Mind mapping – Why aren’t you using it already?!

Introduction

A mind map, as Wikipedia defines it, is a diagram used to visually outline information. The concept is simple: reduce the topic of discussion, idea, problem, write-up or concept to one word and branch out from there. It’s a Tree (similar to the CS Tree data structure). The high level overview of a mind map depicts spider webbing. The number of nodes is unlimited whereby each node can also branch into further sub-topics and sub-nodes creating an indefinite depth. What I love most about mind maps is depth, and I’ll discuss why shortly.

The mindmap for this blogpost
The mindmap for this blogpost

Origins

During the research I’ve done for this blog post, I wasn’t able to clearly pinpoint a single originator of the technique (allow me to call it technique). Multiple sources declared Tony Buzanas the inventor of mind mapping however multiple other sources argue otherwise. It is claimed that the earliest examples of a mind map were developed by Porphyry of Tyros (Go Lebanon!). In the quest of discovering the true origins of mind mapping I posted a question on Quora, maybe someone with factual information can shed some light on the bright mind behind this prolific technique.

Why use it?!

Mind mapping is very intuitive!

When I first picked up the fundamental rules of this technique I was very comfortable in immediately applying them to depict my line of thought. And follow it. It was like second nature to me, simply because when I usually take notes they take the shape of general wording scrambled around the main topic and associated via connection threads.

It’s very fast

Once you adapt to the almost standardized shortcuts of mind mapping software tools, your line of thought will be seamlessly depicted and outlined. Minimal rules or actually no rules apply in the creation of a mind map. There’s only one relation to respect: Hierarchy.

Depth

Oh how much I love to analyze a topic in depth. It’s very necessary sometimes to detail a concept up to its minutest detail and jump right away to higher levels. Mind mapping allows you to do that with ease. Follow the branches and jump swiftly from one node to the other without the overhead of looking for the relationship. While analyzing a diagram, going back and forth is essential. The faster this shift happens the less likely you are to lose your line of thought.

When to use it?

The general use cases of mind mapping are diverse. Let’s not limit the power of this technique to what others have used it before and invent your own needs for it. Trust me, there are plenty.

What tools should I use?

There is an arsenal of tools developed with which you can create your mind maps. However, from my personal experience, my two favorites are the following:

MindManager – MindJet

Since I’m currently using a PC with Windows as an OS, MindManager  was my choice. It’s a bit expensive to buy, but it’s worth it. It’s the only tool I found that:

–          Is user-friendly. The interface is similar to multiple MS Office tools.

–          Has a good arsenal of micro tools to create complex mind maps.

–          Is extendable.

–          Allows you to export your mind maps in multiple formats, even interactive ones which allow the receiving party to walkthrough your mind map.

Curio

Curio is by far the best tool that was ever created for designing mind maps. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Macs with no support whatsoever for other platforms. It’s the most beautiful, most user-friendly, and most diversified in terms of micro tools.

Conclusion

Mind mapping is one of the best, intuitive techniques that help you map your thoughts into a clear and relational visual pattern. Use it, breathe it, live it. Harness the true power of mind maps and mapping your thoughts and ideas will become fun again!

My Amazon Kindle Fire experience from outside the US

Kindle Fire
Kindle Fire (http://www.bloomberg.com/image/i6nACZ9aRxeI.jpg)

Kindle Fire a new tablet?

Does the Kindle Fire fall under the tablet category? In my humble opinion I believe not. Kindle was and still is an e-Reader, designed to provide an intuitive platform to easily download and read books in digital format. However, one cannot deny that the Kindle Fire does provide some very sweet perks! The Amazon app store is filled with hundreds even thousands of popular Android apps.

Amazon applications store is not available in your country?!

When I first read this message I was like, WTF?! I bought my Kindle for nothing? Well no one to blame but myself, I didn’t do much research to see that Amazon still hasn’t launched Kindle outside the US; which also means that you cannot buy books if you do not have a US credit card and a US billing address.

Umm.. So what now?!

No worries, there is always a way to make the best out of your Kindle even from outside the States. But it means that you have to acquire some basic technical skills first.

“How to hack?”

It’s very simple; all you need to download applications on your kindle is apk files of these applications. These apk files are executables that your Kindle or more exactly the Android OS running on it fires to install the desired application. Luckily you can use your Kindle’s browser to google these apk files and launch them from the download section instantly. Any Android app should in theory work properly on your kindle.

1. Download File expert application (which is free) from the developer’s website: [Download Link]. You can use your Kindle’s browser to do so.

2. Once the download is complete, launch and install the application.

3. In your Kindle, click on the top bar to slide down the settings bar.

4. Click on “More”

5. Click on “Device”

6. “Allow Installation of Applications” is set by default to “Off” set it to “On”.

7. Download the apk file for the application you want on your PC, use your USB cable to copy the file to your kindle. Place it anywhere you want.

8. Using File Expert go to that directory in your Kindle and launch the apk file.

Using the above I showed you 2 ways to download applications on your kindle. Just make sure you are not violating any distribution laws by downloading non-free applications.

File Expert download page
File Expert download page
File Expert Snapshot
File Expert Snapshot
Apps Location on the Kindle Connected via USB cable
Apps Location on the Kindle Connected via USB cable

What about books?

Kindle supports the following e-book formats: .mobi  .azw   .pdf . If you have bought books in any of those formats you can copy them instantly to your Kindle using your USB cable and you’ll be able to read them on the fly. Kindle does not support .epub! So be careful.

I copied a .mobi book to my kindle and I can’t see it!

It happened to me, all you need to is to restart your Kindle. Press on the power button and hold, it will ask you if you want to shutdown your kindle, approve. Start your Kindle again using that button and once it launches you will see the .mobi book in the books section, if not it will in the docs section.

PDF is annoying to read on Kindle can it be converted to a Kindle native format?

Yes and there are many ways to do so. The best and simplest is provided by this website:

http://ebook.online-convert.com/convert-to-mobi

Converting .PDF to .MOBI online
Converting .PDF to .MOBI online

Conclusion

All in all, Kindle Fire is a great product, I’ve read 5 books on it so far and it has been a good experience. Kindle Fire will fulfill your needs as long as you do not forget that the main purpose of the device is to be an e-reader, the rest is just a bonus!

 

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