My obsession with longevity: notes, emails & more.

I have an obsession with longevity. Not the longevity of my life but instead the longevity of my documents, files and anything else that comes to mind.

I want the things I create to actually last and to have a record that I can always refer back to when it comes to... well... everything.

That's why I have carefully selected the tools I use and have created processes that will make sure I won't suddenly lose everything because a company goes under or some world wide event makes massive changes.

Notes

I have ADHD and one of the issues associated with it is memory problems. These memory issues have caused me to simply not trust my brain to remember anything.

Enter note taking.

It's a simple solution: if I want to remember a thing, I write it down, then simply reference it.

I also use what is called the Zettelkasten system for note taking and organization. This basically acts as a secondary brain, storing important information that I can review whenever I want.

If I were to lose my notes, especially now that they have built up over many years and represent thousands of hours of research and important information, it would be a huge loss.

Which is why I can't trust something like Evernotes. While it's a great note taking system, if they suddenly went away, I could lose all that.

While I could very easily just use .txt files and back them up in 8 different places, that simply isn't realistic. I had to find some kind of middle ground.

Which is why I use Joplin.

It's a fully open source note taking system that works across all my devices AND uses plain old markdown files. If the app suddenly disappears, I can still access everything.

I have also set up a process that includes both a cloud backup and a harddrive back up, just in case. I do this process once per month, which means at most I could lose one month of notes.

The other benefit is that the files are formatted using Markdown, a pretty universal format which is actually human readable at a glance, so I wouldn't need an interpreter.

Backup Process

Another part of this weird obsession of mine is losing data. To solve for this I do monthly backups of the following:

These are not automated, I simply have to do it manually once a month. It takes about 20 minutes to do it all and it gives me piece of mind. I have choosen the most universal file format possible and I always encrypt the files.

These files are backed up on both my harddrive and in a cloud service.

Bookmarks

I'm adding this as a paragraph because it is more important than people consider. Bookmarks are very similar to your notes in that it's kind of an extended brain. The issue is they are just links to sites that could very easily stop existing (the internet is not as permenent as people say it is). The Way Back Machine can help but it's not perfect.

That's why I use Pinboard. It's a service that's been around for ages, is dead simple and the owner is just as obsessed with longevity as I am. Not to mention they have an "archive" feature that literally saves a copy of the page you bookmarked so if the site stops existing, you can still read whatever you bookmarked. I download and backup this archive once in a while, just in case.

Better Citations on This Website

Linkrot is a serious problem. | [Archive.org link in case of linkrot] People will tell you what you post on the internet is there forever but in reality lots of stuff disappears every day. To help with this, every external link I cite in an article also has an Archive.org link you can use. If an older article disapears, there is a liklihood the Archive.org version is still there. It's not a perfect system, if Archive.org disapears then my backup system fails but I am hedging my bets on them being around longer than all the articles I cite. Also, I would probably know in advance if they are going to disapear given their size and importance to the web as a whole.

Domain Name

An email provider can disapear.

I get it, chances are Google is not going to shutdown Gmail any time soon, but remember that it's banned in China and could suddenly change the way they handle things. Not to mention the stories of people getting their accounts locked on a false positive of breaking the TOS or even just forgetting their 2factor codes and losing full access to their email.

That's why I use my domain name as my email. If Hey.com were to suddenly disapear I could very easily point my MX records to a new service provider and would receive all emails addressed to me like normal. Since a lot of services use recovery emails, this is absolutely essential. Combine this with my email back up and I am pretty safe.

It's also nice that I can switch my official website host any time I want. Since I switched to pure HTML and always have a backup, this is very easily done.

This is probably over the top

I think I've set up a system that can stand the test of time (for example, since the backing up part is such a light task I won't get bored and stop doing it). If I lose access to the Internet and even power I could still use a solar panel or generator and get access to my notes, emails and everything else.

While chances are that's never going to happen, it gives me piece of mind.

It does also protect against the more "normal" situations though, like a company going out of business, which is pretty darned common.

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