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Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

    Plain text files are all the rage these days. Whether you are an iOS user that has one of the largest selection of plain text writing apps around, or a cross-platform guru that needs portability with her data and files; plain, good-ol’-fashion text files are the way to go.

    There is something about writing or logging your day in text files that is quite different from writing in a Microsoft Word Document, Apple Pages Document, Google Document, or even an OpenOffice ODT format. Below we will show you why geeks love plain text files and why you should too.

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    Portability

    One of the best things about plain text is that it is a portable format between almost any operating system that I have seen. You can use plain text files on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, etc. All of these operating systems have ways of natively showing you the contents of a text file as well and also allowing you to edit its contents.

    It’s safe to say that 20 years from now most operating systems (at their core) will be able to open a plain text file making your data safe and

    Easy To use

    Plain text files are at the zenith of ease of use. There isn’t really anything to learn; you just start typing text into a blank file. That’s it. No keyboard shortcuts to learn, or complicated menu structures, or ways to format etc. It’s all about putting data in a file and that is it.

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    You can create a new plain text file simply in any operating system with built in apps (ie. TextEdit.app or Notepad.exe), or if you are a real *nix geek just be typing something as simple as:

    touch my_new_text_file.txt

    Then open that sucker up in vim and type away (Don’t forgot to shift-z-z every once in a while to save, you nerd!). It couldn’t be simpler to get your thoughts down with a plain text file as the tool.

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    The best part about ease of use is that text files allow you to write, not fiddle with your tools. There are of course apps out there that allow you too mess around with your setup, but if you want to get some writing done a plain, no-frills text editor allows you to start writing right away.

    No lock-in

    Another great reason that geeks love plain text is that there is no vendor lock-in. This goes hand-in-hand with the portability reason mentioned above. There is no “special app” that only supports text files. There is no “compatibility issues” that you need to deal with (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word). For all purposes, text files are just text files and can be opened by pretty much any document or text creation software.

    This is a great thing when you want your data sticking around for the long term. When the .doc format dies in the next 80 years, it would be hard for me to believe that some system that exists in the world won’t be able to open the simplest of data forms (even if you have to load it up in your heads-up-display that is embedded in your eyes).

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    Good for almost anything

    I use the word almost with care. I haven’t found too many things in my writing and developer journeys that plain text files aren’t good for, except one thing. Non-linear thinking (ie. mindmapping).

    Text files aren’t very good at connecting non-linear ideas together in an easy way. I’m sure that it is possible, but I haven’t found a good way to do it when I need to brainstorm. This is one of the only things when it comes to writing that I don’t use plain text for.

    The good thing about mindmapping, at least with any mindmapping applications that are worth a damn, is that you can export your data to an OPML format which is pretty portable as it is XML markup. You can open XML in any text editor as plain text.

    Awesome apps for text creation and editing

    Here are some of the best apps that I have found for creating, manipulating, and using your plain text files:

    Plain text files are easy, portable, searchable, and aren’t locked to a specific technology. Not to mention you will be nerdy and cool when you use plain text (just ask Mike). So, if you are looking to keep your words and data around for a long time, look to us geeks for some advice. Use plain text.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

    5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

    Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

    The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

    1. Duolingo

      Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

      Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

      The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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      Download the app

      2. HelloTalk

        HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

        There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

        What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

        Download the app

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        3. Mindsnacks

          Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

          You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

          Download the app

          4. Busuu

            Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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            The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

            When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

            Download the app

            5. Babbel

              Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

              Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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              If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

              Download the app

              Takeaways

              All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

              Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

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              Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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