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Organizing Your Desktop Communications

Tuxcards Howto, KMail with SpamAssassin

March 7, 2005

Today we'll look at two great utilities: Tuxcards, the ultimate digital notebook and organizer of zillions of tiny bits of information, and how to use SpamAssassin with KMail without having to run your own mailserver.

Tuxcards is a slick easy-to-use digital notebook. I use it to record technical notes, solutions to problems, and things that didn't work. Plus random things like music, books, hardware notes, interesting quotations, and deep thoughts. Tuxcards has replaced my hodge-podge of email folders, sticky notes, scribbles on envelopes, and gobs of text files. This screenshot says it all. On the left, your file tree. On the right, paste or type directly into the window.

Some of Tuxcard's features:

  • Supports plain text or RTF
  • Supports encryption- keep snoops out
  • Customizable icons
  • Export to HTML
  • Cactusbar
  • Search
  • Word count, insert date or time
  • Runs in Windows under Cygwin
  • Command-line options
Like everything else these days, Tuxcards stores data in XML files. When you first fire up Tuxcard the default new file is "root." You may name this anything you like by right-clicking on "root" and selecting "Change Properties."

Creating new entries under "root" is as easy as right-click on root and selecting "Add Entry." You may make your file trees as elaborate as you like. Individual entries are either plain ASCII text or RTF (rich text format). If you want to change the file format on an existing entry just hit the little "Converts The Text Format" button on the toolbar.

Encryption can be applied to individual entries, or to the whole file by selecting the root entry, then clicking the "Encrypt Active Entry" button on the toolbar. This is real encryption- if you lose your password, you lose your data. This is what encrypted data looks like in the source file:

What if you change your mind? No problem- select the encrypted entry, enter your password, then click the "Remove Encryption From Active Entry" button.

Options -> Edit Options lets you change the appearance and set some defaults. A useful option on the General tab is "Execute command after Saving." For example, you might want to copy the root file to another directory on every save:

cp /home/carla/tuxcards/root /home/carla/backups/
You may add icons to any individual entry, and customize the text and colors on the left sidebar. If you enable the CactusBar (Options -> Edit Options -> Sidebar Colors), you'll be treated to a continually-changing blooming cactus.
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