, white fg, opacity85%
Then right click the icon "Anaconda Prompt" and choose Pin to Taskbar

How will it look in the future?

As you go, you may have 100, 1000 or even 10,000 notes - many may just be a URL with a comment and others will be detailed notes on an Idea you are working on.

There are many ways to manage this
- archiving notes that are no longer useful.
This is good for notes you took when learning a new topic. Once you are competent in it, the intro notes are no longer useful. Archive that note so it doesn't appear in the list, but it is still searchable.


Extending your Personal Information Database

As you progress, you might find a lot of technical notes have been automated by scripts - there is no reason to delete the note, simply add a comment at the top of the note saying it is now done by a script or someone else

Note - the script "connect_wifi.py" now runs from \\pi\home\lounge
[rest of your original notes showing what and WHY you wanted to do this]

So how do I get a personal knowledge base?

I will get to that in a minute, but first you need to know that an effective personal knowledge base is *not* just a product, or app - it is a process.

You have to remember to do 2 things
1. write stuff down you want to remember later
2. review / search your knowledge base

Both these points are equally important. If you don't use the information, it is pointless to write it down, and if you don't write it down then there is nothing to use.

The options for a personal knowledge base are quite wide

Paper Based

The original method was to have a book which you'd write in - these were called "Commonplace books".

- Feels good to write on paper
- texture and feel of a book may help with writing fiction (citation needed)
- works during power failures
- doesn't ever need rebooting

- difficult to backup, so prone to permanent loss if case of fire or flood
- cannot search (browse mode only)

Files on your Computer

This is probably the most common method, and it just means writing down notes into a set of text files or Word documents


- no cost or installation needed - just make a file and start typing
- searchable via your operating system (though not simple for complete beginners)
- private - you can encrypt your data file by file, or have disk encryption
- easy to backup (copy to cloud backup, USB, email to yourself)

- not easily accessible when away from your computer (unless you setup firewalls, VPN, remote access)
- because files are separate, the full set of data is difficult to visualize and some files get forgotten

Phone Apps

You can install an app such as Things, EverNote or Workflowy to manage your personal data

- always accessible with on the go
- data backed up [assuming your phone backups are activated]
- easy to search

- typing large amounts of notes is much more difficult on a phone than on a computer
- copy pasting sections notes from articles more difficult on a mobile
- limited by the space in your phone

Mobile Friendly Cloud Applications

Online applications such as LifePIM, notion.io, EverNote and OneNote all allow you to manage your notes grouped into categories or folders for a small monthly payment.

- all the pro's of the Phone App (always accessible, data backed up, quick search)
- quick and easy to copy and paste links, quotes from a PC
- Generally have a better interface to your data when viewed on a big screen

- data privacy. Your data could potentially be viewed by IT people working at the company. Check for GDPR compliance
- Potential for data theft. Your data could be stolen in a data breach. Check the company history and reputation
- be wary of FREE cloud applications. How are they being paid? If you are not a paying customer then there is a chance that you are the product and that you will have adverts, or data (aggregated hopefully) is being sold to marketers.

Time to get started? Here is a list of categories to help get you going


        Upgrade Computer
        Summer Wardrobe
    Car [Location tab] - entries for car parks at work (PIN', locations), where car keys hang


    Retirement Plan
        to pay
        account details
    Stocks - current
    Stocks - to research


        Appliance notes
        Clothes sizes
        [Note item = Journal for dd/mm/yy]



    Ideas for programs
    Source code
    Code snippets

Business [extensive note placeholders here for ALL documents from small business course]


Similar articles and further reading
Different ways to use folders to store your data = https://www.lifepim.com/blog/5666_Different_ways_to_use_folders_to_store_your_da...

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