As seen in my previous post (Mind Mapping) I have tested two programs for mind maps so far: Freemind and Xmind. I settled with Freemind for quite sometime mostly because of the lack of premium editions and internet dependability (accounts ,register etc) however I stumpled upon another freeware mind mapping software called blumind. I really enjoyed using it and the portability of the freeminfd maps made it easier for me to make the transition.
To sum up the programs I’ve tried so far are:
Xmind – link
Freemind – link
Blumind – link
After a brief experimentation on the mind mapping software in the previous post, I got to choose which program suits me best and check what I can do with them. As I got my hands in remembering some thing about real time systems I made a graph about them using both of the programs.
The Xmind was really a pleasure to see all graphics and such but it was a bit sluggish on my laptop. Moreover most of its functionality was locked and they wanted me to upgrade to pro to use it so no real interest there. Finally they wanted me to make an account and log in each time I use the program. I am not really fond of such an idea thus I really don’t think that I’ll be using the software in the future…
On the other hand Freemind was really simple and after a while I got the grip on how to design my map pretty easily. I don’t know the programs full potentials as there seem to be many options which I did not know how to use yet but the program seem to have many capabilities. I created a simple map which is shown in the picture below:
I used really basic operations of the program to end up with the above results. However there seem to be capabilities such us exporting to java applet, HTML and other formats, as well as program integration with a browser. Finally I suspect that there is a way to link multiple maps together resulting in an awesome way to browse a data base.
I wish I new about this data representation earlier. A simple map depicting the most critical concept behind an idea makes it easy to refresh your memory an invaluable property! Have fun with your mind maps!
As I explore new fields of interest I realized that without a guiding map I might as well get lost. Moreover it is good to be able to check what are the common points between the area that you have already been working on and the area that you are about to explore. This includes same concepts mostly as they are in a meta-level that can be reused across multiple fields. But apart from the concepts in a field there might be more specific (less abstract) things in common like structures and algorithms and generally formalized ways of dealing with certain problems.
In order to start building something that would resemble with a personal knowledge base I started wondering on the web for such organizing tools. My problem is that I cannot be constantly aware of what I know and what I don’t and that a tool helping me quickly access such information would come in handy.
So I came across mind mapping. Mind mapping it self could consist a filed of interest on its own. However in this case I’ll be quite shallow and not get into much detail. In general mind mapping is the idea of expressing your self on a specific subject on a single piece of paper. Starting from a main idea we branch outwards to more specific elements of the idea. Overall we end up with a scheme that helps to get information in and out of our mind.
The five essential characteristics of Mind Mapping:
- The main idea, subject or focus is crystallized in a central image.
- The main themes radiate from the central image as ‘branches’.
- The branches comprise a key image or key word drawn or printed on its associated line.
- Topics of lesser importance are represented as ‘twigs’ of the relevant branch.
- The branches form a connected nodal structure.
In the above image a mind map about time management is depicted. It is hand made and gives an idea of how a mind map can be made. However I am no artist so I decided to look for mind mapping software. In my case I found two programs that are quite interesting to use: One propriety called Xmind and one open source alternative called Freemind.For the using of the first one an account is needed to be created the other one is free.
Both application are developed in Java so Java JRE is needed. However I encountered similar problems to that with the eclipse. After installing eclipse (x64) the application couldn’t start as it could not find the JRE. The solution was to copy the JRE files in the eclipse folder, inside a folder called jre. It worked like a charm but only because the JRE I used was for 64-bit. I did the same with Xmind and there was no reaction there. I needed to install the x86 JRE to make it work. Finally the Freemind did not get me any errors at all. IN order to make it work I needed to se t some environment variables. So I got the
JAVA_HOME variable to the x86 JRE path and the
PATH variable to the x86 JRE bin folder part, \i.e.
<x86 JRE>/bin path.
A note here, the
PATH variable was previously being used by modelsim but as I don’t currently use it I had not problem changing the variable to the Java JRE path as needed.
So far with the mind mapping software. I plan to use both of them and find the one that suits me better. I believe that mind maps can help organize the information that I come upon on a daily basis as it is overwhelming to digest it in my mind at once. Finally a mind map as an image is much easier thing to remember than text.
The risk of the above though is that the easier the information becomes to the brain the less the brain does process it. Consequently we misconceive and misunderstand things. Moreover for the same reason the information is temporary. As the brain has not struggled to acquire the knowledge it is easily faded away. This is the reason why mind maps should not be used for educational cases. They should be use as a supplement for storing already processed information than as a means to pass information to other people.