Thursday, February 4, 2016

A New Day for Day One

Day One
I use it daily
I have been keeping a journal (with no great regularity) since March 14, 1978. I only wish I had been more diligent about it. There are vast stretches of time for which I have no journal entries. The first few are in composition notebooks (I’ve lost one of those, unfortunately), followed by a collection of notebooks of varying sort, not all of which are filled in to the last page. It’s more-or-less a portrait (sketchy at times) of my life over the last thirty-eight years.

The Holy Grail of journaling for me has been to write in my journal every day, something I have never done. I’ve already missed a day this year, and we’re only thirty-five days in. But missing a day is nothing considering that I look at my journals and find that six months elapse at times between entries. It became clear to me long ago that scribbling in a paper notebook would never get me to my goal of writing in my journal daily (or at least nearly daily).

Enter the computer. That struck me as a good thing in which to write a journal. What’s a journal after all? Just a big document. My first attempt at keeping a journal on my computer was done in HyperCard (I managed to export the entries later). Eventually I found software for writing a journal, and I started keeping my journal in MacJournal, which was better in some ways than writing in a notebook, but it had its flaws as well. I have found, generally, that my computer is not the primary place where I would keeping a journal. MacJournal eventually came out with an iOS version, which was one of my early purchases when I got an iPad.

An iPad is (for me at least) a great place to keep a journal. But I wasn’t wholly happy with MacJournal., and I didn’t use it for long. There were a variety of things that just didn’t quite work for me. I tried other journaling software (Chronories, for one, which was supposed to automate some of the standard stuff), and then I found Day One.

This was, for me, as good as it got. I have been using Day One since October 2013, and it quickly completely replaced MacJournal for me (eventually I brought all of my MacJournal entries into Day One). It was, among other things, more attractive than MacJournal, and just more set up to actually get me to write a journal entry. I have been very happy with Day One. There were a couple problems with syncing early on, but since I’ve gone to their in-house sync solution, things have been solid.

Today, Bloom Built, LLC released the first major upgrade to Day One, Day One 2 (they have back-named the original Day One “Day One Classic”). I wasn’t sure how much more impressed I could be over a software update, but I’m impressed. The new version is better looking than the old one, and the old one was pretty good looking. In my journal entry of October 23, 2013, I wrote, “this thing is way slicker than MacJournal.” Day One 2 is way slicker than Day One Classic. How is that even possible? It just is.

They rebuilt it from the ground up, based around their own custom syncing. (In the App store reviews, one reviewer expresses reluctance over trusting data to someone other than Apple; ironically Day One will be implementing private key encryption later in the year). The import procedure was simple: I downloaded the app, launched it, told it to import my entries from Day One Sync and they just showed up. For the iOS version, I just told it it was syncing. Done.

Those journal entries geolocated there
were actually written at home.
The simplest of changes: you can choose the theme color for your journal. Day One Classic had a black main screen and blue highlights, Day One 2 defaults to blue, but I made it green. The iOS version has lost the Years view (which the desktop version never had), which was handy for seeing how many entries you had written in a year. On the other hand, the new version has a Maps view, which allows you to see entries grouped by location. I haven’t made much use of this feature (and I’m eagerly awaiting their update to accuracy and the ability to make things as a favorite location—entries are usually written at home). I do see that I have three entries to fix with the location of “United States” situated in the ocean just below the Ivory Coast (I’ve never been there). I think there we can blame the old version.

Day One 2 supports multiple window on OS X, so you can look at two entries simultaneously, or just open the one you’re writing in a new window. The new version also supports multiple journals (which I haven’t tried yet, but I could see doing that, for various reasons). The one flaw I found is that when I tried to send a picture from Photos for OS X to Day One 2, instead of preparing the selected photo, it selected three taken two days prior to that one and wanted to export them. Huh? Entries can now have up to ten pictures, something I’ve wanted for quite a while, although I doubt I’ll ever put in more than three.

But wait, there’s more! They’re using this a a platform for further improvement. There’s really little more to do, in my view. It’s fast, it’s stable, and it syncs like a dream, so you can have your journal on multiple devices. But they plan better security, better geolocation, and several more features in the months to come. Day One 2 is currently available for OS X and iOS, although the plan is to add Android and web.

What does the speech bubble do?
An odd, unexplained quirk: when you look at photos when editing an entry, there are thee icons: the top one zooms the picture up and done, the second one deletes the photo. What does the speech bubble do? I thought it might allow you to caption the photo, but no such luck.

The two versions, OS X and iOS, both allow choice of several fonts, with a list that almost completely overlaps. Not every font can be found on both. They are wholly Unicode-complaint, of course, so if you wanted to keep your journal in Esperanto, that would be no problem.

You know you want to keep a journal. Day One is the way to do it. The release of Day One 2 is really a new day for journals.
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  1. I have been thinking of postins some of my old Tapadance stuff to my blog, thoughts? Would you do the same?

    1. A little off topic, since this post is about journal-keeping software (although there is a publish feature in Day One that I didn't talk about because I don't use it), but of course there's no reason why you couldn't post things you wrote years ago in your blog.

      I have all my originals from my amateur press association days, but I don't think I feel like going through them and finding if there's anything those (roughly) thirty-year-old pages that's worth repurposing for my blog. I think I'd rather keep coming up with new stuff.

  2. I've been keeping a diary for ten years and have written in it every day. Usually nothing special, just a few short records of what I did or what I read. A few months ago I switched to writing in Esperanto both to practice and for extra security.


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