New MindReader features: the "m" tag and explicit context

While reviewing my ResultsManager Daily Actions Plus Dashboard in MindManager this evening, I noticed I had accumulated quite a few "next actions" in the "no context" branch. This branch has usually be relatively lean since I began using MindReader heavily. Putting things in context is a key aspect of GTD.

I realized several activities had been entered directly in a brainstorming session and hadn't been "mind read" while several others didn't have the right verb=context keywords defined in my mindreader.mmap file. I used the "mra" tag to add a few of these new verbs (e.g. "google"=web, "measure"=home) and reprocessed the associated tasks with the "c" tag. In doing this I realized it wasn't always going to be convenient to add every "context" verb into mindreader.mmap ahead of time and that it would be handy to just explicitly define the context (e.g. @errand, @web, @home) in the text of the activity.

Explicit Context Setting
MindReader requires that context keyword strings be at the beginning of the topic in order to avoid confusion between nouns and verbs (e.g. "draft the report" vs. "read the draft"). Because these new keywords wouldn't flow as well at the beginning of the sentence and given that the @ symbol removes the risk of ambiguity, the new version of mindreaderNLP.mmbas has been modified to recognize context keywords in the @keyword form deeper in the topic. It isn't "smart" enough (yet) to automatically take the string after the @ as the context, so you need to add them explicitly into mindreader.mmap manually or using mra. . [Update: MindReader is now "smart" enough to recognize @context.name without any explicit mention in mindreader.mmap. ]

This new @context feature will be useful going forward, but I didn't want to have to go in and edit topics with @contexts just to get them marked up that way. I also found topics needing other keywords (e.g. tomorrow!) to obtain the desired markup with "c". For many I found it was easier to just into "edit activity" mark them up the old fashion way (using the new-fangled v7 Ribbon). Rather do this over and over again, I thought it would be useful to be able to just enter the required MindReader keywords into GyroQ and have it mark-up the selected topic based on that (rather than the content of the topic).

Keyword-free markup
As it turned out, it only took a couple of new lines in MindReaderNLP.mmbas and a new "m" tag to achieve this. To get this functionality, download the updated MindReaderNLP.mmbas into your "My Maps" directory and pasted the packed text for the "m" tag into the GyroQ dialog box.

Suppose you have a a "blob" like "MindManager bug". You can now mark it up by bringing up GyroQ with Control-Q, typing "m" to toggle to the markup tag, and then "talk to Nick tomorrow P1!". Similarly a task like "Deposit Checks" that you recognize as "errand" that you want to do tomorrow gets marked up with "Control-Q m @errand tomorrow!". You can also use this approach to adjust the due date of an existing overdue task quickly. This functionality can help you avoid most trips into the "edit activity" dialog.

If you have been using MindReader for awhile, I think you might see utility in the two new options above. If you haven't, it will probably seem a bit confusing. Unfortunately improved documentation remains a "Someday/Maybe" project, so if the above "does" make sense to you, please feel free to visit the wiki page and pitch in with some edits :-).

20 Comments »

  1. Mal Evans said,

    June 11, 2007 @ 10:19 pm

    Good work.

    I understand it OK but cant get the @context function working. The"m" tag works but does not make any change to the context. It does change date etc.

    I tried the m tag with the following string in GyroQ

    @errand tomorrow

    the 'tomorrow component was actioned but not the @errand (or even @Errand)

    Any thoughts?

    Also – does mindreader worry about capitalisation? is Errand the same as errand?

    ps -thanks for the syntax page – you beat me to it!

    Cheers
    Mal

  2. ActivityOwner said,

    June 12, 2007 @ 6:01 am

    Did you add @errand as s "verb" to you mindreader.mmap file? You can do that quickly using mra.

    Mindereader ignores capitalization.

    Thanks go to Curtis for the syntax map!

  3. Mal Evans said,

    June 13, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

    I had not added "errand" as a verb however even when I did it still was not working.

    I have managed to get it working this morning though by reading the macro code a little more closely.

    According to your post you need to enter @errand, @ call etc to add the context.

    I read the code to say basically that it should parse the string and look for a word that matches a context (as defined in mindreader.mmap) and then ADD @ to it and set it as a context.

    When I tried simply entering

    errand

    it worked fine.

    So I figure that you should leave the @ out of the Gyro Q entry.

    Comments?

    Cheers
    mal

  4. ActivityOwner said,

    June 13, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

    Hi Mal — There are several factors at work here:

    1. Verbs need to be at the very beginning of the sentence to get recognized except for @context keywords, which can show up later. "errand" alone would work since it is at the beginning.

