Welcome to another edition of Eight Questions For …, where I where I pick the brains of plain text enthusiasts from around the world and around the web.
In this edition, I talk to a person of mystery who goes by the alias BizDevCon, a corporate intelligence specialist at a consulting firm. A long-time user of plain text, BizDevCon is in a lot of ways a plain text purist. I have to admit, though, that their level of purism is appealing. And that BizDevCon is a heavy user of Standard Notes makes them OK in my book.
Let’s hear from BizDevCon:
When did you start using plain text?
Around 1990 or so I guess, when my dad received the first “shareware collection” CD-ROMs for the early Apple Macintosh from the USA. I started with MacOS 6
Some of the CDs included ezines and ebooks. At the time this was extremely new and interesting for me as schoolkid. In theory I could even become an anarchist, but thankfully I never tried out what was written in some of those weirdo ezine or so-called “handbooks”.
Why did you start using plain text?
I remember converting ezines with the Newton Book Maker, to be able to read them on the go with my MessagePads. Later, other devices (like the Palm Pilot III) and the internet came along.
At this time I learned a very valuable lesson: only plain text files work on all computers and devices, regardless if they’re offline or online. I still remember when my parents disconnected me from CompuServe or the dial-up internet …
What do you use plain text for?
Every bit of information I find in databases, registers, or articles I format and store as plain text. Literally everything. My primary storage is Standard Notes. Before I kept plain text as .txt files on a cloud storage and used BBedit to search for context.
BBedit does not work on iOS and I use Standard Notes instead. As of today I have stored around 2,400 items in Standard Notes. I have a bit of mixed feelings of about giving up BBedit but time goes by …
What keeps you using plain text?
Before it was multiple platforms. Today, it’s about keeping the essence of an article or website and being able to search vast amount of text.
Do you use any markup or formatting languages? If so, which ones and why?
Been there, done that but not today anymore. I am forced to write reports in Word. Before that, I was a huge fan of LaTeX.
What are your favourite plain text tools or applications?
Drafts for editing text on my iPad Pro, iPhone, and MacBook Air. Standard Notes on all of my devices. EmEdit under Windows 10, particuallarly for converting text from public registers into CSV or Excel.
Is there one tool that you can’t do without?
Standard Notes. I am a huge #fanboy because it works.
Is there anything you can’t do with plain text?
Yes, PDFs are here to stay and I have store them as they are. One cannot convert PDFs into text – end of story.
Also, I store private notes for shopping and home improvement in an app called DayOne. I do not want to mix private and professional data on the same cloud service.
I also use Books and Photos from Apple for ebooks and media content.
Last but not least: I am huge nerd of fountain pens and still store some plain text in paper notebooks.
You won’t find much, if anything, about BizDevCon online because they prefer to stay away from social networks for professional and privacy reasons. You can, however, contact them at ProtonMail with their alias as the email address.