    2. The @context needs to be put in the mindreader map topic text as @web, @errand, etc (with the @ included). The actual "context" in the note field associated with this doesn't have an @.

    3. In order to pass the context information into ResultsManager, it has to go via the "category" field with an added @ symbol.

    Does that make any sense?

  5. Chuck Brown said,

    June 18, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    I'm sorry if this isn't the right place for this… I don't see a spot for reporting errors installing. I've installed the Windows Tablet Development update as noted elsewhere, but still get an error whenever running the 'mri' tag. I've rebooted and am not sure what else to try. I consistently get "mindreader.mmap Open Error:Object 'CmjDocumentCollectionComObject' reports an error: 'unable to create document'"

    I'm running Windows XP Pro/MM Pro 7.0.429/Results Mgr 2.7.8/GyroQ 1.9.3

    Thanks!

  6. ActivityOwner said,

    June 18, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

    Hi Chuck — Any old place works for questions. I'd like to have a more coherrent strategy, but it is difficult to pin down one spot as things evolve with different blog entries over time.

    The error you are seeing has been reported before by Mal and others and noted in the FAQ:

    http://wiki.activityowner.com/index.php?title=MindReader_FAQ

    We never got to the bottom of it. The solution would be to comment the script to death to determine exactly where the problem is.

    The easier solution to getting started quickly is for you to just download the sample mindreader.mmap into your "My Maps" directory:

    http://www.activityowner.com/maps/ao-parse/download.php?mapname=http://www.activityowner.com/maps/ao-parse/mindreader.mmap

    and then edit the notes of the "context" verbs to suit your preference. You can add additional map links, verbs, and contacts by running the "mra" tag.

    Let me know if this doesn't get you unstuck.

  7. Chuck Brown said,

    June 19, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

    Thanks for the help, that got it going. However, now that I'm past the installation, I'm having a problem getting most anything to work. This may be a function of me using MM 7? For example, if I have no maps open (My default map is named "My Demo"), and I enter c Call Joe Smith Tomorrow, MindManager open the MR Config Map, and it comes up with a Save As dialog box for a new map (Map15). I have no idea where all of this comes from.

    If I type in "O CB-Work" (where cb-work is an existing map), I see a lot of things flash up, including cb-work temporarily, but then it closes, and leaves open my default map, the MR config file, and the GyroQ Daily Capture map, for some reason.

    Highlighting an existing entry on a map, and keying in "S CB-Work" cuts the topic from the current map (again, I see cb-work flash up, but then go away), but then pasts in into the GyroQ Daily Capture Map (but I don't see anywhere that this particular map is configured to be used for anything).

    Much of this may simply be Novice don't-know-how-to-use-the-products stuff, but I can't at this point discern from what's me and what's the software!

    Thanks for any assistance!

  8. ActivityOwner said,

    June 19, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    Hi Chuck —

    Everything you describe is as I'd expect although obviously not ideal for you :-).

    I added a little more background on the MindReader tags to the wiki to try to make it clearer as to what each one does::

    http://wiki.activityowner.com/index.php?title=MindReader

    The "c" tag is meant to "MindRead" the "current" selected topic(s). If you select a topic called "buy eggs", it will convert it to an activity with context "errand". It is not meant to be run when you don't have any maps open. Looks like some improved error trapping is called for here to handle that situation ("q add error tapping to c tag code someday").

    To get "o cb-work" to work, you need to add a keyword and link to the mindreader.mmap file under the "links" branch. The first portion of the "mra" tag is designed to assist in that or you can do it manually.

    What I think you are seeing is not the cb-work map but the temporary "message" map that MindReader uses to communicate from GyroQ into the macros.

    MindReader isn't smart enough to automatically associated keywords with maps (although that's probably a good one for the drawing board).

    When you used "s", "q", or "o" with a keyword that MindReader doesn't recognize, it by default sends the topic to the "Daily Capture Map". That explains your last issue.

    Give things another try and let me know if you have questions.

  9. Chuck Brown said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    Thanks for the clarifications! It makes sense, and is working better! However, when I type in "mra", I get:

    The sequence {send; run:macro:activedocument.selection.cut;map:new;select:central;text:mra;notes:2;run:macro:MindReaderOpen.mmbas} returned an error:

    Message from MindManger 7:
    A runtime error occurred while executing the macro \\infinity05\users\CBrown\My Maps\GyroActivator-macro.MMBas

    Thanks!

  10. Chuck Brown said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 11:16 am

    I'm a little unclear on how the "C" tag works. I thought that if I highlighted a topic, and did "C next week", it would process that topic and schedule it for next week. However, doing "C next week" flashes the map a couple of times, and then seems to do nothing. Where am I going wrong?

  11. Chuck Brown said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 11:24 am

    Ok, sorry! I just realized that I was trying to use the "C" tag where I should have been using the M tag… however, my GyroQ doesn't have an "M" tag… did I need to add that from somewhere else?

  12. ActivityOwner said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

    Sorry — "m" is hot off the press so hasn't been combined into the "packed text" for mindreader yet. It is available in the tag library. You just need to paste the packed text into the gyroQ dialog box:

    http://www.activityowner.com/scripts/mrm_packed.php

  13. Chuck Brown said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

    Got it! Thanks! If I'm running the MM/RM/GyroQ/MR suite on my desktop, but then take my (file synchronized) notebook home, what does it take to synchronize the configuration files that GyroQ uses for the tags? (Or is this something where the tags simply have to be installed everywhere you use them?)

    Thanks

  14. ActivityOwner said,

    June 20, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

    If you are synchronizing all the files in your "My Maps" directory between computers, everything should continue to work as long as you make the syncronized "My Maps" directory your default "My Maps" directory on the laptop. GyroQ stores all the tags in the GyroQ directory and the macros are in the My Maps directory.

    I often will synchronize my "home" map directory onto a memory stick for use on my work laptopi when I travel using the Windows "briefcase", and I've been surprised how well things continue to function.

  15. Mal Evans said,

    July 3, 2007 @ 12:38 am

    AO – the m tag is working fine but if I say use to reschedule an activity to say next Thursday it sets the start date as today and the due date as next Thursday.
    I would like the ability to specify the start date and the due date. I may want to do the activity next Thursday but I don't want to see it in my dashboards until say Wednesday. Make sense?

    Any way to modify the M tag to take two dates and set both start and due dates.

    As an idea – maybe parse an input like : tomorrow|monday and split them into the separate dates.

    ????

  16. ActivityOwner said,

    July 3, 2007 @ 9:11 am

    Hi Mal — You raise a good point. I've noticed this as well recently. For repeating tasks, the "mark task complete" tool has a set of leads times it uses to push out the start date but MindReader starts everything right away.

    I think the best way to implement this would be to retain the "natural language" approach and parallel the RM "edit activity" dialog — e.g. look for keywords "1 day before", "2 days before", "1 week before", "2 weeks before", "1 month before".

    So "Put out the trash Friday starting 1 day before" gets start date 05July and due date 06July. This can also be entered using brackets to remove date info:
    "Put out trash [Friday 1 day before]".

    For your… procrastinating…I mean "rescheduling"… use of the "m" tag, you could just type "control-Q m Thursday 1 day before "

    I went ahead and updated MindReaderNLP.mmbas to do this. You need to download this:

    http://www.activityowner.com/macros/download.php?macroname=MindReaderNLP.mmbas

    and also install and run a new gyroQ tag (mru) to add the keyword branch to mindreader.mmap:

    http://wiki.activityowner.com/index.php?title=Mindreader-mru-packed-text

    Let me know if this works for you.

  17. Mal Evans said,

    July 3, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

    yep – working fine.

    I added same day (=0) to the starting date branch.

    Not sure why you have two copies of the mru script listed above. they both appear to do the same thing. The links certainly point to the same place

    Not sure what you mean by procrastination – that is a word that I am trying to eliminate from my lexicon! I often use the m tag to tidy up stuff that I may have only partially entered via GQ so it is often missing dates etc. If something appears on my dashboard as to be done today I always do it – today, tomorrow or whenever I get around to it!! LOL

    Thanks again
    Cheers

  18. Faster MindReader Tags » ActivityOwner.Com said,

    July 8, 2007 @ 6:48 am

    […] the packed text for fo and the packed text for fq into the GyroQ dialog box. The recently added m tag already incorporates this new […]

  19. Marco van Laerhoven said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

    Is it possible to directly enter a due date using the M tag?

    Marco

  20. ActivityOwner said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

    Yes — Just enter the date in xx/xx/xx format and it will be recognized as a due date. You can also use any keywords listed in the "Dates" branch of MindReader.mmap (e.g. Tuesday, next week, tomorrow, today, etc).

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